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Dad & daughter vacation

March 28, 2014
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Since Alissa and her dad headed out to California for spring break, I decided it might be fun for my dad and me to take our own vacation.

My dad has been fighting a hard battle with bipolar, and the past few years have been particularly rough for both him and my mom. When I suggested that we take a trip together, he was eager, but couldn’t decide where we might go. Priceline.com helped us figure that out real quick when I saw tickets to Boston were a screaming deal.

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My parents grew up in Boston, but after moving out west almost 40 years ago, they don’t get back to visit much. In fact, I’m sure they’ve only been back to visit three or four times, almost all of those being for a family funeral.

Even so, my dad gets homesick quite a bit, especially in the fall when the leaves begin to change. Knowing that, and the fact that I’ve always wanted to see where my parents grew up, it just made sense.

It is my hope that while we are on this trip, my dad and I can grow closer and I can learn more about our family and where we hail from. I am also hoping that being here will open him to to discussing some of the demons of his past that contribute to the negative aspects of his condition.

My dad had a hard life – from his mother, who had many of the same mental issues he suffers from, to a father who was barely scraping by to make ends meet and raise two kids, mostly on his own. That’s about all my dad has ever shared with us, but where he came from has a lot to do with who he is now – the hard working man who will do anything for his family.

I am looking forward to the next several days with my dad. It should be a lot of fun.

March 15, 2014
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Just when the caterpillar thought life was over, it became a butterfly.

These past few years have been a challenge, no doubt about it. I have certainly had plenty to write about more often than not, but this place had been abandoned for so long that it didn’t make any sense to put those thoughts down here. After a long time of self-reflection and some encouragement from friends, I’ve decided to breathe new life into this blog.

Just in reviewing the last dozen or so posts I’d written, I’ve seen how tremendously my life has changed. While my path has certainly changed (for the better) since then, I don’t see regret or sadness over the dreams that haven’t yet come to fruition. They may be yet to come, or never to be, but for the first time in my life, I feel content with the way my life is now. I still have many goals and aspirations, but I can say I certainly feel like I’m in a much different place now than I was previously.

While this blog has always been a place for me to air the happenings in my life, I’m hoping that it will become a place for me to voice a variety of things – from my latest obsessions (ahem, Julep Maven) to the books I’m reading and just my overall outlook on life. I hope that you’ll all join me in this new adventure. And if you need to get caught up, well, check the archives.

The Undomestic Goddess

March 8, 2014

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Dear Sophie Kinsella, I heart you. I first discovered you by randomly picking up Confessions of a Shopaholic in an airport. I loved that book because I could totally relate to Rebecca, but as it turns out, you have a way with characters that most writers would even dream of.

The entire time I spent reading The Undomestic Goddess, I could actually empathize with Samantha, even though I have no idea how one would get along as an adult not knowing how to cook or clean. By the middle of the book, I was so in love with each and every character that I hoped all would work out. Kinsella is so wonderful with the vivid words she uses to write with that you can actually envision yourself in the midst of the scene. In fact, I envision Linda Cardinelli’s character in Legally Blonde when I envision Melissa.

This is a light-hearted weekend/beach/vacation read that you’ll love. I really do hope that Kinsella writes a sequel because (spoiler alert) I do hope to see what transpires between Samantha and Nathaniel.

The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet

March 1, 2014

1902079_216749588522696_640493351_nI’m going to be brutally honest here: when my mom texted me right before Christmas and asked me to visit the 100 Good Deeds site and tell me which bracelet I liked best, I was kinda like, “Oh great. My mom is getting me a bracelet for Christmas.” I wasn’t all that thrilled about it.

Then Christmas morning came, and I had forgotten all about it. I opened up this item from my stocking and my mom shared with me that this was what her company has been working on for the past year. As I opened the package and read the story behind it, I was intrigued. But when I looked down at the label inside the package that told me who made it, my heart warmed. Turns out, I’m helping Emily to provide a livelihood for her family, and in turn, Emily is helping me to pay it forward.

