Posts tagged summer
Summer Bucket List

The 12 weeks of summer vacation were so sweet. With both boys excited for little adventures and outings, we started the summer by making a bucket list of activities and places we wanted to seek out and embrace. Afraid of getting into a routine of just slow mornings and lounging, I tried to tackle one item a week so there would be a good balance between "get out and be busy days" and "sip coffee and settle in days." With only 24 hours left of my summer being a "stay-at-home-mom" with my kiddos, I am feeling nostalgic for the warm, long summer days we shared. It hurts so much to return to the rigid school day schedule after savoring this time together as family, but this summer there are no regrets or "I wish we hads." We carpe diemed the Sh*t out of our summer together and I am happy to look over the memories we captured as our trio explored together. If only I could get paid to just have time home with my family, that would be the life! I know that once school starts on Monday, it will feel fresh, and good, and exciting to be back on campus, but tonight I want to halt time and stay in this summer sunset longer. What was on the bucket list?

Wingearshaek Beach

Beach Days... yes, multiple!

Lunch with David

Davis Farmland

Eat oysters

Get a pottery wheel

California

Newport, RI

Hopkinton State Park

Ashland state park

Kayaking

SUPing

Salem

Gloucester

Beach Picnic

Summer Concert

Aquarium

Running in a Fountain

Eating outside

Roger Williams Zoo

Strawberry Picking

Riding bikes (my only picture of them on wheels)

Lobster rolls

Visit to Long Island

Have a kickass birthday party for Henry

Duck boat ride

Savor our family

Which items didn't get crossed off this year?

Castle Island, SoWa, Provincetown, Mass MoCA, Portland Day Trip

Not bad! We almost did it all, but I am glad we stuck to picking from our list. The boys loved hearing about the different places we could visit and would fall in love with one location and then want to go back and visit over and over again. This might be a fun little tradition to embrace and to maximize our time together and our explorations of this beautiful region of the country we get to call home.

More summer vibes

July is a month of celebrating! There is America's birthday, Henry's birthday, even Nathaniel Hawthorne has a birthday this month. David's dad and step-mom come for a visit and the travels of friends and family bring so many of our loved one into our daily life with stops in Massachusetts and quick reconnections. With all this, we are summering hard but somehow it is already mid-month! Sitting next to the boys this morning, I just feel so lucky to be able to soak up this warm month with them and am plotting and planning how we continue this awesome trend of exploring, enjoying, and entertaining.

My health challenge 09

  So it has been a little while since I shared a health and fitness update. It has killed me to not inundate this blog with daily updates, but I remind myself that not everyone is as excited about fitness as I am these days!! What I have discovered is that everyone is interested in health and wellness, particularly their own. This has led to so many beautiful, honest, and raw conversations. I have been so moved by what friends, family, and strangers have been willing to share about their experiences with health and fitness and humbled by their dreams and goals for healthier habits. This road is not one paved by perfection, but rather by small steps toward progress. 

By focusing on myself and my family this summer, I have seen an amazing transformation in what we do with our free time, in how we approach eating, and in how we talk about our selves and dreams. It is funny how when you nourish your soul with whole foods and your body with activity the ripple into every other corner of your life is unexpected and kind of awesome. And, working with my first group of challengers has demonstrated to me truly that community helps foster accountability not through shame but through joy for one another's successes and in caring for one another when we stumble. I am loving this "job" because it truly fosters and feeds my life right now and I see it doing the same for those around me. Yes, I am strong enough to do some push-ups now but I also feel a mental and spiritual strength that I don't know if I truly ever felt before.

   So my update is simple. This summer has been great, not because it was perfect (Henry learned to tantrum and teethed enough to have gotten 100 teeth, I skipped an exercise or two, I have had chocolate cake and wine too, haha) but because overall the habit shift, mindset shift, and fitness shift has been rooted in a real belief that I and my family and my community deserve the very best and that I know I can do this! I am proud, really proud these days. Not in a gloaty way, but in a wow this feels good and whoa look at you for doing it kinds of way!    

summer family visit
Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).

Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.

We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.

