Top 3 Friday #2

Happy Friday and (almost) weekend! And LONG weekend at that (if you’re in the US and are off work for Memorial Day)!

Parts of this week were fast, but then parts of it seemed to drag on. Was yours like that?

Regardless, we made it, and now I want to talk about this week’s highs and lows (and eats, duh?). I’m joining in with Kate for “Top 3 Friday” once again, and I’m also linking up with Heather for “Friday Favorites.”

Top 3 Eats

Hamburgers, fries + fresh corn on the cob (courtesy of the hubs). // These were some of his best yet. The fries were crispy, the burgers were juicy and full of flavor, and the corn was sweet.

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Lentil & mushroom tacos. // This was another Thug Kitchen cookbook recipe, and, despite being a little messy, it was quite delicious.

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Sausage, green apple, red onion & tomato pizza. // It’s not the prettiest, but it delivered lots of flavor.

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Top 3 Lows

Bazooka has a bit of a cold. His teachers mentioned that basically every kid in his class has a cold, and luckily there’s no fever or major sleep disruptions.

I know it’s really minor, but I’m frustrated that I don’t have more free time to devote to learning how to use my camera (or more free time to sleep, haha). It’s just part of being a working parent; I wouldn’t trade the moments with Bazooka for anything, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss having free time.

My sleep hasn’t been so great the last few nights, and it’s not because of the babe. Hopefully I get back into a restful groove soon!

Top 3 Highs

I purchased my new URL and self-hosting! // I’ve been planning it (and alluding to it) forever, but over the weekend, I finally just said “let’s do this!” Much like Kate, I’m having issues transferring files, but I’m not going to stress it. I’m also getting really close to picking out a header. Yay! I hope to be up and running before the end of June, but we’re just taking it one day (file?) at a time.

I finally moved to my new office/department at work. // This has been a long time coming (first talk of it was last fall, and then I was supposed to move in January, and then April…) and I’m excited for the changes. The program I have worked on for almost 9 years is wrapping up, so I’m very grateful the company values me as an employee and is relocating me rather than letting me go. It will be different from what I’m used to (a lot of coworkers vs my own little bubble), but I’m ready for it.

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Awesome walks outside. // It’s starting to get crazy hot already, but this week was really beautiful. I’m glad I have those 20-30 minutes to myself during the day!

Top 3 Links

An Exercise in Self-Love // Erin’s Inside Job

Why I Don’t Like The Healthy Label // Beauty In Christ

Being OK With Not Being OK // Blissful Lyss

  • Pick a category (or few) and tell me your top 3.
  • What are your weekend plans?

Any Exercise Is “Good Exercise”

The other day I read a post about a barre challenge in which the workout was referred to as “girly.”

To be fair, the author admitted that the workout was more challenging than anticipated and did not write the post in a critical way, but nevertheless, that single description got my blood boiling.

Since when is any form of exercise “girly?”

In this country, we have a growing obesity epidemic, and it’s no secret that our sedentary lifestyles are literally killing us.

And yet we feel the need to negatively label and criticize a person’s choice of fitness?

In the words of the great American philosopher Cher Horowitz, as if.

As long as you're MOVING and having FUN, any exercise is GOOD exercise!

I absolutely loathe how we’ve turned “clean eating” into this competition of who can be the “purest”—and I feel like certain organizations, programs, and individuals are doing the same to exercise!

Let me be clear, I have no medical or fitness training. I’m not going to lecture you on scientific theories, muscle groups, or whether 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio is better or worse than 20 minutes of high-intensity circuit training—I just don’t have that type of knowledge.

But what I am going to tell you is that any exercise is good exercise.

Yes, if you want to gain strength, build muscle, and burn fat, you need to practice some heavy lifting.

If you desire to lose weight and not stagnate, you probably shouldn’t turn only to cardio-based workouts.

But whether you run 20 miles a week, shake your booty at Zumba, get ripped at Crossfit, or sweat your face off at Bikram—it’s up to you.

I’ve said before, fitness should be fun.

