Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's Chat: I Want To Be In 7th Grade Again

I attended Emma's back to school night last week. I always find BTS nights informative especially at the middle school level. The night started out in her homeroom where parents receive copies of the children's schedules and then they make their way, in much the way the kids do, from class to class starting at period 1 and ending at period 10.


I like how we experienced a typical day (although on a time constrained schedule) of our child. We spent 10 minutes in each elective class, and 20 minutes for double period classes. Anyway....

Her classes this year sound so interesting. I want to be in 7th grade again! She's taking Italian. It's an introductory class, but there's nothing like learning a new language to give you a little freedom and insight into the world.

In Science, they'll be exploring genetics and doing several dissections. In Social Studies, they will be learning all about ancient cultures and how we've evolved into the society we are today.

In Language Arts, they will read 4 novels, and they'll be doing lots of different types of writing. I've already looked into the 4 novels, and they sound wonderful. I can't wait to read along with her.

And in Math, well, math is math. I'm not a math person. So, excuse me for not getting all excited over number crunching. But Emma loves math. All those fractions, integers, whole numbers, and word problems truly excite her. I can't even.

I wish I had the thirst for knowledge when I was in 7th grade that I now have. I wish I had looked forward to reading the novels as much as I do now. I dreaded science class and was always wondering why I needed to know how to dissect an earthworm. Today, I find it intriguing and interesting.  If only I could go back to 7th grade.

Well, I plan to. I am going to follow along with Emma this year. I'll read her science materials and history book. I've already downloaded her 4 assigned novels to the Kindle. As for math, well, she's on her own there. I'm up for a challenge, but that's not one I can muster the strength to deal with.

I've got to go. I have some science reading to do.


Menu Plan Monday :: 9.15.2014

It's hard to believe we are half-way through September already. This is likely to be another busy week as I have Harper's back to school night this week, and I'm certain the homework will ramp up this week. I'm hauling out the slow cooker in hopes of making dinner time a bit easier on me. I'd hate to resort to take out because I was over zealous in my meal planning efforts.


Here's what my family will be eating this week:
via

Monday - Cavatelli with broccoli

Tuesday - Chicken noodle soup

Wednesday - Dinner out

Thursday - Cilantro lime chicken with rice

Friday - Southwestern-style stuffed peppers

Saturday - Make our own pizzas

Sunday - Spicy vegetarian chili

What's on your plate this week? For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday linkup.

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinnerand Pasta Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Objects of My Obession

This week was the first full week of school, and boy, did it do me in. I'm still adjusting to early mornings, packing lunches and snacks, and all the other tedious but necessary tasks that go into the school year. On the upside, I do have a bit more time for myself like sneaking out for a coffee or a quick stroll on the beach.

Here are a few of the things that made me happy this week.

{A handmade, personalized gift from my sister proudly hanging on our front door}


{A new phone case with a built in battery charger to, hopefully, stave off a failing battery}


{A new notebook to satisfy my love of list making - found at Marshalls}


{An adorable ring holder}


{Getting back to my usual morning routine}

Friday, September 12, 2014

Best Online Reads

Lots of good links this week..

1. 10 things working mothers don't want to hear via Scary Mommy.

2. The best jobs for every personality type via Business Insider.

3. Scenes from iconic movies, from 'Annie Hall' to 'Taxi Driver,' inserted into contemporary photos of their shooting locations via Purple Clover.

4. Four science-backed ways to motivate yourself to workout via Huffington Post.

5. 30 times when a cake was the best way to fix an awkward situation or make an apology via Distractify.

6. 5 must-know anti-aging skincare rules via Women's Health.

7. How to become a better listener via Inc.com.

8. Celebrate summer's end with a simple summer picnic via francois + moi.

9. Target and TOMS team up for a limited holiday collection via The Bullseye view.

10. Ideas for no-carve pumpkin decorating via Real Simple.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11 :: Reflections of a Fateful Day

**This post is an adaptation of one originally published on 9/11/2011**

It's hard to talk about 9/11 without telling our own story. Recalling where we were when we heard and remembering our initial reaction and the minutes, hours, days, months and years that followed.

