December 30, 2014

Family Time...

I'm so happy to report that I have been able to log some couch time. I've also managed a couple mornings of sleeping in, and I feel so much better. We also have a line on a new sitter for the remainder of the school year. It's all coming together.

We enjoyed a lovely holiday, with the highlight for me being Christmas Eve. We attended the Boston Pops' Holiday concert, as we do every year. We went out to lunch, and then we snuggled on the couch to watch 'Home Alone'. Kevin made his traditional lobster mac 'n cheese for dinner. Kevin and Aaron walked up to the family service at our neighborhood church while Nathan and I worked on a puzzle. Perfect. Just a wonderful day all around. 

We spent a couple days with family, and the boys were overloaded with toys. Despite our efforts to keep it simple, gifts from extended family overrule, and certainly the boys don't mind. They got a lot of really great and fun and even some practical gifts. After a couple days, Nathan couldn't wait to get home to play with them all, and Aaron has been heads-down on his Santa gift - a Chima lego set - since we arrived.

And now we're preparing for a few days of skiing to welcome in the new year. It will be great, but I admit that my thoughts will be on my family as well. We lost an uncle, and they will be celebrating his life this week. I'm sad that I won't be able to join them, but I will be sending love from afar. It certainly puts everything into perspective. Family and friends. There's nothing more important.

December 23, 2014

All I Want For Christmas... some time on the couch. Truly. I've been trying to soak in as much of the season as possible, decorating the tree, and sending/receiving cards, and watching the Grinch, and making cookies, and wrapping presents... But when the day finally arrives, what I'm really looking forward to most is snuggling with all my boys on the couch and watching a movie. I'm looking forward to a little rest. 

The holiday season has seemed especially short and fast this year, and after three months back at work, I'm officially back to reactive, struggling-to-keep-up mode. This bums me out. I had such high hopes for being able to stay organized and adjusting to the new schedule in a way that would allow me to stay on top of things. Alas. I will admit that it is easier than it was a couple years ago, but it's still pretty darn hard. 

In acknowledging how quickly the holiday season flies by, I've recognized that we are in prime Christmas years with the boys. They are both still avid Santa believers, making their lists and getting excited for Christmas morning. Nathan refuses to mail his list to Santa, needing to add "just one more thing" almost every day. Their lists are full of really fun items, and I expect to spend a good amount of time building lego sets during the break. They love helping me make and decorate cookies, and they get excited to go to the Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall - we're going tomorrow, and I can't wait! 

I know that in just a few short years, they won't play the Santa game any more, and their excitement will be more about spending time with friends and going to the movies. They may not want to make cookies with me, or go to the Pops concert. When that happens, I will probably write about it here, as Lou recently did.  It's okay, and it's all part of the phases of life. In the meantime, I want to make sure that I am fully present during this wonderfully exciting time that is right now.

picture by Jenna at sweet fine day

December 16, 2014


My sweet boy is eight. I want to take the hands of the clock and hold them still, but I sigh and celebrate the passing of time instead. Having a blog is fun for many reasons, but one reason is being able to look back at posts like this and this and this. Some people have scrapbooks and baby albums. I have a blog. As the years have passed, I've shared a little less of my boys, and I suspect that trend will continue as they get older. But I'm happy I've been able to capture some of the highlights here. I do create family photo albums, but here is where I capture some of the details. Such as...

This year Aaron requested a lego-themed party, and he loved helping me come up with the activities. We had "guess how many legos in the jar", a bean bag toss, pin the head on the lego guy, a memory game, a scavenger hunt, and Emmet piƱata of course. In-between activities the kids enjoyed ice cream sundaes, which has become his tradition as well. He invited three girls and three boys - a perfect-sized group of great kids getting together to celebrate one fabulous boy.  

December 15, 2014

Ups and Downs and Looking Forward...

The holiday season is always a busy one, and it's especially full this year. I've had to say no to some of our usual activities, including homemade gifts and presents to my siblings, and we'll probably only fit in one day of cookie-making. That's okay, of course, but I admit that it's been difficult. I feel like the season is rushing by, and I haven't been able to stop long enough to fully appreciate it. It's not over yet, though, and I plan to get my fill. 

Kevin and I attended my office holiday party last week. It was at Fenway Park, and the above photo shows our view. It was a ton of fun, and it only reinforced my decision to join such a great group of people. The people make all the difference. 

In other happy news, I'm happy that Nathan has requested "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for his bedtime story for the past few nights. It's my favorite. I'm happy that the grocery store had the good egg nog this week. I'm happy that my mom got to see "Elf" for the first time when she was here. 

Things are going well overall, but I admit that our weekends are more full of errands than I'd like, and due to more sitter issues, it's been a particularly stressful week. The arrangement works great when it works, but when things get thrown off balance, everything gets really hard. 

