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Sunday, April 13, 2014

World's Greatest Weekend?

We had one of those weekends that spring time dreams are made of. There was sunshine, smiles, and only limited tantrums. Friday's highlights were Isabelle being the Mystery Reader at Henry's school (read about that HERE!) and her scoring a goal at her soccer game that night. Isabelle really nailed it on Friday.

Saturday morning, Henry helped lead the town baseball parade with his fellow PeeWee teammates. He was SO excited to be in the parade!

Does it get any cuter?
Following the parade, Henry headed off to his first baseball practice of the season. Isabelle, Daniel, and I played on the playground before heading over to the town Common for the annual Easter egg hunt. Conveniently, Henry and Tim finished up practice just in time to head over and join us.

Isabelle and the Bunny pre-hunt!
Daniel came home with the most loot since he still gets to go in the one to three year old hunt. Nothing says bag full o' candy like a big three year old navigating through just learning to walk one year olds!

Daniel loving every minute
We finished up Saturday with a whole lot of outside time at home. The icing on the cake was that Tim and I got to escape for a night out at a friend's party as well. Seriously, could the day have been any more perfect?

Sunday morning we were up and out bright and early for church. The kids were making their debut performance in the church choir and were very excited. All three of them did a great job! As if that wasn't enough, the church had a "donkey" that led the procession to the church while the congregation followed singing with palm leaves. I say "donkey" because apparently they couldn't get a donkey so it was actually a miniature horse with fake ears on it - ha! I'm not going to lie, when I heard this was happening the just-switched-over-Catholic in me thought it was crazy but you know what? It was really cool. There's something powerful and inspiring about a community joining together like that.

From this distance that horse totally could have been a donkey!
So there you have it - another great day in the books. Now I'm looking forward to dinner out tonight with some of my favorite blogging friends. Woot woot!

Hope your weekend was as great as ours!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Very Special Mystery Reader

Every Friday morning, Henry's preschool class has a Mystery Reader where a parent or grandparent comes in to read a story to the class. Today, we mixed up the routine and had Isabelle be the Mystery Reader for his class. I had signed her up a couple of months ago and she's been eagerly awaiting this day. She picked out a book and we practiced her reading it out loud. In all honesty though, she didn't need the practice. She could have nailed that book with her eyes clothes and didn't have an ounce of nervousness at all. Meanwhile, I was a nervous wreck for her!

So I dismissed her from school (which she thought was super awesome) and we headed to Henry's school. When we got there I asked her if she wanted to take a look at the book before we went in. She said no and began running towards the class. Jeez, even I review the book before I'm the Mystery Reader. Clearly, she's way more skilled and confident than I am!

In the classroom, they have the kids sit on the rug with their eyes shut while the Mystery Reader sits in front of the class. When Henry opened his eyes to see Isabelle he was a little confused at first and then excited. He had a smile on his face during almost the whole story. Of course, his smile may have been outdone by the one that was beaming from my face. Now I've heard Isabelle read a million times before but today was different. She was sitting in the same classroom that she started school in as a three year old. Just last year she was on that very rug being read to and this year she is the one doing the reading. She was loud, proud, and confident - all the things I could have wished for.

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It was just such a great moment. So great, that I took my couldn't-remove-smile and her to Dunkin Donuts for her to pick out a treat before returning to school. While there I said, "Wow, Isabelle. A Mystery Reader, a chocolate donut, and it's pizza day at school? This is kind of like the best day ever." She said, "It is! Can we make a scrapbook about it?" Ahhh, that's my girl!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Habits Kitchen: Balance Meal, Balanced Life!

At the end of the day sometimes the last thing I want to think about is dinner. I mean I'm busy all day. You're busy all day. We're all busy. Just the thought of cooking up a nice, healthy dinner can be exhausting. And in all honesty, some days I'm not too busy - I'm just lazy. Sshhh...that's our little secret! So I was super excited when I was approached by Healthy Habits Kitchen to try out some of their make ahead meals.

Healthy Habits Kitchen creates fresh, wholesome food made ahead of time from scratch. You can then pick them up at their location in Wellesley, MA or have them delivered right to your door. On a night when you need them, you just defrost them and cook them up. What I enjoyed is that it was really easy to cook them on my own. There weren't a ton of steps I had to take - just simple things like to pour a marinade over the meat and bake. Viola - a meal in just 10 - 30 minutes! The best part is though that you can feel good about eating them since each meal contain a maximum of 400 calories per serving, with less than 30% fat and no more than 800 mg of sodium. Convenient and healthy? No way...WAY!

Of course the next question would be how do they taste? Well we tried out a chicken, a fish, and a beef meal and they were all delicious. I actually had a hard time choosing which meals I wanted since they all sounded so good! These aren't your typical frozen meals - these are meals like you'd order in a restaurant. They're serving up dishes like Pomegranate Walnut Chicken with Brown Rice and Salmon Florentine with Creamy Polenta. Don't let the delicious names scare you though - you just follow the simple instructions and they come out perfect. Even a "bad" cook could do this!

You can also choose between small meals which serve 2-3 people or large which serve 4-6. I went with the small since we have some of the world's pickiest eaters here. Their loss was my gain! Oh, and I also cooked up an extra side of vegetables with our meals because I'm trying (so very hard!) to incorporate more veggies into my life.

So in case you can't tell - I'm really digging Healthy Habits Kitchen. If you'd like to try it out for yourself, Dollops readers can take 15% off their first order by using the code DOLLOPS at checkout.

Another cool thing they offer is gift certificates which could be a nice gift for someone in need of a meal (new baby, illness, or just a pick me up) but you're not sure of their taste preferences. Although I'm pretty sure you could order anything on the menu and they'd love it!

