Wednesday, April 05, 2017

What I'm Loving - April 2017

Snow? Check.
Rain? Check.
Spring? Nope.

Here in New England at this time of the year, the weather is certainly not something to be loving. Safe to say, I think we're all pretty much over it.


Instead of focusing on the crap weather, let's instead turn to fun!things! to cheer us all up, ok?

~ I could spend hourrrrrrrrrrs in a Sephora store, just browsing. I'm always hesitant to buy because I feel like I apply makeup with the expertise of a toddler, but I'm *trying* to get better. In that respect, I enjoy finding new products that work for me and my schedule: I'm up at the ass crack of dawn to exercise, I shower at work, and then I hide at my desk and wait until I'm cooled down for a bit before I spackle some paint on my face.

That being said, these are 2 of my new favorite discoveries from Sephora. Laura Mercier's lip gloss (I got the bare pink color) and Benefit's Gimme Brow volumizer. (Your eyebrows are the focal point of your face, you know!)


~Stitchfix has been hit or miss for me over the years, so we have lately been on a break while I attempt to navigate shopping in REAL stores and TRYING THINGS ON. But I just got one, and it was winner winner chicken dinner! Instead of being depressed by the things that my stylist sent (too small, too tight, too NOT ME), my 5 pieces were curated by someone who "got" me! I kept a great top and a spectacular chunky silver bracelet, and am excited to try Stitchfix again. Word of advice: if you do sign up (the link I provided is an affiliate link), be VERY SPECIFIC on your style wants/needs/likes/dislikes!

~Binge-worthy (only 2 seasons thus far!):
Have you guys seen this?! It's an Amazon show that's hilariously irreverent about a couple who ends up together after a (more than) one night stand. I find myself laughing out loud throughout the episodes and am so glad I found this hidden gem! Anxiously awaiting Season 3...

~Ever heard of a HIIT workout? It stands for high intensity interval training and is an effective way of burning the most calories in the shortest amount of time. Enter Metafit. It's a new class/fitness craze that I decided to take on Monday nights. Holy sweat. And although the workouts are short (between 18-24 minutes), you feel like you want.to.die.


~ My friend introduced me to the Facebook page Living in Yellow, and oh man, you should see the contents of my Nordstrom cart these days...especially the shoes! Love love love her style and fashion finds. Unfortunately my wallet doesn't, so I will continue to add things to my cart and lovingly stare at them without purchasing. (That's not weird at all, right?)

~ Believe it or not, I stopped drinking Coke Zero at the beginning of 2017 and haven't really looked back. I've had an occasional Diet Coke here and there (maybe 5 total), but am trying to stay away. I don't drink tea or coffee, but I still wanted needed caffeine. Thankfully my work has this natural caffeine water that I've been living on.


~ Currently bingeing:

I read this YA book one summer, and was excited to find out that Netflix made it a series. Just started it, but can tell it's going to be good. But I highly recommend (always!) reading the book first.

~ Girls' Weekends. Recently just came back from a spectacular weekend away *in Vegas* with my 4 girlfriends. Really, it wouldn't have mattered where we were, because having that time away from our daily lives and routines and worries and work and families and stresses is always special and not to be taken for granted. But being in Vegas definitely made it all the more unique. It is such a comfort knowing that I have these priceless friendships, no matter what.


Now bring on spring!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pajama Days

You know what I miss about the boys' younger years?

I miss the Pajama Days.


The days when all 3 of them had coordinated pajama sets from Carters. Or Baby Gap. Or Children's Place.

(I was quite partial to those fleece one-piece footie pajamas. Umm..also? This is Middle standing up at 7 MONTHS OLD. And at this time, I was already 4 months pregnant with Youngest. OMG)

The days of little boy bare feet.


The days of blankies and thumbs.


When bedtime was a set-in-stone routine of baths, pajamas, and stories. When there were nighttime cuddles and I was able to sniff freshly shampooed hair.

I used to talk about sleep a LOT on this blog. As a matter of fact, as I was searching for pictures for this post, I found 153 (!) blog posts that reference "sleep"; 89 blog posts that talk about "naps"; and 49 blog posts with the word "crib". 