 

concert in the park
Every Friday of summer, our town hosts an outdoor concert in the green. I have wanted to go to these for two years, but inevitability something always comes up. The weather might storm, or we might forget about the series, or we might decide to skip it. But finally this past Friday was our night! We called some fellow town friends to meet us there and we drove over. Setting up our blanket, we found a beautiful spot in the cool summer air. The green was full of families and friends ready to share an evening out under the stars. Little did we know at the time that this would be the last concert in the series for the summer. Thank goodness we went then, no?  While I am not a fan of the Grateful Dead, the cover band did a good job.  We enjoyed the music and when Henry became fussy we even enjoyed the dancing and bopping around that he demanded! We stayed until the sun set and before any bugs were noticeable and headed for a little ice cream treat to cap the night. It was a perfect summer evening and we will definitely need to get to those concerts more often next summer!
39 weeks 5 days and a few delusions

2 days, or 48 hours, or 2,880 minutes, or 172,800 seconds until I arrive at the baby's official due date. The 39 weeks leading to this moment went by in a blink, but these last few hours feel like slow, grinding years.

Everything on the to-do list is complete (seriously, I have no list for the first time in my life!). And, yes, these last quiet hours before the arrival should be relished and cherished as this kind of solitude will probably not be revisited for another let's say 5 or 10 years! Yet, I feel nothing but restless energy. So many of the mommies I have spoken with  describe a similar emotion when it was their time. They shared that now that the finish line is completely in sight the waiting becomes unbearable. When I try to describe this to the non-pregnant around me, they tell me to relax and to rest my aching body.  The thing is my body doesn't ache.  I am very lucky that despite my large belly full of baby, I do not have any aches or pains to complain of and could theoretically continue on in this fashion for quite a bit longer. The only "ache" I have is in my emotional center. I am ready to meet this little guy, I am ready to face labor head on, and I am ready to endure the birth process. And this waiting, this daily waiting around, goes against every fiber of my busybody being!

So what happens to one's mind under these conditions? Delusions start.

Delusion number 1: I am not pregnant. Despite the protruding stomach, I have begun to rationalize that there is not a baby in there after all.

Delusion number 2: If delusion number 1 is not true and I am indeed pregnant, then at this point my body has begun to reabsorb the baby.

Delusion number 3: I don't look pregnant in the mirror.

Delusion number 4: If I wake up in the morning and have not already started labor than that day is "lost" and won't turn into a labor day.

Delusion number 5: I will be waiting forever.

Obviously, I know that these thoughts are nothing but frivolous notions that fill the lagging time until the baby's ultimate arrival but with each passing day they become a little more vivid and I have to check in and remind myself, "Melissa, you know this is just your boredom talking." To counter the boredom, I have tried to at least venture outside once a day.  David doesn't want us to go too far in case my water breaks but, "See delusion 4," I  sometimes say to him.  We have gone on walks in the park, the mall, and the arboretum. We have spent some time shopping around Whole Foods and lounging in our backyard. These have all eased my spirit a bit but inevitably the restlessness returns. I know I am on "his time" and I know the closer we get to the due date the better for the wee man but I also know that this is hard for me and I am trying my best to stay relaxed while I wait incessantly for the inevitable.

spinach & fruit salad

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 1.39.38 PM I have decided that the best way to beat the winter blues is by making summertime lunches. With another snow storm approaching, we have decided to focus on our countdown to our "babymoon" in 18 days!! In just a little over two weeks, we will be packing our suitcases full of shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops and heading away from this arctic chill that won't shake Boston and onto the sunny beaches of the Caribbean.  While I still enjoy my belly warming meals for dinner, lunchtime has become a time for light, crisp, and citrus infused meals.  While David and Laura painted the nursery upstairs (I will post pictures soon!), I busiest myself in the kitchen tossing everything "summer" into a salad bowl. The final result was exactly the slice of summer I was aiming for.

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In a salad bowl toss together:

baby spinach

1 diced apple

1/2 diced blood orange

1/2 diced avocado

1/4 cup dried cherries

1 cup yellow tomatoes cut in half

1/4 cup diced strawberries

drizzle of fig balsamic dressing

Salad is best paired with Girl Scout Cookies, preferable Thin Mints and Caramel Delights...

beach babies?

