two!

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30 December 2014


He's been saying for the past six months that's he's "doo!!" (his universal syllable for everything .... command/request/question) so it's time to make it official because today is Theo's second birthday.


doo fingers.

Theo's current hobbies include: brushing his teeth nine times an hour (with the "spicy" grown-up toothpaste that even Julia and Sebastian won't touch), waking up long before the sun, sitting on the counter in the kitchen whenever any sort of cooking/baking is going down, bathing as often as he is allowed (hourly, if possible) and following his older siblings around like the dutiful shadow that he is. If presented with the choice between an episode of his favorite show (Curious George) or the opportunity to help me clean the bathroom ... the bathroom would win ten times out of ten. He loves to clean and is about as helpful as you'd imagine.

I often catch him throwing something away and clapping for himself in the absence of a clappy parental audience because apparently our standards for showers of audible praise are very high. He loves to bang a ditty out on the piano and then come running to find me and look at me expectantly until I give the appropriate amount of kudos and clapping before he goes running back to serenade the lucky house yet again. His favorite food is butter by the spoon or handful.

A few weeks ago we were walking out after dropping the kids off at preschool when the director waved goodbye in our direction. Theo ran right up so she bent down to say hello and he planted a kiss of the french variety directly on her stunned mouth then he turned and walked out ... business as not usual. He waves at almost everyone he encounters out in public but if they wave back he retreats into his shell turtle style so I hope Mrs. L felt sufficiently loved and honored.

Okay, that's quite enough ... mothergusher.

Happy happy birthday Theo!! Thank you for being so enthusiastic about picking out clearance Christmas cupcakes at the store yesterday for your big day. I promise we'll do a tiny bit better next year when you might care a tiny bit more.


Probably, maybe.


ps Theo's birth story & Theo turns one


Internet take the wheel

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20 December 2014

Short story time.

The other night Phoebe was really needing the loving and undivided attention of my arms while I made dinner (frozen pizza) so I had the genius idea to just "put her on my back in the Ergo" because all the other moms make it look so easy! And so I did and she hated it (strike zillion, Ergo! I know everyone loves it but ... we must be missing something over here) but in the process of buckling one of the buckles I cracked my right index fingernail almost completely in half (okay, strike zillion and ONE) ... I won't post a photo but it's really gross and it's covered by five band-aids because I live in constant fear that it will catch on something and I will die. The pain kept Baby Grace up the entire night while she dreamt up the invention of fingernail epidurals and cursed the inventors of baby wearing (just kidding, but I am serious about the epidural). Anyway, my point is that I'm blaming my fingernail injury (slow typing, a true baby here) on the fact that I'm writing a post just to ship you off into a million other (better!) directions because I know you have nothing better to do five days before Christmas than click a grip of links. (Also, I ordered and am trying both this carrier and this carrier and plan on sharing my detailed thoughts on both - get excited.)

Okay, here we go.

First and foremost, please keep sweet Courtney and her family in your prayers during this undoubtedly difficult and trying time.

Here's a new-to-me blog that I'm loving. This post especially.

You probably saw this all over Facebook but why you should drink hot water and lemon every morning.

This is as close to holiday "baking" that I've come this season.

Theo is in the throes of a major cleaning phase so he may or may not be getting this for Christmas from a thoughtful and generous uncle (thanks for the idea, Amelia!).

Phoebe is getting nothing. Just kidding.

Because I've done 100% of our Christmas shopping online, I finally signed up (took three seconds) for this brilliant website and am just kicking myself for not doing it YEARS ago. Live and learn. And regret, I guess.

I'm reading and enjoying this book thanks to Fran's recommendation!).

I've said it once and I'll say it again ... I really think Alison would make the most fun friend.

I finally joined a gym! Was my main motivation the free + unlimited hours of childcare? Perhaps. But I've had to carry a flailing and kicking and crying Sebastian (the smallest Patton child, naturally) out of Kids Club the past two days while Julia crossed her arms and calmly said, "I don't like you right now" (um, look at my care) when I told them it was time to go so I don't think they hate their time spent in the room with 89 trillion toys. But my important question is ... any good upbeat music you care to share? I can only listen to this song so many times in a row before I start feeling a little bit obsessive.

Whenever I leave the house I really should be wearing my glasses, lest I mistake a perfect stranger for a friend and makes us both feel nice and awkward so these tips were so appreciated.

Simon accused me of playing favorites with Phoebe on Instagram ...


... to which I say the kids have all had their time to shine and hers just might be now. Or, yes I'm guilty. Whatever.

I'm sure I'll bug you before then but I hope you have four very merry and stressless days leading up to Christmas. Simon has tonight off (party emoji galore) so I'm off to scour Netflix for the best and cheesiest movie he'll let me get away with.

Bye.

what I wish I'd known before residency

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17 December 2014

You like that ominously somber and cliché title? I thought you might. I got the following email {edited a bit and author's name withheld!!} earlier this week and it wasn't unlike a lot of similar emails I've gotten so in the event that any other residency-esque emails are in the future works ... I thought I'd type this out since Simon is currently on a decent rotation and I won't be irrationally tempted to write a scathing diatribe about the past 3.5 years.

