Friday, October 30, 2015

Cheers to the Weekend: Halloween Edition

Hip, Hip, Hooray!!! Not only is it Friday, but it's Halloween weekend! This calls for a celebration. So...


Themed days at school. Neon Day. Team Day. Crazy Hair/Sock Day. Literary Character Day. So much fun!

Intimate gatherings with dear friends. They fill me up and make me so grateful for the women in my life. 

Momma-Daughter slumber parties. Sometimes you need to spend your Saturday night cranking up "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," painting nails, eating too much candy, making shadow puppets, sharing secrets, and laughing 'til your stomach hurts, all with your best pal.

Progressive couples costume parties. Happening tonight. Stay tuned for our costume...

The last game of first flag football seasons. It was an awesome season for our Bankster and his teammates, and we are bummed it has already come to an end. Can't wait 'til next year!

Clemson Tiger football. Not only are our Tigers having a great season on the field, but I love that our Coach Dabo readily shares his Christian faith and is having such a positive influence on so many off the field. 

Milestone accomplishments. Specifically in the form of learning to ride two-wheelers!

Good news for people I love. So much to celebrate for so many deserving people. <3

Happier days for little ones. I hold tight to the days as they pass, knowing that it won't be like this for long. The good, the bad, the easy, the hard, I will miss all of it one day too soon. So I hold tight now and try to take it in...

Fun plans ahead. A party for the parents, a party and parade for the kids, trick-or-treating, football watching...sounds like a good weekend to me!

CHEERS to you and your weekend! Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On Life Versus Work

Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. 
     That's what I have to say. 
The second is only a part of the first...
There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. 
But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. 
Your particular life. Your entire life. 
Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. 
Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. 

     -Anna Quindlen

Is there really anything else to say this week? I mean, honestly, can I top that in any way, shape, or form? 

No. The answer is no. 

I hope you have a good week and are able to reflect on those words. To me, they are the absolute truth. 


Friday, October 23, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: Three-Day Weekend Edition

Man, I love Fridays! I especially love Fridays that the kiddos have off from school, meaning we can enjoy the start of a three-day weekend and lounge and play and be unstructured for the day. Hooray! If you and I were meeting for coffee this morning, though, it'd have to be a fairly quick chat, as my hub and I are off to meet with Banks' teacher for his parent-teacher conference in a bit. Before we take off, though, I would ask about YOU. About what's new. What's old. What you want to share. I would then share a few tidbits about me and my week:

...that the kiddos and I have been logging plenty of hours outside after school this week, enjoying the gorgeous weather, playing with friends, checking things off our Fall Bucket List, and getting in a few fun Halloween activities. 

 Y'all. Bless. After we completed our Halloween Hunt, Banks insisted on then creating his own.

Harrison and his boo. <3

...that doesn't Harrison just look as happy as can be? 

Here is a perfect example of the highlight REEL. Because here is what much of the last week has looked like with him. This is the REAL:

Sadly, he is going through a bit of a "rough" phase, with some new teeth (finally) making their way through those sweet gums, a brief bout of sickness, and a temper emerging. Whew. Here's hoping for a happier rest of October for my little buster.

...that I was able to sneak away for a girlfriend dinner earlier this week and absolutely loved the company, conversation, and the amazing food! Local friends, if you haven't already, PLEASE dine at Tapas 51. Delicious!

...that my hub chaperoned our girl on her field trip to the pumpkin patch this week, and they had so much fun!


...that I am so excited about the couples costume my hub came up with for our progressive Halloween party next Friday! I'll be working hard getting it ready next week. :) 

...that nothing makes Banks happier than being on a football field. He loves every.single.minute. of it, and I know he will be so sad when his season ends in a couple short weeks.

...that, most importantly, if you have even $1 (seriously! any amount is appreciated!) please consider donating to our family's 9th Annual L.W. Rutland Thanksgiving Food Drive. We are quite a ways from our goal and appreciate absolutely any support you can provide, which will go towards providing Thanksgiving meals for those in need in the Aiken, South Carolina community. Thank you so much in advance!

And with that, I would wish you a happy Friday as we emptied our cups and went on our way to kick off the weekend! I hope you spend yours with the ones you love. See you next week!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mom-ing Through Faith: On People

The substance of life isn't stuff or success or work or accomplishments or possessions. It really isn't, although we devote enormous energy to those goals. 

Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the "Keeping Up With the Joneses" mentality. At least in American society, I think most of us have a tendency to want more, more, MORE. And, as my favorite pastor, Andy Stanley, preached about, to get caught up in the ER. To want to be richER, thinnER, smartER, just generally, bettER than those around us. And then, when we achieve those things, to want to be the EST: richEST, thinnEST, smartEST, just generally, BEST. And hello, as I shared last week, I am an anxious perfectionist who struggles to meet my own goals, my own ERs and own ESTs. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it is good to have goals. I think the trouble comes when too much emphasis is placed on attainment of stuff, and too much devotion to work, and too much effort in achieving goals, particularly when those things are given priority over what matters most, as Jen Hatmaker so brilliantly shares in For The Love:

The fullest parts of my life, the best memories, the most satisfying pieces of my story have always involved people. 

It's true, isn't it? Take a minute and think back over your life. Think of the five happiest memories that come to mind first. Do they involve loved ones? Do they involve time spent with people? Or do they involve attainment of STUFF? I don't know about you, but mine are about people. Mrs. Hatmaker goes on to say

Live long enough and it becomes clear that stuff is not the stuff of life. People are.


When my life is coming to an end, I hope I am surrounded by beautiful, joyful memories of time spent with those I love. I have a feeling it won't matter what I was wearing when I first learned I was pregnant, it won't matter what rug I had in my bedroom the day my husband proposed, it won't matter that I earned a 4.0 in grad school. What I truly believe I will reflect on at that time are the important moments of my life, all of which are defined by the people who were there with me. Stuff is not the stuff of life. People are.

But that being said, I think another point that Jen Hatmaker makes is critical to recognize: 

Conversely, nothing hurts worse or steals more joy than broken relationships. We can heal and hurt each other, and we do. 

Isn't that the truth? Has your greatest pain come from not having STUFF in your life? Or has it come from broken relationships with people? 

We must protect each other. We must protect each others' hearts. And we must teach our children to do the same. Every day, one of my dear friends writes the following on her kiddos' lunchbox napkins: 

Be kind. Be you. Love Jesus. 

Isn't that all we need? Be kind to others. Protect each other and love each other and support each other. Be you. It's not about being better or the best. It's about being you, the exact person God designed you to be in the exact way He did. He chose to create each of us uniquely and wonderfully, not so we can try to mimic others and try to attain their successes and their stuff. But. So we can be ourselves, as ourselves, love Jesus, and encourage others to do the same. 

Because after all, Stuff is not the stuff of life. People are. 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: It's Back Edition

Now that the temps are finally dipping in more Fall-like weather, I thought I'd shift gears to Coffee Date Fridays, where we drink virtual coffee and share a virtual "conversation," recapping the highs, lows, and in-betweens of our weeks. If you know me, you know I'll be sipping my pumpkin-spiced coffee while we chat. :)

First I'd want to know, how are YOU? How was your week? Anything fun planned for the weekend? Anything you've been struggling with and want to talk about? Anything you want to celebrate? 

After being saturated by all things you, I'd share the following about moi:

...That, friend, I must admit that I was TERRIFIED to publish my latest Mom-ing Through Faith post. It is a scary thing to make oneself vulnerable and share such raw truths. I had butterflies when I hit "publish" and remained uncertain that it was the right thing to do all day. I had debated all weekend whether to even share that post. I should have known better. Because I cannot begin to express how deeply touched I was, not only by the love and support you showed me, both publicly and privately, after I admitted the "truth," but maybe even more so, the number of people who reached out to share their own vulnerabilities with me. It confirmed that I am extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many beautiful, raw, real individuals, ones who I am so proud to walk through this one beautiful, wild, and precious life with. I am so glad I was finally able to remove my "mask" and show you what lies beneath. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your love and kindness. And thank you, those of you who reached out privately, to share your truths with me. I feel honored and remember....I am a vault. My lips are sealed. Love you all so!!! And I can't wait for Monday's Mom-ing Through Faith post. :)

...Whew. That, on a different note, we are in full on Halloween mode over here in the Lu house. Like many neighborhoods, ours does the fun "You've been boo'd" activity for the kids. We were "boo'd" last week and then went and "boo'd" two of our neighbors. 

