Monthly Archives

June 2015

Tune in Today

A great perhaps

June 18, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … quit a really great job.

This Friday will be my last at the place I’ve worked for the past five years. Correction: precisely one day shy of exactly five years. I already shared an exhausting post about the dilemma this decision presented and, in the end, the cards fell in favor of the fresh start. [Gulp]

I have loved this job. Particularly the part where I got paid to write and hang out with a group of folks who humor my analogies and get rowdy at the Christmas party. This is the job that brought us back to our hometown. It’s the job I had when we welcomed both Spike and Sloppy Joan and found our house. I have shed tears of both grief and laughter in those offices, on more occasions than I can count. It feels like a corporate urban legend, but it happened to me: Somewhere between my first Halloween (where we dressed up for and performed a white trash wedding) and my last 3pm ice cream surprise, these people from work became a second family. Maybe it’s the sheer amount of time we’ve spent together, or maybe it’s just really good recruiting. I don’t know. But I know I got super lucky.

So, if I’m so damn happy, why leave? I have been so comfortable, and to me, that comfort is a blessing as much as it is a crutch. It’s a settlement in some ways. I imagine when that comfort is napping on the couch, and sees a challenge standing expectantly over it, it stretches its arms way above its head, rolls over and falls back asleep. It makes monotony seem so sexy and whispers that the unknown is simply “an inconvenient mess.” Truth be told, I just came to a point where I felt like getting off the couch. Starting over is practically paralyzing for a girl like me, but it’s better than lying down and spooning with a life unexplored. I am a creature of routine, 100 percent, but the routine can be numbing. And when you’re numb, everything starts shutting down. Am I scared? Hell yes. But the fear makes this whole thing really kind of great. But the people … that part tears my heart out.


While making myself and everyone around me insane with the excessive weighing of pros and cons, I was simultaneously listening to and loving “Looking for Alaska” by John Green. In the book, Pudge, an adolescent young man, goes to boarding school “to seek a Great Perhaps.” It was one of those art-imitating-life moments where I decided to take it as a sign (I needed a sign) rather than just a result of my number being pulled at the local library. This was my crossroads: Stay where I was for years and be perfectly content, or entertain the notion of a “Great Perhaps.” I chose the notion.

Looking Alaska
So, with a pocketful of treasured friendships, I’m turning in these keys I’ve used to write so many words and moving on to a brand-new adventure. And even though the air is thick and heavy, with familiar feelings of finality – like college graduation or that time a dear friend moved to Florida – people, throughout the whole process, have encouraged and empowered me to move boldly in the direction of my dreams. I always hated when folks said a career change was “bittersweet.” Seems so cliché and canned. But oh, how perfect the word is. The call for celebration is muffled by the exchange of melancholy goodbyes and promises to stay close; promises from the faces I’ve looked at in conference rooms and girls’ lunches, some for the past 4 years and 364 days.

This team has tenacity. It has amazing human beings, with talent and wit and heart. They are the people you want holding the scooper when shit goes down and the kind of people who pop up in the stories you tell for a lifetime. And the crux of this change is, and always has been, it’s tough as hell to leave a team like that. It’s so sad to walk away, but their astounding support has moved me along. And that, my friends, is the definition of “bittersweet.” It’s so freaking bittersweet it makes me want to throw up every time I think of that last walk out the door.

Hank and I are taking Emma and the kids and going off the grid for a week before my first day at the new gig. I wouldn’t want the fifty of you who follow me here to worry about where I went. Thank you, sweet friends and family, for humoring my insane introspection over the past few months, and Hank, for buying boxes of wine and building Excel spreadsheets with bars full of boring benefits crap. Stay tuned for this Great Perhaps, or perhaps, just something kind of great.

Until next time …


JoJo Just Said, Spike Speak

Diggin’ the dialogue

June 18, 2015

Kids say the darndest things, don’t they? I assembled a bouquet of beauties for your reading pleasure, and these sweet little snippets are just from the past few months. You just never know what’s coming when they open those little mouths.

