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My Weekend In Pictures

ChesapeakeLate Monday night I got back from a whirlwind weekend in Maryland. The closing was on Friday and that same day I spent time at the schools in order to prepare for the transition, whenever that may be. There’s still a lot that’s up in the air right now and that includes an exact transition date.

But while I was down there, I spent some time exploring the area and getting a feel for what’s to be my new life. The new house is situated between the Chesapeake and farm country. Or at least it feels that way to me. The nearest Target is forty-five minutes away and the closest gallon of milk is a fifteen minute drive. To me that means we’re in the country. I’ve got pictures of horses to prove it…

Maryland Horse FarmCool, huh? I imagine lots of farm fresh eggs and produce in my future. Besides not having a Target around, this part of the county really doesn’t have much commerce at all. The only restaurant in the area is a Mexican one which is sort of awesome because if my town is only going to have one restaurant, I want it to be Mexican.

Another plus to living in a kind of remote area is that there’s little ambient light. So when it gets dark out, it gets pitch dark and you can see the stars shining brilliantly on a cloud free evening. I would’ve stood outside enjoying the display longer if it hadn’t been so frigidly cold last weekend.

The house is situated in a very wooded area. And while I cannot share pictures of the house yet (I’d like the kids to be the first ones to see it), I can share some pictures of my favorite trees on the property. I know it sounds strange to have favorite trees, but I do. Trees and birds make me happy.

Fir treeFor someone who loves trees, I know very little about them. Take this tree for example. Is it a fir or a pine? Are they the same thing? I haven’t a clue. All I know is that it’s tall and has outrageously large pinecones like I’ve never seen before and I love it.

crepe myrtleThis is a crepe myrtle. There are five of these on the property, but this one is the most mature. While the blooms of crepe myrtles are stunning, the bark is what I love the most. It’s smooth to the touch and so visually striking. I might not be an arborist, but I do appreciate a majestic tree.

Naval BaseThe house is in close proximity to three military bases. You can’t go anywhere in the county without seeing something military. And being a huge military supporter, this is a welcome thing. I also had to sign a release stating that there could be significant aircraft noise in the area when I signed the house contract. I’m pretty sure my sons will find that fascinating!

I know that’s only a tiny glimpse of the new place, but it will have to do for now. Much more to come when the time is right. Many of you left such supportive comments on my last post. I will spend some time this evening responding to them once the kids are in bed. This weekend was way too hectic to do much of anything by the way of blogging or commenting. And it wasn’t until this morning that I felt like I was getting some of my energy back. Moving is exhausting.

Not that I moved much of anything, really. The truly exhausting stuff is to come soon enough.

Thank you all for your supportive comments. It means the world to me.

xoxo

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

Leela and StitchAs we sat in the airport on Sunday, no one was in a jovial mood. Leaving Florida after nine days of fun in the sun was difficult. Especially considering all we’ve gone through this past year.

Nine days truly focused on having fun was blissful. No heavy conversations. No suffocating tensions. No worrying about the future other than what rides we would experience the next day. I can’t speak for the kids, but I can tell you that my shoulders felt a lot lighter that week.

I took the picture of Leela above while we were waiting for our flight. I think this image represents how we all were feeling at that moment. But vacations always end and goodbyes are inevitable.

And today I am about to start another goodbye process.

Tomorrow I close on the new house in Maryland.

Saying goodbye to my current home and life isn’t easy. I’ve lived here for over eight years. The fact that I’ve moved around a lot during my life doesn’t really help anything. Once you sleep somewhere for a period of years, moving your bed is not an easy thing.

And I’m definitely a creature of habit. I take comfort in schedules and knowing what comes next. The bus comes at 8:45am. I drink my first cup of coffee at 9am. Work happens between 9-3pm. And then the kids come home and there’s homework, cooking dinner, dishes, some downtime and then the bedtime routine.

That is my life. It’s not particularly exciting, but it is predictable. And for a woman who loves adventure, that might seem odd that I would take comfort in my normal dull life. But I do.

