5 Things I Learned in October

Oct learned

When I can, I love to dish about what I’ve learned at the end of each month. The Let’s Share What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned in October.


1. Good deals sometimes cost me a lot of money.

A freebie dresser from a friend = my husband’s herniated disc last fall. A $150 Pottery Barn leather recliner {via Craiglist} almost herniated it again. My economist husband is quick to remind me that these sorts of setbacks are referred to as “transaction costs.” I always receive his fancy econ terms with much joy and enthusiasm.

The latest casualty is a super heavy Broyhill cocktail table that fell out of my van and onto my foot a few weeks ago. It may have hurt worse than having a baby because I would have paid $1000 on the spot for an epidural.

I just ditched the orthopedic boot in exchange for this snazzy shoe. Who’s bringing sexy back?


Perks: I’m Frankenstein for Halloween.

Also? I may have googled “cute post-surgical shoes.” They don’t exist. {Dear Manolo Blahnik, get on this.}


2. There really is a mug that keeps your coffee hot for hours. 

My in-laws came to visit the week after we moved in to lend a helping hand. My dear father-in-law, who may have a reputation for splurging on the latest and greatest swag, gifted my husband and I with one of these — the Yeti Rambler.

Yeti Coolers Rambler Tumbler, Silver, 20 oz, one size

My coffee stays hot for HOURS. No lie. And if I want my Diet Dr. Pepper to stay ice cold, the YETI can do that too. They’re spendy so if you can’t treat yourself, put it on your Christmas list.


3. You can be lazy. And still be a genius.

Stop what you’re doing and go here. Subscribe to the Lazy Genius Collective and thank me later.

You guys, I have ALL THE LOVE for this! It’s the common sense, encouragement, and hilarity I wish was around ten years ago when I was way too angsty about stupid stuff. And who am I kidding? I can still be angsty about stupid stuff.

Kendra is the queen / lazy genius brainchild. Here’s a little snippet from her:

Like you, I’ve listened to everyone from neighbors to Dr. Oz talk about how I should live, how I should parent, and what swimsuit looks best on my body shape. (Answer: I like winter.) 

Over the years, I’ve learned that if my worth is based on how well I do everything I should, then I am 100% a terrible human being. So you know what I did? I quit trying so hard. And I started being a genius about being lazy. It’s the way to live, you guys, and I’d love for you to join me.

The LGC will be your best friend about everything from cooking and editing your life to taking your fun more seriously. Because we can all “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”

I’m not affiliated with the LGC in any way. But you guys know I’m a gal who’s all about writing the real and kicking perfectionism to the curb and being reasonable about our expectations.


4. Little kids classrooms are a personality lab. And personality labs are super fun for me. 

Since school started, I’ve been going to work each morning in a first-grade classroom until lunchtime. I just haven’t written about it here. My job is to be a “shadow” for a sweet young friend of mine who’s the hardest working first grader I know. She has Down Syndrome but she can read and write and ace spelling tests like a boss. Having a shadow allows her to learn in a typical first-grade classroom along with her peers.

school tower

What I didn’t expect was all the fun I’d have getting to know the other kids in the class. Already, their little personalities are showing up in big ways. I can tell you which kid is going to be a teacher and which one may end up on American Idol and which one will go to art school. They are so wonderfully and hilariously unique.

They also say things like, “Mrs. Vischer, can you help me order-betize these words?” and “You are almost 20 years older than my mom!”

I’ve been super observant all my life, paying attention to things that a lot of people overlook. {And overlooking a lot of stuff that happens to be really important information. Flashbacks to 9th grade Geometry class.} But paying attention to the ways tiny humans interact with one another and with the world around them is absolutely one of my favorite things.


5. Moving saps your will to live. {and makes you dramatic}

moving van

I wrote about our house story and the move itself in my last post so I won’t rehash it here. I had visions of moving in and painting and unpacking boxes like a ninja. But now we’re here and apparently our real life schedules don’t pause just because we moved. Neither do falling tables and injuries and jobs and kids.

Anyway, I underestimated how the ordeal of the last year and the move itself sapped what little was left of my energy and motivation. We may be living out of boxes and staring at beige walls for a while is what I’m saying. {I did buy the Nester’s Cozy Minimalist course in hopes that she will boss me into setting up house one room at a time.}


Thanks to Emily for giving me a reason to think about what I’ve learned this month and forcing a blog post even though I’m living in a sea of unpacked boxes and dirty laundry {and eating Halloween candy for breakfast.}

What did YOU learn in October?