In other words, we are all ready for the Christmas break. We are planning on attending the Holiday Pops concert on Christmas Eve, spending a quiet night at home with just the four of us. I can't wait to watch the first Harry Potter movie with Aaron. I am going to thoroughly enjoy cookies and Kevin's lobster mac 'n cheese. I am eager to see the boys' excitement on Christmas morning. In the meantime, I'm going to listen to lots of Christmas music and take it one day at a time.

December 11, 2014

My Favorite Music of 2014

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I still wanted to document my favorite music of the year.  It's always fun to go through my playlist to come up with my list of favorites. My boys are starting to be exposed to more mainstream pop music (gasp!), as well as some of my old-school favorites (we had an awesome dance party to James Brown a few weeks ago), so they only had a few new songs that really got them going on this list. I don't know what that says, but there it is. I was really happy we got to see a few of these performed live this year - Noah Gundersen, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jack White, First Aid Kit, and Shovels & Rope. And without further adieu...

Noah Gundersen - Ledges
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes
Wye Oak - Shriek
Nikki Lane - All Or Nothin'

Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
Jack White - Lazaretto
Field Report - Marigolden
First Aid Kit - Stay Gold

The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
Ages & Ages - Divisionary
Hozier - Hozier
Trampled by Turtles - Wild Animals

Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
Shovels & Rope - Swimmin' Time
Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams
Delta Spirit - Into the Wide

The Black Keys - Turn Blue
The Apache Relay - Apache Relay
The Orwells - Disgraceland
Real Estate - Atlas

Honorable Mentions:  St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Parquet Courts, Lake Street Dive, Nickel Creek, Beck, St. Vincent, Spoon.

December 1, 2014

And So It Begins...

It's December, and I'm a little stunned by this fact. Thanksgiving is behind us, and the holiday season has officially begun.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, with a little exhaustion and stress mixed in.  I guess that just goes with the territory when you cram a house full of family. My low point came about 5 minutes before the big meal, when my kids started whining about not wanting to sit at the kids' table. That in and of itself wouldn't have bothered me so much, but those crucial minutes when you're trying to get everything on the table - and preferably warm - at the same time are stressful enough without listening to whining on top of it. So I did what I sometimes do - I yelled. And this is how our Thanksgiving celebration began, I'm ashamed to admit.

Thankfully, I regained my composure a couple minutes later, and we pulled stools up to the table and crowded everybody around.  I read the feathers on our soup can turkey, on which everyone listed things for which they are grateful. That's a nice way to start a meal. Largely due to the little-kid factor, the meal itself seemed to last about 10 minutes.  I'm looking forward to the day when we are able to leisurely enjoy conversation around a big table. But of course when that day comes, I bet I'll look back fondly at the chaotic holidays with little kids. That's the way it goes...

Overall, we enjoyed several fun days together. We played in the snow, went sledding, watched movies, played games, and we even got a kid-free night out at a Bruins hockey game in the city. It flew by, and now the house feels a little too empty, too quiet.

What seems too quickly, we turn our attention towards the remainder of the holiday season.  We decorated the tree, watched Elf and Charlie Brown, we discussed lists and presents and New Year's plans.  We went back to work today, with a full long weekend behind us, a beautiful month in front of us, and memories with us forever.

There's not much more exciting than getting the sled out for the first time.

Football in the snow.  That's an awfully cute huddle.

The annual soup can turkey.  So much to be thankful for.

November 26, 2014

Happy Day...

My house is full of family, and it smells like good food and candles.  There is much to be thankful for. 
It continues to be a busy time for us, and this break will be very much appreciated. 
I'm going to cook and eat and play games and hug my kids and talk with family and savor every moment of it. 
I'm going to reflect on all that is great in my life. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 14, 2014

Trampled by Turtles

Sometimes I let myself get stuck on one album for a while.  Lately, it's been Trampled by Turtles

November 12, 2014

Keira and Amy...

I just wanted to pop in and share two things I enjoyed immensely last week.

The movie Begin Again. My sister told me several months ago that I should see this movie. I finally had the opportunity to see it, and she was absolutely right. It's somewhat similar to Once, and it's directed and written by the same person. It's perhaps not a classic in the same way as Once, but it's a really lovely movie with beautiful music, and I found myself smiling throughout. Highly recommend.

Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please.  I devoured it in a couple days, and it left me wanting more.  She does the obligatory behind-the-scenes stuff, describing life at SNL and on the set of Parks and Recreation, including information about each of her co-stars, and tid-bits about some of the SNL hosts.  All that is fun, but the more personal information is way more interesting to me. That she's from Boston, is in her early 40s, and has two little boys are just some of the ways I could relate to her. In short, I loved it.

