Thursday, May 31, 2012

30 x 30

IMG_1597Last year when I turned 29, there was a really popular blog meme going around called "30 x 30."  It entailed making a list of 30 things you wanted to do before you turned 30.  I love lists and I love projects, so I of course thought it was a great idea.  I wrote my list in my little notebook where I jot down ideas, gratitude lists and inspiration and put it away.  I thought about it from time to time, and glanced through it once or twice, but didn’t necessarily make a conscious effort to follow through with the things on the list. The day before my 30th birthday I pulled it out... and realized I had only done 5 things on the list.  Oops.  So much for that project.

So instead of focusing on the fact that I have not perfected a dish with bok choy in it or run a sub 30 minute 5k, I decided to start a new list from scratch.  I was inspired by Glamour's list of 30 things every woman should have or do by the time they were 30 and I started drafting a list of 30 lessons I've learned by 30.  It was hard to think of ideas at first, but once I got the ball rolling, it was a fun way to reflect on some of the last 30 years of my life.  Some of the lessons are things people have said that have stuck with me, some were learned the hard way and some are just the source of really good stories… and obviously, it’s by no means exhaustive. 

But it was a fun way to reflect and makes me kind of curious to know what I'm going to learn over the next 30 - and wonder what I'm going to end up going through to learn these lessons.  So here's my final tribute to myself on my 30th birthday (oh hello, narcissism) and MY version of a 30 x 30 list:

30 Things I've Learned by 30:

1. Don't take it personally.  Someone's rude behavior or hurtful comment is more about where they are coming from than how they feel about me.

2. Set the timer for 5 minutes. This was my Grandma's trick.  I often procrastinate small tasks like emptying the dishwasher or folding a load of clothes because I overestimate how long they are going to take.  My Grandma always said to set the timer for 5 minutes and tell yourself you'll do the task for just that long.  I'm usually done or almost done by the time it goes off.

3. I don't have to explain why when I say no.  And in fact, sometimes the less I say the better.

4. Cultivate gratitude.

5. It's not a badge of honor to constantly tell people how busy, tired or stressed I am. The truth is, they are too and they really don't care.  I don't sound like an accomplished woman trying to do it all, I sound whiney.  Plus, by not constantly talking about how busy, tired or stressed I am, I somehow feel less busy, tired or stressed.

6. Grocery store birthday cake is rarely good enough to justify the calories. 

7. I don't have to finish every book I start.  There's just too many good books out there to waste time with a bad book.

8. Having a great relationship with your mother is not something to take for granted.

9. Something is better than nothing.  This applies to exercise, writing, and cleaning the house.  Just get started.

10. Nothing is better than something.  This applies to toxic relationships.  Just get out.

11. It's much easier to ask difficult questions when you come from a place of curiosity instead of judgment.  Just saying "I'm just curious, why...." often makes people put their guard down and answer tough questions honestly.

12. Never, ever go to the grocery store straight from the gym.

13. Deduct savings at the beginning of the month.  Get the company match.

14. Be nice to customer service reps on the phone.  Pay attention to their name and use it.  They rarely are the ones who have messed up whatever you're mad about it, but they might have the power to get you to the right people who can fix it.  At the very least, remember that they are regular people sitting in a badly lit office developing carpal tunnel syndrome and you can either be grumpy like everyone else they talk to or be that one pleasant call they have all day.

15. 3 things I really hate doing but are worth it in the long run: packing my lunch, blow-drying my hair, taking the laundry out of the washing machine and switching it to the dryer when it's done.

16. I can't claim to know the recipe for a perfect marriage but in both giving and receiving relationship advice, I've told/been told both "It's not supposed to be this hard" and "It's not supposed to be easy.  Relationships take work."  I'm so far convinced a good marriage is at the intersection of these two points.

17.  Read the recipe all the way through once before you start.

18. Sometimes "Everything happens for a reason" is a great way to practice acceptance.  Sometimes it's a defensive mechanism for not getting out of a bad situation because you're scared to take action and move forward.  It's really crucial to know the difference.

