August 23, 2016

I'm Not Ready

The girls are both at work right nowTheir last work week of the summer. Next week, they’re all mine, albeit for just one more. We plan to get our hair done, troll bookstores, watch silly movies, discuss books, and the inevitable fact that school is, literally, just around the corner.

We’re not ready.

I’ll be spending Labor Day hauling boxes and bags; hanging pictures and wiring lamps; picking up boxes of books and stocking refrigerators; driving mile after mile after mile to drop my girls off at their respective schools, and walking out of their buildings, missing them before I’ve left the parking lot.

Kate is a senior this year. We already know the day she will graduate. Two days after she moves in, she’ll receive her tassel at convocation. I had just gotten used to her being a college student, yet here we are, at another precipice, another milestone. The question of when she’ll be attending graduate school is on all of our minds. She’ll be teaching full-time while simultaneously juggling a full-load of classes fall semester.

Amanda is moving in to a single room amongst both male and female roommates. David is not amused. She will continue her research on the variations in parasite abundance between urban and natural populations of anoles. I don’t pretend to understand; I just know she’s doing some pretty cool stuff under the tutelage of one of the university's leading researchers. She’ll have her car on campus this year. She’s decided to pursue a pre-med track and double her workload.

We’re not ready.

As I marvel at all they have accomplished so far, I am very aware of what lies ahead. I have already lived my version of their lives. It’s not easy, but the rewards are well worth the effort. I know this. They know this. But it doesn’t make it any less challenging all the way around.

I dreaded them leaving high school, and now, I’m dreading what comes next. Not because I don’t want them to succeed and move forward with their livesI want all of that for them and moreit’s just that I have finally found my way. I’ve learned how to live this new existence somewhat fractured by changes that are unavoidably inevitable.

We’ve already given Kate her graduation present. We took a trip last January knowing it might have been one of the last opportunities we’d be able to, as a family. We’re grasping at fragments of time, too precious to be ignored.

I know the reality is not nearly as frightening as the anticipation, of not knowing. I’ve been down this road before. I will ring my hands, make endless lists, repeat myself again and again to make sure the two of them have everything they could ever need. And then they’ll be off on their own once again.

But I’m not ready.

P.S. You may also like It's Been Quite a Week and A Surprising Twist.

August 12, 2016

Setting Realistic Goals

For more than a year, I got down on the floor every morning and did yoga. I loved it. My body loved it. But like so many other things in life, it got pushed aside. Time moved on and before I knew it, I had stopped doing it. Of all of the exercises I have tried, loved, and hated, yoga was one I enjoyed immensely. 

While I was away, I managed to slip in a class on the beach. It's heavenly, and if you ever get a chance to take one of these classes, do! The sand is a perfect platform for yogayou can dig your feet or heals in the sand and it contours perfectly to your body. My goal was to attend one class a week. I only made it to one. I thought it was a realistic goal; I could manage one class a week. But it wasn't meant to be. 

I have beaten myself up for not keeping the same rigorous exercise schedule I had stubbornly adhered to (for more than two years!) more times than I can count. I had worked my body so hard, I injured my hip. Then when I was "recuperating" (read: not getting off the couch), I injured my rotator cuff shoveling snow because I had been too inactive. I had to go through another period of recovery. And on and on it went. 

The bottom line is, we all get busy, injured, tired, and we may not make it to the gym as many times as we'd like. We may slack off, take a break, eat more than we move, and make excuses. 

But the body is resilient. You can get back to a routinealbeit a bit slower this time aroundbecause muscle memory is alive and well in your brain. It remembers what it feels like after your body has gone through a workout. That feeling of accomplishment and euphoria you get as endorphins pump through your system. Then all of a sudden, you remember that the gain far outweighs the pain. 

I may still be shy of my goals, but I've given myself the time to reach them. As my body ages, it doesn't bounce back quite the same way, but that's okay. I try not to make excuses, I try to take it one day at a time, setting realistic goals that don't drive me crazy. 

P.S. You may also like The Benefits of Lemon Water, Emotional Release, and these Good Health pins.

August 9, 2016

Summer Vacation Reading Contest

Eight years ago, I started our annual summer reading contest while on vacation. I won handily that year, but only because my daughters were just 10 and 13 at the time. However, this year, I won again for only the second time! It took me seven years, 3,306 pages, and 10 books to do it, but I did. Again, in all fairness, those 3000+ pages weren't even the most read in the history of our contest. Amanda holds that honor. She read 4,222 pages four years ago. So I take my victory in stride, knowing full well that it will be a long time before it happens again.

So what did we read? 

The picture above belongs to Kate and is a sampling of what she devoured in July. She loves fantasy and dystopian novels, and she highly recommends The Dead House from this year's picks. "It's not your usual novel.", she told me, and then proceeded to show me all of the graphics the book included. I won't spoil it for you, just check it out. Her all-time favorites are the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Delirium trilogy, and Before I Fall.

