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Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: 1-13-17

Hi, Friends!

It's the weekend. We are bracing ourselves for a "weather event". I don't want to talk about it. So . . . time for 5 Things on a Friday! Here are some of my favorite things from the week.

1. The Royal Family

I've been watching The Crown on Netflix which has made me mildly obsessed with the Royal Family. I spend lots of time pushing pause on the tv and googling all manner of facts like "Did Princess Margaret marry?", "Early Photos: Prince Phillip", "Monarchy's role in World War II" and "When did the Queen Mother die?". This information gathering starts as a very noble pursuit, but eventually I am plunged down a rabbit hole typing in things like, "Kate Middleton Fashion", "Kate Middleton Hairstyle", "Kate Middleton Wedding Dress", "What Would Kate Middleton Do?" and also "Prince Harry, Prince Harry and more Prince Harry". All I can say is I wish we could trade the Kardashians for the Royal Family. *sigh*

So here are some of my favorite Royal moments that I came upon in my searching.

Perhaps my very favorite photo of Kate Middleton EVER. The Duchess of Cambridge. She's just exactly like us. Next time I give my kid the business, I will wear this hat and maybe it will make an impact. Oh, Little George. Mummy, ain't playin'. Straighten up, Mister.

Well, this is the cutest thing I've ever seen.

I am fascinated by Queen Elizabeth II and how she took over for her father at such a young age. This image of her photo bombing a couple of girls is from awhile ago, but I happened on it when searching for information on her. She is something else.

I know everyone is doing the superfreak waiting to see photos of Prince Harry with his new American girlfriend, but I'd much rather see all these sweet photos of the him with children both on his mission trips and during his brother's wedding.  This interview is really insightful and shows you that his insides match his outsides. Keep on keeping on, Good Prince.

2. College Football National Championship 

I didn't stay up for the National Championship game because when it comes to college football I am nothing if not full of bitterness and jealously when Texas has a bad season. Despite this, I was anxious to see highlights the next morning and OH.MY.WORD. what a game. I will also say that I very much enjoyed more than one commentator mentioning Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns a time or two when discussing how this year's championship was the most exciting since the THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE when Texas won in 2005. This is because when it comes to life, I am nothing if not ready to make everything in the whole world about me and my own joy.

Seriously, though, the very best quote I saw the next morning was from Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney when he said, "I told them to let the light that is shining inside of them be greater than the light that's shining on them."

Well, now. That'll preach, Coach. 

3. Blue Apron Meals

I am having so much fun with the Blue Apron Meals  my sister gave me for Christmas. This makes no sense at all. I am delivered two meals for four each week with recipes and every single thing I need in the exact quantities needed. Last week I made Seared Chicken Thighs with Cipollini Onions and something called Fregola Sarda Pasta. I also made Baked Mozzarella Chicken with Yellow Tomato Sauce, Kale and Fettuccine. THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED (or "unpresidented", if you're our president-elect) stuff in the Skinner kitchen. To prove this point, I will tell you that the other day my eye was red and swollen and I couldn't figure out why. Steve asked me if maybe I touched my eye after I was cooking with some sort of spice or something. Again, UNPRECEDENTED. The fact that my husband's first question was not to inquire whether or not I had poked myself with my sunglasses or run into a cabinet is remarkable. 

4. The Sunrise

The Lord has done some amazing things each morning this week outside my window. I feel like He is in cahoots with my dog lately. Tuesday morning I was whining and digging in my heels because it was so darn cold outside. Mack was staring at me with the "I really gotta go" eyes. Then I looked outside and saw the sky. Well played, God. Well played.

5.  Bruno Mars's SNL Performance

I cannot get enough of this song. Drew gets rather embarrassed because I give quite a Carpool Karaoke performance in the ol' Honda Pilot every time this song comes on. This performance on SNL is from last year, but it makes me so happy. I've watched it a zillion times. It's a great way to start your weekend.

Have a good one!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Showing up for Kate 1-12-17

A year ago this week, I wrote about one of the most heartbreaking losses of a child that those of us in the pediatric cancer community in this area have had to endure. Four year old Kate Rhoades had finished her treatment plan for leukemia only a few months before. Her family had held a party, readied her for a return to preschool and looked forward to a future shining blessedly bright before them. The return of her cancer on the heels of that joy and relief was an ambush of unspeakable cruelty. There was no time to process that the disease had returned before she was gone. A year later, for her family and friends, the enduring continues.

