March 27, 2014

Things I Can Do at 40 That I Couldn't at 20...

source unknown

1.  Accept a compliment.

2.  Feel comfortable with my thighs.

3.  Roast a chicken.

4.  Give a presentation.

5.  Be confident.

6.  Buy something without going deeper into debt.

7.  Yoga.

8.  Express my own opinions.

9.  Manage someone else at work.

10.  Have a healthy and happy relationship.

11.  Make small talk.  (I still hate it, but I can do it.)

12.  Know my personal style.

13.  Laugh when little things go wrong.  (Most of the time.)

14.  Choose a good bottle of wine or beer.

15.  Be happy for others instead of jealous.

16.  Ignore whatever's popular and stay true to what I like.

17.  Not care what others think about me.

18.  Be a good mom.

19.  Seek out shade at the beach.

20.  Be optimistic.

source unknown

March 26, 2014

Turning 40...

So....I am 40.  It's funny, because I had been so positive in the months leading up to this milestone birthday, and then last week I got hit with a case of the worries.  I started thinking too much.  About how I never really figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  About how my waistline is not what it used to be.  About the little sag in the corner of my eyelids.  About some of the things I should've done in my twenties.  I wasn't sleeping well, I was feeling tired, and I was definitely letting the weather get to me.  (Ugh...Spring.  I'm happy it's here since it means we are one step closer to Summer, but for now it means cold, wet, muddy days.)

But that was last week.  I'm happy to report that today I'm back to my positive self, and I can honestly say that I am excited to be 40!   The perspective that comes with age is truly beautiful, and it's absolutely worth the wrinkles.   I am reminded that everyone is winging it, just doing the best they can.  I also remind myself that I am healthy and physically strong, and that is not something to take for granted.

When the boys were babies, I found myself looking forward to turning 40, because I knew we'd be in an easier parenting phase.  Now that I'm here, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because it is true.  The boys are four and seven years old, and I feel like we are entering the sweet spot of parenting.  We have sweet, silly, wonderful kids who are mostly independent but haven't hit any of the complications and issues that will arise as they enter the preteen/teen years.  Our dinner conversations consist of knock-knock jokes and animal facts.  "Mom, did you know that...?"  My kids educate me and make me laugh every day.  I love it and try to reciprocate as often as possible.

My husband is a year younger than I am.  This has never bothered me.  I'm deciding - right now, in fact - that it won't bother me now.  He will turn 39 next month.  The bastard.  ;-)  It's a good thing he still makes me laugh, and he tells me all the time that I am beautiful.  Everyone should have someone to tell them they are beautiful.  I am a lucky girl.

So what am I doing to celebrate?  Well, let's see... I had a wonderful weekend in NYC, I went to a concert by myself, my awesome sisters and husband surprised me with the best weekend, and we're going out to another concert weekend after next!  That's a full month of festivities!  I opened a fun package from my mom this morning, and my boys showered me with cards and pictures.  Although it's windy and snowy outside this morning, I feel warm and happy and loved.  My forties are looking pretty good so far.

March 24, 2014

Sister Surprise!


On Thursday night, I was in bed reading a book.  I heard Kevin pull into the driveway.  He had said he had to work late that night, and it wasn't that out of the ordinary, so I didn't think a thing of it.  But then I heard fast footsteps coming up the stairs, and my first thought was, "Why is he coming upstairs with his shoes on?"  I get annoyed when he doesn't take his shoes off.  This was the thought going through my head when my sister, Dawn, jumped into my bedroom!

Dawn lives in Barcelona!  She flew across an ocean to surprise me on the weekend before my birthday!  I was stunned.  We proceeded to have a really nice Friday, doing a little shopping and enjoying a fun lunch out while the boys were at school.  After we picked them up, we let them play on the playground, and I wanted to run a couple errands on the way home.  Dawn was antsy to get home, but I was seriously clueless and didn't pick up on it or wonder why.  When we got there, Kevin again pulled onto our road, and I was confused because he is never home that early, and then I saw my little sister in the car!  It was a double sister surprise!  

After all the laughs and hugs, Kevin told me that we had dinner reservations that night, and he also arranged spa appointments for us on Saturday morning.  We had such a fun night out.  I honestly can't remember the last time the three of us were able to have a long, uninterrupted conversation together - before kids, most certainly - and we had a whole weekend's worth!  It was so wonderful.  I am still smiling.  

They actually did the same thing on my 30th birthday, showing up at a restaurant where Kevin had taken me.  We had the best dinner and went out for champagne afterward, and we had a really fun weekend together back then too.  I warned them that now they've established a routine.  If they don't show up for my 50th, I'll be pretty upset.

Dawn and Em...thank you!  You guys are awesome.  

At dinner Friday night.  These two crack me (and themselves) up!

And here we are on my 30th.  We haven't changed much at all.