“Mom, I have a horrible favor. I have to stay home sick with you.” – JoJo

“I had a dream that honeybees were on my bottom, and when I brushed my bottom they would fly around.” – Spike

“You know God, He is hummungus.” – Spike

“Mom! Mom, just turn the doorknock!” – Spike

“Yeah he do’s.” – Spike

“I’ve got food caught in my choke!” – Spike

“You are my sunshine, bologna sunshine …”  – Spike

Spike quote

“Hi, Mr. Thompson! My Dad stinks … like a rat.” – Spike

“Mom, you know, that bunny had lots of honeys. And she would bring all her honeys to their home and, you know, that’s in a hole.” – Spike

“It bores!” – Spike

“Mama, are you running on the treadmelt?” – JoJo

“Dag nab it!” – JoJo

Spike quote 2

“I’m catching the wind in my mouth because it’s hot in there.” – Spike

“I don’t want to get my hiccups on you.”  – Spike

“I’m sorry you can’t ride on my back. It’s messed up. Those sneaky kids.”  – Spike

“My hair is ecstatic!” – JoJo


Bake me a cake

June 16, 2015

We spend a lot of time in this house discussing Spike’s World. I’ll spare you the daily buzz, and just catch you up on the most significant happenings in our curly kid’s imaginary neck of the woods. There have been a few exciting developments. First, she recently welcomed a child, named Junior Peace. And second, she became the town baker.

For weeks, we listened to Spikey brag about her amazing from-scratch confections. No matter what we were eating, even when we were feeding the dog, she inserted the commentary, “You know, I can make a cake without cake mix.”  On and on it went. I mean, it got to the point where I 1.) really wanted a piece, and 2.) felt very insecure about my own abilities in the kitchen. And then one night, while I was downstairs hammering out a Kayla routine, Spike put her flour where her mouth was and whipped up a cake with no cake mix. Though Dada helped, I still expected a pasty, flavorless slice of sponge. But it wasn’t at all. It was a pillow of sweet, sugary bliss. We promptly piled berries and whipped topping on with abandon and laughed at how long we’d waited to partake in this glorious cake without cake mix.

Only after my blood sugar settled did Hank let me in on their secret. The cake with no cake mix was, in fact, a Busy-Day Cake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. Since an actual recipe exists, I feel compelled to share. It’s great for summer, loaded with strawberries from the garden and a whipped cream made of every artificial thing you can shove into an aerosol can.

You just add a little bit of this …

And a little bit of that …

Mix together like so …

IMG_8975Pause for a dope thumbs up …

Lick the beaters bone dry …

And voila! You have the reason I will be fat forever. Cake!

Get it all in there …

Put your hands up and say, “Yea-ya!”

Here’s the Better Homes and Gardens recipe so you can get you some. Go ahead … treat yo self!

Cake no cake mix


A deep post about decisions

June 14, 2015

How do you make a difficult decision? It’s a dilemma as old as freewill itself. You have one choice in your left hand and one choice in your right hand and, even though one might be heavier than the other, or prettier or more beneficial, it’s hard to see the answer when you’re holding the options too close to your heart.

I recently found myself in a two-month internal battle that began at a fork in the road. Contemplating a career change, I spent my waking hours jumping from prong to prong, second-guessing and weighing and over analyzing, until my head throbbed and my stomach ached. (It’s amazing what stress can do to your body.) A dear family friend said simply, “You need to walk, and you need to pray.” So I did. I strolled and I looked up to the clouds and tried to let my heart be as open as possible. I settled in to a guided meditation where you were instructed to ask yourself over and over, “What do I want? What do I want?” When my inner voice responded in a whisper, it merely said, “a cheeseburger.” Not the insightful nudge I was hoping for.

There was this great post by Lysa TerKeurst – who writes wonderful lifestyle pieces from a spiritual perspective on her self-titled blog – about decision making. She suggested, when analyzing a crossroads in your life, you take a walk along the banks of a hypothetical river. It’s important, whenever possible, to follow the flow of water to see what you will pass and where you will most likely end up, for every available option, and then compare the different journeys. Once you jump in the water, you don’t have nearly as much control, so it’s important to know where the current might take you. So, I tried to follow Lysa’s advice, and walk the riverbanks.


I waffled, almost hourly, between, “Get over yourself, this isn’t that big of a deal. People have much tougher decisions to make with much greater consequences every day, all around the world.” And the opposing, “Oh my gosh, if you pick the wrong job you could trigger a surge of misfortune so powerful your great grandchildren will feel its wrath.”

