The Opposite of Maybe: Lucky

Here’s hoping that I wake up to a UCONN win this morning!

Before we get to today’s post, make sure you head over to Friday’s post and see who won the giveaway!

This post was inspired by the novel The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. At the age of 44, Rosie finds herself suddenly single and pregnant. She tries to hide in her grandmother’s home, but meets two men that will change her life forever. Join From Left to Write on April 8 we discuss The Opposite of Maybe. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

FYI this post does have some spoilers.

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This book also brought up a subject that is extremely difficult for me, pregnancy. I am beyond lucky to have been able to bring one beautiful little boy in to this world and I am very aware of that.

At 44 Rosie got pregnant after unprotected sex once, once! She didn’t know and didn’t even take a pregnancy test until she was 9 weeks along, it seemed like every appointment was perfect, labor wasn’t a disaster or have any scary parts, and her child was healthy.

All of this makes so angry and so sad. After another month of tracking and testing and all of the stuff no one talks about when you are trying to conceive which is followed by another disappointing negative pregnancy test, it was so hard for me to read this entire book without hating Rosie.

She was so cavalier, at first, about the fact that she got pregnant by chance the one time they didn’t use protection, she even walked into a clinic for an abortion (this is not a political post). Eventually after the first trimester was over she got her shit together and started cleaning up her eating and reading about babies, but I just couldn’t get over her luck and her reaction.

I am not one of those people who can just listen to these stories about how someone beat the odds and got pregnant. It is so hard to hold on to the hope that things will miraculously get better. It sucks, that I have to wait a year from my miscarriage to even have the discussion with my doctor about seeing a specialist.

I, naively, though I would be pregnant by the time my due date from the miscarriage came, and I am not. That due date is 12 days away. I know that things happen for a reason, at least I need to believe that. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when friends start posting on their blogs, FB, twitter, etc… that they are pregnant. That they weren’t even trying or that they got pregnant the first month. And on April Fools Day, the amount of people who posted fake pregnancy announcements, not only did it feel like a punch to the gut, but it seemed like people don’t understand how hard infertility or the struggle to get pregnant is. Or how long the emotion and mental parts of a miscarriage affect you.

I am LUCKY to have the support system that I do, I know that. I am LUCKY to have the most amazing husband and son. I am LUCKY that I live in a place where I might be able to have a baby when it feels like the odds are against me.

I am trying to believe in the LUCKY, but it is so damn hard.

Five Things Friday: Giveaway, Stitch Fix, & Reviews!

Five Things Friday

 

It’s been awhile since I had one of these so lets jump right in!

1. How I Met Your Mother

Nick and I have finally watched the series finale, and I cried, a lot. Part is probably hormones, but part is because I felt like it was the show of our generation. I mean we all watched Friends, but as adults it seems like our lives match more to the likes of HIMYM. I liked how it ended, it was sad, but it felt real, all of the crappy things that happened at the end, those are real life. If everyone ended up happily ever after I think I would be more disappointed. What do you think did you like the ending?

2. Stitch Fix

So I drank the Stitch Fix* kool-aid. If you don’t know what Stitch Fix is leave me a comment and I will send you more info, but basically you sign up and fill out a style profile. You give them your info, sizing, style preferences, what types of items you want to receive, etc… and pick a date for your fix. You can either pick a single date or pick to have a recurring fix. For each fix you pay a $20 styling fee, if you like something that is in your fix then that $20 is credited against what you purchase, if you buy nothing then you lose the $20.

When you get your fix, which is 5 items, you will receive a list of the items you received and the price for each item as well as a style card. The style card has each item that was in your box and 2 ways to style that item. The also send you a pre-paid USPS bag to send back what you don’t want. If you purchase all 5 items you receive 25% off the entire purchase. You have 3 business days to return the items you don’t want.

Pink Martini Sally Mixed Striped Dress

1. Pink Martini Sally Mixed Striped Dress –  $98 – I loved the cut and the color of this dress, but it was snug around the thighs and it wasn’t flowy enough for me to wear to an event if I have B with me.

