Ipsy December 2014

So. I decided to vlog.

I don’t even know, y’all.

Here are some notes: next time I will not be so zoomed in; next time I won’t use a new face cream and be so broken out; next time I won’t be so much of a debbie downer; MAYBE THERE WON’T EVEN BE A NEXT TIME, OK?!

I hope y’all like the video- let me know what you think!

Things mentioned:
Ipsy Subscription- http://www.ipsy.com/look/l-i361m5p0lp…
CAILYN Just Mineral Eye Polish
Coolway Boost Repair Treatment
NYX Butter Lip Balm in stupid Marshmallow
Nourish Organic Renewing Eye Cream
Tarte Deluxe Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 mascara

Be sure to subscribe to my channel- I’m hoping to do more of this in the future. I also have a bunch of AH-DORABLE videos of the kids on there. And by adorable I mean a bunch of them are of Ryder saying potty words, of course.

a new low.

We had one of those glorious weekends and I was super sad to see Andy leave for work this morning.

Friday I met my friend Amber at a local jump place for kids. We weren’t sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised. It was a huge space and had the best prices I’ve seen on these sorts of places. Best of all we were practically the only ones there. We got there about 1 and stayed until 4. The children were worn the heck out. Rory keeps saying it was the best day ever. Amber and I sat and talked and they played so well together. I feel like we are going to have lots of play dates there in the future.

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Saturday I slept in (!) and got ready for my work Christmas party. That’s right, you heard me. Amber and I decided to go get pedicures and lunch. Then Amber came up with the brilliant idea to call it the Christmas party because everyone else gets them so why not us stay at home moms? I feel like this is a tradition we will continue every year.

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When I got back Andy says to me he wants to take a drive and really there”s not much more in life that I love more than a good adventure/drive. We loaded in the car and stopped at a gas station with approximately $27 in change to get a few snacks. It took the girls a good 30 minutes to decide what kind of junk food they wanted. I mean, you should’ve seen them. Their eyes were huge taking in all the options. It was hilarious watching them go from one candy bar to another. And in the end, they both decided on the plain Jane Hershey’s chocolate bar. Go figure.

I made the mistake of getting a 44 oz $1 coke and there may or may not have been hot fries involved. This will be important later.

Andy started driving and about 15 minutes from our house we ended up at the Ocoee River and I’m all HOW DID I NOT KNOW IT WAS THIS CLOSE TO US?! We drove and took in the beauty of the river and the mountains while it was gloriously silent in our car thanks to children who fell asleep. Andy and I talked and laughed and it was so refreshing to feel reconnected after a crazy work week.

We ended up at the Ocoee museum or info center that was the main 1996 Olympic view point. We all got out of the car to walk around and see the place. We may or may not have crashed a wedding.

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At one point Rory started to tear up. When I saw a few tears falling I asked what was wrong and she says, “Everything here is just so beautiful. I can’t believe God made all of this!” So therefore I started to cry because THAT IS THE MOST PRECIOUS THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.

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As we walked back towards the museum the urge hit me and it hit me hard. I don’t know if it was the soft trickle of the river or what but that’s when I realized the 44oz drink was probably a bad idea. But dang those fries were so hot and I needed to drank after I ate them. Probably another bad idea. (BTW. I only drank 1/4 of the drink and was still regretting it which is a testament to my bladder size. You’re welcome for that info.)

I get up to the building and ask someone in the wedding party where the bathrooms were so that I wouldn’t be wondering all through their event. The lady groans loudly and says they are all locked because apparently the museum is closed Nov-Feb. She thanks me for reminding her that she needed to pee and dances off to try to forget about it again.

Y’all. This is when the pain starts. There are people all around and no place to hide and I’m FREAKING OUT because after two children THERE IS NO WAY IN HADES IM GONNA BE ABLE TO HOLD IT.

That’s when I realized….

I have a toddler potty in my car.

And on that fateful day of 12-13-14, I, Tiffany Harris, put that toddler potty in the van, closed the doors, and hovered like I’ve never done before. In the parking lot. In the middle of a wedding. In the middle of the day.

The heavens opened and angels sang a beautiful song in my head and it was about that time that I realized that I AM IN THE BACK OF MY MINIVAN PEEING INTO A TODDLER SIZED TRAINING POTTY SHAPED LIKE A TURTLE.

It was a new low, people.

I don’t know if you’ve seen my butt ever in my life but you should know it has never once been called “small”. I mean, my dad called me turtle butt when I was still in diapers. Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure every big butt song has been written about mine, okay?

So there was a moment when I prayed aloud fervently, “Lord, work a miracle today and let my aim be accurate and let this tiny potty not overflow. If you do this for me I will never drink a 44oz coke again.”

He heard my prayers, friends, and I was blessed enough to not pee in my pants thanks to the toddler potty in my car. Hallelujah and amen.

Of course, it couldn’t stop there because Rory and Ryder also used it after me. I mean, that thing is a blessing I tell you.

Andy was, how do I say?, mortified.

He would probably like you all to know that he did NOT use the potty that day with us. He doesn’t know what he’s missing though.

After all that craziness we went down to Georgia to my cousin Jessica’s house and had pizza and let the kids play. The girls love playing with Bree’s 1747282 “big kid” toys. The highlight was the concert put on by them. I mean the Canjo played by Ryder, the keyboard by Bree, and singing by Rory was such a blessing to us. It did make me realize that Andy and I will win the awesome parent award come Christmas morning when two little stinkers open up their karaoke machine and Frozen CD.

