Exhaustion, Blackjack and Dottie the Vacuum...

I'm tired. Just so very tired. So tired that I googled a youtube makeup video to cover up dark circles and bags under my eyes. While I usually avoid the non-stop, too many commitments situation, sometime life happens and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. And it is unfortunate when the commitments are things you would be thrilled about if you weren't so exhausted. Yes, it didn't help that it was daylight savings time this week with the dreaded losing an hour of sleep. My children were in utter shock. 

Another jarring thing that occurred (other than losing an hour of precious sleep) this past week is that I legit dropped the ball not once, but twice. Not "Oops Summer didn't wear a hat to school on hat day." It was for real, straight-up, completely forgot about stuff on my calendar, didn't even realize I had forgotten them until the next day kind of thing. Ugh. 

One was the hour I was supposed to volunteer in Layla's class at school. This one really stabbed me in the heart. As the middle child, only 17 months older than her baby sister, born in the middle of nursing school... she is the child that I constantly feel guilty about. When she was an infant, I was studying and then pregnant four seconds later. As a toddler, it was the only period of time I was actually working. She rarely has ever had substantial alone time with me (Summer being the oldest has had tons, and Olivia is basically my butt-buddy on a daily basis through no choice of her own). I just feel like my little La has gotten the shaft, so when I fail in some way related to her, I feel 10 schmillion times the guilt. An hour of my week that she would have been thrilled to have me in class, I was an epic space cadet shopping at Costco. When I finally noticed it on my calendar the next day, I totally freaked out and emailed her teacher immediately. She is usually fantastic at responding and hasn't yet, so I think she officially hates me. Ugh. 

The second space cadet moment of the week was completely missing a kids party that has been on our calendar for months. Once again, Sunday afternoon I glance at my calendar and GASP not AGAIN!!!! While I usually put things like volunteering and appointments as reminders in my phone, I have a fully successful track record making it to parties I have RSVP-ed for (and even saw the friend throwing it on Friday and said, "See you tomorrow!"). Thankfully it was not a specific birthday party (can I blame not needing a present threw me off?) but I was completely horrified to be such a flake. I am one who, if I have committed to something, will be 100% be there unless something absolutely major has happened. Even if I am deathly ill in bed and actually have to bail, I feel totally guilty about it and apologize an awkward amount. 

So now, due to these recent brain farts, I live in a constant state of feeling like I'm forgetting something major. I have always kind of existed like that, but now, since I don't trust myself, I know the feeling could actually be reality which is quite the unsettling state. Even now as I am writing this, I was thinking about meeting Layla at lunch tomorrow to surprise her (she doesn't actually know I didn't show for volunteering, it would just be to appease my guilt). Oh wait, I already had to email Summer's teacher that I was not able to come for my scheduled volunteer time of 10-12pm because I have Olivia's parent-teacher conference at HER school at 11am. Since Layla's lunchtime is also at 11am, clearly I am delusional. And I need a better calendar system. 

All of these scheduling mishaps must be related to my exhaustion. Let's get back to my dark under-eye circles. This past weekend was a doozy. A good and fun doozy, but a doozy nonetheless. Friday evening we had an event down at the Four Seasons hotel in Baltimore. Matt was invited for being one of the top insurance agencies writing business with this particular company, so it was a full-on getting-schmoozed evening of thanks with no work involved. Black-tie optional, yummy dinner and casino games = fab.

When it is black-tie optional, you really never know which way people are going to sway. I decided on a safe bet: go with a long gown but make sure it is black, simple and classy. That way I won't feel majorly overdressed or underdressed. While I absolutely adored my gown, I was not anticipating the unexpected snag in skin color due to last weekend's Miami shenanigans

After buying out CVS's self-tanning options, Matt was able to at least make it less blatantly obvious. Phew. Crisis averted. 

So usually at these gigs, I just play the wife role (small talk, smiling and nodding a ridiculous amount) because I have zero clue or understanding when work chatter comes up. Matt does a fantastic job of keeping me involved, but I am a-okay with being arm candy and drinking champagne. 

How gorgeous is that background?!?! And I really wish I had taken more pictures that evening. My previous gambling experiences consists of losing 10 straight hands of War in Vegas (yes, there is War in Vegas and yes, I played it) and doing the same numbers at Keno when it is available. Since this was play money and the dealers were helping and explaining things to us, I felt quite at ease jumping in. I played blackjack, craps and roulette (which sidenote, that one Vegas trip we were with a friend who split aces and ended up getting blackjack. My naive 21 year old self whipped out my camera and got a perfect picture before I was nearly tackled by casino security. Oops). I dug up this priceless picture for your viewing pleasure, particularly since no one should ever even have it:

I still have absolutely no idea how to play craps, and sadly my Keno numbers didn't work at roulette. I did win plenty at blackjack, no pictures involved. 

