Grilling with Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life

Grilling with Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life


Today for #AskAwayFriday I’m swapping questions with Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life. We are doing the questions a little bit differently today…we are swapping 5 questions. Lighter, yes, in numbers only. Don’t feel like you are missing out…Michelle and I intentionally did that because we know each other very well, and have been friends for a long time. We tried to ask each other “tougher” questions (hence “grilling”) so our readers would have an opportunity to know us as we know each other. And we may include a grill recipe or two as well, I know Michelle has posted a few and next week is doing one for ribs (on the grill). And crock pot bar-b-que sauce. Come back.

In case you don’t know #AskAwayFriday was created by Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County as a way to connect with other bloggers: choose a partner, swap 10 questions and post your answers. It’s a great opportunity to get to know other bloggers while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way which is one of the best parts of this online world!

Now to welcome our wonderful #AskAwayFriday hosts…


Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
Amber from Bold Fit Mom

This week we welcome back our co-host Stephanie from “So, I’ve been thinking…”



So…grab our button, follow our beautiful/funny/talented hosts and co-host, hop through the great link ups and make some amazing new friends!

#AAF photo AAFBadge200_zpsb37e620f.png

If you don’t know Michelle, she is the creator and mastermind behind A Dish of Daily Life, a lifestyle blog with recipes (like this panini on the grill), recipe collections and how-to ideas for everything from social media to cyber-security to basic (and not-so-basic) household tasks – photo organization, anyone? It’s definitely worth checking out her site – she’s a great writer and you won’t be disappointed.

Before I dive into the questions Michelle asked me I’ll tell you my recollection of how we met. I ask Michelle what she remembers and you can compare our versions when you visit her…after you’ve read my answers here, of course.

A friendship is born…

Ten years ago, my oldest son was starting pre-school. My husband and I had been in town for almost three years at that point. We had a few friends; my closest local friend and I had researched the various pre-schools, yet I still felt “new” and unsure about the whole experience. I wasn’t familiar with the town and definitely didn’t know many people at all – my world was very, very small. I had been overwhelmed by the school selection process and while I knew it was necessary for three year-old Scar to go to preschool, I was pretty nervous.

That first day he was confident, held my hand and bravely went into the classroom to meet the other kids. The other parents and I lingered for a bit – but eventually I had to kiss him goodbye and leave. The leaving.

So hard.

For me, at least.

I guess it was for him, too. When I kneeled down to say goodbye I could see his confidence was less, “You’re leaving?” his little kid eyes growing wide as a bit of confusion set in. I had to go fast before either of us started crying. He didn’t want me to go and I didn’t want to. What if something happens? What if he needs me? What if kids are mean to him? The fears and anxieties would scramble around in my head nearly preventing me from walking out the door.

But I did.

Nauseous and worried, I said goodbye and walked out the classroom door, up the stairs to leave the building and stood there stunned – not knowing what to do next. I didn’t want to leave. It was only two hours, I could wait right there – just in case. But I couldn’t, not just because that would be crazy but also because I had two not-quite-two-year-olds at home waiting for me with my husband who was also waiting to go to work.

Then I saw the moms in the front of the building, near the windows, peeking in. There was actually one mom in particular, in the ideal spot, watching everything going on in the classroom without being seen by any of the kids. I didn’t know her but I needed to know what was happening.

“Can you see my son?”

“Which one is he?”

“Dark blue shirt, dark hair.”

“No. Nope, I don’t see him. Where was he?”

“By the door when I left.”

“What shirt?”

“Dark blue, dark hair.”

“I don’t, um, wait, I think I see him. By the door? He’s over in the corner. Crying.”

I immediately knew I’d made a mistake. I couldn’t look myself but I couldn’t stand the thought of him being there and being sad. “Oh no.” And the look on my face must have spoken all the thoughts in my head.

“Don’t worry. He will be fine. This is my third time and each kid has been different and they’ve all been fine.”

“You’ve done this three times?”

“Yeah, and they all are just fine. I’ll introduce him to my son so he will know someone. He will be okay.”

I had to take her word for it.

And I did. Then I took more words…over the next few days and weeks, that have somehow become years by now…about her family, kids, hopes, dreams and disappointments.

Life building and friendship building words.

I could stop here and be happy and know you all understand our friendship. But there’s more. So here you go…ready or not…

Michelle’s questions for me:

We’ve known each other a long time…ten years.

Eli probably making up stories again

Our kids met in preschool, but they play different sports and went to different elementary schools. I don’t think they ever had any classes together in intermediate school. I think they have lunch together this year. And yet for all these years, they have remained friends in spite of really not seeing each other all that much.

What’s a tea party without hot chocolate, chocolate covered pretzels and friends?

