grey area

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27 November 2013

Oh the holiday hustle and bustle .... don't hate me but ... I don't love it.

I'm dreaming of a night float filled January. Or dreading.

Sometimes it just feels like an ever present and lurking cloud of reminder that I still have done zero shopping for zero people and done no festive things and Simon's schedule's about to get riddy riddy shiddy and oh, yes ... the reason for the season!! Let's not forget to keep that at the forefront of our thoughts and stress. I'm not being a grinch .... just a Grace. Don't doubt for a second that it's a real pleasure to know me in real life. No, I'll get on the cheer train soon enough ... fear not. Just as soon as this call weekend comes to a blessed end and we are one Thanksgiving closer to the prospect of the holiday being spent with familia.

Okay, that's not totally fair because my little brother Paul is driving up from college as I type. I do hope he's cool with a spread of lots of mashed potatoes, this stellar looking recipe, lots more mashed potatoes, rotisserie of chicken sandwiches, and apple (not pumpkin ... nocanlikeever) pie because that's what's going down manana.

Anyway - on days like today when I wake up and start to give myself a little lecture about maybe being more on top of the baking and the shopping and the Adventing all three kids greet me from their crib posts (I'm working on getting a bed for Julia ... the Craigslist gods just need to crack a smile in my direction as I refuse to buy one of the 99 toddler beds in the shape of a plastic car for sale but I know my time will come soon. It will.) with urine soaked sheets and the better part of the morning is immediately spoken for by some serious loads of laundry and crib sheet changing (the worst) and crib sheet cursing (the most helpful, trust me) ... I decide to throw the half-hearted lecture on the shelf for next year, maybe.

So. Holiday spirit alive and vibrant is what you've gotten so far ... I hope.

Let's shift gears ...

to our living room.
(This is from last year before the Advent po start getting their smug and judge on for the tree.)

When we first moved in I really thought the tan walls were totally great. Or fine, at the very least. Now I hate them. I blame Pinterest and blog reading and a really nasty case of nesting but they drive me really crazy. At first I thought we should paint them white but then mmmm there are so many different shades of white (ridiculous) and so what if the white I pick clashes terribly with the floorboards and the trim? Disaster, I know. So now I'm running with the idea of a very light grey. The only problem with that is that if you think there are a million shades of white ... you better be prepared to do your homework over all 50 million shades of grey out there. All I know is that I want to steer VERY clear of any shade in the family of, "greige" .... what a great name for a color.


Since Simon's working this weekend I'm enlisting the help of Paul to make my dream a reality and Simon keeps (smartly) telling me that the color of the living room is not going to change how clean the house never stays and I keep reminding myself that one of my many talents is not having an eye for interior decor and the walls will always look a little bare or a little off or a little too crowded but I still think that a tanless wall existence is really going to do wonders for my spirit.

Let me dream. And wish me and Paul the luckiest of lucks. Thanks.

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours - all 2.3 of you that are reading blogs instead of getting your bake and shake ON.

xo - just for fun.

long story (super) short

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26 November 2013

When I was pregnant with Julia - Simon liked to joke that he was going to be the fun parent and I was going to be the not fun parent. Funny because now it's true. Well ... mostly. I'm guessing (hoping) it happens in a lot of families because old Mom's always around (like, ALWAYS around) and making her offspring do all of those terrible things kids hate to do like eat all of the delicious food on their plates and pick up all of the toys she let them hurricane around all day. And then Dad comes home and breathes fun and fresh into the evening that is quickly unraveling under the watch of the big bad wolf mom and he plays 99 rounds of hide-and-seek without stopping for a single solitary breather and is, you know, fun.

Welllll I'm sure everyone knows that Sebastian is a toddler of very few words. He's making progress as he's happy to narrate, "bad mood!!!" when he senses someone is less than thrilled with his antics but he still thinks all varieties of fruit go by the name, "apple". Few words.

So you can imagine the fat smile that spreads across my face whenever we read this book and we get to this page ...

... and without skipping a beat Sebastian says, "mommy!"

He's just begging for toddler's first trip to the optometrist but ... my hair has gotten darker as the sun shines for approximately two hours a day this time of year so, fair enough.

And when we get to this page ...

... without skipping a beat Sebastian says, "daddy!!!"

And my not fun heart does a laughy little dance because .... fantasy fiction.

ps!! Modern Mrs. Darcy recently posted her really awesome Kid Lit Guide .... if you know a kid or five. Check it.

Win $150 to North American Bear Co.

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25 November 2013

I'm sure you remember Sebastian's birthday cake? You better. Well on Sebastian's birthday when I was supposed to be stressing about frosting and frosting and wrapping and acting a fool about a two-year-old's birthday celebration that involved solely immediate family North American Bear Co. sent me an email and stopped me dead in my stress tracks. Their inventory seemed to have Julia and Sebastian all figured out and I couldn't stop scrolling and clicking and scrolling and looking some more. It's one of those companies that would've sent out their holiday catalog and I would've taken it straight to my room when I was little and hemmed and hawed over which doll to ask for - or maybe a tutu - or perhaps a super hero cape? Which is exactly what Julia did when I showed her the website ... she loved every doll better than the last and couldn't get over the tutu kits and was generous for .5 seconds in her life and thought Sebastian might love the Little Red Riding Hood doll because he has a very bizarre fascination with the big bad wolf.
She settled on the princess cape so that she and Sebastian could match and when they came in the mail we all fell in love. I was so happy that they were short enough for the kids to run around the yard and not trip over their finery. They are nice and thick and made well enough that their siblings will inherit the capes in a few years, they have a bunch of pockets on the inside for whatever zillion of things Princess J is hoarding on that particular day, and you can change out the design on the cape (make your own? throw in a million Dora band-aids .... creative freedom is yours) which will be fun when the kids learn how to draw more than fake cursive. Simon and the kids Skyped with his parents this weekend and the cape was the first thing that Julia ran to grab and show them ... it's been a huge hit under our roof.