I took along a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but ended up only starting Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. I'm about half way through, and I've found some of the essays inspiring. A scant 221 pages long, Anne Rivers Siddon's The Girls of August was a quick, delightful read. I had zero expectations, but enjoyed it thoroughly. I only read three books from this list, and I was disappointed in all three. I usually don't read popular books right awaythe hype is usually too muchbut I waited for one to come out in paperback, and it didn't wow me (or scare me) like I thought it would. I'll leave it at that.

Amanda recommends The Unexpected Everything. She enjoys realistic fiction and cites Jodi Picoult as one of her favorite authors. She fell in love with The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy years ago, and has read it more times than she cares to admit. The last book is her all-time favorite. I finally read it last summer and I agree. 

While we were away, we visited several local bookstores, which are really the hidden jewels of the book industry. It's interesting to learn which books are selling better locally, and most of the recommendations you receive from the staff is spot on. To be read: A Man Called Ove and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns.  

Both Kate and Michael have copies of The Cursed Child, but neither has read it yet. I'm waiting to hear their reviews before I decide whether or not I'll read it. For me, Harry Potter ended with book 7. We ALL list HP as some of our all-time favorite books. 

It's amazing how much you can read when you don't watch television. Yup, no TV on our 4-week vacation. And very little technology all the way around. I snuck off to write on my laptop a few times, and with the release of Pokemon Go, well... the girls did use their phones. But in all fairness, the phones were mostly silent and pocketed away.

I highly recommend taking a technology break and use that time to read!

P.S. You may also like Delicious Reads and Children's Books.

A shout out to our favorite local bookstores while on vacation: Yellow Umbrella Books, The Brewster Bookstore, and Edgartown Books.

June 28, 2016

Good-bye... For Now

Summer vacation has begun! Thank you all for hanging in there. I will be up to my usual tricks towards the end of the summer. I'm looking forward to writing more about Life in My 40s and getting back to a regular blogging schedule when I return in August. 

Much progress as been made on my new project, and with any luck, the blog will be moved and I can tell you more about it when I return. 

In the meantime, I hope you have a glorious summer!

P.S. You may also like...

May Summer Last a Hundred Years

2016 Summer Reading List

Scenes From Around New England (a.k.a. where I'll be hanging out)


10 Things to do in July


June 3, 2016

Free Fun Fridays

Boston winters may be long, but once the trees leaf out, the grass turns green, and the sun warms your face, it's time to head outdoors and enjoy the many parks and green spaces now available. But on those rainy days that force you inside, there are lots of things to do in and out of the city, and thanks to the Highland Street Foundation, you can get into museums, zoos, and gardens for FREE every Friday starting on June 24th. 

Here are my picks:

June 24th: Tanglewood's Family Fun Fest
July 1st: Boston Children's Museum or Cape Cod Maritime Museum
July 8th: Museum of Fine Arts
July 15th: Boston Anthenaeum
July 22nd: Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park
July 29th: Nantucket Whaling Museum
August 5th: The Greenway Carousel
August 12th: Concord Museum
August 19th: The Institute of Contemporary Art
August 26th: Norman Rockwell Museum


June 2, 2016

Updated Classics

If you haven't done so already, please add Eligible to your summer reading list. I love all things Jane Austen, and this version of a modern day Pride and Prejudice will make you fall in love with a whole new Bennet family. (I adored Emma Thompson's screenplay of Sense and Sensibility. See the movie!) 

There seems to be a trend among writers who are reinventing the classics (something akin to movie makers looking to books for material) that's grabbing a whole new audience of readers. Maybe it's because the characters are more believable when placed in a contemporary setting, or perhaps we just can't get enough of a good thing. 

Look for Ann Tyler's Vinegar Girl (The Taming of the Shrew with an absent-minded professor and responsible teacher in charge of her family's daily affairs.), Gillian's Flynn's Hamlet, Jo Nesbo's Macbeth, and Margaret Atwood's The Tempest. All from a series of Shakespeare remakes from the Penguin Random House Group. 

Photo: Princeton Public Library

May 13, 2016

Mean Girls

I read a book years ago titled, Queen Bees and Wannabes. In it, the author talks about the roles girls play, whether they like it or not, and includes tips for parents on how to help their daughters through the trials of Girl World. (If you want a quick fix instead, watch the movie Mean Girls.)

Because I am a girl, and I have given birth to two girls, I can say this without bias: girls are a pain in the ass. The drama that follows girls around is like a loyal puppy—it never goes away! And it starts younger and younger these days. We’ve all had to deal with versions of the Mean Girl throughout our lives. Some of us got through it fairly unscathed, while others were imprisoned. I can’t imagine dealing with the latter; the stories I’ve heard from other mothers and their daughters is downright terrifying.

