Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm no kind of expert, since I've taken babies to the beach a whopping one time...but any excuse to make a product collage, amiright? Here's a little round-up of a few things that helped make all the schlepping...better? easier? Nah. Made things a little easier though, just maybe.

Our babies did great. We had Juliette at 2 years 10 months, Molly at 15 months, and cousin Jane at 8 months.

Just another attempt at a group pic, NBD:


They all decided to wake up extra early (it is vacation, after all!)so in an effort to not wake the entire house, we were up and at 'em early, tucking the Jerkins girls into the (rented) bike trailer with cheerios and milk and going on long bike rides. Bleary-eyed though we were to start, it was a fun way to begin each day!

All three of these gals need their afternoon nap, even more so after lots of fun in the sun plus early rising. It was nice taking the day in two chunks, and being forced to be inside during the hottest part of the day (at least it was for me and Jonny...we're not avid sunbathers).

After the naps, we would usually go to the beach; if it was a full beach day, we'd head back to our tent, where the grandparents/uncles had been holding down the fort. If it was a split day (between pool/beach/bike rides/whatever), we'd head to the beach and get a couple of umbrellas for the chickies and not have to worry as much about the sun at that point because it was normally 4 PM or later.

Here are a few things we employed during our beach week:

ONE : if they've been blogged about once, they've been blogged about a million times. The dearly beloved Saltwater sandals. Both of my girls have this color (tan little Molly's legs are practically the same color, gah I'm jealous), and they were great for when the gals actually needed to wear shoes (over hot sand or on pavement). They're constructed to handle water and sand, and hose off beautifully, plus they stay on really great. And...darn cute, duh.

TWO : a simple, blow-up baby pool (we got ours at Target) for putting under a tent. Jules loved helping ferry water in her bucket from the ocean into the pool (an activity that can occupy her for 30+ minutes usually earns an A+ from me). We were on a stretch of beach where they had these lovely cabana-style tents for rent, so we didn't have to carry the tent down to the beach, which was nice. But one of those tailgating-style tents would probably work, right?

Like so:

THREE : the surprise hit of the week, my genius sister brought these along for baby Jane, along with frozen mangoes and whole-milk yogurt to make popsicles (just blended together in the blender...easy!). She was so kind to share these with her nieces also, who devoured them while on the beach. Smarty-pants sissy just packed these in her lunchbox-sized cooler with an ice pack, kept fully in the actual molds, and they stayed plenty cold for when the girls ate them (while sitting in the blow-up pool, usually!). I'm scheming to acquire some of these for our household now!

FOUR : As you can see from all the photos, I kept my very fair-skinned eldest child in a rashguard shirt most of the week. For her part, Molly had the little short-sleeved/shorts version (matching Jane!). We would douse them in sunscreen of course, on top of this, but it was just so nice knowing their little shoulders weren't going to get torched while wearing these.

FIVE : Add rashguard to sun-hat and you're breathing a little easier. Jules was just a champ about keeping her hat on all week, much to our delight. Molly, on the other hand, wore her white version a total of two minutes. Dang it. Fairly priced with billions of color options, this item might earn MVP for the trip. Sweet little Jane was killer in the lilac.


- The ubiquitous "puddle jumper", which the gals took turns wearing in the pool. Molly took to it pretty easily.
- Bag of basic sand toys from Target, $10. We didn't need anything this bag didn't have. RIP blue shovel.
- Blow-up twin bed for Jules. She slept great on this! I loved how the sheets tucked into the mattress so there weren't blankets everywhere. It was nice for her to have her own little space. Also nice that this comes with its own pump and travel bed, and is a useful bed for future adult guests too.
- Double jogging stroller (we have this one off Craigslist). Such a workhorse. We were fortunate that my sister/her husband had room in their truck bed to bring this for us. Whether we were strolling a combination of the gals around the myriad trails available, or using it to schlep things to the beach (thanks, Dad!) while the rest of us biked there, this thing got used.

Obviously, there are about a billion other things I missed. If you want to share in the comments, I'd love to hear what you got! We're hoping for a repeat next year! :)

One of my biggest takeaways from this trip?

There's a lot of just plain work behind a photo like this:

Worth every minute.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's Saturday morning and I feel compelled to blog about my clean sink. I'm not sure what that means except it gives my husband more fuel for jokes. Oh well.

