The Bitter and Sweet of 16 Years Together #Sweet16

Sweet 16 anniversary cake

Sometimes happiness is best celebrated with a shared cupcake, glass of rose, next to a coffee table of laptops and summer board games. ( Not pictured a.m. mimosas, dinner at III Forks, a gifted emerald necklace and a flower filled tub by candlelight.)

June 21st Randall and I celebrated sixteen years together. SIXTEEN, Sixteen seemed monumental for some reason. I mean,while that length of time is certainly a great track record it wasn’t a golden or silver anniversary. More like a coming of age, I suppose, and well let’s just say I’ve had feelings about it for months. I’ve shared those feelings with a few friends and my husband obviously. BLESS. HIS. HEART. He has endured all the feelings about it. Since I’ve made a commitment to always be transparent with all of you, not just sharing the idyllic picture perfect parts, this felt like one of those real stories to be documented here too.

sweet 16 anniversary

We are happy.

Now before you get worried things are in some sort of downward spiral and the entire internet is a lie, WE ARE FINE. More than fine honestly, we are happy. Like really happy and somehow THAT is the thing that got me worried.

Huh? Being happy is what made you worried something was wrong??

I know, I know. Just follow me on this one. Back in March, a friend and I were reflecting on the past few years and we asked each other if we were happy. We talked about where we were in our careers, our family, and our lives. It was an honest conversation, with no expectation attached. No one’s life is perfect and there is always room for growth but I could honestly say without any hesitation I was very happy with my life and my relationship.

In the weeks that followed, I began to think more about that conversation. I have been known to over analyze – shocker, I know- this trait is both blessing and a burden. I thought about all the couples we’d known, parents, friends, people who got married around the same time we had, people who had gotten married since. How many of them were still married? How many had divorced? How many are living complacent and co-existing? It was exhausting and there were very few relationships that had a lifespan equal to or longer than ours. There were even fewer that I would consider emulating.

Behind the Scenes: Real Relationship Talk

This is where I began to panic. And because panic loves to party, I shared my concerns with Randall immediately. It sounded something like this :

Me: “Heyyyyy, so, we’re happy, right? Like REALLLLy happy? ” 

Him: “Yeah. I’m happy. Are you happy?”

Me: “Definitely. I was just checking because I was thinking that I don’t know if I know anyone as happy as we are and what if everything is suddenly about to fall apart and we aren’t prepared……”

Him: ( insert head tilt, adorable gaze, and light chuckle) “Why do you do this to yourself?” 

*Note: by this time in our relationship he is used to me running worst-case-scenarios full speed ahead. It’s who I am. He is the hype man and I am logistics. Logistics people run these things through. Logistics people have your back. The Hype Men assure you everything is good and you are going to have the time of your life. Sometimes we switch positions. Both are vital. We make a really good team.

At least I’m not alone.

So things are good but I’m still not entirely convinced. By April, I am still sorting this through. I confide in another friend. “Here I am living this dream, with this human who I entirely believe is the best relationship partner on the face of the planet. ( FTR: Randall Chase is truly the best human I know and better than I deserve. Although, he tells me the same and I’m pretty sure I’m amazing also so let’s just say we both lucked out and call it even) So, because I don’t know anyone that has really made love last longer, why should we be the lucky ones? Is the proverbial other shoe about to drop at any moment? And am I going to be the one to screw it all up?  Because I believe he is so perfect, I’m clearly the obvious choice to do so. But howwwww?”

My friend responds : “You are speaking my worst nightmares and fears, but go on.” 

At least I know I am not alone.

Life goes on

A few more weeks go by and my panic begins to subside. Life goes on as normal. We parented together. I won an award and he was my biggest cheerleader. He was finishing his graduate program, things were busy at work and I took on more. Our autonomy is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. We had kitchen dance parties listening to Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, and some version of yacht rock that I can’t recall. We laughed, cried, loved, won and fussed in those weeks. It was the life we loved living. I decided it was okay to be happy.

Moral of the story

Just last week, I was recounting this relationship journey to yet another friend as we walked along. It seemed silly as I was telling it but it was honest. She reassured me that there really is no normal just let it be honest. Your love/relationship doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty. You don’t even have to be happy all the time. It was a good reminder that comparison is a terrible tool for relationships. Self reflection is totally different.

Moral of the story: Love still exists in many forms. It’s probably going to look a lot different each year it grows. Don’t panic. Sixteen years really is pretty sweet. If you haven’t gotten there yet, there is a lot to look forward to but enjoy the moment you are in because each of those can be pretty sweet too.

Oh, and keep good circle of trusted friends. I’ve got some of the very best.

