Thursday, October 31, 2013

A new mommy perspective...

When I was a little girl, my favorite thing in the world was spending the day out with my mom.  She wasn't a huge shopper, but we could spend a whole Saturday walking around BookStop and grabbing Indian Summer Soup at Good Eats.  Or we'd share a tub of popcorn at the movies and then go out for ice cream.

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On one particular Saturday, I begged her to take me to Chic-Fil-A for chicken nuggets.  She had suggested that we could try a different place instead, but I insisted on the nuggets.  So she drove through Chic-Fil-A to get my chicken, and then we headed over to the other place so that she could run in and grab her food.  When she got back into the car with a bowl full of tomato basil soup from La Madeleine and asked me to just try it, I turned my nose up.  But the smell was irresistible, and I gave in and gave it a try, and I remember thinking that it was the best thing I'd ever tasted.  (Obviously it was. That soup = heaven.

And then I kept eating.  And eating.  Until I eventually looked down and realized that I had eaten all of her soup, my chicken nuggets now cold and long forgotten.

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And she never said a word.

For the rest of my life, I will remember that moment, because it epitomized the selfless, and often thankless, approach my mom took to mothering.  And that's exactly how I always saw her:  selfless and loving.

Now that I'm an adult, we've had so many conversations about her perceived failures as a mom.  In fact she still worries about things she did and wonders whether they screwed me up in some way.  (For the eleventy billionth time, Mom, I'm fine.  I promise!)

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So when a friend posted this video on Facebook, I had to stop and watch it.


Bottom line: as moms, I think we are always going to feel inadequate.  Because if we're doing any one thing fabulously, then we're probably failing miserably at something else.  The result is that we give as much of ourselves as we can to the people and the things that we love, but then I think we need to learn to let the rest of it go.  Because, clearly, the tiny people who matter the most think we hung the moon.

As my mom said to me when I emailed the link to this video to her (after one of our expert witnesses stumbled into my office to ask me for the wi-fi password and found me sobbing uncontrollably at my desk... awkward):
"When you're running around like a crazy person trying to get everything done - trying to get Gracie and her little sister* to school and they're yelling at each other, and you are once again feeding them Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast for breakfast instead of something healthier because you didn't have time to go to the store, and you have to get a brief filed by 5:00 but you still have to go to lunch with that group of baby attorneys because you promised, and Micah has already left for work, and your shoe breaks and it all seems like it's going to hell in a hand basket - just remember that its all going to be okay."
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So be proud, mamas, of the tiny, seemingly insignificant acts of selflessness you pour your heart into each and every day.  You may think you're just sharing your soup, but I have a feeling you're sharing much more than that.

* No pregnancy announcement is forthcoming, y'all.  Just wanted to make that clear. :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Peter peter, pumpkin eater...

Yes, I know that she's only six months old.  But I couldn't let her first Halloween go by without taking her to the pumpkin patch!  And I also know that I already shared a picture or two, but I couldn't resist sharing these with you guys because of the cuteness (and the Halloween outfit I spent too much money on). 

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She had just woken up from her nap and was still a little groggy, so we had to work pretty darned hard to get her to crack a little smile.

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We also let her experience her first petting zoo.

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She was very fascinated with the longhorn.

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Kill me, y'all.  She makes my world go round.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Easy like {Saturday} morning...

First of all, thank you guys so, so, SO much for your sweet and uplifting words on Friday's post.  The support and encouragement I find here is honestly the biggest contributing factor to my success in losing the weight the first time.  So I'm counting on you guys to pull me through again.  (No, but seriously... )

Also, you may or may not have noticed that I got a little face lift around here.  I wanted something a little cleaner, so we're trying this out for awhile.  Please let me know if you run into any issues (broken links, etc.).

So what were you guys up to this weekend?  We woke up on Saturday and took it easy.

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(watching cartoons... ha!)

But I had really been wanting to check out this pumpkin patch near our house.  I realize that Grace is entirely too young to appreciate it, but Momma sure wasn't!  So we got ourselves dressed and headed to this adorable family farm.

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(Let's not talk about how bad my roots are... focus, instead, on the grass all over Grace's tights, would you?)

Grace had just woken up from a nap and was NOT interested in smiling for pictures.  (Although I did get a few with my big girl camera - I'll post them soon!)