My husband is interviewing currently and we match in March and I am stressing out and am unsure how to handle this entire process. I am extremely close with my parents and all of the programs we are considering are minimum 6 hours away. I'm terrified of moving but happy that he is even getting interviewed at these incredible programs and knowing that someone would be proud to take him. We're considering children soon and I feel lost about leaving and having kids away from our families and any support system. I was hoping that you could give me some insight or advice on this roller coaster ride that we are about to embark on. 


*Grace again! before I answer I have to give a disclaimer like the funion that I am ...

I realize that my situation could be a lot more difficult. I could be a single mom, Simon could be deployed, Simon could be unemployed, and the list goes on and on. On the totem pole of difficult situations - ours ranks pretty low. I know that. If I sound like an ungrateful b, that's perfectly understandable and I could keep my mouth shut (or my keyboard untouched, polite laugh) but I've read a few "it's totally fine!" accounts of residency experiences from the wife's perspective and I felt a lot a bit duped. Simon is at a great program that does a phenomenal job of giving as many two day weekends off as possible and it is absolutely the best fit for him and our family for countless reasons. I just don't think there's any escaping a lot of the necessary realities of medical training.

With that disclaimed ... I'm probably the worst person to talk about this because I can't truthfully paint the rosy picture that some spouses might. I'm sure there are some couples that have been genuinely and pleasantly surprised by their residency experience because they were expecting much worse or the resident went into a relatively "easy" (in quotes because I don't really think there are any easy programs out there) field - as far as hours go or they have more optimistic temperaments than I do. We are not one of those couples. I think Simon had a much better idea than I did because as a med student he shadowed residents and knew how many hours they logged at that hospital and he encouraged me to talk to residency wives to learn what I should expect but I said I was sure I got it because "how much worse than med school could it BE?!" and I could handle it. Laugh laugh LAUGH. 

Let's break it down.


brace your lonely nerves: July of 2011 was a bit of a shock to my system as I found myself staring at a baby Julia while both of us sat on the kitchen floor in a new house in a new city mindlessly snacking on cereal straight from the box at what felt like 5pm but no, how could be a mere 10:00 in the am?! Day after day after day. No matter the residency (OB, Family Medicine, Surgery, Internal Medicine etc.) the hours are always going to be really long on some rotations. The nature of the medical beast is generally unpredictable and emergencies tend to arise at the end of shifts and patients always take priority over getting home for dinner - as they should. I'm not sure I necessarily understood that when Simon was "on call" he would be at work on the weekends for a minimum of 24 hours and not at home with a pager or at work getting sleep. Depending on if he worked overnight - when he got home he would need to sleep. This was a tough pill to swallow because I was so lonely and ready to interact with a human that could talk in sentences but eventually the shock wears off and it just becomes a fact of (temporary!) life.


the first year is the worst year: I can't speak for all residencies but I think getting acclimated to the rigor of the hours makes intern year the most difficult for both the resident and the spouse. After the first year, there's a better idea of what to expect during each rotation and I learned to set my expectations bar SUPER low during certain months to occasionally be pleasantly surprised. The interns are at the very bottom of the food chain and are learning a whole lot in a very small window of time. They tend to do a lot of the busier grunt work (so it seems) so second year seemed to be a little less of a grind for Simon as his autonomy and responsibilities changed for the better. 

holidays are hard: Unless you live near family and are able to travel to be with them ... odds are good that you'll spend a Christmas and Thanksgiving or two or three alone. The first Christmas Simon was working and Julia was throwing up and I was still in a bit of a postpartum haze after Sebastian so I think that set the bar pretty high for future and subsequent Christmases have been so much better. Simon's second year he was working a 24 on Thanksgiving and it was a beautiful day outside so I took my 32 (? I think) week pregnant self and the two older kids for a walk and saw countless families in our neighborhood walking into homes bearing casseroles and smiles and my baditude hit a real sour note. We tried to visit Simon who was busy (again, understandable! he was at work!) and I gained a huge appreciation for this past Thanksgiving when Simon was very much not at the hospital. 

expect no paternity leave: It's just not in the cards for most programs (although! I did hear something about some sort of mythical Psych program that gave three weeks of paternity leave .... say que?!) which is understandable but difficult when baby arrival times are unpredictable and you don't live near family. No one was able to come after Phoebe was born (although my wonderful friend Caitlin came a week later while Simon flew to an interview because she's an angel) and 7.5 months later I'm still feeling a little bit mentally fragile which is probably the most pathetic thing you've read all day, I know.

but having kids is totally doable: I would never discourage anyone from having kids during residency because having babies is always an adjustment and there's never a good or easy time to have them. The kids are mostly clueless that Simon is gone on some weekends and holidays and think it's totally normal that he sleeps "in his bedroom" at the hospital some nights and they LOVE visiting him. 




