April Goals

A sure sign of spring.

 

I’m going to start posting my monthly goals and updates on those goals as a way to keep myself in check with you all. If I write it down for all to see, I’m more likely to stick to it, right?

Read at least 3 books. My GoodReads goal this year is to read 25 books this year and so far I’ve read at least 3 books each month. Giving myself that time to wind down at night with my Kindle is the perfect way to have me time. I find I sleep so much better on the nights that I read a little before bed, even if I can only make it three pages in before my Kindle falls on my face!

Go to a Yoga class 5 times. My SiL introduced me to a wonderful yoga studio and we are trying to meet up once a week in April for a class. So I bought a 5 class pass and I’m committed! I’m new to yoga but I can already see the benefits – less stress, flexibility, feeling more in tune with my body, etc.

Plant lettuce and spinach. I’ve never planted from seeds but definitely want to try this Spring. I heard that I could plant now and have some lettuce plants available for Spring.

Go on more family walks and hikes. This winter was rather cold and dreadful and warm weather means get out of the house and enjoy nature!

Plan a fun, tiny party for Emily’s birthday. My baby is turning 3! We’ve decided to have a small grandparent party the weekend of her birthday and a bigger gathering in May when we need help in putting something exciting together for her birthday.

 

Five for Friday

.1.

Anyone else feel like this week went by slow as molasses?? I’m not sure why but it has. So yay for Friday! I have dinner slowly cooking in the crock pot (a tastefully simple beef sauce over browned stew beef which I will place over some noodles. Easy peasy and I won’t have to think about it later which is awesome) and not sure what else we’ll plan for this evening but I’m looking forward to some couch time with my family.

.2.

As I start to be more knowledgeable and aware of harmful ingredients in cosmetics and lotions and potions, I’ve been slowly turning to more natural products. One thing I’ve been hesitant to try is natural, aluminum free deodorant. Well, I recently joined a few Facebook groups for my town and found a woman who makes soaps and just started making deodorants and luckily she sells a small size of the deodorant so I can try it before getting the big one. She has an Etsy shop but I’m going to pick up my order from her this weekend and report back! I am excited to try her Earl Gray soap too.

(Also, I cannot spell deodorant on the first try. Thanks spell check.)

.3.

At the beginning of February we enrolled Emily into preschool 3 days a week knowing that we’d have her there 5 days a week by summer. She loved it so much and we could see how much growth she had in so many areas that we upped it to 5 after a couple of weeks. The first week she went full time she had some separation anxiety which was just so heartbreaking. I would have to leave her in full on tears and sobs and….it sucked. We reevaluated things and started a new morning routine where I don’t emphasize going to school and I set her up with a little snack once we’re there and she’s been an angel! It’s made my mornings so much better and sets the tone for my day. I was down right miserable the days I’d have to leave her sobbing but now my days are that much better.

.4.

2 more weeks until spring! I’m not one to be all “I’m over winter, boohoo” because I live in New England and we have winters and springs and summers and falls. This winter was a bit brutal. Polar vortex nonsense and even now there’s still a ton of ice everywhere. I’m done. So happy to see that we’ll have several days above freezing to look forward to started tomorrow.

.5.

I’ve been in such a workout slump the past few weeks. I love going to the gym in the mornings but by the time I arrive at work afterwards the parking spots fill up especially since there’s still snow piles everywhere. This spring thaw will help a lot and I can finally get back to my routine. That’s twice I’ve mentioned the warmer weather. I’m excited is what I am saying.

Toddler Potty Training Success

Potty Success

Yup, I’m going there. Over time and as my girlfriends’ kids have grown up, I’ve learned that optimal potty training age is between 2.5-3 years old. As time has gone by and we kept getting closer and closer to E turning 3, we knew it would be time to start potty training. In my head, I figured the first of the year would be a good time to start planning on training. I figured that in December we had a Disney trip and then the holidays and I didn’t want the process to be overwhelming for any of us.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in parenting is that the child is running the show.  When E was ready, she was ready whether it was the ideal time or not. I mean, the kid caused me to be in labor for 30 hours and then had to be surgically removed after all that so she does things on her own timeline is what I’m saying.

The weekend after Christmas we went shopping for E’s big girl bed. For months she hadn’t been sleeping all night in her converted crib and I thought (hoped) having a new bed would magically change things. Literally the day we picked up the mattress something just clicked in E and all of a sudden she wanted to go on the potty. We didn’t mean for all this change at once, but here we were.

