Blurbs

Thank you all for the movie suggestions on my last post (14 days ago!). You’ll be happy to know the kiddos loved The Sandlot; so many other fabulous suggestions that I have added to the must-see list. (How did I forget about Anne of Green Gables?)

I’m having a really frustrating and stupid issue with my current hosting provider and blog comments being emailed to me; bottom line is they work sometimes but not all the time. Since I’m paid through end of the year with my current host I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Not getting blog comments in my inbox (total convenience + first world problem, I realize) is really annoying so I may just make the switch to another host. Open to suggestions if anyone has them!

You know that feeling when you are on vacation and you kind of just wish it would last forever and you realize how big and gorgeous the world is, how people are really good and kind in so many situations, and that you love the ocean air and sea salt breeze, that there is so much to do, see, experience that you are left wondering why in the world we are chained to tablets/phones/desks/computers all day? Yeah. That was how awesome and wonderful it was to be in a different State, away from my office and with my loved ones all last week.

I had a really good chat earlier this week with our Pastor about how polarized all of the issues and situations are right now. That people feel obligated to pick either side A or B, or that they don’t have time to read all the issues on any given topic/conflict. When I told her that I feel helpless because I have friends who are on the frontlines of both sides of a lot of things in the news these days she reminded me to live “love and compassion,” everyday. That not all of us can be activists or voice our opinions, not all of us are comfortable being social media blitzers and blasters, that some of us are better at espousing hope and love and compassion. I’ve been absorbing what she said and realized that’s me: I’m a feeler more than I am do-er in really tense situations. I’ll be over here living love, light & compassion in my actions, my words, my thoughts. (And yes, I’ll be doing some things that are comfortable for me, too!)

Things I’m loving, in no particular order: reading books that I want to read, even if they aren’t popular or serious or by someone that was on the New York Times Bestselling list. Watching Jack’s ears as he hears the kiddos on the stairs each day. He waits for them patiently and adores extra cuddles with them on the couch/floor/his bed. BitMoji. Have you heard of it? It’s addictive and fun and makes texting more interesting. There’s a picture for nearly every mood, situation and etc. Recommend! Newly pedicured toes. Disney movies (I may or may not be able to sing, from memory, every Beauty & the Beast song). Amazon Prime shipping (I ordered a few movies the girls MUST see before they go back).

What’s on your mind lately?

Around Here

We are working on a 550 piece puzzle with the kidlets and it’s created so much family together time, joy, laughter and a bit of frustration because the pieces are tiny! Perfect activity for the hot summer days.

Knight and I came up with a list of classic movies the kidlets need to see: Back to the Future (already watched and they loved!); Big; Splash; Rookie of the Year. I have a really long list of others but they will have to wait until they are age appropriate. Any others that you would recommend in the interim?

I don’t know how my mom made my lunches nearly everyday for 13 years of school. I’ve been doing it for two and a half weeks and I’m so over it. (Yes, the girls can make some of their own and they do, but considering they forget what to put in it, even with a checklist, I’m giving in and doing it for them. Part of their plot? Maybe.)

Not sure how I feel about fourth graders having email addresses. Yes, I’m all for technology and their learning how to use it but it’s quite another to see how quickly they get sucked in, how quickly their “friends,” respond, the idea of having group chats at age nine… the list goes on and on. We limit the number of times email may be checked and how long the eldest can be on it as a result. (This email address is a school one, given to all fourth graders on their first day of 4th grade. If it were up to me, she wouldn’t have one until high school because I’m old school and mean.)

Parenting means I miss my mom about 100% more than I normally do. I have so many questions, want desperately to go out to ice cream with her and just talk, and to have her shed some light on what I’m facing. I know parenting is hard all of the time, for everyone but there are some days with my step-momma shoes on that I just… I have no idea what I’m doing. I hate that I can’t call her, absolutely hate it. I ask myself what she would do so often and I think sometimes I get it right… just wish I knew!

