The Great Lunchbox Swap

by Emily on April 27, 2015

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has inadvertently sent their kid to school with the previous day’s leftovers in her lunchbox.

I am?

Oh, crap.

Well that’s what happened to poor Elizabeth this week, but thanks to Ryan it has a happy ending. Elizabeth has a couple lunchboxes she likes to rotate (the vintage Strawberry Shortcake being my fav). Friday morning we made her lunch together and set the Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox in the fridge. 30 minutes later we rushed out the door (I don’t care what time we get up we’re still running out the door before school) and did our usual check: Backpack? Check! Water bottle? Check! Lunchbox? Check! GO!

I dropped her off at preschool as normal and watched her put her things away. All good. Back home and fast forward to just before noon. Ryan, who works from home, looks in the fridge and says, “Uh oh. Looks like you forgot Elizabeth’s lunch” as he pulls out Strawberry Shortcake. Oops.

So I rush to the school, picturing Elizabeth’s distraught face when she opens her lunchbox to nothing. But as luck would have it I got to school with 2 minutes to spare. The kids were on the playground and I did a lunchbox swap in the nick of time. She was none the wiser!

But the lunchbox I took did feel like there was something in it. So I opened it and sure enough – yesterday’s leftovers. Guess we forgot to clean it out on Thursday. Ah, well. What do you do?

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In reality I realize we’re just lucky to have lunches and even if I hadn’t made it in time that doesn’t constitute a crisis. Honestly Elizabeth probably would have eaten it and been just fine. Or she would have waited an hour and ate at home. Whatever. The teachers might have glanced at each other like, “What the???” but then would have laughed when I told them the story.

But I thought I’d share in case anyone else had one of those moments recently. And if you haven’t, well congrats. You’re winning!!

P.S. We had a major hailstorm this week and when we got our roof inspected the roofer found a muddy flip flop in the gutters. Rock on. I bet the other one is buried underneath a seat in my minivan.

P.P.S. Speaking of winning, I did have one good score this week. I found this cool vintage Rand McNally globe lamp at Goodwill for $3.99. I loved it and brought it home not knowing if it even worked and was pleasantly surprised when it did. I didn’t even have to change the lightbulb! And then was happier still when I found the exact same one on Etsy for $125. For a second I thought about reselling it, but like Bevo I’m already too attached. It looks awesome when lit up, so it stays.

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It’s Easy Being Gruene

by Emily on April 21, 2015

One of the benefits of living in Austin is its proximity to tons of  awesome little towns. Day trips to places like Fredericksburg, Boerne, Dripping Springs, Wimberly, Marble Falls, Bastrop and one of my favs, Gruene, are entirely doable on a whim.

Gruene is a charming little town near New Braunfels right on the Guadalupe River. Home to Gruene Hall (“Texas’ oldest dance hall”), fun shops and restaurant, it’s a lovely place to spend the day.

Never one to miss an opportunity, we made the trip yesterday to meet Uncle Earl while he’s in San Antonio for work. We met at the Gristmill, one of our all time favorite restaurants. The weather couldn’t have been better and we sat outside overlooking the river. Afterwards, the guys took the girls to get ice cream while I popped in a couple little shops. I couldn’t resist a vintage metal Lone Star sign as a souvenir. It was on super sale and I have the perfect spot picked out on the patio.

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After dropping the new prize off in the car we decided to take a quick walk down to the river. There were a couple guys fishing nearby, and as we admired the scenery and stuck our feet in the water we we couldn’t help but notice them spring into action. The younger guy, who was around high school (maybe college?) age, frantically began to reel in his line. The older one, who turned out to be his dad, jumped up and started recording it on his cell phone. Once the fish came out of the water the fisherman turned to the phone and said a few lines about how fishing with his dad is one of his favorite things to do. The girls were so excited – other than a teeny tiny fish in a pond I don’t think they’ve ever seen anyone catch a real fish. They were mesmerized. The guy was so proud and made sure everyone had a good look before he released the fish back to the river.

