Actual Things: Werk + The Auto Professor

Hi friends! I know it’s been a while and I’m sorry about that. About a month ago I got the opportunity to go back to work for the traffic engineering firm I worked for when I had Avery and it’s been a bumpy yet rewarding adventure for my new life as a non-preschooler Mommy while my girls are in school all day.

Actual things that have happened since I came back to a professional office environment:

  1. I came in one morning, put my lunch into the work fridge, then pointed my car keys at it and hit the lock button.
  2. Had it gently “brought to my attention” that someone anonymously complained to HR about the general volume and inflection of my normal speaking voice.
  3. Walked into the conference room mid-meeting, realized it was not the meeting I was supposed to be in, then silently pretended “getting an important email on my phone” so I could leave the room and go to my real meeting.
  4. Accidentally locked eyes with a coworker walking past my office while I was putting on deodorant. Then had to clarify that I was, in fact, putting on deodorant and didn’t just oddly have my hand halfway up my shirt.
  5. Tried to sit down in my office chair, but as I leaned into it the wheels started rolling backward resulting in a tricep dip position slow motion fall where I missed the edge and ended up on the floor under my desk.

Two of these five things literally happened today.

Speaking of traffic, I wanted to share with you guys a company I recently heard about called The Auto Professor, which gives car buyers safety ranking of their vehicles based on REAL-LIFE crash data. Obviously we want our loved ones to be as safe as possible, so check out TheAutoProfessor.com’s new Auto Grades® system. It allows people to search for vehicle safety grades not only by make, model, and year, but also by their age and gender.

Go look up your own car, it’s actually pretty fun and addictive!

 

 

 

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How Does She Do It: Brooke Yoder

*How Does She Do It is a recurring feature where I interview fabulous women I know.*

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Today I’m sharing a little bit about my friend Brooke Yoder. If her name sounds familiar it’s because her husband is a Congressman running for re-election. Many of you know I have a background in politics, which has afforded me a peek behind the curtain at what running for office is like for candidates’ families. Often they are judged harshly and unfairly. I actually met Brooke at the NFL 101 Awards about 7 years ago before her husband won Dennis Moore’s old seat. She instantly struck me as an elegant, timeless, independent woman with a quiet self-assurance that hints that she is always gracious by choice, but she notices everything. Over the years I’ve seen her at fundraisers, baby showers, and parties, and I think the Brooke I love the most is the one in her KU T-shirt holding a beer bottle and lighting up when she sees her friends walk into the room so she can embrace them in a big hug. So politics aside: if you’ve ever been curious what it’s like to be a Congressman’s wife, here’s a little background you might find interesting.

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EK: You’ve always had a lil Southern Belle vibe I love. Where are you from originally?

BY: I was born and raised in western Kentucky near a town called Morganfield, located in Union County. (Every place in rural Kentucky is known by its county.) I attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a degree in Agriculture.

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EK: How did you meet your hubby (Congressman) Kevin Yoder?

BY: Kevin and I met in Washington DC. He was a law clerk at the Pentagon and I was working in the US Senate.

EK: What are the best and worst things about being a campaign wife?

BY: Best is all of the interesting people you meet along the way. Our country is full of amazing people with great stories to tell. The worst is the judgment you receive from people who don’t know you. I also fear for my children as they are exposed to all of the negative attention.

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EK: Yes. I think the mom thing would be the hardest part. Speaking of that, I hate to sound sexist because people never ask men this, but you’re a hot mom, so I’m curious, how do you stay in shape/practice self care?

BY (laughing): I have NEVER been called that. I wish I could say I worked out and ate the way I should. I do the best I can. I eat lots of vegetables and clean protein. I do enjoy working out, especially spinning and yoga, but I never make the time for it anymore.

EK: Who’s your favorite character from Scandal?

BY: ALL OF THEM! I am obsessed with this show right now. I just started watching it this summer as a recommendation for something to keep my mind off the campaign. The show is completely unrealistic, but I love every second of it. Is it just me or does every Shonda Rhimes show make you want to drink wine?

EK: How have you JUST NOW STARTED SCANDAL?? *remembers you’re way busier than me, then changes subject before launching into ode to Kerry Washington and accidentally telling a million spoilers while contemplating pouring a glass of red wine. PS Crate and Barrel has Olivia Pope wine glasses and they are on sale right now.*  Do you want your daughters to go into public service someday?

