Entries Tagged as 'Darden'

Building Goodness


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I’ve been organizing events these past few months as the Darden Partners Association’s Community Service Chair. It’s very official and all. It reminds me of my glory days back in the Center for Service and Learning at BYU, and by “glory days” I mean days spent trying to convince busy people to make their lives busier. Thankfully, the Charlottesville community service scene is hoppin’ and the Darden Partners are pretty cheerful worker bees—BUSY, cheerful worker bees. Is this metaphor annoying yet?

In addition to the monthly Ronald McDonald House dinners we’ve provided, we pitched in to clean up a local animal shelter‘s dog-walking trails and participated in the Darden-wide Building Goodness in April event, which takes on home repair projects for local residents in need. (See cute photos above.) We also did a prom attire drive for students at a nearby high school, and let me tell you, the MBA community is the demographic to tap for formal wear donations. Next up, we’ll be doing some gardening with the folks from Building Bridges, a nonprofit that serves adults who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. When I surveyed the Darden partners at the beginning of the year, they made it clear they wanted to get their hands dirty with volunteer opportunities. I took it literally.


Come, Fly With Me (And My Baby)


Trent, Scout and I just finished a blur of sell weekends strung together. I still don’t know if the term is “cel weekend” as in, “Let’s celebrate your internship offer!” or “sell weekend” as in, “We’re going to sell you on our firm.” Either way, the just is the same. The consulting firms that offered Trent internships flew us out to check out the cities, meet people from the offices, and get spoiled rotten. At first I was kind of put off by the whole concept of being wined and dined. “I can’t be bought,” I puffed to Trent on the first flight to Dallas. But on the massage table at the Ritz Carlton, I was singing a different tune.

Trent has been trying to get me to write a post with tips for making the most of a cel/sell weekend, but I’m not sure I have anything insightful to say on the subject. (Talk to folks before you go. Don’t lose sight of the factors you care about most. Let the dust settle back home before you make any big decisions. And so on.) But all of this recent flying has made me want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about flying with a baby. So here we are.

Scout Murphey has been on almost 30 flights in her short 10 months of life, and while I’m sure there are babes out there who travel more frequently and parents out there who travel more gracefully, I do have a few ideas worth mentioning. They’ve mostly been learned by trial, error, and utter disaster. Take note.

  • Remember the birth certificate. For whatever reason, it’s actually impossible to remember to bring the birth certificate of your “infant-in-arms” to the airport. And that’s a fact. So do yourself a favor and leave a spare copy permanently in your suitcase. I keep one in the car seat bag as well. And if you don’t have a car seat bag, it’s worth the investment. It keeps everything clean and prevents straps from getting torn in transit.
  • Buy an umbrella stroller. I own a really nice jogging stroller that I’ve jogged with exactly once. I only ran about 30 seconds. I was trying to catch a bus. So you’ll understand if I have trouble relating to parents who can’t travel without their jogger. The truth is, it’s much easier not to. Some airlines won’t allow you to gate check bulky strollers, which means you can’t access them during layovers or to and from your gates. Plus even the airlines that do gate check big strollers don’t cover damages they make to them. Solution: Get yourself a cheap umbrella stroller. They’re small. They’re compact enough to go on the conveyers through security. And if they get damaged, just toss them. One of ours came off the plane with a bent wheel. I’ve done plenty of homework on umbrella strollers and my favorite is the Kolcraft stroller Walmart sells. It’s pretty durable for the price. And don’t forget to get a gate check tag from the gate agent before you board your flight.
  • Get through security. It’s a hassle without a baby, so it’s definitely going to be a hassle with a baby. My advice is meditate in line. Breathe. Get zen. Be zen. Also, every airport has different regulations, but a few things are pretty consistent. They’re going to swipe your hands to test them for something right after you walk through the metal detector. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal. They’re also going to go through your diaper bag if you have just about anything in there—baby food, milk, frozen milk, etc. They’ll let you take it through if it’s for the babe, but they’re going to sniff it out first. Just plan on it.
  • Carabiner your everything. Toys, pacifiers, snack bags, etc. If you can lose it, you can carabiner it to your bag or your belt loops. That’s actually a sub-tip—wear pants with belt loops. You’ll thank me when you see someone else’s baby crap tumbling down the aisle. If you don’t have carabiners, these are a good, cheap substitute.
  • Stock your seat. Board the flight as early as possible and give yourself plenty of time to stock your seat. Take everything you could conceivably need to entertain and care for your baby on the flight and shove it in the seat pocket in front of you. If that means removing the magazines and safety information cards to make room, so be it. Sneak them into someone else’s pocket. This is war, OK? Also, double and triple check that you have a hearty handful of clean tissues in that seat back pocket. You don’t want to slime anyone while you’re scrambling to wipe your baby’s nose. It’s kind of the cardinal sin of flying with a baby. I, a lowly sinner, know all about it.
  • Think like Jason Bourne. Jason Bourne is always scanning the area and planning for every possible scenario. Once your seat is stocked, look around. Can you tell which bathroom has the changing table in it? The one at the front or the one at the back? It’s almost never in both. If you can’t figure it out based on signage, do yourself a favor and ask a flight attendant at the first opportunity. Don’t wait for a blow-out. I repeat. DON’T WAIT FOR A BLOW-OUT. If you do, you’ll be wandering up and down the plane covered in poop with a half-naked baby, maximizing the number of strangers who judge you.
  • Suck the landing. Landings (and take-offs) are hard on babies ears. That darn changing air pressure! My advice is just let them suck on a pacifier, on a bottle, on you, whatever. Just baby that baby and let her do whatever she wants to get through it. Nursing a baby in close quarters with strangers made me extremely self-conscious at first, but I’ve overcome the insecurity. I’ve stopped using a nursing apron cover thingy—I feel like they draw more attention than anything. And now that Scout is old enough to care, I’ve stopped covering all together. I’ve learned how to be discrete enough to make me feel comfortable, but more importantly, I’ve realized that American attitudes about public breastfeeding are extremely immature. But that’s a rant for another day. For nursing moms on planes, I’d recommend wearing a very comfortable nursing bra that makes you very accessible. Catch my drift? This one is my favorite.