We'll never forget the events of that horrific day, and we'll never forget our own story. Still, 13 years later, the events that unfolded that morning and the weeks following are as fresh in my mind as they were 2 days after 9/11/2001.

It was a stereotypical day in southern California. The bright September sun was coming up, and I had a full day of sightseeing planned. I had just flown into Orange County the day before, Monday, September 10, 2001. I had spent so much time in southern California as a software consultant but never had time to truly enjoy free time there. I absolutely adored the area and always wanted to explore it, but by the time I had gotten out of the office at the end of the day, it was just too late, too dark, and I was too exhausted.

About a month prior to the tragic day, I decided to head to California for a little R&R for a few days while the Hubs would be in Orlando for his company's annual customer conference. We agreed to meet up in Las Vegas after our respective trips for a few days of fun together. We had no idea how much our travel plans would change...

As I always did, I woke and looked out the window of my hotel in Newport Beach, California. Yep. Another fabulous day was dawning, and I was ready for it. I turned on the TV and immediately tuned in to Good Morning America, my favorite morning show. It was 7:10 am, local time. It was 10:10 NY time. The image on the television screen was horrifying, terrifying. The image of smoke billowing from the Twin Towers is one that I will never forget. I collapsed on the bed and listened intently to the story. I was shocked and stunned by the story that was unfolding before my eyes. I was immediately filled with fear.

I was traveling alone. Alone. Diane Sawyer had just told viewers that all air travel was being suspended indefinitely. I was stuck. In California. Alone. I had always wanted to be stuck in California, but not under these circumstances. I was scared. I was shaking. I was crying. I tried to call the Hubs, but couldn't get through to his cell phone. I called my mom on her land line. She answered. I cried to her for 15 minutes. I don't remember what I said to her. I don't remember what she said to me. But she calmed me down and helped me get my wits about me. We hung up and promised to talk in a few hours.

Finally, after trying relentlessly for 45 minutes to reach the Hubs, the call finally went through. He answered amidst complete chaos in Orlando. As I was sitting in a quiet hotel room, he was dealing with a polar opposite situation. Employees were in a panic and going completely crazy. He had a huge situation on his hands. We talked briefly. He assured me that I'd be OK. It was just too soon to know how it would play out. I needed to remain calm. But all the unanswered questions and the unknowns were filling me with anxiety.

Over the course of the next day, I walked around in a haze. Everything was closed. I made the best of my situation. I hopped in my rental car and drove. And drove. And drove. I drove north to Malibu to seek solace in the peaceful sounds of the sea. I drove south to Laguna Beach. I had to revise my entire sightseeing itinerary. All the places I had planned to visit were on lock down. So, I did the next best thing: I took in all the beautiful California scenery. I drove up and down Pacific Coast Highway, visiting the gorgeous beach downs that dot the coast of California. How could it be that I was surrounded by such natural beauty but struggling with the cruel and ugly events of the day?

I worried. How would I get back to New Jersey? Would I get back to New Jersey? Would LA be the next city to suffer an attack? Days passed in this vein. Slowly businesses opened and I was beginning to see some semblance of normalcy, whatever that was. Would anything ever be normal again?

On Thursday, September 13, I was on the first post-9/11 flight out of John Wayne airport. My short, 45-minute flight, would land in Vegas at about 10 pm. As excited as I was to fly to Vegas to be reunited with the Hubs, I worried about flying. It was hard not to be worried about it. I landed in Vegas, took a cab to the hotel, and waited for the Hubs to arrive. Finally, he walked into the hotel room at about 2 am. We clutched each other for 20 minutes, refusing to let go.

During that weekend in Vegas, we learned that we were pregnant with our first child. It was a blessing in the midst of sadness and madness.