In approximately 192 hours the school year will commence. Gosh this is a cliche but the summer flew by! I feel like I just got settled into a routine I enjoy (which includes iced coffees most mornings with Laura) and finally shook off the post-school year fatigue and now it is time to head back in. Yes, I know that the majority of Americans do not have the luxury of a summer vacation like a school teacher and believe me I am so grateful and appreciative of the time I do get off. But, it is always a little sad to say goodbye to the long summer days. As soon as I see the students and get settled into my classroom, it will be second nature and hard to imagine ever not being in the classroom with those particular students. The only really difficult part of the school year starting is the inevitable loss of summer's sunlight that will be exchanged for winter's snow.  Therefore, Laura and I set out on Monday to hold onto summer just a little longer with a full day at the beautiful Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester. At the end of the day, we packed up our little campsite and bid the sand and surf adieu until next year. Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.17.33 PM

Welcome to Good Harbor!Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.17.49 PM

Despite being a random Monday in August the beach was PACKED but we still enjoyed ourselves even though we had to share the shore ;) Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.18.07 PM

The obligatory feet in water shot. The water was freezing cold.  So cold that I felt my shin bones freeze and Laura and I dared each other to dive into the waves. Which we did three times. Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.18.24 PM

See those two mansions out there on the cliff?  Yes, that is where we live.Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.18.41 PM

Laura reading at our campsite for school.Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 7.18.58 PM

I brought The Art of Racing in the Rain and have fallen in love with this story. It is funny, poignant, and makes me want to snuggle my puppies ever closer. I am devouring the novel as my last summer read.

post 3. the great wall.

It has been over a month since my last great wall update. You are probably thinking that the silence must indicate intense progress and therefore there is no "material" for me to cover on the blog. Alas, if only this were so. Unfortunately, when looking back over Summer 2013, it has become quite apparent that there were many excellent moments like our family vacation in June to Florida where we were able to spend much needed time together (not knowing then that it would be the last time I would see my Nanny). But there have also been quite a number of lows. And these lows have been low. The passing of my Nanny has been and continues to be a grave pain and sorrow. I still struggle to wrap my head around it and often find myself about to call her on the phone only to remember I can no longer do that.  While the wall is in no way the same type of low as the loss of my beloved nanny, it remains a thorn in the summer that continues to bring David and I down. Two weeks ago, our neighbors invited us to a cookout. Perched high on their deck, we had the vantage point of looking down into our backyard. And, what did we see? A mess. Stones tossed haphazardly across the backyard in random heaps, a bobcat backhoe parked on the side of the house, a dirt pile stacked so high you cannot see the house next door, a partial retaining wall built, tools strewn about, a broken tent tossed to one side, another tent set near what should be a "work station," trees and shrubs uprooted and dying on the dirt, and cement and sand where once grass grew. My personal favorite item in the backyard is a canister of the mason's urine that he has left in the sun which we dare not go near for fear of a toxic death. A project that was projected to last 3 weeks is edging ever so closely to 3 months with no true end in sight. To say communication with the mason is difficult would be an understatement. David and I have tried to take a relaxed approach this past month and half. We have not called or texted him (as he prefers texting over answering his phone), unless he has not appeared at our house for more than 7 business days. Typically, when he does text back, he makes grandiose promises to work the next days including the weekend!  Of course, this never happens and David and I are left feeling foolish, powerless, and frustrated. The excuses continue to pile up including my two favorites thus far: getting wisdom teeth taken out and being attacked by a dog (though there were no scratches or bite marks!?!). Of course, if these things did happen along with the many other tragedies he has shared with us this summer then, like us, the mason is having the WORST summer ever!  But I cannot help feeling like he is a little bit of the boy who cried wolf.

Whenever we look out the windows or enter and exit the house we are reminded of our life savings that has seemingly gone down the drain and the disaster that has exploded in our yard. Lately, after finishing up a walk with the pups, we stop in front of the house and say, "Geez look at this house.  It is like the owners must not care about it at all. What a mess." Then we hang our heads and walk inside. In my fantasy world, I wake up and the wall is completed this week, the fence goes up, and our "dog pen" (as the mason so eloquently calls it) is finished. But, this is not so. David and I have a knack for finding the lemons of life. Our pups (who we love unconditionally) have tons of health problems including explosive diarrhea should they eat anything other than their dog food, our house has numerous small but annoying glitches, and now our mason has taken the cake and become the lemon of the summer. Anyone have a recipe for lemonade? As ridiculous as this is and as outlandish as his excuses have been, we just want him to finish this project so that he saves face and we save some money.

