Five things I will do differently at Mom 2.013

Spectacular sunsets along the ocean at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Photo credit: Ritz Carlton Laguna Nigel website

I am so excited to be attending Mom 2.0 Summit again this year! Epic. That’s really the only word I have to describe my previous experience. As a seasoned second-year (ha—what is this, Hogwarts?) I have compiled a list of five things I will do differently this year:

1. I will not overpack. I will bring one extra outfit per day for emergencies, not three. I was pleasantly surprised last year that it did not feel like a style competition; don’t misunderstand me, there are literally a hundred style experts in the same conference room. But not once did I feel that it was a competition. Women all around me were complimenting each other and there was no ‘mean girl’ spirit. At all. Incredible, right? It’s true.

2. I will bring comfortable shoes. Especially for the evening events. Both evenings I was on my feet milling around for practically the entire evening. I suffered.

3. I will leave room in my suitcase for ‘swag’ and presents to bring home for my kids.  I had to leave so many wonderful things behind last year because I could not fit it into my already overweight suitcase. So sad!

4. I will relax about networking. When I stepped into the hotel last year, I knew not one person. That changed immediately. I met so many people. Possibly everyone (okay, not everyone). But, the people who I have kept in touch with this past year are those that I simply enjoyed having breakfast with, sitting next to in a workshop, or chatting with on the bus ride. Truly, those connections were by far the most productive, wonderful, and real.

5. I will allow time to reflect. I am so pleased that I will be arriving early this year, and I will have some time on Sunday to sit and process all the information and ideas that will be buzzing in my head. Last year I left the hotel 5am Sunday morning. Ouch. I learned that lesson the hard way (which, let’s be honest, I do that most of the time).

Are you attending Mom 2.0 this year? Let’s get together. I’m so looking forward to it!

If you are a second-year (or third or fourth) attendee and would like to add some pointers to this modest list, feel free to do so in the comments!

~Alexis

Grief

 I am trying to process several large circumstances and frankly, not always doing it gracefully.  Don’t worry, I won’t unload specifics here, but I’ve found myself wondering “How long does grief last? When will this be over? When will the pain fade?”

I don’t see how grief fits into the fast-paced-get-it-done-lifestyle. I am impatient when I have to wait in line at Costco for five or ten minutes. Or at the Pharmacy? Don’t even get me started. I have few things in my everyday routine that cannot be accomplished as quickly as I choose. Most of my day is a tightly controlled environment made by me.

To be derailed from my routine at a moment’s notice by grief is excruciating.  I will be just fine one minute, and then puddling up the next.  I am not in control, as much as I try to ‘get a grip.’ To have to explain to my children, “mommy’s just feeling a little sad today, but I will be alright soon” is so very uncomfortable, so raw and real.

The one fact that I have today, is that grief takes time. This morning Maria Shriver posted this article on Twitter. It’s a good reminder for me to be gentle and patient with myself…and to allow for the passage of time which brings healing.

 

2013: The Year of Writing

I’ve always been fascinated by those place mats at the Chinese restaurants, you know, the ones that you can find your birthday year on and discover that you are a Monkey or Dragon or Horse or whatever…also, I think it’s funny that there are so many little tidbits like DO NOT MARRY A RAT, or STAY AWAY FROM MONKEYS on there. Because, that’s not awkward when you look at your spouse or sister or mom or friend and see that the Rat has realized that YOU shouldn’t read the placemat any longer. And you can no longer share dessert because that would mean sitting CLOSER to the Monkey. But I digress. 

One of the great things about January is setting goals for the year ahead. And by that I mean ignoring all the stupid goals like “I’m going to stop eating cheesecake” and “Only wear flat shoes” in favor of embracing goals such as “Bake something crazy”. Or “Write more consistently.” See how I did that? I just admitted that I don’t write consistently. In public at least. I do journal. I have stacks and stacks of filled journals, but the act of writing and posting…has escaped me recently. In all fairness, this past year has been the most difficult of my life (and I’ve survived some crap, people).  There are some things that I won’t be sharing, namely because I am still experiencing the mushroom cloud effect after the bomb. When I am feeling blue or overwhelmed, I’ll probably write about something trivial or goofy until I can write with kindness and perspective on the ‘other’ stuff. 

Okay? Okay. See you soon.Image

Clever: Scan Your Clutter

School has begun and I had forgotten how much PAPER is sent home every day. My refrigerator is already littered with school policies, and calendars, and lunch menus…and I saw an article in Family Circle that I thought had the BEST IDEA EVER for a some-what-digitally-savvy-family.  (Notice that I said SOMEWHAT.)  In the quest to ban paper clutter, scan the documents so the digital forms are always available and never need to be re-stacked, or picked up off the kitchen floor, or filed, or organized. It’s so simple, and the system can be really effective if you can email permission slips to teachers (no more lost notes!) and can access the files online through either your email storage, or a free storage server.  I think I need to set up a scanning station that is easily accessible for the paper dump area (which generally is the entry table or kitchen counter). How brilliant is that? I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this! I’ll let you know how it goes. 

 

Image credit: Google

Summer Reading

I love that parenting involves so much reading and exploring with my kids! And I’m constantly on the prowl for new, tantalizing selections that will capture my children’s fancy…because, I know that reading greatly shaped who I am and I hope to give them the very gift that I received from it! As we have been in the car several times already this summer for trips, I have relied heavily on audiobooks to entertain my children. I love them! Especially when you find a Librivox contributor that you really LOVE. It’s magic.

