Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sweet Farewell

If a picture could tell a story, this one is the perfect one of my grandma.

The hair, the glasses, the smile... the sweatshirt.

How many of you can raise your hand to say you've owned a sweatshirt like this, made by Grandma Dean? Or maybe you preferred the t-shirts with the curly-q ribbons sewn on?

I can guess that a few of you owned them. And if you didn't own them, you saw them (and maybe wished for one)!

This picture tells a million stories to me and will forever be the image that I attach to the memories.

This sweet lady left the earth on Wednesday, Dec. 20 in the late hours after her body finally decided to give itself away. Grandma had the dirty Alzheimer's disease for the last years of her life and though she didn't remember much or remember many, she still had those eyes. I always told my mom that I was CERTAIN that she would outlive us all. She didn't remember anything but she was always physically doing as fine as one could be doing at 92 years of age.

Then mom saw her this last weekend when she attended grandma's Christmas party at the nursing home she had been living at in Coffeyville and she told me that something just didn't seem right to her. And my mom should know... she will be martyred one day for her selflessness when it came to care for her own mother (and father). Three days after that conversation, the nursing home called and said she wasn't doing well.

That night, after really struggling to breathe, she took her last breath.

And left us all behind to reminisce... and miss... that sweet white-haired lady down the block.

Most of my childhood was spent living only a block from my grandparents (and also in the same town as my other grandparents - we were pretty lucky).  If one of us was sick, we were with grandma. If someone needed to go to the orthodontist (that would be me), we went with grandma (and got Sonic burgers on the way home).

Me and Grandma (1983ish)...

Grandma and I (2016ish)...
If you wanted to die of boredom, you would go with grandma shopping at JCPenney's or Sears or Wal-Mart. If you wanted to get in trouble, you would wrestle with your cousins, only for one who shall not be named to whine he was being tortured and she'd come running to his rescue. And he would smile.

If I could tell you one thing about my grandma, it's that she had a heart of gold. She would do anything for anyone... even if it meant picking up a hitchhiker on the side of the road and taking them to the nearest town... or buying a vacuum cleaner from a door-to-door salesman just to help the poor kid out. All of these things would drive my mom CRAZY (as it should have), but that was just grandma.

There are so many stories I could tell you, memories I could share, but instead I'm going to just spit out random things that come to my mind that were totally my grandma:

 -- Barbara Bush and Nancy Regan. She loved these first ladies and I feel like I faux-read all of the books she had of theirs numerous times.

-- Jewelry. My grandma had some snazzy jewelry that I would play with in her back bedroom and I never remember seeing her wear any of it! 

-- Lauren. My sister seemed to make adults her best friends: Lisa Doty and grandma. 

-- Debbie Reynolds and Doris Day. My love of old movies is because of my grandma Dean. If you've never seen It Started with a Kiss or Send Me No Flowers, I highly recommend you put them on your watch list.

--Stories. I distinctly remember staying at grandma and grandpa's when they lived on Elm Street, sleeping in what was my uncle Woody's room, grandma laying with me and I'd ask her specifically to tell me the story of... how my uncle Dave and aunt Carol met. I donno. :) 

-- Hidden Twix. Sometimes, if I got lucky, I would find Twix bars hidden in a cabinet above where the landline was...

-- Wiffle ball. My brother would have his friends (and their friends) over to play wiffle ball tournaments every day in grandma's backyard.

-- White Diamonds perfume by Elizabeth Taylor. 

-- Laundry and ironing. The woman ironed like it was her business. And also did our laundry free of charge. But to clarify, she TOLD my mother to drop the laundry off because she enjoyed doing it. She just would tell everyone in town that she was SO busy because she had to do Mary Ann's laundry. 😂

-- Singing and dancing. I can just hear her! AND see her. Do I wonder why my mom dances around in the kitchen? Nope. She got it from her mama! 

-- RC and Sam's Choice Cola. These were grandma's soda choices. And even when I went to college, I would go to Walmart and grab some Sam's Choice. 

-- Dogs. My grandma did not like dogs. And then my uncle named his dog after her mother, Agnes, and I feel like she sort of had to give in. 

-- Family. The absolute best of times were when her house was full of family. And at this time of year, it was packed. Many years, my brother, sister and I would be standing inside grandma's house, at the door, noses to the windows, waiting for people to arrive. And waiting to watch my uncle Steve unload the 356 presents that were coming from the back of his car (this is no joke). 