Kensie Jeans Sophia Ankle Length Skinny Jean

2. Kensie Jeans Sophia Ankle Length Skinny Jean – $88 - Again, I loved the color and style of these jeans, but they were snug around the thighs, at the price point it wasn’t worth it for me to keep them.

Striped Dolman Top

3. Pomelo Corinna Striped Dolman Top – $48 – I loved this top. I liked the shorter sleeve, and the material was super comfortable. I’ve bought a lot of long-sleeved shirts over the years that end up with holes or pulled material because the quality isn’t great, so this shirt was a keep.

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4. 41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan – $48 – I loved this cardigan, the length is long enough that I can wear it with leggings but it is also lightweight. I can see pairing this with a maxi dress at a summer BBQ. After some texting with my sister, I ended up purchasing this as well. I have a thick pink cardigan that is similar, but like I said it is a heavier material and it is actually very short.

5. IMG_794341Hawthorn Holly Chevron Arrow Print Infinity Scary – $32 - I liked the scarf, but I already have scarves with similar color schemes.

Instead, I bought the infinity scarf I am wearing on the right. I purchased it after I completed Pure Barre Challenge as a gift to myself from the store at Pure Barre. The pattern is unique and it will match with a lot of my wardrobe.

The total of my items was $96 – my $20 styling fee. I paid $76.

3. Get Skinny Again

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I was able to receive a copy of Sarah’s book, Get Skinny Again*, awhile back, but I wanted to wait until I had the opportunity to try some of the recipes and workouts in order to give you a solid review. I am happy to report that my review will finally be on the blog next week! Spoiler: I really liked it. I have been reading Sarah’s blog and watching her YouTube videos for a long time so I am not really surprised, but it has a lot of things other diet books I have seen don’t have!

4. Avapalooza 

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The charity yoga event with Yoga Jake that I attended a few weeks ago was to benefit The Cure ATRT Now Fund as part of this years big fundraiser called Avapalooza. Avalanna is this Saturday, April 5, from 11 am – 11 pm. There is spinning and yoga as well as a few fitness and nutrition classes. I am bummed I can’t make it to any of the events, but if you are local to Methuen check out the schedule or you can donate here.

5. Just Add Cooking Giveaway

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Remember that Just Add Cooking review I wrote on Wednesday? Well, now I have a chance for you to win a 2-person, 3 meal box for yourself.

How to Enter the Giveaway:

This prize is for new clients only. Before entering go to Just Add Cooking and click on Get Cooking to create an account. There is no charge for this and you don’t need to enter a credit card. You also need to make sure you are in the delivery area, after you do that, enter the rafflecopter below. The giveaway ends Monday, April 7 at 11:59 pm EST.

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What things are you excited about this Friday?

* are referral links

Just Add Cooking!

 Disclaimer: I was provided the Just Add Cooking box free of charge, all opinions and injuries are my own.

  I love cooking and I am just starting to get the hang of this meal planning thing, but the last few weeks have been hard. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes, so spending an hour meal planning and a few hours meal prepping were just not in the cards. I am grateful for one of the weeks I was able to try Just Add Cooking. Just Add Cooking is a meal service that provides meals that are pre-measured and high-quality, plus it is delivered straight to your doorstep. They are a Boston-based company and the ingredients are sourced locally to ensure freshness and support the local economy. When possible, ingredients are also locally produced and may be organic. JAC Logo_Normal_RGB     Just Add Cooking recently launched the 2 person box, there is also an option for a 4 person box, but this new launch is what we tried. Prices are very reasonable, for a 2 person box it is $79 for 3 meals, $89 for 4 meals, and $99 for 5 meals. The 4 person boxes are $109 for 3 meals, $129 for 4 meals, and $139 for 5 meals. Vegetarian boxes are available in 2 and 4 person boxes, but you can only receive 3 meals. There are no other dietary restriction boxes available (gluten or dairy free for example) but you can see what is available the following week and see if those dinner options fit your needs. The boxes include almost everything, it is expected that you will have things like salt, pepper and olive oil on hand, but almost everything is included and pre-measured. Alright, so let’s get to what I ordered. I decided to pick 2 vegetarian meals and one fish meal. Since we are fasting, I wanted to try out some meals that could maybe become staples in our home. The box arrived at our house between 2 and 6 pm on Sunday evening. I was supposed to get a text when it was out for delivery but for some reason I didn’t. Unfortunately, we were in CT last-minute and we didn’t get home until Monday morning. Luckily, the delivery person placed the box in a shaded area on our back porch and the temperatures were cold, so the fish never warmed up. Included in the box is a packet, each recipe has its own sheet of paper with instructions and cooking instructions. They let you know what the recommended cooking order is for the items as well.