I think (?) most programs have pretty good health insurance so the cost is feasible and I would imagine after surviving the newborn phase during a tough rotation (hello night float!) ... any future newborn periods will feel relatively easy and breezy. 

it's not mission impossible: There will be some rotations with a light call schedule and decent exit times and you'll wonder why you ever thought residency was tough, you big baby!! And those months will save your sanity and keep you chugging along. It's tough for me to remember that eventually allllllll the med school loans WILL be paid off and that Simon will be able to take pager call on the weekends and there won't always be a month of nights looming in the near future. We've learned to really appreciate the weekends that Simon has off because they feel like such a luxury sometimes and I'm really thankful for that. 



it's important to be kind and gentle: with yourself and your spouse and remember that you're on the same team. It's easy to default to frustration with each other when there's snag in the schedule or weekends are anything but a breather in between rough weeks but it's not productive. It's perfectly acceptable to slip yourself straight into super survival mode on the more difficult months and turning your parenting blinders to level: HIGH so that you don't start comparing your survival tactics to other families who might be more on the thriving end of the spectrum for that particular season of life. 

it's a marathon, not a sprint: gross, I hate that phrase - I'm sorry! Julia was nine months old when Simon started his intern year and she'll be seven and a half when he is completely finished with his training. It's been vital for me to take it a rotation (four weeks) at a time. Yeah, yeah, "the days are long but the years are short!!" (I hate that saying even more) but the days can feel e-t-e-r-n-a-l and even though the years do pass at a relatively decent clip, it's not helpful to dwell on how many more night shifts you have to go because, it's just not (but 30 - I broke down and counted like the immature toddler that I am). 

it will all be worth it: Or so I've been told. Jury's still out. ;)

Reading this back - it makes it sound like I think I'm the one working the crazytown hours under lots of stress and little sleep. I don't! Simon is the true hero here and I know that. I think I get the lonelier side of things which is mostly my fault for not branching out more.


And also! I think the title is stupid because I think I had to experience all of these things to know and learn them for myself. It's like thinking if someone had (maybe they did!) sat you down and wagged their finger and outlined exactly how sleep deprived you would be post-baby ... it would actually prepare you for your new and enlightened fatigue but of course it wouldn't! I think every spouse would write something different (although I talked to a residency husband the other night who seemed to share a lot of my same thoughts and I appreciated the solidarity so much) so take this novella with a grain of iodized (or sea - if that's your poison).  

chat with Bash

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11 December 2014


 photos taken by Mallorie Owens 
 with Simon's family over Thanksgiving

Illustrating what a fine parenting job we're doing on the biblical story fact front ...
Grace: What do you want to do today, Bash?
Bash: (taps mouth and furrows brow) hmmm
Grace:
Bash: maybe, build an ark?
Grace: okay ...
Bash: yeah, let's build an ark like Jesus did

Watching me do my super frequent and favorite chore: vacuuming ...
Bash: hey!!
Grace: what?
Bash: only Daddy uses that!!!


The battle hymn of one entire morning ...
Grace: okay, it's time to cut your hair
Bash: no thanks
a little bit later
Grace: okay, let's cut your hair now
Bash: no, not today
a little bit later
Grace: let's just get your haircut done real fast
Bash: no, it makes my tummy hurt
and a little bit later
Grace: okay, let's get you ready for your nap
Bash: oh, you want to cut my hair now? 

Showing off his refined and mature sense of humor ...
Grace: what sounds good for lunch?
Bash: (cackle) how about a peanut butter and dammit sandwich?
Grace: what else sounds good?
Bash: (sigh) fine, I'll just have peanut butter and poop toast

The other morning while I was still in bed and very much asleep ...
Bash: excuse me Mommy
Grace: (sleeping)
Bash: hello Mommy
Grace:  (sleeping)
Bash: hi Mommy
Grace: (fake sleeping)
Bash: excuse me Mommy
Grace: (fake sleeping)
Bash: hello Mommy
Grace: (fake sleeping)
Bash: Mommy?
Grace: (opens one eye)
Bash: Oh!!! You're awake!!
Grace:
 

Trying to shamelessly copycat Julia's incessant requests for bathroom "privacy" but missing the exact word mark just slightly ...
Bash: ahhh!!! need to go to the bathroom!!
Grace: okay, let's go!
in bathroom
Bash: excuse me Mommy, can you please close the door and give me some private parts?
Grace: sure, no problem

houseguests extraordinaire

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09 December 2014

Not to be confused with "housepests extraordinaire" which is what we've got going on in our kitchen at the moment. I'm hoping it's just a housepest {singular} because if there is more than one mouse frolicking behind the oven at all hours of the night ... well, I'll do nothing but I won't like it. I've named the one I do see on the regular Keller (as in Helen) because s/he (gender not determined, fortunately) does NOT give a diaper bomb if there are humans large or small present when s/he runs out and about on the open (oven) range or kitchen floor or even sometimes Patton feet. Shiver. I hate mice but at this point, I'm almost not fazed, "would like you like a lick of peanut butter, Keller? Theo left 8/9ths of a sandwich on the floor over there if you're hungry." As soon as Simon has a second off of work ... he'll get on the nighttime inhumane trap situation, don't worry ... worriers.