After scarfing down a hot dog (it was an unplanned and sort of necessary cheat... I hadn't planned the day's nutrition very well and was starving), we left to drop Miss Priss off with Micah's parents so we could have a date night to celebrate Micah FINALLY finishing with his engineering licensing exam on Friday.  He has been studying for hours each day for the last three months (no exaggeration), and this girl was happy to have her man back.

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We spent the afternoon walking and shopping around the square in McKinney and had a fabulous dinner (another semi-cheat, except this one was completely planned) together.  Man, I adore this guy, and I'm so proud of all of his hard work.  He'll find out around Christmas whether he passed.  Fingers crossed, y'all!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Resuming the journey...

If you've been hanging around here for awhile, you know that I began a weight loss journey in September of 2011.  I worked really, really hard for about six months and lost over 50 pounds.

I went from this girl...

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To this girl...

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In addition to joining Slim4Life and drastically adjusting my eating habits, I also started running a few months after I decided to lose weight.  I ran my first 5K in April 2012.

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Somewhere around May or June, though, I had started slacking off.  My head just wasn't in it anymore, and anyone who has struggled with their weight knows what that means.

So a few of the pounds crept back.

And then I got pregnant.  And I decided, pretty much as soon as I saw the word "pregnant" on that stick, that I had free rein to eat whatever the heck I wanted.

So I did.  I enjoyed all the cheese tator tots and vanilla milkshakes I could get my hands on (although I promise that I really did try and squeeze in some vitamins and minerals for our sweet girl).  And I gained weight.  Like, a lot of weight.  On the day I delivered Grace, I was 75 pounds heavier than I was the day I got pregnant.  (We're not even going to talk about it...)  And while some of the weight just dropped off after she was born, I stopped losing pretty quickly because I never really wanted to make the effort to get the rest of it gone.

My M.O. is to oscillate between two extremes.  Clearly, I can turn it on and get down to business when I hit my breaking point.  But then I can just completely shut it off and eat like it's my job.  I have a hard time finding that happy place in the middle where I exercise reason and make smart choices most of the time while also enjoying my favorite foods every once in awhile.  For the longest time, it has been all or nothing.

About two weeks ago, I was about eight pounds heavier than I was when I decided to lose weight the first time, and I just couldn't handle the thought of being stuck in this place for the rest of my life.

Let me be really, really clear.  I've never struggled with self-hate, and even at my heaviest, I was happy and proud of who I am.  But I am not proud of this burden that my weight has become.  I know that it's simply not what God intends for this body that He has given me, and I hate the idea of being so completely unhealthy.

So I decided to make a change.  For good.

And guess where this girl was last Monday evening?  

I was back on the scale at Slim4Life, ready to start over.

My head is finally in the right place again, and I'm down about 8 pounds.  (The first few days are basically a cleanse, and they really jump start the process.)

This isn't for Micah, and it isn't for Grace.  (Although they are definitely great motivation!)  It isn't for my family or my friends or society, in general.

It's for me.

It will be a long process.  I know that.  And I know I'm going to stumble.  But I also know that I'm capable of accomplishing this thing that seems nearly impossible right now. Because I survived a degree in biochemistry.  And law school.  And the bar exam.  And childbirth.

Surely I can handle this? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hollywood makeover...

I've been contemplating a significant lifestyle change for a few months now, y'all.  Actually, more like a few years, but my brain has been completely shut out to the idea until fairly recently.  And if you know me at all, you know what a huge thing it is for me to even be considering this.

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But I think I'm contemplating bangs.


I haven't had bangs since I was in elementary school, and it definitely was not a good look for me then.

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(I'm on the right...)

Ahem.  Moving on...

But I've had the same basic hairstyle for a few years, and I feel like I need a change.  I pinned that Reese Witherspoon photo above forever ago and have gone back to it nearly every time I had a hair appointment because I love the length combined with the wispy, slightly sideswept bangs.  But I've always chickened out.  (Understandably.  See that mushroom head up there?  I shudder...)

So now that I'm actually considering going for it, I wanted to try them out before I take the plunge.  After googling "hairstyle simulator," I stumbled upon InStyle's Hollywood Makeover simulator.  After drooling over the always-gorgeous January Jones, I uploaded a picture and spent a stupid amount of time trying out different styles.

