Wednesday, April 29

Celebrating Fitz & Alex: Their Sacrament of Baptism

 I must be nuts, because Saturday over 40 people packed into our little Pre-War cottage…Doesn't that make it sound fancy? I feel like it does…and we brunched and celebrated Fitz and Alex entering the Catholic Church.

After months of "putting it off," terrible, I know, I finally just booked it. Surrounded by love, Fitz and Alex received their very first sacrament!

The party was a blur. I know I had fun, and I think everyone else did as well, since we ran out of food and booze by about 3 p.m.

I knew the crowd we were inviting was a eatin' and drinkin' crowd, but sheesh, we killed a nugget tray, chicken salad tray and 14 bottles of champagne in three hours.

St. Therese, that idea to have both a candy bar for the little kids and a mimosa bar for the big kids was a great idea!

Gave everyone a lot of energy when it came time to get the glitter chalk out!

I ran around the night before and the morning of like a crazy person, and I am so, so, SO thankful my best friend from forever (and art school grad! and newly minted godmother!) was there to help. She did the most beautiful flower arrangements cobbled together from things purchased at Costco, Walmart and Winn Dixie.

I wasn't emotional like I thought I would be, and I wasn't as stressed as I thought I would be (during the party at least). I was completely at peace, and that 10000% has to do with my continued prayers to Mary's intersession for a successful sacrament and reception.
 Plus I had dove shaped cookies, so the Holy Spirit was on my side!

Maybe I have this mother thing down?
Maybe not.

I can't wait to share my faith, and our wonderful Catholic Church, with Fitz and Alex.

Party details:
Invitations, menu cards, thank you cards: Shelby Berry
"Party Wares": cross confetti, mantle banner, plastic ware, napkins, balloons, etc.: Party City, Costco & Michaels
Serving pieces: My momma's stash!
Glittered champagne flutes: IKEA, with glittered stems of course!
Dove shaped cake pops: TK Cake Pops (they ship!)
Dove and Cross cookies: Ellen Hamilton (she ships!)
Chicken Salad Sandwich tray: Chicken Salad Chick
Chicken Nuggets: Chick Fil A
Fruit, Salad, Cheese: Costco
Candy Buffet: Party City & Fresh Market

**Photographs by the talented Shelby Berry**

Monday, April 27


Well friends, it's been a really lovely, hilariously long weekend. Nearly 40 people were at our house Saturday for Fitz and Alex's Baptism and I must say it was stressful, tiring, and very, very fun. I think it went okay? I can't wait to see the pictures my sweet friend Shelby took, as this is obviously a cell phone shot with a finger in the corner. Oops

While I pretend to not fall asleep at my desk today, or stress myself sick about the insane amount of post-party clean up I need to do, I am going to join in on Becky's weekly Currently link up. I think mainly because I have a lot of pent up energy and stress from the party planning and executing.

Plus, this day always makes me extremely anxious, as four years ago a tornado ripped through the city that I called home and left it nearly unrecognizable. I need something to get my mind away from it.

So, currently…

I am in love with this story. My beloved hometown has been the backdrop for Kate T. Parker's "Strong Is The New Pretty" series of photographs. The backstory, which aired on WABE, the Atlanta affiliate of NPR, is amazing. Parker says, "I was trying to capture them as they were and as they are daily, and a lot of that is messy." The photographs are breathtaking, and a good reminder that girls, women, are messy, and dirty and loud, and that's what makes us beautiful.
via WABE, courtesy of Kate T. Parker

Sad that another year of Faith Formation has come to a close. This year was my hardest to teach, being first extremely pregnant and then being a new mom, but I am going to miss this crazy crew of baby Catholics. I'm looking forward to next year, when my sweet friend (and co-teacher!) Julie's son makes his way to first grade. I'm definitely ready to be a little lazy on Sunday mornings though. It's not hard to get up and out to class, but it will be nice to just have to get us all ready for 11 am Mass, and be able to have coffee on the couch instead of on the run.

Thrilled that this House To Do list is almost all crossed off! I feel like I just lost 50 lbs. of stress.

Trying to remember this. It's about to get crazy busy around my office and when the weather is nice the last thing I want to do is sit at my desk and write. So I always end up trying to cram too many things into the days and I'm tired and crabby.

What's going on currently with you?

Monday, April 20

The Hardhat Diaries: The Great White North

As I don't always love to admit, I can be a little stubborn. So when I walked into my boss's office around Christmas and said I wanted to go to Maine in the beginning of February to get stories for our magazines, he told me I was nuts.

