Friday, September 27, 2013

That's Even Better Than An Emmy.

Over the weekend, my girlfriend from high school won an Emmy. Yes, you heard that right. She gracefully walked up on that stage alongside Tina Fey and graciously accepted her much-deserved Emmy as a fantastically funny writer for 30 Rock. Although it's been a few years since we've actually talked, we do manage to catch up on each other's lives on Facebook and isn't that just as good these days?

Her Emmy got me thinking, of course. As soon as I had heard the news, I immediately called home to my mom to make sure she had heard the news as well. You see, Tracey and I used to carpool to and from high school together and we even acted alongside each other in many a school musical. It's what I will say now when I talk about how, "I knew her when." Anyway, back to my point. Her Emmy got me thinking. 

As I exclaimed to my mother over the phone, "Mom! Did you hear? Tracey won an Emmy! Right there alongside Tina Fey! A real Emmy!" I quickly followed it up with, "and here I am, wiping butts all day!" We laughed and my mom quickly retorted something along the lines of, "Oh, Ashley Paige. Don't say that. That's not true!"

And I knew she was right. Mostly. I know I do more than wipe heinies all day but believe me, when you're in the stay-at-home trenches of raising your children every day, it's very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. To feel like you're actually making a difference as a hardworking, contributing member of society.

Now, I know I will never win an Emmy and I'm okay with that. After all, I don't have an Emmy-winning bone in my body, nor do I act, produce or write Emmy-worthy material, but I would be lying if I said I don't sometimes think about the money my parents "wasted" on my nursing degree. The one that cost them approximately $145,000 that I only used for five years. Granted, I like to think I made a lot of difference in peoples' lives during those five years and that those years shaped me and gave me a perspective on life that has truly changed me as a person and I'm so happy I spent those five years the way that I did. 


I'm also grateful, however, that not once have my parents ever said anything to me like that nor do they even think like that for a second but sometimes I just think to myself, "Hmm. I would probably be a little bit bitter!" Now, that's not to say that I will never don my nursing hat again. I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me in that regard and if rejoining the workforce in that nature happens to be in the cards, I will welcome that new role once again with open arms. 

But that doesn't change the fact that my girlfriend won an Emmy and I just wiped up drool from my mouse pad. Who knows though, right? Maybe I'm raising future rocket scientists or astronauts or leaders of the free world. Or maybe Carter will be a literary genius and Maclane, a political defender of all that is just and good in this world. 

Maybe they'll grow up to be incredible husbands and fathers. Compassionate, kind, honest and forthright. 

And in that moment I think, "Shit. That's even better than an Emmy! Plus, it wouldn't really match my living room anyway..."
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Ten Things I Never Knew About Everything Until Last Week.

If you've been following me over on Instagram or Twitter for the last couple of weeks then you know that just last week I had the privilege of traveling to the Tri-State area with the #PureAirBlog team on behalf of Miele, a world renown high end domestic and professional grade appliance maker.

I had such a blast making new friends, learning about Miele (pronounced "Mee-lah," as I'm sure you're wondering) and touring the Good Housekeeping Research Institute in New York City. I learned so much during my short stay with them and I can't wait to share so much of that with you over the course of the next six months. I promise you, it's not nearly as boring as you think! 

I wanted to pop in today and share with you 10 quick things I never knew until last week, things like...did you know you should be vacuuming your mattress on an almost-regular basis? Me either, but I'll get to that later, right after I go hang my head in shame.

10. Meet the #PureAirBlog team. I'm always so amazed how you can take a group of women bloggers from all around the country, put them together in a single room and it's like we've all been friends for the longest time. Just five minutes into our Welcome Dinner at EnoTerra, a delicious farm-to-table restaurant in Kingston, New Jersey, the conversation was so loud you could barely hear yourself think. My thoughts on the meal? Delicious and a certain recommendation if you're in the area!  My thoughts on the company? A wonderful group of women that I'm so grateful to have had the pleasure to meet! Please check out their blogs, they are truly awesome, creative, fantastic writers! From left to right, Shannah, Amy, Samantha, Rachel, yours truly, Aimee, Tracie and Christina.