November 4, 2014

Recently Read

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The story is set in the 1800s, and the main character is a woman by the name of Alma Whittaker. She is the daughter of the wealthiest man in Philadelphia, and she is a botanist. The book is essentially the story of her life, which is a life of privilege and a life of science. It is a long narrative, and the scope is grand. It actually starts with her father's journey into the botanical/pharmaceuticals business. The story is engaging, as is the scientific and intellectual discussion, but it does require some patience as the plot does not advance quickly. Overall, I was impressed by this book.

Defending Jacob, by William Landay.  This book definitely sucked me in and didn't let me go until the very end. I read it quickly and didn't want to put it down until I was done, so it didn't take long. It's sad, frustrating, thrilling, interesting, surprising, and ultimately heartbreaking. And definitely worthy of a read.

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham. Another extremely fast read. First, I will admit that I've never seen 'Girls', so what I knew of Lena Dunham going in was just what I've read and seen of her on interviews. I appreciate her self-confidence, and I think that's what inspired me to pick this up. I'm not sure how to summarize my feelings about the book - I loved it, and I didn't love it. I admire the honesty and the bravery it takes to publish such personal thoughts and feelings and experiences with the world. At the same time, I did feel that she didn't come to many conclusions or lessons learned through them all - maybe this book was written too soon?  But as an honest expression of the thoughts and feelings of a twenty-something girl in the's wonderful.

November 3, 2014

Aging Tricks and Treats...

I have started this post about nine times. Sometimes it's hard to calm my mind long enough to express a thought, so I'm just going to dump some of it out here and see if we can sort out the mess together, okay?

I've been feeling old lately. I know, I know, but there it is. Just as if your kids can somehow seem to "grow overnight", it seems that we can encounter days where we feel like we've aged overnight. At least I have. Little things like noticing the looseness of skin on my cheeks and eyes. My stomach is also not what it used to be. I'm not complaining, truly - I'm strong, I'm healthy, I'm comfortable in my body. But it's weird to notice the changes along the way.

I've also been feeling a little old at work, so I've been adjusting there as well. I'm at a point where some of the people above me are now younger than I am. I read an article recently about "resume mistakes that make you appear old" and realized I did several of them. (I honestly didn't know you were only supposed to put one space after a period now. When did this happen?)

I've made several updates to my wardrobe, and now I'm trying to stop. I may own too many pairs of black shoes, but I still don't have the perfect pair of work loafers or boots. I haven't found that trench yet either. But I'm enjoying my new outfits, and I'm having fun getting dressed up for work.

Halloween was fun, and although an illness forced us to change our plans, the boys still declared it "the best night ever"!  Aaron was Dustin Pedrioa (Red Sox player) and Nathan was Raphael (teenage mutant ninja turtle).  They got giant bags of candy, ate themselves silly, and fortunately traded more than half of it (almost all for Nathan) for books the next day.  I had the goal to be done with it by today, and with only two lollipops left for Nathan, I'll call that success.

Last night, we went out to dinner and a Noah Gundersen concert. We were both tired, in the way that a cold dreary weekend with a time change will make you tired, but it was worth it. It was good to get out of the house, to connect with Kevin, to hear beautiful music. Of course, today I am now tired in the way that a late night on a school night will make you tired. Still...worth it.

I need to find more me-time in the schedule. It's always the first thing to go, isn't it? It's getting harder to get up early to exercise, and I'm not finding those quiet moments to recharge. I have to figure out how to schedule and preserve those. At the same time, I want to plan more time with friends. I don't want to fall back into the situation of being crazy busy all the time without being deliberate about how we're spending that time. I know stuff has to get done, but...priorities. Time with the boys, family, friends, taking care of ourselves, having fun. Living life. After all, we're getting older every day.

October 28, 2014

Don't Call Him Shy

The highlight of last week was attending Aaron's first piano recital. He was so brave and proud, and my heart literally bursts at the thought of it. My little boy - the one who cried every. single. day when I dropped him off at day care, who would bury his face in my legs rather than speak to a person he did not know - is growing. He's taking risks, learning, pushing himself. 

We were always careful not to label Aaron as "shy", because although he was at the time, we didn't want him to believe that it would always be so. We also tried not to push him to do something he wasn't comfortable doing. He had the opportunity to play in a recital last year, but he didn't want to do it. We didn't force him to; instead, he and I attended the recital together to watch the other kids, so he could see what it was like. When the opportunity came up this year, he hesitated a little, but he came to the decision on his own that it was something he should do.

He is still relatively reserved - he's not going to be the one in the front row, raising his hand and begging to give the answer - but his confidence is growing. He will look people in the eye, answer questions when asked, speak his mind, and he will get up in front of a whole room filled with strangers (and his family) to introduce himself and play piano. And I couldn't be prouder.

