2015 Resolutions

I always am excited for New Years. It is a chance to reflect on the past year and all that is brought. 2014 made me a mom and gave me my beautiful daughter. It has been my most favorite year ever! Needless to say, I am sad to see this year end.

However, I always feel so refreshed after New Years. After spending nearly two weeks relaxing and enjoying with friends and family, I feel ready to turn inward and make my resolutions. I always feel like general resolutions such as “lose weight” and “stress less” are ineffective at best. They are general and lack achievable goals. Instead, I like to make so-called SMART goals.

These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals. Each month I will post my progress on these goals in order to keep myself accountable for my progress.

So without further ado…

1. Design 2015 budget goals with husband to reflect past spending and current saving goals.

I maintain a pretty in depth family budget throughout the year. Keeping our budget has allowed us to notice areas in which we spend more than is necessary. In order to be successful at this goal, we need to review our past budgets to find trends in spending. We will look for additional areas to improve.

This goal is not in SMART language, because I will be selecting one area to work on a month. The previous months’ goals will carry through.

For January, my husband and I decided to start slotting ourselves a weekly allowance of $10/week each for discretionary spending. This will include all coffees and snacks we eat out. Money can be carried over week to week to save up for restaurants and takeout. It’ll be like we’re dating again as we will each be able to “take the other person out.” One of our hardest areas is our spending on food outside of the house. This will definitely help control our habits since a typical dinner out is a minimum of three weeks allowance! It will also be helpful because when we meet up with our own friends we will have to use this allowance for any drinks or meals. Any food outside the home will come from this money. I think this will make a big difference over the course of the year!

2. Go to the gym (or workout at home) a minimum of four days a week.
Currently, I try to go to the gym 3x a week. Now that Cupcake is older and increasing solids, I’d like to work out more knowing my supply is ok. We will be moving late this spring, so we may not continue our gym membership, hence why I included an option for a home workout.

3. Reduce my PR of a 9 min mile pace to an 8 minute mile.

Even when captain of my tennis team in high school, my fastest mile time was 10 minutes. Due to an alarmingly low blood pressure when pregnant with Cupcake, I had to stop working out. When I started running again, I ran a 14 minute mile pace. Through a lot of hard work, I have improved to a 9 minute mile in the last few months. My goal is to continue this progress through 2015 and hit my goal of an 8 minute mile!

4. Try one new recipe a week and blog about it.

I want to be able to cook a wide range of healthy meal options for my family. I want Cupcake to start her relationship with food in a positive way. I want to introduce new foods and learn new recipes. Finally, I want to keep it real. Some will be flops- I want to be brave enough to share those, too!

5. I want to continue nursing Cupcake through 2015, unless she chooses to wean earlier.

Fact- I type 99% of my blogs while Cupcake nurses.

Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone or every family. However, it is for us. It’s working. We love it. I never thought I’d last this long (9+ months), but I am still going strong. My ultimate goal is that I will nurse until Cupcake wants to stop. That may mean two more months or two more years.

Likely I will get pregnant again at some point, and then I may change my thinking. However, I’d like it to be Cupcake’s decision. It’s a lofty goal, but one I hope I can stick to!

6. Visit my grandma every week before our move. Call her every week after we move.

“Gramma” is 91. The reality is I don’t know how much time we have left together. I don’t want to waste any of it! While we live close, I plan to take Cupcake to visit weekly. If something prevents this (sickness, travel, etc), a phone call will take it’s place. When we move, I will be hours away so a weekly phone date will stand.

7. Text/call/email a different friend every day to keep communication open.

Since we will be moving, I plan on moving through my contact list every day and reaching out to my friends one-by-one. The typical interactions we have will be gone, so I will need to make a more concerted effort once we move. By the end of each month, I will make sure I have reached out to every one of my friends at least once in a meaningful way (i.e. Not just a “like” on Facebook).

8. I will cut my monthly consumption of soda.

Currently I tend to only drink soda on holidays and special occasions. In the past holiday week I had 5 servings of soda. I count a serving as 8oz, so that a typical can counts as 1.5 servings. My eventual goal is to eliminate it from my diet, but I do not know that it is a realistic goal at this point.

To accomplish this goal, I will set a smaller goal each month. My January goal is to have no more than 4 servings of soda a week.

As a disclaimer, I only drink ginger ale when seriously ill or pregnant. I will not count ginger ale consumption in this goal. I am not sure what the timing of my next pregnancy will be, but there is certainly a chance it could happen in late 2015. Therefore, I want to make sure I set the parameters of this resolution now.

9. Subscribe to FlyLady Emails. Complete tasks to maintain clean and decluttered home.

Many moons ago, I found FlyLady and started using her system for organizing my home. I loved her methods as it focused on progress, not perfection. Each task only took 10-15 minutes and I never had to guess what to do.

What I loved most was my house was always “company ready.” A friend could pop by and everything was as I wanted it. No last minute flurry of cleaning before company arrived! It was the best feeling.

However, life got in the way and I slacked. I returned to my clutter and my flurry of cleaning. I don’t like it. Therefore, I am resubscribing to the emails and will work to get my house in shape!

The best part is she has a whole list of recommendations for when you move to set up a clutter free house. I will certainly be employing her tactics later this year!

10. Reduce the amount of TV I watch.

This is the one resolution I am most nervous about. Why? Well I have several reasons.

-I grew up in a house with TV always on
-My husband and I have gotten in the habit of “background tv” so it’s on and we don’t even notice it
-I like the noise from it. A quiet house is irksome to me.

However, now that Cupcake is here, I am increasingly aware of my bad habits. I do not want her growing up like I did. When I think of the wasted time in front of the tv it blows my mind! What would I do with all that recaptured time?

