LIFE

COME SUPPORT A GOOD CAUSE WITH TIDE LOADS OF HOPE

08/16/2017

Tide-Bleubird-Loads-Of-Hope-4Tide-Bleubird-Loads-Of-Hope-6Tide-Bleubird-Loads-Of-HopeThe back-to-school rush has officially begun at our household. My big kids went back early last week, and my littlest ones aren’t far behind starting in just a few days. I can hardly believe that Plum is a freshman and Julian a senior in high school. Where does time go? Like clockwork, we were able to get all the kids new clothes for the start of the school year, in addition to the usual supplies. This year, however, in order to make room for their new digs, the entire family rounded up old clothing for donation as a part of the Tide Loads of Hope campaign. A few months ago, Aubrey and I had our closet redone by California Closets. I’m going to be writing more about that process and share it with you soon, but as a part of this effort, we too, rounded up some of our clothes to be loved and worn by people in need. We truly couldn’t believe how many things in our closet hadn’t been touched in years! It was incredibly rewarding, and a true family affair.

If you aren’t already familiar, Tide Loads of Hope is a mobile laundromat founded twelve years ago in direct response to the destruction and catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina. It aims to restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of those in need by providing the comfort of clean clothing. The Tide Loads of Hope mission extends far beyond natural disaster relief, however. That said, this year the brand is hosting a clothing drive, called “Driving For Hope”, to mobilize their efforts further and get even more people involved. The Loads of Hope truck that is making five stops on a nation-wide tour. Nashville is one of those stops, along with Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, and the west coast! Our family is incredibly excited not only to donate, but to dig in, and really get involved on the ground level. It’s easy to teach your kids about opening your heart and volunteering, but putting action behinds those lessons is another story.

That said, we’ll be dropping off our donations on the day of the event in Nashville on August 18th. If you’re interested in attending, the truck will be parked outside of Walmart (7044 Charlotte Pike) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and word has it that country singer, Jessie James Decker, will be there between 10-11 a.m., as well. All collected clothing will be washed and the renewed items will then be donated to their new owners at Nashville Rescue Mission. So, if you’re looking for more ways to get involved, we hope to see you there with any unused or gently worn clothing. We’re really looking forward to helping our community with a fresh start and clean clothing, and teaching our kids more about giving to others.

If you can’t make it out to donate, you can support Tide Loads Of Hope by visiting TideLoadsofHope.com to donate directly or purchase a t-shirt, where $4 from each sale goes toward helping families affected by disaster.

DuoTide-Bleubird-Loads-Of-Hope-11This post is in partnership with Tide Loads Of Hope.

AN UPDATE ON BIJOU’S DIET

07/18/2017

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It’s been about five months since we switched Bijou over to an IAMS diet. If you haven’t already heard about this process, I wrote all about it here in February. When I first wrote about this, many of you were curious about the switch—especially those who were already big fans of #bijouthebengal. So, now that some time has passed I wanted to give you an update on her and how she has adjusted to the swap.

The first thing you should know about our animals is that we all love them dearly—especially the kids. They snuggle and play with all three of our pets non-stop. And, inevitably, they also like to get a little wild from time to time. Bijou’s always been able to hold her own, but most recently, we’ve noticed that she’s been way more playful—kitten-like. She used to spend most of the day upstairs, in my room, sleeping, but recently, she hangs downstairs with us, around the living room or kitchen, full of energy, rubbing against our legs, or makes herself comfortable right on our laps. (Bengals are not a super cuddly breed, so we are thrilled that she’s been more social and energetic.) Even my assistant, Tiana, has noticed the difference and has grown to love the constant company and distraction, while we work.

Another change I’ve personally noticed is Bijou’s physical appearance. She’s as cute as ever, but she seems to be looking her best since the switch. Her coat really is shinier and softer. I know this because previously, if Bijou didn’t consume a certain type of food (with a hefty price tag), she’d start to look a bit mangy and wild, and she hasn’t since swapping to IAMS.

Pets, in general, are a big responsibility. But, Bijou is definitely our most high-maintenance animal. That’s not to say that we don’t love and adore her, we do; it just means that sometimes we have to pay extra attention to ensure that she’s getting all of the love, care, and attention she needs and deserves. Her diet—along with other factors surrounding her health—is a big part of that equation. Making the switch to IAMS has been an overall seamless process that’s resulted in one happy and healthy cat. And, we’re thankful for that.

I know that some of you had a few questions about IAMS in my last post, so to read more on brand, its ethics, and its pet food, be sure to visit IAMS.com. We always aim to do what’s best for our pets, and Bijou seems to really be benefitting from her new diet.

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This post is in partnership with IAMS.

KEEPING THE KIDS BUSY THIS SUMMER

06/27/2017

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-13Last Tuesday marked the first official day of summer, and the signs are all around, especially in my household. My big kids have left to visit their dad in Florida until August, and my littlest ones have begun their summer school program after two weeks of vacation. For me, the summertime is always a bittersweet season. On one hand, our house grows especially quiet without teenagers and their friends hanging throughout the house, playing piano, and showing us the latest viral videos. We miss Julian and Plum so much while they’re gone. On the other hand, some of our favorite pastimes circle back around this time of year—running barefoot through sprinklers, afternoon barbecues at the river with friends, local farmer’s markets, and evening walks through our neighborhood, just to name a few. For Birdie and Sailor, the summer also can mean long, hot days trying to fight off boredom. If you’re a mom with small kids, chances are, you’re familiar with trying to keep busy minds amused in the summer months (because the plethora of toys they have just won’t cut it, most days).