Now I have to start a new routine somewhere else. And as exciting as that is, it’s scary too.

Then there are other concerns…

I have no friends in Maryland. Well, I do have a few blogger friends there, but I don’t know them very well yet. Hopefully that will change.

But that having no friends thing is scary. I’m afraid to be alone in a new place. And I’m certain my kids feel the same way.

You will of course remind me that I’m an extrovert, but that really doesn’t make it any easier. Making new friends is work and I’m not entirely sure I have the energy to put into that kind of relationship building right now. I’m kind of mentally exhausted after the divorce. I’m not sure I have a lot to give right now.

And then there’s the packing up of this house, unpacking at the new house and arranging all that stuff so it feels like a home again.

Just writing that last sentence was exhausting.

But that’s what you do when you say goodbye to one place and hello to another.

It was just SO much easier to do when I was in my 20’s.

There’s so much more I’d like to say in this post, but I cannot. Matter of fact, most of my blog posts have been so surface as of late. Lacking a lot of personal info and a far cry from my normal posting. The reason for this is that I have an agreement with my ex to not write about the divorce anymore. And it’s REALLY hard to write about anything personal when you have that kind of agreement. But it’s what’s best for all parties and I have to honor that.

I can only share onward with you.

So with that, I’m off to pack my suitcase and head down to Maryland to close.

Goodbye Massachusetts, hello Maryland.

Bring on the crab cakes!

Cakeus Interruptus

CannolisEarlier this week I had grand plans. I finally had some inspiration for my poor neglected food blog. If you think I’ve been slow posting over here, it’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted anything over there. But this past weekend I came up with a delicious idea and my goal was to have the post up by Monday or Tuesday at the very latest.

Girls

And things started off swimmingly. The first day I baked the cake layers and the next I started working on the finishing touches. Just when I was ready to put the whole thing together, everything came to an abrupt stop.

Both girls came down with ailments at the exact same time that necessitated a trip to the pediatrician. And of course they would get a bug right before we are supposed to leave on a vacation. Isn’t that the way it always goes?

Luckily their issues weren’t major, but they still needed to be seen. One had an ear boo boo and the other had a very sore throat that I needed to make sure wasn’t strep.

But the worst part about going to the doctor this time of year is the germ factory that is the waiting room. I didn’t want to go in with an ear infection and come out with the flu. So I’m officially that crazy mother who makes her kids wear masks while in the waiting room.

I’m sure you can tell how excited they were over that.

Actually, it was the nurse’s idea. So I blamed her. She knew we were going away and suggested the masks for extra protection.

Secretly I was more than happy to have them put those masks on. I don’t know if it really protected them, but it made me feel better.

Cannoli CakeSo what was supposed to be finished earlier in the week finally got done today after the case of cakeus interruptus. And it was certainly worth not giving up on. Isn’t it pretty? I named it The Best Cannoli Cake. If cannolis are your thing, you might want to check out the recipe. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat.

That’s what’s been going on over here. Cakes and co-pays.

How about you? How’s your week going?

Still Learning

IciclesI’ve been stuck in this house for days and at first it was wonderful. I even enjoyed the cancelled school as much as the kids. The first couple of days were like a honeymoon of sorts. Lazy sleep in days. No lunches to pack. Snowball fights in the yard followed by steaming mugs of hot chocolate. And best of all, no homework!

But as the time went on, the kids got bored. Bored kids are cranky kids. And after listening to the kids bicker over who was breathing too loudly and who was thinking bad thoughts about the other (didn’t you know my kids were psychics?), I had had enough.

The snow day honeymoon was over. All good feelings gone. And I was going to get those kids to school by snowshoe if I had to.

Luckily for me, just as I was nearing the breaking point, the snowfall ceased and the roads were cleared. The kids got on the bus and my sanity returned. I’ve never been as happy to see the bus as I was that morning.

