My Most Memorable Birthday

(The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer, since my husband and I got engaged on my birthday a number of years ago…)

Earlier this month, I turned 43. The older I’ve gotten, the less of a “thing” my birthday is to me. I’m incredibly grateful for my health and safety over the past 40+ years, and I know that in many ways, I’m a very lucky person. But I no longer get giddy about my birthday, looking forward to celebrating and opening presents. (Although, if you’re reading this husband, I do still love getting presents!) Actually, the thing I probably look forward to the most these days is not having to cook dinner on my birthday. In many ways, my birthday is just another day to me.

Birthday Gift #1

This year, however, my birthday ended up being very memorable – and not in any particularly great ways. For starters, our part of the world was stuck in a sharp and stubborn cold snap. For a couple of weeks straight, the daily highs struggled to make it into the teens, and overnight lows were well below zero. This kind of cold snap is not unheard of for upstate New York, but this one lasted for an unusually long time. And for someone who’s pretty cold-averse, this was not a great birthday gift.

Birthday Gift #2

We heat our house with propane, and we’re on our propane company’s auto-delivery list. This means that they estimate our usage, and deliver when they believe we’re getting low. Over the years we’ve been using them, I’ve been impressed by their accuracy at estimating our current propane level, and I’ve never been concerned about them letting us run out.

Unfortunately, they were caught way off-guard by this recent cold spell, and did not have the propane supply nor the manpower to deliver to all of their customers. Many people ran out completely, and their stories were all over the local news and Facebook.

We watched our tank level drop below 20%, then 15%, then 10%, and slowly into the single digits. We set our thermostat at lower and lower temperatures to preserve our remaining supply, for fear of running out completely and having our pipes freeze. On my birthday, the thermostat was set at 59 degrees.

Birthday Gift #3

In keeping with my birthday being just another day, I was scheduled to have my blood drawn for my annual lipid profile early that morning, and then to take my car in for an oil change. I had to fast for the blood work, so I just had a cup of black tea for breakfast that morning.

Just before the school bus arrived to pick my daughter up, we got into my car to pull up to the end of our driveway and wait. As soon as I turned the key in my car, the “check engine” light came on – and stayed on. “No problem. I’ll have the mechanic look at it when I get there,” I thought. However, as soon as I pulled out of our driveway, I could tell that something was wrong with my car. It didn’t accelerate with my usual amount of pressure on the gas pedal, and it seemed stuck in gear. Every time I stopped for a light or a stop sign, I had the same problem with it accelerating painfully slowly for the first 20 seconds or so. As a result, I dropped my plan to get my blood drawn, since this would’ve required me to park the car for at least a few minutes, and I was concerned about getting it going again to get to the mechanic.

I debated whether I should go the faster route to the mechanic – the highway – or take the local roads. Since the latter would’ve entailed a lot more stopping and starting up again, I opted for the highway. I stayed in the right lane the entire way, and watched every other car on the highway that morning blow past me as I maintained a steady 60 miles per hour speed. Did I mention that it was also snowing during this drive??

I made it safely to the mechanic, where I spent a couple of hours waiting, and periodically calling the propane company to check on the status of our delivery request. (I got a busy signal every time.) The mechanic finally told me that they’d need to keep my car overnight to do “more detailed diagnostic”. Thankfully, I had two granola bars stashed in my purse, which I devoured while I was waiting for them.

At least this guy hung out with me at the mechanic

The mechanic is about a half hour from our house, and they do not have loaner cars for customers. Much to my relief,  my husband was able to leave work early to pick me up. While he was driving, I called he propane company again, and magically got through to a human being after only about two minutes on hold. She told me that we were scheduled to receive a delivery the next day, which made me feel a lot better – but also concerned me since our tank was running on fumes at this point. So my husband and I stopped at a hardware store and bought a kerosene heater and a can to fill with kerosene. My husband set it up when we got home, along with our, three space heaters, to try to keep the temperature at a habitable level. By the time we went to bed that night – all three of us in our queen bed to keep warm – I was a nervous wreck. I was cold, snapping at our daughter, and imagining the cost of replacing our burst pipes and draining our flooded basement.

Birthday Gift#4

In the end, I received a belated birthday gift when the propane truck rolled into our driveway around 9:30 the next morning. I immediately teared up at the sight of it, and watched the delivery guy fill the tank, from inside. When he left, I raised the thermostat temperature, and shut off the smelly, kerosene heater. At that moment, I realized that, while I like to romanticize living “off the grid” in the woods somewhere, I’m definitely not cut out for that lifestyle.