I'm not even sure that "endure" is the appropriate word to use when speaking of those who were affected by the death of Kate. No words are adequate to describe her family's journey forward in the wake of her loss. Merriam-Webster's website mentions synonyms for enduring that include bearing, suffering, tolerating, and standing.

Yes, Kate's family and friends have done all of that.

The site mentions that many of these words imply "the power to sustain without flinching or breaking."

Um, not so much. There has been flinching. There has been breaking. And yet, the calendar page turns indicating that it has been one whole year since the enduring, bearing and suffering began. I wish I could say it had ended.

There will not be human words or actions and certainly not any amount of time that will have the power to sustain us without some breaking and flinching. Nothing will cancel out the fact that Kate is still gone. That her parents' arms are empty. That the world lost someone crucial and important and needed and that we cannot get her back. So, then, what is there to do? What do we do when we are flinching and breaking?

I think the only thing to do is to keep showing up for the enduring.  Bruised and battered; baffled and bitter, and most certainly, broken, we clear the ash and dust from the air and we show up in search of something to sustain us. We show up desperately looking for beauty, for hope, for light - in essence for anything that might move us toward wholeness.

And oh, how sweet little Kate Rhoades's people showed up for her in the last year. Oh, how they showed up.

That team of baseball players I wrote about last year? That group who had claimed Kate as one of their own for the Kyle's Kamp Memorial Day Tournament? The boys for whom I worried with a relentless list of "what ifs"? Despite their brokenness, those kids showed up for their girl.

The Loudoun South Eagles - eleven and twelve year old boys - attended her funeral in matching Kate's Crew shirts. They took part in Random Acts of Kateness throughout the year. They encouraged friends to send pictures to a gentleman battling MS. This man received over 100 beautiful cards colored and decorated in the memory of Kate. On Kate's birthday, the boys handed out gift cards to strangers all over town with a note about her in hopes of raising awareness for Childhood Cancer.

They participated in "reading buddy" sessions at a library that Kate had frequented with her Grandma. They purchased a baseball for the Dream Wall at Nats Park so that Kate would forever have a place on the wall at her parents' favorite ballpark.

Oh, and those boys played some baseball, themselves, too. They surely did. They adorned their jerseys with an emblem bearing Kate's name and showed up on the baseball field like never before. Inspired by her to be their very best, they recorded win after win throughout the year and had their most successful season yet with an astounding record of 25-7. They claimed numerous tournament championships, always posing after their victories by holding up the number 4 for their "forever four years old" best girl.

In the Kyle's Kamp Memorial Day Tournament Kate's boys set aside their regular jerseys and played each tournament game in special Kate's Cause tshirts. The team raised over $10,000 for pediatric cancer research at Children's National Medical Center in honor of Kate.

Even the siblings of the team members held Kate in their hearts all year. A sister of one of the Eagles wrote her "Thankful Essay" at school about her sweet friend.

Kate's family, the most broken of all, showed up, too.

Lindsay and Michael Rhoades attended Kyle's Kamp's Casino Night fundraiser a mere six weeks after her passing. They chatted with other parents of children with cancer and supported various organizations in their efforts to fund better treatments and research for children like their daughter. Kate's grandma showed up for our Kyle's Kamp Holiday Shop this past December. She helped pediatric cancer patients choose gifts for their families. She smiled at them and chatted with them, wrapping their gifts in bright colored paper and adorning them with ribbons. She did all of this while memories of her granddaughter swirled around us as real and as present as the very air in the room.

Lindsay bared her soul online, writing some of the most agonizingly beautiful words on loss and grief that I have ever read; letting the world know that we could not shut our eyes to children like hers. She would not let us forget her Kate. We needed to know about her. We needed to understand the magnitude of her loss. I am personally forever grateful for the way her words remind me of the gift of every breath that my children take. I am in awe of the talent she has for spilling the broken pieces of her heart on to the page. The importance of her writing cannot be measured. And I would guess this is only the beginning. Through her words, Lindsay shows up in front of the world for Kate. I would argue that Lindsay is determined that her pain will not be wasted. She has something to teach us. In her brokenness she is showing up here not just for her beloved daughter, but for you and for me as well.