A tangent before the post has even begun. They don't call me Wild Patton for nothing.

And now ... the main course.

Really.

If on the VERY off chance you've ever thought to yourself, "I bet those Pattons would make fun friends!" ... please know that you are so very wrong.


The wrongest. You couldn't be more wrong. We lame.

Over Thanksgiving we made the drive over to Wichita to see Simon's family where his sister, Mary and brother-in-law Andrew graciously (too graciously, they would soon find out!!) let us stay at their house. They have a wonderful dog named Chevy that Sebastian adores and has grand plans to petnap one of these trips. I'm 110% certain that if we gave him the choice, "you can either have Chevy or Mom in your life ... " he would absolutely choose the non-human over the human that carried him in her person for nine short months. Make that 120%.

A few days before we depart for family trips - the great laundry catch-up of the century has to go down and then the traditional "Grace voices her concern and slight trepidation and mild anxiety at the thought of packing the family up for a trip" to which Simon does his old half laugh slash half eye roll because ... how hard can it be?! Well, considering that we travel with four sound machines and an extra pair of pants per day per child in case of worst case scenario (which will happen!) I haven't quite mastered the art of "packing easy breezy light AND easy!!" and I probably never will ... it's semi-difficult. But we are always happy to do it and know that everything will be unpacked and back where it belongs by Easter. So, know that when we descended on their house it was more like six pack mules plus a minivan arriving than six humans with a few overnight bags.


three of Julia's nine bags ... of trinkets. Or tiny shit.

But let's get down to the fun stuff ...

fun number one: The day before we arrived on the scene, Mary and Andrew had new basement carpet installed. You already see where this is going, right? Simon probably said 88 times on the drive over how careful we'd have to be with the kids and their tendency to make mess murals on every surface they touch and I agreed. And so ... when we arrived and joined in on a little happy hour and aperitif fun ... sitting on the freshly carpeted basement floor while we all watched the kids play ... you'll imagine my shock and horror when it was my glass of wine that Sebastian accidentally knocked out of my hand and onto the brand new floor canvas. Luckily, the carpet is beige and I only drink sweet white wine because I'll forever be 17 at heart but still ... less than one hour and in and we were on a roll.

fun number two: I'll admit that aside from Phoebe, my kids are not the easy going "will eat anything!" types. At all. Luckily, they'll go for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (no jelly for Julia!) in a pinch which is exactly what sweet Mary made up for a hungry would-not-touch-the-delicious-spread-of-appetizers Julia on the first night. Of course, Julia inspected the foreign bread and declared that she did not like "seeds" because it was a slightly different variety of the bread we buy. If you need my eyes they'll be occupied and rolled up to the heavens for many weeks to come. The funnest.

fun number three: Of course the trip wouldn't be complete without a little bodily fluid spill. I won't name names here to protect the guilty but surprise, surprise - after going to bed hours after their usual retiring hour and gleefully skipping naps ... a certain Patton child crashed hard on the couch on Friday night. Patton children do not tend to just sleep anywhere so I let said child be until we all went to bed when I discovered that the child had wet the couch. Cue panic and humiliation. We did the whole baking soda/vacuum thing but the evidence a la smell remained so we went on a fruitless hunt to find a dry cleaner that would do same day couch cushion cleanings but, nope. We left money for their trouble along with promises that kids aren't all urine and hassles. Really.


they can be biceps and triceps too.

fun number four: And finally the finale ends at 2:30 in the am when the ONE child that can always always always be counted on to sleep through the night (Sebastian) woke up in a crying panic and woke Mary and Andrew before I came to my senses even though I'm the lightest sleeper on the planet. Uncle Andrew kindly gave Sebastian some water in a glass to try to calm him down and Sebastian thanked him by dropping and breaking the glass all over the kitchen floor. So by the time I woke up I found them out with the vacuum searching for any last shards of sharp with a still-crying Sebastian. Vigilant Parents Be Us.


Sending the kids off on a very cold walk with our selfless hosts while we enjoyed the warmth and quiet of the indoors. Yes, I only packed a blazer for Sebastian because the forecast SAID sixty degrees. It lied. Hard.

And honorable mentions go to feeding Chevy forty four times the recommended amount of human food that dogs should eat in a day ... every day we were there. Our clothes/shoes slowly but very surely taking over and clogging the hallway into a massive tripping hazard. And playing ten too many rounds of pull Chevy's nub of a tail before he runs and hides from Theo, forever and ever. Amen.

I selfishly wrote this post because I'm hoping someone can top it. "There, there Grace, my daughter burned my aunt's house down the ground!!" or maybe, "oh, my little rascal actually killed my brother's brand new puppy!!" ... you know, something along those lines would be a nice balm for my soul that will ne'er see the likes of travel with children again.