19. I will never be able to say thank you enough times to my parents.  (But I’ll keep saying it anyways.)

20. The secret to being a great listener is stop trying to "relate" to someone else's story by immediately following theirs with your own version of it.  Just shut up and listen to their story.

21. Being consistently late sends the message to other people you think your time is more important than theirs.  However long you think it will take you to do something or get somewhere, multiply it by 1.5.  You'll show up on time or finish projects ahead of time.  With all that free time, you can make really long blog post lists.

22. Wedding drinking strategy: cocktails during cocktail hour, wine with dinner, beer on dance floor, water on the way home.  Never go back once you've moved on to the next stage.

23. If you are driving 60 mph and have to be somewhere that is 20 miles away, it will take you 20 minutes to get there.  If you drive 70 mph, it will take you 17.25 minutes.  You'll save almost 3 minutes if you speed another 10 mph.  However, it will cost you about $350 to pay for the lawyer to go to court for the speeding ticket.  I retained the first fact from Driver's Ed in 1998.  I learned the second fact about a year ago.  I hate being late for things, but I try to remind myself that speeding doesn't really get me there any faster.  Learning to leave the house with enough time to spare (#21) is what you gets you there on time.

24. He who talks last, loses.  Silence often makes people uncomfortable enough that they'll just start rambling.  This is a good thing to remember when you are negotiating.  (Thanks Dad!)

25. RSVP.

26. In many cases, it is better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.  (Thanks again, Dad.  And you were smart to wait until I was 18 to teach me that one.)

27. Learning each other's "love language" (and that they were very different) was one of the best things we did at the beginning of our marriage.  Remembering to speak it and to pay attention when he's speaking mine is one of the best things I try to do throughout our marriage.

28. The more I learn to sit and let uncomfortable feelings pass and acknowledge that they are going to be temporary, the less power a box of wheat thins has over me.

29. Investing time in relationships with girlfriends (including sister!) has had the greatest positive impact in my life.  Make dates with them, send texts just to say hi, make yourself a note when they tell you they have an interview on a certain day or a doctor's appointment or are going to run into an ex at a wedding and follow up.  And for the ones in my life that make it a point to do those things for me, I try to remember to always tell them how grateful I am for their friendship.

30. Before you put it on the internet, imagine your boss, your grandma and your future children reading it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

28 Weeks

IMG_159328 weeks! 3rd trimester! What the what!

The theme of this pregnancy continues to be "Meghan is shocked that time continues to march forward despite the fact that that's exactly what time always does."

But, really. Seriously. How am I already in my 3rd trimester? I feel like I am finally getting it in my head that I am indeed pregnant - what with the belly sticking out, the kicks going on in earnest and the random strangers dispensing advice about caffeine and sleep training and car seats.  What is it about being pregnant that makes everybody feel like it is their blessed right to give you advice? Is it because pregnancy is so obviously visible and memorable for anyone who has been through it?  Anyways. Strangers in the elevator at work and their endless stream of opinions - that's a rant for another day.

I'm still feeling pretty good, although I think I'm officially out of the honeymoon phase of the second trimester and can hang up the "easiest pregnancy ever" title for now.  Usher in the stage of: random side cramps when I sit too long, pins and needles across the top of my bump as it streeeeetches, the obvious effect of relaxin on my ligaments when I exercise and oh, just for fun, toss in a 5-day stretch of a GI bug that had me googling "can you get morning sickness in the 3rd trimester?" Since I didn't do a lot of complaining in the first two trimesters, does that mean I get to do extra now?  (Husband shakes his head no, while calmly pointing me in the direction of the pool, handing me a Zofran and wisely refraining from asking why I am wearing the same pair of yoga pants for 4 days in a row.)