What Helped Us Potty Train*

1. Pick up a potty seat and have it out in the open and talk about it. I had picked up a potty seat (this one if you are interested. I love it because it was cheap and it’s easy to clean.) and placed it in the bathroom when E was 18 months old. We talked about it and saw it every day for over a year. It was normal and comfortable.

2. Wait for the toddler to be ready. We didn’t push E to potty train at a certain age. I heard some awful stories about how frustrating it was trying to potty train for the sake of potty training. In my opinion, there’s not a perfect time except for the right time. Which is always not exactly when you want to do it or when “society” says to do it or your grandma says to do it. Personally, I think the child should have the motor skills to pull up and down their pants and to start to acknowledge when they are wet or dry.

3. Be calm, this too shall pass. We spent a weekend at home just focusing on E going on the potty every 15-20 minutes. There were many accidents but we never yelled or got angry. We just cleaned it up and put on a fresh pair of pull ups or undies.

4. Have the toddler be involved in the process with rewards, etc. Since the timing of potty training E occurred around the holidays, I had lots of new toys that I put away so we could rotate them with her old toys. Then I thought, “why not use the new toys as rewards for using the potty?” Genius! If I hadn’t had these gifts, I would have gone to the Dollar Spot at Target and pick out some little toys. We also used chocolate as rewards and I had E put a virtual “sticker” on the Potty Time app board each time she went. She loved seeing how many were already there and kept saying “almost there!” after each sticker was placed.

5. Be consistent. It’s so easy to use diapers or pull ups, but being consistent about wearing undies is key. We weren’t going to go backwards after spending all this time and energy on potty training so it was full steam ahead! After a couple of weeks of using pull ups we did the undies thing during the day no matter what.

6. Don’t be afraid to leave your house. It frightened me the first few times we left the house without the protection of a pull up. I always make sure E uses the bathroom before we leave and when we arrive to places. When we would go to a restaurant or store I’d say “Don’t you want to see what their potty looks like?” to get E excited to go while we were out and about. Of course, that backfires because she wants to see the bathrooms 12 times during a meal. But at least she’s jazzed about it!

It’s been 8 weeks since we started potty training and it’s been great! E started at preschool a few weeks ago and we stopped having her use pull ups at night around then. We still have some accidents here or there (waterproof mattress pads save us!) but otherwise it’s been awesome. She is growing up so fast.

* I’m not claiming to be an expert and I know every toddler is different. This is just what worked for us. Feel free to leave any helpful hints or suggestions in the comments.

2013: Year in Review

2014

So I thought I did this survey last year but I must have skipped it. Here’s 2010 and 2011.

I found this tweaked version of the list from RA. I really love her updates as some of these questions irked me for the same reasons they irked her too!

1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday (2 days after New Years) this year was on a Thursday I believe so I went to work where I was surprised with my favorite coffee and flowers by a few of my coworkers. I turned 34. That weekend, Scott took Emily and I to look at the Christmas lights in Hartford and out to a nice dinner. Very low key.

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
My memory seems to be fading with age so anything in the last couple of months is the strongest memory! haha. My best memories from this year were my close relationships with special friends because of certain things that happened this year and two trips we took – one to Vermont for my brother’s wedding and one to Florida.

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Became godparents to a beautiful little girl, started potty training our 2.5 year old, started working on my fitness, Zumba, front row at DMB (finally!)…

4. What did you want and get?
Oh man, how can this not make me sound materialistic?? I wanted a new point and shoot camera for the weddings/trips we had this year. I also wanted to just enjoy my little family.

5. What did you want and not get?
If I’m being truly honest, I really wanted to add to our family. In my heart, having two children would make me and my family complete. Many times through the year I grew frustrated and…pissed off. But now I’m at peace with the pace and way things are going. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes things don’t have to happen in an overly planned way.

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?
More patience. More peace within.

7. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Looking back at my list of goals from last year, I truly completely only a third of them. But that’s ok – that’s more than what I would have completely without a list! I do plan to keep some of the original goals that weren’t completed and then maybe add a few more.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Signing up for the gym and Zumba and making a committment to myself. 3-4 times a week I have some me time and hit the gym. It was a big step for me.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Lack of patience. Not giving myself the time to plan for meals and groceries like I should. Spending too much time on the internet.

