Busy Life

A Day In The Life, Mom/Daughter Edition

On Monday, I needed to take our daughter to back-to-school-check-in and get some glasses fixed so I no longer lived in a crazy carnival world. I decided to take the entire day off of work and – since the girl and I don’t get a day just the two of us very often – decided to do a lot of the things on our to-do list.

Speaking of back to school, Playfullytacky has joined forces with a few others blogs to do a pretty excellent giveaway. Stay tuned for details.

So, back to Monday. Here is the rundown of our back-to-school-extravaganza:

First, we slept in, just a bit. No day off is complete without a little extra sleep. The house is so quiet after our typical morning rush. After finally getting up and getting ready, we made it out the door by 9am. Not too bad.

Our first stop was the eye doctor. I picked up glasses with a new prescription last week and they are . . . odd. I have a weird fun-house thing going on with all five pairs. Yes, five pairs. We used to have insurance that paid for frames every year; I stocked up and take good care of them. so I’ve only lost a few over the years. A rush order on some new lenses and hopefully I’ll be back to normal by the end of the week.

They were busy, but not like it usually is in the afternoon. We made it back to my daughter’s school for check-in by 10:30. Now, it really annoys me that her school insists on doing these required things during business hours. We had to check-in today sometime between 9-4. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to do that, but I’m sure it is very stressful for a lot of people. Okay, mini rant over.

The daughter is going into six grade, which means major changes at her school. She was extremely disappointed because they didn’t let her decorate her locker today. I was extremely disappointed because they didn’t allow us to bring some of the larger, extra supplies. We were both disappointed because she didn’t receive her schedule. The first day might be a shock – she is moving to seven individual periods for the first time.

All of the disappointment was soon forgotten when she found out the archery team is now open to 6th grade. The girl took a liking to archery in Girl Scouts and has been waiting for the opportunity to join their team. Depending on how many sign up, they may not do tryouts for 6th graders and just take them all. I have my fingers crossed for her.

After doing a mass of paperwork with the other frazzled parents at school, we headed to TJ Maxx to buy a birthday gift and then to Michaels to buy some cheap t-shirts. As usual, the girl’s school didn’t have enough uniform shirts and she needs plain t-shirts to wear while they order more. We finished the morning off with a trip to our favorite local 50s-themed-nostalgic burger joint for lunch.

After lunch, we made a quick stop to get her hair trimmed. Then we went off-budget to get our nails done. Nothing wrong with a little mom-daughter quality time.

One final stop at Target to get the rest of her school supplies. It was a mess after the tax-free weekend. Those employees were fighting a losing battle trying to get that place organized. Just thinking about tax-free weekend makes me shudder; I avoid it every single year.

By 2pm the heat was getting to us. We headed home and I briefly considered going into work. I was stressed out about work I needed/wanted to finish before leaving town next week, but I settled on just checking my email from home. I didn’t seem like I was missing much.

Bits and Bobbles

Just random thoughts and updates today. I have a few more put-together posts in the works, but haven’t had time to flesh them out yet.

-I have been writing a lot lately – not for, but for a history publication. I grossly messed up the deadline and ended up with just two weeks to bang it out. Actually, the publication deadline is today, so let’s hope I’ve emailed it by the time you are reading this [edit: I did!]. If not, I’m probably off having a minor panic attack somewhere [edit: I’m not!]. Yeah really, not a joke.

-We took a mini-vacation last weekend. It wasn’t anything special, but was really great for the kids. It didn’t help me with my writing deadline, although it did help me meet my country food quota for the year. Everyone left with something that made them happy: Mr. Tacky purchased fancy shaving products and indulged in homemade peanut brittle; the daughter grabbed a new t-shirt and school clothes; the little man got a cute pair of pajamas and stole his sister’s rainbow lightsaber; I fell in love with a skull cardigan. But the biggest news is that Mr. Tacky rode his first real roller-coaster. He was terrified. Photo from

-I’m headed to DC in a couple of weeks for a conference. I don’t travel alone very often, so I’m a bit nervous. It will be good though; I always come back from conferences feeling really energized about my career and I could use a bit of that right now. I do plan to squeeze in some sightseeing too.

-My blog stats have been exploding lately. First with “Things to Know About Being an Archivist” and then as “Things to Know About Introverts” came from behind to claim first place. It is pretty exciting, but those posts are so specialized they don’t really reflect they everyday nature of my blog. I don’t know if will result in any new regular followers.


