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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Happy New-ish Year



Well, hey, y'all, and Happy New Year!

Can we still say, "Happy New Year"? I'm hoping we can string that out at least until February 1st because my Motivated/New/Improved 2018 Self is still trying really hard to continue being my Slacker/Lazy/Incredibly Introverted End of 2017 Self.

It doesn't help that at least as far as trying to get into a routine around here there were a lot of starts and stops in these first few weeks of January. I was really productive when the kids went back to school after the Christmas break for a whopping two whole days before the bomb cyclone or bombogenesis or whatever name Al Roker invented caused school to be closed here for three and a half days.

In the past few weeks we've had both a 70 degree day of mugginess and an 11 degree day with gusting wind during which I took my dog out before 7:00 am. This is when I wondered if I missed the memo that my Word of the Year for 2018 was apparently supposed to be HEROISM. The only good thing to come of this weather pattern was the one morning of ice which lead to the first youtube video of 2018 to cause me all manner of delight.



I first saw it on the page of a neighborhood facebook group of which I am a member, so I feel very proud of the local wife of this dude who saw fit to share it with the group and just as proud that it has now gone on to great success on all kinds of national shows. I absolutely cannot get enough of watching this.

PS He's fine, by the way, so watch and laugh as many times as you please.

Anyway, after I watched that poor guy about 40 times, I had all good intentions to come here this week and recap Christmas break 2017, but as we move farther into the month, those weeks seem to be a distant, fuzzy memory. Also, to be honest, I took exactly two photos the entire time and spent an enormous amount of time in my pajamas which does not lend itself to very exciting posts or photos.

Speaking of photos, I think my Christmas Card Saga pretty much explains how I was bringing lazy back during the holiday season. First of all, we had exactly two family photos to choose from for our Christmas card. It was slim pickins' but in the end I had to choose one in which Drew is not smiling because someone got really worked up and told him his smile in previous attempts was not good enough.

(Full Disclosure: It was me. Y'all. I'm not great at this parenting gig some days. Why must we stress our kids out over something like a dumb photo that ends up in someone's recycling bin after a day or two? In 2018, I hope to remember that we mamas can apologize to our children. And we must. I'm still apologizing for that one. Geez, take it down a notch, lady.)

Anyway, it didn't even matter in the end because after I thought I mailed my cards, I got at least half of them returned to my mailbox because I just flat out forgot to put stamps on a huge stack of them.

I mean, it was almost 2018, did we really still need to put stamps on cards? Who are we the Ingalls family? It seems this is something we should have moved past by now. By the time I got a big mess of them returned with a note that said "No Postage, Moron", I was knee deep in season 2 of The Crown and honestly didn't feel like stamping my cards because that would have required walking into another room, finding the stamps, peeling and sticking them to the envelopes and walking back out to the mailbox. Not to mention I would have to lift that flag thing up.  So I was all


Unfortunately, I wasn't wearing those white gloves. That would have been awesome though. Anyway, all that to say that I basically just threw them in the recycling bin and clicked "next episode" on The Crown. So if you usually get a card from me and didn't get one, don't be offended or hurt or whatever, just know that I fell into the couch and couldn't get up.

Also, Merry Christmas 2017 from the Skinners.


I have since removed myself from the couch, sort of, only to find that everyone and their dog is really into their new year's goals. I see beautiful Instagram photos depicting planning pages laid out on a Starbucks table strategically placed next to a skinny vanilla latte and a set of colorful pens at the ready for all manner of self-improvement ideas. I've heard of people coming up with their word of the year and setting up space for quiet time and exercising and eating right. Basically, everyone is killing it at being their best selves which makes me look around like this


This is the thing. I did buy a planner. I'm so excited by it. Look at how pretty it is with my pens.


Now look at the inside.




It's blank. Blankety blank blank. No goals, no tasks, no bucket list, no answer to "Where do you see yourself going?"

I love goals y'all. I really do. I love pens and planners and all of that living-with-intention business. I think it's important and valuable. And I intend to sit down and think about my year and my goals and dreams because they are definitely in me. 

But I'm trying really hard to do that on my time when I feel the Lord leading me to sit in prayer and to listen to what He requires of me and wants for me this year. We ought not forget that the "life coach" on the Today Show or the Instagram post by a motivated friend or the thought provoking prompts in our pretty new planner are not the boss of us. If they inspire you and help you that is great. But if they make you feel like you're not doing it right remember that your life is your life. January 1st is not a magic date. I am painfully aware that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed, but I don't think that all is lost for your year if you haven't planned your menu for the rest of the month and you can't quite pinpoint where you want to be in 5 years. 

