The Bedding Wars

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Our bedroom color scheme is black, white, and grey: a calming oasis of neutral tones in an otherwise chaotic household. I scoured Pinterest for ideas while simultaneously letting our budget remind me to simmer down when I feel like channeling my inner Joanna Gaines (I want to hate her, but she’s so freaking amazing).

I found a set at Kohl’s that I thought would be perfect for our space at a reasonable price. J had a business trip this week and the new bedding was set to arrive the day he left. I was psyched; I’d be able to have our new bed set up by the time he got home. When the new set arrived, reality of the situation hit me:

We have a king size bed.
I’m home alone.
The set includes a new bed skirt.

Fast forward to me, tipping the mattress up on its side while shoving the new bed skirt under it. Then the mattress fell on me as I got too close to the foot of the box spring. The additional weight on the unsupported box spring meant I was suddenly surfing my bedroom. I had to run to the head of the bed to right the box spring with the weight of a king size mattress on my back. The dog looked at me like I was crazy.

Eventually victorious, I made up the bed and basked in my adulthood and fancy linens. As bedtime rolled around, I faced a new problem.

The sheets felt like sandpaper.

After a restless night and a quick Google search, I found out that washing your sheets with baking soda and rinsing them with vinegar can slough off the manufacturers starch that makes new sheets feel rough. Simple enough. I unmade the bed and treated my new sheets to a 3rd grade science experiment.

Night two — a slightly finer grit sandpaper, sleep evades.

Four o’clock Friday morning (the sheets arrived on Wednesday) I decided that enough was enough and I was going to return the whole lot. I also found a beautiful set at Macy’s that happened to be 60% off during their One Day Sale. At 6:30 am I ordered the new bedding for in-store pick up later that day, and by 9:30 am I got an email saying my order had been cancelled. Apparently, if you order from Macy’s for in-store pick up outside of business hours, the system automatically cancels your order. I called customer service:

Her: Well, how are they supposed to fulfill your order if the store is closed?
Me: Um…wait until the store opens and then fulfill it?
Her:
Her: I guess that would work. But that’s now how the system processes things.
Me:

Order resubmitted (once the store opened) a sinking feeling hit me: I had to pack up the original bedding to return it. That’s me vs. the damn bed skirt again.

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I was able to shimmy the bed skirt loose and even fit all the pieces back into the original package. I began to wonder if a king bed was really worth it. Maybe Ricky and Lucy slept in separate beds to make laundry easier. The return was simple (blessed relief) and I picked up the new bedding with no issues.

Bed skirt: Round 3. By then, I was an expert and it only took me like…17 minutes to wrestle the stupid dust ruffle into place.

Our new sheets are smooth and soft and glorious. I finally have a grown up bed; I even have shams and throw pillows (aren’t they adorable?!) By the time I finally made the bed back up and the exhaustion of two terrible nights of sleep caught up with me, I slept like a log and woke up refreshed.

And if we ever have to change the bed skirt again, J gets to do it by himself.

I’m out.

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Confessions of a New Wife…

After the hours planned, dollars spent, and stress endured, J and I finally walked down the aisle a couple of weeks ago. The day was perfect and beautiful: our friends and families were on hand to enjoy the gorgeous venue, delicious food, and amazing atmosphere. Everything was wonderful and we were beyond thrilled that all of our hard work paid off. Plus, we were Mr. & Mrs.!

Wedding Photo

We spent the week after the wedding getting the gremlins ready to head to their mom’s house in Texas and entertaining J’s parents. If you’ve never tried to get three boys to pack for a month long trip, you’re better off than I am. We also spent time trying to excavate our home from the mountains of gifts and mayhem.

Since J has been single-parenting for a while and I’m no spring chicken, we each had a house full of stuff. Combining the best of our existing possessions and integrating the BEAUTIFUL items gifted to us by our nearest and dearest was akin to a game of twister: shift a little here and a little there and hope that the whole thing doesn’t go crashing to the floor.

J’s mom spent a day helping me clear out the contents of the kitchen to make way for our new shiny things. We cleaned and organized and arranged. We broke down boxes and hunted down matching sets of food storage containers and corralled collectible cups from various baseball stadiums (stadia? stadii?). We ruthlessly discarded and filled my car with donated items for Salvation Army.

