Monday, December 17, 2012


My baby is seven.

In first grade.

It's hard to look at her and not think of the parents in New Town.

The ones with empty arms.

Hidden Christmas presents that no longer matter.

Front teeth that will never grow in.

I live in a land where guns matter. Guns matter to a lot of people. They are adamant about their guns. Their rights.

Those babies had rights too.

Does a gun that shoots six rounds per second belong in your 2nd Ammendment?

It doesn't in mine.

Guns may matter to some people, but children matter more.

Hopefully we can all agree on that one.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Party Planning For Dummies

We did it.

First big party in this house? Check it off the list. Never you mind that my husband couldn't get out of bed yesterday, or that I took a 4 hour nap. It was worth it. Big parties are no big deal. Effortless. Easy-peasy, chicken squeezy. Especially when you use these ever-so-smart party planning tips...

  • Buy your flowers a day before. This gives them a chance to open, and gives off that relaxed, "Hey, I have fresh flowers all the time," feel. My best place to find flowers is Costco. Is your Costco a vortex of unnecessary purchases? Because nothing says "I'm having a party" than a cart filled with tire cleaner and a gallon sized bag of pancake mix. 
  • Buy a chevron striped rug from RugsUSA for your daughter's room. Have it delivered day before your party. Realize it will look better in dining room and schlep downstairs. Cooerce your 7 year old into helping you lift rug under heavy table. Over existing rug. Hope guests don't notice the bumps, or that your husband notices you bought new rug.
  • Use upcoming party as chance to fix all of the annoying things in your house that drive you nuts. Have a handyman at your house the day before the party. The light in the shower now works! Will now serve cocktails in shower.
  • Forget you have Symphony tickets for the morning of the party. Can I peel potatoes during symphony? Smuggle some in purse. Will wait for horns section to kick off before starting potatoes.
  • Save your trip to Ikea to buy wine glasses until hours before the party. At this point, you are barely speaking to your spouse, so sending him off on an errand is an excellent idea. Husband specifically asks if he should buy (insert Swedish word for red wine glasses) or (insert Swedish word for white wine glasses). You tell him (Swedish word for white). He buys (insert Swedish word for red). You call him (insert Swedish word for... well, you get my drift). 
  • Agonize over centerpiece. Light candles. Reassure worried husband that no one will spill red wine or holiday cocktails on furniture. No one does. But, the dining room table (purchased 6 WEEKS ago) does catch on fire. Luckily, husband has made good use of his (Swedish word for red wine glasses) and laughs it off to a good memory. 

So there you have it! Party planning made easy. We narrowly escaped a call to the fire department, had Australians doing the Gangnam style dance in my family room & are forever blessed to have such good friends to celebrate with. Anyone know a good furniture refinisher?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Almost There

In 2 days, I turn 40.

The weirdest part of this is not seeing Judd Nelson play Santa Claus on the Hallmark Channel (he did! My inner Molly Ringwald shuddered), or that our planned trip to Thailand went in the trashcan, but that I vividly remember where I was when my Mom turned 40.

I was 15. Immediately after highschool- I went over to our family friend's house to decorate for her surprise party. I helped hang a huge banner that said "Lordy, Lordy, Sharon's Forty" and waited in eager anticipation for my mom that hates surprises.

My girls are 9 and 7, and I wonder if they will recall this birthday. My husband has invited a small gathering of friends to join us for Saturday night- and I love seeing him, completely out of his element- menu planning, cake ordering and juggling the small bits of party throwing that drive one nuts. He has not yet started his own Pinterest account, so at least there's that.

The drink of choice is a gin concoction called "Forever Young" (1990 Prom theme in the house!) and I'll let you guys know if it magically gets rid of the line that has somehow formed between my brows.

So, goodbye to my 30's. You were a grand decade- ushered in with karaoke and friends in a little house in San Diego that had no children. You were not all fun and games, but not all sadness either. I lost 3 of my grandparents. One baby. Birthed 2 delicious little girls. Moved more times than I care to remember. Many of your moments are hazy- I was very, very tired during a good stretch of your time. But I will look back and know that this is the time I became a mother, we became a family and forever changed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

A quote came across my twitter feed that made me stop and think.

"Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking."- Marianne Williamson

I get it. There's nothing admirable about rejecting your gifts. However, I feel there's something to be said for the lost art of just being.

Pinterest shows me a gazillion ways to carve a pumpkin, make a monster wreath for my door and decorate the cutest Halloween cookies. I've clipped dozens of pages of homes that will never look like my house. Is this good? Is this inspiration or a daily reminder of what I'm not living up to?