With my dear little brother sleeping at our house with the girls, we enjoyed staying overnight at the hotel. Let me tell you, glorious doesn't begin to describe it. The major amazeballs amenity, hands down, was in the bathroom. Are you ready? There was a freaking TV IN.THE.MIRROR. It wasn't hung on it or in a cut-out hole. It actually just appeared within it, AND you could see it from the tub. Somehow I didn't snag a pic of it but I found one on google: 

That is just pure phenomenalness. I was amazed and now all I want is to have that in our house someday. #lifegoals

We also had a beautiful water view which I didn't take a pic of but stole from the hotel website: 

And even a doorbell! It may or may not have taken me 10 full minutes to find the fancy switch to turn off the lights, but all is forgiven. 

The next morning we ordered delectable room service and it was brought up on the most fantabulous table fully set and with the plates warming below (learn from it, Hotel Croyden). Brioche french toast with vanilla mascarpone, crispy bacon and a cappuccino for me. Steak and eggs for Matt. While ordering, Matt requested OJ. They asked "small or large" so Matt went with the large. What he was not expecting with a large was an entire picture of orange juice. What he was expecting even less than that was that said-pitcher of OJ cost $24.00. I repeat, twenty-four-freaking-dollars. I don't care if the oranges fell from heaven and were squeezed by chipmunks, on no planet should orange juice, regardless of size, be twenty-four fat ones. Needless to say, we tried to cherish every last drop of the golden OJ and even put the last bit into an empty water bottle to take home I don't even drink it typically but I helped in the finishing of the pitcher. I should clarify that there was no alcohol in this orange juice as well. 

We left the gloriousness of the Four Seasons (the front desk people were cheery and glowing and said I was pretty... so they win) to head home to the normal chaos. What made returning to normalcy, however, was an oh-so-lovely delivery that made me far happier than I think a normal person should be. I would like to welcome this new apparatus to the Simmons family: 

Seriously though, why do they not make all cleaning supplies in adorable polka-dots?!? I was looking into a cordless vacuum and I actually chose this one, in additional to great reviews, for its cuteness. I requested name recommendations on Facebook, the girls voted and...drum roll please... Meet Dottie. She will be the perfect partner to Reginald, my Steam Mop. It really is the small things in life.

As tired as you are reading this is as tired as I am writing, so more on the crazy weekend coming soon... 


Happy day-after Leprechaun Day! Ps I'm Irish. Also Seminole Indian which I realize sounds shocking and is a weird twist. 



Bucket List Miami Weekend...

Happy Glorious Spring Weather Week! After the dreary cold of winter (I'm SO sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder) I have finally begun to hear the birds chirping and actually visualize the grass peeking from under the melting snow. Several weeks ago, still in the depths of abysmal winter, Matt's brother Ben and his fiance Sofi mentioned that they had been wanting to have the girls over for the weekend to their new house. In no scenario in the history of the world would we decline this lovely offer, so we decided on a weekend. 

What should we do? Where should we go? We mulled over a few ideas ranging from bar-hopping in a neighboring city to actually hiding out at home and binge-watching Netflix with no child interruptions. Nothing was really making us super excited... my priority is always to fit a nap in but that couldn't be ALL we could do. When you have a child-free weekend placed in your lap, you want to make it a good one. March in this area can range from a blizzard to mid-seventies... and all we were craving was warmth. Enter: time to check off a bucket list item! The plan: head to the airport with essentially nothing, and fly somewhere then and there. 

I am a conflicted personality... think, equal parts planner yet fly by the seat of my pants type of girl. I love to go with the flow but structure can be heavenly. Pulling out a calendar to plan can actually give me hives, but checking things off my to-do list is a total rush (I actually make the task of doing laundry into four separate items. And I will also write something down that I already did just so I can cross it off). I love nice, expensive things but I always find the deal or sale to maximize my spending. I will go to the ends of the dark web to find a free shipping promo code. So this bucket list weekend was both challenging and exhilarating. 

Our requirements for the weekend were simple: 
1. Warmth.
2. A beach or pool to lie around all day.

3. Anything that allowed us to move as little as possible (aka, we needed our beverages served to us by said-beach/pool).
4. A nap.