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I went a bit out-of-order, I cooked the Mexican Cod on Tuesday night. I can easily say that the cook time was spot on, it only took 30 minutes  and it is a meal that will easily be kept in the rotation for a long time.

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I added asparagus, but it came with the potatoes, the only thing I didn’t include with the meal was the olives. I just don’t like them, but Nick ate them right out of the bag while he waited for dinner. Nick told me it tasted like a meal you’d pay $60 for in a frou frou restaurant. Success for sure! I also like that they included other types of fish that would taste great with the same recipe.

JAC's photo of the black bean burger!

JAC’s photo of the black bean burger!

On Wednesday I decided I wanted to try the Black Bean Burgers. I am always on the hunt for a burger that has minimal ingredients, and nothing complicated, like 3 different types of beans and flours.

The cooking timeline for the burgers

The cooking timeline for the burgers

When I made the patties they seemed very dry and it felt like I had way to much stuff to make 2 normal sized patties. I followed the directions, but the patties were falling apart in the pan. I decided to blend up the mixture and make smaller fritter type patties. I ended p making six smaller patties and Nick and I just stacked two in our sandwiches. I saved the leftover ones for Friday’s lunch.

What my burger looked like #reallife

What my burger looked like. Black Bean patty/fritter on the top and bottom, lettuce, avocado & tomato in between. #reallife

Because of the burger issue this meal took more like 45 minutes start to finish. I don’t know where I went wrong, but I am glad that I have experience cooking because that definitely helped.

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This is on every recipe. Degree of difficulty, serving size, time it takes, calories and type of meal. This is for the burgers.

The last meal I made was the Red Bean Chili, I make a lot of chili but I use the same recipe every time. I was looking forward to trying something new!

JAC's Red Bean Chili

JAC’s Red Bean Chili

I made this on Friday, again it was another fasting day and this was perfect. The chili had kidney beans, tomatoes, and lentils. The directions were easy to follow, however I had to let mine cook longer and add more liquid because the lentils were nowhere near done at the end of the cook time. Also, the bread that was supposed to go with it was stale by the time I made this. I think rolls might be a better option, the bread was cut from a long loaf so both ends were exposed causing it to dry out extremely fast. The other issue is the hot pepper, I don’t cook with them, ever. I can’t handle a ton of spice. I cut it an de-seeded without wearing gloves, I am sure you know where this is going, and I didn’t think anything of it until my contact needed adjustment and I touched my eye. BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER. I learned my lesson and will always be prepared.

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My Chili

I just have a few issues, for the items I chose, not a single one came with a veggie on the side that wasn’t a carb. I love veggies at dinner time, and I think those are items that a lot of people struggle with knowing how to prepare. The other issue is that I used A LOT of pots and pans when I was cooking. Normally, not a big deal but when I want this to be quick and easy, I don’t want to spend longer cleaning dishes than I did cooking.

While some recipes did not turn out exactly as planned, Nick and I loved every single meal and came away from the experience with 3 new recipes to add to our rotation and two new recipes to add to our fasting recipe index. I also must note that every meal had leftovers, this might not be the case for everyone, but it was for us, some B ate and some I saved to have as part of the next days lunch.

If you become a regular customer of JAC you can plan your meals up to two weeks in advance. This week they have a great looking Leek & Potato Soup as well as Poached Salmon and in the next two weeks they have items like Carrot Patties, Flank Steak with Grits, and Dill Chicken!

Overall, I really like the concept of Just Add Cooking. I think it is a great way to learn your way around the kitchen and learn how to cook. Or a way to find new recipes, and I definitely did that! I love that the meals are constantly changing and they are reflective of what the company can find around them.

