Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Five Things I Love About Spring

  1.  Flowers!  Daffodils and forsythia are my favorites since they bloom so early.

  2. Farmer's markets!  I got out of the habit of going this winter but I'm excited to get local produce and fresh veggies. I also like to take Babyface so he can help pick out food and is more likely to like new things if he's involved in choosing them.
  3. Light!  Sunrise gets earlier and earlier and it stays light later.  In the winter, I feel like I'm getting up in the middle of the night and when I leave work it's pitch black.  For my birthday, my dad got me this wake-up light (it makes sounds too) and it was so helpful in the winter.  It's a very gentle way to wake upfirst light, then gradually increasing soundsand a very nice change from being jarred awake by an alarm.
  4. Planning!  I have to put fun on the agenda, otherwise it just gets pushed to the back burner.  I've scheduled day trips to parks, the bay, a festival, camping (Babyface's first time), a road trip to hang out with my in-laws, and a trip to visit my mom.  Here's hoping the weather cooperates.
  5. Rain!  Even when we get a lot of it, spring rain is lovely.  Plus it washes all of the pollen from the air.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Grateful on Friday

Today I am grateful for library book sales, intense workouts, that it's maxi dress season, allergy medicine, super comfy jeans, um, I mean denim trousers, being a planner, How to Get Away with Murder, new friends, Aldi (it's a very close second to my favorite market, Publix), putting clean laundry away right away, feeling at home, and looking on the bright side. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Did You Ever Have A Family?

I got Did You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg from the library and once I started reading it, I stayed up way too late and finished it in just a few days.  It's a heartbreaking story with beautiful writing. I would never have picked it up but it was a book club choice and I'm hosting this month so I really had to read it. It starts with a house fire where a woman loses her daughter, her daughter's fiance, her boyfriend, and her ex-husband in a rush of flames.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Things I've Been Up To Since My Last Post

  1. Family fun. My dad and stepmom have visited a few times and I love to see them with Babyface.  Also, they have grandparent privilege so if all his meals with them include french fries and ice cream followed by Mickey Mouse, so be it.  My sister came from Denver to DC for the first time since Babyface was born.  She spent a blazing hot Sunday with us at a town festival and she gamely took Babyface on some of the sketchy carnival rides.  Then we both took a half day off during the week and went to a museum, saw a movie, and had dinner.  One of my favorite cousins was in town and we spent a perfect summer evening at the pool with her family.  My family traveled to Colorado and stayed with my dad and stepmom.  My brother, his girlfriend, and his daughter were there too. It was the first time all the cousins had all been together and they had a blast.
    sister selfie

    cousin selfie
  2. Just let me finish this chapter...  I joined two book clubs that meet monthly.  I've read some great books, like Euphoria, The Magician's Lie, and The Nightingale, none of which I would have picked up on my own.  We've also gone to author readings.  For my birthday My Heart's Desire gave me a gift subscription to the Book of the Month Club and I really enjoy it! Of course, this is on top of all of the reading that I do for fun.
    best feminist magic book of the year!
  3. Furiously writing.  I've been doing some writing and submitting, mostly in the early morning.  And I'm taking an online writing class, my first.  It's definitely different than taking a class IRL but it's getting me in the creative habit, which I love.
  4. More crocking. I bet you saw this one coming! I love to slow cook year-round. My favorite slow cooker cookbooks are Art of the Slow Cooker and 300 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes: Dinners that are Ready When You Are.
    yum
  5. Happy fall, y'all!  This fall has been chock-full of activities.  We went to a farm fall festival, apple picking, a fall festival at Babyface's school, trick-or-treating, a Halloween community event, as well as a haunted house, and a Halloween event at church.  We also made a kind of Waldorf-inspired nature table with found leaves, acorns, a pine cone and little pumpkin.   
 
my dragon
we made applesauce and apple crisp

 




















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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for morning meditation, the break from the heat, library books on Kindle, summer produce, being able to not take things personally, bug spray, and going to bed early.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Grandma loves Babyface

My mom visited for a long weekend and Babyface was the star of the show.

The super-strict mom I grew up with has been transformed into the most doting of grandmothers.  Carousel and train ride at the mall? Ice cream before dinner? Eat the cream cheese with your fingers? All her ideas!

