“I have my own bed!”

Today I was blessed to volunteer with an amazing organization that identifies kiddos without beds so the organization can then offer to provide a bed for FREE. Life changing, right?!

When I told HOS what I would be doing this morning, he let out a sound like someone had punched him in the stomach. I couldn’t have said it better myself. … At least not yesterday.

Now, I can tell you that today I made elementary kids smile. They listened, engaged and laughed. The students were grateful for an impromptu story time, as well as their snack and gift (duh!).

Sure, we had to ask an uncomfortable question, but it wasn’t uncomfortable for the students. They don’t know to feel awkward yet. I wish I were more like them!

One second grade girl – who definitely will grow up to be a leader – even corrected me when I asked them to check the box. The form said, “write an X.” Thank you, little rockstar, for being fearless enough to tell me, the grown up, that I was mistaken.

Another sweet girl hugged me twice in 15 minutes, which melted my heart!

The kids were so innocent and humble.

One little guy stuck in my mind/heart all day. I went to pick up his form and his little chest filled with pride when he looked at me, smiled and said, “I have my own bed! I have an air mattress.”

He was genuinely excited and thankful for that air mattress. It made me wonder how long he had had that luxury. And it is a luxury for him!

This school touched my heart with 20-25% of its students not having their own beds. I was shocked to learn that the program previously visited two other schools in our city, and 50% were without their own bed.

Let me type that again.

FIFTY PERCENT, one in two, half of  the student body at the other two schools did not have beds.


While talking about the program, HOS asked, “How do these kids not have beds?”

What blissful ignorance we have had in our privileged life.

And I never thought I was privileged. …

Life changing is right.




Day 100, #100daysofinspiration

For 100 days, my Instagram and Twitter followers have quietly and calmly endured my daily posts of inspiration. They politely liked my mom-themed, career-focused and vaguely empowering posts. Thank you. And thank you for not unfollowing me … that I know of. 

Good news!!

Today is the 100th day. You may not see another inspirational post from me for the next 1,000 days. You’ve earned that! 

I had the best intentions with my #100daysofinspiration. I bought In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney in November and something inside of me stirred. Normally, this would be related to the Freddy’s steakburger I ate for lunch or the junk food I shoveled into my face before bed. This day was different, though. This day I felt inspired. On a whim, I started my #100daysofinspiration on Instagram and Twitter.

I learned some important lessons while posting the #100daysofinspiration.

  1. 100 days is a long time.
  2. Inspirational memes are awful.
  3. People are all talk (or text).

100 days is a long time.

I had no idea just how long 100 days would be. Sure, I knew the number of days, but have you ever done something every day for 100 days? Nearly 1/3 of THE YEAR?! 

Yeah, neither had I. 

I don’t recommend it.

Inspirational memes are awful.

I know what you’re thinking – uh, DUH!

This isn’t to say someone can’t be inspired by an image or story. We can find inspiration any where. I happen to think it won’t be found by scrolling through non-descript nature photos overlaid with quotes taken out of context from dead people. 

Besides, don’t we all see enough of these memes from our neighborhood Rodan + Fields consultants? 

Just kidding … 

Sort of.

People are all talk (or text).

In this digital age, we all have so much to say. We have plenty of memes to express those sentiments – the #100daysof inspiration showed me that much!

There is a lot of talking and very little walking. 

I’m the perfect example of failing to walk. I posted meme after meme about chasing dreams and putting in the work. I have done very little to follow through on this. 

I think about all the time I spent searching for a quote or a meme, and how much time I spent posting and it’s embarrassing. If I had spent even half that time writing a new book for the kids or continuing education or volunteering, I would feel much better about myself and my “challenge.” 

My next challenge will be 1.) MUCH shorter time period and 2.) focused on action.

At the end of the day, words are only as powerful as we allow. It’s our action, or REaction, that makes all the difference. 

Is Vagina a Bad Word?

You winced a little when you read the word, vagina. Am I right? 

Vagina. Vulva. Clitoris. 

Why do people cringe and/or gawk at you when you talk about these body parts?

You would think I showed someone a pornographic image the way some people react to the word. …

Is it true? Is vagina a bad word?

