Tag Archives: indulgences

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.”

addie outfit

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.

kayak

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

A little late getting this out today, but no worries, it’s just as apathetic as usual.

1. I feel like she looks sassy even when asleep. I swear that’s a pout about something unacceptable I’ve said in her dream, like all of your dresses are dirty or no we do not have a secret stash of cupcakes hidden from you.

addie sleep2. My computer wasn’t printing from our almost brand new printer, so I logged on to a live chat with HP support. I feel like Hamford may have missed his calling as a crisis line operator.

hp helpQuite the supportive shoulder. Until 85 minutes into our chat, when the problem was still unresolved and he was focusing on printing from Adobe. I mentioned it was also not printing in Word and Hamford was all “I know that, moron*.” Eventually, H-money got me all fixed up and I smoothed things over with lots of unnecessary thank yous, exclamation points and one strategic “hooray.”

3. Hello, new potential favorite coffee spot. This is a local joint that I envision will see me a bunch once I get back to a regular work schedule. I could taste the yummy difference even in the decaf espresso. I already asked Clayton if we could go this weekend and I’m pretty sure he agreed between eye rolls. Small price to pay for watching four hours of the NFL Draft with him for three days.

grind logo4. Both of us needed to get out and lick our faces for awhile this week.

maya tongue

5. Addison’s little brother may have overdone it on the big sister gifts. He probably shouldn’t have waited until late stage pregnancy when his hormones were raging and emotions were teetering on threat level: redrum. He suggested 1. an outfit and accessories to receive before coming to the hospital from Mom and Dad and 2. some toys and stickers from the baby once she meets him. It’s like he has experience with her meltdowns and will go monstrously overboard to avoid one at the hospital or something.

big sis gift

big sis card

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*Hamford didn’t call me a moron, but I imagine he was thinking it. Also, I just like the gratuitous use of the name “Hamford.”

Five for Friday

I am trying out this totally unique and original concept of listing a few ramblings, products, musings, complaints and the like on Fridays.

1. Clayton’s birthday was this week! He’s kind of a big deal around here. We went to Outback (gift card, hey-o!) and I attempted to make banana pudding for the first time ever. Mainly because I thought it came in a box like jello pudding that you just pour, mix and serve. No, sir. I had to bust out the mixer and re-do several steps. In the end, it was edible, but I need some practice. Good thing I plan to keep that guy around for a long, long time. Even if he pronounces it “puddin’.”

photo 4

pudding collage

2. Addison is officially in a toddler bed, aka crib with the front rail removed. It was awesome the first night and then miserable the second night. She woke up every hour with a new surprise – turning all the lights on, going to the bathroom, putting on a tutu, shouting to me at 4 a.m. that she was doing her princess puzzle, all sorts of exciting discoveries in the middle of the night. Particularly enjoyable were the few times I woke up with a small, silent figure standing directly in front of my face staring at me cloaked in shadows. That’s quite an exercise for the startle and bladder reflexes right there.

The next morning we met with a potential new sitter at a park and I can’t imagine the impression I left on the poor girl. It was BYObigasscupofcoffee day, apparently.

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It seems the novelty wore off quickly because last night she stuck it out until 7 a.m. I’ll take it.

3. We’re painting the nursery today!

4. Okay, Clayton’s painting the nursery today.

5. Hello, new lover.

Scandal_Season_2Now, I know it seems like I watch a lot of Netflix. That’s because I do. Clayton is smack dab in the middle of studying for his PA recertification, and he actually has the self control to prepare ahead of time. He scoffed at my suggestion to just wing the first attempt and go from there. I mean, you can take it up to four times, c’mon! Anyway, at night while he’s studying I will read, work on my novels, practice the piano, organize the nursery, work ahead for maternity leave, plan meals watch a crap ton of t.v. We downgraded our cable, so Netflix has been a lifesaver. Or something less dramatic. I honestly don’t have the physical or mental energy to do much more than eat ice cream and shed tears along with Olivia Pope after 8:30 p.m.

And that’s this week’s five!

Yes! please.