With in-laws gone, kids on a flight, and a holiday weekend to ourselves, J and I finally had time to just be married.

Just the two of us. Alone. All by ourselves. No distractions. At all. Nothing to do but let the weight of the enormous life-changing thing we just did wash over us. Like a tsunami. Oh boy.

Here’s the thing: In my head I knew, I knew, that getting married wouldn’t really change anything.  Oh, sure, I have a new address and a new name. I have a new *ahem* extra-curricular activity. But J and I are still the people we were before the ceremony. We still have the same weaknesses, the same flaws, the same insecurities and neuroses. I knew that putting a ring on it wouldn’t actually change any of that. I knew that only God has the ability to take on my imperfections and redeem me and that getting married wasn’t going to change my struggle.

But maybe, just a tiny part of me thought it might. The tiniest part down in the deep recesses of my heart, the part that I keep to myself, the part that is scarred and hurting and broken thought that just maybe, when someone committed to me for the rest of our lives, I would finally feel worthy. I would feel lovable. I would feel like enough.

Spoiler alert: I still don’t feel like enough.

My husband (!) is the love of my life. He is a good a godly man and I am proud to be his wife. I love him so deeply and truly that it’s astounding to me. I want his welfare above my own and I am constantly seeking to be the partner for him that God called me to be. My husband loves me completely. He is strong and kind and generous. He worries about me, prays over me, and he has gone out of his way to learn how to live with and love someone who lives with anxiety so that he can carry me through in the moments when my brain won’t let me function correctly.

But he can’t complete me. He’ll never make me enough.

I’m still selfish and insecure. I’m still anxious and bossy and stubborn. I still worry about things I should give to God and let my feelings get hurt too often. I still hate waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. I still hate doing laundry and foods that are too squishy and not getting my way. I’m inconsiderate and single-minded and I get impatient when someone wants to talk to me about a topic I’m not interested in.

There’s still work to be done, and there’s only one guy who can do it. It’s not my husband’s job, it’s my Father’s.

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Love vs. Want | The Baby Debate

As work soulmate, Ms. G, and I finally make it out of the building this afternoon, the stench of middle school boys on an 80+ degree day left us grateful for the breeze that wafted all afternoon. Another coworker stood on the front walk, waiting for the last of her students to get picked up from a field trip that lasted beyond the end of the school day. Her husband waited in an idling car with their infant son. I’d never met the little snuggle bug and I was thrilled when Ms. M retrieved him from the car and gave me a few moments of smiles and squishy baby legs before I headed home to write a 15-page paper on gifted underachievement for grad school (Note: 4 pages down, 11 to go). Ms. G saw me light up at the blond prince and commented with a chuckle, “and this from the one who says she doesn’t want a baby.”

Ms. G teases me in good fun, but she echoes a popular question I get: Simone, you’re almost 29 years old. You’re getting married in two months! When are you going to have a baby?! Don’t you want to be a mom?

I love babies. I really do. I love their soft skin and their little snores. I love their tiny hats and socks. They have itty-bitty fingers and toes that seem almost doll-like. I love little, fat, baby legs. I sat with my sister, holding my newborn niece, arms aching from being in one position for hours so that she could get some rest after a 24-hour labor process. I never reach out and touch a pregnant belly, hoping that she’ll remember and let me hold the wee one when he/she arrives. *hint hint, prego friends*

20170408_144303I even love crying babies. My friend Sofie has a 2-month-old whose hobbies include screaming at the top of her lungs and pooping on her mommy. Aunty Simone will happily hose Jenn-Jenn down in the baseball field parking lot between little league innings with a questionable bottle of water I found in the back of J’s car. I’ll gladly walk the length of the field, humming “If I had words” from Babe (Yeah, the pig movie) until she decides that sleeping is better than causing premature deafness.

But I don’t want a baby. 

J and I are relatively young and certainly have time to start a family of our own. But what does that mean, of our own? Does that make Flipflops who would defend me with his life, or MacGyver who makes me laugh when I want to slap him, or Little One who gives the best hugs not our own? Are my kids less my kids because I didn’t give birth to them?

