Getting Into A Groove

All the warnings in the world couldn’t have prepared me for how much my world would change after both finding out I was pregnant and then starting a new job.

Both have their challenges and their triumphs, and I think I’m finally finding a good rhythm. With a little over two months to go until Baby A+ is due, I know it will be short-lived. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this ‘quiet time.’

baby bump purple

So, since we haven’t really spoken in a few weeks, where do I begin after such a long absence? I guess this past weekend is as good any another point.

We took our babymoon to New York, kicking off a month filled with baby activities. Without gushing too much, it was glorious. Even with a bit of rain, we balanced hanging out with friends, trying new eateries, a museum visit, a Broadway show and even managed to squeeze in a walk through Central Park.

NYC JAs

In somewhat related news, I can’t believe I’m in my third trimester. Hitting 31 weeks tomorrow is making the impending arrival of our little girl more of a reality than some abstract idea. Delivery is still a big, scary unknown for me, but I’m doing my best to manage my thoughts and ideas by educating myself just enough to kind of know what to expect without being overwhelmed. Truth: some days are better than others.

I’m still exercising, although not to the extent that I was in the beginning of my pregnancy. With the mornings being darker, I’m taking the time to alternate sleeping in with some light strength training. Watson and I are making our morning rounds, as it’s good for me to start my morning outside. Getting my endorphins up and enjoying the sunrise make even the groggiest morning better.

morning sunrise

Work is good, but we’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of us. Adding this to what’s going on in my personal life has resulted in a few instances of stress/anxiety-induced tears, but in our two years of marriage (and especially the past few months) he’s become an expert in managing my emotional surges.

I think that hits all the major points of what’s been happening over here. I’m hoping to have posts with a bit more detail regarding the pregnancy, books I’ve been reading, and other fun things, but for now, let’s consider ourselves all caught up.

What’s been happening with you? Any exciting news I should know? Spill! I’ve missed all of you.

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!

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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!

 

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!

Five Ways to Keep the Romance Alive When Time is Tight

As you can imagine by my sporadic posting schedule, things are still a bit hectic for us right now. The end of the school year is upon us, wrap up events are happening in the evening, the JA has returned to grad classes for his summer session and, well, we kind of want to spend time with each other without one of us using an electronic device. (Easier said than done, my friends.)

However, in these crazy times, we’ve found a few ways to keep our relationship steady without having either one of us feel neglected.

romance

1. Spend some time apart. This may seem counterintuitive, but when I’m stressed I get cranky. No one likes a cranky partner. By taking time to ourselves – whether it be at the gym, a happy hour with friends, Book Club, or a run – we can get all our negativity out of our system before unleashing it on the other person. Makes for more quality time AND a happier couple.

2. Make time for each other. Even when the JA has an incredibly long day, he does his best to at least take five minutes to sit with me and chat about his day. It’s not much, but it’s better than him just entering the house, kissing me on the cheek and heading straight to bed. Communication is integral to any successful relationship, so by setting aside even a little bit of time just for your partner, it can go a long way in making them feel important.

3. Laugh. During busy times, tension can run high. To paraphrase the cinematic classic (Legally Blonde), “Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” By diffusing this tension, you not only are producing endorphins to increase your own mood, but you’re making memories with each other and bonding through giggles.

legally-blond

4. Chat it up. I mentioned this before, but when we feel like we’re on opposite schedules we up our communication. Texting, email and quick visits at work help reinforce the foundation of love we’ve already built. A simple, ‘I miss you’ or ‘Hope you’re having a good day’ can make a big difference in getting you through until you can spend some face time with each other.

5. Small gestures/gifts. Everything from making the bed to sending a bunch of flowers to work let’s your loved one know that you’re thinking of them. Having the knowledge that the other person in your relationship cares enough to take time out of their day to do something for you puts a smile on your face and helps ease the pain of their absence.

How do you and your partner keep the connection strong when time is tight?

Falling In and Out of Love…with Blogging

It seems like every month I hit a point when it’s difficult for me to find the words or the time to write. I, obviously not having posted since last week, am currently in one of those phases.

Blogging is ebb and flow for me. There are days when the words and ideas just seamlessly stem from my fingers and I feel like I could write for hours. And there are days that I’m tired and nothing’s coming to me and I have no images and I just feel like an epic fail.

creative_color_pencil

There are also days where I fall into the comparison trap – belittling myself and this space to the point where I think, “What would happen if I just stopped blogging? Would I have more time? Feel more fulfilled?”

Some days the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s a resounding no. The topic was posed to a blogger community and at that point I wanted to scream, “Yes! I’ve wanted to stop blogging – but could I do without it?”

And right now the answer is no. Another day, it could be yes. And then I’ll re-evaluate.

But like any love worth having, blogging and I will have our ups and downs, our good times and bad, our fantastic days and the days I want to just up and quit. Those hard times are when I remember why I started blogging in the first place:

I blog to put a voice to this time and place in my life.
I blog not simply to be heard, but to help.
I blog to be an inspiration and friend to those who need it. To reach out and maybe make someone feel that they are not alone.
I blog because it’s the only way I can get away with posting an excessive amount of pictures of my dog without being labeled crazy. Right, Watson?

It's okay, Mom. Let's take a walk and talk about your feelings.

It’s okay, Mom. Let’s take a walk and talk about your feelings.

I blog to form a relationship with my readers – who cheer me up with their comments, likes, shares, words of encouragement, texts emails, and overall support. Thank you for reading both the good posts and the not-so-great ones.

