Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I want every day to be Halloween just so I have a reason to put my baby in a monkey suit. This is the very best thing I have ever laid eyes on.

Bo tolerated the costume surprisingly well, although we didn't have it on very long. Just long enough to do a little Halloween photo shoot. We went over to Anne and Locke's house to help pass out candy since their neighborhood gets super busy, and the monkey suit never quite made it back on. So Bo wore a costume for a good fifteen minutes and I ate my fair share of miniature candy bars which means I think we can deem his first Halloween a success.

And I can't let a Halloween post go by without of course mentioning the other important holiday on this very last day of October... Happy Birthday to my sister, Katie!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 Months

Bowen :: Three Months Old

Weight: 14 lbs even, according to my scale. No visit to the ped this month, so no official weigh-in. Still wearing 0-3's or 3 month clothes and they're a little bit too long on him still. He's a bit of a shrimp!

Eats: Still doing 5 oz of formula 6 times a day - one night feeding, and then every 3 hours once he wakes up and gets started for the day.  

Sleeps: Well, the crib transition I started last month did not go so well. After 8 days of trying to go cold turkey on the crib, with no one getting any sleep (including momma) we decided to ease back on it and try a more gradual approach. I went back to the swing full-time and we got on a pretty great little schedule - 8 hours of sleep, one feeding, followed by another 3 hours of sleep at night. Bedtime pretty consistent around 7:30 pm. During the day, he does 2 long morning naps and then 2 questionable afternoon naps. The wheels pretty much fall off around dinnertime though with the fussing - just when Daddy is getting home from work! Last week, I started cutting the speed down on the swing and this week we went to a non-moving swing and it hasn't seemed to affect his sleep at all. Slowly but surely, we're inching towards the crib. He still sleeps swaddled, but I leave one hand out now that he's discovered he loves to put them in his mouth. He goes down awake and can soothe himself to sleep although it sometimes takes 10-15 minutes of "protesting" before he is sound asleep. He's definitely like his momma - the more sleep he gets, the happier he is. (The more sleep he gets, the happier I am.)

Hair: Still blonde, and depending on the light sometime there's a reddish tint to it. Serious bald spot on the back. Poor guy.

Eyes: Still very very blue! He's very alert and this month started tracking things, including me as I walk across a room. For the first time ever, I noticed he'll look right at me when I walk in the room to get him up from a nap and his eyes light up with a huge smile. (Be still a momma's heart.) He also loves to look at himself in the mirror (vain!) or the iPhone and he also loves to stare at his crib mobile. 

Nicknames: Bo, Bowie, Biscuit, Shrimp Biscuit 

Milestones: Hands! This month has been all about the hands. About two weeks ago, the random batting of the toys on his bouncer became intentional and focused. It was amazing to see him master a skill in a matter of 2 days that he hadn't been able to do at all the day before! Now he's starting grabbing for toys - in particular, an elephant with a crinkly noise body is his favorite to squish in his hands. And of course, sticking his hands in his mouth. He's getting more coordinated with that, but the movement is still pretty jerky. He's still not a big fan of tummy time, but he's doing better and better at holding his head up. He LOVES to stand up in our laps and look around and has great neck control with that. And he's just discovered the sound of his voice and loves to hear himself go "ahhh-ooooh." 

Firsts: First toy grab. First night away from Mom + Dad while Grandma babysat. (Two weekends! This was really a first for Mom + Dad.) First wedding (it went...okay. But really, what guy likes going to weddings?) First time meeting the great-grands!

This month has been both really great and really challenging. He's definitely falling into more of a routine than he had before, and there's a level of predictability to when he's going to eat and nap. Not quite a schedule yet but at the very least, once he wakes up for the day I have a general feel for when he will eat and nap. His wake up time still varies, ranging from 6 am to sometimes as late as 8:30...which throws off the eating pattern for the day. He's definitely become more interactive this month - smiles, "talks" and has perfected a coy little flirt face. It's amazing to see the difference in the way his personality has developed over the last month - and it makes me so excited for what's to come.

Happy three month birthday, Bo. We love you so!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Money Talks. I Hate to Listen.

Let's talk about budgeting! This is exciting, yes?