Thanks in advance.

the many shades of Lily Jade

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07 December 2014

I'm willing to bet a small head of lettuce that if you've read this blog for more than five minutes you've probably heard of Lily Jade designer diaper bags? Maybe? One of the most popular emails that gets shipped to my inbox is from people having a tough time deciding which bag would work best for the needs and asking me to give a little bit of input and weigh in on the differences between the Caroline, the Madeline, and the Elizabeth. I always feel bad because I dash off a quick answer and I also feel bad because for a long time I was fiercely loyal to the Caroline but my allegiance has changed a bit ... you like that cliffhanger? I knew you would. 

Anyway ... let's go exploring. 


The truth is that you can't go wrong with any of their bags (there are more than just these three AND these three all come in a variety of different colors and some even come in canvas!!) but it's most definitely an investment that you want to make wisely so let me break it down and post 89 zillion photos of your favorite mom modeling each and every one. I hope you've made yourself comfortable and you have a cup of something warm to keep you company because 89 zillion is a lot of photos.

the similarities: All three bags come with an adjustable shoulder strap which I love because I tend to carry bags on my shoulder and across my body when I'm just running the kids into school or running into the post office or running quick errands in general.







All three bags also come with two shoulder handles that ARE actually long enough to comfortably wear on your shoulder ... without sliding off EVEN when wearing a cumbersome and annoying bulky winter coat. I've tried!




the Madeline


the Caroline

I was really surprised to read their dimensions to find that they are all virtually (within one square inch) the same size! I always thought the Elizabeth was the biggest but I think that's because the leather is a little bit thicker and it holds it's shape really well - so it feels roomier, if that makes sense?  It might technically have the most space because of the two patch pockets on the outside though - something to consider!!

And finally, of course, they all come with the company's signature removable nylon (machine washable!) baby bag organizer that features 16 different pockets, a changing pad, and a mother's sanity.



BAG SPECIFICS:

the Caroline - I carried this bag for many, many, MANY months in a row and loved it (still do!) and was hesitant to even test drive a different Lily Jade bag because I was so dedicated to the Caroline. I love that it really does look like a nice size purse, that the leather easily wipes clean and does not fade, and if I remove the baby bag full of the kids' stuff, it doesn't look weird and empty but just sort collapses into what the untrained eye would assume is a purse.


the Caroline

the Madeline: this is the bag I started cheating on Caroline with and while I've gone back and forth between the two ... I'm probably a slightly bigger fan of the Madeline only because ....


the backpack option. It can't be beat, in my humble opinion. When I'm on my own with the four kids, pushing a stroller, wearing a Phoebe, and trying to keep the older two on an invisible but tight leash - the hands-free option is really nice. Plus - it's important to a lot of moms that their bag zips closed and the Madeline does! I don't mind that about the Caroline but it is really nice that it zips (stops no Theo or Sebastian from raiding my purse and folding my credit cards into fourths but .... still!).

the Elizabeth - Again, I was completely surprised that the Elizabeth isn't the biggest of the bunch because it does seem a lot roomier to me. If I were committed to carrying extra outfits in case of diaper failure (I should!) or needed to tote around something bigger (like a breast pump, maybe?) on the daily then I would probably make this bag my go-to. It also has the backpack option ...


... which is spectacular. 

I have to add that all three bags would make perfect non-diaper bags too.  My friend Sarah proudly rocks hers even though she doesn't have kids and is a huge fan. The bags aren't overwhelmingly huge but the organized baby bag insert is such an efficient space saver that you can still pack a LOT in the bag. I've flown twice without the kids in the past six months and very happily toted first the Caroline and then the Madeline on my flights.    

If you have a specific question - send me an email with the subject line: Lily Jade Question and I'll edit the post to address it here! But in the mean time ... want to win one? NAY. Want to win one for yourself and a matching bag for a bosom friend?! YAY. You should. 

Winner gets to choose between any of the Carolines, Madelines, or Elizabeths and then surprise a friend or family member or stranger off the street (your call!) with an identical bag. How nice is Lily Jade? The nicest - they really are! I've had the pleasure of meeting them in person and it's such a pleasure to get to collaborate with them because they are some good people, truly. 

Okay - Rafflecopter your little hearts out.

staples + sparkles

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06 December 2014

I think you can, I think you can. Day three (of four) of the giveaway bonanza. If you don't like giveaways ... go away and come back again another day. Like maybe ... Monday. Thanks a trillion!!



dress - c/o White Plum
purse - Zara {contest win}
earrings - c/o Nickel and Suede
shoes - super old Express


coat - c/o White Plum
dress - White Plum
leggings - c/o White Plum
boots - Madewell via eBay
bag - c/o Lily Jade
hat - Old Navy
glasses - c/o Firmoo

All Grace, all the time! I'm really trying to spice up my poses with some hair touching and I'm thinking I won't be doing it again. No, I really think my valiant photographer just caught me delicately fixing my hair but these were some of the few photos where I wasn't slit-eyed and/or laughing at Simon's go-to question, "so why do we take these photos again?!" .... touché.

