August 31, 2011

Never Say Never: My Accent Vlog

I'm doing what I thought I'd never do: a vlog.

Y'all, I'm so awkward. But I'm biting the bullet and joining the accent vlog fun because I'm so fascinated by the way people talk. The quirky colloquialisms and especially the vowels (you can always tell where someone's from by their vowels) captivate me.

So here are mine. Namely, none. I wish I had more "shut the front door, dahlin'-ness" seeping out of me, but I just don't.

I used to take offense when people asked where I was from ("um, here?") but now I just appreciate the vast range of accents we've all got. Even a non-accent's an accent, I suppose. (See: British actors learning an "American accent" for a part.)

I'd love to hear your accent. I got the idea from Jenna's Journey and hope you'll tell me if you decide to participate!

One question: How exactly does one sign off of a vlog? The same way one says goodbye at the end of a phone conversation? Ok great, I'll go with that method...

The instructions are to say these words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Wordless Wednesday: Cover of Preschool GQ

August 30, 2011

Is this REALLY a question?

Subtitle: Not a fair fight.

Evidently, while I was visiting family the other weekend there was a little ceremony in LA. An intimate affair otherwise known as Kim Kardashian's circus wedding.

Guests were asked to wear black or white, in keeping with the nuptial "theme," and each of the bride's sisters (and mother) wore white and carried white bouquets. Someone was taking this "our royal wedding" concept a little far.

I could rant about the wedding, the lack of a groom in 90% of her pictures (true love!) and the beyond excess of 31 carats on your ring finger and $65 million in borrowed jewels, but I won't. I won't even borrow pics from People, a publication that paid a hefty price to cover the event exclusively.

I will, however, question their sanity in posting this when rating wedding guest fashions:

Really? Is this even a question, People?

In one corner, Prince William's sister-in-law wearing Temperley of London on the way to her sister's evening April reception. Regal, classic and relatively covered up for such a black-tie affair. Dressed to be in the presence of royals and family members alike.

In the other corner, an actress whose only credit that comes to mind is easily is a Hayley Mills remake - a far cry from her appearance these days. (Day Old News calls her "baby grandma;" now I see her as a prematurely aged twenty-something with a knitting needle and a rocker at home. No offense to pretty, sweet grandmas everywhere.)

Y'all, there's no question; this fight was fixed from the beginning. Pippa might be insulted that this is up for discussion.

Lindsay, find your natural hair color, a qualified therapist and a new manager. Then lie low for moment. If you want to emulate Pippa's style in the meantime, do so with a touch less peroxide and perhaps a pashmina. You're too young to look this desperate!

P.S. I miss your face. Your natural face. And especially your face circa your Hallie Parker/Annie James days:

August 29, 2011


I was going to try some awkward "Adele-icate performance" play on words, but realized it's best not to try too hard, as evidenced by Adele herself below.

I haven't watched the VMAs start to finish in at least five years. I'm well past the age of their target audience and don't get as giddy about the over-the-top performance gimmicks or movie tie-ins anymore.

That doesn't mean I don't love a captivating performance, though, and Adele's was perfection. I adore this song, and she seems to be even better live than on my iPod.

My goosebumps had goosebumps.

Give Adele a piano, a microphone and a classic black dress and she'll let it rip. Lady Gaga, I realize this isn't your schtick, but do take note.

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele

In other "wow" news, Beyonce, just moments after announcing her first pregnancy, belted one out and danced across the stage in heels. Wonder if the sparkly tuxedo is a part of her House of Dereon's inevitable maternity line?

Even if her "Love on Top" isn't your thing, be sure to skip to the last 30 seconds and watch the adorable post-performance belly rub as she unbuttons her sequined jacket to show off a bump. (And how proud does dad-to-be Jay Z look? Cute!)

Now I get to compare my pregnant self to hers for the next six months. If she continues to look this fab, I may have to stop checking...

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Beyoncé

August 25, 2011

What I'm Learning

  • I feel better about myself after even the easiest stroll than I do after a full, sweat-inducing workout surrounded by mirrors. And I'm not alone. Why should I see my thighs from every angle when I can be busy using and improving them?

