Thursday, December 01, 2016

What I'm Loving - Fall/Winter 2016

(Please excuse me while I clear away the dust and cobwebs from this site...)

2016 can be done at any time now, amirite? I have to say, with all honesty, this was definitely NOT one of my favorite years. Politics aside, my husband's illness definitely took a toll on our family life in 2016. With 4 hospitalizations and 2 surgeries behind us, we are ready to bring on a HEALTHY 2017!

(Although I did get a new kitchen in 2016. That was definitely a bright spot!)

That being said, there were a few fun products/items/things that brightened my fall that I'd love to share with you in a non-sponsored, just for fun type of way.

I am one of those women who walks into Sephora all confident, thinking, "I can DO this. I can be a grown-ass adult and BUY SOME MAKEUP." But nope. I can't. I wander around aimlessly. I pick things up and put them down. I try on samples until I look like a ventriloquist's puppet. I become completely overwhelmed and usually walk out of there empty-handed, save for the sparkles and streaks and smudges on my face. But this! This eyeshadow kit is my newest makeup fave. Love love love the applicator and the neutral colors.

I fall asleep while reading my Kindle every night before bed. 2016 hasn't been a great year of thrilling can't-put-down reads for me, but a few do stand out:

I finished Behind Closed Doors in literally 4 nights. It was intense and uncomfortable (think Sleeping With the Enemy uncomfortable...) and I'm not giving away the ending!

The Girls was my favorite read of the summer. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the story of Charles Manson and the Helter Skelter murders. I must have read that book at least 5 times. The Girls has a similar early 70's cult-like feel.

Wreckage was another one that I fired through quickly. Imagine being in a plane crash. Then imagine being stranded on a desert island. THEN imagine being rescued after 2 years and having to come back to your old life...


I tend to be a binge-watcher rather than a devoted weekly watcher of TV shows. I have fired through Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad (my all-time fave), Friday Night Lights, Bloodline and this summer I watched One Mississippi and Fleabag (both original Amazon series in their first seasons).

Now, I'm into Weeds. I love that the episodes are only 30 minutes. I love that it was created by Jenji Kohan. And I love the sick, twisted humor.

I'm not sure what I'll binge-watch next. My 15-year old is begging me to watch Grey's, but that seems like SUCH a commitment (12 seasons?!). And both my oldest 2 are faithful watchers of The Walking Dead, but violent zombies just don't seem to have any appeal for me. Perhaps The Americans?

I have such a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I love it when I need a specific idea. Otherwise, I hate it. I sense it mocking me, pressuring me to create more, cook more, bake more, become more healthy. SHUT UP PINTEREST YOU DON'T KNOW ME.

Ahem. Anyway, once in a while, I stumble upon a Pinterest win and feel compelled to share. This copycat recipe is that win. It has been a hit over and over again with my family and guests alike. I mean, really, who doesn't love Panera's mac and cheese?! (I make mine without the Dijon mustard and hot sauce.)

I love photo re-creations. I'm so glad we were able to get together with our family friends and have the kiddos do this, 10+ years later. They pretty much nailed it!

And although we don't have our tree yet, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

#TBT 2005

I took this picture exactly ELEVEN YEARS AGO today (baby feet and toesies!), and I honestly don't remember the day-to-day of those years when I had a newborn, a 1 year old and a 3 (almost 4) year old.
Two of them in diapers at the same time (RIP stinky Diaper Genie, you worked some damn OVERTIME), carting two of them around in a double stroller while sometimes Eldest would walk, or else I'd put Youngest in the Baby Bjorn on my chest and stroll the older two...
It's a little bit akin to PTSD (or perhaps old age?) in that that part of my life is mere bits and pieces of memories. I remember feeling constantly overwhelmed---like I was running around in circles, yet not accomplishing much of anything except keeping three humans alive. I considered it a good! day! if I managed to brush my own teeth at some point. Seriously, my gold standard of excellence was entirely based on if I was able to conduct some sort of personal hygiene routine that day on myself. Most days it was a fail, but hey, it was good to have goals.
Man, those early days...that turned into years (the Terrible Twos, the Tortuous Threes, the F*cking Fours, potty training, nighttime Olympics)...were SO HARD, but oh so worth it.
I kinda just want the 2016 Me to be able to go back in time, to that very day on September 15, 2005, and hug the 2005 Me and say, "Hang in there. The hours and days may feel slow, but you'll blink and they'll be 14 (almost 15), 12 and 11.  You're doing a good job, Momma."