My daughter and I ate dinner at a friend’s house this evening. There were five girls under the age of 12 running around, two female adults and one male. We were preparing to leave and Charlotte kept grabbing at her crotch. Not thinking anything about it, I asked her:

“Why are you grabbing your vagina? Do you need to go potty?”

Laughter erupted from the three older girls. I mean, sure, vagina is a funy word. I’ll give them that, but you would have thought I told the knock-knock joke of a lifetime. 

As I was taking Charli to the bathroom, I heard the girls’ dad trying to calm them down as they started calling eachother vaginas. He said that they probably haven’t heard the word before.



These girls are roughly 6, 8 and 11 years old. The oldest could start her period any day. And, they have never heard the word vagina? 

We use terms like “pee-pee,” “privates,” and “down there” as viable alternatives to existing anatomical words. We don’t call elbows “arm-bends” or fingers “pointers.” Why create ridiculous words for vagina or penis?

The prudish way in which we treat sexual organs creates this mystery and discomfort. I’ve known many young people to react to reproductive organs and sex in ways not unlike the reaction many youth have to alcohol or drugs. 

We create the forbidden fruit for our children by how we choose to teach and explain. 

What do I know, though. Right? 

My daughter is only 3 years old. She thinks her dad has a vagina.

Then again, she doesn’t laugh when people say vagina. She doesn’t wince, cringe or look away awkwardly. She can talk to me about her body. 

I can’t even say the same for myself. I can’t talk to my doctors about my vagina, vulva or whatever without averting my eyes and laughing awkwardly. 

I hope this post and the 11 times I mentioned vaginas (oops, 12) helped desensitize you to the word. 

Also, sorry, dad. … This was probably very uncomfortable for you to read. I can understand that! 

Emotionally Speaking

The mind is a truly amazing thing. It can be highly controlled and systematic, or it can throw into an emotional abyss. I lean more toward the latter…

One moment, I was excited,  and a little stressed, about planning my wedding.

A split-second later I was consciously fighting off a sadness/panic/whatever attack when it hit me with a new, stronger realism. My mom wil not be at my wedding. 

I knew that. 

Of course, I knew that. 

Yet there I was, blinking quickly a breathing like a ’90s mom in Lamaze class! I was in rare form because I successfully fought back the attack, but I still feel the lingering ache from the emotional bruise of that moment. 

I wish I had a positive twist to this post. I wish a miracle would happen and mom would be here, but that is impossible. 

I will soon be Mrs. HOS. I will be surrounded by people I love, marrying the man I love. The day will be beautiful and perfect. 

No matter how amazing my day will be, I’ll still have a little ache in my heart. And I think that’s good. I feel this sadness because my mom was a blessing. I love her, and I miss her. If she wasn’t a meaningful part of my life, I wouldn’t bat an eye. 

Instead, I’ll be wiping them. Frequently. 

And reapplying mascara quickly. 

Thank you, mind, for reminding me a little of what I lost, but mostly of what I earned. 

Life Lessons from Snapchat

My 14-year-old niece recently taught my how to use Snapchat after finding out that I’m neither as trendy nor as tech-savvy as she had previously assumed. I’ll be honest. I still don’t get it. Why am I sending a Snapchat and a text message to the same person at the same time? Can’t I simply text the image?! 


Anyway! A college friend added me and sends me pictures and videos of all the concerts, bars and events he frequents. The only thing I frequent is my refrigerator. 

I mean, c’mon! It’s a week night and he was sending me videos of bands I would like to know, but who has time for their own music when I’m listening to Fisher Price’s Little People CDs and Let It Go? (And yes, we are still listening to that damn song from Frozen.)

Naturally, I felt a little lame in comparison. I send pictures of my daughter, my cat, and my unruly hair. That is [most of] my life. 

In my best efforts to compete in this world of Snapchat, I sent a picture of my beautiful Charlotte and made a quip about her being my wild, and often times crazy, life. 

My friend conceded, but I still felt like I was missing out some how. 

Until I turned off my brain and really looked at my life. 

We, as parents, need reminders like these so we don’t go insane. Reminders that we traded in our nightlife (and everything else!) for something much bigger [to us] than a concert. 

