Happy Birthday to My Firstborn!

Dear Friends,

It’s such a wonderful day — it’s the 14 year anniversary of the day I became a mother! Today is Hunter’s birthday, and tonight we are going out to celebrate. Our weekend was spent hosting a birthday party for him, and this evening is all about him. That means my regularly scheduled Mediterranean Monday post will be on hold until next week. I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging, so I thought I would let you know why you won’t be seeing any yummy food tonight!

Hunter wants wings for his birthday, so we’re going to a local dive called Pilot House, for wings and barbecue and a steak for Logan. These celebratory occasions call for a break from my normal healthy eating habits. Tonight, I will be enjoying some pulled pork with pimento cheese, and a side of fries. I already know I’ll probably be feeling sluggish afterwards, but I wholeheartedly believe that we must allow ourselves an occasional splurge in order to stay consistent. Life is short, so always make room for things you love!

With that, I leave you with my birthday boy:



A Week in the Life: Balancing Obligations and Fun

Dear Friends,

If there is one piece of advice I could give you based on my life in recent weeks, it’s this–obligations are a part of life. They can’t be avoided. But to keep from losing your mind and getting overwhelmed, you need to balance them with spontaneity and fun.

Never underestimate the importance of finding time to do the things that bring you joy!

After a super chill weekend, I started out my week on a natural high, and to be honest that high has not faded all week! In fact, I think it’s less of a natural high, and more of a much-needed shift in perspective that is here to stay. I started out Monday with something simple – grocery shopping without meal planning or making a list – to break away from my routine. Routine and predictability can be major joy-killers, so it’s really good to throw something unexpected or out of the ordinary into the mix just to shake things up once in a while.

Tuesday was back to being busy, but in the best possible way. Hunter had his parent teacher conferences, where every teacher had wonderful things to say about him. His band director talked to me about getting Hunter to try out for all district band, because he believes he would stand a good chance of making it. Hunter wasn’t loving the idea of trying out, but I was able to not only talk him into it, but get him excited about it. Cue the constant sounds of the saxophone in my house every night until his tryout on November 6th!

As soon as we left conferences, since we were already near downtown at the Junior High, Hunter and I made a quick run down to the river front. The river flooded a week earlier and they closed the gates on the flood wall to keep the water from spilling into our downtown. So I was pretty excited to find out it was back open that day and I had to go down and drink it all in. I’m a water baby for sure, so being near the water = my happy place!


After the river I took Hunter home, then made a trip back downtown to meet friends at El Sol for dinner on their 5th anniversary celebration. I was on day two of my fantastic mood, and I was loving the socializing time. Craving it, even. I even enjoyed the parent teacher conferences and talking to all of the teachers…which is totally bizarre for me, because I’m not usually the social butterfly that loves talking to total strangers.

Tuesday was also the day that I discovered Headspace. I downloaded the app six days earlier after a YouTuber I follow talked about it. She does meditation as part of her daily routine and I was intrigued by it, so I downloaded the app with good intentions to give it a try. Well I finally did on Tuesday. Part of being overscheduled and over-obligated, is overthinking. All. The. Time. I thought meditation might help bring some focus, so I gave a short five-minute meditation a try.

Holy. Cats. I’m kicking myself for not doing this earlier! My mood was already good that day, but I couldn’t believe the difference just a five minute guided meditation made. The moment it was over and I took in my surroundings, it was like all of the fog had lifted. There were no distractions, no doubts, no worries, no what-if’s, no I-need-to’s. I reached a level of clarity I didn’t know was possible. I felt like I was meeting myself for the first time and could see who I was underneath all of the chaos of life around me.

Now that I’ve discovered what meditation can do, I’m making it a regular part of my life!

Wednesday was one of my favorite days of the week. The boys have SRE on Wednesdays, and I knew I needed to go to Hobby Lobby after I dropped them off to pick up some things to finish all three of my Halloween costumes (yes, three!). By the time I finished at Hobby Lobby I had less than an hour before I had to pick up my kids. Rather than driving home to sit by myself, I decided to swing by my favorite Italian restaurant downtown for a glass of wine!

I rarely go out for a drink unless I have a friend to go with me, but I did it twice in the last week and I have to say I’m loving it! I sat at the bar at Gabriel’s sipping a glass of wine and trying to absorb some more of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I challenge any of you to read that book without googling “what the hell am I reading right now” at the start of each section!

