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Our First My Gym Experience


I'm still working from home part of the day for my corporate job, and trying to get Lulu McGee back up and running after a long maternity leave, so we don't have the opportunity to get out much during the week.  This has made it even harder to make friends in a new city, though I have managed to meet a few amazing women so far (Hi Erin! Hi Kenzie!).  What I hadn't anticipated about our self-imposed 'hermit chic' lifestyle was the fact that the baby has developed a serious case of the "stranger dangers". 

Since this kiddo hasn't been exposed to many people whose names don't begin with "Mama" or "Dada", she flips her lid if anyone tries to seriously interact with her.  Case in point- she freaked out harder at the new pediatrician when she was having her ears checked than she did when they gave her 3 simultaneous injections.  And when my mom "Gigi" came into town for my surprise birthday visit?  Let's just say it took a few hours before we validated that the strange blonde lady in her house wan't up to no good.  After these, and a few other choice instances, I decided that this baby girl was in need of some serious socialization stat.

One of my bridesmaids, Auntie Jess, used to work at a My Gym franchise in Scottsdale, so I was *thrilled* to discover one not too far from my house.  I knew that My Gym had an awesome program, since I think Jessie is awesome and she wouldn't work anywhere that wasn't.   I attended the My Gym open house event on Friday, and was so pleased with the owner and instructors I met.  Bonus for the baby easliy going into the hands of the owner- not even Gigi got that kind of treatment off the bat.  Needless to say, I was sold.

This morning was our first My Gym class, and it was twice as awesome as I even hoped it to be.  The baby was more excited than I had ever seen her, and had no problem with the instructors, moms, and kids running about.  Even with all the singing and dancing and running around, there was just one part of the experience about 3/4 of the way through the class  that I REALLY hadn't anticipated...





My Gym?  Worth. Every. Penny.

xoxo,
Lulu

(Disclaimer:  I wasn't compensated in any way for this review.  I just think this place rocks.)
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Do You Lulu?


So with a pregnancy that knocked me sideways with sickness for 17 weeks, a full-time job in Corporate America, a hospitalization for kidney stones (still haven't told you about THAT one yet), a baby, and a move to a different state, there is one thing I still haven't found the time to tell you about yet - my small business!

I'd like to {finally} formally introduce you fellow Dirty Martini Diaries readers to my business - Lulu McGee!




I launched Lulu McGee, an online boutique for children's appliqued and embroidered clothing, on Halloween 2011 and have loved every minute of running it.  Well... maybe not the 2am sewing sessions when I was 7 months pregnant, but you get the idea.  I started sewing and doing counted cross stitch as a hobby when I could barely count my age on two hands, so getting back to a world of fabric and thread is a real retreat for me.

Lulu McGee has actually been a seedling idea in my head for years, so I'm thrilled to have finally made it a reality.  Funny enough, I purchased my embroidery machine and started setting the business up last year, well before I was expecting to have my own little one around the house to sew for.  We jokingly say that Lulu McGee is what broke my husband in to the idea of what having a baby around the house was like, since our house was littered with onesies, tiny tee shirts, and burp cloths for almost a year before the baby actually arrived!


Workin' Hard for the Money - Lulu McGee

Lulu McGee Holdiay 2011 Command Center - Taking over the living and dining room to keep up

Lulu McGee Holiday Rush

Pregnant, tired, but most of all thrilled to be making my dream a reality

It has been a lifelong dream for me to start my own business (I'm not counting the in-line skating clothing company I tried to start at the age of 14... haha), so I feel so blessed to make this a reality.

It hasn't been a cake walk- coming home from a 9 hour day at my corporate job only to have dinner, put on comfortable clothes, and then put another 8-10 hours in at the machine some nights was taxing- and all the details that go into setting up a small business can be confusing (legal structures, accounting methods, and tax reporting was hard to get a firm grasp of even for a Business major like myself).  But what it has done is made me respect all of my friends who own small business that much more, has made me even more grateful for how supportive my friends and family have been of me, and has given me something that I feel truly proud of.  A small business I built (mostly) myself, that I am successfully running myself.  And that feels so, so good.

