Monthly Archives: April 2016

the celebrations begin

There is a little lady in our house who is about to turn 11.


Mema and PPops came to celebrate. Mema always asks for pics with her grandchildren 🙂


We celebrated with lots of Indian food and brunch on the UNC campus. Samantha proudly wore her new Fit Bit which tracked her more than 10,000 steps for the day.

More celebrations on Thursday before we head out of town for a birthday camping weekend at the beach. Super grateful that Samantha requested a low key celebration weekend. We all need a relaxing weekend.



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what to do with worries

This is always a stressful time of year at our house. We owe taxes for 2015…. and our first estimate for 2016, school tuition starts again in June, time to plan summer vacations… I could keep going.

This is the time of year when my worries get bigger. The “what ifs” start entering my mind, and I can create complex scenarios that would never actually happen.


I am actually writing a children’s book about this very issue – Sage and Her Worries.

Before I turned 40, I would run when my worries started getting too big. Pounding the pavement was a physical release that helped me reset. But running is no longer an option for me.

I can practice breathing like Sage does, but I also need to learn to just be still. Don’t laugh, this is something that I have never quite mastered. Even settling in with my own kids in the lower school was a challenge (you sit and reflect on the coming day for 5 mins at the start of each school day… 5 mins is a LONG TIME). I would find myself watching the fidgety kids, the one picking his nose… you get the picture.

I have had 2 friends recently recommend some mindfulness activities, and I think I am going to give them a try. I am sure I will be like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love when she tried it the first time. She was focused on how many mosquitos were biting her… haha. But if Elizabeth learned how, then so can I, right?

This morning over coffee I asked myself why I worry this time of year. We are more than financially stable and have survived 2 years of 2 kids in private school, so why is money such a source of worry for me?

Money was a BIG issue growing up as a child. My mom would get manic and charge thousands of dollars on various credit cards kept hidden from my dad. The bills would eventually come, which meant fighting. Repeat every 4-6 mos. Then my dad lost all of our college savings in a business deal gone bad when I was in high school. Thankfully a rich, distant grandparent paid for me to go. I think it was the uncertainty, the not knowing, oh and my predisposition to being a worrier that made this hard for me.

But, I need to let the past be just that….the past. I do all the money management in our house…if anything, I am the one in the family with financial control, unlike in my childhood.

So, wish me luck on my quest to learn to be mindful. Maybe not being able to run was a part of the plan all along? Running didn’t help me learn the “why” behind my worries. I would just run until the worries went away.

After I test out some methods, I will post again to give some reviews. I might start off inside though so the bugs and birds do not distract me 🙂


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early bday gift…and a surprise

Samantha and I did the pick a pearl in Japan while visiting Epcot…. remember?

Check out what I was able to do with these pearls thanks to High Street Design. (They also did the Friends TALK logo).

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Both of our pearls are in the cage, connected by birds, stamped with the date that we got the pearls. I cannot think of a more meaningful gift.

I got it Thursday, and it was burning a hole in my work bag. But, I had to put on my hostess hat once I got home and put out a NC BBQ spread for some of Rahul’s college friends in town for his 20 yr reunion. Aidan was gone for a school overnight outing, so Samantha was the only one home. She tried to help supervise a bunch of little kids and was a bit frustrated (and over tired) by the end, and so I decided to give her this gift early. She teared up, said it was so special to her. Made me so happy.

More very meaningful gifts and activities to come later this month.

And now for the surprise….our first blue bird hatchling of the year. This makes my heart so happy.


Since this first brood is so early, we can expect anywhere between 2-3 more this season. Welcome new blue birds to Wild Azalea Lane. We are so happy you are here!


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week in review

Week in review was what the cook called Friday lunches and dinners in college. Haha. A nice way of saying “this is all the leftovers from the previous week.”

Aidan had a super, busy weekend. Soccer game, kickball bday party, Bat Mitzvah and reception. The reception was no joke – a DJ, unlimited sodas, cotton candy.

I started the weekend with meeting a friend for coffee. After 2.5 hrs, Samantha started texting me asking me where I was. After 3 hrs, Rahul started texting me. Wow, we really needed to catch up, huh? Working with minimal adult interactions makes me crave talk time, especially with super awesome people.

Samantha took the Friends TALK lesson on making good food choices to heart. She now has her very own food journal.


She is trying to have all 5 food groups in each meal (protein, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables).

Check out more meal photo accountability.

Salmon, salad, red potatoes.


Roasted chicken on the Big Green Egg and spinach orzo salad.


I honestly think that Samantha might be the key in making this healthy eating thing stick. Even Aidan is on board. Check out his reception party hat with his snack choices tonight.


