The Greatest (Unlooked For) Endeavor of my Life


Change. Change is not a concept I am ever fond of or comfortable with. I’d generalize and say that “no one likes change”, but my partner seems to thrive on the stuff so I can’t pen sweeping falsities as per a marriage to a living, breathing human who jams on just that– change. If I have learned anything from my time on planet earth it is that CHANGE is a near constant and there is no perfect, or un-messy, or manageable way to transition with every change.

We are about to experience some real CHANGE around these parts as I go to work full-time. This change has me feeling all of the feels– I’m up, I’m down, I’m excited, I’m sad. There are reasonable explanations and scenarios for every one of these emotions, and then there is the reality that this transition is simply emotional for me. I have spent the last eight years at home with my babies. It has been this golden, magical, building, difficult, taxing, head-tripping, sanity-questioning, constantly self-examining experience. In the end, it has been the hardest, best thing I have ever done.

I have wanted to write a magnum opus to motherhood, if you will, since realizing the enormity of the changecomingatuslikeafreighttrain. A celebration of the JOY, the LIGHT, the LOVE I have found in this job called Mom that I did not look for when I planned my life. A space and a time that I didn’t know I wanted, or needed, or would treasure so deeply. I have wanted to share the gift, the fulfillment, and the hardship of primary parenting for a while now on the blog. But I haven’t found a profound, or extraordinary way to do it.

Of course there are already beautiful things written about the goodness and the difficulty of trying to be a stay-at-home parent and juggle career and creativity. One of the best was penned by Rufi Thorpe for Vela Mag, “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid”. I could not say AMEN enough times as I read this piece. The struggle to create, to think, to ponder, to write, to reach into those deep wells of art and creativity– it seems almost impossible to tap those beautiful places as a mother and home-front warrior.

Let me rewind for a moment. If you had asked me 10 years ago what my life goals were– parenting, child rearing, mothering– would not, not have likely made the list or crossed my lips. Let me be clear that I did want to have children “someday”. I did want to get married “someday”. I always hoped to find another human who would journey this life with me, and that our love would bring children into that journey, that life.

But I felt as though wishing, and hoping, and dreaming of becoming a wife and mother was a waste of precious time. After all, I only had one life to live, I only had one opportunity to enrich and and educate and increase my understanding of the entire universe this ONE precious time– my life. And no one could give me a time, or a date, or a place, or description of how this would all happen or take place. And so I felt that I would do best to put goals that were tangible, concrete, and achievable in my scope. It doesn’t bode well in my book to put “Get Married” on a to-do list.

However, I was never closed to finding my person. I was never opposed to having children. I wasn’t numb to being in love. In fact, on the precipice of my transition to graduate school I met THE ONE. He was dark and dashing, and I fell hard. When my life story– my goals, and decisions, and career framework– met the river of my love story– my care, my heart, my deep desire for companionship, and the person I had hoped for– the confluence brought me such elation and excitement.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found my husband, my partner. That confluence quickly brought us our fist child. The I, me, my became we, us, ours. I’ve often felt as though that meeting of my rivers, the joining of my two stories came at the PERFECT moment. Don’t misread, we were still young, broke, and clinging to finishing a master’s degree and finding gainful employment in economically hard times– it was the height of the housing and banking crises in 2008 when we said I do.

The gift of our hardship, at the time, was that when we found out we were pregnant we knew we didn’t have the means to afford day care. If I had already been working rather than going to school, I am certain I would have stayed in the work-force as my children were born. Instead, because we lived in a very expensive area, it made sense for me to stay at home. Let me also be clear that I understand very clearly that financial hardship can cause a family and partnership to make the decision that BOTH parents MUST work. In other words. I also realize my relative privilege in staying home.

That gift– the gift of my being able to stay home– is one that has rolled forward into our home and family life for eight years now. My greatest endeavor, my greatest work has become this thing called family. If you could hear me weeping NOW at the opportunity to meal plan, and clean toilets, and BE with my children during their formative years, you’d think I had longed, and yearned, and KNOWN that I wanted to be a MOM for my entire existence.