I've been the antsiest lately about making changes to our house. Ever since we found out we were staying here long-term....I'm totally antsy-pants. Besides the girls rooms (and dining room curtains! which I love), I haven't made many updates at all since we moved in. I'm not one for seasonal tablescapes or changing out couch pillows regularly. Blah blah blah budgets and work schedules, but it just doesn't happen. It's 2014 and I wanna make some changes, but they're going to have to be the $0 variety for the time being.

After breakfast this morning, I looked around my cluttered kitchen and was like, I can take matters into my own hands for $0! Duh, let's do this! You all may know the trick (if you can call it that) I'm about to share, but here goes.

Around the time we got married I first learned about FlyLady from my friend Jesse. Step One from the FlyLady is "shining your sink." I've done this from time to time over the years, but it'd been a while. I sort of hate our sinkit's super-shallow so things splash everywhere, in a weird spot at the very end of the counter (old houses accommodating for dishwashers, I guess), and our garbage disposal might be the wimpiest in America. BUT, you don't have to love your sink to love when it's CLEAN!


I love doing this because you don't have to have any special tools or potions. (Cleaning expert I am not, nor have I dipped my toe into the water of homemade cleaners, as lovely as that sounds.)

I did a condensed version this morning that still yielded pretty satisfying results (but PLEASE check out the full version for some extra satisfaction/your first go at it):

  1. Clear out all the dishes and rinse out the sink with hot water from the sink sprayer.
  2. Spray/wipe out the sink with all-purpose cleaning spray.
  3. Sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend (love this stuff) all over the sink. 
  4. Spray water over the top so it's kind of a paste, then scrub with a scrub brush (I keep around a spray bottle of plain water for doing the gals' hair, so I just used that, and ran the scrub brush through the dishwasher afterward).
  5. Rinse with hot water from the sink sprayer.
  6. Spray/shine with Windex.
  7. Admire your work and feel good about your accomplishment, and go forth to do more!

If you're lucky, I'll be back soon to write a whole post dedicated to my Pivot Vac (dust-buster).

New Chapter

Monday, June 23, 2014

How happy and thankful I am today to be able to talk about a new chapter that's begun for me: no longer working a full-time schedule. I know you're not supposed to write about your job on the internet, so I'll keep this very general: I have a new job, at a new company (in downtown Memphis! fun!), and will be working a "reduced" schedule (9-3 every day). I can't tell you how much relief and joy this brings my soul.

After match day, I was feeling all sorts of conflicting things--so happy for my husband, of course, to have his dreams coming happy we were going to be able to stay in our hometown, in our house, surrounded by our friends and family... but then, also, a little sad in a strange way. All of these things were changing for Jonathan, but life for me was going on like nothing had changed at all. I was happy, but also a little resentful underneath... feeling like I'd worked so hard for all of these years, right alongside Jonathan, but now I was going be stuck in my own version of Groundhog Day, or "m├ętro, boulot, dodo" as they say (I remember learning that phrase in high school French, feeling so depressed by the thought...ah, but it's real).

Returning from maternity leave twice, I always deeply craved more time with my children. No matter how many months passed, no matter how in sync our routine would get, that sinking feeling that I needed more time with them never went away. Every mommy is different (of course!) in what works for them balancing children and career, and I'm not really sure there's a perfect answer (though I'm glad there's such a dialogue taking place right now). For me, I'd been carrying this (sometimes suffocating) almost grief over what I've been missing with them, needing more.

As it usually seems to, thanks be to God, the way everything happened could not have been orchestrated more perfectly. And it's come to pass--day one, under my belt. I'm really excited about my work, my company, co-workers, office location (the girls' school is right on the way), etc.

PLUS ....

It was 4:00 PM and we were all at the Costco today (!). Right!?

I am proud to been able to help support my family for so many years while Jonathan's been in school. But I am so, so grateful that it's worked out for me to have some more time with my precious ones. Just look at those faces.  :)

Emerald Coast

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We've been enjoying a lovely time with my side of the family on the "Emerald Coast" of the Florida panhandle.

Jonny and I hadn't been to the beach since 2007 (shout-out to Bo & Kate!). Every summer, I've been seeing people's beach photos on social media and would sigh a little inside, fighting the jealousy. I'm so so so grateful it worked out with all of our schedules (and my parents' generosity) for us to come this year!  :)

Jules has been in heaven. Digging, digging, digging in that sand, or ferrying buckets of water around. She's pretty scared of the water (pool and ocean), and keeps a death grip around the neck of whoever takes her in. I think I'd rather her be scared of the water than fearless. Her favorite part has probably been her Grammy being around 24/7. Living in town with parents is of course awesome in myriad ways, but I didn't really realize that we never get extended time with them. It's nice!