It is through reading Lindsay's words, that I have found that Kate has shown up as well. In big ways and small, she has shown up when her mama needed her most. Through sunrises or a smiling forgotten photo, Kate has shown up. Through images of foxes on socks or on sweaters, she has shown up. And even, in the stare of a real live, honest-to-goodness fox, sitting in the cemetery or on the sidewalk of a suburban street, Kate has let her family know that she is near.

We should never doubt the ability of broken people to do beautiful things. In the midst of crushing grief the Rhoades family has and will continue to share their story to help other families. I had worried that the introduction of young boys like the Loudoun South Eagles to tragic loss would result in young men irreparably harmed. And yet, they took their broken hearts and showed up in their community to do remarkable, irreversible good.

And even more, we should never doubt the ability of the inexplicably brief life of tiny little girl to change the world for better. I would contend that the good things that will come out of the people broken by Kate's loss eventually will number more than all the stars in the sky.

God bless you, Kate Olivia Rhoades. We promise to keep showing up for you.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The View from the Couch: Golden Globes Recap 2017

I know the Super Bowl isn't for a few weeks for most of the world, but for my friend, The Lovely & Talented Mrs. C, and me last night was the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the WCPP (that's the World Championship of Ping Pong, if you're not aware) all wrapped into one glorious night with the added benefit of metallic sparkles, black sequins, and all the Chrises - Pratt, Hemsworth and Pine. In our humble opinions, Mrs. C. and I are our best selves when commenting on the Golden Globes awards show. We think we are quite hilarious. We had communicated earlier in the day and were all set to have our phones at the ready to text all of our witty banter and strong opinions to each other. As Mrs. C. says, I'm the Amy to her Tina.

Oh, yes, we do think that highly of ourselves. Yes, we do.

Unfortunately, I lost a little focus in my planning which led to a snafu the likes from which I might never fully recover. Our family has been really consistent about having a sit-down-home-cooked dinner on Sunday nights. We are not great about the rest of the days of the week, but we've been pretty good about Sunday night. So, I lost all sense of priority and decided that the quality time around the table with my family should trump sitting down to watch the celebrities wearing dresses that cost more than my car Live at 8:00 pm on NBC.

I mean, let's be honest. This was irresponsible and lacking in adequate forethought.

Just set the DVR, you say? Catch up to Live during the commercials, you say? Great plan. I had asked one of my kids to set the DVR while I cooked. Sadly, something went horribly wrong and it didn't record.

This is where I tell you that I had to take a lot of deep breaths because my disappointment was so disproportionate to the situation that you would have thought that my smart, caring, responsible child had just wiped out our bank account to purchase drugs and prostitutes.

I have never claimed to be perfect. Or rational.

The Lovely and Talented Mrs. C. gave me adequate support and sympathy in my despair and then reminded me about this new thing called Google that would allow me to see Jimmy Fallon's opening and the 45 minutes I had missed at any point in time. The Lord is good and worthy to be praised. Amen.

So here are some of our thoughts on the celebrities and fashion of the evening.

First of all, I feel it necessary to personally answer the question of the night, "Who are you wearing?".

I was making a bold move by mixing patterns last night. I paired striped pj bottoms from the House of Old Navy's 2015 collection with a plaid button down shirt that I had been wearing all day while I folded 421 pairs of Nike socks. My socks were by Potomac River Running Store and my jewelry was by Fit Bit. I will point out that I was on point with the yellow trend because I just so happened to adorn my pony tail with a yellow hair elastic by Goody that it is possible I found on the ground at a baseball park. Mrs. C. informed me that she had been in her pjs all day long.

Now having established our fashion expertise, here's who and what stood out to us.

Sunshiny Yellow

There was a lot of yellow last night. The Lovely and Talented Mrs. C. and I were big fans of this trend. Perhaps because it was about 12 degrees here last night and these bright yellow dresses were like sunshine streaming through the screen.

Natalie Portman was hands down our very favorite. She channeled Jackie Kennedy in this beautiful yellow gown with adornments on the sleeves and hem. I loved that her neckline was one of the few that did not plunge to her belly button and I adored her hair and jewelry. Oh my word. She might be the most beautiful creature on Earth.

Viola Davis was stunning and shone like the sun in this yellow one shouldered dress. Her speech introducing Meryl Streep was one of the best of the night and is worth a Google.

I was so excited to see Reese in yellow again because one of my favorite Reese moments was a few years ago when she wore the short yellow dress, red heels and the most perfect bangs - bangs which caused many a suburban mom to make a giant mistake the next week at her hair appointment. It was worth a shot, friends. No risk, no reward, right?  