Oh, and I got one more belated birthday present when the mechanic called that afternoon to say that a mouse had chewed through a sensor wire, which caused the difficulties with my car and the presence of the check engine light. For the bargain price of $260, I got an oil change and a new wire installed. Happy birthday to me!

(PS: I also received a number of lovely, real gifts from my family this year. They were a lot better than the “gifts” discussed here!)

How do you like to celebrate your birthday – if at all??

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October is Dwarfism Awareness Month

Not that long ago, I learned that October is Dwarfism Awareness Month. This isn’t something I hadn’t been aware of before the birth of nephew, Charlie, about 19 months ago. I shared an interview with my sister, Charlie’s mom, last October, and I’m checking back in with her here:

How is Charlie Doing Now?

Charlie is 19 months old.  He’s cheerful, social, and easygoing, and enjoys making people laugh with silly toddler humor.  To be honest, he has become quite a ham.  Despite his lack of spoken language, he is very vocal and effectively communicates what he wants and needs.  In the last year, Charlie has checked several developmental milestones off of the list.  Because his body mechanics are somewhat different, his developmental milestones came on a different timeline than many average height kids.  He started crawling at ten months.  Like many kids with achondroplasia, he does not do the typical four point crawl.  Instead, he does the army crawl using his arms to pull the rest of his body.  Charlie sat up without support at 13 months.  This is a major milestone for all kids but especially those with achondroplasia.  He pulled to a stand a few days after achieving unsupported sitting.  At 16 months, Charlie began using a toy walker to get around, and became very interested in keeping up with his brother and the kids in the neighborhood.  This desire was very motivating for him to improve his walking and increase his speed with the walker.  Though he isn’t quite walking independently (but he has taken a few steps!), he zooms around the house and all over the neighborhood with his walker.

One of my favorite pictures of Charlie

Does Charlie Still Have a Trach?

Charlie has had his trach for 13 months, and he’s doing very well with it.  He has no difficulties with breathing and is generally unfazed by his trach.  More recently, he has entered into the predictable toddler phase of threatening to pull the trach out (and sometimes actually doing so).  We manage it like any other undesirable toddler behavior.  Adjusting to caring for a child with a trach was very challenging at first.  The learning curve is steep in the first few months at home.  In his first winter with the trach, Charlie was sick for the better part of six months.  It was exhausting but we learned a lot about caring for his medical needs in a variety of situations.  We’ve also learned a great deal about navigating a variety of systems including doctors/hospitals, insurance, and home care nursing agencies.  Because caring for a child with a trach requires knowledge of an uncommon set of skills, Charlie cannot be left with a babysitter.  Instead, he can only be left with nurses who are familiar with trachs.  While we are so grateful to have good nurses who help care for him, having other caregivers regularly in our home comes with a whole other set of challenges.

The trach has caused Charlie to have delays in speech development.  Because the trach prevents air from passing through the vocal cords, it is hard for him to make sounds.  We are currently working, with a speech pathologist, on developing some spoken language.  In the meantime, Charlie uses American Sign Language to communicate.  He picks it up quickly and is only limited by the adults around him who are slower to learn.  One year in, I think we have all adapted fairly well but are looking forward to a time when he does not needs his trach.  His doctors expect that it will be removed next summer.

As Charlie’s Primary Caregiver, How Have You Evolved in the Past Year?

In the time since Charlie was born, I have changed a great deal.  One of the most significant changes has been my increased adaptability.  While some may argue that I still have a ways to go (my husband may want to chime in here…), the last 19 months have taught me how to roll with things more easily.  No parent expects to have a child with any special needs.  There is a degree of shock and grief that is associated with the shift from one’s (arguably unrealistic) expectations.  I certainly experienced this when Charlie was diagnosed with achondroplasia, as well as when he got the trach.  There is typically a period of time that I may feel shocked by unexpected changes, but then I find my footing and move forward.

Another big change has been a shift to being more outgoing.  I am an inherently introverted person.  Our current life does not allow for much time alone.  Besides having two small children, (which eliminates all alone time for any parents), we have a parade of providers and caregivers through our home each week.  Though this can be hard for me, I am beyond grateful for the village that our family has created.  I am also more outgoing with strangers and acquaintances.  It is amazing how motivated I am to reach out and talk to strangers to make sure the kids get what they need.  These days, I’ll talk to anybody if I think I will learn something helpful or make a useful connection.  We just learned that Charlie will need glasses, and in the last few days, I have approached several people with small children wearing glasses, to inquire about their child’s opticians.

How Is the Rest of the Family Doing?