I love a good old-fashioned pros and cons list as much as the next gal, but with someone as hyper-analytical as me, it simply falls short and, in this scenario, the options were nearly equal. I reached out to my ghosts of managers past and gave them the details in exchange for council. I have to say, I have been blessed to work with some seriously kickass women. The kind of women who say things like, “Proceed with confidence,” and “Make it matter.” The kind of leaders who make you want to start a business with only the name picked out, or go braless just because it makes your dress look better and you don’t give a shit what people think. Those kind of women. And they all said it was time for a change.

The worst part about making one of these gut-wrenching decisions is that, the second you pick one option, the other slowly starts to look like that old boyfriend. You know the one. He chewed like a horse and the conversation was dull as children’s scissors, until he got a new girlfriend. Then he looked all shiny and sharp.

But the truth is, no matter what decision I made in the end, it would (and will) inevitably transform into my “what got me here.” A person’s retrospect is typically seen through rose-colored glasses. We justify things with, “If I hadn’t picked this, then I would never have done that …” And it’s true, to an extent. Every choice ignites a plot twist, or a freshly paved path or an unexpected stop. We embrace our present  because we know no different and it’s impossible to go back in time and see the alternate storyline. We can send a “what if” out into the great abyss, but it seldom responds. All of this suggests it’s best to just avoid tripping over the things left behind, and focus the eyes forward. So that’s what I’m working on.


I’m now nearing the tip of the prong I picked. I made the decision, ugly cried to make it official, and am training my neck not to look back. It is time to proceed with confidence, and to jump into the roaring river and let the rapids take me where they will. Let the plot twist begin.

Spike Speak

There’s somebunny in there

June 12, 2015

Once upon a muggy evening, a curly haired little girl named Spike suspected there was someone hiding in a burrow in a compost bin. So, she took a closer look.


She looked and she looked, until she noticed somebunny staring back at her. The two acknowledged each other with their warm, brown eyes.


She gave him some carrots because, of course, he seemed hungry. And he decided he wanted to come out for a bit and say thank you and hello.


But then the little girl’s daddy quickly put her new little friend back into his burrow so he wouldn’t get swallowed whole by a peregrine falcon.

The end.


Where do all the teeth go?

June 11, 2015

We had a big milestone this past week. JoJo lost her first tooth. And by lost, I mean her father finally wore her down and she let him yank it out, the release of which brought first hysterical tears and then, upon realizing it didn’t actually hurt, crazy, psychotic laughter. It was a strange scene; the whole crew standing around this tiny white calcium nugget with a microscopic drop of blood on the end, laughing.


Anyway, the excitement of the extraction was immediately followed by excitement about the Tooth Fairy coming. She placed her delicate little prize in the special tooth pillow she got for Christmas and sewed shortly after, and tucked herself in for the night (an even greater miracle than her giving permission to pull the tooth). She awoke to a golden coin and all was magical in the world.

The next morning, when she and Spike, who sleeps with big sis, came down to show off her new fortune, I asked if she saw the Tooth Fairy. And then this happened:

JoJo: I didn’t, I was sleeping.
Spike: I did! She was like a beautiful very. (very = fairy in Spike Speak)
Me: I’ve never seen her in person, but that’s how I picture her.
JoJo: What does she do with all the teeth, anyway?
Me: Shhhhheeeee …..
Spike: Actually, you know, she has a giant mouth and she takes all of the tooths from all of the childrens of the world while they are sleeping and she keeps them all in her giant mouth.
[moment of silence.]
Me: Noooooo, that’s not it!

And then I never finished or followed up, because, let’s be honest, no one has a good answer. I mean, someone does, but it sure as shoot wasn’t me that day. I never freaking thought about it! If this post serves in preventing even just one mother from dropping the ball that is their child’s dream, I will soldier on feeling like it was a success.

Talking it over with some mommy friends at lunch, I realized it wasn’t just me. No one knew why a person would want a bunch of rotten teeth. And when you don’t have a cute story to tie to something like that, you can find and come up with some pretty disturbing scenarios. We started Googling and discovered that the trending response was that she turns teeth into buildings in her magical town. Lame! She also might plant them so they can become flowers. After this extensive and exhaustive research, I have concluded that the current theories yield answers  insufficient for providing the happiest childhood memories possible. I am proposing a few ideas, and inviting your suggestions as well. Let’s all get on board with a universal story, shall we?