Simple, right? 

In my bag was the following: a bathing suit, a cover-up, a dress, a pair of flip-flips, shorts and a tank top. I also brought minimal makeup and toiletries, my kindle, phone charger and undergarments. Oh and I did bring a hat, which may it rest in peace, because I somehow lost it. 

The only stuff I looked up prior to departure day was basically how to even go about it and the best sites to book last minute travel. Our original goal had been to show up at the airport and essentially go to the Southwest desk to find a flight. Considering this may make us appear like terrorists, particularly with our lack of luggage, we decided to book it on the drive in. I found an app called Skyscanner that allows you to search for the cheapest flights to everywhere leaving from your area. After trying to absorb the initial shock of how expensive flights are last-minute, we were able to find a non-stop Southwest flight at 11:45am to Fort Lauderdale. Within the time it took me to pull up the Southwest website to book it, the 11:45am had disappeared. Ugh. The 2:15pm it was, no big deal (the current time was 9:30am). Our thought was... we are together hanging out, we can eat and drink, who cares. We arrive at the airport, check-in and get settled in at a bar. Although we were flying to the Fort Lauderdale airport, both Matt and I have spent time there in the past. Since we wanted somewhere new, we figured Miami was perfect. After perusing hotels on my phone and not really getting anywhere, we decided to gamble yet again. The Priceline "Name your own price" is something we used once before when going to Vegas and we ended up with the MGM Grand. With such a positive past experience, why not do it again? Our goal was either oceanfront with drink service on the beach or if not oceanfront, just have a rockin' pool. With our meager requirements, we rolled the dice... and lost. Hotel Croydon is what we were assigned. At first glance it has great reviews and looks like an adorable boutique hotel a block away from the beach. At second glance, you will find the picture of a lackluster pool that just minutes before I had vetoed staying there because of it. 

Womp womp. I mean, it is teeny, shady, and inches away from the road. No thanks. 

Trying to stay positive, we (finally) headed to our gate. After boarding the completely full flight and getting settled in our seats, we get the dreaded announcement... hydraulic issues with the plane. A mechanic was on his way to check it out and we were supposed to "sit tight." After I had kids, I became an incredibly nervous flyer. Like near panic mode on take-off, alcohol-required, texts being sent off to family to take care of my beautiful girls who I am leaving motherless since this tin box surely won't make it kind of thing. I REALLY don't need to hear about potential issues and "fixing" them. Fortunately, (yet unfortunately), the plane could not be fixed so back to the gate it was. We end up being sent over to another gate where they have to read off passengers one-by-one and check IDs since they had taken our boarding passes already. Eek. A cluster, you could say. So we finally set off and land two hours later than planned, and Ubered our way to our hotel for a final arrival time of 7:45pm. 

Exhausted and hungry, we went to the hotel bar for the remaining minutes of their free (!!) happy hour and to get something to eat. Now I'm not sure if we were so pasty white that people thought we were ghosts and couldn't see us, but I have never had such a hard time getting the attention of a bartender in my life. The conversation with the two other patrons present must have been riveting. But seriously, I was a bartender once upon a time. It took 15 solid minutes and asking three other random workers to even get a menu. 

Frustrated, tired, and feeling like this may have been way more effort than it was worth, we headed up to our room (two double beds, of course) to collapse... and ended up laughing hysterically watching youtube videos of those hidden camera pranks from the Ellen show. When you are with your favorite person, watching paint dry can be fun. 

Thankfully the next two days took a serious upswing after we managed to latch onto beach service from the Marriott. 

One suggestion I give you all is that you should always ask how much your buckets of Corona are because they may turn out to be $8.00 per Corona and you have spent a small fortune before you know it. You're welcome. 

We also managed to just blend in with the Marriott guests and found an unlatched gate to get into the pool and hot tub area. Now if you know me, you will be epically shocked by these actions. I am a 100% rule follower. I wish I wasn't, but I just can't help the feeling of panic and fear when I know I'm not supposed to be doing something. Miami Steph took over and I marched right in without a second glance. 

Maybe since we are platinum Marriott rewards members (possibly due to my expensive taste) I figured we would be a-okay. In the Marriott hot tub is where we found out why every flight in the world was booked... that little thing known as college spring break. Maybe since I was never allowed to go on one, my mind just didn't even register. My most favorite moment occurred in that hot tub with those crazy young college kids. We were all sitting around and they turned to us and asked, "So what college are you guys down here from?" I very nearly spit out my drink. I know we don't look super old, but we most definitely don't look super young either. 

