In My House

A Few Favorites

I don’t do much shopping, but I like to share some of my favorite things. There’s no theme this time, but here are six of my favorite recent purchases. This is a little more fun than posting my grocery list.

Fall

1. This might be the last year I get to select my youngest daughter’s Halloween costume without her feedback. So an adorable, fluffy snow owl it is! (Target) 2. Just try to challenge me to a game of Golden Girls Trivial Pursuit. Always Fits is my new favorite web site for fun, quirky gifts. (Always Fits) 3. This black bomber jacket has been my favorite item to transition into the chillier months. (Gap) 4. I started purchasing some products from The Honest Company because my youngest daughter has extremely sensitive skin. I selected this mascara on a whim as an add-on product with my last shipment. The primer adds length and the mascara has a great consistency. It stays put all day, but comes off easily with a cosmetic wipe. (The Honest Company) 5. I actually haven’t purchased this super cute rug yet, but I have been eyeing it. I love October! (Pier 1) 6. After years of aggressively ripping a brush through my super thick wet hair I heard about Wet Brush and decided to give it a try. I love this brush! (Wet Brush)

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In My House

Is Every Cast Member from The Hills Promoting Hello Fresh? Weird.

For whatever reason (crazy work schedule, motherhood, trying to be a Metallica groupie) I have been absent from the blog for a while. During that time, it seems that nearly every cast member of MTV’s decade-old hit reality show The Hills has started promoting meal-kit delivery services. Furthermore, it seems that Facebook’s has unveiled a new algorithm with the sole purpose of flooding my feed with these meal-kit ads despite the fact that I have never ordered one, expressed interest in them on social media, or otherwise “liked” them.

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Photo by Tayhart Photography

First I scrolled by Lauren Conrad in a cute pink peasant top in her perfectly spotless (read: unused) white and stainless steel kitchen happily unpacking a Hello Fresh box. Not 24-hours later, I scrolled past Lo. (You’re asking yourself “who?” and I did, too, but I’d recognize that silly name and deer-in-the-headlights facial expression anywhere.) Lo from The Hills. What? Really?

If you’re Hello Fresh, you really have to ask yourself: If Lauren Conrad is promoting your product do you also really need Lo promoting it, too? That’s like getting Stephen Curry to promote your new line of high-end athletic supporters and then also signing the guy who serves Gatorade to the Golden State Warriors to do a later-aired ad for the same product. You like that sports reference? That’s basically just to impress my husband in case he ever breaks away from his Fantasy Football line-up or ESPN.com and reads this blog.

I am not saying I have anything against meal-kit delivery services. I might even be willing to try one someday. I just think some of these advertising choices are a little bizarre, and trying to convince me that Lauren Conrad’s busy schedule as a mom, designer, or whatever you call her, is anything like my life or the lives of the other real-life working moms I know just doesn’t work.

Real-life working moms don’t cook in gorgeously clean kitchens while wearing adorable pink peasant tops. They cook in kitchens with appliances smudged with tiny finger prints, while still in a pencil skirt from the office, but in a Fleetwood Mac shirt with no bra because their toddlers are begging for snacks before they can completely change out of their work clothes.

I haven’t been on Facebook for a few hours, but I can almost guarantee that when I do, something special will be waiting in my feed. It will be Spencer and Heidi standing in a pristine kitchen, unpacking a cardboard box and talking about how Hello Fresh saves them so much time in their packed schedules of juice cleanses, plastic surgery consults, and anal-bleaching appointments.

Adventures

Elements of a Strategically Organized Trip to Build-a-Bear

Last month on our girls’ trip to Phoenix, my lovely bestie had the idea to take our daughters to Build-a-Bear Workshop at a nearby mall. Mind you, this was during Build-a-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” campaign so the place was busy. Couple that fact with the endless decisions to be made (princess or ballerina outfit? cupcake-scented or strawberry-scented? bear’s name?) and it could get intense. A strategically organized game plan was the only thing that would help us get out alive.

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Here are the tactics we employed.

INTELL: Prior to the voyage, my bestie and I conducted a high-stakes intelligence gathering summit which involved the two of us meeting in the hotel room bathroom while our girls played Enchantimals in the other room. We sat on the edge of the tub and scrolled through data on our phones obtaining such critical knowledge as mall hours of operation, Build-a-Bear pricing, and, perhaps most importantly, the nearest location for us to get post-shopping margaritas.

UNIFICATION: This being my first trip to Build-a-Bear I was horrified to discover that children can have their bear equipped with a voice and even have them sing specific annoying pop songs. We agreed that under no circumstances would we be allowing either of the girls to select this option. We would remain firm, strong, and united. If you allow one of them to elect the bear-voice option, you have to allow both of them to, and then the terrorists have won.