Julia WAS right and Sebastian did love the Little Red Riding Hood doll that they sent, it made the cut as a bedtime companion and even when he throws one of his craziest nap tantrums and empties ALL the things (pillow, pillow case, pants, diaper) out of his domain Little Red always stays safely nestled in his cage.

They also sent Julia the amazing tutu kit that I let her do while the boys were sleeping which she loved and I highly recommend it for girls her age (and up -- or maybe you have super talented and mature 1 and 2 year olds, I don't know).

And Theo was quite taken with the softest stuffed rabbit and baby rabbit rattle in all of the land. Don't tell him but if I get my act together with this next baby I might have to do the monthly photo shoots showing off the baby's growth next to a stuffed animal and I might be borrowing his bunny.

Anyway - their dolls are just the cutest I'm totally guilty of momentarily really wanting a girl baby just so that she can cuddle with a Sophie.

So ... you want to win $150 to this magical shop? You do. You definitely do.

Follow the copter to victory and hopefully next Monday will be your luckiest day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Ode to a Diaper Bag

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22 November 2013

shirt - Old Navy (I bought a tall even though I'm not)
sweatshirt - Forever XXI
vest - Gap via eBay
diaper bag - c/o Lily Jade
clogs - Dansko via eBay
haircut - still hate it
You may recall when I wrote a little post about things you don't need when you start having kids? Maybe not but if you do you may also recall that I threw diaper bag on the list and now I'm having to eat my words loud and proud because of this Lily Jade beauty. Even Simon was blown away by the number of pockets (16), changing pad, gorgeous leather, and overall quality of the diaper bag that looks nothing like a diaper bag. I know lots and lots of designer diaper bags claim to look nothing like diaper bags but this one really and truly does not. Back when I was an important fax sorter on Capitol Hill I needed a bag to tote my kitten heels, Blackberry, lunch, Razr cellie, and book du jour and never quite found the one but if I'd stumbled across this I would've been all over it - diaper bag label be shucked because it's the perfect size, and the perfect color and the perfect everything bag without looking like, "hmmm is she catching a flight out of Reagan later ? Because that bag is HUGE." Nope, it's just right. I used to sneak my coffee onto the metro in the mornings and it spilled all over my then bag which ruined it right then and there but this bag? The entire inside (pockets and ALL) is removable and washable and I guarantee I'll be spilling something more pungent than heavily sugary creamed coffee inside so ... praise the bag gods. Put it on your Christmas list - I'm asking for the house to be deep cleaned by an outside party so ... diaper bag isn't anything to be ashamed of as far as I'm concerned. The code CAMP20 is good through December 20th and will give you a hot 20% off either the Caroline (the one I have and might be buried with) or the Madeline.

Moving on.

I'm poorly resisting the urge to type about the fact that - as one of my best friends, Ruth, put it - the "the wheels are about to come OFF of this pregnancy" ... she can say that because she is in her third trimester ... I cannot. The morning sickness is just as bad as the beginning, I'm a bottomless pit that could eat a herd of live horses despite the sickness, and I don't even want to think about maternity panels because even those sound too restricting ... I'm thinking something more along the lines of  Simon's scrub pants or maybe a bathrobe (never have I ever owned one but ... my life is young) until May. Pregnancy whining is the worst so I'll stop but I'm just a little worried about the fact that a baby the size of an apple or an avocado or something NEEDS four large glasses of chocolate milk every night ... he/she needs to tone it down lest I fail my glucose test before the knitting needle even touches my "rope-like" veins (as one nurse put it ... still shuddering).

Also ... I scored these hooves on eBay and just assumed they'd be in pretty bad shape because I paid so little for them but they arrived in perfect condition and Simon is starting to warm to the idea of maybe wearing a pair to work (even though "everyone wears them") because they look so comfortable (they are). If someone had told former Grace that future Grace would be voluntarily rocking the professional Dansko five days a week ... out of the house ... with a diaper bag secured to her person she would've asked you to surrender your can-o-crazy because no way. Look at me exceed all expectations always.

I hope you have a relatively pleasant weekend. We have grand plans to make breakfast for dinner and then go to sleep and then wake up to nurse our pancake hangovers because we aren't accustomed to doing anything that cRazY.


Moms Just Wanna Have Fun

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21 November 2013

 a // b // c // d

So they order home try-on frame kits. This was the next best thing to spending a million dollars on one ticket to the Justin Timberlake concert and 1/2 a million dollars on a sitter while Simon worked late on Tuesday night. I'm not a Justin fanatic or anything but I've reached that point that homebounds reach in the dead of winter when even bringing the big trashcan in from the curb gets my heart a fluttering because it's a little change of pace and I need to pace my wall-scaling cabin fever because it's November, I know. So a concert sounds life changing but the home try-on frame kit was a super close second place. Don't state the obvious that a, b, and d are basically identical or that my t-zone is out of control or that these photos are grainy. I'm triple aware. I like b the best and I doubt I'll even bite the frame bullet but still .... it was a fun ten minute retreat away from the norm. This isn't sponsored or anything ... I just wanted to have fun. And Warby delivered. (It's totally free and totally fun ... do it up). Anyway ... do you like one over the others? Or do they all look the same?

What else? I'll tell you.

Julia just cried sick-wolf from her fake nap and I found a wall COVERED in purple crayon. So ... her bedtime may have just occurred at 3:30 in the pm if she knows what's best for her but a Magic Eraser will get that out, no problem .... right?