The other day on my Twitter feed someone posted that one of her goals for the year was to work on her personal budget and wanted to know other people's tips for budgeting. I started to answer, but realized I had more than 140 characters worth of thoughts on the subject. (Me? Struggling with brevity? NEVER.)

Not to toot my own horn, but I happen to think I am pretty good at budgeting and I'm sort of fascinated by the psychology of money. Since I don't write about much besides babies babies babies these day I thought I'd capitalize on the fact that I was feeling inspired by this topic to share some thoughts.

First, some background. (See? Already any hope of brevity has been dashed.) My dad is a financial advisor, so money and budgeting is something that was always talked about in my family. It was never a taboo subject and my parents made a point to educate us on the topic. We received an allowance and had to split it between a savings account and spending it on stuff we wanted (budgeting 101!). I distinctly remember my shock when my Dad asked me to cough up some of my baby-sitting money at 18 to help fund an IRA. My thoughts on that today? Compounding interest for the win! 

I'm not exactly financially literate when it comes to things like reading a 401k benefits explanation (blerg) and words like dividends and market cap still feel very slippery to me. However, I think the fact that we talked about money in my family and I had a pretty early introduction to some basic concepts was a big boost to my confidence in handling money and budgeting. 

I don't have a business degree but I've got the basics down: I've avoided having consumer debt, I've got liquid savings and I can honestly say I have pretty great willpower when it comes to most impulse buys. (Let's not discuss the fact that we oh so in debt when it comes to our combined education loans... but we are aggressively chipping away at those bad boys. And they were worth it.) 

So, now that I've rambled a bit and bragged a bit, I thought I'd share some thoughts on how I handle budgeting.

First, the logistical part. I've used a tracking tool ever since I first started having my own expenses in college. First I just used a hand-written ledger, then an Excel spreadsheet, then Quicken and now, today Using a tool like this has always put it in black and white how much is coming in, how much is going out and most importantly, where it's going. This is very important when you love Starbucks as much as I do. 

Mint is totally brainless and I can't think of any reason to not use it. You link it to your financial accounts and it automatically updates. You may have to occasionally recategorize transactions but even that is a simple and fast step. You can pull up trends by month, 6 month or year time frame and see exactly what percentage of your spending goes to each category. You can also set budgets and get a text message or email when you've gone over. Bam. Brainless. This is a real life screenshot of my spending trends from last month from Mint.

The other thing I've done is taken savings out of my paycheck at the start of each month. I'm a firm believer that you'll make do with what you have each month and if the money is gone already, you likely won't miss it. (If you put in a liquid account, like an ING savings account, it can be easily accessed if you have an emergency.) When I had my first real paycheck job but was living the oh-so-expensive life in DC, I only put $25 a month away. Still, seeing that little egg grow each month made me happy - and I certainly didn't miss that $25. I never touched that emergency fund and to this day, continue to contribute to it.

However, I think tracking tools and auto deductions are just the tip of the iceberg. I see a strong parallel with financial tracking tools and weight loss tracking tools. Calorie counting has been my number one recommendation for weight loss for over a decade - but it rarely works as a stand alone. Even when we know what our budget is (calorie or money), a lot of decisions about where to spend it are not exactly logic-based. (Again, calories and money.)

Here's where I've had to do the most "work" around money and I'm hoping that what I share will be helpful. For years, I budgeted from a place of fear. I never carried debt and I saved like a squirrel, but all of my actions were rooted in fear of not having enough. I was so afraid of getting in over my head with debt that I swung the other way and I rarely allowed myself any indulgences. When I did spend money beyond what I had budgeted, I felt nauseous about it.

While I was meeting my primary goal of not getting in debt and saving extra, I never felt good about money. I constantly worried about it, beyond what was really necessary and reasonable. (Real talk: I basically did the exact same thing with calories for many years.) But a few years ago I decided I was sick and tired of being in knots when it come to spending money. So the first thing I did was try to work on having an mindset of "enough." When I would write a check for a bill or swipe my credit card at the grocery store, I would take a deep breath and say to myself "I have enough." I found this statement to be really calming for some reason, and slowly but surely the little tension knot I had in my stomach began to release when it came to handling money.