Getting their participation trophies. hahahaha you’ll have to read Michelle’s post about trophies to laugh at that one

And the same parallel could be drawn about us…you’re really the only person I am really still connected to from preschool. Not that I’m not friendly with people, but you’re the only one from those years that I call or do anything with. Since our kids were off in so many different directions, we’ve gone periods of time without seeing each other or talking, and yet we still remain friends. I could reflect on why that is, but I’m curious on your thoughts on it too.

I think we’ve stayed friends because it’s easy between us. You are very straightforward and I love people who are like that. No guessing games, no being mad at me for not calling if we haven’t talked in a while. Life is busy, we both know that. I’m not worried if you hang out with other people, even people we have in common, it doesn’t bear any reflection on our friendship. I like you and your family, I know you like me and mine. If we get together once per year or just see each other at a blog conference or even see each other 3 days in one week – I’m okay with any of it. I enjoy talking to you and I know it’s reciprocal.

Back when I first started blogging, you made the comment to me that I was living your dream. At that point, I was unemployed and trying to start a new business. I feel like I am re-inventing a new career for myself, and I got the feeling you were wanting to do that too. Now that you have started blogging as well, what do you think is the next step in your blog career? Do you see it branching off into something else related?

Honestly, I see many possibilities.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my blog. There are link-ups I love and people I love to read, I have a million ideas to write about and yet…there is something. Something that holds me back from just letting go and letting it all out. The next step for me is to simply set up a schedule and stick to it – if I wrote as often as I think about writing I could fill posts five days every week. Yet, I don’t. I sit back and think and overanalyze and talk myself out of many, many things.

This past year – writing and learning and absorbing – I am using it all and see, as I mentioned, many possibilities. I feel like I’m at a point to start implementing and start doing. I’m not 100% putting it in words here today but this summer is going to be interesting in terms of the next evolution of where I see my career and expertise taking me.

We’re both sports moms and I think we are similar in our expectations of sports…what is your BIGGEST pet peeve on the sports field or the sidelines?

I’m going to rant a little bit: This has been a horrible year. And an amazing year. You (Michelle) have heard me cry over comments and meanness directed towards my children and husband (as a volunteer coach) about every issue from playing time to Greg’s attire on the sidelines (because a polo shirt and khaki shorts apparently aren’t okay to coach in. Really. Someone criticized him for that. On the same day he coached two games back to back because both “head” coaches had to work and couldn’t be there. When a “geez, thanks for stepping up” would have been way more appropriate.)

Horrible because one son who was double rostered was slammed for “taking playing time” from other kids on the team. (side note: “Are You Freaking Kidding Me???”) The same son who gave 100% to both teams at every practice and every game. He accepted his placement humbly and still scored and assisted and worked his a$$ off no matter which team he played for, which was many times both teams in the same day. Sports parents can be the absolute worst; some of the most arrogant and selfish and fake people I’ve ever encountered. Because really, if you are saying that on the sidelines but being nice to my face…why would you bother? Do you not think I’m going to hear about the things you say? Do you think I’m going to like you anyway? I’m not. Don’t bother.

So anyway, this year was frustrating to say the least, and a bit lonely because I can’t look those people in the eyes and be nice when I know what they’ve said behind my family’s back, so I don’t engage. And I have about 8,000 photos to prove it because I take photos instead of engaging.

I also have the validation of that same son being selected to go to the CONNY All-Star Tournament, there is only one player selected from each team, where he played well and worked hard and showed why he deserved to be there.

Teronis #14 White

Teronis in white

All of that being said – my biggest pet peeve is a parent or former coach standing on the sidelines coaching. I don’t feel there is any place for it – even if your intentions are good – no one but the coaches on the field should be offering any direction to any child on the field during a game. Coaching is the coaches job, if a parent notices such a huge misappropriation of talent or attention or a gap in skills…contact the coach himself. If the idea of presenting your ideas to an adult is intimidating or overwhelming or causes you to second guess your words…then maybe you shouldn’t be speaking them in the first place. DO NOT COACH FROM THE SIDELINES.


And don’t criticize volunteer coaches.

Thank you.

Another thing we have in common is a love of photography. What do you wish was in your brand new Epiphanie camera bag?

My brand new, beautiful Epiphanie bag is pretty full. I have everything I need and my only desire is a new lens: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. Of course maybe a lens baby or some other fun lenses would be great but I really, really love taking sports photos – they don’t even have to be of only my kids – and the lens I want would help me perfect my photos. That said…if I win one of the many Canon EOS 5D Mark III contests I’m not going to complain. I’m also not complaining about my current camera the Canon 7D, I’ve still got lots of room to learn and grow with it. So I guess I got the bag to hold all of the great items I already have!!

As I get older, I am starting to feel a lot more reflective on life…I think that comes with age. Do you feel like that too? What lessons do you feel like life is teaching you right now?