Am loving YA books. Anna and the French Kiss was adorable and 13 Little Blue Envelopes is lots of fun, too. I’m also craving/enjoying cozy mysteries and whodunits, preferably nothing too graphic.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods? What was your favorite movie when you were younger?

 

 

On Dog Walking

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that I’m a dog momma to the wonderful muttling, Jack. He’s nearly 12 now and unfortunately is completely blind due to retinal degeneration; evidently it’s common in mutts of certain mixes. It’s not painful for him, just inconvenient. Thankfully our medium-sized dude is smart and has adapted well: he knows all the ins and outs of our house, knows where the furniture is and knows his way around our walks, too.

Now that I’m the mother of a furbaby that requires some additional attention and, ok, since I’m in my 30s, certain dog walking behavior drives me crazy. Today, I’m talking dog walking etiquette.

* DO Leash up! I love dogs of all kinds, I really and truly do but please, keep your dog on a leash unless you’re in a dog park. Since Jack can’t see, dogs running up towards him freaks him out and me by proxy. Both of us on edge = not good! I am sure your dog is loving and sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly but Jack doesn’t react as quickly as he used to so when a dog comes out of nowhere, it causes us some problems. Maybe keep in mind that not all dogs are friendly and ready to play? (Fun fact? In my county there is a leash law for dogs and cats.)

* DON’T assume my dog wants to say hi to you/ your dog even if your pup is on a leash. If our dogs have met before, it will be fine but if you are new we can expect whining and nose-to-butt sniffing and occasionally the situation can go south.

* DO pick up your dog poop, for the love! Again, this is another county mandated thing where I live, but even if it wasn’t? Please, pick up your dog poop. We all have loads of extra grocery bags or can grab some quick and easy to use doggy waste bags  to keep the poop off the ground.

* DO ask me if you can pet my dog. Jack is an absolute love and will lean into any scratch, pet or affection you give him but he needs a minute to sniff your scent.

* DO make sure you check the weather if you’re taking your pup on a longer walk. A few weeks ago I did a local breast cancer 5k, the temp was nearly 100 degrees and I saw so many tiny pups and dogs trying to keep up. Yes, it’s your choice to bring your dog out in this weather but don’t forget to consider the heat and their exhaustion! If you need to have your dog out in warmer temps, be sure to have ample water and/or shade available to them.

Need someone to walk your dog when you can’t? Check out this resource from Rover.com for dog owners; reliable and safe dog walking is just a click away

Any tips & tricks or pet peeves from fellow dog lovers and owners? 

This, That & Lately

We are just two days shy of surviving our first week as a family of four. Knight and I set our intentions for this summer when it comes to eating, exercising and how we were going to structure the days/evenings. All I can say is that so far things are going much more smoothly, I don’t feel nearly as rushed and we get one whole hour to ourselves each evening. The kiddos are doing great and are a barrel of laughs, giving us a run for our money and are such a joy, all at once!

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Mother Nature must be really angry because we have been in a period of no rain, crazy humidity and extreme heat. Our 28 year-old air conditioning unit is struggling to keep up which means I’m terrified to see our electric bill in a few weeks. It’s too hot to get all my steps in outside so I may or may not go on the same loop in my house on repeat some evenings. The heat melts my brain and I’m convinced makes other people horrible drivers.

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I’ve been kicking my butt lately workout wise and am loving it. I’m officially down 12 pounds and am closing in on almost 40 inches lost overall. Not too bad for 10 months of work, eh? 3S Fitness has been doing a special Summer Series challenge which adds an extra boost to my routine each day; I’ve been having the girls join me for that part and trust me when I say it’s hilarious and fun to have them right along next to me. I know it can get tedious when people talk fitness and health so I’m going to just leave this here: 3S Fitness is offer a “Name Your Price” semi-annual sale. Literally you pick your price for the first month with 3S. Interested in more information or want to sign-up? Here you go. 

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I’m struggling to read anything of substance lately; I’m craving beach reads, fun mysteries and romance novels. Taking any and all recommendations if you have one! I figure I’ll go back to some heavier books once the weather turns cooler this fall. A few of my favorites have books coming out this summer and I’m so looking forward to treating myself to a book to add to my “favorite author,” collection.

