Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Few Good Books: October

Hellooooooo!  I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy again to share a few good books I’ve read in the last month or so.  This month is actually pretty stacked!  I’ve read eight books and six of them were share-worthy (and the other two probably would have been if it had been a different month)!  Yea for good books!

Here’s my two cents:

The Girls by Emma Cline
This was the book everyone was talking about this summer.  It’s a fictional story about a young girl in the sixties and her experience with a Charles Manson like cult.  I’d been warned by more than one person that the content matter was a little R rated.  I think maybe I’d been over-warned so that it was worse in my imagination.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but others might, so be aware.  Otherwise I thought it was a really intriguing story (which made me more interested in the real case that inspired it) and an overall good read.

Eligible by Curtis Sittinfeld
This modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice came out this summer with a bit of fanfare.  I’ll admit that I’m not actually a huge Jane Austen fan (I know, I know, terrible).  But I LOVED this retelling.  It takes place in Cincinnati, involved a “Bachelor-esque” reality show and the Lizzy and Darcy of this story are just as endearing and delightful as Austen’s.  I loved this so much I sent it to a friend for her birthday.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I had been looking forward to this book for years, from when I first heard Glennon was writing a memoir about her marriage- the falling apart of it and the putting back together.  Melton is a writer I follow on social media and through her blog so I was interested in the full story behind the bits she’d shared in the past few years.  Plus, she’s one of my favorite teachers and so her wisdom on the topic of marriage seemed like a home run.  I was nervous when I found out, shortly before the book’s release, that her marriage had ended and she and Craig were separating.  I wondered if it would make whatever she shared in the book seem false, or not quite truthful.  Once I read the book though, the outcome of her marriage, a year or so after she finished writing, wasn’t actually relevant.  Melton goes there in this book- she’s more honest than she’s ever been- and this is a book about marriage and intimacy, porn, addiction and what happens when two really unhealthy people get married and then really deal with their unhealthiness.  I’m still thinking about this one and will be for quite a while.  It’s a book about marriage, but it’s really a book about what happens when you really and truly face your deepest junk and save yourself from it.  (Also, this is an Oprah book club pick, so it will be everywhere)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This needs to be required reading friends.  Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and works with people on death row.  This book is about a case Bryan worked with early on in his career, a man who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and subsequently placed on death row.  The injustice in this case caused my blood to boil and more than once I wondered how Bryan managed to keep his cool and continue to fight against what seemed like bold and outright injustice.  In between chapters on this case Bryan shares different aspects of injustice in our prison systems.  The section on mandatory life sentences for minors will have you outraged.  I can’t recommend it enough.  The writing is beautiful, Stevenson is so descriptive I kept thinking, this needs to be a screen play, someone has to turn this into a movie.  (Someone is and Michael B. Jordan is playing Stevenson.  Score.)

Very Married by Katherine Willis Pershey
I wasn’t trying to read a lot of books on marriage, it just sort of happened.  I’d heard some buzz about this book for a while now.  Pershey was on my radar as she’s a pastor of a church in the same town I once worked (in a church).  If Melton’s book is about the individual work that happens within a marriage, Pershey’s is much more a celebration about the work of togetherness that happens there.  I loved this memoir, deeply appreciated Pershey’s honestly and her voice.  I want very much to read more from her.

Honorable mentions this month: The Forgetting Time, Landline, and The Silkworm.  All were great, but this post has gotten too long for recaps of everything :).  I'm in the middle of the third book in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil and I've got Hatching Twitter on deck.  What are you reading??

Friday, October 7, 2016

Lessons in Autumn

I wrote this essay two years ago now, the first fall after my dad's death.  For a variety of reasons I never published it.  Each year, as the season start to to change I think back on this essay and the little scraps of hope that came with it.  Today I noticed for the first time that the leaves on the parkway of our street were starting to turn yellow and red and I thought now might be the right time to share a lesson I learned a few years ago.  