There will be many experiences in this life that I will “miss out on” because I’m a mom. This isn’t the first time I felt envious of a non-parent, nor will it be the last. It is fleeting, though. I can handle missing out on things. I would be devastated if I missed out on Charli. 

Besides, we can hold a dance party as good as the rest of them. 😉   

So what’s the life lesson of my story? Be grateful for the life you have, and don’t expect any exciting nightlife Snapchat messages from me. I’ll most likely be sleeping. 

30 x 30 – Checking In

On December 9, 2012, I posted a 30 x 30 post with 30 goals I wanted to accomplish by the time I reached the age of 30. With my 28th birthday just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to see what I’ve accomplished to date.

In this case, I’m looking at all the things I haven’t accomplished, and a number of things I don’t care about any more.

  • I completed five of the 30.
  • I struck eight items from the list.
  • I revised two items.

If I had to select five things I wanted to accomplish in the next two years, I would choose the following:
Have baby #2
Move into a new home
Publish a children’s book
Volunteer more
Spend more time with the kiddo[s]

What would you do?

Here is my revised 30 x 30 goals in no particular order …

1. Take up yoga  What? Why?
2. Donate to Locks of Love
3. Volunteer more
4. Plan and execute at least one fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research I was still fairly new to motherhood when I wrote this. I was very optimistic. Let’s change this to participate in fundraiser.
5. Have a children’s book published
6. Learn html n/a
7. Strengthen my CSS “skills” n/a
8. Earn a position as a manager or director of marketing I love my current job. I have no desire to leave in the foreseeable future.
9. Start AND finish some of the DIY projects from my Pinterest Done! I did some… They were usually failures, but that counts!
10. Taste test a recipe from my Yum! board once a month I basically do this every monthly now when I meal plan. Trying new recipes with a nearly 3-year-old? I might as well buy the food, bring it home and throw it away.
11. Write a book for Charlotte each Christmas Each birthday… I’m counting it.
12. Start a Christmas Tradition – adopt-a-family, food drive, something charitable
13. Start a Christmas Tradition – giving one homemade gift to each family member
14. Have my second baby
15. Get married SOON!
16. Give Shane’s house a much needed makeover Why bother? See #17.
17. Buy a house
18. Adopt a dog Not if I’m planning on #14.
19. Plant a vegetable garden I did. I can count the veggies of my labor on one hand. *sigh*
20. Cook a holiday dinner all by myself
21. Give up soda Who drinks soda when they can drink Monster? Which is what I really need to give up….
22. Refresh Spanish skills and possibly take some classes
23. Teach Charlotte basic Spanish with the help of her Papa
24. Learn how to do fun braids and hairstyles for Charli Impossible witchcraft.
25. Write a business plan for a maternity store in either Topeka or Manhattan Good thing this didn’t happen because I have no interest in it any more!
26. Keep Charlotte’s photo album up-to-date
27. Make sure Charli knows her grandparents who already passed away
28. Visit Canada
29. Fly over the ocean – preferably to Europe or Australia
30. Visit all 50 states*


*I have already visited the gray states.

I’m Breaking Up With You, Wings

I’m currently in the midst of making some decisions that will drastically alter my life. I have ignored, hid from, dodged and ran away from this problem for too long, and now the change will be painful.

My Heart Hurts

Who am I kidding? My current situation is painful!

I am in love with double bacon cheeseburgers, greasy chips, gas station burritos (and meat loaf), chicken wings and most other similar foods of this wholesome nature. Sadly, the feeling is not mutual.

Tummy Ache

I’m tired of this one-sided relationship and all the belly-aching that comes from it – literally and figuratively. It’s time to stand up for myself. Enough is enough!

I’m breaking up with you, wings!

And you, too, double bacon cheeseburger! (But I’m keeping your number… You know, just in case.)

It’s not you, it’s me.

Ok, it’s you, but only because I can’t take your abuse any longer.

This is one of the most difficult break-ups of my life. These amazing, tantalizing foods are every where. People will consume them in my presence, mocking my “healthy” life choices.