Indeed not.

20170219_133901Just as importantly, J and I have the kids full-time. That means a teen, a tween, and a 9-going-on-3-year-old tantrum thrower that make noise and messes in the house like it’s their job. I spend all day arguing with teens and tweens that I’m not allowed to smack, and all evening trying not to smack the ones I’m allowed to. I’ve had to make rules I feel ridiculous for speaking into existence (no kneeing your brother in the genitals when he bends over backward), constructing and reconstructing chore charts, and finding socks and underwear in places you’d never suspect. I walked in on a family in progress and I’ve made myself one of the pack.

So I’ll hold your baby, snuggle them, give a bottle, or run interference when random strangers try to get too close. I’ll stack up blocks over and over just to watch them get knocked down. I’ll be a great aunt, a human bouncy chair, and someday an overindulgent grandma. But I don’t need a baby to feel complete. I certainly don’t need one to be a mom.

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Suddenly Chaos: MacGyver vs. Mud

I’ve talked about the kids’ chore chart in the past. If you missed it, click here. One of their weekly chores is to take out resident mutt, Blackjack, on a walk. Each boy does this task once a week, which results in three long walks for the pup. The benefits are multitudinous. Blackjack is almost 9 years old so the exercise is good for him. As a bonus it wears him out so he’s less likely to dig in the trash and perform other acts of mischievousness during sleeping hours. Exercise is also good for my iPad addicted boys and gets them outdoors with the fresh air and sunshine and, you know, stuff. Rounding out the trifecta is the universal truth that a house with two children is always quieter than one with three, so it gives us a bit of a break.

So MacGuyver (who NEVER has to be reminded to do anything that involves exercise or being outside) takes the dog out for a walk. I was upstairs dutifully working on my grad school assignment (read: blogging and checking Facebook) when somewhere around 45 minutes later, in comes Blackjack and lays down on the opposite side of the bed from where I’m “working.” I can smell him, but that’s not unusual; he is a stinky dog and I have an annoyingly keen sense of smell. Up comes MacGyver, however with a look I’ve seen before. It’s the look a parent gets when they discover that a kid has done something wrong and seek them out. A sort of half-smile, half-I-will-set-you-ablaze-with-my-eyes look.

Through a gritted teeth, I hear MacGyver enunciate, “Blackjack, outside.”

Turns out, the reason the dog went to the opposite side of the bed was because he was COVERED IN MUD and didn’t want me to see him. Somewhere along the walk, MacGyver let him off the leash to run around in an open field. Of course, Blackjack immediately found a ditch full of mud and plowed in, head first. He got stuck, and MacGyver had to pull him out of the mire. Wet and muddy, they trudged home, where MacGyver brought them in through the back yard so that he could hose them both off. With the sliding door about 5 inches open, he kept the dog outside while he stripped out of his muddy pants and shoes.

Blackjack, sensing that this wasn’t going well for him, rammed the kid and knocked him to the ground, wrenched the door open, and ran for cover.

New problem: muddy carpet. From the back door to the bedside, a wet, muddy trail chronicled the journey. Fortunately, MacGyver sprung into action and pulled out the mini carpet cleaning vacuum, which is essentially magical.

The dog, however, had to stay outside for a while.

Never a dull moment…

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Suddenly Chaos: Flipflops vs. Fiber

  1. loveValentine’s Day was this week and J and I decided to steal away for a night of passion Chinese food and Costco shopping. With wedding planning and grad school and three kids and the hour-long commute between us that makes weekends the only time we get to see each other, the impromptu Tuesday night date was pure luxury. Especially considering he is working all weekend and I’m playing single mom to two of the boys and a very muddy dog (more on that later.)

I’ve had tummy troubles all of my life, and J is convinced that my fiber consumption is to blame. Thus, during our Costco run, he insisted that we pick up a jar of adult gummy fiber supplements. You take two a day and it keeps things moving. Fine, I say to myself. I’m sure I can use more fiber in my diet and if it makes my guy happy, let’s just go with it. I even took the first dose in the car to show I was on board.

