Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Almost Moving Day!

On the crazy train!
After what was surely the craziest (and most expensive) roller coaster ride of our lives, we are finally closing on our new house! We are scheduled to close at 9am on Thursday and then the movers come at noon! I cannot believe that we only have two nights sleeping in our current house left! It is crazy to think back on how much has changed since we moved in; there wasn't even a Maddie yet, well, at least not outside of my belly, and now she is ripping up and down the very same stairs that we first brought her up from the hospital.

Look at that tiny little Maddie!
We are all very excited to move; it is a better neighborhood, a nicer space and it is OURS, which is pretty fantastic. There is definitely going to be an impact to our budget and we will have a lot less play money for a while, but for the first time ever I am not panicking. First, it is temporary, as all money matters are and second, it is because we are putting our money into something so awesome, that will be in our family for as long as we want, and that makes it all worth it. Sure, it is going to be a little difficult to adjust to and we are going to be making some sacrifices, but I am so very excited to spend time at home, having people over for dinner and drinks on our deck and doing some fun DIY projects to make our home really reflect who we are.

Since we found out on Thursday that we were cleared to close we have been packing, cleaning and trying to get as organized as we can. This is the first time that we have hired movers, which we did given the small window of time we have to move our stuff, and I think it is holding us really accountable to get our shit together. We don't want the movers to think we suck at packing!

Honestly though, between packing, cleaning, work, tri training (2 weeks away!) and still trying to sneak some fun in on the weekends I am exhausted, but we are almost there, and every time I get overwhelmed I just pull up pictures of the new place and let my decorating daydreams go wild!

It is still summer though, and there is still fun to be had, and here is proof that we have managed to have some in the past few days, in case you were concerned:
Beach day with my AIL on Saturday!

Dada made a bow for backyard hunting purposes.
Tubbie time shenanigans. 

This is what happens when someone watches Maddie and lets us loose. Thanks, Jane!

Same face as the previous pic! O'Shea genes run deep!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 Things to Do in Boston this Summer

To me, summer in Boston is so wonderful because there has to be something to wipe away the memories of what February is like (aka the month when I think we need to move to an island in the tropics). New England has so much to offer in the summer, but you can really do a ton of fun things without ever leaving city limits (or having to get in a car)! I narrowed it down and these are the five things that I think everyone, tourist and local alike, need to do during the summer months in my fair city:

Get a lobster roll. Bonus points for eating it outside with a local beer. We like Yankee Lobster for convenience and deliciousness, but you really can't go wrong with your choice when in New England whether you're a cold with mayo or hot with buttered bun type of person.

Hit the beach. Since this is about what to do in Boston, I suggest going to Carson Beach in Southie. For a long time I thought it was probably pretty dirty with its view of a water treatment facility and proximity to the city, but it actually has an incredibly high rated water quality (thanks, gentrification of Southie!). After you swim around make sure to continue down the Harborwalk to Castle Island to watch the planes and get fries and ice cream at Sullivan's. And don't forget the playground, which is one of our favorites.

Take advantage of all of the free things going on. From yoga in Post Office Square to Shakespeare on the Common, there are things to do literally every night during the summer. Movies on the Esplanande (or the waterfront), Red Sox viewings, Free Fun Fridays, the Landmarks Orchestra: you could fill your calendar for three months just trying to hit up all these events.

Stroll down the Greenway. Every day there are food trucks parked from Haymarket to South Station and there is just something so awesome about strolling among the lush green trees, sandwich in hand, knowing that you are on what used to be a highway, and is one of the longest construction projects ever. Extra fun to be had if you linger around Faneuil Hall and watch some of the tourists try to navigate the madness that is Boston traffic.

Give back. If you are lucky enough to have time off in the summer, or even if you have a full schedule, there are organizations here that make it really easy to volunteer. Boston Cares has tons of different projects in all sorts of impact areas (kids, the environment, the elderly) and you can pick projects around your schedule via their on-line system. It is seriously SO easy and such a fantastic organization that is involved in so many great projects.
If you are an early riser like me, I also suggest checking out Back on My Feet, which is another organization I am proud to be a part of. Volunteers run with individuals experiencing homelessness at a number of shelters around the city. 45 minutes of running or walking is what most people do for their daily workout, so why change some lives and have a blast while you are at it?