But even with the subtler dealings girls endure: whispers, snide looks, insults, gossip…these transgressions can instantly rip away the solid foundation of anyone having to deal with ordinary day to day life, which as we all know is hard enough. Girls will always have to work harder than boys for equal pay and recognition. I hope that before I die, this will finally be a non-issue. This is just one reason we should all be in this together, not battling it out on the playground. (The war of the “working mom” versus the “stay at home mom” should have been settled long ago. Personally, I’ve always thought the term “working mom” was redundant. Every mom works, regardless if it’s at an office or at home. Period. Please, let’s MOVE ON from this.)

But there’s another sad reality involved: Some things never change no matter how old you get. Girls grow up to be women. But that doesn’t mean they grow out of being a Mean Girl. And then they have daughters. Like Bobbsey Twins, mother/daughter mean girls are leaders of their pack. There are thousands of mini-me’s following in the footsteps of their first teachers. They’ve learned how to lie, cheat, and beam their false smiles at the world with absolute pride and prejudice because they learned how at the foot of the masters.

These women have had decades of experience, and from my personal experience, cleave onto their daughters because they’re truly the only friends they have left. Adults usually don’t put up with this nonsense, but that doesn’t keep it from occurring. Worse still, they usually focus their attention on the very girls their daughters have already targeted. They’ve transgressed to their former selves and relish in the same childish antics they should have left behind long ago. The targets have doubled.

Words, one of my favorite things in the whole world, can do more damage psychologically than almost anything. The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rings more true today than it ever has. 

Girls are their own worst enemies. But they don't have to be.

May 5, 2016

Wherever the Wind May Blow

I have been blogging regularly for the past three years. I enjoy sharing ideas and stories, and as I wrote in my bio, this is my place to remember and reflect. But I haven’t been happy with my blog platform for a long time now. As with all money decisions, I had to weigh the pros and cons of investing in a new one. Every time I did some research I was quoted outrageous prices, some as much as $10,000. Instead, I used my money to update its look, just a little, then a little more. I ran into a few mishaps along the way, namely a very unprofessional “web designer” who never fulfilled her promise. I had to change companies mid-stream and thankfully found a firm that could work with me and my budget. The money I wasted could have been used to make the switch. I moved on. I could at least update my writing.

Since I began blogging, I have switched things up a bit. What was once a design blog morphed into a lifestyle blog, and then, in my opinion, something a bit more than the usual lifestyle blog. As I started to focus on one aspect of my career (while the others started to fade into the background) I wanted the blog to follow along. I got excited about writing more in-depth and personal posts about motherhood, family, and various series about writing and the stages of the empty nest to name just two. I have always been inspired by Anna Quindlen so I just recently starting writing a new series titled Life in My 40s. I prefer the direction the blog is headed, but I also wanted to keep a bit of creative eye candy available for those of you who started following this blog for that very reason.

I’ve played around with topics, scheduling, and formatting until I found something I felt would be a good fit for all of my readers, and for me as well. But the blog also did something else. It filled a void. It allowed me to escape into the world of words I had missed so dearly.

But I am at a crossroads.

I’ve decided to take a small step back from my blog to work on a project I have wanted to finish for years. I have always been the kind of person who takes care of everyone else’s needs before my own: my children, family, work, and you, my readers. But I need to do this one thing just for me.

For now, I’m going to blog weekly when my schedule allows. I’m not going to worry about adhering to a strict schedule; it will simply happen organically, like when I first began. I will continue writing series and niche posts I hope will satisfy us both. I may want to bring in new writers to help fill the gaps, or I may decide not to. I’m not quite sure just yet. My goal is to still switch platforms, but this won’t happen until late spring (at the earliest) and soon after that, I’ll be heading off to my home away from home in June. Changes are occurring and I’m going wherever the wind may blow.

By next fall, I should be back in the swing of things. Or maybe I’ll try the slide instead. Either way, this blog isn’t disappearing, it’s just evolving as each and every one of us is doing each and every day.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Thank you for your continued support and thank you for reading.

Photo: Three Rivers Deep

May 4, 2016

Healthy and Delicious Hummus Recipes

There is one staple in my refrigerator that I would be lost without: hummus. I can remember when I first tasted this concoction of garbanzo beans, tahini, and garlic. I hated it. I grew up eating meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Sandwiches consisted of peanut butter and jelly or bologna. Not exactly healthy cuisine. 

Over time, I grew to like it. Now I can't get enough. It's the perfect party dip, snack, and meal. I like to top plain hummus with really good extra virgin olive oil or lemon or spices or a combination, and there isn't a vegetable that doesn't love hummus.

It's super easy to make, but if you're in a jam, I suggest purchasing Classic Hummus from Sabra and doctor at will.  

Roasted Garlic Parmesan

Basil Pesto

Avocado Lime

Lemon Garlic

Spicy Creamy Sriracha


P.S. You may also enjoy Move Over Fries, It's all About the Ketchup and Slow Cooker Meals