Instead I can now sweetly, tenderly celebrate the opportunity to be a mother. I can see the greatness, the privilege, the importance and being with my children and family in this roll. I can say that it has been the greatest calling of my life.

However, as with all gifts there was a cost. The cost was the burden of our financial care and providing fell squarely and solely on the shoulders of my partner. My husband found a good job. He is the type of individual that poured time, and effort, and constant energy into making his work great. But that didn’t mean that every day he felt like smiling like Ward Cleaver as he went off to work. Our world looked very traditional, but there were costs that he bore directly.

The burden of providing is no small weight. It is stressful, and care-fraught, and tiresome, and endless. I know this because I have SEEN the gray hairs on my husband’s head multiply, I have sat in an emergency room while he vomited because of the skull crushing migraines he was afflicted with, I have watched as he has navigated and negotiated the corporate world for nearly 9 years now and it has proven to be unending, exhausting, often thankless, stress-filled work– day after day, year after year. I honor and reverence his sacrifice.

There were also these wildly frenzied moments of what-the-hell-have-I-done, I’ve thrown my career to the wind and I will never be able to recover it. There were flashes when I saw myself as the counter-feminist trope I so loathed: barefoot, pregnant, jobless, taken care of by my man. My mirror image did nothing to impress me, or convince me that I was undertaking greatness.

Here’s where the confluence of motherhood (or primary parenting because it is not always the woman who stays home with infant and toddler children) and career path hit some Class Five rapids for for me and for every other woman who has fought against the reality of a glass ceiling including unequal pay, lower promotional chances, and diminished leadership opportunities in the work force.

My sacrifice was also real. There is NO WAY to do both– to be at home with your children and continue to rise in your career. The two are almost completely conflicting goals. I hope there is no mistake that I am not advocating one way or another in this sacrifice. How could I choose for someone else what is right for them and for their family? I cannot.

And I have seen the reality of so many of these situations– both parents working full-time, single mother working two jobs, mother as the primary provider, families whose children are enrolled in all-day day care, couples who can afford a live-in caregiver, and so many more! But here, now, in this moment on the day I begin my job, I know that FOR US we did what we felt was right. It is that choice to stay home (that I also realize many people do not have) that I am deeply grateful for RIGHT NOW. I would not trade that time for the world.

Last night the tears flowed. Long and hard and sobbing, I mourned all that this change means for me. Maybe that was selfish but I am going to miss my boys SO MUCH. My husband held me, and told me that everything would be alright. I know it will. But there will be some things now that I won’t be a part of, some moments I will never have.

I will miss morning conversations over breakfast, and taking my baby to his first day of kindergarten. I will miss being a homeroom mom and volunteering at my boys’ school. I will miss being the one they need to call if a tooth is lost, or an owie needs tending, or one of them throws up at school. I will miss being the parent on point. I will miss being THE ONE.

My partner has never been on the outskirts of raising our boys, he is present and prepared. But he has been the sole provider for the past eight years and our roles were very firm. Now there will be more flexibility, now I pray to be malleable. I pray for life to delicately throw a bubble over my babies, but I know that doesn’t really happen. It will still be me.

I will still be their mother, no matter what. Maybe more tears will fall, but today I am ready to begin this new adventure as a working mom. I will still be their mom. I will still need to kiss their owie, and check on the status of their school day, and help out with homework, and pack lunches, and kiss cheeks, and be their mom. And I guess this change is teaching me that I really can do BOTH.

XX, Megan


All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography


Romping Around: Meet Juneau


I’m sure many of you have heard the old adage often parroted to mother’s upon the arrival of their chid to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Well, friends, this applies to more than human infants, and instead of blogging I should be sleeping because this little fur baby is sleeping!

Friends, family, and inter-web community, meet Juneau! Juneau is our (now) eight-week-old chocolate labrador. We got her when she was a wee six-week-old puppy and have spent nearly every waking (and many nearly sleep walking) minute with her over the last two weeks. She is sweet, rambunctious, vivacious, and generally full of spark and spunk (and bodily fluids) which has kept us double and triple busy.

