Flip Cup

This is a special City Mama post brought to you on a Thursday. I made a technical error on this post many weeks ago and have been saving it for a few weeks since we figured out what happened. This actually feels like the right post for right now. Country Mama and family are turning inward for a little while. We’ve always agreed that the blog shouldn’t be pressure. So when she’s ready to come back, we’ll be waiting with open web browsers. Until then…

I loved your prompt two weeks ago and oh the timing couldn’t have been better. Casa Asterson is in total disarray. We’re working on some projects and purchases that aren’t ready for blog time and meanwhile I’m about to embark for a 12 day trip away from my true loves.

I’m torn between furiously planning so there’s no room for error and wanting to stop time while I sit and hold Luke and hang with Eric. None of it, as I’m sure you can guess, is leaving time for mom. But my flipped up cup still needs to draw strength from somewhere and I have developed a few tricks in my (nearly) two years as a mom.

Embrace the Chaos

IMG_4655I spent the last five years working in an organization that was doubling year over year. It was wild. Nothing was ever as planned, clean or calculated as we would have liked but we were doing exceptional things for a lot of people. Keeping my eye on the reason for the chaos always made it more palatable. I saw this quote on Pinterest years ago and a friend made me a cross stitch of the saying. It sits on my jewelry box and when I’m running out the door in the morning or about to face a bear of a day, I remember that this chaos comes from our lives being full and from working on some really great things.

Find the Smallest MomentsIMG_4639
I’m a complete trainwreck without just a few moments for creature comforts. After our pregnancy losses, finding healthy ways to take care of myself was critical and definitely something I take away as a silver lining from those experiences. So much of self care can be a slippery slope…too much food, booze, shopping, even exercise can lead me down a path that isn’t productive. I’ve found some rituals that are really helpful.

  • The first is simple…tea and lighting a candle after dinner. Even when after dinner is racing cars down the hallway and reading Curious George with Luke on one leg and the cat on the other, I can find 30 seconds to hold the warm cup and light a match.
  • The second, is my Sunday night practice of painting my nails. I couldn’t tell you when this started but it’s been years. Half the time, I fit this in while Luke plays in the bath. But I tend to feel put together with nicely painted toe nails even if no one but me is seeing them.
  • And lastly, put on some tunes. Even the worst tasks go by faster with some solid jams and keeping my love of bad pop music alive, I’m often fueled through some of the hardest tasks with a healthy dose of bubblegum Top 40s hits.

Remember Doing More isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Sometimes in the midst of all of the crazy, I just want to power down, simplify and streamline. But, the reality is with kids this small and running at such a speed, there is never a truly quiet time. There will always be competing priorities and the things I’d like to spend my idle time on often go by the wayside. So, while setting my alarm for 30 minutes earlier, going for a run during Luke’s naptime or staying up late to squeeze in a blog post that’s three week’s overdue isn’t my default response, I’ve learned I’m happier for doing it.

There are a few truisms that Eric and I have developed over the years, and one of my current favorites comes to pass more and more often. When facing a wild opportunity, we often ask, “What else are we going to do?” In other words, what’s the alternative. Don’t go on vacation? Don’t try for another kid? Don’t take the trip? Don’t push for the dream? It’s not how we live in this house and it’s how Eric and I have pushed each other to go for our goals these 18! years. So while it spreads me thin, it fills my cup and when I do take a moment at last to pause and think it through. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I Said A Hip Hop

Is there anything better than holidays with kids?

We had so much fun celebrating Easter this year.

I wasn’t sure that I was ready to take on the task of painting eggs with a two-year-old. I know plenty of people do it. But I feel like there will be plenty of years ahead for that.

However, I did find a wooden egg for painting in the dollar aisle at Target. Along with a $2 wooden birdhouse that I thought would look particularly sweet in our new yard. (Sidenote: Eric has taken to calling it the $10 aisle and I think he’s probably right.) A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday evening, Luke and I sat down at the kitchen table with our paints. He did spectacular. Aside from having to quell my own OCD of wanting the egg to look perfect and for him to stay inside the lines, he didn’t eat the paint or make a mess and seemed to have a great time. In fact, he enjoyed it so much that I let him help me put on the base coat for the bird house I’m working on. This project definitely inspired me to do more craft projects with Luke. He sits patiently and really does want to help and create. So, a trip to the local craft store kids aisle is definitely in order.