October 21, 2014

A Few Things...

I just love this picture posted to UNC's instagram.

Beyond Work/Life Balance - Living the Life You Want.  I think this post speaks to my thoughts about the word "balance".  There is no such thing.  There's no right amount of time you're supposed to spend at home versus at work.  No set time guidelines on playing with your kids or achieving a personal goal.  I don't want to think about it that way any more.  I just spent two years at home, and it was wonderful and great for us as a family.  I'm back at work, and even though I'm spending less time with my boys, I believe it's good for us as a family too.  And I'm working to make sure that the time I do spend with my boys is quality time, that they still know that I will always be there.

Bill Murray is doing a Christmas special.  This news just made me smile.

I've always been a little conflicted about GMOs.  I mean, since the beginning of farming, humans have cross-bred species and come up with ways of making crops stronger.  I remember learning about the guy who won a Nobel Prize for coming up with a new species of wheat - it was shorter, so they could grow more of it in a smaller space and therefore feed more people.  Brilliant!  So when all the uproar began about GMOs, I didn't understand at first. I get it now. I found this report to be especially interestingBill Nye the Science Guy summed it up very reasonably in this short video.

25 Feminist Lessons for My Sons.  Yes, yes, yes. I work so hard at this. I know that I am not the only influences in my boys' lives, but I do want to stay the loudest for as long as possible. At least until some of these lessons are firmly ingrained in who they are. They are already influenced by so much at school, and I have to push back. I remind them that girls can like legos and superheroes, and boys can wear purple. And I am certainly making sure they know how to do laundry, cook, and put the toilet seat down.

I saw Gone Girl last weekend.  It was just as good as the book - creepy, twisted, strangely captivating, and ultimately disappointing.  I do adore Ben Affleck, and this clip on The Ellen Show made me laugh.  Oh and speaking of Ben, did you see Jennifer Garner confirm her baby bump on Ellen?  I have had a huge girl crush on Jennifer since she was Sydney Bristow on Alias.  This just made it stronger. 

I loved hearing Ryan Adams' cover of Alice in Chains. Such a great song.

A Cure For Hyper Parenting.  Another good article reminding all us parents to calm down. Let's just do the best we can. It's all good.

October 20, 2014

Taking Stock

Savoring:  Every moment of Fall.  Little boys jumping in leaf piles made my heart smile this weekend.
Eating:  Vegetarian Chili. I used this recipe, given to me by a friend. I made it just a tad too spicy - note for next time - but it was so good and perfect for a chilly Fall day.
Drinking:  Pumpkin ales.  It's that time of year.
Deciding:  It's the end of ice cream season.  Lest you think I deny myself, it's the start of pie and cookies season. 
Watching:  Nashville and Parenthood when Kevin's out of town (as he was last week).  Friday Night Lights together. We've both seen the entire series, but while we have Netflix...  There's nothing like a little dose of Tim Riggins.
Wanting:  Shoes that are stylish, look good with suits and work trousers, and comfortable enough to walk in all day.  SO hard to find that. 
Listening:  To my iTunes library on shuffle. Finding old favorites and bringing back memories.
Needing: To start planning for the holidays. Halloween is next week! Time really starts to fly after that.
Smelling:  The "Autumn Leaves" Yankee candle burning in the dining room.  And real autumn leaves outside. 
Feeling:  Optimistic. It's coming more naturally to me these days.
ReadingDefending Jacob. I'm about a third of the way through and totally sucked in.
Making: Lists. Trying to get back into a routine of managing my to-do lists and staying on top of everything.
Needing:  A cool-but-not-cold weather trench (or other lightweight) coat.  I've tried dozens at this point but haven't found the perfect one.  Pretty soon it's going to be cold enough for my winter coat, so whatever.  But I'll keep looking.
Wishing: My family lived closer. I've never mentioned that before here, right? ;-)
Missing: My sisters. See above.
WearingThis sweater.  I was worried it would look bulky or old on me, but I absolutely love it.
Enjoying:  Homemade granola.  Turns out I can still find the time to make it happen.

October 17, 2014

Smelling the Roses...

