Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

The last few years have been tough. We said goodbye to far too many beloved family members and friends, we’ve had financial struggles, lost jobs, started new jobs, made new friends and lost touch with others.

And while I’m eternally grateful for my family and friends and all the good things, I’m also beginning to be grateful for the bad things too.

I know, who the hell would be grateful for pain and sadness? It’s through the sadness that I have learned and discovered things about myself and my world that I may not have seen without those struggles.

1. I’m grateful for crappy baseboard heat. It gives me a reason to snuggle close with my husband and our boys.
2. I’m grateful for financial struggles. Watching every penny has made me reevaluate my needs versus my wants. I can tell you, the two were very different.
3. I am grateful for loss. It has made me realize that tomorrow isn’t promised and to treasure even the most seemingly insignificant moments.
4. I’m grateful for lost friendships. In retrospect, those friendships were over long before they ended. They were just anchors.
5. I’m grateful for quitting my job. Going back to work when my youngest was just 7 weeks was awful. While we have to live more modestly, I’ll will never get this time with them again.
6. I’m grateful for the times my husband wasn’t working. He got to share in our boys growing up and I am grateful for the back up.
7. I’m grateful for failure. Enough said.

So, at Thanksgiving, it is easy to be thankful for the things that went right, but also, be grateful for the things that didn’t go so well. There just may be something in there to be thankful for.

To all of my family, friends and followers:

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Poem for Dad

Early last year, I began writing a poem for my Dad. I wanted to do something special for him for Father's Day. My father was a man like no other. He loved everybody and he never judged. Even if he didn't like you, you'd never know it. He helped anyone he could. He gave me and my brother a great childhood, we rarely wanted for anything. He took such good care of my mother. He taught me so many valuable lessons, which at the time, seemed useless. But as I have gotten older, I have found the lessons and advice prove to be more useful than, I think, he even realized they would be. I wanted to honor that and him.

He unfortunately passed away before I completed it. I was too heartbroken over losing him and too overwhelmed with a new baby that I couldn't even fathom the thought of finishing it in time for Father's Day. But over the last few months, I have given it a second look and have finally completed it with an alternate ending.

So, this is for you Dad. A little something to tell you how much you mean to me and how lucky I am to have you as my Dad. I love and miss you always.

A Poem for Dad

A little girl's daddy is her first love. 
He is the man that will raise the bar for all other men that come into her life. 
He is her first protector. 
She will love him unconditionally and look up to him. 
She looks to make him proud. 

He teaches her. 
He teaches her the lessons she needs to take care of her self and protect herself. 
He teaches her to use her hands, to fix her car and install a new faucet. 

He guides her. 
He guides her in the direction that can best protect her and make her better than him. 
But when she chooses her own path, he is there to cheer her on when it goes well. 
And he's there to pick up the pieces and set her straight when she falls. 

He loves her. 
She will defy him, disappoint him and make him mad. 
She will make him happy and proud. 
Through it all, he loves her. 

He lets her go. 
He gives her to another man with faith that he has taught her well. 
That she has chosen the right man. 
That he has taught her as much as he can to make her successful in her own life. 

He watches her.
He watches her manage her own life, making her own way in the world. 
He watches her build a home with her husband. 
He boasts with pride when she begins a family of her own. 
He watches her raise that family the best she can with all the tools he has given her. 

He dies. 
But even in death, he will continue to protect, teach, guide and love her. 
He still watches her. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: 1password

In this age of technology and electronic everything, there is a login and password for everything. Have you ever tried to enter your PIN into the microwave, I haven't, just saying...LOL.

On a typical day, you could require a login and password multiple times a day for multiple functions. You use a login and password to access your computer, another to access your email and another to log in to a website, like Facebook. You log in to your bank account to confirm any transactions. And this is all during your morning cup of coffee. Then when you get work and you have a whole other set of logins and passwords. 

Personally, I know I have too many to remember and constantly having to reset passwords can get pretty annoying. And even then, you have to request a temporary password, log in to your email to get the link, then, probably the worst part of it all, trying to think of a new password that no one will guess, that hasn't been used for the last 5 passwords, contains 8-12 characters which must include a capital letter, a number and a symbol. As if that isn't enough, you still have to log in to the website! 

I hate to admit it, but there was a time when I had all of my login and password information written on a piece of paper and tucked away "safely" in my wallet. This was until my husband read about an app called 1password

1password is available on both iOS and Android devices for free, however, there is a pro version that you can purchase for $6.99. The paid version offers more features and if you have or plan to get an Apple Watch, you will need the pro version for it to work on your watch. 

You can store all your important information, such as logins and passwords, secure notes and even credit cards. I personally have only used the login and password function on the free version, so far. 

So, how does 1password work? First download the app. Seriously, this app will change your life. 

 If you have an Apple device with Touch ID, you can use your Touch ID to enter into the 1password app.

