Monthly Archives

July 2015


Tips and tricks for eating clean

July 30, 2015

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No matter how far I fall down the digital rabbit hole, there’s still just something about seeing your name in a byline in print. So, it was a sweet treat when kit asked me back to pen another editorial piece for their latest issue. (It’s always nice when someone calls for a second date, right?) I love the look of kit, and I’m all in for anything by women, for women.

Last time, I compiled a list of plants for the landscaping novice. But this article was all about the body. Specifically, what we put in it. The pros at Living with Intention Inc. were so great to work with and the pointers are like CliffsNotes for feeding your family food that’s perfect in its pure, clean simplicity. Dig in and start making small shifts to benefit those little faces around the dinner table.


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So Says Sloppy Joan

Baby steps

July 29, 2015

This milestone is the big one for babies. You urge them. You coach them. You hold their hands for what adds up to hours, and then, on a particularly uneventful Saturday morning they just let go …

They take their first official steps toward being a toddler, and take with them a million precious little pastimes and a piece of their mama’s heart. Snuggles will be reserved for sick days now. They’ll only ask to be carried when their little legs tire from exploring. I see her taking off. I see her growing up way too fast.

But the part that plucked my heart strings the hardest was her sisters, looking on fondly and cheering for their hairy, happy little sibling. They were so genuinely thrilled as she shuffled across the tile. Her eyes lit up. Their eyes lit up. We all cheered. It was a Hallmark moment in an otherwise chaotic kitchen.

So, here, in her virtual baby book, I’ll record Saturday, July 25 as the day Sloppy Joan took her first steps. The first in what I’m sure will be a lifetime of sometimes tentative, sometimes fearless, always celebrated steps in the direction of her dreams.


Being the new guy at work

July 28, 2015


It’s been a month. Four weeks. Thirty-ish days. I am reporting to my new post for a fifth Monday, and I gotta be honest here, change is really, stinkin’ tough. It’s not the people; the people are great. They’re welcoming and thoughtful and many of them actually feel very familiar for some reason. It’s all the other things. The 8 trillion tiny nuances of your work life that are just a tad  off center.

New technology.
I never thought I would be that girl. The one who desires that distinguishing fruit on her laptop and operates by a handful of apps. But I am all the same. Earning my paycheck in the digital sphere has me married to luxuries like a sizable monitor, Evernote and mobile machines that sync and allow me to set up shop wherever I land. The way your devices speak to each other is a language you learn to live by, and changing that setup is like finding yourself at a dinner party in … say … New Orleans. You can follow the conversation but every now and again, you feel completely disconnected.

New secrets.
Offices have secrets. They all do. One of the most charming things about finding yourself on the veteran end of a corporate position is being one of the keepers of the secrets. Who stocks ibuprofen and StaticGuard. Who lets you “borrow” stamps. Which bathrooms smell like lavender and which ones smell like lavender mixed with unpleasant things. Where to find boxes. How to ship things. Where to score a cup of the best coffee and who is kind enough to serve up a splash of their creamer. Who comes in early. Who stays late. Who has the best candy bowl; You know, the one with the stuff that really makes it worth the calories. All of these secrets make your work day just a little easier to swallow, but I’m still drinking the crap coffee and couldn’t ship my pants if I had to.

New digs.
Office space, and cubicles in particular, are very tricky. You have to strike a balance between color and conservative. Inspirational and efficient. Cute and corporate. No one wants to stare at vanilla corkboard 40 hours a week, but you don’t want a mammoth shrine to your posse at home, either. I find it best in a situation like this to introduce my obsession with my children in small, digestible doses. First, a few Stickgrams, followed by some of their finest artwork and then a few quotes for good measure. It’s like planting mint in the garden. It starts as a few sprigs and sprouts into a sweet, overgrown garden.

New paperwork.
I just can’t. I’m pretty sure that everyone with dealings in insurance, retirement funds and your assorted additional benefits got together in a large room and decided to throw a smattering of complicated, indecipherable jargon on a binder of papers and then tell you to make copies of all of it to store in a file folder for, like, forever, until referenced in some obscure way 18 months from now.  Stupid. Just so stupid.