I have to confess I used the discount code from my last giveaway with White Plum to buy this grey dress because I'm a sucker for a staple in a drab color. And I wear it way, way too much because it can be dressed up and dressed down and worn all around town. Poet Grace is retiring right .......... now. But, really - it is a very lightweight sweater material so it keeps my frozen self nice and toasty even in our drafty house. 

Switching it up dramatically and moving onto a different category of warm clothing talk a la fleece lined leggings. Why oh why I have not hopped onto the fleece lined everything bandwagon is a tragedy and a mystery because they are life changing for this cold-blooded snowmom. Do I wear them to bed and then simply throw jeans over them to leave the house? I might. And am I tempted to chuck all of my tights because they don't hold a candle to the level of warmth and comfort that these puppies offer? Absolutely.

Anyway, there's so much more to White Plum than the basics (statement piece central!) as illustrated by this fun cardigan, this other fun(ner?) cardigan, and this stunning dress. And I know I've blogged about them before but their tunics are my absolute favorite to wear with leggings and boots in the winter. I'm kind of wondering if they emailed me a typo but they are offering Camp Patton readers (or readers of just this post! you don't have to commit to the whole blog!) 40% off the entire site with code: PATTONHOLIDAY40 until December 14th ... so go as crazy as you'd like. Personally, I'm eying this maxi skirt for myself.

And what would a string of giveaways be without the actual giveaway? A lie.

So White Plum is giving away a $100 credit to one of YOU. You know the drill by now .... get after it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

these boots were made for rocking

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04 December 2014


Bandera Boots - c/o Minnetonka
denim - American Eagle (via thredUP)
blazer - Forever 21
shirt - Madewell (via thredUP)
bag - c/o Lily Jade
glasses c/o Firmoo

I know you woke up this morning thinking, "gee! I hope Grace puts some LIFE SIZE photos of herself on the internet today, that would be JUST GREAT!!!" and would you look at that? hope granted! No, the truth is that I will forever be incredibly blog/tech dumb and 4.5 years later am still figuring out the whole photo resize situation. Your patience is always greatly appreciated. 

Moving on. I bet you didn't know that in real life I'm a really great friend. I am! In fact, I'm such a great friend to poor Blythe who is suffering through a miserable first trimester that I roped her into putting together a similar post (same boots! twin moms!) today. Oh, that nausea and fatigue and general feeling of terrible+awful+more terrible? Put it all aside for the sake of a blog post, B!! Hopefully she'll forgive me in time to be her medicated birth doula. Anyway, Minnetonka kindly let us put together two looks wearing our fancy Bandera boots as part of their, "One Style, Two Ways" series. I'm probably the world's most boring + safe dresser because how spicy can you get with preschool drop-off and Costco runs? Not very. But I do feel a little tiny bit edgy with my foot fringe painting the town Mom. 

I've blogged about Minnetonka twice before and will probably do so again and again because we are such huge fans. Simon is picky about very few things but his footwear is definitely one of them and he wears his moccasins all the time. One of the kids is always wearing a pair and I'm always so bummed when they grow out of them even though that generally means the next kid in line will get a turn in a few short months so it's all good. I just bought these for Phoebe because our house is an igloo and really wish they made them in my size. 

Want a pair? You should! Just follow the Rafflecopter road to hopeful victory and I'll cross my fingers that YOU win. {Blythe is giving away a pair too! If you want to double your odds ... }

a Rafflecopter giveaway

whole30: the nit and grit

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03 December 2014

Oh, you thought I was going to let you get away with not hearing about the 30 days in excruciating detail?!

You don't know me at all.

Cackle.

No, I won't be throwing our three daily squares at you because ninety meals is a lot of typing and tis the season of busy and you have (slightly!) better things to do.


Not to toot my own horn but I did do a pretty phenomenal job of documenting the month.

Ahem.

The Gist: to go 30 days without consuming any added sugar, baked goods or treats, dairy, grains, alcohol, or legumes ... aka anything that tastes good. Focus on eating good natural fats and protein (meat, seafood, eggs) and vegetables and two servings of fruit per day.

Why?! I'm sure everyone has different reasons for embarking on the treacherous journey but I have always battled (battled, Grace?! FINE - that might be a little much ... but it isn't fun, okay?) severe insomnia and stumbled upon Whole30 in the middle of an especially bad night and read how well people slept and so the next day I started with zero planning under my belt. Simon listened to my plan in horror and then decided to join me because he's the nicer spouse.

How bad was it? It wasn't that bad!


Ever since college I've been relatively mindful about not consuming a ton of starch BUT I do love the dairy food group and me and refined sugar have a very on and off relationship. Mostly on. Simon admits he was in a nasty mood the first several days because he never ever has to worry about what he eats and will always probably fit into his suit from high school. No, I don't hate him. At all. But he came out of the funk after about a week and kept remarking how good he felt. I found the second half to be much more difficult than the first half because the newness and excitement had kind of worn off and I started sort of unhealthily obsessing about eating a block of sharp cheddar cheese like a banana. Sugar? Not a temptation at all but cheese ... I missed it. A lot. Simon said he missed pizza and soft drinks (pop, Coke, whatever your region calls it!) the most.

