Consider yourselves warned

10/30/2012 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Bloggy, me | 9 Comments
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November is National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo, which I can never type without looking at each word spelled out). To participate, you have to publish a blog post every single day for the month.

I’m going to give it a shot.

Life has sort of been kicking my butt lately, so I’ve been a little absent here. But now I’m starting to climb out of the muck, and I want to write more. I love this space. It’s like my favorite room in the house — the one that keeps getting reinvented because I can never make up my mind on the paint color or the toss pillows on the couch.

Not to mention writing here is one of the best forms of therapy there ever was.

So I’m going to do more of it. In November, that is. And maybe the exercise will lead me to new places, help me open up and get real-er. (Another thing I love about blogging: using silly words without worrying about being edited.)

To thank you in advance for your patience with my NaBloPoMo-ing, here are some lovely pictures of Sophie taken by my pal Cary:

Want to join me?
(you can do it)

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Swell Stuff: Paige Puckett Pottery

10/25/2012 at 2:03 pm | Posted in Swell Stuff | 2 Comments
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Isn’t this beautiful?

A little while ago, I posted on Facebook about my pal Paige’s lovely pottery. And not long after that, Auntie Julie surprised me with this piece for my birthday. Clever girl, she is.

This photo doesn’t do the piece justice. The colors are really striking — all sorts of shades of blue — and it’s the perfect size for a gathering of friends. I can’t wait to fill it with chips and salsa.

Or maybe a pinwheel of bacon with chocolate sauce in the middle?

Endless possibilities, people.

Eight years ago today

10/23/2012 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Love | 7 Comments

Eight years ago.

Fresh-faced, excited, on the brink of something awesome.

Very much in love.

Still today.

Lucky me.

On this, the last day of the fair

10/21/2012 at 8:36 pm | Posted in About town, snap happy | 2 Comments
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Sophie’s hair smells of turkey leg smoke.

Lily hasn’t put down the stuffed fish she won.

And Marc and I are exhausted.

A fitting end to the State Fair, one of our favorite holidays of the year. Yes, a holiday. Because it’s just plain wonderful.

I went three times. Once for work (really). I sampled some of this year’s new deep-fried goods: cinnamon bun covered with glaze and bacon (good) and the deep-fried Girl Scout cookies (just okay). And my favorite meal remains a McBride’s corn dog with Al’s Fries of course. Although the “barbecue sundae” was tempting. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

We visited the animals, danced to bluegrass music in Heritage Circle and met a walking tree, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Until next year, State Fair. We’ll miss you!

Get Minted {giveaway}

10/18/2012 at 9:15 am | Posted in Bloggy | 70 Comments
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When Minted contacted me about sponsoring a giveaway, I just about fell out of my chair.

I adore Minted. Especially their holiday cards.

You can always tell it’s a Minted card before you even flip it over. Beautiful stock, unique designs, exceptional print quality. I know I sound like such a dork, but I loooooove paper. And these cards are the real deal.

Of course until at least one of our children is in kindergarten, we can’t splurge on holiday cards. So I always take advantage of an early-bird discount somewhere else and order as few cards as possible.

But not this year. Thanks to Minted, I’ll be able to dip my toes into the dreamy world of gorgeous holiday cards.

AND SO COULD YOU.

But first, just look at these. So lovely I can hardly stand it:

And this one almost makes me want to have another baby. Almost.

Now for the good stuff.

Minted wants to give one lucky reader a $100 credit + free shipping! (!!!!!!!!)

And you don’t have to spend it on holiday cards. Minted makes beautiful stationery, invitations, you name it. To enter this giveaway, just visit Minted and leave a comment below.

For an extra entry, Tweet about the giveaway with something like this (and be sure to leave an extra comment below):

Just in time for holiday cards! Enter the $100 @Minted giveaway at @pretty_swell: http://bit.ly/QwmFwG

The winner will be announced Monday. Good luck!

I received promotional consideration from Minted for this post, but the content is all my own. Especially the spazzing over gorgeous stationery. Yup. All me.

***Our winner is Joanna O! Congratulations, lucky lady!***

On being smothered

10/16/2012 at 3:17 pm | Posted in Motherhood | 41 Comments

One day last week when Marc came home from work, I snuck upstairs to grab a quick shower and steal some precious time to myself. You know, to sit on the toilet without an infant crawling into my lap or a four-year-old telling me I really need to buy some new underwear.

