Ahead of the Game

Every year my Mom asks me what I want for my birthday. Most years I do not have a good answer right away. Which is not good, because immediately after I finally decide what I want for my birthday I have to decide what I want for Christmas. This month of gift-receiving stresses me out each year.

And each year I decide to keep track of what I want earlier in the year so I’m ready. And each year I don’t.

Graham has a July birthday, perfectly timed to spread out the gift receiving. Tessa’s birthday comes 2 months after Christmas so she can see what’s missing from her haul and put it on her second list. But for me they’re less than 3 weeks apart and come in a rush. It is the burden of all December/early January babies.

So I figured I’d take a few minutes and sit down and try to figure out at least some things I’d like. Because I have five minutes, which is pretty awesome.

 Ahead of the Game Ahead of the Game
A Webcam

My laptop’s webcam sucks. I need something easier than my fancy camera. So I’d love an external webcam so I can start churning out Need to Read videos like nobody’s business. My future is on BookTube. I can feel it. (Or at least it will be fun.) My eye is on the(affiliate link!) Logitech HD Portable 1080p Webcam C615. And look, Mom, free shipping with Amazon Prime. I know you love that. 

A Haircut

I believe this was my gift last year and it’s very sad that it’s taken me almost an entire year to schedule another haircut. Haircuts are expensive when you have curly hair. Haircuts seem like a luxury I don’t have time for (along with dentist appointments and other such trivialities) I’m trying a different option this time and I have an appointment the evening before my birthday. Perfect timing. 

A Gift Card to Pretty Much Anywhere

I always need things. I still have a sadly small wardrobe that I add one or two pieces to each month. Most of them scored on sale. Occasionally one where I bite the bullet and pay full price because I need it and the sale just doesn’t come. I need clothes, shoes, jewelry, makeup, all those things that I wish I didn’t need but I do. And while I hate spending money on them, I like getting them. It’s nice doing things like this for myself. Plus I’m going to ALT in January and my closet is NOT ready. (Expect some pleas for style advice in about 6 weeks.)

Don’t give me money. Because I will use it to pay bills. Or save up for a deposit on a new apartment. And while I need to do those things, I also  need to have a birthday. I really, really do.

An Audible Subscription

This isn’t a requirement, since I have developed a pretty good system of suspending my subscription so I don’t pay anything and then buying books that go on sale for under $5. But it would make it a lot less work. Audiobooks have been a delight and a source of amusement and happiness. (Right now I am listening to Yes Please and yes I will be writing about it soon. It is wonderful. I am starting to feel like Amy Poehler is narrating my life. I can literally hear her reading this post aloud as I’m writing it.) When the kids are gone it is very quiet in the house for days on end. I walk around with my speaker and listen to audiobooks and feel better. 

A Hardcore Winter Coat

So right now I have 3 coats, which sounds like more than enough unless you live somewhere that has a hardcore winter and then it is not nearly enough. One is my it’s-not-that-cold coat, which is cute and black and only goes to 40 degrees or so. Actually, Mom, you were there when I got it at Costco in Atlanta. Next there is my red peacoat, a go-to for much of the cold weather, especially if I’m wearing a sweater or dressing up. (Yes, this was my birthday present a couple years ago.) And then there’s my warmest coat, a red L L Bean number I got on clearance in Connecticut at the outlet store that insulates so well that I die of heat on the bus.

But the problem is that ALL of these coats only hit my waist or my hips. And when you are outside in the legit cold and ridiculous wind in a coat that goes only to your hips, you learn to hate everyone walking around with their knee-length and ankle-length coats, which were not a thing you knew existed and you lived in the Rocky Mountains for 14 years! These are the coats of the Northeast. They are the coats of Canadians. They are serious and I want one. I am tired of having cold legs. I probably need to go to the store and try some on to pick one, but all of these look so delightful.

A Gift Card Just For Going Out to Lunch

I bring my lunch most days, I eat at home on the days Tessa has therapy. But there’s usually one day each week where I just don’t have it together enough or didn’t get to shop for supplies and have to buy my lunch. Often this coincidentally overlaps with Pizza Friday, where me and some of my super cool work buds meet up and get pizza (even if we’re planning to drink our suspicious-looking green smoothie in a leftover pasta sauce jar that looks like pesto, but end up getting pizza, too, even if we’re allegedly vegan and probably shouldn’t be eating pizza, and yes I mean you, Austin). 