Fitness should never feel like an obligation or punishment.

A good workout should make you feel empowered and energized.

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When you say to your friend, “my glutes are on fire” after a barre workout and he counters with “I just sweat buckets during spin,” you should both feel good about yourselves because you just did something amazing for your body!

We all have personal preferences. I know plenty of people who just can’t get into yoga or barre no matter how many times they try and feel like a workout must leave them dead on the floor to be “worthwhile” to them personally.

And that’s fine!

You absolutely should find a workout—or a variety of them—that appeals to you.

If you’re not enjoying the workout, then it’s the wrong workout for you.

Find what gets your endorphins flowing and makes you want to flex in the mirror or, better yet, take on the world.

Just be mindful of somebody else’s choices and leave the competition on the actual competition floor.

[linking up for thinking out loud]

  • Have you ever felt like regular exercise was a competition?
  • Is there one type of workout or fitness class that just doesn’t appeal to you? Zumba. Your girl’s got no rhythm.
  • What’s your favorite way to exercise?

First Haircuts + Taking Chances

Hey, hey! How is your Tuesday shaping up?

A quick thanks to everybody who’s completed my reader survey so far. If you haven’t filled it out yet, please do! It’s just 10 (quick) questions I hope will help me make this bloggity-blog better for you guys.


So, I wasn’t planning to post anything today, but in a moment of—let’s be honest, boredom—a thought came to me as I was reminiscing our weekend.

I briefly mentioned it here on Friday and on Instagram, but Saturday morning was Bazooka Man’s first haircut!!!

I purposely had zero expectations because I know my child. He is 99% his mother, which means he does not enjoy being messed with, freaks out on the regular, and isn’t afraid to let his unhappiness/annoyance be known.

He has an excuse (being a toddler) whereas I do not.

Anyway, I was fully prepared for lots of tears, which was right on target. He clung to me when I tried to place him in the super cool red VW van chair, so daddy held him the whole time while I took pictures.

Traci, the stylist, was incredibly nice and the actual haircut was quick and painless. He calmed down a little (thanks to being able to hold an extra comb we accidentally stole—sorry!), and on the whole, he did much better than I expected.

And, man oh man, does he look handsome! I miss his curls (that’s a euphemism for rockin’ mullet), but this is an important milestone that I’m glad we shared.

So, how does this relate to me?

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Well, I’m a lot like a toddler when it comes to trying new things. While I like adventure (travel, trying new food, meeting new people, etc.), I’m sometimes afraid of the metaphorical electric sheers and VW van “big kid” chairs of the real world.

I love adventure in the abstract, but as I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes choose to let my hair grow over my eyes instead of trusting the experienced hands holding the sheers.

In the words of my mother, I don’t like ripples in my stream.

In my words, I very much enjoy my comfort zone.

But, I know that we never grow or improve if we refuse to take that first step. And sometimes our perceived comfort zones are more suffocating and restrictive than they are protective.

After putting it off forever, I’m finally making some changes—in two realms. It will be a while before I talk about the more personal one, but the other, I hope to share in the next several weeks!

I’m not making any huge life changes or anything, but regardless, I never take decisions—big or small—lightly. So, with that said—here’s to first haircuts and taking chances!

  • In what way have you stepped outside of your comfort zone lately?
  • On a less serious note, how often do you get your hair cut? I desperately need one—it’s been several months and my split ends are awful!

I Need Your Help (Reader Survey)

Hey guys. I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

I’m just popping in for a quick second today because I’m a little stuck.

Ever since the new year when I set some goals for blogging, I’ve become increasingly passionate about this space.

I’m planning some changes and trying to find a good mix for the type of content I share, but I want to get your input on why you come to this little blog of mine.

I’ve created a short survey, and I’d appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer (honestly!) these questions and provide a little insight on what you’d like to see more (or less) of.

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It’s anonymous, so, again, BE HONEST. My feelings will not be hurt if you offer some constructive criticism; in fact, I welcome it (just be respectful, please)!

