Doing (almost) everything wrong: instant motherhood.

William Shakespeare once wrote:


Substitute greatness with “motherhood” and I fall into that third category. I wasn’t born a mom (because…that would be weird) and I didn’t achieve motherhood. Instead, I had motherhood thrust upon me. Not with an infant (or two) that I could bond with, nurture, and mold, my kids are fully grown little people with opinions and personalities and eternal souls that I’ve been given the amazing privilege of helping to raise.

And I’ve discovered the secret of motherhood. Seriously, I cracked the code.

None of us have any clue what we’re doing. 

Oh sure, there are books and blogs and recommendation. I’ve done research on blended families, on step-parenting. I’ve adjusted my expectations and made several (dozen) lists. I’ve learned so much along the way. An absurd and ridiculous amount. So much that I often forget the things I learned before and make the same mistakes 6 or 8 dozen times.

For example: did you know that you don’t actually have to engage with your child when they are being ridiculous? So when you send them to straighten up their room and they insist that nerf guns spread out across the entire floor is”good enough” because they need an arsenal, even though we’ve been over and over what counts as a clean room all summer. Apparently you don’t have to get into an unending “No it isn’t,” “Yes, it is!” battle of wills with an 8-year-old. You can just say, “you know the expectations,” and WALK AWAY. Magic!

Anyway, there are days when I feel like the absolute worst person, like I shouldn’t even be allowed around children. When they are mad at me, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut and when they are hurting, you better step back.

But then there are these moments, beautiful and glorious. The moment when Little One didn’t throw a fit when he sat next to me instead of J at dinner, when Flipflops asks me for help with his summer reading. A random, unprovoked hug or a thank you or an I love you.

I’m pretty sure I’m doing almost everything wrong. Maybe, just maybe, though, I’m doing something right.

Get it together: Handling finances like a grownup

*Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. I’m receiving no compensation for the opinions expressed.*

So…raise your hand if you have a budget.

*moderately impressed*

Keep your hand up if you actually use your budget.


You’re not alone, my friends. A lot of us seem to be under the impression that we don’t really need a budget. Perhaps you have rough numbers so you make sure you end up in the black each month. But do we really have control of our finances? Or, if we have money to cover all of our bills, do we just call it good enough?

It can be intimidating and uncomfortable to start budgeting. Whether you’re single or have a large family, budgeting can make your life a lot easier and less stressful. I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and have gone through Financial Peace University. One of his mantras is: If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went.

Dave advocates the envelope system in which you keep physical cash in envelopes so that you can cut frivolous spending. The idea is that you can’t physically spend money that isn’t in the envelope. I understand what he’s saying, but since I pretty much pay all of my bills online, the cash system is more of a hassle than anything else. Plus, it might just be me, but I spend cash so much faster than if I have to use my debit card. In my head cash is free money, because I’ve already “spent” it out of my checking account. Maybe a generational thing? Or another step on my ever-increasing psychosis…meh.

Anyway. Cash envelopes aren’t practical for me. Enter: GoodBudget.

An app with accompanying online interface, GoodBudget allows you to track expenses and create virtual envelopes so you can put all of your money to good use. It’s free to use, but does come with a premium upgrade option (still only $5 per month or $45 for a whole year.)


Set up takes a little time, as you have to create your budget and allocate your money into envelopes. There are tutorials that help you out, though. I recommend doing your setup online and then logging in with your mobile device. Once you get going, though, it’s super user-friendly and intuitive. You can even set up recurring expenses or income so you don’t have to reenter your regular paycheck or your mortgage every month. The app doesn’t connect to your bank account, so you don’t have to worry about security. It also is an easy way to reconcile your bank account as you go, since you can compare your balance on the app and in your account. I may or may not have been known to go hunting through my expenses to find the missing $0.07 so my balances matched. Just saying.

You fill your envelopes at the beginning of each month, even if you get paid sporadically, or bi-monthly (like I do). That way you can keep track of month’s expenses at a time. There is a reports feature to see your spending habits at a glance.


The app also provides support and advice for debt management. I’m staring down the barrel at a mountain of student loans, but having a plan of action for early payoff makes it a bit less stressful.

I’ve been using the app for about 4 months now and I can honestly say that I’ve been spending less, paying off more of my debt, and much less stressed out about money. Adulting means being responsible (bleh) and GoodBudget makes it a little easier to control your funds.

Chub Chub No Rub Rub

We need to talk about something serious.