TV has become one of my favorite ways to “veg” out. I am honestly too embarrassed to even share how much tv I watch in a day, but I’ll sum it up:
I watch the news every morning. I watch the news every evening. I have a few shows I watch weekly. It’s bad.

So since this resolution is not worded as a “SMART goal,” I will pick one for each month that falls under the umbrella of this category.

For January, my SMART goal will be focused on the amount of time I spend watching the news. This month I will reduce my news watching to only while I workout at the gym. There’s not much else on at 5:30 that I enjoy watching. On days I don’t go to the gym, I will allow myself an hour or less of tv news a day. This amount is still higher than I’d ultimately like, but if I reduce it too much, I doubt it’ll be an achievable goal for myself.

11. Post progress each month on the above goals.

So those are my 10 SMART resolutions (plus a bonus for recording them) for 2015. What are your goals for the upcoming year?

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Why My Wedding Wasn’t the Happiest Day of My Life

Today is my second anniversary.

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Two years ago, I walked down the aisle toward my soulmate and never knew such joy. It is such a cliche, but it was the happiest day of my life. I spent countless hours planning, organizing, Pinterest-ing. It all came together better than I ever could have imagined. And none of it really mattered.

How could one day where the professionals handled my hair and makeup compare to the love I felt when morning sickness besieged my pregnancy? How can one day that was so perfectly orchestrated compare to our teamwork when everything is going wrong? How can one day of elegant food compare to our Dunkin coffee car-dates when Cupcake would only sleep if we were driving? How can our first dance compare to watching my husband dance with our daughter in the kitchen, knowing that in a blink they’ll be dancing at her own wedding?

Our wedding was the happiest day of my life… but every day since then has just been infinitely better.

Home is Where the Heart is….

But, I’d still like to know where my home is!

The past few weeks have been nothing short of crazy. We have been traveling all over the country and are finally getting a break for the holidays! My husband is in his last year of medical school, and therefore, he’s applying to residency programs. Since I am off this year from teaching to be with Cupcake, we got to tag along!

Nearly all of our family and friends are located in Connecticut. Aside from going to college, I have lived in the same town my whole life! I went to the same high school my dad did, and I always thought my future children would, too. My first teaching job was at my former elementary school. All of my bridesmaids (aside from my sister-in-law) I’ve known since middle school. I grew up in a big town that felt like a small one. I never dreamed of leaving.

But, as we saw each location, I started picturing our lives there. Cupcake going to that park over there. Going Christmas shopping at that mall. Walking around this or that neighborhood. It was a weird experience.

And yet, it was really cool. I had my list of “must-haves” in a prospective location. One weird one was a 24-hour CVS/Walgreens sorta place.

Weird, right?

Growing up, I remember countless times my dad running out in the middle of the night to grab medicine that one of us kids needed. Need ice cream to soothe that sore throat? No problem! Developed a cough and can’t sleep? Let’s just run down the road! Ran out of tape when my mom was wrapping a last minute birthday gift at 11pm? All set! Now that we have Cupcake, this quest for a 24hr pharmacy nearby was important to me. And happily, everywhere we looked had one within 10 minutes of potential living arrangements.

The other thing I desperately searched out? Playgrounds! Cupcake may only be able to go in the swings right now, but soon enough, that’ll be our main hang out. I was actually quite surprised at the park situation! One of our locales was extremely hard to find any parks with playgrounds. My husband and I both agreed that if we matched in that area, we would rather live further from his program to have a better fit for Cupcake.

It was a whirlwind few weeks and there are still two more interviews in January. Although it’s a big task to move the whole family, I’m excited to find out where we will match and start the hunt for the perfect place to raise Cupcake!

Behind the Picture

Ever take a photo that is simultaneously bad and perfect all at once?

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It’s blurry. Cupcake is barely in it. I have no makeup on. It’s certainly not the most flattering picture out there.

And yet, if you could see outside of the boundaries of this picture, you would see Cupcake and I visiting her great-grandmother at the nursing home. You would see Cupcake and I playing in Cupcake’s first BINGO game. You would see my dear Gramma Rose so proud to show us off to the 20 other nursing home residents playing with us.

Perfection in blur.

Black Bean Brownies

Let me start off by saying I adore baking. I also love eating all the treats sharing the treats I bake! I am a strong proponent of enjoying honest to goodness sweets with not too many modifications. I am against “diet” food pumped with fake stuff. It doesn’t taste as good for me personally, and it certainly doesn’t help quell my cravings.

So, typically I make real brownies. However, my twin toddler nephews were coming for a visit and I wanted to bake something that was healthy, yummy, and made with whole foods!

The recipe requires a food processor. Mine is itty bitty, so I do it in halves, and it still takes me only about 10-15 minutes to prepare (depends on how many little hands want to get in on the action).

Ingredients:
15 oz can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 c quick oatmeal
1/2 c maple syrup
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
2 T cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in bowl. Add to food processor and process until completely smooth. Return to bowl
3. Add chocolate chips and mix well
4. Smooth batter into 8×8 greased pan. Bake for approx. 15 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

For my two handsome toddlers, I premeasured all of my ingredients like we were in a cooking show. I just called them to the kitchen to dump all the ingredients together!

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Cupcake joined in, too!

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(Don’t let this picture fool you. Two seconds later, Cupcake crawled over and knocked over part of the maple syrup cup and then tried to lick the floor where it spilled. It’s cool.)

Verdict? A fudgey brownie with no bean taste! The boys ate them up quick. I can’t lie- I prefer a typical, bad for you, brownie. However, these are a great treat for little ones, those watching their weight, or those just trying to eat healthier!

Try it and let me know what you think!