The Underground Girls of Kabul: Raising Boys

This post was inspired by The Underground Girls of Kabul by journalist Jenny Nordberg, who discovers a secret Afghani practice where girls are dressed and raised as boys. Join From Left to Write on September 16th as we discuss The Underground Girls of Kabul. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Underground-Girls-of-Kabul-FL2W-Book-Club The first book for September is a bit heavy. If you’d like to read a bit about it you can read this modified piece from The Atlantic. The author talked to many families in Afghanistan, where it is not just nice to have a son, it is necessary. Regardless of your financial stature, if you do not produce a son you are not a worthy woman, and your husband should be embarrassed. This has led to a society where women will say that their daughter is a son, and will present the child as such. This is used for two reasons, the first is that many believe this will lead to the next child actually being a son, and also because the child can help out. The “boy” can get a job and make money, can escort the women in the family outside the house, etc…

This led to me thinking about raising boys vs. raising girls. I obviously don’t have a girl, but I have some friends that do. Coming from an engineering college, a lot of these women raise their girls with dolls and frilly pink. They have tractors and trucks, and toys that generally are labeled boys toys. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with raising your daughter that way, but I think there is a double standard. When a girl chooses a truck over a doll people think it is great, bend those gender stereotypes, but if a boy is seen playing with a doll or something pink they are immediately labeled gay or fruity or a pansy, etc…

Personally, my son can play with whichever toy he wants. He loves Cars and Legos (we have about 1000 of each currently strewn about our living room), he loves getting playing in the dirt and racing his Tonka trucks down the driveway, he also Frozen and Sofia, and at preschool the two toys he loves the most, right now anyway, are the lego table and the doll house. He wasn’t the only boy who gravitated to the doll house either, and no parent had a problem with it. If he showed up with the Sofia backpack he wanted, he already had a Cars one at home, I don’t know that all parents would have taken it in stride. My fear isn’t that my son would want to play with girly toys, my fear is that other parents or children will make fun of him for it.

What would you do if your son wanted a Sofia backpack?

Preschool, Asics, and 5 Things My Kids Will Never Know

Yesterday was ridiculously hard for me. It’s been a year since the worst day of my life. Clearly we aren’t any closer to having a child than we were back then, which can be super frustrating.

On top of all that we sent B off to preschool, he did wonderful, he wasn’t upset, he had fun, it was pretty much everything I could hope for. I, on the other hand, was a total mess. It was very lonely being by myself. I got my Zooma training in, and ran some errands, and then I picked B up.

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It was really great to get some miles in without pushing a non-running stroller. I have been testing the new Asics Gel-Pursue, courtesy of Asics, and I have been loving them. I feel like I am running on soft pillows. It’s been awhile since I had done any running, so it was nice to have shoes that really catered to my feet. I will have a full product review coming to you in the next week or so!

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I mean this really is an Asics family.

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Nick and I were talking the other day, and I was telling him about a road trip I took in college from Vermont to D.C. (where my sister was). There was a part of the trip where we took a the wrong split on the highway and got seriously lost. We ended up having to find a non-sketchy gas station to get a new map and directions. This led us to having a conversation about things our kids will never have to do.

1. Use a paper map. Now that everyone basically has a navigation app on their phone or a GPS system, paper maps are pretty much obsolete… and unless you are visiting the middle of nowhere you’ll never use one.

2. Listening to the radio all day to record your favorite new song on a tape. I hope I am not the only one that did this. I also had a walkman and a record player, so there’s that….

3. FLOPPY DISKS. I still have some from college that had info on them, I mean they are probably buried in a box in the basement, but I still have them.

4. Bringing your film to CVS or Wal-Mart to get it developed. I am not trying to start any drama here, but when I was in high school and college if I wanted photos I had to take them with film and let someone else develop that film. I feel like way fewer people took nude photos that they would be embarrassed  about if the whole world saw, since the tech developing would see them, and probably show more people who worked there.

5. Wanting to bail on plans, but because no one had cell phones you couldn’t. I didn’t have a cell phone until the end of my senior year of high school, not like the service was great where I grew up anyway, so if I made plans with someone I could never back out, especially if it was after work or after school, because I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of that person.

What things from your childhood and teenage years do you know that your kids won’t know about?

Five Things Friday: Zooma Training Plan & Pure Barre Goals

Five Things Friday1. Zooma Cape Cod Training Plan

I finally made a training plan for the Zooma Cape Cod 10K. I start on Monday, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it. I am worried, terrified is actually the more appropriate word. I need this redemption race so badly, but I am scared of what the outcome could be.