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6 Things I Learned in July

july 15 learned

1. Jim Gaffigan is on Instagram.

This isn’t news but I just started following him. Think photos of food, Jim’s face made out of food, and the occasional family pic with hilarious captions one might expect from our favorite pale, McDonald’s-loving, Hot Pocket-lampooning comedian. {For the record, I also follow his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan.} #shamelessfan


2. Watching my boys play golf together swells my heart like nothing else.

golf brothers

I always envisioned myself as a boy mom. Even though I desperately hoped there would be a girl in the mix {and there is}, a house full of boys never seemed far-fetched to me. I don’t exactly have a house full but the males do outnumber the females in our home.

When the baby of our family was born, the youngest was already four. I worried that they wouldn’t be close as brothers because four years seemed like a hefty gap at that point. Even now, the older one will soon begin middle school while his baby brother is still in second grade.

Their personalities are nothing alike. But brotherhood seems to cover a multitude of differences.

They share a room and drive each other crazy yet neither one can bear the idea of not sleeping in the same room together. They also share a love of golf and have played until after dark many, many nights this summer.

On Monday, little brother officially caddied for big brother in a local JPGA tournament. Y’all, I couldn’t stop taking pics and smiling. I literally thought my heart would burst. I can’t tell you why this makes me happier than almost anything. I only know that it does. I hope that they always have each other’s back. Also? Seeing a tiny kid carry a set of clubs as tall as he is and advise big brother to either use his 7-iron or a hybrid is possibly the most adorable thing ever.


3. Primer is a girl’s best friend. Especially in the summer.

primer face

Makeup is still there!

So I’ve not worn makeup more than I’ve worn makeup this summer. Such is the life of a mom who has three kids, a house on the market, six showings in one week, and working from home. I know, I know. I was all about my Bobbi Brown makeup last month and I still am. I’m also just trying to survive and sometimes getting pretty doesn’t make the cut.

But on the rare occasion that I do get semi-gussied up, I’m all about the primer. Without it, makeup vanishes into thin air. These things happen when you’re over 40. My precisely applied eyeliner is all for naught. I tried some inexpensive primer way back when and it was okay but tended to turn into tiny gel beads on my face if I didn’t apply just right.

Recently I sampled some Smashbox primer at Sephora and my eyeliner stayed put! All day! So did everything else, even though I was walking around in the heat for hours. MIRACULOUS. I bought myself a trial size of this and this. A little goes a long way and I wanted to try it over time before I bought a full-size tube. I’ve heard there are other great primers out there so if you have a favorite, I’d love to know.


4. Having a writing companion is a game changer.

exercise ball

Starbucks and exercise ball / desk chairs are fine companions but they can’t take the place of an actual person.

Sometimes you become slowly acquainted with someone who’s at the same stage as you on just about everything — marriage, motherhood, work, writing. You have similar dreams, similar ways of seeing the world, similar obsessiveness with Anne Lamott. It’s a gift is what it is.

I met Kimberly Coyle two years ago at She Speaks. We got to hang out again last year at Allume. But my first introduction to Kimberly was many summers ago when we each wrote guest posts for Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman’s blog. I loved Kimberly’s writing style {and may have envied her life abroad.}

Not so long ago we embarked on a little journey to spur one another along in our writing endeavors. I wish I’d started sooner. Regular emails with my writing friend feels like having a grown-up pen pal. Knowing that she’ll check in encourages me to keep writing in the midst of self-doubt and laundry and busy-ness and tiny humans who start fighting as soon as I sit down to write.


5. Starbucks iced coffee in the grocery store.



Get some today. Pour over ice and add a splash of half and half. Your afternoon will thank you.


6. When my outer world swirls crazy, my inner world follows suit. The well-spun words of others can be a gift in times like this.

See above comment about kids and summer and house-selling. Stuff is finally happening with our home but there are a thousand unknowns. I’m giddy one minute and devastated the next. I’ll tell you all about it later. Let’s just say that good sleep eludes me and soul rest sometimes feels like a joke.

I’m thankful for writers. I’m supremely thankful for ancient writers who penned the bread and life words of Scripture. I’m also thankful for today’s writers who speak in relevant ways to age-old struggles that simply wear modern clothes. I’ve mentioned it before {and will again} but Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World has been one of those books for me. I was gifted with the chance to read it early and the timing was perfect.


If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, I highly recommend that you do. {Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove has been another timely companion for my anxious soul this summer.}


So there you go. Six things I learned in July.

What have YOU learned this summer? We can dish in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can chime in with you own list and link up with Emily.

Subscribe in the box below for real encouragement in real time. {And of course you may unsubscribe whenever you like.}


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5 Things I Learned in June

5 things June

Each and every summer, I’m surprised by things that I’ve learned from previous summers but forgotten. September through May has a way of giving me amnesia. And then June rolls around, shaking her head and saying “Silly girl, this happens every summer. You should take notes.”

Dear June, this is me, taking notes. Please remind me twelve months from now that I wrote it down.

The What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned in June.

