Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to Books.

I just recognized another sign that I’m coming back. No, no, not back here! I will undoubtedly wait a few months before writing again just to keep the mystery alive. Is she blogging? Did she quit? Did her children finally form a small coup and rebel over fruit snacks? The answer is likely the last one. I could be supine on the kitchen floor as they jump on my back, throw cheese puffs like confetti, and mush sticky fruit snacks into my face all the while wearing matching superhero capes. Superheroes shouldn't do that.

No, I had another sign that I am almost back from that black void I entered after having my first son that sucked most of me away and left a shell of a woman who knew only how to change diapers, make snacks, re-make snacks, and finally look the other way when handing over the goldfish.

Last night I found an old notebook where I used to record every book I read. I started doing this before I was married and my last entry happened right before I went back to work after having my first. If I'd thought to take a picture, I would place it here because it is a glorious thing to behold: pages and pages of titles, words, and tales I read, but then, a cold literary void. What a dark three and a half years it’s been without books! There have been a few, but I don't quite devour three to four books a month anymore. Not only did I have time to read like that, I was rolling in so much free time that I thought a good use of it was recording said books. What a silly, silly girl I was.
Except I’m doing it again.
“Hmmm,” I thought when I saw the blank line under my 2012 entry. “I’ve read two books this month. Would it hurt to write them down?” It didn’t. In fact, it felt like opening the sliding doors of our modern home and stepping into the air-conditioning after being outside for a few minutes in the Dallas heat: refreshing and invigorating with a vague sense of being home.
And now, standing in a bookstore in Midway (another sign I’m coming back; I’m traveling for work and wondering why the hell I don’t work more), I added four new books to my Goodreads line-up. Oh the glory! Oh the words! Oh the pressure to cram in one more book before the month is out. I love it!
I dusted off my abridged dictionary so I can look up all the words I don’t now and my husband can mock my love of books and words just like we are child-free! The return of my inner nerd is another strong indicator of what’s happening here.
So soon; very, soon, I may even begin writing here a bit more. I finished the first draft of my book and want to procrastinate editing and wallow in self-doubt for a bit longer. Perhaps I’ll read a book or 30.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Excuses and More Excuses.

Oh good lord, I did it again and am now breaking the cardinal rule of blogging which is "Never Talk About Not Blogging." Here I am talking about not blogging like the total amateur that I am.

I've been writing, but not here. I've been scurrying away all of my free time to write a book and it's about halfway done. I forget to pay my bills and shower I'm so focused on this thing. In meetings I use my little notebook to jot down new character traits and story twists instead of exciting new ways to sell food.

I also potty-trained my three year old, which honestly, took every ounce of energy our household contained. He screamed for a week before finally pooping on the damn potty. I have PTSD. I think my husband and the baby do, too.

So, I'm not dead or terminally ill, just writing elsewhere for a bit and trying to survive the telling of my tale. Don't give up on me! Lord knows, you are the only three people who will read my book when it's done and I simply cannot lose you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Are There Scissors In Toddler Doctor Kits?

Dear Kids Dr. Kits,

What's up with the scissors? I know why a doctor would use them, but my three-year-old thinks his doctor is going to give him a quick trim at his next appointment.

Him: "Mommy, do you need a check-up?"

Me: "Yep."

Him in a little singsong/casual voice as if he does this everyday: "Let me check your heart." [Grabs stethoscope]. "It's good."

He returns to the kit and comes back with an otoscope. "Now let me look in year ear." [Looks.] "Yep, that's good, too."

He returns to the kit and comes back with the scissors. "Now let me cut your hair." [Starts cutting my hair.]

Me: "You know doctors don't give haircuts, right?"

Him: "Yes they do."

Guys, and I mean all y'all because every kit contains scissors, you have an otoscope in the kit and scissors were the best ninth medical device you could come up with? Call Welch Allyn and have them brainstorm for you. Or just add some band-aids. They take a lot less explanation.

Best,
annie

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Everyone Stop Telling Me To Enjoy This.