On Friday I am giving away a box to one lucky person! They will receive the same size box that I did, a 2-person, 3 meal box. For all of you who don’t win Just Add Cooking is giving you a $20 discount first order (new customers only). This is a credit on any sized box and is good until 5/31/14. Use code SPRINGBLOG.

 Have you tried Just Add Cooking or a service like this?

Weekly Updates: 03/24/14 – 03/30/14

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Monday - We ended up staying in CT until late Monday morning, Nick was able to work from home, so I took an early evening class at Pure Barre. I thought that the evening classes were harder because I am not used to working out at night, but I think it is a combination of that and the fact that most of the night classes I’ve taken have been taught by Melissa and she is one tough teacher! (14/20)

Tuesday –  Back to my morning classes, I took the 6:10 with Leigh. The classes were starting to thin out a little bit since a lot of people had already completed their 20 classes for the Pure Madness Challenge. Classes weren’t empty but they weren’t completely full either. (15/20)

Wednesday – Another Pure Barre class, I know you are surprised. (16/20)

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Thursday - Another Pure Barre class, this was my first class with Amanda as the instructor. I will be honest, it wasn’t my best. I didn’t feel super motivated and I struggled with a lot of the sequences. I think part of it was the stress going on in my life, but also because with my desire to fulfill the 20 classes in 30 days (and the fact that I was unsure if I was going to be in town over the weekend) I needed to get every week day class in, and I think that stressed me out. (17/20)

Friday - Pure Barre had a great thing during the month of March, on Fridays you could bring a friend for no charge to a class if there was space. The problem for me was that the last class of the day is 4:30 pm and since we don’t have any child care anyone who wanted to come with me would have to come at 6:10 am. Luckily, Jane was up for the challenge. The staff was awesome at having her, and I felt a little bad because Melissa taught one of the hardest classes I had taken so far! BUT she loved it and will hopefully be joining me this month! (18/20)

Saturday - We ended up staying in town over the weekend and so I registered for a few classes. I took the 9 am on Saturday, taught by Amanda. I had a much better experience this time around, so I am chalking Thursday’s class up to be a fluke. (19/20)

Sunday - Today was the day! I completed my 20 classes in 30 days with 2 days to spare! Kelly was teaching the class and it was definitely a full circle moment since she taught my first class ever at Pure Barre. Everyone who completed the challenge received a gift, I also got to write a note about the my feelings after completing the challenge that they posted, as well as a great photo with a trophy.

IMG_7989I am going to write a more thorough post about my thoughts on Pure Barre, but I want to end today’s post just sharing that the staff at the Lynnfield location is amazing. Everyone is so genuinely nice and motivating. The instructors and barre tenders (aka ladies who work at the front desk) are always open to helping students work on their form or work out any scheduling kinks.  Not only is the staff wonderful, but the other women who attend classes are great as well. A lot of the morning ladies head across the parking lot to Starbucks for their caffeine fix together before starting the day. If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking out a class!

I am extremely proud of myself for making it through this challenge. I am starting to feel better about my body post-miscarriage, and I am feeling emotionally healthier, which I think is a combination of Pure Barre and Yoga.

Have you ever completed a barre or gym challenge?

The Divorce Papers: My Dream Job

This post was inspired by the novel The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Young lawyer Sophie unwillingly takes her first divorce case with an entertaining and volatile client in this novel told mostly through letters and legal missives. Join From Left to Write on March 18 as we discuss The Divorce Papers. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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This book was amazing, and I could write on any number of subjects in regards to it. Since most of my From Left to Write posts end up being about more sad topics, I am going to stray away from the actual topic of divorce and kids in divorces (the number of posts I could write on either is endless). Instead, I want to write about the “dream job”.

During the conversations that Sophie and Mia have in the book, Mia talks about how she wants to be a lawyer, and that she thinks she would do well in that career. It made me go back to my thoughts of trying to put off college when I was a senior in high school.