1. Summer spotlights my introversion like nothing else.

I have a dear friend who actually has more energy for those in her household when she’s actively engaged with others outside of her family on a regular basis, something that confounds me. I can’t tell you how jealous I am of her extroverted ways.

The relational energy required of me by the four people I live with seems to drain all the relational energy I have. Not because they’re crazy people but because my social reserves run low.

On the two occasions I’ve been with other women over the summer, I feel inexplicably tired. As in, I can barely keep my eyes open. The entire next day I’m in a fog. It’s terribly inconvenient. Because I love my friends and my community and I feel like I just waved goodbye to everyone until the end of August.

I remind myself that I’ve only got 4 summers left with my oldest. Four. I could cry. The relational energy that summer mothering requires of me is embarrassing, but I know it’s effort well spent. These are my main people. I just need some breaks here and there to stay the summer course.


2. I stay up too late in the summer.

I go to bed early during the school year. When the kids are gone during the day, I get a break from talking and being a referee and answering questions about sharks and listening to so many words. But during the summer, I’ve noticed that I stay up late just for the quiet and solitude. As summer bounds along, I find myself feeling lethargic and unmotivated.

My husband told me this morning that staying up late might be why I’m so tired. #genius


3. I’m a fan of the capsule wardrobe.

The capsule is nothing new. I’m just late to the party. Simplifying is something that’s become increasingly appealing to me as I get older and long to streamline pretty much everything about my life.

One’s closet is a pretty non-threatening place to start.

I followed the capsule advice from un-fancy. Here are the basics:



I even used her free wardrobe planner. It’s been about six weeks now and the whole experiment has been a game-changer in all the best ways.

I’m sure this will be a post in and of itself at some point but for now, let me just toss out a few lessons I’ve learned.

Fewer options = faster decisions.

Fewer pieces = more creativity.

Less = more. More time, more money, more simplicity.

I know, I’m such an unlikely convert because clothes are my jam. But here’s the thing — outfit-making is still way fun and I’ve tried combos I never would’ve considered since I have fewer items overall.


4. I tend to trade one obsession for another. In this case, clothes for make-up.

You might think I’ve gone all minimalist since I’m doing the capsule and all. But I just swap addictions. I may not be thrifting and shopping like I used to but I’ve fallen in love again with make-up.

It all started with a scheduled makeover at the Bobbi Brown make-up counter for my birthday.

I’ve had a girl crush on Bobbi since she started doing makeovers on the Today Show years ago. I might even want to be her.


But Bobbi’s products are spendy and I couldn’t even go there. {Even if I have watched all of her online makeup lessons instead of doing important things like humanitarian work and laundry.}

I’m in my 40s now. The days of getting by with mascara and tinted lip balm when I’m in a hurry are long gone. It’s time to bring out the big guns.

I’ll always be the sort of gal who prefers a more natural look. But as I get older, things like primer and legit concealer and products with coverage and staying power become your best friends.

Even though I only bought three items from the Bobbi counter, I learned so many useful techniques from Kimberly, my makeup artist. Techniques I can apply no matter what products I’m using.


I’m such a dork. Could my grin be any cheesier?

Getting ready has become fun again. I highly recommend a free makeup lesson. It’s one of the best ways I’ve ever treated myself and now I want to go back and take all my friends. {But not this summer. See #1.}

If you’re curious about the products I got for my birthday, here you go: creamy concealer, creamy concealer kit {Bobbi calls these products the “secret of the universe” and that’s no joke.} And because it’s summer, bronzing powder. All of her products are amazing and I want them.


5. I cut carbs. I feel better. I want cake.

I don’t do diets or food trends. I’m about eating when you’re hungry, eating mostly real food, and enjoying all things in moderation. I’ve never focused on protein because I don’t really enjoy many high-protein foods. I’ve always been a gal who loves her healthy-ish carbs and healthy-ish foods, even if I did reach for candy too often. Until recently, I could rationalize my imperfect, healthy-ish ways.

Again, enter the 40s. And I realized that my food choices were more -ish than healthy.

Between hormones and fatigue and being sidelined for 15 months with a back injury that keeps me from running, I’ve had to adopt a new game plan. So one day I talked to my sweet Pilates instructor at the Rec Center and, long story short, she got me started on an in-home strengthening program and eating plan. I’ve been doing it since May and you guys, I feel better. Like, a lot better. {Except for when I stay up too late. See #2.}

I don’t follow the plan perfectly but I’ve redefined it to work for me. Protein is my friend and most of my carbs now come from fruits and veggies and when I cheat with cake. Which I am suddenly obsessed with now that I can’t have it. Seriously, I think about cake all day long.


So there you go. Five things I learned in June.

What have YOU learned this summer? We can dish in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can chime in with you own list and link up with Emily.


Subscribe in the box below and never miss a post! {And of course, you may unsubscribe anytime you like.}