Christmas Trees and Those Things

Two nights ago we, in typical Boudreaux fashion, did some super last minute Christmas tree shopping.

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My little fam and I found our perfect little tree and struck a pose. Bryn promptly took our directions to smile, but decided to aim that sweet grin at me instead of the camera. I love that it gives a perfect view of those crazy red curls.

We’re celebrating three Christmases this week, one with each side of my family and a Cajun Christmas with the Boudreauxs. Maybe it’s having a big family paired with my tendency to be easily thrilled by things like shiny lights, but I have always loved this time of year. Having a little person to share the joy with makes it all the more magical.

This whole month, and really year, has been one full of such magic.

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The above picture was taken at a lovely winery in Florence, Texas this past weekend. I look slightly like a twelve year old boy from the back, but I love it anyway.

The month has been one of wineries, and festivities and shiny lights and people that I love. The year has been full of self growth and progress. Baby steps and big steps too. You know those cheesy movies where they play an upbeat, motivational song in the background? And the protagonist, through mixed moments of frustration and happiness and laughter and tears and screaming at her computer (or is that one just me?) eventually realizes what they’re capable of and shit? It has been that kind of year for me.

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I’ll save the full annual review for later, but y’all, 2015 has been such a monumental point in my life. Speaking of monumental things, grades recently came back from my first semester of grad school. The verdict? A 4.0. I was practically walking on air when I found that one out. I felt confident about Critical Thinking, but my main goal was to just pass Quantitative Methods and Stats.

When I started my MBA, I feared failure. Many of the classes are math intensive, and I have told myself for years that I am no good at math. And you know what? I was lying to myself. And I was underestimating myself. I’m not doing those things anymore.

That feels like the best Christmas present I could possibly ask for this year.

(Soon To Be) Walking in Memphis

Tomorrow the husband and I leave on a belated anniversary trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

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 I’m so excited to make new memories and adventures with my favorite adult human being and travel buddy. And to eats lots of BBQ. And to explore Beale Street. AND ALL OF THE EXPLORING ETCETERAS!

In the meantime, here are some photos of the little lady that we’ll be missing for the next few days.

I might be a tiny bit biased, but I’m pretty sure she’s the cutest. She’s got a fiery, outgoing little personality and redheaded ringlets and a husky little voice to match. She’s confident and sassy and loves food and birds and dogs and talking to strangers and wearing shoes. She’s got a laugh that can melt a heart and this dance where she sticks one elbow up in the air and just gets DOWN. I feel incredibly lucky to have her for my own. And that daddy of hers too. I’m pretty giddy to start walking in Memphis with him tomorrow.

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Oh, and we were totally matching bumblebees for Halloween and it was THE BEST EVER.

Cheers, y’all

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Cheers to Oktoberfests and peanut butter stouts and capturing a photo at just the right moment.

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Cheers to wineries on rainy days and moonshine served in communion cups and restaurants with the word ‘bacon’ in them.

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Cheers to fitness classes in which you awkwardly flail your body around and laughter and friendship and being twenty-something.

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Cheers to starting various sentences off with, “My therapist said…..” and realizing what a typical mid-twenty-something that makes you, and being completely okay with that. Cheers to emotional growth and self-awareness and stuff.

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Cheers to chillin’ with MBA cohort classmates and strawberry shortcake ale and learning new things.

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Cheers to family selfies and kisses from a beautiful one-and-a half-year-old and planning a belated anniversary trip with your main man.

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Cheers to life, y’all.

Goals, Changes and L-o-v-e

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I recently took myself on a stand up paddleboard date. It was an ideal moment to reflect and to bask in the sunlight, my thoughts and the peacefulness of the lake. I noted feeling so content and joyful for the place I was at, both in that moment and in life in general. It was the perfect time to take a step back from the new hustle and bustle of my world.