9. With more than 16,000 employees worldwide, Miele is the largest family-owned appliance manufacturer in the world. How awesome is that? After just three short days with them, it's evident how much Miele values and appreciates their employees and how the feeling is more than mutual! And they don't just sell vacuums! Among some of Miele's most popular appliances are induction cook tops, coffee systems, washers/dryers, dishwashers and more!

8. Speaking of coffee systems, this beauty by Miele has quickly become a must-have in our house. The Europeans sure don't mess around when it comes to their morning brew and I think we could learn a lot from them in this arena! This coffee unit can be placed anywhere in the home as it runs on a canister of water and doesn't require a water line hookup. We started each morning with a coffee/cappuccino/latte from Miele and let's just say you can't have a bad day that starts with Miele coffee. I'll take one in the master closet, please. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sleep Like A Baby, With aden + anais Sleeping Bags

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of aden + anais products. As a matter of fact, way back when Maclane was born and I was gifted with my very first set of muslin swaddle blankets, it was love at first sight (and touch). Their line of swaddle blankets and dream blankets has quickly become one of my favorite gifts to give both brand new and seasoned mothers after the births of their babies.
With the crazy weather we've been having lately, chilly mornings turning into stifling afternoons turning into frigid nights, it's been quite the hassle dressing Maclane for both naps and bed time each day. AC on to AC off to heat on to fan only, I never know the kind of temperatures nap time and bed time will bring with them.
Putting Maclane down to bed with one of aden + anais' sleeping bags not only alleviates some of that stress but it also alleviates any worry I might have of him getting tangled had I put him down to bed with a blanket instead.
Made from their infamous breathable and lightweight muslin, baby can sleep safely and soundly while wearing the sleeping bag. Available in two thicknesses, Single Layer and a four layer Cozy Muslin, there's a sleeping bag for every climate.
aden + anais sleeping bags are designed to be worn comfortably over your baby's pajamas in place of a blanket. Not only is putting your baby down to sleep with a blanket a safety hazard but babies often kick these blankets off at night, becoming chilly and waking themselves up in the process. With the aden + anais sleeping bags from Lil Sweetie Designs, baby can sleep comfortably and safely while you, too, sleep without worry.  

You'll notice in the following pictures how the zipper is safely hidden beneath a piece of muslin fabric- not only does this deter baby from unzipping the bag but it also protects baby's sweet little face from being poked and scratched by the zipper while worn.

During these awkward transition temperatures, I find myself dressing Maclane in a short or long-sleeved cotton onesie before zipping him up in his sleeping bag. As the temperatures continue to drop, I will likely add a pair of thin cotton leggings as I transition him to the thicker, warmer Cozy Muslin bag. During the warmer summer days, I would simply strip him down to his diaper and zip him up in the single layer muslin sleeping bag. 
Have you thought about or are thinking about adding a sleeping bag into your little one's bed time routine? Here are some additional benefits of using an aden + anais sleeping bag:
- Available in a range of sizes for baby's growing needs
- Made from breathable material with a light weave that helps reduce the risk of overheating
- Worn safely over baby's pajamas, it eliminates the need for loose blankets
- Made with a variety of adorable gender neutral prints, there's one for every baby!

One of the questions I receive the most is, "But doesn't your mobile baby get tangled in his blanket if he tries to stand and walk?" and my answer is always no. There is a generous amount of fabric at the end of the sleeping bag which allows Maclane plenty of room to walk run. Whenever he wakes from his sleep, he immediately starts running laps around his crib and I've never had any trouble with him getting tripped up by the sleeping bag. 

We love our aden + anais muslin sleeping bags from Lil Sweetie Designs and would recommend this product 100%. In fact, to encourage you to try it out or perhaps add another to your collection, Cameron, the owner of Lil Sweetie Designs is offering all ILYMTC readers 20% off their aden + anais purchase. Not only does this include sleeping bags, but also swaddles, dream blankets, bibs, burp cloths and more! 

Disclaimer: I did not receive financial compensation for this post. 
I did receive product for free in return for my honest 
thoughts and opinions as disclosed above. 

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's An Incredible Thing, To Be Missed.