So when I got an email inviting me to a cocktail party in the city celebrating the launch of a new app, I was like HELL YES! I had been in my jammies for days. The thought of putting makeup on and a bra sounded like just the medicine I needed to snap out of this winter funk.

Without much thought I rsvp’d YES! And off I went to make myself look human. Something you don’t worry about when you’re stuck in the house with four kids for days on end.

Stuck in snowAnd I really should’ve given it some thought because if I had, my good sense would’ve kept me home.

As a suburbanite, I expect the roads to be cleared and good to go once the DPW crews hit the streets. The snow is plowed and the roads are salted. And life is back to normal.

I assumed it would be the same in the city. It is Boston, after all. Surely they would remove the snow so that life could get back to normal.

But as I drove into the city last night, I saw locals walking in the streets because the sidewalks were nowhere to be found. Cars were still buried in snowdrifts and the streets were almost too narrow for more than one car to be traveling in either direction.

I started to panic about where I’d park my car. The only thing that gave me comfort was that the directions indicated that there was a municipal lot which I assumed was an indoor parking garage.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The municipal lot was an outdoor lot that was one big snow pile.

And being the optimist that I am, or the desperate woman wanting a civilized evening out, I put my SUV into the lot and figured that the word SUV guaranteed I’d be able to get out. Sport Utility Vehicle must cover snow, right? It’s got to be in the owner’s manual somewhere.

As it turned out, no. Having a SUV does not guarantee that you will not get stuck in a snow drift. Staying home does.

And by the grace of good samaritans and a liberal amount of ice melt, I was able to get out of the lot after much rocking back and forth and a few swear words tossed in for good measure.

I wish I could say that the evening was worth the frustration. It really wasn’t.

And when I got home, which was still early enough that my kids were in bed but not yet asleep, I went in to kiss them and say goodnight.

My youngest asked me if I had a good time. No, I said. It really wasn’t a good time. But mommy learned a good lesson.

You’re still learning lessons she asked? I thought you would be all learned by now.

I chuckled at that and assured her that you never stop learning. That even as adults we make mistakes. Mommy still has a good amount of learning to do.

With a tuck, a kiss and a prayer, I closed their door. And within seconds I could hear one telling the other to hush and the other telling her sister to take a leap.

I guess some lessons take longer to learn than others.

The State of Melanie Address

MelanieHere we are. It’s February 2015. I made no resolutions other than survival this year, so I’m doing pretty well all things considered. And I figured now was as good of a time as any to fill you in on what’s going on with me, my life and all the craziness that surrounds it. So let’s get you up to speed…

As you already know, I’m moving. And most of you figured out that yes, I’m moving to Maryland.

Oh what a journey I’m about to take you on.

But when that will happen is anyone’s guess. I have a house to sell here and a house to close on there. Lots of variables that affect the moving date. Needless to say we are all anxious about reaching closure on this. Unfortunately we only have so much control in this situation.

It’s a hurry up and wait kind of thing.

So much is in flux right now. And in case you didn’t pick up on this about me yet, I don’t do flux well. Nor do my children. This has been such a challenge for all of us, but we are pushing through. Finding our way. And making plans that will prepare us for the journey ahead.

As far as my work goes, that’s been in a state of flux as well. This week I’m interviewing with two different companies which is pretty exciting. I adore working because it gives me a great sense of purpose and I’m curious to see what doors are going to open as I move ahead. While change is not my thing, I still love the adventure that a job brings. So I’m crossing all crossable parts that the interviews go well. An employed Melanie is a happy Melanie.

What else… what else…. hmmmm….

Dating.

Such a big word isn’t it? Dating. Yes, that’s part of 2015 as well. More on that as the year unfolds, but yes, it’s on my radar. On my flight plan, if you will. More on that when I’m ready.

But for today I’m going to leave you with a song. One of my very favorites. No song speaks to my life right now the way that this song does.

Learning to fly. Yes, I am.