A couple of months ago my good friend Tori mentioned that she had an extra ticket to a Jason Mraz concert. I told her I would sacrifice for the sake of our friendship and take the ticket off her hands.

Because children and jobs make all areas of life inconvenient, I had to wait until the day of the concert, a Thursday, to head up to Jacksonville. Procrastination postponed my departure by an hour and traffic added another 30 minutes, so I cut it a little close by arriving in Jacksonville at nearly 6 p.m. I threw on some eyeliner, we popped into Tijuana Flats for dinner, Tori broke just a couple of traffic laws finding parking and we were in our seats just in time.

The tour is touted as “an acoustic evening with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane,” so there was no opener, but Raining Jane played a few of their songs before he took the stage. It took about four notes for me to be completely infatuated with them, especially the drummer. (Source)

mona rj

I think it’s because she reminded me so much of this girl from my secret Netflix obsession, “Gossip Girl.”

They were missing one member, but the three I saw were insanely talented and each played more than one instrument. The tour is based on the album “Yes!” Listening to the album, I wasn’t blown away by the band, but at the live show, they were incredible. P.S. Try to be in a bad mood listening to that cd, I dare you. 

When the Mrazmeister joined, you know things got funky. Clayton and I went to his concert a few years ago in Virginia, and this show was every bit as fun and entertaining. He is sarcastic (my second language) and laid back, and even in the middle of winter in a crowded theater, it felt a little like being at the beach watching the waves come in. The vocals blended so well together – again, the band plus Jason sounded way better live than on the cd – and Raining Jane can kill some percussion and sitar.

The only improvement would have been a venue with room to move. Our romantical swaying to the encore was rather stifled, though I think we still nailed the expectant couple awaiting first child vibe we were going for. Related: trying to sneak past a row of people inconspicuously with a six-month bump is as effective as attempting to avoid the potent marijuana smell oozing off the guy next to you by turning your head 12 degrees to the left. Neither works. I was so close to texting Clayton about whether or not a fetus could get high via aroma.

nat tori yes

After dealing with the back ups at the parking garage pay station and exit, we made it back to Tori’s house high (figuratively…I think) on the positive tunes but exhausted. Bright young minds needed molding early the next morning, so Tori went to work and I left shortly after she did. Panera’s honey walnut cream cheese had been calling to me for hours. I said goodbye to my tiny little roommate for the night and made it back to Tampa so that I could work for awhile before retrieving Addison.

penny

Real talk: I’d been debating going to the concert for several weeks, wondering about some anxiety from the past few months that’s much improved but still lingering in certain situations. While this wasn’t a homerun in terms of my nerves, I’m really glad I went for it. Tori is infinitely understanding about all of my hang-ups. #jasonandjane definitely did their part to mellow me out, too, and even with the bouts of crazy in my head, it was a great show that I’d be bummed to have missed. Turns out Tori’s fortune that day was spot on.

fortune

Babymoon

You know how most times, when you build something up in your head for weeks and weeks, it’s a total mega let down once it actually happens?

That was so not the case with Babymoon #2.

Any time someone asks me about it, I can’t help but describe it as – wait for it – perfect. That’s right. Perfection. And I don’t toss that word around lightly. Usually I’m up to my ears in “okays,” “goods” and “nices.”

We dropped off the girls after pancakes on Friday. I guess they were both experiencing a carb hangover.

photo 1Then we drove the two hours to Fort Myers. We were a little early to check in at our B & B, so we grabbed lunch downtown at Ford’s Garage. We didn’t realize this until Saturday night, but a group of owners basically bought up the entire downtown and owns four, soon to be five, restaurants. We ate at almost all of them. We knew something was up when there were chickpeas in our salads at three different restaurants.

fords1All of the restaurants are themed. Ford’s is obviously car-themed, complete with cleaning rags for napkins and a big car hanging over the bar that honks and shoots steam. The food theme is aortic blockages. We were fans. However, it wasn’t the best place for a prego desperate for a beer. Sad [sober] face.

fords foodAfter lunch we headed to The Hibiscus House, a newly renovated bed and breakfast just outside of downtown. We’d never stayed at a B & B before, so this was a bit of an experiment for us. Our room was gorgeous, the bathroom was pristine and no strangers randomly wandered into our room, a legit concern we had. Sharing intimate breakfasts with people I don’t know is not on my list of favorite ways to spend the morning, but even that proved harmless and a good exercise for my reclusive nature. Also, the breakfasts were flipping delicious. (Source)

The Hibiscus House

Gold star number one for this getaway: a two hour nap after we checked in.