New crew.
There are folks who have a masters in networking. They’ve studied the art of small talk and flattery. Put them in a room of bees and they’ll leave with barrels of honey. I am somewhere a step below those people. I love a good conversation, particularly when it involves something I know about, or want to know about, but going in cold usually just leaves me feeling frozen. Typically, one familiar, friendly face can thaw and save any social situation, but when every face is a new face, I tend to resign myself to an awkward smile and excessive coffee drinking. I miss the days of a stranger being the exception and water cooler conversations about more than the weather. We’ll get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


Tune in Today

Crafting my mission statement

July 25, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 8.46.14 AMTune in today to see if she can … Write a personal mission statement.

I recently sat through an intriguing presentation in which a third party researcher shared data, gathered from employee surveys, for the purpose of revitalizing the company’s mission statement. I never realized the weight a mission statement holds. The adjectives have to be on point. There can be no room for misinterpretation. Are we forward-thinking or reliable? Are we compassionate or determined? Bold or safe? Familiar or daring? It has to be a testament to a brand’s hard-earned reputation and accomplishments, but also a promise of progression and prosperity. Listening to how passionate people were about pinpointing the ideal word to explain an establishment inspired me to do a little market research of my own.

I am writing a personal mission statement.

Now, in order to compose an accurate depiction of who I am, as well as who I aspire to be, I first turned to those who know me best. I grouped the participants into categories: Husband, Kids, Immediate Family, High School Friends, College Friends and Work Friends. I then sent them all the same text (Except my husband and kids, of course. They take forever to get back to me.) that read: “Hey guys! Doing research. If you had to describe me in one word, what would it be? BE HONEST!”

The responses.

(Editor’s note – I have always wanted a man to call me, “Organized”. After reading this draft over my shoulder and seeing the intent, he changed his word to “Boundless”.)


Immediate Family:

High School Friends:

College Friends:
(She clarified, “Not to be confused with Genuwine, who wants you to ride it, his pony.”)

Work Friends:
Down to earth
Fun as hell

I know this seems like a big ego stroke, but hang with me here for a bit. It’s not about fueling your self esteem so much as it is an exploration of what you’re putting out into the universe. Just like the researcher’s data tells a story for a corporation, these descriptions tell the story of how I am perceived, for whatever reason, by those who’ve known me in all the different points of my life. My immediate family has the entire 32 years to draw from, my high school friends have nearly as much history, and so on. What did my coworkers really see in me and what am I in my daughters’ eyes? I think of myself as one thing, but that doesn’t necessarily match the consensus. Some of the words truly surprised me, and I think that alone was worth the time it took to pound out a mass text. (It also triggered some pretty sweet text threads with my all-time favorite folks.)

This is where it starts to get interesting, and kind of geeky, but really more interesting than geeky. For reasons I can’t explain, I love a good word cloud. No? Not so much? OK, well, the cheese stands alone … Anyway, I took all the words people sent me and I plugged them into a word cloud generator, and it looked like this:

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Then – hold onto your hats – I wrote a free-flowing, unfiltered paragraph about how I view myself using the same tool. I was going for the stream of consciousness thing, and included what I struggle with, what I think I’m good at and where I’m trying to go. It looks a little different:

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I find it all fascinating. The way we view ourselves vs. how others view us. It must be mentioned that we tend to be both harder on and more honest with ourselves than our peers are. So, while my work friends might have had glimpses at my “obsessive” tendencies, they would be more likely to reach for the word “determined” for the sake of goodwill and friendship. While, conversely, I am more than willing to toss negative adjectives into my word cloud because I am constantly evaluating my weaknesses in an ill-fated effort to improve. It makes me wonder what a compromise word cloud would look like; one where I’m kinder to myself and my social circles are brutally honest.

In the end, this is where I landed, for now. The beauty in something like this is how well it plays with amendments and revisions.

mission statement

Now, it’s your turn. It takes a phone (what the kids are using to send text messages these days), an honest group to survey and your choice of word cloud generators. Go write your mission statement and then live it in the boldest fashion possible.

