Why I love January

OK, so two weeks ago when the boys went back to school, I drafted this blog post in my head. Then I promptly forgot about it. It was Tuesday and the boys were finally back in school after 17 sleeps and I could exhale. I didn’t have to feed anyone, entertain anyone or pretend I think this is funny.

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You guys, I didn’t do a thing that entire day. I took full advantage of this stay at home mom gig and stayed at home. I might have napped. I might have watched Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I might have had a giant grin on my face for that entire five hours.

I mean, we did have a nice Christmas. I know you don’t know that since I have been MIA. Why did I have to go MIA?? I was not planning on it. I was thinking I would have all this time to blog and chat. Negative. Let me run down all what happened for you…you know I adore a summary post.

After I published that last December post, the school year ended and Zach’s birthday was three days away. He wanted to have his party at Chuck-e-Cheese’s and it was so easy. I reserved it all online and just showed up with some cupcakes. He didn’t want favors as “the things they win with their tickets will be there favors”. Having just come out of crafting overload, I did not argue.

Can you even believe I have a six year old. My fat baby is six. I can’t even take it.

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James got to invite one friend and he picked Harper, of course. These two are best buddies could not love each other more.

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Birthday = done, on to Christmas Eve! Everyone came to our house for Mexican (my family’s tradition) and church. I got out the tripod my dad got me for a Wall family photo. This was the best we could do. On the whole, it is pretty good.

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And Merry Christmas! Santa came, complete with photo documentation for a skeptical six year old and brought the boys all they wanted – except the bb gun Zach asked for. There is no need for a little boy living in the middle of Houston to have a bb gun. No way. I told him Santa could not get gifts that parents didn’t want their kids to have. It was in the contract.

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After breakfast we packed up and went out to the Walls to spend the night and open more presents.

Then it was my birthday – happy 37th to me. Gross. How am I so old?

My parents were in town so we threw handed  the boys off to them and had lunch at ZaZa. My sister, brother-in-law and nieces arrived and we went to Tokyohana to celebrate. My parents were highly, highly skeptical, but it turned out to be perfect. It is super kid friendly and aside from the fire scaring my niece Vivian, everyone had fun.

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How cute is she, even if she is so scared??

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Every child wanted to sit next to me. James started crying when Charlotte took his seat. Luckily Zach is the sweetest big brother and always moves for his cry-baby brother. I say that with love…IMG_5527

We had a fun weekend with my them all, I love to spend time with them and Vivi is thinking about acknowledging that she has an Uncle named Alex. She currently refuses to make eye contact or speak to him. It is hilarious. His voice is very loud and low for little girls.

Once they left I was still staring down a full week, plus a Monday, of quality family time. Luckily I had thought a bit ahead and signed the boys up for half day art camp on Monday and half day gymnastics camp on Friday. So we filled the time with a trip to the trampoline center, including my three year old playing dodgeball with 12 year olds. Normal.

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We went bowling.

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Then we spent a morning doing this:

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Video is here: http://instagram.com/p/xR0Ai-xwda/?modal=true

New Year’s Eve the Wall’s kept the boys, which has become a nice little tradition which I hope continues (pretty please?). We had the Rockets tickets that night and Alex was shocked when I agreed to go for my one game of the year. It was a 6pm game however, so we had some time to kill once the game ended. I don’t know who won. I barely paid attention.

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So we had about two hours to kill before our dinner reservations. We walked to some bars downtown and pretended like we were 22 again. And what did we do at those bars? Oh we drank water (to hydrate) and registered Zach for Little League (the deadline was the 1st). I would say sad, but really, it is about on par for 37 year old parents of two. We are tired and have stuff to do. We rang in the New year at a bar and then immediately Ubered home. I was in bed by 12:30. Awesome.

Finally the celebrating could come to an end. Are you not exhausted just thinking about it? I am. While it was fun to see everyone and so nice to not have to get up at school time, I started having flashbacks to the summer with 12 hours each day to entertain my children and might have gotten a bit panicky there at the end.

