Celebrations Galore!

This past Saturday was the final hoo-rah for the 30th birthday.  My mom organized a nice trip up to Berlin, Maryland for a lunch celebration.  Berlin is about forty-five minutes from my parents’ house.  The party crowd included my mom, sister, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and best friend who drove down from Chestertown, Maryland.  I’m ever so grateful that everyone took the time out of their day (especially at this busy time of the year!) to catch up.  We enjoyed a great lunch where several quiches were consumed as well as a vegetarian wrap for me.  After that we were off to our *free* carriage rides.  Here are some pics from the day…

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I’m so thankful to have these women to celebrate with.  I typically feel uncomfortable being the sort-of center of attention, but it is nice to have everyone together.  If it means that I have to have a birthday, then so be it!  We also had a nice Christmas-y celebration at church today, and little H was excellent.  He always behaves so well for his daddy!  I must admit I’m a little bit jealous of the Mr.’s aura that seems to put Holden in the ship-shape mode.  

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Even after all this excitement, we still have more coming up with a Christmas carol sing, volunteering time, family dinners and breakfasts, and just happiness in general spending time with family and NOT having to be at work by 7:25 in the morning.  Season’s greetings to you and yours!

Natalie

5 for Friday

Hello People!  I’m excited to report that this Friday is the very last work day for the 2013 year.  The Mr. is off too, and we are so looking forward to a little less hectic pace and lots more family time.  I have to admit that I am worn out right now from all the festivities.  December has been busy so far with travels to Maryland, family visits, shopping, class parties, wrapping, baking, etc.  I’ve enjoyed doing it all but busy nonetheless!  Here’s my always eager baker…

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I know it’s a lot of similar pics, but I just love the see the concentration and emotion on H’s face.  So fun!  My 5 for Friday this week will be my five health goals for the Christmas break.  I want to be gentle and patient with myself this time of the year (that means enjoying rest and treats), but I also don’t want to be feeling that yuck feeling of too much of a good thing!

{ONE}

Walk Roscoe the dog each and every day.  He needs and loves it, and I certainly need more fresh air.  Sometimes, I only spend a 20 minutes outside in a day.  I definitely want to increase that time on our days off.

{TWO}

Drink 60 ounces of water daily.  Not including coffee!  Anyone who knows me knows that this might be the loftiest goal ever.  I get so dehydrated and don’t take the time to drink.  I can eat whole meals and not take one sip.  I’m going to shoot for 20 before 9 AM, another 20 before 2 PM, and then finish off the last 20 in the late afternoon/evening.  Perhaps an alarm on my phone to help with this???

{THREE}

Keep to my regular work-out schedule of Su/T/Th for strength training and cardio.  I’d also like to incorporate yoga into my off days.  I plan to pack my yoga DVDs and mat.  This is perfect for before H gets up or during nap time.  Since there are more folks around, I think I can convince a grandparent or two to babysit while I fit in a run.  

{FOUR}

Bed by 10.  This is another lofty goal.  I tend to get so excited to talk with everyone that I don’t want to go to bed.  Just like a kid!  I even have the Mr. remind me about bedtime.  Then, I usually whine at him about complying with my own decision!  Can we say baby!?!?!  Oh well, here goes goal four!

{FIVE}

Journal each and every day.  I find writing out my prayers/thoughts to be really helpful wether it’s done first thing in the morning or before bed.  Taking the time to “clean house” mentally is soothing to me.  I’ll be packing all that gear too.

What ways do you preserve your “routine” and overall health during the hectic holiday season?

Have a happy Friday!

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Do I know what hungry is?

For one of my birthday treats, my mom included a current issue of Vogue magazine.  I’m not a regular reader, but I do enjoy a good magazine.  I took it as my gym/elliptical reading on Sunday and was quite surprised by one article in particular.  The Beauty/Health section was titled “Hunger Games:  Is Skipping Meals the Secret to Staying Trim and Healthy?” by Kayleen Schaffer.  

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The main idea of this article is that our bodies were not designed to be snacking every three to four hours.  Our ancestors, you know those prehistoric people running around in animal skins, didn’t.  This method of fasting for a given amount of hours is called Intermittent Fasting.  Some impressive-sounding data from the International Journal of Obesity noticed some improved cardiovascular health and better regulation of blood sugar levels in obese women.  The article went on to mention some findings that said it may cause the brain to work harder thereby heading off cognitive disease.  As a reader of many health publications, I have a hard time with this info.  This flies in the face of all I’ve read!  We should be snacking to keep our engine running/burning calories/performing at our best!  