Until next time …

Tune in Today

Three stops on my training journey (thus far)

July 22, 2015

UPDATE: Tune in today to see if she can … run a half marathon. 



Basically, to bring you up to speed, I have none. (See what I did there?) But there have been a few exciting developments in regard to my running game.

No. 1, I found my stride soulmate. Much like you, I had my doubts. The crop of athletes out there who choose to bounce up and down rather than out and forward is slim, but somehow I unearthed a gal who treads as turtle-ish as I do. She sweats like a long-lost sister and does the dance between self-deprecating pessimism and desperate optimism with the mastery of Misty Copeland. When the piggies meet the pavement, we are a match made in heaven. Not to mention, she’s just a pretty stellar individual and fascinating creature. (She only eats smooth peanut butter on hamburger or hotdog buns, Kraft macaroni and cheese, plantain chips, and romaine lettuce with cheddar cheese and French dressing. That’s her diet. Always. Every day. She carries French dressing in her purse, you guys. I can’t make this stuff up.)


No. 2, I have confirmed the universal hypothesis that the farther you go, the harder it is. Let me repeat: It is very true that running far is brutal, self-inflicted punishment for a false sense of confidence that you embraced somewhere in your past. Sure, the goal seemed super sexy when it was you, a bunch of quotes on Pinterest and a pair of tight trousers. But now, 2 1/2 weeks in, it feels more like the definition of insanity. You keep lacing up and checking off the boxes of your training plan, because Hal said so, only to feel like you got jumped in a back alley by a bunch of no-good goons with billy clubs. And then you go back to the friggin alley three times a week! What kind of person does that? An insane one. And the whole “runner’s high” phenomenon … I can only assume I’m still stuck in the “jogger’s low” but the good stuff is coming.

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No. 3, Running is a serious mind f*@k. (Excuse my language, but the symbols softened the blow, Mom.) Yesterday, I ran 5 miles. Seems like nothing when I think of the folks out there logging 100-mile mudders threw jungles and mountain tops, but still, it was the farthest I have ever run. I had my afternoon snacks all planned out, then meetings ran over. I had my clothes situated, but I lost my lightweight sunglasses. And then, the worst thing happened. Technology failed me. [gasp!] My Runkeeper app announced we were at 4.56 miles just 14 minutes into the run. Either our asses were on fire, or the tool was jacked up. The realization that we wouldn’t be getting those mile-by-mile updates from our prerecorded female companion was a devastating blow to morale. By mile 3 (we guessed), the sun was relentless and urging us to lay down on someone’s lawn for a nice long vomit and snotty sob. I had to walk for a minute. Even though it was just 12 minutes more, just 3.4 more songs from the playlist, just 1 extra loop, it was enough to psych me out. There’s no arguing with the physical demands of running, but it’s the mental part that just absolutely levels me. The popsicles after are great though.


Until next time …



You, me and all our friends

July 21, 2015


I consider myself a semi-respectable, hard-working, somewhat productive member of society. But for one night every summer, I like to let go of the reigns and raise my freak flag high, and that flag has a fire dancer for sure. For more years than I can count – minus a couple of misses due to things like labor and delivery – Hank and I, and a few of our favorite friends, have gathered in the great outdoors to eat, drink and be merry, and get just a touch stupid at the Dave Matthews Band concert.

Now, I realize that the king of happy feet isn’t everyone’s favorite flavor, and that’s actually neither here nor there. The important thing is, it feels damn good to stop being “Mom” and “Dad” for 8 hours and opt for jello shots, tone deaf singing and drunk dancing in lieu of diarrhea diapers and sisterly squabbles. It’s easier than I care to dwell on to lose yourself in the hamster wheel of roles and responsibilities. But standing in an open-air venue with thousands of your closest strangers, screaming lyrics that mean something different to everyone, but something to everyone all the same, always feels like rediscovering your younger self.

But being in touch with your younger self doesn’t mean you actually become your younger self; a realization that jolts me awake with an abrupt and heartless bitch slap more so year after year. Bruises and a bad back trump the temporary relief of a greasy entree and carbonated cola. Let’s run through some of the glaring discrepancies between the decades …

(Full disclosure: I already confessed to my chronic face sweating, so don’t adjust your screen. Grab your sunnies and prepare for the glare of a girl glistening in the best heat summer had to offer.)