So I am glad for January. I like my routine. Even with the cold and rainy weather, it is a relief for me.

Halloween with a Power Ranger and Ninja Turtle

Zach and James were pretty set on their Halloween costumes this year. James insisted on being the red power ranger and Zach wanted to be the red ninja turtle. I didn’t post the photos on Facebook because I started drinking and forgot to take photos of my children. Luckily I have a new friend who saved me. These are her twins in the photo as a Texan and a Skylander.

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We hit two Halloween parties (because we like to challenge ourselves) which only served to pump the boys up even more for the trick or treating. At the second one we tried to force a piece of pizza in their faces, but I think I was the only one who ate. As soon as it was dusk, it was on.

You guys, it was all Lord of the Flies in our ‘hood.  Zach, the twins and some other boys were sprinting house to house up and down the street. People were everywhere and some streets were closed to cars. Parents were pulling wagons for little kids or coolers, or both in our case. We kept running into kids from both the boys schools and other random friends. It was like one long block party.

I legitimately lost Zach for about 10 minutes. Lost. No clue where he was. We were on my street, but a block down. We all know that I am not a hoverer, but even I was getting slightly concerned. Luckily he was still with the gang of boys. They had stopped for a candy break in an open lawn. I am sure the neighbors were thrilled.

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James and the twin’s little sister were slower on the take. James kept falling down in his costume (I don’t think he could see) then rolling around the yards just for fun. Finally he got the idea and he too started running house to house. I put Alex on him as clearly I am not fit to be in charge in the dark.

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When we decided to head back home, we ran into one of Zach’s classmates and his dad. We convinced him (with an alcoholic beverage) to trick or treat down to our house. The boys were so cute handing out candy, including some from their own bags. They sat out on the front stairs and forced everyone walking by to take some.

I can safely say this was the best Halloween so far. Everyone could basically do it on their own, the weather was perfectly cool and they could make it staying up so late. Except I do miss the angry parrot from three years ago…

Goal for next year – arm Zach with something to call me with when I lose him. Good thing he knows my number.

I thought it was a good idea

Zach has been in school now for six weeks now. Part of me can’t believe it has been that long and another part of me is already ready for a break. This getting up early thing is for the birds. Well, when you have grumps in the morning it is. Like myself.

It takes the boys about five minutes to really wake up. There is the turning on of the lights and me shaking them, but after about five minutes they are fully awake. And talking. On the other hand, it takes me like an hour to be awake. I am not exaggerating. I am actually being generous with the hour statement.

So I try to put on a “mommy is awake face” (I don’t ask for comments on how that is going) and push on. They get up, get dressed and then eat breakfast. At 7:30, breakfast has to be done to get shoes on, brush teeth and head to the garage.

Where we get on the bikes.

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Anyone who talked to me during the summer, knows how excited I was to bike to school. I can’t remember why now.

I have a bike trailer which James rides in, but not happily. Every. Single. Morning, he cries that he does not want to go. Please keep in mind we are a 4 minute ride from the school. We ride there, walk Zach in and ride back. it is like 15 minutes tops. Then we come back and James gets to play or watch a show before his school starts at 9. It does not matter. Every day, without fail, James will have a fit about some part of our morning routine. Most mornings I fly down our driveway with him screaming about how he does not want to go. People are going to start thinking I am a kidnapper.

One morning I decided to Love and Logic him with acceptable consequences and let him wear his pajamas and no shoes into Zach’s school. He was thrilled. I was not.

So I tried suggesting he ride his scooter home. This, obviously, took about ten minutes of negotiating on where he would be able to get out of the trailer (not on the street near school with all the traffic) and if he had to wear a helmet (yes).

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Success! This option worked well for a while, we could take all the time we needed to get home, no rushing and it ate up the time between drop offs.

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Then he got tripped up by an acorn, fell over the scooter and that option was done. It was a slight scrape, but you would have thought he broke something. Again, my neighbors might be calling CPS soon.