The transition from a family of three to a family of four was not the smoothest for us.  My older son, Ben, did not readily embrace being an older brother.  The fact that Charlie had medical special needs that required so much more attention did not make the transition any easier.  Given that Ben had such difficulty adjusting to having a baby brother, my husband and I waited a while before sharing the information that Charlie is a Little Person.  At the time, our thinking was that we wanted Charlie to be treated just like everybody else.  We did not want to make the fact that he is an LP into a “thing” by making a big announcement.  Then, Charlie’s trach required so much of our attention, we just didn’t think about sharing this information with Ben.  After Charlie turned one, it began to occur to me that we needed to start talking more openly, with Ben, about Charlie being an LP.  I used Ben’s questions about my upcoming lunch date with a mother of another child of an LP as an opening to share this news with him.  Our family had been lucky enough to have an amazing babysitter who is an LP.  Ben loves her.  When I told him that Charlie is an LP like her, he was briefly surprised but was generally unfazed.  When I brought the topic up the next day, he asked if this was why Charlie was smaller than other kids his age.  From that point forward, our family has comfortably talked about Charlie being an LP.  In September, Ben attended his first LPA social event and had a great time.

Since the spring of this year, Ben has come very far in embracing his big brother role.  As he told my niece when she asked if he wanted a baby brother, “In the beginning, yes.  In the middle, I was like no way!  Now, yes”.

Hamming it up with his walker

What Have You Learned about Dwarfism in the Past Year?

I have become more tuned into the varying opinions, within the LP community, about whether or not dwarfism is a disability.  Not surprisingly, there are a wide range of opinions.  Some LP’s do not wish to be seen as disabled.  Rather, they wish to focus on the ability to do all of the same things as average height peoplee, but in a different way.  Others identify strongly with being disabled and see it as a core part of who they are.  As Charlie’s parent, I think that it is important to develop my own viewpoint on this, as I will have a role in shaping how he views himself.

I have also become much more aware of my own ableist attitudes and language.  The world is built for able-bodied individuals.  Those of us living without disabilities move ignorantly through the world often, with little or no awareness about the experience of people with disabilities.

What Would You Like Others to Know About Dwarfism?

Check your prejudices.  Somehow, it is easy for us to forget the personness of individuals we mock.  My heart breaks when I think of the first time that Charlie is made fun of for being a Little Person.  Charlie is more similar to the rest of us than he is different.  I hope that people remember this about all Little People – and really anybody with differences.

Our Mont Tremblant Family Vacation

Last week, my family and I went on our summer vacation. We spent five nights at the ski resort village of Mont Tremblant, in Quebec. We don’t ski, but during the summer, Mont Tremblant has lots of great activities for a family vacation. We chose it for the variety of primarily kid-friendly options, in addition to the fact that we could drive there in under five hours.

Overall, we had a very nice vacation. Our daughter loved a number of the activities, and my husband and I each got to do something that we especially wanted to. (The birds of prey show for me, and the zipline course for him.) Here’s an overview of the best and worst parts of vacationing in Mont Tremblant:


  • Beautiful setting. Part of the Laurentian mountains, Mont Tremblant is 2,871 feet at the summit. The views of the mountains and lakes are truly beautiful, and the resort is tucked nicely inside this peaceful area.
A view from the summit
  • Easy to navigate. After we had walked around the resort village a couple of times, I knew the layout and had a sense of where everything was. There’s a free gondola that takes visitors from the bottom of the resort village to the base of the mountain, where most of the activities are.
  • Lots of kid-friendly activities. A major reason we chose to take our vacation in Mont Tremblant was the availability of kid-friendly activities. Our daughter is seven and an only child, so we do our best to plan vacations that will have lots of appropriate activities for her. From the eurobungy, to the aquaclub, to the luge, Mont Tremblant had more than enough activities that she enjoyed.
The eurobungy is a favorite kid activity
  • Many restaurants. There are many restaurant options in the Mont Tremblant resort village, most of which are pretty casual. (We didn’t go to the one or two ones that appeared to be on the fancier side.) We ate cuisines from Cajun and Chinese-Thai fusion, to creperie and microbrewery. Our favorites were Pizzateria and La Maison de la Crepe. And every restaurant we went to had a children’s menu, off of which our (picky) daughter almost always ordered.
  • Favorable exchange rate. This isn’t always the case, but the American-Canadian exchange rate is pretty favorable right now. On many occasions, my husband commented to me that money we spent was really only about 75% of the cost in Canadian dollars.


