Three Good Things [10.04.14]

I’m back! Sort of. Despite collecting string for this post for, um, three weeks, and writing this for three days, it’s taken me until Saturday night to actually put it together. (See, baby-related senioritis/mind jumble.)

three good things

Nevertheless, plenty of good things have been happening lately, and I couldn’t keep you waiting any longer to find out what’s on my list.

Three things I loved this week(ish):

  • Weekly roundup posts. Okay, it’s a bit of a circular point in my own weekly roundup post, but I love reading other weekly roundups and lists of links. (It’s what led me to this idea, after all!) Besides introducing me to all sorts of new posts and people and ideas, I love the different angles that writers put on these posts. A few of my regular weekly reads:

The Friday Five, from A Mothership Down

Friday Snacks, from Kate Baer

Surfing Sunday, from Heather Spohr at The Spohrs Are Multiplying

Friday Favorites, from Project Underblog

  • The first pumpkin spice latte of the year. Yes, I should be making my own PSL syrup/creamer at home, but one day I just really really needed one. And damn, every sugar-filled, artificial ounce of that overpriced coffee totally hit the spot.
  • To my daughter, I will beg. A mother’s raw, honest post about teaching a daughter how to love her whole self after struggling to do the same herself. This ranks right up there among my greatest fears about having a daughter — how to teach her the lesson that I haven’t quite mastered yet, myself. N’tima’s post captured so much of my experience, and many of my fears and hopes. Well worth a read.

Three things I learned:

  • Rite Aid is partnering again with text4baby, the service that sends expectant and new parents text messages about parenting and child development, to offer free flu shots to text4baby subscribers. Text4baby is already doing a huge service for new parents; this makes it all the more valuable. (Insert well-intentioned nag here: Have you gotten your flu shot yet?)
  • A non-profit called QuestBridge has become a driving force behind securing college scholarships for high-achieving low-income high school students. Their push to reform the college financial aid system is daunting but has a huge upside.
  • After searching explicitly for bald breast cancer survivors to join Joan Lunden in kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Today Show responded to the outcry from metastatic breast cancer patients — many of whom are undergoing grueling treatment that doesn’t result in hair loss — by doing a full segment on patients with metastatic, stage 4 cancer. Here’s how the week and the experience with Today went down for one blogger who was featured on the show. I’m glad Today listened to the constructive criticism, to the benefit of viewers and survivors alike.

Three things I felt grateful for:

  • MIT’s breast pump hackathon. As someone who’s once again facing – “looking forward to” is not exactly the right way to put it – hooking myself up to a pump hundreds of times once I’m back to work next year, I’m grateful for the 150 people who competed to up the breast pump game, even if the changes don’t come in time to make me feel less like a factory farm dairy cow. (Also, no surprise that the top teams featured women designers and engineers.)
  • Teddy’s birthday. He actually seemed to enjoy himself. I’m sure the ice cream and cake and toys helped, but it was great listening to him sing happy birthday to himself, and I was really happy that all four of his grandparents were here to celebrate with us. (He also now thinks that it’s my birthday whenever I get an Amazon package. Kind of, kid.)
  • Our neighborhood of generous parents. We had our bi-annual kids clothes swap this weekend. As I searched for elastic waist pants that would fit my short-legged child, I looked around the room at the mountains of clothes that had been donated for the swap and was reminded what a supportive neighborhood we moved into. (I also noticed how many other pregnant moms were there, and realized that kiddo #2 is going to have a lot of little potential pals in the neighborhood. Wow.)

What did you love, learn, or feel thankful for this week?

This post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop. Hop on over and see what other good things happened this week!


Three Good Things [09.12.14]

Is fall really here? This New England girl really, really hopes so, though I can’t get truly excited until the sub-season of Sweater Weather sets in. Then, watch out. My house gets taken over by cinnamon apple candles and long sleeved t-shirts and pumpkin muffins (and in a good year, playoff baseball, but this ain’t that year). Anyway, I’ll take this more fall-like day and the later-rising sun and the explosion of pumpkin everything in my Pinterest feed as a good thing. Here are a few more from this week.

love learn thankful

Three things I loved this week:

  • 90210’s back, baby! I sighed when SoapNet and its four shows went dark last December 31, mostly because one of those shows was (the original) 90210. I’ve seen every one of those 300 episodes many times over, and yet, I wasn’t ready to let them go. Yeah, I could watch them on Amazon Prime, but it’s not the same as happening upon the Spring Dance episode, or Brandon and Kelly’s wedding, or even better — a marathon. But now? It’s back. TVGN, Tuesdays and Fridays, ALL DAY. In case you wondered what I’d be doing during maternity leave, you’re looking at it.
  • This Funny or Die post about Saved by the Bell. In case it’s not yet clear, I’m a trash TV girl. Yeah, I love critically acclaimed shows like The Americans and The Wire, but they just balance out my 90210-Saved by the Bell-Bravo watching habits. Anyway, this post takes on a Very Important Question about SBTB, one that any true fan has had for a long time. Read it and tell me you don’t agree.
  • Candy corn. See my hail to fall, above. Combine that with my stupid low-fat gallbladder diet and you get a girl who was way too excited to see Brach’s candy corn on sale 2 for $3 this week.
Three things I learned this week:
  • The 100 books that showed up most often on those Facebook book lists. Although I find it difficult to believe that The Going to Bed Book didn’t crack the most-listed books, one of mine (The Handmaid’s Tale) did. Also, how did I forget Catcher in the Rye? Ah, Holden Caulfield.
  • Why kids like Elmo so much. This is a question I have really, really been looking for the answer to since Teddy got hooked after watching exactly TWO episodes of Sesame Street. And now I know that his annoyingly high voice is actually a real reason. Gah.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals not only moved Devon Still from their practice squad — where they’d assigned him to give him health insurance coverage for his daughter, who is battling Stage IV cancer — to the active roster, but they’re also dedicating the proceeds of sales from his jersey to pediatric cancer research. That’s a stand-up team right there, in a week where the NFL seriously lacked stand-up people, teams, and a commissioner.
Three things I felt grateful for this week:
  • Seven years of marriage. We’ve put those “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health” lines to the test, and I’m pretty happy with the result so far. Also, my husband comes up with the most creative anniversary gifts. For this copper anniversary, all the new copper pipes in our basement weren’t enough, so he bought me a plant in a copper pot.
  • Final inspector sign-off on the basement! We traded a final check to the contractor for our keys back, and now it’s just ours to fill up. Basement round-up post to come soon, really.
  • Six weeks to go until D-day. Which also means six weeks left at work. Hooray! Senioritis is setting in in a big way…though I’m apparently deluding myself into thinking that caring for a newborn (and a toddler) will somehow be less work than sitting at a desk and editing other people’s words.

What did you love, learn, or feel grateful for this week?

This post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful series.



Three Good Things [09.06.14]

tgt graphic 2

Three things I loved this week:

  • The return of Mr. Tony. I loved reading Tony Kornheiser in the Washington Post when I first moved here, and Pardon the Interruption is a show that’s fun to watch. But it’s the podcast of his daily radio show – part sports, part news commentary, part truly ridiculous stories about Tony’s life — that keeps me consistently entertained (even if I sometimes had to skip whole segments during boring basketball season). Tony returned to the air this week, and my podcast lineup – and commute – are better for it. Now if the sales guys at AM 980 could stop with the podcast delay that leaves me listening to Wednesday’s show over the weekend…
  • The viral book list tagging exercise on Facebook. I’m not always a big fan of these Facebook tagging games that can take over my feed, but I loved getting the chance to reflect on ten books that have stayed with me, and seeing what friends picked for their lists – giving me lots more additions to my Goodreads list. (What? I’ll have TONS of time this fall and winter to read. Suuurrrre.) For the record, my books were: A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Traveling Mercies, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, all the Little House on the Prairie books, House of Mirth, Freakonomics, Naked, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and for good measure, The Going to Bed Book (thanks, Sandra Boynton, for planting that one in my brain forevermore).
  • Coffee + Crumbs, a relatively new collaborative blog on motherhood. There are lots of collaborative blogs on motherhood, and I like a lot of them. But Coffee + Crumbs, with its clean design and crisp essays (and just enough of them, posted frequently enough to keep me coming back but not so many that I feel overwhelmed) has really appealed to me.

Three things I learned this week:

  • 25 alternatives to saying “good job.” As a manager at work, I learned the value in giving more specific praise, but at home, I find myself saying “good job” to Teddy over and over again. I’m hoping these prompts will give me a nudge toward applying the same lesson I learned at work to home.
  • About the Joan Rivers-Miss Piggy feud. Anything to see a snippet from “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” my all-time favorite Muppet movie.
  • Next week is Diaper Need Awareness Week. I know, it seems like every day, week, and month is an awareness day/week/month (speaking of which, did you know that September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month? Check Your Neck!). But 1 in 3 American families struggles with affording diapers for their baby, a plight anyone who’s had to shell out the money for those expensive packages can identify with. And families that can’t afford diapers have a hard time putting their kids in daycare, which makes it harder to find and keep work. Kudos to Huggies for donating diapers for every tweet or retweet using the hashtag #DiaperNeed – so tweet away!

