July 28, 2015

Newport - 2015

The Newport Folk Festival is always a highlight of the year. A large, happy gathering of people to sit in the sunshine and listen to good music. Is there anything more beautiful than that?

This year, we got to hear The Suffers, The Barr Brothers, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Joe Pug, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, The Decemberists, and James Taylor.

JT was a surprise guest in the middle of the afternoon. Although I confess that he felt very old-school in the midst of all these younger artists, it was a nice tribute. The last time he played Newport, his set was cut short because Neil Armstrong had just stepped out onto the moon! I had heard he was coming the night before, and when I told Kevin, the boys heard and asked, "Who is James Taylor?" I felt that it was my obligation to introduce them to his music, so we spent Friday's dinnertime listening to his classics. Aaron was excited that he played many of those same songs the following day, including "Carolina in my Mind", which I had told them was played pretty much nonstop during my freshman orientation at the University of North Carolina. 

It was a really nice day, with a few annoyances as well. I forgot to set my own expectations for spending a day like this with two still relatively little boys. We had many nice moments, listening to music, doing crafts in the family tent, playing corn hole, eating lunch.  And we had some terribly frustrating moments, including the first couple songs of Jason Isbell's set, when the boys whined and moaned about being bored and hot and having to pee. Later in the evening, they got tired and restless and proceeded to run around like wild animals, fighting and yelling. I love them so much, but it must be said:  kids suck sometimes. 

We splurged on a night in a Newport hotel, with visions of spending Sunday by the very nice pool. Unfortunately, the weather didn't agree with our plan, so after a quick and chilly dip, we walked around town with two whiny boys, had lunch, and headed home.  

Although it didn't quite end up as I had hoped, it was still a worthwhile endeavor, and I'm already looking forward to doing it again next year. It's a family tradition I want to continue, and one day the boys will think back to the time they saw James Taylor in concert.

July 24, 2015

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free

I love The Newport Folk Festival so much. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year, and the lineup never disappoints.  The highlight of this year's festival lineup for me is Jason Isbell. He was my favorite performance in 2013. He just released a new album, and he's playing the main stage this year. I can't wait.

This is our fourth year!  Check out 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Let's see how long we can keep it going...

July 15, 2015

Little Things...

Little boys playing baseball on a warm summer evening. Aaron's playing in our backyard! Finally!

Bright and sunny mornings, which make it so much easier to get up and make time for a morning workout.

Yoga. I've been alternating between interval training and yoga. It feels like a good balance, and I adore mixing in more bouts of yoga during the week. It's such a beautiful way to start the day.

Travel plans. (Next week - Newport! And a new addition to the travel calendar - San Francisco in September!)

Walking barefoot in the grass.

Playing catch.

Eating lunch outside with colleagues. I am by far the oldest, but we manage to find common ground.

Kale salad. Caprese salad. Cranberry couscous. Grilled vegetables. Raspberries! 

Harry Potter. The boys and I are listening to The Sorcerer's Stone audiobook, and it's wonderful.

Fresh air coming in through open windows.

July 10, 2015

A Few Things...

Inside Out is wonderful. Have you seen it yet? I keep thinking about it. It's really more of an older kid and adult movie, although my kids enjoyed it. It's very thought-provoking and incredibly imaginative and wonderfully done. Please go see it.

Gun Control And The Need For It. Wonderful post and accompanying videos.

Working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons.  I think perhaps it's more about having moms who are pursuing personal goals, whether they are making money or not. It's also about having parents who are true partners, both contributing to the home.

My cousin Krista wrote another great post for Huffington Post.  This one made me tear up a bit.

Another frustrating but important article about parenting.  "Affluent parenting can deprive a child of fundamental life skills."  I especially liked the end of the article, comparing our kids childhoods with our own, and thinking about the experiences that we had growing up that our children won't get to have. I will admit that it does make me sad sometimes. I don't want to be as poor as my family was growing up, but I do want to make sure that those same values that I was raised with - responsibility, frugality, empathy... - are passed on.

Interesting article about how optimistic people are always late.  I'm never late. It's probably my biggest pet peeve. I am also a pessimist, so I suppose that fits. I have many optimistic-and-always-running-late friends, though, including the one who shared this article. It's interesting to think about how their minds work.

Free personality test.  It's a quick, 10-minute test. I am a sucker for doing one of these every year or two. They always say the same thing, so I don't know why I'm compelled to take them. My personality is pretty set in stone at this point.  I'm an ISTJ, through and through. These descriptions of strengths and weaknesses are pretty spot on.

This is very random, but I'm thinking I'd like a pair of cute, casual shoes like these Vans.  I'm not sure if I'll think they are comfortable enough, though. What do you think?

Well, this is a not surprising find: Screen addition isn't good for children.  My oldest (Aaron) is 8 and a half, and he already has friends who have their own smart phones. So many of them have been playing Xbox for years, and they've had tablets since they were toddlers. And let's not even mention TV! Just the other day, Aaron made a comment about when he'll be "...in the 5th grade and I'll have a phone...".  I guess he heard that a few of his friends were getting phones then and assumed that he would as well. I had to correct him on that. We'll see how it goes, but I'm going to keep all the screens to a minimum for as long as possible. One day they'll thank me. Or not. I don't care.

