Birthday.

I love birthdays. Not because of the presents and stuff like that (though those are great) but because I’m always reminded on birthdays how wonderful my friends and family are.

Birthdays are also great, especially for me because mine is so close to the middle of the year because they’re like a second new year’s celebration. A time for reflection. This one has been particularly introspective for some reason. I’m not sure what’s been driving it, but I’ve been feeling the need to be more grateful. In all honesty, my life is great. I may not have the home I want (we’re apartment dwellers) or the second baby I want or the savings account size that I want. What I do have is a wonderful family, wonderful friends, a job that keeps me on my toes, a freelance business that’s taking off, a doting husband and a daughter who is as sweet as sugar.

My only real goals for this next year of my life are to find gratitude and to improve my health.

And with that — THANK YOU to everyone who made this birthday so wonderful. Whether it was a phone call, a gift, a “Happy Birthday” in person, or a birthday wish on Facebook, you have all made my day, and I love every one of you so much.

Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013

As of Monday, April 15, 2013, I lived in Boston for 1 year, 2 months, and 25 days.
64 weeks, 2 days.
450 days.

In the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve learned a lot about the city. It’s loud. It’s proud. It has its own iconic accent. It’s full of passionate, hard working, intelligent, driven people who know the meaning of “work hard, play hard”. It’s a city with a rich history and a strong culture. It’s a city whose residents take pride in their home. Who brave the harsh winters, embrace the cool springs and the temperate summers and frolic in the colorful autumn leaves and proudly proclaim, I AM A BOSTONIAN.

On Monday, April 15, 2013 it was a city holiday. Patriot’s Day. Many offices were closed to celebrate the rich patriotism exhibited by this old city, a city that has strong ties to the founding fathers and founding governance of the United States.

On Monday, April 15, 2013, it was the 117th Boston Marathon. An event so integral to this city’s history that people flock to line the race course and cheer on runners from around the world.

On Monday, April 15, 2013, at approximately 2:50 PM EST, a coward or group of cowards detonated two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring nearly 200 others.

Martin Richard, age 8
Krystle Campbell, age 29
Lu Lingzi, graduate student at Boston College

Lives were lost. Limbs were lost. The impact on the familes of the three who died, the impact on the lives of those who were injured, and the lives of all of us who live in this proud city are forever changed.

—–

On the morning of the race, I left for work a little early. My route to work runs through the Newton hills, right along the marathon course on Commonwealth Ave. In fact, I turn onto Commonwealth Ave right at the peak of the infamous Heartbreak Hill. I had to take an alternate route that morning, and managed to squeak through right before they began blocking off the roads to protect the runners.

I got to my desk, pulled up the race coverage on one side of my screen and my tasks for the day on the other side, and watched the elite runners chase down the glory of winning the Boston Marathon while getting some work done.

As I watched, I was awe struck and inspired. See, I’ve been planning to run the marathon in 2015 or 2016. Watching this triumph of human spirit was just so motivating and so moving.

They finished up right around lunch time. I turned off the race coverage, finished up my work, and got lunch.

Right at 3 PM, Mr Dad sent me an IM:

“Holy shit.”

Followed by a link.

I clicked on the link and it was a live video of the finish line, with paper and stuff strewn about, and an ambulance. My eyes were drawn right to the video portion of the page. I didn’t have my headphones on, so I didn’t know for sure what I was looking at. I thought maybe the race was over and he was just trying to show me how messy the finish line looked. Then I thought maybe a runner was hurt and that’s why the ambulance was there.

Then I saw the headline.

“Breaking news: Explosions at Boston Marathon finish line”

My jaw dropped. My mind raced. What?? This has to be a mistake. Maybe it was a gas leak? Maybe an electrical issue? Maybe fireworks?

A few minutes later, video of the bombs going off…the first, followed by the second 10-15 seconds later, hit my screen and I knew it was no mistake. And my mind raced even more. Are there more bombs? Am I in danger? (My office is about 6 miles from the finish line, so it was pretty close to home for me.) How will I get home?

It was one of those moments you never forget. For me: the start of the 1st gulf war. 9/11. The start of the 2nd gulf war (of which my sister is a veteran). And now, the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

—–

The biggest thing I think we can take away from this tragic event is to look at the good that took place during the chaos. The people — police and civillians — who ran right into the blast area, looking for people they could help. The people who organized to gather donations for runners stuck on the race course with no jackets (it was in the 40s that day). The people who have donated time, money, supplies, blood, and more, to help the victims. And the good that is sure to come in the coming days, months, and years.

