Summer fun list

Summer officially started last week, and school has only been out for two weeks, but why does it feel like the season is already halfway over?  I will admit that I have been dreading this season.  Having two little kids, no consistent childcare, and no lighter workload makes summer extra stressful rather than leisure-filled.  Add the fact that my husband will be away for half of the time and I have decided to approach Summer 2018 with low expectations.  Still, I am hoping to operate slightly above survival mode.  In the spirit of setting realistic goals, and taking a page out of Laura Vanderkam's book, here is my brief and simple summer fun list.

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Emily Rowell Brown
Becoming Mom

Most of us have experienced imposter syndrome at some point: How did they let me into this college--I can't really be smart enough to go here!  Did they know what they were doing when they hired me?  They're letting me take this child myself?

I don't know about you, but identities have always taken some time to "click" with me.  I felt like I was playing house for the first couple of years of my marriage and serving as longtime round-the-clock babysitter to my children.  Even those identities I always "had"--Christian, woman, southerner--hit me suddenly.  I may have grown up in the church, but there was a moment when I realized, "Huh.  Not everyone would share these same stories and faith."  I learned being a woman was far more complicated than cultural gender norms made it out to be, and I did not even know I had an accent until I left Alabama.  I didn't know that I was swimming in a different pool of water than others until I left it.

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Emily Rowell Brown
Subscription services that are worth it--and ones that aren't

It's 2018, y'all, and subscription services have taken off (Although, ironically, magazines and newspaper subscriptions are at on all-time low).  It makes sense from the businesses' part: guaranteed repeat customers and revenue.  In the past year, I have experimented with many of the services out there and have found that not everything works as a subscription (at least for me).  Here are some favorites and not-favorites:

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Emily Rowell Brown
All the ways that kids humble you

Dan and I are recovering from what seems to be our thirteenth cold this winter (in all seriousness, I think it's the fifth, but I swear we have been sick more days this season than we have been well), and it has made me think about all the ways our lives have changed with young children in the house.  Sure, many of the cliches are true--there are more messes and spills, more silliness, more laughter, more poop--but those things that people do not talk about have caught me by surprise. 


Your child will always find the zit on your face, and earnestly and loudly ask, in a very public place, "Mommy, what's that red thing on your chin?"

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Emily Rowell Brownkids, faith, grace
Commendable links about guns

I think we are all running out of things to say about mass shootings and school violence.  Right now, I don't have anything new to add to the dialogue, other than:

1.  This has to stop.

2.  God help us.

3.  But we also need to help ourselves.

4.  We have to learn to find our common ground in this country--for many reasons, on many matters, but especially on this issue, when lives are literally at stake, and our most vulnerable citizens at that

So I am praying and reading and trying to fight the numb feeling that has become all to familiar as I encounter story after story of evil and despair from that safe, faraway place of my computer and cell phone screens.

Here's what is giving me hope, inspiration, and food for thought:

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Emily Rowell Brown
Attachment: That dreaded term with fostering and adoption

But won't you get attached?

That is always the second question I am asked when people hear that my husband and I are fostering.  (The first is about what our children are called, since they both came to us with unusual names).

Yes, yes we will.  We already have.

But what will you do if they go back?

We will be heartbroken.

How can you do it then?

With this last question, most people do not expect an answer.  I have thought about it a lot, though, and I have one, even if it is not the most satisfying.  

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Emily Rowell Brown
18 Rules to Live By for 2018

I am not much of a resolutions person, per se, but I do love how the start of a new year invites reflection on what has worked and what has not.  This year, I thought it would be fun to do 18 for 2018.   If I had to name a theme for my list, it would be "Actually do what you know works."  This year I want to be less about discovery and adventure than about honing in and improving.  Some items on the list will be easy; others require more effort.  These are my rules to live by for 2018--and hopefully beyond.


1.  Nab the early appointments. 

I mean to do this more often, and this year, I am going to be intentional about it.  Whenever possible, book the first appointment of the day.  It reduces wait time, since there has not been time to get behind yet, and your service providers are fresh, not tired from a long day's work.

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When it is worth spending the extra money

Time vs. money.  The older most of us get, the more the former wins out.  Granted, you have to have money for there to be a contest, but outsourcing is becoming a huge thing in our world.  Home cleaning services.  Child care.  Instacart.  Dog walking.  Meal delivery services.  

It's funny how much it varies from person to person what is and isn't worth paying for.  I never have understood the appeal of Blue Apron, yet I am sure that many would think it's absurd how much I spend on pre-cut grocery store fruit bowls.  It totally depends on your pain points and grievances.  For fun, here is my list of what is totally worth it.

1.  Nice grocery stores. 

By nice, I mean: good lighting, friendly customer service, bagging assistance.  Wegmans, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods (and Publix, when we lived deeper south) have won my heart because they make grocery shopping pleasant.  Grocery shopping is a necessary evil that I must complete at least once a week, and if I am routinely setting foot in a store, I want to enjoy it.  The few times I end up in a different store, I notice immediately how cold and harsh the lighting is and how a stores associate is nowhere to be found, and I don't care how cheap the grapes are.  I am in a grumpy mood for the rest of the trip.  I'll go on the record with that: will pay for cheerfulness!

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Fall Bucket List

We are a few weeks into fall, and it already feels like it is flying by!  As the calendar fills up, I tend to let the fun things slide.  Here is my autumn bucket list:


1.  Attend the school's fall carnival.

2.  Paint or carve a pumpkin.  Or both!

3.  Buy something with an autumnal scent--a candle, soap, potpourri.

4.  Roast pumpkin seeds (This is a job for my husband Dan.  I have no patience for pumpkin guts!). 

5.  Decorate for fall and Halloween.

6.  Make a Halloween-themed menu for dinner.

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Emily Rowell Brown