Monday, June 15, 2015

The end of a carless era.

It's the end of a carless era for us, but before I get to the fun part, here's a recap of why we were carless in the first place....

In August of 2013, we sold our car, a 2005 Kia Rio that had moved us all over the country, literally--from Birmingham to Princeton to Austin to Seattle. We intentionally decided to go "carless" to teach our son about living on less, about the discipline of waiting, about appreciating differences in people. There are many ways to do this, but we thought that navigating a diverse city using only our feet and/or public transportation was a good strategy.

end of a carless era

All three of us grappled with those principles and then some.

For instance, living on less also meant planning more, not to mention confronting trade-offs. To get to places on time, we often had to leave 45 minutes early. We haven't explored as much of the Pacific Northwest as our friends have. We had to be really creative about somewhat mundane tasks, like getting groceries.

Learning how to wait also meant learning to deal with disappointment. Buses do not always run on time. Sometimes they don't show up at all. And sometimes, when they do, they are insanely crowded. Sometimes it's not easy to get somewhere by bus, so we had to make the decision whether or not to go to a birthday party or take on an extra gig at all. (This is where Uber comes in handy.)

Appreciating differences in people can be hard. The overwhelming majority of our fellow bus passengers are kind, friendly individuals, but, just as in all parts of the world, some people can be unreasonable. Some treat themselves, and others around them, poorly. Some are unsafe. Some are hard to relate to.

Going carless was a meaningful experience, and we are as sad to see it go. (Not the climbing four flights of stairs to get to the bus stop part, but the rest of it wasn't so terrible.) At the same time, we have much to celebrate: Daniel just started a new sales job that requires regional travel, so we are the proud new owners of a Honda CRV.

end of a carless era

We're learning to be proper SUV owners, i.e. going to Costco and parking obnoxiously. We're enjoying not spending so much time analyzing grocery shopping--to Amazon Fresh or not to Amazon Fresh? (My poor attempt at Seattle humor.) And we're excited about how our discussions with Marshall are evolving:

Why can't we take the car? Why are we walking to school? Does everyone drive to work?

By choosing not to use the car we now own, by walking or taking the bus whenever we can, we're trying to teach him about personal choices that can reduce pollution, traffic, noise, excessive consumption. We are definitely not perfect, but we are having the conversation.

There are many stories from our carless-ness where Marshall inspired us, but my favorite is this one, so I'm sharing it here in hopes I don't forget it:

One evening, on our way downtown, a young guy got on the bus. To describe him as an imposing, frightening figure is an understatement. He had a grim expression and a don't-mess-with-me air about him, definitely not someone I would want to get into an argument with. Marshall immediately turned to study him, and exclaimed, loud enough for everyone (and I mean, everyone) to hear, "Seahawks! I love the Seahawks too!"

The man was wearing a Seahawks jersey, something I would have never noticed but would be an immediately recognizable symbol of kinship to my son.

The rest of the bus ride played out like a sappy Hallmark commercial. The guy smiled back and struck up a conversation, and the two of them chattered away about their favorite team until we arrived at our stop.

Children are the great paradigm shifters: I was trying to get Marshall to notice what was different about others, while he was teaching me to look for what was the same.

It was worth leaving 45 minutes early to learn that one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The 7-digit milestone.

This week I submitted my last final of my first year as a full-time MBA student. This week the husband will run his first Seattle marathon. Last week Marshall said his first curse-word at school. Lots of milestones going on here in Emerald City.

7 digit milestone

And, there's one that crept up on me somewhere between learning how to plan a media buy and fudging my way through variance analysis: This blog is about to hit 1,000,000 all-time views.

Somewhere, in the next two weeks probably, one million human and Google-bot eyes will have visited, and even though that's a tiny fraction of the Internet viewing world, I'm still really excited about it.

I'm spending my week of staycation catching up family and friends on Marshall stories (stay tuned!), but in the meantime, here are some of my favorite posts from the last few years:

5 websites that will make your Monday more bearable.

First comes love.

Coming clean.

Baby on the way? How we saved $10,000 our first year as parents.

5 Things I was too embarrassed to ask my doctor I asked Google instead.

My Madonna Moment.

This is a love story. 

And then, the post that is responsible for all of this traffic and makes me look like way better of a parent than I actually am: Homemade bread, y'all.

