Ask Away Friday With Mommy A-Z

After all of our travels, this week has finally felt like an almost normal one! We spent last weekend on Cape Cod celebrating the last round of Christmas with Mike’s family. We’re home this weekend, and then back off to Cape Cod for Mike’s grandmother’s 90th! birthday party. Shh! It is a surprise. Good thing she’s not online.

This week’s Ask Away Friday post is with my friend Gracielle from Mommy A-Z.  We met via Ask Away Friday a few months ago. She’s a full time working mama, an amazing blogger, and has some really fun DIY ideas. Recently, she went to work without pants on. AND BLOGGED ABOUT IT. Funny stuff right there, I tell you!

Ask Away Friday is a link up hosted by Penny of The Real Housewife Of Caroline County and Amber of Bold Fab Mom.

Ask Away Friday Mommy A Z

1. What does “NJ” stand for?

It is short for Nancyjo, NOT New Jersey. My name used to be Nancy Jo (maiden name). As a kid, I lived in the same town as older Aunt who’s name was also Nancy. She was always Nancy and I was always called Nancy Jo by most everyone who knew both of us. EXCEPT for my mother’s brothers who always called me NJ.

I am an only child and my dad’s sister is the only sibling who also had children. When I got married, I wanted to take Michael’s name but find a way to keep my maiden name from dying out. So, I pushed the Nancy and the Jo together and moved my maiden name to my middle name. Malone also has my maiden name as part of his middle name too. Lola has my mother in law’s maiden name as part of her middle name.

When I moved out east, I tried to go by Nancyjo for a little while. But people out here have the tendency to drop the Jo and call me Nancy. Which I HATE. The only people who are allowed to do that have changed my diapers.

2. You have a boy and a girl just like me.  Which gender is easier to parent from your experience so far?

Lola is only 5 months, so the jury is still out on this one. Right now, Malone is much easier to parent because his needs are not as physically draining on me as Lola’s. We’re working hard on character qualities with him right now and that can be tough at times, but I can still count on him falling asleep at 7:30 pm and sleeping all night. Neither of those are true right now for Lola.

At the end of the day, my mission statement for motherhood is to raise  self sufficient, empathetic, confident,  kind tiny humans who love their neighbors as themselves. I think it will be a lot harder with Lola because girls are SO MEAN to each other as they grow up.

3. What’s the last thing that made you laugh so hard that your stomach hurt and tears came out of your eyes?

The other day we were getting ready to go to playgroup, but were running late. I was feeling a little frazzled, and apparently Malone could tell. He said to me, “Wait Mom! You need to SLOW your ROLL.” I couldn’t stop laughing. Where does he come up with this stuff.

Right now we’re reading our first chapter book, The Wizard of Oz. Every night he comes to me and asks if it is time to read “The Wizard Of Voz.” That one always makes me smile a bit too.

4. What do you miss most about the Midwest?

My family. I grew up in a really close knit community. My extended family all lives in my hometown and see each other a lot. I really miss spending time with my grandparents. We spent a week there not too long ago, and this is one of my FAVORITE pictures from the entire trip.


It is hard to know that I’m missing the everyday by living in New England, but it feels like home here. I also miss seeing the sun set over the corn fields.

5. Last Friday, Jan 17 was Ditch your Near’s Resolution Day.  I read that your one word resolution for 2014 is “intentional.” Did you ditch it or are you still going strong?

I am still going strong with my word of the year. It is a mindful practice, to be intentional. I might have some more to say about this later. But right now I’m loving it.

6. What’s your favorite chocolate treat?

I’ve been drinking a ton  of dark chocolate almond milk. I HATE regular milk but I don’t seem to mind this. It is thicker than regular milk and has more calcium. I like it because it is a quick way to get a some protein.

Otherwise, I don’t discriminate.

7. You mentioned that you usually blog from your office space.  Can you take a photo or instagram it so we can see where acookiebeforedinner comes to life?

I took a few pictures Thursday afternoon, just for you!

My office is just like a mullet. Business in the front (my desk) and party in the back (Malone’s toys). This is a pretty typical representation of what my desk looks like. Although my blogging binder is usually open and my water jar is almost always empty. I love having my office set up this way. Malone often spends a good deal of time behind me playing. His blocks and parking garage get touched almost every day. That really sweet 1950′s toy box is one of my top thrifting finds of all time (I paid $5.00 for it). It holds Malone’s larger dump trucks and cars. Next to the toy box is a basket full of cardboard boxes that Malone has snatched out of the recycling. He likes to use them to build towns with.


Office 1

8. I recently forgot to wear pants to work. Have you ever left the house and forgot something really important or had a wardrobe malfunction?

I don’t think so. But I don’t wear my wedding ring because it rubs on my finger the wrong way and leaves tiny little bumps.

9. If you had any super hero power, what would it be?

I’d rather be a magic genie and make people’s wishes come true!

10. What is your favorite Malone and Lola sibling interaction you’ve witnessed so far?

Malone loved Lola from the second she was born and it has been really fun to see him become a protective and loving big brother. BUT the sweetest thing I’ve seen is watching Lola fall in love with him. She’s five months now and totally aware of her surroundings. Malone is the only one who can make her laugh from the depths of her gut. It makes my heart melt every time.