The Barnes Family (minus Marcia) circa 1986ish...
The Barnes Family circa 1990ish...
The Barnes Family 26  years later...
My grandma might have left this earth, but the memories of her and the stories will never be forgotten. It's fairly impossible - she had six kids, who had 16 kids, who had 20 kids, who had three kids. I mean... there are Barnes' everywhere!

I can tell you that as a 35-year-old mom of three who lives 10 hours away from my kids grandparents, I definitely took for granted the time my grandma gave to me and my family. I read a quote recently that said something to the effect of "a thousand moments that I had taken for granted mostly because I had assumed there would be a thousand more" is the story of my life with all of my grandparents. My grandma Dean was the last of my four to pass away... did I ever dream I'd see the day when I didn't have grandparents anymore?

No. Absolutely not.

Do I now cherish those moments I had with all of them even more now?

100 percent yes. 

Do I know that I will see them again someday?


So until then... grandma, thank you.

Thank you for your laugh, your singing, your dancing, your cleaning, your appliqué sweatshirts, your love of Page Cavanaugh, your hugs and for my family.

I'll see you on the other side of the stars. 💗


Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! And welcome to what is probably my next-to-last Friday Favorites of 2017... next Friday is the kids last day of school and the next day, we leave for Kansas.

"Alleluia. Holy sh*t. Where's the Tylenol?"! (Name that movie!)

And on that hight note...

I've been a nightly chapstick user for years. Every night, right before I go to bed, I swiped on Burt's Bees.

And then I started wearing LipSense.

And what I learned was the reason most lipsticks don't stay on your lips is because of the wax in them. And how that is a reason why your lips tend to get so dry. Same goes for chapstick. If I continued to use a wax chapstick, lips are going to continue to feel dry and it won't help my LipSense-wearing one bit.

So... I started using the LipSense lip balm this summer. And boom. Sold.

It has a nice, silky feel to it and now with the cold weather here to stay, my lips haven't felt cracked like they always do at this time.

If you're a constant chapstick user, give this one a shot. You won't be disappointed! (I've got three available -- good stocking stuffer!)

I need this.

I tried it on in a medium, but needed it a little smaller... but they had no smalls.

SO comfortable and soft and perfect with jeans and my New Balance sneakers or go-to Uggs.

Comes in a really pretty blush pink as well, but I'm digging the white. So Lauren, if you're reading this and Matt asks, like he always does, what I want for Christmas... after you tell him a new desk or kitchen (yes, I've asked for that), tell him this. :) 

Speaking of Uggs... they have upped their shoe game! No longer is it the short or tall basic lined boot, they have now given it some style! 

These are the Elvi Harness Boot and I got a SUPER similar pair for my birthday (thank you Amazon Wish List and my brother-in-law who only buys from the Wish List) and am obsessed! They are so warm and comfy and look really cute with leggings or skinny jeans. 

This is part of the Koolaburra brand of Ugg, which to me means they are Uggs at better prices. These are only $78! I'd go add them to your Amazon cart quickly before they are gone! 

Not sure how many of your hands, during the cold months, get so dry and crack at the cuticles... but mine do and it HURTS. SO. BADLY! 

A dermatologist recommended this to me (I believe I even bought it from the doctors office the first time I got it and paid $22 for it) and I have never been able to find anything better. But am completely open to suggestions! 

This one is thick enough that it feels nice and feels like it's doing a job. I put it on in the mornings and at night before bed. 

I've tired all kinds of lotions specifically for the splits and cracks I get by my nails and this is the only thing that has ever felt like it's worked. 

I've owned many water bottles in my time. Very few did I use. I probably had a Nalgene hanging from my backpack in college NOT because I was planning on drinking tons of water throughout the day, but because everyone else was doing it and it looked cool and healthy.

You know... SO me. 😂

Then came a time in my life when I was really drinking a lot of water and THIS water bottle was the main reason why it was so easy. 24 ounces of water could be swigged down super fast. All because of the straw. 

Then in a weird twist of events, Contigo becomes one of the companies that is under Matt's 'umbrella' at work and I lose all of my water bottles like this... and he tells me he can't find another one for me because ... and I quote "no one uses those anymore." 

What? Who is no one? I am someone and I only use these! 

I told him I would look for a different brand if I had to get a water bottle with a straw. He scoffed. And the next day, came home with this water bottle... in stainless steel. 

I"m back to my water-drinking ways and so happy! You guys... this is a GOOOOOD water bottle. If you're not a good water drinker, this one is for you. You inhale 24 ounces of water without even knowing it! 