Did I miss anything major? What tips do YOU have? Happy flying, parents!

C-ville Cabin Fever Busters



Trent had a snow day today. It was glorious.

The world got fluffier in every way. Trent woke up with Scout while I slept in and then worked on some freelance assignments uninterrupted. He made breakfast (and lunch!) and we all ventured out to chat with some Darden friends down the road whose classes were also cancelled. We napped and read and never got dressed and had a little family dance party to “Baby Beluga”—Raffi fan girls in the house! Most of the day Scout was either kissing her stuffed prairie dog (with alarming passion, I might add) or scooting around the apartment with a pink pinwheel in one hand, waving it around like a magic wand, casting a happy little spell on all of us. This fluff is the stuff of greatness. You can quote me on that.

I figured that since we had such a nice day staying in, now would be the perfect time to do a little post about how to stay sane during a Charlottesville winter. It’s a cute town—the cutest, I’d say—but in the winter it starts to feel small. (To be fair, everything does.) Here’s my own little cocktail for curing cabin fever.

  • C-ville Coffee—It’s a kid-friendly coffee house and it’s genius. I’m new to the world of parenting. Maybe this is old hat to most people, but to me, it’s a revelation. It has all the coziness of a normal coffee shop plus a big play area with toys, books, puzzles and high chairs. They also sell delicious, hearty, oaty, honey-soaked muffins. You can tell a lot about a coffee shop by the oatiness of its muffins.
  • Play Area at the Mall—It’s a mall. It’s named “Fashion Square,” which kind of makes me chuckle, because I’m a jerk. (Really? Fashion Square? That’s the best you could come up with?) But that is neither here nor there where the indoor play area is concerned. It’s safe. It’s warm. It’ll do just fine.
  • Bend Yoga—It’s a family yoga studio on the downtown mall. They have classes for parents where babies are welcome to tag along and participate. We’ve gone to a few of their drop-in events and I’ve been impressed. It allows me to get some cabin-fever-combating endorphins from my preferred form of exercise—stretching. For me, exercise can’t really be low-impact enough.
  • McGuffey Art Center—It’s a collection of studios of local artists, all housed in a beautiful old school building downtown. You can stroll through during the day and drop in on whoever is working to observe or chat. (Scout isn’t much for art yet, but she’s crazy for the ceiling fans.) They also offer classes and workshops all through the winter. I’m hoping to do a print-making workshop in March.
  • Window Shopping—A few times this winter, Scout and I have bundled up and gone out window shopping just to get some air. There are lots of unique local shops to explore. Rock Paper Scissors and Shenanigans Toys are two of my favorites.



Disclaimer: This post may contain some masked bragging. And unmasked bragging. But I just can’t help myself.

Good ol’ Trent Murphey pulled it off.

He got consulting internship offers from all of the Big Three. Plus Deloitte. He worked his little non-traditional-background butt off and now he’s sitting pretty. His consulting dreams are coming true. It’s fun to see.