When I walked back downstairs EXACTLY 19 MINUTES LATER, Lily barked at me “Mommy, what took you so long?”

I almost kept walking straight out the front door.

I know I’m not the only mother in the world who longs for her freedom, and I know I made a choice to hand it over in exchange for the biggest blessings of my life. I made a choice — with my partner — to bring children into this world and raise them to be the best possible people they can be. I made a choice to embrace motherhood and all that it brings, good and bad. To have little human beings on or near me almost every hour of the day.

We are blessed with health, a home, loving families, wonderful friends and neighbors, fulfilling jobs. A happy life.

But as glorious and gratifying as motherhood can be, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long for more. For space. For room to breathe. For time to just be me.

In those moments when Sophie is shrieking at me to move faster, to bring her something right this minute, to pick her up, I feel smothered. When she tries to cram herself between me and a hot stove at dinner time, clinging to my legs and bellowing at me, despite her dad’s best efforts to retain her attention in the playroom, I want to cry. And it’s exasperating when Lily makes yet another demand of me at the exact moment that I’m finishing doing something else for her. Will I ever be enough? Will I ever not feel suffocated?

Those moments layer on top of one another until my head and heart are begging for mercy.

And sometimes I snap.

On Sunday evening, Lily had just shoved her sister yet again, and Sophie was grabbing at every single toy Lily wanted to play with, and both of them were crying. I took a step toward them, realized I was about to yell, turned on my heel and walked out the door.

In that moment, I knew I couldn’t take another single piece of shit flying in my face. I knew my husband was right there and my girls were safe.

I just walked to the end of the street and back. And in those six minutes, I gained perspective. Nothing earth-shattering. Just listening to the bugs and the sound of my feet on the pavement and breathing fresh dusky air. I felt like the star of a bad Lifetime movie huffing down the street, but man did it help.

Was that weakness? Or self-preservation? Or just plain selfishness? I don’t know.

I walked back into the house and everyone was playing happily like Mommy hadn’t just lost her cool. Marc didn’t mention it later that night, in a nod to the beautiful unspoken code of co-parenting.

And the next day was easier. Because that’s how the universe seems to work when you’re a mom. It throws us those few glorious days that make up for the eighty bajillion bad ones.

I just wish I could figure out how to make peace with the loss of freedom that comes with motherhood. Four and a half years after the birth of my first child, I’m still grieving. And this makes me feel terribly guilty and unworthy.

But I need freedom. Or at least some semblance of it.

During the depth of my postpartum depression one of my doctors told me “you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can put it on your children.” I’ll never forget that advice. Because without air to breathe, how can we help our kids? How can we be the best possible mothers for them if we can’t help ourselves?

That makes perfect sense, right? So why does it feel so horrible to want a little more oxygen?

Psst … over here!

10/15/2012 at 2:49 pm | Posted in About town, videos | 8 Comments

You know how much I love the North Carolina State Fair.

Now you can see (and hear) it for yourself.

I love this video for two reasons:

1. I talk mostly about food.

2. I talk so much that I got edited. On a live video. Because I’m so freaking talky. Ask me a question and wheee there she goes …

If you’re local to the Triangle and haven’t yet discovered Go Ask Mom, you must check it out! This site is one of my go-to sources for kids’ events and activities, consignment sales, craft projects … and soon enough, summer camps. Sarah Hall, who runs the site, is just lovely. And she has two young children, so she knows her stuff (and thank goodness for us, she shares it all on Go Ask Mom).

So. My 15 minutes of fame. Deep-fried, of course.

Making you proud!

So much more than just milk {giveaway!}

10/11/2012 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Bloggy | 10 Comments
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Thank you Smart Balance Kids for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for healthful eating tips & tricks, recipes, coupons and more!

Marc and I are very careful about what goes into our girls’ bellies. Especially when it comes to meat and dairy. Our food dollars are tight (the grocery bill surprises me every single week), but we try hard to buy hormone-free, pasture-raised, organic, you name it.

