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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Great Egg-Spectations


I don't remember what I ever got for Easter! I've tried really hard the past few days to think back and try to recall what the Bunny ever brought me in my basket that was a toy. I'm not trying to disrespect the Easter Bunny.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Little Cup of Green Magic!!!

This morning I woke up still feeling the aftermath of a cold that was kindly passed around by the Lil' Fella. I felt groggy, tired, congested and for some reason could only think of ONE thing that could turn this around; my favorite smoothie from my favorite smoothie shop in Marietta.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Let's Live in the Mountains!!!


The sky was so dark and the air crisp. Chilly yes, but not enough to make me want to run inside. The air was fresh and clean and it felt good to be out in it.  We were taking the dog out one last time and I looked up to the sky and saw something so magical. Thousands and THOUSANDS of stars. I had wanted to call the Hubs and tell him how amazing this was but I was greeted by two unfamiliar words when I looked at my phone; NO SERVICE.  My immediate reaction was a little panic but then I decided to just embrace it...this was disconnecting. I had no choice but to just enjoy the company of my friend and just stare at the night sky. Yes! This is what is meant by enjoying the free treasures around you...being so far removed that you could see every constellation (if I knew them of course) and just listening to the silence that can only be heard when you're in the middle of nowhere on top of  a mountain. Nothing but the trickling sound of the stream that was near by. My soul was nourished.



I drove up, down, over, around, and through mountains last week. At one point I wondered if I was ever going to reach my destination. Not because it was a long drive (about 3 hours from Atlanta), but the uncertainty that comes with weaving through unfamiliar roads while trying to sneak a peek at your google maps to make sure you didn't make a serious wrong turn.  I was on my way to see one of my oldest friends and play some catch up! It was long overdue.

And I did make it, and it was glorious. I finally rounded the bend and was greeted by the charming town of Brevard, NC. Brevard is this fantastic mountain town near Asheville, NC with a population of roughly 7,600 people. In the summer I  am told it becomes a frenzy for outdoor enthusiasts and the population grows largely for a few months. They have it all; rafting, hiking, falls, fly fishing, biking, camping, etc...all with a charming small town feel.



Living in Atlanta over the last year I have become a little obsessed (okay, ALOT) with finding places for us to go for a weekend or even a day. Somewhere that gives us all (kids and adults alike) something we enjoy.  This is the direction I think this blog is heading because it is challenging and fun to find new things to do with your family. We are lucky enough that we could drive in a variety of directions and be somewhere new in a few hours (mountains, beach, etc..) I am researching when I'll be taking my boys here. It will happen.

I could categorize the average Brevardian into three segments; retired yet awesomely active; young, hippie who loves the mountains and chose Brevard over Boulder, or young hipster people who love the outdoors and probably largely shop at REI and The North Face. And I loved it! Fresh air, an old friend, and what appeared to be amazing food and beer choices greeted me. I scored on all levels. It was a great day.
 
Within an hour we had decided to take a quick hike as the day was passing us by quickly. We drove down to a spot in Pisgah National Forest and this is what I was greeted by ten minutes into our hike.....cue the Hallelujah chorus:

 
No lie I could have stared at this for an hour. The sound was so relaxing and the water looked crystal enough you could have a drink with no repercussions. Next time I intend to do a much more intense hike because you walk past a ton of falls like this and the streams are insane. A few more pics so you can understand....
 

 
 
Next up, beer! My friend directed my driving and I wondered where the heck she was taking us. We pulled up to what can only be described as an old factory that certainly used to manufacture something of great importance back in the day. But alas, it was the Oskar Blues Brewery. This is not your typical brewery because you walk in expecting the usual tour and taste and Voila...there is a taproom upstairs. We settled in and decided to share a tasting and then a pint. Oskar Blues sells a nice variety of beers; pilsners, stouts, scotch ale, and a host of IPA's.  In case you don't know, the South is booming with local breweries. It's pretty awesome. I became acquainted with the Pilsner and was nothing short of impressed of this operation. My total bill for a tasting and a pint was $13 with tip so I knew I had found something special.  (as with most towns I visit I reminded myself to look up real estate later..it's a habit I can't help)


