Happiness is: the Anthropologie birthday discount

09/28/2012 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Happiness is | 5 Comments
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Look what arrived!!!

One of my favorite little pieces of mail every year.

And I actually spent it on time! On this:

What do you think?

I love it and have already worn it twice in one week. Sophie also wanted me to tell you it tastes yummy.

(These birthday cards get more and more clever each year … here are 2011, 2010 and 2009).

Family photos! And no one's crying or grimacing!

09/27/2012 at 9:47 am | Posted in family, Friends | 10 Comments

I haven’t stopped staring at these photos since my friend Ann sent them to me a couple of days ago. I may have taken breaks to eat and sleep and work, but mostly, just staring.

Aren’t they beautiful? Just look at the girls. And even though Sophie wouldn’t smile if all the yogurt puffs in the world depended on it, these shots capture her little (big) personality so perfectly.

Now. To decide which ones to hang. All of them? Too much?

THANK YOU, Ann!! You are so very talented. We’re happy to be your guinea pigs anytime.

The giveaway of my dreams: NC State Fair prize pack

09/25/2012 at 10:18 am | Posted in About town, Bloggy | 55 Comments
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So it’s no secret around these parts that I’m cuckoo for the North Carolina State Fair. Nothing will ever beat serving as the fair’s first Deep-Fried Ambassador.

Well, except for motherhood. Maybe.


But really. I love me some State Fair. Especially when it’s dipped in batter, deep fried and served on a stick.

Seeing the fair through Lily’s eyes over the last few years has made it even more magical. And this year Sophie will get to tear it up. (Consider yourselves warned, farm animals.)

I love it all. Food, animals, rides, games, history, crafts, competitions, concerts, agriculture, culture period. I’ll never forget my corn dog epiphany. Or that one time I shot a rifle.

The Deputy and I are gearing up for our annual visit, this year with two little ones in tow. Should be quite the scene. I’ll also probably go back five or six or twenty more times that week. Because I can never get enough.

So you can imagine how stoked I am that the State Fair wants to share the love WITH YOU through the best giveaway in the history of internet giveaways ever.

Check out what’s up for grabs:

>> 4 admission tickets to the North Carolina State Fair
>> 4 ride books (with a coupon for 2 rides in each book)
>> 4 t-shirts (S, M, L, XL)
>> 4 stickers


To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling us your all-time favorite thing to do (or eat) at the State Fair.

And for an extra chance to win, you can tweet about this giveaway:

Bring on the fry oil … @pretty_swell wants to send you to the @NCStateFair! Enter to win a deep-fried prize pack: http://bit.ly/OS5x9n

If you choose to tweet, please leave a separate comment below so it counts as an extra entry. This giveaway ends at noon on Monday, Oct. 1. And be sure to stay tuned to NC State Fair happenings through their Deep-Fried blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Hope to see you there!!

(I’ll be the one wrestling my kid for the last bite of deep-fried Snickers bar.)

**Congratulations to our winner, Julie L!! Enjoy the fair!**

Mighty Monroe

09/21/2012 at 2:03 pm | Posted in Bloggy, family | 2 Comments

I am so completely smitten with my new nephew that I find it only fitting to send us off into the weekend with a few more Monroe photos. I can’t go three days without snuggling this guy. And my sister? Amazing and beautiful. And totally rocking the boy-diaper-change routine.

Happy weekend to you!

Don’t forget: our Great Lovey Giveaway with North American Bear Company ends at midnight! THREE winners will receive the lovey of your choice.

And for my local readers, you will LOVE the giveaway coming up next week. Here’s a hint.

Eeeeeeeeeee! See you next week!!

The great lovey giveaway!

09/18/2012 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Bloggy | 1 Comment

To celebrate the birth of little mister Monroe, I’ve teamed with North American Bear Company to give YOU presents!

Because new baby! Presents! They just go hand in hand, right?