We drop the groceries off at home and got the kids settled in with pizza before heading out on our Valentine’s Date. The plan was to have Mexican, but our usual place was packed. I could feel the first signs of hangry coming to the surface as my normally sunny demeanor shifted to she-who-must-be-fed. We settled on our favorite Chinese place and had a truly lovely dinner. We talked, we laughed, and for a small moment in time we were just a guy and his girl out on a date. No responsibilities, no kids, no stressful jobs. Just love.

There is a certain dread to going home from a date night. The probability that there will be some kind of mess waiting is pretty high and that means taking corrective action with the boys. It’s the part of parenting no one warned me about. The cynic in me walks in the house looking for the problem. The optimist in me prays that there is nothing to find. The exhausted pigeon in me tries to ignore it. The teacher in me knows that this is a teaching moment. The struggle is real.

Generally speaking, the house was okay. I noticed, however, that the bottle of fiber gummies from earlier looked a little emptier than it had when we left. Apparently, Flipflops (who is 13, remember) thought they were candy and didn’t read the bottle. Then this conversation happened:

Me: Who ate the gummies?
Flipflops: …um, me?
Me: How many did you eat?
Flipflops: I didn’t count.
Me: Ballpark it for me, kid.
Flipflops: I don’t know…like, 10?

There was a moment of silent disbelief before J and I burst out laughing. The kid consumed five days worth of fiber in one sitting. While not life-threatening, we knew he’d be in for some major clean-out. It took a couple of days for his system to right itself, and hopefully the natural consequences will encourage him to read the bottle from now on.

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Ah, this is the life…

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Put on some lipstick & pull yourself together

“I don’t want to do this, it’s too hard.”

“I’m triggered.”

“Why did you smack him?”
“I thought he took my pencil.”
“Where is the pencil?”
“I found it in my pocket…”

These are direct quotes from my students, middle schoolers who are hormonal and dramatic and lazy. They refuse to learn some days and, in an ironic twist, will go out of their way and work really hard to avoid working. This isn’t a post about “kids these days,” (though I could write a book.)

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Change out the words a little and see if it hits closer to home.

“No one will contribute to my GoFundMe, it’s not fair.”

“I need a ‘safe space’.”

“Why are you rioting?”
“My candidate didn’t win.”
“Did you vote?”
“Well…no…”

Scary isn’t it?

I’ve thought long and hard about this topic and I think I have an answer, inasmuch as you can solve a problem with a broad generalization. So here’s my advice, take it for what it’s worth:

Grow up.

555f03953cbfdf521b85936cb33166ffThat’s it. Grow up. Get up, get over yourself, and go do something. If you don’t have the life you want, it’s probably because you aren’t making it happen, or you are and you need to be patient. The life of a Pinterest board, the life your parents have, the life you’ve always wanted comes after years of hard work, effort, humility, and perseverance. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything. Earn that nonsense.

Stop talking about how people don’t understand your mission or your meaning or your purpose. Borrowing from Picasso: Your meaning in life is to find your gift. Your purpose in life is to give it away. To act justly love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Period. (That last part was from Micah.)

In the meantime – your purpose is to contribute, in a real way. Stop with the made up niche markets and feeling victimized when people just don’t get you. Stop acting like this broken and imperfect world owes you anything. ANYTHING.

If you find yourself in the same predicament over an over, maybe it’s because you’re doing something wrong. Everything happens for a reason, but often that reason is that you made a bad choice and are dealing with the consequences. These aren’t growing pains, you aren’t misunderstood.

It would be easy to think that I’m calling out the millennials, or the people who are paving a new road, working hard to affect change. But no. Entitlement isn’t generation specific but it is a rampant pandemic. So knock it off.

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The Glories of Chores

I’m a firm believer that children who don’t do chores grow up to be adults who don’t know how to care for themselves. 

It’s all well and good to assign chores to your children, but without consistency, motivation, and/or consequences, chore time turns into a game of frustration and nagging.

Enter, the chore chart.

Seriously, guys. If you have more than one kid (or roommate for that matter) chore charts are the best. It may seem daunting at first, but setting it up is really no biggie.