 
 
By the time we finished up at Oskar's it was time for dinner so we headed to Marco Trattoria. The restaurant looks like an old house and feels like a cozy place you'd certainly dine at if you were staying at a lodge. A little more of that charm in Brevard. The food was RIDICULOUSLY awesome! I had the Marco Salad (Arugula with x virgin olive oil, red sea salt, grilled lemon and goat cheese crostini ) and Mussels that were to die. We shared a crazy good cheese plate (like real big hunks of AMAZING cheese..no skimping), a carafe of wine and I got to try my friends' Wood Fired Pizza; The Bianca (ricotta cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary and grapes) Interesting combo but shockingly delicious. Not to mention, the menu is so cheap. I could most definitely take my kid there and feel like they had something for all of us.
 
 
For those that are in the Atlanta area, Brevard is a great retreat away from everyday life and perfect for a family outing.  For those that live a bit further away I can't imagine a better place for a great family vacation (and please invite us).  Visiting towns like Brevard leave me with only one thought.....
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Something to talk about....



I have so many things I want to talk about right now...but the last few days have left me little time to properly collect my thoughts. I am working on that right now..collecting my thoughts.

I want to talk about an amazing day/night I spent with an old friend recently and the discoveries I made along the way.....

I want to talk about how I had the most perfect weekend, not just because the weather was just shy of feeling like summer (although boy did that help), but because I spent it getting to know new friends, doing silly things around the house like spray painting patio furniture, running errands and having little moments where I stopped myself to reflect on how crazy in love I get with my kid and my husband. How lucky we are to be together.

I want to talk about how a smoothie can turn my day around, how too many beers can turn it in the other direction, about how cute my kid looked in green pants this weekend. Too much going on in this head of mine right now. So I'm goinng to just go to sleep and peacefully know I'll get to it eventually.

Xoxox

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adventure Awaits...

 
 
The sound of the music pumping through my car, cranked loudly. The windows rolled down on a crisp morning. A hot cup of coffee in my other hand. The possibilities that await when you are traveling somewhere new or just beloved. I crave it, love it, and appreciate it. I don't need to be going far...a couple of hours is just fine. To see an old friend who I've known for decades. We can always find fun things to do or to see. No plans need to be made. Just get out and discover something...a hike, a waterfall, share a beer. It doesn't matter because it's just about getting out. What will you discover this weekend?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quest for Time Management?

 Just when you need it most you'll read a quote or hear a song that gives you the clarity that you were searching for in that exact moment. It always amazes me how one phrase can make you say "Yes! That's exactly right! Thank you".

 I've listened to the song "Lucky Man" by Montgomery Gentry on repeat lately. If you don't enjoy country music I wish you did. I love old country music so much and find it so comforting. I also love this band because I swear every song packs a great message about life. This song, in particular, has a great message and it found its way perfectly into my shuffle at the right time...it was exactly what I needed to hear. Take a listen..HERE

A shift within myself has occurred over the last few years. The older I get the more I give real thought and consideration to things before making a decision. Crazy I know...thinking before acting? Woah! What a concept. However, these same decisions, had I been 26, I would have made in a second without much thought...and sometimes it was the wrong decision. Decisions ranging from making an impulse buy (see Friday's post) to big decisions about career, money, quality of life and even travel.

My latest decision has much to do with time. I have had to think a great deal about it, and what it's worth to me. Can you really put a price tag on quality time? We all have heard that time is fleeting and it moves quickly. We all know how your life can change in a matter of months,years, even seconds.  You can't get it back. It's precious. For me I feel like one day we were married (feeling carefree, whooping it up, beating to our own drum, sleeping in) and then six months later we learned that we'd have a little one on the way. Time shifted GREATLY from that point on in our life. Days, Months, Years; they all started to move at rapid fire speed; the baby was just an infant and two seconds later he was a 'big boy' with thoughts and opinions. Every day I try to remind myself to take advantage of the snuggles and kisses he wants to give me because I know tomorrow he'll be a teenager and will want to snuggle and kiss some girl I won't approve of...