What’s on your this/that and lately list? 

 

Review: Sleepless in Manhattan

Sarah MorganWhat a perfect summer read, friends. I couldn’t put this one down and couldn’t get enough of the characters, didn’t want it to end and I’m hoping there is a continuation in the series! Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan is amusing, entertaining, light-hearted and inspiring all at once.

About this book:

Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she’s now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than Manhattan? But when Paige loses the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone.

Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother’s best friend, New York’s most in-demand date and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige’s fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever?

As a self-professed list maker, event planning lover and Type A person, I could relate to Paige and her desire to make each client event she worked on successful. The Italian restaurant that the Paige and her friends spent time in made me feel right at home and I thoroughly enjoyed Jake’s mother with her classic Italian insights. Let’s not overlook the fact that this story takes place in New York City, one of my most favorite locations for books, movies and love stories. Morgan combines romance and strong-willed women in this book for one that will keep you turning the pages.

Giveaway time! Would you like to win a copy of this book for your summer vacation or poolside table? If you’re in the U.S. or Canada leave a comment by June 28th with your pick for best summer read! Winner will be notified by email.

tlc tour host

Disclosure: TLC Book Tours provided me a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of my review. All opinions are my own.

 

Reunion

A week ago I met some friends from high school, a few of the ladies I had not seen in person since graduation day, for drinks and dinner. I learned a few things that evening…

1) I was a total Miss Goody Two Shoes in high school. Some of the stories that were shared or remembered are things I wouldn’t even do to this day (yup, I’m boring!). I did not drink in high school, have never tried or done any drugs. Evidently I was in the minority on this! Lots of things happened in high school that I had no idea went on.

2) I don’t remember as many people by name as I thought I did. As soon as I got home from the evening I dugout my high school yearbook which was a hilarious and fabulous idea all at the same time. Faces I remembered, names not so much. We all agreed that next time we get together, hopefully not in another 15 years, that we’ll bring a yearbook to the event in case we need to look up pictures.

3) For anyone who is out there and struggling with high school, fitting in, etc.: try not to fret it. There were six of us at the dinner and we all came from different walks of life in high school but now? Four of the six are mothers, one is a doctor, one is a stay at home mom, one is a mom of two little boys and an engineer, another is a pediatric emergency room nurse, another still works for a family practice and then there’s me. My point is this: most of the evening was spent talking about marriage, raising kids, how expensive prescription drugs are, how the last time they were out this late was “way back when,” and how much fun it was to get together. None of our backgrounds or differences from then (or now; we all live in different parts of the city, fuel our bodies differently; some Cross Fit, some run, some drink, some don’t) mattered. We were just a group of 30-something women laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

4) In looking at my high school yearbook I laughed at my fashion choices, the fact that for some reason tweezing/waxing my eyebrows was optional for my senior photo (taken the summer before senior year, actually; I did tweeze/wax those brows all of senior year) and why in the world did our faculty advisor allow us to include pictures of people’s tattoos and piercings in our yearbook? I had a good laugh going through it, lots of smiles and suddenly had a desire to know what some of my long-since forgotten acquaintances were doing.

5) There are a surprising amount of high school couples to come out of my graduating class of 450. Not everyone stayed together after graduation but a few people circled back to each other after first marriages. The couples I thought would stay together? Didn’t.

6) I’m officially old. I started yawning around 9pm and was so happy to get home by 10:30.

When was the last time you got together with anyone from your high school or childhood? Any lessons learned from that get together?

Heavy

Warning: this post is all over the place, mostly because my mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas the last several days. It’s not coherent and maybe doesn’t make sense but I’m putting it out there anyway. Feel free to move along if this isn’t your thing. I’m not here to debate with anyone. 

When I became a (Step)Mom, I never thought I’d have to sit my bonus kids down and answer their questions about ISIS or why Donald Trump wants to build a wall and is so “mean,” (their words, not mine). Discussing what terrorism and terrorist means and trying to calm their heads and brains so they don’t sit in fear all the time.