I got in a little bit of socializing and a lot of reading, then left to pick up the kids. When we got home, the only thing I had left to do with my night was get my lunch packed and my outfit ready for the morning. Logan went off to his room to start putting laundry away, and all of a sudden I heard music from the 1950’s cocktail party I had for my 30th birthday blaring from his room. Somehow he’d come across the CD a friend made me for that party and turned it on.

I don’t know what kind of person can hear Rock Around the Clock and not dance like a fool, but the boys and I ended up having a dance party in Logan’s bedroom! I danced until my abs hurt and I couldn’t breathe. The dog barked like a maniac at me jumping around like a spaz, with the sparkly headband I’d just finished making for Halloween still wrapped around my head. Hunter was in the shower when the party started, and he opened the door to see what the commotion was. He looked at us like we’d lost our marbles, then went off to put some clothes on and came back to jump in. Family memories were made, all videoed on Snapchat and saved to look back on years down the road.

Thursday I had Logan’s parent teacher conferences. Thursday was the day I learned just how different from each other my two boys are. Logan is still just slightly behind in his reading skills. But he is ahead of the curve in math, and way ahead in science. I think I kinda-sorta knew this, but it became reality on Thursday–I’m raising a STEM kid. And I have no idea how to relate to this! Hunter and I can relate well because we are the same–creative, artistic, musical, and linguistically strong. But math and science? I always despised them both!

So here is my youngest child, the one who inherited my stubbornness and my attitude, and I feel like I’m just starting to get to know him for the first time. His entire life he’s been an explorer. From the moment he started crawling he was into everything, all the time, trying to figure out what everything did. He’s my child who will destroy entire rooms building and experimenting with things. I always saw this as creativity, something I could relate to. But now I see it was his scientific mind taking over, trying to figure out how different materials and tools work and how he could put things together to make something useful.

I’m always interested in anything that can make me a better parent, and over this last year I’ve been feeling a little stuck with Logan. When he was younger, he was the child I felt I could connect to the most. His personality was the most like mine and I would call him my little mini-me. But the last 9-10 months there has been a bit of friction. Not that we aren’t getting along, but more like there is a disconnect between us. He even got upset with me once because Hunter and I talk more than he and I do.

I never really realized it until he brought it up, but he’s right. Hunter is into art and music, and likes a lot of the same music I do, so we’ve bonded quite a bit over it. Logan, on the other hand, isn’t that into music anymore. He doesn’t really have any favorite bands, and the only thing I’ve heard him listen to consistently is Chris Stapleton. He loves books and brings them home constantly, but he doesn’t really read much. He draws some and will do graffiti with Hunter, but he isn’t into it obsessively like Hunter is. And now I realize–we are an art, music and literature household, but Logan isn’t really an art, music and literature kid.

Which means my role as his mother just took a major turn. One that I didn’t expect, and one I’m not really sure how to deal with. I know very little of a math and science oriented mind, but I know that I am now going to have to do a whole lot of research and digging to understand how that sort of mind works, because I need to understand Logan in order to parent him in the way that is best for him.

So if any of you are strong in math and science…share your secrets!

Friday night, my mom came down to visit and spent the night with us. She came with the boys and me to the Broo Bash down at Ebb and Flow. Cue Halloween costume #1 – Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face!


Okay, so this one transpired based on the costume I’m wearing to work on Halloween. The outfit I needed for the work costume reminded me of Audrey’s dance outfit on Funny Face, and it also didn’t require any major hair and makeup styles so I could easily go home from work, put my hair in a ponytail with some side-swept bangs and tie a black ribbon around it, throw on some leggings and a black shirt with black flats, and I was set to go.

Lamb Flatbread, Pulled Pork, Key Lime Pie and beer flowed all around. My kiddos hit the water hard, mostly because they thought the bottles were cool. A few of my friends joined us and we ate, we talked, we laughed, Hunter and I sang, the boys made friends with the people who brought their dog, and I went home with a happy heart.

Saturday was probably my favorite day of the week. My mom and Logan were still asleep, so Logan and I snuck out to the farmer’s market. It was the last one of the season, so we had to get down there to check everything out and buy the best glazed donuts in the world for breakfast! We bumped into friends, listened to some music, Logan spent his hard-earned cash on some honey–I will never understand what drives that kid’s impulses–and we saw lots of pretty flowers and pumpkins.

When we got home, my mom and Hunter were both awake so we had donuts and coffee, and turned on the TV. I found out the night before that season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is coming out in just over a month, so it was time to watch season 1 over again for a refresher. I got my mom hooked on it and we ended up watching seven of the eight episodes in one long, lazy, pizza-filled binge session.