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Sunday morning we went to church and witnessed every person in Cleveland with the sniffles and/or talking about someone in their family having the flu. So that wasn’t stressful or anything. They had a big Christmas program we really wanted to go to but seriously, attendance was shockingly low that morning thanks to sickness so we decided to call it a pajama day the rest of the day. It was SO cold and there’s nothing better than a lazy Sunday afternoon.

In fact, now that the kids are “older”, I go into my room every Sunday and take a good 2-3 hour nap. Pretty much every single Sunday. I tell Andy that nothing speaks to my love language more than him letting me have that nap on Sunday’s. And I mean that whole heartedly. It blesses me in ways he will never know.

Last night Rory and I went to target to get a few gifts and she was so funny. She insisted on getting things that would make any woman slightly more fashionable. She loves a good accessory.

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It is so hard to believe that it’s only a week and a half until Christmas. Oh I am so looking forward to Christmas with our families, but most of all a few days here at home with absolutely nothing but playing with our new toys to do.

Happy Monday! And if you’re thinking of saying “yes” to that 44ozer just remember that you may hit a new low after.

things I learned this week

1) You actually CAN remove an entire bottle of black fingernail polish from carpet. 

10846473_10101442754530416_2536877993080646163_nBless. I have no idea what came over the little heifer but apparently when I blogged the other day about a simple Christmas, she lost her dang mind.

She got a chair out of my room and pushed it into the bathroom and climbed to the top of the hutch where my fingernail polish lives and proceeded to paint her entire self, the carpet, etc with the black polish.

Not gonna lie here- mama was ANG-A-RY. Whew. It took me a while to calm down off that one. I took this picture to send to daddy which devastated her because she didn’t want him to know. Her punishment was that she had to wear the fingernail polish all over herself which was basically the equivalent to electric shock therapy. She hates to be dirty. The second part of the punishment was she had to empty her piggy bank to pay for cleaning supplies. Also devastating.

In case anyone needs to know- a good mix of alcohol and acetone-free nail polish remover and cold water will get the polish out of carpet.

2) Taking the girls to the mall is part stressful, part wonderful.

I decided to take the girls to the mall because we have a few gifts left to get. There were some stressful times with Ryder who has serious issues of needing to touch EVERYTHING in the stores, but it was actually quite a wonderful few hours just walking around with them.

Rory’s obsession with fashion is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen. She was in complete awe over every single window display. I totally teared up big time watching her think about each outfit. She would say to me, “Mom, I’m going to need some tall socks like that to wear with my boots and skirts”, or “Mom, I wonder if they have fancy dresses like that that FLARE OUT in my size.” YES. FLARE OUT. Where does she even know this stuff from?! She had the biggest smile on her face. I told Andy I was going to take her all alone with me to the mall soon and let her be able to really look at clothes and take her time enjoying the beauty of them.

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I also learned that Rory is a pretty good photographer. Look at this picture she took of me and Ryder. It cracks me up so hard.

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3) Leaving the toddler potty in my car was the best decision of life.

We had so many errands to run yesterday and the girls both needed to pee. Well, HOW EASY IS JUST GOING IN THE MINIVAN?! They thought this was hilarious. And no public restroom germs!

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4) My children are a bit strange at times. 

First example would be last night when I was taking a bath and Rory would not leave me alone. “But I just want to watch you, mom.” UM, NO HONEY THAT IS STRANGE. (PS don’t you love how even her pjs are accessorized?!)

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Second example would be Ryder and whatever the heck she does at night. Rory laid all her clothes out for this morning and apparently Ryder was up for who knows how long and put Rory’s entire outfit on herself over her nightgown. Like WHY?! ha

IMG_60085) I have the best mom friends in the world. 

I have had a hard mom week. Ryder is just testing every single fiber of my being. In fact, while I was trying to write this she got out a tube of my $36 mascara and put it all over her face.

And then when I showered she dumped an entire thing of black eyeshadow on the carpet in her room.

I AM LOSING THE WILL TO MOTHER, Y’ALL.

So I posted this picture on Instagram and I got an outpouring of love from the sweetest friends in the world. I’m so thankful for mom friends who rally around other moms who are struggling. Some days are just hard. Really hard. This week has been just a week where I have felt so beat down.

But I have friends that build me up and I just couldn’t be more thankful.

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(cried a lot of tears after reading that ^ one)

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HAPPY WEEKEND! WE MADE IT MAMAS! I am going to be getting a pedicure with a friend tomorrow and I CANNOT WAIT FOR THAT BREAK!

a simple, magical Christmas

I was in the living room folding clothes the first day we were back from Thanksgiving when I heard it; the first sign of the magic of Christmas in the girls’ voices.

Rory: Ryder! Did you know that Santa is coming soon? We don’t have a chimney but mom will leave the door open for him!

Ryder (much gasping and expression in her voice): NO! Is it SO SOON?! Did you know, Whoa-wy, that Santa is going to park them reindeers right on the balcony outside?!

And on and on it went, one imaginative story after another. It must have went on for 30 minutes.

The best part? I have barely talked to them about Santa other than confirming he will be coming and singing the typical Christmas songs. They are just making all these fun things up on their own.

What’s even more magical? Hearing them talk, on their own, about the birth of our Savior. They love to play with the nativity set and they love to talk about the angel and the star and “that baby Jesus who was so sweet all wrapped up in waddling clothes”. I mean, does it get any more precious than that?

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Rory said a prayer the other night before bed and it went something like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for this day and everything you gave us. Thank you for Christmas and for sending Jesus to live in our hearts. He is a precious gift. We love you and Amen.”

Tears. I couldn’t even open my eyes, I was so humbled.

Because I’m going to be honest, I’ve had a few weeks of being a butt in my heart and mind about Christmas. I have missed my house in Savannah. My beautiful yellow house that I’ve dreamed about my whole life and just, literally, fell into our laps at an amazing price. It was so easy. It was so gorgeous. It had everything I had ever wanted.

