I saw this quote the other night. There I was just scrolling along with Pinterest, when BAM. This hits me like a ton of bricks. The universe knew that I needed this very quote right then and there. Now I just had to listen.

For me, I was right in the middle of wrestling with taking on more. I was interviewing for a promotion at work, and I was still standing on a fence. On the one hand, working mom was starting to feel alright. Once I got over all that I was missing, and focused on all that was happening. So we didn't do all the things we normally would have over the summer. But we still had fun. We still had little adventures. Life was happening and I had to finally focus and enjoy it. When I did, it wasn't as hard as I was making it out to be. Isn't that always the way?

Life has give me lots of practice over the years. I spent years practicing what it was like to be unpopular in high school. What it was like to be "different". That was a hard life to practice, but it prepared me for college. Because in college I practiced being myself, which helped me find myself. Not a bad gig at the time. I spent a lot of time practicing what it was like to be in love. And how to love, and how to chase a man who didn't know he was in love with you. That was some hard life practice too, but soon it all worked out.

Then the hardest life practice was being a new mom. Those were some of the hardest practice sessions. Harder than cursive in the second grade. Harder than cutting my hair in a pixie in high school, while all the kids laughed at my choice. Harder than walking away from the Hubbs when we were in college, because he was being unreasonable. None of my previous practice prepared me for motherhood. Being a new mom pulled out all the stops. Making sure that practice was going to make almost perfect. Insuring that I would continue the practice as if I were going to be an apprentice of motherhood for the rest of my life. That's the thing with motherhood, you can't ever be out of practice, because the practice never ends.

Lately, life has been requiring me to practice being a working mom. It started out as part time, but soon morphed into full time. I resisted it for sure, and when it came to making a decision on what I should do, I was at a loss. Could I really handle being a full time working mom?  It's not that I didn't have an awesome support system in place to allow me to return to work full time. My village is strong and dependable and thank the Lord above, flexible too. But still, was this what I wanted? Did I want to surrender more time, more me, and lose the "stay at home mommy" me?

Then I thought about my practice here, in this place. I have spent the better part of three years practicing here. As a blogger, and as a writer. Every time I sit down and type my heart out, I'm practicing. Practicing to get better, to be better, to perfect my craft. When I thought about becoming a full time working mom, I wasn't ready to give up this practice either. The practice of being a writer and a blogger. Add to that the practice of being an at home mom, and there are a lot of practices I'm just not ready to leave.

But why do I have to? I don't have to give up one practice for another. I can make time to practice both. Because life is giving me exactly what I need practice in. I need to practice balance, I need to practice organization, I need to practice time management, I need to practice doing and juggling all the things. The flip side is that I have to practice admitting that I can't do and juggle all the things. I realize I will need to practice forgiveness, so that I can forgive myself of the guilt that I know will pop up. Because I know the guilt will creep in, whether it's mom guilt, or writers guilt or wife guilt. I will need practice in this new role as I go forward and tackle the holiday season in retail, all while having two girls who will have Christmas programs and dance recitals, and a family that will celebrate Christmas at least five times at five different homes. Something tells me that this is only the beginning of practice as a working mom.

As you know, I took that promotion.
And the practice continues.

Life Lately {September 2014}

As I went to write this post, I looked at my blog roll for September 2014. I posted only ten times this month. That is low in comparison to the last three Septembers. Its not that I didn't have anything to say, its just life is so damn full right now. I went back to work full time. The kids are in school and activities. When I'm not working I'm mom-ing, or sleeping or trying to sleep. There are football games and grocery shopping and Target trips, and, and, and... You get the picture. So life lately has been full and chaotic and in a way blessed. Because time is so much more precious. We can't always wait until tomorrow, mom has to work. Maybe we grocery shop at seven on a school night and we don't hit our pillows until ten. Maybe we can say that out loud and it's ok. Maybe we accept this busier schedule and we up it with more love, more forgiveness, and a little more togetherness. Maybe we are going to make it great after all...

 We had some Starbucks and got some dirty looks. Whatevs.

 We took a mental health day and picked Olaf's nose.

I got this beauty in the mail. Thanks to my cousin who pre-ordered it for my birthday in March! I had forgotten about it. It was a welcomed surprise.

 We squeezed in hair cuts and car washes and even blue lollies that turned our tongues blue.

 Not every one enjoys selfies I guess.

 Including the Hubbs who gave T-Rex arms to avoid my camera at all costs.

 We dressed ourselves for school a time or two.