It would be nice to not feel guilty about Pizza Fridays. Because everyone could use one day a week where they don’t have everything all together and let one little thing (like lunch) slip. 


Wow, this was actually a lot easier than I expected it would be. Maybe I just need to write a blog post about what I want for my birthday every year.

Also: I would love some Christmas Eve pajamas. Every year when I don’t come home and I don’t get pajamas and everyone else does it’s wicked depressing. It’s already depressing I’m not there, and missing this one tradition makes it that much worse. However, this doesn’t mean you should get me some ridiculous pajamas, I know you love doing that. So we’re clear, this is about as festive as I’m willing to get.

I have to say, it felt kind of nice to gratuitously talk about stuff I want in a blog post.

Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014

Lined Pants 300x300 Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014The other day I posted a picture of Graham’s new lined pants. They’ve been a staple of his winter wear since we moved to Boston when he was just a toddler. Tessa’s now wearing his fleece-lined toddler jeans and I search out fleece-lined uniform pants for him to wear during the school year every fall. 

But the lined pants make me a little crazy because they’re not consistently carried by the same retailers all the time. Mostly, though, it’s two things:

  • They’re more common in toddler sizes than kid sizes.
  • They’re more common for boys than girls.

Neither of these makes much sense to me. Are toddlers colder? Do girls not need warm legs? But nevertheless I figured I’d do everyone a service and put together the most comprehensive list of lined pants for kids I could find. (I’m in a couple of affiliate programs, but I’ll make no money on the vast majority of these links.) Consider it my gift to you. Especially if you have a girl over 5 who needs lined pants. 

If I missed anything, please throw it in the comments and I’ll happily update!

Note: all prices are full price at the time I wrote the post, sale prices were there on several at the time of this writing but I stuck to the main price for this list. No athletic pants, fleece pants, or snow pants.

affiliate links pic Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014Let’s go in alphabetical order… (Update: Added Target and Hanna Andersson.)


 Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014
Lined Pull-On Pants from Crazy8

Crazy 8


 Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014
Jersey-Lined Corduroy Pants from Gymboree


Hanna Andersson

L. L. Bean

Lands End

Old Navy

Osh Kosh



Lined Pants Collage Where to Buy Lined Pants for Kids: November 2014

The Perfect Fall Brunch

sponsored post image The Perfect Fall BrunchIt’s no secret that I love brunch. And I love cocktails with brunch. But I tend to be kind of choosy about my brunch cocktails. I don’t want anything too strong or too heavy. Not too sweet either, but a little sweet and a little light is good. There’s a reason the mimosa is such a popular brunch drink. Bright, pleasant, bubbly, perfect.

The lovely folks over at St. Elder asked if I’d do a fall brunch and try out some of their favorite fall brunch cocktails. They did not have to twist my arm.

I teamed up with my partner-in-crime Kathy because she is wonderful and she bakes. Baking is definitely helpful.

Pancakes 1 The Perfect Fall Brunch

Friends with sourdough starters are excellent. We knew we had some serious cocktail work to do so we started the meal off with these Sourdough Pancakes with Apple Compote so we’d have plenty of time for tasting. (And photographing.) Pancakes and compote give you plenty of opportunities to throw in seasonal flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.

We decided to start off with the light and bubbliest cocktails and work our way up.

First up: the Classic Elder Shandy. 

Classic Elder Shandy 1 The Perfect Fall Brunch

Classic Elder Shandy Drink and Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

I do love cider, and the Elderflower liqueur gives it a nice herbal tinge that adds depth. Honestly, this is a great year-round cocktail. When do you not want a drink with apple-y sweetness, the scent of citrus, that’s nice and refreshing?

Next on the agenda, the Lemon Flower Spritz.

Lemon Flower Spritz with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

Perhaps the best discovery of this cocktail adventure was Sipp. The Lemon soda was mild and herbal and added great flavors without too much sweetness. Worked so nicely with the prosecco and the elderflower. I want to mix that Sipp with everything. In Boston you can find Sipp at Savin Hill Specialties in Dorchester, Roche Bros in Quincy, and Deluca’s Market on Newbury Street. Live elsewhere? Check here. Or order online here

The Lemon Flower Spritzer was great for spritzer lovers, one of the favorites of the day, a more chic and sophisticated Mimosa. (Yes, there are ice cubes in it. Sorry about that. But I forgot to put the Prosecco and the Sipp in the fridge and I wanted a cold drink, darn it.) And can we just stop to appreciate the adorableness of baby Prosecco bottles? I want to cuddle them. (And then drink them.)