And here I am in our “800 square feet of fun” with no room for my giant tree that fit like a dream in our old house.

WHAT. A. FREAKING. BRAT.

Sometimes I’m just appalled at myself. What is wrong with me?! I mean, seriously.

When I finally got over my ungrateful, wretched behavior, I got out our “half tree” (yes, it is only HALF a tree- completely flat on one half) up and decorated.

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And I fell madly in love with the simplicity of it.

It is decorated with the ornaments we get every time we go on a trip and all our “first” ornaments- first Christmas engaged, first Christmas married, babies first Christmases. These ornaments that show of our lives together as a family, before and after children.

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Instead of decorating the entire apartment from head to toe, the girls and I put a few simple decorations. For a change, I put out decorations they could actually touch and play with. I mean. WHAT A SHOCKER. Can you even fathom your children living in your home and getting to touch the beautiful things that make Christmas so magical?!

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They were giddy over it. I was giddy over it. It took me an hour to put everything up and it’ll take the same to take down. Isn’t that a relief?!

When I saw and felt how delighted I was in the simplicity of my tree and decorations I started to crave simplicity in the entire season.

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We have had a big, complex year. Though this move was something we have dreamed of as far as location and promotions for Andy goes, it has also been the hardest as a family. Seeing your child miss their friends and cry over being farther from grandparents is harder than I could’ve ever imagined. It has just been an emotional experience for us.

So, I took a long, hard look at the things that always stress me out and make me forget what Christmas is really about. The things Andy and I argue about. The things that we need to financially cut out and put towards more important things.

There was one thing that I kept going back to that met all of the above stresses: Christmas Cards.

This one was a hard pill to swallow. It took me a long while to become rational. I mean, what would Christmas be without getting a card from us this year?!

In the end, I knew it had to be the first thing to let go.

Because I’m a crazy person, I stress HARD over that perfect Christmas card. I stress over the fact that they need to be PERFECT. It would be horrible if I had a typo or *GASP* if someone else in my circle picked the same card. And don’t even get me started on my perfect handwriting for the envelopes- I am an insane person when it comes to this part of the cards. Also, I have NO CONTROL when it comes to sending the cards. I can’t cut people off the list. It is just too hard for me. Last year I spent SIXTY EIGHT DOLLARS on Christmas cards BEFORE postage. HECK TO THE NO NO NO NO NO NO. I simply just COULD.NOT. do that this year. Could not.

So the first thing I cut this year was the beloved/stress-me-the-heck-out Christmas card.

Instead, we are going to be spending the money I always spend on Christmas cards to give a child presents she wouldn’t get without someone “adopting” her this Christmas. I feel my girls need to experience that much more than they need to be on a card that people throw away at the end of the season.

We have also decided that we will be sending Christmas day here at home, just us four. We have travel plans the week before and after Christmas, but for three days it’ll be just us at home. Andy has off and we want to enjoy time together and let the kids actually enjoy their presents. We will not get out of our Christmas pajamas all day on Christmas. It will be amazing. 

I can’t wait to see how the girls’ imaginations continue to grow and all the ways we can help to make this season wonderfully significant for them, because Christ’s birth is just that- wonderfully significant.

I’m so looking forward to a simple, magical Christmas.

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*Feel free to save the above picture and print it out as our Christmas card. That was as much as I could do, and I even put a 5 minute timer on myself so I wouldn’t stress over it.

What are YOU doing to simplify the holiday season this year? I would love to know!

poop prize

As most of you saw on Instagram and the Facebook last night, Ryder finally got herself a poop prize.

We told her she had to go 5 days with no accidents at all and then she could go out to eat and get a prize from the store.

Because we are not above bribery AT ALL.

She ended up picking out three toys that she HAD TO HAVE that were $50 a piece. So. We made her pick something else. I mean we are excited about her being potty trained but LET’S GET REAL HERE. I’m never gonna pay $50 for a poop prize.

Rory was so excited to pick something out too and we explained to her that we got her something when she got potty trained so it was Ryder’s turn. But because we aren’t monsters and she’s been so sweet lately, we let her have a $5 bill to pick out whatever she wanted. It is hard to get one something and not the other. So sue me.

Now, let’s rewind to yesterday morning for a second.

Andy got up and went to work LONG BEFORE anyone should ever be awake. I woke up and the clock said 7:56 and I almost had a heart attack thinking we had all slept in so late. I stretched and smiled to myself thinking how marvelous life must be for those who have kids that sleep past 7 on the reg.

Then I stumbled in the bathroom…

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Yeah. Who knows how long these heifers were awake. They sure had enough time to get this 24 hour tattoo makeup ALL OVER the entire surface of everything. I love how they don’t know whether to really smile in the picture or not. You can see the fear of their momma in their eyes. It brings me much pleasure.

And just fyi, they aren’t kidding about the 24 hour thing. It took me about an hour before bed to wash this off their face. When we went out to dinner they still had the perfect eye makeup on. Ridiculous.

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I wish I had a full body of Rory because girlfriend looked CUTE yesterday. Look at all those accessories and the way that tutu doesn’t “match” but totally GOES. Gah, I love her sense of style more than anything ever. She is just the cutest.

So, back to the trip to Walmart that took almost two hours:

We gave Rory the $5 and guess what she got…

That’s right. Makeup.

Which, honestly, I was glad about it because we needed some “kid makeup” that didn’t last 24 hours.

She was SO EXCITED about her makeup. She could not handle herself. She picked out her entire outfit last night and then picked out the colors of makeup she wanted on her face to go with her outfit. PRECIOUS.