  • The older I get, the more I care about kitchen counters, paint chips and things I never blinked at a decade ago.

  • On a full night's sleep, I can handle even the toughest day. Not always with a smile, but usually without tears.

  • Teeth take their sweet time coming in. When can we invent baby dentures and bypass teething?

  • There's a difference between exhausted, lazy and sleepy. I'm walking a fine line somewhere between the three.

  • This pregnancy is flying by much more quickly than Mac's. I keep forgetting I'm pregnant, honestly; the queasiness is gone, baby kicks haven't come and a bump hasn't quite appeared yet. The problem? I'm constantly confused by how tired I am. Then I remember why, and it makes the sloth-like afternoons I've had lately a bit easier to excuse.

  • I'll probably kick myself for writing that in five months when I feel (and look) mega pregnant. I promise: I'm thankful now and I'll be thankful then.

  • Blogs can be a source of encouragement or a reason to feel bad about your life and your choices. Read (and follow) accordingly.

  • Online deals are so tempting. Do I really need this, or am I just drawn to the 3000% off? Am I truly stocking up on Christmas gifts early? And for whom - me or someone else? So hard to tell!

  • Pregnancy brain is real.

  • Or I'm going plum crazy.

August 23, 2011

Smith Family, Party of Four!

Thank you so much for your well wishes yesterday! We're very, very excited to welcome baby #2 in February of next year.

I am just over 14 weeks and feel like I'm turning a corner on some of the first trimester less-than-delightful stuff. I'd love to be a little less sloth-like in coming months!

This baby has, as another blogger put it, really pulled out all the stops from day one. (We've known for ten weeks.) I have felt much more pregnant this time around.

I even thought it must be twins! Surely one little bean couldn't have such a powerful effect on its mama already, right? Wrong.

With Mac, I took pregnancy test after pregnancy test; I was practically symptom-free and in total awe. "Shouldn't I be feeling something?" This time around, that memory makes me laugh.

But there has never been a better reason to feel less than fabulous. We are thankful to have heard baby's heartbeat four (!!) times now and look forward to an ultrasound at our next appointment.

In the meantime, I am soaking up every last minute with our sweet, busy, growing, teething only child. I hope his grins stick around once his baby brother or sister arrives!

A few outtakes from yesterday's 90-second photo shoot:

This one's probably my favorite. I feel the same way, Mac. Yay!!

I haven't thought too much about how I'll balance working from home with baby, Mac, Bradley and Blue in 2012. Not to mention finding time for laundry, cooking, a shower or a walk around the block.

God has blessed us richly, and I just know He'll help me figure it all out. Or at least send friends to encourage me to bathe occasionally.

Thank you again, sweet friends! Feel free to share your words of wisdom for life with two. I'm taking notes!

August 18, 2011

Treadmill Tunes

My iPod is one-third Dave Matthews, one-third praise music and one-third country and pop. (Yes, I'm a stereotype.) There's one sizable exception: my treadmill tunes.

Heaven knows it's tough to get this nap addict motivated to break a sweat. More than the "walking to your car in August" variety, that is.

As you know, my relatively normal exterior belies a surprising selection of unabashed pop and rap trash, essentially. Whatever gets me through an hour at the Y.

I blogged about my workout playlist in 2009, but it's changed a bit. Some artists have been removed (I'm looking at you, Chris Brown, and am not happy to lose such a fab cardio track) and a new gems have been discovered.

I need a variety of beats for cardio, weights and abs. I can't stand counting to myself while competing with a different beat in my earbuds. I'm not that skilled. So you'll notice slower tunes for abs and angrier tunes (coincidence?) for the tougher parts of my workout.

Note well: I may listen to thugs, but I prefer the profanity-free versions. I have been known to email iTunes when I buy a "clean" version of a song that still contains something I wouldn't hear on the radio.

Some of these rappers are quite talented; I wish their moms, like mine, had told them that foul language is something people use when they're not intelligent enough to find more effective, creative alternatives. Preach it, Louise.