I let PMS determine the shopping list at Whole Foods. Seriously that coffee is the bomb, and I don't even drink coffee on a regular basis. It's my new guilty pleasure.

Sometimes you just got to thank someone for the little joys in life.

Fro-yo on a school night is always a good idea.

I tried to write when I could, even if it meant the rest of my life was a hot mess.

I kept it real on Saturday and posted this picture of me in last nights make-up. Sometimes washing off your make up is just something you "literally can't even".

Found a new weather app. It's kind of my favorite.

Football season is in full swing, so game day selfies for the win. 

But then I had to take on with my bestie because she got tickets this year too. And then our husbands hated us because we both had to post them on Instagram. And then we reminded them that they don't get a vote.
I took this Sunday morning selfie before work. The girls still aren't sure about having a full time working mom. Side note: Mac has a powdered donut mustache. Breakfast of champs.

We nap when we can. Usually when it's time to pick up big sister. Mac is queen of the power naps.

I went to Pismo for the night. A quick work trip, and I have to say I'm totally out of practice for work trips. I kept getting yelled out because I kept tossing my receipts.

When Mac finally tires of me taking her picture, she pushes the camera. She's just training for the paparazzi.
Caitlin was sidelined for the jog-a-thon, you know broken toe and all, but that didn't cramp her style one bit.
And I took a selfie on my lunch break at work. Because why not?

Like I said, September was full and chaotic, but it was also sweet and kind, and the kind of month we won't soon forget.

Can you tell I love Instagram?
Want to keep up with all the chaos and sarcasm?
Keep in touch on Instagram.

What I read Wednesday {Summer reading list}

I read an embarrassingly number of books, for someone who works outside the home, has two daughters, a husband, and a very active life on Instagram, Still I find time to ignore everything and read, because that is exactly what happens. I ignore everything else in life and spend my days and nights reading. Laundry, dishes, dinners not found in a box or a freezer? All ignored as I get through my next tome. It's nothing new. The Hubbs is always saying, "What are you reading now". Because I usually have my nose in a book or in front of a screen. Sadly this doesn't include the time I take to read the six magazines I receive monthly. It's no wonder if you showed up at my house I'd make up a lie on why you couldn't come in... Reading is an addiction... and I'm ok with that. 

Here is a brief review of what I read over the summer. I have to say, I already have a few to share with you for the month of September. Scary, right? Please leave me a comment if you have read any of these. I'd love to know what you thought. 

The Wife, By Meg Wolitzer; The Interestings, By Meg Wolitzer. 
I read two books by Wolitzer over the summer. I did this because The Interestings didn't wow me like I had expected. When it was released about a year ago, every magazine was going wild for it. It was a masterpiece, it was such a saga, so I was excited to find it at Target. I dove right in, and I have to say, I wasn't that crazy about it. It starts out in the 1970s and that I liked. It is fictional but there are parallels to the events of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I liked that the story centered on a group of friends and what happens when friends grow up. Unfortunately, the only character I found likable was in the book for about one hundred pages. The rest of the characters weren't very likable, and I have to say that I really forced myself to finish the last half of the book. When I did finish, I was disappointed. Like I said it didn't wow me.

I gave Wolitzer a second chance with The Wife. The story got me from the beginning, and I was completely interested. That was until I figured out the plot twist by chapter three. The Wife was well written and the main character was very likable. But it's hard to read a book where you already know whats going to happen eventually. 

If I had to choose, I'd say read The Wife first. Then if you really want a challenge or a sweeping saga over three decades, read The Interestings. Just know that the story never really has a happy ending, or happy people for that matter. I guess that's life, but sometimes I just want my books to end with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Looking for Alaska, John Green.
I am a huge fan of A Fault in Our Stars. I re-read the book all the time. This time Costco forced my hand with a copy of Looking for Alaska for under six bucks. I really liked this book, but I didn't fall in love with it like I did with Stars. The main character is my kind of people, the boarding school he attends is like a meeting of the minds and the misfits. The story was well written and sad, as I'm sure is an MO for John Green. It's a great book to get you all nostalgic for high school and first loves and tragic endings. Not as good as Stars, but I'm looking forward to reading all of John Green's work.

Family Pictures, Jane Green.
I'm a huge Jane Green fan. If you haven't read Jane Green, please go out and start with Jemima J., Babyville, or Swapping Lives. All are delicious and you will devour them in a day. Promise. The same is true for Family Pictures. It's the story of two families that have one thing in common, but they have no idea that they do. It's part mystery, part study in family, lies, and relationships. It was a quick read for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. I love that Green's characters usually go through some sort of metamorphosis, and in the end make you love them more than you thought you would. My mom read this one first, then passed it to me, and now it's at my neighbors. A great selection for a book club.