  1. 1

    Tiffany says

    Hi NJ! I love the story behind why you use NJ and how you kept your maiden name while still taking on your husband’s. I think that’s great. I also love how you say the only people who can call you the N without the J are those who have changed your diapers… LOL
    Tiffany recently posted..Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s LiteratureMy Profile

    • 2

      NJ says

      Thanks Tiffany! I love having my maiden name as my middle name. It is actually a pretty common boy’s name, so it works well for Malone too!

  2. 3

    Stacey Gannett (This Momma's Ramblings) says

    Amazing answers, NJ! I love your little office space, including the little toy space for Malone! You are so right that girls can be so mean to each other. Lil miss has had such a problem with this from when she attended public school all the way to the girls from church…she is such a loving little punkin and all she wants are friends to have. It totally breaks my heart for her. I am thankful that all of mine are really caring and kind to others, all of the little old ladies at church just adore them! LOL! Hope you have a great weekend, NJ!
    Stacey Gannett (This Momma’s Ramblings) recently posted..#AskAwayFriday 25 With Sonya from Saving Everyday With Sonya K!My Profile

    • 4

      NJ says

      I was in her shoes for a lot of years growing up. All I wanted was friendship. All they wanted was someone to be mean to. It sucked and I spent a lot of time heartbroken by their actions. Tell her to keep her head held high. It gets better. A few of the “mean girls” apologized to me when we saw each other a few years ago.

  3. 5

    Sonya says

    I love your office space, it’s so neat and organized. I never wear my wedding ring either. Since I’ve had kids I hardly wear any type of jewerly.
    Sonya recently posted..Freegal Music App for Free Legal MP3 DownloadsMy Profile

    • 6

      NJ says

      Thanks Sonya! I have to have a lot of whitespace, otherwise I can’t focus well!

      I love to wear necklaces from time to time, but for some reason rings really bother me.

  4. 7

    Alison says

    I love the story behind your name – I always wondered but I don’t know why I never asked?
    Your work space is SWEET!!
    And sibling relationships are the best thing, I love watching my boys grow into their own roles as brothers to each other.
    Alison recently posted..Through The Lens Thursday #4: WhiteMy Profile

    • 8

      NJ says

      I have to say, I love watching your boys grow into their roles via Insta. I love the snippets that you share there.

      I adore my work space. The only thing I don’t like about it sometimes is that it is in the middle of the house. It is great most of the time because I can write and still be part of all of the action. BUT, there are times when it would be super nice to be able to escape behind a closed door for a few hours and work uninterrupted.

  5. 9

    The Dose of Reality says

    I had no idea that NJ was for Nancyjo! Your office space is adorbs. I want an office space like that!! I just sit at the kitchen table for the most part. Ugh. Oh…and I TOTALLY need to Slow my Roll. I’m using that!!! –Lisa
    The Dose of Reality recently posted..Pinterest Nightmare #189: The Face Trainer by No!No!My Profile

    • 10

      NJ says

      I have to sit at a desk and in a computer chair if I am going to stay focused and productive. I think it spills over from the days when I used to work from home full time. I got used to showing up everyday to my desk to work. Whenever I bust out the laptop and try to blog somewhere else, the time isn’t very productive!

  6. 11

    Herchel S says

    NJ totally fits you but I would never think of you as a “Nancy.” Little girls can be mean to each other but I think they are mean to their MOTHERS first! I’ve had my five year old stop me before leaving the house to ask me, “are you sure you want to wear that shirt? The shirt makes you look fat.” I wish my office space could remain as neat as yours. Right now I am at the kitchen table and it looks like a hurricane tore through here.
    Herchel S recently posted..My bulletproof babyMy Profile

    • 12

      NJ says

      I am so glad that you don’t think of me as a “Nancy”. It just isn’t my style. NJ is spunky and fun, just like I am!

      I’m okay with Lola being mean to me as she grows up. I feel like kids always lash out at the person they feel the safest with. Malone told me the other day that I wasn’t looking very fabulous and I needed to get a more fancy shirt than the one I was wearing. Kids can be so funny/mean with their observations sometimes!

      My office space is generally pretty neat because clutter drives me batty. Right now there is a basket of laundry to fold, dishes in the sink, and toys everywhere. My skin feels crawly, but they’ll all have to wait until the morning!

  7. 13

    Sarah says

    I love those deep belly laughs from babies and kids. you know they are just so happy! Great answers NJ! xoxo
    Sarah recently posted..#AskAwayFriday Link Up with Lanaya from Raising ReaganMy Profile

    • 14

      NJ says

      I never factored things like this in when I dreamed of having more than one kid. Really what I was thinking about then was their adult life together as siblings. But to see these moments as they grow up, it is just so so sweet!

