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I'm a freelance writer, wife and mother of one from Western Massachusetts. Spending time with my family and having the honor of raising my son together with my husband is where my whole heart is. Just before our son was born we fell in love with the location of a fixer upper lake house and moved in when I was VERY pregnant. We've been renovating ever since. When I'm not writing, filling the roles of wife or mother, I enjoy a relatively new passion, boxing. It's an empowering workout like none I've ever experienced. Watch out for my right cross. I'd love to hear from you. Email me traceywrites@mass.rr.com.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The 2nd Day of First Grade for Mom



This morning I dropped my son off at school for his 2nd day of first grade.  Walking to his classroom, he was about ten steps ahead of me and seemed so confident and independent.

  

My heart strings tugged inside my chest and I instinctively held out my hand.


“JJ, don’t you want me to walk you to your classroom?”


“Nah, I got this,” he said with that impish smile I adore.


I smiled back even though my insides were in knots.  How could it happen so fast?  Just yesterday I was calming his nerves about going to a new school and today he was ready to do it on his own. 


24 hours is all it took.  Well, really six years, right?  I held on a little longer when I hugged him goodbye, and watched a few seconds more than usual before turning to leave.


On the ride home I thought about my mom friends last year and how they shared with me how their kids had grown.  The sense of independence they’d gained in first grade and how things shifted a bit in the mom, child dynamic.   Time had caught up and it was my little guy this time around. 


Wasn’t it a few weeks ago that I kissed his newborn cheek for the very first time?


It’s a happy and sad feeling to watch my son grow up.  I revel in his achievements big or small and glow with pride as he triumphs over tying his shoes or sounding out a word in a book.  He’s no longer the baby, the toddler, the preschooler, dependent on me for so much.  He’s forming his own ideas of the world and his own place within it.    


The changes aren’t easy, but as a parent they happen with our children, quickly and consistently.  Not a bad thing, but challenging and emotional for sure.  My husband and I are blessed to be the parents of such an amazing little boy and when I separate my heart from my head for a moment I can see that the confidence he had this morning going into school is just what we want for him always. 


Of course I’ll be there to support him and encourage him with a reassuring smile.  I’ll also hug him a little longer, watch him a few more seconds from afar and cuddle him for one more book at bedtime.  He’ll notice or he won’t, but I can do that because I’m his mom and no matter how independent he gets, I’m so grateful that will never change.


Friday, May 30, 2014

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Made It 7 and Raised Myself 10




   So, it’s been 10 whole days and I've stuck to my clean eating plan.  I only had to do it for 7.  I mean that’s what I wrote on my 40 by Forty list, yet here I am gladly continuing the effort. What?  
   
   I never would have thought I’d make it through a week never mind wanting to continue.  I have to tell you though, I feel great.  I don’t know if it’s a mental thing, just knowing that I’m putting healthy fuel into my body, or that these whole foods are really making a difference, but whatever the reason, I love it.  Plus, I got an unexpected gift out of this past week; I remembered I actually enjoy cooking ;-)
   
   Believe it or not I was able to get my husband on board and by default our son.  Don’t get me wrong I didn't deny my six year old the lollipop his aunt brought for him when she came to visit, but 90% of what he’s been eating has been clean.  Now, when I say clean, I’m not saying we have our own gardens, orchards and farm and picked our own fruit and veggies and butchered our own animals for meat.  What I’m saying is that we used fresh fruit and vegetables from our local Co-op and bought what else we needed from the grocery store.  Using organic whenever available.  We made sure to purchase only grass fed meats, with no added steroids and again organic when possible.  As for things like crackers and hummus, we didn't’ make our own, but read the packages to make sure there was a very short list of ingredients and that those ingredients were whole foods we recognized.  I know there are variations of what it means to eat clean, but this is my version and I think it’s a pretty good one. 

My Family’s Favorite Recipes So Far:

Jon - Breakfast Banana Split (He uses plain Greek yogurt and I use cottage cheese) - 1 Medium banana cut up - 1/2 cup cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt - 1 1/2 tablespoons of fruit spread or jam - 1 tablespoon of peanuts & a pinch of salt.  Layer and enjoy.