The Matchmaker, Elin Hilderbrand
Let me start by saying that I spent last summer reading every book Elin Hilderbrand wrote. I wasn't sorry. Between my mom's Kindle and the used bookstore, I was a happy camper. I love Hilderbrand's tales of Nantucket, so much so that I want to spend one week of summer there one day. Just so I can tour all the spots and restaurants and beaches she writes about. That said, The Matchmaker wasn't my favorite. I'm not saying it wasn't good, or beautifully written, it just wasn't my favorite. The main character is ill, her first love comes back, her daughter is on the cusp of getting married. All recipes for disaster. It didn't have a terrible ending, and it wasn't a tear jerker from start to finish, it's just that I didn't love it as much as her others. If you want to dive in and read Hilderbrand for yourself, start with Summer People, Silver Girl, or The Island. Those three are my favorites. They will transport you to Nantucket in a way that you can almost feel the surf on your face. 

Like how I didn't give anything away? No spoilers here, you have to read those on your own. What have you read lately? Have any recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

This fits too

Last week I got promoted.

I know what you're thinking. How on earth did this woman get promoted when she has been fighting the change from stay at home mom to working mom? What on earth possessed her to take on more than she could already handle? Is this woman insane?

The short answer is yes. Yes. I'm all kinds of insane. The long answer is something about this working mom life fits. And that is really strange to admit. Because I have been fighting this journey for awhile now. I've been struggling to adapt to being a part time working mom. Struggling to keep up and maintain the life of a stay at home mom and the life of a working mom. Sort of failing at both along the way. For the last two weeks I have been on the fence. Should I surrender entirely to what feels a little right? Or should I just stay and limp along with the struggle?

I surrendered. Last week I accepted the position as Assistant Store Manager. And the entire week prior I pondered, and interviewed, and prayed about it. I was so scared and nervous. Then, as I said the word, Yes, something about that fit. And I freaked out a little.

Tuesday I traveled to the coast for a work meeting with my store manager. For the first time in almost ten years, I had to travel for work. For a real meeting of Mangers and Store Managers. I had to collect receipts for an expense report. I was going to stay in a hotel, and have dinner with adults. For the first time in almost ten years, I was an "executive", in the field I got my degree in. For the first time in years, I was not just some one's mother, I was Megan, Assistant Store Manager. To my surprise, it fit.

Wednesday, at the Holiday Meeting I was recognized for my hard work so far. I was named Sales Lead of the Quarter in my region. It's a pretty big deal, especially for someone who joined the company in January. It was also an amazing feeling, because most days I'm pretty sure I'm doing it wrong. Not just the job but everything. So to win an award, get some recognition, and then to ice the cake with a promotion, you could say I was feeling pretty good.

And that good feeling lasted the entire ride home, even when I walked into the house and kissed my already sleeping babies. I talked to the Hubbs about the meeting and the award and the promotion that we weren't even sure I should take. We talked about how crazy the next few months are going to be. We talked about working weekends and how to get childcare covered. We talked about the kids and the house and the dishes and the laundry that is still in the chair in the corner of my living room as I type. And even though I had put in an almost twelve hour day including drive time, it fit. It seemed right.

Thursday morning was a different story. I woke up with my heart in two places. I went immediately into mom mode. Tired and exhausted, I yelled a little. Then felt guilty since I hadn't been home in two days. We had to buy water and ice for the Jog-A-Thon that I forgot about. Mackenzie needed a snack for school. Are we really out of Capri Suns? The usual, but this time it felt different. That high I had carried home with me was just about gone. All I could think was, "You are an asshole if you thought anything about this is going to be easy".

I got the kids to school and called my best friend. She always knows what to say. So I unloaded on her. I told her that the day before was amazing. That at one point during my meeting I realized that I was right where I had wanted to be in my former life. That life I had before kids, the one where I was proud of my degree, and my work experience. The life where I lead a team and worked really hard and was proud of what I did. I told her that it all seemed so clear to me on Wednesday. But now, on Thursday it was all so muddled again. Because stay at home mommy fits too. Because I still want to be a writer. Because I still want to be a blogger. And that I don't think I can do all of the things. How am I going to do all of the things?

To which she said, "It must really suck to be in a place in your life where you have everything you have ever wanted".