Plus there is the sweat. Oh my Lord the sweat. You would not think going less than a mile at a casual pace would make a girl sweat – but then you would not know me. This humidity is killing me. When we get home I have to put on all new clothes. Usually just more exercise clothes, obviously.

Then I drive James up to his school for his 9:00 am start time. As you might have guessed – he does not want to go there either. He finally stopped crying two weeks ago. As in, after he had been in school (THE SAME SCHOOL HE HAS ATTENDED SINCE HE WAS ONE) for four weeks. I mean, I love that I am his favorite and clearly he knows something the rest of you don’t and wants to hang out with me all the time, but dude, cut a mom some slack and be cool. I will be back in four hours.

So by 9:15-9:30 I feel like I have worked out, I have done a ton of negotiating and taken two modes of transportation. I am beat. Just reading this post exhausts me.

But Zach loves to bike. Loves it. I bought him a combination lock which uses a four letter word vs numbers for the code. I set it as one of his sight words he was struggling with and felt like the mom of the universe. Until I had to keep telling him it over and over while sweating at the bike lock. L-I-K-E. I don’t.

I think if I was more of a morning person this would be great. Zach is in a great mood in the morning. He is super chatty and wants to tell me all sorts of things about bugs and poop. I just have a really hard time wanting to hear it at 7:40 am.

But this was totally my idea and he is fully on-board. Plus, we all know I would just be sweating getting he and James in and out of the car in the morning. I am an equal opportunity sweater – Alex is so, so lucky to have me.

And I do like the ride home. While hot and stickyer, I love to hear the things he did that day when they are fresh in his mind. We go slower and chat the whole way. That sort of makes up for the morning. Sort of.

Not just a pretty face

If you are in my moms group (hi friends!) or paid attention my leaving note on my other blog (hi friends with attention to detail!) you have heard that I am starting a small business selling teacher gifts. As one of the husbands said, including mine, what exactly are you doing?

Valid question husbands.

Before I left work, I was forcing encouraging my boss to make this latte card for her daughter’s teachers. She said off-hand that I should start a business selling teacher gifts. I could not imagine taking anything else on at the time, so I just waved the idea off.  Then this past summer my friend Beth, who started selling the Rodan + Fields skin care line, wanted to partner with me to make end of summer gifts for teachers using the R+F sunscreen. We both loved the idea, but seeing as she lives in Baton Rouge, we just could not make it work.

But I decided to do a small test run of making various gifts for the end of the school year. I contacted some moms I know that are too busy for this stuff and/or don’t want to deal with M&Ms in a jar. I created a quick PDF and also had a link to my teacher gift Pinterest board. Everyone really liked the gifts I dropped off at their offices/homes, with instructions for them to take complete credit for it. My friend Allie even sent me some referrals (thank you again Allie!).

You guys, it was fun. I loved it actually.

Oh, but did I mention I sort of forgot to tell Alex about it? Whoopsies. I just felt silly for some reason and thought he would not think it was a good idea, so instead of being a grown up and telling him, I just went about my business (pun intended) and left him in the dark. He did not say ask any questions as to why our kitchen table was covered in bags, beach towels, insulated cups and glass jars. Not a peep. I do love him so for not questioning my crazy crafting. His attempt to avoid my crazy is one of my favorite things about him.

Don’t worry, I did finally tell him, but he insists on referring to it as my super-secret business.

So what am I doing exactly? Well, if you look up on the black ribbon under the heading of the blog, you will see Teacher Gifts.

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There I have my five offerings. The way it works is that you pick which item you would like and I create it for you and deliver it to your work or home. OK, I really could have just led with that sentence and saved you all a ton of time.

Anyway, if you don’t like those offerings or they don’t fit with what you need, you can send me a link to most anything on Pinterest, either on my board or others and I can re-create them for you. And, as always, I deliver!

I also have links to many of the printables here on the blog too. On the right hand side under Blog Categories, you can click either Printables, for all printable things, teacher and otherwise, or Teacher Gifts, which is pretty self-explanatory.

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PS are you loving my use of the Snipping Tool?