Upon doing a walk around the "lack of job site", Laura declared, "You got a shitty (expletive) deal! It is unconscionable!" I agree bestie, I completely agree.

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Laura examining the mason's urine canister. She could not believe he would leave such a thing behind for weeks.

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*What is complete looks great and we are happy with the (unfinished) product but man, oh man, the process is a nightmare.*

rainy boston weekend

Friday was not at all how I planned. When Colleen said she was coming up for the day, I immediately knew what we would do. Starting with a cozy breakfast at home, we could catch up over some lattes and cuddle the puppies before heading out to the day. The plan would be to spend the day outside in the sun. Cochituate State Park would most definitely be a stop.  Paddle boarding is something I have wanted to try and Colleen is just the gal to be game for it. Then we could end the night over some wine and a cookout. Unfortunately, Friday was a complete wash out. We did in fact enjoy a cup of coffee together in the morning but then had to regroup and figure out what we could possibly do in the rain. Of course there was bowling or walking around the mall or even driving to a museum but none of them were quite right.

Instead, we decided to forgo our comfort and hit outdoors and the city anyway. We drove into Boston, parked at the seaport, and took the T to lunch at the Parish Cafe. After a delicious lunch and few adult beverages, we thoroughly embraced the crumby weather and walked the length of Newbury Street stopping briefly to pay our respects at Restoration Hardware. Then through the Boston Garden and Boston Common we went sharing stories, laughs, and questioning what the heck we were thinking walking through the rain like this? We continued through the downtown crossing to Government Center and through Faneuil Hall for a few free samples from food vendors. We walked along the water back to the seaport and dried off in Flour Bakery over cups of hot tea and an oatmeal raisin cookie. To say we were soaked to the bone is an understatement. We drenched the floors of the bakery and found that our raincoats had done very little to protect us from the deluge. But, then again, we had a fabulous time and a fabulous visit.

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florida vacation

In mid July David and I were able to fly down to Florida to visit with his brother, sister-in-law, and their littles. Each year around the fourth of July we make our trek down for a long weekend of fun and sun. This year we met our newest little nephew only 14 days old. When we arrived a tropical storm was trailing us, promising to keep us indoors during the visit.  Somehow though, it broke up allowing us all to enjoy the outdoors. We had a picnic at the beach at sunset, went to a cookout in a local park to honor the Navy Reserve, took walks around the block, had a massive water balloon fight, and just soaked up as much time together as possible. It is always so hard to leave on Monday.  I wish I could pick up Florida and place it right next to Massachusetts so that we are only a short drive from one another. IMG_4327

Uncle David meets our newest nephew. They are both rocking the same hairdo.IMG_4329

Just a little beach nap at sunset.

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Setting up our camp site. We packed blankets & fried chicken and sat in the sand between sea turtle nests.

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Nothing beats this view

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Did not done a bathing suit this time, but still had to put my feet in.

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The little guy woke up right before it was time to head home. First visit to the beach at just a few days old not to shabby.

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Our niece and nephew splashing around in the waves. They are fearless, beautiful, little fish.

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A little family portrait?  Gosh do I want us to start a family. Holding little boy really made that desire apparent. Maybe someday...

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While we were there, I was reintroduced to ramen noodles and fell in love with that salty, noodle soup

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Kid races at the cookout. About to launch off for the potato sack race.

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David and his littles

back to school

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 8.02.45 AM It has started. The back to school commercials are in full force. Delighted parents run up and down the aisles of Target filling their carts with folders, pencils, clothes, and backpacks. Happy music plays in the background while their frowning children walk listlessly behind them. Of course, August is still the summer, but with the arrival of August comes the arrival of back to school anxiety dreams for me. These commercials don't help either.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I am so lucky not only to have the summers off to pursue my other interests, spend time with friends and family, and travel, but when I head back into the school year it is to a truly amazing school filled with superb co-workers and dynamic students.  But, even though I do actually work in Edutopia, I still get those pesky anxiety dreams. They are always the same. Imagine:

I arrive back to school to only find out that the schedule I have been following all day is wrong and I am missing all of my classes. Or, I arrive to class only to realize that I have not planned a single lesson and am frozen in front of the students and, of course, I am wearing my yoga pants too!  Or, and this is my favorite kind of anxiety dream, I walk into my class totally unprepared.  I stare blankly at the students who begin to roll their eyes at me and suggest my teaching ignorance, only to fall flat on my face and break a tooth and I am in my yoga pants! AH!  Waking up in a cold sweat, I remind myself that (a) I am such a type A personality that I could never not be prepared for a class and to just relax and (b) I am still 3 weeks away from the start of school and as with every year once I am back it is like riding a bicycle and the teaching muscles will remember what to do and the kids will inspire me and the summer haze will fade into a crisp Fall. And being at school will be the exact place where I am suppose to be.