Ready to judge? Let's let it all hang out:
What the Hell - Avril Lavigne

Universal Mind Control - Common

All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled

Club Can't Handle Me, Flo Rida
Take It Off - Ke$ha Blow We R Who We R
Let It Rock - Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Rumors - Lindsay Lohan
Get It Shawty -Lloyd
Closer - Ne-Yo
So What - Pink
I Know You Want Me - Pitbull Fuego
Hard - Rihanna & Jeezy

Like a G6 - Far East Movement

Run This Town - Jay-Z & Rihanna

Le Belle et Le Bad Boy - MC Solaar

(French rap! Yes, from the final SATC episode.)
Magic - Robin Thicke When I Get You Alone
Forget You - Cee Lo Green

Jesus Walks - Kanye West
Blacklight - One Call Dancing in the Dark - Mat Kearney cover
Whip My Hair - Willow
Bottoms Up - Trey Songz
No Diggity - Blackstreet & Dr. Dre
What You Got - Colby O'Donis
Gotta Get Thru This - Daniel Bedingfield
Look At Me Now - Karmin cover
Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That - Robert Randolph & the Family Band
DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love - Usher

Irony: I'm posting this to feel a bit more motivated to use these tunes for something other than cleaning day dance parties. The time I've spent at the Y lately has been in the pool...
Double irony: Me bobbing my head to "you think you're a gangster 'cause you did time..." when I get frustrated by people who run red lights.
Triple irony: My last workout playlist post was written two weeks before I found out I was expecting Mac. If only I knew how little I'd use my treadmill tunes that year!
Why are there so many angry love songs in my playlist? I've been known to cry while breaking a sweat, but do I need to see a therapist to delve into why only such music gets me moving? I'm thankful so many people have had tough break-ups, I suppose.
What am I missing? What gets you going, workout queens? Motivate me!

August 17, 2011

Advice for Me at Eighteen

Kristen and I were discussing the perks of marrying the "unlikely" guy. You know, like her company's IT guy who takes his wife out to a cupcake cafe once a week. (Come on, who doesn't love sweets?)

My mind wandered to how far-fetched that situation would have seemed ten or twelve years ago.

My Facebook feed is full of bright-eyed college students giddy to be back in their stomping grounds. (And plenty of moms lamenting their kids' first day of school. An odd dichotomy, right?)

And when you're in that college bubble, who cares about thoughtfulness and cupcakes when you can focus on cool? Or, better yet, cute?

I could write an entire self-help novel to myself circa the turn of the century, but I'll spare you the details. Instead, a few bullet points I'd love to plop into a time capsule and send backwards a decade:

1. You're cooler than you think you are.
2. And come to think of it, there's no shame in being
uncool. Most of your favorite people on Earth would profess to falling into that category.
3. The clunky shoe phase is overrated.
4. Sleeping more than 12 hours a day is
not a stroke of good luck; it's a sign that something's wrong.
5. It is possible to disagree politely; sometimes it's necessary. You'll never be
great at this, but you need to stop being terrified of it.
6. If he shows you his true colors, believe him. There's a time and place for grace, for forgiveness. When it comes to your heart, though, that forgiveness is best given from a distance. I wish it wouldn't take you six years to learn this lesson!
7. Remind your friends it's better to marry the nerd than the cool guy. Obviously you'll never look at your husbands as nerdy, but a man who thinks of
himself as cool and tries to live up to that ever-elusive adjective doesn't have half the worth of a guy who thinks of himself rarely.
8. Marry the man who makes you laugh. Better yet, forget about marrying altogether and just spend
time with the man who makes you laugh. And think. And takes you to church. The rest will figure itself out in time.
9. You learned that JOY stands for "Jesus first, yourself last and others in betweeeeen." It does. But in order to be joyful, you cannot be a doormat. It's okay to put some needs of yours aside for a greater purpose, but
one person's happiness isn't that purpose.
10. You'll never regret the simpler outfit.
11. You'll never,
ever regret skipping the belly-button piercing trend.
12. You'll be thankful your whole life to have spent time abroad.
13. You'll wish you did it sooner and longer. Forget the boy (see above); take a semester for you.
14. When someone speaks a truth so painful you can barely listen to it, don't imagine it was easy for them to say. You probably needed to hear it.
15. Go ahead and order those party pics. What you see as a chubby face is what everyone else calls the glow of youth.
16. When a friend calls with an offer to do something,
anything - do it. Walk and talk, catch up over lunch, study together, work out, go to a (gasp) different fraternity's party. Meet new people. You'll never be in such close proximity to thousands of your peers. Take advantage!
17. Listen to the little voice. Is there a word of encouragement on your heart? A sweet note you feel like leaving? Something nudging you to call the girl you're really not that close to? You never know what people are walking through. Let God use you. It's worth the chance of being the "awkward girl" (you'll be this girl forever) to know you've made a difference at just the right time.
18. Don't be so scared. It's all going to come together beautifully. God's weaving a mighty big story in you and it's going to take us decades to see the full story. 'Til then, let's just trust that He knows what He's doing.