Mary sent this earlier today and it reaffirmed my deep affection for Costco.

About .2 seconds after I found out I was pregnant my face decided to do a little reenactment of its college shenanigans by way of worst and most painful breakouts ever ever ever. And because I really can't go on Accutane again (I just remember the medication always came with huge warnings and babies with coneheads ... so REALLY not pregnancy safe) I read a million reviews and settled on the Clear Regular Strength Acne System from Paula's Choice during a 3 am date with insomnia. It came 8 days ago and my face cleared up immediately and a blemish hasn't dared to surface since. I feel like an infomercial when I talk about it to Simon but so far -- it's been a miracle worker. I'm using it in conjunction with the Nerium because I love Nerium and the kit didn't come with lotion. Again, not sponsored but if you're as desperate as I was and want to order it - if you use my referral link we'll both get $10 off our next orders. Hopefully I'll never need to order it again though.

Okay so back to the cold weather that isn't even that cold. I hope Kelsey is cackling from her post up in Alaska where this is probably the equiv of a balmy July to her and her brood. Anyway, I have serious dress envy from her night out with her man (aka husband) and I'm wondering how ridic something like that would look at the hospital Christmas party where I've seen many a female in fancy slacks. Probably not very.

I trust you saw Jen's gorgeous book cover? More envy. The healthy kind of envy - fear not. Although Simon said if I ever write a book it should be titled, "Hair Volume: My Lifelong Quest" so .... my imaginary cover might look a little bit different. More serious maybe.

A few ad spots opened up today and I'd love to have you .... so there's that little bit of spice.

And finally ... let's end things with a bang here ... tons of kind souls gave me some awesome dinner recipe recommendations on the old Facebook page yesterday. I can't stop thinking about cauliflower (see post title) so I'm making this for dinner. Simon's response was a whooooole lot of silence so I'll let you know his exact vocalized sentiments posthaste. Of course I will.

Julia Styles

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20 November 2013

vest - Gap via thredup
shirt - Children's Place via thredup
shoes - Puma via eBay ($4 - get on the eBay shoe train, parents!!)
sweater - Target

(Julia picked this ensemble ... mostly to irk Sebastian because that is his vest and his shirt)

I know every parent thinks their children are characters. I do! And if I'm not careful when I'm out without the kids (happens rarely but it happens and it is glorious) I'm watching in horror as a clone of Grace busts out her phone and starts showing randos photos of her kids. Proud peacock needs to rein it in at all times. Anyway, I think Julia is a special and unique little bird but she's my child and of course I'm going to think that. She always always always wears shoes and socks (no pants) to sleep, has a really hard time (emotionally) bathing without socks, and has a ridiculous wake up ritual that involves laying on the floor until she's cognizant enough to face the day.

So lately ...

During a game of hide-and-seek ...
Simon: okay I'm going to hide while you count to ten
Julia: okay!
Simon: and no cheating
Julia: well, what if I just want to cheat a little bit?

Randomly one evening ...
Julia: Can you help me bring a chair outside please?
Grace: why?
Julia: well I just want to climb up and taste a bite of the moon.

Right after I burned my finger and was not being very brave about it ...
Julia: are you okay?
Grace: not really
Julia: oh, are your feelings just not feeling very good?

And after several minutes of me continuing to nurse and curse the burn site ...
Julia: okay, here's the plant
Julia: You're just going to do your best and you're not going to cry.

My phobia of answering the door when Simon's not home seems to have made a lasting impression because when I was downstairs doing laundry the other day Julia came crawling into the laundry room and whispered ...
Julia: someone was knocking on the door but I hid and I was riddy riddy quiet

After she accidentally knocked Theo when she was walking by his perch on the floor ...
Theo: crying
Julia: Sorry Theo! It was just an accident
Theo: crying
Julia: Do you know what an accident means?
Theo: still crying
Julia: it means you don't cry

While watching me wriggle into a pair of pants ...
Julia: oooh hmm
Grace: what?
Julia: are you sure those fit, Mom?

Watching Simon change his shirt ...
Julia: oh, Dad! I didn't know you had a baby in your tummy too?!

Recently she was clutching her stomach ...
Grace: what's the deal?
Julia: the junior princess is really kicking hard today
And today she claimed that she forgot how to run but she can gallop just like an elephant ...

... so she did.

just an 18 year phase, I promise.

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19 November 2013

Not that it is even kind of possible but it's really probably best for all parties involved (future Grace wanting to take a gander back at some smiley memories, future Patton children that don't want to be horrified and appalled by their behavior as youngsters, and you who might not want to read the true nit and grit of my feelings about mornings like this one) that I only blog when the sweet little lambs are asleep. It's definitely best on days like today when I swear on an imaginary but tangible grave that the kids woke up and before screaming like tortured and caged animals from their cages for their, "MAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!!" they vowed to test the whole, "unconditional love" bit of parenthood. Today they tested it hard and they tested it in unison and they ran rightonby and traipsed all over any feelings of obligatory motherly "like" that were lingering after our wake ups and breakfast and breakfast cleanup and the gymnastics meet that is getting them dressed.

 "Mom's gotten two of us dressed without taking a couch-sitting-wall-staring-cleansing-breath of a break. A first!!"

Sebastian's new thing is to lay down next to Theo (who is always sitting) and get him to pull his hair with his grip of death. They both find it hilarious and Julia and I bond over our synchronized stares of, "you both crazy."

