Those People Who Knew You Before You Were You

Posted by Carly Morgan

I spent a couple of days in Monterey with Kate this past weekend so I could take some photos of her baby (four months already!) and see her place before the Army moves them again this summer. It was a teeny trip, one of those fly-in-fly-out jobs and I went solo while Kyle stayed at home with the kids.

Most of the weekend was just chatting since we’ve hit our thirties and figured out that vacations full of “things to do” are seriously overrated. Since we’ve been friends for twenty years now, the conversation flip-flopped between current events in our lives and things that happened a million years ago involving people we don’t talk to anymore. Kate’s parents are relocating and had sent some of Kate’s old things to her so photos, notes, and emails surfaced to remind us of how lame we used to be.

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I don’t remember the photo above. It was apparently taken when I was in the 9th grade if that date stamp is accurate and I would have just turned fourteen some weeks before. I’m not in touch with one of those girls anymore and I’m really only half in touch with the other, but for some reason I remember all of our shirts so clearly and I could probably tell you the color of the backpacks and hair scrunchies that we can’t really see. Why my brain has held onto that information…I don’t know.

Not all of the photos were that old. There was one later in high school but I didn’t bother to save that one because all you can really see in it is how I was really too skinny to just be “skinny” and leave it at that. There were more smiling photos with Kate and I standing with people we don’t talk to anymore, arms around everyone and totally oblivious to the fact that we should have just taken photos with the two of us standing alone because pttth to them.

Others photos were later, college but early college because then Kate and I hit a long period of never really managing to be in the same city at the same time and that streak has continued. I did pop up again, this time in her wedding album from just a couple of summers ago, and while I was looking at a pic of Kate with her bridesmaids (myself included) I was wondering if it would take a super sleuth to connect that photo of the woman in the blue glasses standing next to the bride in the perfect eyeliner with the two dorks doing jazz hands on a junior high stage.

In addition to the photos, Kate has emails and notes, most of them saved from when she was in college. I skimmed them and found a couple my ex had sent her right after she introduced us. It was funny, because at first I skipped right over them…feeling somehow like I was invading his privacy…but then I went back and looked at them. They were all full of excitement and compliments for me and the kind of exclamation points someone uses when they’re falling in love way too fast.

I hadn’t kept those early emails from my ex. The vast majority of our correspondence was deleted a long time ago when I realized that it really was never ever ever going to be fixed. Like the skinny photos and the pictures with people I’m not friends with anymore, I had actually forgotten words like that existed and now to read them fifteen years later was actually kind of nice – complimentary that anyone had ever given me that many exclamation points in one five line email I wasn’t ever supposed to see.

That is what really old friends are, isn’t it? They’re the places where we quietly keep the things we can’t always hold on to. They filter and process our memories, bringing them out when we might need them and gracefully recalling only the parts where we look good. We always get to be the good guy in hindsight (even if we were probably the bad guy) because we were learning or we were young or it was obviously someone else’s fault when you line all the evidence up.

I was thinking about that when Kate was driving me back to the airport and I realized it’s because we probably love our friends more than we love ourselves most of the time. I’d bet hard money that my memories of Kate from junior high and high school are a thousand times more complimentary than the ones she has of herself because I remember her as fearless, so strong, effortlessly cool, and annoyingly pretty. When she tells stories from school, I’m often shocked at how “wrong” she remembers things because she takes herself down a notch…but then I guess I do the same.

Being honest, I don’t believe that friendships are forever. Lots of people are now people I used to know. For most of them, there aren’t any hard feelings or sad stories. We were friends and stuff shifted and we lost touch. But I do have those touchstone friends – the ones that snuck in and became “my people” – and I probably have even more of those than I really deserve because even one or two would have made me a very lucky lady.

I won’t list them. That’s not what this is. I don’t want to do shout outs to my Taylor Swift squad or anything. I’ll just say that maybe picking a handful of people to really love the crap out of is actually more self-serving than we think it is. Perhaps we’re giving them all that love at fourteen and fifteen and nineteen and twenty-three because there’s a part of us who knows we might need a weekend in the future to get it bounced right back.

P.S. Kate’s baby. The cutest. I already miss his little fuzzy head.