Boston’s finest will find the perpetrator or perpetrators. Make no mistake. You don’t mess with Boston.

Let it be known. Boston is a city of resilience. Boston is a proud city, a strong city. a city rich with culture, passion, intelligent people, caring people, hard working people. It’s a city whose residents won’t let the cowardly actions that took place on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:50 PM EST make them live in fear. They’ll just band together tighter and stronger and make this city an even tougher city than it already is.

Happy 2013!

Whew, time really got away from me! The last time I posted was right before Thanksgiving, so naturally, a lot has happened since then!

On Thanksgiving, I ran in a local Turkey Trot 5k race. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that the last race I ran was the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, which was actually 3.5 miles, and I completed that in 59:53. That was back in July. The Turkey Trot 5k (3.1 miles) took place after some training and preparation, and I completed it in 45:08, which means when you adjust for distance, I cut about 12 minutes off of my race time. It’s my personal best to-date, so I’m happy with it — but my goal for 2013 is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes.

Me, after the 5k. Wearing the same shirt I wore for the JP Morgan Chase race. I look like a hot mess.

After the race, we went home, I cleaned up and we drove down to Connecticut to have Thanksgiving dinner with family down there. And I was so exhausted that even though I brought my camera, I didn’t take pictures of the feasting. After all, I had been up all night cooking, and then got up early and ran 3.1 miles before making a 3 hour drive…what can you expect? I did take some cute pictures before we left though…


Of course, following Thanksgiving entered the craziness of the holiday season.

First and foremost, I GOT A PROMOTION!! I was super excited to have gotten promoted so quickly at work. My 1 year anniversary isn’t until the end of February, so it was truly an honor. I love the company I work for and I hope to be there for quite some time. I also have some work friends to thank for helping to encourage me along the way, so anyone from work reading this — THANKS!

We started off December 1st with a bit of snow, we went to a holiday party at a local rec center, and then to the Holly Faire at our church. Santa was at the holiday party, however, Miss A was freaked out by him so I decided not to force the issue. No Santa pics for us this year! Maybe next year…

Coloring a stocking. Sitting across from Santa. Trying to get the courage to sit on his lap.

 

 

A snow-touched tree on our patio.

 

 

Santa is behind her (out of frame). This is as close as she would get.

 

 

Later in the month, Miss A and I made a “gingerbread” house made out of graham crackers. It looked pretty, but it did NOT keep well. Nevertheless, we had fun.

 

 

The finished product! That’s a snowbathing gingerbread man on a green blanket, by the way.

And then came…CHRISTMAS!! Miss A got TWO Christmases this year…one in Connecticut at her Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and one here in Boston. We started the day just the three of us, and she opened the ridiculous amount of gifts that she got. Then I Skyped with my family back in Florida, and got to see my parents and sister and brother in law, and my amazing niece and nephew.

Later, all three of Mr Dad’s sisters came up to Boston to stay with us for a few days…which was AWESOME. I’m lucky to have three amazing sister-in-laws, and Miss A is lucky to have FOUR amazing aunts!

“Uncle” Pooh Bear (Aunt J’s boyfriend) got her a stylus for Daddy’s iPad!

 

 

 

Grandma Tammy got her Princess Candy Land!

 

Grandma Tammy and Grandpa Joe got her a sled! This came in handy…you’ll see!

 

 


 

 

Miss A with (L-R) Aunts J, S, and T

 

Family picture taken in front of a huge Christmas Tree at Fanueil Hall in Downtown Boston

 

 

Making ice cream with (L-R) Aunts S and T!

 

Kisses for Aunt S’s doggy Frankie!

Then, came the GREAT SNOWFALL OF 2012. Seriously, six inches in one 24 hour period and that was the most snow that fell in all of 2012 here in Boston. Miss A ATE IT UP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that catches us up to present! We had a pretty laid back New Year’s Eve…we had a couple of friends over and played board games (and Miss A played her Leappad, which was by far her favorite Christmas gift). Mr Dad and I went back to work on January 2nd, and then on January 5th I came down with THE FLU. Ugh. I got my flu shot and everything. And then Miss A caught it. But we’re all on the mend now and ready to embrace the rest of what 2013 has to offer!