While I’ve always been one that believes in helping out our fellow man, the mission of this bracelet has taken a more profound effect on me than I ever could have imagined. I wear my bracelet daily, taking it off only to shower. Every time I look down, I am reminded that it’s the small things – opening a door for someone, picking up litter, paying someone’s bus fare – that make our world a better place and inspire others to do good in the world. I strongly encourage you to invest in one of these bracelets. That can be your first good deed.

Pin perfection.

February 18, 2014

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It’s happened. I’ve become one of those moms that projects my need to be validated as a superstar working single mom onto my child. While perusing Pinterest for handmade Valentine’s ideas, I came across several that I liked, most of which Alissa was fine with, but not totally in love with. Either that or she liked the concept of an idea, but wanted to make it her own. I somehow managed to put the kibosh on her levels of creativity and managed to gently sway force her into accepting my idea. I may or may not have played the, “because I’m the mom” card.

I became so completely obsessed with this pin that I found myself wandering the aisles of the office supply, then grocery store at 8:30 the night before Valentine’s Day, gathering the materials for this project:

Printables – $1.50
Glue Dots – $3
Washi Tape – $2
Paper Straws – $3
Tiny Water Bottles – $4
Kool Aid – $4
Showing up those perfect stay-at-home-PTO moms with the cutest hand made valentines in class – Priceless

Since it was nearly 10 o’clock by the time we got home, I sent Alissa to bed. Truth be told, I would have completely taken over the project because my type A tendencies wouldn’t have appreciated her less-than-perfect 7-year-old efforts anyway. I then spent the next 3 hours cutting, gluing, and taping until I had perfectly re-create Alissa’s my Pinspired Valentine’s.

My friend was staying with us at the time, and spent two of those hours being perfectly amused by my over-achieving tendencies. Snip. Tape. Tie. Label. Repeat. When all was said and done, I had twenty beautifully crafted Valentine’s for my kiddo to take to school and show her friends how awesome her hard working single mom is.

I know they didn’t care, or even notice, for that matter. Sure, my kid would have been fine had I spent $2 on a box of cheap Valentine’s, but for that one day, I felt like super mom, which made every paper cut and the total loss of sleep worth it.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

January 21, 2014

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Back in my days of living with my previous roommate, she had come across a box of books that had belonged to her ex-boyfriend and his sister. She had wanted to turn all of the books in to the used book store for cash, but being the avid lover of books that I am, I had to rummage through the boxes and grab ones that I wanted to read.

Several years later, I came across a box of books that I had tucked away in the back of my closet and decided to dig this one out for a read. I really had no idea what it was about, nor had I heard of it before. The story just sounded intriguing when I stashed it away years ago.

Set in 19th century China, the story of Snow Flower is heart-warming and heart-breaking all at the same time. This young girl learns the power of love in a society that was built around economy rather than emotion. As Snow Flower gets to know her “Old Same,” she realizes that this person is her lifelong soulmate. This book was so good, I read it in one sitting, and then reflected on the wonderful friendships I have had in my life and how blessed I am to have an “Old Same” in my life as well. I highly recommend this book.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

January 13, 2014

51+02nxk21L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve got to be honest: just as with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this book was difficult to get into. I’m sure that a big piece of that are the translation challenges, but it really is such a yawn for about the first third or so of the book. There’s a lot of back-story that, while highly relevant, is just a bit draggy. However, once you get to the point of hitting the major turn of events, every page is more gripping than the last.

I envision Lisbeth Salander to be a little like the girl in the Fifth Element – weird and awkward, but the key to the entire story. She certainly is a fascinating character, but not as intriguing as the situation she finds herself smack dab in the middle of, inadvertently. I am looking forward to reading the third installment, although these books are so highly intense that I’m going to have to switch gears for a bit in between.

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