When Dada’s away…

My brother jetted off to San Diego this week for work, so I took a few days off to spend time with my niece and brand new nephew. I meant to be more helpful than I really was — like usual, I ended up playing with McCorrie more than anything. I barely changed any diapers or did any dishes, and I didn’t even get over to their house that early in the morning thanks to a certain four-legged cuddle buddy. 

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But I sure did have fun, and even though McCorrie was sick, she still managed to play and laugh and be her silly self. We danced, we drew on her chalkboard, we read books and of course, we sat on the floor. 

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We watched some Elmo. 

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We played with baby brother. 

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And I stole him for myself a little, too.

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After a few days of cuddling with this tiny little guy and seeing Mc’s smiling face, I only have one question: is there such a thing as stay-at-home aunt? 

Beating the winter blues

When the temperature was hovering around 0 degrees for weeks and the snow was often doubling my commute, it was hard not to feel holed up, frustrated, and well, freezing most of the time. That coupled with some stress led me to a general state of blah. I was still enjoying a lot of things — like my new nephew — but I was finding myself in a funk too often. So over the past few weeks, I’ve taken some small steps to battle the blahs and thought I would share them with you today. 42LOQS7CYZ copy

1. Having an activity to do after work. A big part of my problem was that I was working hard at my job and stressing about daily tasks, and by the time I got home, helped make dinner, did the dishes and anything else that needed to be done, I was tired. I ended up zoning out and watching the Sabres lose, or wasting time on my phone. By the time bedtime came, I felt like I wasted my free time.

Instead of continuing on that cycle, I began trying to do something every single weeknight. One night I painted a mason jar to use as a pen holder for our office. Another night I worked on this blog post, and another I made healthy blueberry muffins. I even counted going to get my eyebrows done, since it got me out of the apartment. Having some sort of activity breaks up the monotony of the week and once I start doing it, I’m less tired and re-energized.

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2. Not being a hermit. When I’m down my first instinct is to sit on the couch, cover myself with a blanket and not communicate with any of my friends. Guess what? That didn’t really help. After seeing a few friends and being able to vent and just catch up, I feel better.

3. Doing something outside. Obviously this wasn’t so easy when the windchill was -25 degrees, but when the temperature rose to a balmy 25, Mike and I went tubing. I hadn’t been tubing in years (maybe even a decade?) and I was surprised at how much fun I had. Racing Mike down the hill and taking a break in the lodge for a drink made me appreciate the snow more than I would if I was only brushing it off my car (a task I will forever hate). IMG_1307

4. Exercising. This is a no-brainer but I was pretty lazy there for a while and I don’t think it was been helping my general state of mind. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve made some effort to get moving, even if it’s just playing a few songs Just Dance, and I feel more energetic and positive (duh).  I haven’t been liking spending a lot of time in the gym so those 20-minute workouts on Pinterest are my go-to.

Now that we’ve sprung forward and temperatures are expected to reach the 40s this week, I hope the worst is over and that we won’t have to think about beating the winter blues for much longer. But, in Buffalo, you never know.

My Own Apology to Elephants

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In a few years, the Ringling Bros. will drop elephants from their circus acts. I heard about the announcement on the way home while listening to the radio. NPR interviewed animal activists, who talked about the abuse elephants have suffered and said the decision was almost like the “fall of the Berlin Wall” within the animal rights community.

Since I’m intrigued by anything that has to do with animals, when I got home, I watched An Apology to Elephants, a documentary on HBO. And let me tell you — hearing about the abuse and actually watching the animals (especially the babies) be captured, taken away from their families and then brutally beaten are two very different things. These are intelligent, social animals that maintain their relationships with their family members over their entire lifespan and grieve when one of their own dies. I just couldn’t fathom how anyone could treat them the way we have.

Watching the documentary, I was relieved that least, in a few years, the current Ringling Bros. elephants won’t be stabbed with bullhooks or chained up in a railcar 22 hours a day. Hopefully, they’ll be in a sanctuary somewhere enjoying a long and relaxing retirement.