Facebook updates are carefully crafted. Instagram photos are edited. The constant marketing of day to day life doesn't show the weariness. It doesn't show the 5:30pm nights where no one knows what's for dinner, or the homework that didn't get done, or the mean words that sometimes escape despite the best of intentions. It doesn't show the dirt of life. Is this good?

There's something to be said for shrinking. Not the minimizing of your talent, or making someone feel less than, but the shrinking of your life. Focusing in on what's important. Letting go of the Pinterest perfection and spending time on little things. Preferably, unshowered and in your pajamas.

Last night was not a good one. One of the kids had a nightmare, and was up in the middle of the night. It wasn't bad enough to miss school, but it was enough of a disruption to start the day off in a tired, grumpy way.

I called a truce. I sent one kid back to bed. Divided and conquered. One kid made it to their school on time. One did not. The tardy kid joined their mom at Starbucks, for a round of hot chocolates.

Sometimes, shrinking tastes better with whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


She's turning nine in a few weeks. More and more, I get glimpses of the person she is becoming.

Last week, she finally got a library card in her own name. When you're almost nine, this is big, big stuff. Yesterday, after school, she adamantly asked to go to the library. What mom can resist? I watched her, holding her pink sparkly purse, with her books neatly stacked in her arm. She confidently strolled through the stacks, selected a few books, and nonchalantly checked them out. My mind sped forward- and substituted her pink sparkly purse for a laptop bag, or a diaper bag. Or both.

Damn, this is going by much too fast.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Random Acts of Love

Happy Valentines Day!
We awoke this morning to valentines and little gifts- left by my early bird of a husband. I'm wondering if he saw the 3 foot heart balloon in my car that will grace his office later today. Nothing like a little (or big) heart of helium to add some love to your day.

Just saw a segment of this organization on the news. Amazing how one mother, who doesn't speak Chinese, has no foreign policy experience, started a non-profit that trains child care providers to nurture and love Chinese orphans. Their name, "Half The Sky," is from an ancient Chinese proverb that states "women hold up half the sky." They are ensuring each girl can hold their own. Heart warming.

We had big plans for Lucy's kindergarten Valentine's party. I wanted to make the photo Valentine currently sweeping the internet- (like we did for Annie last year- (looks like this). Yesterday, she tearfully admitted she wanted store bought valentines, with stickers or tattoos. After 2 different drug stores, she finally found a box of Peanuts cards that made her smile. Good reminder for me to let go of the Pinterest craziness, and do what makes your kids happy.

Funny, after almost 17 years of marriage, I'd kill Matt if he bought me flowers today. I'd much rather have a plant for the garden.  Does that make me an unromantic nerd? I thought so.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Earning the "Overthrow Dictator Badge"

One of the biggest surprises about Houston is how cosmopolitan it is. Truly. Because Houston is the US hub of the oil and gas industry, folks move here from everywhere. My kids have friends at school that have lived all over the world- which makes for some pretty funny interactions.

Last Friday: my minivan is filled with a gaggle of brownies, all on their way to a field trip. The newest brownie just moved here- after her family did a stint in Libya. They were evacuated at the height of the violence, in the middle of the night. After telling the other girls what "evacuate" meant- she gave us the details.

"Libya was run by a mean, mean man. He was so mean, that if you said the "s word" about him, they'd kill you." She started.

My daughter perks up. (Any conversation regarding inappropriate language does that). "Which s-word...- stupid?" my daughter asks.

All of the brownies shake their heads in dismay.

"Don't say that Annie, that's a bad word. They'd kill you for that in Libya." her new friend admonishes.

"It's not really a bad word, you know. It just means not smart." my daughter retorts.

"No seriously. If you said that about Gaddafi, they would come to your house in the middle of the night, and use this rope thing that has a sharp knife on one end and ..."

I cut her off right there. Executions weren't exactly on our girl scout agenda for the day.

She went back to telling us about the night she left Libya.

"We were in a van, with our friends, and our dog. We went to the airport in the middle of the night. Our first flight was cancelled. My Mom was really, really upset." (I could only imagine).

"Why was your flight cancelled?" Annie asks.

"Because some guys on the ground were shooting bullets at it." she replied.


Next up on the cosmopolitan scene of Houston? Chinatown. Massage parlor. Bang for your buck, ladies. Bang for your buck.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Have you heard that 2012's color of the year is Tangerine? Call me old fashioned, but I'm still partial to plain old orange. Since I haven't subjected my kids to any torture at the pediatrician's this week, I thought it would be fun to round up a few of my favorite things featuring my own version of 2012's "it girl" for color. I will avoid knock knock jokes with "orange you glad" in them. I pinky swear.