Trent came into this whole thing knowing he was at a disadvantage, because his work history would be a question mark for recruiters. Teach For America is valued, but is it relevant? He knew he would have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get the opportunities he wanted. So that’s what he tried to do. He cased and cased until he was blue in the face. He also reached out to every consultant he could find to pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Darden did a lot to help Trent make sense of the complexity of the recruiting process. There’s no road map for accomplishing my liberal artsy career goals, but there’s a linear path to consulting. Trent just had to follow it. Truthfully, he had to sprint down it. But the sprinting paid off.

Trent’s experience at Darden so far has been enlightening for me. Mostly, it’s taught me that hard work isn’t something you have to fear. I haven’t seen much of Trent these past months, but I honestly haven’t minded, partly because I can see purpose and fulfillment in him that I haven’t really seen before. He’s having fun. I want that for him. But also, I haven’t minded because I can feel what’s ahead. When the time comes that I find something I want to go after like Trent has wanted to go after this, I want the freedom to dive in head first without worrying my husband will resent me for it. That’s probably not the purest reason to support your spouse’s dreams, but there you have it. Do unto others and what not.

We’re in the thick of the decision process now and with Trent, it’s always a process. He can’t move forward without gathering every single piece of data he possibly can. I make big decisions with my gut. He makes big decisions with his spreadsheet. We’ll be in either Seattle, Denver or Dallas for the summer, and likely go back after graduation. We’re traveling to check out each place these next few weeks and then we’ll decide. But first, we’re going to take a breath and celebrate.

Back in C-ville


Now that we’re back in Charlottesville, I’m realizing how fast the time is going here. Trent has internship offers in hand (more on that later), so the worst of this whole thing is behind us. Now we can relax a bit and enjoy ourselves. Here’s my bucket list from now until summer. I’ll spare you the work items. This list is all play.

  • Virginia Beach—I’ll be joining my college roommates (plus a few babies) at the beach for a few days to celebrate Galentine’s Day. I predict chilly weather but much rejoicing. It’s been too long since we were all together.
  • Mother Goose Storytime—I managed to claw my way into a highly sought-after registration-only storytime at the Gordon Avenue Library. Hopefully Scout appreciates it. I had to sell my soul for the spot.
  • Food Tours—My parents got us a couple of gift certificates for food tours in DC and Richmond. We did one in Manhattan a few years ago and haven’t stopped talking about it since. Plus we’ve been watching a lot of Chopped lately, so we’re better prepared to talk the talk.
  • Dinner Dates—It took us four months, but we finally got a babysitting swap rolling. Our Friday lunch dates with Scout will now become our Saturday dinner dates without her. I love the girl, but I’m pumped to leave her behind. And thankfully, Charlottesville’s restaurant scene is booming. Let’s eat!
  • Host Visitors—My little brother is coming all the way from Stanford to spend his spring break with us. Plus my mom and mother-in-law will both likely make an appearance before June. Those grandmas can’t seem to stay away from Miss Scarlett. I’ve got a few plans for while they’re all here. We’ll definitely get in a historic UVA walking tour, a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and a stop at James River Park.
  • Hike—We’ve yet to hike Hawksbill Mountain. That’ll happen this spring. We plan to take advantage of the free entrance days at Shenandoah National Park.
  • Visit DC (Again)—Can’t seem to get enough. This time, we’ll hit up Mount Vernon and the DAR Headquarters (a la Gilmore Girls) and look up the host of old friends we have in the area.
  • Swim Lessons—I signed us up for a parent/baby swim class at the Smith Aquatic Center, mostly because I’m sure this kind of extracurricular bonding will never happen with subsequent children, so what the hell?
  • Run Some Service Projects—I was just “elected” (a.k.a. I ran uncontested) to be the “Community Service Chair” of the Darden Partners Association. Not really sure what I got myself into just yet, but time will tell.
  • Foxfield Races—We plan to check out the infamous steeplechasing event in April. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to wear a big hat to this thing, but Lord knows I will.

BUT FIRST, I’m going to bed. Cause writing that list was exhausting. Happy term three, first years!

Virginia Soundtrack


We spent the tail-end of summer 2011 in Montana with family. We left from there to drive ourselves to our new home in Atlanta. It was a long, long drive. And it needed to be. We had a lot to talk through. It was one of those cleansing drives—you know the kind—and we needed a lot of cleansing. We drove off our baggage, and we needed a long stretch of road to get it all gone. I made a “Georgia Soundtrack” to listen to on the trip, full of songs that made mention of Atlanta or Georgia. It’s still in our CD changer, still a road trip favorite, still the perfect musical cocktail of Bluegrass, Motown, Country and Rap. And it still has magical soul-lifting powers.