The thing about babies and toddlers that I find the most comforting is that everything unpleasant is a phase. Everything. The insanity of sleepless nights with a newborn, crawling (I hate crawling - just walk/run and stop making me worry that you've MacGyvered a cigarette butt from the park floor into your mouth because even I have mothering standards), teething (did I tell you one of Julia's molars bled when it came in? It's rare but it happens and it was awful but ... it's over!), awkward hair (it may have taken poor Julia 3 years to get out of this phase but ... I think we are outish of the woods), clingy dispositions, eating strikes, bathing phobias, and even diapers - those eventually stop being necessary which seems really crazy at this stage of my life but .... it'll happen.

(Someone joked that Theo had an emo haircut this weekend and um .... he's right. Time to find my ziplock of baby locks from first haircuts that I save and treasure and joke alert.)


Always an outlier. I do not know if Julia and Sebastian are ever going to outgrow their fighting stage.

Oh this? This would be their version of harmony.

They love a good brawl. Simon says we should just shut the basement door and let them Hunger Game it to the (proverbial) death but I can't do it. I always assume that Sebastian has finally actually gone through with biting one of Julia's fingers off or that Julia has finally sat on Sebastian's head long enough to almostkill him and I have to go and referee and take toys away and threaten and eventually go through with super early bed times.

But today they independently worked out a little barter (doctor bag for dump truck) and there's a huge gaping hole in the floor where my jaw dropped down to my ankles because that has never happened. So maybe there's a little tiny sprig of hoping that's just biding its time until it pushes up and through the battlefield that is currently Grace's hell. Maybe it will be a phase too.

So please no one go and burst my fatty dream bubble because right now I just think that there is no way on God's sweet green earth that my precious little (emo) Theodore is going to grow up ...

to be a professional gladiator like his siblings ...

no way at all.


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15 November 2013

dress - J.Crew via thredUP
scarf - c/o Surfdome (other similar styles too!)
hooves - OnlineShoes
glasses - c/o Firmoo

We are not having a banner week at the Camp. At all. And I know it's probably thee most commonly covered topic on blogs: rough days/weeks/months so I'll make this as brief as I'm able.

Right. I don't do brief. Click out or buckle up, kids.

We threw a cherry on top of the banana splat this afternoon with a little dramedy of errors at the hospital. Simon's going to have to work late tonight so we went to see him for lunch and he got stat paged up to an emergency c-section. I gathered the flock and herded them into the parking lot where Julia fell and had a total cow, Sebastian flipped the stroller (Theo strapped in) while I was Clara Bartoning Julia back to earth, and about 10 medical professionals walked by and gave the horror stare while I tossed the stroller into the trunk (not collapsed - I can never figure it out!) popped into my heated seat, and sped the Odyssey up and out of there. No blood - only tears and mortification a plenty. We'll be having comfort cookies for dinner. Or Simon's mom's bran muffins - my favorite baked good in the universe.

I really miss the Bachelor/ette. Bring the franchise back. January is too far away. 

We had two pretty cold days here earlier this week and I had to forgo our morning walk/run and it made the day feel approximately 9 hours longer than usual. So I've decided as long as I can find some automatic doors that will accommodate the chariot ... I'll be mall walking this winter. I remember someone suggested that when Julia was a baby and I thought that was silly but now? It's a matter of life or death-by-cottage-fever.

I know screen time is frowned upon by probably all parenting experts and parents that have successful first graders and parents that know what they are doing but a healthy splash of Bob the Builder and Strawberry Shortcake (Julia's new Dora) around here makes for a much better day. And that's just the way it's going to be. For quite awhile. Judge a mom that only wants to fold a grip of laundry one time .... not three, thanks to Sebastian who seems to posses life aspirations that center around a certain Disney princess by the name of Cinderella.

Speaking of screen time - Sebastian's favorite thing to watch is the Noah trailer on my phone and he's watched it so many times that he could probably be considered a bit of a biblical scholar at this point. It's not easy being mom to the gifted.

And speaking of Sebastian on my phone he's hidden it REALLY well twice this week and I've found this website to be an absolute lifesaver (ahem - no thanks to blogless Colleen and blogless Caitlin for not answering my frantic SOS emails - j/k ... sort of).

I've resurrected these for breakfast. I enjoy them. The older two can be tricked by my "cake!" marketing but Theo would rather just grind his teeth (why does he do that? why?) and give me expressionless stares (never not disturbing from a 10 month old) than touch anything that has touched a banana. His loss.

Hmm this post has been a whole lot of fun. Let's liven things up with a bump photo. No one hates those, right?

Yes, I'm asleep. Laugh.

And I still hate my haircut so I'll be cinnamon rolling the butchered locks for a few more months. Yum.

"ladies and gentleman ....

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13 November 2013

.... boys and gewls ... welcome to the Julia instrument show!!!!"

I was on spoon-taps-counter and Sebastian was on, "bad moon!!!" as he claims - and he right ... bad mood Bash ...

I KNOW his nose needs to be wiped - it won't stop running. It's run about 99 marathons in the past five days and we're beyond the 'get a tissue' stage .... I've used his sleeves, my sleeves, a rogue clean sock, a pot holder, and this post to wipe the nose that can't stop won't stop ever.

Okay here's some stuff about some things from all over the internet. Click them all - you won't be sorry.

I'm sure this is old news to all y'all but ... yee-haw.

This blog slays me with its pretty. And her hair - I vant.

Kayla put together a sweet post about sentimental articles of clothing. She even let me throw my contribution in. Check it out.

Simon hates caramel (WHAT - I still don't get it and every fall I have these absurdly idealistic visions of the family making caramel apples on some cold afternoon after the kids cheerfully wake up from their lengthy naps which is insane because have you met our children - and every fall Simon shoots the vision to absolute shite because he hates caramel .... no comprendo, dude) but I went ahead and made caramel apples slices during naps the other day using this recipe and I'm still thinking about them even though it was more of caramel sauce on apple slices - they were too good. I also can't stop obsessing about sushi - from the grocery store. I know - help me.