It used to be a big deal back in those days when I was sleep-deprived and frustrated and just wanting them to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT and GROW UP ALREADY.

But now?

There are no coordinated pajamas. It's tee shirts and shorts worn to bed. 

Sadly, there are no more cuddles. No more bedtime stories. No more hair to sniff or cute little boy feet. (Instead there's big boy smelly feet with unkempt toenails and TOE HAIR. When did my babies get TOE HAIR?!)

No more blankets or thumbs. Instead it's a quick "g'night Mom" from all 3 with a quick peck on the cheek, and off they go. 


Yep, I sure do miss those Pajama Days.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Are You Victoria's Secret Bathing Suit Ready? The 2017 Edition!

How timely! While most of the Northeast is experiencing this March winter storm, we can thank our lucky stars for Victoria and her secrets! So get your wallets ready ladies, it's time to go bathing suit shopping...

First up, we have the g-string....except it's not on your butt. Because who doesn't want a thong tan line ON THEIR BACK?

*****

Somehow I feel like these bottoms wouldn't look the same on me. I mean, what with my thigh/hip fat bulging through that netting like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

*****

For those of you who are a bit more modest, may I offer you Victoria's Secret version of a mock turtleneck?

*****

This bathing suit brought to you by 1985, your curly permed hair, and a ball of yarn. (And for that extra special bonus, you get underboob tan lines!)


*****


Because sometimes you just gotta harness those tatas!

*****


The bigger your boobs, the harder those poor strings have to work.

*****


Victoria's Secret: The Miami Vice edition

*****



And finally, she sells seashells...by the boobshore.




Tuesday, March 07, 2017

How Meal Planning Sucked the Life Out of Me and How I Made It Better

When you're a family, the mealtime ritual slowly evolves and changes along with your children. You transition from breast or bottle to staring at all the little jars of baby food in the grocery aisle until you go cross-eyed wondering if Oh Precious One will enjoy peas or green beans more? You go from high chairs to booster seats. (How gross is cleaning a booster seat and finding petrified hot dog?) You go from teeny tiny chopped up food (choking hazards!) and Cheerios (oh, the Cheerios!) to developed little humans with actual tastes and preferences.

It is at this point that dinnertime becomes an actual Thing That You Do.

Every. Night.

Meal planning sucks, does it not?

You work a full day, come home and walk in the door to 3 expectant faces staring at you and asking, "So what's for dinner, Mom?"

It's the worst.


Confession: Yes, we do eat a lot of pasta.

[Sidebar: I've also found that it's so much easier to plan than to not plan. When I don't plan meals, I end up making 3 separate things, which is annoying and time-consuming. Or I rebel and they make their own meals. Which? Fine. Great, even. My boys are learning their way around the kitchen and are being self sufficient! Give me that parenting medal. But how long, exactly, can one live on cream cheese bagels, ramen noodles or spaghettiOs?]


But then, along came Pinterest. And with that, a whole new world of recipes opened up to me! Especially crockpot recipes for those busy weekday nights. (Ask anyone who knows me - I do enjoy singing the praises of a good crockpot meal.) Some have been keepers for sure, and I actually don't mind wasting time on Pinterest searching for uncomplicated dinner recipes.

Admittedly, there have also been some stinkers:


But yet, I forge on, in the hopes of answering the "what's for dinner?" question with a June Cleaver-worthy nutritious meal that the whole family will enjoy.


Hahahahahahahahahaha....nope.

Lately, though, I began to notice that the natives were becoming restless. It seemed like every meal I made was met with a grimace, a negative comment, or hell, even a blatant, "Ewwwww, why'd you make this?"

I finally reached my boiling point about a month ago. It was an unexpected snow day, and I had already planned to make a new slow cooker pork chop recipe. So I went ahead with that plan. Unfortunately, the end product wasn't great looking in presentation, and ended up being average tasting (at best). But hey, it was a new recipe and it's good to try new things, right? The rest of my family did not agree. There was a LOT of complaining. And with that, I was DONE. I was soooooooooo tired of planning weekly meals. Having to think about them, having to buy for them, having to negotiate our sports schedules in order to be able to cook them. DONE.


