Faves, Finds & Flops

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This post, along with how I imagine most others will end up being, will be a little bit of everything. Hopefully it won’t be too all over the place, but that’s essentially how my brain (and my life) seem to work. Enjoy! Also, I had every intention of finishing this last night and posting it yesterday, but that clearly did not happen.  Anyways, here we go…

Dono&Dono Baby Playtime Pillow – Braylon isn’t a huge fan of being flat on his back. He had been doing pretty well being on his back when he was playing on his Little Sport Star All Star Gym, but figured I would give this pillow a try. Not sure if I can give all the credit to the pillow, but he definitely seems to be lasting longer and enjoying himself more. Love that the pillow is machine wash friendly. I’ll never understand when things like athletic wear or something involving children do not scream convenience.

Here’s the little guy in action:

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Photo taken 3.28.18

Swedish Fish Mini Tropical – I really really like Swedish Fish. Always have. Always will. Randall had sent me a screenshot of the tropical version and I knew I HAD to get my hands on them. Luckily, before I knew it the grocery store that I frequent got them in, so I didn’t have to do too much hunting. I just looked them online and a number of websites are sold out out of them. The flavors are Pina Colada, Tropical Island, Beachy Punch, and Passion Fruit. Helloooo, summer!
Donut Ice Cream Sandwich at KNEAD Doughnuts – It’s no question that I love donuts.  It’s also no question that I love ice cream.  When the two have the opportunity to meet, something magical can happen, especially if both the doughnuts and ice cream are exceptional.  Sometimes, when there’s “mashups” one of the products will be mediocre and man, what a let down.  However, the doughnut from KNEAD and ice cream from Warwick Ice Cream was a match made in my sweet tooth heaven.

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Perfection. 

Speaking of ice cream, I haven’t been there yet, but every Friday until August 31st, Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery has a Pop Up Scoop Shop from 3pm-7pm.  This is from the Facebook Event page:

“Cone or Cup? Whipped Cream or Hot fudge? Join us for 14 weeks of delicious (from scratch), farmstead ice cream! Each week we’ll have chocolate and vanilla, 2 rotating flavors, a featured sundae, and a whole lot of toppings! Follow us on Instagram, for the reveal of the Special flavors and Sundae each week!”

The Cookie Rookie’s S’mores Cookies – My Mom was in town earlier this week for a few days and she made the S’Mores Cookies from The Cookie Rookie and they were SO good. They seemed pretty easy to make, but hey, my only job was eating them. The main “hack” here is that the recipe suggests using pre-made refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough. The hardest part looked like crumbling the graham crackers and if you really wanted to, I’m pretty sure stores sell it that way.

Peapod Grocery Delivery – My Mom recently ordered us some deliveries from Peapod.  I always thought why would I need someone to bring groceries to my house when I can just go down the road and get them myself?  Then, I had Braylon and I more than understood it. A lot of the time I dread going to the grocery store.  Mainly,  because no matter how hard I try, I just never go in with a solid plan.  More often times than not, I’m hungry when I go, which is a huge no no.  We had another delivery since the first one my Mom had placed for us….I love it!  They offer $20 off your first order of $75 (I can’t make out of the grocery store spending less than this anyways!) or more and the first 60 days delivery is free.  You just need to enter 60DAYSFREE in the promotional code box at checkout.

Hello Fresh – My friend, Mary, introduced me to Hello Fresh a few months back.  I had been seeing a handful of different meal kit delivery companies and had been wanting to try one so took her recommendation on this one.  Plus, Hello Fresh provides their customers with the option to gift three free meals to friends.  Who doesn’t love free?!  Speaking of, if you’re interested in receiving your first week free (3 meals for 2 people) let me know.  No gimmicks or anything like that.  You just need to remember to either skip the next week if you don’t want that particular one or just cancel altogether.  I had been ordering pretty consistently, but depending on what I have going on that week I do end up skipping sometimes.  Some of them require a bit more prep work than others.  The great part about that is you can preview the ingredients and recipes prior to placing your order.  They also provide you with additional insight on each kit that could most definitely ensure that the meals that you are ordering are the best fit for you!

Hungryroot – Years back, before they expanded, I had tried a few things from Hungryroot.  Since then, they’ve grown and have a lot more options.

All of this came in the box…

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It normally would have cost $99, but it was half off.  All of this made:

  • Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili: 2 servings
    • While I would prefer to just make my own chili, the flavor on this was pretty good.
  • Kale Salad Guac Burger: 2 servings
    • While there was enough for two servings, I could have eaten all of the salad with my burger rather than splitting the salad between the two burgers.  Loved the flavors and haven’t had a veggie burger quite like this before — it was great though!
  • Creamy Corn Cauliflower Risotto: 2 servings
    • This was pretty good.  I had some one night (with something else) and then the rest of it the next day for lunch.
  • Crispy Coconut Breakfast Hash: 2 servings
    • My Mom was in town during this one so we split it.  We both liked the flavor.  She cooked the sweet potatoes a little longer than suggested and utilized more than 4 tablespoons of the curry.  They give you much more than 4 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons would be like nothing.  Still can’t figure this out.
  • Kale Pesto Beet Noodles: 2 servings
    • This was meant to be a side dish.  I did split this one up.  I used ALL of the pesto sauce…homegirl is not on board with this only 4 tablespoons madness.  Sometimes I struggle with eating beats so having a strong flavor like pesto to mask it a bit was perfect for me.
  • Spicy Tofu Quinoa Bowl: 2 servings
    • There was enough tofu for two servings, but not enough quinoa, so either I was missing something or the portion of quinoa was supposed to be really really small.  I did really like this though.  The tofu had a great flavor and consistency.   You didn’t need to cook anything — just mix the tofu into the quinoa bowl and voila!
  • Pad Thai Fried Rice: 2 servings
    • I ate this all in one serving. If I was going to split it up, I feel like I would have needed to add additional vegetables or meat to it.
  • Sweet Potato Mac’n Cheese: 2 servings
    • While I enjoyed this dish, calling it mac n cheese is an incredible stretch if you ask me.  I like to think of myself as a mac n cheese connoisseur and that does not mean that I discriminate against a vegan version or a version that does not utilize pasta. The cashew cheese had minimal flavor even when I added more than than the recommended 4 tablespoons.  I love sweet potatoes, but you really can’t put cubed sweet potatoes in a dish that you are calling mac n cheese to give me my fix.  Don’t get me wrong, I did eat it, but just think it should be called something else — cheesy sweet potatoes?
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
    • I ate these in the car one day.  They were pretty good.  I’ve had something similar to them before for sure.
  • Almond Chickpea Cookie Dough
    • I haven’t tried this cooked yet, but straight out of the container I was pretty surprised with how tasty this was.  Will definitely need to throw some in the oven to give it the true test.