I had a million career paths I wanted to major in, but not one had I really taken the time to develop any real feelings towards. I wanted to put off school for a year, but my parents refused to let me (even if I am the one paying) because they thought I’d never go. How I feel about that is a post for another time…

I ended up at a private college about an hour away from home. I hadn’t declared a major, but it was probably in partying, I didn’t really care about school and I was doing okay in my classes. The only ones I ever paid attention to were in the English or History department. My second semester was kind of awful, I was driving to Worcester (3 hours one way) almost every weekend to be with my sister and her friends. After a hundred conversations I decided I was going to apply to schools in that city. I got in to two and the third had a stipulation that I needed a higher level math class in order to transfer in. I took that class and ended up enrolling at WPI, not to major in engineering, but for a path that would end up with me going to law school. I did 4 years at WPI and took the LSAT, I actually did well and would’ve gotten into law school, but I still wasn’t sure that it was the right path for me. I ended up in a job with my sister and worked for a little over a year.

I went back to school to get my Master in Education, I was going to teach History for grades 5 – 12. I loved student teaching and I loved the relationships I had with the kids and the other professionals at my schools, for the most part. I hated dealing with the entitled parents who thought I failed their child since the child didn’t do well on an exam or paper. I ended up leaving a school when I was pregnant and I haven’t gone back to teaching since. With all the craziness that has gone on at schools, especially locally, part of me wonders if I ever will. I loved teaching, that part I miss, but there are a lot of political things about teaching that I am glad to be away from.

I still have some of the dreams that I did before I even entered college. Owning a coffee shop and bakery or becoming a photographer. Lately, though I would also love to work at a fitness studio or work in social media, or combine them both!

I fear that I will never find my dream job, and I love this stay-at-home mom thing I’ve got going on, but kids grow up and pursue their dreams, and what happens to mine? Do I just give up on having a dream job?

What is your dream job? Do you have it?

 

Top 10 Inspired Sports Movies

For those that don’t me super well, I love sports and I love sports movies. What’s even better than that? Real life events that inspire sports movies. Nick and I watched Cool Runnings and Miracle this past weekend to get us pumped up for the Bobsledding and Hockey events that were coming up in the Winter Olympics. I put together a list of the Top 10 movies that I love.

10. We Are Marshall

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I actually hadn’t seen this movie in its entirety until recently. I love that Matthew McConaughey plays someone other than a heart-throb in a Kate Hudson flick. The movie is about what happens after a 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, all but 5 were from the Marshall University football team and athletic department. It shows us the grief and the healing the entire community went through and how they were able to live their lives after. I definitely needed a tissue during this one.

9. Invincible

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I am a huge fan of anything Mark Wahlberg is in, but for some reason I didn’t see this immediately after it came out, I ended up seeing it on a plane on the way home from California a few years ago. It is the story of how a bartender went to open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles to be a professional football player. A modern-day man’s cinderella story.

8. The Blind Side

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Sandra Bullock is pure gold in this movie, the true story of a mom who takes another child into her home and treats her as one of her own. That’s not to say there aren’t growing pains and the discomforts of raising a teenager.

7. Rudy

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The true story of one young man’s dream to play for his favorite collegiate football team, Notre Dame. This movie will definitely have you cheering by the end and for me will always be one of the classic sports films.

6. A League of Their Own

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As Nick would say, I could watch Tom Hanks read the phone book and think it is a great movie. This is a movie I have loved since I was a kid, and I love that it is about women playing a “man’s sport” and how they succeeded. It has an amazing cast, Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell, and if your friends were anything like mine growing up, you picked which character you would’ve been if you were in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, consider this your invite to have a girls night and watch it with me!

5. Moneyball

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Lets just disregard the fact that I still haven’t read the book, which is usually a no-no for me, I always read the book before seeing the movie. Nick however had read the book and really wanted to see this in theaters so we saw it. I am not a huge Brad Pitt fan, but I think the cast in this movie was so brilliant and really eye-opening to how baseball has changed in the past 10 or so years.

4. The Fighter

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Well, fancy that, another Mark Wahlberg movie. This was the movie where I started to really love Amy Adams as an actor, she played a hard ass from Lowell so well, my dad’s side of the family is all from Lowell, and seeing areas you know on the big screen sort of make you appreciate it more. If you haven’t seen the movie, it tells the story of a fighter who is managed by his mother and trained by his brother and the trials and tribulations he goes through to be succesful in this career.