Happy summer, y'all!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Day in the Life: Food Edition

If you haven't figured it out from this here blog, my life is pretty darn busy but I crave routine and do a pretty good job at sticking to a "regular" schedule, even if it does start at 5am and end sometime after 10pm. One of my most consistent things in life is definitely my eating. I love to eat, and love trying new foods and new restaurants but during the week I am the most boring person ever because I literally eat the same things at the same time every single day. At dinner, we get buck wild, but between 5 and 5, I am like a senior citizen. Here is a day in the life of what I am munching on:

5:00am (or whenever I stop hitting snooze): one cup of coffee brewed at home with a hefty splash of half and half. I recently switched to the "light cream" store brand but that is as low on the fat as I will go - milk just does not do it for me like cream does.

Post-run/workout (around 6:45): second cup of coffee with cream

Commute breakfast (between 7:15 and 8): I make this smoothie with a scoop of Target brand vanilla protein powder. If there is fruit that needs to get used up I will throw that in too (berries go well as does pineapple). I drink it on my walk to the train and am usually done before I sit down to read my book because it is super delicious. 

10:00am Snack: Kashi Chocolate Almond and Sea Salt bar. These are seriously the best thing ever and I do not get sick of them; even the hubs eats one every day!

12:15pm Lunch: Usually a salad with spring greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado and Simply Dressed ranch dressing. I try to get creative with my salads, but since most our things are packed and I am not feeling like being creative in our mostly packed kitchen I have been keeping it simple. Again, I hate to waste food so I will also throw in anything that needs to get used up (pasta salad, cheese). 

2:00pm Snack: Cabot Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt (seriously the creamiest and most delicious thing ever) topped with whatever granola NatureBox has sent. NatureBox is this awesome snack delivery service that sends us five healthy, yummy snacks each month; you can pick things you like or get surprised, which is what I like to do.

6:30 Dinner: We try to have dinner between 6 and 6:30 and are pretty good at sticking to that depending on our commute home and what we are making. This is the one meal a day where I really like to switch it up, although we do tend to keep some meals in our weekly rotation like this avocado bowl and one night of grilled dogs and burgers (it is summer, after all). Before our kitchen was all packed up and I spent most of my time stressing about our home buying situation, I liked to try at least one new recipe a week and let Matt take one night to get creative, though he usually does a weekend thing because he gets all sorts of master chef and not so weeknight-quick in the kitchen (not complaining! He too is an awesome cook!). During the cooler months we do at least one slow-cooker meal a week and then on Thursdays we have family dinner night at my AILs and get some sort of culinary masterpiece that we also get to eat without chasing Maddie back to the table.
We always eat dinner at the table, which we have done since Maddie was born. We talk about our day, put some classical or jazz in the background and really just take some time to relax and enjoy our meal. Granted, Maddie is unable to sit still for more then 30 seconds and has the palate of a, well, toddler but we hope that as she gets older this ritual is a good, consistent time where she knows she has our undivided attention.

Thanks for reading! Time to go grab a bite!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Press Play: My Running Playlist

In order to get the miles in that I need/want, I do all of my running early in the morning, which also allows me to get out and back before Maddie wakes up, or at least gives me the treat of opening the front door to her sleepy eyes and crazy bed head as soon as I get back. Once in a while I run in the evenings, but it is not at all my preference and usually means a slower and shorter run.

Getting up early is hard, especially when your life is as crazy busy as mine, so music is crucial to my routine. A good playlist is as imperative to my early morning runs as my cup of coffee and I have to have some good tunes to get my body moving before 6am. I thought it would be fun to share some of what is on my current playlist and what puts a little extra pep in my step when on those longer runs. And please, share your recommendations with me!

Kanye: Otis and Niggas in Paris (both with Jay Z) and Mercy
The Rolling Stones: Paint it Black (this song always picks my pace up by a few seconds)
400 Blows: Anything off the Black Rainbow album
Drake: Started from the Bottom and The Motto
The Animals: House of the Rising Sun and Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Kid Cudi: Pursuit of Happiness
Slayer: Reign in Blood

Obviously I have the weirdest taste in music ever, but there is definitely a pattern of a little hip hop, a little classic rock and a dash of metal to create the perfect playlist for me!

Happy running!

A Picnic in the Garden

This past Sunday we celebrated the best AIL ever with a picnic at the Boston Public Gardens followed by our annual Swan Boat ride. This year we also added riding the carousel on the Common (three times) and a trip to the Frog Pond playground. It is pretty much the best tradition ever, especially since it involves lobster rolls from Yankee Lobster.