Step 1: List your chores and frequency

20161206_155441.jpgNot every chore needs to be done everyday, but some desperately do (or multiple times per day). For us, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dogs, and setting the table are daily chores. Other things like washing the windows, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms are weekly tasks. Make a list and prioritize so that it’s easier to assign tasks later. 

Step 2: Consider your audience

Flipflops and MacGyver are 13 and 11 respectively and are responsible for their own laundry. Little one is 8 and Swiffers the front hall.

When doling out chores, consider the ages, abilities, and preferences of your brood. One kid may like to vacuum (or doesn’t mind) while another would rather scrub toilets than clean carpets. Older children can probably handle laundry, while little ones might turn all their whites pink. Continue reading

Holiday Home Tour | 2016

Welcome to my home

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If you’ve been following along with the Christmas Home Tour from Untidy Grace Creative Co., a special welcome! I’m the last spot on the tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip.


If you’ve missed any stops, check in with Moriah, Megan, and Rachel!


My childhood was full of long winter drives through suburban neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas display. Even now, there is something magical about Christmas decorations at night, glowing lights illuminating an otherwise inky darkness. It seemed only fitting to share a nighttime tour of my home with you….

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The piano has always held a special place in my home, and it’s the perfect perch for the sweet creche (the french word for nativity) that’s been around since I was a kid.

This year is a bit of a bittersweet one. After twenty years of decorating my childhood home, this was the last year it would really be “home” for me. By next year I’ll be a new wife and decorating our home as we establish our own traditions.

I’ve taken singular pleasure in crafting the look of our home over time.  A few years ago, we remodeled the kitchen and added color to all of the walls of the main living areas. A soft teal green replaced the blank, off-white canvas. The change forced us to think of new ways to decorate and traditional red and green were out in the bluish space. On the mantle, I’ve grouped white, metallic, and teal accents, anchored on each end by tall, willowy branches of purple-teal eucalyptus. Rectangles of thin cardboard wrapped as gifts in silver paper and dressed with wire-edged ribbon bows give presence to the look.

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We’ve never had a live tree. My pine-allergic mother invested in a beautiful artificial tree almost 20 years ago. Once decorated, most people have to get up close to call the bluff. The living room hosts the formal tree. Hand-painted ceramics, glass beauties, and a (nearly) complete collection of White House ornaments adorn the 9 1/2 foot giant.

The formal tree is only the first of many in the house. A thin, wiry specimen graces the corner of the dining room. In silver baubles and white snowflakes, with it’s pretty blue skirt, it seems to grow naturally from the corner of the blue, window filled room. Snowy pine cones dangle from yellow ribbons in the windows.

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The home of many trees continues in the front hall with a vintage ceramic set that plays host to the sweetest family. MacGyver and Flip Flops had a wonderful time placing all the tiny plastic bulbs which was my first contribution years ago.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour. Maybe you’ve even seen something that inspires you. I also hope you come back to visit often. The season may come and go, but the door is always open, the coffee is always brewing, and friends are always welcome.

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Life moves pretty fast…

Remember me?

I do this all the time, I announce that I’ll be better a blogging, better at feeding the narcissistic urge I have force feed you the inane drivel of my conscious thought. In the same way that I announce that I’ll get healthy or get in shape or get more sleep or stop putting off laundry for an embarrassingly long time. I announce…and nothing changes.

What I really need to do is commit. Commit to a period of time, every day, to give to this little creative outlet I have. You wouldn’t think it would be hard; I’ve been making some pretty big commitments lately. Most recently, I did this…simonejustin-10I’m engaged!!!

J and I are happy to announce that we’ll be tying the knot in June. I get to be the happy wife to my best friend and the proud momma to Flipflops, MacGyver, and Little One.

We recently met up with Katrina Graham of Katrina Graham Photography who shot a gorgeous engagement session. Here are some of my favorites since I couldn’t possibly choose just one.

Can you even handle the cuteness?

Many thanks to Katrina for capturing our sweet and silly sides and making the whole process effortless!

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Doing (almost) everything wrong: instant motherhood.

William Shakespeare once wrote:

be-not-afraid-of-greatness-some-are-born-great-some-achieve-greatness-and-some-have-greatness-thrust-upon-them

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.

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