J.J. – Frozen Berry Granola Squares - 1 cup whole grain granola - 2 cups fresh strawberries and raspberries - 3 cups plain Greek yogurt - 1/3 cup agave nectar - 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract. Sprinkle granola at the bottom of an 8" baking pan.  Blend remaining ingredients in blender and pour over the top.  Freeze for 4 hours, cut into squares and eat.


Tracey – Satay Chicken (I use pure maple syrup in place of the coconut sugar)


   The biggest challenge for me was making the time to plan and prepare.  At first I felt I wouldn't be able to do it, but after seriously making an effort, it really wasn't that difficult to adjust my schedule to make it happen.  Sunday afternoons are working out to be a great time for me to take an hour or so to make a menu for the week and prepare some items I can store in the fridge for a quick grab and go, healthy clean snack.  Things like hard boiled eggs, cut up veggies and portioned out nuts and raisins.  I also found a renewed fondness for my crock pot. A week’s worth of chicken can be cooked at one time and be used later to make breakfast frittatas, salads and stir fry, just a few options to name.
   
   Another pitfall I had to carefully avoid was portioning.  It’s always been a challenge for me. So, I chose to use the Weight Watchers Points program as a guide for my food intake and so far it’s worked pretty well.  The biggest difference I find now from when I've done Weight Watchers before is that I don’t find myself hungry.  I eat approximately every three hours, breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks in between and unless I've skipped a meal or had to push it off for some reason I really haven’t been starving at all.  This is huge for a foodie like me.


   I know I’m not reporting anything new in the world of health and nutrition, but actually taking the information and doing it is certainly new for me.  The major take away being that I really thought it would be super hard.  I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s not and I’m excited to keep going and see how it continues to positively impact my life.  Right now, I feel like I have more energy and that’s been translating into more exercise and doing fun things with my family.  One of my favorites has been to cook with my husband like we used to do before we were married.  I have a feeling, spending that quality time together somehow makes the recipes come out tasting that much better.

Friday, May 16, 2014

# 32 - Eat Clean for One Week

   As I sit and contemplate the challenge I made for myself to eat clean for seven straight days as a part of my 40 by forty list I started thinking.  I had pre-planned and put this challenge on my calendar way back in February.  At that time the news about Subway using the same chemical used in yoga mats in their bread was making headlines.  During that same time I finally got around to watching the excellent Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips which is based on a true account.  What do those two things have in common you might ask?  Not much to tell you the truth except that this thought occurred to me.  What kind of world do we live in that the rescue effort displayed by our government and how they spared no expense to save a ship’s captain held hostage by Somalian Pirates it’s nothing short of  heroic?  Yet that same government allows food regulations that make it okay for the public to ingest harmful plastic and pesticides?  Some of which are directly linked to certain types of cancers and neurological disorders.  I guess the message is no one else can harm an American citizen or we’ll come after you, but if we want to allow our own food industry to poison them well then that’s okay. 
   So, to me, clean eating sounds ridiculous.  Essentially the term is telling us that for the most part, we’re eating dirty, and it’s right.  Yuck!  How is that okay?  The norm has become eating processed food to which we have no idea of its true ingredients. 
   I won’t go on and on about big business and how everything comes down to the almighty dollar.  We all basically know that story.  I won’t even go off on a tirade about how absurd it is that we have to petition our government representatives to force companies to label GMO foods.  Mom always told me if someone wants to hide something there must be a reason, right?
   Well, yes, but instead of heading down that road, I will focus on the challenge at hand.  Item number 32 on my 40 by Forty list.  I am planning to eat clean for an entire week. 
   Fervently, for the past few days, I’ve been searching one of my favorite websites, Pinterest for clean recipes and ideas in preparation for the challenge.  The good news is I didn’t find my search to be lacking at all.  There is so much great information out there I was swimming in it before long. 
   It didn’t take much except some time and now I have 7 full days of clean meals and snacks planned out and I’m ready to tackle this item on my list beginning Monday.  Using the coming weekend to finish my shopping and do some food preparation. 
   I have to say the recipes which I will share a few of at the end of this post sound really good.  I’m fairly excited to start this challenge and I know my body will feel better as I’ve dabbled in this arena before.  My hope is that during this year in which I will eventually turn forty years old, I will finally come to terms with the necessity of food as a means to take care of and fuel my body and not as an instant pleasure.  I know seven days won’t be enough to right all the bad habits I’ve picked up over the past four decades, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.  So, here I go to put one foot in front of the other, leaving the processed boxes and bags of unhealthy industry food behind and reaching out to local farmers and the co-op I belong to in order to cook up some real food that came directly from its source like a vine or a tree.  Imagine that.  You’d think that was the way the universe intended it to be or something, ha!

