J&A are married!

I think I'm ready to resurface here on N&L. I've missed it terribly -- the writing, the camaraderie with Annie, hearing from you guys. In the past two months I've lived (what feels like) two or three years worth of life. It's all been such good stuff, but the days have been packed and sleep has been elusive.

As you may already know, our oldest daughter was married on May 6th. The run up to the wedding was busy -- only complicated by the fact that our son injured his hand the week before the wedding, which resulted in: emergency room, surgery, innumerable doctor's visits, and physical therapy -- which is still ongoing.

Oh, and in this same insane week before the wedding I interviewed for a job! I wasn't looking for employment at the time, but an opportunity presented itself, and I felt compelled to check it out. I interviewed on the way home from an appointment with Parker's surgeon, got the job offer while at a family dinner for Jordan two days before the wedding, and started the Monday after the wedding. No biggie. Just my first full time job in 23 years.

And then there was Rebecca's high school graduation (and prom and open house).

But let's start with the wedding. Jordan and Alex were married in the Houston temple, and their reception was at the Houston Heights Fire Station (just a historic building -- no real fire fighting). We had Sweet Paris Creperie make their incredibly delicious, made-to-order crepes and constructed our own epic soda bar. Our photographer was Sherry Ward, who I can't thank enough. She did a phenomenal job. I don't have the full collection of photos just yet, but here are some definite highlights.



I'll be back soon with my very best wedding-planning advice. And, if you are still reading . . . thanks for sticking around. More posts are in the works! Happy Monday everyone.

Wedding Mantras for Mothers of the Bride

Over the string of months that I held mother-of-the-bride status, I adopted a few mantras to help me keep the crazy under control. These came in handy, say, when I would lie awake and sift through the midnight mental flotsam that would wash ashore in a panic of what-ifs and to-dos. Or when the low-grade stress of helping to coordinate a wedding weekend from the other side of the world eroded the joy of the whole thing. These are mindset reboots I found helpful rather than specific tips on planning a wedding--although at some point I'm sure Sarah and I will share some hints & lessons learned along with some of the details from both weddings. So here are my notes to self, wedding mantras to remember for next time. I didn't master them but they were helpful reminders:

Love, love, love: Invoke this mantra often. This whole wedding undertaking is ultimately about celebrating the love, marriage, and sprouting of a little two-person seedling of a family. Try and infuse the process with love--from your hundreds of coordinating texts & chats with your daughter to your communications with all of the families, your interactions with vendors, and your deliberations about the budget. Let go of the pressure to plan a perfect Pinterest wedding-to-impress and focus on creating an atmosphere where the couple and their guests will feel the love. They'll all remember how they felt that day much longer than they'll remember any little nitty gritty detail, anyway. 

She's the president, I'm the chief of staff: (i.e., Let it go/it's not my wedding): It's hard. In some ways this feels like familiar territory--like another party you're throwing for your child, kind of a birthday/graduation celebration on steroids. You might be used to calling the shots and making all the choices. But...it's not your wedding. Even if you're paying the invoices, it's still not your wedding. Follow your daughter's lead on how much involvement and advice to give.  She's the president, you're the chief of staff. (Also, related mantra: it's his wedding, too.)

Tiny scene in a long play: You're starting out a brand new relationship with a new son and your daughter's inlaws, don't start it with hassles over some little wedding details. The wedding day comes and goes but their marriage will last much much longer than that. Not only that, but this wedding marks the beginning of a new configuration of your own family, with a new son joining your crew forever more. When it comes down to it, choose to invest in building positive relationships over clashing or gnashing teeth on the logistics of party planning. After all...

It's just a party: This helped rein in my wedding anxiety sometimes. Hey, it's just a party! One night with friends and family. It's a big party but still. Just a party. Don't give in to the crazy.

The arrow has flown: I remember a few days before I got married my mom came home from someone else's reception and said "Annie!  we forgot to order the paper napkins with your names embossed on them!" (These were popular then. Are they still a thing? If so, we forgot to order them this time, too.) Meh. At that point the wedding arrow had left the bow and was on its way to the target; there was no point in chasing it down. Likewise, at a certain point you've done all the planning and arranging.  If something pops up in the last few days, fix it and/or forget it. It's time to just let the plan unfold and ENJOY IT. The arrow has flown. 

Serenity now!: Just kidding. That's the Seinfeld mantra. But it's a good generic one in a pinch.

What else? I'd love to add more mantras to my supply. What mantras have helped you in times of stress/planning/weddings?

photo by Chelsie Starley Photography

A few good gems

I know. We have a lot of catching up to do! Since Sarah and I last chimed in here, between us we've had two weddings, a graduation (+proms, etc), two job offers, some adventures, and all the feelings.  It's a little daunting to know where to start so I'm wading in with a Friday gems post to start us off. 

