New Beginnings

[taps the mic] Hello? Hello? is this thing on?

A little over a month ago, I started a new job. It was scary, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and exciting all at once. You see, my employer didn’t know I was pregnant before extended the offer. (Which will be another post on another day, but certainly something that added to my stress level and anxiety about the change.)

It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. I’m working with three different entities in a university setting. My co-workers have been extremely welcoming and incredibly kind. My supervisors have all been open and receptive to both my news and ideas. In addition to all that, the work is exactly what I liked most about my previous position and seems like it could provide more flexibility to me in the future.

Yet, new beginnings are hard. I miss my old co-workers. I miss my 10-minute commute. I miss having my husband on the same campus. However, I also know that this was the right decision. Not just for me and my sanity, but for our family as a whole.

we dont look back.disney

I’m not the only one starting anew this fall. My absolute favorite barre teacher, Rachel, has returned to the classroom. I attended her last class and to say it was bittersweet would be an understatement. Once we bought our house, I began traveling 20 minutes to the gym twice a week so I could continue to take her class. She gave me the push and confidence I needed to substitute teach for her on occasion. She reawakened my love for barre and ballet in general. She also became a friend.

We gathered together a few weeks ago to toast to our new beginnings. While we both know it’s not a goodbye – more of an ‘I’ll see you later’ – it doesn’t make the transition any easier. We spoke of how we know each of our decisions is right for us at this time, the anxiety that comes with starting something new, the change this has and will bring to our families. We also spoke of our excitement, our passion, and how our new journeys will fill a void that we didn’t realize we had until now.

It was wonderful.

Since then, things have only gotten better. I’ve enjoyed the lingering days of summer and, as usual am anxiously awaiting the start of fall. The JA and I feel like we’re in a really good place (and I’m probably jinxing myself by saying that), Baby A+ is doing well, and Watson’s still up to his normal shenanigans.

But Ma, you left that whole roll of hot dog buns just sitting on the counter...they were begging to be eaten!

But Ma, you left that whole roll of hot dog buns just sitting on the counter…they were begging to be eaten!

I’ve missed this space, but working on websites/social media all day does isn’t exactly inspiring me to come home and get back on my computer right now. I thank you for being patient, and promise to be back soon.

xoxo,

J.

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Wonder

I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut (as tends to happen), but while on a recent getaway had a chance to finish not just one, but two books. Here are my thoughts on the first:

wonder

Summary (from Goodreads):
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

My Thoughts:
Having a brother with Aspergers gave me a unique perspective on this book. However, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed it regardless. The characters express the awkwardness of fifth grade life, and it transported me back to that time in my own life. Being able to view the story through the eyes of different characters mad the story all the more comprehensive and authentic. I’m also not much of a crier, but this book had me tearing up at the end. I believe it showcases the resilience of the human spirit and the awkward pre-teen stage while driving home the point that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and if you do, you might be missing out on something spectacular.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Psst, if you liked this review, check out my thoughts on other books by visiting my Reviews page. Want to see what I’m reading next? Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

 

Fantastic Father’s Day

How is it Monday already? Seems to me like weeks are moving to slowly and weekends, as always, are flying by. I’ve been bogged down with a nasty head cold since late last week and have done my best to enjoy the gorgeous Baltimore weather without sneezing my brains out. Not such an easy task, my friends.

I finally got things under control (with a little help from Sudafed) and we had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. Friday night was spent separately – he went to a kickoff to summer party and I went out to dinner with a co-worker and an ex-coworker. It’s so nice to get outside of the office, relax, and catch up. After diner, I swung by the party for a bit but left almost right away due to the threat of thunderstorms. (Girlfriend does not drive well while it’s both dark AND pouring down rain.)

Saturday was spent running errands and with the JA’s maternal side of the family. His grandmother was in town and his cousin was having a birthday party, so we got to see almost everyone on that side for a little bit. We quickly came home to host game night with our neighbors out on our back porch. It’s easily one of my favorite spaces in the summer months and with a few new additions from Target, is absolutely gorgeous as day turns to night.

back porch w lights

Sunday we hosted Father’s Day dinner at our home for about 20 people (my immediate family and JA’s paternal side). Not wanting to be overwhelmed with preparations, we did a potluck and there was more than enough food to go around. The highlight? This cake from his Aunt Susan. Absolutely delicious, and I may or may not be contemplating having the last leftover piece for breakfast this morning. You only live once, right?

strawberry cake

It was a perfect weekend, and timed perfectly, because we could share some exciting news with everyone in person. Stay tuned to find out what it was!

What’s your favorite part of family get togethers? Mine is the company, but food is a close second 🙂

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Time to Get Away

As I mentioned in my post last week, one of the ways that the JA and I keep the romance alive in busy times is to have individual ‘us’ times. While this weekend wasn’t exactly ‘me’ time, it was the perfect treat to celebrate the end of the school year.

My three college girlfriends and I have tried to get a girls-only weekend on the books since, well, graduation. Between full-time jobs, weddings, and kids, it got pushed off again and again. Sure, we saw each other, but this weekend, we finally got our getaway.

Terrible Trio

WV June 2014

Friday afternoon, we packed into our respective cars and made our way to Canaan Valley, WV. Food was shared, talking was done, and we hit the hay around 10p. (Don’t be too jealous.)

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Amelia’s and then headed back to the condo to chill and relax. After a few hours (and some leftover pizza), we gussied ourselves up and went to dinner. The drive through Canaan Valley State Park was gorgeous and filled with wildlife. The view from the resort dining room wasn’t so bad, either.

WV June 2014-2

TT WV getaway

Sunday, we returned to Amelia’s for breakfast before cleaning up and heading home. I have to admit, it was good to be back with my boys – even if it meant I spent most of the night doing laundry and prepping for this week.