Jenny and her writing. I can't get enough.

I'm reading this book and ... eh. Have there been any books you've read recently that you can't put down? Hit me. Please.

Not that I have ANY idea what I'm talking about but I wrote a little post with some blogging tips over here! And if you're in the market to give your blog a little facelift .... go here here here!!!!

And now I'm off to research some solid morning sickness cures because it's gotten to the point that Theo now mimics my morning sicks with fake coughs and a giggle and more fake coughs. Not funny ever, little dude.

You just keep trying to crawl .... we'll be here all year.

my new favorite mascara {and the runners-up}

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12 November 2013

Oh yes Grace, puh-lease report your expert mascara findings on your fancy beauty blog. Welllll, I will. I know there are SO many incredible beauty blogs and YouTube channels out there that give you some serious detailage on lots of products and if I'm not careful I can get sucked into those for HOURS on end. Anyway ... after reading lots of reviews and listening to your awesome suggestions I tried out five different mascaras and I thought it'd be fun to let you know what I thought of each and every one. Or I could talk about my disdain for organizing baby/toddler clothing. So ... I think the lesser evil would be talking about finding the perfect mascara that gives great length and volume and doesn't clump and take off half my lashes after one application and changes Sebastian's bombs. Yes, let's do it.

Here's what went down ...

1. Maybelline New York Volume' Express The Rocket
likes: initially I really loved this stuff because it did throw on a lot of volume with not a lot of fussy applications.
gripes: after a few days of wearing it (and showering in between wears, I swear) I noticed that it would clump pretty badly and my lashes would eventually break even after just a few hours. Maybe I have brittle lashes but it's probably my fault for not specifically using makeup remover every night (or ever) and only washing my face but I won't be taking the time to remove my eye makeup anytime soon. If you're a dedicated eye makeup remover person -- you might love this stuff.

2. Maybelline New York Volume Express Colossal Cat Eyes -
likes: this was my go-to for a long time because I love the curved brush and it lasted several hours into the day and looked pretty freshly applied even after I'd spent a long morning sipping champagne and throwing back bonbons.
gripes: um, I got bored? I think the colder weather made it start flaking easily and I got the itch to try something new.

3. Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara Black
likes: this was Natalie's top pick several months ago and so I ordered the travel size because it's pricey. I loved it because it didn't clump or look spidery and delivered in the length and volume department.
gripes: BUT only after applying three coats and waiting for each coat to dry in between applying said coat did I achieve the perfect lash and as much as I'd love to dedicate that much time to my face painting ... my charges always have other plans.

4. Benefit Cosmetics They're Real!
likes: everyone RAVES about this stuff so I had to see what all the glow sticking was about. It is pretty impressive .... volume for days after just one coat.
gripes: but holy clumps. It clumps and crunches badly and takes my lashes with it if I dare to wear it for more than a few hours so I only wear it on super special occasions (so almost never I guess) if I'm only going to be out for the evening before I turn into a clump pumpkin. Again, maybe I just have brittle lashes or something.

5. Maybelline Full 'N Soft  - (WINNER!!)
likes: a different Natalie swears by this stuff and she always had the BEST lashes in college so why didn't I try it sooner? I don't know. Is a six dollar mascara the answer to my prayers? Mostly! The thing I love about this is that it doesn't get crunchy - you know what I mean. I can apply a couple of coats (even though one does just fine) and still - full and soft. Crazy. And Simon even asked if I was wearing extensions .... it's that great in the length department.
gripes: none, really. If I can find a mascara that offers a teeeeeny tiny bit more volume with zero crunch ... I'm all over it.

Anyway, I'll keep testing because it's fun and sometimes I have so much time on my hands I just take a little dip in my big fat vat of boredom plus the kids are very concerned about my lash length and volume. I always love hearing your favorites ... especially if yours is up there and you disagree with me because I can assure you that I'm rarely right.

I am Mom. Hear me think.

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11 November 2013

(Coincidentally Ana wrote a post along similar lines today ... hers is much MUCH better so just skip this and pop over there - now.)

Staying at home with little kids means that I have a lot of conversations like this ...

Mom: (hands full of kettle ball baby and car keys and purse and baby bottle and mug of cold coffee) Hey, would you please grab the sippy cup off the dining room floor?
Three year old: the DIVING room? where is THAT?
Mom: diNing room.
Three year old: I don't know where the diving room is. Is there a pool in the diving room? Where is it?

And this conversation continues through el mom just walking into the stupid dining room, bending down, breaking her back, and picking up the damn sippy while the three year old continues to ask thoughtful questions about our invisible indoor pool.

So I do a lot of thinking - like a lot of humans do - I know it's not just moms that think. A lot of thinking through the zillion scenarios that could go very wrong and not thinking of the zillion scenarios that will go wrong instead. There's a lot of schedule making and flexing and rearranging and changing because when it comes to babies and toddlers ... planning is essential but rarely pans out perfectly because someone will inevitabely cut their nap short and someone else will break a glass and cut their foot and require tweezer surgery and proper pampering on the couch and someone else will take off his diaper before his nap and paint a pretty urine mural on the bedroom wall .... enough. You get it. I know you do.

So my subconscious spews one liners like this on the daily ...

In the car ...

(quiet children shackled to their car seats, radio bumping) Mom thinks: I love driving. It's the most relaxing part of my day. I bet my blood pressure dips down a trillion points when I'm behind the wheel.