It was then that I had a breakdown and yelled at everyone for not being appreciative a new family rule was implemented. Starting from oldest (Hubby) to Youngest, each week was someone's responsibility to plan the meals for the week, from Sunday through Thursday. (Fridays and Saturdays we typically eat take-out or go to a restaurant.)

Now, meal-planning is no longer my responsibility. Yes, I still usually shop for the groceries. Yes, I still usually cook the meal. But I've now made the rest of my family actually think about dinner.

And it has been great so far! Hubby's week consisted of burgers, topsy turvy (breakfast for dinner) and some other family staples. Eldest requested baked haddock, which was something out of the ordinary, along with his favorite, chicken marsala. Middle's all-time favorite food is mashed potatoes, but since we wouldn't let that qualify as a meal, he relented to having meatloaf with it. And this week is Youngest's turn, consisting of pork bbq in the crockpot and also a balsamic chicken recipe.

I've found it interesting to see what everyone picks, along with finding it somewhat of a relief that they actually don't mind having the same things over and over. Here I was putting pressure on myself to come up with new and interesting dinner ideas, when in fact the rest of my household truly loves having Taco Tuesday each and every week!


Riddle me this:  How do you meal plan?

Monday, February 27, 2017

44 Things Learned in 44 Years

 

I'm no guru or life coach, but I feel confident that I've garnered quite a few bits of wisdom and life lessons in my ripe old 44 years. And so, in honor of my 44th birthday this month, here's 44 tips, from me to you:

44. Try your best to keep up with pop culture so you know what your kids are talking about!


43. Always teach your children, boys especially, to hold the doors open for others.

42. Put on your own oxygen mask first before you help others.

41. Buy the best washer and dryer you can afford, especially if you have children. My front-loaders are STILL my most valuable possessions, even after 10+ years.

40. Buy workout pants that fit. Otherwise you spend your entire cardio time hiking them up, over and over again.

39. Shop the clearance racks first.

38. This too shall pass. A new day makes everything better.

37. Yoga pants are acceptable. Short shirts with yoga pants are not acceptable.

36. You are right where you are meant to be. You may not realize it yet.

35. Everything happens for a reason.


34. PLEASE dress appropriately for your age. Mom jeans? NO! (Not yet anyway...) But dressing like a tween/teen at your age?  That's a hard no.

33. Black is slimming.

32. Your friendships will change and evolve depending on what stage of life you are in.

31. True friendships require zero to minimal effort. They are natural.

30. Staying in is soooo much easier, but sometimes it's worth it to throw on a pushup bra, get out of those comfy clothes, and go be social. You might be pleasantly surprised.


29. At the same time, if you're really not feeling it, then by all means, just say no and stay in. Sometimes we are just too old to risk that next-day hangover. And besides, you really won't miss anything besides some more of the same small-town gossip.


28. Eat the cookie. Life is too short.

27. Chocolate always makes things better.

26. But then again, so does a good workout.

25. Getting out of your comfort zone can be a great experience. (Examples: trying a new exercise class; conquering a ropes course; joining a committee.)

24. Match your belt to your shoes. (Or better yet, just leave the shirt untucked. You'll be much more comfortable.)

23. Don't compare your life/kids/spouse to Facebook. Everyone is guilty of sugarcoating on Facebook.

22. Let your children see you succeed. Also let them see you fail.

21. Set good relationship examples for your children. Let them see you disagree. Let them see you compromise. Let them see you resolve issues.

20. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to rewards and punishments for the kids.

19. Family nights are an effort to plan, but are worth it.

18. So are family vacations. Your kids will remember them. (Don't you still remember your family vacations from when you were a child?)


17. The older you get, the more important a good bra becomes. Get professionally fitted.

16. Buy the good sneakers.

15. Get to know the parents of your children's friends. This becomes more and more important the older your children get when you can no longer pick their friends for them.