Appreciate your day today. Start a new eating plan. Fix your ponytail and go run that mile. Clean out a closet. Read a book. Or, if you want to, go ahead and press "Next Episode."  Who's to say that finishing Season 2 of Last Chance U is not a worthy goal for today?

My new planner is waiting for me. And today I'm taking my cue from Scarlett O'Hara:

I'll think about that tomorrow.

Happy Newish Year, Friends. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Wild and Precious Life: Kate Rhoades


It's January 12th.

This is a day stuck in the middle of January that for most of my life was just an ordinary day. January is filled with lots of meaningful days for me. Our wedding anniversary. Our second son's birthday. My sister's birthday. My birthday.

January 12th? For almost 47 of my years on Earth, this date conjured up no special image, no unique emotion, no specific prayer. And even still, the January 12th square on my calendar this year looks pretty typical. An orthodontist appointment. An eye doctor appointment. A basketball game.

Except for one specific reminder to myself written out in purple pen. A little girl's name. A heart-shaped scribble.


January 12th is different now.

Two years ago on January 12th Kate Rhoades died of cancer at the age of four. Two days from now I will presumably - because it is so very obviously not a guarantee - turn 49 years old, meaning I will have been given 45 more years than Kate. 16,425 more days.

Not one bit of that makes a lick of sense to me.

I believe I met Kate and her family only once before she died. Both her mama and her grandma have become friends since that day, but my heartbreak over this doesn't deserve any attention today. While my thoughts are full of her family, I won't pretend that any grief I feel is worthy of your sympathy. I shed a lot of tears this morning over this little girl and for this family, but they are but a drop in a vast, deep ocean of tears that have been and will be shed by those who knew her well.

You see, I have the great luxury of going through my January 12th making my appointments, eating my lunch, answering an email, being annoyed at traffic, lamenting the pain of my pulled hamstring, and chuckling at a funny tweet. I can just walk on through it, all with the assumption that I'll be able to celebrate my birthday this weekend with my husband and my friends and my children.

I mean, I could just treat it as an ordinary day.

But I hope that because of that little heart and those four letters scrawled in purple pen on my calendar I will do all those things a little bit differently today. I hope that January 12th will be a day when I am fully present, fully kind, fully grateful and fully aware that no day, not a single one of the 365 laid out in my new planner, is "just a day".

Today, on January 12th, some things might go wrong. Someone is going to make you angry. Something will disappoint you. Someone will cut you off in traffic. Something in the news will cause you despair. Some task will seem too hard. Something will seem unjust. Someone will hurt your feelings. Something will seem tedious and boring and ordinary.

I'm not suggesting that any of those things aren't worthy of all the feelings they will conjure up in you, but I'm suggesting that you try really hard today, on January 12th, to respond differently.

Might you give grace? Might you forgive? Might you hold your tongue? Might you work harder or on the contrary, give yourself a break? Might you defiantly find a measure of hope in a situation that seems hopeless? Might you be light in a place that is dark? Might you just utter one humble prayer of gratitude as you walk through this day?

Kate's precious little feet walked this Earth for less than five years. And in every picture or video I've seen of her, I am assured that she found the extraordinary in every, single, ordinary day.

What does this day mean for you? Does it hold weight? Good or bad? Don't let it be just a day. Whatever you're doing, wherever you go - whether in your home or in your office or in your school or at Starbucks - decide to give it weight and meaning and purpose. Find the blessing in the burden today and then for the rest of this new year, ponder Mary Oliver's famous question:

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


What a wild and precious life you had, sweet Kate. It's brevity and the stories I have witnessed of your courage, your infectious giggle and the way you continue to show up in the most beautiful ways for your family will remain in me forever, teaching me what is most important today and every day forward. No day is an ordinary day. Every day can be beautiful or tragic or both. But all of them are extraordinary.

God be near you, Lindsay, Michael and Cheryl.

Monday, January 8, 2018

He's 17.




This guy turned 17 years old yesterday. He isn't a fan of a lot of attention and so I try to respect that and refrain from writing sappy, gushy birthday posts on my blog about him. They just make him sigh and think, "Chill, Mom." which is his favorite thing to say to me.

When he was born and wrapped up and placed in my arms he looked up at me with a frown and furrowed brow as if to say, "Settle down, Lady. Enough with the cooing. What's the big deal anyway?" Still, despite the fact that many days we both cannot even with each other for one more second, I have no choice. I love him so much it's stupid and unreasonable. It's just my job.

Last week, I saw the movie, Wonder, based on a book that I read out loud to all three of my boys. I looked up the definition of the word recently and found that Merriam-Webster defines "wonder" as "a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar and inexplicable."