What would you add?

August 16, 2011

Yes and No

Yes, of course Anne Hathaway admires Duchess Catherine's ladylike style. Who doesn't? (Well, one could argue many in LA probably don't. Too much fabric and not enough peroxide...) One brunette beauty appreciating another - I love it!

I love you, Reese, and I'm glad you're so happy about it, but that stomach tattoo? No - just no.

Yes, even a little exercise can lengthen our lives! Just the reminder I needed when I find it's too hot to get motivated for a full-on gym showdown.

No, I don't understand why Kevin Federline is still considered news-worthy. Any baby is a blessing, but do we need to celebrate this guy's in People?

Yes, I feel old when I think about how many recruitments have passed since my sorority days.

But no, I don't regret finishing college before every last moment was recorded and shared via the magic of social media.

Ah, the things we do for Greek life. I've sung many a "reworked lyric" in my life and I can assure you they were quite special. Not as special as the rap above, but I admire the dedication of these University of Alabama Panhel Exec members.

(What is it about being in a sorority that inspires us to take the lyrics of popular tunes and shift them around to include our favorite Greek letters? We need to do a post about the most egregious offenses in this category. Surely this number would be included somewhere.)

You know they're getting just as much ribbing in real life as they are online...

And yes, I still have my sorority and Panhellenic t-shirts. Boxes of them. Thankfully I don't have boxes of video like this, though! Whew.

August 15, 2011

Friendship FAIL

Remember how I'm a fabulous gift buyer? Well, truth be told, I am. Or at least I try to be.

I put a lot of thought into presents and get so much joy out of finding something I know a friend will love.

The wrapping, packing and shipping is another story.

The year Mac was born, I knew I'd be in the throes of newborn exhaustion come Christmastime, so I had all of our "to ship" gifts purchased and wrapped by mid-September. I placed them in a closet and promptly forgot about them until JANUARY. Horror.

I thought I couldn't top that until....this summer. No newborn to blame.

I purchased gifts for my two dearest friends; Kristen's son was turning one in July and Erin's birthday (just days after her own newborn's) was in late June.

Everything was purchased and set aside in late May. May, people. I'm terrible at secrets. How could I ever keep a gift to myself that long?

On July 29, two days before my own birthday, these sweet packages arrived to celebrate:

Excuse the fuzzy phone pics of such fun, thoughtful, EARLY birthday treats.

Instantly I realized that baby Wynn's gift, a precious personalized bowl and plate set with his name literally and figuratively written all over it, was still on my dining room table.
In addition, a soft ABC book was waiting to be mailed to the birthday boy. It evidently looked so inviting that Mac convinced himself "finders, keepers!" and seemed hesitant to let it go.

Not that a few moments delayed the gift much in the scheme of things. It was already two weeks late by then. Sigh.

And Erin's birthday gift had been left in our trunk (wrapped!) when we met up with her in Charleston to meet baby Katherine after our beach week. At least we remembered to bring in the baby's gift!