No get off my blog and go buy yourself some Lulu McGee! haha

xoxo,
Lulu
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A 30th Birthday Recap In Pictures


Synchro Swimming

London Olympics Synchronized Swimming on the tube while I finished a
 half day shift of my corporate job

Birthday Flowers

Birthday Flowers from Family- the most spectacular roses and Stargazer lillies I've ever seen
(which is saying something since I worked at a high-end florist in high school)
 
Mongolian BBQ

Wearing my favorite scarf to Mongolian BBQ (my fave) with Mama Martini, who drove from Dallas the
day before to play surprise babysitter

Birthday 2012
 
Photo with my favorite girl before The Mr. came home to take me to my surprise night out
(we played cheeseball matchy matchy in Lilly Pulitzer and I loved it)
 
Birthday 2012

W not feeling the photo session.  This "Pitiful Pearl" face is one of my favorite things
(That lip!!)
 
Luciano's

 
Luciano's in Mulvane. Had an amazing filetto al pepe verde (brandy, green peppercorn, and mushroom cream sauce. YUM) and a nice bottle of Italian chianti
 
Piano Bar
 
Surprise #2- a great reserved table at the local piano bar
 
Dirty Martini
 
 
Mama's first dirty martini since becoming pregnant with the babe.  and second... and third... and fourth...
(It was a fun night)
Not pictured: my amazing mom for driving from Dallas for the week to play babysitter, so the Mr could take me out, the Justin Beiber birthday card from my best friend, the fantastic birthday presents from my family (including a bracelet, leather boots for fall, Rosetta Stone Francais, and the most *amazing* new sewing machine on the planet) and MOST importantly, the love of my life who went WAY out of his way to make sure that his wife's 30th birthday wouldn't be spent at home by herself or having dinner on the couch in a new city.  Here's to ONCE AGAIN having waaaaay too much fun living in the moment to take any photos of ourselves together. 
Thank you hubs!  Best birthday ever.
xoxo,
Lulu

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101 in 1,001: #29- Get a Blog Redesign


First of all, I wanted to thank you all so much for the birthday wishes and for the encouragement regarding my goals list!  I so appreciate each and every one of you that took the time to reach out via Twitter, Facebook, or the blog to wish me luck on the new endeavor.  It's so nice to be a part of such a supportive community! So thanks again!!
_________________________________________________________________________________

I'm happy to say that I'm off to a great start with the list, and have already accomplished one of my major (for me) goals- get a blog redesign!  This goal was actually completed ON my birthday- nothing like checking a goal successfully off of the list less than 24 hours after starting!

Without further ado- here's the look of the new Dirty Martini Diaries blog-

Dirty Martini Diaries Makeover
I just can't get over how much I love it!  Click *here* to see it live and in person!

September 17th marks the 4th anniversary of this blog- holy cow.  Since I knew that this little piece of the internet was going to be around for a while longer (knock wood), I've been thinking that my little blog has been due for a major facelift.  My husband offered to have my blog redesigned as a birthday present, so I finally bit the bullet and reached out to my favorite web design company - Penny Lane Designs.

Penny Lane Designs is owned by a gal named Marina, who is as nice as she is talented (which is saying a lot, because this lady is WAY talented, yo!)  I've admired Marina's work for years, as she's the design guru behind some of my favorite blogs:

Erin at The Blue-Eyed Bride
Grits at Puttin' On The G.R.I.T.S.
Betsy at Heavens To Betsy
Mel at I Pick Pretty
Maggie at The Freckled Citizen

These are just a *few* of Marina's amazing designs, and they are all top notch.  Love.

I actually reached out to Marina a few months back, since I knew that she can have *quite* the waiting list due to her talent.  I lucked out and made it to the very end of her list before she closed her wait list to finish orders, and feel SO lucky that I was able to do so.  Marina hit the nail on the head the very first go' round, and added details I never in a million years would have thought of (how adorable is the little olive next to my post titles?! Obsessed.)

HUGE thanks to Marina for making my blog design dreams come true!

xoxo,
Lulu
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I Turn 30 Today. Here's What I'm Going To Do About It.