  Being busy is no new thing for me. I’m a mom who works full-time and blogs for money, food or fun on the side. I try my best to keep up with my hobbies, volunteering and social life too. I didn’t have much free time before, and I like it that way. I’m sort of like a puppy or a five-year-old, so too much unstructured free time makes me antsy. Still, I now look at my old self with just a smidge of envy for the bit of free time I once had the chance to waste. But that time I don’t have to waste now? I’m using it in ways that make me the happiest. Though I did have to bargain with myself to write this blog post. If I can get to page five of my rough draft, THEN I can have the privilege of writing a blog.

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I started my MBA program in August, y’all. That’s still a little surreal to type, and it still makes me giddy too.

I realized all at once about a year ago that I missed academically learning, that I missed the feel of sitting in a classroom with fellow students, that I wanted to further my education and that I was missing my alma mater and the beautiful campus on which it resides.

The fact that I’ve started taking on social media clients and that I could thus benefit from deepening my knowledge of the business world only pushed me more to apply for my MBA at Concordia.

And here I am.

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Sitting in a classroom for four hours every Tuesday evening. Sitting with a glass of wine and homework for hours most nights. Having a love hate relationship with stats. Finding things like covariance and the standard deviation of a probability, something that would have sounded like a foreign language to me three months ago and now only sounds like someone trying to speak English to me underwater. I’m getting there. Writing a research paper for Critical Thinking. Cracking jokes and planning happy hours with my already beloved cohort, or as our advisor would put it, “Your family for the next two years.” And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Six years ago I had serious doubts about ever getting my bachelor’s degree. So it feels really, really great to be here right now.

Know what else happened six years ago?

I got hitched to my favorite guy in the world.

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I look at this picture and my first inclination is to say that not much has changed. But that wouldn’t be true.

So much has changed since that picture was taken six years ago.

 We have a home. We’ve made a family. We both have careers that we love. We’ve traveled the world together. I’m a college grad working on my master’s. I know who I am now and I’m beginning to understand what I want too. Robby is the best daddy to our little redhead, and coming home to those two makes my heart overflow with the purest kind of glee. We’ve grown up, we’ve grown older and we’ve done it together. Hand in hand, we’ve built a beautiful life that we can call ours. We’ve worked really hard at it, and every year our love has grown stronger and deeper because of it.

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But what hasn’t changed one bit?

He still makes me laugh, every single day.

Travels Of Summer 2015

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What a joyride summer 2015 has been.

There were wineries in Virginia, beaching the day away in Delaware, and dancing until the wee hours with my best friend in Baltimore. There were bottomless mimosas and Sam Hunt in Louisiana and a cabin and waterfalls for a family retreat in Oklahoma. I’ve brunched in Cleveland, Ohio and made quick pit stops in New York and Pennsylvania. My goal for the year was to visit four new-to-me states, but, by August, Ohio made it five. Road-tripping through states to get to Canada also helped me accomplish the goal of visiting a new-to-me country for 2015.

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Speaking of Canada, Niagara Falls was a majestic and mesmerizing addition to my list of travels.

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This included gorgeous wineries galore and taking a cable car across the Niagara River. And a wagon ride into a maple forest to create maple candy on a stick. And exploring enchanting old town Niagara-on-the-Lake and, of course, being completely enamored by the Falls. Taking two drives to see them both in day and nighttime still wasn’t quite enough time to take in such beauty. I absolutely loved experiencing all of said beauty with my fellow adventurer Shannon.

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Also fun was staying up until after 2 am with my AirB&B host as he made me numerous martinis and we giggled and chatted about boys and love and life. The sweet review he later left me made my heart happy. Always one of my favorite things about traveling is the wonderful people I meet and bond with along the way.