Sleeve Issues

While I was still in the kitchen, Mrs. C. was blowing up my phone with texts of great alarm along the lines of "Oh for the love of the sleeves! So many bad sleeves! Lord, no more sleeves! Not the sleeves, Lord, please deliver us from the sleeves!" She was exactly right. It's hot in LA. You don't need sleeves,y'all. Especially these. No, ma'am.

I think last year it was Cate Blanchett, who is usually perfection, that crushed all of dreams with her unfortunate dress at the Golden Globes. This year it was the iconic Nicole Kidman.  I don't understand what's happening here. Are they totally separate from the dress or are they attached some where with fishing line? Will this inhibit her movement? Will she be like a marionette? Did my dog get ahold of the bottom of this dress? Come back to us, Nicole. We will always be here for you, forever believing in your triumphant return to bare arms.

S-J-P. B-A-D. You, too, are well loved by us. We like your risk taking, but this is not working for us. We don't want sleeves or half sleeves or bunched up at the wrist sleeves, unless perhaps you have a eczema problem we aren't aware of. I mean it could be that. I keep seeing that meme that says not to judge other people because you have no idea what battle they might be facing. It's true. It could be grief, or addiction or anxiety or eczema. We just don't know. In 2017, we will have more compassion and understanding. IT'S FINE. Just see a dermatologist before the Oscars, okay?

Black Sequins

The fact that I grew up in Texas means that I have the propensity to suffer no small amount of PTSD when it comes to sequins of any kind. They conjure images of Aqua Net, blue eye shadow and beauty pageants. I am so happy to say that I suffered no ill effects from seeing these two beautiful gowns that were head to toe sequins. I loved both of these elegant dresses. Perfection.

Kristen Bell is one of my favorite actresses in the land. She seems so normal and real, but she showed us last night that she can glam it up with the best of them. This is gorgeous. And that bracelet is incredible. I will say that Mrs. C. and I secretly hoped that maybe later in the night she might revisit her Bad Moms character and throw a pink hoodie over the top of this in case there was a chill. ;-)

Amy Adams always, always looks simple, classy and elegant. This year was no exception. Perfect.


There were lots of metallic and sparkling dresses on the red carpet this year. Some I liked and some not so much.  

Love, love, love this dress. Love the necklace. Loved La La Land. Love Emma. We did have concerns about the weird loop of hair dangling off of her updo. Mrs. C. pointed out that when you bring your brother as your date, this sort of situation is to be expected. Brothers rarely understand updo issues.

The next movie on my list to see is Moonlight which won many of the awards last night. I have never seen Naomie Harris, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but when they showed her at the table I had to rewind to look at her again.  Good heavens, she is so beautiful. Her metallic dress was not my very favorite, but it was very pretty and her hair, makeup and jewelry are perfect. Breathtaking. 

I'm going to tell you something. This is Lily Collins. I have no idea who she is. Her dress is making it on to lots of Best Dressed lists and it does have some gorgeous metallic detail, but someone pointed out her eyebrows on Twitter and that is why I even looked her up. Y'all. These eyebrows deserve their own award. BE YOU TEE FUL. And her lips deserve a nomination. 

Again, I've no idea who this adorable child is, but her name is apparently Millie Bobby Brown. Gah! So cute! This dress is so pretty and appropriate. I especially want to point out her shoes which are a perfect height for her. There is nothing that gives me more anxiety than watching young girls teeter around on stiletto heels. I spent a good portion of Homecoming night worrying that many of the high school girls were going to wipe out in the gym and spend the better portion of the evening nursing double ankle sprains. You are marvelous, Miss Millie Bobby Brown.

Well, that's it for fashion. I think all in all it was a great year. And Jimmy Fallon is far and away the very, very BEST. Especially when JT shows up as his sidekick.

So to end today's post, I'll give thanks and praise to God for creating who ever invented youtube which for me today was an ever present help in times of trouble. Maybe your kid messed up the DVR recording last night and you missed it, too. It was a MISTAKE. A simple mistake that has no bearing on real life and is not a big deal at all. Pull yourself together, lady. You can watch Jimmy and JT right here, right now. Calm down. Here you go.

Friday, January 6, 2017

5 Things on the 1st Friday: 1/6/2017

Happy First Friday of 2017, Friends! 