Turns out, his daycare decided to celebrate Easter as well. I wasn’t sure how they would approach it, being in a largely Jewish neighborhood. But the parents and kids all seemed excited about the toilet-paper-roll rabbits, pom-pom chicks and rabbit masks that came home each day. On Friday they sent the kids each home with a giant Easter basket and inside was the egg each child had painted. How they are brave enough to give a dozen toddlers paints and hard boiled eggs I will never know but it seemed to go just fine.

IMG_5505Last Sunday our church had an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Luke enjoyed it. He grabbed a handful of eggs which he is still carrying through the apartment and he had hero-worship over a bigger boy who gave him an egg and a hug.

Most Easters before Luke we would take a long hike. Identifying more spiritually than religious, I often find more connection with the IMG_5526universe in the woods than the church. We decided Saturday would be a great day for a hike. Spring and even early winter are really the best times to hike here. Its rainy or overcast during the winter and the summer and fall can be way way too hot. So we try to make the most of the weeks with cooler temps but sunny skies. We chose a short 1-mile out and back nature trail that’s designed for kids. It has a small waterfall at the end and markers along the way to point out things of interest. Luke walked most of the trail himself. But it was slow going as he climbed every rock, stopped to listen for birds and attempted to pet each dog we encountered along the way. So it goes with toddlers and I know that the investment in outside time now will (hopefully) make for a lifetime of us exploring the woods together.

Sunday morning we were up early finding eggs and baskets. I’ll admit. This was the first year I made an Easter basket for Luke. Maybe I’m too practical. I just didn’t think he’d “get it” other years and he has so much stuff anyway. This year, his basket was full of snacks we need anyway, a new cup and bigger socks. His first Easter we got him a balloon. And last Easter we let him try ice cream for the first time so I don’t think he’s been entirely cheated.

Because we skipped church, we decided to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform Handle’s Messiah with a full orchestra. It was beautiful and Luke and I danced around the living room for quite awhile.

10650039_10154010422849898_7962341317588747959_nWe were invited to Easter brunch with a friend’s family. They’re incredibly kind to allow us to join so many holidays and we’ve come to know even the extended family quite well at this point. Luke humored me and wore his Easter hat for far longer than I expected. And we enjoyed great food and excellent conversation.

We spent the afternoon and evening  at home. Cooking our favorite Easter foods and watching UNC’s great win.

We have such full lives and so much to be thankful for. I hope that if Luke takes anything away from these holidays, it will be that. I always find it a great reminder for myself.

What did you get up to on Easter Sunday? I sure loved the outfits!!!

Pixie Perfect

So my big reveal hardly compares to yours, City Mama, but I did chop off all of my hair. It is the shortest I have ever gone.


It was a little impulsive and I am adjusting to the fact that everyone in my family has a “boy” cut now. In fact Ellis’ hair is longer than mine.

Here are a few lessons I have learned about short short hair in less than a week of being in the club.

Short does not mean low-maintenance
I used to throw my hair into a ponytail each day or twist it back. It didn’t need to be washed daily which suited my life just fine. Now this super short hair requires styling and attention, which brings me to my second point…

Short hair requires products, lots o products
I knew so little about hair products that I actually had to make two trips to the store with research in between to figure out what pomade is and how and when to use it. So if you go short plan on spending a ton more time “doing” your hair.

Pixie cuts don’t just show off your hair…
As long you are spending more time on your hair you will probably need to spend more time on the rest of your face. I find myself reaching for mascara and making sure my eyebrows are groomed much more this week.

Pixie cuts really do show off your hair, especially your white ones
I didn’t tell the kids I was cutting my hair. Cal looked at me a little funny when I got home, but he still recognized me. Ellis didn’t notice any change until Adam asked him if anything was different with mommy. Then he shouted “oh no mommy your hair is turning white.” Fair point kid. My white hair is much more prominent with this short do.

Ultimately it is fun to try something new and worth the plunge.


So About That

ISl6rrroiv02yd0000000000Remember that post I wrote about living intentionally and how Eric and I weren’t going to buy more than we needed and blah blah blah…yeah, so I’m full of shit.

Let this be a reminder dear readers that when you are definitive with the universe, the universe has a wicked sense of humor.

