Monday, March 31, 2014

Where I am At

This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment. Join From Left to Write on April we discuss The Idea of Him. Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Setting was such an integral part of this novel. I felt like New York City was a character it self. This story woulnd't have been the same set in a different city.
It got me thinking of where I live.  I live in a {small} city in California...same place I moved to in 6th grade from Illinois. I had a good childhood here...but couldn't wait to move away!  I can't believe I live here today!

I came back after college graduation-a quick pit stop before my planned move to San Francisco. That move never happened and before I knew it...I was teaching at my then boyfriend's (now husband) first elementary school!  After a few years, I moved to follow my boyfriend in LA, and we got married and settled down. I loved the big city-it must be in my blood-I lived in Chicago my first 6 years.  However, after having our first child, we decided to move back to be near family. A decision that I was not 100% thrilled or excited about (nothing to do with the family!)....but now, it has been a blessing.

 Sometimes life doesn't end up like you planned...but it doesn't mean it's bad.  The other day as I rushed around trying to get my three kids out the door-backpack shuffle, shoe searching, phone charging-it hit me that I am content.  I am happy to be where I am. I love my job, I have a wonderful teaching partner, my husband and I get to spend time together quite often, my kids are great...maybe this wasn't what I planned originally...but it suits me perfectly.  Even though my city doesn't have the best reputation, and many don't understand why we choose to live here...it's home.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Divorce Papers (no, not mine!)

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
So this month my book club-From Left To Write-read a very interesting book called The Divorce Papers. It's told only through emails, letters, and files in a divorce case.  Very, very interesting technique.  I still felt like I got to know the characters a lot. This post was inspired by the novel The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Young lawyer Sophie unwillingly takes her first divorce case with an entertaining and volatile client in this novel told mostly through letters and legal missives. Join From Left to Write on March 18 we discuss The Divorce Papers. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Throughout the reading, I was thinking a lot about how this almost was my life....the law part, I mean!  I went to college to become a pediatrician, switched out of that quickly...uh, math was NOT my thing, and fell in love with poli sci and law.  Writing legal briefs...love!  Doing my 25 page research paper about a Supreme Court case, spending hours in the law library...love!  I knew that was what I needed to do.  However, getting closer to graduation and hearing my peers start planning for the LSAT, I realized I was getting cold feet. I wanted to be a mom. I didn't want to have a career that full, that busy, that time consuming.  So I decided not to go on to law school.  I'm not saying you can't be a great mom and a lawyer-I have plenty of friends that went that route, though interestingly enough, most of them stay at home now!
I now spend my full, busy life teaching elementary school. I love it-I still get to read a lot, help kids learn to love knowledge and research, and am very fulfilled!  Sometimes, though, I do miss the law field. When my brain is fried from common core, loud classrooms, or too much paperwork, I toy with the idea of being a paralegal. Legal research all the time, quiet libraries, writing reports?  Maybe one day...for now, I will stick to the classroom.
What career path were you thinking about before making a switch? Do you regret it?

Monday, February 17, 2014

*Active*

So how are your resolutions going?  I am actually proud to say that I am following through with my word: active.  I have exercised 3-4 times a week and finished my Clean Eating Challenge...and kept up with it. I consider myself to be eating "clean" 80% of the time.
I actually found out that I enjoy healthy foods!  My breakfasts consist of steel cut oatmeal with a pinch of cinnamon and frozen fruit or dried fruit. Yum. (Note-steel cut oatmeal takes a long time to cook, so I would cook my weekly batch on Sundays so I only had to reheat during busy mornings)  I snack on a piece of fruit, unsalted almonds or a cheese stick.  Lunches are usually leftovers from the night before or cheese and whole grain crackers, with veggies or fruit.  I have only had water to drink for 6 weeks. Dinners are generally clean for me. If we go out to dinner, I stay away from white bread products, and steer towards salads with light dressing.  That is a big deal for this salad dressing freak...I bought an organic italian dressing and drizzle lightly. I actually can taste the lettuce now! Ha!  We had In and Out Burgers, and I had the "protein burger"-wrapped in lettuce with no cheese and sauce.  It was delicious...
I ended up doing the challenge by myself...my husband couldn't make it (but he is going to try it starting this week!)...and I didn't force my kids.  Though, just by seeing what I ate and what choices I was making, I saw them grab fruit for snacks more often and think about the sugar content of what they were eating.
The good news is that I lost 5 pounds, too! I'm not actively trying to lose weight, but like any mom who has birthed three children, I could stand to lose some baby pounds.  Now here goes my realization-I exercised pretty well starting last spring through the fall...and yes, I could see my arms were more toned and I felt better about myself...but I didn't lose any weight.  This time, combined with eating much better and exercise, I did. I really think I have discovered the secret to weight loss-it's eating well! (And maybe limiting carbs :-))
I am not one to ask about clean eating.  I know I ate some things that die hard clean eaters would say is a no-no, but for me, I think I did well!  There are tons of good ideas and meal suggestions out there. Some recipes we loved...some we did not.  I recommend starting here or here if you'd like some ideas.  The first one had good suggestions, grocery lists and lots of recipes. The second one had a great meal plan, I used quite a few of her recipes. She has two different sets of meal plans, so look at her other set as well for meals.  If you follow me on instagram, I share some of my meals on there.