3. Remember the Titans

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Oooh Ryan Gosling as a youngin’, I hope all of you who love him have seen this movie! It is the story of the 1971 football team at T.C. Williams High School, it’s not just about football, but how these kids have to deal with issues of race and desegregation. This is one of those coming of age movies and I can’t even begin to understand what these kids had to deal with, and how adult-like they were expected to act.

2. Cool Runnings

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The classic sports movie for anyone who was born in the mid-80’s. Nick and I definitely know the entire movie by heart, and we even had costumes inspired by the movie.

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couch bobsled

1. Miracle

Miracle

If you have not seen this movie, stop reading, go get it, watch and then come back. No, seriously. While we wait did anyone else notice how many of these movies are Walt Disney Pictures Productions? They need to start making more of these. Okay now that is settled we can move on.  The true story about the 1980 USA Olympic Ice Hockey team is done so well, I don’t know how many of you have read anything about the movie, but they casted actors who looked like these men in the 1980’s which I thought was pretty phenomenal and of course I have some love for the kids with the Boston accent. More than anything, though, it makes me wish that they still used college kids for the Olympic Ice Hockey team, I feel like this NHL stuff really takes away from the whole thing. Just my two cents.

Honorable Mention: City of Champions: The Best of Boston Sports

BestofBostonThis is a classic film for Nick and I, whenever a Boston team disappoints we put this on and relive all the moments that were amazing. It helps to soften the blow. If you are a Boston fan definitely check this out, you won’t be disappointed. If you are the company that made this please make one from 2006 until now, Thanks!

Did I miss any of your favorites? What would be your number one?

Raise the Child You’ve Got: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Nancy Rose Book Tour Banner

Through From Left to Write I have had some great opportunities to read and review books. I again have the opportunity to read and review Raise the Child You’ve Got – Not the One You Want by Nancy Rose.

I have plenty of family and friends who don’t have blogs and don’t participate in the world of social media, yet they see the influx of articles and news pieces about parenting and the pressures of being the perfect parent. It is so easy to judge all the other parents out there and how they are “doing it wrong”, but sometimes we don’t look at our own parenting and what we might need to approve upon.

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Everyone talks about how “terrible” the twos and threes are, and I will be honest, I have my very rough days too, but I think a part of the problem with this age is that kids are learning how to communicate, and that learning process can be difficult. Deciphering what it is your child is saying, responding in a manner that they can understand as well. Then there are the issues that arise when you don’t respond with what they want. Sometimes we get frustrated and give up. Trust me, I am not perfect, I have definitely given up or given in, and I am not proud of that.

This excerpt below is one that really resonated with me:

“If you want to really know your child and have him open up to you, you must be emotionally present. By doing so, you give your child permission to show all of himself to you. What does it mean to be emotionally present? It means letting our children communicate all their feelings, not just the pleasant ones. It can be a challenge to be present with children who feel sad, angry, or incompetent, but it is worth the effort (and is the only way you can teach them appropriate ways to express difficult emotions). If your child senses that you want to know her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, she will let you know in words. Let your child reveal the full picture of who she is by making it clear that you want to know everything about her and can handle whatever she has to tell you, not just the good stuff.

When parents give the impression that they do not want to know the bad stuff, their children will often express their struggles by acting out, rather than talking. Notice what your child is telling you through his behavior. For instance, if he is terrified of giving a report in front of his class, he may not necessarily tell you; what you may see instead is your child bullying his younger sibling. We should be tuning into not just what is said, but what is unsaid, perhaps as you see him having moments of quiet sadness by himself before going to school.”

This resonates with me for two reasons, the first being that I don’t ever want to be that parent to tell B he can’t do something (or should do something) because he is a boy. If he is frustrated I want him to be able to tell me. I also want him to know that it is okay if he cries. When he falls and hurts himself and cries, I do everything in my power to make sure he feels safe and comforted and that whatever injury happened isn’t serious. I make the effort to make sure the words “boys don’t cry” don’t come out of my mouth, and it is an effort, because sometimes I say that statement. I don’t want him to ever feel like he can’t show his emotions. If he is angry because I took his toy away, I want him to be able to tell me. I want to have the opportunity to tell him that because he threw it at my face means he can’t play with it for awhile. He can be upset that I took it, but I will always be there to tell him why his actions caused a reaction.