This blog will first and foremost be my personal space, but as I’ve seen a tiny bit of growth over the last few months and have had more positive feedback and interaction from readers, I want to continue riding that wave while avoiding the wormhole of SEO, “blog rules,” and anything else that sucks the joy out of writing/interacting!

When a reader, even somebody I “know” only through this screen, tells me that my writing resonated with them or that they shared one of my motherhood posts with their own mom, it makes me so happy and proud.

Sometimes I feel like I can never compare to the bloggers out there who have overcome huge obstacles or who have a truly compelling “story” to tell, but other times, I realize that we can connect with one another and touch lives through writing and sharing from our heart. That is what I want to continue doing here!

Whether you’ve read since the beginning or pop in occasionally through weekly link-ups, your input is valued. So please, take a few minutes and tell me your thoughts. THANKS IN ADVANCE!❤

Top 3 Friday #1

Hey, hey! It’s Friday!

You know how I said I would only post on Fridays like once a month? Well, I’m basically the blogging equivalent of a political flip-flopper. Just don’t count me out of the race yet.😉

But really, I’ve been wanting to share more life-y things with y’all (because my daily life isn’t the biggest bore), so I thought I’d take part in the lovely Kate’s new series.

Top 3 Eats

hummus + salad plate from Zoe’s Kitchen // I ordered this specifically because Bazooka Man loves hummus (even though I really wanted to try their new Rosemary Ham & Mozzarella Piadina) so go figure he wanted nothing to do with it. Oh well, more for me!

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Creamy PB Cup Smoothie // Made with BeFit WHEY in chocolate, frozen banana, baby spinach, a heaping spoonful of peanut butter + almond milk.

Sweet Corn + Green Chili Baked Flautas // Mark picked out this recipe (after what may have been a threat to eat more vegetables) from our Thug Kitchen cookbook, and it was really tasty! Adding dollops of guac was a good decision, too! They’re quite filling and reheated nicely for lunch.

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Top 3 Lows

I started the week off in a major funk. Luckily it was short-lived and I’m feeeeelin’ good.

Rain…so much rain. For a few days, we didn’t go outside in the evenings at all, and it makes me so sad for Iggy and even Bazooka, who loves being outside!

Having to take Bazooka to the ENT. It was just for a follow-up (no issues), but it’s always a pain to have to leave work early, calm a screaming kiddo, and fork over a $50 copay. Plus…I’d completely forgotten about the appointment. Thank goodness for confirmation calls!

Top 3 Highs

I now have a makeshift “studio” for shooting blog photos // Now that I have the new camera (which I promise to stop talking about), I desperately want to improve my food photos. Last weekend I bought some tiles to use as backdrops, and now I’ve got a spiffy little setup in our garage-turned-laundry room. I never thought that tiny window would work, but so far, so good!

I increased my squats weight at BODYPUMP // On a really difficult track, might I add! Exercise has undoubtedly become a huge part of my life lately (I can tell a difference in my stress levels on days I exercise!), and I just love this class so much.

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I finally OWN MY CAR!!! // Earlier this month I paid my last bill, and this week I received all the paperwork. Now I just need to schedule a trip to the DMV, and Ella (yes, she’s named) is legally mine! I am finally an adult!😉

Top 3 Links

How To Be OK Gaining Weight // Imma Eat That

Stop The Food Judgments // Talk Less, Say More

The Secret To My Success // Carla Birnberg

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Ours should be interesting—Bazooka’s getting HIS FIRST HAIRCUT tomorrow morning! I’m sure many, many tears will be shed (by whom, I’m not certain).

  • Pick a category (or few) and tell me your top 3.
  • What are your weekend plans?

Life Lessons (From My Toddler)

Lately I’ve been all sorts of moody and dramatic, but one thing that always, always puts a smile on my face is my son.

God is he hysterical.

Even though he’s not a big talker yet, I am amazed at how much his little personality shines through.

He’s daring—as evidenced by how quickly he climbs onto the back of the couch to STAND and stare out the window. Birdie!