I had such fun sharing the Women's World Cup experience with my boys. They love watching soccer, and I love that there is a women's sport that is so awesome to watch.  I think it's important that my boys get to see women being amazing in sports.  I loved this article containing reactions from the 1999 team on this year's World Cup win.

July 9, 2015

Recently Read

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.  This is a thought-provoking book. In general, I think I have already learned many of these principles through my work experience, but I could do better; and applying them to the personal side of life is a whole different ballgame. Basically, the idea is that we should all do less. Figure out what truly matters, and focus only on that. If you have too many priorities, it becomes too difficult to manage them and move any of them forward.
     There's a man I currently work with who fits this "Essentialist" model pretty well. At first, he drove me crazy, because he constantly declines meetings. He is not easy to engage. But after attending a couple meetings with him, I realized that he is a very active participant in the meetings he deems valuable and necessary for him to attend. He probably wasn't needed for all the others, and he saved himself time. I now respect him even more. Now I'm working to apply these concepts to my own life. What matters? And why am I spending time doing anything else?

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler.  This book was recommended to me by several people who loved it. It's very good - the structure is captivating, the language is beautiful, the characters are rich. I have to admit, though...I didn't love it. Sometimes a book can be really good and still not make a connection with the reader.

Girl in a Band, by Kim Gordon. Much like this reviewer from the NY Times, I find myself in a "sweet spot" of being able to fully appreciate this memoir. I know of Kim Gordon and Sonic Youth and its place in musical history. I know of Kim Gordon the artist as well. And I'm always fascinated to learn more about the personality - the personal history - behind music and art. This book did not disappoint. Kim talks about her love of New York City, her move to western Massachusetts, her early days before the band, meeting Thurston Moore (her husband of 27 years, now divorced), her daughter and family life, connections made along the way...  I especially enjoyed glimpses of what it must have been like to be a mother and a rock star. Traveling the world on tour with your band, along with a daughter. Crazy for this traditional suburban mom to consider, but not crazy enough for me not to be able to appreciate it. Highly recommend.

July 8, 2015

Cape Cod

This picture seemed so beautiful and calm to me until I learned that they tagged a 13-foot great white shark off this very coast a few days ago. Yikes!

We hadn't been to Chatham in many years, opting for long weekends in Maine instead. It wasn't technically a full vacation for me, since I was working several of the days; but we had wonderful family time on the Cape last week. My sister-in-law found us an amazing house, just a block from the ocean and big enough for all of us with plenty of room to spare. It gave us so much flexibility, to be able to walk down to the beach for a while, walk back for lunch, bring my 18-month old niece back for her nap, etc. It was wonderful.

The weather was iffy overall, but we managed beautifully. In addition to beach time, we watched Star Wars IV, played lots of corn hole and badminton and other yard games, went out for ice cream, visited batting cages, rode bumper boats and go-carts, attended a Cape League baseball game, and went to an inflatable water slide park. Oh, and the adults played cards most evenings after the kids went to bed. Why is it that we only play cards when on vacation? 

It was a beautiful week. I'm happy we were able to be together as a family, that we got to celebrate Nathan's 6th birthday in such a fabulous place, that we got to enjoy so much great ice cream, and that we got to share more of the Cape with the boys. Time at the beach is a summertime must.

July 7, 2015


Me and my little man

I already documented the awesome party, but I wanted to capture a few things about my fabulous six-year-old.

1.  His favorite color is now green (the same as mine).
2.  He is still not a big meat-eater. His favorite meals are pasta with sauce and grilled cheese. He's great with most veggies, so I really can't complain. He has always hated tomatoes, but he tried one this week (I ask him to try every year) and decided they weren't so bad. ("But I don't want more, thank you.")
3.  Cereal for breakfast. I often try to replace it with other options, because I hate cereal; but anything else I make is not a replacement for, but rather an addition to, cereal.
4.  His current favorite TV show is Cyberchase. The boys also recently blew through a new "How to Train Your Dragon" series on Netflix.
5.  He is still not a huge fan of movies with people in them; HOWEVER...he just watched Star Wars IV for the first time and loved it. So I guess it depends on the movie.
6.  He loves legos.  He is fine letting his big brother build the sets - he just wants to play with them.
7. He is currently into Star Wars, Ninjago, and Pokemon. He has binders full of cards, and he loves to sort them and compare them and trade them and carry them around and look at them... It's an obsession. Superheroes are still cool too.
8.  He had an amazing kindergarten year. He learned a ton, and he was a good listener and helper. He now has a really good group of friends.
9.  He still requires alone-time every day. Usually this involves sorting his cards or playing with legos or action figures. This drives his brother crazy. 
10.  He is a huge fan of soccer. He finally got to play on a team this Spring, and he loved it and can't wait to play again in the Fall.
11.  He also loves baseball. He likes to practice during his big brother's games, and he's getting pretty good. He has to wait until the Spring to play on a team, and he's already asking for gear in anticipation.
12.  I love having him read to me during storytime at night.  We are also venturing slowly into chapter books. We've started quite a few that haven't kept his interest over multiple days, but we have made it through a few, including many Flat Stanleys. 
13.  He still has his blonde hair, getting blonder in the summer sun.
14.  He wants to be a soccer player when he grows up. 
15.  He likes to hold my hand when we're walking somewhere. I love to hold his hand.


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