I’m not a fall person.  I’m a summer girl.  I love everything about it.  The flip flops, the sundresses, the warmth, the sun, the general happiness in the air.  If I could live in summer year round I would do in a heart beat.  I don’t really get people who need seasons.  I’d be perfectly happy in San Diego.  Except that all my people are in the Midwest.

And in the Midwest we have fall.  And people here love fall for some reason.  I don’t get it, but without fail the Tuesday after Labor day brings out The Autumns.  The Autumns love fall, love Pumpkin Spice Lattes and boots, and most of all love reveling in the end of summer because it means fall is coming. 

And I don’t get it.

Once at a dinner party one of The Autumns started on about his excitement for fall and I kind of lost it.  “How can you like fall????  Fall is death.  Everyone goes on and on about how beautiful fall is but all those leaves are changing colors because they are dying!  Fall is just one slow death!” 

Later, he confessed to me that all fall he couldn’t look at the beautiful trees without thinking about death.

I felt kind of bad about that one.  I mean, I pretty much ruined an entire season for him.  It was not my finest moment.

This year, on this side of death, I anticipated feeling extra scroogey towards fall.  I’ve lived in the thick of winter for close to a year now and I didn’t need all those leaves changing color and reminding me of dying.  I have enough reminders.

But something funny happened this year.  I don’t know if it was because we had a particularly beautiful fall, or if it was precisely because I am on this side of death, having experienced it so intimately this year, but I found myself marveling at the beauty of fall these past few months.  I couldn’t help myself.  I’d be out walking with the kids and a tree would literally take my breath away.  Drives around town were fraught with  beautiful colors and trees in full bloom.  

I felt guilty at first.  I tried to shove down this acknowledgement of fall’s beauty.  But it kept coming.  I couldn’t stop marveling.   There was something about those beautiful trees.  It was like death wasn’t going down without a fight.  Yes, the leaves were dying and falling away, but they were going to die beautifully, damnit.  They weren’t going quietly.  They weren’t about to leave without bringing a final bit of beauty into the world.

Which of course made me think of my dad’s death.  When I looked, I saw the beauty in it.  His death was traumatic and shocking and so very painful.  But there was beauty, damnit.  There was beauty in the community of people who showed up and loved us immediately after his death and continued to care for us throughout this year.  There was beauty in the way it knit us closer.  And there was so much beauty in the tributes made to my dad.  For weeks after his death people told his stories, the stories of his beautiful life, the things that they loved about him and the ways that he had lived a good story.  It was death that wasn’t going down without a fight.  The beauty of his life wasn’t going away untold. 

And it’s in our love for him.  Our love for him and the ways we carry him with us and try to keep him alive bears witness to this notion of death not going down without a fight.  We speak his name and tell his stories so that in his death, his life still blooms boldly.  His legacy and his love is so deeply embedded in our hearts that he will not die quietly.  There is beauty and color in remembering him and what was so wonderful about his life.

And so maybe I’m changing my mind about fall.  Maybe I’m finding some beauty in the dying.  Or rather I respect the beauty in the dying.  We all die right?  But our legacies, our life’s work.  That’s not going down without a fight, without a final bloom of beautiful.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Great Closet Clean Out

A few weeks ago after the kids were all in bed my friend Charity came over to help me with a project.  My wardrobe needed a complete, top to bottom rehab. 

Since I got pregnant with Lou in August of 2013 my body has gone through the ringer.  It’s been three years straight of growing with pregnancy, shrinking much more slowly than I’d like, growing again and shrinking again (even more slowly, of course).  All while breastfeeding, the needs of which do not lend themselves to all clothes equally.  For the last three years I’ve worn whatever was comfortable, whatever fit in my in-between sizing states, and whatever allowed me to whip a boob out at a moment’s notice.  This mostly looked like wearing yoga leggings and oversized tops.