During this time, my money situation didn't change at all - just how I felt about money. During both my mindset of "scarcity" and my mindset of "enough," I had the same income, I continued to use tracking tools, I set aside savings and I never carried excess debt. The only thing that was significantly different was how I felt about money - but that alone was a HUGE deal to me. After a year or so of working on my mindset, I felt more generous and less stressed. I felt happy when I could buy a friend's glass of wine instead of stressing about it. I could drop money in the basket at church with a giving heart. I didn't panic and want to throw up when a car repair was a little more than I expected. That change alone was a big, big deal to me.

When I switched jobs from Wake to Aetna, my paycheck changed significantly. For the first time in my life, we actually had more than enough. It was kind of mind-boggling to me, to be honest. We increased our savings and chipped away a little more aggressively at our debt, but it was the first time in my life where I felt like I could just buy a pair of shoes I wanted or shop at Harris Teeter without coupons (gasp!) or buy the bottle of wine at dinner instead of the glass. It was the first time in my life where I ever had to really contend with impulse buys. Because really, that's what most of those things were. When I started to notice the pendulum was maybe starting to the swing the other way - in other words, when I had four or five items in a Boden cart and was about to hit "buy" without a second thought - I realized I had to do a little more work again around money.

I really don't like owning a lot of stuff and it didn't really jive with me to just be buying stuff because we had more money. I hate the feeling of an overcrowded closet, or looking in my make up bag and seeing 10 lipsticks I don't wear or having books sit on my shelf that I could get from the library. The act of overbuying didn't feel good to me - so I went back to my thoughts again. (I'm a life coach, yes I am.) This time instead of "I have enough," the thought that keeps me in check from impulse buys is "I am content." When I'm about to buy a shirt at Target just because it's cute, I stop and think to myself "I am content ... with the clothes I have." When I want to swing by and pick up lunch out somewhere because it's easier than making a sandwich at home, I think to myself "I am content...with the food I have at home." When I'm about to click "submit" on Amazon Prime for yet another baby item, I think to myself "I am content...with the outfit/toy/bottle/what-the-heck-is-this-thing that Bo already has." This has definitely helped as our money situation has changed again, and I've left my job at Aetna and we've become a one-income family and had to reign our extra spending.

I feel like right now I've find a good happy-medium with my money mindset. I'm never as stressed or as anxious about money as I was a few years ago, but I also quickly put my "ooh, so much extra!!" mindset in check after just a few months and with just a few extra pairs of shoes as collateral damage.  Today, I still clip coupons to grocery shop but I will pick up a friend's coffee with a happy heart. I still buy clothes or lipstick or lattes... I just wait a little longer and think a little harder before swiping the card. It's a good place to be and I'm kind of proud of what I've done to purposefully get here.

Our money situation will continue to grow and change as our family does and as we have to continually address new, complicated issues like saving for education. (Or praying someone will be a kicker and get a football scholarship!) While I know I'll always continue to use a lot of the tools that have helped me with budgeting throughout the years, I also know my mindset is the biggest tool I have in managing my money. I never felt like I had any control over my thoughts around money, but learning that I do AND that changing my thoughts changes my behaviors has been the best budgeting tool ever.


(Bonus points if you know what song my title is from. That lyric bopped in my head the whole time I wrote this!) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Deacs on the Road

I can't believe we took off on another road trip so soon after our last one, but Grandma had so much fun with Bo she just insisted we go away again. I swear.

The idea of traveling up to Charlottesville to watch the Deacs sounded great at the start of the season. It's an easy road trip to a city we both love visiting and a game we were likely to win. However, by the time the game rolled around I think everyone was a little hesitant to put the miles on their car to watch the Deacons play anywhere. It's been a tough season.

Fortunately, Charlottesville is - hands down - one of my favorite places to visit. I never would have known about it if Jess hadn't lived there for so many years, but she introduced us to so many great things about Charlottesville. It has the most amazing restaurants, wonderful vineyards within driving distance and it's really just a beautiful and fun city to visit. (It is also the home of the hardest race I have ever run - the Charlottesville 10 miler. Ugh.) It's a short, easy and scenic drive from Winston-Salem, too. So on Friday afternoon, we kissed the Biscuit good-bye (again) and hit the road with Anne and Locke.

We arrived late Friday night and had a fantastic dinner at Michael's Bistro on the corner. Afterwards we went to a nearby bar to meet up with the rest of our group, but I had learned my lesson in Memphis and called it quits early to take advantage of getting some serious SLEEP.