Oh. Ouch. Wow. Huh.

Sometimes all you need is a little tough love, even if it's in a sarcastic, not at all mean spirited kind of way. Between voice cracks and giggles I agreed. Somehow this is all part of the plan. A plan I had completely forgotten about. Before I had kids, I was pretty convinced that I would be a working mother. I had a working mother, she had a working mother. Working mother was in my genes. Then I had a baby and all hell broke loose. I could barely mother, let alone work a job outside of the home. That idea of doing both dried up faster than my breast milk. It took almost a year for me to say, "Ok, I'm a mother. A stay at home, all in, committed, mother". And some days I got it right and some days I got it terribly wrong. I had convinced myself via part time seasonal jobs that I was only really good at one thing, Stay at Home Mother. Then I started a blog, and I found that maybe I was good at two things, Stay at Home Mom and blogger, then writer, and then, suddenly I found myself as a working mom too. And each time I morphed into something else, or added on another title, I resisted until I just submitted. But not in a bad way, in a way that I just walked over the line I had been towing for awhile.

You know that part in Sweet Home Alabama when Melanie tells Jake that she loves her life in New York, but when she comes home, Alabama fits too? I feel exactly that right now. I feel like I can be an Assistant Store Manager and a mother. I feel like I can want to be successful at work and successful at home at the same time. I can want this blog and to be a writer, just as much as I want to work and be a mom too. I feel like Working Mom finally fits, but writer, blogger and just plain Mommy fit as well. Is it possible that all the hats really fit? And is it possible to wear them all at the same time? How on earth will they fit then? 

The last week was kind of a whirlwind with traveling and finding some footing in this new "job". Not much has changed, but then in the same breath everything has changed. I'm not so afraid anymore. If I've learned anything, I've learned that we all get put on a journey for a reason. Maybe this one is to remind me of who I am, and what I can do. Maybe it's to change my heart and refocus my goals. Or maybe it's just to see how much I can take before I can crack... Whatever the reason it's going to be fine. It has to be.

Because this fits too.

Mental Health Day {second week of school}

I'm the mom that procrastinated all summer and waited until the second week of August to schedule dentist appointments. And also an eye doctor appointment. This also made me the mom that had to pull her kids out of school for a full day two weeks into the school year. So much for perfect attendance, which in my book is totally overrated. Everyone needs a mental health day right? So I double booked my Thursday, kissed my day off of catching up on my DVR goodbye and hit the road. 

 What Mac wore. White shorts after Labor Day? Sure why not. Elmo purse? It's what's in for fall. Heart shaped sunnies? To die for. This kid cracks me up. And she packed that bag for all it was worth. Crackers to snack on, lip gloss, and an old phone that hasn't worked in years. The essentials.

 No cavities. I was overjoyed. Here's hoping the dentist never reads this blog and knows that I allow my children to snack and drink soda. We also never floss. Guess what was better than the no cavities report? Our new pediatric dentist gives you a free book on your first visit. A free book!! I almost snagged a Bridge to Terabithia for myself. I'm not even joking.

 Since the dentist appointment was almost three hours before our dentist appointment and the offices are just blocks from each other, we decided to enjoy an early lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Let's face it, that food is delicious. My kids eat every single morsel. And I steal their fries when they aren't looking. I was trying to get a good Instagram shot of our lunch, but Mac was shoveling in nuggets so she could go to the play area. That is what she is doing in this picture, while pointing to the play area. 

Barnes and Noble is down the street from Chick-Fil-A, and since we don't get there much, we stopped by. Any excuse to go to a bookstore I say. The kids ran straight for the children's area. 

 Obviously Caitlin found our Christmas presents. 

 Then we joined the protest with the Crayons that quit.

Then Mac saw her buddy Olaf, and said, "Look Mom, I'm picking his nose!".

By the time we picked out books and went through the line, it was time for the eye doctor. We got a good report there as well, and finally we were able to head home. I was exhausted. What day off? But none of that mattered. I had so much fun cutting school with these girls. We had most of the places to ourselves since other, more organized mothers scheduled these kinds of outings during the summer. I realized that sometimes you just have to take the time when it's given. Sure I could have taken Caitlin back to school, but I decided against it. We spent the day together, happy and giggling and picking out books. We enjoyed the day and each others company. I wasn't frazzled mommy, rushing and yelling. I was cutting class mommy, who embraced a day where we all just took a much needed mental health day. 

Because we have perfect mental health day attendance. 