 They all seemed utterly shocked that we were from the College of No Kids Bucket List Weekend. It basically made my life. 

So other than the beach and the pool, we really didn't do much of anything. On Saturday night we contemplated going out to dinner but realized we didn't have appropriate footwear for the kind of dinner we wanted. We attempted room service which somehow our lovely hotel didn't offer despite the fact that it is on their website (I had words with the guy on the phone because he didn't believe me that it blatently said-so on their page... and you can tell how heated I really was by the sheer fact I picked up the phone. As a person who has a phobia of ordering carry-out, that is a really big deal). So Matt had to go down to the hotel restaurant and bring food up to our room. We then proceeded to watch some crime show that we always seem to find whenever we are out of town together. The big takeaway from this particular episode is if you are trying to hire someone to kill your husband, you probably shouldn't write the entire plan down on paper (misspellings included). 

Sunday flights back were quite limited... most left at 6am (not an option). I did find one non-stop at 8:35pm with Spirit Airlines. If you haven't heard of it, I recommend that you go back to that wonderful place of ignorance and never speak of it again. If you have heard of it, you may be able to commiserate with us on a truly bizarre, did these flight attendants fail out of everything else, why is my chair metal and my tray smaller than Matt's hand. 

This is a **small** Fiji bottle and it barely fit. I mean, what?

So if you have any desire to do what we did, or something along those lines, I have a few tips for you.

-Be aware when it is the time for college spring breaks, and don't go then. While the ones we met were lovely, in general they also created a little problem called "totally booked or ridiculously expensive flights and hotels." 

-Decide prior which route you are going to go... either really, truly don't care where you are staying and the amenities it offers OR be willing to pony up to make sure you get what you want/expect. 

-Have low expectations and know that even those can be lowered (yes, I'm talking no room service. I'm never getting over it). 

-Wear far more sunscreen than you can ever possibly imagine and reapply every 17 seconds if you going from pasty white to the Florida sun. I'm telling you, I had to wear leggings on Monday because everything.just.hurt... and I am one who typically tans easily. 

-Remember that everything, both good and bad, is a memory you are creating. 

So many people seem shocked (and think we are kinda crazy) about how much stuff Matt and I do together. We have unfortunately been both given a unique vantage point of marriage: We both lost our fathers while we were still teenagers and have watched our mothers weather the devastating reality of life without their soulmates. So many things are planned for the future, but what if you don't get the opportunity to have that future? You don't think it could ever happen to you until it does. We are acutely aware of tragedy and that there are no guarantees in life. With that experience and knowledge, I'd like to say we try to live in a way that reflects that. There's no better time than the present for SO much more than you could imagine. 


Making Good Changes...

Ahhhh blogging. Such a strange phenomenon. So many obnoxious, self-important people who think their measly words have an impact. One of the reasons I never wanted to start a blog was because I didn't want to be a cliche... yet another stay-at-home mommy blogger who thinks her kids are cute and funny. Total vom. 

During my relative absence over the last year, I have come to realize something quite interesting about myself. An epiphany of sorts. Yet another quirk that my dear hubby has to deal with. In my quest to free up time and not put pressure on myself to post weekly, by not forcing myself to sit down and take stock in the last week and really comprehend the crazy that had occurred, I realized that I have been doing a disservice to myself. Without me really ever knowing it, this blog was my therapy. And everyone can always use a little therapy. It was the time I took for myself. It allowed me to go to the depths and rant, or focus on projects I was really excited about. It forced me to take note of things I so easily brushed aside, I listened more than I normally would. In my silly introspection as I wrote, it gave me so much more PERspective than I realized. When you see something written out and are willing to post it to the world (or like 3 readers), it just makes you view it in a different light. A totally ridiculously, insane day when everything in the world seems to go wrong and you end up locking yourself in the closet with wine seems like a stupid little comical hump in the scheme of things. It can be entertainment to others, make them feel just a little bit more normal and not so bad about their life because I am a bigger hot mess. It made me really "remember the crazy" which was my original goal of this blog from day one. And honestly, I just really missed writing. 

So. In trying to be a better wife and mother, I think I actually became a worse one (reason for guilt #23408243098). I know what I need to stay sane, and I haven't been doing it. As a mom, you always tend to eliminate your own needs first... but when you really look at it, that is just more detrimental to the whole family. A friend posted this the other day and it hit home: 

It isn't a mom's nature to do that. It is always give give give, who needs me, how can I help, who do I need to take care of right now. And sometimes you don't even know what to put in your own cup to even be able to pour into anyone else's. Before I get too deep into analogies, basically... to even figure out what recharges you is an eternal work in progress. It feels selfish and unnecessary, when it should actually be a total priority. 