Our family adores North American Bear. When they first approached me to review their products before Sophie was born, the letter was thoughtfully written by someone who had actually read my blog. Not like the crazy pitches I usually get. I’m talking to you, plastic surgery weirdos.

North American Bear was a generous sponsor of our Love to Zaria fundraiser, and above all, is a friend to our little family.

Lily thinks Sam “from the toy workshop” is her very own fairy godmother. Remember the arrival of Princess last year? And Duckie the Elephant still holds prime real estate in Lily’s bed.

This company makes good toys. Period. They’re beautifully crafted, durable and adorable. And they won’t break the bank.

North American Bear just introduced some fun new products, and they want to share the love with you! My favorites? The Wizard of Oz characters, which Lily artfully arranges on her bed after every sleep. Dorothy has gone MIA, but the hunt continues. Behold the process:

And Sophie carrying this little cupcake purse is just too much. She hikes it way up on her shoulder and parades around the house with her arm straight up in the air. Of course every photo I took is blurry. But you can picture it, right? Baby is big stuff.

Sooooo … here’s the giveaway part. THREE lucky readers will each win a product of their choice from the “What’s New?” category of the North American Bear Company website.

I’m trying Rafflecopter this time, to make things easier for you guys. Just click on “log in” below, leave your name and email address (email addresses will be hidden, like always), and then click on the options you want to do. The only requirement for entry is to leave a comment in Rafflecopter telling us about your all-time favorite lovey. Or, you can log in through Facebook if you want. Easy peasy. I hope.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were given an assortment of new products by North American Bear Co. to review. I received no compensation for my opinions. Which are always my own. And are always honest. Also? My favorite lovey of all time is Teddy, who is missing his nose and has “stitches” up his middle and lives with the menagerie in Lily’s bed.

Our winners are: Amber K., Jenny B. and Brandi B. Congratulations, lucky ladies!


09/16/2012 at 9:42 pm | Posted in me | 5 Comments

You’ve been good to me so far, 37. But I’m going to need some time to get used to you.

You see, you scare me a little bit. You’re awfully close to 40. And some days I still feel like an awkward teenager fumbling my way through this world.

But this birthday weekend was awesome. It started with a pizza date with my sweet family and ended with Monroe snuggles. (And somewhere in the middle, a certain someone eating her way through the Greek Festival. A girl’s gotta celebrate.)

Not bad, 37. Not bad.

Here’s to hoping for even more happiness in this new year.

Little Mister Monroe

09/14/2012 at 1:19 pm | Posted in family, Love | 6 Comments

I have a nephew! Isn’t he beautiful?

Laura gave birth to Monroe Albert (named for our dad) yesterday morning. He was 7 pounds and 6 ounces and I don’t know how many inches long.

He is a total dreamboat. I could have held him all day.

And I can’t tell you how much I am IN AWE of my sister, who was informed (at 5+ cm dilated) that she would not be able to have an epidural because of a low blood platelet count or something like that. I just can’t even imagine how it would feel to have the tables turned on you so dramatically at the very last minute. She is a warrior, indeed.

Here are the beaming new parents, with lovely little Monroe:

And here I am, one smitten auntie:

Congratulations to my little sis and her sweet family! We’re over the moon!

More photos coming soon …

Still can't believe this happened

09/13/2012 at 2:05 pm | Posted in me | 11 Comments

I was driving along the interstate yesterday, on my way to a working moms’ luncheon in Cary, when out of nowhere a car came flying up beside me. The driver tapped on the horn to get my attention, as if I’d forgotten something on the top of the car or left my gas tank open (both of which have happened, natch).

So I looked over, expecting to see someone pointing or waving. Or maybe it’s someone I know, I thought with a smile.

Instead, I got this:

A very angry man, who, once he had my attention, effusively flipped me the bird, laid on his horn and seemed to be yelling at me. Then he accelerated off in a fit, flying across two lanes of traffic.