In other exciting Zooma news, the race is sold out!! How exciting! Leave me a comment and let me know if you are running, and we can try to get together! If you are running, Marathon Sports is hosting a 10-mile training run for those participating in the half-marathon.  It is Saturday, September 18 at 8 am at the Mashpee Marathon Sports. Click on the link to RSVP if you plan on attending, and stock up on any fuel you might need for the race. Marathon Sports is my go-to store for any running questions or guidance so I am super excited that they are hosting this run.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
08/04 – 08/10 XTRAIN 30 minutes XTRAIN 30 minutes 3 miles Rest 45 minutes
08/11 – 08/17 XTRAIN 35 minutes XTRAIN 35 minutes 3.5 miles Rest 55 minutes
08/18 – 08/24 XTRAIN 40 minutes XTRAIN 40 minutes 4 miles Rest 65 minutes
08/25 – 08/31 XTRAIN 45 minutes XTRAIN 45 minutes 4.5 miles Rest 75 minutes
09/01 – 09/07 XTRAIN 50 minutes XTRAIN 50 minutes 5 miles Rest 80 minutes
09/08 – 09/14 XTRAIN 55 minutes XTRAIN 55 minutes 5.5 miles Rest 85 minutes
09/15 – 09/21 XTRAIN 60 minutes XTRAIN 60 minutes 6 miles Rest 90 minutes
09/22 – 09/26 XTRAIN 30 minutes XTRAIN 30 minutes Rest ZOOMA 10K

Cross-training is definitely going to be Pure Barre, some Yoga, and probably a little bit of DanceFIT thrown in!

2. Pure Barre 100 Club

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It’s no secret that I love Pure Barre. It has been my saving grace these last six months, and the community is wonderful. I just got an email from one of the wonderful women that work there and she told me that I am over halfway to the Pure Barre 100 club. 45 awesome classes until I become part of the club!

3. Wedding Fun

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He was so stinking good the entire wedding, I couldn’t believe it. I mean he is pretty laid back, but being in a wedding makes for a long fay for anyone. He even participated in some Greek dancing and pretty much refused to leave the dance floor!

4. Boston Fun

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We went into Boston with my aunt and cousins for the afternoon, then met up with Nick and my uncle for dinner. I haven’t ventured into the city by myself with B, but this trip definitely made me realize that we could probably do it!

5. Thankful

I know I say this a lot but I am very thankful for those who have been such integral parts of my life, especially during this recovery process and moments when the grief makes me sad and angry. I am blessed to have such a wonderful support group of family and friends.

What’s on your mind this gorgeous friday?

Birthday, Billy Joel, and Bachelorette

Anyone else think, Beets, Bears, Battlestar Galactica? No, just me? Moving on.

The past few weeks have been crazy busy, so I figured I would catch you up on all the fun stuff.

Last week I turned 30! Yikes, Nick and I decided to rent a party bus and have all our family and friends on board so that we could see everyone we wanted and not have a party at our house. Since we will be at a wedding for Nick’s 30th we decided we’d have a party for both of us! Unfortunately, I still didn’t get to spend time with everyone, but I had a wonderful time, even if my stomach was killing me the next day!

vueveI mean you have to start your birthday with champagne, right?

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My sister, some friends, and I pre-bus

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And a group shot of course, missing a few people, but we tried!

After that last photo things started to get messy so I will not share those photos ha! But it was a great time regardless!

For my birthday gift, Nick generously bought me tickets to Billy Joel at Fenway. Billy Joel is in my top 5 favorite musicians of all time, and I saw him, I think 8 years ago, when he came to the Garden. Seeing artists at Fenway is amazing, if you live in the city and an artist you like comes to Fenway, GO! it is so worth it!

Prior to the show Nick and I tried this new Greek place that is in the Fenway area, Gyro City, they have authentic Gyros so we had to try them. They were pretty close to what you will get in Greece, so we were very impressed. If you need someone to go with you to try them you know who to ask!

GyroWe also had some amazing Greek fries. Basically, they are thick cut fries with feta and oregano!

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After food we headed over to Fenway and walked off our dinner before heading into the concert!

Billy Joel at FenwayNick and I & our view

Billy Joel at Fenway

THE man!

