Friday, September 28, 2012

girls on the run

MOLLY BARKER is the founder of Girls on the Run International, Athleta’s charitable partner. A four-time Ironman Hawaii finisher who holds a master’s in social work, Molly combined her passion for sport, her counseling and teaching expertise, and her research on adolescent issues to develop and deliver the first Girls on the Run® curriculum to 13 girls in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996. The innovative, experiential program combines training for a 5k event with life-changing, confidence building lessons that enhance the physical and mental health of 8 to 12 year-old girls. Today, Girls on the Run is offered in over 150 cities across North America and hundreds of thousands of girls and women’s lives have been changed by the program. Learn more and get involved at »

Monday, September 24, 2012


I remember an exercise I did at a church function in high school. We broke up into groups and were assigned names of people from the other groups. We had to come up with a list of things we liked about that person -- what we thought were funny, kind, chracteristics we admired. Anything. And then share them with the big group all together for them to hear.
What I didn't expect was how I would feel hearing the affirming things that the group said about ME. I was floored. People think THAT about me?? I mean, so often, we know our friends hang out with us, like us, or maybe we don't know if someone likes us. Hearing things like, "she always makes us laugh", "she makes these funny facial expressions that crack us up" (hmm, we know about this don't we?) was a total game changer for me. I always felt awkward, unattractive, klutzy. Now, I realized, people liked those silly qualities!
I came away from that feeling so full. What a great exercise. We need affirmation all the time. Some people are shy of compliments. Some people are compliment whores (ahem, I don't know what you are talking about!). But whether it is a spoken word, a written note, or an action, affirmation is what gives us that feeling of, "yep, I'm worth it". Not in a L'Oreal kind of way folks.
I want my children to feel affirmation every day. I want to smile to them when I walk in the room. Or they come home from school, I want them to see me happy to see them. I want my husband to walk in the door after a long day at work, and know that I appreciate him. But this often takes effort after a long tiring day at the office. It’s a work in progress.
Nevertheless, take my advice, share affirmation whenever you get the chance. Tell your children, your spouse, your mom, what you appreciate them for.
Share writers that you love. Pieces of work that touch you. If you think they are 'too popular', 'too big' to care – this is so not true. I look at pages with thousands more fans than me, and I know that they enjoy compliments, too.

Song: The Way I am   Artist: Ingrid Michaelson

Thursday, September 20, 2012

for me, it's you

Train and Mat Kearney played here in The Woodlands last Friday. And while I wish I had taken my notepad to record some of those heartfelt moments…I didn’t. Even with the unrelenting storms passing through the area that evening, the concert was nothing short of memorable.

Mat Kearney opened the show with great enthusiasm, given the vast vacancy and rain. Matt proved his resilience to a rather lackluster atmosphere – a perfect blend of sincerity and light-heartedness. The same sweet disposition I discovered about 5 years ago, when I saw Mat play in a more intimate setting at The Meridian (Houston, TX).

Train’s arrival set forth a roar from a near full-house who sincerely wanted a show. And a show they got! Patrick Monahan definitely knows how to interact with the fans, endearingly acting out lyrics in the songs and inviting random people to join him on stage. Nevertheless, Train’s performance was musically flawless and often times personally impactful. For having since known Pete, he has sang to me many a Train song, always reiterating how their lyrics seem genuinely written about us. Examples include Marry Me, Hey Soul Sister, If It’s Love, You Can Finally Meet My Mom, and Breakfast in Bed. It’s absolutely crazy how song lyrics can spark such emotions is us, especially two people who have been rather resistant to crying in our past lives.

Song: If It's Love   Artist: Train

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

wordless wednesday

Song: The Luckiest   Artist: Ben Folds

Monday, September 17, 2012

closing a conversation

Something I learned a few weeks ago, is when you encounter someone that begins to talk your ear off and you are barely holding it together, you can quickly bring the one-sided conversation to a close with a cough attack. Don’t cover your mouth with your sleeve, arm, hand, anything. They will be so turned off and grossed out by your lack of social awareness that they’ll gladly terminate the conversation, on their own terms.

(Hey, don’t judge, it works, and it’s all about survival at this point)

Song: Little Talks   Artist: Of Monsters and Men


Sunday, September 16, 2012

preschool; cost vs benefit

Preface: Pete and I are big believers that things 'happen for a reason.’  And most times, when God says no to our prayer’s for the best.


Reef started preschool a little over a month ago. I know, I know, I’m way behind the times lately – most everyone has already published their back-to-school posts. But I’m crazy busy, right? K. Anyway, Reef started preschool...

So, what are we getting for a preschool education that costs more than my first car? More than my first year of college? Let's just say, I'm expecting Reef to rock political science, understand the square root of pi and teach me all about the theory of relativity by the end of this year. I bet Psych 101 is right after circle time and Art History will begin as soon as the children master using spoons.

Thus far, he’s learned to feed himself with cutlery, wash his hands, sit in a chair at the lunch table, sleep on a nap mat, say “hi” and “bye” while waving, point at his nose, and a multitude of other things. Most importantly, Reef loves his little school, his teachers, and his friends. He literally shrieks with delight while entering his classroom and feels confident enough to wave bye to Mommy and Daddy, knowing we’ll always come back to take him home.

In all seriousness, I recently observed Reef proactively clean up his toys, both in the living room and in the bathtub. And I didn’t even have to participate! Interesting…

One month of preschool and the price is already worth it.

