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Welcome to 2nd Grade!

September 10, 2015

Sophie started second grade this week and I’m a bit in shock that I have a such a “grown up” kid! She has a teacher who has high energy, which Sophie will respond well to. She’s known to expect a lot of the kids, which I appreciate. And the kids in the class are a great group. I think it’s going to be a great year for her!

She was beyond excited to go back to school. I think she had more energy and happiness after school on the first day than I saw all summer. I don’t have a lot of pleasant memories of my elementary school experience. So when Sophie started grade school, the one thing I wanted for her was to enjoy going to school. I’m so glad she does!

Something I realized after losing all my photos earlier this year is that I’m so thankful I’ve recorded these milestones on my blog. I am glad I took the time to “journal” all of Sophie’s first days of school and save photos here. I realize that not everyone cares when a blogger’s kid starts school. I know this post won’t “go viral” and I’m not expecting thousands of pageviews. And that’s perfectly fine with me. I never blogged for those reasons. I write here to share stories and moments that are precious to me. This is one of those moments.

My second grader.

first day of 2nd grde wo writing
Sophie at her desk.

1st grade desk
School supplies.

school desk

And of course, a look back at previous first days of school. I love doing this each year. I use Picmonkey to create this if you want to make one for yourself.

back to school collage_2015

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Monday Musings ~ September 7

September 7, 2015

Welcome to another edition of Monday Musings on this Labor Day!

BabyLit LIterary Classic Board Books_Leah's Thoughts

1. I spotted these BabyLit classics in children’s board books at a San Diego independent bookstore and I fell in love! I want to buy them all (I already bought two). Clearly I’m not alone because when I posted this photo on Instagram, it got more engagement than any of my cat pictures. That says a lot!

2. I can’t believe summer is over and that Sophie starts second grade tomorrow! We made pretty good progress on the Summer Bucket List (more on that soon). I love the first day of school. I also love that Sophie chooses to buy the school lunch more days than she brings lunch from home. Because the less time I have to pack a lunch, the better. That’s money well-spent, I tell you!

3. I couldn’t figure out which parent I was in this “21 Parents You Meet After Having Kids” post. But then I realized I read the article after waking up from a nap on the sofa with Sophie watching television next to me. So clearly I’m #10 (Read: Laziness in Musing #2). Which parent are you?

4. I completely agree with this blog post by Gretchen Rubin about September is the other January. I’ve felt this way my entire life. Something about September and the new school year, coupled with celebrating the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, always makes me feel like this is the beginning of the year, not almost the end.

5. Have any of you watched The Affair on Showtime? I just finished the first season and I have conflicting feelings about this show. The acting is compelling, no doubt; and it definitely kept my interest. But as I watched it, I felt kind of sick and stressed out the entire time. I can’t tell if that’s the making of great storytelling or the show just is not for me? Maybe it’s a show that’s better week-by-week rather than as a binge-fest?

I also can’t figure out the conflicting stories in some areas. I mean, I get that they both “see” a situation differently (fancy party vs. boring party, or different perceptions of outfits). But some of the situations that he experienced were not ones that she did. Or they experienced it in completely different venues. So how does this make sense? I’m really confused! Did you watch The Affair? What did you think?

6. Love this article about things not to say to a writer. This one is classic: “Are you still writing?” When people say that to me, I want to reply, “Are you still working?!”

7. Do you subscribe to The Skimm? It’s a daily email newsletter that basically sums up the important news of the day. I love how it takes something complicated and simplifies it so you know exactly what’s going on each day without having to read as series of stories on CNN. I read it every morning. Highly recommend!

8. This article on which bad behavior each Myers-Briggs personality type needs to check themselves for — TRUTH! I can’t believe how spot-on it is for several of the personalities. I’m an ISTJ. What are you?

What are you musing about this Labor Day weekend?

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Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?

September 4, 2015

We’ve all had to answer that question at some point in our lives. Nearly every job interview has some iteration of this inquiry. Yet this is really is not a question that can determine professional fit or personal values. Asking where one sees themselves in ten years is actually quite ridiculous because, truth be told, who really knows what their future will hold! Even those of us meticulous planners can’t predict what will happen in the world and how our life will take form.

Yet it’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not because I’m planning my future. It’s because of the recent news stories discussing the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I thought about where I was ten years ago (on vacation in Santa Barbara), when the storm flooded New Orleans. Thinking about myself then, there’s no way I could have predicted the life I have now.

Hanukkah 2005Family photo in 2005 ~ I was younger (30 years old!), thinner, blonder, and wearing a watch. Ten years later, the love among the three of us is still there (and I think Bryan still has that sweatshirt).

Ten years ago, in 2005 …

  • Bryan and I had barely been married four years.
  • It was the beginning of the real estate boom. We started the year in our condo, sold it and moved into our current house in May of that year.
  • Having a child was the last thing on my mind. Even fur kids weren’t an option until Casey came into our life in October of that year.
  • Bryan was a second-year law student.
  • I started the job of Director of Communications for Enrollment Services at San Diego State University. It was an amazing start to that career where I built an incredible team, gained leadership skills, ran a department and gave me the foundation for how I run my business today. I probably answered that same question in the job interview and thought I would have been there beyond 2015.  Yet five years later (for reasons that deserve a separate post), I moved on to other pastures.
  • Hurricane Katrina hit land; which not since 9/11 four years earlier, moved the country to pitch in toward a common cause.
  • I was not on Facebook (hardly anyone was). Twitter and LinkedIn weren’t even “born” yet.
  • This blog did not exist, nor did most of the ones you read today.

It’s strange to think how much has changed in ten years. The economy went bust and we struggled through the Great Recession. The country elected an African-American president. Same-sex marriage is legal. To say social media and technology has changed our lives is a massive understatement.

And on a personal level, ten years has brought profound change to my life. I left a secure and stable job to start my own business. The freelance life I have now was not even an option ten years ago (online publications, website editors and social media strategists?!). I’m a mother to a daughter. We adopted three dogs and took in a family of cats. We faced the loss of one dog and one cat. Friends and family have come and gone — some through chance and others by choice. Yet even though so much has changed, I have the same values and character I did in 2005 (and years before that).

So the next time I’m asked the question – “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” – I’m going to be honest and say, “I have no idea. But if history is any indication, I will be, at the core, the same person I am today and always have been.”

And in this ever-changing and unpredictable world, can we really expect anything else?

Where were you ten years ago in 2005? Are you in a different place than where you thought you’d be?

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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!


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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