BY: Sure. I want my girls to be gracious and care about their community. Public service can take many forms so whatever path they choose, I want them to take pride in making the world a better place.

EK: Do you ever have moments where you feel like people define you by your husband’s job? As an accomplished woman in your own right, how does this make you feel?

BY: I came to terms with my husband’s success years ago, but when we were first married, I would get jealous when people didn’t recognize my success. It took me a lot of time to figure out that his successes are mine as well and our marriage isn’t a competition. Also, my husband is the most supportive partner anyone could ask for, so I am pretty lucky.

EK: Favorite mom/life-hack?

BY: Red lipstick when you feel crappy!

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EK: Yesss. Mine is extra eyeliner, but same principle. Most comfortable pumps you own?

BY: For me, you cannot beat LK Bennett! I can wear those all day every day. And I do most days right now.

EK: *Immediately googles LK Bennett. Drools over Fern Grey Glitter Closed Courts.* What are you most proud of about yourself?

BY: I am the first person in my family to go to college. The law degree I earned from the University of Kansas is one of my proudest achievements. At the risk of sounding completely cheesy, I’m proud of the parents Kevin and I are. I never knew how incredibly difficult and rewarding parenting can be. On the days you “get it right” there is no better feeling in the world.

EK: Even though you’re name isn’t on the ballot, you have an integral role and unique position to influence politics in our state and country at a time where a lot of us feel like we are walking on eggshells. Do you have any aspirations to have “Brooke Yoder” on the ballot? 

BY: There is 0% chance I would ever run for office. I admire the women who do run, but that isn’t me.

EK: Ending on a light note, what’s a little tidbit people wouldn’t expect about you and Kevin? 

BY: Kevin and I are total nerds and we geek out over the silliest things. One of our favorite date night is to sitting at a bar during March madness, eating wings and competing at Trivia. (I’m better, but he’s funnier.) Actually what attracted to me about him in the first place is how smart his sense of humor is. What’s not to love!

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Of Pie and Bravery

Thankful For Pie

I remember my first crush in Kindergarten. I also remember the first and last names of each boy I had crush on in subsequent grades up until middle school when I had THE BIG crush on one boy for like four years. He was the Winnie Cooper of my Wonder Years. I’ve had countless crushes in my life, most of whom never even knew. I suppose that is the gift of the combination of a big imagination and intermittent shots of anxiety to keep you practical.

I know some parents balk at the idea of little grade schoolers having crushes, raising eyebrows and saying how they are way too young for that, etc. But to these parents I ask, do you show your kids Disney movies? Do they relate to the main characters? Because if so, you probably introduced them to the concept of romance a long time ago and it’s really not cool to make them feel ashamed about it now.

I digress…

One of my littles has had a big crush on a boy in her class for a year and a half. Being pragmatic, she’s discussed at length with me and her sister the pros and cons of letting him know. I listen and nod and it always ends in the mutual conclusion that when considering matters of the heart it’s best to ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?” We’ve been through many scenarios: he doesn’t like you, he laughs at you, he makes fun of you, he tells everyone, etc. And each time we talk about these outcomes it becomes clear that any of those responses would prove him to be unworthy of the crush, rendering said crush null and void.

So the other day after school, she joyfully confessed to me and her sister that she TOLD HIM. I said, “Tell me everything! What did he say? What did you say?” Apparently he said thank you and then confided in her who he has a crush on. Spoiler alert: it’s not her. As she was telling me this, I watched her watching me closely for a reaction; anything to nudge her towards a way to feel about it.

I said it’s pretty great that he respected and trusted her enough to tell her a secret of his own. I saw her consider it. I added I’d rather have a friend I can trust than a crush because crushes come and go. She decided to agree.

Later she regaled our extended family about the whole thing, adding proudly, “I actually told him. So I’m braver than one thousand boys.” She knew she couldn’t control the outcome, but she could control the action. Proud momming moment.

Cut to the other night at bedtime cuddles, she gave a little sigh and said, “I don’t think any boys in my class have a crush on me.”

Mind you, I was exhausted, drifting off to sleep myself and vaguely heard myself mumble, “Babe, boys having crushes on you is like unexpected pie. It’s nice when one just shows up, but it doesn’t make sense to miss it when it’s not there. If you’re always thinking about unexpected pie you’ll always be disappointed.” This is about when I stopped myself from going on along the lines of “pie comes and goes but friendship is forever, there’s plenty of pie in the sea, a pie in the face is worth two in the…” nevermind, you get it. Thankfully we both fell asleep.