Saturday night was my friends Kristen and Tony’s annual Halloween party. It’s one of my favorite things about fall because I get to dress up and do fun makeup! This year I went as The Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass. I was going to buy a Styrofoam ball to cut in half and put in my hair to make it stand up and look heart-shaped, but I completely forgot. I ended up rolling up some brown dress socks and tying them in a knot around pigtails in my hair, then sweeping the rest of the loose hair up and over them, tying it into a little bun, then tucking it inside of itself and pinning it down. You couldn’t even see the socks, and my fine, thin hair stood up like it was being commanded by a queen!


These last couple of weeks have left me desperately wanting a DSLR camera, and I think I’m going to put that on my Christmas shopping list as a gift to myself. I’ve been wanting to capture everything lately, and my iPhone camera pretty much sucks. All of this technology, and Apple still hasn’t figured out how to make a superior camera! I have grainy, dark photos of this week’s shenanigans, videos of dance parties and pumpkin carving, and the quality really isn’t good enough to share.

I’ve been thinking about getting a good camera for almost a year now, and it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve taken from this week, it’s that I need to put that into practice a lot more often. Think less, do more. Expect less, let life happen more. I feel a little more alive, more social, more energized and a whole lot happier than I have in a very long time. It was like the reset button was pressed last Sunday, and I got to start all over again.

I hope all of you had a wonderful week, too. If not…tomorrow is Monday and a brand new week will begin. Now, I’m off to spend some time outdoors with my kids and my mom on this beautiful Sunday!


It’s October, the Best and Most Beautiful Month of the Year

Hello Friends,

Once upon a time, I was a pumpkin farmer. Okay, that was a slight exaggeration intended for dramatic effect…but really, I used to grow pumpkins. A lot of pumpkins. About half an acre or so, just for myself and my family. I was married then, and my in-laws had land with a water source nearby. My boys were babies, and our yearly tradition was a Halloween party the Saturday before Halloween. I was a stay-at-home mom, and my house was decked out inside and out for Fall, complete with straw bales, corn stalks, mums, and a boatload of pumpkins grown by yours truly.

The point to my rambling diatribe is this–I love pumpkins! My life has changed so much since those days. I haven’t grown pumpkins in years, with the exception of a volunteer pumpkin vine that sprang up at my old house from a busted fall decoration. But pumpkins still make my heart feel so full it could burst. I have no explanation to offer for the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I see a pumpkin patch. It’s kind of like meeting the man of your dreams–you can’t explain it or put it into words, but being near them just makes you feel good.

On the way to my boys’ schools, we drive past Grace United Methodist Church every morning. In the fall, they fill their yard on the corner of Caruthers and Broadway with pumpkins. Large, small, orange, green, white, striped, speckled, donut-shaped…every kind you could want, they have. If you read my last post, then you already know about my mission to un-plan and de-structure my life. To be spontaneous and do more of life on a whim.

So Thursday morning, as we passed this pumpkin patch on the way to school for the umpteenth time this fall, I decided we were going. I drive past every morning, and seeing the bold and cheery markers of my favorite season displayed in all of their Autumn glory warms my heart. I wanted to be out there, in the middle of that patch, sprawled out among the pumpkins. So I said to the boys, “you know what? When I get home from work today we’re coming to this pumpkin patch and you two are picking out a pumpkin to carve!”

As soon as I got home, the boys and I hopped in the car and made our way to the pumpkins. Logan took an obscene amount of time trying to pick out the perfect pumpkin to carve, but I was perfectly okay with it. While he was busy browsing and leaving no pumpkin unturned, I took the opportunity to take plenty of pictures. I even handed Hunter my phone and let him take one of me…sprawled out right in the middle of the pumpkins like I’d been dreaming of all day!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll share a few thousand words with you right now, without typing a single sentence:


A Rambling September Life Update

Dear Friends,

First of all…I apologize for not getting a post up last Thursday. To those of you who have insomnia, you have my deepest sympathies! I used to have problems with this many moons ago, but it’s mostly gone the way of vaudevillians and parachute pants until recently. For some silly reason, I’ve been struggling with it again these last couple of weeks. I’ll lay in bed for an hour or two before falling asleep, then I’m wide awake sometime between the hours of 4 and 5 in the morning.