Well, here it is.

The big 3-0.

Today I officially leave my 20s, and say hello to a new decade.  I have to tell you, I'm feeling pretty excited about it.  To make this milestone even more meaningful, I've committed myself kicking of my 30s by living my life with intention.

The days can be overwhelming around here- taking care of the baby, working my corporate job part time, trying to get my home business back up and running after maternity leave, putting a meal on the table each night... It's exhausting.  By the end of the night, I'm thrilled to be watching The Real Housewives reruns for the 15th time, refreshing Instagram eleventy hundred times, and basically doing as little as I possibly can before going to bed much later than I should have.

I wake up the next day, but somehow 3 weeks have gone by instead of the one night I expected.  It's that irritating phenomenon where time flies by faster the older you get, but I feel like I have just been wasting whatever time has flown by.  I don't want to wake up, be 35 with a 5 year old child, and feel like all I have to show for it is a well-refreshed Facebook feed.  I need to start living life again.

In order to jumpstart my life again, I'm committing to a pretty big challenge- I've decided to participate in the DayZero project, also known on the interwebs as 101 in 1,001.  What is the 101 in 1,001 project, you ask?  In a nutshell, the challenge is to create a list of 101 things you want to get done in the next 1,001 days, or roughly 2.74 years.  And then do them all, one by one.  Like a New Years resolution list on steroids, really.

I've contemplated doing this challenge for a *very* long time.  In all honesty, the first time I thought about participating, my culminating 1,001st day should have been my 30th birthday.  So this list is roughly 2.74 years in the making.  I don't have a solid track record of sticking to simple New Years resolutions, really...  This project is honestly going to kick my backside.  There is a LOT that I'm committing to get done here, but  these are all things I've wanted to do or try over the last few years and have just not gotten around to.  So I'm finally going to make it happen.  I'll be blogging my way through the list, because frankly I love blogging and think that your support during this challenge will be critical.  And nothing says 'accountability' like committing to something on the internet for all to see.  No pressure.

Without further ado, here is what the next 2.74 years of my life is going to look like (in no particular order):