FISCAL CONSERVATION: Although the “Pay Your Age” campaign meant each bear only cost a few dollars, the abundance of accessory choices makes staying on budget a true challenge. Just so we didn’t wind up having to take out a second mortgage on our homes after buying light-up fairy wings and a red convertible for stuffed animals, we made a budget. Each girl got a bear, an outfit, a brush, and a toy hair dryer for the bear. Still sounds ridiculous, but I was happy when my daughter’s bill came to less than $50.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT: As you might imagine, little girls can be horribly indecisive when presented with thousands of teddy bear clothing options. I thought I was home free when my daughter finally decided her bear would be a ballerina, only to find there were at least six different bear tutus from which to choose. Just when I was about to tear my hair out from the agony of a four-year-old’s decision making, a little pep talk from my bestie put me right back in the game.

EXIT STRATEGY: The bear is selected, stuffed, dressed, and beautifully accessorized. Time to leave, right? Not just yet. Now your child gets to use a computer to name her bear and print a birth certificate. The concept is at the same time adorably sweet and mentally draining. I could sense frustration mounting as my friend’s daughter struggled to choose the perfect name for her bear. I intervened, throwing out as many cute names I could think of at the time all while easing my own daughter to the door. She named the bear Sprinkles, printed the certificate, we paid, and we left, the sweet sight of the mall’s Mexican restaurant (there are margaritas there) in our crosshairs. Victory is ours.

 

In My House

Black Hills Summer Photo Session

I’m finally getting around to sharing the photos from our session last month with Tayhart Photography. Tarin is so talented! My littlest one was not the best participant, but the pictures portray her as the angel she (usually) is.

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I love how Tarin captured the real “us.” She incorporated our love of reading to the girls. She photographed my youngest’s seriousness and curiosity and my oldest’s fun-loving spirit.

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Tarin is a mom of six and so she had no trouble at all making my little ones feel at ease. I love outdoor photos in the beautiful Black Hills. While these were taken a few miles from our house, the images truly look like the landscape of our own backyard.

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Tarin’s attention to detail is impeccable. Her turn-around time is also super quick, which was great because I was chomping at the bit to see the images she captured. Thank you, Tarin for capturing our little family and the beautiful region where we live.

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All photos by Tayhart Photography.

Books

Books: The Great Believers

I first heard about The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on NPR’s Here & Now with Robin Young. I was instantly moved by Makkai’s passion for telling stories of the 1980s AIDS crisis and her commitment to conducting solid research as she wrote the novel.

I pre-ordered the book on my Kindle and immediately dove into it when it was released late last month. It is the best book I have read this year, maybe the best in a long time. The characters were relatable and the view of this piece of history both moving and educational.

While writing and researching, Makkai spent time in an abandoned hospital that had been site of an AIDS ward during the early days of the epidemic. This dedication to really feeling what her characters must have gone through is apparent in her beautiful, yet hard-to-swallow writing. In one very moving scene, Makkai has the protagonist visit his ex-boyfriend on his death bed, having gone blind and unaware that his estranged ex was there. In one last, loving move, the protagonist uses a small sponge to provide water to the dying man.

Amidst tragedy, the agony of awaiting test results, and the other events of the day, Makkai creates a story filled with hope for the future. Hope for a cure. Hope for a world where we care for one another no matter what.

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(Image from amazon.com)

In My House

Four!

I feel like it is nearly impossible for a parent to talk about his or her child’s birthdays without also commenting on how quickly time flies. It really feels like just yesterday we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s first, second, and third birthday parties, all at the beloved children’ park Storybook Island. We returned to that perfect venue this past weekend to celebrate her fourth birthday, this time renting the birthday house, which provided a great spot for cake and presents with tons of fun playground equipment right outside the door.

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This year’s theme was unicorns.

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My girl and her grandma planned the cake months ago. It was a tie-dyed unicorn filled with candy.

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Sugar overload ensued, but, hey, she only turns four once, right?

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She’s a big girl now, but I love that she is still little enough to fall fast asleep in the car on the drive home from her party.

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Happy birthday to our sweet, sociable, fun-loving girl. We are excited to see what the next year brings!

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Adventures

Girls’ Weekend: Phoenix

I was aching for some time with my bestie, who lives far, far away, so when we had the idea to meet up in the desert for a weekend of relaxation, it seemed to be the perfect plan. Because her daughter and my oldest daughter have birthdays within two days of each other, it also seemed like a great idea to take them along to celebrate their seventh and fourth birthdays, respectfully. The weekend was divine.

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Yes, it was Phoenix in July. Yes, it was more than 100 degrees out the entire time we were there, but since pool time was the number one item on the agenda, the heat was fine with us. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass. The resort caters to families, but also has plenty for the adults, including great food and yummy margaritas. S’mores night was also a hit among all four of us.

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We took a jewelry-making class, a canvas-painting class, and a class on dream catchers, all included in our resort fee. Another major highlight for all four of us was movie night in the pool. The service was impeccable and every time we turned around the girls were being treated to free smoothies or a decadent slice of birthday cake. We dined at Ko’Sin several times and the chipotle beignets and quinoa breakfast bowl were absolutely stellar.

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The best thing about the resort was that everything we needed to enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled weekend was right on-site. Aside from a morning at a local mall for a Build-a-Bear and ear-piercing outing, we stayed put and enjoyed everything the resort had to offer. The quality time and watching our daughters get to know one another was so special and I can’t wait to do it all again!