I of course ignored him and began gathering leads and setting appointments: Ready to head north.

It was an adventure from start to finish—including that quick day I spent in NYC during an ice storm!

But once I finally got to Maine, I couldn't have been happier, or frankly colder. I mean it was a different in that it was easily the most breathtaking thing I've ever seen. Remarkably, your body just adjusts, and instead of becoming an actual human icicle, as long as you are dressed correctly, -24° doesn't feel like you're shoved naked into a snow pile. I mean, it’s really, really, really, cold, but you can actually move your fingers around.

I will admit I was TERRIFIED to drive in four feet of snow, because I mean, FOUR FEET OF SNOW, WTF. Instead, I quickly learned that in Maine, snow is just a regular thing, and the plows, salt trucks, snow-throwers and other various winter-weather management machines handle the roads so it's actually quite nice to drive on. It was easier to drive on I-95 in Maine with four feet of snow on the ground than it is to drive on I-85 in Alabama during a regular rainstorm.

On the story trip front, there was nothing really out of the ordinary. I had great meetings, and saw wonderful scenery. I mean, seriously, beautiful.

Meeting with Chris and Jason Brochu at a coffee shop directly between their eastern white pine mill in Ellsworth, Me. and their corporate headquarters, and spruce mill, in Dover-Foxcroft, Me. reminded me of what I thought writing human-interest stories would be like. We had a great conversation and I was able to head from our meeting place, down the coast of Maine to their eastern white pine mill, right before it began shutting down for the day.

Once I wrapped up with the mill manager, I asked for a restaurant recommendation, as I hadn't eaten in about a day and a half.
 He recommended Finn's to me, an out of this world, traditional Irish pub. It reminded me of the pub from The Holiday, cozy, full of energy and great food.
So, of course, when on the coast of Maine, and you're told to go to an out of this world restaurant, the only thing you can do after your work is done is have some amazing freshly caught, wild-Haddock and a cider with the most incredible tomato-mac and cheese. #treatyoself

On my second to last day in Maine, I was fortunate enough to visit the continental U.S.'s northern most point: Fort Kent, a beautiful, vibrant small town. It is crazy to think that while I was stomping around in snow in front of the First Mile sign on Route 1, more than a few were probably sweating to death in front of a similar sign, in Key West, at the end of Route 1.

Logger Sherbey Morris and I had a great visit and I was able to see some equipment in action I never had before. As a wrap to our interview, he treated me to an authentic Maine red hot dog, at the best diner in northern Maine, one that’s been open since 1945, Rock's. It was delicious.

Sherbey's story has already been written, edited and printed, but my trip to Rock’s with him reminds me why it is I love this industry: Because when a writer from Alabama calls and says she wants to visit your operation, loggers not only say yes, but go out of their way to show how wonderful their slice of the world really is. 

Saturday, April 18

15 for 2015 Update: March

What counts here is that I am keeping myself accountable about this right? Not that I am posting this update in the middle of the month...

Anyway, here's the progress on my 15 for 2015 during the month of March, which flew by.
15 for 2015 
Hit the Pure Barre Montgomery 250 Tuck Club (Accomplished in January)
Spend another long weekend in Curacao 
Show Fitz and Alex the beach 
Take an entire month and not buy a single piece of clothing (or accessory) for myself I came close in March but at the last second splurged at Welle Studio on some earrings right before Easter.
Finally re-decorate our living room Very, very close on this one!
Update my phone software (Not that it helped anything)
Visit Kimber, Gentry and Saylor at the farm in Pennsylvania 
Go home for Alabama Homecoming 
Write my Nanny once a month January: I actually failed on this one, but I mailed my Momma a nice note so I'm going to count that. February: yes! Even remembered to stick in the box tops I'd been collecting for her! March: yes! but I forgot to mail baby pictures for the second month in a row #fail
Try 15 new recipes 1: Creamy Italian Chicken Crockpot Bake I made up using a random collection of things in my fridge in desperation the other day: 1 lb. chicken breast; 1 tablespoon of butter; about 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning; 1 tablespoon of parsley; 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 block of cream cheese. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred with a fork and mix well. Layer with cooked pasta or rice and garnish with parsley. Makes enough for two solid dinner portions and two solid lunch portions. Mark deemed it a new favorite! 2: Cajun Cake recipe from Southern Living Annual Recipes 1987 edition 3: Basil Chicken Pizza 4: Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowls
Completely clean out my closet I did a mini purge trying to find something to wear to a friend's wedding, but I still need to really clean it out.
Take about a zillion more pictures Working on it, though in March, I can't say I worked on it as much as I should have.
Clean out the storage unit and sell the furniture we are never going to use AND ALL THE ANGELS SANG A HYMN OF THANKSGIVING!! I had a yard sale last month and it hasn't the blazing success I wanted it to be, but I still made a fair amount of money and most importantly, got rid of crap!
Show Mark Philadelphia and the Porecca family  
Obviously, during the first quarter of 2015, I've been all about that slow climb to greatness, time to kick it up a notch. 