1.) She grinds them up to make her magical fairy flying dust. I like this one because it’s simple, easy for a child to grab on to and better than picturing a woman living in a giant tooth duplex. Maybe we come up with a different word for “grind” though. It’s a work in progress.

2.) She gives them to God and He, in turn, gives them to babies. This one is timely for our house, since Sloppy Joan is coming into some chompers. Plus, I’m pretty sure that kids picture God, Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy playing tag and having tea parties together. And I’m kind of OK with that at their age.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 9.20.11 PM

3.) She’s a collector. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the concept that we all have different interests, and that some people’s are super strange – what we, as adults, call “red flags” – while other collections are fun, like bottles of wine and Sex and the City seasons. No? (Maybe option No. 1 or No. 2 would be best.)

I don’t remember what my parents told me. I was probably just happy I had some coin to go buy candy so the rest of my teeth could rot and fall out. Greedy little punk. What was your Tooth Fairy story? It’s only a matter of time before she circles back around.




Confessions of a chronic face sweater

June 10, 2015

Summer is here and, for me, that can only mean one thing: face sweat. You all have your sweet spot … be it the small of your back, or hairline or, the most popular, pits, where sweat gathers and glistens in the sauna of the afternoon sun. But until you’ve been a bona fied face sweater through the muggy month of August, you can’t truly understand the pain.


I chalk it up to genetics. My dad drips in dew as the degrees climb. He, in turn, passed the torch on to me, his youngest daughter, in an effort to ruin every outdoor activity for me for the rest of my life. On one particularly disgusting occasion, I took him to a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium. They had the roof open on one of those September days where summer is gasping its last hot breaths. As we wedged ourselves into the “generous” stadium seats, I sighed in relief, observing we’d landed in the shaded section. But as passes flew and the minutes ticked by, I noticed the sundial shifting. We were in our own game now, and it was one against time. We had 10, maybe 15 minutes, before the sun cast her wicked, relentless rays unforgivingly upon us. I looked up at Big Rog, wondering if he, too, saw our impending doom. He glanced toward the nearing horizon and we both knew there were no words. We simply sat in our solitary sweat lodge. The hats we bought couldn’t block it. Beer couldn’t cool it. Shade could not stop our pools of perspiration. We were face sweating like the father-daughter face sweaters we were, and I couldn’t even tell you if the home team won.

My affliction doesn’t just surface on my personal time. Last year, when I was 30 months pregnant with Sloppy Joan, I waddled out to the fancy food truck that came to the parking lot every Tuesday. Fish tacos and fries with aioli; pregnant food porn, for sure. But on that gorgeous day in May, the fish wasn’t the only thing fryin’. I walked into a perfect storm of steam: direct rays + a pond + aluminum + 75 extra pounds + a crowd. Before I knew what hit me, my mug looked like I just surfaced from an abrupt drop in the dunk tank. “Ma’am, you can wait under the awning,” the cook said. “Courtney, we can bring your food in to you,” a friend from the gathering crowd of my non-perspiring peers offered. They all saw it. “I’m a face sweater, guys!” I joked, officially acknowledging the awkward, obvious streaks of embarrassing water racing down the sides of my nose, and giving them permission to do the same.

Well, just last week, when I went to the intense Friday morning class at the gym, at the urging of a close girlfriend, only to realize she is secretly Tina Turbo, it was there. About 3 minutes into the warmup (the most ass-whooping warmup I’ve ever done, I feel inclined to mention), the instructor turned her perky self around, locked in on my face and said, and I quote, “OK! I see some of you sweatin’ out there!” Just me. I’m sweating. I was the only mother mover in that joint dropping that kind of water.


My inner circle knows “the stache” (sweat mustache) will make an appearance when prompted by any of the following scenarios: nervousness, stress, an excess of hot beverages, a car with no air, dancing, exercise, motion sickness or vomiting for any reason, crying, carrying or moving objects, cuddling a baby, intense thought, eating warm meals or setting up for a party. I have learned to dab and deal with it.