Once we woke up, we got ready to hit the town. At 6 p.m. Don’t be jealous of our star status. We waited for our table at The Firestone (yes, tire-themed) on the rooftop Skybar. The view was decent and I didn’t mind enjoying my mocktail with the pre-sunset crew. It took the pressure off to hangout after dinner when I’d be ready to kick my feet up with some chocolate.

skybar1

firestone selfie1I was not really hungry, so I only had the crab cake appetizer and a grilled Caesar salad. As Clayton noted, once you get past the warm grass taste, the grilled salad isn’t so bad.

What mama wants, mama gets. Feet up, chocolate downed.

feetThis was after the bagger at the grocery store asked when I was due, looked me up and down and said, “You’re ready.” I was totally cool and level headed about it because, you know, I have two more months before I’m “ready,” thank you very much. I may have snapped back if she wasn’t possibly mentally handicapped.

Maybe it was the tunic?

Saturday we headed off to Sanibel and Captiva islands. The weather was supposed to be nasty, but it’s Florida, so never change plans based on the weather. Sanibel is just plain gorgeous. The water is this serene teal and the beaches are covered in white and pink shells. Even for someone who grew up in Florida, Sanibel was impressive.

I would have done some shelling if I could 1. bend over or 2. tolerate temps over 78 degrees. We ate lunch at The Bubble Room, which was more hyped up than it should be. It was kitschy and cluttered with plenty to look at, but the stuff seemed less like antiques and more like, well, stuff. And most of it was creepy, not fascinating, like dolls and old combs and this face.

tunnelGold star number two: It was a very, very happy accident that we were staying a block from Bennett’s Fresh Roast, known for their homemade doughnuts. I’m not going to say we planned our day around getting to Bennett’s before they closed, but it was certainly on my radar. We snuck in just before they closed at 3, so the selection was limited, but all I wanted was a classic glazed anyway. Did not disappoint. I guess that was the theme of the weekend. I’m so mushy it’s making me uncomfortable.

We lazed around snacking on our treats for a bit before getting ready to head out for the night. We went back downtown and stumbled into a car show. Downtown Fort Myers isn’t huge, but there are plenty of restaurants to fill up a weekend. We could stay close for all of our meals. Along with the car show there was a Brews and Tattoos event going on, so the people watching was superb from our patio seat at Capone’s. Fun story: when we initially asked about a table, the hostess said the wait was an hour. And then, spotting my bump, she told us to stand there for a sec. Just like that, we were seated immediately minutes before the rain came. For all the muscle aches and awkward maneuvering, this thing has provided its fair share of perks this time around.

downtown rain1Shockingly, I wasn’t in the mood for pizza and opted for a pretty bland pesto ziti pasta. Life is built on small choices, and I’m still regretting that one.

capones1Guys, I fell asleep at 9:30. Didn’t I tell you this trip was perfect?

I will blame that early bed time on the rain and, mostly, the non-plot of “A River Runs Through It.” I confused it with the other movie about a river where dramatic events take place, so I started it from the beginning and kept waiting for a major twist or Kevin Bacon to show up or basically any sort of excitement whatsoever, and nada. A little over an hour into it, I gave into sweet, sweet sleep. My husband is a lucky dude. For all I know he snuck out to go bowling (his suggestion for the night) without me. I wouldn’t blame him.

After scarfing some homemade blintzes and waxing poetic about them in the guest journal (“The fruit compote is what dreams are made of.” I seriously wrote that.), we checked out of the B & B on Sunday and drove down the road to the outlet mall. Outlet shopping looks much different nowadays and our major purchases were from Carter’s and Gymboree.