Thanks to everyone that reached out to me about my 'Aha Moments' blog post from earlier in the week. Lots of texts and emails with great words of wisdom as well as stories of your own to share. I loved it -- that's exactly why I started this blog was for moments like those. So thank you! 

Have a wonderful weekend and we will see you next week! 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gift-Giving Via Etsy

We are now two weeks away from Christmas, which means I'm officially in a constant tizzy. I have lists upon lists of gifts to get, my Amazon cart is full, and yet I'm always hunting for those one-of-a-kind gifts that you can't just run to Target and grab.

Which is why Etsy is fantastic!

I'm going to give you some great gift options that will be fan-favorites!

1. 2.





1: Large Oversized Initial Necklaces  are adorable and a perfect gift for any female in your life!

2: This Pumpkin Serving Set would be a fantastic gift for any family member/friend that loves to entertain and have the cute dishes to show off! This set might be a little pricey, but there are a lot of really cute options in this shop!

3: Pardon me as I immediately buy this office work mug for my husband and his boss. It that subtle or not? :)

4: For book club friends... you can't go wrong with a Bookstore-smelling candle!

5: I know many guys that could probably fill this Beer Cap Map up in a weekend.

6: I feel like this may be the perfect shirt to wear to the gym... or to Taco Tuesday. Or any day of the week. :)

7: I'm actually really sad this mug wouldn't ship until after Christmas. My dad would LOVE this. Maybe a birthday present?!

8: A pretty and simple Gem Slice necklace with LOTS of different stone options... I love this one and the pink!

9: These personalized acrylic keychains would be great gifts for bridesmaids, high school cousins, freshman in college who still have keys to their dorm rooms...

10: I've always been a stocking-stuffer-lover... they are small items, but usually fun and practical! This Bourbon lip balm be a great one for the men in your life.

11: And we can't forget about your wonderful coworkers ... or that extremely special one who helps get you through long days. This candle is for you!

Happy shopping friends ... and just a little reminder that those shopping days are numbered!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Aha Moments

This morning, I was skimming Facebook (like I do every morning) and came across a video posted by the Today Show. I expected it to be a video from a parent who lost a child during the Sandy Hook school shootings, almost five years ago.

I remember that day so vividly -- Reece as only six months old. We were back in Sedan for Christmas break (the kids and I left Minneapolis early that year!) and had just returned from lunch out at the farm. Sloane was napping and I was feeding Reece when I turned the TV on and my heart sank, almost as low as it could possibly sink.

I contemplated running upstairs and just holding Sloane, but didn't because as I could hear my grandma saying, "Never wake a sleeping baby!" And especially not a two year old!

But that memory, that feeling is one that I will never forget.

So watching this video and listening to this mom, who lost her son Jesse - a first-grader - talk about how much anger she carried with her every day after her son was killed... she felt as though she was carrying Adam Lanza around by an umbilical cord with her all day, every day.

Until one day, she decided to cut the cord after seeing a note that her seven year old had written on the chalkboard in their kitchen. "Nurturing, healing, love."

She said she knew those words were meant for healing and comfort. But she said she also knew that if Adam Lanza had felt nurturing, healing love, he would not have done what he did.

So she cut the cord. She forgave.

People... she forgave someone who took her 7-year-old away from her. While he was at school.

It really made me think about the last two years of my life. Last year at this time, I blogged about what an angry year 2016 had been for me. And my New Years resolution for 2017 was to be a kinder person.

2017 rolled around, other crazy life things occurred and the anger just renewed. It was a similar anger from 2016 aimed at new people.

Then came a conversation I had in early November. It was, I felt, dramatic. And I was sweating and frustrated.

I followed that with a meeting at school to talk about Reece.

Have you all heard of 'aha moments'? I heard about these moments from dear Oprah and understood them - they are moments of clarity - but truly had never experienced one. Until I was walking back home from that meeting about my son.

It was an IEP meeting, where I met with his teacher, school counselor, a reading specialist, a speech and OT therapists, as well as the special education coordinator. We were meeting to discuss  Reece's strengths and weaknesses.

And after leaving that meeting, I had my first 'aha moment'. It was then that I realized that I had spent the last year and a half full of anger and frustration when I had a much bigger task at hand that had been threatened by my wasted time and energy.

It was at that moment that I said 'I'm done!' No longer was I going to waste my time on drama and he said/she said. Because there are things that were way, way, WAY more important than that. And I had just left a meeting that was telling me that.

But forgiving is an entirely different animal. I watched this video of this mother this morning, in complete awe of her. Her courage. Her braveness. Her strength.

I mean... I still hold grudges against girls that were mean to my sister in high school.