Billy, we are on a first name basis, was amazing. He played a lot of the classic songs, but he also played some songs that only some real hardcore fans would be able to recall. He is also a New York man through and through, so while he played the beloved Sweet Caroline, he did not sing, which I found amusing. I did appreciate that he didn’t sing New York State of Mind, instead he had a young girl come out and sing Boston State of Mind as a nod to everything this city has been through and a show of support. After the concert Nick was looking through his twitter feed and saw some complaints about it, you can’t please everyone, and while I love him singing New York State of Mind, the respect that he gave to Boston was amazing, and made me love him even more! My only complaint is that he did not sing We Didn’t Start the Fire, that is my favorite Billy song, but the concert was amazing regardless!

After a crazy whirlwind week, we headed to Connecticut to spend some time with Nick’s family and I had a bachelorette to partake in!

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We went to Mohegan sun to have a wonderful dinner, hit the club, and of course gamble. I was spent and can’t believe I stayed up until 3 am!!! I had so much fun with all the wonderful women that came to the bachelorette and I can’t wait to celebrate the wedding soon!

What have you been up to? Anything fun that I’ve missed?

A very busy and marvelous summer!

Don’t forget to enter the BarreFit App giveaway, it ends tonight at 11:59 pm EST!

Without fail April rolls around and all of sudden my summer weekends start filling up rapidly. I don’t mind it, I love spending time with family and friends, but I am even more thankful when we do have a low-key weekend. We don’t have one of those for a few weeks, but I am super excited for what is coming up!

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Best cupcake face, ever. This kid is definitely mine. We have had so many kid’s birthday parties, which means B has had a ton of cake recently.

IMG_8556Even though summer doesn’t start until my birthday Saturday, nothing says summer like Summer Shandy on tap. It really was marvelous!

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I also love that I get to spend so many of my busy weekends with my favorite people.

This weekend is particularly exciting as it is my 30th birthday, and while I thought I would be a bit more apprehensive about turning than I am, I am looking forward to throwing it down with all of our friends and family.

What marvelous things are going on in your life? How did you celebrate turning 30?

Bittersweet: Leaving Your Hometown

This post was inspired by Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the gothic underbelly of an American dynasty, and an outsider’s hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20 we discuss Bittersweet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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It’s no secret that I don’t spend a lot of time talking about going home to the house I grew up in, my hometown, or life pre-college. It’s not a place that holds a lot of happy memories for me. I don’t feel comfortable or at ease when I am there, so for me it is not a happy place. The problem is I love lots of what Vermont has to offer, I love the idyllic imagery any picture of Vermont gives, I just don’t love what else it reminds me of.

While reading Bittersweet I related to Mabel’s character, the average looking girl from a meager background, with the beautiful wealthy friends. Never feeling accepted, working hard to earn everything she had.  Then Mabel and Ev go to Ev’s family estate, in Vermont of course. They even mention my hometown in the book, the town I went to my first year of college in, and a few places that do hold great memories for me, like Al’s French Frys.

I had to leave Vermont, it just couldn’t give me what I needed out of life. Even though many of the people who used to be in my life suggest that I think I am better than they are because I left, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I just needed a better life, and Vermont wasn’t going to give that to me. At the age of 18, I packed up and went to college. I spent my first 2 summers going home and working the three jobs I had when I was in high school. After my junior year, I had off campus housing and I never went back home.

Leaving has never been easy, there is the guilt that others put on me. At the end of the day, I have to do what is best for me and my family. The life we have now is wonderful. Close to the city, but we still have a backyard. Plenty of friends and family members that live nearby or visit, friends and family that are encouraging and supportive.

But there are many things that I miss about Vermont. The local food, REAL maple syrup, fall foliage, seeing the stars at night, Ben & Jerry’s factory visits, Burlington, Long Trail, Magic Hat, the lack of fast food joints, Cabot cheese, and Dana’s breakfast in Quechee.

I will never forget Vermont, but Boston is my home now.

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A Marvelous Weekend: Seasons 52, Pure Barre, & MiniLuxe

First things first,THANK YOU to everyone who commented and shared on yesterday’s post, it means the world to Nick and I. Secondly, I have to say Happy Birthday to my dear sister. She is my best friend and I love her to pieces.

456_mandk2012The food and drinks featured in this post were received free of charge. I had no idea that would be happening until I finished my meal, and all opinions of my experience are my own. This post is not sponsored. 

As you have read, the past few months have been extremely difficult, lots of loss, and emotions and it’s just been hard. Through it all I have had amazing support in some of local friends and blends.

This past Friday, Caitlin invited me to Seasons 52 with her to try the new spring menu mini indulgences. I will always jump at the chance to go to Seasons, Cait went with me on first visit (to the Burlington location), Nick and I went once to celebrate a very belated Valentine’s Day, and this past weekend I tried the Chestnut Hill Square location.