Erin's daughter Katherine and our Mac each have handsome chocolate labs, so we were excited to have a little treat made in honor of her "big brother" Harper.

I'd show you a picture of mama Erin's gift, but I delayed mailing it in the hopes that we'd see each other this month. Since that hasn't happened yet, and her birthday's nearly eight weeks behind us, its sweet little wrapped self is on its way to the FedEx store tomorrow, mark my words.

I'm glad I can celebrate the things I'm good at - gift buying, for instance. Gift giving, however, seems to be a stretch for me. Just the getting in there part. Ugh.

Think I can ever be forgiven for such friendship fails to the most thoughtful of people? Remember, should your gift ever been tardy, that it still comes with the best of intentions!

August 11, 2011

A Crystal Ball for Baby Sizes?

Our average-sized, perfectly perfect baby

When I was pregnant with Mac, I had several doctors guesstimate what his birth weight would be. Most were clear that theirs was just a ballpark figure; none used an ultrasound to back up any claims.

On the day I delivered, though, a doctor literally felt my stomach (not quite like rubbing Buddha's belly, but close) and told me newborn Mac would weigh "between 7 and 8 pounds."

If I had to guess, I'd say three-quarters of babies are born in that general weight range.

Sure enough, our Mac was born 12 days early weighing 7 pounds and 10 ounces, squarely in the range the doctor predicted. He felt so proud to have been correct!

While my course of treatment and delivery were not affected my doctors' guesses as to Mac's size, I have friends with different experiences. One petite coworker was given a c-section after an ultrasound indicated her baby might be over 9 pounds. Hours later, after what she considers an "unnecessary c-section," her daughter was born weighing barely 6 pounds.

On the other hand, a friend was allowed to go a full week past her due date with the idea that her small (read: 6-ish pounds) baby needed more time to fatten up. When he arrived, he was well over the 9 pound mark.

Anecdotal evidence aside, I wasn't surprised when a friend posted the link to an article indicating how rarely ultrasounds accurately predict a baby's size.

I've always known that guessing a baby's weight is an art, not a science. I imagine doctors take into account the birth weight and current size of each parent, plus the size and weight gain of the mother and the growth pattern of the baby so far.

For the record, I was long (21.5") and lean (5 pounds, 4 ounces), born four full weeks early. Bradley was just as long and born full term, right around 9 pounds.

Mac was born on his own schedule, fully cooked - and I'm so thankful for that. I'm also beyond thankful that his delivery day wasn't affected, either through a recommended c-section or in any other way, by an inaccurate weight guess.

This isn't intended to be a preachy post, just a reminder of what we all know: you know your body and your baby best. Ultrasounds can indicate things, but they can't confirm weight down to a tee. Well, not until they invent an itsy-bitsy scale they can plop right under your tummy to determine your bundle's exact weight.

I trust and listen to my doctors, but I also appreciate that they included my and Bradley's thoughts into their determinations. And that most of them didn't treat their pre-delivery guesstimates to be spot-on predictions of what would come to be.

Moms and moms-to-be, have you had any experience with this? Eerily accurate or totally off-base guesses at your little ones' size?

August 10, 2011

Even Pettier Pet Peeves

It was comforting to find I'm not the only gal in the world who has nitpicky misuses of the English language that drive her batty.

In the days since I've written that post, I have found that my pet peeves are many. A few I missed on the first go round:

1. It's y'all, y'all. The incorrect abbreviations of y'all are everywhere. The apostrophe contracts the word you, so it belongs between the y and the all. Often seen as yall, ya'll (contraction of ya all, I suppose?) and even yal'l. Maybe that one was a typo?

2. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. (See: The King and I.) The abbreviation etc. stands for et cetera, a Latin phrase meaning "and other things." Sometimes mispronounced ECK cetera or abbreviated ect. I warned you I was that cool kid in Latin class for five years. Hang on; there's more coming.

3. Vice-versa. Not vice-a-versa. This means "conversely" or "the other way around."

4. Just breathe. Breath is a noun; breathe is a verb. Your advice to someone panicking should either be "deep breaths" or "just breathe," not "just breath."