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Following Canada was a mini road-trip to Houston to attend my first Taylor Swift concert. I sometimes wonder how teenagers survived their angst before T-Swift. It was 2007 and I was a senior in high school when one of her first singles, “Teardrops on my Guitar” was released. At the time, I had a case of puppy love on my best dude friend, who was in a relationship. The words to Teardrops just got me, besides the small fact that I didn’t have a guitar to cry on. I still remember the country ballad coming on the radio as he and I were driving somewhere. “I love this song.” I said, my words full of deep, dramatic teenage meaning. When the tune ended, best dude friend, always oblivious, commented, “Yeah, that was pretty good.” Nearly nine years later, Bryant and I are still best pals and still occasionally joke about him missing my Swiftie signals. Tim McGraw and its album accompaniments were the soundtrack to my last year of high school. She has gotten me through many a moment since then with those seemingly mind reading lyrics.

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So seeing Swift perform live with two of my cousins, who can also vouch that she just somehow KNOWS our whole life stories, was a small dream come true. We belted out “Wildest Dreams” on the drive there, whole-heartedly sang along to “Mean”, and danced our asses off to the encore of “Shake it Off.” We held hands and may have even gotten a little teary-eyed – don’t judge, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW – at an especially moving Swift speech. They were words that I would have loved to tell my twenty-year old self, and they were exactly what my cousin needed to hear on that very evening. So we squeezed our Meagan a little tighter in those moments. Taylor was awesome, but family bonding time is just the very best.

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The summer ended perfectly with a beach trip to Port Aransas with my side of the fam.

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This trip included smores, sunset kisses, sunbathing on our own private beach and Bryn’s first time to dig her toes in the sand. Also included was drinking coffee with balcony views of the ocean, family barbeques, getting tipsy off of sake bombs with the hubs and making sand castles with all three of my little siblings. I’m smiling at the memories as I type.

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Simply put, the past few months have been beautiful and I’m still basking in the excitement and joy of a whirlwind of adventures. Hands down, the best part is all of the people who I get to share such happiness with.

I think I’ll have a lifelong crush on summer 2015.

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“I’m going to tell you right now the things you actually are not. You are not the opinion of somebody who doesn’t know you. You are not ‘damaged goods’ just because you’ve made mistakes in your life. You are not going nowhere just because you haven’t gotten where you want to go yet. Those are the things you actually are not. Now I’m going to tell what you are. You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile. That’s what you are.” – T-Swift

Medicine Park, Oklahoma 2015

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I first visited Oklahoma back in 2012 with my husband. We had a lovely time at a bed and breakfast sporting matching green robes and also made sure to take full advantage of the complimentary hot tub. Everywhere I’ve ever been with Robby eventually leaves me nostalgic for that time and place. Still, I wasn’t absolutely smitten with the town of Stillwater, which is a rarity for me. I’ve never traveled anywhere that I didn’t enjoy, but if I was forced to admit it, I would have probably said Oklahoma was my least favorite state. Until this month, that is.

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My husband and I road-tripped it up to Oklahoma once again, this time with our little lady in tow.

And just like that, I simply don’t have a least favorite state.

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We stayed in a cabin overlooking the mountains of Medicine Park, Oklahoma. I didn’t know until recently that Oklahoma even had mountains. They’re small, but they’re also surrounded by waterfalls and watering holes and lush greens and the quaintest of small towns.

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Spending the weekend with my two favorite people in Grandma’s Cabin was magic. Built in the 1920’s, our cabin was enchantingly rustic and overflowing with trinkets and charm. As my loves dozed late into the morning, I’d make my way to the upstairs patio to read a book, drink a cup of coffee and gaze at a waterfall. Our cabin was in walking distance to everything in town, which meant a quick morning run with plenty of time to come back to lunchtime and a family stroll. Later I might head out for a long dip in the watering hole while Bryn and Robby napped (These two love their sleep), and on my way back grab ice cream over espresso shots from the town coffee shop. For dinner there would be hot dogs at our little abode or heading out to a nearby pizza shop for a half pepperoni, half Hawaiian. The night would end in laughter and yawns, watching our girl stomp around and making sure to hide all the breakables from her chubby little fingers. When the little lady went down for the night, it was time for husband cuddles and, of course, more laughter. I’ve been laughing and traveling with this man for over seven years now, and that makes me feel like the luckiest. Y’all, my heart was continuously bubbling over with love and joy for my tiny tribe and the memories we were making in this gorgeous little town.