We’d learned the ropes quickly and placed an order at Bennett’s earlier in the day that we swung by to pick up after the outlets. This time I was able to snag quite an assortment: peanut butter, orange crunch and maple toffee. I would have ordered more if Clayton wasn’t hovering and whisper-shouting that three was enough. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ENOUGH.

doughnut list

All of the flavors were divine, but my favorite was the peanut butter. The orange crunch was out of my comfort zone – I’m normally chocolatechocolatechocolate – but surprisingly delicious. I’m still sad they were out of Boston crème both days. Am I still talking about doughnuts?

Anyway, we drove home and I dropped Clayton off while I picked up the kids.

I considered it a perfect babymoon because I didn’t want any pressure. If I felt like sleeping for 48 hours, I wanted to have that option. If I felt like taking an hour walk on the beach or reading or lounging in a giant  bed watching a terrible movie, I wanted to do just that. And that’s exactly what our little vacay was like. I am thankful my normally antsy, active husband was flexible enough to go with the flow, even though the flow was like seven-months-pregnant molasses most of the time.

It’s a week later and I’m still wishing we were leaving tomorrow to do it all over again.

How to Freak Out Your Valentine with Love

As much as I’d like to be too cool for school and totes nonchalant about Valentine’s Day, I’m not. Not even a little. I like holidays. I like excuses to veer from the norm, eat excessive amounts of junk and buy things that would otherwise be deemed unnecessary, e.g. polka dot ribbon. I am not the girl who expects a dozen roses (roses = no thank you) and a $200 steak dinner, but I do want a little pomp and circumstance. I love love, and it’s fun to think of new ways to celebrate it.

This year was Addison’s first year in preschool, so she I got to make valentines for her class. Hippie alert: I didn’t want to use candy. With Addie potty training–and rather successfully might I add–her life has been all manner of hand sanitizer and chocolate treats. The girl pees five times before 11 a.m.; she is her mother’s daughter.

I hopped over to the Dollar Store under vast amounts of pressure from my frugal hubs to keep things within reason. (“They are only two years old!”) I present to you sixteen adorable, “healthy” valentines that I didn’t even hijack from Pinterest.

school vday supplies

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school valentine

school valentines bunchI did forget/ultimately decide to forego her teachers and still feel bad about that. (Their Christmas gifts were on point, don’t worry.) They may have a sweet Presidents’ Day gift heading their way if I can come up with an equally adorable Abe Lincoln craft.

I guess my mom blogger status is now official. Womp womp.

Valentine’s morning began with heart-shaped perfection. Doughnuts and pregnancy take the place of pizza and beer for nine months over here, and someone better hide those bad boys until after my glucose test on Monday. There was already one, uh, missing before I took this picture.

doughnuts2We have ambitious, likely-to-end-our-marriage plans for the new nursery, so we went on a research mission to Home Depot. Clayton still has some semblance of trust in our toddler’s capacity to listen to direction and obey commands from a distance, so he didn’t secure her in a cart. Do I need to spell out how enjoyable that trip was between the rows of loose lumber, wood cutting devices and swinging model door displays?

To reward both of us for not throwing tantrums at the tile displays, we stopped at a park to let that energy out. Ladies and gentlemen, my Valentine:

C slide C slide2

C slide3

C slide4

C A slideThey are the cutest.

I had to kick Clayton out for a couple of hours of Super Secret Vday Prepping, so he took A to my parents’ house. While he was gone, my little valentine elves, my brother and dad, got to redecorating the backyard.

Idiotically, I assumed my eagle eye hubs might not notice an open side garage door (with the extension cord trailing out of it) or a big gaping hole where our futon once sat. He did. And he was noticeably freaked out by the whole situation. In retrospect, watching “Gone Girl” the night before trying to pull off an undercover house heist while he was gone wasn’t the best idea for instilling confidence in one’s wife.

Once I let him in on the plan, it eased his little fretting mind. Mostly. He didn’t fully relax until the futon was back in its place on Sunday night.