Time is a funny thing.  The days seem to rush by in a hurried mess of exercising, cleaning, working, playing, cooking, parenting, doing...and then I stop to take a look around and realize a whole month went by!  On the other hand, it already feels like I've been back at work for a lot longer.  I am still meeting people and learning my new environment, but the work part came back very quickly and easily.  I am confident I made the right decision, so hurray for that. 
Things are going well, but I do recognize the need to stop and take a look around more often.  This week, I decided to take more scenic back roads to work for no other reason than to admire the beauty of historic New England towns in Autumn.  It's almost too difficult, because I want to stop and walk around Walden Pond and admire the foliage, but the drive alone is spectacular.  I've also left the music off at times, appreciating the silence.  I am reminded of the daily meditations that I used to enjoy at the end of my work days, after the kids went to bed.  I haven't done that since I stopped working, but I didn't miss it.  I was finding many moments of peace throughout the day.  Now I think I'll have to go back to being a little more purposeful about making time for it.  Life is too short not to appreciate and savor every day. 
We are all settled into the school and work routine.  Nathan read his first entire book to me last night, and I am still smiling as a result.  Aaron is learning about butterflies and knows more U.S. state facts than I do.  School is fun, and it is a joy to be able to go through it again with my children.  Aaron also started reading Harry Potter, and I must admit I am excited to experience the series again. 
The boys have been working on their lists for Santa - yes, already, I think they started them in August - and we've been discussing plans for Aaron's 8th birthday party.  He's thinking Lego, which is awesome and fun.  But up first - Halloween!  And a very full house for Thanksgiving!  That most wonderful and busy time of year is upon us, and I am so looking forward to it all.  It's time to start planning...
We are in the parenting sweet spot.  At 5 and almost 8, my boys are firmly out of the baby/toddler years.  They eat well, they sleep well, they are independent in so many ways.  But they are several years away from the pre-teen/teen years that can come with confusion and angst and rebellion and emotional distance.  They still snuggle, and they run to me when they get hurt.  They hold my hand.  They like to help out around the house.  They say "I love you" without reservation and not only in response.  They ask for permission (most of the time).  They want and expect to spend time together as a family.  Hopefully most of these things will continue through the teenage years, but for now, I'm choosing to soak them all in.  Every sweet moment with my boys. 
This weekend, we plan to go pick out our pumpkins and start raking the leaves.  And as I watch my boys run and jump in the resulting pile, I'm going to make sure I stop what I'm doing and appreciate that moment. 


October 15, 2014

The Best Part of My Day

Fall in New England
I'm enjoying work, I'm meeting people, I'm going out to lunch, I'm getting up early (like still pitch black early) to exercise, I'm still mostly managing to get my mug of ice cream and dose of Jon Stewart at the end of the day.  But the best part of my day is dinnertime. 
I can't believe I just wrote that. 

It was just a few short years ago that I spent the 5 o'clock hour balancing a baby on my hip while trying to prepare food for a toddler who was most likely going to eat two bites, grimace, and declare himself "all done". I spent years making dinners when it seemed like more of it ended up on the floor than in their bellies. But I kept at it. I did the best I could to make mostly homemade meals, with a few frozen fish sticks and some pizza thrown in. The important thing was that we sat down together every night, even if it took an hour to cook dinner and four minutes to eat.  And now...

I have boys who like to help make dinner.  They actually fight over who gets to set the table.  They are still young and are sometimes picky in the ways that kids are, but in general they eat well.  They understand that they have to eat vegetables with every dinner.  They may whine a bit when it's not one of their favorites, but they mostly eat them anyway.  Most importantly, they know that dinner is a time for us to sit down together. 

I had tried playing High-Low ("The high of my day was..., The low part of my day was...") a couple years ago, but it didn't stick.  I think the boys were too young and simply couldn't sit still long enough at that point.  When we visited my friend Sara in Amsterdam, she and her family play it and asked us to participate.  Since then, it has become a required part of our dinnertime conversation. And it's wonderful. (Sara - Thank P for me!) My little guy, who doesn't share information unless specifically asked, has shared some important feelings and thoughts about his new school and new friends. It serves as a conversation starter, and we take it from there.

Now that I'm back at work, dinnertime has become even more important, because it's a time for me to connect with my boys. So when it's my turn for High-Low, I always start with "My High is right now..."

October 3, 2014

Delta Spirit - Hold My End Up

This week's music pick is Delta Spirit.  I am growing to love this band more and more with each album, and after watching some of their videos, I am convinced of what I've heard about them (here and elsewhere) - they're even better live.  Hopefully I'll get the chance to see them in person one day.  In the meantime, I'll keep listening...

October 2, 2014

A Few Things...

Yep, that's my mantra at the moment.  I'm getting shit done.  I feel productive and fulfilled.  I do question our ability to keep it up, but one day at a time...  In the meantime, here are a few things that have hit my reader lately...

How would you describe yourself in five words?  I love this.  My list just a year (or even a month!) ago might've looked different.  I've been thinking about what my five words might be, and it's harder than it sounds.  Perhaps:  mom, yogi, planner, optimist, juggler.  (You all understand the type of juggling I am talking about.)  What would be on your list? 