I’m pretty much done with breastfeeding and I’ve come to terms with the fact that as much “baby weight” that’s going to come off post Rory has departed; this is my body now.  As I mentioned before, my closet was a weird combination of clothes I wish would fit me, clothes I bought right after I had babies that were weird fitting, and clothes that I never wear because I don’t know how or what to wear them with.  I’m tired of feeling frumpy at school pick up, tired of wearing stained, hole-y clothes because nothing else fits and this is the only white tee shirt I have left.  So it was time to go through each article of clothing and make a decision: keep or toss.  

Prior to Charity’s arrival I’d spent a few days pre-purging.  I got rid of everything that I was stained or had holes and the things that I knew just really didn’t fit/look good. By the time she arrived that evening I was ready to blow up my whole closet and start from scratch, so I was surprised with how much I ended up keeping when it was all said and done.  But of course that is the genius of my friend Charity-she has a keen eye for how to wear things and the most encouraging spirit in the world.  

Here are the things I learned in The Great Closet Clean Out:

Often just adding a different shoe changed a whole outfit from tosser to keeper.  
There were so many things I assumed would end up in the “donate” pile that wound up in my closet purely because of the shoes Charity told me to try them with.  I have a pair of loose, printed summery pants I didn’t wear all summer.  Charity paired them with my wedge booties and they will now live to see the fall.  The fall!  These were unflattering summer pants only in my mind and suddenly with a heel they are chic and awesome printed pants that will be making an appearance all fall.  I had a pair of old pumas that I was certain were on their way out that are now going to be worn with a number of different outfits in coming weeks.  I don’t think much about shoes when I buy clothes or plan outfits but this experience taught me that shoes can make our break an outfit.

You need good basics. 
We discovered in The Great Closet Clean Out that I was long on funky or “interesting” pieces but very short on basics which was preventing me from wearing all those interesting pieces.  This is ironic because I told Charity when she arrived that I’d been living in the suburbs for too long and my wardrobe was boring.  Back in my NYC days I’d been a little bolder when it came to wearing clothes.  Everyone was a walking canvas in New York when it came to fashion-you would stick out if you didn’t try a few funky pieces from time to time.  I missed wearing clothes that were a little unique.  I felt like I was wearing the same combination of yoga pants and cotton tops, and everything else in my closet was unwearable or weird.  Charity helped me realize I had all the unique pieces, but they needed some basics to make them wearable.

It’s ok to hang on to clothes for sentimental reasons.
There were a few pieces in my closet that carried a story.  The green skirt I bought at a flea market the summer I worked in NYC during college and was wearing when Tommy knew he wanted to date me, a white skirt with embroidered flowers I purchased in Ireland during my study abroad year, a pair of pants Tommy had bought me when we were first dating.  Some of these things had been ill-fitting over the years, or wavered between fashionable or not, but I held on to them because they carried a beloved story.  I was pretty sure my time with Charity was going to be the push I needed to finally say good-bye, but instead she was a champion in encouraging me to put them in the keep pile.  She helped me find ways to wear some of them, convincing me that the clothes looked good and not, as some of them were, almost 12 years old.  She championed the notion that clothing with history is important.  Since then I’ve worn an orange skirt with beautiful embroidered flowers and delicate beadwork twice, each time remembering my favorite little boutique in New York and my early days dating Tommy.  And I put aside a few pieces that no longer fit great to hand down to the girls.  Maybe someday they’ll love the blue, velvety flair pants that their dad picked out when we were first dating.  Or maybe I’ll just love telling the story.   Either way I’m thankful she persuaded me to save a few pieces for sentimental reasons and helped me freshen them up.

