Jack has been sick all this week, maybe the sickest I’ve ever seen him. He’s got strep throat but is also really congested in his chest. Every time he coughs he turns to look at me for reassurance.

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We’ve been spending almost all of our time snuggled on the sofa watching Sesame Street. I am loving all the cuddles but ready for my sweet boy to start feeling better! The good news is that after a rather restless night spent in our bed last night he does seem to be getting back to his old self. The cough is lingering, but he’s not nearly so pitiful.

It’s hard for me to spend three full days sitting still–if I have to watch one more episode of Sesame Street I may die of boredom. I’ve got a whole list of projects to tackle and errands to run. Fingers crossed that we can get back to normal today!

I’ve always really enjoyed jewelry. I don’t wear much of it, but the perfect item can make a huge difference in how I look and feel. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older I’ve become less and less beholden to fashion trends and more drawn to classic items that will hopefully stand the test of time, even if only in photographs. And when I can afford it, I do love to invest in pieces that will last for decades.

Since I can’t spend every Sunday combing through estate sales looking for that perfect vintage bracelet, I was thrilled by the concept behind Chloe + Isabel. Their brand marries the sensibilities of two best friends. Chloe is the fashionista, ever eager to embrace the newest trend, and Isabel prefers a more classic, timeless look. Their collections offer a variety of beautiful pieces to suit either personality as well as those of us who sit somewhere inbetween.

While the classic meets modern styling definitely drew me in, what really won me over to Chloe + Isabel was the pricing and quality. There are a ton of options under $30 (but plenty of more expensive items if you’re wanting to invest, like this necklace that I would kill for) and everything comes with a lifetime guaranty.

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My friend Morgan is a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser paying her way through culinary school. When she asked if I’d like to host a pop-up shop I was totally on board. I figured that most of my readers are women and most of you are frugal and you obviously have excellent taste so it seemed perfect! And there’s something in it for you: every order over $100 will receive a free pair of studs. Check out Morgan’s boutique here. The new Fall 2014 Botanica Collections launched yesterday. Happy shopping!

(Note: This is not a sponsored post, though I will earn jewelry credits if y’all buy stuff. Maybe I can get that fancy necklace after all!)

This past weekend I took a much-needed solo trip to Atlanta to visit my longtime BFF, Lauren. I haven’t been feeling quite myself lately, but there’s something about spending time with someone who has been a friend for more than half of my life to help me remember who I am. It was the first time I’d ever spent more than a day away from Jack and I reveled in the luxury of not being responsible for anybody but myself for nearly 72 hours. We did all kinds of wonderful things I wouldn’t normally do–sat around and read during the day, drank as much wine as we wanted at night, got pedicures, and stayed up late talking about the past. It was, in a word, indulgent. There were even cupcakes.

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I usually don’t enjoy driving long distances, but I was able to load a couple of audiobooks from the library onto my phone and play them through the car’s Bluetooth. Yay technology! It was my first audiobook experience and I am definitely a fan. The miles flew by as I immersed myself in lowbrow literature. And I laughed when one of the characters, a psychologist, said to her longtime best friend as they were discussing past relationships, “I didn’t spend six years at Vanderbilt to have some punk I’ve known since before we got our periods tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.” Lauren and I have, in fact, known each other since before we got our periods (too much information?), but neither of us would dare tell the other she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. And although Lauren is a successful businesswoman and I have a master’s in social work I look to her for emotional guidance as much as she does me.

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I really, really needed that short vacation. It was so refreshing. As for Nick and Jack, they survived, but yesterday morning Jack felt hot and a trip to the doctor confirmed that he has strep throat. I’m glad I’m back home to be with him. I missed his little face!

The bad news: I started smoking again. The good news: I quit again already. Smoking is one of those things that nothing good can come of, and yet I really do love it. If it weren’t so disgusting and dangerous I’d never quit. I gave up smoking in 2010 and to this day I count quitting among my greatest accomplishments. Once or twice a year since I’ve shared a cigarette with a friend, but it was overpowering and made me wonder why I’d ever loved it.

Then a few people in my life started using electronic cigarettes and I thought they were the best thing ever! They were less powerful than tobacco cigarettes, but almost as fun. I picked up a disposable e-cigarette (equivalent to a pack or two) once every couple weeks when I was feeling feisty or planning to spend my evening at home with a glass of wine. Then we went on vacation and I wanted an e-cig but couldn’t find an inexpensive disposable at the beachside gas station. So I bought a pack of Camels, figuring it was okay to cut loose a little on vacay. Over the next few weeks I started craving cigarettes more and more and before I knew it I was up to half a pack a day.

Smoking is frowned upon no matter what, but I felt especially ashamed to be smoking now that I was a mother. I knew I had to quit. I waited until a week when I was scheduled to work every day, since I’ve never smoked at this job before. Being in a different environment really helped, but I couldn’t have done it without nicotine gum. I used the gum to quit back in 2010 and it was a lifesaver. Because while smoking is a habit, it’s also a chemical addiction. You know how sometimes when you’re thirsty, it’s not necessarily because your throat is dry or any other specifically identifiable issue, but you just want something to drink? Your brain is just telling you, hey, give me some water. That’s what craving a cigarette feels like. I want one like a thirsty person wants water, even if I don’t want the stink, chest congestion, and carcinogens that come with it. A piece of nicotine gum can help me satisfy that craving and then it’s easy for me to slowly back off the gum. I haven’t smoked in a week but just writing about it is triggering a craving–good thing I’ve got a few pieces of gum left!

So why did I start smoking again? The nicotine got me hooked, of course, but why did I start in the first place? I’m not sure. I smoked through most of college and grad school and a lot of people I loved smoked when I was growing up. Despite knowing all the risks I have a lot of positive memories associated with smoking. Maybe at 29, with my career well established and an ever-more-independent toddler at home, I’m a little restless. I’m craving some adventure. This weekend I’m heading to Atlanta to visit my best friend from high school. It’ll be the first time I’ve traveled on my own since Jack was born and I think it’ll be good for me. I need some quality time to myself and despite my distaste for driving long distances I think all those hours alone on the open road will give me plenty of time to think.

Even though Nick is a very involved father this will be the first time he’s had Jack all to himself for this long. He keeps calling it “Guys’ Weekend” and talking about all the fun they’re going to have. Hopefully I won’t miss them too much! Fingers crossed that I come back feeling more relaxed.

If you stumble, make it part of the dance

Have a great weekend, y’all.