After Clayton whipped up a delicious steak and shrimp combo, we took ourselves to the movies. In pajamas. With hot chocolate, popcorn and, duh, another doughnut.

movie night2I don’t want to brag is not something you’ll be hearing from me. I absolutely do want to brag about this one. It was the perfect mix of romantic and special—definitely out of the norm–but still comfortable. I was wearing a hoodie for goodness sake. Everything worked out with the technology, which was a major victory by itself. No one spilled hot chocolate on the rented projector, Maya didn’t start a yard fire with the candles and no one’s toes went numb in the chilly temps.

I hope you had someone or something that made you feel loved and celebrated this weekend. Baked goods totally count.

C’mon get happy!

I posted an overly obnoxious and whiny caption on Instagram the other day and have been feeling lame about it ever since. I was—and still am—extremely frustrated by our new insurance situation as of late, but hey, we can afford (loose use of that word) insurance for our family and one way or another, I can see a doctor whenever I need to. So, time to get over myself.

As a recompense, here are some things that are making me not frustrated right now, 90% of which are food related because hello, pregnant.

1. Cream cheese + red raspberry preserves. Maybe I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, added the preserves at home and devoured the combo like a starved mountain lion. And then made two more pieces of toast so I could have more of it. Related: how are your New Year’s diet resolutions going, those of you not baking a baby? Suckers.

2. Mama got a new pair of boots. And baby is about to get fancy.

boots

onesie

3. It’s been less of a meatless Monday and more of a meatless two trimesters over here, so I made vegetable enchiladas and they were filled with good veggies (albeit smothered in cheese) that I’ve been neglecting and lasted for three nights, i.e. I could slack on meal prep for two nights.

4. I ordered a decaf coffee at the Target Starbucks counter, and since they don’t keep a brewed pot of decaf, they made me a pour over. Holy delicious. It didn’t seem complicated until I looked it up; there are like 29 ways to make a pour over at home, so…whatever. Here’s my $3, pour hot water over powdered beans for me, please sir.

5. Doughnuts. I haven’t actually had one in a few months, but just the idea of them is putting me in a pretty good mood. Which reminds me of the ridiculous idea I had to do a pregnancy announcement using whimsically decorated Halloween doughnuts and the phrase “Something wickedly sweet this way comes.” Adorable, no?!

No.

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There was so much failure happening with the manifestation of this idea. First of all, the Dunkin Donuts commercials obviously used professionally trained, bakery owning frosting masters to craft the images I saw on t.v. Over at the ol’ local DD, I was treated to a “let me see what I can do” and gifted the scraggly interpretations of a moody teenager with some sort of clear musculoskeletal dysfunction. Then there’s the lighting, the giant plate, just a whole lot of no.

I was so annoyed I didn’t even eat one.

6. Breaking Bad. Not exactly an upper, but our two nightly episodes are little mini dates. Intensely graphic, drug-filled, cringe-worthy mini dates. We are at the beginning of Season 4 and OMG I want to punch Hank in the throat. (Source)

hank marie text1

hank marie text2

7. My brother (who is called Kunkle instead of Uncle) popped in this week and played with Addison for a couple hours. The next morning on the way to preschool, out of nowhere she shouted, “Kunkle’s here!” It melted my cold, dark heart.

8. Clayton, and now also Addison, playing the harmonica while Maya howls along. Never gets old.

9. Filling out paperwork and answering the “Occupation” section with “Writer.” Because stay at home pajama wearer, toddler chaser, kitchen avoider, stink eye deliverer and Instagram enthusiast usually takes up too much space.

10. The Bachelor is back and I don’t care who knows I am ALL IN already. With the sheer number of diagnosable alcoholics alone, this is going to be excellent television. SPOILER A’COMIN.

So sad to see you go, Tara. Thank you for representing Florida in a truly spectacular fashion. Enjoy that month long hangover. (Source)

drunk tara

Hollywood (the East Coast version) & Miami

Thank God for medical conferences. And my completely remote writing business that allows me to take advantage of them. Clayton attended some long-winded professional meeting in Hollywood (Florida) last week, and I carpooled with him Wednesday night to my own private vacation. As you’ll notice from the photos (or lack thereof), we aced taking pictures together.