He’s analytical—which was made obvious back when he was just a few months old and would rotate the musical snow globe in his hands, eyeing it up-and-down, trying to figure out how the music played

He’s picky—because any food he doesn’t want to try is tossed to the dog in seconds

He’s intuitive—when he climbs into my lap and lays his head on my chest any time I’m feeling overwhelmed or sad

And, while he really grates on my nerves sometimes when he screams (yet again) during diaper changes or won’t let me put him down long enough to change in to my “comfy clothes” after work, he’s just so much fun.

He’s taught me how to be a mother (which was is a lot of trial and error!) but, in his own little way, he’s also taught me some other life lessons.

My son taught me to be a mom - but he's also taught me some life lessons as a toddler.

My toddler has taught me…

that hummus + crackers = a perfectly acceptable dinner 

that sleeping late is NOT shameful but something that should be cherished (mostly because we never get to sleep late anymore)

that nobody is too old for silly faces or impromptu dance parties

that hissy fits and tantrums should be reserved for toddlers, not grown women

that ice cream, fro-yo, and any other treats are better when they are shared

that I spend way too much time on my phone

that every moment of every day doesn’t have to be perfectly structured

that clutter isn’t the end of the world

that stemless wine glasses are a great investment (because they’re more difficult for tiny hands to grab off the table)

that “work” can and should be put off for cuddles

that strangers can become friends (especially if you toddle up to them in the supermarket and give them a random hug—maybe the hugging should be left to toddlers, but we adults can partake in smiles and conversations instead!)

that whatever somebody else has is interesting and seems like something you must have, but in reality isn’t the best thing for you (like sharp knives, glass bottles, you know, the cool stuff!)

that going outside is often the solution to your current problem

that it really doesn’t matter how your clothes fit—it’s how you feel in them 

that running through life is often better than simply walking

that usually it’s worth the risk to just go for what you want (unless it’s the iPhone plug or aforementioned knife!)

that life is short and simple moments should be savored❤

[linking up for thinking out loud]

  • What’s a lesson you’ve learned recently (from a child or not)?
  • What’s the funniest thing your child (or a child you know) has done?

Currently // May 2016

Hi there, folks. Are we really already more half-way through May? Sheeeeesh.

I’ll keep the intro short and just dive into my current happenings. But before I do that I want to give a shout-out to my lovely parents—yesterday was their 35th wedding anniversary! Thanks for showing me what marriage and support is all about.❤

Currently

Reading // Still reading All The Light We Cannot See. The writing and imagery are superb, but due to the back-and-forth chapters between characters, I’m finding I can’t read it quickly or for a great length of time. It’s a BIG book, too. I’m also playing around with some photography books: Understanding Exposure and How To Photograph Everything. Last but not least, I’m working my way through a fellow blogger’s first book that will be released soon. Look to my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook next week for pre-sale info and expect a review early next month!

Watching // Still watching Kimmy Schmidt. And Veep is cracking me up lately. I want to be Julia Louis-Dreyfus when I grow up.

Listening to // Podcasts – in particular, Blissful Bites.

Needing // Some new, neutral sandals for work. My Target ones—that I love—literally have holes in the sole, so I probably should replace them. I think I may “cash in” some of my American Express points and get a gift card I can use toward them (because I’m cheap).

Loving // My camera! (You knew that one was coming.) It’s going to be a while before I know what I’m doing, but I’m trying to practice any time and place I can. I feel like I should use the camera more before I make any investments, but I really want to buy this lens. It’s supposed to be perfect for portraits and achieving that dreamy blur on food photos and is a fantastic value for that price range.

Not Loving // How humid and hot it already is. What are June through September going to feel like?

Eating // Clementines. We bought a bag of “Halos” hoping Bazooka would like them (he doesn’t), so I’ve been eating 2-3 a day in my lunches. I love cute foods.

Drinking // $3 wine from Whole Foods. It’s not bad, and it’s 1/3 the price of what we usually buy!😉

Craving // A cheeseburger from Callaghan’s. So, so good (and so, so messy).