Song: It's Amazing   Artist: Jem


Friday, September 14, 2012

{tutorial} king ranch chicken casserole

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 pkg H.E.B. corn poblano soup
  • ¼ c. diced onions
  • 1 c. diced tomoatoes
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 c. low-fat shredded cheese

1. Heat oven to 385 degrees.

2. Mix chicken, soup, onions and tomatoes in a large bowl.

3. Tear pieces of tortilla and cover bottom of 9”x13” baking dish. Poor about half of the mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Repeat once more.

4. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

{life in pictures} date day

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

where is mandi?

Reading through the archives of my blog is interesting to me. I started and stopped and started again, at the beginning of a beautiful time in my life. With my soul mate, living in the burbs. Very quickly, we integrated ourselves with our new neighborhood and the neighbors. We made friends and were absolutely intoxicated by the possibilities every time we stepped out our front door.

My blog was always meant to be a side project. A place to put down all the thoughts in my head about my experiences, travels, pregnancy and being a mom. My kids and my husband are the apex of my thoughts and the blog is a direct reflection of my growth and change as a woman. I make no excuses for being so caught up in my role as mother. It is my most beloved thing I’ve ever done. I think about my kids and talk about my kids and most of my world revolves around my kids. This is where my head is and I embrace it.

Every so often when I haven’t posted in a few days, I get an email in my inbox, “Do you still write here?” “I miss your posts and wish you’d write more.” I, too, wish I’d write more.  But time gets the best of me.  The best of us all.  And at times, it's easier to post a picture or two just to prove my blog is still alive.

I wonder though…if I had had a blog in my teens, what would I have written about? Living with my best friends? My infatuation with music? My cat? My fish? Starting a career in corporate America? Books, or food, or books on food? Vintage dresses? World travels? I have talked on end about all of these topics when they were the most significant to my life experience at that time, but they pale in comparison to my life NOW. My pursuits at the moment are primarily kid related. My passion is motherhood and wifery, and so that’s what I write about. and tweet about. and Instagram about… a lot.

An old fling found me on Instagram earlier this year. We lost touch, as people often do, and he left a comment, “Wow, you have three kids now?” I wondered for a second, that while he scrolled through the dozens and dozens of photos of my family if he recognized any glimmer of the girl he used to ride around with in his jeep, blaring obscure indie music, tanned skin, bruised shins, uber long blonde locks blowing in the wind?

Where is the Mandi who didn’t EVER not smile? That carefree spirit who never worried about tomorrow?Who could survive on pizza and raman? Who changed her college major 4 times? Who was a total music geek, and went to listen to local bands every single weekend? The Mandi who was up for any adventure, adaptable and optimistic? Would people that knew me then, recognize me now? Does she still exist?

I know the answer is that she does. She’s here. In the scar on my knee from climbing in my bedroom window after I got locked out at 2am. She is here in the laugh lines that seem be taking up permanent residency on my face. She is here in the giggly girl I turn into after two glasses of red wine. She is here in a career I’ve built that helps supports a family of five. She is here in a loving marriage that I’ve spent the last three years growing with Pete. She is here in some of my favorite memories and my dreams for the future and undoubtedly, she is responsible for the adventure seeking nature that grows within Keegan…the analyst that exists within Bailey…and the hungry hungry caterpillar that is Reef.

It’s no secret that I really love being a mom. And a wife. This entire blog is dedicated to the experience. I am proud of all the ways it has forced me outside of my comfort zone. The ways it has taught me love, fortitude, valor, and creativity on a level I could have never imagined. I don’t get a lot of time to myself these days. There are few hours to put towards those passions and individual experiences that do not involve my family and I am more inflexible than I have ever been in my life. All of these things make up my reality now and it is reflected over and over again in what I share.

I am utterly aware that I have a finite amount of time while my children are tiny. Their future friends and partners and life experiences are all waiting for a piece of their attention. They need so much from me right now but the day will come when I find myself again with time to spare, side projects to start and new passions to explore. Until then, I’m throwing everything I’ve got at this. I’m soaking up this time to exist as the center of their worlds. I haven’t lost myself completely to motherhood, but I sure as hell am enjoying being consumed with it.

When this small window of time draws to a close and my growing children are a blur through my door and out it again, I will call upon the girl of my twenties, the woman of my thirties and the self I haven’t even become yet to widen my focus. It is a strange thing to grow up. To watch as the responsibilities multiply and the free time diminishes. To exist at an age where you are every bit an adult but so much of you still feels like you are eighteen and clueless. I am all of contradiction and conviction, lost and purposeful… but I am trying to live each phase of my life in a way that feels right to me.

Who I was. Who I am. Who I will be. As the Chinese proverb goes “The journey is the reward”

Song: Good Life   Artist: One Republic

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

on your special day

Dear husband,

I feel so much gratitude when I think about your existence. The example you are setting for our children. On how a husband should love a wife. On how a father should care for his children. I know that the steady diet of love and security that you are feeding our children daily will shine through in all parts of their future. You are patient in ways I wish to be. Kind in a manner that I try to emulate. And loving in ways that make me want for nothing. I hope when you look at us, you see that we are filled up because of you. Your wife, your sons, your daughter. I don’t need a special day to tell you these things, but I also won’t miss an opportunity to say it again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do for us. They all add up to one very lucky…very happy little family.

Happy birthday, Peter – you certainly deserve the best on this day and every day.

I love you,

Song: Ho Hey   Artist: The Lumineers

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