It's gonna be a good year, 'kay? We always start strong here in my house because January holds lots of reasons to celebrate for our family. We've got lots of birthdays and an anniversary which makes it so much more fun and cancels out all my whining which includes but is not limited to WHY MUST IT BE 27 DEGREES? WHY MUST THE WIND BE SO COLD? WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR A COAT EVERY.SINGLE.DAY???

Here are my five favorite things from the week.

1. Wedding Memories

We'll celebrate our 22nd anniversary tomorrow, so I pulled out the photo album this week. Does anyone have a Wedding Album anymore or do they just have a youtube video of the dance they worked on for six months while watching Dancing with the Stars? Our dance was awkward and boring, but our wedding reception was a darn good time especially at that point when we hijacked the band to play the Texas Fight Song. I will never tire of looking at us. What do I see? Well, first I see a huge dose of youth, then a good measure of clueless and also, just enough faith and hope that God's grace would be sufficient to sustain us.  He delivered and we are grateful.

This should have been his first clue that I would not feel real comfortable with using knives, forks, spoons or other everyday cooking utensils.

2. Stevie Wonder, For the Win 

Maybe getting through the first week back from vacation was a little bit difficult. Maybe you realized it was the first Friday of the New Year and all those resolutions about being organized and getting up early for quiet time so that you were awake and full of all the joy and all the peace before the kids woke up and being mindful and patient and a brand new you didn't quite pan out this first week like you thought it would. Maybe you even got yourself all psyched up for a run, made it to the end of the block, turned around, came home and ate two bags of Cheetos while watching 90210 reruns. I mean I'm being completely hypothetical.

Hypothetically, you might have gotten into the car, running late to the 3rd one's orthodontist appointment, frustrated and grumbling and then you turned on the radio and heard this.  You need a little pick me up? If this doesn't work, I can't help you. Thank you Stevie Wonder for saving the day.

3. The 52 Lists Project Journal

I am - quite obviously - one who likes to write down all the thoughts and all the feelings and all of the memories all of the time.  The computer and the blog make this easy and fun, but I miss handwriting in journals. I still keep one, but as I spend more and more time here, it has tended to have more empty space than full. I found this fun journal at Anthropologie and bought 5 copies of it to give as Christmas gifts. I ended up gifting myself one as well. There is a list prompt for each week of the year including some serious - Goals and Dreams for the Year and Difficult Things You Have Suffered - and some less so - Favorite Characters from Books/Movies or People Who Brighten Your Day. I think this makes a great birthday gift for those who have birthdays early in the year.  You can find lots of pretty journals here. (Psst. Add some colorful pens to the gift, too. I'm very picky about pens. These are my favorite!)

4. A Moment To Remember as Someone Turns 16

There's a boy I know. He who shall not be named. He doesn't like attention on himself. He'll never be one to brag of accomplishments or talk about himself too much. He will not be the loudest voice in the crowd. He, in fact, is not a huge fan of crowds. He won't post a zillion pictures of himself and he prefers that I not either. 

He's sarcastic and cutting. He does not hand out compliments easily. He jokes and teases and it can hurt a gal's feelings is she happens to be a tad (or a ton) on the sensitive side or if she forgets that she just needs to hang in there for the joke at the end. If she loosens up she can be in on the joke and he will crack her up like no one else. But she's a mom. And she doesn't loosen up easily. She worries and frets - most often about things that have not even happened. She projects and imagines, based on her own personal fears and what the culture tells her she should fear. 

But in some moments, God will nudge her and remind her that if she'll just take a breath and watch what is in front of her in that specific moment, rather than spending her time conjuring up moments in the future, she might be surprised to find rest and trust and peace and enormous gratitude.

Seven months ago that mom was a big bowl of worry. Was she doing right? Were they listening to her? Was she too caught up in daily tasks and insignificant details?  Should she talk more to them? Talk less? Hover more? Hover less? 

Then one Sunday evening she got shocking news that a friend had died. He was gone - tragically, suddenly, unbelievably. The boys all seemed to have scattered. Her husband sat on the floor in disbelief. She stood in shock, stunned and sickened and shaking, staring out her kitchen window in silence. And then the tears came in a rush, pouring in streams down her face. She tried to muffle her sobs. Her boys had seen her cry a zillion times, but not like this. She tried to quiet her grief.

And then, there was a moment. A fraction of a moment really. 