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After our weekend in Medicine Park, it’s safe to say that the three of us have started one of the first of our many family traditions to come.

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My overwhelming love for these two feels like a group hug for three. Like a spontaneous dance party to children’s tunes. Like a traveling love song.

Like a tradition of lifelong adventures, sunsets and cozy cabins.

And of always searching for beauty, everywhere, anywhere. Together.

Hey, Sunshine.

Note: I began this post last Friday night, the last evening of July 2015. A lovely month indeed.

It’s Friday night and I’m on a self-date at Red Horn Coffee and Brewing Company. I’m drinking a coffee stout as we speak, but since it is Friday night I might go a little crazy and drink an actual coffee too. A place that sells both coffee and beer is basically my paradise. The only thing that could top this is if they opened a place next door that sold both books and cabernet by the glass.

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Life is sweet right now. July, in all its sweat-inducing humidity, has surprised me by being arguably my favorite month of 2015 thus far. It was fun mixed with a heaping side of self-fulfillment, and the result has me swooning over all of the things.

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The month began with travels and my best friend, two of biggest loves. Already a great start, and it was prophetic for the way the rest of July would play out.

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I spent my first weekend back in Texas out of town once more, this time at the parent-in-law’s celebrating the 4th of July with my beloved little clan.

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I came back to the Austin area and quickly jumped into adventures such as partying in a bathtub with gal pals at Whisler’s, marveling over the stunning views at Driftwood Estate Winery in Wimberley, Texas and face-flopping off of a small cliff into water at Jacob’s Well. My life is a collection of random and sometimes strange thrills. It’s a collection I pride myself on.

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July also consisted of a night of laughter on the Riverwalk with two of my best friends, a day of lounging out on the boat with my handsome hubby, and a weekend of poolside beer and margaritas with the cousins.

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It’s been bliss, y’all.

But it’s been more than that too. July was also productive and, at times, magnificently inspiring.

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I modeled for my first fashion company and covered a cooking class with incredible views and a four-course meal that left me completely mesmerized.

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I began volunteering at Dress for Success as an image consultant, which means I get to be a fashion guru for clients and YOU GUYS, IT’S THE BEST EVER. I cannot tell you how happy it made my heart to help dress up and love on the sweetest of ladies for the day. Helping women feel their most beautiful, and as one newly glammed up gal put it, “Like a million bucks” was a feeling that is really hard to top, y’all.

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Another recent thing for me? For the first time in my life, I’ve started seeing a therapist. It’s something I should have probably started as a teenager, but nevertheless starting in my mid-twenties has me feeling a new kind of healthy and happy. There’s a lot of feelings I’m coming to terms with and a big amount of self-realization occurring in such a short amount of time. It’s hard and challenging and so wonderful. Vulnerability is something that has terrified me for years, but in allowing myself to be more vulnerable, I have found that I am also allowing myself to feel more alive.

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Yesterday I was walking past a manager at work when he greeted me with, “Hey, sunshine!” Not even a handful of minutes later, I walked outside to see another manager who said hello by way of, “What’s up, sunshine?” I informed him that I had just been called sunshine less than five minutes prior to which he responded, “Yeah, you’re sunshine!” Amused by the redundancy, (I wasn’t even wearing yellow!) I texted both my best gal pal and my best dude friend to relay the quick story. Their contrast in responses made me laugh.  Meg replied with a sweet, “You’re bright and light up a room!” Best dude friend’s heartfelt response? “They probably think you’re twelve years old.” Fair enough.

Funny coincidence as it may have been, my new nickname felt fitting just the same. I am visiting pretty places, reading good books and learning and growing in ways that feel monumental. I’m surrounded by adventures and enchanting possibilities and people that I love, and all of this does seem a lot like sunshine. Like a beautiful and radiant summer day. I’m basking in this light for as long as I possibly can.