Catching Up

Girls in SnowWell hello there! Excuse me for a second while I blow the dust off my laptop. WOOSH! Lots of dust over here. Cough cough.

I’m so sorry for the lack of posting but by God do I have a great excuse. Actually I have two of them.

First, we got absolutely clobbered by Juno. Thirty-one inches to be exact. And it would be the biggest understatement to say that I was terrified of this storm. Having grown up in Michigan, it wasn’t the snow that was scaring me. I’m familiar with snow.

It was the seventy-five mile per hour winds that had me on my knees praying for the power to stay on.

I was so worried that the electricity would go out thus eliminating our heat. And I knew if the heat went out that there would be little help to be had. No vehicles were allowed on the roads and there would be no evacuating. Wicked scary stuff.

You know, when you’re a kid a snowstorm is a blast. But when you’re a parent it’s a different story. While my kids were looking out the window with happy shining eyes, planning all the fun they’d have in the snow the next day, I was worrying that we’d all become humansicles. Frozen. And not the Disney version.

Michael ShovelingAfter an evening of howling winds and a curtain of falling snow, we woke up to a blinding white landscape that had the kids begging for their snow boots before I even had a chance to assess if there was a way to let them out of the house without letting three feet of drifted snow fall in.

And as you can see from the picture above, one of my kids wasn’t enjoying the snow as much as his siblings. But why only one son shoveling while I have two you ask?

Oh well you see, my other son is a total slacker. Just hanging in the house cozy as a bug, watching his brother dig out the sidewalks while he sipped a mug of steaming hot chocolate.

Except that total slacker was ordered by his doctor to do nothing the least bit physical because he injured his kidney and ribs earlier in the week in a very bad fall which caused internal bleeding. INTERNAL BLEEDING!!!!

Oh my mama heart.

I can hardly handle external bleeding. Whenever the doctor told me he had internal bleeding I assured her I was going to pass out.

So he’s not really a slacker. And I plan on wrapping him in bubble wrap which I should’ve done years ago.

And people think I worry too much. Puhhlllease. Internal bleeding. Ugh.

AidanA week of scary injuries and terrifying weather. I think that’s a good excuse for my silence, don’t you think?

Oh, and this picture above. Yeah, well I felt so bad for my kid that I made him nachos. He loves nachos. I made a big ole heaping platter of the stuff covered in gooey cheese, taco meat (ground turkey, shhhh don’t tell) and shredded lettuce for a bit of health.

You can see by his reaction that the addition of greenery was highly offensive. Completely unacceptable. A nacho blasphemy so I’m told.

But it didn’t stop him from eating it. Nor his siblings. Within minutes my snow-kissed rosy faced kids came inside to join their injured brother in polishing it off.

And as they stood around munching, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we got this week. Our guardian angels must be exhausted.

Jeff Mauro’s Italian Beef Stromboli

Italian Beef StromboliAs I was nursing my third cup of coffee on Saturday morning, I still wasn’t feeling up to leaving the warmth of my snuggly blanket. It was your typical frigid New England morning complete with sleeting rain. The couch was a safer bet.

I had already watched Farmhouse Rules (love), The Pioneer Woman and Trisha Yearwood’s show which I rather like even though I dislike country music. That woman can cook.

And that’s usually the end of my Saturday television watching. The Kitchen follows Trisha and I’ve never really gotten into watching it. Probably because I’m feeling kind of guilty for sitting in front of the tv that long by the time The Kitchen comes on.

Or maybe it’s because that’s as long as I can keep the girls away from the Wii on Saturday mornings. Yes, that’s what usually brings my coffee/food show happy time to a close.

But by some stroke of luck, no one asked for the television this past Saturday morning. So there I stayed and watched an episode of The Kitchen. This episode was all about game day food and one recipe caught my eye. Jeff Mauro was making an Italian Beef Stromboli that looked outlandishly good.

Soft chunks of slow roasted beef slathered with provolone cheese and hot peppers all rolled up in a beautifully browned pizza crust. It looked so good that I actually braved the sleeting rain to pick up the ingredients.