Get your lunch box ready {Paleo To Go}

People ask me all the time, "What is the hardest part about eating a Paleo diet?". The answer is simple, the food prep. When you can't eat grains, dairy, or sugar, you start to get desperate when you have to travel or pack your lunch. It's even harder if you have kiddos that have to live the Paleo/grain free way. I find what tends to happen is that I eat the same thing every day for months on end. Most likely because it's easier, I don't have to put much thought into it, and it saves time. It also gets very, very boring. I've been searching and pinning lunch ideas for almost a month, when I see the Paleo Parents on Instagram talking about their new book, Paleo To Go... They were also looking for people to review it... Hello, jackpot!

Paleo to Go is a fantastic book for those of us on Paleo who are out of ideas and stuck in a rut. It's also a real life saver and an invaluable tool for anyone who is new to the Paleo diet and trying to stick to it. I don't have any issue sticking to the diet because if I stray, I get really sick. But many folks follow the Paleo diet to better their health. If they get desperate one day, they will grab something off the diet. That's ok, but this book will help you so you never have to be forced into that corner again.

Let me tell you what I love about Paleo to Go, it has food lists for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. It also has a sheet for kids to write out their favorite Paleo treats and meals so that you can post it to the fridge. That way packing lunches becomes so much easier. I'm not a kid, but those lists would make meal prep for me so much easier as well. They also list their favorite Paleo Legal convenience items (pictured above without links, sorry). This makes your life even easier when shopping, and takes the guess work out of ingredient list reading in the store. This is a life saver if you are new to the diet as well.

What I also love about Paleo To Go are the recipes. I'm always in the market for new delicious recipes and the Paleo Parents always deliver. I'm especially looking forward to making the Blueberry Breakfast cookie. What is the best part about well tested and top quality recipes provided by the Paleo Parents? The fact that your entire family will enjoy the results as well. They won't even realize that they are eating something that is good for them, let alone grain free, dairy free, and sugar free.

Right now you can get your digital copy of Paleo to Go and a copy of Three Phase Paleo (you can check out my review here) for 40% off, Click here to view more details. That's two amazing e-books for one amazing deal. Plus you can download them to your Kindle or iPad and have all the information at your fingertips no matter where you are. Let me tell you that even if you have been eating the Paleo way for awhile, you will want to invest in both books for the recipes alone. If you are someone who is still unsure about the Paleo diet, if you are looking for a way to eat a healthier lifestyle, or if you are like me and just about allergic to everything including the air... Buy these books. I promise you, these are the real deal and you feel better about yourself and you won't feel deprived for a second.
Still curious? Click here to view more details

If you are a gambling person, visit me on Instagram. I'm giving away a copy of Paleo To Go starting today. For an extra entry leave a comment here letting me know you visited the Paleo Parents and signed up for their newsletter.

Happy eating y'all.

Taking time...

Found these at Barnes and Noble. I need these.

I didn't blog at all this week. In fact I haven't written a thing since Saturday night. I had a few chances to squeeze in some writing, but truthfully, my heart just wasn't in it. There are things happening over here, and none of them have to do with this blog. I've been working close to a full time schedule the last two weeks and I'm overwhelmed and exhausted when I'm home and have a to-do list a mile long. Then when I should be overwhelmed and exhausted, I find myself smiling and laughing with my girls on the way to school, or at Walmart late on a Wednesday night. If I've learned anything in my years as a mother, I've learned to embrace the chaos. I think I've been doing exactly that the last two weeks. Things in my life are changing and as much as I loathe change of any kind, I've tried to be positive about it. I've tried to look change in the eyes this time and hope that change and I can come to a meaningful understanding. I'm going to adapt, I'm going to give it the best college try, because change is going to happen anyway. Fine. I'll accept your friend request change. But I don't have to like your status.

This week I looked at my laptop and sighed. I thought about posting every night, and even enjoyed a day off on Tuesday, but still couldn't bring myself to the laptop. Instead I read some books with the girls, and Caitlin read a few to me. Then one night I made pancakes because it seemed like the thing to do. Another night we watched cartoons and sat on the couch. I was avoiding this space, I'll admit. And I had some bloggers guilt, but I found that it dissipates a whole hell of a lot faster than mommy guilt. That should really be a lesson that I need to listen to. Still I felt the pull, still I missed this place, but not as much as I missed my girls and the Hubbs this week.