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
My husband is my rock. He listens and helps come up with a game plan. I had a few afternoons that he picked Emily up for me so I could have me time (mostly get a cup of coffee and wander around a store). I also call my mom every other day pretty much.

11. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)
For books I loved Gone Girl. Heads in Beds made me think a lot about the hospitality industry. TV and movies are always tough for me….I tend to watch the same things and most of the movies I watch lately are of the Disney variety!

12. What song will remind you of this year?
Mirrors by JT….anything JT really.

13. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).

Keep your head up
Try and listen to your heart
Be kind always, no matter
We all grow up
And someday we’ll say goodbye
So shine your light while you got one

Make the most of what you’ve got
Don’t waste time trying to be something you’re not
Fill up your head and fill up you heart and take your shot
Don’t waste time trying to be something you’re not

(DMB Drunken Soldier)

14. What was your most enjoyable purchase?
Plane tickets to Disney World!

15. Did you travel? If so, where?
A trip to Atlanta for work in June, Vermont for my brother’s wedding in September and Florida in December.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More unplugged days playing games or crafting with my family.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Obsessing over certain things. Less time on the internet…

18. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
There are many ways I am different from last year, and many I am the same. I don’t take things for granted. I feel in better shape than I have been in a long time.

19. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?
Stubborn, hard on myself, frustrated with the amount of stuff we have. Yeah, that’s all the same!

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?
Things can change dramatically in one swift moment. Life is much too precious to take for granted.

Disney World in December

December is almost over and I feel like it’s gone by so quickly. Part of why it feels that way is because we took a week long trip to Disney World at the beginning of December. Ever since that trip the days have flown by and I get so depressed thinking that our big Disney trip and Christmas are already over.

Sad trombone.

To make me feel a little better, I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments from that trip.

Magic Bands are new at Disney World. They are personalized with your reservations, tickets and fastpasses. These were so awesome. It was nice not to have to dig through a purse for your room key (they still gave us a real key card) or park ticket. You could also link your credit card to it but we opted not to do that. Also, they sell things to personalize your bands even more with sleeves and pins. Anything for the almighty dollar!

But all kidding aside, we loved the FastPass+ feature with the My Disney Experience App and the bands. I always disliked the paper fastpasses because the machines would break and you would race to get the fastpass at the machine and then have time to kill so you wind up at a different side of the park only to race back. With the app, we made our fastpass choices on the fly. Often times, the night before we’d make our game plan for the next day so I’d set up our fastpasses and we’d be golden. They take some of the guess work out and time things out well (i.e.having similar attractions in the area so you aren’t doubling back). But it’s still in the testing phase so there are kinks to work out. Our first day using the FastPass+ they weren’t showing up at the rides but there were cast members with ipads who saw that we did indeed have a fastpass for that attraction and let us through. Also, I don’t like that you can only do 3 fastpasses and all in one park. Sometimes we only needed 1 for that park but it automatically gave you two others.

It was our first trip with a child so we planned a few princess and character meals and then that was it. We went into the trip with an idea of the things we wanted to do but we didn’t want the trip to be a race to get certain things done. We ended up meeting all the princesses except for Tiana and Jasmine only because the lines for their meet n greets were always too long and out of the way. Next time!

What I really enjoyed was that although there may have been a huge line behind us, each character spent quality time with Emily. We never felt rushed and I loved that. For instance, Minnie Mouse held Emily in a hug that felt like forever!

And Merida was gracious and helped me make a quick happy birthday video for my friend Ashley. Probably because I was wearing my Dr. Who/Brave t-shirt!

One of the big reasons we decided to go this year was knowing that this was the last year Emily would be free. Another huge reason was that it was a chance to hang out with my BIL and SIL Craig and Jen who work for Disney World. They hadn’t seen Emily since she was 10 months old and I’m so happy we had the opportunity to hang out during this trip. Emily loves talking about Auntie Jen and Uncle Craig and it warms my heart.

Back in 2006, Scott proposed to me in front of the “Eiffel Tower” in France in EPCOT and we couldn’t resist recreating that picture with our new family.

We had such a great time! I’m so glad we decided to go. I’m so lucky that my inlaws are vacation club members. December is hands down my favorite time to go because of the Osbourne lights, the big trees at each park and resort and the special Christmas stories in each country at EPCOT.

