Feb 272015

We have talked so many times before about how much I love music.  We always have music playing in the car, in the house and I usually listen to pandora or iHeartRadio at work on my computer.   We have also talked about how I have an extremely eclectic taste in music, where one minute I will be singing along with Miranda Lambert, and the next minute be busting a rhyme with Eminem (no really, I love Eminem, and my kids are sometimes impressed with my rhyming skills…or is it skillz?)

In no particular order, here are a few of the songs I am totally digging lately!


1.    Four-Five Seconds – Rihanna, Kayne West & Paul McCartney.
~~this song probably has die-hard Beatles fans turning over in the graves, but – what evs.   Its catchy, and even if I am NOT a Kanye fan, I do love Rihanna.     I will say that Sir Paul looked a lil’ rough when he was trying to sing with them on the Grammy’s, like he didn’t quite know all the words or was unsure of the words.  Either way, its catchy!

2.    Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
~~this song is from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, and I think it completely appropriate for that movie (haven’t seen it yet, but plan to).  This plays on repeat in the mornings when I am getting ready, I love, love, love it.   I have it in the back of my head that I can get Patrick to dance with me to this in our living room.  Right babe?

3.  Make Me Wanna – Thomas Rhett
~~ another song I think I want Patrick to dance with me to in our living room.  When I hear this song, I imagine climbing in the truck and sliding over to the middle and laying my head down on his shoulder.  I can imagine taht because  every once in awhile, I ride in the middle seat of the truck right next time him.   Its not something I do often, lets be real the middle seat isn’t that comfortable – BUT, I will do it because I love being close to him.

4.   Mean to Me – Brett Eldridge
~~ I guess we will just continue the slow dance theme here.  This is such a sweet song, with a good melody and beat.   Again, such a sweet, sweet song and I would probably completely melt into the floor if Patrick ever said this song reminds him of me.

5. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars
~~ first off, who the heck is Mark Ronson and why doesn’t Bruno get top billing on this?  I mean, after googling his name and looking at his photo, it appears all he does in the video is ride on the front of the car the entire video.  Anyone, I digress…The kids and I LOVE this song.  Katie can do most of the dancing from it now too.   I also tend to car-dance to it too – I’ll admit it!



5 on Friday Logo - Final(2)

Feb 252015

5 years ago, I was a stay at home mom searching for a job with 1 kid in elementary school and 2 kids at home.

4 years ago, I was in a job that I loved working for a local company owned by 2 brothers.  I loved it, loved my coworkers and was generally happy.  4 years ago, my husband left me and our children.   4 years ago, I sat in a cold lawyers office signing separation papers I didn’t want.

3 years ago, I wondered if our house would ever sell so I could move to SC so the kids could see their dad, and so maybe, just maybe we could repair our marriage.   3 years ago, I came to the conclusion that our marriage was beyond repair and I moved on (as did he).  3 years ago, I forgave him for what he had done, not for him, no I didn’t forgive him for his sake.  I forgave him so that I could move on happy and in peace.

2 years ago, I was waking up on a Monday morning, eager to go to work at my new job.  I woke up with a wonderful sense of peace and calming.  2 years ago, I had just gone out on a date (the first of many) with Patrick.   2 years ago, I moved on.

1 year ago,  I wondered if it was really all going to work out, if we were meant to be together, and stay together.  I wondered if he was ever going to love me, really love me.  1 year ago,  I was still fighting my anxiety and still struggling with acceptance.

Today,  I am finally divorced.  I have a job I love, with people that I absolutely adore.  My kids are busy with friends, school and sports.  I stay busy with them, with my friends and work.   I have a man that I absolutely am head over heels in love with.  Today, I still struggle with the same thoughts I had last year.  Is this all really going to work out, if he will love me despite the anxiety and struggles I have.

Today – I have moved on, I deserve love and unconditional love.  I deserve happy.  I absolutely deserve to be cared about, to be treated amazingly.  I have so much love to give, and I want to give all that love I can.   I choose to be happy.  I choose to try my best to not let fear overtake me.  



Feb 182015

Guest Post by Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple Per Day

I want my kids to be able to enjoy the water like I did when I was growing up. My husband and I are now looking for a new house, and a back yard pool is on our wish list. It’s important that my kids learn water safety, and I’ve wondered how much swim lessons will help. While lessons won’t make my kids drown proof, they sure will help.