 If you have an older Apple device or Android device, you can still use this app. You have the option of setting up a master password. I recommend setting up the master password. If someone else needs to access this information, Touch ID will do no good.

So, where do you store that password? When you set up your master password, you can add hints that will automatically pop up if you forget your password. My husband uses the app as well, and we each have the other's master password stored. This is a great idea in the event something happens and we need to access the other person's information.

 Here are your logins and passwords. If you click on logins, you will see all of your entered logins in alphebetical order or simply type the login you are searching for into the search field and it will pull it up.

 You can also add your most frequently used accounts under a favorites list for easy access.

 These are the categories that are offered in the free version. Again, I have only used the login category. The credit card category allows you to enter all your credit card info such as number, expiration date and secure access code. I have this information stored under the login for that account. I find having it all in one place is convenient.

 Here you will want to add the login name. So for example, if I was adding my Kohls information, I would enter "Kohls" in the login name. This is how is will appear in your list.

 Once you hit next, you will be prompted to enter your username or email for the account.

 Hit next again and it will ask you to enter the password for that account. You have 2 options here, you can enter a password that you have already established,

or you can ask 1password to auto generate a random password for you. 

 Now, enter the web address for the site. This is a very helpful feature of this app. If you need to access your account, simply click on the web address and 1password will automatically populate the login and password based on the information you have entered. So, even if you select a random password, you won't have to worry about remembering it. If you login from a computer and need your password, simply click on the password and hit "reveal". It will show you your password.

Once you are done entering login information and save, you can go into the edit field and add notes. I use my notes section to enter any information that i may need at my finger tips, like credit card number, expiration date, or CV code. I've also added account numbers.

Another really great feature of 1password is the ability to share account information. So, if you have an account, like a credit card that you share with someone, you both will have the information stored in the 1password app.

The app syncs across all of your devices, but only when it is connected to your home network, another great security feature. 

I would definitely recommend this app to anyone that has just too many logins and passwords to remember. I find having all of my information readily available makes for a seamless workflow. 

Do you have any apps that help you run your life that you just can't live without?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mom-ents: Would You Sell Your Wedding Dress?

My Mom and I were recently talking about things that were stored at her house and how if needed, where she could downsize. I don't have much left there, but what I do have left there is my wedding dress. It's stored in the closet in my childhood bedroom. I never brought it to our home because well, in an apartment with 2 kids, storage space is highly sought after real estate and there is little room for things that don't serve a functional purpose. 

My dress hung from a ceiling fan...LOL
When I saw my dress, I just knew that it was the ONE. It was the dress that I would marry my husband in. The beginning of our "forever". It was right off the rack, but it was perfect. It fit just right in all the right places, it was elegant and simple. It had just enough bling to sparkle. 
My parent's wedding day
However, my mother's dress holds so much more sentimental value. My grandmother had the gift of being able to do wonderful things with fabric and a sewing machine. She used that gift and made my mother's wedding dress. Mom always thought that maybe someday her daughter would wear it. And while it is a beautiful dress, it wasn't my style. Then she thought, well maybe it can be made into a granddaughter's Christening gown. She has 4 grandsons. So, what does she do with it now? Hold on to it, sell it, create something new?

Then I saw an article posted my The Huffington Post, originally from Buzzfeed, were daughter's try on their mom's wedding dress and do a photo shoot. I thought that was a pretty awesome idea! Create a new memory from an old one. What do you think, Mom? Could be fun!

I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my wedding dress. I always just thought that I would store it way for the rest of my life and someday when I was old and grey, make that choice. I also used to be a pack rat. LOL. 

Did I want to continue to store it in the hopes that I would have a granddaughter someday? Chances are it would be out of style anyway. Did I want to sell it or donate it? Did I want to create something more functional? Or maybe create a new dress for a 10 year vow renewal...Hmmm, that sounds interesting.

So, I am curious to know, what did you do or plan to do with your wedding dress?

No wedding dresses were harmed in the making of this blog post. Both dresses remain perfectly preserved and stored. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dear Dad: One Year Later

Dear Dad, 

It's hard to believe that you've been gone a year already. Most days, I still can't believe it. Never in a million years did I think that we'd have to say goodbye to you so soon. To me, you were the man who could never die. There was nothing that you couldn't make it through. I never considered that someday, you wouldn't be here. 

That day haunts me. At the time, it went by in a complete blur. But as the year has gone on, little things come back when I least expect them to, like when I drive past the hospital or hear a beep that sounds like one of the machines. I remember staring at the flat line hoping for even the slightest movement. But it never came. I remember telling everyone that I thought you were okay and then had no idea how I was going to tell them you were gone. I don't even know how or when everyone got there, but it seemed like I turned around and there they were. I see you laying there, lifeless. The man that I called Dad for 34 years, was gone, just like that. No chance to say goodbye, no chance to tell you everything that I would have wanted you to know. 