I did not plan my outfit to match her leash and collar, but the combination worked out perfectly for her “formal” introduction on the blog. In reality, I wanted to share this faux romper with you for quite a while. I’ve been searching for a romper I love for… years! Literally, I have searched, and shopped, and watched others come into this trend with class. But alas, I have yet to find the perfect romper for me.

But you know what? You don’t necessarily need a romper to work an outfit like it IS a romper. Just find a matching top and bottom and wear them together! Enter this top and shorts duo I picked up a few seasons ago from J.Crew. I was smitten with the print and couldn’t decide which piece I’d get more wear out of so I scooped up both on an end-of-season sale.

Now the great thing is that I can wear BOTH. Together, separate the print still has me all heart eyes so I’m sure I’ll be wearing them for seasons to come! I’ve shopped some separates that can be done up romper-style below, as well as some actual rompers I’ve had my eye on for quite some time!! Have a fabulous Friday, friends!

XX, Megan


Tank: J.Crew (similar), Shorts: J.Crew (similar), Romper Options: herehere, here, here, Sandals: Madewell (on sale!!), Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Bag: Kate Spade (similar, similar, similar on sale), Cuff: Madewell (similar), Ring: Madewell, Lips: NARS Schiap

Milkshake It Off: A July Spin Set


I’ll be up with the sun today (5:30 a.m. where’s the grab your cheeks oh-wow-I-am-not-a-morning-person emoji when you need it?), as some friends and I are headed out on an uber early ride. I had some really wonderful road rides in June and July. True to my summer-self I have let holidays and vacation eating get the best of me.

Sometimes I just don’t want to say no to just one more cookie, or cake, or milkshake!! So the time has come to Shake. It. OFF!!! I’m getting my groove on and spinning it down over here. The workout below can be used on a bicycle trainer at home, a stationary bike or spin bike at your favorite gym, or really any gym equipment where you can easily adjust your exertion levels to suit the workout.

Without further ado. Milkshake It Off–

The entire premise of this workout is that you can find a gear or a setting on your stationary bike that is in the middle to heavy resistance range and then YOU create the contrast or the change in exertion level. The workout is divided into 4  x 9 minute sets each consisting of three, three minute intervals.

The first three minute interval is your seated climb. You should try to keep your RPMs between 65 and 70. This is the three minute lead up to the more heart-pumping sweat inducing second and third intervals in your nine minute set.

The second three minute interval is a standing climb. If you have any back issues or knee and joint pain, you can simply do another seated climb and raise your RPMs by 10 pedal strokes. So your RPMs should reach between 70 and 75.

The third interval is a seated PUSH. I hesitate to call this interval a sprint because a three minute sprint is not conducive to good training practices most of the time. However, you need to really push the RPMs in this set. RPMs could raise to 80 or eve 90 if you have picked a resistance that is not TOO high so that you can really give it what for during this interval.

I hope you feel like the biking fool below when you are finished! ROCK STAR! (Breakdown below.)


Milkshake It Off

5 minute stretch

3 minute pick-ups– 30 seconds push, 30 seconds rest

4 minutes raising your resistance to its highest level (this is not the resistance level you are going to work at). At the end of the 4 minutes readjust your resistance to that which you will ride for the rest of your entire ride.

If you want to, you can do one entire nine minute set at 70% as a warm up. 3, 3, 3.

Or if you’re warm, hit that first 9 minute interval hard.

3 minute seated climb, 3 minute standing climb, 3 minute seated PUSH done four times!

You’re done, home, finished, success! Cool down, then stretch. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.

XX, Megan

*This workout, like any other, should be done under the direction of your doctor or health care professional.


Love and Hate


Image: Banksy; an article about this graffiti artist here.