And while I wanted to share my next installment of my Kardashian cookbook review (no I haven’t given up on that, sorry to say), this couldn’t wait. I had such amazing success with Jeff’s recipe that I wanted to share it with you so that you have plenty of time to pick up the ingredients before next weekend’s big game.

Let me show you why this recipe is a winner…

Italian Beef StromboliYou start with a chuck roast. Now on the show Jeff says to make the roast for dinner one night and then use the leftovers for this recipe. Don’t listen to that advice. If you follow his recipe and use exactly the same measurements, you will have enough meat to fill two strombolis like the recipe calls for. If you eat half of it the night before, your strombolis won’t have enough filling.

Italian Beef Stromboli

How gorgeous is this roast? My house smelled like Italy in the very best of ways. SO much garlic!

pizza dough

I used my favorite pizza dough recipe for this stromboli, but you could make your life easier by buying pre made dough from the store. I doubt anyone will notice or care if you take this simple shortcut.

Italian Beef Stromboli

Once the meat is shredded and the dough is rolled out, the fun begins. The shredded beef is piled on top of slices of provolone and then you layer red peppers and peperoncini peppers overtop. The original recipe calls for giardiniera which is a pickled veggie mix that includes cauliflower. None of my kids are down with pickled cauliflower, so I used the peperoncini instead.

Italian Beef Stromboli

I also added one extra layer of cheese, because…cheese! Why not? Everything is supposed to be a little over the top on game day. Extra cheese for the win!

Italian Beef StromboliAfter it was done baking I opened the oven and angels sang. Ok, maybe there weren’t any angels singing, but the kids were standing there with plates in hand oohing and ahhing which is almost as good as singing angels.

So if you are looking for a game day appetizer, look no further. This is it. An appetizer touchdown for sure!

Are you cooking up any nibbles for the big game? What are your appetizer favorites?

Focus On Gratitude: 45 Things That Make Me Grateful

This post is inspired by my friend Danielle whose birthday is the day after mine. She wrote a lovely post on things that make her grateful. One thing for each of her forty-two years that she has graced the planet.

Danielle is a wonderfully positive woman. In the years that I’ve known her, not once has she had a negative word to say. She is a bright shiny light in my social media world and her posts always make me smile.

As I read through her list, I realized another reason why I am drawn to her. We are thankful for so many similar things. And while it might look that I’ve copied her in my list, it’s just a happy coincidence that two like people are friends. Sort of makes sense.

So let’s get started. A list of forty-five things that I’m thankful for makes a mighty long post. Thank God Im not eighty-five yet…

Girls

Boys

1. My Kids - That sort of goes without saying, right? Aren’t we moms hardwired that way? To be thankful for the most precious gift that we could ever receive? But speaking as a child who didn’t have that kind of mom, I know better. And I think the weight of that knowledge has influenced my relationship with my kids. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. I can be overprotective and overbearing but at the same time I try very hard to be fair and loving. Being a mom is hard stuff. I’m thankful for the lessons motherhood has taught me and the love it’s brought into my life.

Beach

2. The Ocean- Ever since I was a small child, the ocean has given me a tremendous peace. I am so very grateful that I have lived in a coastal community for my entire adult life. And I’m very happy to report that this will still be true when I relocate. One of my favorite activities is shelling and hunting for sea glass. A simple pleasure that costs nothing, but adds tremendous value to my life. And watching the waves crash on the shore works better for calming nerves than any prescription drug out there.

3. A Good Television Series- I don’t watch much television other than the news and the Food Network. But when I do watch tv, it’s usually in the form of a series watched via Netflix. Right now I’m watching Mad Men and I’m smitten with it. I love being swallowed whole by a series and binge watching it until I’m done. I’ve done this with other shows like Downton Abbey and Girls. Although Girls lost me when the writing started to weaken, but for awhile there I was addicted.