Beach selfie. Happened.

Beach selfie. Happened.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Hollywood, which wasn’t slumming it by any stretch, but the conference was a block away at The Westin Hollywood, and that my friends, is a hotel. The lobby is four stories high with a glass ceiling and two rows of full size palm trees INSIDE. I walked in and was certain I’d entered heaven. A lot of people wear swimsuits in heaven, btw.

Hollywood Beach

On Thursday and Friday we had lunch together with Clayton’s boss at The Westin’s oceanfront café. It was amusing to see all of the buttoned up, badge-wearing conference attendees meeting their bikini and cover-up clad wives. I guess my plan to tag along was not all that unique. I was the only wife in an oversized Nike t-shirt as a cover-up, though.

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Clayton and I were able to explore a bit for dinner each night. Thursday we drove around for a long time with nothing to show for it before finding Portherhouse. Luckily it was nice enough to eat outside on the patio because they allow smoking inside, which is no bueno for my lungs. Stink eyes would have run amok.

Friday night we were slightly more prepared and headed toward downtown Hollywood. It wasn’t quite as rambunctious as we were expecting–okay, it was also 6 p.m. We’re so old. We walked around and attempted to take inconspicuous selfies, which is impossible, and artistic photos of yet more palm trees.

Downtown Hollywood

We had dinner right on the intercoastal at The Downtowner. Again, probably wouldn’t recommend indoor dining (it’s a cramped bar/pub inside), but we loved sitting by the water. We walked around some more after dinner until it was too dark to take any more palm tree photos.

the downtowner

As you should assume, every night ended with ice cream in some capacity. Totally justifiable because I worked out a total of one time. But I certainly thought about a few runs along the beach and packed my Garmin, so…that has to count for something.

We’d planned to stay Wednesday night through Saturday night and drive home Sunday. There was a teeny little hiccup when we came back from lounging at the pool Saturday afternoon and realized our room hadn’t been cleaned, and it was 1 p.m. My stomach sank a little bit, and after some troubleshooting, Clayton realized the room was only booked through Friday night, and had been that way since the trip was planned months prior. Oopsies.

Obviously, I was the picture of reason and understanding and forgiveness. At least I would have been if I was speaking to Clayton for the following hour.

In my huff, I assumed we were going to pack up and head home, but luckily my petulance doesn’t always call the shots. My caffeine addiction does. We parked it at Starbucks for (yet more) half price Frappuccino’s and I sulked while Clayton booked us another hotel in downtown Miami.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

 

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

I guess it was okay.

The weather was overcast and rainy, so we didn’t really need to be close to the beach anymore. We had our nicest dinner Saturday night at the hotel’s restaurant, and I am still daydreaming about the steak I had. Which is weird because ”I don’t like steak.”

We drove around South Beach because we were too crotchety to deal with finding parking and actually walking. Watching other people have fun sure is exhausting, so we grabbed ice cream at Publix and called it a night. Stop judging us.

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Sunday morning we decided to give South Beach another go and had a delicious breakfast at Oliver’s Bistro before actually parking our car and traversing on foot. Gasp. We headed to the beach for a little walk, stumbled upon one topless sunbather, and that about did it.

Oliver's bike Miami South Beach fence the tides leslie narrow

I’m still feeling gipped about only seeing two alligators along a 4,000-mile stretch of Alligator Alley, but otherwise the trip was a roaring success. For some reason I never realized just how beautiful Miami is and how tempting it is to jet down there every single weekend.

But there is one good reason to stick around home, too. And I sure missed those 30 pounds of attitude.

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Writing about February & March in honor of April.

Some highlights from life as of late.