The 7-digit milestone countdown begins now! Thanks for helping me celebrate.

Monday, April 20, 2015

What we've been up to.

I realized this weekend that this blog cannot live by bread recipes alone. So in an effort to post more than once in the bluest of moons, here's what we've been up to the last 90ish days....

Marshall has been filling his mind with all things preschool, from facts about volcanoes--"Mt. Rainier is an ice volcano, Mommy!" "Well, let's keep our distance, then."-- to stories about sea creatures--"Frogs can live on water or on land, like dolphins!" "Not quite..."

What we've been up to.

He has perfected writing the letter 'R,' which makes writing his name immensely more legible, and this past week Daniel registered him for kindergarten. (Not ready for that.)

We've been supplementing his education with Meghan Trainor songs, because, you know, good parenting.

I'm tackling Quarter 3 of my MBA program, trying to wrap my mind around everything from Activity-Based Costing to Media Planning. I have perfected using the word "synergy" in all of my emails (just kidding), and I have been supplementing my education with the final season of Mad Men (that's the truth).

Marshall and I took a long trip to Alabama over Spring Break, where we spent as much time as possible with my parents. I went to yoga with my stepmom, and Marshall went camping with my dad.

What we've been up to.

What we've been up to.

We took a road trip down to Florida and surprised Marshall with a visit to the Magic Kingdom, and I'm not sure which of our three generations had more fun.

What we've been up to.

I got to walk around Tallahassee with three of the most beautiful ladies on earth (my sister-in-law and two nieces), and Marshall had a grape date with Baby Greer, whose favorite phrase of the afternoon was, "That boy is so silly!" (Wise words, Greer.)

Although it was not long enough, I snuck in a quick visit with my sweet friend Andrea, who has been in my life as long as The Babysitter's Club and Guess Who. It's lucky if we see each other once a year, but somehow we pick up just where we left off. It's a gift she has.

What we've been up to.

There are so many friends and family we didn't get to see, and that's been on my mind. The balance of resting vs. visiting is a tough one, but this time, for better or worse, we chose rest.

What we've been up to.

Daniel continues to uphold his title of Best Daddy in the Universe. If I were a different person, I would be jealous of the way he parents Marshall so effortlessly. The other day, Daniel was entertaining Marshall with the bathroom mirrors, manipulating them so that it looked like there were multiple Marshalls.

Daniel: Look! There are a million Marshalls. 
Marshall: (Clearly delighted.) No way! That's crazy. 
Daniel: What if there really were a million Marshalls in the world? 
Marshall: (Without missing a beat.) Everybody would laugh. 

 Wishing you a week full of laughter, friends.

What we've been up to.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'll take my coffee black, with a side of bacon.

Because I am the sentimental being that I am, I get a big kick out of resolutions. I enjoy the reflecting, the goal setting, and especially that burst of hope that screams, "This time. This year." (I am all about the feels.)

For 2015, I feel motivated, largely by the pile of pants in my closet that do not fit without some extreme negotiation on my part, to focus on my health. For January, my reset button is going to come in the form of Whole30.

Whole30 grocery haul

It's a pretty simple list of Dos and Don'ts--

Yes to veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts.
No to sugar, alcohol, breads, dairy, and legumes.

My one exception is bacon. After looking through every bacon package at the grocery store yesterday, I learned that it's quite difficult to find bacon without some traces of sugar. I'm giving myself a pass on this one. (I'm sure I'll face the wrath of the Whole30 disciples later, but that's for Future Lauren to worry about.)

Whole30 breakfast

I do not plan on "giving up" these foods forever. Life is too short not to enjoy bread + butter, chocolate + wine. But, challenges like these are a good way to counterbalance the indulgences of the holidays.

My mantra for the next month?
1. It's only 30 days.
2. Coffee is approved.

Daniel and I gave each other a gym membership for Christmas (student discount!), so I'm counting on Whole30 and the treadmill to work their collective magic. This is the year, right?

Happy 2015, y'all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in the South

We did not send out Christmas cards this year.

We did not put up a a lot of decorations.

We did not spend a lot of time shopping. (I did all of our Christmas shopping within 48 hours, with a lot of little help from Santa and Amazon Prime.)