I was so tired Tuesday that I took a couple of hours of PTO and went home because I didn’t think I could make it through the afternoon without falling asleep at my desk. On my way home I picked up some new pillows and some decaf peppermint tea. When the kids went to bed at 8:30, I made some tea and then soaked for a long time in the tub while I drank it. I settled into bed just a little after 9, and I finally fell asleep in less than an hour. I woke up early again, but I was able to force myself back to sleep. I was able to repeat this last night, so I think there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank goodness for that, because Tuesday was also the first day of my Fall semester at Umass Amherst University Without Walls. Both classes are writing classes, so I really need my brain to function well enough for college-level writing. That is definitely going to require sleep, and caffeine…lots of caffeine!

My boys also start their religion classes, called SRE for School of Religious Education, at St. Vincent Parish next week. From that point on they will have class every Wednesday night, except for during holiday weeks, from now until May. Hunter is in 8th grade this year, which means he will be making his confirmation this upcoming Easter season. For any of my fellow Catholics out there, you know that this is a big milestone in his life that he’s been working towards for the last seven years.

Life in the gardening world is…still rather interesting. It’s September, and I finally have tomatoes. They’re all still green, but the squirrels haven’t been bothering them. I’m not sure if they’ve forgotten about them, or moved on to food that can actually be stored for the winter, but there is a slim amount of hope that I will still have a few tomatoes before the season ends!

Everything else I’ve begun breaking down. The peppers are still going, but I pulled the green beans, emptied the potato containers, and left the garden plot bare. The crabapple tree hasn’t come down yet, so I didn’t plant any fall vegetables. At this point it’s too late to plant them so I’m just letting it go until next Spring. I need to get the plot tilled under again, so I will be doing that in the next week or two. If I’m being honest, it was on my list to do last weekend, but I never got around to it. By the time I was done mowing, trimming and pulling weeds, I was over the yard work!

Another project I had on the list last Spring that I still haven’t gotten around to doing is the herb drying rack. I talked to Dad about cutting the boards down to the size that I need, but I never made it around to taking them to him. Now is when I really need the rack, too, because the time is here to cut the herbs that are overtaking my planters and get them dried and stored to use over the winter. I have some fresh ones growing in my kitchen window, but they’re pretty spindly and aren’t going to get me very far over the winter. It just isn’t the same as growing them outdoors!

Truth be told, I’m ready to put the gardening season behind me. We are 17 days away from it officially being Fall! My gears have already shifted to camping, baking, making trips to the orchard for apples and pumpkin butter and mums, and buying a few new wardrobe pieces….most of which were delivered today. It was like Christmas came early when I got home this evening! Jeans, a couple of button downs, leggings, a big comfy sweater, plus new ruffle trim pants from Charlotte Russe and a couple of pairs of earrings. My favorite purchase is a pair of J. Crew black pumps from Thred Up that I cannot wait to wear!


The change in seasons always means a little beauty and fashion updating for me. I filter through my wardrobe and get rid of a few items that I haven’t worn in a while or are worn out, then replace them with some new pieces. I also like to add a couple of new lipsticks and nail colors in season-friendly colors.

I went to Target on Monday morning and bought a tube of NYX Lingerie matte liquid lipstick, in the shade Embellishment. It’s a perfect nude mauve color for Fall, and I already have a couple of reds – True Red and Divine Wine, both L’Oreal Color Riche lipsticks – so I’m set for the season. I also added a new mauve blush to the mix, but that’s about it for me on the makeup front. I’m not a big makeup person beyond my beloved lip and nail colors. All of my makeup fits in a little basket in the corner of my bathroom counter…except for my lipstick. I have a makeup bag stuffed full of lip colors that goes with me everywhere!

I still need to work on the nail colors. I had an entire basket full of polish, and most of them were several years old. I turn my air up to 80 degrees during the day while I’m gone at work, and my nail polish has started to suffer from it. My new nail colors that I bought this summer are okay, but the bottles of Essie polish that were 2-3 years old started to get thick and sticky. There really isn’t any saving them once that happens. So I tossed the sticky ones and put the rest in the top shelf of my refrigerator door.

By the time I was done tossing the bad bottles I only had about a dozen left – at least half of which were some shade of green (who wants to guess my favorite color?)! So now I need to restock some pinks, reds, and neutrals. At $9.00 per bottle, I’ll just pick a new one up here and there over the next month or two until I have a decent collection of colors again.