The sarcastic one? The one who isn't much for deep, meaningful conversations? Who, she had decided, in recent years, was lacking a bit of empathy or at least was becoming quite quick to shun emotions?  That one, now at least 6 inches taller than she, walked up behind her. He rested his chin on her shoulder and wrapped his left arm around her. He placed his right hand on the top of her head. He said nothing. There was a sigh, and then one or maybe two light taps on her head.  And then he was gone.

And in those very few seconds, in the midst of grief, pain and worry for her friend's family, along with a huge dose of fear for her own family, who seemed suddenly so much more fragile, he was there. And with his presence came peace and trust and comfort - all of it wrapped up in the brief touch of a 15 year old knuckle-headed teenager.

No photo. No birthday wishes. No more words. 16 years ago the sweetest kid showed up. He tries to hide sometimes, but he still shows up when his mama least expects it and in the briefest most gracious of ways.

5. OK, I Lied. One Photo.

But I'm not writing his name. You can refer to him by the name we called him when he was nine which is when this was taken. We called him Little Thunder. We might should have changed that to PigPen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Year's Daybook (on the 3rd Day) 1/3/17

For Today

Looking out my window:
The skies are grey and the rain is steady.  The weather app says this will continue throughout the day. I love it.
I am thinking:
About 2017 and how that number seemed so very far away when I stared into my first born's eyes in 1998 and calculated when he would graduate from high school. I'm also thinking that 2017 marks exactly 30 years since I graduated from high school. 2017??? How in the world am I going to watch my own kid play basketball tonight at a high school gym instead of zipping up my cheerleading skirt and picking up my best friend, Lori, so that we could cheer at a basketball game at my high school gym? How in the world am I waiting for my son's college acceptance news instead of going to the mailbox hoping to find my acceptance letter to college? How in the actual world?

I am thankful:
For the blessing of the kids back to school and the man back to work on a rainy Tuesday when I have plenty of Tide and Bounce, a working washer and dryer and a fierce determination to leave no Nike sock, no Under Armour sweatshirt, no pair of American Eagle khaki pants, no musty towel unlaundered. I will not be defeated.

One of my favorite things:

Pretty paper planners and perfectly pointed pencils. I will never give up my old school planner for my Iphone calendar. Never, ever, ever.

I am wearing:
Black Under Armour joggers, a blue and white pajama top, a sweatshirt I gave Steve in 1998 and socks. I will not be answering the doorbell today. No way, Jose.

I am reading:

Steve and I actually went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and I could have stayed there for hours. I forgot how much I love a book store: the miles and miles of titles stretching out in front of you, touching the books, flipping through the books and smelling the books. I even liked the physical "searching"  for the books I wanted as opposed to typing the title into a search box. I had about seven books in hand, but only ended up purchasing Chasing Slow by Erin Lochner and Falling Free by Shannan Martin. I spent most of New Year's Day reading and finishing Liane Moriarty's Truly, Madly, Guilty. This is the third Moriarity book I've read and boy, can that girl can tell a story. 

I am watching:

We watched a lot of football over the vacation. Steve and I watched a few episodes of Homeland. We just finished Season 3, so I see some binging the rest of the seasons in our future. All of us watched the movie The Magnificent 7 which was both difficult and easy to watch. 
Difficult=lots of violence including death by gunshots, piercing arrows, knives and even axes.
Easy=Chris Pratt as a cowboy. ;-)

I am listening to:
I listened to both Erin Lochner and Shannan Martin on Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour podcast in 2016. As I bought both of their books  yesterday, I might go back and listen again. I know I've mentioned it a million times, but I am way late to the podcast game and I can't seem to stop talking about all the women I hear on The Happy Hour. I highly recommend it. Perfect for a rainy Tuesday when your kids are back in school and there are 432 loads of laundry to do.

I am hoping:
to listen more, write more, read more and scroll less in 2017.

I am learning:
that I actually can cook some things that aren't terrible if I just take a deep breath and believe. (And also, in full disclosure, I've gotten a little help from Blue Apron which my sister gave me for Christmas.) So far we've made seared pork chops with farro and cranberry chutney.  braised chicken with mashed sweet potatoes and white cheddar cheeseburgers with roasted sweet potatoes. Let me say this again. I MADE CRANBERRY CHUTNEY from scratch and I did not actually even exactly know what chutney was. That is a lot of learning, friends.

In my kitchen:
Um. Did you hear about the cranberry chutney? That I made? By myself? Even though I didn't really know what chutney really was? And did I forget to say that 3 out of 5 of my people ate it which is a majority of my people? Would you like to see the picture which I actually texted to at least four people the night I made it? Here it is.