Thursday, September 01, 2016

First Day of School Then vs. First Day of School Now

As all 3 boys got ready to start their 2016-2017 school year yesterday, I couldn't help but think of years' past and all the ways things are so very different now that they're in high school (gulp!) and middle school.
THEN: Outfits were lovingly curated dayssssss in advance. (See above with the matching striped shirts that kind of makes me want to punch my 2008 self...) Stores like Gymboree, Carters, Oshkosh and Children's Place were scoured for "cute school clothes".
NOW: Wear what you got, kids! It's still summer. Gym shorts and tee shirts of the non-wrinkled, non-stained, proper fitting kind are acceptable. And actually, wrinkled is fine. School clothes will be shopped for when the season changes and you actually need long sleeves and long pants. And actually, you all insist on wearing shorts year-round, so scratch that.
THEN: Along with the clothes, a very special backpack was picked out yearly. Sometimes it was even from LLBean and monogrammed. (True story. On more than one occasion. I know...punch me again!) This was back before the boys were even aware of brand names, and Momma had full control.
NOW: Ummm have you SEEN the price of backpacks these days?! Yeah, NO. The expensive brand name backpacks are to be re-used, preferably for 2-3 years. So unless your backpack has disintegrated into ashes, you are using it again. And again. I had no intention of buying an $80 backpack (does it do your homework for you too at that price?!) for anyone this year, but then Youngest brought it to my attention that he did, in fact, need a new one. The one he carried last year was a hand-me-down, and it seems Eldest had started using it this summer to transport his smelly football gear. So Youngest's request was legit. And off we headed to the outlets, so he could get a coveted Under Armour 50% OFF! Momma don't play.

THEN: Mom and Dad stood outside with the boys, waiting expectantly for the big yellow bus to round the corner, constantly taking pictures of the bus, of the children, of the children stepping onto the bus, of the children sitting on the bus, of the bus going down the street transporting such precious cargo.
NOW: One quick pic is snapped outdoors. Then Mom and Dad go back in the house to get ready for work, leaving the kids in the driveway to catch the bus when it comes.
THEN: Not only was the bus trip documented via minute by minute pictures, but then we also followed the bus to the school. To document the arrival. And to take pictures in the classroom.
NOW: No way, no how.
THEN: As soon as the school supply lists were published, I was printing them out and marking time on the calendar as to when we could all go together (wheeee!) to pick out everyone's school supplies. Back then, I was working at Staples corporate headquarters, so as a faithful employee, the boys and I would go to our local Staples, and each would be handed a basket and their list, and they could go to town, getting everything their little hearts desired...with my employee discount.
NOW: The week before school started, it hits me that the boys kinda need to fill their used backpacks with supplies. Shit. I print out the lists, sigh heavily and roll my eyes at half of the "required" items (I mean, does a 6th grader really need a set of multicolored Sharpies? No. The answer is no. And wanna know why I know this? Because I've already sent 2 children to school with the required multicolored Sharpies THAT NEVER GOT USED.) I then go on to (now a loyal former employee) and load up my virtual shopping cart with items that *I* feel like they will use for their required grades. No more hours spent poring over the overwhelming (and already picked-over) array of folders/notebooks/pens/pencils/gluesticks and choosing the right color/brand. You get what you get. And it comes to you in a box. Delivered to the front door. The end.
THEN: Lunchboxes were bought yearly. Again, perhaps involving LLBean or Land's End monogramming. Healthy snacks and lunch items were planned. Sugar was kept to a minimum, lest the teachers judge my mothering skills. Sandwiches were prepared every morning according to each child's specific request. One child only likes mayo, one will only use yellow mustard, one likes theirs plain. Only one eats bologna, while the other 2 eat nutella. All 3 will eat ham, but again, the condiments must be correct for each child. For YEARS I did this. YEARS.
NOW: Doritos and cosmic brownies for all! Help yourself, kids! And you all know where the bread, meat and condiments are. Make your own damn sammich.
Love you, boys! Have a great school year!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Fun at Six Flags New England #thrillitup #Superman #VirtualReality

I'm happy to be a part of the Media Day experiences at Six Flags New England. The boys and I have been attending these events since 2011 and have been wowed each and every time!

Middle is my amusement park aficionado and hasn't yet met a ride he won't do.

So this new season, folks, for your riding pleasure, there are TWO new experiences for you at Six Flags New England!  The first one is a rollercoaster named Fireball (....aaaaand now you have the Pitbull song in your head). It's a 7-story perfect circle that rocks you forward and backwards...and then spins you right round, baby, right round.

See for yourself!

And if that isn't enough for you...

Behold, Superman the Ride Virtual Reality Coaster!

For this Media Day, we really had NO idea what to expect...and what we experienced FAR surpassed any of our expectations, I swear to you! Once you get up to the ride, you are fitted with a wireless headset that velcros on your head and gives you 360 degree views of "Metropolis". You are basically part of a cartoon world.

Note: It takes a LONG time for everyone on the ride to each get fitted (and then subsequently adjusted) with a headset. A LONG time. As in, there is no way in hell I would stand in line for 2+ hours on a 90-degree Saturday and wait to ride--putting on a headset that 50 other (sweaty) people have already worn.  So plan accordingly.

Note 2: Actually, I can't imagine this ride ever NOT being crowded, because the experience is so new and unique. So perhaps worth the wait?? I'll let you decide.