This weekend is a three-day holiday weekend here in most of Australia (thank you, Queen's Birthday) so we are headed out to explore a part of the coast we haven't seen yet, Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach. Oh, beach trips--even in the chilly winter weather they're lovely. Hopefully lots of walks and games and reading and cozying up on the docket for us.  What does your weekend hold?

 "The End of the Day" by Ken Howard

"The End of the Day" by Ken Howard

First I'm glad to share a few good gems we've been gathering for you:

I like the clean lines of minimalism as much as the next person. Yet I also come from a long, proud line of collectors and believe that sometimes more is more! This post celebrating the art of clutter  reminded me of that.

While we're on the topic, these maxilimalist homes give off happy, cozy vibes.

Babysitting may prime brains for parenting (surprise, surprise!)

Having a child is like rereading your childhood

Hilarious reworked children's classics just for grownups, illustrated by Liana Finck:

If you haven't already read Joe Pasnanski's beautiful essay on Hamilton, mid-stage parenting & teen obsessions, you are in for a treat. (Then click here and read the postscript.)

Inpiration and idea formation: Good ideas are wrestled and wrought.

Loved these brilliant life-saving tips for mothers of big (or small) families (thanks, Lenore!)

I've had my eye on these retro New Balance 420 sneakers for over a year and finally broke down and got them. I LOVE them--so light and comfy and, bonus, they remind me of being 13! I've found them so great for travel (they easily double as a casual shoe and a walking/running shoe) and everyday. 

Finally, I have to share my favorite recipe source lately, the Instagram account Go-To Recipes. There are so many winners there--I have yet to find one that we didn't love. Many days if I'm not sure what I want to make for dinner (ugh, that endless decision)  I just click over there and choose something that looks good. Lately I've done the tomato-basil soup, the chicken with mustard cream sauce, the chicken fajitas, and the mixed berry and fig salad. Mmm. 

Have a great weekend! And thank you for your notes, comments, and emails nudging us to post. We love knowing that someone out there is reading and enjoying xx

A few good gems

 springtime in Texas. image via  Richland College Library

springtime in Texas. image via Richland College Library

Hi guys! It's Friday afternoon here, and I'm super behind on this post. But I have some links I've been saving up, and I figure you'll have all weekend to peruse -- so better late than never! Right? The kids' schedules are booked up this weekend, but my own commitments are rather on the light side. So . . . yay for me!! The weird thing about your kids growing up? You suddenly have time to yourself every so often. And it's super weird. Good. But weird.

Okay. Enough about me. Check out these internet gems I've rustled up just for you:

You've probably already seen this since it's blowing up my FB feed even as I type this. But you HAVE to watch it -- it's impossible not to smile while viewing. "How bout now? How bout now? How bout now?"


This essay on kids leaving home is an oldie but a goody (have we never linked to this before?). If it is a repeat . . . then it definitely bears repeating. "As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they're in every room in your head and in your heart."

My friend Annette posted this poem on her Facebook feed this week, and I loved it. I am constantly taxing my life with the "forethought of grief," and boy-howdy is that tiring.

"The Family Party Everyone Hated? It Was Mine." Oh gosh. The title alone had my head spinning, because I may be guilty of this. I don't invite lots of step-people, but it's true that "obligation and shared history can only get us so far." I'm curious what you guys make of this.

I've seen this idea all over the Internet for months now and figured it would be perfect for Jordan's wedding reception. I've been sewing little wax paper cones until they are coming out my ears. Anyone want to come over and help? Beuller? Bueller?

As the end of the school year draws nigh, I'm happy (and completely surprised) to report that I'm still making a hot breakfast for the kids nearly every morning. I'm going to try these out this weekend, because I like something I can prep ahead of time. Also, because Parker only really enjoys breakfast foods that somehow incorporate hash browns.

 image via  theCookingJar

image via theCookingJar

Alright. That's it folks. Have a fabulous weekend!

Grad gifts

Guys! It's April! And graduation is just around the corner. Last week we dropped off Becca's prom dress at the tailor's for a few alterations. We are working on graduation announcements and thinking about graduation parties. (Yes, all in the middle of planning a wedding!) Becca and I have been talking about grad gifts for her friends, and Etsy is my all-time favorite place to shop for the high school senior. So, I did a little surfing (procrastinating) around Etsy to help you guys out. I'm super giving like that. Here's what I found:

These laundry bags are perfect for dorm life. Plus, they are monogrammed, which utterly fulfills me.

This necklace speaks to me.

 image via  MinMac

image via MinMac

Or this one . . .

 image via  AnniePants

image via AnniePants

I'm desperately searching for boy gifts. And I think these blankets fit the bill. Maybe some navy lettering. A block font. You get the idea.

 image via  HollysPinkBarn

image via HollysPinkBarn

Okay, or maybe this manly travel bag.

 image via  HollysPinkBarn

image via HollysPinkBarn

And my all time favorite grad gift for those students headed out of state . . .

 image via  TheHomeT

image via TheHomeT