Three things I felt grateful for this week:

  • B’s work around the house. The basement is almost, ohsoclose, to being really, truly done. (Final inspection is on Monday! And once we get the OK from the inspector and I don’t feel so jinxy, I’ll write a final before-and-after post, with all the gory Home Depot details.) But in the meantime, we’ve been able to start moving things down into the space, and clearing out what will be the baby’s room, and setting up the baby’s furniture. And when I say “we,” I really mean B. He’s done the heavy lifting – in some cases, the very heavy lifting – while I’ve mostly counted to make sure we have the right number of bolts and washers and swept up construction dust. I’m not crazy about not being able to do more to help, but I’m grateful to have a husband who does it all willingly, even after working unexpectedly on a weekend and when “it all” involves driving 70 miles each way to pick up boxes of just-the-right baby furniture.
  • The return of our treadmill. Our treadmill had been folded up and covered inside the unfinished storage area of our basement since we started the project some 14 years ago (your three months is my 14 years). And though putting it away for a while didn’t exactly interrupt marathon training for me, I’m glad to have it back. Even a very slow 20-minute walk (while catching up on podcasts) makes me feel like I’m doing something to avoid the total muscle loss I had during my last pregnancy. (Never mind the fact that I did the slow 20-minute walks then, too – I’m choosing to remain optimistic here.)
  • Almond milk at Dunkin Donuts! OK, it’s a rather small development in the grand scheme of things. But as someone who’s had to bring my coffee home to mix in my preferred almond milk – rather than stop by the drive thru on my way to somewhere else – this will make an improvement in the quality of being out and about.

What did you love, learn, or feel grateful for this week?

This post is part of the weekly Ten Things of Thankful blog hop.


Three Good Things [08.30.14]

tgt graphic 2

It’s a long weekend, marking the end of a splendid summer and the start of meteorological fall. Need I say anything more?

(Obviously, that answer is yes. One, because I have this blog and this concept and it’s called Three Good Things, not One Good Thing, and it’s actually nine good things every week, and I need to keep it up. And two, not sure I’ve ever taken the opportunity to say less when saying more could do.)

So, without further ado:

Three things I loved this week:

  • Brunch with my awesome Listen to Your Mother castmates. This was our long-awaited reunion, some three months in the works. A few couldn’t make it, but most of us were there and excited to catch up on how the summer’s gone, chow down on some tasty biscuits (my gallbladder survived!) and ogle the new and adorable baby in the group. (Which also reminded me that I need a refresher course on how to hold, and hand off, an infant.) I’m still so happy and grateful to have had this experience – something I’m reminded of every time I see or talk to any of these women. (I realize I’ve doubled up on a thing I loved and a thing I’m grateful for here. It’s my blog and I’ll violate my concept when I want to.)
  • A (nearly) finished basement! We’re still waiting on the carpet for the stairs, but otherwise our long summer of construction dust and debris is done (just as soon as we finish dusting, that is). A full post of before and after pictures coming soon, but here’s a taste:

basement after2

  • Bloggers who keep it real. Did you read Glennon Melton’s recent post about finding gratitude in her kitchen, laminate counters, mismatched appliances and all? It was a fantastic reminder of what really matters, and it resonated far and wide – all the way to the Today show. She even had the bravery to leave dirty dishes in the sink with the cameras rolling, because that’s real life. (In the full disclosure kitchen camp: I threw away a muffin pan this week because I left it sitting in the sink so long that it had rust in it.)

And what’s even better than single honest posts? A campaign to knit them together, as Courtney Bowden is doing with her #showyourreal blog post series, and Jen Snyder is doing with her #momreality Instagram series, and Kim Bongiorno is doing with her September Instagram series showing the real side of parenting, #PARENTSNAP914. Keep the reality — complete with sticky floors, laundry piles, and dirty dishes — coming.

Three things I learned this week:

  • My vision actually improved this year. How that’s possible when I spend way too many of my waking hours sitting in front of the computer, I don’t know, but I’ll take it. On a related note, my eye doctor said that studies are finding that kids’ vision is deteriorating not because of screen time, but because they’re not getting enough sunlight from being outside. Interesting.
  • Pumpkin spice lattes are made of shit that’s generally not good for you. Okay, this isn’t exactly a surprise. I mean, something that tastes that good can’t really be packed full of vegetables and nutrients. But it’s still a bummer. You can, however, make your own PSL syrup! Yeah, your coffee drink won’t be as good, but maybe the virtue in using actual pumpkin will compensate for that delicious sweetness?
  • Resisting the urge to “like” things on Facebook might actually improve your Facebook experience. I haven’t gone fully to eliminating “likes” on FB, but I’m intrigued by how this experiment has changed her news feed and interactions for the better.