Jeff Tweedy on why the album still matters.  I feel the same way.  I know most people don't buy albums.  Honestly, most of my friends don't even buy music at all.  But it still matters to me.

Why I Want My Sons to See Me Naked.  This perfectly captures my thoughts on the subject.  I'm starting to enjoy more privacy in the bathroom, but Nathan still walks in unannounced on occasion, and neither of them flinch if I'm getting dressed in front of them.  I'm happy that I'm able to model self-confidence and a healthy body image to my boys.

The only way I will ever cook broccoli again.  A post that provides me with a tip that gets Aaron to stop whining about broccoli?  Yep, that's worthy of sharing.

And another one to love from Jenny.  This reminds me - it's almost time to start thinking about Aaron's birthday.  The end of the year festivities require a bit more advance planning.  I already love his initial ideas, though, so I think we'll be able to get it done.

Being a Stay-At-Home Parent is a Luxury...For Your Spouse.  I love this.  I still remember the day, last summer, that Kevin made a comment about how we seemed to be having a lot of really fun weekends.  It took him a while, but he realized how nice it was not to have errands and chores filling up our weekends.  I was free to keep up the house during the week, so our weekends became open for fun family quality time.  It was definitely a luxury.  One that I will miss, no doubt.  But I hope that perspective stays with us as we attempt to balance everything going forward.

September 30, 2014

A Good Day...

picture taken by my husband - Boston is a pretty little city

Okay, I think we're all starting to settle into this new routine.  I was overwhelmed by the stress of getting a sitter for the boys for after school, and that really prevented me from fully embracing everything else.  Long story short, I hired a wonderful young woman this weekend - the boys love her already, and she has enabled me to relax.  I can hear my sister now, saying "See?  I told you things would work out the way they're supposed to."  She's absolutely right, but damn it sure can be stressful along the way.  Anyway...
I had a good day yesterday.  I woke up early and got a workout in before putting on my favorite dress and leaving for work.  My new client is in a suburb, so I don't have to drive all the way into the city.  No train ride, but a relatively easy commute that allows me to turn the music up and sing nice and loud.  My client partner is great, and everybody I've met is very nice and easy to work with.  I got a decent amount of work done.  I went out to lunch with the new person on my team.  I left early and went home to receive the best hugs ever from the cutest boys ever.  Aaron told me he loves piano again and practiced his new song for me.  Nathan gave me an extra hug just because he wasn't sure I got one in the morning.  I made a homemade but very easy, one-pot dinner that the boys ate and enjoyed.  I ended the day with a mug of ice cream and Jon Stewart.  Oh, and did I mention that it was a warm and gorgeous day? 
They won't all be that easy, but they won't all be hard either.  It's a good reminder to have. 

September 24, 2014

Recently Read

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd.  I am a sucker for historical fiction.  These books have the story to draw you in and provide emotional resonance, and they also have a basis in real history.  They give us an insight into a different place and time.  In this case, the setting is the first half of the 19th century in Charleston, South Carolina.  The time of slavery.  The story is beautifully told, and I was drawn into the characters immediately.  Although I love a happy ending, it felt a little unrealistic to me, but that's one of my few complaints about the book.  I like that the author distinguished fact from fiction at the end, which I always find fascinating.  Highly recommend.
Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Masterman.  This is an okay book.  It's a decent one to borrow from the library or a friend.  It kept me engaged, and I enjoyed myself along the way, but it did feel a little too much like an Ashley Judd thriller that's shown too much on TV.  The main character is a 59-year-old female, which is sort of refreshing, but she doesn't really feel like a typical 59-year-old.  And by the time I got to the end, I realized I didn't really care who did it.  I wanted to see how everything wrapped up in the same way that I want to see Ashley Judd saved at the end of the movie. 
The Painter, by Peter Heller.  I loved The Dog Stars, so I had high hopes for this one.  It is good, and I do love Heller's writing style.  I could get drawn in by the language alone.  It's a pretty dark and heavy book, though, and it's not a frame of mind I'd want to stay in for too long.  It's so well-written, and the main character is a fascinating one who is extremely thought-provoking.  There's a lot of talk of art (which I enjoy) and fishing (which I can appreciate but only to a certain extent).  I recommend it, but read The Dog Stars first. 

September 23, 2014

Weekend Recap and Goals

The structure of our weekends is changing along with everything else.  Since I am no longer running errands and cleaning and grocery shopping during the week, some of these jobs must necessarily get done on the weekends.  I will remain focused, however, on making sure we fit in fun and quality family time as well. 