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Saying bye to the fishie.

We chatted with them for a bit and turns out he was making a video as part of a job interview for Schlitterbahn. He had already had one interview, and the second part was to submit a short video highlighting something he loves to do. Apparently they had been at the river earlier that day with no luck. The dad explained how the son was very discouraged, so he told him to pray about it. So they “prayed we’d catch a fish” and came back. Sure enough, they did! It was pretty cool to be there in that moment when the fish bit because it was pure joy for the father and son. And as luck would have it, not 10 seconds after he got the video the dad’s phone battery died. Can you imagine if they’d waited all day to catch a fish only to realize the phone was dead? Phew!

Anyway, it was sort of heartwarming to see, and I hope that guy gets the job. As we left the girls said, “We’ll see you this summer when we come to Schlitterbahn!” I hope we do.

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Garage Sale Finds & Kinder Registration

by Emily on April 18, 2015

So the AC in the minivan died this week. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. It seems that only the AC on the driver’s side broke. Worked fine on the passenger side. Which didn’t help me at all.

So we took the car in to the neighborhood car-fix-it spot this morning, and on the way back remembered that it’s garage sale Saturday in our ‘hood! This only happens twice a year, and I’m a big fan of garage sales. You never know what prizes you’ll find. Ryan was nice enough to humor me and stop by a few. The first couple stops were sort of duds, but then our luck began to change. The girls were happy to score some toys and books. Then we turned a corner and down at the end of a culdesac, standing next to a table full or random stuff, we saw him.

Bevo.

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I couldn’t believe no one had already snagged the metal wire longhorn strung with Christmas lights! I liked him, but common sense told me we didn’t need him. Not to mention we don’t have a place for him and our garage is filled with tons of unfinished projects.

But common sense doesn’t always rule when you’re garage sale hopping. When I found out he was $10 I knew we just had to have him. I thought Ryan would try to talk me out of it, but even he agreed it was too good to pass up. So we put down the seats in the back of his car and shoved in our new friend!

We picked up a few other misc. prizes before heading home to unload our loot. We put Bevo near the garage and no less than 20 people driving by asked how much we wanted for him. I’m certain we could have quadrupled our money, but by then I was attached. Ryan still thinks we’re giving him away to a lucky UT fan, but he’s grown on me so much I’m not sure I want to part with him.

In other great finds, here are two teak loungers I scored used from a local site. They were in rough shape, but Ryan took a pressure washer to it and here you can see the difference with one before and one washed. Wow! I can’t wait to lounge on that with a fruity cocktail in my hand. Only thing that’s missing is a pool. Minor detail…

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Oh and on a completely unrelated note, we registered Elizabeth for kindergarten on Thursday. Registration was full of drama, but not for the reasons you might think. To make a long story short, and to respect the privacy of students, I’ll just tell the short version: A kid got hurt on the playground, I was near the nurse’s office and saw all the blood and heard the discussions, got lightheaded, knew what was coming so walked outside, laid down behind a pillar and fainted.

As it happens I was wearing a dress that day and woke up in sort of a snow angel position. Awesome. I was woozy and lightheaded, but thankful I was able to lie down first so I didn’t hit my head on the concrete. Mostly I was just embarrassed. There was a kid genuinely hurt and I didn’t want to cause a scene of my own. The good news is the child will be okay and I was able to finish registering Elizabeth and escape without causing a distraction. Luckily she wasn’t there with me at the time.

So anyway, I didn’t have time to be sad or reflect on the fact that my last baby is starting kinder. I’m sure I’ll be a little teary eyed come the first day of school, but also pretty pumped. She’s excited to join her sisters, and it will be nice to have them all at the same school for a few years.

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My little soon-to-be kindergardener! No, this display wasn’t at the school for new registering students (although some beverages for the adults might not be a bad idea?). Nah, this is just at our local supermarket, and this kid doesn’t miss the opportunity for any photo opp.