Shortly after the first of the year, I got an exciting call at work. It was Eric telling me that a producer he has worked with for years was selling his home (which includes a professional-grade sound studio, and his equipment).


Here’s some insight how decisions are made in our house. The conversation went a little something like this:

E: “I’m not sure what to think, it’s pretty crazy. I’m gonna send you the link”

L: “Holy shit. Call him right now. I’m going to call the realtor.”

The house went on the market Friday, we saw it Sunday, made our offer Monday, got accepted Wednesday. From there it’s been a whirlwind of preparing loan applications, getting appraisals, negotiating terms of the equipment deal. And you know, going to India.

The business opportunity, and the opportunity to see several lifelong goals all fall into place with one purchase was just too good to pass up. Honestly, I think we’ve both been waiting for the entire thing to fall apart at any moment.ISt8q24mj15dzd0000000000

But, we’ve closed. Papers are signed. We’re officially property owners. And, I feel like I’m glowing as much as I did in the early days of my first pregnancy. Quietly pleased, proud of myself even though this is something people do all the time. But overly excited because it’s all mine.

I’m giving myself carpal tunnel looking at Pinterest for decorating ideas. And, it’s silly because life is so frenetic for us these days it will take a long time to decorate and settle. But the business benefits aside and all that it means for Eric. I think about what it means for Luke. He won’t be in an apartment building where we hear our neighbors on their balconies late into the night on summer weekends. He will have a neighborhood, an amazing school. And, we’re actually going to be living just a mile from where my first job was in LA, near many people who were some of our first “friends who feel like family” in this crazy city.

ISpxye5c0y12zd0000000000For me, I can’t wait to entertain. We have a big outdoor table that the prior owners left and I can’t wait to sit around that late into the night with friends. There will be room for a bigger garden and a compost bin. I’ll have a balcony off our bedroom that I’ve claimed as “a room of my own”. (Thank you Virginia Woolf.)

This process has humbly reminded me that when life takes something away, it gives something back. If we had gotten the house in December, if our last pregnancy wasn’t a miscarriage, if I was still commuting further south…any of these things would have held us off from making this leap.

So prepare yourself for room reveals and DIY projects!! Plus, I have lots of things I want to document about our current place before we say good bye. Fun to come in the weeks ahead.

A Day in the Life

Here is a glimpse in the day in the life of Cal, told mostly through pictures.

We are really enjoying the more normal wake up time in the first week of daylight savings.


Cal is king of the mulch pile


Cal is captivated by stag beetle


A moment of brotherly love


Cal tries to put food in belly by smearing it on his belly


Obviously this moment was followed by a bath.

City mama would you be interested in doing a day in the life post? I would be curious to see what a normal day is like for you. I could do a post for myself as well. Could be fun…

What We Take for Granted

IMG_5336Last Tuesday was International Women’s Day. Allow me to shamefully admit, that until this week this is a holiday I take about as seriously as Middle Child Awareness Day. The birth of social media has in my opinion brought with it a holiday for everything. And with it, I’m guilty of awareness fatigue. If I had to guess though, I’m not the only one.

Shame on me though, for many reasons. Thankfully, I had two beautiful reminders come my way from two different countries to remind me quite clearly how lucky women in the United States are.

First came by way of my company. Some of the celebration emails they issue aren’t as worth considering as others, but the series of emails that came throughout the day highlighting women in managerial positions within the organization was inspiring. Having recently visited colleagues in India, I heard about how uncommon it remains for women to drive themselves, among many other equalities and conveniences we take for granted. Even so, I smiled briefly as I deleted the notes and moved on to my next task. So it goes though with a hectic workday.

It wasn’t until late in the day when I was picking Luke up from daycare that I got the splash of cold water to the face that I really had coming to me. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but Luke’s daycare is run entirely by Armenian women. They’ve all immigrated to the country, some have lived her for many years while one came to the US right around the time Luke started there.

Anyhow, on Tuesday, the head teacher of the class handed me Luke’s art project of the day. And she said, “Mommy, we have a special gift for you. Today is March 8th. It is International Women’s Day. When I was a little girl, growing up in Armenia, this day meant so much to me and brought me hope.”