Taking Time to Think

I made a decision [insert cheers here]: the rest of 2014 is going to be my time to think. Most of my life I spend just going, going, going – not feeling like I’m accomplishing anything if I’m not moving at top speed. Finish something and move right on to the next one in my list. Nothing to do? Well, time to add an obligation or a project or a commitment. Always striving for the next thing.

I’m tired.

If you remember my post from a couple of weeks ago, you know that I’m kind of in a weird head space right now. I’m in-between (something that doesn’t fit in with the first paragraph of this post). After a couple of months floundering and grasping at straws for my “next big thing,” I had a lovely conversation with a former professor, now a friend and mentor. I came away from the conversation with quite a few things to consider for my future and – perhaps the most important thing – the impression that maybe I just needed to chill for a while. I’m in the perfect position to take my time and really find my best option.

So that is what I’m going to do.

My current plan is not to plan, but to think. I am going to follow-up with some research opportunities and write a couple of articles on my to-do list, but overall I’m going to spend my free time exploring the things I enjoy. I have a few questions I hope to answer:

1) A PhD isn’t required for my field. Is my desire to get more education really the best move? Could I handle not taking that next step or would I regret it? Playfullytacky, MA, CA, [PhD?]

2) What do I want to learn more about and where do my skills need improvement? Are there individual courses I could take that would fulfill that need?

3) What steps are the most important to reach my long-term career goals?

4) What steps best fit with our long-term family plans?

5) Do I want to write another book? People always ask me when I plan to write another and I think it is probably time to figure out some sort of answer.

6) Do we want to have more kids? Whoa, yeah. Kind of surprised you with that one! Mr. Tacky and I have been discussing more kids for a while. We are pretty wibbly-wobbly on it. The little man is enough to handle right now, but he will be starting school fall 2015 freeing up some time. My hormones say yes, but my brain says “hey now, let’s talk about this.” So, I’ll think on it.

Yes, big surprise. This introvert decided to be alone with her thoughts for a while.

The Big Easy, Cont.

Friday was full of sessions and work, so I didn’t take a lot of photos. Here is my short run-down:

My day started at a working breakfast with the professional development committee. I only had a latte – I am still just so full from everything else I’ve eaten. Great meeting though.

Then sessions. Actually, during this time I attended one of the best sessions of my time here. The kind you walk away from saying, “Yep. That was good.” Or whatever it is you say if you aren’t me.

Next up was a working lunch with the publications committee. We ended up at the Country Flame and I had a chicken burrito. Are you upset by the number of non-cajun meals I’ve eaten? Eh, I live in the south. It might not quite be up to New Orleans’s quality, but I can get that stuff anytime. The burrito was good.


Then more sessions and I staffed one of the information desks for a hour. Always helpful! Next up – Cafe Beignet. Nope, not Cafe du Monde. I don’t have the patience for that place.

I was alone, so the order of three was really too many. I ate two though and walked away without room for another bit. How about a close-up of that beautiful powdered sugar? Just enough powdered sugar once you picked it up and let the extra fall off. Unlike some unnamed place ::cough:: Cafe du Monde ::cough:: that seems to be single-handedly keeping the powdered sugar industry afloat.


Then a short break before the evening reception that I spent in the bar (writing this blog entry) and drinking a Cucumber Gin Fizz. I didn’t love it, but that is what experimenting is all about.

Dinner was a reception at Historic New Orleans Collection. Technically, it was only hors d’oeuvres, but we made a dinner out of it. I was too tired and wet from yet another downpour to take any photos. Here is one of their courtyard from


I was back in the hotel room by 8pm with a cup of decaf and some television to watch. Ahhhhh.

Saturday was technically the last day of the conference, but we had to leave before the last session because of the long trip home. Breakfast business meeting then on the road again. I was so thrilled to sleep in my own bed again.

The Big Easy

Okay, Thursday.

Most of the day was spent in conference sessions. I won’t bore you with the details and I didn’t take any photos to share. It was educational and a little boring – really just like every other conference out there.

Occasionally, the skies open up and dump massive quantities of rain on everything. I’m constantly either sticky from the humidity or wet from the rain.

We used our spare time in between sessions to visit the World War II Museum. I have wanted to visit this museum for years and it was the main thing we wanted to try and work into the schedule (and good thing too, time is a hot commodity around here and we are swamped!).


Lunch! A delicious french dip with homemade chips at the American Sector restaurant in the museum. It was large and filling. I ditched the bread by the time I got to the second half as it was just way too much.