Dave in our 20s
15 people sitting on laps in a small SUV.

Dave in our 30s
Good ole’ swagger wagon, baby.

Dave in our 20s
Peeing in a wide open field.

Dave in our 30s
Pumping in the third row seat.

Dave in our 20s
Funneling and forcing beers down my minor-aged throat right up to the gate.

Dave in our 30s
Bending over and taking the $27 tab for two beverages like the adults we are.

Dave in our 20s
Lawn with all the stinky campers.

Dave in our 30s
Pavilion with all the people who don’t even like the band.

Dave in our 20s
Rush to beat the parade to Taco Bell after conceding there won’t be a second encore.

Dave in our 30s
Rush to relieve the sitter so she can go downtown and meet her college friends.

Dave in our 20s
Hangover cure: Sausage and Egg McMuffins and a Diet Coke.

Dave in our 30s
Hangover cure: Black coffee and 48 hours of shakes, misery and merciless guilt.



Hope you get to catch a show (and a little piece of your youth) this season, guys!


In memoriam: Orange, Swimmer, Flower and Crawly the Ant

July 16, 2015

During my decade-long career as a journalist/marketing copywriter/social media manager, I have found myself on the creative end of some pretty interesting projects. Editorial content often requires interviews and photo shoots and behind-the-scenes tours, to really get to the guts of the story. As a result of these endeavors, I have accumulated an impressive array of trinkets and trophies: A bottle of water from a natural spring, green tea-flavored liqueur, leggings with faux leather patches on the insides of the legs, and, the gift that brings us to this post, a quartet of goldfish.

About a year ago, I was in the photo studio interviewing a coworker for a blog feature. Vases of goldfish looked on as I asked her to disclose what she carried in her handbag and what her spirit animal might be. Finally, in spite of my best efforts to avoid eye contact, someone suggested I take a fish home. “The girls will love it!” they urged. You see, these goldfish were orphans; leftover props from a fashion photo shoot, and if no one gave them a tank to call home, their future looked pretty bleak. Against all my better judgement, and just as my mother the animal rescuer taught me, I rolled up my cardigan sleeve and fished two little guys out of a flower vase. I later went back for two more.

Thrilled with their new friends, the chicks settled on the names Orange, [Fish] Swimmer, Flower and Crawly the Ant, respectively. They fed them a pinch of flavorful flakes when asked, and checked in on them from time to time. Everyone was thriving … until Monday night. It was the commentary every parent dreads from the day they transfer that $.25 pet from the bag to the tank. “Mom, that fishy isn’t swimming. I think he’s caught in that plant, Mama! He is! He’s caught and there’s blood on him!” Spike screamed with great concern. I looked over at Hank and he made the universal thumb-across-the-jugular gesture to confirm that we had, in fact, lost a fish. Now, before I go on to this next part, it must be said that my reaction was for my children, more than the free goldfish that had taken up residence in my dining room.

We said it was Orange (because heaven forbid it was Crawly the Ant you guys, seriously. Any fish but Crawly the Ant), and assembled around the potty for a proper burial. Henry played a funeral hymn on his harmonica, as the ladybugs gathered around the petite corpse of their former friend. He leaned down and grabbed the handle of the net, like a solemn pallbearer, and placed Orange in his final resting place. (Well, until he flushed him and then he really went to his final resting place.) The second the handle triggered the whirlpool, the girls lost it. Tears and screams of mourning. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t shed a tear. I really did.


Hank explained it was time for Orange to go back and swim with the big fish in the river. A few minutes later, after this concept had a chance to marinate in her mind, Spike spoke: “Mom, he came from the water, and we shared our home. He came from your work, but, Mom, this is how God made the world. He has to go back to his home so he can be alive again. But, Mom … how is there a river in our potty?” Really, truly, a valid question.