Then...this weekend hit...and I got sick. Sick with a dizziness and vertigo. Still feeling it...4th day in my jammies. And my diet took a hit. I ate too many valentine chocolates and Taco Bell. And-I had a coke! Oops!  It's called survival when mom is sick. But,  as soon as I'm better, Joe and I plan to stock up at Trader Joe again and I will be back on track. I am actually looking forward to doing the completely Clean Challenge with Joe soon.  As someone who does better when she has a challenge, I enjoy it.  And since Hawaii is only 2 months away, I better continue to get ready to be bathing suit ready!


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Happier in my life 2014

This month for my online book club, we read Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. I already blogged about her first book last year, The Happiness Project, when she inspired me to start some resolutions that I did not keep-shame shame.  This year, I got to read her second book, where she runs a nine month experiment to create happier surroundings.  More inspiration!  Join From Left to Write on January 6 as we discuss Happier at Home.  You can also chat live with Gretchen Rubin on January 7 on Facebook.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. However, I have decided NOT to keep resolutions this year.  I have my "word" for the year *ACTIVE*, but instead, I will make some lifestyle changes...slowly...and add on as the year progresses...here are some my ideas and tips!

*Tip #1 Always make new changes with another person!
Starting this month, I will drink my 8 glasses of water a day and add more exercise-I plan to work out with a friend. The BEST way to stay on track!  I made it through 4 straight months of 5:30 AM exercise classes because I had a friend waiting for me. Then, fall and school and homework and theater took over our family life. BUT, the good news is that we are planning to start up and I have already reserved a spot in the kickboxing class I tried for a couple week last fall with my neighbor!  I also do a daily exercise thing with a co-worker. It's one of those monthly plans for sits ups and squats. We both have it on our phones and we stay on track that way.  We check in daily together!
 Also, I plan to slowly change my diet. I am that mom who serves her kids chicken nuggets and mac and cheese in the blue box (mom confession #423).  Joe and I went to Trader Joe's today and stocked up on whole wheat pasta, chia seeds, veggies, steel cut oatmeal, etc...ready to start our Real Food Challenge tomorrow. I boxed up lots of processed food we had in the pantry and stuck it in the garage. We're doing this together!  Spencer is planning to try it, too.  I will have a super hard time cutting out white bread-so I bought some whole grain crackers and will eat that instead of bread for my lunches.

*#2  Be reasonable in expectations.  I have stacks of photos and even more thousands of photos on my computer that I need to print or archive someway.  I made a resolution to catch up on my scrapbooks last year. Progress...zilch.  But I am stealing Gretchen Rubin's suggestions and giving myself 15 minutes daily to work on my photos and memory sorting.  Will time myself and stop after 15 minutes.  I will make slow progress, but slow progress is better than none.  Right?!

*#3 Don't add too many expectations for yourself.  I would like to change many things, but the truth is, I am a busy full time mama with a full time teaching job.  I take work home. I carpool. I have bunco nights monthly (yay!).  I try to schedule date time with Joe.  My life is busy and full. I can't make many big changes.  So, I will go slow...add something slowly.  Like drink my 8 glasses of water daily, give up soda, keep on my cleaning plan...but not big things. Can't. Not now anyway.  And that's OK.

It's January 5. I haven't had any glasses of water yet today, drank a coke, skipped breakfast...but it's OK, tomorrow will be better.  Wish me luck!

Happier-at-Home-by-Gretchin-Rubin.jpg

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

*ACTIVE*

One word...I do this every year....and like practically every other person who does this...forget to focus on this by February 1.  But, once again, here I go.
*My word this year is ACTIVE.  Yes, active in activity-gym, running, etc...isn't that everyone's wish for the New Year??  We have a beach trip planned for Spring Break, so I have less than 4 months to get ready to wear my bathing suit for a week.

But also, ACTIVE in life...want to work on my photography, organize my photos (stealing the 15 minutes a day idea from Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin-blog post on that coming soon), play with my kids, ride our bikes together, work on our diet (hello clean eating...starting Jan. 6!).

I will also try to be more active on this blog, too. I stopped writing for my online book club because life was crazy this fall.  However, I know I can make the time. Reading is so important to me, and I did not read as much as I should have this fall.  I challenged my class to read 3 chapter breaks over this winter break.  I am finishing book three sometime today!  Whoo-hoo! Can't wait to see how they did!
So...that's my word for the year. I promise to keep you updated on how I am doing with it.  Do YOU have a word for the year??