Be ruthless about what comes and goes
I had to get real strict when it came to getting rid of stuff.  My favorite shirt with the hole?  Time to say good bye.  Those pants I spent too much on, but look terrible on me?  Sorry you’re gone.  Anything that fits weird? Out.  I’m learning that I’m super picky about how clothes feel on my body.  If I find myself thinking about my clothes all day, adjusting them or pulling on them because I can feel them on me I’m less likely to wear them again.  I got rid of a lot of great clothes that weren’t great for me.  And from now on I’m going to be equally ruthless about what I buy.  No more shopping online at stores that are difficult to make returns.  No more clothes that I only sorta like but bought because they were cheap.  I want to build my wardrobe with good quality necessities from now on.  

It’s not just about getting dressed to get dressed.
Thanks to the great closet clean out I’m excited about getting dressed again.  There’s a creative element to it for me and I really do feel more confident when I walk out the door.  I’m learning that it’s not shallow to care about what you wear because it really does do something inside of you.  I have a different energy and a different “I got this” attitude.  I don’t know why exactly, but I know that by clearing out all the things I owned that didn’t make me feel confident to wear and reworking what was left, getting dressed is easier in the morning and I feel better all day.  

And lastly…. At the end of the day, who cares?  Just try something bold

I bought overalls.  Yeah I did.  I have long loved overalls and when they started coming back around in the last few years I wanted desperately to try them out again.  I found a pair for $12 at Von Maur that actually looked cute on me and I knew I had to try it.  For $12 I could take that fashion risk.  And friends I love them.  It makes an average Friday chasing around my kids so much more fun.  What’s fashion risk are you secretly dying to try?  Just do it.  I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Parenting for the Long Game

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting for the long game lately.  I have a few friends with boys who turned 5 this summer.  All of them chose to wait until next year to send their boys to kindergarten.  I was chatting with one of my friends, marveling about how articulate her son was, how well he was writing his letters.  I asked if she thought about sending him straight to first grade if he did really well in pre-K.

“Ugh,” she replied. “It’s so hard.  I’m not worried about his readiness for school this year.  It’s in a few years, when he’s eight and the work gets harder, or middle school when he’s not as developed as the other kids, and high school when he’s seventeen and trying to decide on colleges, or even going to college when he’s still seventeen.  In the short term he’d probably be fine, but I’m trying to make this decision with the long game in mind.”

I was so struck by the wisdom of that.  Because the short game- start school now!- is pretty tempting.  Who doesn’t want to get their kids in kindergarten?  But to think about the effects of this decision twelve years from now?  That’s not necessarily something I do every day.  I’m not saying all kids with August birthdays should be kept back a year; every kid is different and every parent’s decision is personal.  I was more struck by the long term thinking involved in her decision, the fact that she was thinking about the long game.

I wonder what other decisions I am making now that have long term consequences I’m not considering?  Or what things I need to deal with now so that they aren’t bigger problems later?  I’ve long maintained that when it comes to parenting I can pay now, or I can pay later and the cost is usually greater further down the road.  The older kids get the more set in their ways and issues in general are easiest when I deal with them early on.

So much of parenting has more to do with the long game than the short.  It’s tempting to do what is easiest for the short what makes things better in the moment.  And somedays all you can do is think in terms of the short game- the long run can get overwhelming when you just want to survive the moment without murdering anyone.

But I’m trying to parent more with the long game in mind.  I’m thinking about what values I want to instill in my kids now that will come in handy later.  What character traits do I hope they have when they are fifteen?  What temperament things are going to be important when they are driving or making crucial life decisions?  What decisions do I need to make with my eye on life ten years from now?  

It’s just something to keep in the back of my mind, an awareness of what’s down the road, how my decisions will play out for my tween and teen-aged kids.  I’m paying attention to my friend’s wisdom about the long game and our kids.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Place of her Own.

My little Lou started school a few weeks ago.  She’s in the same 2’s class Ryann attended, with the same sweet teacher whose gentle, loving presence makes me want to go right back to pre-school.  When Ry started pre-school she was more than ready.  She was super verbal, incredibly social and had watched her brother get on the bus to go to school for over a year.  School felt like the next right thing for her.  And it was.  With Lou I was a little less certain.  I wasn’t sure if we were doing it because that’s what Ry did or because it’s what Lou wanted and needed.