The gadget is pretty darned thorough, and you can make all kinds of adjustments to the hairstyles to try and customize the look.  You can even change the haircolor to try and match yours.

Even so, the pictures that I ended up with are pretty hilarious.

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(Julia Roberts)

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(Connie Britton.  I just about fell over at this one.)

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(Gwyneth Paltrow)

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(Minka Kelly.  Wish I could just steal her entire head... so gorgeous.)

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(Aren't I totally a brunette Jennifer Aniston?  Ha!)

Eventually, I got around to doing the thing I actually planned on doing and tried on some hairstyles with bangs.

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(Reese Witherspoon... with different bangs.  Ick.)

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(Jessica Biel.  Double ick.  Sidenote, I feel like I could totally be Zooey Deschanel's curvier twin with this haircut.)

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(Julianne Moore.  Okay, while I'm not digging the actual cut, these bangs aren't completely unfortunate looking. [Who caught that movie quote?])

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(Ashley Greene.  These are okay, too, but I feel like I'd be cheating, since these long, sweepy strands don't really qualify as bangs.)

Here's the actual inspiration Reese haircut "dyed" to match my color.

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My hair is pretty much already cut this way... except the bangs.  And I'm just not sure I can do it.  I guess we'll see... I'm going to try and schedule an appointment with my girl soon.

Until then, maybe I'll just try for Katy Perry?

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Monday, October 21, 2013

A load of cute...

You know how your laundry pile can get so ridiculously high that the thought of trying to make even a tiny dent in it seems impossible?  That's me and this blog right now.

Because things got a little cray last week, and I just couldn't find the time to sit down for two seconds and tell you about it.  So here's the (semi) short version:
-  Grace is six months old and is pretty much sitting up on her own.  I will DEFINITELY have a full six month post soon!  (She's also probably about halfway through her DOC Band adventure!  Girlfriend's head is GROWING!)
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- My dad was admitted to the hospital early Thursday morning.  He had been having some dizzy spells, and his cardiologist told him to head to the hospital to rule out a stroke/mini-strokes.  Thankfully, his symptoms have gone away, and all the scans were clear for a stroke (although they couldn't rule out a mini-stroke).  So he's going to follow up with his cardiologist this week and try and figure out what the heck is going on.  We'd really appreciate your prayers!
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(My brother was such a trooper... he spent the night with Daddy, curled up on the super (sarcasm font) comfy couch with a hospital gown for a blanket.)

- We went out for hibachi on Saturday for Micah's best friend's birthday and had a blast.  

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It was so nice to have some time with my cute guy without a certain precious little girl stealing our attention. :)
-  Speaking of our precious little girl...
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I'm sorry, but how adorable is she?  Her wild little pigtails just crack me up.  I caught her snuggling with Micah on the floor yesterday and just about died.
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Ridiculous, right?  
There!  I feel like I've at least folded a few metaphorical towels.  I'll try and tackle the rest of the pile soon. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday randoms

It's raining in Dallas today.  

I usually adore the rain.  But as I was carrying Grace (in her ridiculously heavy carrier) into daycare this morning, I slipped on (in?) a puddle and broke my shoe.  I kept right on walking and went through the whole sign-in process (in her brand new classroom with teachers I hadn't yet met) with one shoe and wet hair.

I am officially shameless.  And, for today only, I officially hate the rain.

I am, however, in love with this video of a three-year-old's hilarious conversation with himself.  "Chocolate things... chocolate thingies.  More chocolate thingies.  GUMMIES!"

I've started using Wen.  I wouldn't normally buy something off the television (although I have been sucked in a time or two...), but one of my faves, Cara, gave it a rave review, so I thought I'd at least give it a try.  So far?  I'm in love...

One of our favorite Mexican restaurants near the house apparently closed, and I'm more than a little bummed about it.  Their queso was so good I could cry...

Do people up north call cheese dip queso?  Or is that just a Tex-Mex thing?

This week is going to be insane, so it may be a teensy bit quiet around here.  I'm usually pretty good with Instagram, though, so feel free to come say hello there!  (@MrsHargrave)

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sweet Stella bella...