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(Pst – I got that coffee, and it was delicious. If anyone was wondering.)

Soaking Up Summertime

Life is sweet and full of summertime bliss.

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On Saturday, I leave to visit my best friend of fourteen years in Virginia. Or, we’re at least starting in Virginia. We’re also planning on partying in Maryland and beaching it up in Delaware. A little state-hopping, if you will. I am so ecstatic to start making new memories traveling and exploring with the lady love of my life.

But really, summer twenty fifteen has me giddy about a lot of things….

  • I bought a hammock. I’m growing partial to time spent between the trees, a pineapple drink in one hand and a book in the other. Or just staring up at the stars and listening to the crickets chirp. Paradise in my own backyard.

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  • Adventuring with my little one has taught me that she’s much better at taking selfies than I am.

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  • I’ve been occasionally volunteering at my nearby Alzheimer’s Center for a few years now, so I’ve known program director Bernard for a while. I don’t see him much but love catching up every time I do. His combo of good heart and fun personality makes him a winning human being. He also seems to think I’m pretty cool, and since I’m actually a weirdo, I appreciate that.

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  • San Antonio is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities in Texas. This is mostly because two of my favorite people in the entire world reside here. Also because the Riverwalk of San Antone is a lovely place to laugh the night away with said favorites.

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  • Date nights with the husband always leave me wonderstruck. Whether we’re eating garlic naan in a cozy cellar followed by being photo-bombed by an extremely tan gentleman (see if you can spot him below…) in downtown Austin or drinking beer out of mason jars in New Ulm, Texas, magic is always made when we’re together. Especially magical when we come home sporting matching dinosaur stamps from da club.
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  • I don’t know how it’s possible, but my job voluntarily pays me for doing things like organizing lip-dubs and dancing like a tune deaf white girl. You can watch the full embarrassing footage here.
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  • Family moments in my household sometimes include squishing ourselves into tiny children’s forts and capturing the moment with a selfie.

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Summer 2015 has me smitten. I’m soaking up the sun and as many of these beautiful moments as I possibly can.

Blissful Weekends and Annoying Love

Last weekend felt a lot like pure summer bliss, y’all.

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The weekend started off with a mini road-trip to the in-laws’ place in New Ulm, Texas. Their house always feels more like a vacationing retreat to me. Many of my best weekend getaway memories come from this abode, and I always look forward to making more lovely memories with some of my favorite loved ones.

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This time my moments included breakfast at the Texas Star, watermelon and BBQ eating, coffee-drinking and back-porch book reading, and feeling awestruck at the sight of a nest and bird eggs sitting atop a wreath on the front doorframe. So beautiful were these little eggs that I couldn’t even quite believe they were real.

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Also included on this trip were pit-stops at an adorable winery for a quick tasting and later sipping on the wine purchased (because duh I bought wine) up in the in-law’s tree house. In three weeks’ time I’ve had coffee in a treehouse in Lafayette, Louisiana and wine in a treehouse in New Ulm, Texas. I guess you could say I have a thing for traveling and treehouses. And coffee. And wine.

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My daughter also realized that she likes to purposefully carry baskets the size of her body around the house and that she has very mixed feelings regarding the swing.

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We ended the weekend with my blood kin back in the Austin area, with yet another BBQ and pool party to boot.

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I end this post with a note on love. On Saturday night my cousin called me while I was still in New Ulm. She asked if I knew the whereabouts of my brother. The weather in Texas has been a little insane as of late, and on this particular night we were experiencing some intense flash flooding in Austin. I hadn’t talked to my brother that day, and was a little worried when she told me that a dude cousin had expected him hours before at my aunt’s house. Justin is one to lose track of time, but given the weather I was a bit concerned. Flash forward to an hour later and my entire family was in a panic. My mom crying, my dad out searching for my brother in the midst of the storm, and my grandpa calling the cops to see if any accidents have been reported. I too was in tears at this point, and by that I mean sobbing in front of my in-laws. My husband, bless him, held and comforted me and had the genius idea of texting my brother’s best friend. Brother’s best friend promptly texted back something to the effect of, “Yeah man, he’s over here.”  My heart felt light with relief as I talked to my brother for a moment, told him he was a dead man and proceeded to let the rest of my family know that he was alive.