The point is, my little girl reminded me that bravery leads to truth, and sometimes the truth isn’t what you hoped. Sometimes you think how lucky you are to get an unexpected pie, but it turns out to be rhubarb and you re-evaluate the whole pie thing in general.

You can’t control the outcome of your life, only your actions.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Jack Handey quotes from when I was a kid, which has turned out to be oddly poignant at this point in my life:

Jack Handey On Pie

Holding It Together: Getting Your Head Straight Without A Head Injury (Preferably)

Yesterday I had six staples removed from the back of my head. (I am going to spare you the gross “before” pictures but let me just say, getting them pried out was no picnic either.)

About a week and a half ago, I was scooting a chair out when I fell backwards onto my neighbors’ stone tile floor. Being one half of a military couple, my neighbor quickly got a first aid kit, applied pressure while keeping me calm, and then determined we’d better call an ambulance. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how bad you look until you see someone else’s expression when they see you? It was like that. I was like, well if this American hero and combat veteran is spooked, then I’m probably screwed.

Turns out it was just a very bloody laceration. (Remind me to tell you about my idea for a CT scanner that releases confetti on the way out if you’re not facing immediate certain death.) Nothing broken, no concussion, and the best part, they didn’t even have to shave my head.
Side note: you know you care about your hair a little too much when you start telling friends you had to get staples in your head and more than two follow up with, *well thank GOD they didn’t do anything to your hair! *wipes tear* You guys just know me so well.

So without getting into too many boring details, this was just one of several things that occured simultaneously, making me feel like I was caught in some sort of blood-soaked porta potty hurricanado.

I recently had a bunch of upgrades done on my kitchen and master bathroom (which I am overdue to share with you, I know, but I digress.) My tile guy has basically become a roommate over the last few months. He’s a very kind, very spiritual man who talks a lot about Jesus and his faith. He constantly testifies and generously gives random words of encouragement, which if I’m being honest, makes my cynical heart squirm a little. But the other day as I bent over to unload the dishwasher, with the searing pain of six staples holding my head together and my life seemingly falling down around me, I was startled by a bald man in a sweat-soaked t-shirt bounding through my kitchen with a handful of tile and the biggest grin in the world, enthusiastically shouting, “HEY! YOU’RE WORTH IT!” before disappearing up the stairs and out of sight.

And while it’s never “fun” to feel like you’re being tested, it can still prove rewarding. Somehow through injury and the various other drama that ensued, I remembered a very important thing; I like myself. I am grateful to be here. I have many things left in this lacerated head of mine to say. And I shall.

So I will leave you with this lesson today: Be they staples in your skull, or an evangelical bursting through your door shouting unsolicited praise, sometimes the things in life that make you uncomfortable at first are ultimately what help you heal.

Alternate Titles:
I Need Another Bad Day Like A Hole In My Head
Heavy Metal
Staples Of The Cross
Jesus Shaves Saves
Floorthumping (I get knocked down, but I get up again)

KC Live: Getting in the Back-To-School Groove and That Time I Blanked Out for like Four Full Seconds on Live TV

Hi guys!

Hopefully you caught my segment! It was a fun one! You can watch it here:

 

Here are all the links you need for where to buy. For behind-the-scenes pictures check out my Instagram @MrsKansasMommy

Cheribundi 100% Tart Cherry Juice

Highlights Write On Wipe Off Books For Kids

mifold Grab and Go carseat

Mead Laminator

Hot Spots Pete The Cat Set

As  always, thank you for sharing and for tuning in!

 

KC Live: Pop Up Pinterest Worthy Spread for Busy Moms and Flower Arranging Tips for Beginners

How to make a pop-up, pinterest-worthy party spread

Catch my segment here for details on some fantastic products and a few tips:

TableVogue – Don’t we all agree I need to order one of these for my future segments?? Also how cute would these be for a neighborhood cookout or tailgate party? Very easy to wash and no ironing required, just toss in the dryer with a damp towel for 5 minutes. My kind of effortless elegance.

Buddeez Party Top Beverage Dispenser – This is a much more versatile option than most of the styles of drink dispensers you typically find, and half the cost. It’s got a streamlined design, practical features, and it’s light-weight and shatterproof without sacrificing the pretty wow factor.