Chub Rub.

If you’re a thigh-gapped freak who isn’t familiar with this phenomenon (sometimes called inner thigh chaffing) then Chub Rub is the unpleasant sensation of wearing a skirt or shorts in the summer only to have your thighs rub together in a way that convinces you that you are riding a bicycle on the surface of the sun.

It isn’t pretty.

1af251a911cb1919854f96c6cdad03aaIn my skinniest days, I have still never escaped the tyranny bestowed upon me by chub rub. I have great legs, don’t get me wrong, but I’m much closer to becoming a mermaid than a flamingo.

There are a number of home-grown solutions to this epidemic including baby powder to absorb moisture and lace, garter-like thigh protectors you can purchase. I’ve even been known to don Spanx in order to avoid the burn. Frightening commercials about the potentially cancerous ramifications of getting talcum powder anywhere near my lady bits have left me a little gun-shy of the white stuff and you can’t wear Spanx every day.

So I thought I was doomed to a life of painful rashes, bumps, and walking like a cowboy. But then I observed J getting ready for a half marathon. Before putting on his socks, he rubbed down the tops of his toes, his heels, and anywhere else on his body that might chaff with Glide.


Hold the freaking phone.

This stuff has changed my life. Runners and other athletes have apparently known about this stuff for years, but I think it’s basically awesome. No more chub rub, bra line chaffing, or heel blisters. Ladies! Wear your maxi skirts proudly and with confidence, the reign of terror is over!

PS: This isn’t a sponsored post. I just think this stuff is really cool. That’s why there are no links to a purchase site. Ask the almighty Google or check at your local drug store or sporting goods store.

My “perfect relationship” is ruining my life.


I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I’m under the impression that morning people are a bizarre race of quasi-human and shouldn’t be trusted.

I have a certain lifestyle to which I have become accustomed and it involves frantic mornings of oversleeping, hasty work preparations and speedy drives to school, while putting on mascara with one hand and trying not to spill my life-giving coffee. It might not be graceful, but it works for me.

And then came this guy.

J is staying at my house this week since the gremlins boys are with their mom for a month (!) and I’m still in school for a couple more days. It’s been a treat to have him around in the evenings, enjoying our snapshot of domesticity: making dinner, playing cards over coffee, etc. Since he’s sleeping in the guest room, I don’t notice when he wakes up until he comes into my room with a cup of coffee in hand and gently pulls me from slumber. Before I realize it, I’m caffeinated, dressed, and out the door to school on time. ON TIME!

How dare he?

I am not a morning person. I don’t do on time. I revel in the adrenaline rush of the last-minute. Nevermind the calm serenity of leaving on time! Where’s the excitement? Where’s the drama?!

Meh, I guess I could get used to this…

The Beautiful Life…

This weekend I achieved a relationship goal of cinematic significance. Every sappy love story has one great kiss in the rain. Allie and Noah from The Notebook, Paul and Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Charles and Carrie from Four Weddings and a Funeral have filled our heads with the romance and emotional significance of the watery embrace.

tumblr_m3o3ln6nzd1qks92eo1_500Turns out,  much like everything else in my life these days, my kiss in the rain was nothing like I’d expected. Instead of a semi-frantic meeting of impassioned lovers, J and I giggled through our rainy kiss with the sounds of a neighborhood block party going on in the background.

Saturday night, J’s neighbor, SuperMom, and I decided to put together a little Memorial Day grill out for Sunday afternoon. We recruited a handful of neighbor families who pitched in a brought side dishes, and piled what turned into a couple dozen kids into SuperMom’s garage once it started raining. After a traditional grill out menu, the adults gathered around to chat while the older kids made up some kind of dodgeball alternative and the little ones ran laps around the cul-de-sac, jumping in every available puddle.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier.

Take a moment to enjoy your beautiful life: the silly moments, the perfectly imperfect moments, the moments you’ll never forget.

An appeal to the mommas…

I am not a mom. I’m a cat mom, but that doesn’t really count.

I’ve never given birth, or experienced morning sickness. I’ve never rocked a baby for hours at night, tears streaming down my face from exhaustion as I plead with God to take this ear infection away so that we can all get some rest. I’ve never felt the surge of pride and fear that comes from watching my little one take his first steps.

I am not a mom.