Don’t get me wrong, Lou wanted to go to school.  Her whole life right now is spent following Liam and Ryann, desperate to do what the big kids are doing.  To wear a backpack and attend that mystery place she’s watched them go is all she wants in the world.  But I recognize that she’s different from her sister.  She’s less verbal and more attached to me than Ry was at that age.  She keeps close, physically and emotionally.  There was a small part of me that was worried I was sending her to school because I needed the break more than her.

At her school the first day is only an hour and parents attend with the kids the whole time.  There is a time for boys to come with parents and then girls.  It’s a safe way to introduce the kids to the classrooms and teachers in a lower key setting.  She had been devastated to watch her older sister go to school the day before without her and so when it was her time to leave she was all joy and no fear.  She’d picked out her dress the day before and couldn’t wait to use her backpack.

We walked to school together, holding hands, her little red fox backpack almost as big as her.  She entered the classroom with a bit of timidity, taking it all in, watching the kids and scoping out the room.  Eventually she made a beeline for the toys.  Her class only has 5 girls, one of whom was out of town, so it was a quiet, calm atmosphere.  I laughed as she found a toy phone and proceeded to carry it around with her as she checked out the other toy options; her sister had done the same thing when she first attended that class. 

For most of the hour the kids were invited to just play, to check out the toys, to get their bearings in this little room.  I tried to give Lou some space of her own.  I watched her, struck by how different she seemed.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but she had a different way about her.  And then it hit me.  She wasn’t shadowing her big sister.  For the first time she had a place where she got to decide what to do and what games to play.  She didn’t have that model to look to.  And far from seeming uncertain about it my girl dove right in.  In some ways I wondered if I was witnessing her discovering some bits of herself for the first time.  

Soon it was time to go and the big test would come in two days when she attended all by herself for two and a half hours.  I dropped her off that Friday, a little nervous.  I had volunteered to help wash kids hands when they arrived so I was staying for a bit longer.  She would poke her head back into the bathroom from time to time, checking to make sure I was still there, but when I left there was little fanfare.  I got a quick hug before she rushed off.

When I picked her up, those two and a half hours flying by, I waited patiently with the swarms of moms and dads all waiting to retrieve their kids.  She was one of the first kids to come out, her eyes scanning the crowd until they landed on me.  I threw my arms up in a cheerful greeting and she ran to me, her whole face lit up.  Jumping in my arms, Lou gave me the biggest, most delicious squeeze around my neck, saying, “I missed you mama, I missed you!”  It was the kind of hug I want to remember when she’s a surly teenager slamming doors and screaming “You’re the worst!”  She seemed energized, proud of herself even and I wondered if it was because she’d just spent the last two and a half hours existing on her own, outside of her siblings, in a place that was all hers.  

I’m excited for this year, for this place where she can figure out who she is away from Ryann and Liam and Rory.  She’s sandwiched in there, a middle child in the greatest way and this is her time to shine a bit, to follow her own lead and design her own fun.  It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch and I’m looking forward to those squeeze hugs at pick up.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Messy Middle

I read a story recently about Rob Reiner’s son.  Rob Reiner is a pretty famous director.  He’s the guy behind When Harry Met Sally and The Princess Bride (and he made one of my favorite cameos on 30 Rock).  His newest movie, Being Charlie, was co-written by his son, Nick, and is loosely based on Nick’s 17 stints in rehab (all before he’d turned 20).

Nick’s first stint in rehab occurred when he was 15.  The years that followed included addiction, homelessness, rock bottom.  Once he’d made it through recovery he wrote this film and now he and his father share this story with the world.  

I thought about this story and the Hollywood ending of it all.  Prodigal son gets clean, movie director father makes his movie, all the happy tears.  I wondered what film Rob would have made in the middle of it all.  When his son was still addicted and homeless and Rob was probably scared out of his mind and also unclear on exactly how it would all end.  When, for all Rob knew, the story could end tragically with an overdose or arrest.