Well.

Want to know what is NOT PRECIOUS?!

When your child is SO EXCITED about getting ready for school that she wakes up every 15-30 minutes starting at FOUR THIRTY AM. Oh yes. That’s right. Rory woke up at 4:30 and hollered “MOMMMMMAAAAAA DADDDDYYYYYYY COME HURRRRRRRRRRR”. I walk in the room and she says, “Mom. Is it time for me to get ready and put my makeup on yet?”

I was so confused about life. I said, “Honey, it is the middle of the night. No. No makeup until the sun wakes up.”

30 minutes later we repeat this.

We then repeat it every 15-20 minutes the rest of the morning until 6:30 when I’m all I GIVE UP ON LIFE.

BLESS IT.

And by “it” I mean ME.

Also, poor Ryder. She got the same wakeup calls and she is not what we would call a “morning person” – which would be the understatement of the century.

Girlfriend wakes up and does not want anyone to talk to her or LOOK AT HER.

So when we took Rory to school at 8 this morning she couldn’t hang. Fell fast asleep. Bless her heart.

 

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While we are on the subject of cars, I have to tell you a little story.

I think I know why the cat was attracted to my car. I still don’t know how it got in, but I’m starting to understand now…

You see when we left last night to go to dinner there was a “funk” going on in the ol’ minivan.

This doesn’t surprise me because I have children and sometimes funky things happen.

Then this morning Rory opened the door and it was so rank I literally COULD NOT STOP GAGGING.

I mean. All out gag fest going on. The girls refused to get in the car. So I covered my face with a scarf and climbed in the back of the van with the mission of finding the source of the funk.

Y’all.

Y’ALL.

At first I couldn’t find anything. But then….

I looked under the stow-and-go compartment and found it.

There was a LARGE bag of BBQ leftovers and a pumpkin pie (which I thought was sweet potato casserole but instead of marshmallows it was some sort of growth on the pie).

ALL OF THE GAGS.

There were some workers outside and they started gathering to watch me as I gagged and dry heaved while cleaning out the car.

Seriously just gagged again writing this.

GAG GAG GAG GAG GAG.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?!

UGHHHH SO MANY GAGS.

I had to come home and take a shower to get the smell out of my hair.

HA.

So, note to self: check the stow-and-go storage compartments after a road trip. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU WILL FIND.

Aren’t you glad I told you that story?

Happy Thursday! Ha!

 

sometimes things are weird in Tiffany world.

Today marks day two of detoxing the children from a week in West TN with family. It has been so fun and not stressful at all around our house.

On opposite day.

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Yesterday Rory literally said to me, “Well I will just call my grandparents and one of them will come let me live with them.”

So precious.

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Therefore she got no TV and no scooter time.

Which BY THE WAY is probably more of a punishment for me than it is anyone else. I love their two shows per day. It sometimes gets me through the day with my sanity still in tact. I mean, don’t you dare tell my children this, but about once a month I take a 15 minute power nap while they watch their shows. SHOCKING.

Speaking of SHOCKING…

After 5 years of buying diapers and pretty much two years straight of potty training the children (because my lovelies aren’t the easiest to potty train and take forever) we can finally announce that WE ARE DONE WITH DIAPERS.

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I was so worried since we would be out of town and going here to there last week that Ryder would regress and we would have to start all over again.

But I was determined. After one or two accidents she got the hang of going anywhere and everywhere. Which just goes to show that when forced to either crap your pants and get in trouble or bite the bullet and go in the potty, biting the bullet is much easier.

The funny thing about Ryder that is way different than Rory is that she will go in the bathroom and do her thing and you never ever know. She is quiet about it and wants complete privacy.

Rory, on the other hand, DOES NOT KNOW WHAT PRIVACY MEANS. She tells you details of every bathroom visit and will walk in on you no less than 27 times if you are trying to go.

She also has a weird problem called “I REFUSE TO LEARN TO FLUSH THE TOILET”.

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone into the bathroom to discover a load floating in there. And sadly, not just at my house.

Everywhere we go Rory likes to leave a little present behind. I have had to take up the habit of checking the bathroom everywhere to make sure no one else finds it. She could care less where it is either. When we came to check out the apartments and went into the model apartment Rory pooped so large it took up the entire toilet. And she just left it. Thank the Lord I went in there and couldn’t miss the smell. That would’ve been terrible if someone else would have found it.

Children are weird.

And speaking of weird…. (man, I’m good at the transitions today)

I’ve had my fair share of weird over the past 29 years of my life, but yesterday was one of those days where I thought- SERIOUSLY? I can’t even understand.

I took Rory to school and kept hearing this strange noise. But I have a 3 year old and a 4 year old so strange noises are frequent in the car.

I take Rory all the way to school, go to Target, and come home. When I get home and open the door to get Ryder out of the car a large orange cat jumps out like, “what? I’ve been here all day.”

And I just stared in wonder and then went along my day because, sadly, this crap is just normal.

Except then last night we went to dinner and on the way home I got out to get the mail and up from the back of the van comes the cat again trying to get out of my car.

AM I BEING PUNK’D?! Because once was strange enough but twice in one day having a large orange cat escaping my car is JUST TOO MUCH.

Where did this cat come from?! I’ve never seen a cat. Did we bring it home from West TN? I AM SO CONFUSED.

Well. That’s all the poop and weird cat stories I can muster up for one day.

I mean. I’d hate to use them all up today because I know you all so look forward to poop talk on the blog every time you click the link.

HA HA HA.

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

Let the noise of love be loud at our tables today.

This week has been very loud. I can’t seem to get away from the noise around the world.

The Ferguson tragedies are ringing loud throughout social media and loud in every part of my heart.