Then three of the most amazing little humans crashed into my life full force. I felt my breath knocked out of my lungs with the noise and chaos they brought with them. They are loud and rambunctious. They vehemently defend points of view that are not based in fact. They are constantly covered in mud and have no idea what is appropriate to wear to church (I’m looking at you, Flipflops.)

And I love them. With every fiber of my being I love these small people. I love them so much it’s confusing. How can I feel so connected to people I didn’t give birth to? Up to this point, did I really understand love at all? The questions bombard me as I feel the daunting and overwhelming task of doing right by these boys.


I am not a mom.

I would never try to replace their mom. I know that the struggle must be intense for her to be without them and the best I can hope for is to help her do her job by extension. I’m not qualified for the position, but I’m doing my best.

So I help Little One clean his room and wrap MacGuyver in a towel when he’s wet and freezing (obstacle run…it was a thing.) I made a deal with Flipflops that I would DVR some show he likes if he would get his baseball things together the night before practice.

I expected to feel overwhelmed, inadequate, tired. What I didn’t expect was the cold shoulder I’d receive from the moms. With some notable exceptions, instead of helping me learn the ropes this group of women treat me with disdain. If it were overt, I’d be much better able to combat it, but it’s hard to fight a generalized coldness.

So I appeal to all the mommas out there. Be kind to other mommas, mommas-in-training, step moms, expectant mothers, and well-meaning girlfriends. You have no idea what a difference you make.

I am not a mom, but I am trying.

Suddenly, chaos.

I spent the weekend with J and his three (!) boys. It was the first time I met them and I was more than a little excited, with a healthy dose of nervousness sprinkled in for fun.

I thought the biggest struggle was going to be packing for a weekend of endless possibilities of activities and weather. Despite what the calendar says, “spring” in the DC Metro area has decided to sleep in a bit and winter has stepped in for an encore. Add in a less than locked-in schedule, a couple of 5K runs, and church on Sunday, and my weekend bag was having a bit of an identity crisis. I was also the only estrogen in the sea of testosterone where five men regularly reside. FIVE! That means no bobby pins, flat irons, or clear nail polish in sight.

*brace yourself chickadee*

Turns out, the biggest challenge of the weekend was a matter of pets. J and the boys are dog people; friendly, energetic, loud, outgoing, did I mention loud? I’m more of a cat person.

Dirty, blistered, sick, and bruised, I hobbled home on Sunday exhausted, but ecstatic. I survived my first excursion into J’s natural environment. I got to see him in a whole new light, and it only increased my affection for him. I’m honored that he brought me into this portion of his life and I feel really positive about how the littles and I interacted. It will take time for me to adjust to my extremely loud and high energy future, but I’m exited for the challenge.

12994310_592997390856512_6143785930623525137_nPoint of fact, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about the kiddos moving forward. Here’s how you’ll know them:
Flip flops – 12,  loves video games, baseball, and pizza. Does not understand why we don’t wear clothes with holes in them.
MacGyver – 11, loves break dancing and taking things apart. Good at break dancing, still working on putting things back together.
Little One – 13 days shy of 8, loves hanging out with dad, board games, and doing whatever his brothers are doing.

Hope your weekend was at least half as fun as mine, but twice as restful.


Let men be men by letting boys be boys.

I have something to say.

I expect J to open doors for me. I expect him to walk me to my car at the end of a date. I expect him to help me with my coat and offer to carry my shopping bags (which, no joke, are usually his shopping bags).

Now, I don’t have to worry about these things. He always opens the door. He comes around to let me out of the car (unless I’m driving, apparently the rules are different then). He walks on the street side of the sidewalk, even if that means moving me to his other arm. Unless I trick him out of it, he always pays for dinner or coffee or tickets to wherever. I tease him a little about his chivalry, but I never dismiss it; I always thank him. Not because I feel obligated to, but because I want him to know how much these small acts mean to me.

e119a73f114933e5619ebda890cfee07In my classroom, when I want an act of physical labor performed, I ask for a young gentleman to help me. Not because I don’t think that the girls in my class could handle it, but because I want to teach my boys to be men. Men who stand when a lady enters the room and hold doors open. Men who grow up to be husbands and fathers and take care of their families no matter what, even if it means working 3 jobs to make ends meet. Men who conduct themselves in a respectable and dignified way.

But I teach middle school.