Kat, I have to tell you, I couldn’t even speak. I am sure I said thank you but my mind was reeling with how ignorant I can be. (And I don’t mean just me with that)

I vacillate wildly from feeling so feminist that I don’t want someone to hold an elevator for me, to wanting to be escorted when I’m dressed up for an event. I have faced several instances in my still short career of sexual discrimination, and one of the most egregious was from a woman. I vote for, donate to and fight for women’s issues. And I still forgot.

We are lucky. We are equal. And we have a lot of work to do. A lot of work, to bring everyone along. I’m so grateful for the reminder.

I’m With Her

When I found out that Hillary would be campaigning in NC on Thursday I really wanted to be there. I have been rooting for Hillary for the past decade. I dug out my Elect Hillary button and hoped that I could make it. But I am a package deal that comes with two little guys, so I thought it was unlikely that that stars would align for all of us to go.

Going to school and living in DC really fostered my desire to be near politicians. I lived for presidential sightings back in the day. I saw Bill Clinton out running once. Remember when Bush ate at Cactus Cantina when we were in college? I wasn’t there (no one was there, because they cleared out the restaurant for him to dine), but the thought was pretty thrilling (sorry Dad). We went to Obama’s first inauguration and had tickets on the lawn so we were actually close enough to see him. I really wanted to see Hillary in the flesh.

As luck would have it the rally was only 30 minutes away from Ellis’ school and it was at a pretty convenient time in the afternoon. I thought I could take both the boys. It said the doors opened at 1:50 and the rally started at 3:50. I thought the boys could nap on the drive over and we would head inside around 2:30 or 3 and then see the rally. No sweat. In hindsight I am not really sure what I was thinking because most days I can’t brave a 45 minute trip to the grocery store with the kids. Today I was ambitious and despite it all the kids really rose to the challenge.

It was almost 80 degrees and when we arrived the line was starting to wrap around the building. I found parking and decided to wake Ellis from his nap, which is usually as risky as rousing a dragon. It was already 1:50 so I figured they would start letting people in. The security line was S L O W. We stood in line for 3 hours. We were some of the last people that made it into the small high school gymnasium.


We stood in the last row. But we got to see her and it was really neat to be able to show the boys the woman I hope will be our next president. She was regal and personable and inspiring. She also seems to have very good posture. (These are the kind of insider observations you can only glean from spying on someone in person :))


Calvin is in precisely the right developmental moment to attend a rally. He claps furiously at everything, dances to any and all music and can scream as loud as he wants because everyone else is too. Ellis was a trooper and read a lot of books on the floor. He spent much of the rally hiding under my skirt when it got too loud.


As we shuffled out of the gym after the rally I shared a nod of solidarity with the only other parent going it solo with little ones. She trudged past with a toddler strapped on her back and a baby strapped on her front. I had Calvin on my chest and Ellis on my shoulders. Seeing another person who had completed the same crazy feat as me made me feel a little less insane for taking my two little boys to a political rally by myself.

There is nothing like a rally to bring out the varsity mom inside of all of us.

Terrific Two

We celebrated Luke’s second birthday this past week. While the mark of the first year was one of triumph (we made it!), his second birthday was outright fun. Much like the difference in the first year of life versus the second, I felt no stress or expectation from anyone. Having returned so recently from weeks of travel, there wasn’t much time to plan anything major. We had two simple quiet celebrations: one at Luke’s daycare and another here at home with friends who feel like family.

There’s so much “Pinterest pressure” these days. To bake the nicest cakes, to hand-make food, presents and decor. And to pull it off in a stylish outfit. But, I had the best time setting that all aside, buying food, shopping for gifts the day of the party and really focusing on celebrating the moment with my little guy.

I had a weepy mom moment when the teachers asked me to give Luke his cake while they sang happy birthday. Walking toward him with the cake in hand, he looked like such a big boy. All I could think of was my small newborn nugget who was resting in my arms just two short years ago.

In the weeks I was away, Luke’s verbal skills exploded. We’re getting strings of words, he’s remembering what happens during the day and starting to tell us about it at night, he plays pretend and initiates games while we’re playing. We’re absolutely seeing signs of independence and willfulness, with challenges each day as we try to navigate what he thinks he can do versus what he’s able to do or what is safe for him to do.

I was telling a dear friend that the second year was a thousand times easier than the first. The more Luke grows, the more fun we have taking him out and about and the easier time we have in the day-to-day. I love this age and I expect it to get even easier as the months progress.