We returned to New Jersey six days after the attack. We learned of victims in our town, in surrounding towns. We were shielded from the personal stories while out west, but now that we were back home, a mere 50 miles from Lower Manhattan, it was hitting home. Every day brought another story of a neighbor, or a friend, or an acquaintance, who lost a husband, wife, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, child in the senseless attacks.

So, it is with a heavy heart that today I reflect on the events of that day. I pay tribute to all the service men and women who have sacrificed to keep this country safe and to all those who sacrificed on that tragic day to attempt to save those in harm's way. I grieve for those who lost their lives and for the families left behind.

May you be blessed to be surrounded by your loved ones today. The twin towers and those who lost their lives on that fateful day may be gone, but they aren't forgotten.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Tips For Establishing Good Homework Habits

This week is the first full week of school, and that means homework. Homework is an integral part of the school year. Homework, in most cases, reinforces the materials covered in class that day. Not only is it one of the first ways children learn responsibility, but it also teaches children how to follow directions and how to effectively manage their time.

Homework can be challenging for children. In order to make it go smoothly and be less stressful for children, it's important for us as parents to lay some groundwork for our children. I'm sharing a few homework tips that have worked for us year after year.


1. Designate a "homework zone"
This should be a quiet and low-traffic area of your home where your child can go to complete his homework. It should be free of distractions such as talking, the television, and children playing.

2. Set a consistent time each day that children will do their homework
Some children need a break once they arrive home from school. Others prefer to tackle their homework immediately while they are still in "school mode". No matter which your child prefers, it's important to keep homework time the same from day to day. In doing so, children know what to expect, and they know what is expected of them.

3. Set homework rules and guidelines
For those who are easily distracted and tend to make homework a long and drawn-out practice, set rules as incentives for them to complete the work. Something as simple as "No TV or electronics until homework is completed" goes a long way to incenting a child to work smarter and more efficiently.

4. Do not do your child's homework
I know how tempting this can be. Just about every time my girls sit down to do their Language Arts assignments, I want to swoop in and offer my expertise, which often leads to my taking over. Step away. Your child will never learn the subject matter if you are always completing the assignments. Let them think through the problems first, and if help is needed be readily available and willing to assist.

5. Be supportive
If your child is struggling with a particular problem or concept, lend a hand. If they solve a problem incorrectly, don't criticize. Help them understand what they did wrong and encourage them to try solving it again. And always give praise and positive feedback for a job well done.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips For Preparing an Emergency Plan in the Event of a Disaster from Ready.gov

As we approach the two year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, my mind wonders back to the steps we took to prepare for the storm. We scurried around town in an effort to stock pile batteries, cases of water, and non-perishable foods. We hunted down flashlights and coolers at our local hardware stores. We fully charged electronics, and mentally prepared ourselves for the worst. We didn't quite know what "the worst" could be, but we would soon find out.

Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, 2012. We lost power that day at around 5 pm. It wasn't restored for almost 6 days. We hadn't planned on losing our power for that long. A few months after Sandy, we started to think about ways in which we could be better prepared for a natural disaster from putting together a kit to having in evacuation plan.


September is National Preparedness Month when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges Americans to be prepared for any type of disaster, natural or otherwise. Having a plan for your family and how you will communicate with others during a disaster will ensure that you are able to deal with the disaster and its aftermath. During emergency situations, quick decisions need to be made. There is no time for long, drawn out thought processes.

Not sure what hazards can befall you? KNOW YOUR HAZARDS. This list will help you
identify possible risks in your geographical location. From earthquakes and hurricanes to tornados and wildfires, you need to know what you are up against in order to effectively prepare.

This video from Ready.gov illustrates the difference between a family that was prepared for an emergency and one that was not. The important takeaway here is to set a meeting place to gather outside your home.