"I missed you so much, Mom," he says when I pick him up from Pre-School two days a week. It's quickly followed by a, "Just sometimes I missed you though. Not all the times," but nonetheless I am quickly turned to mush in his little hands.
It's an incredible thing to be missed. As a stay at home mom, it's not very often that we're privy to that sort of feeling. As a matter of fact I could count on one and a half hands the number of times I've had to leave my boys for an extended period of time. It's healthy for the both of us, I know this, but it doesn't make the leaving any easier.
Picking Carter up from Pre-School has become one of my favorite moments each week. I look forward to pick-up roughly the same way that he looks forward to attending school. Wednesdays through Sundays are tricky though. You try explaining to a three year old that he only goes to school on Mondays and Tuesdays. It's like trying to explain to him that I do more than just "laun-dah-ry" while he's away.
That's what he always asks me upon pick up, "Mom, did you do all of my laun-dah-ry while I was in the school?"  Of course I answer yes. Yes, I did. All of it while I was missing you. It's a little lie that couldn't be further from the truth.
I love asking him about his day and I'm grateful for the cheat sheet of songs and activities that hangs outside his classroom door. If it wasn't for this sheet, I'm fairly certain that while he's at school, he does nothing more than "play trains" and "paint sometimes."
As the days progress, it's become extra fun learning about his new friends. His classmates don't have names currently, unless you count "Dragon," who I'm pretty sure is really named "Jackson." I will say though, if his parents really did name him Dragon, I would love to shake their hands.  
Right now he plays a lot with "the boy with the yellow hair," mostly trains, of course, and there is a "girl with red glasses on her head" that always wants to hug him even though he's "tired of hugs."

On or around his fifth day of class, his teacher approached me and very seriously asked if I had ever had his hearing checked. I was a bit taken a back but the truth was, he had had his hearing checked six months earlier and passed with flying colors. She went on to say that whenever he is playing, he doesn't typically look up when she calls his name to move onto the next activity. I laughed.
I explained to her that his hearing is fine and that's just our Carter. He loves playing so much that it's easy for him to tune out what's going on around him. Not to mention that this is the first time he's ever had to answer to anyone other than me and I'm sure that will take some getting used to.
She seemed satisfied with my answer but that didn't keep me from calling my mom as soon as I got into the car. "Mom! She thinks he needs his ears checked! He's not listening to her! I have that child in class! You know, that one!" She quickly reminded me that he's three and to stop worrying. He's a boy, he loves to play and it's great that he can play with that kind of concentration.
Thank god for moms. Even with three years of experience under my belt I have a feeling that it's going to be many, many more years of phone calls to my own mother.
Sunday evenings are my favorite. As I tuck Carter into bed at night, I start talking with him about the exciting days of school that he has ahead of him. How he'll get to see his teacher and all of his friends again. To see his eyes light up and his voice lift higher and higher with excitement as he talks about his favorite trains and his favorite easel full of red paint.
He doesn't know this yet, but I am equally as excited as he is. However, I just can't wait to be missed.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Brain Dump Central for 5 on Friday.

Oh, Friday. I have waited all week for you! I swear by Sunday night each week I'm already counting down the hours until the following Friday. Isn't that terrible? I just love me a good Friday though! It's been far too long since I've checked in here and there's just been so much going on that I thought it'd be fun to dump it all into one of my favorite link-ups, 5 on Friday! Here goes:

5. Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes. Thirty has definitely been good to me so far and I'm so excited to see what this next year has in store for me, this blog and my little family! I had a fantastic weekend celebrating with my boys- they truly had me feeling like a birthday princess! 

Things have been crazy since I last checked in here- I'm currently in Princeton, New Jersey with the #PureAirBlog team on behalf of Miele, a world renown manufacturer of high end domestic and professional appliances. It has been a busy couple of days learning all there is to learn about them, their product and their mission! We head into New York City tomorrow for a tour of the Good Housekeeping Institute and I'm so excited to share this truly wonderful company with you in the coming months! Here is the #PureAirBlog team before our welcome dinner and a bonus picture of me with one of their ah-mazing vacuums! You can follow our adventures on Twitter and Instagram under the #PureAirBlog hashtag. 

4. Sometimes when I'm out in the backyard with the boys, I'll get these hair-brained ideas to do something crazy like make bird feeders from pine cones. One of my earliest childhood memories is making these exact bird feeders in Pre-School during a "Bring Your Daddy To School Day," and I knew it would be something that Carter would love to do. After stumbling upon a few decently sized pine cones in our yard last week, I collected the necessary supplies and let Carter go to town. He had an absolute blast and every morning he loves looking out the window and yelling at the "Skirrels" to get out of the way. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you basically tie a string to a pine cone, coat it in peanut butter, roll it in bird seed and then I prefer to let ours sit in the freezer for an hour or so before hanging them outside. Messy? Heck yes! But so much toddler-sized fun! 