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I went to bed thinking that my brother was dumb and that my family did not deserve such nonsense. The next morning my mother-in-law told me, matter-of-factly, “I would have been so irritated if I was your brother.” I was immediately defensive but eventually took a moment to step back and look at the situation from her, and his, point of view. Here is a twenty-three year old adult who lost phone service during a bad storm and stopped at his buddy’s house to stay safe and hang out for a while. Next thing he knew he was told that his father was searching the streets, his grandpa had called the cops and that his entire family was just about planning his funeral. How annoying, right? But that’s just how we do things in my clan. We care too much and we love too hard. We have each other’s backs, even when it’s unwanted or completely unnecessary. We love so big, it’s really annoying. I’ve been on the receiving end of this love more than once, so I can tell you firsthand. We are all so very lucky to be surrounded by such irksome endearment.

That’s Twenty-Six Talkin’

The past two weekends have been absolutely wonderful. They’ve been full of late nights, dancing, slumber parties, out-of-town friends, nonstop laughter and downtown shenanigans stretching into the wee hours of the morning. These past two weekends have also been a reminder that I’m not exactly twenty-one anymore. I can’t remember the last time I’ve partied every night of the weekend for TWO weekends in a row. How did I do it?! IT’S EXHAUSTING. I texted my best friend to happily complain that SXSW and spring break were killing me. “That’s 26 talkin’.” she responded. Ain’t that the truth.

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I turn twenty-six in a week, y’all.

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And I feel like I’m in a pretty good place to start another year of my life.

I’m currently flirting with the idea of getting my master’s. Then again, I might just continue focusing on my growing career. I’m keeping my options open, and that is an adventure in itself. I’ve recently taken on a new part-time social media client and am now looking over resumes to hire an intern to work below me. It’s a little surreal and very exciting.

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Not being certain of what’s next is part of all of the excitement. I know I could change my mind on this one, but as of right now, I don’t plan on having another little one until I’m about thirty. I personally hate the phrase “getting it out of the way.” I know everyone’s reasons are understandably different, but I just don’t want to get anything out of the way. I want to savor every minute of it just being Robby, Bryn and me. I want to enjoy each and every moment of her growing up, and to allow her to have a good amount of time where she is our only one. On a more selfish note, I am also enjoying the good amount of flexibility and freedom I still have with just one kiddo. Brynlee is a cheerful and easygoing baby, and she has a pretty fantastic daddy. The three of us have a routine and rhythm down that is perfect for us, and I just love everything exactly the way it is right now. While other people seem to do amazing at doing the two-under-two thing, the thought alone nearly gives me hives. I love having what I see as the complete luxury of not having my children back-to-back. I don’t feel rushed for a thing, and for a girl as restless as I, that feels almost like an extravagance.

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I know that the days have a funny way of sneaking up on a person, but right now thirty still seems so deliciously far away. The next four years stretch out in front of me, and they are beckoning me with the options, uncertainties and dreams that they hold. They are full of plans of adventures and treehouses and exploring lands both real and imaginary with Bryn and her handsome daddy. I’m delighted to not know exactly what is coming next and to be toying with so many different schemes and possibilities. I love my late nights out, but I’m growing preferential to early nights in with my lovely little tribe. I love what I do and the direction life is taking me, and I adore the people that make up my world. I’m just having so much fun, and fun is such a beautiful thing.

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I’m not twenty-one anymore, and that is definitely okay. I don’t really miss the experience of regularly throwing up in toilets.

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Twenty-six is talking, and it sounds so very sweet.