The game was at noon which meant breakfast tailgate which in Charlottesville means one and only one thing: Bodo's Bagels. We tailgated for a little while before heading into to the game and finding spots on "the hill" to watch. The Deacs actually did win, but it was not what you would call a comfortable win. And this is certainly a team that they should have had a nice, cushiony win. Deacon football can really toy with one's emotions.

We did win though, and on the road, so we'll take it. After dinner, we went out for some appetizers and happy hour drinks at South Street Brewery before heading over to the mall. (For those who haven't been to Charlottesville, the mall is actually a pedestrian-only brick street of restaurants and stores.) We continued the happy hour at a wine bar called Positively Fourth before heading over to a "burger bar" for a late dinner. Pimiento cheeseburger? You are my best friend.

There was talk of continuing the evening but I reminded myself of my Memphis lessons again and Matt and I packed it in for the night. We had a great time away with friends, but I think we were both so eager to hit the road Sunday morning. We were up, showered and packed before 9 am! It was a fun weekend in a beautiful city and I know we still love to travel, but it is now just as exciting to go back home!

Friday, October 19, 2012


I was getting ready to write a post about a trip we just went on when I noticed that this was going to be my 500th post. 500! That's kind of crazy! It felt like a bit of a milestone, so I thought maybe I'd take a minute to muse about blogging and save my weekend trip post for the totally insignificant 501st post.

I actually started blogging in July 2002 - more than a decade ago. My first blog was on livejournal and lasted 4 years, covering the summer before my junior year of college through two years of grad school in Baltimore and DC. My intention was to keep my friends and family updated on my semester abroad in Spain, but I kept on rambling for a few years after my return. Interestingly enough, my first blog started right after Matt and I broke up after my sophomore year of college and I stopped writing right after I moved down to North Carolina 4 years later - to live with Matt. Full circle blogging.

I really loved blogging and I'm not sure why I quit. I've always loved writing and apparently, I really like putting my business out on the internet for anyone to find.

One fall day in 2008, Jamie and I decided we would take a day to catch up on our scrapbooking. The way I say that it sounds as if this was something we did on a regular basis but it was not. Both of us had scrapbooks that we started years ago and were way overdue to finish and we figured a date would be a great way to get our act together. In fact, I think Jamie's was a scrapbook of her wedding showers and mine was from the first year Matt and I dated - both from 2005. After what turned in to a weekend of scrapbooking and spending entirely too much money buying stickers at Michael's we both concluded the same thing: we did not really like scrapbooking. (The end result, yes. The process? Nope.)

I knew I wouldn't continue to scrapbook our life together but I wanted a way to continue to document my lovely little life. And thus... the return to blogging.

I'm so happy I did. I forgot how much I loved writing. Even if no one ever read this blog besides my mom, it would still be a happy outlet for me to sit down at a blank screen and let my fingers fly. I also have this tremendous fear that I won't remember important events in my life - or worse, the seemingly insignificant but just as wonderful day to day events - and blogging is a bit like an insurance policy on my memories.

In the four years I've been blogging at Yankee Belle, I've documented our travels - Niagara Falls, Toronto, Dominican Republic, New York City, Tennessee (Bean Station! and Nashville), Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Emerald Isle, San Fran, Sonoma, San Diego, LA, Palm Springs and of course, Park City and the best snow on Earth. We obviously have some serious wanderlust. I've written about wino visits, tailgates - so many tailgates, med school, Match Day, residency. I've posted a handful of recipes and restaurant reviews. I've changed jobs twice. We bought a house. We got a dog. We realized our dog was mentally unstable. We got pregnant and of course, had a baby. (And now that's all I talk about anymore.) 4 years and 500 posts. I'm happy it's all here.

One thing I didn't expect from blogging? Friendships. The community. I've met dear friends through blogging (and Twitter). Friendships that started as tentative comments after months of blog stalking and eventually progressed to emails and phone calls and visits. I've had acquaintances who I knew first in real life - former high school classmates or coworkers - and through snapshots of their life blogged and shared, I've gotten to know a different side of them. And now, having become a momma, I find myself seeking out blogs - sometimes archives of blogs - to reassure myself that my experiences of parenting are normal, that the hard times will get easier, and to look for advice or ideas I hadn't thought of yet.

