Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Speaking of Thanksgiving

Can I share some of the things that I'm incredibly thankful for.  Obviously there are the basics:  my family, my religion, living in a free country, freedom, J.Crews job that provides for our family and allows me to be home with our children, the teachers, friends and neighbors that surround us (although not ALL our neighbors).  But here are a few small things that I'm specifically thankful for.

Kleenex Cottonelle Fresh Wipes
After doing ones business is there anything better than knowing
that you are completely clean and fresh?!  I don't know how I 
lived without Cottonelle Fresh Wipes.  Yes, it's a luxury but man it's
a luxury that I'm REALLY thankful for. 

Potato Ricer by William Sonoma

Have I mentioned J.Crew's love (borderline obsession) with
CREAMY mashed potatoes?!  Yes, he could eat them ALL 
the time.  So when I saw a product demonstration at William 
Sonoma for this contraption I knew it was a necessary item for
our kitchen.  And the best part is that he happily assists in the mashing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The difference between Gratitude and just being thankful.

'Tis the season for overindulging in food, decorations, spending, etc.  Right?!  But wait there's one holiday that has just about been completely trampled over.  Yes, I speak of Thanksgiving.  Such a sad reflection on our selfish, self-absorbed and materialistic society.  =(   But I have truly been trying to not only instill in my children mindfulness of their blessings but I've also been trying to cultivate a perspective and attitude of gratitude.  So what's the difference?

I was thinking about this the other day and and thinking about the phrase, "Thank you".  How many times a day do you use and hear this?  I think we all hear it and use it almost without really recognizing its use.  But have you ever had someone look you in the eye and using your name sincerely tell you "Thank you"?  It is a really nice feeling. 

For me I think the difference between being thankful and being grateful is the manner I incorporate the thankfulness and gratitude into my life. 

Let me give you an example.  I waited MANY years after being married to have children with my husband.  It was very difficult because more than anything I wanted to be a mom- and a "stay-at-home-mom" at that.  When we finally did have children it was necessary for me to continue to work for two more years.  I love being able to be home with my children now, I ADORE it.  I am truly thankful for the chance I get to spend so much time with them.  However, there are some days where my actions, behaviors and attitudes are not those of gratitude.  I yell too much, I'm impatient and I crave time AWAY.  Of course these are all part of being human and being a mom.  But you string enough of "those" days together and it would be difficult to assume that I am grateful and appreciate my children and my opportunity to be home with them.  And so I really have been trying to be more patient and to express my love and gratitude for them in words and actions. 

Here's another example.  Believe it or not I'm NOT a perfect individual.  (insert hysterical laughing)  I often talk too much, put my foot in my mouth, and other social gaffes despite my best intentions- I'm not socially inept just human.  So I'm so grateful for friends who see beyond my imperfections and are patient and kind to me during my refining process.  I'm grateful for people who are encouraging when I'm having a rough time and forgiving of my short-comings.  However, there is the human nature to magnify another person's (often woman's) social misstep, gossip regarding a slight or wrong done against me, or belittle someone because of their own shortcomings.  But I have been sincerely trying to root out and curb these inclinations as I've realized that true gratitude is a characteristic that is ingrained and intrenched in your character. 

So while New Year's and resolutions are still a month and a half away during this season of Thanksgiving I'm attempting to cultivate gratitude in my character.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Misc. Afternoon Ramblings at Night

Priorities:  I have had really good intentions to blog all week.  I constantly am thinking throughout the day about things I could blog about.  And while I feel this blog (and about a dozen other items on my "To-Do" list) are valid and good things that I'd like to do; ultimately I have to weigh things out and prioritize.  I think "Priorities" is sometimes an overused catch-phrase.  I've come to realize lately that personally MY priorities boil down to basically 3 things:  1) My marriage and relationship with J.Crew.  2) The unity of our family.  3) Raising our children to be honest, hardworking, upstanding and positively contributing members of their community.  When I look at my list of things I feel like I "should" be doing, "would rather" be doing, or just feel need to be done I realize that at some point they will either fall off the list or meet one of those three priorities.  With that being said maybe J.Crew is right, now is not a good time to get a dog.