That is enough business talk for a while, back to stories of me getting peed on and run out of places.

But when you need a teacher gift, I hope you will think of me!

Don’t push me, MFAH

During the summer all over my Instagram feed were pictures with the #sotosummer. You all know I don’t like to be left out so I had to find out what this was, how could I do it and then post it on Instagram myself. I have total FOMO, in case you didn’t already know.

Once I realized it was at the Museum of Fine Arts my stomach sank. I am not on the best of terms with the MFAH. I mean, I am allowed in (so far) but they are not happy to see me coming.

Back in the spring, I took the boys one afternoon. Zach is very into art and I packed some crayons and drawing pads and thought he could draw what he saw as we walked around the museum. You would have thought we walked in carrying spray paint for the amount of stares we received and the number of docents following us around.

I mean, I get it, the art is priceless and the sculptures are old. However, I have a little boy who is fascinated with art and in whom I would like to cultivate a love of art. Can you give us some breathing room, Nancy?

But I do also have James.  A three year old who wants to touch, climb, smell, lick and caress everything.  He may or may not have darted up to what he thought was a wall, pushed against it an almost fell into a sculpture. It was metal, like it would have been hurt. But Nancy was NOT pleased.

I left with such a horrible feeling about the place. I felt like a bad mother because I have a three year old and like a failure for even trying to do something with art for Zach. Instead of getting sad about these feelings, I turned them into anger at the museum.

So when I decided we were going to the Soto exhibit, you know I went in guns hot. Don’t even come over here Nancy, I will cut you and your blunt cut bob.

To be clear, the exhibit is “A vast, floating sea of plastic strands suspended from the ceiling…”. Basically plastic spaghetti. My boys were enthralled. They walked (not ran) through it with their arms stretched out, they got lost in it and called to each other (not yelled) and we reunited in the middle to lay down and look up.

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But we were not alone….Nancy was back and brought Ray with her this time. At one point James was holding up the end of the strands and connecting them together to see if they were the same size. Ray rushed over and told me “He can’t be tugging on those, ma’am”. I did not even hesitate in my stare down of Ray and told him he was not. I was not going to get into it the fact that by James holding them up, it in fact took pressure off the hanging strands aka the opposite of “tugging”. He continued to stare and I continued to not tell James to stop.

And the boys loved the exhibit.

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I loved that they got to experience the art, touch it, wander through and enjoy it. They didn’t know about the anxiety I was feeling nor did they notice Nancy watching them.

As it should be, NANCY…..

No, my children have not killed me…yet

Well hello my loyal followers! How are the seven of you this hot July day? I am so sorry for my extended absence. I never understood why other, more professional bloggers took the summer off, until now. It is really hard to sit down to write with someone pulling on you all the time. The boys are not in any consistent school and the different schedules have thrown us all off.

So, to catch everyone up, I will do what I like to do when I take these extended breaks (like here and here, oh and here). A summary post; catching everyone up on our actions.
June
I created a hashtag for the summer: #wallsummer2014 I was reading somewhere that you should have a hashtag for your summer photos, so you can easily find them at the end of the summer. I can put that above hashtag into Instagram or Facebook and quickly pull all the photos. You know, for the summer photo album I will never create.

Zach attended Rice Soccer Camp and Zoo camp, in back to back weeks while James went to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

So my days looked like this:
8:50 park at Rice University to hike across the soccer field, with James to drop Zach in a pack of kids around a soccer ball.
9:00 race back to the car with James to drive him to school
9:20 – 11:15 exercise/grocery shop/dry cleaners/bill pay, etc.
11:15 – drive back to Rice to pick up Zach. That is sweaty hat below. Gross right? He totally got my sweat genes vs. Alex. It works much better on a boy.

11:30 – 1:45 Quality time with my first born (OK, this part was nice)
2:00 pick up James and let the wrestling/arguing/punching begin!

We all went down to Galveston for Father’s Day weekend with my sister and her family, plus my parents. It was a lot of kids but luckily my sweet aunts (Hi Vickie and Laura!) let us stay at their condos so we had some room to spread out. Plus my parents stayed at a hotel, where it was very, very quiet, I assume.