I’ll reach a low point when I will probably cut chicken breasts into wing shapes, marinade them in a sweet chili sauce and bake them, pretending they are real wings. Lies and disappointment.

I’m going to be emotional for a while, but like the thousands of break-up memes on Google say:

I need to pour myself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull myself together because I’ll never find the right [food] if I don’t let go of the wrong [food].
I was happy before chicken wings, and I’ll be happy after them!

Each night I lay my head down on the pillow, I will tell myself I’m stronger because I’ve gone one more day with you wings.

Just know this chicken wings, my decision was not settled upon easily. For now, I really need you to respect my wishes and give me some space. 

I miss you already.

There Is A First Time For Everything

Last night marked another “first” in my life. After the student presentations were completed and the clock struck 8:15, I ended my first class as an instructor!

Like most firsts, the experience was highly anticipated, awkward at times, exciting at others and a little bit of a disappointment. 

I come from a line of educators. I dreamed of teaching a class since I decided to earn my MBA, so I built up this idea of myself in this role. It was like dreaming of your first kiss. You think about it and dream about it so much you can almost feel the brush of lips against yours… Or you can almost see students hanging from your every word.  (Same thing, right?)

The anticipation is so strong, it’s a distraction. Initially, I was worried about being the hip, young instructor. I wanted to be respected and adored. But, being the new teacher that I was, I made a fool of myself once or twice. It’s not unlike your first high school dance. After showing your “best” move, it can only get better! 

I had glimpses of the success I had previously envisioned. There were classes when students engaged and answered thoughtfully, days when you could see the connections being made. It was exciting in the way it was exciting to drive solo for the first time. Exhilarating and, yet, very scary. 

After all the excitement, anxiety, time and energy, I was left feeling disappointed. I’m not disappointed in them or what they accomplished. I’m disappointed in myself.

I wanted more for my students. 

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. There are any number of ways I can improve my class. I’m looking forward to implementing some of those changes this summer. But I’ll never have another first semester of teaching. 

It’s like looking back on your first love. While in the relationship, all you could see were the flaws in the other person, but now? Now you see yourself more clearly. You see what you could have done, or what you should have said. You see what should have happened. And you wonder, if only…

Trust me, I have some “if only” thoughts about my class, but I’m ok with that. I’m growing and learning. I’m listening and adapting my lectures. 

Next semester will be better because of the issues with disrespect. I will be better for it. 

Next semester will be better because of all the “sensitive feedback,” otherwise know as whining. 

Next semester will be better because of each student in my class.

We all have a few first time experiences we would rather forget. This class wasn’t one of them for me. 

I teach undergraduates this summer. I’m looking forward to my class where I will undoubtedly embarrass myself because that’s what I do. My goal is to implement changes that will decrease my disappointment in my performance, and increase my feelings of satisfaction. 

It’s going to be a good semester! And hey, it’s my first time teaching undergrad! 

A Lesson in Humility

I’m terrible about vehicle maintenance. TERRIBLE.

I’m so terrible about the maintenance, that I often wait until the last possible moment to fill my tank with gas. It’s not that I can’t afford it or that I don’t have the time. I just don’t think about it.

Friday morning, at about 5:25 am, it caught up to me.

I was at a stoplight less than a block away from my 5:30 am bootcamp. I knew I was pushing the limits of my gas tank, so I was planning to stop at the gas station on the corner. (The corner I was sitting at.) Random bright red lights all turned on on my dash. I thought that was a little strange, but what did I know about cars. I didn’t even know what half the lights meant…

It took less than 5 seconds for me to find out. Those lights were the desperate plea from my car to give it gas. They were my car’s last words.

Then she died.


At 5:25 am, just inside the entrance to the gas station. I was a mere 20-25 yards from the pump. So close, and yet…

I popped my car into neutral, walked around the back and pushed as hard as I could. I cannot describe how pathetic I looked as my car nudged forward an inch (if that)! I pushed again and again. When I stood up to catch my breath, the car rolled backward losing what little ground I had gained.

Naturally, I laughed.

A few years ago, I would have cried or yelled. I would have called someone to come help me, but no good friend should call someone at 5:30 am to ask for help pushing their car 25 yards. That’s embarrassing, people!