With that being said, I do notice that I sometimes eat my snacks just because it is time to.  I eat at 6:00ish, 9:30ish, 12:00ish, 3:00ish, and then 6:00ish.  Whew!  That’s a lot of snacking!  As an experiment, I’ve taken out my midmorning snack the past few days, and I must admit I don’t miss it too much.  I have been trying to make sure I get more protein in my breakfast.  Overall, I think I do a little mindless snacking at this time.  It also is my busiest time of the day.  I think I use the food time as an excuse to take a few minutes for a breather.  Well, good news!  I can still take a breather without food.  I’m replacing it with lots more water which is a good thing as I’m ALWAYS dehydrated.  Hate to drink, what can I say.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do we mindlessly eat for reasons besides hunger?  I think the answer is yes, but we need to figure out the why part of it.  I have to say I’ve been appreciating my lunch a little more too.  Check out the Vogue magazine on stands now to read more details.  It is a million and one pages long so turn to page 210 to get there quick.  

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Leaving the 20s Behind

Today is my birthday, and I am 30.  How did this happen!?!?!  I feel like I was just starting college or at least just starting my teaching career.  Time certainly marches on.  Now, I am living as an adult in my own home with a husband and a dog and a CHILD who is big enough to say “Happy Birthday, Mommy!” I got lots of “Happy Birthday!” wishes, phone calls with musical treats from family, facebook posts, and hugs.  I even got a special floral delivery from my daddy which smelled and looked just beautiful.  The Mr. surprised me with cards, cupcakes, and jewelry.  The band pictured below is his birthstone.  I absolutely love it.  Can’t wait to wear it ALL THE TIME.  Here are some pics from the big day!

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I feel like this has been one of those big birthdays that I’ll remember.  I have some fond memories of my 16th, 18th, and 21st birthday.  I always felt like after those it was all down hill.  This birthday feels different.  I feel so much more grown-up.  I feel like this birthday makes you think a bit more.  I know I’ve got years ahead that will teach me plenty, but I also think the first thirty have done a decent job of wising me up.  

30 Things:

1.  Friends change as life changes.  A few will remain the same, but many will change.

2.  Family is forever.  Even if you don’t talk to them or see them, you carry them as a part of you.  Note:  I see and talk to mine frequently.  Just sayin’.  

3.  A first dog that is really your very own is a forever friend.

4.  College life is hard but is good prep for living as an adult.  

5.  Transferring college is not recommended unless absolutely necessary.

6.  Confidence and knowing your mind is something only possible for most people in the 20s.  Certainly not high school age unless you’re lucky/wise beyond years.

7.  Lemon juice will curdle a milk-based soup.  

8.  The first year either living together or married may be the hardest year for a relationship.

9.  Never underestimate the power of a good work-out or a smoothie with greens in it to make you feel so much better.

10.  Journaling is like cheap therapy.

11.  My favorite color is black in the winter.

12.  Getting a magazine subscription versus buying one at the check-out is just a simply wiser decision.

13.  When in doubt, commit to something.  Just as long as it isn’t crime.  I’m thinking like a pottery class or dinner plans, people!

14.  The worst chore ever is folding laundry.  Period.

15.  Invest in nice water bottles and running shoes.

16.  Breastfeeding is the hardest thing.  Harder than childbirth.  No lie.  I think it is the mental.

17.  Falling in love with your child can happen days or months after he/she is born.

18.  Creating moments is perfectly okay.  Don’t wait for things to “magically” align.

19.  Go for medical check-ups often and don’t be afraid to argue with those folks.

20.  Roasting veggies in the oven is the easiest way to get my bambino to chow down.

21.  The best work-out gear is not necessary.  Neither is the mid-priced.  It just matters if you get it done!

22.  Husbands and wives show love in different ways.  No one way should be valued over the other.  

23.  I can do things that are hard/miserable and live to tell the tale!  (See childbirth, half-marathons, and a 6 hour long class on special education law that was taught on Sundays!)  