It's been important to me to keep blogging even though I've got my hands very full these days. I'm almost always behind in blogging these days. Most of the time when I write a blog, I back date it at least a week to the appropriate day the event or thought happened. I'm constantly writing blogs in my head or using the voice memo app on my phone to capture thoughts that I hope I have time to flesh out. The days are full, and most nights when the little one goes down I run around cleaning the kitchen, refilling the bottles and picking up the living room. But my happiest nights are when I curl up on the couch with a glass of wine, the husband next to me watching football or some show on Discovery channel about cars or pawn stores or guns, and I open the screen and write.

 I often wonder what will become of my blog one day. Will my kids go back and read it? Will they like being able to have a glimpse of their mom as a person, before they came along? How will they feel about what I've shared about them? Will I regret these words on a computer screen, forever in a Google cache, or I will savor them the way I do when I go throw an old shoebox of nostalgia?

Will I still be writing in another 4 years? Where will I be when I hit 1,000 posts?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but something compels me to come back to this platform day after day and write. I do know one thing: this is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying all those stupid stickers at Michael's.

Morning blog session (and a way to sneak in a photo of Bo.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stephanie's Swan Song

Last night was the final class that would be taught by our wonderful dance trance instructor, and the woman responsible for bringing DT back to Winston-Salem, Stephanie. I already waxed on and on about how much I love dance trance here and here, so I'll refrain from repeating myself... Plus it's safe to say anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter knows that I'm a teeny bit obsessed with it.

This is really more about Stephanie though, and saying good-bye to her. I've never participated in an exercise class before that became more of a community and I've never had a group ex leader who has become a friend. That speaks to the kind of person Steph is and the impact she's made on the community at our YMCA. She brought a class that very few people had ever heard of, is not exactly easy to jump right in and pick up, and turned it into a 5-time a week, packed-room class. I'm excited for her that she and her husband are headed back to Florida, where her family lives and where she will be pursuing her dream to get her Master's but we will certainly miss her.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Best Season of My Life

At the beginning of this month, I quit my job. I wasn’t due back until November, but I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to return so I decided to cut my losses and let my office know so we could both move on. This didn’t come as a huge surprise to those who knew me best, but when it came right down to making that final phone call it turned out to be harder than I thought.

I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, if you had asked me in college I would have assured you I would not be staying home. (I also expected to get married sometime around 30 – shows how good at predicting the future I am!) I always said I wanted to have the opportunity to choose and I’m blessed beyond belief that our circumstances did allow me that and that my husband supported my decision. Once I got pregnant, I was about 98% sure I’d be staying home… but there was still that 2% of me that wanted to leave the door open to make a choice. Which is how I found myself hanging on to my job even as my paid leave ended after 6 short weeks.

The 2% of me that wasn’t sure was having a hard time letting go of a thread of myself – my independent self, my bread-winning self, my “hey I went and got a Master’s degree, shouldn’t I be using it?” self. But these are mostly matters of pride. I knew in my heart I wanted to be home with Bo, and my reasons for returning to work were more about external judgments and perceptions than what I truly felt was right for me and for our family. When it came right down to it, my deciding factor was realizing that I’ll always have my education (or can get more), I’ll always have a passion or interest in my field (or another one) and there will always be potential to work. (Yes, I believe this is true even in our current employment state.) I’ll never, ever have the opportunity to witness first hand the daily growth of my firstborn child.

That’s not to say there’s a right or wrong answer to the decision to go back to work or stay home, and even my feelings on it weren’t black or white. If I had loved my job and going there each day provided me with a senses of fulfillment or leaving would have interrupted my ability to reach certain career goals, I think the decision would have been much harder. I still waver on the decision some days… but what affirms my decision is ultimately how happy I am. Right now, at this stage in my life, at home I feel content and blessed.

These last 11 weeks have been the best season of my life. And that says a lot – I’ve had a very happy and fulfilling life and have loved many stages of it. There’s also a lot that you give up the moment you become a mom and it’s hard sometimes to reconcile those losses. You give up feeling well-rested (will I ever, again?), the ability to just run to the gym or a coffee shop whenever you want, you give up your body, time spent with friends, large chunks of your bank account and a huge piece of your sanity that is now devoted to a section of thought called “incessant worrying that harm will come to your child and you won’t be able to stop it/fix it.” And despite the fact that every single mother I’ve met had told me being a mom would be the hardest thing I ever did but the best thing – I didn’t understand that until I spent a few weeks at home with my son.