  • Claustrophobic. I’ll never go on a cruise for several reasons – norovirus, anyone?!? – particularly because I get stir-crazy when I feel confined to a space for an extended period of time. Mont Tremblant’s resort village started to feel this way to me after a couple of days. Everything is right there, which is great, but also, well, not so great (to me).
  • Crowded and crawling with kids. Like any popular family vacation spot, Mont Tremblant is pretty crowded and there are kids everywhere. This isn’t at all surprising, but if you’re not a fan of crowds or other people’s kids, this is probably not the place for you.
The dinner line at Pizzateria at 5:30pm!
  • Pricey. Even though we had the favorable exchange rate working in our favor, everything was pretty pricey – restaurants, activities, and souvenirs. We never once found ourselves commenting on what a great deal we had gotten on something!
  • Slow service. Call us ugly Americans, but we found the service at almost every restaurant we visited to be incredibly slow. Yes, we were on vacation time, but we didn’t want to spend all of it waiting for the check to come!
A participant in the birds of prey show

If you’d to plan your own family vacation in Mont Tremblant, the village’s website has lots of great information, and there are also some great YouTube videos of the activities. Enjoy!

Psst… See pictures like the ones above and others in between blog posts on Facebook and Instagram!

My Family’s Summer Plans

My daughter is wrapping up her final, full week of second grade today, which means that summer is officially just around the corner! I experience the same conflicting emotions every year at this time: excitement about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time, and terror about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time.

I love the idea of lazy, unstructured days – sleeping in, showering late, and not having to be anywhere, at any particular time. In practice, though, I’ve learned that what really happens is that I sit around reading for a couple of hours in the morning, feel gross because I haven’t showered, accomplish very little all day, and field endless “what are we doing today?” queries from my daughter. It might be different if we had more than one child, but without a home-based playmate, my daughter gets bored and lonely.

These are the tools I’ll be using to balance lazy time, socialization, learning, and fun for my daughter this summer:

Summer Camp

Socialization is important for all kids, but especially so for an only child like my daughter. This summer she’ll be participating in five weeks of (day) camp: two, two-week sessions of children’s theater camp, and one week of Girl Scout camp. Both of these camps will provide lots of socialization, plus activities that she loves and cannot do at home.

Learning Activities

Since most kids forget a decent chunk of what they learned the previous school year over the summer, I think it’s important to build in some learning activities throughout the summer weeks. Daily reading is a given, and our library has a great summer reading program that keeps my daughter motivated. (See below.) In past years, I’ve purchased workbooks for her to practice her skills, but this year I want to keep it a bit lighter. I’m going to have her write a letter or postcard to someone different each week, since spelling is a skill she needs to practice.

Last summer, her school sent home a summer math challenge, which she did. We kept track of the days she did 20 minutes or more of math activities, and she received a prize in September. We played a lot of the game Math Dice last summer, and since she still enjoys it, I’m sure we’ll play it again this year. Her class studied both money and telling time this spring, so I’d like to create some activities around those skills. (Please send any ideas you have my way!) And I may check out some other games, including this one, this one, and this one. With or without a school math challenge, regular math practice will also be part of our plan.

Family Vacation

We have a week-long vacation in Quebec planned. We’re going to Mont Tremblant, which is a ski resort during the winter months, and a family vacation spot during the summer. It should be a nice blend of relaxing, sightseeing, and activities.

Library Summer Reading Program

This will be my daughter’s fourth year participating in our library’s summer reading program. Kids log the number of minutes they read, go to the library to report on what they’ve read to a “book buddy”, and receive “book bucks”, which they can redeem for prizes. My daughter is highly motivated by rewards, so this program is right up her alley.


There are a number of playgrounds and splash pads in our area, and my daughter enjoys all of them. Of course, they’re a lot more fun to do with friends, so we’ll meet up with them as often as possible. Last year I sent out group emails/texts, letting people know where we’d be and when. Sometimes a big group of friends showed up, sometimes one friend showed up, and sometimes it was just us. I’ll be doing this again this year, for sure.

What are your family’s plans for the summer? Do you keep it unstructured, or plan out your days and weeks?

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What’s Up Wednesday: February 2017

What We’re Eating This Week

I got some inspiration from two of my favorite Food Network cooks this week: Ina Garten and Ree Drummond. Plus, we’ll be out-of-town this weekend, which means fewer nights of cooking for me – woo hoo! You can read this week’s full meal plan here.