3. I can hardly contain my excitement now that the Fall TV premiers are right around the corner. A few of my husband's and my shared favorites include The Middle, Parenthood and Modern Family. I am selfishly excited for the return of Revenge and Scandal, two shows that I managed to watch in their entirety in the last twelve weeks. So worth the hours I spent neglecting my children. And by neglecting my children I mean allowing them to eat fruit snacks and watch a movie on the iPad so that Mommy could stream Hulu and Netflix with minimal interruptions. What's on your DVR this Fall?

2. Although I haven't yet busted out the boxes of pumpkin decor yet, I am embracing all things Fall around these parts. From pumpkin muffins and grande skinny vanilla lattes with two pumps of pumpkin to skinny jeans and cognac boots, I am rocking Fall like nobody's business. As a matter of fact, I think I had barely made it through Labor Day weekend before I busted out the first dark manicure of the season. OPI's Siberian Nightshas quickly become my go-to color. Apologies for the creepy hand photo, poor cell phone quality and the ET fingers. I'm in a hotel, remember?

1. Anyone else refusing to update their iPhone to the latest iOS7 nonsense? Not only am I on the fence about it but there's no way I have the available space on my phone to make the install and I'm just not all that invested in it to take the leap. It just makes me... nervous. And it's so.. cartoon-ish? Bubbly? I don't know the word. We've been due for an upgrade since the middle of the summer and now that we've placed our pre-order for the new 5s, I think I'll just tough out iOS6 until then. If you've made the leap, what's your favorite update? I've heard great things about the camera options but would love to know more! 

Be sure to check out the wonderful hosts 
of Five on Friday and have a great weekend!   

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ten Questions Answered And A Bloggy Award (Remember Those?)

Back when I first started blogging, you know, back when everyone had a flip phone and that "pregnant man" gave birth to a nine pound baby and People Magazine paid him (her?) $300,000 for the photos, I used to fill these sorts of things out all. the. time. I think the one I can remember most is the Versatile Blogger Award. The little green graphic image? Anyone? Bueller?

Since it's been years since I've done one of these and one of my favorite brand new mamas tagged me for one, I figured, "What the hell!" So while my children are pacified with fruit snacks and a late afternoon movie (big ups to Disney Pixar, you rock my life), I'm taking a few minutes to pass along this Sunshine Award. 

When you're done reading, go visit Sarah's blog and check out her adorably squishy brand new baby boy, Crue!

 photo sunshine-award_zpsd1df1b12.jpg

A Sunshine Award is given to bloggers whose posts brighten your day. 

Here are the rules:
1. Include award logo in a post or on your blog (above). 
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself. 
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award. 
5. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs 
letting them know they’ve been nominated.

Here are my answers to the 10 questions asked of me by the lovely Sarah:

1. what is your biggest joy?

Of course I'm going to say my family. At first I thought I would say my boys but how could I leave my husband out? Tsk. Tsk. Marrying that man was a defining moment in my life and without him we obviously wouldn't have Carter and Maclane! 

2. what is one of your favorite memories?

Oh, I have so many. Graduating college, my wedding day, the births of our boys, our two week honeymoon in Hawaii... but I think one of my most favorite memories is of my very first day of clinical in nursing school- like the very first day you walk onto a hospital unit and get put in charge of the care of another human being. 

I can distinctly remember standing outside of the patient's room with my best friend Jen, rushing through what we were going to say to our patient and quickly reviewing the bodily systems we were to assess. Literally what we were going to say, starting with "Hi, my name is Ashley." Of course it's hysterical now- but I will never, ever forget that morning or how nervous I was!

3. what is your biggest fear?

I am such a mom. It used to be freakishly getting stuck in traffic beneath an overpass and having a semi-truck run off the road above me and come crashing down on my car. True story. I actually wrote a post all about my irrational fears but ever since becoming a mom, my biggest fear is something happening to myself and my husband, forcing us to leave our kids with someone else to raise them! Gah, it kills me to even think about it!

4. what is your favorite thing about fall?!