(baby crying, radio bumping and not trumping said crescendoing cries) Mom thinks: I hate driving. I hate driving. I hate driving. I hate driving.

In a grocery store parking lot and I come up against this Everest in the Sahara ...

(no carts for those with malfunctioning pupils)

Mom thinks: how am I supposed to herd two cat-toddler across a dangerous war zone of moving traffic while holding a Goliath of a baby? That's it, I'm blogging about this.

Toddler announces in said store, "I neeeeed to go to the rastroom"
Mom thinks: we have 35 seconds to find the rastroom.

Toddler announces in said store, "I reallly need to go to the rastroom"
Mom thinks: we are 35 seconds too late.

All of her children are dressed before noon ...

Mom thinks: nothing because she's too drained from the 2.3 hours of manual labor she just put in to get her little heathens clothed. Snaps cellular photos instead. Probably throws it on the gram.

A "TRUCKKKK!!!!!!!" is spotted on a run/walk so naturally ...

the mom thinks: memory that'll last a lifetime.

(and hopefully the homeowner that came out and asked him to get down has since forgiven the trespassers as they would've forgiven him)


Some facts: I just tried every single trick in my little Theodore manual and he still was just not having it with life so I put him to bed at 5:55 pm which I will surely regret at 5:55 am tomorrow. There is a little piece of glass stuck in my foot (see above) that I just can't get out and will need Simon to come home and help me so that it stops bleeding (a slow trickle but still ... I'm not ruling out a transfusion at this point) but one of Simon's fellow residents texted that Simon had to do an emergency c-section and will be home late (which is fine - I'm not hating the player - just throwing the game a little shade). And I just wish Chipotle had a drive-thru. Wouldn't that solve so many problems?

I typed this in between asking Theo what he wanted (no answer, just cries), peeling 56 clementines for Sebastian, and putting Julia down for her nap (again!). I accidentally left the light on in her lair so I just peeked my head in and she'd made herself a little blanket tent of darkness so now I'm feeling kind of failury and a lot guilty. So if this made little to negative sense ... you know why.

(and Simon, if you're reading this ... we're having chocolate chips for dinner. Unless of course you happen to find yourself swinging by a Chipotle on your way home ... even though it's pouring rain .. that would be weird, wouldn't it?)

boots, boots, and a miracle

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10 November 2013

Something miraculous happened today. I won't even pause for dramatic effect I'll just dive right in. Theo fell asleep in the car on the way home from visiting Simon at work and then come home and still went down for a regular afternoon nap.

Okay, now a little dramatic pause.

Normally even a 34 second power nap in the car is enough to destroy any hope of a legit nap and it has ruined many an afternoon for selfish Grace but today ... he took note of the desperation in my eyes, listened to my silent please, and passed right out. Anyway - maybe I should crack open my first baby book or dial a friend that cares when I feel the need to record momentous occasional victories like these but for now ... they be blogged.

And thanks to this blessed little miracle child of mine I have time to sit down and type out a little post about boots for you.

[Ha. Here I am 10 hours later. Laugh laugh laugh. The older two took teeeeeeeny little naps and Julia claimed she was having a "bad back like Simon" (he does have the back of an 89 year old - it's terrible) and Sebastian swore there was a wolf in the kitchen which meant that he couldn't sleep and they won because call weekends always find me with my guard down and ah yes - almost anything goes. I'm not proud but survival of the tiredest and all of that.]

Moving on and out of the longest introduction ever. English teacher retiree for a reason, right here.

OnlineShoes asked if I'd share five of my favorite boots from their site and like the rest of the female world ... I'm in the mood for boot wearing and I couldn't resist. I'm sharing six.

I know. I don't think I could stand to wear boots during the summer but my other options were:

boots with the flare
yes, boots for you (throwback to the soup nazi)
boots you won't hate

so I think I went with the least terrible.

And they didn't ask that I say this or anything but I was trying to order a pair of boots last week and was being a real idiot about checking out and they answered my "HELLLLPPPPPPP" email in about 4 seconds flat and were super nice and they always offer free shipping and free exchanges etc. Awesome.

Okay, so on Wednesday's post a lot of people pledged allegiance to the tall boot and I am with every single one of you. I'll always love the tall over short. Always. But ... but ... but I'm starting to warm a little bit more to the idea of the ankle boot and was especially encouraged by Audrey's super helpful post on wearing ankle boots for various leg shapes, heights, calf sizes, etc. And Sydney - that Sydney - so smart ... thought to just cut the bottoms off of pants to help the ankle boot look along. So ... I found a few of both styles ... tall and small.

Here you go ...

1. Kork-Ease Velma - these are my favorite boots ever. Well, I've never seen them in the flesh/leather but I know they would be if I did. I put them on the Facebook page and not everyone agreed but I have one pair of Kork-Ease and holy comfortable.
2. Naturalizer Onset - these are actually the boots in the top photo as I just got them in the "email" (as Julia says) and I love them. Even though they have a little heel they are still super comfortable and even Simon handed out an unsolicited compliment and he normally is an ankle boot hater.
3. Born Raisa - these got several 5-star reviews on the website for comfort level but they look edgy but not too edgy for Costco, right?
4. Clarks Plaza Beagle - cue Simon's jokes about riding horses blah blah neigh. But these scream classic to me ... and Clarks are known for their comfort level. Yes, I am big on shoe comfort. I'm 30. I old.
5. Jessica Simpson Elmont - Can anyone else not open a can of tuna without thinking of Jessica's chicken of the sea line? I hope I'm not alone. Anyway - I like the pointier toe and the cognac color of these babies. Or Maxwells - whatever.
6. Jack Rogers Mercer - ending things on a WiLd and cRaZy note with two-toned but really ... Kate Middleton would definitely wear these. Once. Before she moved onto the other 89 boots in her closet.