What I’m Reminiscing About

I recently went through a bunch of old photos with my husband, and there were a number of ones of my sweet, old kitty, Tony. He died a little over a year ago, and I still miss him. With apologies to his (living) sister, Sophie, Tony was indisputably the best cat ever. I adopted the two of them when they were kittens, and I was only 25, and had just moved to California for work. I don’t miss those lonely days of being across the country from my friends and family, and finding my way in a new place, but those two made my time there more bearable.

What I’m Loving

We’ve been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather lately, and it’s got me believing that spring is almost here. Seriously, highs in the 50s in upstate New York in February?? I love it!

What We’ve Been Up To

It’s school vacation week here, so I’m home with my daughter all week. We had a ladies’ “day of beauty” yesterday, with hair cuts and manicures. (The “day of beauty” concept was my way of bribing her to get a hair cut, which she hates. It took years for her hair to grow long, and now she never wants to lose a centimeter of it.) Today we have a Girls Scouts ice-skating event, then a visit to a friend’s house, and Thursday her Brownie troop is going on a tour of a local grocery store. Friday we’re packing and heading to Massachusetts for my nephew’s first birthday party.

 What I’m Dreading

Next month, I’m going to cut added sugar out of my diet, and, while I’m very excited to try it, I’m definitely concerned about having a more limited diet. For me, one of the most intriguing things about cutting out added sugar is going to be realizing just how ubiquitous it is. I’ve started reading the labels of some of my favorite foods, and have been distressed to find added sugar in many of them.

What I’m Working On

What – me procrastinate?? Yep, I’m still dragging my feet on our taxes. Actually, I have everything we need, with the exception of a letter about a donation. I still need to fill out the questionnaire from our accountant, though, and I haven’t forced myself to sit down and do it, yet.

What I’m Excited About

Even though I’ve embraced winter this year, I’m excited that it seems to be loosening its grip. Spring’s arrival seems almost imminent, and I’m excited to welcome pansies, daffodils, and leaves back to our yard!

What I’m Watching/Reading

I’m watching absolutely nothing these days. Nothing. Seriously, with the exception of watching some news coverage when I make dinner, I’m just not switching on the TV these days.

I’m struggling to get through the book, The Case Against Sugar. It’s not exactly what I expected, and it’s fairly dry. I’m definitely going to need to read some fiction after I finish this one. (You can see all of the books I’m reading, have read, and plan to read in 2017 here.) I’m also always slowly working through my huge pile of magazines – The New Yorker, O, Money, Real Simple, The New York Times Magazine, and Kiplinger Personal Finance.

What I’m Listening To

Podcasts, of course! However, I’m completely caught up on binge-listening to all episodes of my favorites, so I’m in need of some new options. Recommendations??

What I’m Wearing

My school (and work) vacation week uniform consists of yoga pants and a fleece at home, and jeans and sweaters when I leave the house.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

We’re heading to Massachusetts for my nephew’s first birthday party. I don’t see my sister often enough, so it’ll be fun to catch up with her this weekend. My parents will also be there, and my daughter is beyond excited about spending time with my sister’s older son. (Sadly, she’s a lot less interested in her “baby cousin”…)

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month

Seeing if I feel any differently “off of” sugar, gaining an hour of daylight, and maybe, just maybe, seeing the first signs of spring bulbs.

What’s up with you??

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What’s Up Wednesday: November, 2016


It’s time for November’s “What’s Up Wednesday” post… on a Friday… in December!

What We’re Eating This Week

At my daughter’s request, I made her favorite macaroni and cheese recipe for dinner one night, and the tray has lasted for days! I enjoy it, but after eating it for dinner twice, I’m ready to move on. We’re also having one of my favorite easy and tasty meals this week, taco salads. And I’m planning to try a new-to-me soup recipe, too. You can read my full, weekly meal plan here.

What I’m Reminiscing About

The memories that Facebook shares have been killing me lately! They make me think about all of the fun, holiday events and activities we’ve done with our daughter over the years: breakfasts and sundaes with Santa(s), caroling, and making gingerbread houses.

What I’m Loving

I’m not going to lie: I’m loving having time off from work during the holiday season. It makes it a lot easier to get things done, including progress toward completing my winter break goals.

Also, I’m really loving seeing holiday decorations everywhere I go. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved looking at them. My tastes have certainly evolved over the years, but beautiful lights, trees and garland make me very happy at this time of year.

What We’ve Been Up To

The past couple of weeks have been full of holiday preparations. I made several desserts for Thanksgiving, and then we traveled to Massachusetts to spend the holiday with my sister and her family. When we returned home, we got our Christmas tree and all of the decorations went up in our house. I also tackled much of my holiday shopping online during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.