 I have been a "Lucky Wo-Man". I've had the fortune of being able to spend a great deal of time being a Mom, hanging with my husband, going on fun day or weekend excursions..not tied to any real constrictive schedule; even with a job. I know that makes me lucky. All of that comes with a cost though too.  I could be making more money somewhere else. The painful "What's Next?" bug gets me every time. I catch myself with the thoughts of "I want to do more; make more; be more"....but at what cost?

The more I make the less time I have with the Lil' Fella. The more I do the more I could be away from home. And is it worth it? Why not cut out other things and work with what I've got? Simplicity.  Instead of looking around at what everyone has, I need to be thankful for all I've got (a line from the song..) I think it's a question that pains many a working Mom, or even a Mom who is thinking about going to back to work. Am I doing enough?

For now though, I am comforted by that song. It's just enough to remind me that I've been given a pretty fair hand, I'm doing pretty good, and that when we look back on life it's that time that will be worth more than anything else.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lady, put the dress down and step away from the rack....

 
 
This week has turned out to be a little crazy busy and I haven't had a chance to blog everyday like I had wanted to in the beginning.
 
I had some unexpected yet exciting things happen this week that lead me to down a familiar road that I travel down whenever something big comes up; a vacation, a wedding, a girls' weekend, a special date night, an important meeting etc.. I get frantic and blow off my to-do list (including blogging) to hit the mall and/or boutique (budget pending) to buy something NEW! I always assume that I need something 'new' to wear. It isn't always expensive or fancy, but having something new makes me feel good (as it does most folks) and puts a little pep in my step. I'm sure that the ladies I know who are reading this are right there with me. It's like a minor addiction. It started probably back in college when Friday would roll around and we'd head to Express to buy something to 'wear out' that night. The habit stuck and just got more expensive. God forbid I wear something I already have! God forbid I shop my own closet and be content with what I have.
 
But this week something happened. I went through the same routine. I scrambled to the closest stores that I tend to shop in, cruised the racks, tried things on, and even found a few items I would have died to have hanging in my closet (even giving myself the pep talk about how 'this would be a smart purchase', 'a staple in my closet really', 'I'd be crazy NOT to buy this'). And then...I stopped myself. Put the items away and backed up slowly to the door and went home.
 
NO!  I didn't need something new. I had plenty of lovely outfits hanging in my closet, 90% of which no one has ever even seen. I had items of clothing that have been down right neglected. Purchased on another binder hanging there, all alone just begging me to wear them like those sweet puppies you see in pet store.."Take me! Take me".  So I did it.  I found something that I had, wore it, felt great and the day went just as good as it would have had I spent that extra $100 on a new piece of clothing.
 
I realized that these purchases filled only a temporary purpose; that instant gratification you get when you buy for yourself. It can be exhilarating. But they weren't really adding value to my life at this particular moment.  It wasn't going to change who I was or give me some magic ability to alter my personality. When I really thought about it I decided that I'd rather NOT buy it, save the money and then get something that I have REALLY wanted at a later date.
 
 I was proud of myself. I got a different kind of satisfaction; the satisfaction of knowing that maybe I was growing up, maybe I was capable of walking away and that less really is more! I could live simply, be content and instead enjoy what I had that money could not buy. You can't put a price tag on that kind of feeling
 
 
 


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Unlocking your Sinuses!




I've always had a strong connection to the outdoors. I've never been one to pick up and go for a 4 mile run (although I hope to one day) or sign up for a mud run. No, no..I delight in just being outside. I love the smell of the air right before it rains, the feel of cold grass on your toes. I love rolling down the windows on a foggy or misty morning.  I stand outside as the tornado warning goes off to feel the stillness of the air. The smell of burning leaves or a fire pit sends me over the edge. The fresh smell that comes when Spring is near. I guess you could say I have a thing for smells....

