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Monday Musings ~ August 31

August 31, 2015

I’m back for another edition of Monday Musings, the post that’s not quite as in-depth as Snapshots but longer than a Facebook status update. Happy last Monday in August!

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1. Where did August go? I should say, where did 2015 go?! Sophie starts school next Tuesday (ONE MORE WEEK!). I’m excited because she’s happy to go back, it means fall is almost here (pumpkin season!), the return of the routine, and having my days to myself again. But I’m also going to miss the casual days and sleeping in. I’m already having a mini panic attack thinking of getting up at 6:30 am next week.

2. Have you tried this Evolution cold-pressed pineapple coconut water from Starbucks? It’s not too sweet and so refreshing (and I’m not a coconut water fan). I was buying a bottle each time I frequented Starbucks. That is until I realized it’s $5! That’s more expensive than my coffee! Ouch!

3. I know I’m totally late to the game on this, but I’m really loving the band Dawes. I have a hard time finding new music because I’m such a creature of habit and always listen to my favorites. But these guys are have become my new favorite. It’s like The Eagles, combined with The Avett Brothers and Ryan Adams. If you like those singers, check out the Dawes Pandora station. Good stuff!

4. Do you agree with this article that books are better read a second time around? I will constantly re-watch television shows and movies I like, but I can’t bring myself to re-read a book. Maybe it’s because it takes more time, or because I have a million more in my “to read” pile. Do you re-read books?

5. I need some new lunch ideas. Because I work at home, I rarely eat out during the day. I typically eat salads or tuna, or soup when it’s cooler. What do you eat for lunch?

6. This article from Time about the worst kind of late people: #1, #3 and #4 — drive me crazy!

7. In a moment of recent boredom, I took this quiz that told me which 80’s movie girl I am. I was actually pretty excited to get Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful, since that was my favorite 80’s movie. I also took a quiz that told me who would be my 80’s movie high school boyfriend and I got John Bender from The Breakfast Club. Wishful thinking!

8. This past Saturday, Taylor Swift was in San Diego and my Facebook feed was full of photos of almost every mother I know who took her daughter. Neither Sophie nor I were there, which was fine with me. I’m not a big Taylor fan (just not my style of music). The concert was HUGE and and took place at PETCO Park (capacity of 42,000+ during baseball games), and I probably would have needed a Xanax to cope with the crowds and stimulation. Even though Sophie is a big extrovert, I think even she would have been overwhelmed. I didn’t see my first concert until I was 16 — the U2 ZooTV tour (so good!). What was your first concert experience?

9. Let’s talk about podcasts. I know there are great ones out there, but I personally have a hard time listening to podcasts. I think it’s because I’m not an auditory learner (I’m visual). So if I’m listening to something that will require me to remember anything, I need to concentrate. Which means I can’t do something else at the same time. I drift off easily during podcasts. I don’t spend long periods in the car, so podcasts don’t work in that arena. The rest of the time I’m on the computer, I’m usually working and therefore can’t concentrate if I have a podcast on. I didn’t even make it through Serial. Do you listen to podcasts?

What are you musing about? Do you have lunch idea for me? Thoughts on podcasts, re-reading books, your first concert, and 80’s movie girlfriends and boyfriends?

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“On Forgetting” ~ A Guest Post by Alexandra Burt of “Remember Mia”

August 27, 2015

A few months ago, I received a copy of Alexandra Burt’s debut novel, Remember Mia, which promised to be the next Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Did this story live up to its comparison? ABSOLUTELY!

The story was riveting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the psychological mystery of Remember Mia, the exploration of memory (and childhood memories), not to mention the aspects of motherhood and post-postpartum depression to which many of us can relate.

Here’s the description (from Amazon):

Guest Post by Alexandra Burt, author of Remember Mia - Leah's Thoughts BlogRemember Mia is a riveting psychological suspense, exploring what happens when a young mother’s worst nightmare becomes devastatingly real.

Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital after being found near dead at the bottom of a ravine with a fragmented memory and a vague sense of loss. Then a terrifying reality sets in: her daughter is missing.