My heart leaps up when I see Babyface with his grandparents and since none of them see him too often, almost all our usual rules slide.  Last year my Aunt Cece visited and kindly minded Babyface so My Heart's Desire and I could go to a movie.  When he said he was hungry, she brought him cookies in bed.  When I told my cousin this, I thought she would die laughing. Grandmas and Aunts are the best!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Euphoria

Lily King's Euphoria is a dizzying, beautifully written novel. I listened to it on Audible and no wonder I was driving so slow.
It's the story of three anthropologists in  New Guinea in the 1930's, a tangle of anthropology, romance, work that intrigues almost immediately.  The plot wanders a bit in the middle and there is some modern-day syntax that doesn't quite work, but the story is great and the ending makes it all worth it.

A-

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for sunshine, air conditioning, homemade popsicles (My Heart's Desire bought these rocket and sailboat shaped molds), how much Babyface likes being 4, my home office, finding a forgotten gift card, amazing in-season cherries, crepe myrtles in bloom, having family trips to look forward to, and finally figuring out how to download podcasts.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

The Boston Girl

First I listened to a sample Anita Diamant's The Boston Girl on Audible but found the narrator's voice grating, so I downloaded it on my Kindle from the library.

In this well-written novel, Addie Baum, 85, tells her plucky life story to her granddaughter in a series of monologues, each that make you want to pull up a chair.  Addie begins when she was born, in 1900 to immigrant Russian parents, the youngest of three daughters.  Her story is detailed and much of it is follows familiar archetypes.

The storytelling moves fast and it's easy to care about Addie.  Much of the important historical events are rather glossed over and this doesn't explore the contextual events of the time beyond the surface.  Addie's personal story has many twists and turns and Addie speaks very frankly to her granddaughter. The voice is conversational, friendly, and I found it hard to put down.

If you're looking for a deep dive into of a lifetime of complex events and thoughtful analysis, keep looking.  But if you throw this book in your beach bag, you won't be disappointed.

B+
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for a long holiday weekend, My Heart's Desire's parents are coming down tonight,  Radical Acceptance, book clubs, southern pecan coffee, a good night's sleep, Maui Mango candle, quiet mornings, Audible (I'm currently listening to Euphoria), being able to roll with things, the Serenity prayer, wisdom from other moms, Babyface's joyful dancing, and the thrift store jacket I rock in my chilly office.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mama, I'm In Love With A Vacuum

As a housewarming gift, we received a robot vacuum.  I thought I'd like it.  Instead, I love it.  And I'm not much of a housekeeper.  I grocery shop, meal plan, cook, do laundry, etc., but cleaning I despise.  This machine has taken the effort out of vacuuming, all we have to do is empty the container when it tells us it's full.

My Heart's Desire dubbed it R2D2.  It has a timer so every morning at 10, R2D2 turns itself on, vacuums, then puts itself back in the dock.  It's loud, like a regular vacuum, but I couldn't care less.  On the weekends sometimes I don't want to hear it, so if I'm home, I'll turn it off at 10 and then tell it to go when we leave the house. 

Because we know it runs every morning, it forces us to pick stuff up off the floor every night.  We already lost one of Babyface's books when he left it in his box fort and R2D2 tried to clean it.

Here's the thing that's wonderful about R2D2: it does every single thing, every single time.  Under the furniture.  Around corners thoroughly.  It has a low profile so it slides right under our beds, chairs, sofa, sideboard, actually all of the furniture. Even when we think the house is clean, it's amazing how much schmutz R2D2 vacuums up.

When I come home, our house looks clean because of these carpet lines.  I never knew that I liked carpet lines so much...but I really, really do. It cleans in a random pattern.



When my mother visited last month, she was also impressed with R2D2.  She's a senior and vacuuming isn't an easy chore for her.  I was going to buy her R2D2 for her birthday, but she liked it so much she bought one for herself.  Considering that I get my thrifty gene from her, I was surprised.

The R2D2 we have is the fancy one, the iRobot Roomba 880 Vacuum Cleaning Robot For Pets and Allergies.  I have tons of environmental allergies and between taking off our shoes in the house and R2D2, it's helped.  I wouldn't have bought it just because of the price point, but now that we've used it, I recommend it.  My mom bought an earlier model, the Robot Roomba 650 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for Pets and likes it just as much as I like mine.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for going to bed early, that Babyface loves to listen to Oh, Happy Day, lemons, high-quality problems, bug repellant, texting, being able to laugh instead of getting mad, comfy shoes, flexible spending claims, sunglasses, protein bars, and summer fun to look forward to. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for: waking up on time, electricity, light traffic, being able to laugh instead of getting mad, it's not so freaking hot, enjoying simple things, flexible spending claims, protein bars, comfy shoes, and a great afternoon with my sister yesterday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Better Than Before

Something about Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before really clicked with me.  I enjoyed her two previous books and even took some of her suggestions.  I regularly read her blog and when I first read Better Than Before I was disappointed that there wasn't very much new material.  I know this already, I thought many times.  I've even read these exact same examples.