The crisp air, dry crackly leaves and apple picking! Is that three things? Oops.

5. what is your favorite thing to wear/wardrobe staple?!

My GAP boyfriend jeans. I have three pairs and I wear them all way too much but I didn't buy any of them at full price. Wait for a coupon code.

6. youre on a road trip... what cd do you play?

I don't play CDs in my car and haven't since 2011, unless, of course, you want me to include the personalized "Songs for Carter" CD that my mother gave me two copies of. We stream Pandora in the car, usually the Mumford & Sons station, using one of those tape thingies that connects from your iPhone to the tape deck. Yes, my car still has a tape deck. It's a 2007! However, if we're driving to the beach late at night? Then it's whatever station Delilah is on. Can I get an AMEN? I love that sentimental bish.

7. favorite quote?

"Gatsby believe in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.. And then one fine morning-- So we beat one, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

It has been years since I've read that book- we're talking high school English and that has always been a favorite quote of mine. Something about how we as humans struggle to achieve our goals because we're always reliving past moments. Unable to get over them. Kind of awesome.

8. favorite thing to buy?

Toddler underwear. No, really. Or just little boys' clothes in general. It's an addiction.

9. dream vacation is... 

Somewhere without my children. Sad but true. We're currently in the midst of planning our first kid-free vacation since the boys were born and we've narrowed it down to three places. We're the worst at making decisions like this!

10. whats your favorite piece of advice?

I just wrote a post about thirty-five things I've learned in thirty years. That about sums up any great piece of advice I have.

This was kind of fun! Thanks for tagging me, Sarah! I want to be lame and tag anyone who wants to play (or needs some good blog material!) 

Here's 9 fun questions to answer because I can't for the life of me think of a 10th one:

1. What is in your car's glove box? Do you even call it a glove box? Is that its official name?

2. You just got a manicure and a pedicure. Do the colors have to match?

3. If someone walking down the street in front of you had their underwear showing, would you tell them?

4. What was the name of the very first CD you bought? Mine was the Queen double disc CD.

5. Finish this ridiculously over-used saying, "Keep Calm And..."

6. Have you ever covered the palms of your hands with Elmer's Glue, stuck them together until it dried and then peeled away the "skin?" If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I feel for your childhood.

7. Charles in Charge or Doogie Howser?

8. What's one thing you've never wore/done/ate but you would like to wear/do/eat?

9. If you had to listen to ONE song for the rest of your life, over and over and over again, what would it be?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Super Amazing MacBook Air Birthday Giveaway!

10/7/13 Edited to Add: A winner has been chosen randomly and notified. Winning and mandatory entries have been confirmed and we'd like to congratulate Christy M. of Texas! We hope you enjoy your brand new laptop. Thank you Christy and to everyone who entered for following along with us on our crazy adventures. It is much appreciated!

From top to bottom, the lovely ladies that made this happen

I know this is going to sound crazy but each of these girls holds a special place in my blogger heart. Not only have we been reading each others' blogs since the very beginning of the beginning but we've also seen each other through the day to day high's and low's and have celebrated with each other some of the more monumental moments of our lives. We've swapped emails and phone calls and text messages. We've Facetime'd and Skype'd and I've even had the great pleasure of meeting most of these girls in real life and hugging their necks. They really do mean a lot to me which made my decision to join together with them in a super amazing birthday giveaway, well, super easy.

I know, I know. I'm turning 30, my blog friends are awesome. Blah blah blah. But seriously.

Even though I'd much rather be celebrating with each of these girls in, let's say, a jazz bar over a couple of bottles of wine and endless desserts, today's giveaway will have to do. 

In honor of my 30th birthday on Saturday, Becky, Mandy, Erin, Darci, Tonya, Mandy, Neely, Jen, Molly, Meg and I are giving away a MacBook Air. Yes, you read that right. To one lucky reader, we're giving away an 11", 4GB memory MacBook Air laptop. It's something that has been on my birthday wishlist for the longest time and we all thought it would be even more amazing if we gave one away!