The safety issue. It’s just a reality that the water has inherent risks for a child. It’s reported that unintentional drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children between the ages of 1 and 4. It has also been stated that formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning for small children by as much as 88 percent. Clearly, lessons can help a lot in keeping a child safe. Here are some resources with more information about kids and swim lessons:

Constant supervision. Given that lessons are important, but not a complete protection against drowning, there are other factors which can contribute to keeping the kids safe at the pool. The first level of safety comes from constantly watching the kids when they are in the pool. This means at all times – not sneaking to the snack bar at the pool, not texting with friends. My husband and I trade the duty – if one of us needs to take a phone call, we make sure the other parent knows and becomes the person to watch the kids. It only takes a few seconds for a child to inhale a big gulp of water, and get in trouble, so always watching is vital.

Think layers of protection. Since we are thinking about a home pool, we’ve investigated the different ways to make that pool safe for the kids. The first item was a fence – if there’s a fence around the pool, we control access. Even if we’re not home, an unfenced pool could be an inviting place for a child to play, and could lead to a tragedy. If the pool is fenced, but just has a gate that doesn’t lock, the fence isn’t much good. A gate with an alarm that the kids can’t operate makes that pool much safer. Another safety factor is a floating pool alarm, which will sound if a large object falls in the water. With several layers of protection, the pool becomes much more safe for our kids.

The lessons. Not all swim lessons are the same, so I want to make sure the kids get well prepared in knowing how to swim – and safely. I have checked out classes, and visited them in session, to see how they function, and what is being taught. I asked the instructor for his credentials, which he was glad to provide. I asked what would be taught at each level – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Water safety is too important for just a one time exposure to swim techniques. I made sure that rules like “no running at the pool” were taught and enforced, and to make sure the reasons for it were clearly stated.

Reinforce the learning. Kids sometimes have short attention spans, so I have gone to watch their lessons, first to make sure they are paying attention. Then after class, I ask them to tell me what they learned, or show me if they had learned a new swim stroke. Just like with tests in school, if they know they’ll be asked about what they’ve learned, it will improve retention.

I watch my kids around the water, swimming confidently and really enjoying themselves, and I just have to smile. We have given them a skill which will benefit them for a lifetime, and provided multiple ways to keep them safe.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.


Feb 112015

I don’t think this week can get any slower! Yesterday at work seemed to drag and be crazy all at the same time…I even texted Patrick at lunch and asked him “how is that I have only been here 4 hours and I feel like I have run a marathon?”.  I don’t know if its because I was out on Monday for a half day or what.  It was just a slow day.  We did get baby-day time though when one of our grad students brought his baby girl by to see us.  We love baby-day (every Tuesday!).    Another grad student made homemade zucchini bread and homemade pumpkin bread.  OMG – I could eat the whole loaf of pumpkin bread.  It was divine.

Thinking:  about things I need to do at work tomorrow for an upcoming event, thinking about the Valentines gifts I got for Patrick (so excited!) and about beating him on this darn golf game we tend to play every night against each other (on my phone & his tablet)

Listening to:  reruns of Criminal Minds on ION.   Its getting to the point I have seen every episode at least once.

Reading:  Just started “The Fixer Upper” today by Mary Kay Andrews.

Needing/Wanting:   I want a big juicy steak for dinner…but I’m thinking I don’t really need that.   Wanting to have an amazing Valentines Day weekend!

Thankful for:   Weekends with Patrick…sunshine…laughter

Wishing:   for warmer weather

Looking forward to:   planning our anniversary trip to Charleston, baseball season

Loving:   Patrick and our kids and my work-trifectas (bbbaaaaaa!!!)


Feb 062015



What is your wish for Valentines Day?  

For me, my wish is just to actually HAVE a Valentines Day.  =)     Back when I was married, we didn’t do Valentines.  Yeah, I know its a silly holiday, but I’m a hopeless romantic and well….umm yeah, it was always sad for me.  In 2012 my bosses bought a vase with carnations & balloon for each of the 3 ladies in the office and one of our FedEx reps brought in chocolates, so that was a nice surprise. Last year, both Patrick and I had the kids for Valentines, so I got a card from him and I gave him a card stuffed with lottery tickets.   That being said… I can still hold out hope for this year, right?   Although, I will say – I do have my kids again on Valentines weekend.