I am definitely more reflective. I can be a little abrupt and outspoken (in case you couldn’t tell from answer #3), I react sometimes when it would be better for me to be quiet. I feel like I am learning that – and yet I feel like I’ve always been learning that. It’s not easy to take a step back and allow myself to consider where someone else may be coming from and understand it may not have anything to do with me. I am working on that for myself and hopefully teaching the same to my children.

Professionally I also feel like I’m at a crossroads. It is time for me to stop thinking (as I mentioned) and start moving. Everyday I see someone chasing their dreams and – whether succeeding or failing – they are living. They aren’t waiting for approval or permission. It’s amazing and incredible to watch. And it’s time.

Thank you, Michelle, for the great questions and now I’ll be calling you all of the time because I probably just made a few people angry with my rant. I guess it was time to get it all out there. Now I’d like to know…what are your pet peeves? Do you have a hobby you love? What lessons would you say you are learning right now? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Be sure to check out our Facebook page “AskAwayFriday” for a great place to meet up and send out a #BuddyRequest if you need a partner to swap with!

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  1. Another Connecticut neighbor! I’m a little ways down 7 from you, in Redding but I drive through beautiful New Milford when we go camping in Kent. 🙂 My daughter just started softball this year. She’s only 6 so I haven’t dealt with any sports drama yet but I have heard it from other parents talking about their older kids. Oh boy. At least I know to be aware of this stuff…

  2. I’m not going to lie, I had a few tears in my eyes when I read about how you and Michelle met. Your friendship is so sweet and reading about it has inspired me to reach out to some of my “lifers” that I haven’t seen in awhile.

    I think your advice about about coaching from the sidelines is spot on. Malone is JUST starting to enter the sports world and I can see already how people put their crazy on when it comes to kids and sports.

    • Aww NJ – I’m glad you are reaching out. It made me want to do that as well. When someone holds a certain place in your heart and memories it’s good to do that.

      Love “how people put their crazy on” so funny. And so appropriate. Sadly.

  3. You HAVE had a rough sports season…I knew some of this, but not all…I feel for you. It’s hard. It’s hard to feel friendly towards someone who you know is talking about you or your kid behind your back. It’s even worse when it’s someone you thought was a friend. You must be feeling a sigh of relief that it’s summer. My kids love team sports too…but I must say track was lovely this year. It’s all about time. 🙂 I wonder if anyone will see themselves in your rant and become reflective. I find myself reflecting on everything these days, and I feel like it leads to life lessons. Thanks for asking me to partner with you! It was fun, even though I had the hardest time coming up with questions because I’ve known you so long.

    • Self-absorbed normally doesn’t exist with self-aware…so no, they probably won’t get it. Thanks for listening though, it helped. I am very excited for summer – it will be a nice break.

  4. Aww, I can totally see why you two are friends and love getting the back story on how you indeed did get to know each other and now are truly the best of friends 10 or so years later. Definitely, made me smile on this Friday morning 🙂

  5. I love the story. All of it. And how it lasted over the years. I’m at a crossroads with the preschool graduation and wondering if I’ll see these people again. We’ll all reunite again in middle school or high school so if it’s meant to be, it will be.
    Sometimes I feel like I’m following my dreams, and other times I feel like I’m holding back and watching others. I guess it changes.
    I need an Ephiphanie bag already! Maybe a birthday present to myself.

    • I so get your crossroads, having been there. I thought we’d be back visiting preschool every week…and then…reality. You keep on moving and experiencing great things. Epiphanie has a great red Lola camera bag you would probably love. I’m trying to get it for a review, they said I have it but I don’t have it yet. It’s a great birthday gift idea.

  6. Oh My …what an amazing friendship you and Michelle have! I love the sort of how you met and how detailed you remember it. I can see why your friendship has lasted through many changes throughout the past 10 years. Beautiful.

    • Thanks Tiffany. Once you start thinking about the moments of a friendship…it kind of makes me want to write it about each of my friends. And tell them how important they are to me and why. Now there’s a project!

  7. The Dose of Reality

    I always love it when two of my favorite blogs team up! FUN!! I had no idea that you all have known each other so long and were in the parenting trenches together for real! I love the story of how you met! We all need a friend who will narrate from the preschool window for us!!
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your take on friendship. That’s just how it should be. Whether we see each other 3 times in one week or don’t touch base for 3 months, we know we care about each other. I wish all friendships could be that easy.
    I loved your deep take on Ask Away Friday! Now I’m going over to see what questions you asked Michelle!! –Lisa

    • Thank you Lisa. I wish they were all that easy too. I’ve been pretty lucky in the friendship department. You can see why we cut it down though, right? It would’ve been a series if I’d had to answer 10 questions.