Here I am, white as milk, sobbing for this black community wondering what I can do to make a difference to my community and theirs, together.

The poor mother of Michael Brown is not only having to mourn the loss of her precious son but also has the weight of the aftermath on her shoulders. Do you honestly think she is happy with the riots, looting, and the arson? I can guarantee she wants nothing more than to rewind time to take it all away. I can imagine her lying awake in her bed wondering where it all went wrong. What could she do differently to make sure her son stayed out of trouble and ultimately was still alive?

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Regardless of what people are pronouncing so loudly on facebook, I know WHITE families who have been through the same thing. Maybe not being killed by a cop, but the “what went wrong and made them stray” burden they will forever carry.

I have a cousin that grew up just like me who at some point started a life mixed up in drugs and crime. I know his mom asks herself every day what could she have done differently. Or my friend T who has been in and out of rehab and jail.

These two people I love with all my heart and they will struggle every day for the rest of their lives with addiction. It all started with one bad decision. One bad friendship disguised as the only person who understood or loved them- even more than their own families.

All three of these mothers mourn the loss of their sons- either to death or drugs or jail or whatever.

I have asked myself constantly what can I do to make a difference now in the middle of all this noise. What can I do to make sure my girls grow up to love others equally?

We have to teach them through our own actions. We have to set the example. We have to teach them how to respond to racism and bad situations with grace, mercy, dignity and respect.

If these people who are rioting and committing crimes had been taught differently growing up they wouldn’t be doing these terrible things. They wouldn’t be responding in violent ways.

If some of my white friends had been taught differently they wouldn’t be blowing up my facebook feed with blatantly racist remarks. I have been completely heartbroken and appalled as I have seen these people who call themselves Christians say horrible things about “those black people”.

How about those white people? Because we are just as bad. Meth houses, Holly Bobo cases, Charles Manson? Those crazy white people. Those horrible white people committing crimes that are what nightmares are made of.

Sin goes both ways. It doesn’t see race or social status.

More importantly, Jesus Christ goes both ways. He died for every single one of us. He covers every sin committed by every man, no matter what their race is.

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Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. Romans 10:13

His blood is colorblind. His grace is sufficient for every race, every tongue, every tribe.

How can we expect anyone to act the right way if Christians don’t set the example of Christ and also be colorblind as He is?

Nothing will every change if we don’t open our hearts to what Christ wants for us. He commands us to love God and love others.

ALL OTHERS. Every single race.

Because we are all worth it to Him.

So this Thanksgiving racism may be loud in our hearts and minds but God’s love is louder.

He muffles the noise and calls us to be louder in our love for others.

I am most thankful today that my parents raised me in a home that was loving and gave grace freely. I grew up in a home with no racist remarks. I grew up in a home where God’s love showed through my parents to people of every color equally.

I am forever thankful that I was taught empathy towards all colors and situations.

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It is my life’s mission to teach my children the same thing.

Lord, be with me and show me how to teach my children equality. Help me to never lose sight of those things. Help me to be an example of grace and mercy to all races, just as You showed us through the Cross.

Happy Thanksgiving. Let the noise of love be loud at your table today.

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We Choose Virtues (product review)

There are times in life when you wish you would’ve heard of a product or a way to do something A LONG TIME AGO. I recently had this experience.

I started following We Choose Virtues on Facebook a while ago, but never got around to purchasing the product. A few months ago I got the opportunity to get the product and review it.

Oh.My.Goodness.

In just a short amount of time I have seen some major changes in not only my children, but in ME.

So what IS We Choose Virtues?

We Choose Virtues is a way of instilling character in our kids in a simple and inspiring way.

I have had a lot of talks with my mom friends about how HARD it is to teach things like contentment, patience, gentleness, self control, ETC. To me, contentment is something I have had the hardest time trying to understand how to teach. 

That is exactly why We Choose Virtues is the perfect match for my family and any other family struggling with out to teach these virtues to their young children.

Let me set up the Family Kit and how it works for you:

– There are only THREE rules. I think this is so important because young children don’t respond well to tons of rules. The three rules are Obey, Be Kind, Be A Helper. That’s it. And yet, it is all you need.

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– 12 Virtues. There are twelve virtues and each have an easy “catchphrase” to help children be able to understand what the virtue means easily. There is also a memory verse for each virtue!

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Here are two examples of the Virtues – these are the virtues I’ve been working the hardest on in our home because WE need it:

 I am Content. I have my “WANTER” under control. I am NOT… bored, greedy or always wanting more and I don’t beg or whine. “I have made myself calm and content like a young child in its mother’s arms. Deep down inside me, I am as content as a young child.” Psalm 131:2 (NIrV)

 I am Gentle. I speak quietly and touch softly. I am NOT… rough, harsh or loud and I don’t destroy things or hurt people! “A gentle answer turns anger away. But mean words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NIrV

(Whew. WHO DOESN’T NEED TO LEARN THESE VIRTUES?! I know I need to work on them just as much as my children.)

– Everything is set up as a positive experience. There are rewards and encouraging words. I love that it uses the Caterpillar, the Butterfly, and the Magnifying glass as examples for the virtues. Each of these have a catchphrase too that helps us to show examples that our kids understand easily:

Caterpillar: “I don’t have to stay the way I am! I am born to change, and change I will!”

Butterfly: “I will choose to use virtue, and become strong and beautiful on the inside!”

Magnifying glass: “I will never stop looking for virtue in YOU!”

The Family Kit includes:

  • Parenting Cards (these are “teacher” cards for families)
  • Virtue Flashcards for Families (play games and memorize easier with these cards!)
  • Kids Virtue Poster
  • Three Rules Poster
  • Butterfly Awards (downloadable)
  • Family Character Assessments (downloadable)
  • Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages (downloadable)

So how do we like the product? We love it.