Putting together a plan may seem like a daunting task, but Ready.gov makes it easier for you by supplying you with tools that help you devise a strategy and a plan. Ready.gov offers both evacuation and communication plans for the family and for kids. These forms can be completed online and printed or printed and completed by hand. Once you've completed the forms, sit down as a family and go over each detail, ensuring that every family member understands the importance of them.

Communicating with your friends and family when a disaster occurs is extremely important. Know what you will do, where you will go, and how to find each other if anyone is separated.

For additional resources and more information on ways to prepare during National Preparedness Month, click here.

You can find Ready.gov on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday :: 9.8.2014

This is the first full week of school, and the first week of gymnastics. So, I'm sure it will be a bit crazy. Add to that, the Hubs has an overnight trip this week, I'll be filling in as office manager for a day at my neighbor's acupuncture practice, and I'll be attending Emma's back to school night.

In light of our hectic schedules, I'm keeping the menu plan simple this week. I'll be making meals that are quick and easy to assemble and are just as easy to clean up.

Monday - Hubs is on dinner duty since I'll be working late.

Tuesday - Black beans and rice

Wednesday - Zucchini and asparagus pasta with tomatoes and a side salad.

From Cooking Light
Thursday - Loaded nachos

Friday - Dinner out

Saturday - Fettucine alfredo with asparagus

Sunday - Chili (my own recipe)

What's on your plate this week? For more meal time inspiration, visit I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday linkup.

To view all of my menu planning posts, click here. Visit my What's For Dinner and Pasta Pinterest boards for even more ideas.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Top 5 Fall Fashion Picks from Sole Society #FashionFriday

I'm a big fan of Sole Society. The quality and the prices are hard to beat. And the selection is fabulous as long as you get in on the action early. Popular items go fast, and you don't want to miss out on something you have your heart set on.

Here are a few of my favorite items from Sole Society for fall. From boots and bags to jewelry and scarves, Sole Society is your one-stop shop for fall accessories.

1. Leopard Print Oversize Scarf - $29.95
This is a great transition piece. You can throw it on over a tank paired with shorts. Keep your denim jacket handy for cooler days and nights. Or wear it with a short-sleeved tee and jeans.


2. Baylen Satchel (available in cognac as shown and black) - $49.95
Structured bags are the must-have bags of fall. This chic satchel can do double duty as the perfect bag to take to the office during the week or out to dinner on the weekends.


3. Valentina Wedge-Heel Boots (available in ash as shown, taupe, and black) - $109.95
I love a heeled boot, but so few offer comfort for prolonged wear. A wedge boot is easier on the feet and much more comfortable for all-day wear. Pair these with a dress or skinny jeans tucked in and a tunic or long sweater.


4. Ellis d'Orsay Pump (available in black as shown, night shade, and aluminum) - $129.95
A great pair of everyday heels is essential in the fall. I fell in love with d'Orsay flats last spring, and these d'Orsay heels are calling my name this fall. Wear them with a slim pencil skirt, a pair of tailored pants, or a dark wash denim, and you are good to go.


5. Leather and Metal Bracelet (available in cognac as shown and navy) - $24.95
Fall is the perfect time to add a little leather back into your wardrobe. When it's too warm for leather boots, pants, or a jacket, try leather accessories instead. I love this leather and metal bracelet. It's versatile enough to pair with a light sweater, a white button-down shirt, or a simple tee.


Friday is the most fashionable day of the week. I'm linking up with Fashion Friday with Musings of a Housewife and others.

Back To School :: First Day Jitters and Pictures

Yesterday was the first day of school for my girls. I don't know about them, but I welcome the structure that the school year brings. This summer was definitely one where our routine went to the wayside. We had late nights that were anything but conducive to early risings.

As a work at home parent, I spent afternoons at the pool and late nights by my laptop. All those crazy hours were worth it if it meant that my girls had a fantastic summer, but now, I'm ready to get back to my normal working hours.

The first day went off without a hitch, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that today is more of the same.

And of course, you know I have to share a few pictures from the first day.



Here's to great a school year filled with great experiences in 7th and 3rd grades.