But, despite how unprepared we were this year, despite all of the things we didn't do, Christmas still came. And it was as magical as ever.

Christmas in the South

Marshall wore his airplane jammies through a 4-AM Uber ride to SeaTac, 3 plane flights, a 5-hour unexpected layover in LAX, and a quiet car ride into rural Louisiana. 

Christmas in the South

And thanks to his exhausted parents who were too lazy to change him into picture-appropriate attire, he was still wearing them on Christmas morning when Santa delivered his new big boy bike. 

Christmas in the South

Marshall's cousin Sada schooled him in Candyland. She later schooled me in Disney trivia. And Uno. And How to Draw Fairy Princesses. 

Christmas in the South

We went to church on Sunday, where my sister-in-law played the organ, I played the piano, and Daniel and my niece Samantha sang. I was too busy drooling over my niece's beautiful lyric-soprano voice to take any pictures. How did she grow up so fast?

And then we did a lot of this...

Christmas in the South

And a lot of staring at this...

Christmas in the South

And a lot of staring at this...

Christmas in the South

 I'm missing Christmas in the South already.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Marshall speaks "Church"

When Marshall speaks "Church"....

Marshall speaks "Church"


The church we attend has place to light candles and say prayers. Marshall is really enchanted by this tradition and always wants to participate. Both Daniel and I grew up Methodist. In fact, I grew up tiny-church-in-the-country Methodist, which is almost its own religion. In short, we have no idea what to do with the candles really, but we want to support our little worshipper.

A couple of weeks ago, Daniel takes Marshall over to the candles and says, "Ok, Marshall, say your prayer."

Marshall, with his most solemn face, closes his eyes super hard and whispers, oh-so-seriously,

"My prayer."

Then he pauses dramatically and returns back to his seat.

This past week, I took Marshall over to the candles, where he says,

"Bless you to God."

Nods matter-of-factly. Exits stage right.



A few weeks ago there were three baptisms. The church choreographed it so that the children had a close-up view to check out all the action. Other than a little on-the-spot feet shuffling, Marshall was doing a pretty fair job of keeping quiet during the ceremony, which was rather lengthy for a four-year-old.

Until they broke out the holy water. Then it was all over.

"Woah! She's all wet!"

"And he's wet too!"

"Look at that baby---he's SOOOO cute!"

You would have thought we were at a Seahawks game the way he hollered.



Kneeling at the altar for Communion, the priest hands Marshall a nice piece of bread.

Priest: "The bread of life."
Marshall: "Thank you."
Priest: "You're welcome."
Marshall: Starts to chew. Then very loudly: "Hmmmm mmmmm."


Priest: "I'll give your compliments to the baker."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December raves & faves

Can we pretend that the last one of these was not August? I think...

And while we're at it, can we pretend that I wrote regularly all through that crazy MBA first quarter? I had big dreams of keeping up with all my hobbies, exercising regularly, etc, etc, etc. And then came Finance...

But I digress.

Here's what's entertaining the Thompsons right now:

Afterlight | I was a big Snapseed fan until Grace Patton over at Camp Patton talked about Afterlight. I find it easier to manipulate photos, and the filters are excellent. Check out the tutorial on Camp Patton here.

This Sugar Cookie Recipe | I let the dough cool in the frig overnight, and it was just right for holiday-cookie making the next day. It also makes 5 dozen cookies. We are not complaining.

December raves & faves

Richard Scarry Books | One of Daniel's favorite colleagues, and his former boss's boss's boss, gave us a bunch of toys during a recent toy purge at her house. Marshall is now infatuated with the Richard Scarry books. Daniel and I remember reading these when we were growing up, so it's fun for us to revisit them too.

Once Upon a Time | Confession: I have been binge-watching this show since I finished my last final. I have to endure Daniel's endless teasing about this one, but I find the plot addictive. Is anyone else hooked? (No pun intended. Really.)

Trader Joe's Advent Calendars | Trader Joe's has 99-cent advent calendars with a chocolate for each day until Christmas. I try not to think about what's in that chocolate to make 25 pieces + the cardboard less than $1.

So far I've been very successful.

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will take you to Amazon, and if you choose to purchase items, I will receive a small (very small) amount of commission on your purchase. The price is exactly the same for you.
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