Love? Hate? Give it to me straight or send me the link to a pair that you have or that you love - people gave awesome tunic recs on Thursday so I trust you completely. And if you want to just tell me you're also jamming out to the purr of several sound machines through a half broken/sometimes works baby monitor on your Saturday night like I am - I'd love that too.

Julia Styles

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07 November 2013

sweater - Old Navy from Caroline
shirt - Kangaroo Kids
jegs - OshKosh c/o Kohl's
shoes - Gap from Piper
purse - c/o J.Crew
hair bow - c/o Tew Little Loves

Let's cut straight to some conversations with little J ...

On Halloween ...
Julia: trick-or-treat!!
Man at door: do you have a joke for me? (this is a St. Louis thing .... ?)
Julia: Yes, my name is Julia Patton Grace and I'm a ballerina.

A few days after Halloween ...
Julia: How about I have some candy for lunch?
Grace: How about no.
Julia: How about I just told Santa to put you on the naughty list?

While Sebastian was throwing a tantrum ...
Julia: Just act normal, stub-bastian
Sebastian: no.

Every single day while I put her down for a nap in the afternoon in broad daylight ...
Julia: Be sure to leave the bathroom light on, you know I'm scared of the dark.
Grace: Yep.

Feeling her hair after I braided it this morning ...
Julia: This feels muh-diculous!
Grace: What?
Julia: My hair is broken.

In Target while she was on foot she wandered down an aisle before I noticed and I panicked for seven long seconds before she finally came bounding out holding a bottle of white wine ...
Julia: You want some of your juice, Mom??
Grace: Yes.

One night when it was very much past the kids bedtime ...
Grace: Do you know what time it is, guys?
Julia: Yes I do. It's tired-o-clock.

During an unfortunate tangle with her tights in the bathroom that resulted in a bit of an accident ...
Julia: Ahhhhhh - my knee is peeing!!
Grace: that's okay we'll just clean it up.
Julia: well, I guess this just means I'm not potty trained anymore.

Talking to Sebastian ...
Julia: And this is how you walk on your titty toes, Bash!
Grace: I think you mean tippy toes.
Julia: That's what I said ...

 ... my titty toes.

and we can't forget Sebastian who was begging to be captured on camera saying, "cheese!!" over and over and over and over and over and over while perched on a stage of his own while I gave too much attention to the starlet ...

But someone got the last word anyway, "please take a picture of me doing a ta-da!!!!"


Like the Good Fräulein Says ...

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06 November 2013

Oh what a day. In early November Two Thousand Thirteen. Stopping! Don't leave. I'm stopping.

No, it's been fine. Sebastian did dump a sizeable container of cinnamon (most cruel word to repeatedly ask Julia to pronounce ... butIstilldoit) out and onto the floor at the store this morning. I didn't have the heart to tell the store manager that came to my rescue in the dairy aisle to help me clean it up that mmm actually no - they aren't triplets nor did I suggest that he might want to see about scheduling a little eye exam.

Anyway ... I'm linking up with the lovely Hallie for some favorite flavors du jour.

1. Together Box: First up we have the Together Box. It's awesome. It's a subscription service that sends a box with 3-5 family friendly activities every month. They sent one over a couple of weeks ago and it is still going strong in the toddlers' favorite toys department which is huge if you know anything about toddlers and their attention spans.

I love our box because it gets us all outside and our spirits up and our blood pumping and Julia still loves talking about going on "adbentures" with the magnifying glass, butterfly net (this was VERY popular - maybe too popular), bug catcher, and bug cage (where the kids catch leaves ... fine by me). There were also materials to make bug costumes (Julia made Theo into a lion one afternoon while Sebastian was napping) and extra suggestions for making bug related snacks which were right up the kids alley. Julia took charge and "read" the little note cards they sent to Sebastian. The creators clearly know kids and moms with little kids because the cards are attached with a sturdy binder ring. Lose-proof!!

My imagination runs about as wild as reading to the kids so a box like this was perfect for me. If you have kids or grandkids - I highly recommend shooting it over for Christmas or a birthday or just for fun. I guarantee they'll heart it to pieces.

If you use the code: camppatton you'll get 50% off your first month and the first two people to use the code will get their second box FOR FREE. So go go go go GO!!!

2. Mascara: So after asking for mascara suggestions several months ago and so many people delivering awesome recommendations I've tested and loved/liked/hated five different kinds. I can't wait to report my findings because I found one that I really love (but the search will never be over for THE ONE ... ) but I was so excited to see that Jenna had also randomly tried out a totally different five ... check it. And love her blog as much as I do because it's the best.

3. Tune-what. Okay so on Friday's post a lot of people thought I was wearing a running skirt. Wrong-o. It was a long shirt or I guess the official term might be a tunic? It's old and from Gap but after scouring countless stores online (well just Gap and Old Navy and Target but Target's website is a nightmare) I can't seem to find a duplicate and I want one in every color. It's just great to wear with leggings and skinny jeans and well ... I guess that's it but have you seen any around? I don't dare take the kids into any store other than the grocery variety and even Target isn't the most fun so ... let me know if you have and I'll love you forever and ever and make you feel niiiiiiiice and awkward.

4. For the volume impaired: And moving onto something edifying - finally. Hairspray!! I don't know what rock I've been hiding under but it's a massive boulder because I just discovered Kate's blog and her amazing voluminous hair. She's so down to earth even though her blog is huger than huge and she has awesome product recommendations. I bought the Kenra Volume Spray she suggested and it is worth every last penny. I thought hairspray was a thing of the past (I know, I'm dumb) but this stuff is so great for us flat-haired ladies. It doesn't leave the gross sticky residue but it holds the hairs up and I love it. Love. Anyway - if you suffer from volumeless hair syndrome like I do - get it.