Days earlier, Estelle discovered her baby’s crib empty in their Brooklyn apartment. There was no sign of a break-in, but all traces of seven-month-old Mia had disappeared. Her diapers, her clothes, her bottles—all gone.

Frustrated and unable to explain her daughter’s disappearance, Estelle begins a desperate search. When the lack of evidence casts doubt on her story, Estelle becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of the police and the media. As hope of reuniting with Mia becomes all she has left, Estelle will do anything to find answers: What has she done to her baby? And what has someone else done to her?

——-

I am excited to share with you a guest post Alexandra Burt wrote for Leah’s Thoughts. I LOVE how she discusses insomnia, her own childhood memories and how they played a part in her decision to write Remember Mia. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

On Forgetting ~ By Alexandra Burt

Insomnia haunts me at night. Some people count sheep, others read, but I choose to summon the past; in my mind I visit my childhood room again—a small recessed bookshelf, underneath a crooked stack of board games, a record player and my beloved collection of fairy tale vinyls, psychedelic pink and red wallpaper with oval interlaced shapes.

Fascinated with memories, I have always been able to recall glimmers, mere match strikes in the dark, illuminating the world for a short moment in time. I told my mother once that I remembered my crib—sideways in front of a large window, facing away from the door—and that my world was bathed in shades of pastel colors and fuzzy edges, and grown-ups leaning over me, making silly faces. I have memories of my great-grandfather sitting in a wingback chair by the window. According to his headstone he died days after my first birthday.

No way, says science. There is “childhood amnesia,” and the gist of it is that we can’t remember much, if anything, from before the age of three. The older we get, the hazier memories become and by the age of ten very few of them remain. On one hand my mother confirmed the crib story, on the other hand I have to agree that there’s so much that goes into memories in order for them to survive—seasons, days of the week, physical locations, relations to the people around us—that I couldn’t have grasped at such a young age. But how is it that I so vividly recall the old springy couch covered in a knobby fabric, and my father lifting me unto my great-grandfather’s lap where I cried with fear?

Memories are at the very center of my writing and I have often wondered why that is, especially because my stories are not so much a conscious decision as they are subject to organic development. As I plotted Remember Mia—a story of a mother who is unable to explain her daughter’s disappearance—I decided to take it to the highest level of suspense and the ultimate eraser of all memory; amnesia. The mother holds the key to what happened to her baby but she doesn’t know whether she is responsible. With the help of a psychiatrist she attempts to solve the puzzle that is her missing daughter.

But what about my own memories? I refuse to believe that they are imagined, after all, wouldn’t I lose part of myself? I prefer to be a curator of sorts, tending to them, so they remain. Maybe our entire life is nothing but a kaleidoscope of isolated moments: finger painting, hanging upside down from monkey bars, and scratchy tights on Sunday mornings.

Science is one thing, my persistent mind another. And tonight, after the house goes quiet and dark, like the mother in Remember Mia, I will descend, once again, down into the mine and bring up sparkly jewels that are my past.

After all, we are, in a way, just the sum of our memories.

Such a powerful post! Thank you so much, Alexandra, for sharing it here.

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Monday Musings ~ August 24

August 24, 2015

Sometimes I feel like I have a lot to say, but the things are not necessarily worthy of an entire blog post. They’re like Facebook status updates; not quite as in-depth as a Snapshots post. Hence this post, which I’m calling Monday Musings.

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1.First off, I want to thank everyone for reading my last post on body image, and for your thoughtful comments on the post and on Facebook. It brought me to tears hearing from so many people and reminded me why I write. THANK YOU!

2. Last weekend, we went to Target to do some shopping. I really only went because I wanted to look at back-to-school supplies. I wish I enjoyed Target the way so many people do. I’m sure I miss out on finding so many great things because I’m not a browser. But I just don’t enjoy it. I left the store with a pounding headache. It wasn’t fun.

3. Speaking of back-to-school supplies, this year our school offered the opportunity to purchase all the grade-level supplies from a company in one shot. Then the company sends the entire packet to your kid’s classroom the first week of school. In many ways, I love this idea because I didn’t have to go hunt for supplies and I get stressed thinking I may not be buying the brand the teacher wants. But then I ended up feeling bummed I didn’t get to buy any supplies this year. I know, #firstworldproblems.