4. Vintage Pyrex- But you already knew that about me, right? Nothing thrills me more than finding a beautiful vintage Pyrex piece for a buck at a yard sale. I could have a thousand bowls and I’d still have a hard time resisting picking one up on the cheap at a yard sale. I guess there are worse things (and more expensive) to be addicted to.

friends

5. My Friends-  There’s not enough space in this post to share a picture of all the friends I’ve been blessed with who’ve supported me not only this year, but many years prior. The past three years in particular have been very trying. My friends have been there for me through thick and thin. I look at them as family and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for blessing me with them.

6. My Father and Donna- My Dad and his wife Donna are really the only family I have besides my children. And while it sounds like a very small family, it’s enough. They love me and I love them. You can’t ask for much more than that when it comes to family.

Camera

7. My Camera- While I don’t think it’s good to put too much value on “things”, there are a few things that I own that I adore. The aforementioned Pyrex being one of them and this camera. I am so very very thankful that I was able to purchase my camera to help me grow my photography skills. I’m still learning how to use it, but every time I touch it I feel a deep sense of gratitude that I have a solid camera to work with.

8. Blogging- I had no idea how much blogging would change my life when I wrote my first post. The friends that would come into my life, the opportunities that would be given to my family and the job opportunities that came my way were all directly related to this blog. And while blogging doesn’t pay much in the way of dollars, it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.

9. My Readers- What’s the point of having a blog if no one ever reads it? My readers (that means you) bring me so much joy. When I hear that a reader gets something from my posts it makes my day. Without you there’s no blog. So thank you for that!

10. Birds- At the risk of sounding like I’m entering my golden years with binoculars in hand, I’m going to share that I LOVE listening to birds. It’s right up there with walking on the beach. I went to Costa Rica last year and that was one of the highlights of my trip. Tropical birds are squawky things and so much fun to listen to. But I do enjoy local birds including blue jays, cardinals and especially birds of prey like eagles. I have one exception. Woodpeckers. I am so excited that my next house is made of brick. Good luck with that, woodpecker.

Wine

11. Wine- Cabernet Sauvignon is my wine of choice and there’s nothing quite like it after a very long day. God bless the grape.

chocolate

12. Chocolate- Of course wine would be quickly followed by chocolate. My favorite chocolate is good old fashioned Hershey Bars. But if I’m going to go fancy, it’s going to be Fran’s. Their salted chocolate caramels are the best.

13. Swiss Miss- Almost every day of my life starts with a cup of coffee with a pack of Swiss Miss mixed in. No other hot chocolate will do. Just Swiss Miss. It’s my one very odd addiction. At least the only one I’m willing to share with you. Ha!

14. Spring Summer and Fall- Ok, this is really three things, but you get the idea. The three months out of the year that I’m physically comfortable. I don’t do cold well. Thank goodness I’m moving to a more temperate climate. These New England winters have been something.

15. October- Oh how I love the fall. It’s the most splendid time of the year. Why does it have to be so short? I guess good things are that way sometimes. Lovely and fleeting. The crunch of leaves under my boots is almost as satisfying as sand between the toes.

Cooking

16.Cooking- Some people knit, sew or paint, I cook. I am so very thankful for my abilities to whip up good stuff to eat in the kitchen. While some people look at it as drudgery, I find joy in it. Feeding my family and sharing recipes with my readers gives me so much satisfaction.

vintage cookbooks

17. Cookbooks- I collect two things, Pyrex and cookbooks. Seems to go hand in hand, right? And if it’s a vintage cookbook, all the better. I know that in this age of Pinterest people go online for most of their recipe needs, I still find it much more satisfying to flip through a cookbook. I’m a little old fashioned this way.

vacation

18. Vacations- Getting away with the family is such a treat and honestly a privilege. And I’m so thankful for the places I’ve explored with my kids and also without. I know it’s a luxury that not everyone gets to experience and I am so thankful for the travel opportunities that have come my way. This coming year I will hardly travel at all. A huge change from years past. This year is the year of transition and all my focus and resources have to be on the move ahead. That said, I do have one family trip planned coming up that should tide us over for the year. More on that in the weeks to come.