Through a site called www.Kayray.org I’ve found so many wonderful audiobooks, and authors that I haven’t heard of before. As a young reader I loved some very beloved, classic series: Anne of Green Gables, Eight Cousins, Cheaper By the Dozen, Nancy Drew (!), Little Women, etc.  As an adult, I am thrilled to discover so many others that my children love as well.

This is one of our new favorites: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. A family of four children (Mona, Rush, Randy (short for Miranda), and Oliver) has many adventures and are downright fascinating in their own right. It’s the first book in a ‘quartet’, and I recommend all of them. You can find the audiobook (free) here. (Look on the right sidebar under ‘Kayray Reads To You’)

 And The Battle for Castle Cockatrice!!!! It is so wonderful—a fantasy story with colorful imagery and lots of action (appealing to boys but still appropriate for young children, though). And the vocabulary is positively extraordinary. It will flex most adult’s verbal reading delivery. So fun! And if you’re going on a road trip soon, you can find the audiobook here. (On the RSS feed notice that it is referred to as an alternate title “The Talking Parcel/The Battle for Castle Cockatrice”)

What books are you reading this summer? Can you recommend any to me? We have recently begun Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. What titles are your favorites?

Happy Independence Day!

red, white, & blue

Image credit: Pinterest.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, aren’t you? The smell of the barbeque with roasted vegetables and kabobs. Fresh cut grass at the park. Hot dogs and sticky lemonade after the parade. And the acrid smell of sparklers hovering above my delighted children’s heads. Every year I love the 4th of July more and more. There are the obvious reasons; celebratory activities with my children, the great food, friends and family…but I also think I am becoming so much more appreciative and aware of my country’s privileges and freedoms. I don’t often stop and think about the rights that I so blithely take for granted, or at the very least treat as commonplace.  I am so very grateful to all the men and women who have served our country in the past and present. Happy Independence Day!

P.S. Isn’t that cake just glorious? I’m totally digging the graphic red/white/blue on Pinterest. Follow me if you’d like to see more. 

Sundries: Flowers and Veggies

It’s been too darn chilly to get outside and play in the dirt the past two weeks. Today, it wasn’t raining and almost broke the 60 degrees mark, so out we went. Me in my sweatshirt and jeans, and the girls wearing scant cotton summer outfits. It always amazes me how warm they are!  About two hours later we had accomplished much and began cleaning up. In our adventures today we discovered a plethora of bugs and snails and slugs, became familiar with the ‘scent’ that accompanies chicken manure (in our bagged potting mix), and re-sowed lettuce and beets where the slugs had eaten our poor little bean plants. Slugs. I have STRONG feelings when it comes to slugs. I found one in the dirt of our lettuce patch and skewered him with my pointy shovel. Score: me-1, slugs-10 (number of bean plants destroyed, conservatively).

I’m so happy to be productive with vegetables and flowers! I truly dislike buying produce at Costco that I can grow at home. It tastes so much better fresh–and the kids love it, too. Today we finally planted some of our flowers that have been waiting on the porch since Mother’s Day. The pots look great.

Columbine, snapdragons, alyssum, pansies, and lemon marigolds (they smell so wonderful when touched!)

When it is too chilly to be comfortable outside, I take so much joy from indoor plants. I’ve had a few ‘rescue’ orchids come my way in the past two months, and I am so pleased at how much progress they’ve made. One is positively on the brink of blooming again, and the other…is coming along nicely. New leaves are the next best thing to more buds!

I am ridiculously proud of this orchid! See the buds? It’s going to bloom any day now, I can feel it…

Have a lovely weekend, friends. I think the sun will be out soon. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my cheerful flowers from the kitchen window. :)

Cheers,

Alexis

Making the Leap.

News Flash: I’ve officially outgrown my Blogger platform. I’m a bit surprised. A couple months ago I was bemoaning how I needed to transition to WordPress and how I didn’t want to. And yet, here I am! Funny how that happens. I see this kind of transition happening all over in my life, and in those around me. Change is so hard sometimes…okay, most of the time. Actually, pretty much all the time. Yet, I am still alive and occasionally look around and recognize that I am thriving, truly thriving. Enough with the philosophical ramblings—what I am trying to say is that I recently realized that most significant happenings in my life have been marked very visibly with a new hairstyle. Isn’t that funny? I’m thirty-two years old and I just made that realization. How often do you change your  hair (design) aesthetic? I’ve seen my own preferences shift quite a bit over the past ten years (I feel so old to be able to refer to life in decades)! Hairstyles are such a wonderful marker of history and the memories that go along with it.

Doesn’t this just bring back memories? When this was popular I could NOT get my hair to ‘do’ this. Generally, I would straighten and straighten my hair, and then it would just pop back into a curly tangle as soon as I walked out the door!

This could have been a more accurate style for me—but did I realize it? No. I was too busy unsuccessfully beating my curl into submission. I feel sad when I think about how much time I wasted in the bathroom trying to emulate what I thought was the ‘right kind of pretty’. These days, I am unwilling to devote that much time to my hair. Recently a friend of mine met me for coffee and remarked how my hair is shorter and shorter each time she sees me! It’s true. I’m having a lot of fun with short hair. My curls are so happy short! During each of my pregnancies my hair was very long (to combat all the extra puff everywhere else, hee, hee) and I’m truly appreciating how little time it takes for me to style my short hair today. How about you? Did you do the ‘Jennifer’ in the nineties? Do you look back at pictures of yourself and cringe to see previous hairstyles? And do you see any correlation of hairstyle/big life changes in your life? Tell me in the comments below—I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers,

Alexis

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