hot-Hot-HOT:  Holy cow!  It has been so hot around these parts lately.  As I was walking today I saw several poor inch worms just inches away from grass and soil that were literally scorched to the sidewalk.  Apparently nobody gave them the memo that it was a kamikaze mission to approach the blazing sidewalk- let alone attempt to cross it.  It's a little ridiculous!  I literally was laying in bed at around 3 this afternoon because it was just too dang hot to do anything but lay in bed and enjoy the cool air circlimg around me courtesy of the fan.  The minute I got up to do anything productive (believe it or not laundry, floors, and cleaning the kitchen finally made the priority list after almost a week of doing just enough to get by).  I can't wait for the fall to finally decide to show summer to the door.  Mark my words I'm refraining from turning on the heat until absolutely necessary this winter!

You Get What You Get:  I was at a gathering of girls the other night and one of the girls was talking about a particular struggle her family is going through.  I was familiar with this struggle because I've dealt with similar circumstances.  As I listened to her vent (which we ALL need to do at some point) it hit me that we as humans are always looking at the grass on the other side.  I realized that when I've gone through particular struggles whether they be financial, emotional, relationship, social, educational, etc I've always just wanted it to be done.  I've always thought, "Haven't I learned my lesson yet?!  Can't I get on to my real life?!"  As I listened to this friend talking it hit me, There is always going to be something.  Not in a depressive-hopeless-throw-in-the-towel kind of way.  But honestly we are always dealing with some kind of difficulty.  That's how life is, anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.  After coming to this realization I began reflecting on some of the difficulties in my life.  And sure enough in hind sight it could be looked at one of two ways; A) Life is the gaps between the problems or B) Life is the problems and growing and learning from them and becoming stronger for whatever comes next.  But in reality even when you're going through challenges there's always something worse.  Yes, that's a bit "Pollyanna" but it's also true.  I remember going through a time of unemployment and just wishing that we could find a job so we could get on with "REAL" life.  Well we found a job and then about two or three months later were hit with other challenges.  Those were overcome with other challenges shortly following and so on and so forth.  But again in hindsight I realize that from each of those challenges I learned something about myself, or about human nature, or about life that helped me deal with the next challenge.  As I deal with my current challenges I realize that I'm fortunate to have a husband who is loyal and faithful to me and our family, to have friends who stand by me and carry me through difficult times, to have my children who bring me SO much joy (and frustration) but allow me to see what matters in life, that our family has good health and to have a faith that helps me keep things in perspective.  No life isn't always fun, sometimes things are difficult and I have to have a good cry and stomp my feet and have my tantrum so I don't waste anymore time on focusing on things that I can't change.  I've spent a lot of time in the past spinning my wheels worrying and being angry or defeated about things that were out of my control and lost a lot of time in the process that ultimately didn't change the situation or help me deal with it and left me in the same condition or worse.  So the old adage children quote to each other is very well applied to life; you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.  (I have no idea if the message that I formed in my head translated and will come back and read this at a later time when my brain isn't half asleep but I hope it makes sense.)

Bobby-Pins:  A friend of mine recently shared this with me and it literally left me so excited!  (After reading this you will realize that maybe I'm a little dull that this should cause so much excitement.)  I found out that I have been using bobby-pins incorrectly my entire life.  I have always used them with the wavy side up but in fact they are intended to be used with the wavy side down against the scalp.  Of course after being thus informed I had to try it and was AMAZED at how well they held in this fashion.  Phenomenal!  So there's a little tip from the clueless and bland.  =)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Now I'm not talking about that funny sitcom with Joel McHale although really lets discuss how HILARIOUS it is for a second.  I have a little bit of a crush on Joel McHale because he's cute, sarcastic, witty, smart, and funny- basically a taller blonder version of J.Crew.  Then there's Chevy Chase.  Really I think the casting is phenomenal and the dialogue is (typically) quick and right on.  Now I will admit that I'm a bit cautious because last season it started to lose me when they had a 2 week long cultural reference/paintball season finale.  And the fact that Chevy isn't going to have as much of a role doesn't help their case.  So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they can regain my attention because when it was good it was always a good reason to look forward to Thursdays.