1.  Learn to crochet
 2.  Learn to knit
 3.  Learn the art of canning food
 4.  Follow the 100 Days To Christmas eBook on ListPlanIt
 5.  Go cycling
 6.  Go see Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place
 7.  Drive through the Flint Hills of Kansas
 8.  Take a trip to Salina, KS - my parents' hometown
 9.  Go see a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game
10.  Visit the Plaza in Kansas City at Christmastime
11.  Attend a CU Buffs football game
12.  Do the Bolder Boulder 10k run in 2013
13.  Learn to play polo
14.  Go to the Sedgwick County Zoo
15.  Pay for our trip to Costa Rica for Paul & Julie's wedding in cash (NO credit cards allowed)
16.  Learn to speak French
17.  Spend a day at El Dorado lake
18.  Take a camping trip to Lake McConaughy with my best friend's family and her sister's family
19.  Take a family lake or river fishing trip in Missouri
20.  Throw a housewarming party
21.  Build a back deck
22.  Put in a vegetable garden
23.  Take a vacation to my parents' ski condo in Keystone, CO
24.  Plan a trip to France or Italy to take when my 1,001 days has finished
25.  Visit a farmers market once a month
26.  Do a Turkey Trot run during the Thanksgiving season
27.  Learn how to make a pie crust from scratch
28.  Make a quilt for the baby
29.  Get a blog redesign
30.  Record an oral history of my grandmother and her husband
31.  Research and put together a family tree for the Mr and I
32.  Completely finish the baby's nursery
33.  Master and memorize Rick Bayless's Frontera-style red enchilada sauce recipe
34.  Pay off ALL credit card debt
35.  Put together a home management notebook
36.  Put together a master birthday calendar
37.  Send each person on the birthday calendar a birthday card *before* their birthday starting in January
38.  Embroider a needlepoint hanging for the baby's room
39.  Make 10 Christmas presents for friends and family
40.  Throw a dinner party
41.  Make one of Julia Child's famous recipes
42.  Learn how to tie a tie
43.  Learn how to tie a bow tie
44.  Memorize 5 Christmas songs on the piano
45.  Learn how to make 10 classic cocktails, bartender-style
46.  Read my Bible in a Year Bible
47.  Find "my" Bible verse
48.  Write a thank you letter to an old teacher
49.  Save $100 a month for the baby
50.  Create a meal planning system that works for our family
51.  Eat off of our meal plan for 1 month
52.  Learn how to play Bridge
53.  Learn how to play gin rummy
54.  Take a photo of the baby every day for a year and make a Blurb book out of it
55.  Wake up every morning at 5am for a month
56.  Join the public library
57.  Go orchard picking (apple, peach, whatever comes up first)
58.  Complete a master bedroom makeover with the help of Britany Simon
59.  Lose 25 lbs by New Years Eve
60.  Participate in a bible study from #SheReadsTruth
61.  Blog my way through the 101 in 1,001 challenge
62.  Write a letter to the baby every month on the 31st
63.  Avoid eating out for 1 month
64.  Have a photo taken with myself and the baby at least once a week
65.  Donate to a diaper bank once a month
66.  Learn how to make scones/tea cakes/traditional tea time foods
67.  Have a picnic
68.  Collaborate with my mom to make a family cookbook
69.  Collaborate with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to make a family cookbook
70.  Learn how to make candy from my mother-in-law
71. Sell something I've made at a craft fair
72.  Take swimming lessons with the baby
73.  Cook with 1 new ingredient a month
74.  Try 50 new recipes
75.  Try 2 recipes from each of my cookbooks
76.  Write a will
77.  Get life insurance
78.  Participate in The Nesting Place's 31 Days series
79.  Turn the TV off after 8pm for 1 month
80.  Take a closet inventory and build a wardrobe look book
81.  Host a board games night
82.  Learn HTML and design the family blog from scratch
83.  Floss every day for a month
84.  Organize all my Lulu McGee business paperwork
85.  Listen to the top 50 albums on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums list
86.  Watch AFI's Top 100 movies of all time
87.  Read 25 books from my AP English book list from 2000
88. Read a comprehensive book about mythology
89.  Go through ALL of my 9(!!!) inboxes to clean them out
90.  Save up for a Lulu McGee work computer
91.  Learn Photoshop
92.  Improve my handwriting
93.  Learn how to french braid
94.  Develop the habit of playing background music instead of background TV
95.  Memorize 10 go-to recipes
96.  Hold the baby for 1 nap every day
97.  Take a road trip to a new place once a year
98.  Do the Ultimate Reset Cleanse
99.  Clean through all my memorabilia boxes and do something with them (Blurb book? Scrapbooks?)
100. Make a profit on my company, Lulu McGee
101.  Throw a party for completing my list!

Happy 30th birthday to me!

Let the games begin...

xoxo,
Lulu
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You Know You're A Parent When...


... you type "magic" into a Google search, and are more interested in the second autofill result of "magic sleepsuit" than the first autofill result of "Magic Mike".
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5 Years


5 years ago today, I packed my ferrets (yes, ferrets) into a rented minivan and started driving cross-country.

Movin' to NYC

Destination - New York City.

 I'm feeling pretty nostalgic today, if I'm being honest...  5 whole years since I took that humongous life leap; and my 30th birthday is one week around the corner to top it off.  

Central Park
The Mr and I, goofing off at Central Park Reservoir the day I got into town

When I first moved to Manhattan, the stars really aligned for me- my boyfriend (you know him ad the Mr.) was already living in the city, and luck would have it that I was able to move into a place with 2 of my best work friends from my previous job.  One had moved to Manahattan the year before, and was in desperate need of a new place after his lease was expiring.  The other was relocating to start Columbia's MBA program, and thought she was living in New Jersey with her fiance, she needed a place to crash in the city after late nights at the library.

Laura, Ben, and I shared a 1,000 square foot apartment right off of Riverside park and the Hudson river.  The place only had 2 bedrooms, and a closet-sized bathroom that didn't even have any electrical outlets.  Laura's fiance constructed a wall out of plywood and added a door frame from Home Depot to make her a small bedroom right there in the living room.