The clouds were threatening our plans when we got to the Garden, but by the time we were done and walking around the sun was shining. It was a pretty perfect way to celebrate a pretty perfect lady.

It is not lost on me how fun it can be to play tourist in my own city (even if the real tourists do still kind of annoy me every other day). With all the stress and unknown surrounding our home buying situation, it is so nice just to enjoy a few hours of summer, family and of course, food.

Thanks Boston, you really know how to take our minds off the chaos and fill it with fun.

Helping to set up our picnic blanket.

A mouth full of cherries!

A stick! So exciting!

I held onto the back of her dress the whole time because she insisted on the end seat.

We take this picture every year! She is so huge!

She got three rides because, well, we love it too!

She wanted her new swan to have her own seat too.

The ladies!
Well played, Boston. Well played.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exploring the Outdoors

My little explorer.
I will be the first to (proudly) admit that I am not the outdoorsy type. I run outdoors and every once in a while I will hike, and I do love a nice outdoor cocktail on the porch, but my enthusiasm ends there. Camping is literally my idea of punishment. Soooo I was as surprised as anyone when I found myself taking Maddie to the Boston Nature Center on Friday for some outdoor exploring while her nanny took a much deserved day off. There is a program called Free Fun Fridays in which families can go to all sorts of fun places around Mass for free, but it tends to be really popular and the last couple of times any of us have tried to take advantage of it we have decided it was not worth the crowds. However, I had a hunch that this might not be as popular as the zoo or the children's museum, so I decided to give it a try after checking their schedule and seeing that this was just a couple of miles from us. Turns out, I was right! There were definitely a lot of visitors in addition to the day camps that they run, but the area is so big that it did not feel crowded at all.

Since it was a Free Fun Friday event they had tents stationed around the grounds with fun activities for the kids, so Maddie got to catch bugs with a net, make a coffee filter butterfly and learn how different beaks can pick up seeds using various sized clothespins. We did a couple of the shorter trails where we saw bunnies and lots of birds; Maddie sings a little song about "going adventuring" from the Land Before Time series and she was so cute singing it as she walked along. There is even an area set up where kids can build and dig and play a wooden xylophone! 

As part of the day Read Boston had a professional storyteller come and do his thing as we all sat outside under the big trees. Instead of reading from a book he told interactive stories using his surroundings and some props, which was really neat. Maddie was in awe, since her latest request is always to be told stories about narwhals or sharks or giraffes (we have all gotten really good at improv). She sat and listened and was so excited to retell the stories to us later and at the end, she got to choose a new book, so we had a new National Geographic book on dinosaurs to read once we got home!

It was a super fun day even if I did get three million bug bites (I bathe in spray; why do they feast on me?!?!) and we will definitely be back. It's kind of funny that this was less than two miles from us and yet I had no idea it even existed! But now that we know, I am excited to make another visit soon, outdoors and all :)
Here are some pictures of our day!
Adventuring down the trails.
A little peek-a-boo in front of some puddingstone.
Who is this child and what has she done with my baby?
Catching bugs!
Jamming out on the xylophone.
In the kid's area making a little shelter. 
Pretending to be a bird in her "nest".
Don't I look rustic with my bright pink lips?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Maddie

"Mama. put down your phone and dance like a ballerin-o wif me. Twirl Mama, twirl." 
You got it baby girl. You. Got. It.

Her imagination slays me. Sometimes she decides that she is a baby giraffe or baby bird and calls everyone else the same animal plus their name. She will only respond to her animal moniker in these moments and asks for grass to eat for her and her "fwends".

She asks about the "new house" often and seems pretty excited for it, which I totally feel, baby girl.

In the afternoons her nanny picks me up then we drop her off and pick Dada up so we have that extra time in the car to chat and review our day. She always gives her beloved nanny air "ugga muggas" (like Eskimo kisses) when we drop her off and she insists on calling Dada on the way to his work to tell him about the boats or the runners on the Charles in the few minutes before we see him. When we get home she needs a minute to sit on the porch and watch for planes before she can go in and start helping me with dinner.

She retains things that I hardly remember telling her. She told a friend recently that her birthday is in November and another that her Dada helps sick people when he goes to his play place (work). She asks me what friends I was running with when I come back from morning runs. She also tells me I should take a shower and that I am smelly ;)

This little girl of ours is something else and I cannot get enough of this personality of hers. Thanks for being such a cool kid, Madds.