5. One last comma. Perhaps this is just a style preference, but to me it stands out as an error. There is no need for a comma before the "and" when you're listing a series of things. In other words, it's appropriate to ask for "apples, bananas and oranges" rather than plopping another comma down after "bananas." Hey, I said this list was petty. After years of proofing for school and for a living, though, I'm very mindful of it. I may throw unnecessary commas out sometimes, but never before an "and."

6. Which and that. The words "which" and "that" are not always interchangeable. Visually speaking, though, it drives me crazy to see "which" used without a comma. Grammar Girl explains it all beautifully here, but my point boils down to: if you're going to use "which," you need to put a comma before it. Well, not if you're using a preposition beforehand. (Think "in which," etc.) Okay, end rant.

Think I'm totally neurotic yet?

Disclaimer: Plenty of bright people make mistakes. I certainly do. As a matter of fact, I pronounced archetype "arch-a-type" for years. As in the golden arches, not Noah's boat. Eep.

I pronounced breathy "breathe-y" in English class and discotheque (this is really terrible) "disc-oth-kway" in Physics while reading a word problem. (That is what years of Latin pronunciation will do to you, friends. Thankfully, a few years of French straightened me right out - but not in time.) Nothing like a room of laughing peers to correct your pronunciation!

I'm not great with punctuation inside quotation marks. The look of a question mark after a quotation mark rubs me the wrong way, so I often rework sentences to avoid that. See here to learn about what I mean.

A commenter on my previous post pointed out something I do, though she may not have realized it. I use ellipses quite often. (An ellipsis is the fabulous little collection of three dots used when you're trailing off, as I do so often...) Evidently spaces belong between the periods? I'm so set in my ways that the change looks too awkward to me.

For that matter, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to stop typing two spaces after a period. I sure am trying, though. Darn middle school typing class! I am thankful for the ability to type 100+ words a minute, as it makes my type-happy life a lot easier. My fingers work faster than my brain, though, and I may never outgrow the double spacing ingrained in me in keyboarding class... (Oops, there's that ellipsis again!)

August 9, 2011

Children of the '90s: Urkel's Back!

I knew I knew that face. Starring in a Cee-Lo video is quite a jump from his "Did I do thaaaaaat?" days, don't you think?

If only his love interest were Laura Winslow...

August 8, 2011

Drugstore Deals

Long ago, I was a single girl on a limited budget that somehow stretched in the most superficial of departments. Before special events, I found wiggle room for a manicure, pedicure and spray tan. My hair was trimmed regularly, whitening strips were in heavy rotation and my makeup, though by no means expertly applied, was from my favorite department store and Sephora brands.

Walking down Walgreens' cosmetics aisle resulted in a basket with a half-dozen lip glosses and a few hair products that were rarely, if ever, used. Mix in the glow of youth and I had a lot of time, energy and money on my side.

These days I have far less time, disposable income and brain cells to devote to the cause. While I hope this doesn't mean I've "let myself go," I find that my focus is on other things more often than not. Do I still want to look cute? Absolutely. Do I have the same resources to do so? Notsomuch.

Sure, I still snag what I need, but my goal is (cringe) value. Sephora sales and free shipping codes, Belk gift cards used for beloved MAC classics and drugstore coupons cashed in to make those brands an even better deal.

Lately I've found a few drugstore items that are even more than I (ha) bargained for - and you know you take a risk when you pick up something new there. Unlike the big box beauty stores, there are no "try before you buy" luxuries, but I've gotten lucky lately and had to share.

LinkCover Girl NatureLuxe Foundation: I got a free full-sized sample of this through BzzAgent, a program I highly recommend, and I adore it. It's light, with perfect coverage and no heavy feeling. A perfect texture and finish, for just under $10. (I have a few $2 off coupons to share if you're interested - just shout!)

Revlon Grow Luscious Plumping Mascara: I have approximately two eyelashes, both thin and short. As dark as my hair is, it seems epically unfair, but that's another story for another day. I got the waterproof formula, which evidently cuts down on its fabulousness, but this mascara promises to help your lashes grow. Jury's still out on that aspect, but I like the lack of clumpiness and overall look. Not nearly as dramatic as...