Seasons 52 is all about seasonal food. Seasonal usually means the freshest, healthiest options. Caitlin introduced me to this amazing chain restaurant and I am so glad she did, it is now one of my favorites.

source: Cait

source: Cait

I was, of course, running late to our scheduled meet time because of that pesky route 9 traffic. Luckily Lydia, our amazing server for the night, was able to give Cait a few tastes of different types of wine before she decided on her drink while she waited for me.

As soon as I got to the restaurant I ordered my standard prosecco and we were greeted by a few different members of the staff and given suggestions on what they love on the menu.

IMG_8203We started with the special flatbread, Greek of course, it came with lamb, cucumber, tomato and feta. A member of the staff suggested to get some tzatziki on the side and I think the should automatically on the side, it was phenomenal and I am a pretty tough critic.

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For my main meal I had one of the menu staples at Seasons 52, at the urging of Cait and Lydia. It was the cedar-plank salmon with roasted vegetables, crushed potatoes, and a lemon dill sauce. I’ll admit that I am usually very wary of ordering salmon at restaurants because it can be dry and I hate that. But I knew I loved Seasons’ food and I knew Cait wouldn’t steer me wrong. It was of course phenomenal, the salmon was perfectly cooked and the dill sauce was amazing. What really sold me was that there were beets in the roasted veggies.

IMG_8207Peanut Butter Torte Mini-Indulgence

Since we were there to try the new Spring mini-indulgences, I had to have dessert. Honestly, I couldn’t decide between this one, the s’mores, and the key lime… so I went with my standard combo and it was wonderful. The flavors were bold and delicious, a perfect blend of salt and sweet. The dish was also very light and I didn’t feel too stuffed after our meal.

I can’t say enough good things, not just about the food but also about the staff at Seasons 52, if you haven’t been yet, make your reservations ASAP!

The rest of my weekend was just as wonderful. I started Saturday morning at Pure Barre with Jane, then got my first manicure & pedicure at MiniLuxe in Lynnfield. I can’t recommend MiniLuxe enough. It is on the pricier side, but I will always pay more for cleanliness. The staff was extremely nice, and the color selection was large, especially the gel selection. Also, the lemonade lotion is the perfect smell for spring and summer!

IMG_8209Call me crazy, but I prefer the places without the massage chairs

Then Nick, B, and I went to CT for some family time and a bridal shower. It has been awhile since I had such a wonderful weekend. Not that there weren’t wonderful moments, but with all the sadness I needed some uplifting things, and this weekend was perfection. Thank you, ladies <3

Have you ever been to Seasons 52? Thoughts?

 

Ruby: You Are More Than The Hand You Are Dealt

This post was inspired by Ruby by Cynthia Bond, a gripping novel about overcoming our past and embracing love in a racially charged rural 1950s Texas.  Join From Left to Write on May 8 we discuss Ruby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

From-Left-to-Write-Ruby-by-Cynthia-Bond-Book-Club

If you are relatively new to the blog, you may have noticed a lot of book club posts. From Left to Write members don’t write traditional book reviews for the books we have been sent and read. Instead we use a theme, small or large, as a jumping point for our own posts.

Ruby was hard to read, not just because of the race issue but because a huge part of me was frustrated with Ruby. Ephram, another character in the book, was strong enough to overcome the past that he was handed and make a life that he was proud of, but Ruby could not. I wanted to shake her and tell her she was better than her past and her upbringing, she could have a life worth living.

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I will always say one of my biggest inspirations is my husband, and I know most of you are probably rolling your eyes and think that I am being super cheesy, but there are some parts of my husband’s life that I’ve never shared, and now we are ready to share with you. I asked Nick to write about his past and this is what he had to say:

When I was in 6th grade, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that had the unfortunate side effect of causing me to lose all sight in one eye and a good deal of sight in the other. At first it was thought that some of my sight might be restored in some time, that the vision loss was only a temporary effect of excess brain fluid causing pressure on my optic nerves until a shunt was installed in my head to relieve said pressure. However, after visiting quite a few specialists, it was determined that I would likely live the rest of my life as a legally blind individual. 

Of course this was an insanely difficult burden to bear by an 11-year old and luckily I had the most incredible family to help me through what I still look back on as the most difficult time in my life. My teenage years were spent trying to adapt to my new situation, a great deal of that time spent wishing that things could go back to the way they were when I could see 20/20 like the rest of my peers. Gradually, as I started coming to terms with the hand life had dealt me, I started to accept who I was. Eventually I found that there were things in life that I could be great at, despite not being able to see. Music became a huge passion and by the time I was accepted into college, computers had also become a significant part of my life, ultimately shaping my career path.  