And to be honest, it took a few weeks. The first couple weeks, Bo felt more like a baby bird to me than my own child. I felt like I was on a cycle of feed, entertain, then employ every available tactic I could think of to lull him back to sleep. But over the weeks, we found a rhythm together. The days (and nights!) become easier, he became more responsive (smiles!) and each day when I think I loved him the most I could yesterday, I find it’s grown a teensy bit more.

I just know there’s no place I’m supposed to be right now than safely guiding and teaching this child about his world. Teaching him to sleep (!!), how to lift his head, how to stick his tongue out. Teaching him that he is safe and secure and so loved. There is a quiet and gentle pace to our days together – something I know I will never have again and I’m cherishing now. The next time I have a newborn, there will be a busy toddler running around and I’m quite certain quiet and gentle will not describe the rhythm of our days.

With every big change in life, even good ones, there is loss. It was harder than I thought to say good-bye to my job (and my paycheck) and the freedom to work out at whatever time of day I wanted and the opportunity to blow dry my hair every day and sleeping in on Saturdays. It was hard, but it has been so, so worth it. I heard that so many times it began to feel like a cliché, but now I understand that sentiment inside and out.

This is indeed the best season of my life right now and I can’t imagine it being any other way now.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Redneck Baby

It occurred to me the other day that my son was going to grow up as a Southerner. 

There’s nothing wrong with this. It might mean that he wants to drive a pick up truck, or go hunting with his Dad (ehh) or wear sunglasses on Croakies and pink seersucker shorts to football games. I’m okay with all that.

Because it also means he’s going to say things like “yes ma’am” without the slightest hint of sarcasm, and he’ll hold doors open for his girlfriends, and he’ll intercept women putting their shopping buggies away to do it for them. He’ll do all these things because he’ll grow up seeing his Daddy do them and he’ll just know that those are the right things to do.

And the first person he can practice his Southern hospitality good manner habits on?

His momma, of course.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Walking in Memphis

Has anyone ever visited Memphis and not had that song stuck in their head all day?

Matt and I went to Memphis this weekend! It was our first weekend away from the kiddo and when we left that morning, I had such mixed emotions. My stomach was churning with sadness to say good-bye, even though I knew he was in great hands with my mom. But I was also really excited to have an entire weekend to hang out with Matt – not to mention the uninterrupted nights of sleep that awaited me for the first time in 10 weeks!

One of my friends from high school, Karl, was getting married this weekend. When he first told me the date, I wasn’t certain we’d be able to go but promised him I’d try. Karl sang at my wedding and has been one of my closest friends for almost half my life, so I really wanted to be there. Bo arriving a few weeks early definitely made it easier and about a month ago Matt and I decided to go for it and buy our plane tickets. We sort of figured the first time away from him was going to be super hard whether he was 10 weeks old or 10 months old. And with my mom enthusiastically agreeing to baby-sit, off we went!

We arrived in Memphis around mid-day on Friday and went off in search of the world famous Rendezvous barbecue. It was delicious (dry-rubbed pork ribs) but as a NC loyalist, if I had to choose one kind of pork BBQ to eat the rest of my life, I’m still choosing pulled with a vinegar sauce.


After lunch we just wandered around the area of our hotel (Union Ave/Beale St) since our room wasn’t ready yet. Once we could check in, we pulled the blinds shut and did what any couple would do being away from their new baby for the first time ever.

Took a three hour nap.