When I was finished with the book I kept mulling over how I could play to my strengths. And I saw why some of my attempts at habit change were successes and others were spectacular failures. What I found useful was the information about self-knowledge and how I can (and have) apply it to make small and big changes.  It was a good reminder that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Since I read this book, I tried Dr. BJ Fogg's tiny habits session and created a new tiny habit, a threshold ritual when I get home.  When I get home, before I put my keys in the door, I say: How happy I am, how grateful I am, how wonderful it is to be home.  This simple sentence helps me feel grateful instead of grumpy.

A-

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Small Things That Make Me Happy


  1. Reading magazines in my comfy chair.  I love magazines and subscribe to many.  One of my favorite things to do first thing in the morning is to settle into my comfy chair and read magazines, undisturbed.
  2. Babyface's dancing.  His dancing is mostly jumping and spinning around while flailing his arms.  He does it so unselfconsciously and joyfully, I love it.
  3. When I'm really hungry and I find a protein bar in my car or handbag that I stashed for just such an occasion.
  4. Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar with almonds.  Very flavorful and rich, just the right size. 
  5.  Last but not least, holding hands with My Heart's Desire.  Most of our time together is spent in parent mode.  But when Babyface is in bed or with a sitter, My Heart's Desire and I can relax together.  I love holding hands with him while we go for a walk or just watch Once on Netflix.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Bargain Day: Toddler Chair

I went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore looking for towel bars and a ceiling fan.  I purchased neither of those items.  Among the mishmosh of chairs, Babyface found this one and declared, "It's my size!" And it was just his size and very cozy.  When I found out all chairs were $10, I was sold.

The chair and cushions are covered with soft denim slipcovers so after we brought it home I gave them all a good washing.  We decided it would be Babyface's special reading chair.  His grandfather sent him a subscription to High Five and he loves to look at the pictures in his magazine there.  Even though he can't pronounce magazine correctly.  Or squirrel.  Or binoculars.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grateful Thursday

Today I am grateful for Southern Pecan coffee, my Better Than Before online master class, finally breaking down and buying an extra phone charging cord, looking forward to family and friend visits this month, warm weather, Babyface asking me if I want to have the hiccups with him, and fit-flopsI am obsessed with The Skinny (affiliate link).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hausfrau

I listened to Jill Alexander Essbaum's Hausfrau (affiliate link) and I was struck by two things.  One, the story is intriuging and almost hypontic.  Two, the performance is excellent. The less you know about the story, the better so I won't provide a summary.  The author is also a poet and the writing is beautiful and haunting. Get your hands (or your ears) on this book. A

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Grateful Tuesday

Today I am grateful that Spring is allegedly on the way, great books from the library, fires, warm wraps, clean water, gas in my car, hugs from Babyface, family visits to look forward to, Trader Joe's, and my awesome writing class.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Oh, Yes I Did

Last year I received a lovely holiday gift...that didn't fit so I returned it for a gift card.  The gift card has been sitting around for a few months.  Until today.

I am a crocking fool and have my big crock as well as crock junior.  For a few years I've been envious of my best friend's fancy-pants slow cooker but I'm way too thrifty too buy it, though when it was $50 off on Cyber Monday I was very tempted.
Just the idea of having a slow cooker where I could brown/saute (read: not dirty an extra pan) sounded wonderful. Enter the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer. So I used my gift card and a few extra bucks and it will arrive later this weeknot a minute too soon.  I'll write a review after I crock a few things, if I can tear myself away from it long enough.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grateful

Today I am grateful for being an early riser, Britney Spears Pandora radio, UP24, new sneakers, heated blankets, the fairy lights still around the fireplace, a nice chat with my mom last night, health insurance, the way Babyface can't say squirrel, fruit day at work, daylight saving time is around the corner, and looking forward to family visits. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Goals, Resolutions, Habits

In previous years, I've set ambitious goals like I did in 2010, quarterly goals in 2012, monthly goals in 2013, two small goals in 2014, one January goal and one Spring goal, and commandments in 2009,

Earlier this month I watched this great video about New Year's Resolutions.


And it got me thinking...what habits can I create or maintain? How can I link habits to goals I want to achieve?  At the end of last year, I read two great books about habits, one was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and Mini-Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results.