So to me the funniest (and funnest) parts of getting to go on live tv are usually the circumstances leading up to it.

My family has been on a dream vacation  until yesterday (IG @MrsKansasMommy) but it left us all exhausted. Nothing is unpacked. I can’t find any of my hair appliances. This, for me, is a very big deal; I was the weirdo who brought hot rollers to college in the early 2000s at age 17 just so I could rock smooth, voluminous, over-teased curls for class everyday. You can imagine my horror at going on tv with a head full of flyaways like one of those white dandilions children make wishes on. All of my makeup is the complete wrong color for my burnt, crispy face. (Side note: does anyone know what makeup shade Kurt Russell wore in Captain Ron, because that’s what I needed this morning.) I was also without an assistant today so I had to carry everything myself, in new high heels killing off whatever nerve endings I have left in my toes after walking miles at disney and the beach. On the way out of the house I shattered one of my DIY china teacup candles all over the kitchen floor. Smooth move, ex lax. It was also white-hot under the studio lights, so as I was telling you about the elegance and simplicity of fresh flowers, I had beads of sweat pooling up on the back of my neck and cascading down my back onto my microphone which had to later be removed from my sweat-soaked bra by a crew member I have never met before. We’re having dinner tomorrow night.

Kidding! He declined.

As a spokesperson, part of my job is getting to tell you about new or award-winning products from various companies with which I have the honor of partnering. This is great because it allows me to kid/mom-test a lot of game-changing products, but it doesn’t often leave a lot of time for me to show you much of my personal hobbies. Today was so much fun because I got to show you something I’m really passionate about, which is easy entertaining, particularly, setting up a focal point and making custom flower arrangements. If you’d like to incorporate flowers into your decor here are my tips:

  1. Skip the florist, buy whatever is on sale at Trader Joe’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club. If you’re unsure where to begin, buy Hydrangea or Gladiolus. Stick with one color palette to give yourself more pairing options.
  2. If it’s more cost effective to buy a big bouquet full of different colors, when you get home, take the whole bouquet apart and separate them all into color families. Chic-micro arrangements all around the room are much more impactful than one thrown-together multi-colored bouquet.
  3. Choose vases that have a tighter bottleneck shape at the top. This will save you time and money because you don’t need as much filler and you won’t need to fuss with floral tape or rubber bands to keep the blooms nice and tight.
  4. When in doubt, add more greenery. Eucalyptus is one of my favorites. You can see a bunch of my floral arrangements HERE and many of them include eucalyptus, basil, and just plain old branches trimmed from various trees or shrubs in my yard. Don’t overthink it. Just don’t confuse dramatic with messy.
  5. When grouping your flowers and stems, use odd numbers. For some reason it just always turns out better.

I didn’t have time to tell you about my Farmer’s Market Appetizer Spread trick today, but I will try to incorporate it into a future segment or post, as it is so easy and saves so many dishes.

Thank you always to KC Live for having me!

Thank you for being here. I hope you all enjoyed the segment and getting to see a little bit more of my personal, creative outlet side.

If you have an easy party tip, please do share. Cheers to us and to no-fuss entertaining!

How many years are there?

The other morning my newly-turned-five-year-old and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos while the other half of our family went on a bike ride.

Savvy was singing the Days of the Week song, which is where you just start with Sunday and sing the days of the week to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Try it, it’s catchy.

Savvy: “I know how many days there are. Seven.”

Me: “That’s right!”

Savvy: “And ten months.”

Me: “Twelve.”

Savvy: “How many years?”

Me: “How many years in what?”

Savvy: “How many years are there?”

This stopped me, mid-chip. It’s such a logical follow up question for a child to ask, I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it before. It gave me a pang in my stomach as I answered, “no one really knows.”

She accepted that answer and we seem to be moving on, but I can’t stop thinking about it. How many years are there? People say “live each day like it’s your last” but to me this sounds as good as getting kicked in the gut everyday. Like, don’t put that kind of pressure on me, you kitschy Hobby Lobby farmhouse wall sign.

Life expectancy wise, I should still have over 50% left of my years to live, but I’ve never really been one to think into the future long term. I suppose that’s what allows me to live in the moment, especially because I’m someone who often finds myself looking back. I constantly tell my children, “don’t wish the time away.” I’m sentimental, nostalgic, and there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than sit with old friends talking about things that happened years and years ago. Many people find this tedious, but to me it’s comforting. There are things that will just always be funny to me, and retelling those incidents and inside jokes makes me laugh all over again, cementing them into the narrative of my life.