Some Giveaway Details to Remember:

1} The first 11 entries are a mandatory to enter this giveaway.
2} Anything else is an "extra" for you and will provide additional entries per rafflecopter.
3} Remember to share via pinterest and twitter. You can tweet daily for extra entries!
4} Giveaway will run for 2 weeks, September 12,2013- September 26,2013. However, winner will not be announced until all mandatory entries are confirmed to have been completed. Winner will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
5} The Macbook Air 11inch will then be purchased and shipped out to winner with a tracking number included for confirmation.
6} Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, Instagram, Bloglovin' or Blogger. No purchase necessary to enter. Must be 18 years or older to enter and giveaway is open to US residents only. Winner must provide verification of all entries and respond within 48 hours of being contacted. If winner does not respond within that time, a second winner will be chosen in their place. The bloggers involved in this giveaway did not receive financial compensation for this giveaway and it is in no way associated with Apple industries.
Good luck to all those who enter and thanks so much for reading and celebrating another birthday with me and I Love You More Than Carrots! 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cheeseburger Skillet Pie.

I have been on a major cooking spree lately. Such a spree, in fact, that I'm pretty sure my husband is questioning the woman he married. Now, I'm comfortable in the kitchen but I'm certainly no Martha and you'll only find me in the kitchen because I have a family feed. It is not something I enjoy doing. However, lately? It's been a lot of fun rolling up my sleeves and trying new recipes. 

I would be lying if I didn't tell you two things about the following recipe for Cheeseburger Skillet Pie. First, I had to run out and buy a skillet specifically for this recipe. Not a southern bone in this North Jersey girl's body. Second, and after all was said and done, this seems a lot like a fancy Hamburger Helper to me. Regardless, it was delicious. 

The original recipe can be found here from Real Simple. I've made quite a few changes and believe me, you'll want to follow my recipe instead. 

What You'll Need:

An oven-safe skillet
1 1/2lbs. lean ground beef
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 small can of diced green chiles (optional)
2 small jalapeno peppers diced (optional, for heat)
4 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups biscuit mix, plus required ingredients 
Salt and Pepper to taste

What You'll Do:
Heat oven to 400*. 

1. In your skillet, saute onions and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until browned. 
2. Add in ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes, breaking it up as you go. 
3. Once meat is no longer pink, toss in your canned tomatoes, tomato paste, diced chiles and jalapeno and let thicken, cooking 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. 
4. Prepare biscuit mix for "drop biscuits" and drop 4-6 mounds of biscuit mix onto you meat mixture. 
5. Sprinkle your cheddar cheese over the top.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits are browned and cooked through. 

This is kind of a heavy dish (it's hearty and perfect for chilly Fall evenings!) so I served it with a simple side salad of fresh greens and cucumber! 


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Here's To The First Days (of Many).

When I first got married, I immediately felt like I had been inducted into a super secret society of women who now had to feed and care for a husband. It was sort of like we were all in this wild thing together and together we would share with each other the highs and lows of being married. Support each other, laugh with each other and side with each other when we thought our husbands were officially crazy. Kind of like The Babysitters Club but for married women. No longer would I have to sit on the sidelines of the wives swapping stories over the coffee pot in the break room at work. Now I could offer a sympathetic nor or even chime in with my own wifely experience. It was awesome.

When I had my first baby, again, I felt like I was inducted into yet another super secret society of women, this time, the society of Mothers. Don't get me wrong, I loved being in the Married Club and sharing tips and tricks to upholding my half of a successful marriage but being in the Mothers Club was way more fun. There was baby things to be talked about, lot's of cute, sweet-smelling, pretty little baby things to be learnt and although the nitty gritty tips and tricks to baby-raising weren't neither as cute nor sweet-smelling, they were just as invaluable and fun to discuss. 

Just like the Married Club, the underlying theme of the Mothers Club is that "Yes, We're All In This Together." No matter where you are in your journey as a mother or a wife, there will always be a small part of you that can empathize with whatever a mother or wife around you is going through at the moment. Another moment of sheer awesomeness. 

If you happen to be a part of Facebook or Instagram, then I'm sure you've noticed the flood of "First Days" pictures in your feeds. From pre-school to high school, parents everywhere are photo-documenting their childrens' first days of school. Pictures of them dressed to impress on the front porch, pictures next to their first cubby or first locker, pictures on their first bus ride and pictures getting behind the wheel of their first car perhaps on their way to their last first day of high school.

Prior to becoming a mother, these pictures, although cute and sweet, meant nothing to me. I would scroll quickly through them,  glance over them, paying little to no attention to them, not thinking for a second about the nervous yet proud mother standing behind that camera. 