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At least he will tell me when he’s done getting his picture taken ;)

The other reason I love this piece of the book is because I grew up in a house where my parents pacified my sister and I. This is a behavior that STILL happens. When I get frustrated with one of my parents because of something they did, instead of having an adult conversation about it, usually they pacify it (or ignore it). For example, one of my parents was supposed to come to San Francisco with my sister and I to spectate me in the Nike Women’s Marathon. This was a plan for 7 months, and the day I had to book my flights said parent backed out. I found out via my sister and when I expressed my anger and frustration, the person threw money at the situation. Over a year later and I am still obviously frustrated about it.

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Enjoying SF on a sisters trip!

 

I do love my parents, but I don’t feel like I can sit and have a real conversation with either of them about how I feel regarding my relationship with them. I never want B or any future children to feel like that, I want our children to feel like we will always hear them out and have a rational discussion about how they are feeling, judgement free. But that I will also give out consequences when their behavior is unacceptable.

Now you get your own chance to win Nancy’s book! The giveaway is open until 11:59 on January 22. The winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to get back to me. US only. Check out more posts for the book tour and Nancy’s appearance on the Today show!

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How do you feel about the excerpt above?

My Favorite Books of 2013!

Since I joined From Left to Write I had the opportunity and push to read many more books than I did in 2012. Reading is something that I have loved since I was a kid. I used to go through a book a week when I was in school, I loved getting lost in the stories and worlds that books offered. I also loved reading true stories or books about real life events.

I picked my favorite 5 books that I read in 2013. In no particular order, disclaimer all links are amazon affiliate links.

bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey. I love Tina Fey, I have always loved her style of comedy, and this book is no different. I literally found myself reading late at night trying to stifle the sounds of my laughter because I didn’t want to wake Nick.

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Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas. I wrote about this book and my thoughts on what makes you a parent. While my feelings on that haven’t changed, I really truly believe this is a captivating book that everyone should read.

gonegirl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which being made into a movie (and I love love the casting). This is one of those books you either love or hate. I loved it, it sucked me in and I read it in about 3 nights. I love suspense filled books, I also that Gillian Flynn’s writing was wonderful, I need to read her other books!

Reasons Mommy Drinks

Reasons Mommy Drinks by Lyranda Martin-Evans and Fiona Stevenson. I reviewed this book as well, but I think it is one of those books every new mom should read (even if you don’t drink). I think that sometimes we get caught up in the perception of being the perfect mom or our kid being in the same place as other people’s children that we forget we have children and they are all different and unpredictable. This book (and their blog) puts all of that back into perspective. Also, I laughed, a lot.

FIOScover

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is my fifth book. I actually put off reading this for a long time. I knew that it was going to be a sad book and I just wasn’t sure I was ready for it. The thing is even though it was sad, the storytelling was incredibly beautiful. Again, I couldn’t put this book down. I am actually really looking forward to this movie, I can’t wait to see how they put the book into a movie.

What were your favorite books of 2013?

WIAW: Pinterest Wins!

As anyone in a relationship or marriage knows planning holidays in order to spend time with all family and friends can be very…trying to say the least. Nick and I were spending Christmas with his family and in order to have a special celebration with my parents and sister, I planned a dinner at our house the weekend before Christmas.

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I think we need a train around our Christmas tree…

Menu planning can be a bit tricky though, my sister’s boyfriend has two allergies: all nuts and poultry. The poultry one means that your usual Christmas dinner ideas (chicken or turkey) or using any sort of chicken stock is out of the question. For me that was actually a good thing, I’ve never cooked a chicken or turkey by myself and I didn’t want to have to do it for the first time for 12 people or for a holiday.

I went with my family’s standard holiday favorite: Meatloaf. I used grass-fed beef and doubled this recipe. It is very east to make and the meat was still nice and juicy, I love the flavor that the glaze adds, but you could easily leave it off.