The smell of the morning air in the South can be intoxicating and it can breathe new life into even the gloomiest of moods. When the weather is just right (like today) you'll be walking on sunshine.

 My parents and extended family are from the South and we were fortunate enough to spend some real quality time down in Alabama over the years.  The family lives outside of town, in the country, and the air there is so fresh. I always knew we were getting close on our road trips because you would begin to smell the pine and the red dirt. It's so energizing just to drink it in.

When we found out we were moving to Atlanta I was thrilled largely because I knew I'd get to smell that pine everyday! Wooohoo!

This past year it has become somewhat of a routine to go hiking through the many trails of Kennesaw Mountain on any given morning. Kennesaw Mountain is a former Civil War battlefield rich in history and has miles and miles of trails.  The Lil' Fella and Hubs enjoy it too which is a score. If I'm lucky enough I can squeeze in a solo hike and just clear my mind from any of the days distractions. I feel like I need to send a thank you note to the mountain because over the last year it has opened my eyes to what it means to live simply and enjoy life's purest pleasures (a real life goal of mine..more on that later).

This is the opposite to our usual routine which is why I probably love it so much. We are ALWAYS going somewhere it seems. We're going to Target, going to Monkey Joe's,  going to the grocery store, going to eat, going going going..it's hard to sit still. It's part of our DNA I think and I'm fairly certain we exhaust our parents when they are in town.  However, having these little unplanned adventures have provided the memories and evoked the feelings that only mother nature can do. It makes me want to be outside all of the time! It makes me want to invest in a kayak, purchase my dream vintage camper right away, and find some really challenging hikes and gorgeous waterfalls. We have a bucket list of adventures awaiting us this year in the South.

Just the other weekend we chose a new route, and came across 4 Buck just out for a leisurely stroll. The Lil' Fella was so excited to see "reindeer" and we talked about them along our walk. We spent a good amount of time collecting 'big' rocks to throw into the stream and daydreaming about our future dog splashing in the water. Before we knew it we had been gone for almost 4 hours. It was fantastic!

This last Sunday when the rest of Atlanta was inside freezing (after all, 4 snowflakes fell and it was 40 degrees) we made a bonfire, roasted hot dogs and s'mores. It was one of the best Sundays I've had in a long time.

 Those are the best days. Just get outside and enjoy the free entertainment that Mother Nature has provided. Take a walk down the street, sit outside at a park and people watch. If you're in Georgia then I suggest just getting out, taking a deep breath and hitting the mountain! Adventure awaits! Life is ours to enjoy.
 
 



Monday, March 4, 2013

Hidden Talents

Do you ever catch yourself questioning why you were 'built' a certain way? I don't mean built in the sense of body type, but rather why you were born with certain passions or talents and if you have those talents or things you're pretty good at, what is it all for? What are you 'supposed' to be doing with your life? You'd assume that if you were born with a talent or a specific passion that surely someone up there expected you to put them to good use right? If you are a gifted pianist should you spend your days as a bank teller? No way. Shouldn't you be playing and composing music?

I find myself pondering these things often. I did this way too frequently for a period of time when I really did not know which direction my life was headed (pre-marriage and motherhood). I just didnt have a clear vision of what I should be doing with my life from a career standpoint and still struggler with that.  If I loved to perform, was able to memorize lyrics, execute dance moves shouldn't I be doing something related to that with my life? Or had I just not figured out the 'why' for these questions just yet. It frustrates me when I see other people finding their 'passion' or just 'doing what they love' as if they never had to give it a thought, because I know what I love but I sure haven't figured out how to monetize singing in the shower or into my hairbrush.

I mean, would I have this uncanny ability to perfectly imagine videos or performances if I wasn't meant to do it? I once staged an entire rock ballet to the album "Songs about Jane" by Maroon 5 and still think it would be brilliant on Broadway. How is it that I remember EVERY lyric to random songs (Disney songs from adorable cartoons even, and can perform them the way Walt intended).  Truth be told, I had never actually worked at having a career on Broadway or in music, which is ironic and sad considering my ONLY goal after college was to get to New York. In my mind, it would play out like "RENT" and I would just manifest into an artist, live in a crappy loft with other artists and get discovered somehow.