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Why I Get More Migraines This Time of Year

Posted by Carly Morgan

I created this post as part of a campaign by Teva Pharmaceuticals. I received an American Express gift card for participating.

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This is the second part of a series of posts talking about migraines. In my first migraine post, I talked about my worst migraines which are the ones where I go completely blind for a period of time. I was surprised at how many people sent me messages after that post to say that they had the same symptoms or something similar including people who lose their hearing temporarily, people who have terrible smells/tastes in their mouth for hours, and people who feel like they’re staring into a bright light whether they close their eyes or not. These are definitely not just “bad headaches”.

I get 2-3 migraines every month but luckily I only lose my vision occasionally. The other migraines are debilitating but they don’t leave me completely helpless so I’ll still take them over the others any day. A few years back, I noticed that I could see a pattern in how often the migraines were occurring and realized that specific times of years seem to be much more likely to trigger a migraine episode than others. My worst times are in late Spring and Autumn, which I only noticed because I tend to be down with migraines right around the time certain outdoor activities are taking place. For whatever reason, spring flowers, Mother’s Day brunch, and pumpkin patches are all things that I now associate with migraines.

The tough thing about pinning down an exact trigger is that there are so many things out there that can set migraines off. Weather changes, lack of sleep, loud noises, bright lights, and stress are all known triggers and it wouldn’t surprise me if seasonal allergy sufferers who have migraines are more likely to be triggered right when all the plants are changing. If you do suffer from migraines, it’s a good idea to try to keep track of what you were doing before you noticed symptoms to see if you can find a pattern and try to avoid or plan for those triggers in the future. Planning for triggers might seem silly, but it’s not a bad idea to have a kit with things that will help (dark sunglasses, a bottle of water, a bag to throw up into, etc.) if you might be caught out and about with a migraine.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with myself for having migraines because some of my triggers are things that are in my control, like how much sleep I got the night before, but ultimately I know that occasionally it’s just something that happens even if I’m well-rested or well-hydrated or staying out of the sun. So, I try hard to stay relaxed, do what I can to feel better, and then concentrate on the fact that it will pass because it always has before. I think any kind of pain, disorientation, and nausea has the unsettling habit of tricking you into feeling like you’ll suffer from it FOREVER, so being conscious of the fact that time is moving forward and getting me closer to relief is a huge comfort for me.

Learn more at MoretoMigraine.com.

8 Family History Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Posted by Carly Morgan

So, Mother’s Day is almost here. How weird is that? I confess that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to sneak up on me every year. I should know that they’re coming but I’m usually blindsided at the last second, totally reliant on Amazon overnight shipping.

I figured I’d give you guys fair warning that Mother’s Day is May 8th this year, which gives you just about three weeks to get your act together if there are moms in your life that you want to honor. I haven’t decided what I’m doing for the moms in my life, but I might do something in the family history vein because that’s kind of my thing. I know that personally I would love a dusty old genealogy book or a new photo gift more than a spa day or World’s Best Mom mug!

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8 Family History Gifts for Mother’s Day:

Ancestry.com Subscription /// I use Ancestry.com and I think it’s the best way to keep everything organized, but it is a little pricey. If this isn’t something your mom would buy for herself but you know she’s been talking about organizing her family history info, buying an annual subscription would be a very nice gift!

How-to Genealogy Books // In the same vein as the Ancestry.com subscription, if you have a mom who keeps talking about putting together a family tree but doesn’t know where to start, a how-to book could be a fun surprise. There’s a whole range of these types of books out there from the text-heavy ones that make you feel like you’re taking a college course to the photo-filled ones that are mostly other people’s success stories. Personally, I like this one, this one, and this one.

Photo Book of Scanned Family Snapshots /// Old candids and photo booth strips look like pieces of art when you scan them, blow them up, and have them printed in a hardcover book. I’ve done photo books like this a few times for gifts and always been happy with how they turned out. If the thought of scanning a ton of photos is overwhelming, you might consider doing just one falling-apart-album this time. For example, if you have a bunch of photos from one particular trip you took when you were little, making a nostalgic vacation album by scanning and enlarging some of those photos would be a very cute idea! I’ve used a few different companies for these, but Blurb.com is still my go-to. Be sure to check online for coupons!