Fall Fair at Dedham Community House

Where have I been??? Honestly, life has been super, super busy the past few weeks and I haven’t had a chance to think about blogging. I did want to share some totally adorable pictures from this weekend. Unfortunately, these are all iPod Touch photos, because this trip was totally unplanned.

Over the weekend, Mr. Dad and his team participated in ExtraLife, which was a 24 hour gaming event which, at the end of the day, raised $1.8 MILLION dollars for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals — including Boston Children’s Hospital. How awesome is that?? His team alone raised over $30,000! Needless to say, though, when he returned home at 8:30AM on Sunday, he was exhausted, so I took Miss A to church alone. Which was super fun! I had volunteered to sub for the secondary teacher in their Spirit Play (Sunday School) class, and we had a great time.

After church was over, we walked out the front door and saw some happenings over at the Dedham Community House (we attend First Church and Parish — Unitarian Universalist — which is right across the street from the Dedham Community House). Miss A saw a bouncy house, and, being a four-year-old, was naturally interested. So, I told her we could walk over and check it out. Mr. Dad still needed some peace and quiet to sleep, after all.

As it turned out, it was the Dedham Community House’s Fall Fair! They had a big pile of hay to play in (Miss A favorite!), games, face painting, pony rides (which we waitied in line for 45 minutes for!), food, pumpkin decorating, bouncy houses, and all sorts of other fun. I didn’t have my good camera with me, but I did take a ton of pictures on my iPod just to have some memories. I’ll let them do the talking for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Boston Update

Well, we’ve been in Boston just over a week now and all is going better than expected. We are almost fully unpacked, and later this week our new couch is being delivered. I think at that point, we’ll be fully moved in and settled.

Miss A started in her new pre-k program and is loving it. She adjusted really quickly. The first day we dropped her off, we took the tour to find out where everything goes and how her day will be scheduled but when I asked her if she wanted us to hang out, she said “Nope! You can go now!” Her teachers said she’s been having a great time and she’s one of the most polite three year olds they’ve ever met. That makes me proud. I know we’ve worked hard to instill good manners, and they definitely reinforced that at the daycare she was at in Florida.

I was talking with a fellow mom at church this weekend, and she works as a guidance counselor and she clued me in that Boston schools don’t work like Florida’s do. In Florida, you basically are assigned a district, and your child automatically goes to the school assigned to that district. In Boston, there are zones, several schools in that zone, and you have to pick a school in that zone for your child to go to…however, in order to increase your odds of getting a spot in your school of choice, you have to sign your four year old up for K-1, which is prekindergarten but in a public school. That’s actually GREAT news because it’s free, except for after school care. So that’s my task for the week — especially since registration ends this Friday!

On the job front — Mr. Dad is LOVING his new job, and it makes me so happy. It’s a lot less stressful when I know he’ll be home at 6pm instead of “maybe” around 7 or 7:30. I had a great interview last Friday so I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed. I’m working on contract for the company I worked for back in Florida, and enjoying that, but I know it will come to an end so I’m trying to be as proactive as possible.

The weather has been good. There was about 3 inches of snow the day we landed, but then the temperature got up to the mid 50s a couple of days later and it all melted. I went for a run one evening last week and it snowed very lightly while I was out but it was warm enough that none of it stuck.

Finally, last weekend Mr. Dad’s sister, S and her boyfriend came up from Connecticut for a visit and we took the T into the city and went to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. The geeks in us were drawn to Newbury Comics, which was awesome, and we ate in the Quincy Market Colonnade. Miss A just loved taking the “orange train” to and from the city, and it was a lot of fun. We’d have stayed a lot longer if she hadn’t gotten too tired.

Here are a few pictures just from around the house from the past week. You’ll probably notice a theme. Miss A has never lived somewhere with stairs before, so they’re an obsession for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good news!

I’ve been absent from blogging for a bit…a bit more than I’d like. The holidays came and went (and I promise I WILL get pictures posted) but the main reason for my absence has nothing to do with the holiday season.

In early December, we got some fantastic news. Some unexpected news. Some news that I’m still giddy about, nervous about, excited about and scared about.

Can you guess what it is?

I’ll bet you thought I was going to say that we’re expecting. Well, we are! Just…not a baby.