We also have our Halloween costumes ready and waiting for three eager little trick-or-treaters to wear (although I am still brainstorming a good couples costume for my hub and I to wear to an adult's only progressive Halloween party the night before. Any suggestions?). And, our Halloween/Fall decor has made it's debut! Man, I love this time of year!! 

...That Banks had his first kindergarten field trip this week, and thanks to some very sweet friends who were chaperoning (love you Christi and Natalie!), I received pictures and videos from the fun fall festivities throughout the morning. Pretty sure the kiddos had a blast!

...That I had so much fun hosting my first online R+F par-tay the other night! It was crazy and intense from my end but so, so fun! Thank you to all that purchased--I can't wait for you to see how well this stuff works and why I actually decided to jump into this nightmarish (for me) role in sales. I'm excited to share some of my own personal before/after pics soon (the befores--yikes! gulp! but as I said, I plan to be totally honest and non-BSy in this role). As always, let me know if you want to hear more from someone who pretty much hates sales and promises to be truthful and honest about this stuff.

...That the 1st Annual Fort Mill Care Center Charity Golf Tournament took place this past Monday and was a huge success. Through the hard work and teamwork of so many, almost $40,000 was raised for this awesome organization!!! A big, heartfelt thank you to all who played, participated, and supportive this charity. <3

...That my hub and I had a great time taking Banks to the (rainy! the whole time!) Clemson game last Saturday and watching them take down the Georgia Tech jackets. While I thought it would be miserable being in the rain the whole time, it was actually a lot of fun! And Raleigh and Harrison had a ball with their Bammy and Digby back at home. :) 

And with that, our coffee date would have to come to a close so we could each kick off our weekends! Thank you for joining me in our virtual chat this morning, and I'll see you back here on Monday for the next "Mom-ing Through Faith" post. Have a good one!  And GO TIGERS!!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Five On Friday: Pray For SC Edition

The start of this week felt like it was dragging, but it's Friday already and we are ready for a fun-filled weekend after a crazy busy week! That being said, just a quick Five on Friday for today!:

Y'all. I could not be prouder of my hub. He has been working his tail off creating and co-directing the 1st Annual Fort Mill Care Center Charity Golf Tournament. He has worked countless hours on this event to benefit this amazing, local center, which provides for those in need in our community. Monday is the BIG day, and I cannot wait to see his efforts come to fruition and to see so many who have supported this awesome cause come together to do good for this deserving charity. I am so proud of you, hub. Fore! 

Last weekend was HUUUUUUUGE for two reasons. Number 1: We had the absolute best time celebrating my cousin's wedding in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday night. Everything was beautiful and if "my side" of the family knows one thing, it's how to throw down. With all my fun and crazy aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings, nephews/nieces in town for the event, it was definitely a night to remember...especially if the four hours of sleep I got that night (and the fact that our little family crammed 5-deep into our hotel room) tells you anything. Congrats to the Bennetts! <3

The other weekend last weekend was a HUUUUUUUGE one? Because my Clemson Tigers fought tooth and nail 'til the bitter end, beating out Notre Dame 24-22, which came down to the last play of the game. While my hub and I were not able to make the game (see above), we were streaming it live during the reception and watched the end of it in the hotel bar. I'm pretty sure you could hear our screams throughout the entire town of Greenville. :) Go Tigers! 

On a much more important and serious note, it has been absolutely amazing to see not only the citizens of my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, but also strangers from near and far, come together to support the city amid the devastating floods. It has been so hard to see images of the place where I grew up facing such unimaginable loss. BUT at the same time, it has been heart warming to watch so many good-hearted people. I have never been prouder to be a South Carolinian. 

Last but not least, if you missed my last post, be sure to check out my BIG announcement here. I am pumped, pumped, PUMPED for Tuesday and really, really, REALLY hope you'll join in the honest, non-sales-y, non-BS, tell-it-like-it-is fun! If for nothing else, then stop by because (1) a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the SC Red Cross to address the flood relief efforts, and (2) there will be free stuff!

And now, it's off to prep for a trip to Death Valley tomorrow with my hub and the biggest little Tiger fan I know, my Banks! Raleigh and Harrison will be hanging back with Bammy and Digby while go on our way to see the Tigers play. Here's hoping they pull out another W against those pesky Georgia Tech Jackets!

Y'all have a good one! See you soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My BIG Announcement

Never in a million billion years did I think I'd be writing this post. 