Today I read another post about cherishing these days that are so long. I teared up. And then I wrote this.

I walked out of Target with my two little boys in tow the other day, the baby screeching happily about something fantastic, and my three-year-old happily holding a Spiderman-branded item he'd talked me into buying like he was a damn Enron executive selling employee stock. I know, like only a mother can, that his fierce negotiation skills do not lead to a good place.

Anyway, on this walk out, we passed a woman in her fifties. I saw her smile the nostalgic smile I've seen so many times from similar women. I gave her my standard Cheshire cat grin back. You know the one, ladies. It says, "Yep, my life is pretty awesome right now, in case you couldn't tell, but I know you can because you wish you had these years back! I've got two little cherubs who make the cup spilleth over."

But then I remembered my day. Normally I don't work on this day, but I went for a few hours. WHY? For a meeting. Because, truly, sitting in a meeting talking about calories on menuboards sounds one JILLION times better than spending those same three hours being defied. It sounds better than cooking and then cleaning up a mess. It sounds better than listening to a three-year-old beg for TV and then getting mad when he doesn't listen.

Some people plan to go back to work full-time when their kids are in school. I'm not one of them. I plan to quit and get some time back for myself while they are in school!

I wiped that smile off my face.

I read the same posts you do. The ones that scream that this is all so fleeting and implore us to cherish these sweet, tender moments before they are gone. Here's a thought, though. A lot of people said the same thing about high school. Then they said it about college. I look back nostalgically on those times. I have the appropriate pictures filed in albums to remember them and, thanks to facebaook, I relive them every Thursday now as well. However, I would not ever choose to rewind the years to that point. It was truly once-in-a-lifetime, because it is meant to be only once-in-a-lifetime.

I don't want to leave my family for the first time or live in disgusting off-campus housing ever again. I don't want to be able to easily attend a party and then go to class the next day. I don't want to walk to parties in 10 degree weather. These were awful times that would have killed me had they continued!

I hope, truly I do, that in 15 years when my kids are almost grown I will not be sad. I hope I will remember that this muck I'm in right now is hard and stop any incipient tears because the day is formidable when every second is devoted to entertaining/battling/teaching a small child. And it truly is every second of 13+ hours which doesn't sit well with me. I need time to recharge and a few hours a night aren't cutting it.

Will I miss this when he tells me he's off to see his friends or go golfing with his dad?

I'm not so sure. I think I will revel in my newfound, lost ability to sit down and read a book at an hour other than 10pm. I think I'll enjoy a few moments to pay bills, check email, or review a deck without my presence being demanded in the other room while my guilt builds. I think I'll delight in running to the store without convincing anyone of the need for clothes for such an excursion while simultaneously filling a huge bag to the brim with snacks and diapers.

I'll miss the hugs and high voices, the questions and admiration, the curiosity and unbounded energy but I know there will be new things like intelligent conversations and friendship to fill the places we've moved past.

I want to move on because a few more years of this will kill me.

Have we all been mistaking those smiles at Target from our predecessors for nostalgia when they are could very well be joy? We're going home with our kids while they are headed back to read a book and eat something other than string cheese.

Monday, March 16, 2015

eShakti Fashion Review and I Love Birds.

Ok, it's time for a note from our sponsors! And by sponsors, I mean the retailer who gave me clothes to write about. I'm easy. Clothes, cute flats, or pretzel M&Ms and you've unlocked my heart.
 
A new online retailer, eShakti, asked if I would choose an article of clothing from their line and write a review. This is somewhat ironic given a previous string of posts I wrote about why I could never be a fashion blogger, but I thought,"Ummmm, you're going to send me clothes to write about? Sounds like a dream."
 
I googled eShakti before committing and finding other bloggers raving about their clothing, felt safe and secure. As I said, it doesn't take much. I happily obliged.
 
eShakti's point of differentiation in the online fashion space is customization. Now, in a world where the toothpaste aisle is overwhelming and Stitchfix has capitalized on womens' desire to look great without deciding how, I wondered if this site would dish up another long list of choices I didn't feel like making.