19. My Wubbie- I have this one blanket that’s been my special blanket for years. It’s just long enough to cover me from head to toe and it’s made of the softest most velvety fabric. It’s what keeps me sane through the winter months. Yes I’m a forty-five year old toddler.

aidan guitar

20. Kid Music- All of my kids play a musical instrument and three of them sing. Listening to them play makes me incredibly happy and proud.

21. Pedicures- If I’m getting my toes painted it means I’m going to wear flip flops. And this usually means that I’m going somewhere warm or the seasons are changing. Pedicures mean happy feet and a happy heart.

22. Trees- My love for trees is right up there with my love of birds. Such a strange thing to find joy in, right? It’s not like they do anything. But still, I love them just the same. My new house has a forest in the backyard and four mature crepe myrtles in the front. I am looking forward to seeing them bloom.

Bacon

23. Bacon- For the obvious reasons. Bacon. Do I need to say anything more?

24. My Laptop- It would be really hard to blog without a computer. I am so thankful that I have a laptop and internet service. Something that is a luxury if you think about it. This thing is the lifeline between you and I, so for that I am entirely thankful.

25. Hugs and Kisses- There’s nothing like a spontaneous hug or kiss from my kids. And if it comes from my teen son, a miracle.

26. Gas Points- Thank you Stop & Shop for keeping me fueled with cheap gas. May your program last for all of my remaining days on this planet.

27. My flatiron- I’m not sure who invented the thing but they deserve some kind of award. You’d never see a picture of me without it.

28. Social Media- Ok, this one can go two ways. It can be a blessing and a curse. As long as you remember that people are usually posting there very best moments on Facebook and ground yourself with the knowledge that not everyone leads an amazing life every second of every day, social media can be a huge blessing. I love staying in touch with my friends and seeing the good things that are happening in their lives. And I love sharing my life with them. But once again, just remember that it’s not always rainbows and cupcakes every day.

Skype

29. Skype- Another invention that deserves an award. Over Christmas break I used Skype to stay in touch with my kids. I am SO thankful for this technology and know that I will rely on this when the kids are spending time with their father down the road. I’ve also used it to have a long distance cocktail party with my girlfriends. A mighty fine communication tool indeed.

Shells

30. Shells- I already kind of mentioned this, but I do believe it needs it’s own line item. I adore collecting shells from beaches around the world. It fascinates me how unique shells are to the area where they are found. And the sea glass too. All the different colors are fascinating. I have a glass hurricane jar full of shells I’ve collected over the years. I love marveling at them all.

31. Good Doctors- I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for exceptional medical care. I’m profoundly thankful for the doctors in my life who put me back together again after the accident. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on that. That goes for the nurses, physical therapists and home health aides too. Fine peoples.

32. Books- I don’t often have time to read, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy a book that I can get lost in. You know the kind. The one that you will stay up until 3am to read? I love those.

Palm Trees

33. Palm Trees- I already listed trees, but palm trees are a category unto themselves. Seeing them means I’m on vacation while wearing flip flops with pedicured toes. The happiest trees on the planet.

hair color

34. Hair Color- It’s magical.

35. Happy People- I’m with my friend Danielle on this one for sure. There’s something about being with positive people. Uplifting. I try very hard to surround myself with positive people because it affects me in every way. Positive people are contagious.

36. The 4th of July- It’s my favorite holiday of the year. I love everything about it. Celebrating our freedom is a precious thing. Of course fireworks, pigging out on grilled foods and hanging with friends is fun too, but I love the heart of this holiday. In all of its red white and blue spangled glory.

37. Amazon- I cannot even begin to tell you how much time and money Amazon has saved me. It’s completely changed the way I shop. And Amazon Prime is the cat’s meow. I remember the days of running from store to store to find what I needed. Those days are long gone.