Molly decided to save up getting a canine tooth for this trip, so she's had some tough/fussier moments. She loves the sand too, though, and the little baby pool under a tent on the beach. All three of the babies love it.

Just being around the house with the fam (and tiny baby Jane!) has been almost magic. So relaxing! Vacation with babies is definitely work, but so fun and so worth it to watch the wonder and joy in their little faces experiencing all these new things.

Shout-out to this guy, who enjoyed his Father's Day on the beach. He's our rock.

More pics on instagram!

Molly's First Year

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

He done it again.

Let me gush for a minute. These videos are all my husband. He's the one throughout the year who would say, "Ooh, let's get out the camera," or "we need some footage of Molly doing _____." My lame brain cannot track with that regularly (I'm the worst at remembering), so I am beyond thankful that Jonny is on top of this.

These are absolute treasures, I know.

My favorite parts are 1) when Juliette wants to give teeny Molly a "high-five" soooo bad and cannot hold herself back, 2) when Jules jumps close to Molly on her bed in their matching jammies and Molly smiles so big, and 3) Molly's 6 month photos on the quilt in the yard, looking so happy. She has been the happiest little baby, so content and agreeable, and this video really seems to capture it.

My little Molly's first year highlights:

A Year of Molly from Jonathan Jerkins on Vimeo.

More video goodness:
Christmas 2013
Juliette's 2nd birthday
Juliette at 17 months

"Long Leaf Planners" | August 2014 - August 2015 Day Planners

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I'm beyond excited that my sister and I (with the help of our talented friend Laura on the cover again) were able to produce another edition of our day plannerswhich we've affectionately decided to call Long Leaf Planners (the street on which Martha and I grew up).

After using the 2014 planners for almost 6 months now, we have made a few tweaks to the layout that should be a slight improvement, such as: 
  • Moving Thursday over to the left on the weekly spread and swapping the notes grid over to the bottom right instead. This makes the three weekend days show up on the same side, and puts the notes grid in the bottom right-hand corner so it's a little easier to access when writing.
  • Adding holidays to the weekly spreads (in addition to showing up on the monthly spreads).
  • Changing all of the notes pages to lines (instead of half lines and half grids). 
  • Adding year-at-a-glance calendars in the front (2014) and the back (2015 and 2016). (I love a good year-at-a-glance, as you know.) 
  • We also added a "what's for dinner" line on the weekly spreads to have the option of using to meal-plan.

Find them for sale through Paypal on the Shop page.


We thought it would be fun to do another version for teachers or students or people who generally think in an August-August school-year type calendar. Or maybe you've tried to go all-phone/digital calendar so far this year and are now ready to cry mercy?

They're $25 shipped or $20 for Memphis pick-up. 

Three cheers for office supplies!

Whole30: the We-Did-It edition

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Before the graduation whirlwind that was last weekend, we finished up our Whole30. I know everyone's been hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for a recap, so I won't delay any longer. (Ha.)

If you're just now joining, Whole30 is an eating program designed to reset your body and mind, while you eat only "whole" foods, and avoid grains of all kinds, dairy, wheat, sugar (real and artificial), legumes, and alcohol.

Overall? I felt great at the end of the 30 days. No food sat heavy in my stomach, made me sleepy after eating it, or had trouble digesting. I was sleeping really waking up in the mornings from really vivid dreams (aka deep REM). There was never any remorse or guilt associated with eating. Meals were hard work (more so at first), but it always felt "worth" the effort. All of this is, of course, awesome. My energy level was good but didn't seem miraculous. My skin doesn't seem iridescent or anything (from what some people say, you'd think your skin would turn into diamonds or something). 

Day 30 was Thursday, and Friday was graduation. We'd had a catered taco dinner planned for family on Friday night following graduation, from one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants. The menu was pretty lightcorn tortillas with different types of meat, cilantro/onions/salsa or guacamole for the toppings, and rice and beans on the side, with chips/cheese dip of course ("queso," I know, TX people). I was so busy trying to set everything out and be hostess that I just ate a few tacos and a couple of chips and salsa. I felt fine and was telling people, yada yada yada, I feel great but not overly-great-amazing great, blah blah blah. I even had a sliver of cake from Muddy's (my favorite!) and felt totally fine (it sat a little heavy, but didn't make me feel sick).