Oh, time to go pick up the the minivan! I can think of a gazillion other things I could have done with that money (random lawn art?) but it’s pretty tough not having AC during the Texas summer.

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Saturday night was pretty amazing. Ryan and I were honored to host an exchange station at the Run to the Sun overnight relay in honor of Will Herndon.

We’re still tired, but it’s worth it! Such an important cause.

The relay started at Enchanted Rock Saturday evening. 20+ teams ran through the night, switching runners every few miles and ending up in Austin at sunrise. Exchange stations dot the route, where runners switch and RVs and vans full of the runners stop to grab a snack, use the bathroom and mingle with each other. Each station has a different theme, and ours was luau. I recruited four of my sweet friends to come along for the fun and Ryan, the lone guy, was our cabana boy/driver/security guard. We were glad to have him because our station was down a long, dark and winding road. It looked like the setting of a horror film, but instead the scary road led to our luau. Aloha!

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So much fun! As luck would have it I scored a cheap used tiki bar last week so it fit perfectly with our team. Some leis, grass skirts, umbrellas for the fruity drinks, a little Buffett and we were set! We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the runners and sharing Will’s story. It was truly inspiring.

IMG_0684Passing out snacks and drinks to the runners. 

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Run to the Sun raises funds for Batten Disease, a rare genetic neurodegenerative disorder. Batten affects with vision, then cognitive skills and leads to seizures. It is ultimately fatal and currently there is no cure. But the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation and The Will Herndon Fund are raising funds to change that.

We were very involved with the Will Herndon Fund when we lived in The Woodlands. Will was diagnosed with Juvenile Batten Disease in 2009 and his parents, Missy and Wayne, are two of the most genuinely nice people around. They took action and formed the organization to raise money to find a cure. They hold galas, fundraisers, golf tournaments and more. By partnering with the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation they have made huge strides.

I encourage you to watch this video about Will’s story to learn more about Batten Disease and how you can help.

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IMG_0687Might as well decorate the portaloo, too! 

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Duke Wins!

by Emily on April 8, 2015

So there was a big basketball game on last night.

Go Duke!

Ryan played football at Duke back in the day, so we’re a family that routes for the Blue Devils.

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Molly and Allie wore their shirts to school, but naturally added their own accessories. I didn’t even attempt to explain to Molly why white socks don’t go with sandals. For one thing it’s pointless to convince her once she’s made up her mind, not to mention the fact that or all I know that could be the in thing for the youngins these days.. The hipsters brought back high wasted jeans and acid wash, it’s not so far fetched that socks and sandals be next….

Anyway, Elizabeth wore her shirt for a tiny bit too, then happily turned it over so we could try it on the dog. And then we waded through our stuffed animals until we found “Duke Puppy” (a nice airport souvenier from the Raleigh/Durham airport). We decided his shirt would be suitable for Clover

IMG_0632 Um, yeah. I soon found myself dressing a dog and a bunny and trying unsuccessfully to get them to pose. Clearly I don’t get out much.

Meanwhile, Ryan was watched the game from some fancy schmancy hotel in Vegas.

But I will take a little credit for the win. Clearly Clover’s “Duke Puppy” shirt was good luck. You’re welcome Duke.

Oh and here’s a little doodle I did to show some Duke love.

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Happy Easter!

by Emily on April 6, 2015

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Happy Easter! It was a rainy and drizzly outside, but nothing could dampen the joy of this Easter weekend. We hunted some eggs, took pictures with the Easter bunny, celebrated the resurrection at church, forced Nugget to wear bunny ears added some flowers to the beautiful cross in front of the Weston’s house. What a day!

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Ryan made this cross and we placed it in front of the Weston’s house. We inited friends and neighbors to place flowers throughout the weekend.  When Easter morning rolled around it was filled with gorgeous flowers. What a beautiful symbol of His Love and a great way to celebrate the miracle of her recent news of NO CANCER. He is Risen!!