 
My over-optioned brain, that will burst one day in front of a Coke Freestyle machine, was thrilled that eShakti provides customization within a framework. Clothing can be tailored to taste, but there are not enough choices to make you close your browser and vow to wear homespun for the rest of your days.


Huge news: they just added PANTS. The ability to customize every measurement imaginable on a pair of pants is life-changing for someone who is just barely 5' 3''.
Bird, bird, bird.

Ok, back to my review. When it came to choose my piece, I was only overwhelmed in so far as I could not decide what to try. Top? Dress? Jacket? I perused the website and found some birds. Has anyone else noticed bird prints everywhere? I've been wondering for months if I'm bold enough for birds and can now confidently report that I am. 

I chose their standard size, included my height so the shirt wouldn't double as a dress, and got to customizing. My bird shirt was shown with cap sleeves, but I chose three-quarters from the eight sleeve-options available. I really just wanted to maximize the number of birds on my person. Go big bird or stay home.

Sadly, my bird shirt is no longer available, but there are several other adorable avian options like this tunic, this dress and this cute striped bird dress. If you choose a dress, there are four custom lengths from which to choose! Honestly, I may make this the summer of the bird and get the striped one. Or I may get this vintage chambray dress. Or perhaps continue my stripe-obsession with this sunny striped tunic. Too many [good] choices, with such short nap times to make them.

The quality of my bird shirt was a really nice surprise. You never know what's coming when you  order online, but the stitching is impeccable, the seams line up nicely, and there is no bunching or fraying. Overall, it looks much more expensive than the $40 they charge.
All nos for the office, but the biker bird look
on the right is a personal favorite of mine.

In my last post about my new life as a fashion blogger, I said I would wear my new shirt to work and casually stop by the cool kids area for an opinion. Well, I did. I tried on lots of different options and ended on, what I call, the "professional bird," because at the end of the day, my feathers don't lie. I'm a professional bird and if you're going to go bird at the office, the rest of you should compensate.
Then, I went to work and got so involved in the day's events that I FORGOT to swing by the twenty-somethings and mine for compliments. No worries, though. I don't need anyone else to reinforce my winged fashion decision. It's a good one.

I highly recommend trying this out. Spring is about here which makes justifying some new wardrobe pieces easy. eShakti is stylish, high quality, and affordable and until April 11th you get 10% off your order with the code justalittletart (clever, huh?). The small print is down below. What are you waiting for? Let me know what you love and go for!


Teeny Tiny Print:
Code has to be entered in the ‘promotional code’ box.   It is not case-sensitive.  
Code can be used any number of times until the validity period. 
It can be combined with any other promotional offer, gift coupon or gift card in the same order unless explicitly specified otherwise in the offer conditions.
This discount code is not applicable on clearance / sale, gift cards & overstock categories.
Not applicable on previous purchases

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Things You Shouldn't Leave At The Office.

Just this afternoon I arrived home from a day in San Francisco. A group of us traveled there on the prowl for great new flavors and ate at seven restaurants in just under six hours. It was not for the weak-of-stomach.

Before I left for this trip, I left my power cord at the office. While traveling, I stopped at two airport stores and even left a restaurant on the culinary tour to run across the street to a RadioShack (who knew those still exist?) to find a charge. Alas, Microsoft does not supply their cord to just any retailer so for 36 hours, I rationed my power like it was butter and WWII was raging.

A power cord sure is an annoying thing to leave at the office.

You know what else is? YOUR KIDS.

While I was away my husband managed (ie: parented) our children on his own. I arrived home much sooner than expected because another ice storm is upon Dallas and we moved our flight to a ridiculously early morning hour to beat it home.

Back in Dallas, I had time to go to the office, grab my power cord, check on a few things and then head home to see all my boys.

A few days a week, our little guys attend school at my husband's office. It's super convenient and has lots of perks since the parents are always milling around and can pop in at any time to see what's happening. Today was a school day.