As for getting ready, we have the room painted!  And thanks to my two showers, we have pretty much all the gear we need to get this little boy home from the hospital, fed, swaddled, changed, swung, strolled or whatever else this tiny little dictator might demand.  And oh, clothes!  Oh my word, do I have clothes.  I have really loved garage sale and thrift store shopping, because a) I love deals and b) baby clothes are often in SUCH good condition when bought used so I had already done quite a bit of shopping for the little guy.  Then I had my shower, and learned that baby clothes are kryptonite for shower gifters.  THEN my coworker Susan asked me if I wanted her son's first year of clothes as hand-me-downs.  Before I knew it, I was driving home with FIVE plastic tubs of clothing in my backseat.  I've got clothes and then some.  I might not have a clue what to do with this baby when he comes home in a few months, but he'll be well dressed while his momma fumbles about.


I still feel like we have a lot to do before he comes but the next few weeks are busy with travel to the mountains, to California, to Raleigh and to the beach.  I'm giving myself a free pass to just get through the next 4 weeks of living suitcase to suitcase, and then after that I'm on travel restriction until baby comes - so that'll be a plenty of time to figure out how to assemble a crib and what to pack for the hospital.  Oh yea, and mentally prepare ourselves to have our life forever altered.  That's on my to do list, too.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hot Dog 30th Birthday

The hot dog party has been months in the making.  Matt and I were watching an episode of Diners, Drivers & Dives last fall that featured a restaurant in Mt Pleasant, SC that had hundreds of different options all for one type of food: the hot dog.  Matt looked at me and said “we should have a hot dog buffet party!”  And the idea was born.

It turned out the perfect time to have it was right around my birthday – with great porch weather setting in, something to celebrate and Matt’s schedule being open – and so the hot dog birthday party was planned.


I can’t speak for our guests, but we both felt like it was a success.  It was an easy party to plan – hot dogs, toppings and a few sides – and a universally loved menu.  Matt added some extra special elements by ordering the delicious pretzel buns from our local hot dog place, Skippy’s, and a birthday cake from Cumberland Café, who made our wedding cake 5 years ago.  I faced my fears of manning the hot oil of a Fry Daddy that my coworker Susan had loaned me and learned that I actually have a hidden knack for frying things.  Who knew!  (I think it’s in our best interest that we return the Fry Daddy asap.)





At one point, I just looked around my porch full of happy friends, adorable babies and good food and just felt overcome with a sense of gratitude and happiness for the little life I’ve been blessed with.  Such a fun and happy night to cap off my 30th birthday celebration! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



I could not have had a better 30th birthday if I had planned it – and that was probably the best part of my day that we didn’t plan a thing.  Other than the fact that I had decided to take the day off from work when I saw that Matt wasn’t scheduled to work, I had no idea how we were going to spend my birthday.  We had bounced a few ideas off each other of some errands that we should get done since we were both off on a weekday (an exceedingly rare occurrence), but that was it.

We had a late brunch at Camino Bakery before heading out to run some errands.  Some were boring but necessary – like the bank and post office – and others were more enticing and fun like a trip to the Deacon shop (Buddy scored himself a new Wake Forest collar), a visit to Sephora to redeem my birthday perks postcard (free Sugar lipstick duo!), Plow & Hearth to pick out a wicker rocking chair my Mom had gifted me for our porch and a trip to Belk’s which finally ended my 6th month quest to find brown {not nude!} high heeled pumps.  (That could be a whole blog post in and of itself, but I will spare you.)  We wrapped up our day of errands by picking up Chick-Fil-A on the way home for a yummy lunch of waffles fries and chick nuggets and then I lazily spent the afternoon catching up on blogs on the porch while Matt did yard work.  (I might have done a load of laundry or two just to appease some of my guilt of watching him work while I lazed, but really… I took full advantage of it being a day off.)  We capped off the night with dinner on the patio at Forsyth and after a failed attempt to get pink lemonade cupcakes from Dewey’s, picked up some decaf frappuccinos from Starbucks on the way home for dessert.

It was an absolutely perfect day for me – a balance of feeling like I got some things done that had been hanging over my head but also indulgent and relaxing.  I felt so loved by all the phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts – holy cow, is there anything more ego inducing than Facebook on your birthday?  It was a peaceful & contented day, which is exactly how I feel about turning 30. 