Kyle is, as most of your teens are I imagine, perfectly described by all of those words. He is always beautiful to me and can surprise me with things I never expected, both frustrating things that annoy the fire out of me and amazingly, sweet things that take my breath away. He can be unfamiliar and inexplicable which is normal for teenagers and maddening for mamas of teenagers. And despite how difficult I find this job of raising boys into men and how often I have to call on the Lord to remind me that He is ultimately the one who will order this boy's steps, who will be the fuel behind his every success and will be the place he will land after ever fall, I am humbled and filled with gratitude at the favor He showed in gifting me this wonder of a boy.

Happy Birthday, Kyle. You are, indeed, a wonder. And I will love you a ridiculously annoying amount forever and ever.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Stitch Fix Review!! December 2017

It's Stitch Fix Review Day! I got a box delivered on Sunday, just in time for Christmas. I am officially wrapping up a couple of things and telling my husband that he can chill and not do his usual last minute shopping for me this go round. I'm selfless like that. ;-)

Speaking of, if you are still searching for a last minute idea and don't want to have to brave the mall, a Stitch Fix Gift Certificate just might be what you're looking for for your mom, sister, girlfriend, friend or even your husband. The deal is that there is a $20 a month styling fee. Your person goes to the site and fills out a style profile and determines how often she'd like a shipment. (I get a box every other month.) Then 5 items show up on her doorstep. She tries them on, has three days to decide, mails back what she doesn't like in a pre-paid envelope and keeps what she wants. If she chooses any items her styling fee is credited to the price. If she chooses all five she gets 25% off her order. Go HERE and you can even just sit here in your jammies watching the Hallmark Channel and just have an email sent to your person's inbox. Done and done.

My stylist, who happens to be named Jason, actually is a real person and did a great job picking out items for me. He (or she? I don't know any Jasons that are shes, but could be) even wrote a note which made it clear that he heard my plea for no more wool in any of the sweaters I'm sent.  YAY! This brings us to Item number 1.


Loveappella
Persy Drawstring Hem Knit Sweatshirt


This sweatshirt is so soft and not made of a single thing that will give me hives. It's thin, so it's not too hot or bulky. I think it can be really casual for a day hanging on the couch or sitting in the basketball gym or could be dressed up a bit.

Other outfit details:


Articles of Society
Tiana Skinny Jean


These Articles of Society black skinny jeans were really cute and reasonably priced. I think black jeans can dress up just about any top. I already have a great pair of black jeans that are from Banana Republic. They are really old, but holding up pretty well. Kinda like me. :-) I think the grey sweater will be great with black jeans and these suede grey booties.

Other outfit details:


Pink Clover
Elanie Button Down Blouse


This top fit well and I liked the cut. Also, it has a plethora of stars on it. Perhaps the song lyrics "The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas" should have motivated this Texas gal to want to wear stars all over her shirt, but alas, they did not. Still, because I am a loyal Texan who loves the big and bright stars of my home state, I put this outfit together. And then I returned the shirt because my love has healthy boundaries. The end.

Other outfit details:


Amour Vert
Kaitlyn Striped Drawstring Pullover


This cute pullover was totally my jam as far as the stripes, the colors and the style. The only problem was that for me, a casual sweatshirt pullover needs to be a bit bigger than my normal size and this wasn't. It fit perfectly, but I would have liked it to be roomier. Anyway, it made a cute outfit before I returned it.

Other outfit details:
Joggers from Stitch Fix/ Shoes / Earrings / Similar Watch


Octavia
London Mixed Material Satchel



I hugged this bag when I took it out of the box. It's so embarrassing. I didn't have any idea that I  wanted or needed an olive colored bag until it was staring me in the face. It's exactly like a Hallmark Christmas movie plot actually. The single, hard working mom - who is usually someone from a 90s sitcom - is certain she has no time or interest in love again and then she finds herself running into an incredibly good-looking, yet exasperating Christmas tree farmer numerous times until she realizes that he is her soulmate and she must kiss him under the mistletoe as snow falls around her in giant heaps. You see? She didn't know what she needed until she bumped right into him it. Pretty much same plot line here. Yes? No? Whatever. I've watched a lot of Hallmark Channel this week.

Anyway, I love the gold zipper detail. And that little tag hanging off the strap? It's totally meaningless, but makes me happy. This was a keep, but I'm not letting myself use it until Christmas because I make arbitrary rules like that to offset how shallow it is that I hugged a handbag.