But alas, I've started to understand the 'why' a bit better. Maybe I (and all of the other tortured thinkers out there) all read too much into what our 'life's goal/purpose' is and tie our hopes to one specific talent we have or passion. Maybe life isn't about just finding your 'passion'.  For me it clicked pretty recently. I was driving the Lil' Fella to school a few weeks ago. I have created a play list on my Iphone specifically for him of some of his favorite tunes. Many a week night we have little dance parties/sing offs (when Dad is out of town) and it's my favorite thing to do with him. One of his ALL time favorites is "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King. He loves The Lion King in general, but I realized that what he loves is that I take on the role of Pumba with sincere dedication and conviction. I make him laugh so hard I think he's going to burst when I talk like this beloved warthog. In fact, many of the songs we sing together end with him rolling on the ground. This gives me a deep satisfaction of course.

 AH HA! I get it! Someone up there had plans for me and they didn't turn out like I had originally thought (with my name on a Marquee or starring in a music video), but they turned out BETTER than I had ever hoped. God knew I'd have an audience of ONE some day and that I would need my own special way to connect with him; through music and being silly. He wanted me to remember every lyric to every Disney song so that I could perform them for my kid, bust out a song and dance from "Pete's Dragon" after not seeing it for years. Find my inner Robin Williams when we sing songs from Aladdin, complete with facial expressions and dance moves. "Friend Like Me"? Nailed it!   He wanted me to be able to share my love of the music with him, and put him in stitches.

So while at times I may feel lost still, I can cling to this notion that it's not for nothing...it was for something, something I just didn't understand until now, something bigger than a marquee or a video..it was for Motherhood. And I'll take those giggles over a standing ovation any day.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I INHALED... and I liked it!


Have you ever done something so strange that you know if your friends or family could see you they might think about calling the nuthouse? Come on....we all have done something and we pray that no one was watching right? (um..I confessed to singing in my hairbrush at 32 just two days ago..don't leave me hanging).

We have this closet in our guest room that has become somewhat of a catch all for things we don't need at the moment; namely kids clothing that the Lil' Fella has outgrown but we're afraid to throw away in case one day we have another Lil' Fella. Well, the closet was getting out OUT OF HAND and we decided to give it a good pre-spring cleaning.  It felt like this to me in my mind....



As we tossed around the clothes and placed them into bins I came across one of the Lil' Fellas old Rash Guards (the cute little shirts you put on them at the beach so they don't get burned and because they look so frickin' cute in them). This particular one was from last summer and apparently it never got cleaned after our 2 week beach extravaganza (oops) and boy... he wore this thing out!  Sadly, there was no sense in saving it for the next potential Lil' Fella. I was just about to place it in the 'donate' pile when I caught a familiar smell from the shirt. I inhaled...Oh. My. God....it was the perfect combination of smell; baby and ocean. This was a marketable product. I should buy the trademark right away because Johnson & Johnson got NOTHING on me.  I could make candles, bath salts, body wash, air fresheners for the car. Who doesnt' love the smell of the salty air? Who doesn't love the intoxicating smell of a child? I held it to my face and just kept inhaling. I was the Mommy equivalent of Cheech and Chong. My eyes were probably starting to get glossy.


 
While the Hubs wasn't looking I strategically placed the top under a pile of clothes I needed to iron later that week. This shirt wasn't going ANYWHERE except maybe under my pillow at night so I could have blissful dreams of the ocean and when the Lil' Fella was well... real Lil'!

Sure enough, it's still hanging around and on the occasion when I need a little pick me up; I find it, pick it up, and inhale deeply....full of memories of the beach, a tinier boy and a little salty air. The fact is that children grow, time moves quickly, and in a blink of an eye the baby turns into a boy. But if you're lucky enough..find your beach shirt (baby blanket, onesie,etc..) and take a little time to inhale that deliciousness that is in front of you.