An expectation of miniature men is unrealistic, even damaging. Boys will be boys. I see it every day. Boys smirk and laugh about inappropriate things. Boys throw things at each other and tease. Boys are hyper and rowdy and can’t sit still for an 84 minute block. It’s not hate speech when boys taunt each other. It’s not a danger to the school environment when they can’t sit still. It’s childhood playing out in the classroom. But it could be irreversibly detrimental to pigeonhole spirited young men into labels of “defiant” or “hyperactive” while destroying their desire to learn.

I’m not alone on this.

Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in conjunction with Prager University, put together the following short video about the effects of a “female-centric” academic culture. It’s chilling stuff.

May I let my boys be boys, so that they can grow up to be men…

Happy Weekend!

The Silent Week.

Every have one of those things happen in your life where you thought you were prepared and you did all the research and then it happens and you had absolutely no idea what you were getting into and now you’re completely freaking out?

First year teaching, man. Whoa.

I started my job on January 19, a Tuesday (Monday was a holiday.) Two days later, Snowmaggeddon2016 happened and we got a 6-day weekend. Then two more days, and a scheduled in-service day. If you’re following along at home, that means I only worked 4 days in my first two weeks. Pretty sweet.

I took over my classes on February 1 and immediately realized I was not in Kansas anymore. Two weeks later, running on coffee, adrenaline, and stubbornness, I was feeling run-down and my throat was killing me. Normally, I’d ignore this kind of thing, but it seemed to be getting worse, not better, so off to the doctor.

Strep Throat. Life: 1, Simone: 0

silenceIf you know anything about me, you know that I am essentially a walking musical. I sing in the shower, while driving, in public places, at funerals (just the one time.) I sing directions to my students and my Chinese takeout order to a very confused Asian man. Every Sunday, I minister to my church as part of our worship team and then I lead a couple dozen elementary schoolers in worship during Children’s Church. Singing is intrinsically tied to who I am.

But for one week, I went silent.

I won’t lie, it was incredibly difficult. My heart yearned to express myself in music. The greatest test was church this morning. I’m on the mend, but still wary to cause damage by belting out notes on untested pipes. Instead I had the opportunity to listen. I listened to the people around me in the service pour their hearts out to God in music. I listened as 21 6-12 year olds sang sweet songs to the Savior. In a way I didn’t know was possible, my silence allowed me to hear the voice of the church, to hear the voice of the bride of Christ. Overwhelmed and humbled, I rejoiced for my sickness and the beautiful moment it allowed me to feel the presence of God.

How much would we hear if we stayed quiet long enough to really listen?

Stand by Your Man | How to help when there’s nothing you can do

“Sweetheart, I’m exhausted.”

His voice on the phone broke my heart a little. God, how do I make this better? I feel so helpless.

When J is in pain, I’m in pain. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s physical pain, like his hurt shoulder from a weekend of snow shoveling, or the weight of his responsibilities, I yearn to bear some of the burden. When I can’t make it better, I feel useless. After much consideration (and feedback that makes me feel like this stuff really works) I present 5 things you can do when you can’t do anything for your man. Or, you know, some much shorter, catchier title. Meh.

Pray for him

Get on your knees and plead for him. Pray that he would be strengthened, that God would protect his mind and heart, that he would not be tempted by sin in his time of weakness. Pray that you would have wise and encouraging things to say. Pray that God would use this hardship to bring himself glory. I think often we see prayer as a last resort, but it should really be a first response.

Listen to him

He may not want to vent; be ready to listen if he does. You will likely feel helpless as you are unable to do anything to ease his pain, but listening and standing by him as he walks through the valley are far more influential than you realize. Lend him strength by sharing his struggle; be sure he knows that you are always available to lend an ear.

Woman hugging a manRemind him that you are solid

During a stressful time in your man’s life, the last thing he needs is to worry that you are going to get fed up and walk away. Even if you feel like he “should know” how you feel, make a point to remind him that you are in it for the long haul and you aren’t going anywhere. He’ll know that whatever else may come his way, you’re always in his corner.

Tell him why you respect him

Women need love, men need respect. Make a list of the things you respect about him. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few things will go a long way to restoring his soul. Is he a great provider? Does he work hard? Does he take physical fitness seriously? Is he emotionally available to you? Is he a godly man?

When is that last time you told him how much those qualities mean to you, how much you respect him for all he does?

Be silly with him

No one can be serious all the time. He may be struggling through physical pain or emotional trial, but you can go a long way to lighten his mood. Send him a quick text with a funny meme, share an inside joke, or send him a selfie of a silly face. You’ll bring a smile to his face and remind him that you’re thinking of him in one fell swoop.