Eating in the French Quarter on a work budget is difficult. We have rules around how much we are supposed to spend to get reimbursed and we try really hard to comply. I googled my little heart out to find a place for dinner where we could get a honest-to-god-entree within budget. Not a burger. Not a sandwich. Not red beans and rice. An entree. And I succeeded! We ended up at Pierre Maspero’s and I ordered chicken and waffles. It came with a deliciously spicy honey Tabasco glaze. Oh it was good!


Next, I saw this shirt with all of the typos. Love it!


The Crescent City, Cont.

My Instagram isn’t working, so you get to see all of my random photos instead.

I slept in a bit on Wednesday morning to recover from the road trip. My room was silent and pitch-black. Totally amazing and comfortable. Breakfast (and lunch, really) at the hotel – it was simple, but delicious.


The rest of Wednesday was spent teaching a four-hour workshop then celebrating with dinner at the Napoleon House, one of my favorite places to visit. Naturally, I indulged in one of my all-time favorite drinks, the Pimm’s Cup.

new-orleans-napoleon-house-restaurant_72696_600x450Photo from National Geographic

I crashed when we got back to the hotel, but did manage to wander down to the hotel bar for a nightcap. (Yes, I like to enjoy a few local cocktails during work conferences. Only after the sessions though, so its all cool.)

FQ Punch from the Batch Bar
Malibu Coconut Rum, Old New Orleans Amber Rum, Pineapple Juice, House Grenadine, Sode, Orange Bitters.

(Yes, it is fruity and silly. Delicious though.)

Or two. Don’t judge me. I’m never alone and without the kids. This one is a Pecan Bourbon Manhattan.


The Crescent City

I’m at a conference in New Orleans this week. Since I have been here several times before, I feel like I can have a nice relaxed time around the French Quarter without feeling like I’m missing out on something. I will post some photos as I go along, but – be warned – they will just be from my cell phone. You should know not to expect much more.

First up, the hotel room:

Pretty nice, huh? I took more photos of the sitting area and large doors leading out to an additional atrium sitting area, but they didn’t really do it justice. You know what I love about traveling for work? Having my own room with a great big king size bed. Ahhhhh. Within thirty minutes of checking in, I was completely unpacked and already sitting on the couch enjoying a cup of decaf and the complimentary slippers I had housekeeping bring up. I believe in soaking up every little bit of luxury.

Said slippers.


Dinner was at a random Mexican place on Bourbon Street that was close to the hotel, didn’t have a line, and fit in our budget. I would share a photo of my burrito, but it took so long I didn’t stop to think before diving in.

I spent the rest of the night going over the workshop I’m teaching. Woo! Getting crazy down here!


We Gonna Party Like It’s Your Birthday

On Wednesday, my husband celebrated his 33rd birthday. We don’t usually do much for birthdays – we are a simple dinner and cake kind of family – but this year we decided to make a day of it. Both of us took off from work and I planned surprises.

First up, breakfast! Now, originally I planned for us to dine at a lovely local fine restaurant. Then they went and closed for renovations, totally messing up my plans. Little Rock is severely lacking in breakfast options, especially during the week. Choices were slim, but we ended up at Mimi’s Cafe, a great little place for a delicious breakfast. I joked that I planned to take him to Waffle House, but my husband is so easy-going he said that would be fine.

Throughout the day, I gave him ten lottery tickets to scratch. His birthday luck proved worthless though; he went through all ten without winning even a dollar.

Since the fancy level had dropped, breakfast didn’t take as long as I planned and we stopped at Barnes and Nobles for twenty minutes or so. You can’t go wrong looking at books.
Up next, a massage! I treated my husband to a surprise hour-long deep tissue massage. He enjoyed it, of course, and emerged a little bit more floppy. I killed a little time at Whole Foods waiting for him to finish.

The next stop was supposed to be the zoo, but it was raining. The zoo might seem like a strange option for an adult birthday party, but my husband absolutely loves zoos. Our local zoo isn’t the best, but it is still okay. Not in the rain though, so we moved on to plan b and roamed the aisles of Best Buy. Again, this might not sound like the best thing to you, but my husband will wander that store looking at every single thing.

Plus, we both got to look at the appliances together. I want this little beauty, bad. I wasn’t able to photograph its amazingness in the store, so this stock photo will have to do:

Then, lunch! Husbands’ choice on this one. We ended up at Famous Dave’s for barbecue and ordered something called the Feast for Two. Well, actually the Feast for Three and a Half as we took so much of that thing home and were still stuffed.