Avoiding // Cleaning the house. Always, right? I love having hard wood (well, laminate) floors, but they are so difficult to keep clean.

Happy about // My sweet, little family. It’s no secret that motherhood has been stressing me out lately, but damn do I love my sweet Bazooka so much! He’s just so funny and sweet…when he’s not throwing a tantrum.😉

Looking forward to // Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t until I was reminded last week that I even realized we had a holiday coming up. We probably won’t go anywhere or do anything spectacular, but a day off work is, as you know, a day off work! We’re also planning  to go visit my in-laws soon. That will be Bazooka’s first road trip besides the beach! Wish us luck.😉

Annnnd…that’s a wrap. I’ll chat again with you fine folks tomorrow!

What are you currently (pick a category—or a few)?

When Life Is A Hamster Wheel…

Weird metaphor, I know. 

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how—weird or not—that’s exactly how life feels sometimes.

You decide one day, “gee, that wheel looks nice.”

It’s so shiny, and you see all the other hamsters chugging along with a smile of contentment on their faces (for the sake of this post, let’s assume that hamsters do indeed smile).

You want to make that wheel spin, too.

After a moment or two of trepidation, you just hop on.

Once you get your footing, you realize, “this is fun!”

You get into a rhythm, you savor the way your feet (claws?) repeatedly pound the surface, and you relish the breeze blowing your hair (fur?).

But then. But then you’re moving so fast and your legs feel heavy and you know it will hurt if you suddenly jump off, but you know the pace you’re going isn’t sustainable and you’re not sure how to slow down.

All you know is your energy is depleted and you feel like the wheel is running you instead of the other way around.

Yes, that’s kind of how life feels sometimes.

When life is a hamster wheel...

I’m so fortunate to be where I am in life.

Above all, I’m healthy and safe. I’m loved and well-fed. I’m employed and able to spend irreplaceable time with my family—my supportive, handsome, and loving husband and my smiling, mischievous, and snuggly little boy. I sometimes get to travel and try new, exciting things, and I have a dog who loves me unconditionally.

I feel like I have no right to feel anything but joy and gratitude, and when those aren’t my default emotions, I then feel guilty.

I feel like my life is so damn privileged that it should always be rainbows and sunshine.

But sometimes, no matter your awareness of your privilege, you just feel stuck.

So, then, what do you do?

First you acknowledge that you need the wheel. The wheel gives you activity and purpose and it keeps you healthy and fulfilled.

Then you learn that you can, in fact, control the wheel. You may stumble or you may have to rely on an outside force to help slow it down, but you can get back to a steady walk or maintainable jog.

Even better, you can share your wheel. You can rest and eat and practice self-care while somebody else runs for a while.

You can watch and learn new techniques. You can sit back and realize why you love the wheel. That the wheel is yours and it moves as quickly or as slowly as you allow it.

And then when you’re ready, you can hop back on, knowing that you are in control.


I’m linking up this post to Julia’s new series, Mental Health Monday. While she’s planning it to be ongoing, I figured participating this first week was especially important since May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Be sure to visit her site for more posts.

  • Do you relate to this metaphor?
  • What do you do when you begin to feel overwhelmed?
  • Do you or somebody close to you struggle with mental health issues?

Would You Change Your Personality If You Could?

Do you ever wish you could just completely alter your personality?

I mean, I can say with confidence that I “like” myself—at least most of the time—but sometimes I wish I could round up a few of my friends’ and peers’ best qualities to go along with my superior intelligence, flawless beauty, and unmatched sense of humor.😉

Exaggeration and hyperbole are a couple of my strong suits, too.

Seriously, though. While I think I’m an intelligent, kind, hardworking, loyal, and decent person, there are some traits of mine that I’m not as fond of. I’m often too sarcastic, I am quick to become angry, I’m bad at sharing my feelings, and I’m too reluctant to take risks.

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Yes, if I could change one thing about myself—right this moment—I would become a risk taker.