But back to the topic at hand.  Community.  We have EXCELLENT neighbors.  It took a little while for us to meet them and really get to know them.  Then it was the same struggle that always exists when you build a relationship- reminding me again how I hated the dating scene.  There was the dance; you invite them to a playdate at a neutral location then wait for the return playdate.  This moves on to playdates in your home, and places together.  You don't want to appear too needy and clingy so you continue to make other playdates and keep your schedule fairly full but still accept invitations.  And the conversations!  You don't want to reveal ALL your neurosis upfront so you keep it benign- talk about the kids, labor stories, celebrity gossip, etc.  And then there's the big test- THE FAVOR.  It always happens at an inopportune time when you've run out of options and you're forced to put the friendship to the test.   Ours unfortunately came twice in a week!  The second time was yesterday.

The Producer was at school and I had an hour before it was time to go get him.  Long story short I slept through about a dozen alarms/phone calls and woke up 5 minutes AFTER I should have gotten him.  About 7 of those phone calls were our dear neighbor checking on us (her child is in class with The Producer) and we usually go and pick up the kids together.  She not only was checking on us but also was waiting with The Producer so he wasn't scared or worried and then brought him home once she talked to me and knew I was fine and late.  What a great neighbor!  That she was watching out for my family means SO much.

I think everyone goes through times where they realize that as reliant as they try to be on themselves and family  we all need help sometimes.  We've all been in situations where we've been disappointed by communities (whether it's religious, sports, or mom groups) that have let us down by being judgmental, exclusionary or just not there when we needed them.  It may make us gun shy the next time around but I think it gives us the opportunity to be SO appreciative when you have that community of people that care about you, your family and are looking out for your best interest. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Things I Love

I am a creature of routine.  When I get out of my routine balls get dropped, life gets derailed and chaos ensues.  Needless to say my routine has been thrown off and while I have "meant" to blog it hasn't made the cut.  But to reward you for continuing to check on this fledgling blog I present my current "Favorite Products EVER".

So I'm just beginning to enter THAT stage.  You know the one where you look a little harder for to see if the laugh lines stick after you quit laughing.  When you perk up when you hear hair color commercials- and not because you're curious to how you'd look as a blond but because of their gray coverage claims.  When you realize that the best days of your skin are behind you and although you still hold your age well now you realize it's time to start pampering it so it will stay that way for the next 20 years.  So I tried Estee Lauder's Idealist and while it is a SPLURGE (It's about $58 for 1 oz bottle) I love how it feels when I put it on.  You don't need very much so it will last you for months (mine is about out and I've had it for about 3 months).  And while I don't know if anyone else can see a difference since I've begun using it, it makes me feel better about how I look- so that's gotta be worth at least $28, right?!

I hate breakfast.  I always wake up hungry, take my morning medicine and vitamins and then know it's a race to eat something before nausea sets in.  And really when you've just woken up and brushed your teeth nothing really sounds very good with a side of minty freshness.  Well lucky for me my father-in-law is a cereal junkie.  He'd probably live on sugary cereal for the rest of his life if he was allowed by my health conscious mother-in-law.  But alas he does try and buy semi-healthy cereal at times too, however he usually decides he doesn't like it and it sits on the shelf until someone else eats it.  Enter General Mills Oatmeal Crisp Cereal.  This gem was one of his rejected purchases that was sitting on the shelf the last time I visited.  As I mentioned it's fairly healthy and its one of those things that I can eat at any time and it hits the spot.  Even better unlike most cereals an hour later I'm not starving!  It's my favorite cereal right now.

One of my favorite movies EVER is "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" with a young Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt.  I could watch it every day and never get bored.  But I digress, one of my favorite parts is the beginning of the show when Janey (SJP) is introducing herself and she says, "And I love to dance" (cue sigh).  I totally relate to that!  I always wanted to be a dancer but my mom wasn't really supportive (to say the least) and so I settled on gymnastics- which was a joke!  But I LOVE to dance.  There's something about when a song comes on that makes my toes tap, and literally makes me want to get up and move.  Whether I'm in my car (yes I get a lot of strange looks) or washing dishes give me a good song and let me shake my groove thang.  :)  So when I was visiting my friend and was introduced to "Just Dance" it was a match made in heaven!  Competition, dancing, and great company- what more could you ask for?!  (I've even suggested to J.Crew a spicier version but- no dice.)  So if you're ever in the neighborhood and up for a good mood booster come on over- we'll have a Just Dance marathon. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boys vs Girls: Mermaid Edition

Growing up I loved summer and swimming.  Having my siblings and most of my cousins who were close to my age being girls meant that swimming involved lots of pretend.  And one of our favorite swimming past times was pretending to be mermaids (with George Washington hair).  We would flip our fins around and dive under the water.  I spent numerous hours pretending to be Ariel or any number other of her fictitious friends. 