Art from a Historically Significant Place /// My mother’s family comes mostly from San Francisco and San Rafael, with origins in China. My father’s family spent time in the Chicago area and the south, but originally came from very specific places in the U.K. My stepfather’s family has a lot of history in Wyoming and Colorado, but if you go back far enough you get to riverside areas in Germany. Maps, paintings, and framed photos from any of these places would work both as genealogical pieces and as nice gifts with that little extra bit of thought behind them. My favorite source for things like this is eBay.

Professionally Designed Family Trees /// You can purchase framed family trees in all sorts of designs and styles, assuming you have the names and dates to fill them up. There are big companies out there who handle them, but you might want to browse Etsy.com for family trees first. Sometimes there are young designers who are still building up their portfolios and they do really nice work for a fraction of the price.

Recipe Books /// Like the photo books, you can put together your own family recipe books and have them printed and bound nicely. If you don’t have very many recipes (and there’s no secret stash of your mom’s that you can sneak out), consider combining dates and family stories with recipes that fit that person (like a campside bread recipe for a great-grandmother who was on the Oregon Trail). Even knowing the general place a person lived tells you a lot about what they were probably eating. Neighborhood organizations often published cookbooks featuring recipes popular in that area at that time and you can usually find these either at the library or online.

Framed Prints of Family Photos /// I did this for Mother’s Day last year using Minted.com and the results were really nice. Just be sure you’ve scanned the photo in at a high enough resolution that it won’t be pixelated once it’s blown up.

A Gift Certificate for a Family Photo Session (with Prints) /// Don’t forget that family history is more than just the historical – you want to be sure you’re capturing today as well! A gift for a family photo session is a nice surprise that they can organize on their own schedule and including at least a few prints makes this a gift they’ll appreciate for years.

Flying With Baby – Tips from a New Momma

Posted by Kate Ardohain

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Over Easter, I made a trip out to Utah with my 15-week old baby, Steven, to see my extended family. Chris stayed in California to work on his thesis. Traveling alone with a baby was nerve-racking for me, as I am a huge planner and rarely go out of my comfort zone unless I am forced to, but being a new mom, I tend to exit that zone quite often now! After two successful flights there and back, I wanted to offer some tips and tricks that worked for me.

Pack Early – Pack and repack in the week preceding your travel. Both for you and baby. For me, it was helpful to go through my day making a mental checklist of the things I use for Steven. Once I was packed, I went through everything with Chris to ensure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

Carry On Bag – I am not a fan of diaper bags that sling over the shoulder and don’t offer a ton of usable space inside. For me, the best thing to use is a backpack. It offers a lot of space, a lot of pockets (big, medium, small and the smallest pocket in the front of the bag), and it has two straps to throw onto your back for easy carrying. In my carry-on, I was very strategic about what I wanted to carry.

  • Travel Diaper Bag – (Medium Pocket) We got ours at Target and it is basically a little fold up changing pad with pockets for diapers and wipes. I was able to pack up 6 diapers, a travel pack of wipes (our favorite are the Kirkland brand from Costco), and an extra outfit for Steven
  • Nursing Cover – (Biggest Pocket) The swaddling blankets we use are big, lightweight, and perfect for covering up when nursing (we use the Cuddle Bug Muslin Swaddle Blankets that are 47×47 inches… for the record, most swaddling blankets are much smaller than this)
  • Change of Clothes – (Medium Pocket) In a gallon size ziplock bag, I put an extra shirt for me, an extra jammie for Steven, a burp cloth, and a few more diapers
    Extras – (Small Pocket) Pacifier, gas drops, and a little toy that I had removed from Steven’s play mat that was small and flat, but that had a little rattle inside to hold his interest (keep in mind, he wasn’t even 4 months old, so it doesn’t take much)
  • Mommy Stuff – (Smallest Pocket) Travel stuff: wallet, phone charger, and sunglasses. Easily accessible and only the necessities
  • Extra Space – (Biggest Pocket) The last thing I needed to throw into the backpack was the carrier that I was using to transport Steven through the airport so the biggest pocket had only the nursing blanket and lots of extra room to shove the carrier in