I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for a husband who, in the midst of the crazy ups and downs of married life with three young kids, is willing to listen to me and actually make an effort to make changes to help me and make our life better together. We are almost 10 years in and it is a process, so don't think we are magical. It really does take constant communication and essentially spelling out things that I need. For example... I detest making school lunches with so much of my soul I am unable to articulate. Until this school year, I think Matt has made one or two lunches for the girls in the last six years. Despite my best efforts of the girls making their own lunches, it doesn't always work out. But oh wait, I never asked Matt to help with lunches. When I actually, finally communicated this to him, guess who is the all-star lunch maker extraordinaire? This cutie: 

In the last few months Matt and I have also tried to make OTHER changes to simplify and help our craziness. When I quit working, I stopped the monthly/occasional cleaning service because in my head I thought, "I mean I'm home. This is part of my job. I should be able to keep up." 


Hahahahah HAHAAAAAHHahahahahhaha 

Idiocy at its best. Keeping my house clean is basically an impossible task. Plus, I hate cleaning. I don't want to live my life running around behind my children cleaning up their messes all.day.long. I mean I do that anyways, but I don't want to be stressed about knowing I have to get to a grimy tub in the midst of that. We finally officially committed to an every other week cleaning service. This, hands down, has changed my life. If you can make it work by downgrading your cable to 973 channels instead of 991, do it. Please. You can come over and watch Bravo with me in my clean house. And don't give me the excuse of, "I would be too stressed running around cleaning up before they came." My friends, if I can maintain over the course of two weeks, ANYONE can. Obviously my house will look like it imploded within a number of hours after it gets cleaned. The difference is, I can whip it back in shape in no time. It has also allowed me to have the time (and motivation) to do things I have been putting off for forever, like reorganizing my cups cabinet. (I wish I had a before and after, but just ask my sister and she will regale you with the insanity that it was). I realize that this is often thought of as a luxury and a non-essential expense, but I will tell you that if you can cut something else out to make it work, you will truly not regret it. But make sure you get actually good cleaners... no one needs someone vacuuming around a toy. 

Oh and I will do anything and everything (including sitting in my car down the street) to avoid being in the house while they clean. I am so not important enough to watch other humans wash my dirt. 

Another thing we have done is tried to make dinnertime simpler. I actually enjoy the act of cooking (with a glass of wine of course), but it is the planning that I utterly fail at. I have started doing Hello Fresh and get usually two meals a week delivered to my doorstep in glorious, packaged boxes with everything I need in them. 

A few examples of the inside of the box: 


You can choose 2-5 meals a week for two or four people (I get two meals for a family of four and we have more than enough food... and my girls are most definitely eaters). There is a veggie box option as well! Everything I have made has been actually good, fresh ingredients, and most importantly, all in one box that I don't have to plan. 

If you are so inclined to try it, you can use my code for $40 off your first box (full disclosure, I get $20 off if you use my code but that doesn't matter to me, I just want to put the idea of these meal delivery things in your head because it is seriously amazeballs. I've heard Blue Apron is good too). My code is WBW4XF and you can try it one week and never do it again, but I love having the option. You choose your meals Wednesdays by midnight for the following week. For me, the comfort of knowing what I am making for dinner (and no last second store trip with children-- eek) is awkwardly blissful. 

So. I'm not here to tell you that a cleaner, meal delivery service and a husband who makes school lunches are the end-all, be-all problem solvers of your life. That is what helped me go in the right direction (and I started playing tennis which I'm now obsessed with, but I'm beginning to sound very spoiled and bratty and should just stop while I'm ahead). But as I said, I realized this blog was very important to me too, even if I get zero readers and the $7.00 I make a month from ads disappears. What I want to change about it is essentially the format. While I'm sure I will still have plenty of lengthy, introspective posts with lots of pictures, I also am giving myself the freedom to post whatever the heck I want, whenever I want, no matter how trivial it may be. I don't know why I limited it before... maybe I always wanted everything to be "good enough" to post. Clearly that didn't work long-term, so maybe this will. Thank you for being my therapy and if you made it this far in this novel of a post, I really do appreciate it. Thank you for supporting me in the past and I hope you come along for my current ride. 

Happy Wednesday!