14. Drink 2 bottles of water and take Advil before bed if you've been drinking.

13. Carve in some time alone for yourself. Solitude is restorative.

12. Pick your battles. But know that the battles will forever be changing when it comes to raising children.

11. Eat ice cream for dinner sometimes.

10. Tan fat looks better than white fat.

9. If you're dressed in workout clothes, but don't manage to get a workout in due to unforeseen circumstances, it still counts dammit.

8. Hugs are healing.

7. Find a signature scent, whether it's lotion or perfume.

6. If you find a shirt you like, buy it in at least 2 different colors.

5. Always give goodnight kisses.

4. Splurge for a massage or a facial.

3. A bathroom cleaned by someone other than yourself is the best.thing.ever.

2. Kids will make you laugh and cry. Often in the same day. Or hour. Or minute.

1. You are always and forevermore changing and evolving. Even when you're 44.



Tuesday, January 03, 2017

How 2016 Mostly Sucked...But Kinda Not

This year was one of the toughest I can remember. I could not WAIT to be done with 2016, but upon prepping for this post, it was nice to realize that hey, some good things did happen as well. I feel like I should be walking away from 2016 with some introspective and profound realizations and wisdom to bestow, but alas, the best I could come up with are these summarizations of the past year:

1. Optimal physical health is something that should not ever be taken for granted;

2. A marriage with a strong foundation is of utmost importance when one's physical health is compromised;

3. The kids are all right; and

4. A trip to the beach is always the answer.

And now, I apologize, for this recap is quite long and self-indulgent, but it's nice to have it written down. To look back and remember...


January 2016 started off with promise, with a friend's 40th birthday bash, and the excitement of an upcoming Florida trip with another couple.


Beach time in January is never a bad thing.


Neither is long-lost friend time.

And our kitchen renovation began in earnest:


But January is also when Hubby began to feel sick with stomach issues. It was definitely just a small sign of things to come...


Nonetheless, in the beginning of February, I celebrated my 43rd birthday with an annual overnight spa trip with girlfriends.

But then, Hubby got sick and was hospitalized for a week. Turns out he was having complications from his longstanding diverticulitis.


In March, our kitchen re-do was finally finished!

(For more kitchen pics, click here.)

And I celebrated a belated birthday in Boston.


 In April, Eldest got his braces off...


...and Hubby was hospitalized, again, with the same stomach complications.


So we postponed our 17th anniversary getaway to focus on him getting well. And we also scheduled surgery for him in the summer to remove the portion of his colon that was riddled with diverticulitis.

In May, we were finally able to get away to Maine. Hubby wasn't feeling his best, but he humored me and my shopping.


I also got to meet the New Kids on the Block in May. My takeaway? They're super short in person.


And we had more family health issues. My dad underwent a 10+ hour back surgery in Boston.


And although I wish time would stand still, it simply won't. Eldest had his 8th Grade Dinner Dance.


And of course there was baseball.  Always baseball.  I'll spare you (and myself) the multitude of pics of that. My bleacher butt can attest to the hours of baseball played from April-July.

Again with the passage of time. Someone turned 12 in June...


...and Someone turned 11 in June...


...and yet a third Someone graduated from middle school.


And then there's July.

Surgery Month.


It was a long, hard road. With a long, hard recovery. And getting used to a new way of life for Hubby. Due to surgical complications, he was left with 36 abdominal staples and a temporary colostomy. This involved visiting nurses coming to help him learn how to care for it, an infected incision as a side effect, and just lots and lots of frustration and helplessness (on both our parts). Needless to say, it was a super tough summer. Throw in the parental guilt of cancelled vacations and summer plans, and you have the perfect storm of Suck.

(Hubby lost a LOT of weight in the hospital, and then shaved off his goatee, which rendered him virtually unrecognizable.)

Thankfully, we are so very lucky to have a Village of friends and family who jumped in to help us.


August brought about the boys' very first concert - Florida Georgia Line. We missed Hubby dearly, but he wasn't up for the crowds and chaos of a country concert so soon after his hospital stay.