It's Friday night and finally I'm able to sit down and type out a few thoughts. It feels good. Not that this is the most inspiring post you have ever read here, but it's real. It's me. I'm tired and I want to go to bed, but tonight, I finally have something to say. What I want to say is that everything is perfect and I feel just fine. But in reality Mac is eating cheese puffs, Caitlin is working on a "craft" that involves glue and fabric and she is doing so on the carpet, and I'm sitting here, kind of watching and kind of not. It's fine. When they need me they will holler. Or scream. Or fight. Possibly set the house on fire. Just kidding.

Kind of.

Sit down...

Last Friday was a day. I worked of course, starting my day at the store at six in the morning. Yes, I said six. I worked until almost two, and then rushed home to change with little time to spare before picking up Caitlin. Of course I got side tracked by old Greys on Lifetime, so the next thing I knew we needed to leave right that minute to get to pick up. And because it's still hot as the sun here, I forgot to grab Capri Suns for the girls. So there we were after school, burning and overheating in the sun. How do we remedy this situation? Starbucks of course.

Let's do some real talk right now. Some of you reading this may be new to this blog, and I realize that you may not know of all my downfalls as a mother. One of the biggest, in the Hubb's eyes, is that both my daughters drink sweet tea. They have been drinking sweet tea since being in utero. Even when my other mama friends were giving up caffeine for their entire gestation, I was sneaking off to Starbucks twice a day for Venti Black teas, extra sweet. After they were born, and twice daily trips to the Bucks was no longer an option, I started making tea at home. So while most of your kids were getting milk and apple juice in their Dora the Explorer sippy cups, mine were drinking sweet tea. And if we ran out while out of the house, they were drinking talls with green straws.

So my girls have known the magic that is Starbucks for as long as they have had memories, so when I asked them what they wanted to drink after school Mackenzie yelled, "Starbucks!!". Now up until this point we have all been getting black teas. It's been like our cool club, but Friday Caitlin asked for a Mocha Frapuchino with out coffee, with whip and caramel swirl. I swear, she said that is verbatim. Looks like Grandma has been teaching her somethings while I have been working. Ok, let's order it. You're in second grade now, get that frap game girl!

We got our frap and our teas, and cookies on the side, because hello, I'm already batting a thousand in the motherhood department, and we went to the grocery store. We get to the store and I put Mac in the cart with her tea, and Caitlin is carrying her frap and her cookie and her face is full of crumbs and her hair is wild and Mac starts asking for powdered donuts because Starbucks cookies aren't her jam today. Whatever. It's Friday. I'm not cooking no matter what happens. So I get what I need plus Lunchables and some powdered donuts and we cruise the store. I break open the donuts and give Mac two. Everyone is happy and sugared and caffeinated within an inch of their lives. Perfect.

As I'm using the self check out I notice another mom. She is there with her son and daughter and they are getting a few things, I don't even pay attention to what. What I do pay attention to is the fact that she keeps staring at me and my children. So I smile, and she gives me the stink eye. The Stink Eye. She gives me the dirtiest look. I haven't gotten one of those in awhile. So I take a minute to regroup. What am I doing that is offensive? I haven't used the eff word. I'm not wearing a cleavage bearing top. My kids aren't being complete assholes in the grocery store. What gives?

Then I look at my girls. Mac has a white powdered ring around her mouth, as if she has been doing blow. Next to her in all her powdered sugar glory is her tall Starbucks cup. Then I look at Caitlin with her wild hair, her shoe boot for her broken toe, and her half drank frap. That's when it hits me, I'm being judged. I'm totally being judged.

I smiled my best, "eat-your-heart-out-bitch smile", stopped and let my kids pick out a lottery ticket (which is pretty much illegal since they are nowhere near 18), and I roll our asses out. But all I really wanted to say was,

"Sit Down".

Sit down lady. There is no coffee in that frap. My kids do just fine with sugar and caffeine and nitrates. I know what you are thinking Jude Judy, you're thinking that I'm breaking all the rules. You're thinking that I didn't read any parenting books to get me ready for this role. But you would be wrong. I did read those books and they made me feel bad about myself. They made me feel like shit. So I threw them out. And if a friend sent me more, I gave them to Goodwill. And yes, I'm breaking all of your rules, but I'm not breaking a single one of mine. Because if I want to feed my kids McDonald's for the rest of the month I will. And if I decided to give them ice cream for breakfast I'll do that too. Because these are my kids. Mine. So I decide. You raise your brats. I'll raise mine. Deal? Now go sit the eff down.

As a side note, my kids looked way happier than her kids. I bet she makes her kids eat kale. Clearly I'm the one doing it right. 