Rory is at the stage where she is soaking up all the information like a sponge. I can see her little wheels turning and thinking about virtues and whether or not she is choosing them. Sometimes I literally see her stop and think and then walk way before she does something she knows she shouldn’t do. And she is also reminding Ryder to be gentle or whatever too. Let’s face it. Ryder is a threenager and is having a bit of a harder time than Rory. But she is still loving it too.

Ryder loves the coloring pages so much. She creates personalities in her head for the characters and colors them accordingly. I love that they send you a file so you can print the coloring pages out an unlimited amount of times.

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I think one of the very best parts to me is that it is teaching ME to choose virtues too. It has reminded me that I can tell them to be virtuous all day long but if I am not SHOWING them virtues in my actions it is a waste of time.

And GUESS WHAT, Y’ALL?!

My readers are getting 15% off anything in their store! Just enter this promo code at checkout: VIRTUE15 for 15% off anything in their store!

But they are having a special Black Friday through Cyber Monday too! The promo code is HOLIDAY30 for 30% off anything in their store. (Only one promo code per order.)

I love that they have family kits, children’s church kits, homeschool kits, etc! You just cannot go wrong and they have so many choices! If you do purchase the product, please tell me what you get, I would love to know! I have several friends who use We Choose Virtues in their homes and all have rave reviews!

 

*I received this product as compensation but, as always, the opinions are my own. I would never lead you astray, dear readers!*

Girls Trip to NYC 2014

About 6 or so months ago a group of friends were texting and joking around about how we needed a break and would love to go on a girls trip.

This seemed far fetched because how on earth could we possibly manage to get FIVE husbands to agree to let all the wives go on a trip to NYC at the same time?!!!!!!!!!

Basically the trick is to be married to the best husbands on earth. *shameless mushy plug*

We hopped the first flight Thursday morning. To say we were giddy would be the understatement of the century. I’m pretty sure we said, “OH MY GOSHHHH I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING,” 230923023 times.

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I ended up next to Trace Adkins in the security line. It was so not fair because my phone was in my purse going through the scanner.

I may or may not have stared weirdly as he took his belt off.

He said, “how are you today?” in THAT VOICE and I pretty much went to into 15 year old melt on the ground mode. WHY IS HIS VOICE SO …. sexy? (I cannot believe I’m saying this on my blog.) After we had our clothes back on – HAHAHAHAHAHAH- meaning from TSA craziness, I tried so hard to rush and get a picture with him. But I couldn’t get my phone in time and I wasn’t about to run to another terminal and bother him. So here is your picture:

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Unfortunately I apparently used all my celeb sightings on him. In the Nashville airport. Sigh.

Ahem. Back to the trip.

After a crowded ride on the NJ transit, we arrived in NYC. It was a drizzly day, but still beautiful. Two of the girls, Rachel and Jinny, hadn’t been to the city yet and I don’t think I will ever forget turning around to see their faces react to seeing the buildings the first time. It was absolutely priceless.

I’m going to break this up into days. This will probably be a long post because I just don’t want to forget anything. So, you were warned. Another disclaimer- these are all cell phone pics. Which look much better with Instagram filters and I don’t have time to do all that. Don’t judge the quality.

Day 1: Pizza, One World Trade Center, WTC Memorials, St Paul’s Cathedral, Century 21, Republic, ABC Kitchen.

Our first meal was pizza because, hello, NYC!

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After the best pizza ever* at John’s Pizzeria at Time Square (the Margherita pizza is where it is at, y’all), we headed downtown.

(*I still think Lombardi’s in Little Italy is the best pizza on earth, but John’s was delicious too.)

 

First we stopped at the “Little Chapel That Stood” or St Paul’s Chapel. Apparently it is the time of year where they repair all of the churches in NYC. I was so disappointed because of all the scaffolding that blocked the beautiful little church.

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Probably one of the most significant things we have experienced happened on the first day. We went down to see the new WTC and to see the memorials. As we were standing there in awe of the beautiful water memorial, a man walked up. I saw him walking by the names, glancing at them… and then just as he was about to walk by it caught his eye- a certain name. Jean Destrehan Roger.

We couldn’t take our eyes off of him. He stood there tracing the name with his fingers. His expression was a mixture of happiness and sadness. There was a sad smirk on his face as he stood over the name. We all stood there crying. It was one of those things that was so hard to watch, as he clearly loved the person behind the name, but it was impossible to look away.

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Jinny took this beautiful picture and we all cried when we saw it.

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One World Trade Center is insanely impressive. I lack the words to even express it properly. It was cloudy and we couldn’t see anywhere near the top. And in the middle of these massive downtown buildings there are beautiful trees that border these gorgeous memorials. It was truly breathtaking.

IMG_3577_3 IMG_3588_2_2 IMG_3597_2 IMG_3598 IMG_3600_2We headed over to Century 21 to try and detox our emotions and Y’ALL. I have always been such a huge C21 LOVER and I don’t know what has happened since the last time I was there but IT IS NOT THE SAME. Everything was so expensive. It was insanely crowded. I couldn’t even handle it. It isn’t the same C21 I fell in love with years ago.

That night we headed to Chelsea for drinks and dinner. We went to a bar/restaurant called Republic before our dinner reservations AT TEN PM, and it was such a good place! The food looked delicious and I fully plan to go eat there next time I am in NY.

IMG_3608_2We headed over to ABC Kitchen for dinner. Y’all. Y’ALLLLLL. First of all, you need to book a month in advance for a table. So just FYI.