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Baby Outfit – I know that a lot of the time, people tend to make trips with young babies due to family wanting to meet your new bundle. Because of this, I think it’s only natural to want to dress the baby in a super cute outfit to meet his extended family. Unfortunately, sometimes “cute” translates to lots of pieces that can be misplaced during travel. To make it easy for me, I dressed Steven in one of his “jammie” onesies: one piece, with one zipper and footies, covering him from neck to toes. No lost socks, rogue hoodies, or bunched up pants. Sidenote: I dressed in a comfortable outfit, just a t-shirt and workout pants with pockets so I didn’t have to worry about adjusting or things being too tight or uncomfortable.

Bib aka, The Attached Burp Rag – To go along with the outfit, I put a bib on Steven to travel with. It was one less loose item to fall onto a dirty airport floor. For the record, once I boarded the plane, I had a burp cloth tucked into the side of my backpack carryon to easily access and use during the flight when I was settled and not getting up to move around a ton.

Baby Carrier – I was super lucky and Carly had a car seat waiting in Utah so I didn’t have to use a car seat or stroller. I had Steven in my Ergo baby carrier to get through security and to walk easily through the airport with the ability to use both my hands. The great thing for me is that Steven tends to fall asleep easily when he’s in the carrier and I’m moving, which meant that I was the crazy, rocking, bouncing lady in the security line for 20 minutes, and I was okay with it. When I got to the scanner at security, I was able to walk through with Steven still in the carrier and just get checked on the other side. It was really simple and convenient. On this note: once I was through security and to my gate, I took him out of the carrier and played with him (keeping him awake) until we boarded to give myself the best possibility for a good sleep on the plane.

Diaper Change – For me, it was easier to find an empty corner in an empty gate to lay him (and all my supplies) down on his portable changing pad to get him cleaned up so I didn’t have to deal with people shoving and short-tempered in the airport bathrooms. I changed Steven right before I boarded the plane to ensure he was clean and dry when I sat down and I didn’t have to worry about an emergency change in the tiniest bathrooms known to man on the plane.

Boarding – There are different schools of thought on when to board with baby. Some say to take advantage of early boarding for people traveling with children under 2 and some say wait until the last minute to board to minimize static sitting time with your baby. For me, I wanted to board early to get situated and just keep Steven occupied for the 10 extra minutes until we left the gate and I could start nursing him. It worked because I didn’t feel rushed and I had everything ready to feed, burp, or play with accessible before everyone else boarded.

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Here’s the bottom line: flying with a baby takes a lot more of a lot of things. More time, more patience, more “stuff”. But taking the time to plan for the worst and hope for the best was extremely helpful for me. It turned out, once I started feeding Steven, he slept the whole flight out to Salt Lake and most of the flight back which made it really simple. It’s okay to stress about it. That just means that you care about things going well and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Our Tour of Tide Dry Cleaners

Posted by Carly Morgan

Disclaimer: I had a few items cleaned for free at Tide Dry Cleaners as part of my tour through their facility. The thoughts and opinions below are my own.

I get weird emails as a blogger. I’m sure we all get weird emails (who knew there were so many people just waiting to give us money from international accounts) but I get non-spam weird emails. Things like “how would you like to borrow this couch for a week” or “can we pay you in hot dogs” or “please come to a party to celebrate our new flavor of flax cereal”.

Recently, I got invited to tour the new Tide Dry Cleaners opening in South Jordan. I have to admit that I almost skipped right over it since I haven’t been going to very many local blogger events lately, but then I realized that I had absolutely no idea how dry cleaning works. What is dry cleaning?

 

 

I had too much curiosity to turn this one down (for all I knew this would rival that time Mr. Rogers went to the crayon factory) so I took an armful of dirty shirts and my mother and we went to the dry cleaners. Taking my mom was key because my mom is someone who actually has things dry cleaned. I only have things dry cleaned if something has happened and a recovery needs to take place (my wedding, someone else’s wedding) or if something fabric-not-clothes needs to be thoroughly cleaned (that time Eva threw up on Curious George). Honestly, dry cleaning is too intimidating to use all the time. I prefer to ruin Kyle’s work shirts and then blame him for shopping anywhere other than Old Navy. True Story.