Dear Mom and Dad, Happy Anniversary

photo by Laura Hernandez Photography

Dear Mom and Dad,

Happy Anniversary. Forty years is quite an accomplishment. I should know, I'm married too, and as I've learned, marriage is hard. Like really hard. Why didn't you tell me?

Forty years married, but more years as friends. Thank you for teaching me that marrying your friend is the key. That marrying someone that makes you laugh is everything. Some of my favorite memories are the ones of the two of you laughing and sharing a joke. All the times Dad talked to the TV and made us laugh. All the times Mom said something backwards, and made us laugh harder. 

Thank you for showing me that love was always most important. No matter how mad we got. No matter how much we shouted. You taught me that love is worth every fight. I appreciate that now that I'm married. I realize that there is no perfect marriage. I realize that love is imperfect as well. But despite it's imperfections, it's always worth it.

Thank you for teaching me that there are things more important than money. Probably because we never had any. Thank you for showing me that when we did have a little extra, we spent it on things we would appreciate. Like dinners at Gino's on the Wharf. Or trips to Disneyland when I realize now you should have paid bills. Thank you for that. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes making memories are more important than saving money. I get that you made those sacrifices now.

Mom and Dad, I know that the last forty years haven't been perfect. Most likely they haven't been a sweeping and passionate love story. And that's ok. What's important is that the last forty years have been your love story. There were hard times and happy times, and times when things most likely sucked. But thank you. Thank you for hanging in. Thank you for sticking it out. Thank you for loving each other enough to know you couldn't live apart. I'm not a kid anymore, and I realize now, more than ever, that this is the hardest part of marriage. The sticking by each other. Even when you'd rather sock that person in the jaw. Thank you for making it look easy when I know it was anything but. I appreciate the work you guys put in. I appreciate you both.

Today I want to celebrate you both. Because Dad will buy you a funny card, Mom. And Mom, you will forget to buy him a card at all. I want to celebrate you guys and your success, as friends, as a married couple. Because you Mom and Dad mean the world to me. And you've made my world a better place. 

Happy Fortieth Wedding Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Cheers to many more.

Summertime Blues

It's hard to admit that summer is over when you live in Fresno California. It's still hot. Like over one hundred degrees hot. We go back to school in shorts and tank tops and we laugh at the excitement of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Because it won't be cool until November. At least.

If I could, I would extend summer. I really want to. I feel like this is the summer that escaped me. The summer that I was too tired to live, to tired to breathe, too tired to do anything. The summer that is over, and I feel like I have nothing to show.

This was the first summer I worked since before becoming a mother. It's the first summer I've had to work since my kids were in school. It was weird. My retail schedule did allow for sleeping in, but my kids still had to be shuttled in the hot Fresno sun to caregivers. I had to remain on a schedule of work and mommy, and then working mommy. That was new, and weird, and if I'm honest uncomfortable. It was the first summer I felt like I was missing out.

It was a summer where I was left feeling like we all missed out.

I didn't have a plan for this summer, or a bucket list. I just had one thing I really wanted to do. Just one thing. The beach. I just wanted to take the girls to the beach. Our little piece of heaven, that we enjoy every summer. It's not fancy, and we usually have a picnic of fast food or sandwiches, but we play and laze in the sand. The girls splash in the water and collect shells, and when we leave we are peaceful, refreshed.

The Hubbs and I had conflicting work schedules. And by the second week in August it wasn't in the cards. And I was defeated.

Defeated could have been my word this summer. Defeated because I had to work. Defeated because I was so tired. Defeated because I was defeated. I realize it wasn't fair to my family, but it's what I was. I wasn't fair to myself either. I wanted to write but couldn't, I spent days with my nose in a book or my ass in a chair watching DVR'd shows that I'd seen a million times. Anything to pretend summer wasn't happening.

But it was happening. It did happen.

My hope is that my kids will remember the little things. The fun we had on the fourth of July. The wild party for Caitlin's seventh birthday. I hope their favorite memories are of days spent wandering Target with no agenda and lunch at Panera. Maybe they will look back at ice cream for dinner fondly, or spending late nights outside with the neighbors. When you are seven and four, you know your mom spent the summer working, but you tend to forget that when you also spent the summer in Grandma's pool, and with the neighbors walking the two blocks to the new frozen yogurt place.