Secondly, BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE. No but seriously. I decided to go all out and get the lobster. One of the best decisions ever. It was AMAZING. I got the salted mashed potatoes as a side and, also, best decision of my life. I literally almost licked the bowl. And my plate. DEAR MERCY it was so good. The apple orchard martini was so delicious too.

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Basically, if you go to NYC you MUST go to ABC Kitchen. You will not regret it.

Day 2: Chinatown, Little Italy, Katz’s Deli, Broadway, Times Square.

Just short of seeing NYC for the first time, the next best thing for someone to experience in the city is Chinatown. It is the most hilarious and crazy place ever. I feel like I can’t even describe the lengths these people go to just to get us a fake Louis. Watching someone experience it for the first time is pretty priceless. I’m glad you got your bag, Jinny!

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After Chinatown we roamed little Italy and NoLita and who knows where else looking for a cheesesteak place that had 4 stars. We walked about 20 miles to discover that it was closed. SO WRONG. Luckily Katz’s deli (famous from When Harry Met Sally) was on the same block. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.

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We went to Times Square and got in line at the TKTS booth for tickets for Broadway. Doesn’t the guy in the back look happy?

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We got all dolled up to go see Chicago. I mean. FANCY.

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So. Chicago was extremely disappointing. We all had seen the movie and loved it. So we figured the musical would be 100% better. So here’s the deal. The stage stayed exactly the same the entire musical. There were no costume changes, no props, nothing. The singing was good, yes. But we all expected so much more out of such a long-running, highly praised musical.

Even so, jazz hands are totally addicting.

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We stumbled into an Italian restaurant off times square and it was … eh. The waiter was a jerk face. That’s all I can say about it. Ha.

Day 3: Mood, Rockefeller, 5th Ave, Central Park, Picklebacks

Saturday started off with a trip to Mood from Project Runway. Jinny was in heaven!

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Then we headed up to Rockefeller, 5th Ave, Central Park, etc.

It was really neat to see the tree at Rockefeller being put up! We had no idea how much went into it. On the side you could see tons of branches waiting to be put in to fill it up.

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And here we go again with the scaffolding at all the churches in NY. I was so sad they didn’t get to see St Patrick’s without it. There was even scaffolding all over the inside of the church. It was so frustrating to me!

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Obligatory Tiffany in front of Tiffany’s picture:

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We spent some time in FAO Schwarz and then grabbed some lunch and headed to Central Park to eat and see some of the park. It was so stinkin’ cold Saturday so we didn’t spend too much time but it was seriously so insanely beautiful. I’ve never been to NY in the fall and it was absolutely the prettiest I’ve ever seen it.

We had a lunch buddy and I wanted to put him in my pocket he was so cute.

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We also saw some people filming and we ran into the actors at a coffee shop and asked what they were filming and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the film. It is an independent rom-com if I’m remembering correctly.

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I’m telling you- NY is so gorgeous in the fall!

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Some of the girls went shopping and some went back to the hotel after Central Park. My feet were KILLING me and I was so dang tired (and also running low on the moneys) so I went back to the hotel. But we saw Macy’s with the beginnings of their Christmas decorations. This “believe” on the side of the building made me all teary-eyed and excited for Christmas!

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For dinner we ended up splitting up and going to two different places. Emily and I were really wanting some good Thai food so we headed to Peak Thai on 49th and 2nd Ave (they don’t have a website so I gave you the address!). It was SO DANG GOOD. The place is small and intimate so this isn’t a place to bring 20 friends, but a great date night.

Which is basically what Emily and I had, a great date night- HA!

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We asked two different people to take our picture. They both were not great photographers. Ha!

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We met back up and went to a little bar after dinner and ended up at an SEC meetup. Unfortunately it wasn’t any of our teams but it was still fun to see other SEC lovers in the city.

After they left a group of about 30 young Koreans came in. They looked 12. For reals. But apparently they were 22. They were so precious and young. We had to leave because we just couldn’t chill next to tiny infant babies.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching one of the guys from the group go to lean on what HE thought was a wall but was in fact a curtain…

and he literally flew across the place he fell so hard. I mean, he seriously committed to leaning on that faux wall. I still cannot stop laughing about it. It was a really fun night! This picture cracks me up every time I see it.

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*picklebacks not pictured*

Sunday we slept in and got everything packed up and ready to head home. We were all ready to see our kids and so tired from all we packed into our time.

We headed down to Chelsea Market first. I’m so glad we did too because that place was seriously amazing. Next time I’m going to dedicate several hours to the market for sure. I would mark it as a must do for a trip to NY.

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We went downtown after the market to the Financial District. We saw Wall Street and the bull.

Now listen.

This was my first time seeing The Bull. Want to know what it looks like in real life?!

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That’s right, folks, it is COVERED with people so much so that you can’t even see it. Jinny had to fight off several people to get a picture with it.

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Note: more scaffolding.

IMG_3871We were so burnt out by the time we made it back to the hotel that we decided, after some convincing from the bellman, to cram into a standard car taxi to go to the airport. Oh yes we did. It was a clown car up in there. The driver was hilarious. Actually, we took a grand total of only 4 taxis the entire time we were there and all of the cab drivers were so fun and sweet. Being southern, we obviously talked their ears off. We learned that one was NOT a baseball fan, another was moving back to Haiti with his wife of 30 years and 6 kids after being away for 20 years, and the last one had a strong opinion about Chinese drivers. IMG_3880Y’all. As I was recapping I wanted to cry that the trip was over. I had the best time and hope we can make this girls trip a yearly thing. It was a dream of a long weekend. NYC is the PERFECT girls trip for anyone looking for a place to go with girlfriends!

Thanks for such a great weekend Emily, Jinny, Rachel and Alexis!