James said he did not like the ocean “trying to get him” and the dirty water getting into his mouth. True on both counts. Luckily, the Galveston Country Club has a giant baby pool that everyone enjoyed. Especially the adults, as they serve you beverages. The did not have Bud Light Lime (see photo above), but I made do.

As of June 14th, I have been retired for a full year. You guys, I had lots of thoughts about that which I will be sharing later, but mainly I was busy packing for our next trip – a 12 hour drive to Seaside, Florida.

We stopped on the way, in Pascagoula, MS to see the Gator Boys. If you don’t know what the Gator Boys are, they are a group of guys who go to people’s homes throughout the South, wrestling alligators out of their back yards and taking them to the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch. That was our destination.

My brother in law told us not to stop in Mississippi under any circumstances, but I don’t think he realized we got the last room at the Hampton Inn….with a hot tub.

The boys were super perplexed why we made them take a shower after playing in the hot tub. We just told them it was a family rule.

 Alex was the only one of us actually willing to touch the alligator. A bunch of wimps we are.

Then it was on to the beach! Seaside was beautiful, so much better than Galveston. James still did not like the ocean “trying to get him” and the dirty water getting into his mouth. I finally realized he was talking about the salt taste to the water and had to explain that was what an ocean tasted like. AKA get over it already.

We went with Ashley and her family and stayed in this great house. We rode bikes and took a golf cart everywhere. I had never been to Seaside and I see now why everyone loves it.

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We were back for about a week, then we left again to head to the river for the 4th of July. After two 12 hour trips with my children, one 3 hour jaunt felt like nothing. Until we had to stop to let the dog use the restroom in the middle of nowhere.

And then we all had to go at Buckee’s.

My parents bought Zach his own little kayak and he took right to it. He was not the least bit scared and by the third day, he could turn and go straight for a while. He loved it!

Two skinny cousins rinsing after brushing their teeth with toothbrushes their Granny Marsh put their names on.

This was the first time that Zach actually toobed the river. He made it all the way to the dam at the end of the street. Technically Lauren and I were in the paddle boat pulling them and James was in the back. He did not last long in the river. Shocking.

And last but not least, James turned three!

We spent his actual birthday night at Chuck-e-Cheese, complete with the birthday crown he made in school. I guess that is one perk of going to preschool on your birthday. The other is that your mother is not driven batty by being with you for three weeks + one day. 

We had his party this past weekend, complete with giant water slide and homemade pinata.

You will note that Alex had to hold the pinata as the string ripped completely out. My suggestion was to just put it down on the ground for them to beat on, but I was overruled.

I just had to check my calendar to make sure that was all. Isn’t that enough? Hopefully now that they are back in school a few days here and there I can be back to a better blogging schedule. Hopefully. But the summer is not yet halfway over and it is getting hot people. Really, really hot.

Watch out, we will hug you

Have I ever told you the story of the time I hugged the head of the San Antonio office upon meeting him for the first time? No? It is totally normal.

Uncle Chris recently sent me this link to the 11 Rules for Hugging at Work, which brought my ugly hugging history back to the service. However, I would like to note that I only broke rule #11.

So I was a young and spry 25 back in 2003, and I was the marketing manager for the Austin and San Antonio offices for my firm. I drove down to San Antonio to meet the office managing partner and discuss his marketing plan, etc. I was stationed in a conference room when he popped in to say hello. He walked over to the desk and I stood to greet him.

Once I stood up I realized how close he was to me, so I did the natural thing I do, when someone gets too close.  I threw both arms around him in a big bear hug. I then, immediately, realized what I had just done, released him and plopped back down into my chair. We were both fairly horrified. I think he mumbled something about how he looked forward to working with me and backed slowly out of the room.