At home, I puttered around waiting for them to arrive from work/school and assumed it was taking a bit longer because the storm was starting to whip up. I heard the garage door open and ran over to give my three-year-old a big hug. My husband walked in and my face dropped a little bit. I love him, but I wanted a three-year-old hug and squeal. I quickly there were no screams of, "Mommy! Mommy!" and no accompanying scamper.

"Where are they? Did you leave them in the car?" I asked.

My husband's face dropped and he said, "Oh my God. I left them at school."

I laughed and shoved around him to go get them out of the car.

"No, I'm serious," he said, "I totally forgot. I thought they were here with the nanny. This is my worst nightmare. Oh. My. God?"

"GO GET THEM NOW!" I screamed and off he went.

I'm not mad at my poor husband, who feels terribly guilty about the whole fiasco. In fact, I feel bad for him. As a mom, I know where my children are the same way I know when I'm hungry. It's just part of me. How do dads parent without the ability to feel their child like he or she is an extra appendage?

Bless all their hearts. And when you, Mom, are running through the streets of San Francisco, seeking out a power cord, remember that your children are a much, MUCH worse thing to leave back at the office.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What (Not?) To Wear.

I work to get dressed. While staying in your pajamas all day sure sounds luxurious, if I make it to 10am still clad in my sexy cotton pants and tee, I feel like a homeless person whose lost track of day and night. Sometimes this leads to drinking and my son's mention of mommy's early  morning wine-juice can probably only be recited once or twice at circle time before there's a knock at my door.

I don't go to the office to plan business strategy and come up with awesome marketing plans; I go so I have somewhere to wear my grown-up clothes. This is not a lighthearted, jest-filled statement. This is true. When I toy with moving on from my current job my first thoughts are, "But what would happen to my clothes? I'm not wearing pencil skirts to the playground! I'm not Stitch-fixin' for playdates!" Back to Powerpoint and positioning statements I go!

In recent years, I've taken a liking to fashion and hold dear the belief that they way you look at the office matters, especially if you're a woman. Look good, feel good, be perceived as great at your job and get that promotion! Trust me gals, it's easier when you don't fight it and makes shopping a career necessity. If you agree, read Memorandum. I adore everything she wears.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was struggling with my outfit. I'd decided the night before to wear a gray J.Crew dress from a few years back with some purple tights and be done with it. When I put it on I HATED IT. I felt like Oliver Twist. The dress itself was an itchy wool with a drop waist and tuxedo type ruffles at the top. It wasn't flattering.

I changed my shoes.

I put a collared shirt under the dress.

I changed the tights.

I added a necklace.

I tried a bracelet.

Uggggggg! Nothing was working and I was late so I chose the best of the worst: the dress, my original purple tights, and a long Stella and Dot pearl necklace. (By the way, no one is paying me to write this, I just really like this necklace.)

On the way to work, I vowed to donate the dress the next day. NEVER would it weigh me down again!

A few hours into the day, I had to go over to our social media command center and talk to the young women there. These girls are cool! They're young, hip, and still busy pinning their dream weddings instead of crock pot meals. One of them even has a degree in fashion design.

Before I could get my question out of my mouth, they were gushing over my outfit. "THAT is SO COOL!" they said, "I love that necklace...and those tights! Great color!" They may have even spoken in hashtag, I don't know, I was too flabbergasted, shocked, and bit proud to speak.

The cool kids liked my twists on Oliver Twist! I was so ecstatic that I took pics when I got home.

I still haven't decided if I'll throw it out, but, what started out as a what not to wear day, turned into a hip fashion day for me.

Around this same time, an online fashion retailer found my blog and asked if I'd review something for them. I almost responded, "You know like five people read my blog, right?" but instead wrote back, "Sure! Sounds fun." Let's all agree right now not to tell them about my imaginary readers, k?

My item for review arrives in the next few days and we know what the true test of cool will be: the social media girls. Stay tuned as I try to pair this item with other wardrobe pieces to maximize coolness and get the girls gushing again.

My fellow exhausted moms, with superhero stickers on your sweaters and dried lord-knows-what on your shoulders, I do this for you.