Dear Summer,

Please go a little bit slower.

Sincerely,

An Anxious Teacher

"Dear Summer,

Please go faster.

Sincerely,

A Crazed Parent" @NikkiMoff

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chocolate covered strawberries

When we walked into our honeymoon suite in Antigua, we were greeted by chocolate covered strawberries. Something about these ruby red berries covered in dark chocolate screams romance.  Valentine's Day must be the national holiday of chocolate covered strawberries as restaurants pass them along to their patrons free of charge while smiling at the loving couples. And, these delicious little treats are so easy to make yet I rarely think about making them on a whim. This past weekend though, I decided to bring these berries to our neighbor's cookout and decided that they must not be reserved for romantic days. Sharing in them solely with your partner forces them to not be eaten often enough. So from the "extraordinary" to the "ordinary" though still delicious and decadent they go... Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 7.44.08 AM

Wash as many strawberries as you like. I chose to do two cartons of these ruby reds.

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Place a saucepan with about 2 inches of water on a burner over medium heat. Place a bowl inside of the saucepan that rest on the rim but does not in fact touch the water. Place the very best semi-sweet chocolate in the bowl.

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When the chocolate in melted and smooth you can lower the heat. Grab a berry by the stem and/or leaves and dip into the chocolate coating completely.

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Arrange berries on wax paper in a casserole dish or baking pan.  Once all berries are coated, place them in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Plate those decadent berries, serve, and utterly enjoy!

what i read, what i thought

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 12.15.51 PMHave you ever felt used by someone?  You know what I mean.  Have you ever felt as though some one was being your friend merely to gain access to your home, car, vacation spot, food, connections, lifestyle, advice, etc.?  I am guessing that the sensation of feeling "used" is quite universal. Perhaps the user is intentionally abusing your kindness, generosity, or naiveté, but probably they are seemingly unaware of how their behavior is coming across. While reading the book Prospect Park West  by Amy Sohn, I kept coming back to this idea of how we constantly use those around us. David has recently been reading How to Make Friends and Influence People  and, from what he shared, it seems the user-usee relationship is the integral relationship of human interactions. According to author Carnegie, the best way to interest someone is to compliment them in a genuine fashion and/or ask them about themselves or something/one they love. His advice stems from his belief that everyone is self-interested and that in being self-interested, we therefore use those around.  How to manipulate, control, or shift this primary occurrence is what is key to "success." In the book Prospect Park West, the characters are highly interesting. Each has a quirk, a compulsion, a fun side, and, quite frankly, a selfish side. As the book progressed, I was wrapped up in their trivial daily dramas but found that the characters are not likable people. Each character is using someone for their own personal or professional gain in overt ways. Rebecca uses Lizzie to feel loved since her "meanness" repulses her husband while Lizzie uses Rebecca to explore her sexuality until Rebecca put off by the affection Lizzie shows is then repulsed by Lizzie. Karen uses Melora as a crutch for social anxiety while she also uses her husband to gain access to premium property in the coveted Brooklyn neighborhood. None of the characters truly express love or genuine affection for any of the others and yet they are connected through their constant need to self-promote. While I cannot say that I liked the book and its variety of messages, it did get me thinking about the purpose of relationships, friendships, and made me more aware of how I and those around me self-promote or use in order to advance or get their way. While this is all part of human nature, I am hoping that this chick lit can be a breaking point for me. I truly want to try to avoid being like these women in this novel. Yes, their stories are sensuous, suggestive, and fun but the content of their character left me wanting. I can see some of those baser traits in myself and I want to do more to not only be aware of them but to shift them to something more positive. In the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes Daisy and Tom as "careless" people.  I would describe many of the characters in Prospect Park West as similarly careless.  But, hopefully with this in mind, I can avoid a similar description.