 Today I am a very successful software developer. I get to work on life-impacting software every day, which is more that I could have ever hoped for out of a career. I have a beautiful family of my own and we live in a wonderful house. I have more than many people in this world would ever dream of, and I am so thankful for that. Can I see well enough to drive myself to work, or read books to my son, or catch a baseball? No. But I refuse to live my life being defined by the things that I cannot do and rather, focus on the things that I can do. Yes, sometimes things are harder for me, and from time to time, that really sucks, but at the end of the day, I truly believe that If I work hard enough and try to be a good person, life will reward me the same as it would any sighted person. 

Honestly, reading what Nick wrote brought me to tears, he hasn’t by any means had it easy but he could’ve taken a much different path than the one he is on. He could be living off disability money from the state, being angry at the world, but he chose to live a life that will fulfill him and fulfill his family. Not only is he a positive person, but he doesn’t let other people’s ignorance annoy him or take away from his life (something I am still working on). He is a better father than many and an amazing husband. I am so grateful that he is a part of my life, and that we walk this path together.

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Five Things Friday: Mother’s Day Gifts!

Five Things Friday

Mother’s Day is next Sunday, and while I don’t think it is necessary to get or give a lavish gift for these type of holidays, I still love putting together gift lists…I mean who doesn’t?

1. 90+ Cellars has a great deal, a 3 bottle set, prosecco, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay, all for $45 and if you enter the code HARTFORDPRINTS at checkout you get a greeting card as well! I mean wine & motherhood go hand-in-hand, right?

2. Shoes

skyscapeI’ve been on the hunt for an everyday shoe for a long time, in the summer especially we do A LOT of walking, and I need something that is comfortable and versatile, cute would be a bonus. I have a pair of regular Toms, but they aren’t as comfortable for me as they are for others. I have tried other shoes on, but haven’t pulled the trigger because of price. My top three favorites are: Reebok Skyscape, Tieks flats, and Toms ballet flats. Clearly the Skyscapes are the most affordable.

3. Clothes are so hard to buy for people, at least that is my experience. The only person I ever buy clothes for, besides my husband and son, is my sister. Our styles are pretty similar and she doesn’t get offended if I buy her an item that is a size too big or small. That being said, Stitch Fix* is a great way to let someone pick out their own clothes without making them go to the mall with small child(ren) in tow. You can read my review here!

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4. A spa day! Who doesn’t love getting pampered? Massages, manicures & pedicures, day drinking with other mom friends.

5. A gift card to her favorite place of exercise, whether it be yoga, barre, or a fitness boutique. Does she go to a gym with a monthly rate? You can always get her a gift card to her favorite athletic apparel store!

And at the end of the day, all I really need is some quality time with my two favorite boys.

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What’s on your Mother’s Day Wish List?

*referral link

Thrive: What do you want your Eulogy to say?

This post was inspired by Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington who encourages everyone to sleep their way to the top. Join From Left to Write on May 1 we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Thrive-From-Left-to-Write-Book-Club-Banner-2I’ll be honest, I loved the idea of this book and there was tons of great info and tips, but it was also extremely heavy on the data. While I understand it is important, I think it took away from the whole idea of the book, so I did end up skimming some sections, especially data that I had read before.

One of my favorite lines from the book was “Eulogies aren’t resumes”. I think this hit close to him because of what has been going on in our personal lives but it is something that everyone should remember.

When someone passes away, no one talks about the night the closed a big deal with a company, or the time that they stayed up all night working on a huge project. They talk about the love you shared, your friendship and kindness, the times that you made them laugh.

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Not the most attractive photo, but I will always remember this night (even now – almost 9 years later), even if he passed away months after this was taken.

There will always be petty arguments and fights and disagreements, but I think all relationships can make it through those moments if they want to. We also have to be willing to let go of relationships that are long over. Whether it be because you just naturally drifted apart, or because someone did something extremely hurtful.

Then there are those relationships that you need and want to put work into. I am not just talking about marriages. Relationships with family members and with friends.If we are being honest, we will not always agree with our friends, and there might be moments when their words hurt us. Both parties have to be willing to put in the effort to sort through those disagreements and hurt. Often times, coming out on the other side makes the relationship stronger.

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I have dealt with a lot of loss in my life, and I am glad have memories with those people who were full of love and laughter.

I am also grateful that my husband knows that the value of the dollar is important, but that he will never choose his work over his family, and I know that I am very lucky that he is like that.

What do you think? Do you believe your relationships are more important than your work?