That I would have to explain the riots in Ferguson and how equality and civil rights aren’t prevalent in our society. How some people, some groups, some cultures feel “less than.” I certainly didn’t plan on having to hold back tears when my eldest said with all the innocence of a nine-year old:” Didn’t Martin Luther King Jr. make everyone have equal rights? Why is it a problem now?” Oh, blessed child, if only that were true.

I never thought that when signing kids up for summer camps I’d have to opt-in to “alert” texts in case of emergencies at the school. I don’t know how to explain active shooter training and why it’s necessary. Couldn’t have guessed that when I became a mom I’d have such a flood of relief at seeing their faces after camp is over, to know they are safe for yet another day.

I struggle to find the words to explain that some people don’t believe that love is love. I remember having an “ah-ha!” moment when reading an article about how I shouldn’t ask the girls if they have a crush on a boy, but rather just a crush. Who am I to say they have to like boys? I get tired of having to process my feelings of hurt, of heaviness, of fear, of disappointment and then having to figure out the best way to speak to my kids about these horrific situations.

I don’t know quite how to explain any of this to them when I suddenly don’t feel safe in many places: my progressive Church as we are LGBTQIA aligned. Movie theaters- if someone comes in halfway through or late or moves, I am instantly nervous. Sitting in traffic on the highway because, well, I’m a sitting duck, literally. Even on my evening walks; loud trucks and motorcycles startle me. I’m becoming fragile and easily scared and I don’t like it.

I don’t really know how to change things. Enough IS enough. Something has to give. I keep going back to what my parents taught me “try, try and try again.” Why aren’t we trying some measure of gun control or new ones? Why can’t we take some guns off the civilian marketplace? Yes, I know if there is a will there is a way for the bad guys, but can’t that be true for the good guys, too? What do I do as a citizen, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter? I wish I had the answers.

I’m left doing the only things I can do, the things I can control. Be Kind. To love. Live & let live. Let as much as the little shit go as possible because it is just that- little. Never leave the house without giving hugs and kisses and saying I love you. To giving my dog an extra pat on the head. Educate my children to have love and tolerance, accept people’s differences as a good thing rather than bad, and if they don’t agree? Fine, but have a dialogue. No fights, no violence, no hatred. Be one of the good guys. Sign petitions and vote for those I believe in, for talking about gun control and violence, civil and equal rights even when it is uncomfortable. Don’t stay silent. Take action, whether it be big or small.

 

Good Things Friday

And just like that it’s been two weeks since I last blogged. So much for writing more.

Good things on this lovely spring Friday…

Jane the Virgin. I’m late to the scene on this show, as always but that means I can binge on it. Thanks to my near and dear friend Becky for recommending it to me.

My brother comes home today for a full five day/five night visit. I haven’t seen him in person since October and I can’t wait to tackle hug him.

Granting myself a little grace. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, Knight and I were on a crazy fast trip this past weekend and then I woke up with a stupid sinus infection on Tuesday morning. As hard as it is for me to SLOW DOWN, I have been ok with not meeting my step goal the last two days and taking it easier workout wise.

It’s a 3.5 day weekend for me. Much needed. I have a whole lot of zero official plans and that is alright with me.

My kind and supportive husband. We’ve been running in opposite directions lately between work, extra-curricular activities and our social lives but no matter what, at the end of the day, I know we are coming home to each other and are there for one another. Our schedules are improving in the coming weeks which means I look forward to soaking up some he & me time. (End Schmoopfest.)

What’s on your good things Friday list? Any plans for the long weekend? 