My sweet, lovebug of a niece turned two in May.  It completely blows my mind when I think about it, because, to me, she's still this little elf-eared, bald-headed pumpkin.  

She seriously is the most loving child I've ever been around (she often goes up to strangers and hugs them... we may need to have a chat about stranger danger - ha!), and her spirit is infectious.  But she's so darned busy that I can almost never get a picture of her!

I managed to snag this one a few weeks ago, and it just screams Stella Jo to me:  happy, beautiful, and just a little bit wild at heart.  So I played around with different actions in Photoshop Elements...

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She's a doll, and I can't WAIT to see her meet her little sister in a few months. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Indian Summer Soup...

 photo IMG_7951copy.jpgAm I the only one who associates certain foods with particular moments in my life?  I mean, I can get just a whiff of something and be instantaneously transported to another place and time.

For instance.
Soggy chocolate cake.  It's the summer before law school, and I am curled up on my Mamaw's couch, telling her all about my first day at my summer internship.  She smiles as I scrape the last bit of frosting off the bottom of the plate with my fork.
Chicken fettuccine alfredo.  Micah and I have been in Houston for four months.  My dad and stepmom come to visit us, and I am, once again, whipping up the only thing I know that I can make without screwing it up.  I am so happy to see them.
Chimichangas.  This.  

This recipe is a staple at a restaurant that my mom and I went to all the time when I was a little girl.  Every time I eat this soup, I am ten years old again, spending the afternoon with my favorite person on the planet. We've almost gotten full on bread and stuffed jalapenos, but there is always room for soup.  Particularly this soup, which is creamy, cheesy, smoky, and the perfect cure for a broken heart or a bad hair day.

Indian Summer Soup
adapted from here

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3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled or baked and cut into bite-sized cubes*
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings (you can cut them into half-rings if you prefer smaller pieces)*
1-2 poblano peppers, sliced into 1/4 inch rings (I cut these in half, too)*
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces frozen whole kernel corn (canned works great, too)
1 quart chicken broth, separated (water works fine, as well)
1 to 1.5 lbs. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes (I feel like more cheese is always better)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and olive oil in a large heavy pot over low heat.
Saute garlic over medium heat until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add onions and peppers and saute over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the chicken, corn and 2 cups of chicken broth. Mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add cubed cheese and simmer until the cheese has melted. DO NOT allow the soup to boil.
In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup chicken broth.
Stir dissolved cornstarch into the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and add to soup.
Cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

* The original recipe calls for grilled/smoked chicken, onions, and poblano peppers, but I like simple and quick, and it'll taste just as good this way.  Promise. :)

Monday, October 7, 2013


There's something about a cool, autumn breeze that can transform an otherwise ordinary weekend into a magical one.

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Because, although we didn't really do anything special over the last few days,  I went to bed last night with a happy, happy heart.  

... we spent time with the ones we love.

... we took walks.

... we took naps.

... we drove with the windows down and the radio up.

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... we cuddled on the couch.

... we went back to the place where we met and worshiped the God who brought us to one another.

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... and we thanked Him for our little toes-grabbing, pigtail-wearing, smiley-faced, happy-hearted little love.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Reasons today is fabulous...

... it's October!

... I fell asleep at 8:15 last night.  Glorious.

... Gracie went all night last night without a peep.  Even more glorious.

... we're having these delicious poblano and onion pork chops for dinner with my mom and stepdad tonight.  My mouth is seriously watering just thinking about them.

... I ordered this book for Gracie this morning.  If you're not familiar with Angie Smith or her story, go here to learn about Audrey and {if you've got some time and some waterproof mascara} read Audrey's story from the beginning.

... I laughed until I cried at this Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake video.  If you haven't seen it... go.  Like now. 

... I'm hanging out over here today and giving away two of my favorite things:  a Target gift card and a sweet tea candle.  You know you want in on the fun! :)  And if you're not already reading Love & Loyally, you totally should be.  Jessica's a lawyer (like me!), a lover of Christ, and she has a fabulous blog name, if I do say so myself.  We're basically the same person (except that she's really fashionable, and I'm usually happy to leave the house in shoes that match), and I love her blog.

Are you all having a fabulous Wednesday, as well?   
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