Here are some of my favorite things I’ve found lately, and maybe they will give you some insight into some more unique gifts for your sweetie this Valentines Day!   

Remember to think outside the box…of chocolates that is.  Chocolate is great, and jewelry is ALWAYS a plus (at least in my book).   Flowers are amazing, especially if your loved one never gets them.  My good friend & coworker MeriLyn got flowers for her birthday last year and she was so excited.  She had never gotten flowers delivered at work before.  It was such a treat to see how excited she was!

Here are some of the things that I love the most that I think most women would also love!


Scentsy – I love Scentsy with a passion, so much so that I used to be a consultant.  I stopped because the market was just so flooded with consultants.  Lucky for one, one of my closest friends still sells.   To the left is a beautiful warmer called “Songbird” along with my favorite scent “Luna”.   My other favorite scents are  Black Raspberry Vanilla and Baked Apple Pie.  AND, better yet – this month (February) most all Scentsy is 10% off, as it is transition month!    


I personally love all sorts of monogrammed items, although the only item I currently own is a monogrammed Tervis Tumber (also, Tervis makes a great gift!!! ).    The monogrammed item below is from Monogram Lane.   The flowers are a gorgeous “Farm to your door” bouquet from a relatively new company called Bouqs.com.  They are a beautiful orange & pink tea rose, grown in California.  Bouqs Bouquets ship for free for all “members” (ie: sign up for their website, and you get free shipping, a 10$ value!)





And lastly on the jewelry end, we have the “I’m never going to get this but I can dream” ring.  Citrines are my favorite stones and I think this ring is gorgeous!  This citrine ring is from amazon.com and ships for free!!


Feb 042015

So back on January 2nd or so, I made myself a goal to read 100 books in 2015.  This is perfectly reasonable for me.  I love reading, its something I learned from my parents who are also both avid readers.  Since the 3 of us tend to like the same books, and share a kindle account, its easy to read whatever my dad has bought.  My sister in law also left a few paperbacks for me at my moms, and I took them home before Christmas to read.

In addition to our kindles, I also have access to a large network of libraries through the university, and of course – LOVE THIS.  I go on the library website, order what I want and its delivered to my office through intercampus mail.  Genius if I do say so myself.  

So this is what I have been reading lately.



I am obsessed with Dorothea Benton Frank, and ALL her books.  I have read just about everything of hers that I could get my hands on since last September (and its quite a few!).   All her books are set on the South Carolina coast, mostly in “the lowcountry” area of Charleston (Shem Creek, Bulls Island, Folly Beach).

On tap to read:



Yankee Doodle Dixie is the followup book to Whistlin’ Dixie in a Noreaster, and the 3rd book is the Southern as a Second Language.  I am excited to see if I can get my hands on those soon!  I think the Lexington County library has them, so that will be gI just finished both Lowcountry Boil and Lowcountry Bombshell last weekend.  Both were funny, and I really liked them a lot.  Cannot wait for the next installment!    

Books on Amazon

Full of Grace – Dorothea Benton Frank

Savannah Breeze – Mary Kay Andrews (There is also a followup book to this one called Savannah Blues)

Ladies Night – Mary Kay Andrews

Whistlin’ Dixie in a Noreaster – Lisa Patton (Also with Yankee Doodle Dixie & Southern as a Second Language)

Lowcountry Boil – Susan M. Boyer (also Lowcountry Bombshell)


*note – this post may contain affiliate links to amazon.com – vannclan5.com gets a few pennies for any purchase you make through these links on amazon!*


Jan 302015



Blogging last night during dinner at Flight Deck in Lexington.
I was writing his answers on a napkin while he was reading the questions off his phone.  

1. What is your favorite memory with your blogger?
P – The trip we took to Charleston with the kids.
L – Why?
P – Just was, it was relaxing and it was fun.