That’s why I’m super excited about a new line of milk products for kids from Smart Balance. There are three varieties, aptly named Smart Balance Kids Milk, but I think Smart Balance Kids Milk Filled With Lots of Extra Good Stuff also would work.

All three varieties are free of artificial growth hormones (WIN), and they contain calcium and extra vitamin D to support strong bones; as well as DHA and EPA omega-3s to help support brain and heart health (WIN-WIN-WIN).

We tried out the whole milk, for kids 12-24 months old, which also contains iron and prebiotics to aid digestion. As the mother of a baby with pretty regular tummy issues, I LOVE THIS.

Sophie does too:

And she really wants to share a sip with you guys:

Lily gladly sampled the Smart Balance Kids Chocolate Low Fat Milk and loved it. Geared for kids ages two and up, it’s loaded with all sorts of good stuff, like DHA & EPA omega-3s, calcium, vitamin D and antioxidant vitamins C and E. The reduced fat white milk also has all of these added nutrients.

The Kids Milks just launched and are currently available at all Harris Teeter grocery stores in North Carolina. Every time I’ve shopped at the Teeter over the past couple of weeks, the register spit out $1 and $2 coupons for the new milks. Sweet.

Want to give Smart Balance Kids Milks a try? Win THREE containers of Smart Balance Kids Milk by leaving a comment below telling us your all-time favorite thing to eat with a cold glass of milk.

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post and was given vouchers for Smart Balance Kids Milk to review. My opinions are always honest. This giveaway ends on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 12:01 a.m. Also? I sneak glasses of Lily’s chocolate milk. Don’t tell.

*** Kristin is our winner! Thanks for playing! ***

Afternoon in the neighborhood

10/11/2012 at 9:20 am | Posted in baby sunshine, Small Fry | Leave a comment

The latest from our friend Cary, who has such a knack for capturing the girls in their element:

What I wore (to work) Wednesday

10/10/2012 at 1:06 pm | Posted in look good feel good | 9 Comments

It’s back! WIWW!

Horrible fluorescent lighting, fuzzy iPhone photos, the “I’m smiling at myself in a mirror” grimace. I know you’ve missed that face.

And let’s just go ahead and state the obvious: I need a hair style. This pull-it-into-a-bun-every-single-day strategy leaves little to be desired. But the clothes? I’m wiggling outside my comfort zone, you guys! In fact I’m wearing bright orange cords today with a top THAT ISN’T MATCHY.

Progress, friends. Slow and steady.

Here are some recent outfits, brought to you (with much gratitude) by birthday money and gift cards …

Say hello once again to the trusty red pants. I think I wore them every other day all summer. But this particular outfit hints at change, and that’s why I love it.

I have never, ever paired red and leopard print. In fact, I’ve owned those flats for YEARS and hardly ever worn them. Because I’m afraid I’ll stick out. Or I’ll get it wrong. But that totally defeats the purpose of owning animal-print shoes, right?

And I adore this new stripey top, mostly for the cool zipper detail at the neckline:

top :: loft
capris :: loft
flats :: bandolino
necklace :: banana republic outlet

Helloooo wallpaper. Wouldn’t that print be awesome on a pair of pants? Okay. Maybe not.

It’s hard to tell, but this outfit actually has more color than the photo lets on. The skinnies are eggplant, and the necklace has canary yellow beads. I’m thinking a bright cardigan would work better next time, though. My metallic flats are an old standby from a few seasons ago. They’re as comfy as slippers, and they actually look better as they age.

top :: loft
cardigan :: target
skinnies :: loft
flats :: gap
bag :: urban outfitters

Disclaimer: I took the following photo at the end of the day. Hence the crumpled shirt and tired eyes. But still. The yellow is cute, right? It has little button detail on the sleeves so you can wear them up or down. And here’s my birthday necklace in action!

top :: loft
skinnies :: loft
flats :: gap
necklace :: anthropologie

One of my favorite fashion bloggers recently asked on Facebook how people felt about wearing the same clothes more than once. I have to admit, I almost un-followed her on the spot. Because really? How can real people afford not to wear the same stuff over and over again? Part of the fun, after all, is mixing up those pieces in new and different ways.

So it’s no surprise that the same cords and flats make more than one appearance in this post. Otherwise, I’d have to go naked. And it’s getting too chilly for that.

pleated poppy

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