Also on the horizon – Hunter is borderline obsessed with doing graffiti lately. He’s actually become really good at it, and he made us all go down the riverfront on Monday so he could spend two and a half hours decorating the wall in chalk. I helped him fill in the letters in purple to help speed things along, and then he started giving me grief because I was taking too long to get it filled in and was wasting chalk. So I went faster and used less…and you can definitely tell which letters Hunter did and which ones I did!


I guess I’ll leave the graffiti to the master. I also secretly hope that the next time we take a trip to the riverfront for him to leave his mark, it’s about 10 degrees cooler than it was that day! It feels like Summer isn’t going to let go for a while here in Southeast Missouri. But my friends, Fall has definitely arrived in my heart!






Back to School + Prepping for Fall

Hi Friends!

Wow…I’m actually writing to you about back to school time! I can’t believe it, but it’s here. Today was Hunter and Logan’s first day back. Logan is now in sixth grade and Hunter is in eighth…which means next year I will have a high schooler. Insert horrified blue-faced emoji here! This morning we had to do the obligatory first day of school photos, which means last night I had to quit my procrastinating and nail my schedule back down.

Cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen, packing my lunch, setting up the coffee pot for its 6 a.m. brewing, adding chores to the boys’ chalkboards for the next day, doing yet another load of laundry and getting my outfit ready for the morning. And then…I went to bed just after the kids did at 8:30 because I was awake at 3:30 yesterday morning, thanks to the two glasses of wine I drank before bed. It might’ve helped me fall asleep quickly, but after a few hours the stimulant side of it kicked in and I was wide awake. This is why I normally have only one glass of wine, and I drink it while making dinner between 5 & 6 in the evening. I feel like that is a sign I’m getting old if there ever was one!

Of course this morning started off in fine form. Gone are the days of sipping coffee while getting ready, and casually sauntering out the door when it’s time to leave for work. Instead, I had both kids to get up. I reminded them at least five times each to brush their teeth and comb their hair. I stopped between makeup and hair to make breakfast for Hunter (Logan eats at school). I curled my hair, fed the dog, fed the cats, then rushed the boys outside for their obligatory first day of school pictures. We all piled into the car, I put it in reverse to back out of the driveway, then realized the door was still standing wide open. Put it back in park, get out, close and lock the door, and then we were finally off…

We got up the street and I asked Hunter, “did you get your schedule put in your backpack?” I had found it on the coffee table the night before and placed it beside his backpack in his room. He gave me a blank stare and I knew he’d forgotten it. So I made a left and went back to the house. As we pulled up the driveway I said, “what about your gym clothes?” He gave a long “ummmm. I think so.” Friends…he definitely did not have those either! They were laying on his bed along with his schedule. He grabbed all of that, while I made a beeline to my room for another safety pin because I realized the V-neck of my wrap dress was still a little too low cut to be work appropriate and I would need to fix it.

Back to the car we went and were finally off to school and work. I got them dropped off and made it to work just a few minutes past my usual time. The first thing I did was stop off in the bathroom to fix my dress and put on lipstick. A little while later, as I was walking across the room to pick something up from the printer, I felt my stomach growl. I realized for the first time all morning that I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. It was going to be a loooong wait for lunch…but at least I packed my lunch the night before and remembered to grab it out of the fridge before I left!

back to school.jpg

This is what my normal looks like, and it is back in full force! This is why I have schedules and routines and things written down and scheduled in my calendar with as many reminders as I can get. This is why I plan and organize and have structure that can sometimes be crippling in moments of unpredictability. But it’s my very own version of organized chaos and I love every crazy minute of it!

I’m also hoping to have the crabapple tree down in the next week or so, and might be able to get some fall veggies planted. The rest of my gardening has been a bust this year, but it would be really nice to get some greens and some beets to finish of the growing season. My one lonely sunflower that survived the squirrels and the shade has finally bloomed, and the Zinnias are looking lovely. They’ve even attracted some yellow finches and hummingbirds, so even if this gardening season hasn’t been the success I’d hoped for, I definitely have a little something to show for the work I put in and it feels great!

Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather–right now there is rain, rain and more rain in the forecast–because I have a yen for hiking and camping that I really need to feed. Yesterday rain was in the forecast for Saturday, but today it is looking to be dry. By the time the day comes there is no telling what it will be…but I’m hoping to be on a hiking trail somewhere on Saturday morning! We also have a tentative camping trip set for September 15th, the next weekend my mom, stepdad and sister will be in town.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am for the upcoming Fall! It is my favorite season and already we have things to look forward to. Stay tuned…I can’t wait to share the fun will all of you!