I made a “Virginia Soundtrack” recently. I’m not sure it has the same epic potential. It definitely doesn’t have the same diversity of sound. And most of the “Virginias” here are references women, not states, but it was fun to throw together nonetheless. Help me out. Anything I missed?

Meet Virginia, Train

Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel

Sweet Virginia, The Rolling Stones

Virginia Moon, Foo Fighters

Who’ll Stop the Rain, Credence Clearwater Revival

Oh, Virginia, Marty Robbins

I-95, Fountains of Wayne

Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver

Virginia, Whiskey Meyers

You’ve Done it Again, Virginia, The National

Speak to me, Statue.



We went to Dallas this weekend.

We went to museums and parks, presidential libraries and botanical gardens. We ate authentic roadside tacos and brisket and burgers. As a weekend trip, it was fantastic. As a fact-finding mission in a place we might potentially move, it was somewhat less so. I can’t speak to the people—although I’m sure they are great—but as for the lack of trees and abundance of cement, my expectations were pretty accurate. Although I’m sure I could be happy there, Dallas is not the city of my dreams. This, I now know for certain. But the real revelation of the weekend was that all this building anxiety I’ve been experiencing isn’t about Dallas at all.

I read an article in the New York Times a few weeks ago about about slowing down in art museums, picking a work or two to focus on and really taking them in rather than scrambling to survey an entire collection. It promoted quality over quantity in the experience of art. While Trent was meeting with a few companies, Scout and I walked around the Nasher Sculpture Center and Dallas Museum of Art. I remembered the article and paid attention to what works I gravitated toward. There were two—a statue of a woman hunched over and this painting.


One woman looks demoralized, the other overwhelmed.

“What’s wrong with me?” I thought as I sat in front of the painting, wrangling Scout. And as I sat there and stared at the face of this stranger and wondered what had happened to her before she sank down in that chair, clarity slowly settled over me. “It’s not about Dallas,” I thought. “It’s about moving on.”

I am not ready to move on to the next phase of my life.

I’m a planner and we planners like the future. We’ve almost always got one foot in it, for better or for worse. But for once, the present is so nice, so deliriously nice, that I want both feet and hands and hemispheres here in my little apartment in Charlottesville, reading and writing and talking with my happy husband and laying our sweet baby down to sleep. For once, I’m not eager to go anywhere. Different doesn’t sound better. I’d like more of the same, thank you very much, more of these days that are going by too fast.

An MBA is just a blip on the screen and recruiting for jobs takes off with the starting pistol. You blink and you’re in Dallas for the weekend. You blink again and you’re buying a house in the burbs.

I am not ready for a house in the burbs.

Maybe it’s an immaturity in me. That’s entirely possible. Maybe I’ll grow up and be ready when it’s time to go. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have to go anyway. Or maybe the burbs aren’t an inevitability. Maybe we could create a another kind of life, one that’s grown-up and good in a different way. Maybe my I’ll speculate and formulate until I’m frozen like a statue.

Or maybe I’ll write it all out, talk with my happy husband and lay our sweet baby down to sleep.

Darden Check-In


RMHScout and I have been helping cook dinners at the Ronald McDonald House with the Darden Partners Association. And by “cooking” what I really mean is bringing groceries and looking cute, cause neither Scout nor I are much use in a kitchen. She just sits in a high chair and makes eyes at everyone while I inefficiently chop things. But there are worse ways to spend your free time, no?

In other news, we finally have something to do for Halloween this year, something more than dressing up and “Skype trick-or-treating” family and friends. I invented Skype-treating and just now coined that term, and I’m very serious about copyright infringement, so … On second thought, Skype-treating sounds kinda dirty. I digress. This year, we have cooler things to do, some of which are thanks to Darden. And considering that I love Halloween so much I have a five-year plan for costumes, be warned that I will spam you with pictures in the next few days, either here or on Instagram.


Humpback Rock


HikeFrom now on, every time I’m tempted to do something drastic to my hair, I’ll ask myself, “Is this really about some deep-seeded emotional issue?” and the answer will always be yes. For whatever reason, hair is my go-to scapegoat. But this post isn’t about hair; it’s about hiking. When I reach that awkward moment of self-incriminating enlightenment, I’ll substitute a reckless-abandon dye job with a hike. That’s my plan. Aerobic exercise, beautiful views, fresh air, trees—these are the makings of true emotional clarity. Yes, yes. That’s my plan.