But, as a card-carrying member of the club, I beg those not burdened by these inconvenient beads of bullshit to withhold judgment and comment. Let’s make a deal that will live on from this post until forever … I won’t say anything about the spots under your armpits, if you agree to hand me a towel, smile kindly and turn away as I remove the sweat from the sides of my sniffer. There’s no cause for concern. Those aren’t tears coming from under my sunglasses, I swear. They are evidence of a genetic misfortune.

A woman wiping her brow with a handkerchief

A woman wiping her brow with a handkerchief

The next time you get an invitation to join in a backyard barbecue, birthday cookout or, the nightmare that haunts my summer days, the absolute worst, an outdoor wedding, take a moment to appreciate your dreamy, dry face. Remember there are those who immediately panic about the face sweat that will accompany them on that fateful day, and the fact that just the thought of that face sweat, makes their face sweat. Sure, we could inject botox (the only treatment my research revealed), and lessen the liquid, but really, isn’t it better if we just embrace the face and the sweat that comes with it? I’d say so. Bring on the summer stache and cocktails!


Cosmic crush

June 8, 2015

Oh man, have you guys heard of Cosmic Kids Yoga? So, it started when Hank decided to try his core at yoga. We would rake some toys to the side, roll out our mats and move through some sun salutations while the chicks played, then inevitably fought, on the other side of the basement. Well, monkey see, monkey do, and eventually they migrated over and started busting some downward dog splits.


Around this time, a dear friend, who is far trendier and by far more granola than me, mentioned Cosmic Kids. But I filed it away in the dark caverns of my brain, somewhere between a great natural bug repellant recipe and the details of the 21-Day Fix.

I finally pulled it up on the Apple TV one chilly Saturday morning and discovered the hidden gem that is Jaime and her magical, wooly jammie unitard. She has the most endearing accent – Australian or British, I’m that bad at accents – and she tells the cutest stories that take your little one on adventures to jungles and oceans and Antarctica, all while incorporating yoga.

yoga 4

You know when you watch a group pose for a picture, and you find yourself with a huge smile on your face like you’re in the shot, even though you’re just an onlooker? That’s me watching Jaime. I put my mat next to the girls and played along, you know, so they wouldn’t lose interest. Before I knew it, I was on my belly paddling to catch up with the giant whale just a few feet ahead, with the goofiest grin. When the girls begged to do, “just one more,” I pretended I was doing them a solid, but I really wanted to do the one with the penguin.

If you have little ones, I’d say 2 ½ or older, check out her channel. And if you know where I can score one of those sweet jumpsuits, comment below.


Tune in Today, Wellness

Before and after

June 5, 2015

Tune in today to see if she can … complete Kayla Itsines’ 12-Week Bikini Body Guide


Who isn’t a sucker for a solid before and after shot? When a close friend told me to check out Kayla Itsines Instagram feed and let her know if I wanted to do the Aussie’s 12-week Bikini Body Guide, she must have known I was a complete fool for the side-by-side comparisons. The transformations are messed up they’re so amazing. And now I know why.


The friend who got me on the hook for Kayla, was also the gal who talked me into my first Whole30 and Insanity, both of which were torture at the time and extremely rewarding after. So I had high hopes.

The idea is fairly simple. The guide has you do the assigned Kayla workout 3 days a week, cardio of your choice for 30-40 minutes 2 days a week, stretching 1 day a week and 1 rest day. A Kayla day’s workout consists of 2 circuits, each containing 4 moves with designated repetitions. You set a timer for 7 minutes and do Circuit 1, as many times through as you can. Then, a 2-minute rest. Set the timer for 7 minutes again and do Circuit 2 as many times through as you can. Take a 2-minute rest. Then repeat the process. You complete each circuit twice.

This mama is still packin’ some extra LBs around the midsection and, perhaps because I had an umbilical hernia fixed 6 weeks after having Sloppy Joan, or perhaps because I am a tubby cake-lover, I had absolutely zero core strength. A fact that reached up and slapped me in the cheek as I reluctantly hovered in my first Kayla plank.