Then we moved into the slightly harder drinks. Pacing ourselves, as you do. Next was the Elder Rum Shandy. 

Elder Rum Shandy with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

Another reason Kathy is handy? She’s the kind of person who already has nutmeg at her house and a new bottle of local rum. I am a sucker for cocktails with fresh grapefruit, I find that it brings something you don’t expect. We sampled this one twice, once before adding the cider and once after. It’s pretty great either way, one as a real DRINK and the other as a refreshing more brunchy drink. Another benefit of the “top with cider” approach to drinks is you can make it heavier or lighter depending on how much you add.

And lastly: the Honey Blossom Shandy.

Honey Blossom Shandy with Recipe The Perfect Fall Brunch

I don’t see many successful whiskey-based cocktails, but using the Hard Honey definitely brought a smoothing note to the sweeter mixers that helped them blend well with the whiskey. This would be a great one for the men who turn up their noses at more girly cocktails.

I’ve always been a fan of elderflower liqueur (I love to add it to my G&T’s) but these were definitely ways of using it I’d never thought of. The cocktails were mostly basic and simple without a need to buy a lot of random mixers. Using the cider was great, I love having cider in the house and it’s a great option for those who want it straight without the cocktails.

Any of these cocktails would be a great option for those hours of holiday food prep when everyone’s around and getting busy but you don’t want anything too hard so you can keep your wits about you near the stove. A great way to lighten up the day and get everyone in the spirit with some seasonal flavors. 

Thanks to St. Elder for putting together an amazing box of goodies and mixers to help put this post together. It was so much fun!

Rewriting the Narrative

10 years ago my whole life was in upheaval. Anniversaries tend to stick around in my head, and the fact that I’m in upheaval again has made it stick even more.

It was a weird time. I’d just finished law school. I was waiting for my bar exam results to start my life as an independent, working, contributing member of society.

The last couple years of school I went through a serious crisis of faith but when I graduated I decided to start fresh and go all in at church. It was near the end of the year that my best efforts fell through and I figured out once and for all that I couldn’t live that way anymore.

And then there was Giles, my first non-Mormon boyfriend. Who was also 4 years my junior, which feels like eternity when you’re only 24. 

During just a few months I rewrote my entire life plan. It was terrifying. It was lonely. But I’m proud of how I got through that time because after I finally took a month or two to re-figure out the world, I decided where to go from there. And I’m still moving in the same direction a decade later. I figured it out. It stuck. It’s something I’ve never questioned at all. 

I stayed up for a little while last night re-reading my diary from the couple of months I spent in Florida with Giles. It was a tumultuous relationship, which I wasn’t used to. He was openly interested in me, which I wasn’t used to. And there was probably no future in it, which I wasn’t used to.

What I was used to: short, genial relationships with Mormon boys where I fell hard and immediately. I pined and waited and was too into them and started imagining our wedding and then got dumped. I can’t step into any of their shoes and say exactly why they dumped me, but the general gist was I wasn’t the girl they were going to marry and that was that. That’s how things worked there. 

This new relationship was so weird and different. I would say how I felt. Then I would second-guess myself and worry and feel like I’d ruined everything… but it’d turn out okay. So I would say how I felt again. Followed by worry, psyching out, etc. But it would be okay again. At one point I wrote that we were fighting and I wanted to say, “You don’t even know me,” but realized I couldn’t. Because he actually knew me pretty well. Because for once I wasn’t hiding myself and just trying so hard not to be dumped.

I didn’t fully get to rewrite the narrative on my dating life because we weren’t together long (I was only in Florida for 2 months) and after that I only had one more relationship (a bad one) before I met someone I decided to marry. So now it’s like I’m picking up a thread I dropped a long time ago and figuring out what to do with it.

I know I’m not who I was while dating from 17 to 24. And I’m not who I was when I was dating from 24 to 26. Who am I now? Well, I’m not positive. I can’t tell you exactly who I’m looking for. But there are a few priorities that I feel comfortable with.

  • I have to feel it hard. No half measures. (This is something I agree with thoroughly.)
  • I don’t ask for perfect, but I do ask for honest. Because I am no longer the girl who won’t say what she thinks or how she feels to please you and I expect the same from a partner.
  • If I think there’s a future in it, that’s enough. But I’m going to do my utmost not to write out that future too quickly. There’s a lot of things that can screw up your future that take time to show.
  • I don’t ask for perfect, but it needs to be mostly good. Like way more than half. Let’s say it needs to bring approximately ten times more joy to my life than it brings trouble or stress. Not that stress should be a dealbreaker per se, but I don’t have room for much more.