What did you eat? Lots and lots and lots of eggs which was great because I love eggs. Aidells chicken apple sausage was a staple for us sautéed with vegetables, Whole30 compliant chili (with sweet potatoes), salmon with avocado, spanish tortillas, more sausage, more eggs, burgers with sweet potato buns, burgers with lettuce buns, quiche with sweet potato crust, almost any and all fruit, the occasional salad with oil and vinegar, and maybe I should've kept a food log because I am blanking on the rest.

The Cons? This is definitely my issue but I found myself getting a little worked up every afternoon about having to make dinner. Grace Domestica Patton. Not that I don't ever make dinner but these meals required a bit more thought and chopping and prep than I'm accustomed to. I got into a serious sweet potato rut and I'm not sure when I'll be able to eat them again (I overdo it with things I love -- especially music -- then hate the thing for months and months following the binge). I usually catch up on housework and enjoy the quiet and hang out with Julia while the three little kids nap but now that time was spent getting dinner sorted out and I kind of hated that. Again, my issue and I can feel your warranted eye rolls through the screen. Also, it was definitely pricier than our usual grocery bill and I found myself going to the store almost every other day because I'm incapable of not forgetting a few things on my list. I'm sure most humans would simply make a meal plan, buy the supplies, do some prep, and follow through but I have to complicate everything.

The Pros? I'm going to forget some but I'll list what I remember right this second. I slept better almost instantly. I stopped waking up in a fog and had immediate energy whenever the child du jour (usually Theo) start cock-a-doodle-doing at their usual ungodly hour of the late night/early morning. I stopped getting caffeine headaches (I still drank coffee with canned coconut milk on occasion but not that often). Since I've been off the Whole30 I've had ~5 cups of coffee but my caffeine headaches have yet to return if I don't have coffee in the morning. I'm making the slow switch to morning tea. My skin was super clear. I stopped having that afternoon slump where the couch purrs my name and invites me to just "take a break! you deserve it!!" and then 49 minutes later .... I've accomplished nada. I stopped craving dessert after dinner. I was no stranger to a handful or three of semi-sweets but those cravings disappeared within the first 3-4 days. Simon and I sometimes split a grapefruit after dinner but we never needed it. I was always pleasantly surprised that after dinner I was good and full for the night. I never woke up hungry or in some awful sugar hangover. I also realized that I really enjoy things with yellow mustard and don't need to douse everything in ketchup which was a nice (albeit silly and minor) revelation.

did you lose weight? the program stresses time and time again that this is NOT a weight loss program. Many people lose weight but that's not the point and you'll be disappointed if you do the Whole30 TO lose weight. Would I have liked to kick the final few Phoebe pregnancy pounds to the curb? Of course - but I wasn't stressing about it especially because I exercised zero times. And so with that said! I lost 1 (one) pound which I attribute to the fact that I was already a super healthy eater. Laugh. No, not at all. However, my clothes fit better and I noticed my arms lost a lot of jiggle. Simon lost 12 pounds. And he wasn't even that strict. He did the best he could at the hospital but sometimes 24 hour shifts + the hospital cafeteria at 1am aren't the best combo but he did a phenomenal job and could happily declare that he was down to, "wedding weight, b*tches!!!" so, there's that.

so, now what? Simon kept saying throughout the 30 days that if he learned anything it would be how mindlessly he ate calories and how good it was to be mindful about every single thing we ate. And I agreed. I don't foresee us going Paleo full force but moving forward I'm trying to leave sugar and grains out of dinner completely. We haven't started back on yogurt but I should probably be more mindful of the cheese consumption situation. I'm always trying to eat more vegetables and looking at Paleo + whole30 boards on Pinterest is a great source of inspiration to try to fit more into our meals.

would you do it again? Probably! I read that the founder (Melissa) occasionally does whole5's or whole7's to get back on track (but I think she predominantly eats Paleo otherwise) and I can see myself going that route but I'm definitely not opposed to doing another one in 2015.

do you recommend it to the general public? YES! If only for the great exercise in discipline. Of course it's about food but it was rewarding to look back on the month knowing that we did something that wasn't always easy or convenient (my vice) together and we didn't kill each other. Wink. Half laugh.

This is definitely helpful to no one but ..... nothing. I just wanted to give a little month in review and give anyone that's even sort of considering it a big push in the YES direction. If I can do it ... you can too. 100000%.






hearty and healthy {a salad story}

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02 December 2014

Blah blah, recipes are boring. I know. But I promise I would never take the time to poorly photograph food and give you paltry direction unless said food was worth your time to make and eat. This salad qualified 110%, I promise. 

Did anyone else totally overdo it in the food department over Thanksgiving? Travel + the holiday excuse is lethal in Grace's book and I am feeling the effects of my gluttony this week. All I want to do is chug water and eat salad in reparation for my food sins. Okay, that's a bit much and not 100% true but I am wanting to get back on a decent track before the onslaught of Christmas party goodness proves too much for my feathery will in a few days.