We’re expecting a BIG move to Boston, MA!
(For those not in the know, we’re currently residents of Central Florida.)

Back in October, on a whim, Mr. Dad applied for a job with a company that makes one of his favorite games (he has worked in the video game industry for about 11 years), thinking he’d never actually hear back from them. Fast forward a month and a half and he’s been granted an irresistible job offer.  He starts on Monday, and Miss A and I will be joining him later this month! I’ve had a few very exciting job interviews as well, so I’m not anticipating it will take me long to find a job up there as well. I’m very fortunate and grateful that in the meantime that my boss is allowing me to telecommute.

So, our holidays were filled with a bit of holiday joy, and a LOT of packing up stuff in boxes, cleaning, selling/donating items we no longer need, and making all sorts of other preparations for the transition.

I guess it’s safe to say 2012 is going to bring a lot of change our way

How a Vegetarian Does Memorial Day

Memorial Day Sale!

Someone asked me the other day what I plan to do for Memorial Day, since I’m a vegetarian and all. It’s a valid question. Being a holiday that’s synonymous with barbeque, it’s relevant to question what a veggie chick does for food while her carnivorous friends are downing gobs of animal flesh. (I’m saying that with a bit of sarcasm. I still love you, my meat-eating friends!)

I wish I had some groundbreaking answer, but the truth is, it’s simple. I’ll be enjoying some barbeque, veggie-burger style. Yes, friends, you can put those Boca or MorningStar Farms burgers right there on the grill, next to your friend’s hamburger. (If you’re a more sensitive veggie, make sure to put your burger on foil so it doesn’t touch the meat juice!)

Fortunately, the barbeque we’re going to is at the house of a friend who is also vegetarian, so I will not be short on company!

We’ll also be wrapping up the evening with some cupcakes to celebrate Miss A’s birthday. Her official party isn’t until next weekend, but it’ll be nice…and I know she’ll be excited 🙂

Hope you all have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! And keep our vets in mind…give them some gratitude, and hold in your heart the families who are missing a loved one who is no longer with them.

Tuesday Timesavers: Online Grocery Shopping

tuesday timesaversTuesday Timesavers is back with another way that moms like you can save time!

This week, we’re looking at places to do your grocery shopping online.  In fact, there are a handful of websites dedicated to doing just that!

For example, if you live in the northeast, Peapod.com doubles as an alternative to Stop and Shop.  In order to maximize quality and freshness, they package your products at the last possible minute and ship in temperature controlled containers to keep the perishables cold. They are also currently offering free shipping on certain orders, and you can schedule a delivery window that works for you. As far as I can tell from the site, as long as you order by 4 p.m., your order can be delivered the next day. Peapod also delivers to other areas of the country, so check the site to see if your area is included in the list!

If you don’t live in an area that Peapod.com can deliver to, you can opt for Netgrocer.com, which delivers to all 50 states. Like Peapod.com, they can deliver perishables and frozen products in temperature controlled containers. Their delivery schedule is published on their site, and they use a FedEx shipping method that does not require you to be home to receive the delivery. The delivery process takes a little longer with Netgrocer.com…about 3-7 days.

Another alternative is Amazon.com, who started selling groceries a few years ago. Delivery is available in all 50 states and shipping times and rates vary. I found it hard to find details on how they keep products fresh while they’re on the way to you, though.

Finally, if you just need baby products delivered, you might try something like Diapers.com. (Use coupon code ANCA7897 to save $10 on your first $49 purchase – and for the sake of disclosure, I do get a referral bonus if you use that code.) They sell everything from diapers and wipes to formula to bottles, toys, clothing, and other baby gear and boast quick shipping. (And sometimes it’s free!)

All product reviews in this post are the writer’s opinion and have not been paid for or compensated, except where noted for Diapers.com. 

Tuesday Timesavers: Lunchables: They’re Not Just Kids Meals

tuesday timesaversTuesday Timesavers is a weekly feature, posted on Tuesdays, listing conventional and unconventional ways that we can save time each week!

Today’s might make some of you laugh. It’s a trip back to elementary school, but a way that I’ve managed to save both time and money every week.

A few weeks ago I wrote a Tuesday Timesavers piece about ways to save time in the morning. After that, I got to thinking – what are some ways to save time throughout the day? Later that night I was grocery shopping, and suddenly, it was staring me in the face, making me laugh like a ten year old girl.