4. Every year I go back-and-fourth about whether to buy a paper planner. I absolutely love paper planners, and I used to use them regularly. In fact, I still have all of mine dated back to 1993. But in today’s world of working online, I do all of my calendaring and task managing on Google calendar. So really, a paper planner isn’t a realistic tool for me (even though I like to write lists and ideas on actual paper). But then I see this and I get major paper planner envy. Do you use a paper or electronic planner?

5. I feel like I’m constantly replacing paper towels in the kitchen. Does anyone else feel this way?

6. I realized there are a full ten seasons (24 episodes each) of Criminal Minds on Netflix! I’m thinking of starting this show as a slow-burn binge. That should keep me going for at least a week or two, right? By the way, I did post this on Facebook (in case you read it there and are now having déjà vu).

7. What is it about kids not wanting to use the bathroom?! The other night I asked Sophie to sit on the potty before bed and she responded that she already went before dinner. That was 4 HOURS AGO! Why don’t they want to go? I welcome any chance I get to pee!

8. Do you remember how I wrote about how I was the editor of the “Summer Sticker Club,” a pen pal and sticker newsletter club that I ran through the mail when I was 12? Part of this was because of my obsession with Mrs. Grosssman’s stickers. Well I just realized Mrs. Grossman has a factory in the Bay Area! Next time I’m in Northern California, I’m going!

9. It’s a little frightening how much I found myself nodding my head while reading “17 Graphs That Are Way Too Real for Introverts.” #2 and #9 — so true! And #16 about the fictional characters? All this time, I thought it was just me!

Do you have answers to any of my burning questions above? Please tell me! And what are you musing about today? 

Accepting the Body I Cannot Change

August 21, 2015

This is a sensitive topic for me and I hesitated even sharing it as a post. But I remembered this is my personal space, and the place I feel most comfortable sharing my thoughts. And further, it’s a post that I feel is important to talk about and will (hopefully) resonate with other women and moms out there.

My entire life, I’ve hated the fact that my bust has always been on the bigger size. I didn’t eat my way into a large bra size. I was “blessed” with these genetics.

[Side Note: I’m not using the anatomically proper body terms or slang in this post to avoid spammers.]

I know some of you are thinking, “Are you kidding? What a great problem to have!” Well it’s really not — it’s incredibly frustrating!

The first time I remember feeling depressed about my upper body size was as a teenager, when I found in a boutique store the most beautiful coral-colored sleeveless top with multi-colored embroidery on the collar. I loved this shirt and wanted it more than any other piece of clothing. But it was too small on top. And back in those days, it was “what you see is what you get.” There was no Internet to find another size online. I was so sad at the thought of not getting that shirt that I bought it anyway and used a wide belt to flatten my chest in order to wear it. Doing this at 13-years-old was extremely depressing. Eventually I got rid of the shirt because of the shame I felt.

Even today, it’s hard to be that person with a large chest. Difficult is an understatement when shopping for shirts and dresses because you always have to look at the large sizes. So even if the rest of your body is not an XL, you’ll always end up in the XL or XXL section for tops. I really don’t care what the labels read, but what I hate is that larger sizes mean less variety. Not to mention the fact that even if you find a XL top that “fits,” it still may look look like crap on you (because shirts aren’t typically designed for the larger endowed).

You also have to spend quite a bit of cash on a decent bra that fits and flatters. Let’s not even start with bathing suits! You don’t want to know how much coin I spent to find a flattering swimsuit this summer. Simply dropping in to Target or Old Navy and finding a suit off the rack is not a possibility. And trying to run or jog with a large bust doesn’t work well unless you’re wearing multiple sports bras (and even that’s not a guarantee).

There are people with this situation that have undergone breast reduction surgery. That’s not an option for me because: 1) It’s super expensive and I’m not willing to go into financial debt for my body (and insurance very rarely covers the procedure unless there’s an underlying medical condition); and 2) The risk and fear of surgery is too scary for me. I hoped beyond hope I would be one of those women whose chest got smaller after having a baby; the opposite happened for me.

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All of this said, the reason I’m writing this post is because of this photo.