All in all, I liked what came in the box.  There are two different options as far as the quantities that you receive and you do have the option to select exactly what you want.  All of the goodies come with a little book that has all of the recipes for the month – even the ones that you didn’t get in your order.  Everything was extremely easy to make, which I REALLY enjoyed.  These days I seem to have less and less time so anything that’s quick AND tasty is a win in my book!   I’m on the fence as to whether or not I will order again.  $49 was a steal that I couldn’t pass up! Based off of the portions, I would think if a couple is sharing all of the things they would definitely be adding some additional ingredients or other menu items to their meals 😉

I want to hear from YOU! Products I need to try?  Places I should go?  Any and everything you name it! 

 

Faves, Finds & Flops: Mama Edition 1.0

fullsizeoutput_2b39.jpegIf you’re anything like me you’re overwhelmed by creating and / or purchasing from a Baby Registry. I was super excited to start mine once we found out we were expecting. I quickly realized how time consuming it was…and that was before I even stepped inside the store. One of the reasons I chose Babies ‘R Us was due to the great perks they offered. Unfortunately, the closer I got to my due date, the closer the store got to closing. Using my completion discount became a little tricky and they decided not to honor hundreds of dollars in rewards that I had accumulated. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.

I was also registered at Amazon. If I knew someone that was getting ready to register now, I would definitely recommend Amazon and then choosing one with a storefront as well (ex. Target or BuyBuyBaby!). You can easily sync all of your registries on The Bump making it easy to see all of your wish list items at the same time.

If you or someone you know needs any help, feel free to point them in my direction or maybe my Mom’s…I think she outdid me with the amount of time and effort she put into preparing for Braylon’s arrival!

Here are 12 products that I wanted to share with you. As I am sure you can imagine, there’s definitely some additional “mama products” that I am using a lot right now and more will continue to be added into our daily routines.

Be on the lookout for “non mama products” too! ❤

Storksak Sandy Diaper Bag – Braylon’s Daddy got this bag for us and I absolutely love it!  The pockets on the inside and outside are perfectly sized and placed.  The bag comes with a high quality changing mat and food and bottle bag. It’s a great size and easily attaches to my stroller via the stroller straps.

Jeep Everyday Backpack Diaper Bag – I couldn’t make my mind up on whether or not I wanted a bag or a backpack, so wound up with both.  The backpack doesn’t have as much space, but most definitely holds all of the essentials and is great option depending on what we have on the agenda for the day. I’m only 54 days in to this whole Mom thing, but imagine that both bags will get plenty of use!

Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins – After I left the Doctor Office confirming my pregnancy (because 4 at home tests were not enough) I stopped by CVS and purchased some prenatal vitamins from The Honest Company. I am not sure if it was because I was still early on and extremely nauseous the majority of the time, but the vitamins did not seem to be sitting well with me. I ended up switching to the gummy vitamins from Vitafusion and LOVED them. Yes, I feel like a child taking them, but whatever. I’m just about seven weeks postpartum and still enjoying them.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter – My best friend, Ashley, gave this to me in October and I have been using it ever since.  The majority of the time, I used it on my whole body rather than just the belly.  Whether or not this butter was the reason I did not get any stretch marks during my pregnancy will always remain a mystery.  Either way, I enjoyed the fact that it was fragrance fee, the consistency and how it made my skin feel and look.

Gerber’s Knit Burp Cloths – The color / print of the ones that I have are a little different than what you see in the below (I think they may have been a Babies R Us exclusive), but highly recommend these. I loved the material and how they absorb the milk so easily. I have a handful of flannel ones from Gerber and Koala Baby, all of which work well, but the material of the ones below has been my personal fave!

The First Years Night Cravings Bottle Warmer & Cooler – I haven’t taken full advantage of this product’s features just yet. Behind the bottle warmer portion, two bottles can be kept cool, so you could easily have the bottles in the nursery with you and then pop them into the warmer for your convenience. I am mostly still breastfeeding, but have given Braylon bottles, so I’ve used the warmer to heat them up. Where we live right now, Braylon’s room is not far from the kitchen, so having this in the nursery is not entirely necessary, but this would be a great feature depending on the layout of the house. At some point I may find that I will take full advantage though!

Munchkin Steam Guard Microwave Sterilizer – Easy to use and store when not in use. You add 7 ounces of water to the container, throw it in the microwave with two minutes with the bottles, pacifiers, breast pump parts, etc. and then let it sit for another 10 minutes and voila!

Fisher-Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – Braylon really really likes this. A little too much. I’ve basically made myself crazy with all of the things that I’ve read on the do’s and do not’s of sleeping and people have mixed feelings (uhhh, beliefs?) on this product, but this thing has been marvelous in our house so far.

NOTE: On May 15th, this magical device turned off (with the baby in it) and will not turn back on.  I’ve completed the form on Fisher Price’s website and hoping to hear back soon.  I’ve read a number of consumer reviews that said they replaced it, so fingers crossed. *tears, tears and more tears* 

Baby Trend Skyview Plus Travel System – I haven’t utilized the stroller in it’s full capacity, but so far so good for the most part. I wish the “peek-a-boo” window made it a little easier to see the baby and that it had velcro on the flap to keep it open (considering adding my own). Only complaint with the car seat, when securing him into the seat, you have to hold the two buckles perfectly aligned over one another to pop it into place…and it’s a little tricky, but with time I’ve gotten better at it.  The car seat is 11 pounds (assuming this is average?!), so now I’m lugging around 33 pounds – talk about a bonus workout!

Jensen Portable CD Player – I just purchased this today! I’ve been meaning to pick up one or order one online since my baby shower when I got three different CDs (see below). I love the size of it and excited that it has Bluetooth capabilities too. We’ve already tried it out and so far both Mommy and Baby love it.

Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions – I received the Jay Z and Rihanna versions at my baby shower and FINALLY heard them for the first time today. LOVE them and would definitely recommend. I also received this Hip Hop CD, which has songs from Outkast, Salt N Pepa, Eminem and more!


Spacedye Hug The Belly Maternity Long Legging – If you’re pregnant, know someone who is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, heck even if you’re not pregnant… I can’t recommend these pants from Beyond Yoga enough. They are on sale for $57.50 (normally $115) and if you use code oRNrpX at checkout, you’ll get an additional 15% off. If the code gives you any trouble just click here. NOTE: You can use the 15% off anything, not just *these* pants.

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What are your favorite products that you use as a Mom?! Any must try products in general? I’m open to anything — food, books, gadgets…you name it!

Oh Baby, Oh Baby

On Sunday, March 25th, I told my fiancé, “Hey, at first I thought my water broke, but I think we’re good…so I am going to head to take class!” He looked at me confused (as he should) because 1. if my water broke why would I be heading to class 2. if it didn’t what the heck was I even talking about?

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On my way to class (22 days before my due date)…ok, maybe I did look ready! 

I showed up to the studio and tried to play it cool, but by the end of the class (it was a class for just teachers) everyone could tell something was off with me. One of the owners hopped in my car with me to drive me home and another owner followed in her car. I kept insisting that everything was fine and that I would give the doctor a call. I eventually called the doctor, but not before finishing off some Papa Gino’s…just in case baby boy was going to make an early appearance – I did not want it to go to waste. At this point, I still figured it would be at least a few days before my little homie showed up.

I had Braxton Hicks contractions throughout the entire third trimester and as the day progressed I noticed that they seemed a little more frequent, but still had no pain associated with them. Just to be safe I went ahead and showered, packed my bag for the hospital and did some things around the house.