0b715c2b18dbf66cc3882907b6cc2297.jpgSometimes the hate of one brings out all the scars of the hate that has been with humanity from the beginning as it did in the Orlando shooting earlier this month. The discrimination, the disenfranchisement, the objectification, the religious rifts, the haves and the have nots. All of these age old faults glowed red-hot, hurting, aching, displayed by the senseless terror of one gunman opening fire on an entire frenzy of living, breathing, loving, loved, and beloved human beings.

It’s all buzz right now. The re-ringing in our ears of the recent attack at the airport in Turkey. 42 more human lives gone. The shouting blonde, Tomi Lahren, on The Blaze, telling the President of the United States that he is an idiot for not labeling this act radical Islamic terrorism. The derision and hatred carried in her bitter blue eyes as she excoriated President Obama and Muslims generally parallels the hatred of that act– cold, intolerant, killer.

The southern black writer, Kiese Laymon, who capsules Mateen as a radical American homophobe in his fearless piece about America’s complicity in violence and continued violence by scape-goating radical movements rather than addressing the unique American-ness of this act. The dangerous complications of our time-honored traditional culture of big gun boasting, small gun possession, which allows semi-automatic weapons to be brandished in public places.

Laymon writes, “We need the American media to tell its citizens the truth. Omar Mateen was a 29 year old radical American homophobe with a history of domestic abuse, who likely found some fertile ground for his American homophobia, misogyny and abusiveness in Isis propaganda.”

I understand the direct importance, immediacy, and need for us to find out who this man is– Omar Mateen. To know and to label him. We try to climb inside his mind and parse out all the evil pieces. Maybe Omar Mateen is all of these things– Islamic radical, radical American homophobe, homosexual who found self-loathing in the intolerance he faced on every side– religiously, societally, internally.

Maybe he is every one of them all rolled into one. I do not dismiss the importance of naming his hate, calling on it and calling it out. We may never know the true hybrid of his evil, we are only left with the wake of its bloody hell. But does this mean that we stand by powerless at crimes against all of humanity, crimes filled with the deepest hatred? I believe we are not powerless, we are called upon to love harder, love more deeply, love with vehement care for others, the other.

We live in a time where the faces of those killed– shot down, mowed down, exploded indiscriminately– are juxtaposed directly next to those of their killers. Selfies of a man in NYPD tourist shirts taken in the green light of his home bathroom, or shadowy figures running with a semi-automatic weapon away from a security guard before detonating a suicide bomb. It makes the horror seem that much closer, that much more real.

The horror was real for those in Orlando that night, one son hiding in a bathroom and texting his mother for help. That horror continues for their loved ones, families, and friends left behind in the wake of a hate so raw, enraged, and consuming. The horror was real at the Ataturk airport when gunman opened fire on the entrance and then detonated bombs that killed 42 people and counting, and wounded over 239.

It’s in the eyes. That’s where you see the humanity, the love, the life, the joy, the light, the kindness, the yearning, the family, the friends, the potential, the soul, the heart, the hope. The eyes that are forever closed now. I see it all in the eyes of the victims of Orlando and Istanbul, humanity’s struggle for peace.

Tributes of love, honor, grief, suffering, terror, and utter despondency wrap around us on our Facebook feeds. What will we do with these poems of life and loss? How can we turn their lives into an energy that gives rise to new waves of care and compassion?

We need to reach and grapple with the patterns of love and empathy we find lacking within ourselves. Or we will continue to reach and grasp at straws of understanding trying to grapple with a hate that will never sustain us. “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” There is nothing to understand in hate, we must only fight to keep it from normalizing within us.

In the heart-rending words of Micah Player whose art piece mourning for Turkey is also linked below,

“With so many horrific attacks stacked on top of one another, again and again and again… I confess to the horrible sense that my heart is growing numb. I cannot allow that to happen. This cannot ever be normal. It will never be another day.

Horror, blood, hate, mindlessness. That is not the world I will ever accept as the one I live in. Love and sorrow for the courageous people of Turkey, shattered and murdered yesterday. Peace for us all. Someday.”


These acts of aggression, and hatred, and bloodshed cannot ever be seen as normal– cannot ever cause us to be numbed to the senseless acts of death, destruction, and terror.