 What I’m Dreading

We’re taking on a very expensive home project this month: replacing our water heater. When our heating system was serviced in October, the repairman showed me a very  small area of corrosion on our water heater. This led my husband to research the exact age of our tank, and what its normal lifespan should be. It turns out that our tank is 12.5 years old, and its average lifespan is 12-15 years. Rather than wait until it fails and our basement is full of water, we decided to replace it now. And while it’s a bit more costly than getting another conventional water heater, we’re switching to a more energy-efficient tankless hot water heater. I’m very happy that we’ve made this decision, but I’m not looking forward to writing that check.

What I’m Working On

I’m in the early stages of planning my Christmas cookie baking. I like to make a couple of kinds for our family, and then large batches of four or five kinds to leave in the main office at my daughter’s school, as a thank you for the staff.

One nightly project my husband and I have been working on is our elf on a shelf. We alternate nights, so neither one of us is called on to come up with creative ideas two nights in a row. While it can feel like a chore at times, our daughter’s delight in finding the elf every morning more than makes up for it.

What I’m Excited About

Later in the month, we’re taking our daughter to New York City for a weekend. It’ll be her first trip there during the holiday season, and she’s going to love all of the lights and decorations. We’re going to see Cirque du Soleil’s NYC show, Paramour, eat dinner at a restaurant overlooking Rockefeller Plaza and the tree, and spend a night in a hotel. I’m really looking forward to it!

What I’m Watching/Reading

Post-election, I’ve cut my television news consumption dramatically. I’ve dabbled a bit in some History Channel shows lately, including American Pickers, and a  show about the history behind the channel’s drama about the Vikings. The latter made me realize I want to read more books about history.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been neglecting my fall reading list, and instead have been reading a lot of magazines and blogs. Also, my husband got me a Sunday New York Times subscription, and I’ve been reading as much of that paper as possible, every week. There’s so much good stuff in it!!

I’ve also read close to half of The Power of Habit. I really enjoyed the first section, but the second section has been less interesting to me.

What I’m Listening To

I finally caught up on all past episodes of Jean Chatzky’s, HerMoney podcast, and while I still regularly listen to my other favorites, I’m also looking for some new podcasts to add to my list. (Any recommendations??)

What I’m Wearing

All warm and cozy clothes, all of the time. I think I’ve pulled out my entire inventory of winter layers now, and they’re all that I wear these days.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

We don’t have very many plans for this weekend. Saturday afternoon, my daughter has a masquerade party with her Brownies troop. Another mom and I are grabbing lunch and catching up, while our daughters are at the party. Also, my mother is coming up for a few days next week, so I’ll be prepping the guest room and doing some general house cleaning on Sunday, in anticipation of her arrival. And I’ll be doing more reading, of course.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month

Christmas, of course!!

Monday Meal Plan #14

Monday Meal Plan

Happy Monday!! Has your turkey coma worn off, yet?

Holiday Weekend Recap

We had a very nice Thanksgiving at my sister’s house in Massachusetts. We got to see my sister, brother-in-law and their kids, my parents, and some of my brother-in-law’s family members. My daughter played almost constantly with my nephew, which is so sweet to see. She’s seven and he’s four, but the age difference is rarely an issue for them. Since my daughter is an only child, I love seeing her building a relationship with her cousin. (At nine months, my other nephew held absolutely no interest for her, but I’m sure that will change some day.) In addition to catching up with family and enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, we were fortunate that there was barely any traffic when we made the four-hour drive early Thursday morning, and again on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, we said goodbye to our autumn decorations, and my husband hauled all of the Christmas decorations out of the basement. He spent most of that day setting up lights, unpacking ornaments, and otherwise enveloping our house in Christmas spirit.

Searching for the perfect tree

We also cut down our Christmas tree for the first time. We like to put our tree up the weekend following Thanksgiving, and in recent years, there have been more needles on the floor under the tree, than on it, by the time December 26th rolled around. To try to extend the life of our tree, we decided to cut it ourselves this year. (I use the term “ourselves” loosely, since my husband did all of the sawing and most of the dragging.)

Photo credit: My seven year-old

The Week Ahead

It’s back to work and school for my husband and daughter this week, and I have a number of appointments on multiple days (doctor, exterminator, consignment, etc.). My daughter had a Brownies meeting until 5:30 on Monday, and there’s a big event in Saratoga Springs on Thursday evening, the Victorian Streetwalk. Other than that, it should be a relatively quiet week.