  8. 15

    Gracielle says

    I love the story about how you arrived at being called “NJ”! And that you hate it when people drop the Jo from Nancyjo. I feel the same way when people try to call me “Gracie.” Malone is HILARIOUS – Wizard of “Voz”! Arielle says things incorrectly too and I don’t correct her because I think it’s cute. Like instead of “alcohol” she says “unclehall”.
    Thanks so much for sharing pics of your Mullet office space! That’s a great idea to keep Malone’s toys there so he can play while you blog. Arielle was the only one who could make Zavier laugh when he was about 6 months. There will be so many more heart-melting sibling interactions to come!

    I had a blast swapping questions with you. I was smiling the entire time reading your answers. Have a great weekend, NJ!
    Gracielle recently posted..{Ask Away Friday} NJ from @ACookieB4DinnerMy Profile

    • 16

      NJ says

      I’m so glad we swapped to Gracielle! I hate it when people get my name wrong. However, I’ll take “Angie” for NJ over Nancy for Nancyjo!

      I love the way preschoolers talk. I don’t EVER want Malone to learn the right words for things because it is just so so cute to hear him almost get them right. Right now he calls his robe a vest and it is just so funny and sweet all at the same time!

  9. 17

    Rabia @TheLiebers says

    My dining room is a dual purpose (actually three-purposed) room: dining room, playroom and office space. From now on I am totally going to tell people that it’s the mullet room!!! Love it!!
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted..#AskAwayFriday with Beth from Structure in an Unstructured LifeMy Profile

    • 18

      NJ says

      The mullet room would be a dining room in almost anyone else’s house. We eat at a table in the kitchen though. The room is a good size and it functions well as the “hub” of our house. It opens to french doors in the living room, so really no one is too far away from each other. I’ve thought a lot about my dream house as I year for an office space of my own. But then I wonder, would I ever even really use it? I like that I can jump on here from time to time and still be in the middle of all of the action that happens!

  10. 19

    Kim says

    So many great things here!!!
    I agree – girls are mean to each other and I thought that as an adult it would end but sadly I still know people who want to live the high school life!
    I love that Malone said “slow your roll.” I think I will steal that and use it to remind myself to slow down!!
    I had a similar problem with my wedding ring about this time last year – it was awful. I had always worn my ring all the time but I had to start taking it off. Now I no longer sleep or shower in it and I don’t have problems any more. I do miss wearing it all the time but I don’t miss the itchy bumps.
    Kim recently posted..Some Friday FavoritesMy Profile

    • 20

      NJ says

      I don’t know why girls (and women) are so mean to each other. Really, there is no point. Everyone should be kind to each other. The end.

      I know that the reason my ring was giving me a fit was because water was getting trapped under it. But I have two kids between washing hands and doing dishes, there is no way to avoid it. I almost lost it a few times when I tried to take it off to wash my hands. I’d rather just keep it up on a shelf. And Michael doesn’t mind that I don’t wear it.

  11. 21

    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says

    DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND MILK??? I had no idea such an amazing thing existed. Must investigate! The picture of your little one with your grandpa is just precious. I wish I lived closer to my family, too, although I am pretty lucky that I only live about an hour from my grandparents so sometimes I crash Sunday dinner at their place.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..Rocking out to Morning Edition, travels through Spain, and having an Army Ranger as a mentorMy Profile

    • 22

      NJ says

      Dark chocolate almond milk is amazing. I’m drinking some right now, in fact!

      There is a larger story about that photo of Lola and my grandfather. I think it will be up on the blog sometime next week. I also wish I lived close enough to my grandparents that I could crash their house for dinner. They have a really sweet open door policy, especially at meal time. If you’re there and it is time for dinner, there is a place for you at their table. No reservations required!

  12. 23

    Carla says

    I have grown children, one girl and two boys. My daughter was harder in some ways and my boys harder in others. With that being said, my daughter is the oldest and I didn’t know what I was doing. Since she is three years older than the next one down, I was dealing with things I wasn’t prepared for a lot. LOL

    I love your blogging office. I sit on the couch but this year I am focusing on being happy and running my blog like a business does not make me happy.
    Carla recently posted..1/25/14: The SkinnyMy Profile

    • 24

      NJ says

      You’ve got to do what works best for you, Carla! For me, I love the big screen of our desk top computer. There are times when I write on my laptop, but that isn’t too often.

  13. 25

    Ilene says

    I need to go thrifting with you – LOVE the toy box! And I also love chocolate almond milk. I also enjoyed watching my kids interact with their baby siblings and visa versa. There’s the rivalry, for sure, but there’s a lot of love too. It’s a great gift as a parent.
    Ilene recently posted..You Gotta Be: Ask Away Friday with Tamara Camera BlogMy Profile

    • 26

      NJ says

      I’ve found some really great stuff in the past, I’m a sucker for vintage toys especially the Fisher Price Little People that I played with as a kid! But that toy box is one of the greatest finds of ALL TIME. Right now it is sitting unappreciated in a corner. It really needs a better spot in my house!

  14. 27

    Sarah says

    I really love the meaning of your name, very cool!!! Kids say the funniest things too. I should really keep track of what mine say, ha! Hope you had a great weekend.


  1. […] Thanks for these awesome questions, NJ!  I had so much fun swapping questions with you this week.  I asked her what “NJ” stand for and what she misses most about living in the Midwest.  Check out here answers here. […]

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