38. Teachers- As a mom of special needs kids, good teachers are a HUGE gift. I am so thankful for the teachers that have had a positive impact on my kids’ lives. Precious gems for sure.

39. Snow Days- I am just as giddy as the kids when there’s a snow day. Not that I love snow, mind you. However, I do love lazy winter days when I can cook the kids a hot breakfast, burrow under the covers on the couch and just chill for the day. Oh, and no lunches to pack. Bonus!

40. Bonus Fries- Those stray fries that are stragglers in the bottom of the takeout bag when you think you’ve eaten all the fries that were in your box. Those fries taste the best.

fire

41. A Roaring Fire- There’s nothing like the snap crackle and pop of a fire. And the smell is heavenly. It calms me the way waves do. Rather hypnotic.

42. My Bed- I’m a total nester. My bed is a mess of pillows and thick comfy blankets. Sleeping is delicious. If past lives were a thing, I might’ve been a bear previously.

kids

43. Sibling Peace- As a mom of four, moments of sibling peace need to be appreciated. I cherish the times when there’s harmony between all kids. Not that this happens very often, but when it does oh how I enjoy it.

44. A Good Hair Day- Ok so I’m reaching here, but YOU try listing out forty-five things you are thankful for and see how you do. A good hair day is especially nice when you are a curly girl. Humidity is my enemy.

45. Second Chances- I am most thankful for second chances. God has given me many of them throughout my life and I am a better woman for it.

On Age and Acceptance

Melanie AnnapolisIn four days I will be forty-five years old. Earlier last year I had a grand plan. I would lose those last ten pounds that are stubbornly clinging to my body and have my photos done by a fabulous photographer friend. I’d show forty-five and the rest of the world who’s boss.

But then the year went on and what a year it was. Even though the divorce was good compared to other people’s horror stories, it was still pretty miserable. And I might’ve drowned my sorrows in a few chocolate baked goods along the way.

What was supposed to be the year of salad turned out to be the year of calorie dense carbs and wine.

Looking back on my poor coping skills and stress eating of 2014, I’m lucky I didn’t gain ten pounds. I really should’ve. But my metabolism did something miraculous for once in my life. It kept things sort of stable, at least where my weight is concerned.

So here I am today. Just about forty-five and not exactly where I’d like to be when it comes to my weight and appearance.

But here’s the thing, I’m ok with it. I’m not beating myself up over my weight loss fail. On the contrary, when I look in the mirror I’m feeling kinder towards my reflection.

That lady in the mirror went through a lot in 2014. And if I didn’t know that lady in the mirror, if she was a stranger to me, I’d tell her to focus on what’s good in her life. I’d tell her that life is a journey, not a race to the finish.

Isn’t it funny how we can encourage strangers but not ourselves? Or at least that’s the case with me. It’s so much easier for me to build others up than it is to encourage myself. Well, that’s the way it has been for most of my life.

I feel a change happening now.

So I didn’t get to pose for you in a pair of skinny jeans and heels. Instead you get to see a woman who’s smiling with a few laugh lines around her lips and a midsection that jiggles a little when she laughs.

But at least she’s smiling and laughing. There’s that.

The Hunt

ChapelMoving is a scary thing. An out of state move is even scarier. I’ve been out of state the past several days looking for our new house and the search has been exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Looking for a new home is actually lots of fun. It’s sort of like a treasure hunt. And out of the thirteen homes I looked at this past weekend, each one had something wonderful to offer.

The scary part was trying to picture my kids in each of the houses. Would they like their new rooms? How would they like the neighborhood? Could there be potential best friends behind the neighbor’s doors? Would they like the schools and their new teachers?

So many questions and concerns.

I looked at each and every room through my kids’ eyes and my own. Trying to balance their needs and my desires. And in the end, I think I found something good. A nice home in a very good school district. You can’t ask for much more than that. Only that they will like it. Yes, that is the most important thing.

The picture above is a hint. Got any guesses on where I’m moving to?