I recently watched the Nora Ephron documentary “Everything Is Copy” in which she says one of my favorite lines about life and death:

“It’s very important to eat your last meal before it actually comes up. When you are actually going to have your last meal, you either will be too sick to have it, or you aren’t gonna know it’s your last meal and you could squander it on something like a tuna melt.” – Nora Ephron

In the same way that my stories help explain who I am, I have always turned to songs to explain how I feel. I often play songs from my childhood for my own children. Some they love (Britney) and some they don’t (Tom Petty). But last week they heard the song Seasons of Love from Rent for the first time and they asked me to play it over and over again.

Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question.

How do you measure a year? How about love.

Seasons of Love

Kansas City Live: Fun outdoor activities for the whole family

This was a fun segment to do! I recruited my husband and neighbor for a morning game of HydraPong and I have to say, they stole the show.

This was my first time with the guest co-host Marty, and it cracks me up when I show him the Terra Spyglass and he says, “Wow, the colors!” which I assume was a joke because it’s a telescope not a kaleidoscope. Then Marty said my husband looked “shifty” in his sunglasses, which I had just given him for Father’s Day. Like, dude, I’m the one who gets to publicly critique my husband’s appearance. Also I’ve been legally advised to mention none of the toys I ever recommend to you are toxic.

There’s nothing better than a cringey live tv segment so I hope you enjoy my awkwardness and my shifty looking husband as much as I do 🙂

*Catch my next segment July 25th for summer entertainment hacks! Plus links to shop below.

Floatation IQ

Terra Kids Spy Glass by HABA

Terra Kids Running Hand Glider by HABA 

Educational Insights Bug Bright

Learning Resources Liquid Reactor Super Lab

Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Magnification Chamber

Thank you to all these fabulous companies for providing these summer must-haves!

Also check out my daughters playing with the Super Lab:

 

 

 

Actual Things: It’s the 90s

Mommy and Savvy Plaza Swan
Savvy (4) just came running upstairs from the playroom and said breathlessly: Mom! I have bad news. You know that Barbie from when you were a kid? We found her body.
Me *after taking a beat for dramatic emphasis: So you just burst into my office like this and blurt out that you found her body? No Kleenex? What if I had started hysterically crying from shock and grief?
Savvy *unfazed: Well are you mad?
Me *feigning reluctance: Well I don’t know…is there even a search underway?
Savvy *chewing gum: For the head?
Me: Her head.
Savvy *with the indifference of a DMV employee: Yeah, we can look. If we don’t find it we can put the old Ken doll head on her.
Me *resigned: I guess anything goes. It’s the 90s.
Savvy: Yeah, it’s the 90s.
 
She repeated “it’s the 90s” in solemn agreement, as if I had just said a universal thing people say like, “well that’s life.” Then she gave me a stern little nod, the way men acknowledge one another at the funeral of an elderly distant relative, and scampered off, leaving me mostly amused but slightly unsettled.
Now I’m wondering if she’s going to be on a date someday and the waiter will say,
“I’m sorry, Miss, but we’re out of the halibut, may I suggest the salmon?”
And she’ll shrug and say, “Sure, it’s the 90s.”
And her date will be like, “Wait, what?”
Her: “Y’know, it’s the 90s. Like, it’s whatever.”
Him: “That’s not a thing.”
For the record, “Hey, it’s the 90s” is a quote from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire which was released in the actual 1990s, and I do use it indiscriminately because I think it’s funny. But she doesn’t know that.
Oh well. When in Rome.

Don’t Leave A Message

This is going to be a short post. The reason I say so is less to set your expectations, and more as a note to myself because I have a lot to do.*

(*Post-post edit: Narrator’s voice: It was not going to be short.)

I went for a bike ride the other morning and as I was careening down a hill covered by a canopy of trees, listening to Dashboard Confessional (Hands Down) I had this really intense euphoria of the universe telling me, “You have literally no idea what is going to happen to you! Isn’t that so exciting???” And I instinctively didn’t trust my own thoughts, because usually the future is a mental montage of my own poorly-reenacted life story that begins with a narrator sternly saying, “She always carried an uneasy suspicion she would someday be murdered, but she never imagined it would be by someone so close to her…” Continue reading