So go swing by their website and Facebook page and see what they're cooking up!

*Disclosure: I received complimentary meals in order to faciliate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My One Year Boot Camp-iversary!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day I started boot camp. Like with everything, it seemed to go by so fast. In this case, I honestly can't believe I've stuck with it for this long. I have just never been a worker-outer. I don't like to get dirty. I don't like to sweat. I don't like to exert myself. Can you tell why it's a mystery that I've lasted this long?!

There's something about this boot camp though that forces me out of bed several days a week at 4:45am. Maybe it's the insanely petite and encouraging instructor (Hi, Carrie!)? Maybe it's the super nice people I've met there? Maybe it's the thought of some "me" time before the morning rush? Maybe it's all of the above?

What I do know though is that taking the first step to sign up for this class last spring was HARD. I actually didn't want to sign up but a friend convinced me. I hadn't worked out in years and years and I was petrified of the first class. I somehow managed to not vomit during it and survived that week by popping Advil and then never looked back.

One year later, I love how much stronger I feel. I love that I know what I am capable of and that I strive for more. I love that when one of the kids asks to race me from point A to point B I don't have to even hesitate to know that I can actually run that distance (even though I still hate running!). I love that working exercise into my life also made me make other healthy lifestyle decisions. I eat better. I drink better. I live better. So today, I'm thankful that one year ago I pushed fear to the side and went to that first class. At the time, I really had no idea how life changing it would be for me and the amazing people I would meet along the way.

Just hammering the morning away
Do you live near Foxboro, MA and are thinking of taking the exercise plunge? Click HERE to find out more about The Extreme Challenge Boot Camp! We'd love for you to join us!

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Window Of Love

Starting last month, every Monday morning after I drop off Henry at pre-K, I'm in charge of cleaning our church's kitchen. As always, Daniel is my companion and my "helper."  At first, I wasn't sure how he would do because as any mom knows - three year olds are the least helpful helpers around. However, I've found that over the past few weeks I've been pleasantly surprised with his behavior. Of course, I'm no fool so I have an arsenal of snacks and toys that I bring to keep him occupied.

He often sits in the adjacent hall where I can see him through cut out windows. And you know what? I've found that there is something magical about those windows. The fact that I had to tell him it was time to get dressed ten times that morning melts away. Him refusing to eat anything on his breakfast plate is a distant memory. His soaked pants from jumping in puddles seem to vanish. His disgruntlement over having to brush his teeth has subsided. The fact that he fought me tooth and nail on just about every.single.thing that morning seems to vanish. In those moments, when I stand there watching him play from a distance, I'm not sure I could love him any more...

Friday, March 14, 2014

That Time I Went Ice Skating

Isabelle was invited to a friend's ice skating birthday party. The invite said that for those kids who couldn't skate, a parent had to go on the ice with them. No problem, right? Well Miss Isabelle has NEVER been ice skating and I've been ONCE in my entire life. I was probably like ten years old. We were destined to be a recipe for disaster. Luckily, the girl whose party it was is not "just" a school friend but a friend and family we have known through town for years. I mean if you're going to embarrass yourself it's always better to do it amongst friends, right? Also, Isabelle had already told all her friends that I couldn't skate and they promised that they could just teach her. Yup, the six year old population had already lost all confidence in my ability to skate.

So Tim left work early so that the future gold medalist skaters could head to the party. After one turn around to get the required helmet that I forgot at home, we arrived at the ice. When we got there lots of kids and parents were gleefully gliding along the ice in skates that they owned. Umm...where were all the people who needed to rent skates and had never skated like us? Those people did not exist except for one other mom and son who arrived shortly after us. But as I told Isabelle multiple times, "It's always good to try new things." Note: I was mainly saying this to myself as she was not the least bit nervous.

And just like that - we were on the ice. We hugged the wall for a few minutes but then you know what? I could totally stand - easy peasy. I could stand and sloowwwwlllllyyyyy move my feet and get all over that ice. And you know what? Isabelle could too! She fell a couple of times but that was mainly when she tried to go faster. I knew enough to stay at a snail's pace.

So yeah, the party was a lot of fun. Isabelle was excited to skate for the first time. I was happy to re-try something new. The kids did a powerful rendition of "Let It Go" on the ice. We both got to enjoy time with our friends and we followed it up with pizza and cupcakes.

So if I'm being honest, I think the gold medal might be out of reach for us BUT the bronze is totally do-able.

Just two ladies on the ice

Monday, March 10, 2014

What Else Do You Do?

I was out not too long ago at a bar way past my bedtime. My husband and I were paying an arm and a leg for a babysitter and pretending to relive our carefree days. I was chatting with a girl that I had never met before and she asked me what I do. I told her that I was a stay at home mom and then she said, "Oh, what else do you do?" I can't really blame her for the follow up question. She was young, newly married, and clearly has no idea what a time suck children are or what my life is like.

She doesn't realize that I'm up before the sun each day and still can't seem to get things off my "to do" list. She doesn't understand that I spend every second of my days taking care of small dictators. She doesn't know about the fights I break up, the toys I fix, and the boo boos that I kiss. She doesn't know that it doesn't matter how many times I sweep the floor that there will always be crumbs. She doesn't know the times that I internally count to myself so that I don't explode when one of the kids is having a tantrum. She doesn't know about the laundry - the endless laundry. She doesn't know how many times I yell "STOP YELLING!" each day. She doesn't know that not one minute of my day is just for me. She also doesn't know that my days are filled with doubt and love - oh, so much love.

So I simply smiled and said, "That's all I do." After all, I know that being a stay at home mom is more than enough and maybe someday she will, too.

She doesn't know that some days I'm the best pillow around.

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