Not on the required list, but on the sure-would-be-nice list (which is crazy long) is to have someone get for-reals hung up on me. This has not really happened much for me, maybe not at all. I don’t really know why. 

Giles and I have been chatting recently, going back and re-processing the time we spent together. Those are always revealing conversations. “I was struck by you,” he said, about seeing me the night we met. I laughed and I’m still a little skeptical because I’d just cut my hair very short, I wasn’t exactly looking my best, and I doubt I was really projecting much of an attitude of confidence. 

I’d like to think now that I’m pushing 35 I have a sense of style and attitude I lacked then. I don’t, really, but I do have a sense of security and comfort with myself that I didn’t have then. Not that it’s doing me any favors in the dating department, or at least not so far. 

Mostly I’m just glad I haven’t thrown in the towel in frustration. I’m still slowly chipping away. I don’t have time to go out as much as I did a few months ago. But I slip one in every so often. They generally vary from okay to pretty nice. And so far I haven’t punched through a wall or anything because it shouldn’t be this hard and take this long and make me this lonely. But yeah, otherwise, you know, it’s not the worst. Today I’m feeling okay about it. And that’s something.

Let’s Do This

Tomorrow I have a meeting with two of my favorite people to start one of my favorite things. 

It’s Listen to Your Mother Season. 

It’s time for Cheryl, Phyllis, and me to set the wheels turning to make this big crazy machine go. This is our second year running the show and my third year participating. It’s amazing how much more confident I feel this year, how much less intimidated I am by the task ahead. 

From the beginning, LTYM has been oddly tied to my deepest self. Not because I identify so deeply as a mother (I really don’t) but because my ex didn’t come to that first show and everything exploded that day when I came home. I was so happy that day but it was muffled knowing that everyone there had a proud husband celebrating them… except me. The ladies in my show were the first to know about the split that followed and we all know what happened from there.

Doing it last year meant a lot to me to reclaim myself and do something meaningful knowing there would be no one there cheering for me. Sure, they’d  be cheering for all of us, me included, but I wouldn’t have my fan club. And everyone else would. And that’s exactly how it went down and I made it. I made it, I loved it, and I felt happy about it even without a cheering section. I have to do stuff for me, it’s the way things work now and this was one of the best things I could do.

So of course I am back. They will have to pry this show from my cold dead hands and my tear-streaked face. (I am always the cry-er. Auditions, for me, are basically like watching Love Story on repeat for hours and hours.) 

This year I am reading. I don’t know what I’m reading, but I’m definitely doing it.

It’s hard because there are so many things I want to say but I don’t know what the one thing is I really have to say.

I want to talk about the other-ness of being a single parent surrrounded by coupled parents. It’s kind of like being the kid on crutches at recess. 

I want to talk about being a mother who primarily identifies as herself rather than someone else’s parent. And how everyone may say wonderful and inspiring things about parenting but you don’t have to agree.

I want to talk about breaking out of babyhood and finding the little people that exist inside your kids and watching them get more interesting every day. 

I want to be funny, if only so I don’t cry.

I want to talk about respecting our kids enough to let them fight battles, get their hearts broken, deal with pain and intolerance and all the terrible stuff in the world.

At least it’s clear that I want to talk about being a mother this year. It’s unavoidable. I wasn’t sure last year, I had even less direction when it came to reading something and so I didn’t read. But this year, I may be pointing in 10 different directions but each of them goes somewhere interesting and worthwhile. I’ve just got to decide which one is THE ONE. 

Oh, and then I’ve got to write a piece so amazing it’ll fit with the other pieces which will all be so epically amazing I’ll still feel unworthy and have to ask other people to tell me mine really is good enough. 

So yeah. 6 months till Mother’s Day, a half a year I get to spend on something joyful and utterly worthwhile and that will put me through at least a few boxes of tissues. Because I still cry the 3rd time I’ve heard a piece. I can’t help it. 

And if you really want to get in the Motherhood spirit, I’m oversharing in an even overshare-ier way than usual. The day after LTYM Boston last year, I still felt frustrated that I’d never found my big piece to read. So instead I did the Boston Birth Story Slam. And scared the room (which had far too many innocent, naive, still-childless women) away from ever ever giving birth. (If that wasn’t clear enough, it’s a bit graphic and horrifying in a hilarious way.) Enjoy.