My 20s were wonderful.  They were at times, especially the beginning of the decade, tumultuous and chaotic and full of a lot of life lessons but they were also happy, fulfilling and fun.  Each year has been better than the one before it and despite the fact that each year brings more cellulite and a decreasing ability to recover from a hangover, I have no qualms about aging and heading into the next chapter of my life.  Bring it on, 30’s.  Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Page-A-Day Prompts

I love my Happiness Project calendar – the stack of pages I tear off to respond to later is growing ever larger, but my absolute favorite pages from it are the “questions to ask yourself” pages.  It’s a journal fanatic's dream come true.  (I forgot to take a picture of the calendar page this time, but the questions are there anyways.)

What was the nicest compliment you've ever received?

I had a hard time answering this - not because people have never said nice things about me, but because “words of affirmation” are totally my love language so I've tucked away a lot of nice things in my heart and I feel kind of funny sharing them.  One of the most meaningful compliments I’ve ever received was the toast Matt gave me at our rehearsal dinner.  I carry a copy of it in my wallet and pull it out to reread from time to time and it never fails to uplift me.   

What are your five favorite things about your neighborhood?

1. My House - can this count?  I love my house.  Since it's in my neighborhood, I'm counting it.

2. The walking path that runs through the middle of it and the sidewalks all around it.

3. My porch - okay I'm cheating a bit since this is part of my house.  But I love sitting on my porch ... and I can't wait for us to finish the fence around our backyard for even more privacy!  It feels like a retreat back there.

4. Our next door neighbor - we have a really nice next door neighbor.  He and Matt get along great, and he was absolutely amazing when it came to helping Matt build the porch - invested a huge amount of time alongside Matt teaching him how to do it.  He's also the type who will loan you his lawn mower or bring you an extra slice of pie he's made.  His niceness makes up for the fact that his son has thrown water balloons at me on more than one occasion.

5. It feels safe.  I've lived in Baltimore - I can appreciate feeling safe in a neighborhood.

What type of activities energize you?

Dance trance, strength training, writing, going on a long walk or run with a good friend, taking everything out of a cluttered space and reorganizing it, organizing a task or project with an Excel spreadsheet, making a to do list.

And now here is a gratuitous Buddy picture for your viewing enjoyment.  Because a blog post without a picture is just a glorified version of my diary.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother’s Day

Not only did I get spoiled rotten at my baby shower this weekend, but I also had the pleasure of some extra hanging out time with two of my favorite women – my mom & my sis.  After the shower, we came back to my house to relax…


And to organize…. (Insert small panic attack because I don’t have a place to put all these goodies yet!)


And then we went to dinner at Mozelle’s Bistro.  It is one of my favorite places to eat in Winston & my sister had never been yet.  I didn’t make a reservation but we were fortunate enough to grab the last open table on the small front patio.  My mom had the tomato pie, which is usually my go to… she loved it but not the cheese grits that came with it.  Who doesn’t love cheese grits?  For shame!  Katie had the scallops plate which she loved and I did a 3-veggie plate with asparagus, collards and mac & cheese.  Their collards will make a grown man cry, y’all.  They are so, so good.


On Sunday morning (Mother’s Day!), we had a leisurely breakfast at Camino Bakery.


Scones and coffee, anyone?


And then Mom & Kates had to head back down to Charlotte to go the airport.  I just spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and then went to my favorite Sunday night combo class of body pump/dance trance.   I was walking in the door of the gym when a teenage boy, holding the door open for me, looked at me and said “Happy Mother’s Day!”  I was so surprised for a second and then realized…

Oh yea, I am going to be a Mom!  Or I am a Mom.  Or something mind-boggling like that!


And not just to this guy, which of course I already counted….


(And yes he is wearing baby socks.  He has a bad habit of pacing around 5 am but he doesn’t really need to go out… but of course, since I am already practicing for motherhood I wake up at the first sound of him getting up and lay there in bed wondering if I should let him “walk it out” and put himself back to bed, or get up.)