So often we share our stories once they’ve ended.  After we’ve gotten perspective and clarity and we know how everything turns out.  There aren’t many stories written in the messy middle when we’re scared and confused and don’t know exactly what to say and can’t write with the hopeful optimism because we’re not sure if the story is going to turn out happily.

There is value in sharing our story once we’ve gotten perspective.  Hindsight is an important wisdom and I’ve learned so much in the past few years about how much time can heal and change a story.  And the hopeful optimist in me wants a story to end with something positive.  Even the saddest story should have redemption and hope.  That often only comes when we see it through, get to the end and then tell our tale.

But I’m finding myself drawn to the messy middle of people’s stories.  I’m impressed when people can share in the thick of things and offer up whatever wisdom they may have in the moment or share with great vulnerability that they have no idea what life looks like. The deepest intimacy I’ve found with friends has come when they’ve opened up about whatever is true and terrible or hard right there in the middle without worrying about wrapping things up with tidy, hopeful optimism.

There are a few big things in my life that I don’t quite know how to write about.  I’m in the middle of the story and I don’t have the ability to pull back with the perspective of time to wrap it up with a hopeful or positive ending.  For all I know right now this story could end terribly, or at least not how I hope it will.

This middle place in my own story has shown me that some stories stay in the middle a lot longer than we want them to.  I keep trying to rush to the end, to the conclusion, to the moment of clarity and understanding, but life keeps forcing me back, unable to honestly claim any sort of even nuanced wisdom or concrete understanding.  I’m still mucking through my story, untethered in many ways and with more questions than answers.

I’m tempted to fake it.  To claim the ending I hope to have and wrap it up with the wisdom and perspective I’d like to wind up with.  To rush ahead and skip this mucky, messed up middle, even if the results are inauthentic and forced.  But I can’t do that.  My need for honesty and truth, even in the depths of my being trump any desire for solid ground.

And so in the meantime I find myself quiet, unsure of how to talk about my story from this middle place.  If I share honestly about where I’m at right now it feels dark and a little hopeless.  But even more than that, I’m hesitant to speak the truth as I understand it now because that truth feels a little unformed, a sculpture still in process.  I know where it’s heading, but right now it doesn’t look anything like the final product I envision.  What is true at this point in the middle of my story may not still be true in the end and that is why I’m afraid to speak it all aloud.   

And yet, I’m finding myself wanting to speak from this middle place.  I want the freedom to tell my truth in this in between beginning and end spot even if that truth looks different at the conclusion.  At the same time I’m afraid to be held to who I was or what I came to believe in the middle.  I don’t want someone to be able to point to my words in the middle and say, “but what about that!  You said that and now you are saying this!”  

But isn’t that what we are supposed to do in life?  Grow and change and transform.  Shouldn’t we be someone different in the middle and why isn’t it ok to say this is what I am right now in this moment and then however many months later say this is who I am now?  Both are true.  

I want to hear more stories from the middle, from people fully admitting that they haven’t got an ounce of it figured out, if only so that I can get braver about sharing my own.  I want to be able to accept the offerings of the middle place wisdom, to hold them preciously but loosely, giving room for the offerings that come further down the road with time and perspective and wisdom.  I want to value the hard earned, albeit fluid, truth of this messy middle as important and necessary in its own right, even though it may be dark and a little hopeless and unwilling to be wrapped up with a bow.  I need to hear these stories because I need bravery to share my own.  I want to accept those middle place offerings of others so that I can accept my own, so that I can embrace or at least hold preciously the half truths I’ve come to understand and the unknown I’m still moving towards.  

I need others’ messy middles so I can make peace with my own.