As the evening started, I continued to have some signs (I’ll spare the details) that baby could be coming earlier than expected, but at this point, I think I was still thinking I had at least another week or maybe a few days.

10:00pm rolled around and I started to track the contractions because at this point there was a lot more power and pain coming along with them. During my pregnancy, when I had Braxton Hicks contractions, I would really focus on breathing through them even though they weren’t painful. This proved to be extremely helpful once the real ones started. I would also focus on my breathing (more than usual) when taking Pure Barre and Pure Empower classes. I kept telling myself, and others, that I was training for the big day.

I tracked the contractions, and did not sleep, through the night. Trust me, I would’ve slept if I could but could not find any position to sleep in as I started to get more and more uncomfortable. Tracking the contractions on an app was extremely helpful. As soon as one would start I could hit the button and then hit it again once it ended. That way, I knew how long the contractions were lasting and how far apart they were. For a while, they were kind of all over the place as far as how long they were lasting and how far apart they were. I would have some that the window would get a little smaller and then the next one wouldn’t come for a while. Somewhere in the middle of the night, I started to accept that I would most likely not be going to my doctor appointment in the morning, but would be heading to the hospital instead.

Right around 5:00am, I had two contractions that were about 7 minutes apart, but then the next one would be a little longer. It was back and forth like that for a little bit, then right around 7:00am, sh*t started to get really REAL. I started to think that maybe I waited too long and we should have already been on our way to the hospital. The pain was progressing A LOT and I calmly let Randall know that we needed to leave ASAP, but it was going to take some time for me to get dressed since lifting up my legs to get pants on did not really seem to be an option.

Eventually, we made our way down to the car and the 20-25 minute ride to the hospital felt like it lasted at least an hour. I was holding on to the handle above, blaring gangsta rap and wondering why the hell we were not going above the speed limit. As soon as we pulled up to the hospital, my water broke. We got inside, got situated and confirmed that it was in fact my water (for real this time) and that I was already 5cm dilated.

On our way upstairs, I let them know that I did NOT want an epidural, but needed something. By the time we were upstairs (probably took a few minutes), I remember asking how much longer this was going to last as a contraction seemed to take the life out of me. They let me know it would be at least a few more hours. I was so set on not having an epidural, but then found myself saying, “Ok, I know I said I didn’t want one, but how quickly can I get one?” I had really hoped to power through but after not sleeping through the night and how things were progressing, I gave in. I 100% do not regret this decision. I know every person is different and everyone’s body receives thing differently, but the epidural was absolutely magical. The contractions overrode any potential pain that could’ve came along with getting the epidural and I was pleasantly surprised that I could still move my legs. I was under the assumption that I would basically be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

Around 12:30pm, the nurse let me know that we would start pushing in an hour. OH MY GOODNESS, in just ONE hour, I was going to be meeting my son?!?! Looking back the entire 24 hours was so surreal, especially once we got to the hospital on Monday morning. I’m truly blown away at what the female body is capable of and how it just kind of knows what to do.

A little after 1:30pm, the doctor and nurse came back in as promised…and Braylon Kirk Thompson made his debut at 2:04pm.

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March 26, 2018

I vaguely remember having a conversation with the doctor and nurse letting them know that what they were asking me to do during the delivery was basically a “tuck” that we do in Pure Barre. I really had been training for this for years! The doctor said it was one of the best deliveries she had seen and had no doubt that me taking Pure Barre consistently during my pregnancy played an incremental role in that.

I took my first official class exactly six weeks after having Braylon. I had went to the studio a couple times prior to that and marked through a couple of classes, but given the distance I am to the studio, lack of sleep and everything going on, I didn’t take an actual class prior. For most women, it’s the norm to wait six weeks after delivering – sometimes more or less depending on a number of factors. While I do think I could’ve taken a class before the six weeks, taking class this past Monday night felt perfect.

I found out I was pregnant in August, so for about eight months, I had a workout buddy with me no matter what. At first, it was not known by most and I loved keeping my little secret. Right at the end of the first trimester, I let all of the clients at Pure Barre Cranston know that I was expecting. I remember heading to the studio and made the decision I was going to tell my classes that night because I was really starting to show. Looking back, I kind of just looked like I went to town on a dozen donuts, but whatever.

I didn’t anticipate that I would go through so many emotions during my first class back, but I did. So many things popped into my head. First, the majority of the Pure Empower classes that I had taken, were done while I was pregnant. Early on that didn’t mean that I was modifying too much, but as it became harder and harder to engage my core, I had to modify a number of things throughout class. I had to remind myself that I would not be back to pre-pregnant Danielle instantly and should still modify as needed in order to avoid overstraining anything. I like to think of pregnancy modifications like a slow climb up a hill and then you have to make your way back down. Basically at the bottom you don’t need to modify and then at the peak of the hill (aka the end of your pregnancy) you are modifying the most. After baby, you’re not automatically back down where you started from, but you need to work your way back down the hill. Some people get there a little quicker and others needs a bit more time.

I’ve always loved how strong Pure Barre makes me feel. It’s a different type of strong than any other workout. I’ve felt strong running, strong doing yoga, strong in cardio dance classes, strong doing CrossFit, but have always felt a special type of strong in Pure Barre. Taking class while pregnant introduced me to a new type of strong. For years, I had suggested and explained things to pregnant clients, but until experiencing it first hand on my own body I never truly understood it to the level that I wanted. Basically, I got pregnant to become a better Pure Barre teacher…just kidding. But seriously, I remember seeing clients opt to do certain things while pregnant, that I eventually opted out of it — remember, everyone (and every day) is different and that’s ok.

Now, post pregnancy, I’m so excited to see and feel the changes that my body goes through as I got back to the barre. It’s like Braylon has instilled a whole new level of strength and empowerment in me. It’s literally mind blowing what the female body is capable of.

So, that’s my story in a nutshell. My attempt was to make this a short post, but I failed. I could honestly go on and on for days, but don’t want to scare any of you away. Now, a little over six weeks postpartum, I am learning so much about myself and Braylon every minute of the day. This first month and half of motherhood is everything that I dreamed it would be and then some. I know everyone says it, but until you are “in it” and experiencing it for yourself nothing or no one can truly prepare you for it. You’ve just got to take each day as it comes, find a balance of taking advice and not taking advice and knowing that being imperfect is in fact perfection.

The majority of my days, as the sun is setting, I look at Braylon and think where the eff did the day go?! I know they tell you that it flies by and I have no doubt that it does. Some moments I feel like a rockstar and others I want to throw my computer and phone out the window so I can’t google anything in regards to what I should and should not be doing. In just 46 days with Braylon here, I feel like I’ve already learned so much…and I know the journey has just begun. As I write these last few sentences, I look at him and start to tear up.. partially because he just started crying and partially because I still can’t believe that this little human is really ours.

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April 26, 2018

Right as I was about to post this, my best friend, Ashley, sent me this video and I just had to share…


…now Braylon and I are both crying.