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-2Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-7Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-9Luckily, both Birdie and Sailor have a deep love for coloring—especially when it comes to printouts. Are your kids as obsessed with printouts as mine are? It seems like a daily occurrence that they ask Aubrey or me to print off their favorite characters—most recently, outlines of popular cartoons like Moana, Pokemon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Growing up in the height of the digital age, our kids are incredibly tech-savvy. The minute they come home from school and drop their things to the ground, they grab for our Acer Spin 7, and start browsing their favorite sites for new pictures and characters to bring to life with the touch of their crayons. Their little hands love using the Spin 7 because it’s simple, quick, and user-friendly. Everything they need is right at their fingertips, uncomplicated, and easy to navigate. And, because it can handle sticky fingerprints and a fall or two, our lives as parents are a little easier as well. They can do what they love, and we don’t have to worry. We send their selects off the printer and done—instant entertainment.

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-8Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-14After a good hour or more, we have a floor full of Birdie and Sailor’s creations—colorful, scratchy, and beautiful. The kids select and hang up their favorites in their room. If the kids are growing tired of coloring inside the lines, we head back to the drawing board (i.e.—The Spin 7) to brainstorm, get even more creative, and make additional masterpieces of our own. I love seeing the ideas and images that come to life at the touch of their small hands and huge imaginations. You can see the pride radiating from them as the hold up their latest and greatest sheets of scribbles. In these moments, I always try to remind myself that even though life gets busy or quiet or hectic at times, it’s nice to know you can rely on your tech to work with your hectic schedule, bring out your kids’ inner creative genius, and enjoy your family in any season of parenthood.

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-15Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-20Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-17This post is in partnership with Acer, but the words and opinions are my own. Check out Acer’s great product line-up at Acer.com/KeepAsking

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ARE YOU A HOMEBODY?

03/09/2017

07_carrie apartment_sex and the city_bedroom_hbo_com“There’s no place like home”… I really couldn’t agree more. We live just outside of the city, in a sort-of hidden area of town that truly feels like a treehouse. I love being at home, and am still loving living here, just as much as I did when we first moved in nearly four years ago.

I work from home the majority of the time, so it’s safe to say that I spend a lot of my time within the comfort and security of my own four walls. And, while I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a hermit, I do prefer the familiarity and ease of being at home with my family. My perfect day would be spent relaxing in bed, with the kids running in and out, reading books and drinking coffee. Even when I’m out to dinner with Aubrey or enjoying the company of close friends at their houses, I always find myself releasing a small sigh, equal parts relief and contentedness, once we pull back into our driveway for the night. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Home is my happy place, plain and simple.

I know that there are all kinds of people though—introverts and extroverts, homebodies, and party animals. And, most of the time people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But, what about you? Do you find that you feel most alive in the space you’ve created and cultivated as your home base, or would you rather reenergize and refuel somewhere else? Would you consider yourself a homebody, too?

Photo above of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment on Sex And The City via HBO.

I’M GETTING TATTOO REMOVAL

03/01/2017

Treason+Gallery_HOLLYWOODNT_Cheyenne+Randall_prints-94Tomorrow is my first tattoo removal appointment. I am terrified. I’ve done my research and apparently the process is highly painful, more so than getting the tattoo. I currently have four tattoos and am working my way down to having just one—the little bird on my foot is the only one that I still like after all of these years, plus I got it with my best friend, so there are good memories and meaning there. A good life lesson that I am trying to preach to my kids, from my own experience is …maybe don’t get tattoos? Or, if you must, wait.

Of course, some people love their tattoos and are very sure of what they want to have placed on their bodies permanently, but I got my tattoos when I was fairly young (first and second tattoo at 18, third at 24, and fourth at 27) and I definitely look back and regret those very permanent decisions. And, I am thankful that I didn’t get some of the tattoos that I thought about getting buzzed into my skin over the years. At one time I wanted a robot, with a red heart on it’s chest, holding a bottle of mustard—the good ol’ MySpace days. Remember those? No disrespect to anyone who loves their tattoos or to those who are covered. I like tattoos. I think many of them are beautiful. Just sharing my experience of regret, especially now that I am about to sit in a chair and have one of them burned off.

Off my soapbox. I just wish I would have thought a lot more about my tattoo choices. People evolve over the years, styles and interests change, and tattoos, even though they can be removed with lasers, are pretty damn permanent. I’ve told my kids that if they wait until they’re 30, I’ll take them to get their first tattoo, and I’ll pay for it. I’ll let you know if that works out in my favor, and I’ll let you know how my removal goes.

The amazing artwork above is by Cheyenne Randall. He Photoshops tattoos onto iconic photographs. Here are a few more of my favorites, below.

Treason+Gallery_HOLLYWOODNT_Cheyenne+Randall_prints-13 Treason+Gallery_HOLLYWOODNT_Cheyenne+Randall_prints-41 6cb5a0fbfd8c6b94e06a971fda58a2f8 Cheyenne Randall _ Brando 886b0c2b27f9a1c1b9c249b2907f23d7 10000-2-1024x1024 12019a26e3726059e0ab22d69b8bc284

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