Anyway…

I’m not totally sure I got my “authentic” dry cleaner tour because this dry cleaner doesn’t look like any other dry cleaner. It’s totally open so when you walk in you can see everything that’s going on. There’s no weird back room where they’re taking your clothes. It was also really bright and clean inside and it smells like Tide laundry detergent so that’s a little confusing. Therefore, I can’t promise you that this is how all dry cleaners work because this is probably not how your dry cleaner works but this is how your dry cleaner SHOULD work because it’s awesome.

 

1 /// You check your clothes in and they get barcoded. When you set up an account as a Tide Dry Cleaners customer, you get a number that matches your profile. They then put this little heat tag barcode somewhere discreet on an inside seam or something (vs using a pin to actually put a hole in your clothes) and that tag stays on the whole time so your clothes never get lost. They also save special instructions to the little heat tag so the people who work there can scan it and immediately see that you want them to double check the buttons or use light starch or go with a scent-free soap. That scent-free thing can also be a permanent option in your profile for everything you ever bring in – huge for allergy/asthma families or people who suffer from migraines.

Side note – one of the cool things that Tide does is they use that barcode system to update your account through an app you can put on your phone so you can actually check the progress of each item of clothing as it goes through. I really can’t imagine that you’d need to know exactly when your shirt is getting ironed but it’s kind of cool to have the option, right?

2 /// Your clothes are checked for stains, rips, etc. Before they wash anything, they check everything over for stains and they were pretty confident that they could get any kind of stain out at their stain station. It’s funny because they’re really just using the same Tide-brand stuff you can get at the grocery store and some elbow grease, so it isn’t dry cleaner magic so much as people who know what they’re doing with your clothes.

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3 /// Your clothes are washed. Turns out that dry cleaning looks a lot like regular clothes cleaning except everything is washed in a special solution. There are different solutions and processes depending on what color the clothes are and the type and some clothes go through in little bags (like delicates or beaded things) but really the process just looked a lot like washing.

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4 /// They’re steam pressed until dry. This part was my favorite. They have this fancy pants machine for shirts that presses them while they’re on a dummy so they’re pressed to look like how you would want them to look when you’re actually wearing them. After they’re taken off, they’re looked over and hand pressed a little bit to make sure that everything looks right.

Things that aren’t shirts had a different pressing area and less fancy equipment but the process in general was still pretty much the same. It was nice to see how organized it was. They talked about how they never lose anything and it made sense, because everything was so in-it’s-place I don’t see how you could.

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5 /// They fix your buttons. If they notice that a button is missing, they replace it if they can. This is true even if you didn’t mention the button or if the button wasn’t there when you dropped it off. It’s a free part of the service. Of course, if it’s a really weird button they might not be able to do it, but then they’ll make a note of it for you.

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6 /// It does the Dance of the Clean Shirts. I don’t know what this machine is really called, but after your clothes are ready they get bagged and scanned in and the machine moves so that all of your clothes can be hung up relatively close together so you don’t have to wait long to pick them up.

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It’s worth noting that Tide Dry Cleaners work a little differently than regular dry cleaners because they offer free curbside valet OR you can actually use this giant clean clothing ATM thing they have to pick up your dry cleaning at any time just by punching in your info. Naturally, they also have an outside dry cleaning drop off where you can put your clothes (and any new ones) as long as they’re in your special dry cleaning bag with your barcode on it. So, theoretically you could go in once and then drop off and pick up from the dry cleaners forever without ever actually having to get out of your car. Score one for errands you can run in your pajama bottoms.

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Other than that, there were some nice services that had to do with some of the products that Tide makes, but the prices are still low (lower than the one by my house in fact) and the people who are running it are all very friendly and down to earth.

The grand opening for this Tide Dry Cleaners is this Saturday and they doing two free garments for everyone who comes by, along with some other giveaways. The address is 11514 S 4000 W in South Jordan, Utah, and they’re open from 8-5.

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They’re starting to pop up all over, though, so if you aren’t in the area you should see if there’s a Tide Dry Cleaners by you. Apparently one opened south of me last year and I didn’t even know about it, so I’m happy to spread the word about these guys!

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