The mother who, although so excited for this momentous occasion, was equal parts anxious and worried for their child. Hoping against all things that they would have a great day, make new friends, feel included. That they would understand how lucky they were for this opportunity to stretch their wings and learn all there is to learn within those now unfamiliar walls.

As I sent my first-born off to his very first day of pre-K 3 earlier this week, I knew exactly how those mothers were feeling. I knew exactly the flood of emotions that came over them as their kissed their babies' heads the night before and how they may have blinked back tears in the front seat of the car as they drove their baby off to school. To where someone else would be responsible for their care, even if only for two and a half hours each day. 

How through reassuring their children of how great their first day would be, they were also reassuring themselves. They were going to be okay, too. 

Sure, there will be many more First Days ahead. First days of Kindergarten, of Middle School, of High School, even first days of First Jobs but no matter which First Day you celebrated this week, it will always be a reminder of how fleeting time is. Of how numbered your days are with your children. 

A reminder that no matter how much or how hard you love them, they are not yours and yours alone to keep forever. 

One day, when they find themselves blinking back the tears as they let go of the hand of their first baby on his first day of school, they will finally understand what it feels like to let their heart go walking around outside of their body. 

They will be able to look at that woman, waving frantically at the school bus, keeping pace with it as it rounds the corner to leave, carrying her precious cargo, and they will understand

And just like that, they'll earn another badge in that super secret society of Mothers. 

Here's to the First Days.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

35 Things I've Learned In Thirty Years.

I've always looked forward to my thirtieth birthday. Sometimes, that excitement over a number would put me in the minority among my friends but there was just something about that beautifully round number that, once reaching it, meant, "I'd arrived." 

Arrived at "what," I'm not exactly sure but as birthdays will often do, I look around in this introspective state, at my husband of nearly six years, our beautiful home, our two beautiful kids, my University nursing degree and pictures of our family and our travels hanging on the walls, at recent emails, phone calls and text messages with my parents and girlfriends and I think  to myself with utter certainty, I have arrived. 

I know what you're thinking. Lists like this are so trite. So trivial. So overdone. Lists like this one may be all of those things but it's also a really great tool for measuring how far you've come and how far you have yet to go in life. 

As I sit just eleven short days away from my thirtieth birthday, I want to sit down and think about some of the really important things I've learned in the last thirty years. Some of these things are more important than others, some may not mean much to you, depending on what season of life you're currently in, others, however, may be an epiphany of sorts. 

Some of these things I learned in an hour. Others, however, might have taken a bit longer to sink in. More like twenty-five years, three hours and forty-two seconds. 

Regardless, here are thirty five things I've learned in thirty years

35. Get a puppy before you have children but don't ever, ever compare said puppy to your friends' kids. In reality, puppies are nothing like babies but the initial lack of sleep and frustration of trying to communicate with something that has no idea what you're talking about is somewhat similar to the lack of sleep and frustration you will feel during those first few weeks of newborndom. It will bring out the best and worst in your spouse and it's better that you learn this over a dog and not a baby.

34. Happiness doesn't come with a price tag but there are a few things in life worth spending money on: Travel, literature and wine. Okay, shoes too. You will never regret seeing new places, losing yourself in a good book while drinking a glass of good wine and investing in a great, comfortable pair of shoes. Notice how I said comfortable. That's also something worth learning about.

33. It's easier to travel when you have a dog over a baby. You may research fifty dog kennels and settle for the "posh puppy hotel" that charges you a small fortune to board your dog and stream live TV in his "over-sized kennel" each day but it's much easier to leave your dog behind than your babies. Get the bulk of your traveling done before you have kids. Trust me. 

32. Stop watching mindless TV. 

31. Your junior high years, although painfully awkward and emotionally-scaring, did more for you in that time than you will ever truly understand. Surviving middle school is a life right of passage. 

30. You hate small talk. Stop trying to love it and get over it. Some people may misconstrue this as you being rude or stuck up. You know that's not true, you just hate small talk. It's okay to hate small talk. Eventually they'll get over it. You, however, will never learn to like it or be good at it. Accept that fact and move on.