94th Street Apartment
Stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree in front of Laura's "bedroom" in the living room"

Ben had one of the bedrooms (the one with the window connected to the fire escape, because he was the boy and thus that seemed safer at the time), while I cozied up in a little 10x12 foot room all of my own with my contraband ferrets (ferrets are illegal in the city of Manhattan which made me a legit criminal. Awesome). I put the pet cage in the closet (only the width of a bedroom door), so I took some of my savings and installed elfa shelving from The Container Store across an entire wall of the room.

Halloween
You can see part of the elfa shelving here...  Photo clearly from 2008, nod to the Sarah Palin Halloween costume.

We had this narrow 12 foot hallway that led to a tiny living room, with this absurdly skinny galley kitchen flanking off to one side.  It was barely wide enough for one person to stand sideways, so cooking was always an adventure.

94th Street Kitchen
The Mr cooking our first NYC Thanksgiving. That's the kitchen in its entirety.

Then the Mr and I got engaged, and he moved in with me.  4 people, 3 ferrets, 1,000 square feet.  So what, you may ask, is the best way to fit 2 people and ALL their belongings in a 12x10 foot room?


94th Street Apartment

By sleeping in a full-sized bunk bed, of course.  We were 2 grown adults, camped out like teens sleeping in that thing every night.  I used to have first shower shift, so I'd put on my makeup and blow my hair dry in the dark at the desk while the Mr slept above (no outlets in the bathroom, remember?)

We later "upgraded" to getting an additional mattress, so that we slept on the ground and used the bunk bed as a lounge/loft space.  I would read up in the loft while the Mr studied for the GMAT late into the night.

94th Street Apartment

Then we got married.  And figured that as newlyweds, we probably needed to get our own place.  The stars aligned once more; Ben was being relocated to London for work, Laura had gotten married, graduated, and was ready to live with her husband full-time, and we scored arguably the most amazing apartment two newlyweds could ask for.

When the Mr first moved to New York, he ran into a guy watering flowers on the street during a walk and inquired about apartments on a particularly beautiful brownstone-lined block.  The guy took him up to an apartment he owned - a stunner - and told him it was for rent.  The Mr couldn't even afford a rental room with furniture at the time (true story, he slept on the floor a futon mattress in a room with no furniture in his first apartment), so this apartment seemed astronomically out of reach.  He took the guy's card, and went on his way.

Fast forward to almost 3 years later- on a whim, the Mr dug up that man's business card and inquired about that stunner of an apartment.  The tenant had just moved out, and it was ready for someone new.  It was meant to be.

85th St Apartment

Brick walls, a terrace deck, a working wood fireplace, a spiral staircase and a master bed and bath upstairs.  It may have only been 900 square feet, but it was amazing.

85th St Apartment

We were stuffed to the gills in that apartment from the minute we moved in, but we loved it.  We couldn't even bring our wedding gifts back to NYC with us because there was no room for all the kitchen gadgets!  I often wonder what it would be like to live there now, with the baby and all.  The owners lived there until their wife was 9 months pregnant with their second child, so it was totally doable...  But somehow I just can't imagine it.

I painfully long to go back to that apartment sometimes; I want to go back to sitting in front of the fire and watch the snow fall on the terrace while I sip Makers on the rocks and watch reruns of Mad Men.  I want to go back to hailing cabs and eating breakfast bagels from Lenny's on a bench in Central Park while sipping coffee that contained the perfect ratio of cream to coffee to sugar.  Sniffing spices in little India's Curry Hill, spotting celebs in SoHo, seeing the millions of twinkling lights covering the city at Christmastime.

But then I remember that I drank the Makers on the rocks every single night because I was unhappy with my job, and unhappy that money was so tight, and some days I could barely afford to buy soup.  I'm now living in twice the square footage for less than half the price.  I loved that life some days, but I do love this life now.

From a bright-eyed girl driving to Manhattan, starting a new life and a new adventure, to a new mom in Wichita, trying to juggle a husband and a corporate job a baby and a small business she wants to grow...  What the next 5 years will bring?  I can't wait to find out.

xoxo,
Lulu
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