Before bed, she told Hank, “Actually, I think that was my friend Crawly the Ant. My sad face won’t go away.” And the next morning, that she “woke up in the middle of the night and there was a fish tank on the floor and Crawly the Ant came back alive and lived forever.” Grief is a process. This morning, we lost the rest of our school of swimmers. That pesky pH balance can really deliver a blow.


In honor of happier times, let’s look back on our first morning with our dear pets: Orange, Swimmer, Flower and, of course, Crawly the Ant. Thank you, dear finned friends, for swimming on the sidelines of our lives for approximately 375 days. You will be missed.




What I’m gettin’ myself into

July 15, 2015

In the last few months, I’ve unearthed a near handful of gems that have made my life smell, taste and operate better. And when you find that kind of goodness, the proper thing is to pass it along. This is not a sponsored post (I’m not quite there, folks). It is, however, kind of a mixed bag of treats, so follow along. There’s something for everyone.

Gettin into
1. Lifestinks deodorant.
The discovery of this antiperspirant, for me, was much like an archeologist uncovering a mastodon, or a couple from the Bachelor making it to the alter. It felt unlikely, but it was true. For years, the idea of applying aluminum to my underarms on the daily has driven me to seek and employ nearly every brand of natural deodorant on the shelves. They all resulted in the 1 pm stinkies, until I found her … the one. A friend turned me onto Lifestinks and I haven’t stopped powdering since. The Lavender regular strength is lovely, and justifies the price tag by promising a 9-months supply in each decanter. A little dab’ll do ya for the pits, and bonus, it doubles as dry shampoo.

2. Moscow Mules.
We’ll call it 4 years ago, I had my first copper cup of bliss at a quaint little watering hole called Congress in downtown Austin. One sip and I was sold. What was this bubbly ginger beer and where had it been all my life? The years tore us apart, but a trip to Put-In-Bay a few weeks back rekindled our boozy, unbridled love affair. The recipe is a simple prescription of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. Feeling fancy? Toss in some mint or muddled raspberry and throw your mouth a party it will never want to leave.

3. House of Cards.
I am in a one-night-a-week binge relationship with this Netflix original. Now, I’ll be honest, a lot if not all of the bureaucratic jargon is completely over my head. (Damn you political science and your three branches of complicated terms and power players.) But Francis and Claire … how freaking fascinating are these creatures? The pair of them just make the show for me. They’re twisted in the most wonderful way and I just want to put on a stealth black jogging suit and gasp for air behind them down a dark trail. The Congressional pieces for me are just foreplay. Give me more of these weirdos getting all power wasted and disregarding basic human decency in exchange for titles and self gratification. Ah, the American dream.

4. Regalo Easy Diner Portable Hookon Highchair.
Hank found this puppy on Amazon and it has been a game changer. Initially, we wanted to keep it in Emma for picnic table dining. But now we’re slappin’ this sucker on every sturdy surface we can find. It’s stupid-easy to attach, wipes up like a shiny new penny and folds down into a handy little pouch. It’s a great solve for restaurants, visiting friends or something for the grandparents to keep around when the kiddies stop by.

5. Oh, and there’s that half marathon training. I’ve been getting into half marathon training …


Oh daddy dear: Surviving and thriving with all daughters

July 12, 2015

Due to our need to get the hell outta dodge, I missed addressing this on Father’s Day. But with the 34th anniversary of his birth upon us, I feel compelled to share why my husband was just the man to raise three little women, and what other men in his situation can gain from his approach.

the look.
I have known this gentleman for 14 years. I know what he’s thinking. I know what he’s going to say before he parts his lips. But I never knew what immeasurable, drunken joy looked like on him until I saw him lock eyes on JoJo the day she was born. I remember lying there, watching him dance between me and her … all pink and screaming and deliciously ours. A light came on in him that only fatherhood could spark. I saw it again when we had Spikey. And again with Sloppy Joan. Every time they do something endearing, I immediately turn to catch that organic moment on his face; that glimmer he gets only for his girls. It’s a certain smile and a sparkle, like his love for them is reflected back and captured in his eyes. As much as I relish these sweet glances, I know the chicks do just as much. They feel adored and accepted and encouraged to keep being themselves. When someone genuinely rejoices in your unbridled spirit, it puts wind in your wings. It makes them feel like they can soar.
Look adoringly upon your daughters.