My old man actually became an old man. C-money turned 30, and, as far as we can tell, still has the metabolism of an 11-year old. Being the doting, selfless wife that I am, I up and got sick for his actual birthday and spent four hours of that evening sleeping. He made himself a nice steak dinner, which he got to enjoy in spurts while chasing after our toddler. The lengths I will go to to get out of cooking…astonishing, really.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

We rode that celebration train into the next couple of weeks, though, and gathered a bunch of our friends for a brew hop. (That’s not a thing, you say? Not so, according to the dazzling invitations.)

 brew hop invite

We started the afternoon at Cigar City Brewing, not listening to the tour guide and perking up whenever we heard the terms “free” and “beer” in close proximity. It was lots of fun to hang with our old college pals and felt exactly the same except for how much slower we all moved, how much less beer we could consume and still function, the presence of some friends’ baby, and the undercurrent of stories of our own kids that lasted throughout the evening. So yeah, identical to 2004.

C tori wes cab

 nat C goggles

After CCB we headed to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Twenty sweet friends came out, and my little hubs was pretty blown away. Not to mention, my SIL helped me surprise him with a cookie cake for dessert. Does anything say mature, responsible, professionally successful father better than a gigantic chocolate chip cookie covered in frosting? Didn’t think so.

cookie cake

We even after-partied for a bit, serenaded by a middle aged Irish tribute band with a heavyset guitarist of indeterminate gender. Rock on, Noa’s. Rock on.

 nat C gaspars

Over the course of the last six weeks, we also celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, my brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday and my dad’s birthday. It’s enough, people. Stop aging, for the love.  

Everyone whined about daylight savings, meanwhile over here Addison has been sleeping past 8 a.m. nearly every morning since. Parenting win! 

Speaking of…there is an 18 month update post sloshing around in my head that maybe one day will see the light of day. Two months late, it still ain’t even close to finished. There is A LOT to talk about with this one, let me tell you. She is far, far from boring, and she keeps us all laughing hysterically and sprinting to stop her from doing a whole host of ridiculously unsafe behaviors on the reg.

Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.
Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.

I don’t really say “on the reg” in real life.

My bracket could not be more disastrous, but I feel like that’s a pretty common sentiment this year. Clayton is still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Bracket Champion at his office, so fingers crossed there.

I’ve still been running, but not really training for anything major. The several months of distance training burned me out mentally for now. I did run a 15k the weekend of Clayton’s party with my Jacksonville friend who was way too easily talked into running 9.3 miles.
Actual conversation
Me: Come a day early and run a 15k with me.
Her: Ok.

 tori nat 15k

I had some goals initially, but knowing that I hadn’t trained properly made me more realistic about what I should expect. And, shocker, I did not hit those goals. But I tried hard—and am still trying–to focus on the positives: my overall pace was a wee bit faster than my half marathon PR, and I was definitely middle of the pack in my age group, as opposed to back of the pack. Sounds silly, but that is a big improvement from when I started running seriously.

I was also so very tempted to call it a day when I realized my goal time was unattainable; I walked a few steps and that felt niiiice. But I told myself to get over it and run, there were strawberries to eat and beer to be gulped and cookie cake to be demolished. I needed to burn some mad calories heading into that weekend, so I kept on and hit my secondary goal of not being a pansy.

run addict
Taken less than 72 hours after I’d sworn off running for-ev-er.

The current plan is to do more speed work and focus on smaller distance races, mainly because come May, there is not a race over 5k to be found in Florida. We would all melt and perish trying to run more than three miles in summer. The first hard workout of this plan was this past Saturday when I had a hot date with some hill repeats. I loved it. It’s crazy and masochistic, but I love the challenge. Plus, the miles and the time go so much faster. 

We caught a Braves spring training game and were hooked up with some free Dave & Buster’s games. The rest of our group left after dinner. Our foursome (with a focus on one 30-year old in particular) hung around until stupid o’clock high on the “but it’s free! and you can shoot stuff!” endorphins.

C Brant Rambo

Those are all the big time bullet points from the last few months. I feel like my life is decently exciting until I try to write about it. Hello, snooze fest. But there you have it. Maybe that Addison post will be coming your way shortly because, let’s get real, she’s awesome and you need to know about it. 

Getting Away and Getting Back

Guys, let’s get real. Life’s hard. It can be plain exhausting. And you know what? A few weeks ago I was over it. I was sick of being exhausted, sick of all the pressure I felt to be everything at all times for everybody, and sick of feeling like I was letting everyone down.