This, That & Lately

Things I have been doing the past few weeks… 

  • Joining the FitBit club. I’ve been slaying my steps almost everyday and loving it. There’s something freeing in treating myself to 10 minutes to run stairs at my office, or going on a long, ambling walk after work. I secretly love the buzz that goes off when I hit my 10k steps.
  • Listening to audio books like it’s my job. Currently I’m listening to Amy Poehler read her book “Yes, Please,” and I have to say it’s quite hilarious. I’m glad I’m listening to it vs. reading it since I know some people did not like it as a book, but audio wise it’s awesome and addicting. I could listen to Amy read the Yellow Pages and it would likely be entertaining.
  • Stressing out about work. I know, a waste of time but such as it is. I take my work responsibilities seriously- the joys of working for a small, family business- but lately it’s been one problem after another and it’s just not fun. (Duh.)
  • Reading, reading and more reading. I’m not reading anything particular intellectual, smart or deep but I am reading things that I like, that take me away from the real world and that’s good enough for me.
  • Thinking that I want to write more; on my blog, in my journal. Maybe it’s all these memoirs I’ve been reading lately but I feel like writing and sharing more. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not exciting but I realize that writing runs in my genes and through my blood…. my mom was always scribbling and journaling and writing and I haven’t done a lick of it since the day she passed away. Maybe I’m getting closer to being ready and able to try it again.
  • Prepping for another summer of Stepmonstering– I mean, Bonus Momming. (After reading Stepmonster there will be some changes around here, though. Namely how I think/act/react. I’m kind of excited about it. The girls may not be.)
  • Going to STL Cardinal games. I think I’m bad luck though… we rarely win on the days I go.
  • Killing it with my workouts. I’m down nearly 13 pounds and 35 inches in the last nine months. I am amazed at how far I’ve come, my strength, my new muscle tone, when I can fit in smaller pants or clothes from last summer are too big.

Things I’m not doing…. 

  • Cleaning my house as much as I should
  • Coloring. I haven’t colored in at least a month; I need to bring that back into my evening/weekend routines.
  • Writing on my blog enough. Oops.
  • Posting to Instagram nearly as much as usual. My life is boring. You don’t want to see another picture of my dog, or me reading or the windows open in my house since we are having lovely spring weather. Or maybe you do. I don’t know.
  • Being inventive with my cooking. I’m bored with my macro-friendly meals and really just bored with cooking in general. Thank goodness grilling season is here and that Knight loves to grill.
  • Pretending like I care about basketball or hockey playoffs. I don’t. At all.
  • Reading books I own. I’m constantly checking books out via OverDrive or at the library.
  • Freaking out about this summer of parenting. It’s our fourth (fifth?) of this arrangement and I feel confident in our plans, goals, and how we run our parenting game (for the most part). However, I should add to the “things I am doing” list: dreading the pre-teen years that are just around the corner. I got a taste of it last year “I’m a pre, pre-teen, Nora,” (accompanied with an eye roll and exaggerated hand gestures) and in that moment I wanted to call Heaven and apologize to my mom and I certainly texted my dad and said “I’m sorry.”

So. That’s what I’ve been doing and not doing for the last few weeks. What is on your doing/not doing list?

Good Things Fri-Yay

Ever have a week where you feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon? That was my week! Spending the first two days of the week on vacation (well one vacation day, one epic and long travel day), then back to work where everyone needed something, cramming in 4 workouts into three days and trying hard not to think about the laundry list of things that need be to done, including laundry… all this to say TGI-freakin’ F.

Good Things this week:

  • Realizing that nope, we have plenty of food in the house and that I do not need to go grocery shopping until the weekend
  • Managing to get in a really hard two-a-day workout to stay caught up, current and maintaining my 100% success rate of doing all prescribed workouts from my trainer
  • My allergies haven’t been as horrible since we got back from our vacation; famous last words probably but I’ll take it for now
  • Wearing jeans to work!
  • Meaningful conversation and text exchanges with several dear friends
  • Getting back to good, healthful food. Vacation is fun for trying new things, flavors and etc. but it’s also really lovely to be able to control 100% of my food preparation, where it comes from and etc.
  • Already talking to the hubs about our next getaway
  • Jack snuggles, cuddles and tail wags
  • A quiet weekend before the insanity that is next week

What’s good on your list for the week? Any exciting weekend plans?