March 14, 2014

Broken Bells - Holding On For Life


Totally digging the new Broken Bells album, After the Disco.  Check it out.

March 12, 2014

Going Solo...

When I was in college, I went out quite a few times by myself.  One of my favorite things to do was to do to a local club to see concerts.  I went with friends a lot, but sometimes I couldn't find anyone to go with me for whatever reason, and I didn't let that stop me from going.  In fact, sometimes I actually preferred going alone.  Seeing music with friends who really like the band is awesome.  You can dance and sing the songs together, discuss your favorites, and it's great.  Seeing music with friends who are ambivalent about who they're watching is not as fun.  I find myself worried about whether or not they're having a good time, and it distracts me from really enjoying the music myself.

I've mentioned Throwing Muses here before.  I've been a fan since college.  Their latest album was their first in ten years, and when I heard they were going to tour a bit as well, I was super excited.  They scheduled a couple shows in Boston, and although I couldn't go to the Friday night show because I was going to be in New York, I found out they were going to come back and do a Monday night show.  I pulled the information up on the computer, and it sat there for a couple weeks.  I was undecided.  Should I go?  Who would I go with?  A Monday night?  I'm not in college any more.  But my husband noticed it, and asked if I was going.  I said I wasn't sure, and he said, "You should just do it.  How many other opportunities will you have to see them?  What if this is the last?"  It was the nudge I needed.   

I couldn't find a friend to go with me, being a Monday night and all.  (And the fact that none of my friends had ever heard of Throwing Muses probably didn't help.)  I also couldn't get a sitter on a Monday night, so I couldn't drag Kevin along.  So I decided to go by myself.  

And it was awesome.

I put a posting on Twitter to try to get rid of my extra ticket, and Tanya Donelly herself replied!  She actually met me at the club, and I tried not to look like I was nervous.  I was so excited to meet her, and she did not disappoint, being cute and sweet and gracious.  I got there early, so I got a good place to stand, and as the club filled up, I didn't move.  I watched.  I listened.  I sang and danced.  I took it all in.  I didn't have to worry about anybody else, and I had the best time.  I'm so happy Kevin pushed me to do it and reminded me that spending time alone is actually pretty wonderful.  

I've gone to movies by myself as well, and even eaten at restaurants solo.  I rather enjoy it, although I haven't done either in long time.  How about you?  Have you ever gone out by yourself?  If so, do you like it?  If not, what's stopping you?  

March 11, 2014

New York, New York

New had been way too long.  I promise not to let that much time go by before my next visit.   As we drove into the city and stepped out of the car, feeling excited and happy that our day got off to an excellent start by finding a free parking space, I was instantly transported back to a different time.  Those carefree days before kids.  I love my life, but it's nice to be able to step outside of it every now and then.  It gives us perspective, helps us appreciate all we have.  And it gives us a break!

I spent the day with one of my best friends.  We started the day with massages, which is an excellent way to start any day.  We met two other friends for lunch and had the best time relishing our freedom.    We moved at our own pace, reminding ourselves how different that is from the everyday at home, when we are responsible for moving at the speed of our kids.  We of course talked about our kids and husbands, but we also talked about life, work, movies, home, and how much fun we were having.  An uninterrupted adult conversation is a beautiful thing.  

We saw 'Once' on Broadway, and it was spectacular.  I was moved by the play and awestruck at the amount of talent displayed on the stage.  So amazing.  We ended the night at a karaoke club with another group of friends.  If you've only done karaoke a few times as I have, each outing will prove to be so memorable and hysterical that you will remember every song.  As familiar songs were chosen, I was instantly reminded of other nights.  Alanis Morissette brought me back to college, singing at a house party with my little sister.  Guns 'N Roses brought me back to my older sister's bachelorette party.  

We got a few hours of sleep before getting up, enjoying a New York bagel, and heading back to our families.  My cheeks hurt from smiling, my throat hurt from singing/screaming, and my heart was full from spending time with friends.  It was a beautiful weekend, and the perfect way to begin the 40th celebrations.  

I forgot how bright it is in Times Square.

March 7, 2014

The Falls - Into the Fire

photo via Philthy Mag

Falls is a duo from Sydney, and they recently released their first EP in the US, entitled Into The Fire.  It's lovely.  (*If you look for them on YouTube, they use 'The Falls'.  On iTunes/Amazon, they are just 'Falls'.  Kind of tough, having a somewhat generic name, but they are worth searching for.)

March 5, 2014

A Few Things...

Even though I may not write much during these cold and dreary days, I do read quite a bit and spend too much time on the computer.  Here are a few things that I came across this week.  Enjoy!

Lupita Nyong'o gives a speech on beauty.  Her voice is as beautiful as her face, and her words are the best of all.  So lovely.