New Year, New Grandparent Names

New Year, New Name (aka Don’t call me Grandma)

new grandparent names

It wasn’t too long after we announced that a new tiny human would be making an appearance into our lives that people wanted to know what we were going to be called. For all intents and purposes, we ARE grandparents. Being that as it may, I was not ready to accept a traditional grandparent moniker yet. Call me grandma or nana one time and you are sure to get a response of “new phone, who dis?” After all, I myself am still within childbearing age and gray has not yet touched my tresses;(Randall may/may not be in denial referring to his as “highlights”.Whatever, it’s cool for guys.) As thrilled as we are to welcome this new little life we are both diametrically opposed to adopting the “G-names” as our own.

What would we be called then ?

With the help of our friends we crowd-sourced, scoured the internet, and even read a few books to get ideas. We got a lot of great responses, a lot of ones that just didn’t seem like they fit us, and some that were just laughable. Here is a list of the 13 Best Grandparent names we sorted through:

Best Grandparent Names

13 Best Grandparent Names

  • Nana & PaPa
  • Amma & Afi
  • Oma & Opa
  • Gramms & Gramps
  • Lolly & Pop
  • Memere & Pepere
  • Gpa & Gma
  • Grammie & Grampy
  • Gigi & Pops
  • Glamma & Ace
  • Nonna & Nonno
  • MawMaw & PawPaw
  • Mimi & G

This new name business was a really important because if you think about it the birth of the first grandchild means a new beginning for you too. A whole new identity. Your spouse, your adult children, and all the grandchildren to come will now call you by this new name. It is the name with which I will sign all Christmas tags and the signature with which I will send birthday money for decades to come. Our names will likely be saved and resaved under these new aliases in many family cell phones. It is possibly one of the only socially acceptable times you can choose a new name for yourself without entering a witness protection program or filling out a whole lot of paperwork. I will hopefully live as long or longer with this new name as I have all the years prior. It is a really BIG decision!!

Realizing this was a long-term decision and that we have four children of our own and when those children get married each of their future children will have another set of grandparents too. Add that to the possible number of great-grandparents scenarios and using a generic “grandparent” title and this could get very confusing. We were going to need to find something unique that was still meaningful.

None of the names above were quite the names we were looking for. We were at a bit of a loss until my friend, Susan offered up a suggestion. She had a former boss who became the parent of a parent pre-40, like us. She chose :Mia”, the Italian word for mine, as her new name. I really liked the thought of “Mia”. It was easy for a little one to say and didn’t make me sound aging or too cutesy. Paul and Sydney had already decided that they would be calling the new baby “Bella”, a shortened form of her full name Isabella Rose. In Italian, Mia and Bella combined means “my beauty” or “my lovely”. That made it special for me and I was all but settled on it. My only hesitation was we had been looking for a pair of names. So if I went with Mia, what would Randy be called?

We went back and forth with names and then it came to us. MAMMA MIA! If I went with Mia, Randy would go by Abba. We are huge musical theater fans and you can’t possibly think of MAMMA MIA! without Abba. In Aramaic, Abba means daddy. The term Abba also has a strong significance for religious scholars and since part of R’s grad degree is in theology/world religions, it seemed a perfect fit in that way too.

So there you have it. In a few days our legacy as Mia & Abba shall begin.

What names did your grandparents go by? Have you heard any unusual, unique grandparent names not included in the list above? 

Signature Smoothies (with a secret ingredient!!) #HowDoYouEmergenC

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HowDoYouEmergenC #CollectiveBiasemergenc-berry-smoothie

Life can be so busy and it’s important to ensure you and your family get in all the important nutrients to enjoy it. Signature breakfast smoothies are my go-to for this because they are super easy to make, take along with me, and I can pack in all kinds of good fruits and veggies.  I like to power pack them with a one SECRET ingredient too….a packet of Emergen-C!

I have a habit of always traveling with a few packets of Emergen-C Super Orange in my purse. I started ordering a ordering a smoothie from the hotel and stirring in a packet of Emergen-C Super Orange flavor once it arrived.  Doing this allows me to keep up my routine even when I am away from home. I feel so much better now that I’ve found another way to keep consistency in life even with crazy schedules.

The last trip I took my family and I actually sent pictures of our breakfast smoothies to one another. It was reassuring that this was something they were able to keep up on their own too. ( I am hoping that means they like it just as much as I do! ) Our signature smoothie this week included:

emergen-c-smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 raspberries
  • 1/4 c. blueberries
  • 1/4 c. mango
  • 1/2 c. coconut water
  • 1 packet Emergen-C Super Orange flavor

Step one: Add all fruits to blender

emergenc-smoothie-ingredients

Step 2: add coconut water and Emergen-C Super Orange ( or your own favorite flavor)

emergenc-smoothie-coconut-water

Step 3: Blend until smooth, approx 10-15 seconds

emergenc-smoothie-blended

Step 4: Serve and Enjoy!!

smoothie-final

The best part of this is that everyone has developed their own signature smoothie and it allows them to be creative. Here are a few other signature smoothie combinations we regularly make at home:

Triple Berry :  yogurt, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, banana, 1 packet EmergenC Super Orange flavor
Island Time Reset:  coconut water, mango, spinach, pineapple, banana, 1 packet EmergenC Super Orange flavor
Green Machine:  kale, almond milk, banana, agave syrup, 1 packet EmergenC Super Orange flavor
The Hulk: peanut butter, oats, almond milk, banana

EmergenC is such a wonderful addition because 7 B Vitamins enhance energy naturally* without caffeine which is fantastic for the whole family. It makes me feel good knowing that I have EmergenC on hand when I need it whether I am at home or traveling. The single serving packets make it so convenient. They are also easy to find anywhere if you run out or are away from home. I typically pick ours up at Walgreen’s. It comes in several flavors, all easily found in the isle near the pharmacy.

emergenc-in-store

Check out more great ways to add in Emergen-c to your drink recipes HERE and HERE.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

20 for 20 Family Reading Challenge #read20

Most of us know how important reading is in a young child’s life but as our children become more self-sufficient we can forget how important it is to read with them. Even though our older children don’t need us to read to them any more, we decided to spend family time reading alongside them in Scholastic’s 20 for 20 Family reading challenge.

20 for 20 family reading challenge

The 20 for 20 Family Reading Challenge was created for students to complete with either mom or dad or – even better – both! All you have to do is read together for at least 20 minutes a day for 20 days. To help get everyone pumped up for the challenge Scholastic sent us a selection of books tailored just for us. The kids were thrilled and super excited to pick out which ones they would read first.

To keep everyone on track for the twenty days we are tracking our minutes with a family reading log. You can participate by using the same printable reading log! Just download and save to participate in the challenge at your house.

I hope your family will take the challenge along with us! Here are some great tips to think about as you get started:

20 for 20 Family Reading Challenge Tips
• Allow your children to choose the book or books to read.
• Visit a Scholastic Book Fair together to explore and choose from a wide variety
of interests and reading levels.
• Read at your child’s pace.
• Take your time and really engage in reading together – discuss the story, characters,
plot, events, etc.
• Unplug and shut off electronic devices to really focus on the moment.
• When you and your child complete a chapter or book, take time to reward
yourselves.

No matter how old children become, your involvement in their reading can inspire them, influence their behaviors, affect their thoughts, and strengthen their bond with you. Reading helps children understand their changing world and strengthens their creative thinking. But with so many distractions, many kids are reading less and their skills are suffering. That’s why it’s important to practice reading, just like any other skill.

I’m really looking forward to updating you on the progress we make at the end of our 20 days. What was the last book you read ? Do you have any recommendations for books we should read? 

3 Healthy Habits Booklets for Girls from Girl Scouts and Together Counts

3 Healthy Habits Booklets for Girls  from Girl Scouts and Together Counts

disclosure

As a young girl, I was very involved in Girl Scouts. While I did just happen to set a cookie-selling record for my district , participating in  Girl Scouts  meant so much more than selling cookies.  I loved learning about nature, camping, and how to be independent. It helped me to develop great friendships and taught me how to be a leader. At camp, I was able to experience so many adventures from archery, rock climbing, to traditional activities like campfires and hiking. I was so excited when my daughter showed interest in Girl Scouts as well. I knew it would provide her with so many of same opportunities that have benefited me.

Healthy Habits

Girl Scouts has been inspiring girls and young women to be confident and active since 1912! They are continuing that tradition today through the Together Counts Program. The Together Counts program is nationwide and provided by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to inspire active and healthy living through physical activity and nutrition.

The principle behind the program is called Energy Balance, which just means balancing the calories we consume with the calories we expend.
Energy In: the calories you get from eating and drinking.
Energy Out: the calories you burn from physical activities

Swimming Together counts

In partnership with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, Girl Scouts developed three “healthy habits” booklets to easily incorporate energy balance into meetings, outings, events and adventures. The free booklets help guide girls as they learn to lead active, healthy lifestyles.

girl scouts journeys

The 3 Healthy Habits booklets available for download include:

For other resources on inspiring the girls in your life to stay active or get involved with Together Counts and Girl Scouts, be sure to check out these great sites :

  • Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital Twitter: On Twitter, GSNC shares council information including awards, resources, highlights from council events and volunteering opportunities.
  • Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital Facebook: Similar to Twitter, the GSNC Facebook page shares photo albums of troop activities, news from around the region, and partner content from Together Counts.
  • Together Counts Website –The website is consumer friendly—aimed at parents and educators and provides resources, tips, recipes and more.
  • Together Counts Blog – The Together Counts blog is the main source of all consumer-friendly news including HWCF campaigns, announcements and content from HWCF partners around the topic of healthy eating habits and incorporating more physical activity.
  • Together Counts Twitter – On Twitter, Together Counts shares everything from digital assets (video, infographics) to industry or conference news related to food in addition to campaign and partner news.
  • Together Counts Pinterest – Together Counts’ resource for sharing recipe inspiration from across the network, family activity ideas and pins from partners that relate to family eating and activity including Girl Scouts, Healthy Dining Finders, etc.