Monday, May 19, 2014

Left my Heart in Boston

This post was inspired by Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the gothic underbelly of an American dynasty, and an outsider’s hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20 we discuss Bittersweet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. I enjoyed this book.  I like family mystery genre (is that a genre?) anyway, so it was a good read!

So glad my college roomie was not like Ev!  My freshman year I met Michelle, who was from Boston. I grew up in the midwest, and then moved to California in junior high, so the East Coast was so foreign to me. Michelle even had a different vocabulary-sneakers, pocketbook, market...and I picked up on her lingo quickly (to the amusement of my California bred friends), though not her accent!
The summer after freshman year, my parents let me go visit her for a week or two. I loved it! I fell in love with the history on the East Coast.  Everything is so old!  Out in California, we were lucky if we were celebrating 100 years of something, but the East Coast was filled with old churches, buildings, just history.  Walking around Harvard felt like a dream to me.  Michelle and her family took me all around Boston, out to Cape Cod, and to Newport, Rhode Island. I didn't eat any Mexican food (which we Californians eat weekly, sometimes 2-3 times a week in this household!), but tried lobster for the first time, nibbled on the Chinese food leftovers found in all of her friends' fridges, and ate clam cakes.
I just felt like I belonged there.  I even begged my parents to let me stay an extra couple days-which graciously they did.  Michelle was my best friend, but after visiting her, I felt like I knew her even better.  I cried flying back to California.  I immediately sent away for college applications to UMASS, BU, Brown, anywhere near Massachusetts or Rhode Island.  I was determined to transfer back East...but then I settled back in at home, at UCSB, and realized I wouldn't know anyone back East. No family, no friends, except Michelle's mom and sister, but I knew I couldn't invade on them.  The applications stayed in my drawer, unsent.
I still live in California today...haven't even made it back East since then...crazily enough...but hopefully we can get out there sometime soon. Joe and I are saving for a DC trip next summer, which will hopefully include a week in Rhode Island with his family.  I can't wait to see the East Coast again...I know the song is "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", but I left my heart in Boston.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You'll Miss It

This post was inspired by the memoir Dad is Fat by comedian Jim Gaffigan who riffs on his adventures co-parenting 5 kids in a two bedroom Manhattan apartment. Join my online book club, From Left to Write, on April 22 as we discuss Dad is Fat. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

I found myself nodding along to a lot of what Gaffigan says in his stories...but being that he is in the "throes" of babydom and toddlerhood, and we've graduated to elementary school over here, I found myself feeling more wistful as I read on.  Man, it IS hard work when they are so young.  I know more than once I wished to be out of that stage. When will the baby dress himself? When will she sleep through the night?  And kids do that...and more...and yes, it is nice, but oh, what I would give to have that toddler clamoring my attention, that baby smiling sleepily at me, the tiny bundle cuddled contently on my shoulder.
  Parents, the season you are in will pass. It will, and you will miss it.  You would pay to have one of those days back...even that "terrible" day you are in now.  Our kids are our sweet babies forever, but they grow too fast.  I even have a hard time looking at their baby pictures without tearing up.
My husband has been so good at reminding me that this, too, will pass, and we need to enjoy it now.  I am doing my best.  In our household, we are in the midst of sibling fighting and battling chores and pick up your stinky socks now!  One day, soon, they will have moved on to the next stage...a stage that won't include me, and it breaks my heart.  So, I will restrain myself from yelling about the legos everywhere and smile through the brotherly fighting and happily (mostly) help them finish their homework...because I'm going to miss this.

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'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!  Doing my 25 page research paper about a Supreme Court case, spending hours in the law!  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


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 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 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!


Wednesday, January 01, 2014


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!