Anyways!  Motherhood!  While it’s occurred to me that I am going to have a baby, it’s not really occurred to me that I am going to be someone’s mom.  Wow.  What a huge, life-altering change lies before me.  Katie and I always agree that we are blessed with the greatest mom ever.  I don’t know how we got so lucky, and how she makes it seem to easy to be a mom.  As kids, she had a perfect balance of being a loving, supporting presence but also inciting enough fear in us to make us stay in time out when told or clean our rooms when told.   As grown-ups, she gives us the perfect balance of friendship and support but also authority and expertise when we need to feel certain we’re cooking the pork tenderloin to perfection or handling the job interview the right way.  How do you hone that type of balance?  Is it just genetics or is my mom going to slip an owner’s manual to kiddo raising when I come home from the hospital to tell me how she did it all?

I sure hope it’s the latter, and if so – can I have that manual early so I can start studying now, Mom?

Happy Mother’s Day, to the best Mom ever.  If I can be half the mom you are to this little kiddo, I think I’ll be alright.  (But please know your number is on speed dial and I intend to use it often.)  We love you!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


There’s no other way to describe how I feel after the wonderful baby shower thrown for me by my girlfriends in NC!  It was a perfect day with so many thoughtful, sweet details – the little bowties on the onesies for a garland, the mini foods brunch (tiny pancakes!), the rum punch & bucket of Izzes (yes, we know which ones were for me)… and of course, the wonderful guests who came to shower me and Baby Boy with love.  I don’t know if this baby knows how lucky he is to already be so loved, but he will soon!  I don’t think I can really do justice to explain how grateful I feel to be surrounded by such loving friends and family as I’ve gone through my pregnancy and especially today, with so many of them there present (or sending their thoughts!), so I’ll just turn it over to some photos.  Thank you, Anne & Kate, for being such amazing hostesses!






The cake was made by my friend Abbie, who also did my mom’s retirement apple cupcakes and Matt’s 30th birthday cake. 




I loved that there was such a mix of people from all different parts of my life there – my mom & sister, and mom-in-law and sister-in-law, Winos, residency friends, friends from my current job & my former job, dance trance friends and internet-turned-real-life friends.  It is a testament to the wonderful women I surround myself with that they all seemed to mix and get along so great!  (Or else it’s a testament to Anne’s rum punch.  Either are viable theories.)


Hostesses (and sisters) Anne & Kate


Me & cute Teri


My co-worker bestie & sanity keeper, Susan


Winos Jenny & Emily, who drove from Raleigh to be there


Sister-in-law Micah & sister Katie – the future Aunties


Thank you for everyone who made this day so special and have helped me get ready for Baby Boy’s arrival! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dining in the Dash: Spring House Restaurant

One of the many things I love about living in Winston-Salem is the restaurants.  For a small city, we have so many amazing options for eating out. And as our downtown continues to go through this revitalization process, there seem to be more and more wonderful places to choose from!

So of course that means we end up trying something new every time we go, right?  Of course not.  Like the townies we are, Matt and I had gotten in the habit of going to the same places over and over again.  After discussing this with Anne and finding that she and Locke were doing the same thing, we came up with a plan to make ourselves a list of places that we would try over the next year instead of going back to the same stand-by.  The only criteria was that at least one of us had never been or both of us hadn't been in over a year. And thus, our new project - Dining in the Dash - was born!

Here is the list we came up with:

Of course, Anne has beaten me to the punch with her dining review but I'm going to go ahead and post about it anyways.

The first place we picked was the Spring House.  I had heard about this new place a few months ago via Twitter and then from my friend Teri who raved about their mojitos. I'd read it was a former mansion from the "Millionaire Row" - the downtown 5th street area that was where the turn-of-century big shots had built huge estates - but which was now mostly converted to office spaces.  I love when old spaces are renovated to capture their original charm so I was excited to see what the renovations looked like.

It did not disappoint at all.  The setting is downright charming.  We lucked out with a warm spring night and the front doors of both dining rooms and the library bar were flung open on to a bright green lawn, a patio with more outdoor seating and a small collection of benches around a fountain where I could imagine comfortably waiting for our table with a glass of wine in hand.  (Fortunately we didn't have to wait since we had a reservation.)