The latest from my cousin Tiffany.   She was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer last year, and she has been on an incredible journey ever since.  She's giving up the fight against it and has decided instead to live.  This is a powerful post, and I feel privileged to have Tiffany as a part of my family.

The 5 questions you didn't want to ask about Ukraine.  If you're still trying to figure out what the heck is going on over there, this is a good place to start.

How going undercover made me appreciate my privilege.  As a white, reasonably attractive, well-educated woman with means, I can relate to this post.

Kids are assholes.  Louis CK cracks me up.  I'm giggling now as I think about this.

50 Healthy Habits Every Girl Should Have.  How many of these do you have or need to improve upon?  I'm doing okay, but I can always do better.

I loved this comic strip by Bill Watterson.

This photo shoot with John Schneider will move you.

This post at Hands-Free Mama resonated with me.  I mostly use my phone for playing music at home, but I still want to limit how much I'm looking at it.

Menu of the Week

Marinated Chicken, Kale-Brussels Hash, Oven Fries
This week's new recipe, from Dinner: A Love Story.  Wonderful marinade that results in moist, flavorful chicken.  As I've said before, I'm not a huge chicken fan any more, but I liked this one a lot. The hash recipe is from the same place, and it's a good and different way to cook kale.  The boys didn't eat it, unfortunately - they stuck to carrot sticks and pepper slices instead.

Homemade Pizza, Salad
Easy to pull together and perfect on a Saturday night after a day on the slopes.

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage, Salad
This has always been popular, but I undercooked the green beans and accidentally bought the wrong kind of sausage.  Ah was alright, but this is typically a dish everyone gets excited about.

Potato, Corn, and Leek Chowder, Salad
A long-time favorite.  The kids actually said "Yay!" when I told them it was for dinner.

Turkey Burritos, Yellow Rice, Black Beans
Veggie burritos for me and the little guy.

March 4, 2014

Recently Read

The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller.  I loved this book.  The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of the world's population is wiped out by disease.  It's different, it's poetic, it's moving.  It made me want to go camping, climb into the mountains, sleep outside, stare up in the night sky and wonder what it's all about.  I wish he used quotation marks (seriously that's just annoying), but that is really my only criticism.  It will make you think about what you'd do to survive, and what you'd need in order to want to survive.

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I liked this book.  It's well-written, and it's thoughtful.  The main character is an orphan - your heart will break for her, and she will break your heart.  I was pulled in by the writing, the pace, the story...but I wasn't completely convinced by the characters.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.  I'm not big into self-help or psychology books.  I have always trusted my friends and family with my questions and problems.  That said, I found this book to be extremely valuable.  I bought it a year or so ago, because I was getting super frustrated by the boys' lack of listening.  I was yelling too much.  I have always felt that time outs were an ineffective discipline tool, but I didn't know what else to do.  So I picked up a couple books to get some different ideas.  This one doesn't have any easy answers (I didn't really expect any), but I learned a lot about the language that I should use with my kids.  It talks about discipline, but also praise, how not to pigeonhole your kids into specific roles (shy, stubborn, smart, etc.), how to get them to open up more...  I wish it contained more summary pages, but I think this is a book that I will keep on my nightstand and pick up often to remind myself of the way I want to communicate with my boys.

March 3, 2014

Cold and Magic...

Another week, come and gone.  Last week was a good one, catching up from a vacation week.  It led to a nice weekend, and we managed to fit in one more day of skiing.  Depending on the weather, it might be the last of the season for us.  I'm excited about how much we were able to do this year and how much the boys improved.  It's so much fun!  

Now that ski season is coming to an end, I am ready for the snow to go away and for Spring to make a sudden appearance.  We are entering my least favorite season - the wet, cold days of Spring.  So many people hate Winter, but I am not one of those people - it's Spring that punishes me.  I will spend the next two months waiting for the flowers and warmer days to arrive.  

Looking back at my archives, I notice that I write less in these months.  Perhaps the dark, muddy days aren't photogenic enough?  Perhaps I'm grumpy?  Probably both.  So my posting frequency may stay reduced for a bit.  Something about this weather reduces my motivation to write.  I am heavy in thought, but I pull myself back somehow.  That said, it is my big birthday month (40!).  I also want to find the magic in the everyday as much as possible.  We'll see how it goes.

As usual, I stayed up too late to watch the Oscars.  No surprises, but lots of beautiful people and fabulous performances.  The group selfie was probably the most fun moment of the night.  I did finally see Blue Jasmine, which I can't say I necessarily enjoyed; but I appreciated it very much, and Cate Blanchett's performance is stunning.  I still need to see 12 Years a Slave.  Soon.  

This week is shaping up to be a busy one, and I'm already looking forward to next weekend.  My birthday celebrations begin on Saturday, with a day in New York with friends.  I am so looking forward to it.  Even if it is gray and cold, New York is magical.  


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