Other Outfit Details
Similar Jeans/ My Favorite Boots Ever / Similar Plaid Shirts

So, that's it for today. I kept two of the five items sent to me which I consider a win. I still think all of the items were really cute and that Stitch Fix continues to do a great job with sending me items that are right in my style wheelhouse.

Remember this makes a unique gift, so go here to sign up for Stitch Fix for yourself or figure out the ways you can gift a Stitch Fix subscription gift card to a friend.

Have a very, very merry Christmas, Friends!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: December 2017 Edition








I'm linking up with Sheaffer Told Me To The Larson Lingo and Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday today.


What We're Eating This Week

Because of our ridiculous sports schedule we are not always together for a family meal, but we do the best we can. For many years, we have been really protective of our Sunday night steak dinners, so it was really great to have Joe home from college for our Sunday night dinner this week. I'm certain I have mentioned this Warm Spinach Basil Salad that my mother-in-law introduced me to years ago, but we had it Sunday night and I'm guessing we'll do it again for Christmas dinner. It is so good and seems a little fancier than your regular cold salad.

6 cups spinach
2 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (or more)
4 oz. prosciutto, diced
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup parmesean cheese, grated

Toss spinach and basil together in a large salad bowl. Heat oil in medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and pine nuts and saute until nuts begin to brown slightly. Stir in prosciutto and cook one minute more. Season with salt and pepper. Toss spinach and basil with warm dressing and sprinkle with cheese.

What I'm Reminiscing About




All three of my boys went to the same Mother's Morning Out program. Every year they did the same wooden ornaments that they painted and covered with glitter. I wonder if they still do the same ones even 16 years since Joe was there. I love pulling these out every year and thinking back on their chubby cheeks and sticky hands and sloppy kisses. 

What I'm Loving


When we're able to convince the boys to join in on a family movie night that does not involve a movie about war, rappers or sports. I will say that when they heard that It's a Wonderful Life was a black and white movie at least one of them acted as if we were asking him to watch Cinderella, but they all watched it last night with us and my in-laws and they all lasted through the whole thing. How amazing is the look of gratitude and wonder on Jimmy Stewart's face? This is one of the most perfect Christmas movies. It makes me cry every darn time.

What We've Been Up To


Steve and I were lucky to get a chance to escape to Florida when Kyle and his high school basketball team traveled there last week for a tournament. Actually, besides during the games, during that trip we saw our son for approximately 2.5 minutes and he spoke approximately 17 words to us. Such is life with a 16 year old on a trip with his squad. In the end I didn't mind at all, as it turned out to be a really fun and necessary few days for Steve and me to have time together. 


I'm not one to get too mushy about my husband because he is the least mushy person on the planet, but sometimes it is really important to get away from the routine and stress of parenting and work and remember why you even started out on this whole marriage thing in first place. Sometimes it's easy to forget that you actually have a darn good time together. My husband still makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. I'm so grateful.


Also, I'm sure at this point you're as stunned as I am that Kyle wouldn't want to hang out with me in Orlando.

What I'm Dreading

I've gone running exactly twice in three weeks. I'm not sure it's going to go so well when I start back at it. That first time out after a long stretch of laziness is usually about like this.


What I'm Working On


I received a new box from Stitch Fix which had some really cute pieces in it including this olive satchel by Octavia which will be wrapped and put under the tree as a "surprise" to me from my husband. I'm hoping to post about it this week. If you a still need a gift for someone, you can easily still get them a gift card - even just an email sent right to them - to set up and try Stitch Fix. They have a program for men, too. I got this as a gift from my sister-in-law for Christmas a few years ago and it's one of my favorite gifts ever. 

What I'm Excited About


We are headed to DC this week to check out the newly opened Museum of the Bible. I've heard some wonderful things about it and I can't wait.

What I'm Watching


I'm beside myself with glee that the 2nd season of The Crown has started. I'm trying to watch it slowly so that I won't be so sad when it's over. I watched the first episode and it is so good. This on top of the Meghan and Harry news is just about more than I can take. 

What I'm Reading


I just downloaded this book to my Kindle. I've had numerous people suggest it.



Also, I heard recently ordered this book. I heard it suggested as one that would be good for those who might not be looking forward to the holiday season. I have a lot of friends who will be spending their first Christmas with an empty seat at the table and a number who are suffering through the emptiness for yet another season with not a shred of evidence that time heals all wounds. It occurs to me I should have ordered quite a few of these. :(


What I'm Listening To


Nichole  Nordeman's Every Mile Mattered on repeat. Favorites: Sound of Surviving, Dear Me and No Longer.

What I'm Wearing


You'll be shocked to know that I'm wearing this plaid flannel shirt from American Eagle. I cannot stop with the plaid shirts. I need help. Also, Articles of Society jeans similar to these and these shoes.