It was glorious and gave us the energy we needed to go out that night. I had made dinner reservations based solely on a location/rating filter on Yelp at a place called Flight Wine Bar. The idea sounded intriguing to me – the whole menu was based on the concept of flights, like flights of wine. So you could have a salad flight – a trio of mini salads – or an appetizer flight, dessert flight and even the entrees were available as flights. (You could also have them regular size, which is why I picked the restaurant because Matt’s not a huge fan of tapas.) We both ended up doing entrée flights – I had the seafood entrée which consisted of a mini lobster thermidor, a scallop with a fried quail egg on top of polenta and a small bowl of shrimp and grits. Matt had a flight with a small bison filet, a piece of halibut and the lobster thermidor. It. Was. Amazing. It was the perfect amount of food – I was full but not uncomfortable (which definitely would have happened had we allowed the waiter to convince us that we needed the dessert flight too). And it was delicious. If you’re ever (walking) in Memphis, go go go.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to meet my high school bestie Krissy who had just arrived, spent some time catching up with her over a glass (or two) of wine and then headed back out to a bar on Beale St to meet up with the wedding party after their rehearsal. It was like a mini high school reunion, where I got to catch up with so many of my favorites who I rarely get to see. This is one of my last HS friends to get married, so I realized this was the last time I may get to see a lot of these people in one place together save for maybe some reunions. I’ve known Karl since we were 14 and have been close with his whole family throughout the years, so it was awesome to get to see all of them – parents, siblings and even cousins who I’ve met through the years. Karl’s mom describes our friendship like this: “They went to the Valentine’s Dance freshmen year and Meggy wore red shoes.” This is about accurate, but what she doesn’t mention is my footwear made his very-preppy sister a little dubious about my judgment. (In all fairness to Jen, my high school year included many questionable fashion choices. Think skater jeans and baby doll t-shirts. Every bad fashion choice of the mid-90s.) Anyways! We managed to remain close all through high school, college and living in DC post college, and I fell head over heels with his future bride when I first met her a few years ago. There’s nothing like knowing your friends are marrying people who bring out the best in them, and this is definitely one of those cases.

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Valentine’s Day, 1997. Witness the hint of red shoes peeking out from the dress. Stellar.

After Karl and I had been friends for about a year, his sister forgave my fashion faux paus and got me a job at the coffee shop she worked at. Making early morning runs to Wegman to buy food for the day at the coffee shop cemented the beginning of our friendship. We worked together at the coffee shop and then on a canal boat together for 3 years, and eventually I followed her to Hopkins for grad school and we were roommates together in DC. She and her husband moved out to Seattle a few years ago, and it pains me that they live so far away – especially now that they have the cutest little boy who I would FINALLY get to meet that weekend.  When Jen and I first saw each other at the bar, there was some hugging and crying and some “omg we’re mommies now!!!!” as part of our reunion. Totally normal.  (Poor, poor, wonderful, patient Matt.)


Karl, Krissy, me & Matt  (I stole many of these photos from lovely Krissy, who actually brought a camera out with her that night.)


My Jennay (and an obnoxiously large beer. Oops)


Me, Janet (Karl’s mom) & Kris

The next day we set out to explore Memphis and took the Main St trolley down to a cute area called South Main District. We saw a crowd standing outside a restaurant and figured it must be good, so we added our names to the wait. It was called the Arcade Restaurant and turned out to be the oldest restaurant in Memphis. It was diner food, nothing spectacular and there were probably better & more interesting options around. Oh well! After our lunch, our plans to explore by foot were foiled by a heavy downpour so we got on the trolley and headed back to our hotel. Matt went off in search of a place to watch Wake football and Krissy & I grabbed some lattes (chai latte 2 pumps pumpkin, of course!) and went back to the hotel to catch up on the last year or so of our life. Our timing was perfect, because we also got back to the hotel in time to meet Jen & Ryan’s little boy, Harlan. I love meeting my friends’ children. It’s like you immediately love this tiny little person, because they are extension of someone else you love. It’s the best. And Harlan (10 months old) was a drooly, smiley, wiggly little charmer.




Then after another brief nap, it was time for the wedding. The wedding was at the Memphis Zoo! Fortunately, even though it was rainy and chilly at the outdoor amphitheater where the ceremony was held, a pashmina and a glass of champagne before heading into the ceremony did the trick.


Staying warm at the ceremony

And the ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I don’t exactly know where we were – I think maybe the amphitheater is used for seal performances? But it was rustic and warm and cozy, despite the rain and chilly night. The ceremony – performed by Karl’s brother-in-law (and Jen’s husband) Ryan, was personal and sweet and touching. And I have never seen the groom happier in his entire life.





The reception was (thankfully) indoors and shared a glass wall with the polar bear exhibit. All weddings should have a polar bear exhibit.