I was then stuck with the next obvious question – what happens when I leave the office? Do I hug him good-bye? Have I just set a hugging precedent? And, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

Turns out he too was a hugger and while I just popped my head into his office and waved from the doorway that time, for the rest of the two years I worked with him, we hugged every time we saw each other. A big, full bear hug. Or, more likely, he was just really good boss who wanted to keep his weird employee happy.

You know who else in our family hugs inappropriately? This guy.

If he has recently met you, please expect a full leg/crotch hug when you depart. He hugged the train conductor at the Hermann Park Zoo the other day. He hugged his soccer coach (twice) after their first practice together. He may not seem impressed with you, but he would like to hug you.

I could not be more proud.

Trail Riders

You guys, why do I get so sentimental about the trail riders? I mean, I just love them. I love these people that drive their cars miles out of town to ride their horses back in. They are so happy and having so much fun with beautiful horses, but at the same time, it is so, so weird. I don’t think other towns have a multitude of streets shut down for parts of a day so trail riders can mosey down. Do they?

Whatever. I planned to do what I have done in the past (well, 2010 and 2011 where he looks just like James, PS); we go to a park and let the kids play until we hear the music they blast as they ride down the street. We then run to the sidewalk and wave and wave. Added bonus of this year – I didn’t have to go to work, so there was no rush at all.

However, we were almost thwarted thanks to the P word. We had to leave the park so Zach could go to the bathroom. Then James peed everywhere, he and I had to change and it was a whole thing. I finally hustled them back in the car with specific instructions to “LOOK FOR THE TRAIL RIDERS OUT YOUR WINDOW!”. Again, why do I care so much??

We spotted them at the end of our street so I cut up a few streets (not the least bit slowly – the boys were yelling “Go Mommy!!”) and we parked at the Y. We ran into my neighbor (who took these photos) and were just in time to see the beginning of a very long trail ride.

Seriously, I totally geek out about the trail riders. I am embarrassed about my hideous too-much-smile face, but I knew you all would want to see it. Calm down, Kinsey, just calm down.

One guy rode his horse up to the curb to give Zach a high five, but the horse went up on the grass more than he needed to, and I thought the horse was going to hit into the crosswalk sign and James was going to climb over my shoulder to get away.

It was the highlight of Zach’s day.

I was so glad to drop my little cowboys off at school after that. I ignored the teacher’s eye rolls that we were late because trail riders. I didn’t even bother to lie.

I don’t really have a teenager

Do you guys remember this post I did where I said Zach looked like he was eight? Well check out this photo I took of Zach and his Valentine box.

That is totally his teenager face, minus the bigger nose and acne.

And this face really is. Eye rolling at me because I told him to make “a real smile”.

I can’t wait to ground that face and track his cell phone. 
Katilyn’s parents will thank me.

Downtime Reading

Last night was the boy’s open house at their school. The main reason is to check out the class for next year and it was very odd to me that I only had one room to check out. Weird.

In Zach’s current class the mom of one of his friends said that her son mentioned “Zach has a great sense of humor”. What a great compliment, I thought, I can’t wait to tell him. She then asked if I thought he did. I said that if your idea of humor is saying poop, pee and bottom, then yes. I am such an inspiration as a mother, no need to tell me; I know. His favorite joke is, “Knock-knock” “Who’s there?” “Poop!!” Followed by a belly-busting laugh. She laughed and said that, for sure, is her son’s idea of humor.

Here is what I have been checking out this week:

I felt the exact same way when Alex’s Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue appeared in my mailbox. I love Chrissy Teigen but I don’t need to see her hiney. – The 2014 VS Swim Catalog: A Mom’s Buying Guide

I am still annoyed that I totally got in trouble for my sister saying “crap” at the dinnertable. And I see #11 with my boys entirely too much. – 15 Things Younger Siblings Don’t Know Their Older Siblings Did For Them

I loved the hardback version of Glennon’s book and will be getting the paperback as well. She is inspiring yet totally normal. – Today is the Day — I Need You!

As someone whose husband still has Ignition on repeat on his July 2012 playlist – the only playlist he uses, this made me laugh. Jimmy Fallon’s Ragtime Cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)”