50 Shades of Bay(bay)

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It’s really happening! I haven’t wrote much about my pregnancy (or blogged much at all I guess for that matter), but as we are approaching the home stretch, I had a number of thoughts that I figured I would share.

Pregnancy is quite the interesting experience. Especially if it’s your first time and the only thing that you have to compare it to is… not being pregnant.
Pregnancy is different for each individual and most of the women I know who have more than one child have told me each of their pregnancies varied greatly. Most of the time, people don’t know what to say and half the time when they do, it’s not what you want to hear.

As women, there’s all sorts of expectations that are set for us by society, men and other women. As a pregnant woman, I think it enters a whole different level. As a pregnant woman working in the fitness industry, some days it seemed like it entered a whole different realm.

I shared this quote a while back on an old blog post:

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” – Dr. Gail Dines

I mean, it’s pretty true, right?

Add in all of the changes that your body goes through during pregnancy (yes, I realize what happens post baby is going to rock my world, you don’t need to start schoolin’ me on that just yet) and you’re in a whole different ballpark. One moment you’re embracing all that your body is capable of (and will be capable of) and the next you’ve called your Mom and blindsided her with a rage filled rant.

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All of that being said, here are 50 thoughts, realizations…whatever you want to call them, that I’ve had over the past 6 months or so in no particular order…

1. “I guess Red Bull no longer works for me. I just drank a Red Bull and I am falling asleep. How can I be this tired? I must have finally become immune to it.” *newsflash – you may be pregnant* Right after I found out I was pregnant I made the decision to say see ya later to my wiiings. Yes, I know you can have caffeine during pregnancy, but I had gotten back in quite the cycle of Red Bull consumption so it was the perfect opportunity to kick it to the curb. Additionally, caffeine tends to give me a bit of anxiety and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to eliminate any additional anxiety at this exciting, but slightly terrifying time.

2. There’s a Meme (several variations) that says, “Do you ever look back on old photos when you thought you were fat, but you really weren’t and now you actually are fat and wishing you were fat like back then.” Chill out, I’m not calling myself fat, but this does make me laugh because when I look at pictures or videos that I took earlier on to show “the bump”, I’m like, “Girl, you look like you just had two cheeseburgers instead of one, you don’t even look pregnant.” And now I’m like “Ohhhh, yeah you look pregnant.” Can’t wait to see what I will look like in the next 7 weeks or so!

3. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love you so much. You are going to be the best husband and father. How did I get so lucky? Literally heaven sent.

4. Five minutes later…Why are you breathing like that? Did you always chew that way? Is that a new cologne – it smells terrible? Why are you in the same room as me? Why are you not doing exactly what I want you to be doing even though I haven’t told you anything?

5. Five minutes later…Omg, I love you so much, I could just look at you forever and be around you nonstop.

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6. Using pregnancy as an excuse. Alright, alright, a lot of the times it wasn’t an excuse. Buttt, sometimes, I just felt like I was behaving like when people get to that age where they no longer have any filter and just say exactly what they are thinking.

7. You use your core A LOT for pushups. I mean, obviously…but as things progressed, I started to become VERY humble. I suppose the extra weight doesn’t help either.

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8. I never knew how much toilet paper I could go through. Does walking to the bathroom 800 times a day count as exercise? I guess this is preparing me for the millions of diapers we will go through.

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9. 4am – So much energy. So much drive. Let’s write a book. Let’s clean the house. Can’t wait to seize the day. PLEASE just fall back asleep. I wonder if I am going to be a good mother. Maybe I should research _______ (fill in the blank with the most random things possible) The rollercoaster sleep patterns… again, I am sure just another way of your body preparing you for what’s to come with never sleeping again once your little bundle of joy enters the world.

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10. Early on… I am going to track EVERYTHING that happens during pregnancy. Later on… geez, what did I track about my pregnancy *looks back at texts, videos, photos, etc. to try and piece it altogether*

11. “Wow you’ve really popped.” “You’re getting bigger and bigger every time I see you.” “You sure there’s just one in there?” “Oh, wow you still have ____ weeks left?” Hey, people, you’re supposed to get bigger during pregnancy. Homegirl is growing a human inside. Thanks for stating the obvious.

12. I didn’t have weird cravings. However, when a particular food popped into my head, I got pretty set on it and nothing could stand in my way. Wait, is that any different than not pregnant Danielle? Whether it was a spinach salad with goat cheese, cranberries, almonds and balsamic vinaigrette dressing or McDonald’s french fries and a caramel sundae… get out of my way, honey. Speaking of honey, I’ve been obsessed with making acai bowls and there HAS to be honey drizzled on them.

13. My favorite foods rose to a whole new level. There were several times that I almost cried when eating certain foods because I was so happy. Couple of things that come to mind… Papa Gino’s pizza and Knead Doughnuts.

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14.  This is taking forever.  This is flying by.  *thinks about childbirth*…. can I just skip that part?  Maybe stay pregnant forever?  If people have more than one kid, it can’t be that bad, right?  No, it can be.  AHHHHHH.  What have we done!?   Is it the same way when you say “I am never drinking again”?  “I am never having another kid.” And then somehow, someway you enter the dark place again and before you know it… HAAALP!?

15.  Ok for real, how can a baby have that much power already with kicks and punches? Are you trying to hurt me?

16.  Did I always talk to myself this much? Even if it is just in my head and not out loud?  I swear, I’ve had more conversations with myself than ever before… or maybe this is how I’ve always been?  Or am I more clearheaded now that there’s no alcohol or caffeine in my life?

17.  …well, sometimes they’re not just with myself.  I can talk to little guy because he has no choice but to listen and can’t talk back (yet).  It is odd (and amazing) for how 9 months you’re never *alone*.  Especially once it got to the point where I could feel him moving… it was a constant reminder, along with my growing waist line, that I always had him with me.

18.  You just ate.  How are you hungry again? Me, not him.  Yet again, I guess this is how newborns are too… The other day, I told my Mom that I had to eat again, because the baby was hungry.  I think we both know that it doesn’t work like that, but hey, it seemed like a great logic for me to head to the kitchen again for breakfast #3.

“Pregnant Pam and I, we get hungry at the same times so we’ve been eating together a lot. Not all meals. Just, second breakfast, lunch, second lunch, and first dinner.” – Kevin, The Office

19. Some moments, I just feel like this:

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20. These pants didn’t fit last week, so let’s try them again this week, surely this will fit. Give it up, girl.

21. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what your friend, coworker, relative, stranger, ANY other person felt, didn’t feel, did, didn’t…during their pregnancy. Sometimes, you just gotta focus on Y.O.U…. Or maybe all the time? 😉

22. There are some people that just know exactly what to say sometimes. Cherish those words. More importantly, cherish those people.

23. I’ve eaten more of Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks than I ever thought imaginable. My best friend, Ashley’s son loves them, so at least maybe her son and mine can share them together at snack time in the future…unless I steal them from them both.

24. Dance while you’re pregnant. Even if the only place you feel like doing it is while you’re home alone. Just avoid socks on wood floors.

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25. Teach a toddler that there’s “a baby in your belly” so they point to other woman’s stomachs and say baby!… Sorry, Britt.