  8. Sounds like you’ve been doing a lot of thinking about your blog and what the next step is. I’m excited to follow your journey, Steph – and know that I’m always here to be a sounding board!

  9. So nice to know more about you and your friendship with Michelle. It goes beyond the blog only. I love what you said about her not being mad or angry because you haven’t called for a long time. I think it pays to be an understanding friend. Life can really get busy at times. I find time to communicate more with my friends back in my hometown when I can but I’m happy they don’t get upset when I can’t. I can feel the heart of a mom when you’re retelling your sports story, it felt tough and glad you were so honest about it.

    • When people get mad at me for not calling….

      I used to feel guilty and apologize and carry that with me.

      Then one day I thought…it goes both ways. Are you kidding? You could have called me.

      Since then I’ve been reluctant to buy into “you should have” because there are a million things every day that could fit into that category. I already have my own brain spinning with guilt…I don’t need people to add to it. Especially when it’s not just on me. There is that ease with Michelle and I sincerely appreciate it.

      Also – I still can’t believe I posted that rant. It makes me laugh like I’ve gotten away with something. However, I had Greg read it tonight to see what he thought and he said, “that was hilarious but the people who did it won’t even know you are talking about them.”

      Isn’t that something? As I said to Michelle self absorbed does not equal self aware.

  10. I love the story of how you and Michelle met!! And, the fact that your boys have stayed friends even though they do different activities is awesome!!!
    So, not to sound stupid, is the sport in the pictures lacrosse?

    • Oh my goodness, Kim, that comment made me laugh out loud. When I proofed I knew I hadn’t mentioned the sport but I also wanted to not, I guess, draw attention to my rant. I do like some of those parents and I don’t avoid all of them but I was afraid of hurting feelings….so long story and explanation short…that is lacrosse. And it’s a really fun sport to watch.

  11. I feel like I am seeing to besties hang out together and reminisce about their lives and how it all came together for them. LOVED this!! The story of your friendship starting is just so CLASSIC. It amazes me how motherhood can truly bring women together with such a strong bond!

    Your friendship is one that I have with many… and it’s such a gift! To know that you have someone who is real and when you find the time to hang together, it’s just like you were with them yesterday. I love the bond you two share. It’s just beautiful!

  12. ok, so I cried. There, I said it. You guys have a beautiful friendship and it is was wonderful to read about how you support each other. I can’t even comment about sports parents but I will send you a virtual fist bump (that should say it all).

  13. My kids have never played sports so I missed out on all of that. My daughter did do dance and I changed her dance school before because I thought the one she was going to was too competitive. When I was sitting at a table with women talking about putting their 10, 11, and 12 year old daughters on a diet, I knew I didn’t want her to go there anymore.

    It sounds like you and Michelle have a really wonderful friendship.

  14. So fun to read about your friendship and that of your sons! Your lacrosse photos are fantastic! It’s so tough getting good sports/movement shots like that. And man, I think a lot of people would agree with you on the parents coaching from the sidelines thing! I’m not even a mom yet, but that get to me, too.

  15. 1. It’s no surprise to me that two of the most gracious women I know, who’ve had a profound impact on me as a blogger, would have had a friendship develop as beautifully as yours did.

    2. Pet peeves, since you asked: Chicken, on pizza. Disney shows with the volume turned up past 3. The use of semiautomatic firearms on public streets.

    3. The lesson I’m learning now: Sometimes, your best isn’t enough. So just fight the good fight and leave it up to fate.

  16. Kristi Campbell - findingninee

    Wow. First, I’m just reeling over how happy I am for you both, that you found Michelle standing in the window. That was ME, standing there, with no window to peek in during preschool, and well, I DID cry, and I cried big time. I found my friend Joanna because her son was there too but her son and mine won’t be going to the same kindergarten next year (different “base” schools). But wow. I wish I lived by you guys. Or, I wish you lived by me. What an amazing tale of friendship for the moms (and your kids).

  17. Kristi Campbell - findingninee

    OH. dangit. I also get the blogging doubt. I’m wondering why I do it at all, these days. While I LOVE it, it’s like wtf do I stress about it? I’ve been doing preschool grad, and this weekend went out of town (when my husband bailed so just me and Tucker in a hotel) and it was better than I thought but zero writing….um yeah. why. But please keep blogging??? I adore you. I want to live closer.

  18. What a great swap! I love that your bond has continued and for the kids, too. Oddly, none of my kids have ever really been into sports, they are more into the artsy or gamer pursuits. I have been trying to do a bit more planning for the blog, but my summer garden has put everything on hold! Hope you have a great week, Stephanie!

  19. That is so cool that you two are friends in real life. I haven’t met any of my blogger friends yet, but I would love too in the future. I know there are several people that blog that are in my area and it might actually be possible to meet up one day.

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