(And please make sure you read to the very bottom, for, what I think, is the most important line of this entire post...)

You see, 2.5 years ago, I received a phone call from my sister, Jessie. She was exhilarated to share her latest news, her latest endeavor, and encouraged me with all her might to join her in the new adventure. 

I politely declined. 

I just didn't feel I was in the right position to add another "something" to my to-do list. Nonetheless, I (hesitantly) obliged to try out her new endeavor as one of her first customers. To be honest, I really didn't expect much. I was just providing support to my sister, after all, and didn't really anticipate falling in love like I did. 

I could not have been more wrong. 

Today, after 2.5 years of watching her succeed, after 2.5 years of being her loyal customer--no longer because I felt like I had to (like I did at first) but now because I saw firsthand what an amazing change can occur--I finally decided to drink the Koolaid, with the full backing of not only my sister, but also of one of my very best friends (what up, V?!), who also has found great success with this organization. 

Let me preface this announcement by saying that, y'all, pretty much my worst nightmare of a job is to be in sales (shudder!). Okay, well, maybe that falls behind podiatry (ewww-feet!) and gynecology (no explanation needed), but coming in a close third is sales. I am sensitive to rejection and don't want to bother pretty much anyone on the planet with anything more than they already have on their packed to-do lists. So, I am pretty much the absolute worst person for this job. True story. 


I am passionate about people, and in particular, about helping people. In the past (and will be again, in the future), it was children and their families, those facing uncertainty thanks to various neuropsychological conditions. Today, I want to take on a new role of helping people, albeit in a different way. And not because I want to join the masses of people who are already in this business, not because I want to join the extremely over-saturated social media advertising of these products, and not because I want to make pocketfuls of money (well, okay, that would be a nice perk). Simply because (1) I want to help people, and (2) I know first-hand that these products actually, truly, 100% work. 

Want proof? 

I birthed three big babies, the first being the largest and clocking in at a whopping 9 pounds, 15 ounces and 23 inches. I loved all three of my (big!) newborn bundles with all my heart. BUT. I did not love the stretch marks they left behind. So many women do--battle scars, they say! I've earned these stripes, they way! And more power to them, I say!--but, I am not one of those women. Call me vain, but I wanted my stretch marks G.O.N.E.

Want to see a little magic? 


Those photos are me. Those are photos of my belly: On the left, my stretch-marked belly pre-treatment and on the right, my stretch-mark-free belly post-treatment. 

Y'all. It works. And these products weren't even originally designed for stretch marks. They were designed to address the FACE: anti-aging, anti-acne, anti-redness, anti-spotting. 

Have you guessed yet? Surely you have by now...

I am so proud (and somewhat nervous, if I'm being totally honest) to announce that I am taking on a role as a consultant for Rodan + Fields. 

Yes, THAT company. The one that annoys me as much as you with how much it has taken over our Facebook and Instagram feeds. 

But. I just couldn't sit back anymore and not try to help others who may be facing the same aging skin issues that I (we all) face (haha! No pun intended. Truly!). I finally caved. I finally drank the Koolaid. 

I have tried almost every regimen over the last couple of years and have (non-BS!!) feedback on each of them (what works better than others; what I can't live without; what I can do without; etc.). And I am not afraid to be HONEST about this stuff. What you need. What you don't.

Are you thirsty for more? Are you even a teeny, tiny bit curious? Or do you just want to win free stuff? 


To launch my new role, I am hosting an online Rodan + Fields party next Tuesday, October 13th. The beauty of this is that you can sit comfortably on your couch with your wine in one hand, your remote in the other, and your computer on your lap and learn how I can help you address ANY and ALL skin issues you may be facing (acne; wrinkles; sun-spots; aging; sagging; irritated skin; dry skin; chapped lips; etc.!)

Again, y'all, being in sales is terrifying for me, but I promise to put on my big girl panties and do my best so that I can help anyone out there who may need a little guidance and encouragement, all from the comfort of your own home and the privacy of your own computer, and all without the salesy, over-exposed BS we are all tired of. I'll give you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

Please feel free to email me (find my email address under the "Contact" tab on my blog webpage), comment on Facebook under the link to this post, or comment below. While I have a list of people I am intending to invite to this fun online par-tay, I would love, love, LOVE to add more! Including YOU!