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owning it. 
Given the choice of a baby blue toothbrush or powder pink, my husband will opt for the blushing brush. Why? Because he has embraced the company he keeps. He often jokes about how he’s taken to calling things, “cute,” the designated adjective in our dwelling. It’s not his fault, really. I used to work with this sweet young thing who said, “Gosh,” at the beginning of every sentence. “Gosh, Kate Middleton is the cutest.” “Gosh, I really want a juice cleanse.” “Gosh, Spike is seriously so funny.” And before you knew it, bing! bang! boom! “Gosh,” was part of my vernacular. It’s subliminal advertising more than a sign of meager manhood. But I appreciate that he’s all-in. He’s unapologetic. He is a grown-ass man who can paint some tiny nails and do a french braid like a boss and who says, “cute” … a lot. And, gosh, it’s so dang endearing.



a pile of patience. 
God love this man and the patient soul he was given. I run at a very different pace and, unfortunately, there are times when I get caught up in the bullet points of my to-do list at the expense of the beautiful little faces behind the bullet points (a post for another time). But Henry takes the extra time. His watch stops for the small things and it’s a blessing to our babies.

high marks in the all-around.
It’s important to Hank that the girls be confident, well-rounded and adventurous. He thinks about what he wants to show them, and he always has their character at the heart of his plans. People have said, “He needs his boy.” But that’s kind of crap. He doesn’t need a boy to have someone to share interests or pass on the lessons his father taught him. JoJo, we’ve learned, likes to garden, fish and hike. Spike, likes mowing the yard and olives (their things right now). He curates theses special experiences based on the knowledge he has to share, the little people he sees in them and the women he hopes they’ll be someday. He respects their individuality, never limits them based on gender and makes them feel like he can teach them anything. It’s empowering and, while they will probably never be avid hunters or throw the winning pass at a Friday night football game, the book is never totally closed on a path they want to explore.




doctor dada.
Every home becomes a machine, with different people maintaining the function and feelings of the people and things that reside within the walls through different roles and reactions. As the sole man of the house, Hank’s roles cover a vast territory. He is the protector and the powerhouse. The mover of all heavy things. But, because his wife is, well, me, he is also by default the cleaner of all vomit and assessor of all wounds. Every crash, every splinter, every [gag] tick, is directly elevated to daddy’s attention. He always picks the right bandage, has the words to calm their hysteria and bears the blood and snot stains to prove his medical savvy. Every house needs a tough guy when the bike brakes fail and skulls collide, and he is certainly ours.

I know quite a few daddies who have been blessed with little women, exclusively. They all have these traits and more, and savor the gift they’ve been given. It takes a special guy to man up to the challenge of raising, not just girls, but strong, confident, capable girls. I tip my hat to my babies’ daddy and to all the fellas doing their part to make the next generation of gals fierce and freaking awesome.




Spike Speak


July 8, 2015

As days go, Monday was a big one for Spike. First, I received the following text from Hank:

Big news!
Desi is going to be an adult today and is getting married.
She’s marrying John Smith Lou.
And she’s going to wear a marry-er.

Desi, you might recall, is one of the key players in a little place we like to call Spike’s World. This was followed by a photo of Spike modeling said marry-er.


[Sidenote, but also worth mentioning: For over a year this curly haired child has been telling us tales of Kiyango, her noble steed. How her horse goes on the big boy potty, and sleeps on her floor. She even got a Christmas ornament with him on it. Well, our local Children’s Zoo welcomed a baby giraffe a few weeks back and sure as I’m craving a cupcake, do you know what they named that thing? Ki-freaking-ango. Can’t make this stuff up.]

At some point in the afternoon, things shifted from bridal to bicycle and Spike decided to get padded up and give her pedals a push without training wheels.

Safety first …


After just four practice passes with her dad, I came home to this:


The gang was pretty stoked.

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I know, I know … JoJo is sportin’ some sweet winter jams and a woolly glove. Don’t be jelly.