October Favorites

I was inspired by your wishcake and wanted to share my monthly favorites.

1. Katy Perry – Roar. Katy Perry is my guilty pleasure singer. Any time I’m having a rough day, am at the gym, or just any day ending in ‘y” I listen to her and instantly start dancing around and have a big grin on my face. “Roar” is such a great girl power song and an awesome workout song.

2. Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil Reducing Cleanser. For a while now I’ve been watching youtube reviews from That Is All Ashley and she’s been all about Paula’s Choice skin care. There was a great sale at the beginning of October so I took advantage and I’m so glad I did. I love this cleanser – it’s a bit creamy and definitely holds oil at bay. I use it with my Clarisonic at night and can tell a huge difference in my skin since using that with the Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant which I use every other night. My skin is so much more clear. Highly recommend this line if you have combo to oily skin.

3. Jordana Best Lash Extreme mascara. Ladies, here is a drugstore mascara that costs $2.99 that really works! The formula is great – it’s a little wet which I prefer for mascaras. It doesn’t clump or run all over your face. I wore this to a wedding in early October and it didn’t budge at all. Definitely worth trying out for under three bucks.

4. Valerie Spencer glasses. Recently I had a really great eye exam and discovered that I’m far sighted, not near sighted as I thought my whole life. Well, actually I’m a little both and my eye doctor recommended bifocals. Going from never wearing glasses to wearing bifocals scared me a bit and luckily the optometrist was able to play with my prescription so I wouldn’t need bifocals. I was told to wear them while reading so I’ve been wearing them pretty much all day long. I’m glad I went with these glasses because they are lightweight and sometimes I forget I’m wearing them.

5. Zumba. I’ve been wanting to try Zumba for a while but never had the guts to do it. I finally took advantage of the inexpensive classes through my parks & rec department and I’m so glad I did! It’s such a fun workout and burns 500-700 calories per 1 hour class. I finished a 6 week class and I just signed up for another 4 weeks. The women in the class are fun and it’s a good mix of ages too. I picked up a belly dancing skirt from Amazon to use in class and can’t wait for the next session to begin!

A Change Will Do You Good (Health Wise)

7 weeks ago, I walked into a gym for the first time since…high school. After doing a little research and price comparison, I signed up for a membership. Then I stepped on a treadmill and worked out. 

In the days leading up to signing on the dotted line, I hit rock bottom. I’d spent months feeling down on myself and, as cliche as it is, I was tired of being tired. Life had become very routine. It was as if I was stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. When I looked in the full-length mirror, I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me. I started getting back into the can of soda, chips and other bad foods trap.

Sure, last year I did Couch25K and ran a 5k and started on a healthier path but I never stuck with it. There were the excuses: I don’t have time! I work full time, have a family and a life. How can I fit a gym in there? And the price! How will it fit in our budget? Excuses, excuses, excuses. Then I realized I pass a gym twice a day Monday through Friday. It’s not like I have to drive 15 minutes out of my way to get there. What’s the harm? And lucky for me, this gym is affordable. Super affordable. Like, bring your own lunch and coffee to work a few days a week affordable. And there’s tons of machines so I’m never awkwardly waiting my turn or worse, on one and having the pressure of someone waiting for me to finish. The bathrooms are super clean and there’s even changing rooms! Believe me, I checked everything before signing up.

Since signing up I’ve made the commitment to myself to work out at least 3 days a week. After a week or two I realized that going in the morning before work was best for me and my schedule. And I….shower there! Big steps, folks!

Speaking of big steps, I also signed up for a 6 week Zumba class through my town’s parks & recs department. This is huge for me because I had to go to the class solo and it’s an hour long workout with minimal breaks. But I had so much fun! And everyone in the class was so nice and welcoming. I felt fantastic afterwards too.

Working out regularly has not only made me feel better but it’s made me a tad bit more organized. In order for me to go work out in the morning, I have to pack my gym bag and work bag the night before so that when we all get up in the morning, I just throw my gym clothes on, wash my face and brush my teeth and get E in the car and go. It’s also made me plan healthier snacks and lunch for the week as well. When I plan poorly, I make not so healthy eating decisions. And in the end, giving myself this time on a regular basis makes me a better mom and a better wife. What more can you ask for?