26. It’s a good idea to test out party poppers if you’re doubtful on how they work. Even still, be sure to instruct the group in detail. It can make or break surprises… Luckily, it didn’t flop entirely 😉

27. Know your limits. I had plans on teaching Pure Barre up until the last possible month. I finally came to the realization for a number of reasons, that it was time to drop the mic… I’m still having a bit of anxiety about it and wondering if I am going to really stay away… but the clock is ticking and if I don’t get back on it soon, I will see ya post baby, chicas!

28. Speaking of limits, for years I’ve seen other teachers and clients do certain things in class during the pregnancy where I was like daaang, girl. As things progressed, I learned that just like I always preached, that every client / teacher is different, I too, would be different. Some days it was more humbling than others. I never thought that I could develop a deeper connection with my body, but taking class during pregnancy, I go into a whole different zone… Talking myself through every aspect of class. While every day is different and some days I would modify more than others…over time, I got to find how even though I was modifying, I was able to challenge myself in a whole new way. I could probably write a lot more on this… so I will save that for another day.

29. Since I’m on the topic though… I’ve had moments where I’ve been so proud of what I can still accomplish when working out and then other days where I feel discouraged and get extremely frustrated. It’s a see saw of emotions and I always try to find the balance to make sure the glass remains half full rather than empty. Yes, I’ve had to accept that my arms don’t look as toned, but those arms will be strong and able to hold my baby boy. Yes, my legs looks a little softer, but they’ve done an excellent job of carrying me around and finding a whole new level of strength as I continued to lose it in my core. I’m extremely grateful for finding an even deeper connection with my breath. Of course, connecting your movements to your breath when working out is always important…it reaches a whole new level when you have less space for your lungs. I like to think that all of my focus on breathing and controlling specific parts of my body throughout class… is going to help me when the big day comes. *fingers crossed*

30. Have you fallen asleep yet? I sure haven’t. I’ve never been a big napper, but every so often these days, I find myself knocked the heck out. Earlier today, I was on the couch and the next thing I knew I woke up two hours later…whoops! Overall, I’ve still had a lot of energy and felt pretty good (once I made it through the first trimester) but, I’ve really learned to listen to my body even more. Plus, everyone tells me to sleep now while I can…as if that’s going to make it any better when I don’t get to sleep once he gets here.

31. Pregnancy tests often work…. just in case you didn’t know.  You may not need to overdo it with how many you take 😉
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32. I can see why a lot of celebrities like to stay out of the spotlight during their pregnancy and / or keep their little ones to themselves early on. Like back off, weirdos.

33. My hair is the healthiest it’s been in quite some time…which could be thanks to the vitamins, lack of washing / blow drying / straightening / coloring it… but, one thing I am most definitely not complaining about.

34. My nails on the other hand… they’ve gone through phases of being long and strong and then brittle and breaking… what’s up with that?

35.  I miss the dance floors.  I’ve been ok with not drinking… probably because I have no other choice LOL… but some days I just feel like I need to go out and hit the dance floor.  Until we meet again…

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36. I lose track of how long I am in the shower. I’ve always taken long showers, but now, I legitimately question whether or not I need to set a timer or something. However, I do end up coming up with some really great ideas while I am in there, so it is pretty productive.

37. I’m excited for all my friends and family to meet the baby, but most excited for my parents and Randall’s mom to meet him. For them to get to see their kids creating a kid must be pretty cool… right?

38. When I listen to some of Beyonce’s songs lately I am literally like…

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39.  Typically I can tend to be pretty emotional and cry easily… but since, I’ve been pregnant it’s been weird.  Things that SHOULD make me cry, don’t…. and then other times I’ll get emotional about something so random.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are certain things that should get the waterworks going… and do… like this.

40.  Oh, and this.

41.  It’s definitely hard when I think about that Samantha won’t be here to spoil her nephew or that Randall’s dad won’t watch his son become a father, but I know that they, along with my Papa, Peter and everyone else who is no longer physically with us…. will be so proud of us as they shine down all of their love and protect over Baby Thompson.

42.  I feel like I’ve always had really bizarre dreams.  I didn’t think they could get any weirder…but they have.  Will this get better or worse post pregnancy?!

43.  Almost there.  Yes, with this post but I’ve found this being a common theme over the past months.  Planning is great and all, but there are certain things in life, like pregnancy, that you just have to kind of go with it.  Take it as it comes.  One day at a time.  I tried (key word tried) to stop obsessing about things as much as possible.  Focusing on what needs to be done in the next few hours…next few days… and so on.  I’m quite the planner when it comes to work and my personal life, but have tried to channel even more of the need for planning into my work and take a little bit out of my personal life.  It’s a work in progress.

44.  I know everyone always says it, but how can you already love someone so much that you’ve never even met?  The anticipation is killin’ me!  C’mon and get here… well no, not yet… but you get the idea.

45.  Are baby registries supposed to take days upon days to create?  I felt like it took me forever to create / finish it.  Was that just me?  I finally had to cut myself off from it.

46.  How is there another Danielle Cote having a baby around the same time in Rhode Island?

47.  In my blog post from November 11, 2016, I’m Coming Home Again, I had concluded with …. “This isn’t a new chapter….it’s a whole new book.”  Funny how life works out…. little did I know all that would happen in the months to come!

48.  I’ll never not be worried about what my Mom thinks about the decisions that I make and what I do…. when I called her to share the news, I somehow felt like I was 15 years old confessing to something.  I’ve never been good at lying to her or keeping anything from her… I guess that’s a good thing.  How do I instill this fear in my children?!

49.  I’m overwhelmed with joy when I think of all the possibility that lies ahead.  For myself, for Randall and I and now for “our little family”

50.  The best is yet to come.

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This is the most all over the place thing that I have ever written… If you made it to this point, you deserve an award.

Have a wonderful night (or day)! ❤

Early Morning Ramblings

No matter how hard you work, there’s always going to be at least one, usually many more, that are not satisfied. I think that it’s safe to say that this is the norm, no matter what line of work you’re in. Depending on the day, and especially the line of work you’re in, there’s times where it appears that the vast majority can only provide criticism, both constructive and not…and it can be down right exhausting. It’s hard not to take it personal, especially if your work is something that you are extremely passionate about. You’re putting in countless hours, making sacrifices and shooting for perfection only to be met by at least one person every.single.time to leave you feeling as if it’s just not enough. You missed the mark just slightly. It was good, but ______. That may be my favorite kind – starting with a positive and then immediately negating it with the infamous but making you immediately forget any positive vibes that were about to take over.

It’s a constant battle of trying to focus on the good feedback you receive and those that take the time to reach out to show encouragement and support. The ones that understand that things aren’t perfect, and probably never will be, but can at least appreciate that there’s most likely a big picture or a master plan to justify the why. It’s not supposed to be rainbows and butterflies day in and day out, but when there’s always a cloud in front of the sun, you almost forget that the light IS still there.

The individuals that are perceived decision makers are, more often times than not, being held accountable for a number of unknown factors that people are unaware of. Of course, everyone has varying goals, expectations, wants and needs. The tone in which they communicate these things to others, along with the forum in which they choose to do so, can really start to make or break the people involved. Progress can be small, and slow, but any progress is still allowing for a stride or two to be taken in the “right” direction.