I don't understand true forgiveness very well. I could easily say, "I forgive you", but then still harbor these mean feelings. So have I truly forgiven? Is saying "I forgive you" just the right thing to do? I don't know!

I feel like I'm going to be having conversations with people at the end of this year that will help lead me to forgiveness. Because time spent being angry and 'fed up' is not time well spent. Time spent listening to my kids read, watching them write and draw, laughing at each other is time well spent. Sitting on the couch watching a movie or show with Matt (because quality time is one of his love languages) or conversations with him when the kids are downstairs is time well spent.

I guess my thought process is this ... if this sweet mother who lost her baby can forgive the person that took him away from her, surely I can forgive people for doing a lot less?

Time will tell. But that video was a wakeup call. An aha moment.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Favorites


It's Friday!

Maybe next week I'll return to regularly-scheduled blogging?! Ughhh... my life is basically Two Dots, momming, Target, Amazon, shower, momming, Two Dots, momming, bed. Maybe if I replaced Target and Amazon with blogging, this could all go back to normal.

But then we would have no food to eat or diapers for the baby. Or Glade Christmas candles.

This week is more great ideas for gifts. Big to small.

Guys... I would tell you that you were crazy if you told me there was a pillow you could SLEEP on that would actually make your face look better and keep your hair pristine.

But you guys... I'm telling you... there is a pillow that actually makes your face look better and keeps your hair pristine and you don't have to do anything but SLEEP on it!

It's called the Glow Beauty Boosting Sleep Duo and it includes a pillowcase and eye mask. Each thread of the pillowcase and mask are infused with copper, which is an essential mineral known to enhance skin appearance for a healthy, youthful glow. Who knew!!

I read the reviews, read a bloggers reviews... I'm in. Who else is?!!

I know I have shown a version of this Sigma Makeup Brush Cleaner before, but I believe the last one was a mat. This one is a glove. And I think I like the idea of the glove more! 

I am AWFUL about cleaning my makeup brushes. If this was in eyesight, I feel like it would not slip my mind as easily. 

It's on the Christmas list! 

It went from 60 degrees to 12 in less than 24 hours this week here in Chicago. Luckily, our Marmot coats came in just in time (this is the NICEST coat I have ever owned and now I know why it's best not to skimp when it's 12 degrees outside and you're standing in a line, waiting to pick up your kids from school... skimpy coats leave you frostbitten. Nice coats leave you wishing you were inside, but you've got a nice, down coat on so you can last five minutes)! 

I saw this Pompom beanie on one my favorite new bloggers (Beth at Seersuckle and Saddles) and that evening, my mom and I walked down to Michigan Avenue, into TopShop, tried on the four different beanie options and walked out with this one (but I would have liked to take them all home). It's so cute, super warm and just fun with the big PomPom! ;) 

Reece and I stopped at the Madewell store near us to pick up a Christmas gift I had shipped there (silly me, I thought it would just be smart to not pay shipping and just run down to pick it up... yet we drove around trying to find a free parking spot for 15 minutes... should have just paid the shipping). Oh Madewell... you have my heart!

Seriously, I want everything in that store. And if you have not been to a Madewell store, make it a priority -- or at least browse their website!

Since we spent forever trying to find a parking spot, we had to at least spend five minutes in the store. So I went to the shoes and Reece went to the clothes (and found many things that he said, "Hmmm... mom, this would look nice on you!" ... God love him!). My eyes went straight to these booties and my feet immediately went into them.

The Jillian Boot is on the Christmas list. It's on the part of the list that I know won't make it under the tree, but it has to go on the list! These booties were super comfortable and hit at the right part of the ankle. Perfect with ankle-length jeans and the color of suede is the perfect shade.

In. Love.

I shared this coat on my Facebook page a week or so ago. They have sold out of a lot of colors because the color I had originally wanted doesn't exist anymore! 

Then I found this coat ... very similar, but much less expensive. Big fan. (Sidenote: If you haven't browsed The Loft website in awhile, it would be in your best interest to do that -- the sweater options are A-MAZING and they are ALWAYS having a sale!)

But then I found this coat. This coat is from Macy's and doesn't have the fur collar, but what draws me to it is the stand-up collar, the big pockets and the BRIGHT color! I absolutely love a big, bright pop of color in the dead of winter. And this blue is just that! 

And there are just a few more gift options for you... for your friends... for your mom, your sister, your neighbor... anyone that needs something great in your life, these will do. :)

Have a great weekend, friends! Like I said... my goal is to return to blogging next week. ONE CAN DREAM! :)


Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday Favorites

Hello friends!