24.  Parents are right.  You will never understand their love for you until you have one of your own.

25.  Children are children.  They need to be treated kindly before anything else like the dreaded multiplication!

26.  Vacations are fun, but often it is the misadventures that happen that keep you talking and keep you thankful to be spending time with loved ones.

27.  Baking bread is an art form and should only be done by the absolute pros.

28.  Having a Christmas birthday means you will not be able to schedule a pseudo-birthday party in August, call it your birthday party, and get presents.  Found this out the hard way many years ago.

29.  Being able to ask for forgiveness is one of the most freeing feelings.

30.  Having people to love is one of the greatest opportunities to be thankful for.

 

5 For Friday

Today’s post (which I’m actually doing on a Thursday as tomorrow promises to be very busy!) highlights my five favorite restaurants in the Southside Hampton Roads area in Virginia.  I am picky about my eats, and I prefer things that are healthy and fresh.  The joke is when my mom and sister visit for me to suggest something healthy, inexpensive, and new!  After living here for over six years, I have tried quite a few.  Here are my top five picks (in no particular order)…

{ONE}

Baker’s Crust – Just an awesome lunch spot!  I love their Baker’s Combo which allows you to pick a 1/2 sandwich and a 1/2 salad or soup combo.  Very similar to Panera.  The coffee is excellent.  I love the wine country salad, and my mom is a serious fan of the raspberry almond bar.  I am a chocolate lover, but this desert is divine.  There are locations in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.  I believe there may also be a location in Chesapeake.

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{TWO}

YNOT Pizza – Reasonably priced, fast, and delicious/fresh pizza!  Pizza is usually a food that I can only eat when I make it at home.  It really upsets my stomach.  However, YNOT is an exception.  I love how it is decorated nicely inside at the Virginia Beach location (only one I’ve been to).  There are locations in Chesapeake and Norfolk as well.  

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{THREE}

Fruitive – This is a new spot that I like.  It is very health conscious.  I love the collard green wrap!  You just feel like you can safely stuff your face with all the yumminess wrapped up in a collard green.  Drinks/Juices must be bought separately, so it can run you a little more than you would expect in the money department.  It is good to note that Holden fully approves of their kale chips.  

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{FOUR}

Misako – Basic, quality sushi place.  This does not have the bells and whistles of other sushi places, but I love it!  The Mr. and I started going there when we were living in our apartment about 2 minutes away.  There is never a wait.  The staff is very friendly.  They have reasonable prices as well as a buffet on some days/nights.  This is in central Virginia Beach.  

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{FIVE}

Back Bay Gourmet – This is in southern Virginia Beach, and I have only been once.  It was excellent though!  The gift shop area is very cute and reminds me of another good spot, Taste Unlimited.  Soups and sandwiches were excellent, and the dessert selection was huge.  Many of the beautiful desserts were made on-site.  It was a very relaxing atmosphere even with a 20 month old boy.  Good news, there is also a changing table here!  

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I hope this list will help you when you are visiting Virginia Beach or if you are a local.  If you know the area, do you have any favorite spots?  I like to try new things when I’m able!

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Peace, Not Stress

In our current time, it is certainly the trend to say the word “stressed.”  I think it may have surpassed “tired” as the go to word.  I counted at dinner tonight, and the Mr. and I were guilty of using the s-word two times.  It may have been more on another night since I was a little biased.  I did know I was counting after all.  The point is that I STILL used the word even though I knew I was counting the times it was said.  Why is it the trend for all adults plus kids to be walking around stressed all the time?  I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with guilt and perception.  If we aren’t stressed/busy/tired, then we just must not be doing our very best at work, at home, in our relationships, as a mom.  Do you have these talks with yourself?  Do you talk yourself into feeling stressed?  Do you feel pressed to do and be everything?  Do you sometimes agree with others that you are stressed and tired when you really aren’t?  I know I can answer yes to these questions.  