This weekend's highlights included a visit to the farmer's market, along with some free painting in the park. It was a gorgeous weekend, with typical September blue skies.  The weather also called for apple-picking.  We hit an orchard and loaded a couple bags.  And when you have a lot of apples, you must make pie.  So I did.  The mornings are getting chillier, and the dark is closing in earlier; and we all know what that means.  We have to savor every little bit of Fall before the Winter sets in. 

As I get back into the swing of things, I'm also going to go back to setting some goals at the beginning of the week.  I'm still figuring out how best to manage work and home together, and having some overall goals is a good thing. 

Goals for this week:
1.  Hire a new sitter.  (Don't ask - very stressed.) 
2.  Research apps for maintaining grocery lists to determine if it'd be worth getting one.  Maybe I should eliminate some of the paper from my life/kitchen counter?  Do any of you use one you like?
3.  Get up early to exercise two more times this week.  (I did today!  Go me!)
4.  Purchase some more work clothes.  Kevin actually asked me to add this one, after watching me sift through my clothes in the closet and sigh, struggling to find an outfit.  I seem to have clothes, but very few outfits.
5.  Plan a date to get together with friends.  Social planning is one of those things that will fall away easily if I don't make it a priority. 

September 19, 2014

A Few Things...

source unknown

I just love the above picture.  That is exactly what I want to do right now.  Put on my cape and mask and sit down with a glass of wine.  Like the badass I am.

I survived the first week back at work.  I am more exhausted than I've been in a long time, and my head is spinning.  But we all made it.  Similar to my first week at home, I realize that I need to relearn how to do everything again.  Getting used to a new routine can be daunting.  I am also so conscious of the fact that I do not want to fall back into the same habits and work routines that I had before.  I am focused on finding the right balance.  (We talk so much about balance - I almost wish there was a different way of talking about it, but I think it's the one everyone understands.)  Much more to come as I settle into our new phase.

This weekend, I plan to sleep late, get some exercise, play with my boys, eat some apples, bake something pumpkiny, watch a movie, and mentally prepare myself for what is sure to be an exhilaratingly busy second week of work.

I've had a few things bookmarked along the way...

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews.  I've never had this word used to describe me, but I do know people who have received it in reviews.  It's interesting to think about how men and women are evaluated differently.

My cousin, Tiffany, created a fabulous new web site.  It contains her inspiring blog but also so much more!  Check it out!

Another Weekly Menu Idea.  I'm getting used to my new dinner planning routine, too.  Planning on Saturday, or Sunday morning, shopping on Sunday (along with everyone else - I forgot how crowded the grocery store is on Sundays!).  I brought my headphones with me last week and got it done quickly, so it wasn't too bad.

I want my local pizza place to start using these boxes.  Genius!

I'm digging this online yoga challenge.  So far, most of the sequences have been rather short, so they're great for before or after another exercise session, or good for doubling up.  It's totally free, so if you have any interest, sign up and you'll get them in your inbox!

I then went on to sign up for the myYogaPro membership.  I know there's plenty of free stuff on youtube, but these are great classes, and it's so well-organized.  I think it'll motivate me to do more yoga.

Letters from husband to wife.  I just love this.  A sense of humor is the #1 thing that will keep a relationship thriving.

I loved seeing his old post on Cup of Jo.  And this one that Design Mom linked to today.  It brought me right back to Amsterdam, and I love the memories I have of such a cool city and good friends.  I totally miss the bikes!  I found myself in an REI last week, gazing longingly at the bikes.  Someday, one of them will be mine.

Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent.  Interesting.  This has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  I think we're doing okay, but I feel my son trying to push his limits.  It makes me want to tighten up even more.

September 16, 2014

My First Day...

I am back at work.  I was home for two years and yet it feels like it happened so quickly.  Time is weird.  Anyway, yesterday I woke up early, did a quick workout, showered and got dressed up, and took the train into the city.  I realized I hadn't taken the train for work since before the kids were born, and it felt like a luxury.  A half-hour of quiet thought.  After a quick stop at Starbucks, I made it to the office, met about a hundred people, forgot most of their names (I wish I didn't suck so bad at that), and spent the day getting set up. 

It felt good. 

At the end of the day, I also found out where I will be assigned, and I'm happy with the opportunity.  It starts next week, and preparations have begun, so work will pick up speed quickly.  That's definitely the best thing for someone who's been out of practice for a while.  I need to jump in with both feet as quickly as possible!

On the homefront, my husband has taken over the morning duties, and I will cover the evenings.  He will have breakfast with the boys, make lunches, and drop them off at school.  I will handle dinner, baths, bedtime, and preparing for the next day.  It feels like a good balance for now (after 1 day - ha!), and I hope it lasts. 