Friday, April 17

Friday Favorites

Another week I'm pretending to actually be a blogger, another installment of Friday Favorites. I love the flexibility of this space. Maybe one day I will actually get myself in gear and with some regularity actually post. #highhopes

 photo jjff_zpsa849a422.png 
My Dad and Stepmom are HUGE golfers, and golf fans. I will admit, just by default, I’ve become an enthusiast. Not that I want to play the sport really, but I love watching those cute pies walk the lush courses. A few weeks ago put out an article about my favorite golf analyst, David Feherty, and well, it’s magnificent. Roll tide forever. The Masters were great and all but is it football time yet?

"I've been to a lot of sporting events and heard some extraordinary crowd reactions, but I remember being up in the stadium when the team ran out on the field, and for a moment I wanted my mommy," Feherty said to "I thought what the f------ hell is wrong with these people? It's the damnedest thing I ever heard. They just went completely batshit mental. The atmosphere was so extraordinary; I had never seen anything like it."

Currently obsessed with this song. I puffy pink heart you Kelsea Ballerini.

As I get more invested (I think that's the word I am looking for) in this space, and building a community around it, I have been getting a lot of comments! And I love comments. However, loads of people are "No-Reply Bloggers" meaning when you comment I can't respond, even though I want to. Are you? Check out this tutorial from Venus Trapped In Mars to fix it. #commentloveforeveryone

via VTRM

Wednesday, April 15

The Hardhat Diaries: Bright Lights, Big City

So when I said I wanted to go to Maine in the dead of the craziest winter ever, I knew I was insane. But that's just how I roll.

I knew in my head that while my mother thought it was a huge deal, what with all the snow and all, that it shouldn’t be a big deal actually getting there. MAAAAANNNN, was I wrong.

Of course, I picked the worst day of the week to fly north, as a big snow and ice storm hit NYC RIGHT as I landed, leaving me, but shockingly somehow not my luggage, unable to get to Bangor. That's right, I was left with NYC for a day and night, while my bag traveled from NYC to Detroit, Detroit to Boston, Boston to Bangor.

Once it finally registered that I was actually alone in NYC for a day and night and staying in the heart of Times Square, with nothing but my camera bag, a totebag from the flight up and my fur coat, I think I actually started to cry.

See, I was dressed for a day of traveling, not a day of romping about the city. Nevertheless, I made it work. I bought a subway pass, charged up my phone (only to have it die on me) grabbed some cash and headed to "experience" New York.

Since I was on my per diem, and hadn't budgeted for an NYC experience, I tried to "do it" fairly inexpensively. At lunchtime, I found myself in Little Italy having one of the most phenomenal meals of my life. For $9.95, I had a three course Italian meal that literally warmed me to the core.
 Honestly, why have I never thought to dust my pasta gravy with cayenne AND crushed red pepper? And, I won't even talk about toasted sesame seeds on an Italian loaf…needless to say, this hole-in-the-wall is highly recommended.

After my adventure to Little Italy, still full and happy from my two red wine glasses and pasta arabiatta, I meandered around Chinatown, trying not to vomit into the snow at the various items for sale.

I wandered over to the Public Library and enjoyed a few open exhibits, which is sadly where my phone decided to stop working, leaving me alone with my thoughts in the city that never sleeps. It was incredible. I moved at my own pace, I fantasized about a life I'll never live, and only sang "Welcome to New York" to myself once. Okay, twice.

I headed back to my room before dinner, I had been up since 4 a.m. for my flight, and needed to decide about a dinner plan of attack. I ended up choosing the Heartland Brewery around the corner from Times Square, where my meal was "fine." Some of the best restaurants in the world, and I have a "fine" dinner. Alas, I was plumb worn out and already stressed about a week of interviews, my lost bag and knowing that I would once again have to get up around 4 a.m. to make my flight.