What is a story you are still in the middle of?  What momentary truths are you discovering from this shaky, unreliable ground?  Can you speak with tentative hope what you wish to be?  And fear of what you hope will not but still could be?  The middle of our hard stories is confusing and dark and fraught with doubt and uncertainty.  But we don’t get to the end without first going through it.  Today I’m looking to respect and revere this middle place because it is necessary and who I am right in this moment is just as important as who I will be at the end of the story. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Things That are Saving my Life: September Edition

I’m back with a few things that are saving my life right now.  These are the small, and sometimes big things, that are making my life easier, better, or just a little more awesome.  I got this idea and phrasing from the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy who got it from author Barbara Brown Taylor in her memoir “Leaving Church.”  (Which I read this summer- super good!)  I share in the hopes that you may find a thing or two that could save your life too and also because focusing on a few things that are saving my life right now is good for my soul.

1.) Cleaning out my closet.

My friend Charity came over a few weeks ago to help me tackle my closet.  My closet is a weird combination of clothes I wish would fit me, clothes I bought right after I had babies that are weird fitting, and clothes that I never wear because I don’t know how or what to wear them with. Charity and I went through piece by piece deciding what could stay and what needed to go. I’m going to write a whole other post on what I learned cleaning out my closet, but suffice to say that for now, my closet only contains things I’m actually excited to wear and I have a relatively small list of things I need to buy to “complete” my wardrobe (mostly staples so that I can wear all those items I’m so excited about).  And it’s saving my life.

2.) My Avocado Breakfast

I have been eating the same thing for breakfast for months.  This is noteworthy because I typically never do the same thing everyday.  Monotony like that puts me in a rut faster than Lou says “you’re mean!” when we tell her no.  However, for some reason I can’t stop, won’t stop with this breakfast.  It’s so good.  And simple.  Toast an english muffin.  Spread avocado on each side (I’ll usually use half and avocado, so a quarter on each muffin half).  Grind some sea salt on top of that.  Then fry up two egg whites and put them on top of the avocado mash.  You could absolutely just do one egg (fried or scrambled or however you like) instead of the whites I just don’t care for egg yoke.  It’s the best thing ever and I’m not kidding when I say that I look forward to eating it every night when I’m drifting off to sleep.  If we’re out of eggs or avocados I’m super grumpy about it.  For a few weeks we had Dave’s Killer Bread (which we recently found at Costco- so good!) and I would use a slice of that instead of an english muffin…for variety.  Somedays I’ll add a piece of fruit to that, but either way it fills me up all the way to lunch.  It’s the best.

3.) Not Meal Planning

This was a thing that saved my life all summer, but I can already tell probably won’t be transitioning with me into the fall.  When it comes to meal planning my friends tease me because I rarely make the same recipe twice.  Sure, I have a small handful of staples that make their way through the rotation but mostly I have a file folder stuffed with torn out Cooking Light recipes to try and a million screen shots in my phone of things I’ve stumbled across online and every week I’m trying 2-3 new meals.  However this summer my beloved Cooking Light magazines piled up untouched and I rarely poked through my recipe screenshots.  This summer it was all about the staples, and we pretty much ate the same 7 or 8 meals all summer.  These were meals that I knew off the top of my head.  I could add the ingredients to my grocery list without having to look up a recipe.  It was a lot of tacos, and stir fries, grilled meats and veggies and this pasta/veggie/chicken sausage dish I pretty much made up.  Oh and this toasted cheese, tomato/pineapple/bacon on bread thing that my parents used to make us when I was a kid.  These were dishes that were simple and quick to prepare, which meant that if we wanted to stay a little longer at the pool I didn’t have to worry about getting home to make dinner.  For whatever reason the chaos of summer meant I didn’t have the extra energy to try new recipes each night and cooking all the things I know by heart saved my life.

Last night, however, I spent most of the night sorting through recipes, tossing the ones I never make and starting a fresh pile of “to trys” and this week my meal plan includes three new recipes, so I think my staples season may be over.  But man did it save my life while it lasted.