Three things I was grateful for this week:

  • More good bloodwork. This time, I passed my glucose screening test. Whew. I’ve basically been mainlining refined sugar in the absence of fat, and if I had to cut that out, too, I think I’d be left with egg whites and chicken breast to eat. And if you think I’m grumpy now….so it’s really in everyone’s best interest that I passed the test.
  • Two new babies. Two families in my daycare tribe welcomed new babies in the last two weeks. Both were early but are doing well, as are their moms (and dads, and big brothers). Once again, I’m reminded: it’s all about healthy baby, healthy mama. The rest is just icing.
  • A phone call with my grandmother. I’m lucky to still have both of my dad’s parents here, and to be able not just see them when I’m home, but to talk to them often by phone and even to exchange e-mails. They get to see pictures of Teddy from far away as he grows up (um, however infrequently I remember to take and send them), and I get to have conversations about new restaurants they’ve tried and my grandmother’s first trip to Target. (Really. Her first trip to Target. If only I’d known…)

What did you love, learn, or feel grateful for this week? Happy Labor Day weekend, all. Bring on fall!

This post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop.


Three Good Things [08.23.14]

tgt graphic 2

Big changes afoot here at the blog. As you’ll see, I’ve changed the structure of the Three Good Things title, from volume # to the date. It’s an exciting and momentous change.

(Okay, I’m mostly doing it so that I don’t have to try to keep track of the volume number. Doubt anyone will want to read Vol. 235 however many weeks or years from now that would be. It’s tough enough for me to keep track of the date.)

Anyway, no listing of good things last week because we were on vacation and although there were lots of good things there – soft serve ice cream, non-alcoholic pina coladas, a highly relaxed dress code – I was committed to taking the week off from writing.

But now I’m back. (Maybe not better than ever, but hey, that’s subjective.) Anyway, what good things have you loved, learned, and felt thankful for lately? Here are mine:

Three things I loved this week:

  • The Girl Next Door Podcast. This is a fun, bi-weekly chat between Kelsey and Erica, neighbors and bloggers in Arizona. Bonus points: they kick off each podcast with a homemade cocktail (or mocktail) and link to it in their show notes. This week’s show featured a long discussion about the best and worst vacations they’ve ever taken and had me daydreaming of another trip to Hawaii. Ahhh.
  • The Little League World Series. The combo of Mo’ne Davis making the cover of Sports Illustrated and the Cumberland, Rhode Island, coach’s speech to his team when they lost made for some uplifting baseball at a time when my beleaguered Red Sox can barely break up a no-hitter.
  • DC in August. So quiet. Shhhh. School starts back next week and everything will once again be crowded and hot and loud, but these last few weeks have been their own little vacation.

Three things I learned this week:

  • Hazelnut prices are jumping thanks to a bad crop season and high Nutella demand. Don’t look at me, I can’t eat the stuff…right now. But this whole supply-and-demand thing had better settle down in time for me to dig back in to a Costco-sized jar with a spoon once this kid arrives.
  • The concept of wabi-sabi, the Japanese principle of embracing imperfection (h/t Sarah Bagley’s podcast with Kathy Stowell). Let’s just say that I need some wabi-sabi in my life.
  • Hoarding toys is normal for two-year-olds. Thank you, Tovah Klein and your book, How Toddlers Thrive. (What, you don’t read child development books while on vacation? I really know how to live, don’t I?) If only I’d read the chapter on sharing before we were in a house with two other toddlers for a week, I would have known how natural it is that Teddy would round up his favorite toys and hide them in a corner table where no one else could get them. More seriously, this book taught me a lot about toddler brain development and how to better understand what’s happening in his mind to cause such, ahem, rapid mood changes. (Along those same lines, I’d also recommend Meghan Leahy’s Washington Post column on a similar topic this week.)

Three things I was thankful for this week:

  • More good thyroid labs. My thyroid levels have been stable for a couple of months – an unexpected but very welcome development after they jumped around quite a bit at the beginning of this pregnancy and almost all the way through my pregnancy with Teddy. I’ve been going for blood draws every two weeks but my consistent results mean I can go every month for the rest of my pregnancy – which may mean only going two more times. Gulp.
  • The end of House of Cards, season two. Not necessarily in a good way, but in a “we are glad THAT’S over” way. We felt a sense of commitment to the show, even after it was clear that the second season was going off the rails in a big way. We had hopes that it would right the ship, but…let me save you the trouble and say, “not so much.” But now we’re free to binge-watch Orange Is the New Black and the third season of Veep, so I’m counting this in the good category.
  • Heirloom tomatoes. They’re pretty and a damn good excuse for making pizza. Win-win.

And for this week’s Listen to Your Mother video, in honor of the Little League World Series, I give you our director Stephanie Stearns Dulli’s piece from the DC show, with a warning that one line in particular is not suitable for small ears:

[Note: this post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop. Check out the other blogs in the series for many more good things happening this week!]