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——

I thought I would end this with a few little tips about heading to NYC if you haven’t been before:

– PLAN AHEAD. It is so important to get reservations made a month in advance (or more for some places) and to plan your days out. The only thing we didn’t do well was planning our meals. Next time we will have all the meals nailed down before we go. Go to Open Table to make your reservations!

– Immediately get a metro card. The subway can seem scary, but it is THE BEST. Seriously, my favorite thing about NY is the subway. Download the CityMapper app on your phone and it tells you EXACTLY how to get everywhere. From walking to the nearest subway, to which train to get on, and then walking to your destination after getting off the train. Sometimes you have a little trial and error, but you can always hop on another train at the next stop. Don’t waste money on cabs, people! The subways system is AMAZING.

– If you aren’t sure which way to go on the street, ASK. Us southerners have heard crazy, UNTRUE things about New Yorkers. We never had a person act rude to us when we asked for directions. Now, I wouldn’t ask too much because that would be silly since you have a phone that can tell you, but sometimes our phones would act weird and I just needed to go one block over but I wasn’t sure which way. So I always asked someone and it saved a lot of time and extra walking.

 

the joy that is family picture day.

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands since moving here because I have literally one friend here (this is not a sob story- its my fault, I have been laying low).

So I was browsing during “rest time” one day on Instagram over a month or so ago and found a local photographer. It just so happened she was having a give away and I just so happened to enter it. Obviously.

Turns out I am sometimes lucky and win things. So we set a date to claim my free mini session for Nov 1.

I was DETERMINED to not be stressed. I picked out our outfits WEEKS in advance (two weeks…). I did trial runs on my hair and makeup. I made ALL OF THE PROMISES of fun rewards for the children if only they endured a tiny bit of the photoshoot.

I was ON THE BALL, y’all.

November 1st came around and was windy and cold and miserable. So we rescheduled to Monday.

No big deal! I am SO PREPARED for a stress free experience.

You see, I don’t know how YOUR family works but here is how the typical day of the family photo shoot goes down:

1- Wake up, first zit in a year smack dab in the middle of your face.

2- Get in shower. Get interrupted 230923 times by children. Come out of shower with half a leg shaved and ponder if you even washed the soap out of your hair all the way. Nope. Totally didn’t.

3- Feed children their 82nd snack because you have read all of the blogs with tips on how to ensure your kids take great pictures and the #1 rule is to make sure the children are not hungry. A hangry child makes for bad photos. Common sense, right?!

4- Blow dry hair. For two hours because your children keep interrupting. When it is finally dry you look like:

FullSizeRender 3Oh yes. You are so welcome. #curlyhairproblems

5- Start makeup while your curling iron and straightener heat up.

6- Water children.

7- Go to use the irons on hair and realize you didn’t turn them on.

8- Put on a movie for the children. Realize one child has pooped her pants. Again.

9- End up taking a sink bath to try and wash all the poo you ended up getting on you from a child who SHOULD BE GOING IN THE TOILET.

10- Start curling hair. Pray you don’t burn your hair off because you are so distracted by children.

11- Ignore all the crazy sounds you hear from the rest of the house. It’ll clean up easily later, right?!

12- Take too long on hair. Realize you are running short on time.

13- Do  rush job on makeup. Sneeze immediately after putting mascara on and curse the day you were born.

14- Go into panic mode trying to get yourself and your children dressed.

15- Threaten children to the edge of their lives about NOT getting anything on their clothes.

16- Curse your husband for taking 2 seconds getting only himself ready. How is that even fair?!

17- Get into an epic fight with husband because he says the words YOU SHALL NEVER SAY TO YOUR WIFE, “Babe. Just chill out.”

18- Get to the location and contemplate abandoning the mission and going to the hospital instead to make sure you aren’t having a heart attack. Realize that you’re having a panic attack instead and wish you had an RX for some sort of happy pill.

19- Before getting out of the car declare that IF YOU DO NOT OBEY AND SMILE FOR THE CAMERA YOU WILL NOT HAVE ANY FUN FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES. Tell husband to get it together or else he might as well not come home tonight. Ignore the fact that you know you are being a bit dramatic seeing as even on the worst marriage days we have never slept separately because we are mad.

20- Get out of the car and walk towards photographer looking like “OH HI, SO NICE TO MEET YOU, AREN’T WE PRECIOUS?!” :

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On this particular day, Ryder was in rare form.

Meaning she acted like a devil child.

The photographer would pose the girls and just when she would say, “okay, smile!”, Ryder would pinch the crap out of Rory just to make her cry.

Then she told the photographer “NO WAY”, when she asked her to stand in a specific spot.

I was so completely mortified I couldn’t even handle myself. I most definitely do not have perfect children but they have never acted like they did yesterday. That poor woman is probably praying we don’t ever ask her to take our pictures again.

I may or may not have cried all the way home.

There are two times in life where I feel murderous towards my family: getting ready for church on Sundays and FAMILY PICTURE DAY.

Please tell me this isn’t just my family…. seriously…. please tell me you are a psychotic control freak mother who NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY TO NOT BE STRESSED you end up wanting to cut someone you love.

I can assure you that the children look like this in every picture:

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Delightful faces, no?

The good news about all of this is that it was the absolute perfect way to get over any anxiety or sadness about the girls leaving on their very first trip without us. Andy’s parents took them to Gatlinburg for a few days. They are going to have the time of their lives.

And tomorrow I am leaving for NYC with four girlfriends from high school! I can’t even believe the trip is finally here! We are all just so ready to spend a few days away from our kids and responsibilities. I’m most excited about eating without having to share or telling anyone to take a bite and SLEEP.