Note 3: Children under 12 are not permitted to wear the virtual reality headsets, but I have no idea how they're going to check/enforce this at the park.

Anyway, once the ride starts, you are instantly face-to-face with Lex Luthor, Superman's enemy, on a broken train that is careening through the sky. The cool thing about the experience is that you are so immersed in the story that you forget you're on a roller coaster and you have no idea what's coming next!

It was unlike anything I've ever experienced, and we were lucky enough (because it was Media Day and they were doing lots of news stories/interviews/live web cams) to get to ride it twice in a row! WAY COOL.

Good looking! Oh, and the boys are too. Heh!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fun at Fenway in June! #redsoxmoms

Now that school is over...or just are some fun happenings going on at Fenway Park this month that you may want to take advantage of with the kiddos!

Sunday, June 12 - Out of the Park
The Red Sox will again be hosting "Out of the Park on Sunday, June 12. They will have a jumbo screen in Boston Common to watch the Sox vs. Twins game. It's a free event with food and entertainment, plus this will offer a sneak peek of the new Red Sox Mobile Truck.

Tuesday, June 14 - Veritek Bobblehead Giveaway

Thursday, June 16 - Country Night

Tuesday, June 21 - Papi Gnome Giveaway and Special Olympics Night

Wednesday, June 22 - Celtics Night

Monday, June 27 - Dog Day at Fenway
Fenway Park will host a "Dog Day at Fenway" event, when fans are invited to bring their dogs to the ballpark for the evening. Fenway Park will be open to fans and their canines from 5:30-8:30pm. A "Dog Park" and pet-friendly businesses will be set up in the Big Concourse where water bowls and activities will be provided. Fans can also bring their pets out to the warning track for photos in front of the Green Monster. The World Series trophies will also be on hand in the seating bowl for photos. Tickets for Dog Day at Fenway are $10 for adults, and children 14 and under (and dogs!) enter free.

Wednesday, June 29 - Movie Night at Fenway Park
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the classic 80's comedy, will be featured. Event is free for Red Sox Season Ticket Holders. General admission tickets for the public are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We're On a Boat (with #NKOTB)!

When I opened my e-mail, I certainly wasn't expecting to see this type of invitation? Moi? Party with the New Kids? On a boat? Ummmm, YES PLEASE!

The event was scheduled to promote Pop TV's Season 2 of Rock This Boat, a reality show following the band as they cruise for 4 days with 3,000 of their "Blockheads" fans. Admittedly, I, the reality TV junkie, had never seen Season 1, but has there ever been a reality show that I haven't watched (and loved)? I think not. They had me hooked after I watched the full screeners of Episodes 1 and 2 of this new season...which, by the way, premieres TOMORROW JUNE 1ST AT 8:30 PM EST ON POP TV!

 Take a peek for yourself and add to your reality-TV watching lineup!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Outdoor Play on Mother's Day

 Mother's Day 2010
 Mother's Day 2016

I didn't have any expectations for this yearly "holiday", which basically means I try not to do anything on that Sunday, and then spend the rest of the week paying for it.

Baseball was cancelled, so we had a (rare) day with no plans. But it was raining, and I was pretty sure there was no last-minute brunch reservation to be had in all of New England.

Homemade cards from the boyz were offered and read and laughed over. (These are by far my most favorite part of Mother's Day.)

The crockpot with the programmable timer (that I ordered for myself) from Amazon arrived. (Not that I planning on using it on Mother's Day, mind you!)

Hubby had made dinner reservations at a new restaurant in Rhode Island for the five of us, but when I looked at the menu, it seemed a little fancy expensive for 3 steak-eating boys who refuse to eat off the kids menu anymore.

Luckily, Hubby was able to find us something else at a friend's family's Italian restaurant at 4pm. Perfect!

On our drive there, the sun came out (for the first time in what felt like MONTHS!) We celebrated Mother's Day with calamari, mozz sticks, pasta, seafood and wine.

And then, while driving home, the poor sunshine-deprived boys asked if they could go to the ball field (because we're not there enough, apparently) to play. Now, normally, this wouldn't be my first eighth choice of what to do on a Sunday evening. But it was sunny! I'd had some wine! We were together as a family!

So go to the ball field, we did. All five of us, plus the dog, who was free to run around within the confines of the fenced-in field.

Two of Eldest's buddies were already there, hitting around.

Friends of ours arrived at the same time, with their three kids and their dog. Fortuitous timing without even planning it!

As the other mom and I stood in the outfield, with the dogs running around at our feet, it was so nice to see the kids being kids.  From 10 years old to college-age. Trash talk, laughter, encouragement...all without the use of any electronic devices whatsoever. No phones, no video games...just living in the moment. Playing old school pickup baseball.

I had flashbacks to my own childhood, when my siblings and I were allllllllways outside. (Until we heard mom's piercing whistle or the streetlights came on, whichever came first.) What the hell did we do without electronics?  WE PLAYED.

Needless to say, we were there for quite a while on that Mother's Day Sunday night.

And it was perfect.


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