 

We are always looking for ways to beat the stress.  This may be wine, bubble baths, or both!  This could include a girls’ night or time at the gym.  However, this season seems to buffalo even the most dedicated, zen-like person.  I really love this article by Jennifer at Unveiled Wife wrote at Ruth’s sweet site the Better Mom.  The tips were practical without suggesting you take on Scrooge-like qualities.  Here are a few of my tips for saving your holiday sanity while still enjoying the specialness this season has to offer…

  • Keep up some type of fitness routine but be flexible with yourself
  • Try to limit yourself to one treat a day.  If your having a holiday work party, don’t indulge in those tasty but rich Christmas cookies.  They will still be there for your treat time tomorrow.
  • Use your phone or camera to capture impromptu moments of peace and beauty this holiday season.  Looking through these pictures when you’re having a challenging day will be uplifting.  Share the best on social media to spread simple joy.
  • Set up a Secret Santa for gift exchanging this year.  I wrote about it on this post.  
  • Pick one to two fun activities to do.  It really isn’t necessary to go ice skating, do Elf on the Shelf every single night from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, read every Christmas book known to man, attend multiple parades, visit a mall Santa, AND get holiday pictures taken.  I’m so guilty of this one!  I’ve tried to scale back a little bit this year, but I’ll be honest this is challenging.  No matter what, my son needs a mom who isn’t running around like a crazy person who is sleep deprived due to all the holiday run arounds.  Also, I’ll be honest about the whole family pic Christmas cards.  I’ve done it for the past two years, but I actually enjoy receiving the old-fashioned ones with the glitter and pretty scenes with a hand-written, sweet note.  Why am I depriving myself of this joy!?!?!?  Way simpler than ordering up prints or personalized cards and I personally like them better!
  • Giving back – This is the important thing about the whole season, a symbol of God’s love and our job to love one another.  This is an easy one to get pushed under the rug as we race around doing so much for our kids, our family, and our friends.  I’m looking for ways to give time, but I also like to donate “on the fly” such as with the bell ringers outside of all the big stores, church, and Christmas for Families.  
  • Make shopping streamlined through online shopping – Only head out in the crowds for a mega deal or a fun trip.  The Mr. and I went out one day and hit a few stores.  It was actually fun since we knew what we were getting and of course that we did it together.  The means can be just as important as the goal, gifts purchased!

Whatever you do, however you celebrate remember that what people most need and want from you is your happiness and peace.  A peaceful me certainly results in a general feeling of peace for our home.  Happy Christmas Preparation!

My Moments Recently

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Separation In Washington D.C.

As any mom will tell you, it’s tough to leave little ones.  I went away this past weekend from my little one to Washington D.C.  My parents took my sister and I for a candlelight tour of Mount Vernon as well as a Redskins’ game.  I have never been to either, so I was excited.  I have to admit there was a big part of me that felt guilty for leaving “Dada” with all the duties and not being home to do all the Christmas fun that comes with this time of the year.  It was a wonderful trip that I will always remember not only for the crazy, snowy, chilly weather but also for the time spent as a kid again.  Sort of anyways.  Spending time with just my parents and sister.  My brother and sister-in-law have been before, so they were left in charge of pups.  Although we have our disagreements (driving styles, politics, food preferences, etc.), we really enjoyed just being together shooting the breeze.  I’m so thankful that I didn’t let my small case of separation anxiety keep me from being a part of a special adventure.  I hear mom guilt never leaves completely, but we have to remember that putting a child at the center of your life leaves little room for the others you care about.  A child is a beautiful blessing.  Center of the universe, he is not.  Here are some pictures from our escapades…

 

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There were beautifully decorated trees all over. My blurry iPhone pic doesn’t do it justice. I loved the peacock feather topper!

 

 

 

 

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Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness!

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Moochie and Poppie as Holden says!

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Wearing countless layers! We saw snow, sleet, and rain!

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My yummy lunch of cheeses, grapes, and crackers – who knew FedEx field would have this as a lunch option!

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Two Cuties

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Love the snow

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Poncho Togetherness

 

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Don’t let the picture fool you. Daddy had to poncho up too.

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See!  Holdie lived without Mommy for a whole weekend.  He even got to meet Santa on the local train.  How cool is that!  I hope that you don’t forget who you are and take time to nurture not only your child but also your relationships with others.  Husbands, friends, parents, siblings, there are others who need the time and gifts you have.  By taking time away, I feel like I can better appreciate Holden.  When I saw him for the first time after being away, I was taken back by how much I missed him.  Even though we had a hectic evening after I picked him up from daycare aka doing grocery shopping in the rain cold, I treasured each hug, smile, and word.  I know I treasured it more than usual after the time away.  I was reminded yet again how thankful I am to have family and to have a healthy son who was safe and sound without me for just a bit.

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