Last stop, the movies! We never have a lot of time to go see a movie. It is hard to find a babysitter for the little man, so it feels a little frivolous to waste it on just a movie. We went to see Neighbors (as I loathe action movies and needed a comedy). It was funny. Not as funny as I expected – it was no I Love You, Man! – but we laughed and had a great time.

We ended the day eating leftovers with the kids, indulging in Cheesecake Factory cheesecake from the Wal-Mart freezer section, and having the husband open his gift. We got him a Cuisinart Griddler. These are the kinds of gifts adults buy for each other.

J = Juggling

If I could pick five words to describe myself, I would probably go with something like, “I do too many things.” It is very true. I am a chronic volunteer who loves to add new lines to her resume. A few days ago, I had to make a list of the work-related extra activities I do and I was a little surprised. I guess seeing it all in a list in front of me really hit home. I’m on a break from Junior League and thought that really freed up my calendar, but I’m been in denial.

Let me share my list of ongoing commitments:

J-Junior League (currently on leave)
-Ex officio board member of local cultural institution
-Board member of local historical association
-Career related committee #1
-Career related committee #2
-Career related committee #3
-Career related task force (ending, thank goodness)
-Career related position #1
-Career related position #2

I think I might be forgetting something.

After all that and my regular job, I think I can come home and give 100% to my family. Well, I can’t. Not all the time. I’m bad with juggling and I really need to work on my priorities. I don’t really know why I insist on doing so much. I guess I’m just always trying to prove myself. See, I’ve always been on overachiever and based a lot of my worth on how smart people thought I was. Now that I’m in the real world and things don’t work that way any more, I try to be everything to everyone to replace that feeling. Man, that sounds sad. Its good to know where those feelings come from though. Next time I get asked to do something, I can try to take a step back and decide if I really want to do it or if I’m just trying to be the person I am in my mind.

Maybe I should turn 2014 into my year of calm. Even with all of these commitments, it wouldn’t be so stressful if I didn’t get so worked up over everything. I’ve always wanted to find a way to be the kind of person who can come home and forget the day. Maybe 2014 can be the year I figure that out. Yeah, I’m sure how though. I’ll work on it.

My name is Stephanie and I do too many things.

Friday Updates

I had the day off on Monday. Don’t be jealous; I have to work on Saturday. My only goal for the day was to sit on the couch as much as possible and I think I succeeded. I did have to get out of the house for a little bit though to run some errands, but it wasn’t bad as everyone is off somewhere enjoying their spring break.

Let’s do a day-off-from-work run-down:

-My alarm went off at 8:30, but I stayed in bed until 9:15
-Post office to mail the pig and a swap package
-Michael’s to return a necklace holder
-Grocery shopping
-Lunch. . . on the couch
-Watched Amelie
-Watched a bad documentary about Rock Paper Scissors while cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry
-Watched a good documentary about online dating
-Watched a better documentary about Second Life
-Husband and the little man came home (the daughter is off somewhere enjoying her spring break)

My favorite thing to do on a day-off is window shop. I avoided that this time though because I’ve had a bit of difficultly controlling my spending habits lately. Still, TJ Maxx called to me most of the day. If the Ulta in my neighborhood was open yet, I would have lost all control.


Remember that to-do list I posted here last month while in the middle of my stress breakdown? Let’s do an update.

-1,000 word article for the same upcoming book (turns out this one isn’t due until August, yay!)
-1,000-1,500 word article for historical journal
-Organization project for Junior League archives (1/3 done, supplies purchased)
-Outline, then finalize, workshop I’m teaching in May (SERIOUSLY, DO THIS NOW)
-Participate in planning for August roundtable meeting (In progress)
-Visit the new restaurant in my work building (yes, this is to-do list worthy)
-Grout project for tile in kitchen and dining (still waiting for a free weekend)
-750 word article for online resource (3/4 done)
-750 word article for – you guessed it – the same upcoming book
-1,000 word article for upcoming book -Get posters printed; Package and mail out 60 to individuals; Mail bulk to D.C. for distribution
-Contact people interested in contributing to organizational blog
-Weekly readings and homework for project management class (Well, scratch this one off the list completely)
-Work two hours at Junior League event  League was nice enough to give me a leave of absence – well, I didn’t really give them much choice – so I have a break from this for a bit.
-Plan and prepare food for Girl Scouts Thinking Day booth
-Sort and deliver Girl Scout cookies
-Plan a presentation on five awesome women in local history for teens
-Switch out winter clothes in kids closets; Pull out items to sell at Rhea Lana

New additions:
-Edit received submissions and prepare my submission for professional newsletter
-Little Man has a bed medical test on Tuesday

Look at that! Progress!