I don’t mean that I would experiment with drugs or go jump out of an airplane (I fear I’d enjoy drugs too much and I’m saving the airplane for when I’m 90 and have nothing to lose).

What I mean is—I would have taken more calculated risks early in my “adulthood” and pushed some of my complacency and practicality aside.

I wouldn’t say that I regret where my life has led me (I have a loving husband, a steady-ish income, and the most perfect child in the world with whom I’ve shared many wonderful experiences), but I often wish I had “lived” a little more after I graduated college.

Although I was fortunate to have studied abroad in London after my junior year, I never hopped on an airplane to backpack through Europe or snorkel in Asia.

Throughout high school and even college, I always saw myself moving to some big city (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco?) to further my education or work in publishing or law, and yet I decided almost immediately after college graduation against graduate school (in hindsight, a great decision—because there’s nothing worse than a BA in English that you don’t use except for a MA in English that you don’t use). I love my hometown, but I’ve never lived anywhere else!

Instead of creating my own opportunities, I grasped tightly to the few that were presented to me and chose to make the best of what I had. I still do this, and while it’s allowed me the comforts I enjoy and sometimes take for granted, I often wonder, “am I missing out?”

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This post is kind of circular. I don’t have a big conclusion or revelation, and I’m not about to announce that I’m embarking on some huge adventure or change (I’m not).

I guess what I’m saying is that, while there’s room for being practical and careful, we only get one life and owe ourselves a few calculated risks. So I’m going to be more mindful in my choices. I’m always going to put my family at the top of my priorities, but I’m going to take my goals and dreams more seriously.

Because…what have I got to lose?

[linking up for thinking out loud]

  • Are you a risk taker?
  • What is one personality trait of yours that you value? Or would change?

My Second (Official) Mother’s Day

This past Sunday we celebrated my second official Mother’s Day (even though we enjoyed a lovely brunch and non-alcoholic Bloody Mary when I was pregnant, I figure that one didn’t really count).

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Me and the fur-child, Iggy, on Mother’s Day 2014—around 17 weeks pregnant!

We kept things pretty low-key, but it was a special day—and weekend—spent with my two favorite people.

Saturday I opted to skip the gym in favor of “sleeping late,” but Bazooka saw to it that we were up before 7:00, so out went that idea. I still skipped the gym, but instead of sleeping, we ate leftover donuts, sipped our coffee, and enjoyed a lazy morning. Later we stopped by the library to pick up a couple photography books, had lunch at Mugshots (disappointing, oddly-textured burger—not at all what I remember from years ago!), made a trip to the library’s annual book sale, and ended with a grocery haul at Super Target and Whole Foods.

Sunday was even more low-key than Saturday. We got to sleep a little later (thank you, Bazooka!) and enjoyed a lovely brunch of homemade waffles (Bazooka loved them!) topped with raspberries, scrambled eggs, bacon, and an interesting blueberry-chicken sausage we picked up from Whole Foods. Coffee and mimosas were also enjoyed!

Later we went over to my parents’ house so I could visit my mom and give her a little Mother’s Day gift. I can’t believe that we took ZERO pictures of me and Bazooka or my mom and Bazooka on this special day.😦

Then, Mark grilled us delicious filets and asparagus and whipped up his (should be) famous mashed potatoes. We “splurged” on a $13 bottle of wine (as opposed to our usual $8, haha) and enjoyed a lovely dinner. Bazooka threw his asparagus and bite of steak on the floor (what?!), but he loved daddy’s potatoes. This carb-loving child is definitely mine!

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Pic taken with the new camera—even in horrible artificial light it kicks the iPhone’s a$$

I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day weekend! I’m looking forward to learning more about the new camera and practicing some shots (and buying ALL the pretty props!), but more than the camera itself, I love the sentiment behind it: to encourage me to improve my blog and photo quality (because it’s important to me) and for us to capture special moments as a family.❤

  • If you celebrated, what did you do for Mother’s Day?
  • If you use a DSLR, what is your number one tip?