Fast forward many years and I took my boys to the pool with one of their friends.  Within 5 minutes they were playing their own variation of mermaids.  This involved capturing the "bad and evil mermaids" and "destroying and killing them" with their "bombs".  When I asked the boys about this they did make the distinction that they were only offing the bad mermaids- it just so happened that our pool only had bad mermaids.  Maybe we should consider moving when our community pool is infested with evil mermaids. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some Weighty Thoughts

You know those people who gush about how much they love working out and how it's the best part of their day?!  Well I hate them.  Okay, maybe not hate.  I just don't understand it.  I literally have to force myself to go, I hate it the entire time, and usually am so exhausted when I get home that I have to examine my sanity- at least until I get into the routine of it all.  Then I just dread going and dislike being there.  But I know that it's good for me and I feel better generally speaking when I make a consistent habit of going.  Oh, and I have an emotionally scarring lingerie experience to motivate me when all else fails.  Since we're all close personal friends here I'll share said experience.

About three years ago I was shopping for something spicy for the bedroom.  I perused the racks conscious of the fact that my baby was a year old and I was still carrying around baby weight plus the weight from recent life stress (aka job loss for J.Crew, more hours at my part time job, new job for J.Crew, leaving my job, renting out a house we had just bought and moving).  I finally found a few things and took them into the dressing room.  The perky attendant opened the door and offered to help with any sizing or style changes in a friendly voice.  Then it was just me in the mood lit dressing room.  As I pulled the first number on I had a crystal clear mental image of a hot dog casing being stuffed.  Needless to say it wasn't pretty. I wriggled out of that one and tried on the second outfit.  I do not exaggerate when I say it took every ounce of self control not to break down sobbing there in the dimly lit dressing room.  I was devastated, disgusted and ashamed of how I looked.  I made the decision then to make changes to my lifestyle to get healthy and lose weight.  And I did.  I got a gym membership and changed how we ate.  When I get lazy and want to throw in the towel it doesn't take much to recall that moment in the dressing room and remember how difficult a road it was to get to where I am.

So after about a month hiatus from the gym (and exercise in general if I'm honest) I finally got my butt back to the gym.  So here are some of my random observations:

BUMS:  Seriously, who are these people at the gym at 10 in the morning and why aren't they at work?!  I am a self proclaimed leach off my husband and therefore have no job (at least where I receive a paycheck).  But seriously.  And I'm not talking about the gray-hair-retirement-age-set or even the trolling-for-hot-chicks-showing-off-my-bod-college-frat-boys (and their female counterparts) or even the other women leaches like myself.  The gym is completely packed with people ALL the time and it makes you wonder why nobody around here ever works. 

INEFFECTIVE:  Dear 30-something-year-old-male-preening-in-front-of-the-mirror, I understand that you spend much of your time here at the gym to attain the body that you have.  But just think of how much time you'd save if you spent half as much time working your muscles as you do admiring them. 
Dear College-frat-boy,  You can be on your hands in push up position all day long but it's not going to do any good if you're just bobbing your head up and down like a bird looking for a worm.  Nobody's impressed and you just look ridiculous. 

GYM CRUSH:  J.Crew often teases me about being bi-curious just because I can appreciate the female form.  It's not a sexual thing.  At the gym there's a 30-something year old mom who's probably 5'8" thin- but not skinny, unbelievably toned, walks through the gym with such confidence and warmth that people are drawn to her and just overall has the body that I want- but will never have because I'm nowhere near 5'8" and my body shape is more hour glass than long and lanky.  But to me she is the epitome of health and I envy her body and confidence.