29. Be grateful even for the simplest of things. 

28. Forgiveness is important. If for nothing else, forgive others because it will eventually make you feel better. It is not something that should be done for the benefit of others, but for yourself. Remember, however, that forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. It may have taken you thirty years to realize this, but isn't it liberating?

27. You cannot ever part your hair down the middle. The only people who can really pull this off is Sarah Jessica Parker and that girl you were jealous of in high school. Embrace the fact that you look ridiculous and stick with your side part.

26. Becoming a nurse was one of the greatest things you've ever done in your life. It prepared you for the selflessness that comes along with being a wife and a mother. You should be proud of yourself and the family you're raising. 

25. If it hurts, don't do it, say it or wear it. 

24. Never stop trying new things or stepping outside of your comfort zone. Nine times out of ten, it will be worth it. You now successfully run two businesses. Did you ever think that would happen? I hate to say it but I told you so. 

23. Marry someone who makes you laugh. It was one of the wisest things you'll ever do.

22. Never stop surprising people, whether by your words or actions. Along the same line, never become dull or boring. Nobody likes boring. 

21. I lied. You like boring. Especially when it involves  putting the kids to bed on Friday night, opening a bottle of wine, and curling up on the couch with a movie or good book. 

20. Love is never just enough. Your husband is doing the best that he can every single day for you. He's not a mind reader and you need to be better at communicating. You've learned a lot in just five and a half years of marriage but you're going to have to keep working at it every day for as long as you live. 

19. Every failure in life comes with a lesson to be learned. Give yourself grace, learn from your failure and move forward.

18. It's okay to be a little weird, to go against the grain, to embrace the less popular opinion on something. If you feel passionate about something or someone, stand behind it 100%. Chances are there's someone out there who just as weird (or weirder) than you.

17. Nobody keeps secrets well. Not even you. Be careful what you share with others, when you share it and with who.

16. Girls never grow out of being mean to other girls. Even at thirty you will find yourself judging and being judged, although by now you will have learned to judge less and to let those judging do as they please. Listen to those who are critical of you but do not let it stop you from being true to yourself or doing something you love. 

15. Growing up, it may have felt like your parents set out to ruin your life. Not allowing you to wear certain things, do certain things, go certain places, etc. You now realize they were raising you the best way possible. Continue to be grateful for them, their rules and their sacrifices every single day of your life and tell them every single day how much you love them.

14. Know that you will probably raise your kids the same way and they won't realize all the good that will come from it until they are thirty, either. I'm only trying to prepare you. 

13. You know that saying, "happy wife, happy life?" Well, sometimes it's more like "happy husband, happy life." Don't go too long without having sex. Except for the six week wait after having babies, going too long without sex does crazy things to your marriage. What I'm trying to say is, your husband is a much happier, more patient, better understanding man when he gets laid often. It is what it is. (Sorry Mom and Dad.)

12. That being said, speaking of and being witness to sexual acts in movies will always make you feel uncomfortable when in the presence of your parents. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with all that time you spent sneaking out and sleeping with your high school ex-boyfriend in the back of his car. (Sorry Mom and Dad). 

11. People are going to continue to disappoint you. That's just life. One day you'll learn to lower your expectations. Today is probably not that day but keep that in mind.

10. That being said, relationships are important. Not every single person you have a relationship with needs to carry the same weight of importance as the next but make sure to realize which few relationships matter most. Continue to invest yourself in them. 

9. Home is not a place. You haven't really learned this one yet, or if you have, you're impervious to accepting it. Take some times this year to change the way you look at where you live. 

8. Comparison really is the thief of joy. Stop comparing and you will be happier, I promise.

7. A lifetime isn't a very long time at all. Remind yourself of this fact every morning. Let this reminder be a guide for your thoughts, words and actions. 

6. Your will kids grow up too fast, you will eventually turn into your mother, you will never be caught up on laundry and it's okay to say, "no" sometimes. 

5. Be present, especially when you're with your husband and your children. You will never, ever for once second, regret the time you spend with them. You will, however, regret the time you didn't spend with them.

4. The same goes for your parents and grandparents. 

3. Never, ever send the first draft of an emotionally charged email. Sleep on it or send it to your mother, if you have to.  

2. Do not withhold your time or talents from others. Be generous with each of them. Don't make promises to yourself and others than you are incapable of keeping. 

1. You don't know it all and you have so much more to learn. Here's to the next thirty years. 

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