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But there are still so many problems. There are other circuses out there, and many elephants aren’t treated much better in zoos. Although some zoos are better than others, the Buffalo Zoo — right in our backyard—  is known for not giving its elephants space or time to roam. I used to think it was cute when I saw elephants rocking at the zoo, until the documentary taught me that they are doing that to compensate for a lack of exercise, since in the wild, they walk up to 50 miles a day. They’re not dancing, they’re just trying to make the best of a captive life they never asked for.

And of course, even if we fixed all the problems in the United States, there’s still poaching going on in Africa. One of the researchers in the documentary said that if the killings continue as is, we won’t have any wild elephants left in 10 years.

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So it might seem like it’s a losing battle, but I finished watching the documentary and just wanted to do something. Maybe I’ll volunteer or donate — I’m not quite sure yet. But first, I decided to take a small step and write this post. Maybe someone will read it. Maybe you’ll watch the documentary, too, and maybe you’ll cry like I did. Maybe if we all do something small, we can do something bigger together.

Your story begins (part two)

Dear baby boy,

Since we’ve found out about you, we’ve called you “baby brother” more than anything else. Over the past nine months, we’ve asked your big sister to give you kisses in Mommy’s belly, we’ve asked her to tell us her baby brother’s name and we’ve talked about how she will handle the new addition to her family.

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Because the two of you are so close in age, it will be amazing to watch you and Mc grow up together. She’s a smart girl, so I’m sure she’ll teach you all sorts of things, like how to crawl, play and eventually say “pleaassse” when you want another cookie.

But what struck me today when I got to hold you for the first time is that you are your own little guy. You’re not just baby brother, you’re sesame seed #2. You’re Jacoby.

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Of course, I knew that all along, but with McCorrie still seeming so young, I forgot just how little you would be. Today, when I was holding you and hearing your sweet little whimper, you made me remember how much I have to look forward to over the next months and years. Sure, McCorrie’s still little, but she’s done a lot of growing and learning, and now, we get to experience it all over again with you — in your own way, at your own speed and with your own personality.

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I hope you and your big sister will be close. Although your dada and I are more than six years apart, our relationship is one of the friendships I treasure most. When you’re 25, maybe becoming an uncle yourself, I hope you feel the same way.

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But in the meantime — and I hope meantime lasts a long time — I can’t wait to watch you become your own little guy.

Love,

Auntie Heh Heh

Before baby boy comes

Any day now, my niece McCorrie is going to have a little brother. I know she’s going to be a great big sister, but before baby boy comes and steals some of the attention away, I wanted to one last post just on McCorrie. It’s been a while since I’ve written about her, and she’s turned into such a little girl over the past few months.

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In my past posts about McCorrie, I wrote about my favorite thing she had been learning to do — like when she started to smile or clap. This time around, it’s not at all hard to pick a favorite, since she’s learned to say my name: Heh Heh. This may not seem like my name, but I swear it is. I could have the worst day ever, but if I walked into Mc’s house and she clapped her hands and yelled “Heh Heh” like she does when she sees me, I would instantly be happy.

As a big girl toddler, she’s saying something new every time I see her and she’s always on the move. She’s dancing, she’s swimming, she’s eating with a fork, she’s making art at daycare for my fridge, she says “yeah” when you ask her questions and she’s reading 100 books a day.

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She’ll tell you exactly what she wants and when she wants it. But not in a bratty way, because what she wants you to do is always something you want to do. Like when she asks you to sit on the floor, RIGHT next to her. If you’re a foot away, she won’t be satisfied. But when you’re finally close enough, she’ll laugh and laugh and laugh about how funny it is. And of course, you’ll laugh, too.

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She loves her big cousin Ali and watching them together is so much fun for me, since I feel like Ali should still be toddling around, too. Instead, she’s TEN (when the heck did that happen?) and she’s the one that McCorrie always wants to play with. Or, rescue her, depending on the day. :)

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One day, she’ll be the big kid in this picture rescuing one of her brothers or sisters. I just hope that when that day comes, she’ll still be calling me Heh Heh, and that she’s just as happy as she is now.