All of that being said, when money and success are directly impacted, it’s impossible to not want to speak up, go to bat for and do whatever you need to do to get yourself and those that rely on you, to where you need to be. We live in a world that everything is instantaneous. We jump to conclusions, often respond immediately and our days are filled with nonstop multitasking. Go go go – it’s the way of the world. Even before we’ve had the chance to enjoy our meal we’re already thinking about dessert.

It’s hard to take our own advice, practice what we preach and not live a hypocritical life. Every once in a while, if we could take a step back and SLOW down, we may rethink pressing send on that text or email. Maybe before forming an opinion on something or someone we try to see things from their point of view and understand where they are coming from and what is causing them to feel and act a certain way.

No one likes to feel defeated. We shouldn’t expect that everything we do in life is always going to be positively received or be easy. If it was, that too, could limit creativity and progression. We shouldn’t get too comfortable. Always strive for more for yourself and those that surround you. If you can, surround yourself with those that will build you up, while providing you with honest and constructive advice. The ones that are your biggest fans, but find a way to be your biggest critic without destroying you or your momentum.

I’m lucky to have a lot of people in my life that have no problem giving me a bit of a reality check when I need one, but at the same time provide love and support to make me want to keep going. I have no problem overworking and making sacrifices for the things and people that I love. When those things and people are involved it’s challenging to not let emotions take over. Don’t lose your passion. Don’t forget why you started. Some days (or weeks or months) will be better than others. Don’t let the negativity get the best of you. No matter how bad things get there’s always going to be some good in every situation. It may be hard to find and often disguised, but trust me it’s there.

So today, before you speak that negative thought, write a bad review, angrily email customer service, go on a social media rant, call your friend to complain… find something nice to say, write a review on something you loved instead, send a positive email, share a great story or a photo of a puppy, call someone to tell them you love them…. and I will do the same.

They’re not puppies, but maybe at least one of these will bring a smile or smirk to your face…

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I was Britney ’07 before it was even a thing. 

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Me, most days.

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Also me, most days.

IMG_7476…still me.

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My #1 fan and her mini me… and one who isn’t afraid to give me a reality check. PS – serious arm goals. 

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Preach.

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C’mon, just trust me. This will be fun. We’re in this together. Watch how I do this.

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Don’t. Watch. How. I. Do. This.

Hope your week is off to a great start and that it continues to go well…if not, there’s still chance to turn this week around.  Hey, last chance to make a good impression on January 😉 

 

Are You Mad Cause I’m Asking You 21 Questions?

Screenshot from 21 Questions (ft. Nate Dogg)

I’m sure most people will not get the 50 Cent reference from his song 21 Questions that was released in 2003, but sometimes, I’m just here for my own personal entertainment.

I saw an article from Forbes pop up on my Facebook feed titled, “Reflect on 2017 By Asking These 20 Questions”. It encouraged you to answer the questions below prior to goal setting for 2018. I’m not typically big on New Year’s Resolutions, but a number of the questions jumped out at me, so I figured it would at least get my mind right!

    1. What am I most proud of?  Myself, along with the team of individuals that I am blessed to work with, accomplished a lot in 2017.  Looking back on the year, it was a bit of a rollercoaster.  One that is known for it’s extremely high speed, has a lot of potential to come off the tracks, but somehow manages to have a pretty smooth ride…despite the riders that find something wrong with the ride.   
    2. What do I wish I did differently?  Hmm… I don’t think there’s anything that I would have done differently, nothing jumps out as a regret or looming cloud.  Maybe there were a few nights that I had a few too many drinks and really regretted it the next day though 😉
    3. What or who did I learn the most from?  My mother. New year, same hero and mentor.
    4. What did I resist the most and why?  Does a double tube in Pure Barre count? This is a tough one for me.  Even if there is something that I am pretty against at first, I tend to be pretty open to seeing the other person’s side and coming to a happy medium.  I am sure there’s someone reading this that could easily call me out on something that I resisted that I am just not thinking of though.
    5. What new skills did I acquire?  Learning how to function without caffeine.
    6. What limiting belief about myself do I no longer have? That I need caffeine to function.  Just kidding. But honestly, the sky is the limit (just smack me now)… I try to be pretty positive and like to think that I can accomplish just about anything if I put my mind to it.
    7. How have I been proved wrong and how was that liberating?  There was a lot of negativity in 2017.  Everywhere you looked — on your phone, in your inbox, when you turned on the TV, when you met up with friends / coworkers / family members.  Some days it felt worse than others… and then there would be really big amazing moments, breaking news stories to restore my faith in humanity or a simple text or email just saying thanks and showing appreciation.  Looking back on 2017 there was a lot to keep me going even on the darkest of days.  To everyone who touched my life this past year, no matter how big or small, your kind gestures, love and appreciation did not go unnoticed.IMG_1959
    8. Who or what am I most inspired and energized by?  Hard to pick just one!  I would have to say (in no particular order) 1. Teaching Pure Barre 2. Randall 2B. Baby Thompson 3. My entire family and close friends 4. The Pure Barre Training Team 5. Working (I have an extreme need for making progress, organizing and accomplishing talks, etc… some days I wonder if I should seek professional help)
    9. Who or what am I repelled by the most, and why? I don’t think this is one that was intended to share with.  *few moments of silence*
    10. What went better/harder than I expected?  Better – 1st trimester of pregnancy Harder – ehh, I often make sure not to set my expectations too high so then I’m not disappointed if thing don’t go as anticipated
    11. What global issue did I take personally?  The Top 10 Problems According to Millennials this past year were: 10. Lack of economic opportunity and employment (12.1%) 9. Safety / security / wellbeing (14.1%) 8. Lack of education (15.9%) 7. Food and water security (18.2%) 6. Government accountability and transparency / corruption (22.7%) 5. Religious conflicts (23.9%) 4. Poverty (29.2%) 3. Inequality (income, discrimination) (30.8%) 2. Large scale conflict / wars (38.9%) 1. Climate change / destruction of nature (48.8%).  When you put it like that… it’s pretty intense. I think it’s pretty fair to say that there were things that fall under each of these that I took personally.
    12. How did I surprise myself?  My biggest surprises in 2017 were my engagement and my pregnancy!IMG_0688 IMG_1562
    13. What did I do for others?  I try to do as much as a I can, as often as I can, for as many people as I can on both a personal and professional level.  One thing I would like to make more time for is dedicating some time each month to volunteering / giving back more to those who are less fortunate.
    14. What am I most grateful for?  My health, the people in my life and that I will be bringing a little bundle of joy into this world in 3.5 months…and will be forever changed.
    15. What negative patterns seem to be repeating?  Ugh, let’s not focus on this right here right now.
    16. What did I start and not complete?  There is nothing that I start and do not complete.  Just kidding.  I set some work goals for December that are getting carried over into the first week or so of January… mainly because I set the bar(re) a little too high.  Knowing that I am going to be a Mom in just a few short months really kept things on track the last part of the year….since I know “free time” will not be something that will exist in the very near future!
    17. What was something I failed at and what did I learn?  Often times, things don’t go quite as planned.  The most important thing to do when that happens is to make sure that you DO learn from it.  There’s definitely a difference between dwelling / obsessing on the failure(s) and spending a healthy amount of time reflecting on what you could’ve done differently and what you can take away from the not so great situation.  Another one that I will take a few moments of silence and gaze off into the distance… IMG_2414
    18. What was the kindest thing I did for my friends and family?  I guess you’d have to ask them! Hopefully something… if not, I need to get my life together!
    19. What no longer worries me, that used to?  Eh, maybe this is something that I need to work on but the same things that worry me still do.  I will say that I have really really tried to get better at not letting certain things consume me… at least, not as much.IMG_1680
    20. Where, or doing what, do I feel the most peace?  Depends on the day and what I “need”.  Could be sitting on the couch with Randall watching Netflix, in the kitchen whipping up something great to eat, taking (or teaching) class at Pure Barre, catching up with a friend (probably over food), vacuuming (not dusting — that paralyzes me), writing, reading a book, going through old photos, taking a hot shower, getting in the zone finding new music…