Maybelline Falsies Flared: Such a transformation. I've tried the much-loved DiorShow mascara and, while I love the rosewater scent, I find this formula to be just as good for a third of the price. And on sale at Target! (Run!) As I said, anything that makes me look like I even have eyelashes is a vast improvement. Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss: From the "quilted" top to the half-brush, half-tip applicator, this lip gloss feels far more luxurious than something for sale on a drugstore shelf. I loved it so much I went back for another! (Bonus: They put coupons in the Sunday paper. And evidently you can get them for $0.29 at CVS as part of a bigger deal. So worth it.)

elf Bronzer: Oddly enough, I don't use this product as a bronzer too often. The pink makes a fabulous, sheer blush and the other colors are perfect summer eyeshadows. And for $3, you can't beat it! For those of you with a more natural tan hue, using it for its intended purpose would probably be fabulous. This arctic tan speaks for itself, though.

Don't get me wrong, I still find that my Bare Minerals powder and a few annual essentials are worth the trip to and expense of department stores, but drugstore deals are making my summer a lot more fun. Have you found any new products I need to try?

August 5, 2011

What's Not to Love?

A few things that have just made my week:

1. Duchess Catherine recycling outfits for a royal wedding last weekend. Zara Phillips, the daughter of Princess Anne and first cousin of Prince William, was married in the first large gathering of "senior royals" since that other wedding back in April.

Knowing, undoubtedly, how interested the press would be in her outfit, the Duchess deferred to the bride by rewearing a recent LA acquisition the night before the wedding and pulling out an even older ensemble for the nuptials themselves.

If this doesn't completely win over every last member of the House of Windsor, I don't know what will! (Not that she hasn't won their hearts already, but truly... What a thoughtful gesture!)

Kelly Osborne, daughter of Ozzy, has come out saying she would wear a new dress every day if she were a Queen-to-be. Essentially criticizing the Duchess' recessionista strategy. You can't please everyone, I suppose, and Kelly O is likely at the bottom of Catherine's "must win over" list. Just above those of us in America, I'm guessing!

For a great recap of Kate's great recycles, look here.

2. There has been a lot of blogosphere chatter lately about the implied superiority of Southerners, the rigidity of their evidently unspoken "rules" (no jeans before a first birthday, no going out without makeup, among others) and the flippant use of the term "Yankees" for people who aren't from 'round here.

I adore being from the South. I love raising our Mac here. Our deep sense of history, collectively and as indviduals, means the world to me - and I love that anyone can feel a part of it. That said, I think there are some real misunderstandings about what it means to be Southern.

I'm a passionate fan of Garden & Gun, particularly the latest issue with a special section on the fabulousness of Greenville. (Go buy it!) I loved this piece, about redefining what it means to be a Southern belle in modern times. I consider it a must read! It says a great deal about the women who live here and the attributes we aspire to have.

I don't ever want being Southern to be perceived as a liability, which I have found throughout my life to be the case for many - even people living here. I do, however, think everyone has strong traditions and deeply-felt reasons to love where they live, as they should. No implied superiority here, but I will say don't knock it 'til you come to visit. You may be blown away!

Not to say the South or its crazy band of residents are perfect, but no place is. I have a great book called The Seven Signs of Southerness that quotes Southern artists and writers and politicians on the peculiarities of their stomping grounds. The feeling is unanimous: we're weird, we're different and we like it that way. And why shouldn't we? If you don't like who you are and where you live, it's probably time to make some changes.

As far as what you or your children wear when you leave the house, that's entirely up to you. Don't forget, though, that kids have eyes; one day they'll look back at pictures and laugh. This is true whether they're in smocked jon jons or skinny jeans - it's a rite of passage.

I don't consider myself better than people in other parts of the country because I live here, but I do consider myself very, very blessed to have the privilege. I hope others feel the same.