But, much like when we did Insanity, this program, over time, ignited a modest evolution in my meager muscles. Take the burpee, for instance. Kayla loves her some burpees. She changes up the form, but they’re there, in almost every workout. They might be first in the circuit, or fourth, but they’re coming for ya. During the first week, I felt like the motion was disjointed and sloppy and kind of pathetic. But by week 12, I could feel my body automatically snapping my limbs in and out like a push-button umbrella. After three kids, I’m thankful for every single small victory.

The pros of this program are many. The workouts only take about 40 minutes and, with a little bit of equipment, can be done at home. (You can certainly use your gym’s equipment and bust it out, too.) It does get a little tricky toward the end when she has you jumping over benches and such, but I just substituted a small child. It’s easy to get creative as long as you have some hand weights, a kettlebell or medicine ball, and some stairs. The movements are super effective and engage several different muscle groups at a time. And because you repeat a lot of the motions throughout the 12 weeks, just with some added difficulty, it’s easy to gauge your progress. I noticed the biggest differences in my core (Is that a muscle sprouting under that stretch mark?!) and upper arms.

I don’t really have any cons related specifically to the program as it was designed, although it is pretty pricey if you buy it from her. The cons in my case were tied to my tattered body’s inability to keep up. I never could do a jack knife; only one end of my body goes up at a time. My push ups are still of the girl variety. And once I passed Week 8, I’m pretty sure I never made it through a circuit more than 1.12 times, but you just keep getting back up, right?

Will you find my before and after in this post? Not likely. But I will throw you a bone with my measurements. Something to keep in mind is that I certainly did not follow the suggested protocol. I completed the guide in 20 weeks rather than 12, with some other classes and jogging peppered throughout.

Kayla Graphic

If you want your Instagram feed flooded with unattainable body selfies, be sure to follow Kayla. It’s fun to browse and kill some time while your Oreos are soaking.

Until next time …


The thing about this baby

June 3, 2015


Today, my baby turns 1.

This. Is. Tough. Sloppy Joan is our third baby, and we’ve always planned on having three babies. This time, we’re not putting bottles and bouncies and Boppies away, we’re giving them away. It’s surreal.

When you’re 17, and you sit around with your girlfriends and talk about “10 years from now,” it’s kind of like you’re speaking your dreams out into the universe with the hope that God is listening, will take note and, as time passes and He sees fit, they will be distributed down to you one by one until you have everything you’ve ever wished for. So now, as I watch my baby girl smash bright pink frosting into her perfect little face, I’m realizing that my heart is full of all the wishes I had for my “10 years from now.” And that’s kind of … I don’t know … scary … overwhelming … beautiful.

3 girls

I know eventually it will feel liberating – the thought that one chapter of my life is closing. They’re all here. I will [more than likely] never be pregnant again. It’s not that I have nothing to do now. We are in the throws of the next chapter, which is raising humble, strong, capable young ladies; a task booby trapped with a frightening level of estrogen. It’s just that I put so much energy into planning and anticipating and carrying these little lives, and now I have all of those emotions, without the control. My friend Kelly says that having children is like having a piece of your heart living outside your body. Sometimes I can physically feel that sentiment. Like, you know In Madagascar when Alex looks at Marty and he’s a talking steak? That’s the level I’m talking. I picture these little pieces of my emoji-looking, bright red heart, walking and crawling and dancing away from me. Torture.

Sloppy Joan had a rough first year, much of which was spent in the clutches of various ailments, the worst of which being the longest case of the flu ever and RSV. I rode, sitting on a stretcher, in the back of an ambulance at 2 o’clock in the morning holding my naked little angel, both of our hearts racing – mine from a fear like I’ve never known and hers from the virus – and I prayed in the most direct conversation I’ve ever had. I pleaded for this birthday to come. I begged for her beautiful, long life. So, I suppose I shouldn’t spend too much time analyzing the wrapping paper on my most amazing gift, now should I?

This little girl is the brightest ray of sunshine and the happiest of all creatures. She loves buttered noodles, waving and dancing. She’s finding her voice and rocks one prominent tooth on the bottom. Her butt crack is, I promise you, one inch longer than any other butt crack you’ve ever seen on a baby, and her daddy loves to hold her up before bath and say, “It’s been a long-ass day.”

hattie1 collage

If the sentence that is our growing family ends here, she is the perfect punctuation mark. Happy birthday, my sweet Sloppy Joan.

birthday collage