What’s your ideal getaway? What do you dread most upon returning home?

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Kickoff to Summer

Remember how I was hoping to get my blogging mojo back? Well, I was all set to wake up yesterday and pump out a post for y’all but I woke up at 4a with a stomach bug. Writing a post while laying in bed with a mild fever was not a task I was able to complete.

But have no fear… today I’m back in action. I had a good day at work, rocked barre class this evening, and got to sneak a peek back at my pictures from the weekend. Oh, how glorious it was.

Friday evening, we hung out with our neighbors for our bi-monthly game night. Nothing impressive.

Saturday we ran some errands and held an impromptu cookout. About 15 people showed up throughout the course of the evening and we all had a blast sitting on the deck, eating way too much food, and telling embarrassing stories. (Not about each other, of course.)

Sunday was family day. We packed a picnic lunch (made mainly of leftovers from the night prior) and headed to our favorite park. We allowed Watson to frolic in his favorite stream and we got to walk through the woods and enjoy the sunshine. Double win!

family pic 5-14

Another double win? Ice cream. There’s a small ice cream shop within walking distance of our house so the only logical thing to do on a nice evening is to take the dog there and get him a puppy kid’s cone. Good thing he knew better than to mess with my food after he finished his cone. It would not have ended well.

We spent the remainder of Sunday evening relaxing outside with another group of friends. All in all, a perfect kickoff to summer!

What signifies the beginning of summer to you? For me, it’s the onset of Baltimore humidity…and when I feel comfortable wearing shorts outside.

Q & A

In the past few days, I’ve really been feeling the love from fellow bloggers. I recently (like, within the past four days) was nominated for two Liebster Awards and even though I answered questions during the award’s first inception, I found the questions to be fun this time around and decided to play along again 🙂

liebster2

The Liebster Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers! Neat idea, huh? The idea is to nominate smaller up and coming blogs in order to get them a little more exposure. Thank you Ashley at The Small But Mighty Runner and Mary at Four the Health of It for your support and nominations! I was also nominated by Kaitlin of California Endless Summer back in January, but I think my time’s run out on that one. Regardless, make sure you head over to their blogs and check ’em out!

I’m taking a few questions from each survey, so bear with me:

From Mary: In honor of spring, what is your favorite outside activity?
Running. if you would have told me that last year, I would have laughed in your face but it’s true. Second favorite activity? Hanging out on our back porch being lazy. Life’s all about balance, people!

From Ashley: Name a food that you have tried to like over and over again but just cannot stand… Overnight oats. It’s a texture thing. I can’t get over the semi-mush of fruit and the consistency of the oats. No, thank you.

overnight oats

From Mary: What was your first car? Loved it? Hated it?
Sammie the Saturn. My parents surprised me with a 1997 mint green Saturn when I was in high school. I was elated. He got me from place to place, and I always could pick my car out in a lot!

From Ashley: What is your guilty pleasure? I would have to say I have two – cookies/cakes and craft beer.

From Mary: Do you have a theme song? Hahaha. I’ve had people tell me that they think of me when certain songs play, so I guess so? It can change from time to time, but the dong that always gets me is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

dont stop

From Ashley: Who was your first celebrity crush? Oooh. I might be dating myself, but Jonathon Brandeis from SeaQuest DSV. A close second was JTT in Home Improvement.

From Mary:Name one gadget you cannot live without. This can apply to any part of your life. My iPhone. My husband hates it, so I’m trying to break its hold on me.

iphone

From Ashley: What have you learned about yourself through blogging? How much I love writing and how big of a stress release it is for me. I’ve done a lot of thinking over this keyboard and writing a blog is way cheaper than therapy. Plus, y’all give such good advice! 🙂

From Mary: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be? Passionate. I’ve been told that I feel a lot. I’m fiercely loyal, strong opinioned, and ready to go to fight for anything I care deeply for/about.

From Ashley: What exercise do you despise doing the most? Well, I don’t really like stretching, but know it will benefit me in the long run. Here are five stretches I hate to love.

Thanks again for the nominations, ladies. Great questions!

Today, you get two options: Answer one of the above questions or post one that you’d like me to address!

Rise and Conquer

Weekend, where did you go? Come back!

It seems like every weekend, there’s a lot on the agenda. This weekend was no different – we had game night with our neighbors on Friday, I had a long run and a work event on Saturday and then was back at work on Sunday to get ahead of a deadline. Oof.

Late last week, I reached a point in my half marathon training where I was starting to doubt myself. I started thinking that I wasn’t running enough and wouldn’t be able to perform the way I want to on race day. I’ve had people offer to run with me, but get nervous about asking – especially about running distances I have yet to conquer.

I sucked it up my fears and texted my friend Hilary on Friday night. She’s run five half marathons (including the one I’m running in May) and I know she’d give it to me straight whether or not she thought I was in a good place. We planned on seven miles and I mentally prepared myself to just go out there and do my best. We kept a really good pace and chatted about race prep/fueling as well as other randomness. Running with a buddy certainly made the miles fly by! We finished in a little over an hour and she thinks I’m doing enough training-wise to dominate the half in (gulp) a little over a month. WHEW!

JA-HH post run

Saturday night consisted of a work event for me. With the JA and I working at the same school, we often joke that we have working date nights. I’m off doing my thing, he’s off doing his thing, and, if we’re lucky, we eat dinner together. We stayed out pretty late and had a really lazy morning on Sunday before venturing out to another ‘working date.’ One of his students was the lead in a musical and we stopped by to support him before heading back to the office. I have a big deadline today and wanted to get all my ducks in a row before the craziness of the week interfered. Good thing our fitness center was open – cross training complete!

crosstrain 3-23

What’s your best tip to someone looking to conquer a fear?

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!