The boys are handling it all in stride, although my heart did ache a bit when Aaron decided to rank all the caregivers in his life by how much time he spends with them.  He said, "teacher, sitter, dad, mom".  WHAT!?  So I helped him with the math and clarified that if I'm home before 5:30, it goes "teacher, MOM, sitter, dad".  If I'm home after 5:30 then the sitter beats me, so you better believe I'm going to make it my mission to be home before then every night. 

So that's my update.  I'm in a new phase, meeting new people and learning new things.  It's exciting, and I'm choosing to remain optimistic that we're all going to be able to balance everything.  Here goes nothing.

September 12, 2014

Ryan Adams - My Wrecking Ball

I haven't posted any music in a while, have I?  Well, I'll have to get you all caught up on what I'm listening to.  I'll try to start posting a music pick every week again.  September always seems to have a bunch of good releases in it, and this year was no exception.  Let's start with Ryan Adams.  His videos can be a little painful, just because I really want to brush the hair out of his eyes, but the music is what matters, and it's good.  

John Vettese/WXPN

September 10, 2014

Taking Stock - September 2014

Enjoying:  Our last Red Sox game of the season.  We went to the game on Sunday to watch our last-place team.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and it's always fun to watch baseball.
Making:  Basil-Walnut Pesto, using up the rest of the basil from the garden.
Cooking:  A new batch of granola.  Trying to get stocked up before I start work and no longer have time for things like homemade granola.
Reading:  The Painter, by Peter Heller.  It's dark, but I'm digging it.
Hoping:  My first week of work goes well.
Wanting:  Some new work clothes.  I may do some shopping soon.
Watching:  House of Cards.  Kevin and I watched the entire first season on the flights to and from Europe.  We got home and signed up for the first free month of Netflix just so we can binge-watch season 2.
Playing:  Uno with my little guy, while Aaron is in his piano lessons.
Eating:  Ice cream every night.  As usual.
Wondering:  When I should declare it the end of "ice cream season" and put the spoon down.
Loving:  September weather.  Cool mornings and blue skies.  Hello, Fall.
Noticing:  How crabby I get when I'm stressed.  Trying really hard to keep it under control.
Drinking:  Water during the week, wine on weekends.
Knowing:  We live a charmed life.  There are times when Kevin and I stop to acknowledge this.
Feeling:  Grateful.  Hopeful.  Nervous.
Listening:  Mostly to Ryan Adams' new album.  Delta Spirit's latest is on right now.  They're both good but probably a little too sad-bastard for my current mood.  Anybody got a recommendation for something happy and bouncy that I might like?
Bookmarking:  A recipe for profiteroles.  I've always wanted to try making them, and I'm thinking our anniversary might be a good excuse.
Needing:  Rain boots.  I've needed them for years.  That's it - I'm ordering some today!
Waiting:  For the holiday-planning mood to hit me.  I think I'm too distracted by the start of work, but I know that it'll only be a few weeks before I start making lists.
Following:  The news, but most of it makes me so sad.  I understand why so many people just try to ignore it all.
Liking:  My last week at home.  With both boys in school full-time, the days are quiet and productive and relaxing.
Wishing:  I had more time to add some fun things to my to-do list.  But see above re: charmed life.  It's all good.

September 9, 2014

Change Is Hard.

I'm no good at change.  Uncertainty makes me uneasy, and I get cranky when I'm uncomfortable.  I have always worked hard to maintain routines, keep to-do lists, prepare for things way in advance, and otherwise do everything I can to stay ahead of the game and avoid uncertainty as much as possible.  In some ways, this craving of stability is not a bad thing.  It motivates me to stay prepared and organized.  It also encourages me to make decisions rather quickly.  On the other hand, this fear of change can keep me in situations for longer than I should.   

All this to say...I've been cranky lately.  I'm in a period of uncertainty, and I'm uncomfortable.  I try to remind myself that we should all do hard things every day - that's how we grow and make necessary changes in our lives.  It's true, and I can say it and acknowledge it, but it doesn't make things easier.  

I start my new job on Monday, and things are changing.  The boys are in school - and loving it, thank goodness.  My husband is going to take over the morning duties and school drop-off.  We've had to arrange after-school care.  We've arranged a new piano teacher for Aaron, and Nathan starts soccer next week.  I will be starting a new job and a commute into the city.   I'm trying to move through the list of uncertainties and check them off as quickly as possible, but it all takes time.  I don't know yet where I will be working, and I am reminded of one difficult aspect of consulting - the not knowing where you will be staffed next.  I've just got to embrace that.  

It's all good.  I know we're on the right path.  I'm just very much looking forward to settling down into our new routine.  Fall feels like the right time to be embarking on a new challenge.  It has always felt like the beginning of the new year to me.  The crisp fall weather has finally arrived here in New England, and I continue to take deep breaths and know that with every day and every decision, we're one step closer to achieving that new normal.  


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