The menu was fun and interesting, with lots of creative dishes that provided a twist on what I'd describe as maybe upscale home cooking.  I had the pork tenderloin saltimbocca and Matt had the chicken fried chicken.  (It came with a waffle.  He was pretty smitten.)  My pork dish was delicious and very tender, with an delicious smoky spoonbread for the side.  It didn't knock my socks off so I'd probably try another dish next time I went, but I definitely wasn't disappointed by it either.  I ended with a almond apple crisp that I generously passed around to share with the table, even though I could have easily hogged the whole thing myself!


One of the major features of the menu was their cocktail selections, which of course I didn't partake in, but would easily make me come back for another visit in a few months.  I would have gotten the drink Anne had - the twisted brown trucker.  It looked every bit as pretty as the description sounded and she gave it a thumbs up.  There's a couple different things that would bring me back to try this again: they offer a tasting menu which I think would be a great way to try many of the unique dishes they offer and the first Wednesday of every month has cooking classes.  Both of these are going on my to-do list... but I better wait until I get through our other places to try first.


I thought Anne summarized it well when she said it was on the pricier side if you did appetizers, drinks and dinner but definitely worth it for a nicer meal.  It would also be a great place to come for drinks and appetizers on the patio or the charming library bar.  We'll definitely be back!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hometown Shower

Other than my walk down memory lane, the real reason for my trip home was a baby shower being thrown for me and Baby Boy Cline by my mom’s friends.  The party was thrown by three of my mom’s friends from school – Abbie, Pat and Melissa.  It included them as well as some of her other teacher friends, my “hood mommas”, my Aunt Patty, and two other friends of my mom I have known since childhood. 

Hood mommas – I should explain that one.  I grew up in one of those neighborhoods with tons of kids running around, where you rode your bike up and down the street to friend’s houses and were just as likely to eat dinner at a neighbor’s house as your own.  We played neighborhood-wide games of capture the flag and flashlight tag and each of my neighborhood friends’ moms were as in charge of me as my own mom.  Little did I know then that the friendships that the Moms all had with each other was as important – if not more – as the one their kids had.  Now that I’m getting close to the stage of having my own kiddo and I call up my friends-with-babies every other day to ask advice about sleep books, registry items and “is this normal” pregnancy questions, I can completely understand the importance of those friendships that formed as they were co-raising their kids together.  I absolutely love that the “hood moms” friendships have endured through their kids growing up and moving out, through each of them actually moving from the neighborhood and more.  I think about my friends who have babies now and I wonder what it would say about the test of our friendship if I am one day at their child’s baby shower.  I hope so!  (And can you imagine the types of baby shower gifts we’ll be giving 30 years from now?  Hopefully we’ll still be giving “Goodnight Moon” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.”)


Anyways!  It was an absolutely lovely shower.  One of my mom’s friend’s from school brought her 8-month old baby which provided a very welcome distraction for the shower guests as I tackled one of my greatest fears: opening presents in front of a crowd.  (Is it just me?  I get clammy and nervous and I rush through it awkwardly.  At least at my wedding showers I could have champagne to help me through it!)


But look, is this kiddo not adorable?


Baby Boy got spoiled rotten at this shower.  Since it was thrown by teachers, I thought it very appropriate that they requested everyone bring a favorite kid’s book so his library got a huge jumpstart!  There were so many of my favorites from childhood that I got to revisit – and some new ones that I am sure I will get very well acquainted with.  We also got squared away with some much needed essentials like the Ergo, video monitor, swaddlers, bottles….oh and of course, clothes!  Buying baby clothes is pretty much everyone’s kryptonite, isn’t it?  It is darn near impossible to resist the siren song of a 0-3 month onesie, I am learning.  This little boy is going to be one well-read, well-dressed baby when he gets here!


It was a beautiful shower and I was so very grateful for all the ladies who came to it – those who have known me since I myself was a baby and those who I just met recently but who have been great friends to the Grandma-to-be and were equally as excited to celebrate with her.  This little baby (and his momma) are already so well taken care of!