I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season and I hope that 2018 is your best year yet!

Saturday Night Ramblings

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I love trying new things, visiting new places and meeting new people, but there’s something to be said about the things that you are familiar with, the places you know and love and your closet friends and family.

I have the tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. Most of the time, it’s because I am trying to do too much, to be too much and to please too many people at once.

It can be hard not to get caught up in the midst of everything going on and lose your focus (over and over) again. It’s never too late to reset your intention and get back on track. Whether it’s something that could be quickly attained in the near future or something that you will have to work towards over days, weeks or even years.

Every time I take a lapse from writing, I always feel guilty that it’s taken me so long to make the time to do it. There’s been a number of times lately where I’ve sat down, opened up my computer and just stared at the screen. In the hustle and bustle of things, I’d have all sorts of ideas and thoughts that I wanted to put down, but then when I finally sat down to do it… Nothing.

Over the past three months, I’ve spent time trying to slow down a bit and be more present. Despite that, I’ve found myself in Phoenix, Hawaii, Denver, Toronto, Charlotte… and of course Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I’ve worked a lot, became a godmother, celebrated my 31st birthday, got a new car, went to a couple of concerts, taught a lot of Pure Barre and spent time with family and friends.

I’m starting to get better at finding a “work-life balance”, but definitely still have room to improve. I’ve tried to focus more on the positive in every situation, but still fall off track and slip to the dark side more often than I would like…but I’m getting better.

Now, let’s switch gears slightly and begin with my ramblings…

Think about your favorite restaurant. Let me try again. Think about one of your favorite restaurants – if you’re anything like me, how can you just pick ONE?! When you go, do you get the same thing every time, because it’s that good? Or do you venture out and know that anything that you get there will be great? When I was in Charlotte earlier this week, my Mom and I ate at Luna’s Living Kitchen. I’ve been eating here for years – obviously not as frequently since I moved to Rhode Island, but no matter how much time goes on I still think about their manicotti (thin slices of zucchini pasta stuffed with ricotta cashew cheese and topped with a tomato basil marinara). The 100% plant based dish is simple… and it is perfect. As much as I branched out trying other things on their menu, more times than not, I always find myself coming back to my favorite dish.

Moving around quite a bit and traveling a lot, especially over the past 12 years, I’ve had the chance to try all sorts of amazing restaurants. Yet, there’s certain staples that always remain special for one reason or another. Some places… for their consistency, others for their simplicity, those that bring back memories. There’s the new places that we try to continue to be adventurous and then are only left disappointed, wishing that we had stuck to what we know and love.

As you probably know, I grew up dancing competitively. I also ran indoor and outdoor track all four years of High School. After high school, I definitely fell off track (pun intended) a bit as I moved onto college. I remember going to the gym sporadically during my freshman and sophomore year. From what I recall, somewhere around my junior year, I started to get back on track a bit more at the gym and getting more involved with group fitness. Fast forward to finding Pure Barre in 2010, becoming a teacher in 2011 and turning it into my full time job in 2015. Back story a bit to preface my next rambling session. For my non-Pure Barre peeps, don’t worry, I’m not going to go 1000% Pure Barre on ya… well, I’ll try not to.

People often get bored with exercise. Yet, exercise IS redundant. For my runners, you are “moving the legs more rapidly than a walk and in such a manner that for an instant in each step all or both feet are off the ground”. You may add variety by changing your course, listening to different music or adjusting the length and / or time of the run. You may enjoy running the exact same course or the same distance to be able to compare your times between the same course (or distance). Like with any form of exercise, there’s so many factors that will factor your performance – what you’ve eaten, hydration, sleep, indoors vs. outdoors, mental state, injuries, how long it’s been since you last ran… the list goes on and on. For my cyclists, you hop on your bike and are moving your legs in the same direction… again and again. Similar to running, variety can be added through resistance, coming up out of the saddle, the music that you may be listening to, the scenery (if you are outdoors).

If you’ve fallen in love with running or cycling, you may find simplicity in this form of exercising. Simplicity does not mean that you can’t still have variety and it most definitely does not limit the challenges. You can always grow.

I tried quite a few variations of group exercise classes – kickboxing, cardio dance, boot camp, pilates, yoga, spin… There were certain aspects of each of them that I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, with group fitness, you are than considering the other people in attendance and the person leading the group. I like to think that I’m a pretty motivated individual regardless of the people around me or leading me, but throw me in a room with people and a kick@$$ teacher and I’m bound to get a little more competitive and work just a little harder!

One of the things that I loved about Pure Barre from the beginning was the fact that each class would follow a similar flow each time. While you wouldn’t do the exact same class each time you came, you would start to get accustomed to the various positions. With any of the positions that you are in, your body needs a few times (some more than others) to get familiar with it. The more that you take your body through each position the better that you get at it. Better does not mean that it gets easier. Better means that you find proper form and are able to challenge yourself even more. The majority of the class, you are going through small ranges of motion in each of the positions that you are in, in order to get a total body workout. Ultimately, if you held each position, without any of the small movements, class would still be very hard. The small movements throughout and subtle differences in the various positions give you just enough variety. Variety also comes through each teacher’s personality and the music. After taking classes for over six years, neither my mind or body has become bored. Both are still challenged each and every class.  For me, while variety is important, simplicity is even more important in order to maintain the true essence of the purpose of this class and it’s effectiveness.

Maybe you have a coworker or a friend that always needs MORE. Nothing is ever good enough. The glass is always half empty – it is never half full. As soon as one “issue” is resolved, they can immediately find the next problem to complain about rather than taking the time to enjoy what they just got. Those that don’t even give things a chance before they jump to conclusions or turn on the negative vibes. There’s always a BUT. “I met this guy, but…” “It was good, but…” As soon as they throw in the but, anything positive that they’ve said before it basically goes out the window.

“If you’re not helping to make it right, stop complaining about it being wrong.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have my go to people that I pick up the phone and b*tch to, but then before long we are enjoying ourselves and laughing (usually about how much I just overreacted). I mean, c’mon, I don’t trust people that are 100% happy and positive 24/7.