3. What if your "something old" were really, really old? I loved this story about a St. Louis bride who wore an inherited wedding dress (from 1884!!) on her big day. So much history! I've heard of borrowed veils, passed-down sixpence coins and a few heirloom dresses, but nothing with this many generations under its satin belt. So jealous! Who wouldn't love to have a gorgeous piece of their family's history from so long ago?

22 + 2 = 2?!

The handsomest men I know

Mac is 22 months old today. When I'm asked how old he is, I usually respond, "He'll be two in October." For ages, I could barely choke out "one" as an answer to the same question. Now Mac is undeniably not just one.

Pushing TWO. My baby boy is no longer. Tear.

The good news? The toddler who has replaced him is a delight. A busy, loud, challenging delight.

The last month has been a wonderful one. We spent a full week at the beach, visited the Upstate Children's Museum, splashed a-plenty at the pool and watched Mac have his first swim lessons.

Mac has worked on mastering stairs, a thousand new words, the understanding that Big Bird's name isn't "Elmo bird" and an even more impressive ability to mimic everything he hears and narrate everything he does and sees.

I told Mac once earlier this week, as he was crying, no less, that I loved him "to the moon." He stopped crying immediately and said, "Love you moon, Mama." Now he says it almost hourly. Melt me!

Clearly Mac has picked up on my reaction, as he yelled through his closed bedroom door several times after I put him down: "Dud joo moon, Mommy! Dud joo, moon!"

Mac has doubled his number of teeth this month. A slow teether, he had four up top and two on the bottom until just last week. He cut four molars and, even as I type, is busting out two new bottom teeth to balance out the little pearlies up top. Whew, that's some hard work. And it looks like a few more may be in store. He's making up for lost teething time, that's for sure.

I can't wait to see what my twenty-two month-old has in store for us in the coming days. I'm going to hang on to "one" as long as I can, though. (Cue "Jack and Diane" playing in the background.)

Where has this summer gone? October 5 will be here before we know it.

August 3, 2011

A Walk Down Library Lane

One of the my favorite things, for as long has I can remember, has been reading. Getting so sucked into a book that I'm sad to see it end and spending hours thinking about the characters, rewriting their endings and pondering sequels.

I hope Mac grows up with the same ability to lose himself in a story; I plan to instill in him the same excitement about going to the library that my mom gave me. Sure, there are other ways to read books nowadays, but the wonder of turning a page and seeing an illustration in living color can't be overstated. And my little bookworm seems to be on the right track so far.

Yes, it's true that right now all he does is shout out every miniscule detail he sees on the page ("sunshine! clock! hat! flower! mouse - squeak squeak! monkey! juice! car - vroom vroom!") but surely that will translate itself into reading voraciously one day, right?

I came across a list of "must read" children's authors and it got me reminiscing about my favorite storytellers from a few decades back.

Here were the author's suggestions for top ten authors and their most prized works, in descending order:

10. Ludwig Bemelman: Madeline
9. Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
8. J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter
7. Margery Williams: Velveteen Rabit
6. Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia
5. Janell Cannon: Stellaluna
4. Judy Blume: Fudge
3. Dr. Seuss: Green Eggs and Ham
2. Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are
1. Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Would you add any to this list? I'm not familiar with Janell Cannon and I (eep) haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, so my top ten would also include:

Eric Carle: Anything! For the tiniest of readers, his colorful, timeless stories about hungry caterpillars and sharp-eyed bears are classics.

Chris Van Allsburg: The Polar Express (Runner up: Jumanji)

Beverly Cleary: Anything, but particularly the Ramona books.

Arnold Lobel: Frog and Toad

Peggy Parish: Amelia Bedelia

Harry Allard: Miss Nelson Is Missing!

Don Freeman: Corduroy

Marc Brown: The Arthur series

My favorite baby gift books are Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, Pat the Bunny and (new addition!) the Stinkyface series.

What am I missing? Any favorites from your childhood libraries or must-give gifts for parents-to-be?

Side note: Library Lane is the name of my china pattern. See how I substituted Library for Memory? I amuse myself sometimes...


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