I hope that in your final moments you knew how loved you were, not just by us, but by everyone who ever knew you. We hated you being gone so much, but we knew everything you did, you did for us; to give us the life you thought we deserved. The lessons you taught me are ones that have molded who I am. When I do something around the house, I'm proud to say I know how to do this because "I'm Wally's daughter". Whether I was right or wrong, you always supported my decision. You let me learn, but we're always there to help me get back on my feet. You might throw in a sly, "I told ya so", but always with the best intentions. If we called you and needed you, you were there. If you could help someone, you did. You were the best. 

Losing you has left a Dad-shaped hole is my heart. Mom is the glue that holds us together, but you were our rock. No matter what job needed to be done or what advice we might need, you always seemed to have the right tool or the right answer. You were everyone's go-to guy. 

I know you are always near. And when I get that gut feeling that something just isn't right or I should make a certain choice, that's when I feel your guidance. I know it sounds silly. But I'm half of you, we'll always have a connection. I don't take those feelings lightly, I know it's you helping me through life. Then there's those times that your song pops up on my iPod, or I smell your cologne. Or when Ryan looks at your picture and smiles. I know he knows you, I don't know how, but he does. In some ways, that little boy is so much like you. When he's concentrating he puckers his lips and scrunched his eye brows, just like you did. He even has your weird toe. How I wish you were here to meet him. You would have gotten a kick out of him. You were so proud to have 4 grandsons. And they were so unbelievably lucky to have you. I know you helped make sure Ryan was okay. 

Brandon talks about you a lot. Sometimes I cry and he says to me, "don't cry mom, he's always with us". He's wise beyond his years. He's growing up so fast. I'm so happy he got almost 5 years with you and I hope he always remembers you. I'll never forget how proud you were the first time you held him. And the first time we came to the boat, you paraded him all over the marina. 

Nothing is quite the same anymore. There are times when I have gone to pick up the phone to call you or I'll say, "Dad would like this". I still watch the planes fly over and wonder if that one is yours. 

Time is now measured in "before Dad"and "after Dad" and nothing will be like before again. 

I miss you so very much. Thank you for always loving me and teaching me the things I'd need to learn through life, you just never taught me how to do this without you. 

I love you, Dad. Until we meet again...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Fitness Journey: 30 Days of Challenges - Week 1

End of Week One

These challenges have been working out really great and I am pleasantly surprised. They are proving to be challenging enough for a beginner, but not too intense where I can't pick up the baby or bring groceries up the stairs. 

For a little more of a challenge, though, I upped the weights to 8 pounds and added in 3 pound ankle weights and sneaking in exercise where ever I can like walking/running and calf raises while I wait for Brandon's bus. Eating healthier and making smarter food and portion choices are also a huge part of whether these challenges succeed or not. 

What I really like about these different challenges is that if I need to split them up throughout the day, I can. Somedays, I get my leg challenge in before the kids are up and then finish the other 2 during the baby's nap. 

The Results

I honestly didn't expect to see much of a difference in the first week, but numbers don't lie. 

Pounds lost: 4
Inches lost:
     Arm: .5
     Thigh: .5
     Waist: 1
     Hips: .75

Seeing a slight change in such a short amount is definitely motivating to push a little harder for week 2!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Recipe: Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I have made a commitment to myself and my family to remove some of the processed and convenience foods we eat. Most of our meals are homemade, but I wanted to make them with healthier ingredients. Getting a picky family on board can be a challenge in itself, so I wanted to get them as excited for eating it as I was preparing it. I have already gotten Brandon to eat homemade chicken nuggets (I make a huge batch and freeze) and "real" mac and cheese (elbows and grated cheddar jack cheese). He now asks for these instead of the pre-made kind. 

I always had dreams of having my own garden and growing the fruits and veggies my family enjoyed. I wanted to grow tomatoes and can them for the long winter months. Someday, I may be able to do that, but in an apartment setting, it's pretty difficult. So for now, I will have to settle for fruits and veggies from my local farmers market. 

Italians love their pasta and gravy and my family is no exception. At least one meal a week, usually Sunday, consists of pasta and gravy, yes, it's gravy. With tummy troubles in the family, I was inspired to make this meal lighter so we could all enjoy it and not feel awful after. 

My husband and son loved it! I paired it with some veggie pasta. It was boxed pasta, but one step at a time. Lol.

What You'll Need:

Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
1 small onion
3 beef steak tomatoes
5-6 basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Sauté garlic in extra virgin olive oil until fragrant

Add chopped onion and sauté until onions are soft

Grate tomatoes
I grate them until it becomes too difficult and I chop the rest.

Add spices and basil leaves. Simmer.

Add to your favorite pasta. 
I use veggie pasta to sneak in a few extra servings of veggies.