The reception was just a few hours long, and after stuffing ourselves with Memphis-style hor d’ourevers like (more!) barbecue and mini fried green tomato sandwiches and sweet potato bisque, we made our way back to the tram to head home. Except instead of heading home, I got a text from the ceremony officiant himself telling me the location of the after party. So… off we went! Here is where Matt is smarter than I am: when you have the opportunity to sleep for 8+ hours in a hotel room and you are returning home to a small infant, you should take it. Except it was, as I said before, one of the last times I felt like I’d see so many of my high school friends in one place and I wanted to soak up every last moment with them. I did and I can’t say I regret it – even though the alarm going off for our flight was brutal the next morning. But my heart feels happy and full when I think of those extra few hours I spent getting to catch up and talk to old friends. There is just something special about being with the people who have known you for so long. I formed such strong bonds with these people in high school, that even though I haven’t talked to many of them in years and our only connections have been “liking” each other’s lives through Facebook – we picked right back up where we left off. 




So despite the absolute exhaustion I created for myself Sunday for our travel back and missing my little guy like crazy – thank goodness for FaceTime – it was a great weekend away and I’m so very glad we were able to be there.


Although, I have to say I am a little disappointed I did not see the ghost of Elvis on Union Ave.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meeting the Greats

Today we took Bo home to Lincolnton for him to meet his great-grandparents, Matt’s Nanta and Pa. Matt grew up next-door to his Nanta and Pa, and they were practically a second set of parents for him. I knew they were beyond excited to meet their grandson’s son and it was, of course, a very joyful first meeting.





At one point, Matt was outside with his Pa and it was just me, Libby (my mother-in-law) and Nanta sitting there. Libby was holding Bo, and Nanta was looking at Libby. The room was quiet, with everyone’s focus on the smiling and cooing face a baby. I couldn’t help but wonder what it must be like to look at your own child holding her grandchild.

There’s something about a new baby that just makes you take pause and remember the importance of family and the lines you’ve come from. And as cliché as it all is, it makes you realize we’ve all started off from the very same place and if we’re lucky, we start our lives being held in the arms of many different people who love us and are just excited we’ve shown up in the world.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Sometimes things just go your way.

My mom arrived yesterday to baby-sit Bo while we go to Memphis this weekend (ahhh) and asked me if I had anything I wanted to go out and do this morning to take a little break.

So, I decided to treat myself to a little gel mani…

And on the way, I stopped at Starbucks for my new favorite drink (nonfat chai latte with 2 pumps pumpkin spice) (which gives me anxiety to order because of the pumps pumpkin) (but I do it anyways because it’s so good.) I was trying to pay for my drink with my Passbook and the guy couldn’t get it to scan… so he eventually just decided to give it to me for free.

Free beverage? An hour to myself to get a mani? Morning is off to a pretty good start.


On my way home, I decided to run into Harris Teeter to grab a few things for my mom while she was baby-sitting. Since I’m not allowed to pay her, at least I can show my gratitude with good coffee creamer and Greek yogurt. While I was perusing the wine section for sales (always), I discovered one of my favorite Zinfandels was 50% off. Yes please!

When I called to check in, my mom told me not to hurry home… so I took that as an invitation to pop into Ann Taylor Loft. I didn’t really have anything I needed but shopping solo is a rarity so why not. It was super crowded for a Wednesday at noon and I couldn’t figure out why. There was a line for the dressing room and people seemed to be going in with their arms loaded. I finally asked someone what was going on and she showed me her printed off coupon that said “Flash Sale! Today Only: Entire Purchase 50% off 12pm-7pm.”

WHAT THE WHAT. I was able to pull the coupon up on my phone and did a little damage. It was hard to resist that sale given one of their colors this season is old gold (aka tailgate clothes!). I’ve been resisting buying clothes right now since I’m still about 2 sizes bigger than my pre-baby weight and don’t hope (intend!) to stay here, so I hated to buy real clothes at this size. However, last year I wore my ATL jean leggings to pieces since they are the perfect jean for tucking into a riding boot and I knew there was no way a pair of denim leggings in my regular size was going to make it past my knees. With the 50% off sale, I didn’t feel so bad buying a new pair of my favorite pants in my bigger size. At the very least, you’ve gotta feel good about yourself even if you are rocking a little extra baby weight, right? Right.


And the best part of my day? Coming home to a happy and well-rested little bubba and a very content Grandma. Best day ever.