Leaving my family readers with some recent family pics.  The first is from Christmas Eve with my side of the family! The second is from a pumpkin patch trip, and the last one is Spencer & Joe's first time in a show together-Christmas Carol!  They had a blast!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Are you still here?

Well now...time sure flies when you're having fun...or working full time...or raising three kids...or living a life...right?
We finished our summer, enjoyed spending lots of time together, and now we're back to school!  All the kiddos are with me this year!  I love it!  I get to see them every day at work.  The boys stop in on their recess breaks and sometimes I sneak over to Kendall's playground on my lunch break and say hi.  I love it!  School is going very well for everyone.  



Spencer is working hard in 5th grade and is on safety patrol, is a 5th grade senator for student council, and is taking singing and acting classes. He just auditioned for the Christmas show at his theatre.  

Cooper loves 3rd grade and happy his BFF is in class with him, too. He just finished his first session of water polo and was awesome!  He is hoping to start tennis lessons next.  He can be found sneaking onto his video games whenever he can.  Mama outlawed video games during the school week...here's Cooper and me in his class. I am not his teacher this year!  I have none of my kids this year.  Miss them!


Kendall is a social butterfly in kindergarten.  She is excited to go to school everyday and see her friends. She is learning so much and leaves us little notes all around the house. LOVE. She started girl scouts this fall!  Friday night we hosted her first slumber party. I think it was a success!  3 little girls laughing, dressing up, playing "fashion", doing their nails 50,000 times...and finally falling asleep.  
Here's Kendall and Grandma at one of our fav after school spots-frozen yogurt!



I am in 4th grade again (wahoo) and love my class! Joe and I have been getting out a little more. Spent a weekend in San Francisco a month ago, and we went to see Depeche Mode last week.  Awesome show!  We have a few more upcoming date nights coming up, too. Life is good in the Brown household.
Hoping to update this ole blog of mine more in the upcoming weeks...stay tuned...
Summer flashback: camping at Pinecrest!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Food Glorious Food!

This month's book club choice was The Execution of Noa P. Singleton...


So this book is pretty serious, thought provoking as well...but my blog post is not...I saw a few other people decided to run with the "last meal" idea, so I did, too! (It's summer break for me-can't get too deep now!)  Joe and I would like to think we are foodies...we're not real, fancy food foodies...but we love a good meal!  Triple D is one of our fav shows!  Whenever we go somewhere new, we look to see if they are any places recommended by the food network! So, running with the "last meal" idea, I decided to blog about several places I'd choose, depending on where I was!

San Diego....ahh...this is hard, but I'd have to go with Phil's BBQ in Ocean Beach.  LOVE that place! We go every time we are there-yummy pulled pork sandwiches "The Bro-ham"-tangy BBQ sauce, crispy coleslaw...oh my mouth is watering!  The line is long-I recommend going right when it opens on the weekend or for lunch during the week.  If we lived there, I bet we'd eat there once a week.  Its very inexpensive, as well. Joe and I can make two sandwiches out of one 6.95 sandwich.  Here's Joe on Father's Day 2012-happy as can be.


Los Angeles (I'll eat work my way up CA)...well, this is hard too...Joe and I always make our list of places we have to eat when we plan trips to LA.  It changes depending on our mood, but Killer Shrimp is always on it!  Unfortunately, the one most convenient for us closed down, and we haven't been to the new location yet in Marina Del Ray, but we cannot wait to go. I always get the main dish...shrimp served over spicy sauce on pasta.  I hear they have expanded their menu...the shrimp on pasta, rice or just as is used to be the only thing they served.  We really wanted to go last time we were in LA (June), but it didn't happen....so I'll wait...not so patiently...for our next trip... (Just looked on the website-they are opening one up in Santa Barbara now!!!!)

San Francisco...our friend Steph has introduced us to some great places to eat!  When I went in May for my birthday weekend, we went to 1300 Fillmore for the fried chicken. Oh my word-delish!  The place is dark and fancy, with a jazzy vibe.  The drinks are stiff...a little too strong...but the chicken was one of the best things I've tried!  Finished with beignets for dessert...the best birthday meal ever!

Home...ahh, good old home town...what will I eat??? Either the Californian Burrito from Victoria's or the French Dip from the Branding Iron (with a side of gazpacho)...if you locals haven't tried those, you need to!!

And I will end with one last place that is found in many areas...The Cheesecake Factory...yes, it's a chain...BUT the Jambalaya is OH.SO.GOOD.  Spicy with tons of shrimp and chicken and veggies...I always order it, even though they have about 50,000 things on the menu.  Once I find something I like on a menu, it's hard for me to stray!

Have I made you hungry yet? I know I am hungry now...hungry and needing a vacation to scout out some more food places!  Share your fav with me!


This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.