Here are a few recipes I can’t wait to try.  Clean breakfast, lunch and dinner anyone?




I’ll touch base next week with how it’s going.  Ya know, reading labels, using fresh produce and not eating out ;-)  I'll offer up some reviews as well as other recipes to try.  If you have any favorites to share, post them below. 

Here’s to a week of happy healthy eating everyone.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Halftime


   In the whirlwind that has been the end of March and now midway thru April, I stopped for a second to take a breath.  Then it hit me … it’s HALFTIME!  Six months ago I turned thirty nine.  I remember vividly because as someone who is always thinking ahead, I might as well have actually turned forty.  The big four-oh engulfed me.  It was as if I was wading leisurely along a beautiful ocean beach, not paying much attention to how deep I had actually gone when a mighty wave came crashing down upon me.  I bobbed for a bit not knowing which end was up.
 
   I know, I know, we’re only as old as we feel.  Quite honestly if that was the case I’d have no worries, as I truly feel like I’m still a teenager and often wonder how I’m trusted with so many adult responsibilities.  Like molding another human being as a mom, wow is that really happening? 

   In any event, approximately one hundred and eighty days ago I made a plan.  I empowered myself with the idea that age is a privilege, one that sadly, too many people are deprived of.  In that glass half full moment I comprised my list of 40 by Forty.  I promised myself I’d work all year on forty wonderful things to achieve before I reach that impending age.  Thru that this blog was born. 

   I have to say that my first reaction to the realization that six months had already gone by was one of panic.  In true overachiever mode I raced thru my list crossing off what I’d accomplished, hoping that the perfect ratio of twenty tasks done would appear.  It did not.  I’m actually only a quarter of the way.  My stomach turned and my heart raced as a feeling of failure arose.  Thankfully the notion was fleeting.  Looking down at the list and smiling I found myself reveling in the recent memories of things I’d already done.  Some small like enjoying a Harry Potter Marathon with my family.  Some items large like the letter writing campaign to local officials, regarding the poor state of our Health Care System.  Reviewing what I’d done, no matter what percentage, brought me back to the reason I started the process.  It’s about celebrating little mile markers all year long as a testament to my life so far.  No worries, no regrets, just a journey that happens in its own time, in my time.

   So, I sit here writing this today to commemorate halftime.  It’s a gift in itself to reflect.  These past months have given me perspective and the ability not to judge myself, but to enjoy myself.  I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other because I can.  I’m filled with gratitude for every moment that’s led up to this and no matter the final score, I’m glad I choose to play.  The experience isn’t the same from the sidelines.

Questions to ponder:  Are you asking the coach to put you in?  
Are you watching from the stands?  
What goals are you reaching for in life? 
Is anything stopping you? 

You never know what might inspire someone else, so I hope you’ll share.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Simple Superhero

   
   Walking back from the pool while on vacation last month, JJ was a few steps ahead of me. 
    “Look mom, I’m a superhero!”   He proudly exclaimed.




   I watched him drape his towel over his head and pull it taught with both hands creating a cape.  Something he’d done many times before.  Today though, the sun happened to be at an angle that cast a shadow out in front of him.  As we walked, the shadow made it look like he was in fact a real super hero flying with his cape.  Delighted, he began to run/fly and the five minute walk back to the house became an adventure of epic proportions.

   My first instinct was to yell at him to stop running.  Visions of skinned knees ran thru my mind, but I stopped myself.  Instead, I allowed this simple moment of pleasure to envelop me along with my almost six year old.  It was pure bliss.  What a gift, that such a little thing was giving my son so much joy and how incredible was it that as his mother who adores him, I was able to experience it as well?

   A few minutes later we were back at the house and he was soon immersed in a variety of race cars, transformers and action figures, but for just a little while, life was as simple as a boy, a towel and his imagination.  It made me really think about not needing much to make life as adventurous as our minds will allow. 

    Ah, the wisdom of youth and the magic it holds for us all.



What are your Simple Superhero moments?  Post them below and follow me on Twitter @40byFortyList.