2. What is her best quality?
P – Personality.
(Yes, he gave me a one word answer.  No, He would not elaborate on this – at all. I even tried on Thursday morning, and Friday morning, but no – nothing.  His one word answers drive me nuts sometimes, ok well a lot of the time.  I think he does it on purpose because he knows he makes me crazy.  I am extremely grateful that he willingly and without fuss participates in my blog shenanigans, and actually seems to like it – oh and he actually reads my blog too, which he gets huge bonus points for.  But the one word answers – not a fan babe!)

3. What is something the two of you enjoy doing together?
P – I would say going to sport evenings, going nowhere, couch time and trying new places to eat.
(when I asked what the heck is “going nowhere”, he said it was just us getting in the car and going.  I guess he means no where in particular, just going to town?  Also, couch time is time we spend just laying on the couch watching TV.  When he had his apartment, many times it was me reading and him watching TV – its not something we get to do often though.

4. What is your favorite post of hers that she has ever written?
P – I liked the “Boy Behind the Blog” post and the “Getting to know me” post.
(side note, as he sits here and reads the “Getting to know me post” the commentary is as follows:
“that’s your favorite Christmas movie?  I didn’t know that” and “you can do pushups?” and “I thought your favorite color was pink”

5. How much time do you think your blogger puts into blogging each week? (And what are you normally up to when she’s blogging?)
P – 3 hours a week, and chances are I am at work.


Becoming Adorrable
Jan 202015

One of the best things I did at the start of this new year was take steps to destress my life.  I am not saying these ideas will work for everyone, but they work for me.  My anxiety became almost out of control starting in November with moving and I had to do something to rein it in.  Patrick always tells me that there is no need in getting worried or anxious over things I cannot control.  Below are examples of things I CAN control.

1.   When I got my new phone in December, I loaded all my normal apps such as facebook, instagram and twitter.  What I did not load was my work email.  I found myself checking it on the weekends and that was never productive for me. I would worry about an email I got and fret about it on the weekend knowing that there was nothing i could do. I am no longer in a department where emails could indicate schedule changes, so nothing I get at night is that urgent. It let’s me leave work at work everyday and concentrate on home once I leave.  I can always check it thru the webmail site if I need something.  Only time I have done that this year was to get Patrick’s flight number from an email he sent.

2.  Remove people from facebook.  I know people who do this a few times a year.  I genuinely love keeping up to date with friends back home who I don’t get to see very often, and following our Marine Corps family across the globe.  I did however remove a large handful of people from there.  A few were anxiety triggers, a certain person who could put me on edge in an instant.  A few I simply hid from my news feed, because I like seeing their kids growing up,  but I don’t necessarily want to see their political rants or endless game requests.  I did also remove 2 people because…well…OMG the game requests.

3.  Just in general avoiding situations where I know there will be someone who triggers my anxiety.  In some cases, it can not be avoided, but even then – limit that persons access to you.  I am not saying be rude to them if you end up in the same social situation.  In my case, I try to be polite, and probably unintentionally a little standoffish.  I am usually very quiet in those situations which I’d a change from my normal personality.  This is what keeps that anxiety trigger from flipping on.

4. Meal planning & Sunday prep time.  I have done this now for 3 weeks consistently and it is a huge time saver.  My meals are planned out each payday and I buy the items for those meals plus 1 or two extra.  It helps that the kids dad and I have a highly consistent custody schedule and if he does need to make changes due to work, I typically know a week in advance.  Sunday prep times helps so so much.  I premake things such as ground beef, marinate chicken and cut up veggies.  Ground beef I simply brown and throw into a ziploc.  When it’s time to use it, throw it back in the pan with a little water and whatever seasoning is needed (taco or sloppy joe sauce are 2 of the usual suspects here).  I don’t get home from work/picking up kids from sitters until 5:50 or later, so having the prep work done gets dinner on the table faster.

5. Lastly, I have a destress bubble bath a few nights a week.  Sometimes it’s an oatmeal bath or sometimes it’s bubbles.  Lately it’s been hot tea and a book and that helps to soothe me to sleep.  Since my anxiety amped up in November, I have a horrible time sleeping. It’s getting better, but it will take time.

What are some steps you have taken or are planning to take to destress your life?  Let me know in the comments and I will choose 1 comment to won a $5 amazon.com gift card!