I've been wearing this scent for a while, but 3 people stopped me last week- just to ask about it. Besides the ocean, it's my favorite smell. I guess it helps that my hometown in California is known for these, and this time of year- the air is just starting to thicken with the early blooms.

Jo Malone's Orange Blossom

I clipped this to my Pinterest addiction/collection a few weeks ago. I love how the orange trim on the curtains and pillows livens up the room. I'm tempted to swing by Ikea and dredge up some simple white drapes to give this a go...
Traditional Home
It was 70 degrees today. Not a bad way to spend your January, but instead of cozying up in front of a fire in my flannel pjs, I'm craving spring. I know the whole color block thing is making the rounds, and I would never be caught dead dropping this much cash on a handbag, but a girl can dream- right?
Diane Von Furstenberg

It's no secret I love my dog. He may not be the sharpest tool in the toolbox, but did I ever tell you the story about how he got me out of bed to tell me I left the oven on? (True story). This doesn't exactly have the pizazz of a group of pooches playing poker, but the idea of a custom portrait, of my George, thrills me to bits.

From Vapor & Vamp

When I lived in San Diego, a dear friend used to tell me why she loved monthly date nights with her husband. "He puts on a belt, and I put on some lipstick."

I love this. And while Matt wears a belt on a regular basis, sometimes it's nice to put on swanky clothes and go out for a great meal. 

Last Saturday night, we did just that. This is what our orange-inspired dessert looked like- (and maybe, just maybe, I licked the dish when no one was looking).

Grand Marnier Souffle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I finally took the kids in for their annual wellness check. Three months late, but who's counting?

We adore our pediatrician. We see her around town frequently, and the kids constantly plague her with endless rounds of "We don't need shots until we're eleven?"

So when the new nurse asked me if I wanted the kids to get their flu shot, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "You have the mist, right?"

She said no, sorry- they were all out. The kids would need to get an old-school flu shot.

Immediately, I felt 2 sets of eyes bore into my skull, as each ankle biter quietly implored me to answer the right answer.

"Sure, I guess so." I replied

Immediately, all hell breaks loose.

The younger kid dissolves into huge, racking sobs in the corner.

The older ankle biter? She isn't going down without a fight.

She starts with yelling.
"Nooooooo Mommy!" No shots!"

I start to do that embarrassing giggle that moms get when their kids dive off the deep end of normalcy. The nurse realizes she should have not asked this in front of the kids, and whispers an "I'm so sorry."

After the yelling, Annie moves on to phase 2.


The nurse looks at her with wide eyes. I raise my eyebrows.

Annie flings open the exam door, and stalks out into the hallway. She bumps into our pediatrician, who has heard the hullabaloo and is trying hard not to laugh.

"Hey there, Annie. Where are you going?" The doctor asks.

"I am NOT getting a shot today. I AM GOING TO WAIT IN THE CAR." Annie replies.

Annie's sister follows her out, empowered by her sister's brazenness and is adding to the cacophony with sobs of despair.

The exam room door next to ours suddenly opens, and an elderly grandmother walks out, holding her 3 year old granddaughter's hand. The little girl looks at Annie, then at Lucy's tear stained face- and her eyes get really, really big.

Annie moves to stand in front of the exit.


"Excuse me, little girl. We need to get through there." says the kindly grandmother,


"You need to move." Elderly grandmother starts to not sound so kindly.

The pediatrician and I are trying hard not to laugh, and I take Annie by the shoulder and not-so-gently guide her into the exam room. The nurse asks her to count to five as I hold her body down, and before she can get to number 2, the needle goes in her arm.

Annie's eyes get big, and she stops screaming.

"Is that it?" she asks.

So yes, both kids got their shots. And realized that shots don't hurt more than the fear of them does. But that 3 year old that witnessed this go down? Good luck getting her to come back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Year


I love January. After a six week splurge of Christmas music, fudge and non-stop tinsel, the quiet simplicity of January is a welcome relief.

Closets are being organized. Drawers cleaned out. Maybe, I'll finally work up the nerve to (finally) unpack the garage. It's a good time to take stock- to make lists, clean house- both figuratively and literally. Simplifying in January means you surround yourself with the meaningful. Let go of the excess that weighs you down. It's freeing.

Yesterday, I ordered 20 saplings of blue cypress trees.

A few bare root roses.

My backyard is a teensy-weensy blank postage stamp. It will feel good to get my hands dirty.