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P.S. Word on the street is that McCorrie can say baby boy’s three-syllable name, too — while, meanwhile, the rest of our family doesn’t know it. So if you see Mc, see if she’ll tell you…I’m thinking we can probably tickle it out of her. ;)

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Life lately (in verbs)

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DREAMING: About sunny skies and sundresses. But I think I’m going to be stuck with slush and snow for a while.

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DECIDING: Between Warby Parker glasses. My face is so wide that about only about three of their styles fit me but somehow I’m still having a very difficult time making up my mind. Maybe because all of my family members voted for a different pair…thanks, guys!

READING: East of Eden by John Steinbeck for book club. Soooo many pages, so little time, but also a lot of favorite parts.

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WORKING: On a project for The Ride For Roswell’s 20th anniversary.

MAKING: Healthy weekday dinners like Bangin’ Good Chicken Salad and Sausage Tortellini Skillet. And some tasty weekend treats that didn’t turn out quite as pretty as they were supposed to.

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CRYING: Over Parenthood ending. We’re also all caught up on Homeland so I’m feeling lost. Have any TV recommendations for me?

DISCOVERING: Spotify and a new-to-me Sunday brunch spot with $1 mimosas.

WAITING: For baby boy to get here so this little girl can have a brother!

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6 lessons learned in 2014

I’m almost a month late with this. Oops! I’m just now accepting that it’s 2015. Our holiday decorations are finally stowed away (or shoved in the one closet I could find any room in) and I’ve stopped mistakenly writing 2014 on everything. For some reason, I was feeling especially reflective around New Year’s this time around. I’ve never been one for those make-or-break New Year’s resolutions, but I enjoy thinking about the past year and everything it taught me. So I’ve compiled some lessons — both practical and fun — that I learned or re-learned in 2014.

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1. Going with the flow is always easier. I began looking for a new job in 2014. I wrote plenty of cover letters, revised my resume almost every night, went to dozens of interviews and had my one professional suit dry cleaned one too many times. That process — and working it into my schedule as a newspaper reporter — was tough. I worried about the future of my career nonstop, and it got to me. And Mike sure was sick of hearing about it. Of course, things worked out. I’m still in Buffalo and I’ve started at a new job that I love. I hope 2015 won’t bring those exact same challenges, but I’d like to relax a little more and not think about the future so much. It’ll come when it comes!

2. Crockpot liners are the most convenient invention ever. No explanation needed.

3. Think about your future self. I read a quote at some point in 2014 about always doing something in the present to help yourself in the future. It stuck with me, and I want to bring that mantra into 2015 since it’s applicable in so many areas of my life. Mike and I recommitted to eating healthy in December, and whenever I’m tempted to completely fall off the bandwagon, I remember that doing this now will keep on helping my “future self” — whether it’s about feeling at my best on my wedding day or 25 years down the road when I have a healthier heart and body. I think about it at work when I’m procrastinating on a specific project, or at night when I want to wait until the next day to do the dishes. Or on Sunday when I’m trying to convince myself that grocery shopping after work on Monday won’t stress me out (it does, every time).

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4. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. I knew this one already, but it hit home in 2014. Sometimes, I just have to do what’s right for me, whether it’s about taking that new job, planning a wedding or voicing my opinion when it really matters.

5. Cat Fancy is the best magazine. I don’t care what anybody says, this thing is full of great stuff. We went to the vet in October and she told us that Latte has gingivitis. I, of course, the calm person that I am, immediately freaked out. I had already been brushing her teeth, but my attempts weren’t too successful. “What if her teeth fall out when she’s 3 years old and can’t eat?” I asked Mike. But then my first issue of Cat Fancy came along, and what does it feature? An article on the best ways to brush and care for your cat’s teeth, along with a fun story on cats who were undercover spies for the CIA. Are these writers reading my mind?

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6. Allow yourself to be a beginner. I jumped into my new job hoping to knock it out of the park on my first day. And I think I’m doing well, but I’m still learning a whole new industry. I don’t know everything and I don’t come up with a spectacular new idea every single day, and I shouldn’t expect myself to yet. But every expert starts out as a beginner, right?

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