I switched up my strategy. I have no arm strength, but I’ve always had solid quads! I leaned my back against my car, squatted low and pushed with my legs. Ha-HA!

Ok, so it wasn’t a complete success, but it was better than pushing with my arms.

By this point, one car had gone around me and another car was passing by. A man in a beat up vehicle was on his phone, smoking a cigarette when I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. His car slowed as he drove by me. I’m sure I looked pretty comical in my feeble attempts to push my car.

Two seconds later, he rolled down his window and said, “Do you need some help?”

“YES!” without hesitation.

He told someone on the phone that he would call them right back. He hopped out and told me to steer. Well, that’s a little presumptive, right?


It took less time for this scrawny, wonderful person to push my car to the pump than it took me to make and lose 6 inches of ground.

I thanked this stranger over and over. I considered hugging the guy, but I realized that would be super awkward. I thought about offering him money, but thought it might insult him. Instead, I smiled and I thanked him for saving me.

I watched as he drove away, and I learned something about myself.

I was not worthy of that man’s help. Any day of the week, I wouldn’t have thought twice about some random, scrawny guy smoking a cigarette in a beat up car. I would have probably passed judgement on him for no reason at all. Yet, he is the one to stop and help me. He probably had somewhere to be (why else would you be out and about that early?), but he took the time to offer help to a person in need.

I’m big about helping others, donating money, giving time, etc. Somewhere along the lines, I created this misguided perception of what a person in need looks like. It’s only fitting that a little divine intervention would put my in my place.

We are all people in need. And every one of us has the potential to be a hero.

The minute you forget that, you’ll receive a gentle reminder from the man upstairs.

Also, I need to work on my arm strength. That was very, very sad.

Emotional Disaster: Wedding Planning Without My Mom

Planning my wedding has reopened a wound in my heart that took years to heal. Learning to cope with the loss of someone you love is never easy, and those of us who are left behind will experience events in our lives – like planning a wedding – that will weaken our emotional infrastructure and leave us vulnerable and fragile.

The most difficult part of planning my wedding is not having my mom. There is a laundry list of experiences we will not share because she was taken from me far too soon.

I felt like I was handling the emotions well, but HOS, Charli and I spent the weekend in Nebraska with my mom’s side of the family. Simply being in Nebraska makes me think of mom. And today, at my mom’s sister’s house, I saw the buffet that stood in our kitchen for as long as I can remember. I touched the smooth wood, opened the drawers and the cupboard doors that were once filled with mom’s things. For a second, I felt like I was back home, and that she would come around the corner.

My emotional support beams were weakened.

My aunt gave me a gift when we left. She told me tonight that she needed to do it for my mom. She went on to tell me that before mom died, the two of them cried knowing that mom would not be here for my wedding day.

Any remaining emotional stability has since been washed away by a steady flow of silent tears that I can’t seem to suppress.

Charlotte asked me to cuddle with her when she was going to sleep. I lay next to her, cupping her face with my hand and poured tears onto her pillow while she sucked her fingers and stared into my eyes. I made her promises that I can’t make. They aren’t mine to make, but I made them any way.

“I will be there when you grow up.”

“I will be there when you get married.”

“I will be there when you have your babies.”

And with each statement, that precious little girl would say, “Ok, mama.”

Then, she removed my hand from her face. Charli reached out and stroked my cheek. She smoothed my hair and gently caressed my face with her little toddler hand for a few minutes before booping me on the noise.

Charlotte is so innocent and beautiful and filled with loved. Those sweet three minutes or so told me something I’ve never considered before…

Of course my mom cried knowing she would not be here, but it was more than that. I know her better than that. Her tears were just as much for me as they were for her. She knew that I would be here, puffy-eyed, mascara-stained and heartbroken as I’m about to marry the man I love more than any other. She didn’t want that for me any more than she wanted to miss my wedding day.

In an emotional disaster, not unlike a natural disaster, there is only one thing to do after the storm passes – rebuild. Nail by nail, board by board, I will reconstruct my emotional stability. Maybe I’ll find some reinforcements to prevent another collapse. Lord knows, I don’t need to breakdown at the wedding!

Let the rebuilding begin.