What I'm Doing This Weekend



What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month


Having Joe around for the first week or so, watching my two youngest guys play some hoops and celebrating this guy's 17th birthday and our 23rd wedding anniversary. We have lots of joyful celebrations in January to take the sting out of the cold, dark weather.

What Else is New


There's a new ornament on the tree this year. A gift from my college boy. I hung it just a tad below another ornament because I can't help myself. 

Hook Em Horns
We Are...
and also,
Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to amazon.com

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How to Hit a Home Run This Holiday: A Baseball Mom's Gift Guide



Merry Christmas, Baseball Fans!

I don't know about you, but with Christmas only a couple of weeks away, I'm feeling very much like I'm facing a 100 mph fast ball with two outs and two strikes on me in the bottom of the ninth. Hopefully, you're ahead of me in taking care of your gift list, but if not, I'm offering my fellow baseball parents a little help today.

Having celebrated numerous Christmas mornings with baseball enthusiasts from t-ball age to veteran coaches, I have some ideas for you.

Here we go. READ THE REST HERE.


Friday, December 8, 2017

5 Friday Favorites: December 8, 2017

I am so happy to see Friday this week. It's been a fun, busy time around here which has left me little time to write. Mostly, it's been a lot of decking of the halls and dribbling of the basketballs. We've got Joe coming home from his first semester of college for Christmas next week, a trip to Florida with the High School basketball team and hopefully, a very efficient and frugal finish to the Christmas shopping with minimal stress and maximum spreading of holiday cheer.

A girl's gotta dream, folks.

Here are 5 of my favorite things from the week.


1. Remembering When They Were My "Littles"


I had the most precious time speaking with the Moms of Littles at my church on Wednesday. I adored these women who are in the midst of weaning toddlers off of pacifiers, guiding kiddos in potty training and powering through the unique brand of heroism that is a mama fighting morning sickness and exhaustion while running after a 3 year old.

Lord, have (enormous amounts of) mercy on them. Amen.

I have moments when I feel like those experiences were only 5 minutes ago like when I pull out this little angel preschool craft that Drew did. At the same time, it feels like a million years ago. It is so cliche, but so true that those days are long, but the years are short. Don't blink, sweet mamas. Do not blink.

2. Ellie Holcomb's Red Sea Road Album


I've mentioned a few of the songs on this album, but I cannot get enough of any of them. I highly recommend every single song. In the past few weeks, there seems to have been a lot of loss for my friends - parents, grandparents, spouses. I bought four sympathy cards just yesterday. My dad is recovering from back surgey. At least four of our good friends have had long hospital stays in the past few weeks. One of my little friends who is fighting cancer has had a significant set back. And we've marked the anniversary of the loss of one of my favorite kiddos in the whole universe to osteosarcoma this week. This album is bringing me hope in this season which seems so much darker than usual. Also, Ellie Holcomb was interviewed on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and their discussion is well worth your time.

3. AE Ahh-mazingly Soft Flannel Boyfriend Shirt

The question is how many times am I going to have a plaid shirt on Friday Favorites? And the answer is at least one more time. These shirts are so soft and comfortable and come in so many cute color combinations. They are on sale for $24.99 and look great alone or paired with this lightweight sweater which is only $20.00. Gift for one of your girls? Sister? Mom? Fake and/or Real Daughter? Done.


4. This Facebook Post


If there was a Top Ten Social Media Posts of All Time List this one by my friend, Christine, who has two girls and also two boys who seem to be cut from the same cloth as all the people in my house might just top it. She's posted this Thanksgiving worksheet several years in a row. The deep contemplation that her son obviously put in before he listed his greatest blessings never disappoints. Can you even stand it? Boys are just the best ever.

5. Rooted In Hope Advent Devotional


This Advent devotional is saving my life right now. I've had a pretty nasty cold this week and a lot of things on the to-do list but have really done my best to get up early and work through the daily readings. The words in the quiet, stillness of the morning before all the pressure and tasks come crashing in have been such a gift to me.  How 'bout this for your morning?

"It is hope that makes the difference between the prayer that opens our eyes to redemption and the prayer that forgets that help is on its way. It is hope that makes our prayers bold enough for us to defend them even when they make us look a little crazy. It is hope that lets us open our hands for the answer and keep them open, holding all the grace that is poured into them when God responds loosely enough that it rises back up to Him again as praise." - Colleen Mitchell

And all the people say, "Amen and Amen."

I wish you a weekend bursting full of hope, Friends. Have a good one.

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to amazon.com