I wasn’t holding up traffic. I wasn’t speeding. I certainly wasn’t causing any trouble. In fact, I was hanging out in the right lane, just above the speed limit, getting ready to exit. And he hadn’t been tailgating me or anything. Just came up beside me out of nowhere.

So, why the rage?

Then it hit me.

The campaign bumper sticker on the back of my car.


I’m still rattled by the whole thing. If people are crazy enough — filled with enough venom — to accost me on a highway over a five-inch sticker on my back window, I can’t imagine what else could happen. What if my kids had been in the car with me? What if he swerved too close and hit us? Or jammed on his brakes in front of me, causing a horrible accident? Or worse?

I woke this morning with a pit still in my stomach. So after I packed the girls into the car for school, I walked around back and peeled off that sticker.

Not because I’m a wimp. Not because I believe any less in my candidate. But because I have no interest in being a target for strangers’ rage and putting my family at risk.

And that sucks.

But I can tell you this: on Election Day, my vote is my vote.

And no one can take that away from me.

Happiness is: my momma necklace

09/12/2012 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Happiness is | Leave a comment

It’s finally complete!

Laura gave me this necklace just after Lily was born. I love it … the little bird, the purple pendant and especially the “l” charm. After Sophie arrived, I kept meaning to add her initial. Of course that little task took more than a year.

But finally. Here it is.


Parenting a four-year-old-going-on-thirteen

09/11/2012 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Motherhood | 16 Comments

I need to write about Lily.

It’s hard being the best mom I can be for her. Really hard.

You know from reading here that she is an awesome kid. Kind, smart, clever, funny, beautiful in countless ways. She owns my heart.

But she’s also a four-year-old.

Which makes it very difficult to figure out how the heck to be a good parent. Most of my mom-fail moments involve Lily. Like when she demands my time, my attention, for me to turn on the TV right this minute. She doesn’t care that I’m up to my elbows in baby poop. Or that Sophie is wailing so loudly that I can’t hear the little dictator bellowing at me from the other room. So I snap. And then I hate myself.

In her four-year-old mind, the entire universe revolves around her. Her wants, her needs. It’s like egocentrism on steroids. I understand that this is how little kids’ brains work. The trouble is, I can’t maintain that perspective in the heat of the moment.

And then there’s all the extra drama. The girl-ness, which no matter how feminist I am, I realize is a simple truth. Girls are wired uniquely. I get that now. I used to believe it was all societal influence, but it’s not. Lily cries over every single little thing. The tantrums can be epic, especially when I ask her (in as kind a voice as I can muster) to take some time in her room to calm down. Despite my best efforts to instill a “brush it off” mentality, she continues to cry. And to gasp at every injustice, such as when Sophie picks up one of her favorite dolls. She becomes frustrated easily and seems overwhelmed by her emotions. Where to put them, how to make them less big.

The thing is, I’ve been there.

And my parents are probably enjoying a little chuckle at the karma. I was (am?) the overly emotional big sister, complete with manic mood swings and an inflated sense of justice. So my empathy for Lily is overwhelming at times. I remember how it feels to have a pain-in-the-butt little sister (sorry Laura) and how it seemed she got away with murder just because she was the baby. So sometimes I indulge Lily’s tears. I hold her and ask her to talk to me and help her feel heard. She needs that. But not every time.

Thus, my dilemma: How do I walk that line? How do I stay calm when she seems to know exactly how to push my every button? How do I parent with my heart when she hurts my feelings, or when the whining and sassing become like nails on a chalkboard?

And she hasn’t even screamed “I hate you” yet. I dread that rite of passage.

I start each day with a silent promise to Lily of patience and kindness. I smother her with hugs and kisses when she wakes. We start fresh. We try.

And each day has its tender moments, too. The tiny bits of love and sweetness and her breath on my cheek that erase all the hard stuff.

She is mine, I am hers. Always.

A good friend told me that age five is easier. And I’ve heard from other moms that ages six and seven can bring even more mellowing. Please let this be true.

Because we’re both going to need a break before puberty hits.

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