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Welcome to April!

by Emily on April 4, 2015

So I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of April Fool’s day. I’m not a big prankster, although I’m not really sure why. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, but I guess that’s debatable, huh? Anyway, I think it’s that I don’t like the thought of someone feeling bad, embarrassed, scared or anxious even if it’s only temporary. Most pranks have a happy ending, but it’s the time in between when the victim is clueless that that gives me anxiety.

But this year something happened that I loved and made me laugh. Molly and Allie – identical twins in second grade – decided at the last minute to try and swap classes. They switched backpacks and talked strategy on the way out the door. But when they go to their classroom they quickly learned that their teachers had beat them to the punch! Allie’s desk was in Molly’s classroom and vice versa. Ha!! What awesome teachers. So they did get to swap classes after all (not the whole day, but long enough to get a taste of what it would be like). It made me smile thinking of how lucky we are to have such great, clever and fun teachers.

Bluebonnets

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Of course, being April in Texas it means that there are bluebonnets popping up everywhere. I think it’s an unwritten law that if you have little kids you simply must take their pictures with the bluebonnets. We hadn’t done it yet this year, but when we drove past this gorgeous field on a country road today I insisted we stop and check it off the list. It wasn’t planned – as you can tell by the non-coordinating outfits and unbrushed hair – but that’s part of charm, right?! One of the many reasons I love living near the Texas Hill Country.

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Of course everyone knows you don’t pick bluebonnets in Texas. Elizabeth still thinks the police will arrest you if you do, which is probably the only thing that stops her. I know I said earlier I don’t like pranks or lies, but every now and then they’re necessary. Otherwise she would have come home with a bluebonnet bouquet.

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Family selfie in the bluebonnets!

We were all alone in this awesome field so this was our only way to get a family pic. And if you’re not from here, I’ll tell you that being alone in such an big, beautiful bluebonnet field is rare  — usually you have to work extra hard to not get people in the background of your pics.

And honestly a selfie was just fine because they didn’t really want to pose anyway. I did catch myself saying this line from this mural we saw on S. Congress last night a few times, though. It not only applies to picture-taking, but is surprisingly applicable to many life situations (like when you get pulled over for speeding, for one).

IMG_0450Happy Spring!

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I Believe in Miracles!

by Emily on April 2, 2015

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Jumping for joy after hearing Alana’s scan results!

Yesterday’s news is hard to put into words. Alana, my sweet friend who is battling stage IV cancer, got the results of her PET scan from Monday. We were nervous all day — believing in a miracle, yet knowing that the news could go either way.

We got our miracle.

Yep indeed. Alana learned that the cancer is GONE from her liver, and gone everywhere else except for a small spot still on her sternum. Amazing!! Keep in mind that some “experts” in the field didn’t even recommend treating her, because they didn’t think it would work and she should focus on quality of life. But her doctor here believes in miracles and together they developed an aggressive treatment plan. It was brutal, but she never questioned her choice to fight. She has too much to live for.

So when we got the text with the good news an impromptu dance party broke out in her front lawn. Friends, neighbors and kids showed up to help celebrate. There were a couple extra kids over at our house playing with my girls, so I loaded the wagon and took them all on a field trip around the block. A bit of Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor and some Kool and the Gang blasting thanks to our friend Noele. We wondered what the new neighbors across the street were thinking (do they do this every Tuesday afternoon???). But whatever, this was special. I bet they could tell.

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The face of a girl who just found out there is no more cancer in her liver!

Today Alana went in for her regularly scheduled chemo and to meet with her doctor. The doctor gave her the official “NED” diagnosis, which means No Evidence of Disease. Amazing. Best of all, she got to ring the victory bell.