Hello, Autumn.



Autumn, Scout. Scout, autumn. So glad you could meet.

Autumn—season of my birth. And Trent’s. Season of leather goods and chunky sweaters. Season of pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread and artificially-flavored pumpkin everything.

(In the autumns of recent years, the overblown commercialized autumns, has the world begun to taste like a big, fat Yankee Candle smells? Or is that just me?)

Season of “Explosions in the Sky” albums I adore and football games I pay no mind. Season of learning and walking and living in awe. Season that makes everyone believe without noticing that death and decay are beautiful things.

And they are. Oh, they are.

Weekend Update


Lots of Darden-related living as of late. Our weekend was chock-full of Darden events, starting with the first athletic competition of the Darden Cup. Trent played, despite his recent ACL surgery and the fact that the only time he has ever played soccer in his life is when he was, and I quote, “a wee little fat kid.” I think he’s suffering from some PTSD there. But it didn’t stop him from showing up as goalie for his section’s B team. Scout and I watched from the sideline. Our presence apparently earned Trent’s section additional fan support points. “Are Instagram support points a thing?” I asked. “Because I’d be all over that.”

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Both games ended in shoot-outs, which made for back-to-back cardiac episodes for poor Trent. He let one past him in the first shoot-out, but defended his goal like a champ in the second.

Saturday we took advantage of Smithsonian Museum Day and enjoyed free admission to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the Stonewall Jackson House. It was a gorgeous drive and a good time and I went home feeling like I know nothing about American History. Par for the course. Our rosy-cheeked baby loved being held through two tours. She also loved shrieking louder (happy shrieks, mind you) every time we shushed her.

Stonewall We stopped at Foothill Momma’s BBQ on the way home. (Order the onion rings!) We didn’t want to wait for a table, so we braved the bar with a baby. Scout did great, and by that I mean she snagged fistfuls of chopped pork whenever we we stopped paying attention to her.


Sunday night we were back at Darden, this time for the famed International Food Festival. It was my favorite Darden event yet. We got stuffed on cuisine made by students from around the world. The Turkish baklava was particularly fantastic, as was the white BBQ sauce from the “Nation of Alabama.” There were lots of international music and dance performances and lots of people to fawn over Scout, which she takes to kindly.



Also over the weekend we finally finished the saga of hooking up our washer and dryer and we came to a compromise about Dallas. I’ll move there happily if it comes to that, just as long as we get a dog when we do. There’s a box-a-shar puppy on the table, and I gotta say, the future looks bright.

Happy Monday!

Deep in the Heart of Texas


Sometimes I go on late night writing binges because I’m struck with inspiration. Sometimes I go on late night writing binges because I’m laden with anxiety. Tonight, I’m on an anxiety binge.

It all started with Trent interrupting a particularly amazing episode of “The Good Wife” to ask me to rank a group of cities according to where I’d most like to live. My top five?

New York

San Fransisco




Bam! That was easy. Oh, you want international cities too?




Buenos Aires


Done-zo. Again, easy-peasy.

Dallas, as it turns out, didn’t make the cut. And Dallas, as it turns out, is Trent’s little residential and professional dream city. And although we’ve barely unfinished packing and have still yet to hook up our washer and dryer, we’re talking about our dream cities and next moves because an MBA is really just a quick little stepping stone. An MBA is just a blip—yes, a blip—and it starts with planning your end goal.

So here we are talking about cities and here I am hating on Trent’s little dream. Friends, I don’t want to hate on Dallas. I don’t want to be a dream crusher. I loathe dream crushers. My knee-jerk aversion to Dallas is based prejudices I’m not proud of. I picture a shallow concrete jungle, perfect and cold and filled with gun-slinging, big-haired shopaholics. Say it isn’t so! When I personify Dallas, I see an insensitive, arrogant, loud-mouthed, larger-than-life sweet bro.

I’m an insensitive, arrogant, loud-mouthed, larger-than-life sweet bro,” Trent said.

“I know! And it’s insufferable!” I screeched.

Of course we were both kidding. (Or were we?)

My point is this: I’m an uppity prejudiced jerk and probably deserve to move to a place I’ll hate. But the thing is, I want to be proven wrong. So I’m crowdsourcing here. Tell me about Dallas, people. Have you been there? What’s it like? Are there trees? Are there seasons? Is there history? Culture? Food? Diversity? Are there fun little quirky weirdos? I love my quirky weirdos. Don’t talk to me about the incredible cost of living. Inspire me. Is there a charm about this city that even a jerk like me could fall in love with?

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