Thankfully, after one last late night stroll to Times Square, and a request of a friend back home to selfie with the fur, I said goodnight and goodbye to the busiest place on Earth
…only to be caught up in a "Stop, Don't Shoot" protest.

God, I love my life. Even if I spent a solid hour staring at the New York times Building, willing myself to go inside and demand to speak to HR: #thehardhatdiaries aren't too shabby. 

Tuesday, April 7

Six Months

Babies. Holy goodness gracious. Six months ago, right this moment, I was a bowling ball completely horrified that I was about to deliver you. Horrified because I was so unsure of how this whole thing would work—you, me, your dad. There's been a lot of learning and a lot of mistakes, but thankfully, we're all still standing. For now. 
I remember when six months used to move at a turtle's pace, now it's like if I blink I've missed a week. You've grown and changed so much since we brought you home. Every day you continue to grow and change and scare the shit out of me. You've started grabbing each others hands and babbling at each other, like you just now realized your best friend is always just a few inches away.
You both are regular rollers now at school, but you can't quite seem to roll over for me. But that's a-okay. I'm not desperate to have you mobile. Rolling leads to crawling and crawling leads to college.

Fitzy, you're the chunky baby and while we haven't yet been to the doctor for your six month check up, I know you're packing in at a solid weight. You just FEEL heavier. You're a great eater and lately, after some struggles, you've become a great sleeper. You haven't cut any teeth yet, but you're super drooly and I know a tooth or two is on the way. You love to eat, and never, ever miss a meal. You're like a cartoon baby, you never stop smiling. Until recently, you had no interest in toys or books or anything, but now you are absolutely obsessed with a crinkly baby book your Grandma got you. Which reminds me that I'm the wrong kind of writer—who would have though four words was all it took to pen a best-seller.

Little Al Pal, you're getting chunkier every day and I just want to freeze you at this size. You're the most expressive thing on the planet. I mean, seriously, you throw side eye and smiles and everything in between. 12 hours with you can mean experiencing every emotion in the known world. You love playing with my old rag doll, Sally, and I am furiously searching for the boy version, Bobby. You're not the best sleeper, but lately you've been on a great streak! You don't have any teeth either, but I can definitely feel the ridges on your gums and I know they are coming.
You're the happiest babies on the block usually and I've taken to dragging you everywhere. So far, your favorite places to visit (besides school and Grandma's house) are Cloverdale Bottom Park, The A&P Courtyard and Aunt Jamie and Uncle Jeb's house.

Monday, April 6


I took an unintended break from blogging the last two weeks as I continued to fight my walking pneumonia and push not only the magazine I edit through production but a second magazine I wrote the lead story for was also in production. Did I mention I wrote said lead story like the day before the magazine went to press? #lasteditorstanding
Oh, and I threw my back out, because that's just how I roll. Walking at a 75° angle is really fun when you have to carry babies around, let me tell you.

But I'm forcing myself to link up with Becky for Currently, if only so I remember these snapshots of time in this period of life.

This past short Easter week was filled with all kinds of work stuff and all kinds of fun stuff, and I feel like I'm drowning in crap to do. Sunday was busy and I think I was at home for MAYBE an hour before we headed to a party after Church and a ridiculously decadent Easter brunch. Once we got home it was a shuffle to get the babies fed and asleep and then us fed and asleep. I ended up sleeping on my couch from about 10:15 to 5:00am for no reason other than when Mark tried to wake me up to move me I said, just a second, rolled over and snuggled right in.

So currently, my life is chaotic, which is sadly the norm, but it feels like it's extra chaotic here lately. I'm prepping to head out of town on a very last minute trip at the end of this week, so hopefully the time in a dingy Hampton Inn in north central Florida will allow me to finally tackle my nasty large e-mail inbox or the growing list of Things I Need To Do.

Besides all that, currently, I’m….

Lusting over this from ikea. After a very spur of the moment quick trip to Atlanta this weekend, I've decided I want these for my master bedroom to use as nightstands.
Laughing hysterically at this picture. That's nearly every member of our immediate family—four generations worth. Gotta love the Catholics slash why do I look so horrible. 
Freaking out over this master House To Do list I made this morning. We've lived in our house for almost two years and it still needs MAJOR help on the decorating and arranging front. We're hosting a few parties in the next month and it needs just to be done.
 Amazed by this child more and more every day. He and his brother couldn't be more different if they tried, but at the same time they are exactly the same. It's odd how that works. And seriously, where has the time gone. They are six months tomorrow. SIX MONTHS. Props to Aunt Kristen for grabbing this awesome picture!
 Quote of the Week

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