What have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing! Join me, won't you? I'll try not to be so nervous and I PROMISE not to be all sales-y and BS-y. :) 

See you online on Tuesday! 

P.S. I fully intend to donate 5% of what I make from this online party to the South Carolina flood relief. If there was ever a reason to finally try out these products, I can't think of a better one. <3 #PrayforSC

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Punch - Block - Kick to SIX!

While I love throwing birthday parties at my home for several reasons (set up is easier; no need to transfer decor/food/favors; free!), I have discovered that it is also really nice to "farm out" parties to other locations as my kiddos get older (fun activities run by others; no clean up). That being said, we decided to do just that for Banks' sixth birthday party. His first birthday was animal themed, his second was at a playground overlooking an airport, his third was sports themed, his fourth was a father-son campout in our backyard, and his fifth was a pool party. For his sixth, it was time to PUNCH, BLOCK, and KICK his way into SIX!

The amazing gym where Raleigh took gymnastics last year offers weekly ninja classes for little boys, and just so happens to host birthday parties in the same theme. So. That is exactly where we held Banks' party this year, and I think all the little ninjas had a blast! And now for the ninja-riffic details:

The Invitation: My sweet friend, Amy, has an awesome etsy shop with all kinds of amazing printables. I have worked with Amy many times over the last few years for party printables, school gifts, invitations, etc., and I couldn't recommend her any higher! She created the adorable invitation for the party, as well as labels for the food, drinks, and favors and a birthday banner. 

The Attire: Although Banks would need to be in comfy, gym-type clothing for the party so that he could perform his best ninja moves, I still wanted him to have a fun shirt to wear, which I ordered from the etsy shop CRAAUS

The Location: As I mentioned, the party took place at a Charlotte-area gymnastics place, called Gym-Fit. If you are local and looking for a place to enroll your little for awesome gymnastics (or ninja!) instruction, I would definitely recommend Gym-Fit. The staff are amazing with the kids and the facility is really nice!

The Decor: I didn't go too over the top with the decor but still wanted to have a little Ninja flair in the party colors of red and black. Easy, peasy and quick to set up!

The Menu: Because the party was mid-afternoon, and knowing we'd have just 30 minutes for food, presents, and favors, I kept the menu very simple: cupcakes (aka "KAPOW Cakes") and treats, which were definitely hits with the kids! I made the "sushi" out of rice krispie treats, Swedish fish, and Fruit-By-The-Foot (yes, they still make that sugary treat!). I also made the cupcakes and then topped them with ninja and throwing star gummies, which were purchased from this great little online shop called Karate Mart. I also purchased Ninja lollipops from the same site. Drinks were Gatorades, aka "Ninja PUNCH."


The Favors: The favors were really fun and easy to put together and all for a great price (score!). I bought the throwing stars from an etsy shop, Go With The Folds. I made the masks by backing them with plain black masks that I bought from Hobby Lobby and trimmed down to look like ninja masks, which I then covered with red felt cut in the same design. For the ninja bo staff, I bought copper pipe insulation from Lowe's which I then cut to the appropriate size and wrapped with red duct tape. So easy, and let me tell you, the party guests LOVED these!!! I heard from a couple of mommas days later saying that their kiddos were still playing with their staffs, taking them everywhere-ha!

The Fun: Finally, the fun! The party was structured so that the first hour was a ninja class. Two instructors led the kiddos throughout the gym, with activities including dancing, an obstacle course, trampoline jumping, a race through a bounce structure, jumping in a bounce house, rope swinging into a foam pit, and more. It was awesome! 

 10 sweet ninjas

 Ready to show their best ninja moves

Fun on the ninja obstacle course

Fierce ninja moves on the course

 Little brother Harrison wasn't QUITE old enough to showcase his ninja skills; so, he watched on from the viewing window :) 

 Obstacle-ing and trampoline-ing

 The birthday ninja had a BLAST!

 10 ninjas, ready to race!

 What a finish!

 Social hour for the parents :)

 Ninjas rope-swinging into the pit!

 Happy ninjas :)

 Sweet ninja ladies

 Happy Birthday to you!

 Make a wish!

Proud ninja grandparents

Fun with favors

And with that, we called it a day! I think our birthday ninja, and his ninja buddies, had a great time and got good ninja sleep that night. Happy Birthday, Ninja Banks!