I had a moment of acceptance of my upper body a few months ago. Sophie and I were shopping for dresses for an upcoming wedding. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a decent dress that fit my upper body, and I was holding back tears by the time I got to the dress in the above photo.

Yet when I looked at the photo, all I could see was that little girl behind me, looking up at me smiling. I have no idea why she was grinning. But it struck me that it didn’t matter how I viewed myself or how much I hated my chest. All that mattered was that I’m alive, healthy and have a daughter (and husband too) who loves me no matter what.

Ever since that moment, I’ve come to accept my body for what it is (it only took almost 40 years!). Do I still wish I had a smaller bust? Absolutely! But I no longer feel the same anger and frustration I did before. This is who I am, and (for the most part) I like myself and I guess my kid does too! And really, what more could I ask for?!

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Snapshots: Thinking, Reading, Doing, Snapping and Eating (Summer 2015)

August 13, 2015

The Snapshots post is back! Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing, watching and so forth this summer.

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Thinking and Doing …

This has not been the relaxing summer that I hoped to have. Don’t get me wrong — it has not been bad and I am certainly grateful to sleep in! But the summer started with drama that was not planned (Is it ever?) and then a death in the (not immediate) family.

A few weeks ago I had minor surgery to remove a parathyroid gland from my neck. I’ll spare you the detailed explanation; but if your curious why I had surgery, you can read about hyperparathyroidism here. The good news is I was not sick in the traditional sense, and the surgery cured the problem.

I had a lot of anxiety in the weeks leading up to the surgery (contributing to the un-relaxing summer). It’s funny because five years ago, I had sinus surgery and I don’t recall feeling that nervous beforehand (although the recovery was long). But this time around, I was way more stressed before and the aftermath was easier.

I spent a pleasant night in the hospital where I pretty much slept and watched a Law & Order: SVU marathon. — And while I’m on the subject, I have to say that I find it extremely comforting to know that no matter where I am or what time it is, Law & Order is always on television. — The pain went away fairly quickly and the incision on my neck should fade away over the next few months. I’ll spare you a photo of me and my neck scar. 😉

So now it’s mid-August and we’re trying to work on our Summer Bucket List. I’m actually grateful Sophie still has three weeks left of summer vacation. I’m not ready for it to end!

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Watching …

Besides reading, I really like getting lost in a good television show. I prefer character-driven drama, usually with a dark side and flawed characters. No zombies, aliens or vampires. And I find it hard to escape in comedy, and I don’t do reality TV (with the exception of Shark Tank).

It’s been hard to find anything to sink into the way I did with The Killing. I was able to binge-watch it again this summer because Bryan hadn’t seen it. Thankfully he liked it as much as I did. I also really liked Bloodline on Netflix. We finally just watched season 4 of Homeland, which I thought was so much better than season 3. I think the key to success with that show is the binge-watch makes it a better experience.

Do you watch much television? Do you have a show to recommend to me?

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Reading …

What I’ve been reading are all the books on my summer reading list. I still have many more to go. But that didn’t stop me from scooping up the books above during a recent trip to Goodwill, the thrift store and the Barnes & Noble bargain section. I’m pretty excited about my finds! Have you read any of them?

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Eating …

Pretty much a lot of ice cream, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Bryan grew tons of tomatoes in our backyard this year and now they’re ripe and delicious. I’ve pinned tons of tomato recipes to make.  I also made this blueberry custard pie the other night. It was delicious, but I couldn’t get a great photo. I’ll have to put one on Instagram instead.

Snapping …

Ice cream at the San Diego County Fair

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Summer = sidewalk chalk art

chalk drawing

Cool coffee paraphernalia at Cafe Moto in San Diego

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Playing in colorful streamers at KidsFest

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A rainbow of watering cans

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A little girl chasing monarch butterflies

chasing butterflies

I love my pups!

Leah and dogs

Sophie and I are demonstrating our love of Little House on the Prairie in Old Town San Diego

sophie covered wagon_old town

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Wishing I bought one of these cute dolls in Old Town

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Thanks for reading! So tell me, how has your summer been? What are you watching, reading, eating, cooking and doing?

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