And I have to say, when I saw the picture of her ringing the bell it REALLY hit me. Just a few weeks earlier I was with her in that same chemo room as she processed some bad news and faced yet another tough decision. That morning as she sat with her face in her hands, worried and scared, we heard a bell sound across the room. We looked over and saw a young man smiling and ringing a bell while the nurses cheered for him. Everyone in the room, including Alana started smiling and clapping. It was an awesome moment to witness. But later, Alana admitted that although it made her so happy it was a hard moment, too. She was genuinely happy for this stranger, yet it was another reminder that she would likely never get to ring the victory bell. We tried to reassure her that yes, she would. After all, we’re all expecting a miracle.

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And just weeks later it’s here. And fittingly, it came during the week of Easter. Miracles happen. Believe it.

And as always, Alana’s words are better than mine. To here her share her news in her own words click here. I’ve watched this video 10 times already. I love that smile. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152798177367607&set=vb.535247606&type=2&theater&notif_t=video_reply

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PEZ Con 2015

by Emily on March 29, 2015

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Today I drug the family to PezCon 2015.

Actually I think the official name was “First Annual ATXPEZ Collector’s Gathering,” but “PezCon” rolls off the tongue easier and much more fun to say.

I didn’t even know about this little gathering until a friend posted the link on my FB page. Yesterday. But I wasn’t about to miss my chance to hang with some other Pez nerds. So the entire family piled in the car to head to the Hilton Garden Inn to check it out.

I’d never been to a PEZ gathering and wondered if Pezheads are like Trekkies? No clue what to expect. But I have to say it was a good mix of everything.

There were all kinds of PEZ and PEZ-related items, ranging from a dollar to hundreds. I came home with some European smurfs, the Pink Panther and Ryan’s fav – a “fantasy” Saints PEZ. Some people were wearing PEZ gear, but for the most part this was a normal crowd, just pleased to be there and chat about our fav Austrian candy.

I loved looking at all the vintage dispensers and was amazed at how much some of those little things cost. I really wanted the nun, but she was almost $500 so I had to leave her there. But I did come away with a t-shirt, and they even gave the kids a free PEZ dispenser each.

We came home and I introduced my new friends to their new family. They fit right in:)

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Bringin’ Lucky Back…

by Emily on March 27, 2015

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Well it’s been a while since I’ve written here, but after an extended hiatus I decided it’s time to bring this blog back to life.

What have I been doing in the meantime? Staying busy, I guess. I’ve written plenty over the last nine months (um, just not for this site). I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to other lifestyle websites and provide content for small business clients.

The family is doing well, although life seems to be getting crazier rather than calmer. Is that normal? Molly and Allie love second grade, and Elizabeth enjoys preschool – her last year before she starts kindergarten in the fall. Our house is ridiculously loud and scattered with artwork, school papers and piles and piles of clothes. With three girls and multiple outfit changes per day things get messy fast. Add a dog and a bunny to the mix and sometimes it feels like we’re living in a zoo. And I’m only a mediocre zookeeper.

I’ve also learned a lot over the last few months, unfortunately including more than I ever wanted to know about metastatic breast cancer. My dear friend Alana was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer last fall. She’s been public and open throughout her journey that we’ve all felt the highs and lows right along with her. It’s been eye-opening for all of us.

She is one of the kindest, smartest, most inspirational and freakin’ hilarious people on the planet. I’ve learned so much about faith, grace, friendship and, well, life from watching her journey (here’s a piece I wrote for Lake Travis Lifestyle about her journey).

One of the most important things that Alana has taught me is to the live life intentionally. None of us are promised tomorrow, so we need to make today count. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have we should give thanks for what we do. Count our blessings. Don’t wait for tomorrow.

But of course, Alana would be the first to admit this isn’t always easy. This type of thinking doesn’t happen overnight and we’re all learning. I’ll find myself counting my blessings in one breath then cursing traffic in the next. I REALLY had to remember what is important when the girls spilled blue nail polish all over the carpet.

So anyway, here I go. Gonna spend less time wasting mindless time on Facebook and watching dog videos and more time intentionally doing things I love, such as writing and doodling (more on that to come).

I’m bringing Lucky back. Happy Friday!!

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