This Week’s Meal Plan

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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October By The Numbers


It’s the start of a new month, which means it’s also time to look back on the last one. There are lots of different ways to review, summarize, and evaluate a month, but I like taking a snapshot of some of the numbers.

Times I exercised (30+ minutes): 8

I started out the month strong, but with my busier than usual work schedule, birthday parties, family visits, and other commitments, I just didn’t exercise as much as I should have. Since many of my clothes mysteriously shrank over the summer, this is an area where I really need to improve.

Days worked: 12

I worked three days per week in October, rather than my typical two. It made the weeks a bit more hectic, but it was also very nice to earn some additional cash!

Books read: 1 (and a half)

I read – and loved! – The Bucolic Plague, after setting aside I Know How She Does It. (Read why I gave up on it here.) I also started reading (just barely) The Power of Habit.

Blog posts published: 10

I crave consistency, so I’d really like to publish three posts per week. I missed that mark twice in October.

Pumpkin spice anything consumed: 1

I find that a lot of pumpkin spice-flavored things taste kind of artificial, so I steer clear of most of them. The one thing that I consumed throughout the month was Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice tea. I love that stuff!

Pieces of Halloween candy consumed: 2

I certainly had my share of treats in October, but only two of them qualified as Halloween candy.

Times meditated (5+ minutes): 1

This is something I really want to make a habit of, but it’s a struggle for me. I have a hard time quieting my mind, which makes me resist even attempting to meditate. However, the physical and mental benefits are countless, so I’m going to keep plugging away at it.

Birthday parties attended: 2

My daughter turned seven in October, and we had two parties for her. One was a family party at my parents’ house, and the other was a pedicure party with a few of her friends. She had a great time at both of them.

Illnesses in our house: 1

I fully expect one or more of us to be blowing our nose constantly from now until some time in April. Our daughter came down with a cold on 10/23, and her nose is still running! Fortunately, neither my husband nor I caught this one.

Times it snowed: 1

ACK- it actually snowed in October!! This never happens, but Mother Nature lost her mind, and we got a couple of inches of wet snow on October 27th.

How was October for you??

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Monday Meal Plan #10

Monday Meal Plan

Happy Halloween! I hope you had a wonderful pre-Halloween weekend!

Weekend Recap

The first part of our weekend felt like a blur. Friday was my daughter’s 7th birthday, so my husband came home from work early. He joined me at her school to pick her up, along with our weekend visitor: her classroom guinea pig, Zippy Chippy. The kids take turns bringing him/her home over the weekends and school breaks (assuming their parents are cool with it), and they get dibs over the birthday weekend.


After getting Zippy settled in next to our betta fish, we took our daughter to her dance class, then out for her birthday dinner of choice, Chipotle. I happened to have a BOGO burrito coupon, so it ended up being a very affordable birthday dinner! We had ice cream cake and she opened her presents at home, afterwards.

On Saturday, my daughter had gymnastics class, and that afternoon we met friends for Saratoga’s Fall Festival. There are activities like face painting, pumpkin rolling, and pony rides, but the main attraction is trick-or-treating at the business along Broadway. After the festival, we ducked into Glitter Nail Bar, for a small pedicure party with a few of friends. There was more cake and more presents, and the girls seemed to have a great time.

Pedicures after picture
Pedicures after picture

Yesterday was a much more relaxed day. We went trick-or-treating at the Spa City Farmers’ Market, then spent the rest of the day at home. I wish I could share a long list of thing I accomplished at home, but it’s pretty brief. I composed this blog post (score!), cleaned the fish bowl, changed sheets, and cleaned my daughter’s bathroom. Other than that, I spent a lot of time in a seated position.

The Week Ahead

Tonight we’ll be taking our daughter out for the trick-or-treating main event. Given the late hour we’ll get home and that Tuesday is a work/school day for all of us, dinner will be some form of take-out. I’m working Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and Thursday is (yet another) half-day for my daughter. We have our parent-teacher conference that afternoon, and I’m really looking forward to it. (In previous years, I’ve volunteered in her classroom and felt much more comfortable with her teachers and classmates. Her teacher this year doesn’t have parent volunteers in the classroom, so I’m feeling kind of out-of-the-loop.) On Saturday, my in-laws are visiting, so we’ll probably be having dinner out with them. With that in mind, here’s what’s on my dinner meal plan this week:

What’s for dinner at your house this week??
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What’s Up Wednesday: October, 2016


It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s “What’s Up Wednesday”!