I ended up going with a couple of carb-filled sides. All of these ideas I had pinned to my pinterest boards for a while, and I needed to try them. This was the perfect place.

The first was a new-to-me risotto. I tried an asparagus and spring pea risotto last Easter. I decided to try one that was a bit more hearty for Christmas. I went with Kerstin’s French Onion Risotto. I doubled the recipe and I used swiss cheese instead fontina, mostly because the cost of the fontina was way more than I was willing to spend. This dish was a lot of the guests favorite side dish of the night. I liked it, but it was heavy for a risotto, and that coupled with a few other heavy dishes didn’t make it my favorite, but I would make it again!

The second was this lighter buffalo chicken mac & cheese. Obviously, I did not use chicken, I used ground pork, because the flavor profiles are most similar to chicken and because we already had plenty of ground beef with the meatloaf. I doubled this recipe and it turned out wonderfully, again it was a heavier dish, but I loved it and I wish I had some right now!

The third recipe is the creamy corn pudding with crispy onions and herbs. Ever since my date with Caitlin at Agave Grill I have been wanting to try my hand at making a type of corn pudding. This dish surpassed all of my expectations and I can’t wait to make it again. I left the herbs off the top, mostly because I forgot, but to me it didn’t make a difference. The pudding had that sweet and savory taste I was looking for without being overly heavy.

I also had a large salad and roasted brussel sprouts on the side… we needed some green up in here.

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For dessert we had the classic christmas cookie (at least in my house), the snickerdoodle, and I tried my hand at Baked by Rachel’s mini cookies & cream cheesecakes. The flavor was on point, but for some reason they didn’t bake up like Rachel’s did. All that matters is that they tasted good!

Make sure that you check out all the other great food recipes and ideas on Jenn’s blog for WIAW!


I apologize for the lack of pictures, it was my first time hosting & cooking 90% of the food (thanks mom for making sure the risotto made it from the recipe to the table) and I was a bit crazy and running late so pictures just didn’t happen. I hope you try some of these recipes, I fully endorse them all!

What are your favorite successful recipes from Pinterest?

Happier at Home: Is it okay to want material things?

This post was inspired by Happier at Home(disclosure: this is an amazon affiliate account)
by Gretchen Rubin where she runs a nine month experiment to create happier surroundings. Join From Left to Write on January 6 we discuss Happier at Home. You can also chat live with Gretchen Rubin on January 7 on Facebook! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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This book came at a great time for me, I am not unhappy at home, but obviously recent situations have left me feeling down, and that affects my family. I always want my home to be a happy place and I know that my emotions don’t always let that happen. Unfortunately, I found this book hard to read and a bit dry. There was some really great content, but weeding through the rest left me a bit bored.

There was one piece that struck me right away, Gretchen Rubin talks about how people wanting things to make themselves happy was a failure, but is that mutually exclusive? Can someone who is happy want materialistic things because of what interests them? Can they still be just as happy or genuinely happier with that item?

I think now, especially in the blog world, there is this idea that if you say you want something materialistic (like making a gift wish list) then you are a bad person, because you should be focusing on your family or significant other and your friends, etc… You should be focusing on making memories and being grateful for the time you have. I don’t think that that statement is entirely wrong, but having the desire for items doesn’t mean you don’t value the relationships in your life.

I, personally, don’t wear a ton of jewelry, I don’t need tons of rings and watches, etc… (and it doesn’t make you a bad person if you happen to like those things). I do however love kitchen items. I love having people over for dinner and making great meals. I love trying new gadgets or baking pans. I love going to kitchen or home stores and spending hours looking around.

I truly am happy when I am in the kitchen cooking or baking for people. Wanting a cast iron skillet or new chopper isn’t going to make me happier, and I am well aware of that, but new appliances that allow me to add new recipes to my repertoire, especially recipes that someone I love, loves, well that makes me incredibly happy.

I agree with Gretchen when she writes that items we desire these items, not because we needs possessions but because of what these items mean to us. Seeing a smile on my husband or sons face after a newly discovered meal, that is why I want these items.

What do you think? Can people still desire material things and be happy?