Enter the Il Vicino salad.


If you live in a town where an Il Vicino resides ... I am SO jealous of you. There are a few in Albuquerque and two in Wichita and I miss the eating establishment almost daily. As fate would have it, the one St. Louis Il Vicino burned down shortly before we moved here (WHY?!) and it hasn't been rebuilt (again, WHY?!) so I had to take matters into my own hands last night and try to recreate their masterpiece.

This salad is great because it's easy to assemble and super filling and what other magical powers should a salad possess? It possesses them, I assure you. I'm normally a terrible homemade salad person but this was turned out just great and if I can manage not to screw it up ... you can TOO.

I'm always on the hunt for meals that I can throw together between the time that Simon lets me know he's off work and when he gets home because as much as I'd love to become one with the Crockpot and organized meal plans ... it just might have to be a future charism for me.

Anyway. How long can you ramble about a recipe before actually giving the recipe, Brevity Patton?

Don't test me.

But here we go.

Ingredients: 
(makes two dinner-sized salads)
~two cups of romaine lettuce (from a bag - if you're like me)
one roma tomato, chopped
four artichoke hearts, chopped (from a can or jar - none of this fresh business)
two hard boiled eggs
~1/4 cup crumbed Gorgonzola cheese (or blue or goat or feta - your choice)
~1/8 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
~3/4 cup roasted chicken, chopped (or any protein would work)
dressing of your choice (I went with balsamic but if I could ever get my hands on the chili infused oil they have ... I would be a happy lady. Jessica told me Trader Joe's used to carry something similar but - no more. Boo.)

On a bed of the romaine just line up your ingredients (that's how Il Vicino does it so ... I had to copy) and top with dressing and gobble up like a Goop.

And if you have any easy/delicious salads you want to leave the link to - I would be forever grateful.

they're ALIVE.

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01 December 2014

Salutations from the land of the messiest house and an alarming amount of rampant teeny tiny toddler fires that are in perpetual need of a mother extinguisher and never ending + unsolvable cases of missing sippy cups and matching socks but the blog must go on, right? Right. If only for you three remaining readers that clung to the hope that the mother of all sinfully wordy over-sharers would someday return to the glow of your screen of choice with tales of Costco trips and rosy call weekend diatribes ... it must go on. Or let's say it shall go on. Must is a little much and not necessarily true.

Since you're generally accustomed to unsolicited and daily play-by-plays I thought I would ease back into the murky Camp waters-o-fun and give you some brief updates on the cast of characters around here. Let's start with my favorite husband.

Simon still plays the role of favorite favorite FAVORITE parent while still logging too many hours at the hospital and working on research projects and papers at night.


He has some big tests coming up and so he brings his study materials to read in bed which includes a massive book titled, "Vaginal Surgery" complete with anatomy photos of things like the "deep perineum" (it's a thing) and as winter makes her final descent on St. Louis he regularly reports how much warmer the weather in Tampa is at the current moment.

Grace writes entirely too much about herself and will sit out this round. De nada.

Julia has taken to sleeping in as late as she fancies (10:30? 11? it's impressive and does not a jealous mother make ... at all) on the days she doesn't have school and her new favorite food is mustard + peanut butter sandwiches.


She has taken to calling Phoebe, "Feebz" and Sebastian, "Sweetie" which is interesting considering how often she and Sweetie fight to the almost death. She often furrows her brow and asks, "are you okay, Mom?!" which is endearing and odd because I generally flit about the house with a perma-grin and sparkling gladitude.

Sebastian regularly and defiantly declares that any food I make is, "too yuck" which does wonders for my culinary confidence.


He sneaks the majority of his meals onto Theo's plate and I suspect he survives solely on thieved yogurts and string cheese. Despite the frigid temperatures he will only wear glorified Crocs and socks on his feet in public and I've decided to skip that battle that would inevitably turn into war.

Theo is holding strong as resident rooster and wakes up at new and ungodly hours every morning.


He is always happy to show absolutely no remorse. Mother Mole Eyes might toss a string cheese and a sippy of water into his crib to keep him occupied and buy some precious couch sleeping minutes while the sun rises ... or she might not. She'll never tell. He still has a zero word lexicon but is strangely skilled at getting his frantic monosyllabic points across when necessary.

Phoebe has discovered the joys of table food and Phoebe-led weaning. The child has yet to meet a food she does not love and the happiest moments (hours?) of her day are spent in the high chair with anything edible.


She voices loud and visible frustration when she discovers that certain items (my engagement ring, my shirt buttons, the nasty burn blister on my forearm) are inedible. She would like to announce that she's made the exciting decision to grow out her hair to at least chin length ...


... and is fiercely dedicated to the decade long journey.

Is that everyone? It IS. Despite the grocery store mathematician declaring he didn't know how I handled, "six rugrats!!" this morning ... that's everyone!

And we'll be back.
Tomorrow.
And the day after that.
And the day after that.
And the day after - you get it.
Get excited.
I know you are.

 

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