Instead of throwing out ambitious goals, I'm going to commit to the following habits for February:
  1. Read every day.
  2. Write 5 days a week.
  3. Rise early 6 days a week.
  4. Fill out my healthy chart every night.  What is my healthy chart? Well, last month I wanted to be sure to stay on a healthy track through the holidays. So I made a chart with all of the healthy habits that I want to make sure that I do every day.  Seeing things written down makes a big difference (like with my January 2013 workout goal) and lets me quantify it.  It's satisfying to see all of those check marks, even when they are just for small things, like eating within an hour of waking up or flossing, because those small habits are setting a healthy foundation.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2014 Greatest Hits


Oh, Baby!
The older Babyface gets, the more fun and the challenging he is.  In 2014, he loved reading even more, playing with his playhouse, and playing his favorite game with Matchbox cars: parking lot.

Like every mom, I’m balancing work and family. Going back to work full-time in December of 2013 was a big adjustment.  I did a good amount of freezer cooking before I went back to work and still do.  Of course I'm still a crocking fool.  And I came up with some tricks to make my mornings easier.  Babyface loves his daycare and has thrived.   Hippie parenting classes don’t fit into our schedule anymore, though My Heart's Desire and I did attend a good parenting class from a different organization. I feel like every year I calm down a bit and am able to relax and enjoy Babyface more. 

Book
The Book Thief.  Read it now.
I joined the book club at work and otherwise would never have picked up The Book Thief. Narrated by Death in 1939 Germany, this story of a young girl living with her foster family and the young Jewish man they hide in their basement is spellbinding and extremely well written.  I wasn’t excited to start reading it but then I could hardly put it down.  

Family Tradition

We maintained our family traditions of having Babyface's picture taken regularly, and My Heart's Desire taking Babyface to get his picture taken with Santa.  This year he didn’t even cry!

It's All Relative
My parents visited several times and my heart leaps up when I see them with Babyface. My dad and stepmom had many short visits.  When his school closed for a few days at the end of summer, my mom visited and he got to go to Camp Grandma.  She stayed at a nearby hotel and they had the very best time swimming, eating chicken nuggets, riding the bus, walking to the nearby Metro station and taking a ride for a stop or two. I also went to California for a quick visit and was able to see my brother, meet his new girlfriend, and hug my niece Lilah.
Lilah
We traveled to Colorado for Thanksgiving, where Babyface got to have big fun with my family, including his cousin Rye, who is less than a year older.  My sister and her husband know the toddler hotspots so we all had a great time.  On an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Day my sister and I participated in a Turkey Trot while pushing the kiddos in strollers.

Rye and Babyface had a blast making this
Walking before Thanksgiving feast
My in-laws visited much more than usual. My sister-in-law and her husband welcomed a tiny person into the world who Babyface calls Cousin Baby.  Cousin Baby seems so big compared to how little Babyface was when he was the same age.  My husband’s other sister and her husband moved down from Boston and they regularly visit Babyface. They even brought over a Babyface-sized tree and decorated it together!  We also traveled to Vancouver to attend a family reunion on My Heart’s Desire’s dad’s side. 

Toddler-sized tree
My Aunt Cece also came for a wonderful visit at the end of the year and we had a marvelous time.  One lovely day I played hooky from work and she and I spent the day together, visited the National Women in the Arts museum, and had a long, leisurely lunch. 
Aunt Cece's first selfie
Another day she, Babyface, and I met my cousin Minda's family in Baltimore for fun at the Playseum and had pizza.  Babyface came to the airport to drop Aunt Cece off (amid promises they'd play parking lot another time) and after she left, he asked if she was going back to her house far away.  I said yes and he responded: But I love her.
Minda and Me

Healthy Living
I saw a personal trainer once or twice a month at half past dark.  Motivating and extremely knowledgeable, it’s been awesome. I also signed up for a Pilates class, which I love and did not find intimidating after all. I got a Waterfi and no longer get bored swimming laps. Mondays and Wednesdays at work are produce days, where the company provides a yummy spread of fruits, veggies, and dips.
Yum
Local Getaway
For My Heart’s Desire’s milestone birthday, I was in cahoots with his mother and planned for he and I to getaway to a local hotel for a night as a birthday surprise while she minded Babyface at our house.  On Saturday morning we had brunch with his family then he and I whisked away across town.  We checked into a nice Hyatt, where I had scored a room on Priceline for $50.  My Heart’s Desire and I went to the movies, had dinner, and slept in.  A lovely gift for both of us.
40. Really.
Hidden Gem

Hell yeah
I love diners.  And while in New Jersey visiting My Heart’s Desire’s family, we stopped at the Time to Eat Diner.  It was everything a diner should be.  Excellent food, great service, authentic, plus very clean bathrooms. 
My only complaint is that I wasn't hungrier