It was a slow build up, but as a friend of mine says, the fit hit the shan. Try as I might, I was not shaking the heaviness, and my head and my spirit were wilting.

So I got the heck out. Out of a house that was starting to reek of sadness. Out of a routine that was draining my creativity. Out of engagements that were overwhelming instead of enriching.

Within an hour of online research, I found a resort on the bay that was running a fantastic weekday special. Clayton had commitments Wednesday through Saturday of that week, so Addison and I packed up the car and hit the road. Okay, I packed. Homegirl threw everything out of my duffel at least twice.

We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and stayed through late Saturday morning. While my intent was to work through a lot of the junk piling up in my head, I wasn’t sure how much actual excavating I could do with Addison in tow. But it ended up being a perfect mix of passions that fed my soul and empty-headed playtime.

We went on a run together Thursday afternoon and finished just before a beautiful sunset. We made a mess of the breakfast buffet. We were up all night because someone practices tai kwon do in her sleep. We scuttled around the beach, plopped down in the water and waved at every single person out Friday morning.

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And when Addison napped or after she fell asleep, I wrote. I prayed. I read. I started and nearly finished Rebekah Lyons’ “Freefall to Fly,” which put to words how imprisoned I felt in the everyday. I dove into 1 Corinthians 13 and realized the futility of the best of my actions when they aren’t motivated from a place of love.

I also made the difficult decision to get a sitter for Addison one morning, in addition to the two days she is with my mom. I wrestled with this for weeks and had been attempting–and failing–to get my work done, the house un-messed, the errands ran, half marathon training completed and volunteer projects managed in the small window I had. Some or all of these things suffered on any given week, but I refused to acknowledge both the impossibility of handling every task on my list within my current schedule or the toll trying to handle it all was taking on me. So I finally pulled the text trigger that Thursday.

In the preceding weeks, a recording played in my head that said:
I have it so good. I can’t possibly complain about my life.

I am stronger than this. Why am I being so weak?

That girl and that girl and that girl have it all together and they do more than I do. I must be able to get it under control. I should wake up earlier.

These were the lies  I told myself for a good two months before even mentioning how I was feeling to another person. WOMEN, ESPECIALLY MOMS: The rest of us get it. We all feel completely inadequate, too. Even if we managed to put on mascara that day or wear the cute jeans instead of the yoga pants, we are simply staying afloat. Talk to someone!

By Friday night, just 36 hours into this little girls getaway, smack dab in the middle of the crowded waterfront patio of the resort’s restaurant, I ached with missing my husband.

Saturday morning I felt cautiously drawn back to the place I’d escaped. I knew that anyone can feel refreshed and awakened with the smell of saltwater in the air and a fiery Florida sunset within view. I had to go back. And while the scenery set the change in motion, the true shift had to be deeper than a camera angle, more personal than a standard double hotel room.

It’s been a few weeks since that mini retreat, and I cannot believe the difference in my perspective. Very little has changed within the confines of our weekly schedule. We still have must-do’s most nights of the week. My work is not slowing down. Addison continues to be very good at being 15 months old. But I can breathe. I can make it through a day (a week!) without tears.

I can face the pace, routine and impossibility of my to-do list with a shrug, with sleeves rolled up and a smile. I don’t believe my value, my daughter’s development, or the strength of my marriage depends on the check marks–or lack thereof–next to those tasks.

And that is freedom. That is the power and inconceivable compassion of God moving in a life you said was too insignificant, in a problem you said was too small, in a hidden darkness you said you could transform on your own.

That is hope. A sun setting and a dawn rising. A life that you didn’t recognize for shame and fear breathing again with the promise of all those things you’d dreamed it could be.

I cannot share this without saying how grateful I am for this life I’ve been given undeservedly. For the health of my beautiful baby girl. The love and devotion of an unwavering man. The unconditional support of family and friends others must covet. I recognize the great luxury and incredible overflow of prosperity that I enjoy in every sense. I know I have it so, so good. But a lesson that I am learning in this season is that I do not want to trade “good” for what may be best. I am after best in this life. I hope that you are, too.

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