Anyways, as I get older, I’ve found myself truly cherishing my long term relationships. By long term, I guess we can call that those that have been around for 10 or more years. Hey, all of you that entered my life after 2007 are great too… just give me a second.

All of my family and quite a few friends fall into the 10+ years group, but there’s one person in particular that impacted my life tremendously over the past twelve years since I met him.

I’ve share this quote before, but it’s good not to share it again:

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.” ― Bob Marley

Every time I read this quote, my heart melts. It makes it all sound so simple. Relationships are not always easy. Love is not always simple. If we can stop doing the wrong things – putting our time and energy into the wrong things – then life and love can become simpler. There are so many distractions and lots of ups and downs, but hopefully when you find the right one, it’s all worth it and neither one of you give up if it truly was meant to be.

You’ve probably stopped reading at this point or at least had to grab a snack or take a bathroom break.

I’ll leave you with this…

“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.” – Andy Rooney

June & July Lasted 4 Seconds…

…and now, it’s already August 7th.

I’ve been spending a lot less time writing and posting on here due to work, spending more time reading (Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines and Present Over Perfect & Rhonde Byrne’s The Secret) and trying to keep up with everything else going on.

I closed out May by working out, snapchatting and stuffing my face with Christina (nothing has changed)…

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Christina and I met when we lived in Charleston and both found our way back home to New England.…and celebrating Ashley’s birthday with a night out and Prosecco Cake Pops!

Rooftop at Providence G

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Strawberry cake & frosting both made with Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco

June kicked off with seeing Fabolous and Jadakiss at Fabolous (yes, I think I am still in high school).

Shortly after, I had dinner with my Aunt and this happened…

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In my defense, when my Aunt’s boyfriend got this same dish, it was in a shallow bowl not on a plate. This was a disaster waiting to happen. At least if I was involved.

Took a little while for the weather and my schedule to align, but made it to the beach…

fullsizeoutput_1e00.jpegSecond Beach in Middletown, RI.

Even more challenging to align… good weather, schedules and GREAT company, but we made it to The Secret Garden Champagne Bar at The Ocean House…

And if that wasn’t enough, why not stop for ice cream on the way home…

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Mike’s Ice Truck in Providence, RI.

What else happened in June? A whole lot of work…Had to take a quick trip down to good ole Spartanburg, headed up to Nashua, NH and over to Northampton, MA. Who knows what else? After all, June must’ve only lasted about 2 seconds 😉

Then, it was 4th of July and naturally I needed to make these for the “kids”…

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Blue velvet cake, Ghiaradelli white chocolate + red sprinkles = So Festive. So basic.

Made it to the beach AGAIN and had my first Del’s Lemonade in years.

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I’ve never read the About Us page on their website. I demand that any Rhode Islander does immediately if you haven’t either.

Then, I found myself in Michigan doing important things like eating nitrogen ice cream, mini doughnuts and donut ice cream cones…

Milkster Creamery, Bonefish Grill (who would’ve thought?!) & The Donut Bar.

Oh, last, but not least…I spent a few hours on a Monday at the DMV and lived to tell it…

More soon…sooner rather than too much later this time

Summer Nights

“Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.” — Shauna Niequist

Alright, I know it’s not summer just yet, but after quite the odd April and first half of May, I am so ready for the summer, summer, summertime. I am sure if you grew up in the South (or wherever you grew up) you also love summer nights … but, for me, there’s always been something particularly special about Northern summer nights.

I just got back from Denver and it happened to snow there yesterday…after they had great weather all week. Everyone back home, made sure to let me know that it was 90 degrees and sunny. Ugh, of course. Get. Me. Back. Home.

It took me two and a half hours to get home from the Boston Airport tonight, which is expected on a Friday night, but still doesn’t make it any less annoying. I rushed in, once I got home, made myself a Moscow Mule and threw in an Amy’s frozen dinner. Hey, I’ve been gone all week and have been eating pah-rit-tee healthy…for the past 2 weeks, people.

My new favorite F word, is out of town, and left our place nice and tidy (thanks, boo). It felt so great to be back home. Literally home. I never really thought I would move back to where I grew up. Yes, it’s not the town I grew up in, but it’s close.

I stepped out on the porch that’s attached to the kitchen and started to cry. I moved to North Carolina at the end of the summer in 2005, so just under 12 years ago. Yes, I would come home in the summer, but every time I came home, whether it was for the holidays, a wedding, a funeral… my time here always seemed way too short. At the same time, over the past 12 years, I’ve crammed so so much in. Of course, that’s a wonderful thing and so many of those years are filled with amazing memories and excellent experiences. However, I’ve alway had moments where I need to slow down…and I don’t.

When I stepped out on the porch, I immediately flashed back to the house that I spent the majority of my adolescent and teenage years at… on Rocco Drive in Blackstone, MA. Years…months..weeks…days…minutes spent with my parents, sister, cousins, Aunts, Uncles, grandparents, friends of the family and friends at that house.

I think for anyone, there’s something really special about summer nights… especially for those who have dealt with a winter that never seems to end. It makes you appreciate it that much more. I guess the same goes for when you have bad times or seem to being going through a rut… you will just appreciate the good times that much more.

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It’s been six months since I’ve been back “home”. Being here is truly special. There are so many wonderful people that I get to see more often than I have over the past eleven and a half years… Don’t get me wrong, it (and I) am still a work in progress and I need to learn to make even more time to see all of the magnificent people that I know here.

I still can’t believe that in just over a week, it will mark six years since Samantha has been gone. Over the past six years, I have ALWAYS felt her with me. Now, being HOME, I feel her with me more than ever… especially on a night like tonight.

She Get it From Her Mama

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Although some things have changed since 9 year old Danielle wrote a biography on Jennifer Cote, there’s definitely some parts that remain the same… Hey, Mom, do you miss your van? Are you still subscribed to Family Fun?  Are there any Melrose Place reruns on?   Is your favorite age still 30 — if so, I better make the most out of my last 5 months before 31 hits.

One question that I have for 9 year old Danielle… “She is PROBABLY the most important person in my life.” Uhhh, who else was more important then OR now?!

I remember always thinking that once kids turned 18, parents were FREE.  I learned very very VERY quickly, upon hitting 18 that that is where things got even more REAL.  Now, at 30, I know that I will always be my Mom’s baby.  But, at some point, years ago, I started to not only look at my Mom as my mother, but my best friend.  I’ve inherited all of her qualities, the good and the bad (hey, just a few) and in return she gets to see me at my best, BUT often times at my absolute worst.  Hey, that’s what you get for giving me some bad things 😉

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I am beyond grateful that I have such a special relationship with my Mom.  I know that not everyone can say the same and I never have and never will take it for granted.

Since I can’t be in North Carolina with you today because I’m too busy enjoying a 47 degree rainy May day (don’t you dare tell me I told you so), I will leave you with this… Just a reminder of some of the things that you’ve been lured into being a participant of… or a recipient of.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends, cousins, Aunts, two grandmothers and of course, Jennifer Cote.

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