I blog for you, but selfishly, I also blog for me. Writing keeps me sane. It helps me channel my energy into thoughts and words. It clears my mind and clarifies things that I wouldn’t have thought if I weren’t writing them. It keeps me accountable for my actions, goals, and dreams.

So blogging is not only a relationship for you, my readers, but also a relationship with myself. One that sometimes gets put on the back burner, one that is sometimes shaky and insecure, one that sometimes empowers me and makes sure I’m keeping myself happy.

Blogging and I have been on the outs recently. But writing this post is helping to clean the slate, get the creative juices flowing, and hopefully puts me back on track.

Thanks for sticking around & I hope all’s been well with you!

Push It

This weekend was another filled to the brim weekend. Both the JA and I had work obligations on Sunday, leaving us with Friday and Saturday to truly relax.

Well, let me tell you, an inaugural 11-mile solo run is not relaxing. Is it just me, or do you have to talk yourself up before running a distance you’ve never conquered before? I woke up Saturday morning to great weather, made my way out of bed, and then proceeded to putz around until I got enough courage to get it done.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that it was a rough run. In addition to the anxiety of the sheer distance of this run, I’ve been having trouble with my right foot. While it was fine for most of the run, my head and heart just weren’t in it. However, the scenery provided inspiration and I used this run as a time to strengthen my mental stamina. It worked to a certain extent — I ended up breaking down when I got home. I was sore, I was tired, I was in a level of discomfort that’s uncharted territory for me post-run. I’m so thankful for the JA and his unwavering support. He reminded me that it was my first 11-mile run, that it was on a trail, and that there should be some level of discomfort because, well, I’m pushing myself. I don’t know how I’d be faring on the journey to my first half marathon without his support.

11mi training run

Sunday morning, it was my turn to be supportive. The JA ran his first race of the season! He decided on the HopeWell Cancer Support REACHOUT AND RUN 5K because the organization was so important to our late school President during his battle with prostate cancer. I’ll admit that I may have bullied him a bit to register for the race and as we arrived at the race site, he started to (jokingly) make excuses as to why he couldn’t run. He was dealing with some pre-race jitters that were quickly quelled once he started to warm up. Some current students were running the race and the JA made a goal to beat twice the time of our fastest runner. Well, our fastest runner came in 1st place overall, so he had quite the challenge ahead of him.

He made it through just fine – beating his goal and earning 12th place in his age group with a time of 31.47.5! Not a PR, but it was a hilly course, a chilly day, and his first race of the year after suspending running for the winter. Ultimately, he was glad he participated and thanked me for pushing him to do so. I’m so proud of him for getting back on the proverbial horse and am taking suggestions for his next race….

JA HopeWell finish

As I mentioned,  we ended the weekend at work. He’s in the midst of preparations for the AP test and I volunteered at an event. We were both exhausted upon returning home and getting up this morning was no easy feat, either. I need a day to recover from my weekend!

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!

My Husband Hates My Smartphone (and Secretly I Do, Too)

Hi, my name is Jess and I have a secret. I’ve never told you this, but there’s a third entity in the JA’s and my marriage…

My smartphone.

You may have seen this article titled, “Why I’m Getting a Divorce in 2014.” (Spoiler alert: it’s about his attachment to his phone.) For some people, they can easily ‘divorce’ their phones. However, being in the field of public relations lends itself to a certain marriage with one’s phone. You never know when a reporter’s going to call or respond to you with a last-minute photo request, when your client’s calling you with another idea, or when you get word that, yes, that placement you’ve worked so hard to secure will air/print at its desired time. Add in that I’m a blogger, and that relationship grows even stronger.

But for me, and many others, our relationship with our phones goes beyond that. My phone never leaves my side. When I get bored, it serves as a comfort. It’s a constant companion, waiting to entertain me. And my husband hates it.

Why? Well, he’s too much of a gentleman to tell me outright, but here’s why he hates my phone (and I do, too):

phone secret3

1. My phone slows me down. It’s true. I get sucked into the social media vortex and can spend hours doing nothing by reviewing Facebook, crafting Instagram posts, working on the blog, or cleaning out my inbox. He’s taken to giving me a 5-10 minute buffer for when he says we need to leave and when we ACTUALLY need to leave the house.

2. My phone is similar to Pavlov’s bell. When it pings, dings, rings, or even lights up, I go to it – no questions asked. It could be a bad comment on our company’s page that needs to be handled! It could be a tweet that needs to be immediately retweeted! It could be someone liking my cute puppy photo! (Ok, so I don’t have Facebook notifications for my personal page but if I did…we’d be in even more trouble than we are now.)

3. My phone is a third wheel. Sitting on the couch watching a movie used to be relaxing. Now, it can be a time for multi-tasking. So not romantic.

4. Really? Another picture? This is one of his biggest pet peeves – especially when it comes to food. He just wants to enjoy the moment or savor the first bite and I want to showcase it in its best light before diving in. You never know when you might want to recreate that recipe at home…right?

5. Warning: the contents of this phone may cause user to self-destruct. Some days, social media lifts me up and makes me feel like a rockstar. Other days, it contributes to my crankiness and discontent. Either way, it shouldn’t have that much power. I shouldn’t let it. But it does, and I do.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. What am I going to do now? Well, I’ve started purposefully leaving my phone places. If I know we’ll be watching a movie in the den, I’ll turn it on silent and leave it in the kitchen. If we’re going out to dinner, I leave it in my purse (zipped in so I can’t see the notifications as they pop up.) I’m putting it on vibrate more often and trying to keep its use to a minimum when we’re together. These are baby steps, but they’re making a difference. I find myself more focused on him and others, bringing more quality content to our conversations, and enjoying the little things more and more.

Smartphones – love them or hate them?