There was also a Staycation Week for me, in which I tried to cram in as many fun things as I could with the boyz, while Hubby continued to recuperate at home.

A day trip to Maine to crash with friends at Old Orchard Beach.

Lake time with the boyz and their friends.

 A relaxing few nights at the Cape with friends.

And some beach time with my parents on the Cape...

And with that, summer was over.  Football began, and so did school.


(First day of 9th, 7th and 6th.)


September came, and with that, a new!car! for meeeeee!


And then there was our annual Labor Day trip to Hampton Beach in NH, which is always a good time!



September was also when Hubby began feeling more like himself and willing to venture out. (Never without his trusty backpack of supplies though.) We hit up the Big E (state fair) as a family in September...


And Hubby somehow came away from that with a new cowboy hat.  Who am I to tell a sick dude no?


In September, there was yet MORE beach time for me with a friend. We had a glorious RI beach day all to ourselves...


And Eldest was happy to be playing football on both the Freshman team and the JV team and also dressing for the Varsity games.  He was so fun to watch play!


 There was the Homecoming Dance...


...and a Girls Getaway to Newport, RI where I squeezed in a final beach day!


(Shots are never a good idea, but always seem to be at that exact moment in time, am I right?!)

Still in September (it was a busy month!), my parents came and my Mom and I saw the musical Wicked.

But best of all, I surprised my parents and Hubby and the boyz with a visit from my youngest brother from Colorado. We pulled it off without a hitch!


Then came October. And with that, a 15th birthday.


And Middle got his braces ON.


And because we weren't quite yet done with medical issues yet, this happened:


Broken collarbone. Done with football season.

And the end of October brought us Halloween 2016.



(Oh, and also throw in some incessant *dabbing* in the fall, won't you?)

The beginning of November was when I took the best trip I've taken in quite some time. You know how when you travel and everything just happens to work out perfectly without planning? This was that trip, the entire time. I had a work conference in New York City, so my girlfriend tagged along, because I knew I'd have a decent amount of free time. We ended up having a legitimate blast with minimal effort. Although we didn't see Hamilton (that would've been a unicorn pooping rainbows), we did get to see a taping of Late Night with Seth Myers. HIGHLY recommend.



Then there was the Election We Shall Not Speak Of.


And football season for Youngest came to an end.


And then finally, finally, FINALLY! right before Thanksgiving came Hubby's ostomy reversal surgery.  

And while we had high (albeit misguided) hopes for an easy recovery, it was a little more rough than anticipated, with yet another wound requiring more care.

But we were in the home stretch, and we made it through his illness with our marriage and our humor intact, thankfully!

Thanksgiving was the first time Middle ran a 5-mile race on his own and CRUSHED it.


And our longtime friends provided laughs and fond memories with this photo re-creation of the kids.


Finally, on to December. An end to a year that was bad, yet reminded us how much worse it could really have been.


Basketball season started, and Hubby returned to his favorite place, coaching.


Santa and his magic lurked in the December air.

We celebrated my girlfriend's 40th with a couples trip to Mohegan Sun to see Adam Sandler perform. This was Hubby's first official outing post-surgery. He was slowly getting back to "normal".



We even managed a 2-night getaway to Maine. It was needed.


(When parents text their children.)

And with that, it was Christmas. Yet even closer to the end of 2016. We *thought* we were in the clear. We should've known better.

Christmas Day arrived, and with it, not only new hoverboards...


...but also the stomach bug. WITH A VENGEANCE.


(What 4 solid hours of puking looks like.)

So much so that there was no Christmas festivities with my side of the family. They were too scared to step foot in our Germhouse Trenches. And so we remained in quarantine for much of Christmas week. It was one last kick in the ass from 2016.


But finally, we bid it adieu.


(God forbid we let the year end without a mid-air water bottle flip.)

So that's that. 2016 in pictures and thoughts and words. All things that make me realize how lucky we are, how lucky *I* am, to have what I have, to have what we have. Family, friends, health, happiness.

And all those beach trips weren't bad either.


Peace out 2016!



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