That was my story until the next day.

Saturday we were at my in-laws' with my brother/sister-in-law eating some of the leftovers for lunch. There was a whole container of the liquid-gold cheese dip, just sitting there. I'd not really had any the night before, so I thought, what the heck. I may have had 7-8 chips with cheese dip. And it tore me up. I'm so seriousI got legit sick to my stomach! Isn't that crazy?! Maybe it's one of those things where I couldn't realize how great I was feeling/how awesome things were until they weren't?

If you don't hear anything else I'm saying, know this: the food that you eat on this plan is amazing. Whole, real foodsfruits, vegetables, meatswill never be fads. And that's awesome. There are no gimmicks here. This is the food, arguably, your body was made to eat. You're allowing yourself to fire on all cylinders. 

Making you aware of what you put in your body is a really great side effect of doing Whole30. It really feels so freeing not to need snacks! Not that we feed the girls junk, but doing this also made me realize how many of their scraps I mindlessly pick up and toss in my mouth. Eeesh! Another habit broken was my gum habit. Oh boy was that one tough. But now, on the other side, it's nice to not "need" it anymore.

Final stats: 6 lb down and 2" off my waist. I forgot to take other measurements, but those are pretty respectable I suppose. 

Since the weekend, we've been eating mostly "paleo," plus half-and-half in my coffee (there is no substitute!) and maybe one whole grain/day. I'm not worrying so much about every little dressing or whatever being 100% "compliant" at this point. Still feeling really good! The plan is to continue on until we go on vacation (and even there, I'd like to keep things under control), and maybe do another Whole30 when we get back. I still have about 10 lb I'd like to lose, and obviously I need to now work on fitting a regular exercise regimen into my life (duh). Oh, and Jonathan must have liked it too, because he's been very encouraging and willing to keep up our new lifestyle. I think he lost a few pounds himself. 

If you're thinking about doing this...DON'T WAIT! I wish we'd done it sooner! With some planning, the prep can be really manageable. 

Having children really gave me this whole new version of my body, one that I've been really mentally down on and discouraged about ever since. During this process, one word keeps popping into my mind: "reconstruction." I sort of feel like I'm reconstructing how I want my body to feel and function, and along the way, cement really good habits for me and my family. Of course, one's relationship with food is ever-changing, but this here's the status as of June 4, 2014. 

Note: I'm not brave enough to post any sort of before-and-after photos, nor may I ever be. Facts.

The Big Day

Sunday, June 01, 2014

One of the greatest days of my life, no doubt.

He did it! Doctor, officially.

Words can't really express how proud I am of this man. This was not an easy road. It was long, windy, and contained several obstacles along the way. Do you know what he did at each turn, at each obstacle? He put his nose down and kept working. He never stopped pursuing his dream. I cannot wait to share these stories, share about this character, with my children. He is my hero.

Friday was one of those other-worldly wonderful days, every minute containing a little magic. I felt so happy, so ready to finally celebrate my husband and his accomplishments. Seven years in the making.

The providential part of this whole experience has been walking through school with Jonathan's brother Michael and his wife Jamie. I am so thankful we have been able to share every step of this experience with them! We'll miss them so much (they have moved away for residency).

The Doctors Jerkins:

And even more of them (J's uncle and cousin!):

(Jonathan's grandmother, "Mama," must have had the biggest smile in heaven at this sight!)

Friday evening we had a small, celebratory catered dinner with family over at our house. Before everyone got there, I plugged my old iPhone into our record player to play Pandora through the wifi, and chose "Classic Soul" (Memphis, I guess). The first song was "At Last" by Etta James. No one else was around to share the little moment with me, but it felt pretty serendipitous.

I will probably treasure this one forever. Molly was just not having it during these photos. It was pretty hot (as soon as we got in the car with the air on full blast, she calmed down). And I'm not sure what Jules is doing with her face, but man! My favorites.

It was such a happy day! I know there is more challenge and hard work ahead, for all of us... but it was so wonderful to have a day when we could just celebrate and be happy for making it here, for finishing this chapter.

Thanks be to God.

*All photos but the last one are by my brother-in-law Stephen Jerkins, who was so gracious with his talents on Friday. Thanks, bro.

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