Let the tears flow. Let the prayers ascend. Let the fires of remembrance be lit, and never let to rest.

Let the world of loving, understanding, empathetic, charitable, caring, giving, nurturing, uplifting, and enlightened men and women ban together in solidarity against this kind of hatred.

Let us value the beauty of one another and fill up our cups with the reality of each other. May they run over with love– our cups of life. May we let care for our fellow brothers and sisters of every gender, race, creed, sexuality, political persuasion, and religion be alive in us.

Please, let us be advocates for life, for civil discussion, for the pursuit of joy and peace for those around us, for love, for tolerance, and for the end of hatred and bloodshed across our nation and world.

Love. Please, love.


Summertime, Reading List, and News


Well, the heat is on, friends! Seriously, it has been in the 90s here in Mountain Land, and we are MELTING! I feel as though the sunshine, longer days, and way-too-late bedtimes have gone to my head.

Don’t get me wrong– I love summer! Ice cream, swimming pools, lingering sunlight, camping, long bike rides, farmer’s market, dining al fresco, and nights on our back deck under the stars to name a few of my favorites. But for some reason this summer feels as though it has been on steroids! Perhaps this is because my children are getting older and we seem to have an absolute inability to get them into bed at a reasonable hour.

This seems to cause Mom and Dad to stay up even LATER to have some alone time, and then EVERYONE is still slightly tuckered out come morning. It has become a problem cycle. Especially because I’ve been heading out for road rides in the very early morning to avoid the heat!

Not only are the temperatures high, but the heat is also on for me personally as I have accepted a position as a Language Arts Teacher at the High School in our town. This after finding my stride in my post about failure (you can read it HERE). I am over-the-moon about the job, though I will probably have butterflies in my tummy for the rest of the summer in anticipation!!!

That is the breaking news around casa Refined + Rugged. I’ve been busy with a summer reading list (see picture below) that strikingly resembles my High School literature readings. Hint: Seminal works of literature don’t die! They are written with unparalleled prescience, and powerful themes on the human condition that apply regardless of time period.

Alright, getting off of my soap box now. Below are some of the other activities we’ve been up to this summer. We’ve been fortunate to have been fishing, biking, climbing, hiking, gardening, sprinkler hopping, and more! How have you been spending your summer days? I’d love to hear what has kept you going besides the lengthening hours of the day!! 🙂

Whatever you summer consists of, I hope that you are able to enjoy some of life’s sweetness– homemade pies, laughter with friends, a nap in a hammock, grooving to good tunes at a concert venue. And don’t forget, there are few things better than a fruit popsicle when the heat is on!

XX, Megan

DSC_0123 - Version 2My summer reading list. Join me in cruising through some classics before your kids (and I) go back to school! 🙂IMG_5433All smiles at the Weekly Race Series. We have LOVED this event for three summers strong!IMG_5419If you’re looking for a great kids bike like Mr. P’s you can always hit up our local bike shop, Slim  & Knobby’s, online!!

IMG_5506Ripping up some single track at Soldier Hollow.IMG_5514Dinners al fresco almost every night! This is one of my favorite recipes for a Mediterranean 7 Layer Dip. From The Scramble, of course! 😉IMG_5572Wisdom in the bike world. IMG_5764Neon sunrise is a treat for the eyes.IMG_5577Alaska friends!! Check out the engine car on the train at our local burger joint, The Train. Brings back WONDERFUL memories!! Some of our dearest friends still work for the White Pass Yukon Route Railroad. Cheers to another fabulous summer season on the train!IMG_5782Shaved ice, and more shaved ice.IMG_5678Beating the heat with some climbing of the indoor variety. This kid is becoming such a competent climber!!IMG_5771Moonset at sunrise.IMG_5550Fishing at Wasatch Mountian State ParkIMG_5779Local farm sites to oogle.IMG_5746Relaxing with the best of them. We love our daddy! Hammock available from World Market!

Plus, you can check back here tomorrow for another fun, summery, outfit post! ❤