Our blue bird family has been hard at work with their first brood of the season. Check out Mama bird on look out as dad went for food.DSC_3329

The pool is open, but I am still getting it ready. It always takes a week or so but it means summer is almost here!

Lots of things up in the air for me. For those who believe in a higher power, pray for some positive outcomes. We need it!


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food – a day in pictures

If I am going to be honest, I have not been consistently good about food for the past year. Lots of triggers, mostly sadness and stress. My mom died unexpectedly last spring, and then the stress of trying to get a small non profit up and running solo (with a budget not in the negative).

When I am stressed, I gravitate towards carbs (think bagels, potatoes). Then these foods make me feel sluggish. What a cycle. When I eat right, I feel better, so why is this so hard to do? Stress is an evil creature.

Today I tried some photo accountability. My meals in pics.

Breakfast – turkey bacon, string cheese, grapefruit. Water with lime juice.


Lunch – leftover chili from last night’s crock pot dinner. Lots of veggies, mix of meats, beans, spices.


Dinner – omelet with turkey sausage, cheese and spinach.


Spring is here, but I am not motivated to make changes because of swim suit season. I want to have more energy and feel more like myself.

So, here is to healthy, clean eating. This whole month of Friends TALK lessons are about this very topic. This means I need to practice what I preach.  Ready, set, go!



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Barefoot to Avalon

I recently reconnected with a parent of a child I used to work with years ago. Folks, really years ago. He was 3-5 years old when I worked with him, and now he is a grown up. I lost touch with the family but was reconnected with the mom via another friend via Facebook. Just another reason to love social media. She posted about a book that was recently published, and after reading about it, I was intrigued.

My simple review of this book would be – I read, I related (on many levels), I cried, I loved it.

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The book is about a brother who is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and his struggle to live. He dies in a car accident helping the older brother (the author) move from Vermont back to North Carolina. I could probably write my own book on the ways I connected with this book, but spring break is over folks and I have to go back to work this week. So, I will try to summarize with a list. If you have ever loved and lost someone to mental illness, I highly recommend this book.

  1. I am going to start with the connection at the ending. The author does what I call a hard reset with how he approaches his kids. This happens after yet another visit to the rose bush and the sighting of a cardinal. Chills folks. My hard reset was this summer with my trying to be supportive husband saying he wanted the old me back after I struggled for months trying to process my mom’s death. And like David, birds were involved with this change. The fledge helped me so much.
  2. Not speaking the truth makes you complicit. As I listened to the story unfold about how each family member dealt with the brother’s mental illness, I saw connections in how his family and my family reacted to mental illness. The father – absent in both stories. My brother was Margaret (the enabler). I was David (the absent one). I still struggle with who approaches the illness the right way. Or is there a right way? I wanted my mom to get treatment, and my brother just accepted our mom for who she was.
  3. Learning to be honest. As hard as my mom’s death was for me, it came at a time in my life when I had the luxury to have time to reflect on her life and mine. If her death had come at another point in my younger life, I am sure this reflection would not have happened.
  4. Being present for my own children. David talks about becoming what he hated the most. For me, it was the modeling of an unhealthy relationship that led me to be with men that were like my dad – selfish and narcissistic. Thankfully, I was able to break this cycle and I found a man that I can truly call my best friend and equal.

Wow. Powerful stuff. We all need to be honest and promise to continue to listen and learn about life. We have a joke in our family, but it is oh so true. We all have issues. Folks that say they do not are more screwed up than the rest of us.

Keep writing David Payne!


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UNC campus visit

I took my mini me Tar Heel lover to the UNC  campus  for her first visit this morning. I used to take both kiddos to campus in the dreaded double stroller when they were little, but all they did was stuff their chubby little faces with snacks, so this was the first visit that she will actually remember.

Our first stop was my sorority house, Alpha Chi Omega. It looks exactly the same as it did in the 1990s. I shared stories of watching Melrose Place in the TV room, our Week in Review meals, and so much more.


Next up – Franklin Street to get some Tar Heel goodies.


Then to the beautiful campus.



Samantha wanted to go to The Pit to see the place where I had the most embarrassing moment of my life….sigh.


Here is the story. The first week of school at noon, I was heading to the Student Stores for textbooks. At this time of day, The Pit is packed with people hanging out and eating lunch. I saw a spot to cut through The Pit and squeezed by working my way to the Student Stores. But guess what? There are no steps on the side parts of The Pit, so I fell flat on my face in front of hundreds of people…. literally. I can still hear the smack of my hands on the bricks. Here is Samantha doing a reenactment.


But note that there is no one around to laugh at her.

For our final stop, not on campus, but a weekend tradition for undergrads, we headed to Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. The best biscuits and sweet tea in the world!


Samantha loved the campus and has declared she definitely wants to go to school there, oh and live with us in the workshop in our back yard. Nothing would make me happier 🙂


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