I had a case of the summertime blues. I let the circumstances get in the way of my happiness. Sometimes the circumstances seem so big, seem so important but they are not. We had a good summer. We were together. We read books and painted collages and baked a few batches of cookies so mommy could eat her feelings. And while I would have rather been spending the days poolside with my kids, I realize I need to just embrace the circumstances sometimes. The summertime blues didn't mean that I was unhappy, they just meant that I wanted more. I always want more, I always want the best, I always want perfection.

My summer wasn't postcard perfect, but neither is my life. And even though we didn't get to the beach, I'll take this summer for all it's worth. Because no matter the circumstances, this summer was worth it.

This A-hole in the drive thru

Can I ask you a question? Are we turning into a nation of Assholes? Don't laugh. I'm being very serious. Ok, maybe asshole is harsh, maybe I should ask if we are slowing dumbing ourselves to the point of idiocy. I can't put my finger on it, but I really feel like we are slowly turning ourselves into those "humans" in Wall-E. Where everything will soon be decided for us... Case in point:

This Asshole.

Let me set the scene for you. I woke up incredibly early for a meeting at work. Since I'm part of the Management team, I couldn't just roll up as if I had rolled out of bed. Trust me I seriously considered it. But I woke up at an ungodly hour for a Saturday, went to and participated in a meeting, and then as I was leaving decided to take my family breakfast. Because I knew two things for sure, one: there was no effing way I was going to cook breakfast, and two: McDonald's was still serving breakfast for another half hour. Score. My kids can't get enough of high fructose corn syrup and nitrates. So I booked it to McDonald's which isn't really that far from my house and realized that I wasn't the only person on my side of town boycotting the kitchen. The drive through was backed up, almost to the 7-11 in the same parking lot. That 7-11 will have some significance in a minute, I promise.

So here I am at McDonald's now 23 minutes before they forget how to make pancakes and only know how to make chicken nuggets. I'm starting to panic, because if my kids don't get these pancakes, I'm going to have to go home and use my toaster for frozen waffles and that is just an atrocity that I'm not equipped to handle at this moment in time. At 19 minutes before lock down, I have to make the biggest decision of my adult life... Which drive through line to pick. Because my McDonald's has two, to make sure more Americans are getting their McDoubles and hot apple pies. How do you choose? If I go left the right with go faster and if I go right, well vice versa. Well shit, here goes nothing.

I choose right, and I immediately know I've made the biggest mistake of my Saturday morning. I have a feeling that the car in front of me has no idea what is happening, since it sits there for a three car count. A. Three. Car. Count. Which in real life is like five minutes. I look at the clock and realize it's been eight minutes and I break out into a sweat... Eleven minutes until lock down. Eleven.

I'm not sure what the issue is, so I roll down my window with every intention of "helping". I'm not above "helping". And by helping I mean, getting out of my car and walking up to his window and ordering for him. But I refrain when I hear the following...

"Uh, well, I'll have a large Sprite..."

A large Sprite? A fucking large Sprite? Dude. There is a 7-11 literally twelve fucking feet away. You drove right past it and if you had looked out your passenger side window as you sat in this very long and slow moving line for the past, oh I don't know 13 minutes you could have Big Gulped your ass outta my way.

It gets better.

I can hear him and the order taker discussing the menu items offered at breakfast. Then I realize that the order taker is actually explaining and breaking down breakfast sandwiches for this asshole. Sir, excuse me, Sir? Have you ever been to a McDonald's? I mean are you new? Are you an infant? Are you a vegan who has fallen off the wagon?

Then it hits me. This has to be the stupidest person in the world because there are pictures on the menu. PICTURES. And not just pictures of people enjoying food, but pictures of the ACTUAL FOOD TO ORDER. Even better McDonald's has taken out the hard part of having to memorize the names of the food, because they have provided numbers. NUMBERS and PICTURES, of the food. So you can order with ease. So you can order despite the fact if you have a brain or not.

I wish I was making this up. I wish.

So my question is, are we there? Are we to the point that we have dumbed down even the most simplistic things that we are beyond help? Have we some how reversed and become beings that regardless of pictures and numbers still can't even order an Egg McMuffin with hash browns and a coffee? Even if we have no idea what it's called, but we can see it looks delicious and beautiful, and so we yell out a number and then the cashier yells out another number, and then we use our fingers and toes to count out green paper rectangles and metal circles so we can eat our designated number?

Are we really that stupid?

Don't ask me I proceeded to order the wrong breakfast for the Hubbs using the wrong number and picture on the men, and then they shorted me a hash brown because, well it's fucking McDonald's.

Then I went to Starbucks and waited in line for and paid over two dollars for iced tea.

Who's the idiot now?