Happy December 1! Can you believe it?!

It's been a few weeks since I've been on here. We've had lots of family and friends visiting over the last few weeks and this week, I've been working my tail off on Two Dots during any spare time that I have. BUT it's that time of year when Friday Favorites are extra important - it's the season of gifting so I want to be able to help you out in whatever way I can, be it gifts for friends, for yourself, for the guys, for the kids ...

It's a smorgasbord of gift options.

Here we go!

When my mother-in-law asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I was brutally honest with her. 

I wanted this Marc Jacobs Natasha Crossbody Bag. And I felt like if I told her I wanted this purse, it would alleviate her having to buy me anything else. Because this would be it! 

So... a month and a few weeks before Christmas, I got this purse! And I'm IN LOVE! 

Once we got rid of Tess's diaper bag and downsized to just a little backpack, I was carrying around my very small (yet very cute) Kate Spade purse... that didn't zip because my wallet was sticking out of it.

Which I thought was sort of an issue. This bag made that a non-issue as well as gave me a little more room to throw a few more things in if I needed to, but not so much room that I was throwing the entire refrigerator in my bag! 

It comes in a smaller one that I also tried... it would have solved the wallet issue, but would have given me no other room for anything besides my wallet. So I went with this classic size and am so happy with it! I use it as a cross body, can still carry Tess in one arm, and am not worried about my wallet getting jacked because it's sticking out of my purse! 

I debated between this color, black and a darker grey. In the end, Matt made the final decision because I literally couldn't decide and would have been happy with any three options! Super happy with it all the way around and am glad to have it in my possession! 

Not sure how your kids feel about the movie Home Alone. But mine (mostly) love it! Sloane is a big fan. Reece was a fan once he realized we wouldn't forget him and fly to Paris without him! 

I was browsing books today at Target to grab for the kids stockings and came across this one - it's cheaper on Amazon at the moment. But how cute is this! The illustrations are so great. And what a fun book to have year-round! 

And in case you missed my Instagram/Facebook post last week, we stopped by the actual 'Home Alone' house and the drove through the area it was filmed in and I was ready to pack up our apartment and move to the suburbs! It's the most picturesque little (expensive) place - I can't wait to go back during the daylight hours! Google Winnetka, Illinois. ;) 

Ask zero questions. Just get this candle ASAP! Have I steered you wrong on seasonal Glade candles yet?! 

I bought these at Target on Thanksgiving night at 11 pm as well as the plug-ins in this scent for the kids rooms. They are amazing!!! 

Overtime I walk in to the Sloane and Reece's rooms, I gladly want to stay and pick up everything/put everything away, rather than walk in and walk back out! ;) 

When Jenna visited Thanksgiving week, I "forced" her to go to DryBar while she was here. DryBar is basically heaven. You go, they wash your hair, they blow dry your hair, they style your hair, and they make it last for days. 

It's true. That is a real place. 

I would go once a week if that was financially possible! And it's honestly, not a bad price. So when you get the chance to go, go! 

They of course have tons of great products that you can snag when you leave, but this shower cap should be the number one thing you leave with - it will help to keep your hair looking great, post shower. I don't know about you all, but I will get into the shower and my hair will be looking workable. I get out of the shower and it's just hanging there, dead as a doornail. 

This shower cap is lined with Terry-cloth to help you keep workable hair as is! 

For that guy in your life who loves to grill... and leave his grill tools outside and scrapes away every time without cleaning anything and is just disgusting. 

Oh wait, did I say that out loud?! :) 

These were on a Facebook ad that popped up one day, I read about them and immediately added to the "Matt Christmas List of 2017". They don't have the wire bristles on the ends which can break off and get in your food (bleh)! So if you have a professional griller in your family, this might be a great gift option! 

And with that gift... I have two deals to tell you about. All next week is Two Dots' annual 5 Days of Deals. Below is a list of the deals for the week: 

These deals are fantastic for those Christmas shopping for the fashion-savvy gals in your life! So take note, add it to the calendar, sticky note your fridge... don't miss out! 

Secondly... Starting today through December 12, I'll be doing the 12 Days of Christmas on my Lips Shop page! A deal a day on LipSense and all SeneGence products. So get ready! And make sure you follow my Facebook page for those deals. 

And after all that, I will be wiped out! So as hopeful as I want to be about returning to regular-scheduled blogging next week, it just might not happen. It might happen the next week... but either way, let's cross fingers life returns to normal soon! ;) 

Have a great weekend! 


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