What We’re Eating This Week

This is not my best week for cooking. We were away last weekend, and I worked Monday and yesterday, leaving no time to hit the grocery store. As a result, we had mostly pre-made dinners – ravioli and a yummy Quiche –  to start the week. I’m picking up my game a little bit for the rest of the week, and I get to take Friday off from cooking, since it’s my daughter’s birthday. She requested Chipotle for her birthday dinner, and I’m happy to oblige. (Especially since I have a buy-one-get-one burrito coupon that my husband and I can use!)

What I’m Reminiscing About

My daughter’s past Halloween costumes. In order, they were: ladybug, jockey, Rapunzel, Elsa, and witch. The jockey was definitely my favorite, and while the costume itself was beautiful, at least 65% of girls were Elsa two years ago, which was kind of a drag.

What I’m Loving

Selling my used clothing at a local consignment store. I’ve been selling my daughter’s outgrown clothing at consignment sales and stores since she was a baby, but options for selling used women’s clothing in my area are very limited. A couple of weeks ago I visited a new-ish consignment store that sells women’s clothing, and I’m hooked! I’ve already made two trips there to drop-off items for sale.

What We’ve Been Up To

This month has really been a blur. I’ve been working three days a week, which leaves less time than I’m used to for keeping our house and family running, blogging, and life, in general. We were away last weekend, had guests the one before that, and will be busy again this weekend. Everything we’ve been up to has been good – working, celebrating, visiting with family – but I’d love to have some unstructured and unscheduled days to catch up.

What I’m Dreading

My annual physical. I like my doctor. She’s very knowledgeable, a great communicator, and never makes me feel rushed. But, she always discusses weight and BMI. Always. I haven’t been on the receiving end of scolding from her, but my husband has, and that woman doesn’t mess around. At my physical last year, she said that my weight was in a healthy place, but that I shouldn’t gain more than a pound or two. We don’t own a scale, but since all of my fall/winter clothes are a bit snug, I’m confident that I’ve gained more than my alloted pounds. And I know I’m going to hear about it… Oh, and did I mention that I stupidly scheduled my physical for the Monday after Thanksgiving?? #whatwasIthinking

What I’m Working On

Decluttering my daughter’s room. It’s already packed with dolls, stuffed animals, books, and who-knows-what-else, and she’s got birthday and Christmas presents coming. That kid hangs onto every scrap of paper and plastic trinket, so I have to weed things out when she’s not home. I try to do multiple, small clean-outs, rather than do one big one, and risk her noticing lots of things missing at once.

I’m also prioritizing and getting ready to go through all of the resources in the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. Technology terrifies me, I’m clueless when it comes to design and visuals, and I often feel overwhelmed by all of the other things a “real” blogger should know about. I’m thrilled to have this set of tools to help me out.

What I’m Excited About

This election season is almost over!!!! At the same time, I’m excited to cast my vote on November 8th. My daughter loves to come with me, and it feels great to participate in the foundation of our democracy. As wacky as things have gotten in our political world this year, I know I’m very lucky to live in this country.

What I’m Watching/Reading

I don’t really watch any TV shows, but I’m a bit of a news junkie. And while I’m very excited about the end of this election season, I LOVE the excitement of Election Day. My (presidential) election night routine is to get Chinese food for dinner, pull out the sleeper-couch in our living room, and watch the coverage of the election until it’s called.

As for reading, I’m currently in-between books. Earlier this month, I stopped reading a book before I finished it, which is hard for me to do. I then read The Bucolic Plague in a few days, and my next book is going to be, The Power of Habit. However, my pile of unread magazines was turning into more of a tower, so I’ve been reading magazines for the past week or so.

What I’m Listening To

Podcasts galore! In particular, this month I’ve been binge-listening to episodes of the Brilliant Business Moms podcast.

What I’m Wearing

All warm and cozy clothes, all the time. I got my first pair of straight-leg jeans in I-don’t-know-how-long in my most recent Fix from Stitch Fix, and I love them!! I’ve been wearing boot-cut jeans for as long as I can remember, and I now feel a little more up-to-date. I also started wearing my winter coat this week, along with gloves on some of the chilly mornings we’ve been having.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

We have a pretty packed weekend coming up. As usual, my daughter has her hip-hop dance class on Friday evening. We’ll head straight from there to Chipotle, for her birthday dinner, and home for cake and presents. Saturday morning, my husband will take her to gymnastics class, then we’ll hit Saratoga’s Fall Festival, until her birthday party at 2:00 that afternoon. On Sunday, we’re going to the Fall Fest at the Spa City Farmers’ Market, and doing some cleaning and catching up on life at home.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month

Thanksgiving, some fun holiday events, and the start of my six-week winter break from my job.
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