Post Script:
Please don't miss this perfect piece (and peace) from my friend, Elizabeth, to start your new year. In it she says:
"Hope says life is going to get hard, sometimes very, very hard, but that’s not the end of the story. Our hearts will be burdened with heaviness we cannot even fathom, but He comes. He comes humbly into the stench of it all so that we don’t have to walk the hard journeys alone. He knows. He knows the pain of sword that pierces us. And He feels it, too. He is the compassionate Savior who speaks peace into our troubled nights. We can turn the calendar page not with optimism, but with genuine hope in the God who saves. This year, next year, this burden or the next one: we are not alone."
Read the whole post HERE.
Shared Quote:
"Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen."
-Anne Lamott

I plan to take that chance as much as possible this year.

A moment (or more specifically, a message) from my day:

Too harsh?
Closing Notes:
 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

What a perfect verse for a new year - full of hope, full of Him.

Happiest New Year, Friends. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

(Prompts from

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year and Happy Sales on All the Things!!!

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a lovely holiday with your people and that you are able to spend one last day on the couch watching football or movies or reading a book or just sleeping the day away.

If you are being responsible and setting a resolution to stop buying all the things, well . . . me, too. (Bummer. I will likely not be ordering any of this, but it's fun to pretend.)

If perhaps, you have family members who are rude enough to have birthdays and anniversaries in January of all months (that would be yours truly and most of my family) then check out some great sales I found for you today. Just look up from your computer every once and awhile and yell, "Great play! Go Defense! or Terrible Call, Ref!" and no one will be the wiser.


Y'all. This is a phone case full of tacos and it's on sale for $11.98. What else do you need to know?

This cute thing costs less than $10.00. 

3.  Bobeau Cold Shoulder High/Low Top

I have been unsure about the cold shoulder trend for awhile but I think I'm coming around. At first I thought I was too old for it, but then I've saw quite a few of my friends wearing them during the holidays and they all looked so cute. The best part is that if you buy the right one, most don't require a special bra. Ain't nobody got time for a strapless bra after a certain age, amiright? This comes in three colors and is less than $25.

This dress is the CUTEST EVER. It costs only $22.80. It is fit and flare AND embellished. If you have a real daughter you must buy this dress. Or even if you're like me and you only have a fake daughter you could still afford it and hang it in your closet for that day when one of your three boys might give you a real granddaughter. 

5. Fringe Tunic

I think this is so, so pretty. All sale items from Anthropologie are 40% off with the code TAGTIME so that makes this less than $60. For some reason, I don't like this color on me and I wish it came in other colors. Still, someone out there would look lovely in this and she needs it because Holy Sale Price, Batman.

My niece gave me the most perfect blanket scarf from Loft for Christmas and I love it with my whole heart. I don't see the exact one on the site today, but there are lots of other options like this cute plaid one. These are 40% off with no code. And if you are intellectually challenged like I am when it comes to styling one of these, there is a little card that comes with it to show you what to do. In full disclosure, I will tell you that I needed a little extra help, so I spent a good thirty minutes the other night watching Youtube videos on how to style my blanket scarf. I heart you, Internet.

This plaid shirt dress at Gap is 40% off with the code ALLNEW. So cute.

I do not look this cute when I'm binging all the episodes of Fixer Upper. But perhaps I could make it a New Year's Resolution to at least match my pj bottoms to my top in 2017? This outfit is so cute and comfy looking and even though I hope your heater is working and you wouldn't need the hat, you can get 40% off with the code ALLNEW.

Just when we think that Anthropologie is being reasonable by offering some good discounts and understanding that we really shouldn't have to spend a month's salary to buy a white tshirt, they pull this little stunt. This is listed under the House & Home/Kitchen & Dining tab as an apron. If you can cook in this thing, go for it, because it's on sale, but I don't think we can be friends. Otherwise, wear it to a New Year's Eve party next year. Someone on the Anthro website team needed to sober up before she posted this.

I love West Elm for home decor and they are having some great sales right now on sofas and rugs and whatnot.  But lookie what I found on their website today! I am a sucker for pajamas and these cute seersucker pjs they are offering are just about 50% off!!! They come in blue and red and are adorable.

Well, that's it, friends! Have a great day watching football, spending one last vacation day with your people and/or shopping for all the things! Happy New Year!!