It was a Lunchables display.

Okay, before you think I’m totally off my rocker, let me explain. One of the things that eats up time in my morning is packing a lunch. You have to get all the parts together, make the sandwich/grab a frozen meal, grab a drink…or worse, plan to grab fast food for lunch if you don’t have time to do that.

So, feeling kind of silly about it, I decided to give the Lunchables a try. I hadn’t had one since elementary school, and since then, they’ve started packaging them complete with a drink and a snack size candy bar.

For example, the one I have with me today is a Low-Fat Ham and Cheddar, with a snack size fat-free Jello pudding and a Capri Sun fruit punch. 360 calories. I tossed a banana in the bag with it to get my fruit/veggie for the meal and I’m set!

Another great thing about these is that they don’t need to be microwaved. No need to wait in line in the break room for the microwave, no need to wait 5-7 minutes for a frozen meal to cook. Just pull this out of the fridge and eat, or if you’re really pressed for time, put it in a lunchbox with an ice pack and keep it at your desk!

If your child or children are school aged, this also could save time at the grocery store. If you buy Lunchables for their school lunches, grab a couple for yourself too so you don’t have to go elsewhere in the store to pick up yours.

Finally, each one costs about $2.50. That’s about the same, or less than the cost of a frozen meal, and definitely cheaper than fast food. It may not be the 100% healthiest thing in the world, but if the alternative is fast food, the Lunchables is a better option.

I now understand why my mom used to send us to school with these every day.

Disclaimer: The above is my opinion. I am not compensated by Lunchables or any associated brands for writing this article.

Tuesday Timesavers: Five Ways To Shorten Your Morning Routine

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Timesavers – helping moms like you save time each week!

This week, I’ll be talking about the thing that is my biggest challenge as a working mom: the morning routine.

Here is how my mornings have been going as of late. Miss A wakes up at 7 or 7:30. Mr. Dad and I will roll out of bed – one of us will get ready for work while the other one feeds, dresses, and gets her ready to go to daycare. Lately, he’s been the one handling getting her ready and fed, while I get ready for work. I’ve been finding that my current process takes way, way too much time. Over the past week, I’ve been examining what I do each morning in order to come up with some ideas on how to save time and get out the door.

So, here are my suggestions.

    1. Shower at night. This saves 15 minutes off of the morning routine (20 if you blow dry your hair), and has the added benefit of keeping your pillowcase clean of the germs that collect in your hair over the course of the day. (I realize not all women wash their hair daily — I do, though, probably because I’m a bit of a germ freak.)

 

    1. Cut back on cosmetics. My morning makeup routine takes less than five minutes. This is probably the shortest part of the process. I use liquid-to-powder foundation (Cover Girl’s Aquasmooth is a good one – good coverage but not heavy), lipstick, eye shadow, mascara and eyebrow pencil. Getting to skip the eye liner, and using the combined foundation/powder cuts out 3-5 minutes from the makeup routine.

 

    1. Pack the night before. One thing I used to do, and need to get back to doing again, is packing a large bag with everything I need for the following day. Any paperwork I needed to bring with me, nonperishable lunch items (I would grab a frozen meal from the freezer in the morning), and anything that needed to go to daycare (diapers/wipes/clothes) went in the bag the night before. Also, when Miss A was still on the bottle (we’re off it now!) we would prepare her bottles the night before and leave them in the fridge in a cooler bag, which I would grab when I grabbed my frozen meal in the morning. This saves a variable amount of time, depending on how organized your chaos is first thing in the morning.

 

    1. Eat a quick breakfast. I don’t cook in the morning — ever. Breakfast is either a Lean Cuisine breakfast pocket (A minute and a half in the microwave) or a bowl of cereal, with juice or coffee. This is a lot quicker than making eggs and toast or anything else that requires preparation in the morning. This saves 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

 

    1. Time your coffee. Last but not least — my coffee maker has a timer on it. I prepare it the night before and set the time for 7:00 a.m. (remember, Miss A wakes up at 7 or 7:30) so by the time we’re ready to sit down for breakfast, the coffee is already made. That means no setting up the pot to brew in the morning and no waiting for the coffee to be ready. It practically makes itself. This probably saves another 5-10 minutes of preparation and waiting.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Got any ideas for saving time in the morning? Feel free to comment and let me know – I know I’d appreciate it and I bet other moms will too!