5. Fried Faux: I love fried rice. SO much. What I don't love is wolfing down a bunch of starch right before bed (Simon's been getting home late and so we eat dinner late and I go to bed embarrassingly early) because then I wake up with sausage fingers that I can barely bend (I know, I'm weird) so I tried out this fried rice made with grated cauliflower. Even I was a little bit of a skeptic (and I made pizza crust out of almond meal last week - mistake - HUGE mistake) but it was really, really good! The key is to finely grate the cauliflower and well, that's my only tip. And I made Simon the real deal .... I'm only a little bit of a Cruella on occasion.

Wellll Julia woke up this morning and after she did her usual fire-breathing/life hating morning routine she asked what I had planned for the day and before I could answer she said, "probably just exercise and make some dinner?" so I better get hopping before I disappoint the little love.

ps! a medium ad spot justjust opened up, effwhyeye!

30 going on 17 (and a gigando thank you)

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05 November 2013

sweater - Forever XXI
boots - Carlos Santana
glasses - c/o Firmoo

I'm pretty sure this was a sort of semi-trendy outfit for 17-year-olds about two years ago but I still get super excited whenever Thrift Shop comes on the minivan's radio and when Thrift Shop is followed by Roar? Forget it. Excitement level through our non-existent sunroof. So I'm wearing it - outdated tall boots and all. I do love the new ankle boot trend but tall boots will always have my heart. You see - I drove baby Julia to the mall on the WEST side of Wichita (we lived on the EAST side which was a whole 9 minute away) to hit up Famous Footwear for these babies. And you have to understand that Julia was a HATER of the car seat and the stroller (or maybe she was just spoiled by clueless parents because the boys have taken to travel by automobile and stroller wheels JUST fine) so really the entire odyssey was just a big fat labor of tall boot love. Your life is brimming with meaning now that you know that story. Don't I know it.

And let's address the scraggle haired elephant in the room that is my hair that has since been trimmed/butchered. I know it needed to be trimmed but (as always after I get a haircut) I now have a glorified mushroom cut. Simon's always saying I should wear my hair up more so wish no more, dear husband! because up it will be for the rest of eternity ... or until 2016 when it finally grows past my neck scar. Gross ends over Ramona Quimby mom chops forever.

And I kind of bet follow-up preg posts are kind of annoying but I really wanted to thank you thank you thank you for all of the incredibly kind comments and emails on yesterday's post. I was overwhelmed - I still am. We are SUPER excited and feel very blessed. One person asked how I found out so ... let me overshare for one sec. Back in August I was falling asleep really easily during the day - (while the kids were awake - negligence be mine!!) and so I took an early test (against my better judgment but I stilll did it) on our anniversary on a whim and bada-bing bada-positive. So it was kind of fun to tell Simon at dinner for our 4th anniversary that we were expecting our 4th little cherub. This has been a tougher pregnancy than all three of the other pregnancies combined but I know the extreme sickness is a healthy sign and the baby looks great and I'm chugging along at 14.2 weeks so God is good. Julia has made it VERY clear that she does NOT want another brother and when the little sister comes she will be naming her Patrick. Sebastian likes the name, "mommy". Theo not care.

And that's a wrap. Or a belted sweater. Whatever.

the weekend that adventure built

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04 November 2013

I'm going the way of the lazy river today because if you saw me right now I'd have to kill you. Holy scarecrow - but scarier. The floor is littered with graham crackers and ice cubes and Theo learned how to throw genuine back arching flail about tantrums today and and and and. Who cares.

I blogged about everyone's favorite thing .... weekend recap, baby.

If you don't watch it ... I'll never know. But Santa will.

(and Sebastian was a truck driver for Halloween - not a truck drive and yet I still have two burnt bricks of banana bread to show for my techy toil and kitchen negligence)

and if it won't play you can click here.


It's time for another edition of: Grace is Not a Hat Person.

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01 November 2013

Say hello to my new momiform. Aside from a few breathers to wash and dry my new Albion Fit apparel this week this outfit has been on repeat and repeat again for the past several days. Stigmas against wearing workout gear in public even if your workout accidentally slips your mind and never actually happens? None here. I genuinely didn't think it was possible to love a pair of workout pants more than the last pair they sent but they came out with a few new items for their fall line and these electric blues are incredible. They don't lose their shape even after logging many, many hours on my person, they don't shrink down to Julia's size if they accidentally go through the dryer one or three cycles too many, and they are really thick which is greatly appreciated because it's cold in the mornings and I don't know any ladies that particularly enjoy a sheer pair of pants on their bod. I really hope they come out with more colors (black? maroon? yes and yes please!).

Albion Fit also sent their new East Coast Hoodie which is equally great because it has thumb holes, is really stretchy, blocks the wind like a boss, and is lightweight enough to wear for the entirety of my little runs which is great because I hate stopping, locking the breaks on the chariot, stripping off a layer, explaining to the kids that we'll be moving in one hot second, and then trying to regain momentum to trot/walk again. It's so comfortable that I've even justified wearing it with regular street clothes and no one's stopped and arrested me for mixing clothing genres because it blends right in.

So! Here's what we've got going on for you fine peoples ...

1. The coupon code camp20 is good through November 4th and will take $20 off any order over $100.

2. And if you're wanting to stretch and exercise those giveaway muscles you have a chance to win a $100 credit to Albion Fit right here, right now.

Raffle it up. And as always, I hope YOU win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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