April 24, 2012

A Little Break...

photo credit:  natasha at beautifully, suddenly

Life is good here.  Changes continue and progress is being made.  Walls are starting to form around the house, and we are picking out sinks and faucets and tile.  My husband is enjoying a little break in-between jobs, and we're enjoying this time with him.  The end of one phase, the beginning of another.  A time to reflect, renew connections, and also a time to be excited about the future.  Change is good.

We are headed south for the rest of the week.  We're going to get a dose of family, do a little celebrating, soak up some sunshine, and walk on the sand.  There is no better place to find peace than at the beach. 

April 20, 2012

A Few Random Things...

*I loved this article in the NY Times about building forts with your kids.  It's such a universal experience, isn't it?  I remember so clearly building forts when I was little - it was one of my favorite things to do.  I used pillows and blankets inside; I used lawn chairs and towels outside.

*I made this for dinner last night.  It's a really good vegetarian dinner.   (Emily and Mom - print this one out and save it!)  Aaron cleaned his plate!  It's easy and super yummy.  A couple notes:  I omitted the jalapeƱos to make it more kid-friendly, and I used diced tomatoes because that's what I had.  I also didn't have cilantro.

*I really liked this post.  I can completely relate, right down to the music choices.  I don't feel like a middle-aged mom, but then I guess this is what it feels like.

*I'm reading this book right now.  Totally different from my usual books, but it's fun and interesting so far.

*It turns out I am a fan of Jack White.  That took me a bit by surprise, but I am kinda digging his new album.

*Another music link - If you want to hear a little bluegrass.  You can't go wrong with Gillian Welch, and there are some other fun ones in here too.

*The wrinkles around my eyes are getting out of control.  I blame my kids.  They make me smile and laugh too much.  Do you have any good eye cream recommendations?

*Date night tomorrow night.  Dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday and his new job.  I'm thinking we should go see a movie too, although there aren't many decent movie choices in the Spring.  Maybe The Hunger Games?  Hm...

Have an awesome weekend!

The Lumineers - Stubborn Love

Damn, a lot of good music has been released recently.  My latest fave is The Lumineers.  (If you like the above video, check out their official site for the video to their first single, Ho Hey - it's great too.)  

I can't believe they're playing here in Boston tonight, and I don't have tickets.  Blerg.  

April 19, 2012

Home Is...

Boston.  I was born in New York, and I grew up in North Carolina; but Boston is home.  I moved here in 1999 primarily because I was bored.  I was single and wanted to experience living in a different place.  I contemplated moving to other cities - New York, Seattle, and San Francisco were all on my list as well - but I ultimately chose Boston.  My little sister lived here at the time, and my older sister was just a few hours away in New York.  (Until they both moved away!  Boooo.)

I love that Boston maintains a small-town feel, but it offers great restaurants, museums, clubs, a world-class Symphony, and of course the Red Sox.  I love its history.  I love all of New England, with its antique stores and lobster rolls and beaches and mountains and beautiful seasonal weather.  Amazing Autumns, white Winters, muddy Springs (okay, I could do without such a long Spring), and gorgeous Summers.

Our little town in the suburbs.  We moved from a condo in the city to a house in the suburbs.  We chose our house because it is located in a town we always loved coming to visit.  We used to venture out of the city to take a picnic by this pretty waterfall.  We would go to one of the nearby farms to go apple-picking.  When we saw a cute little house in this area, we felt very sure that it was meant to be.  There are farms surrounding my neighborhood in every direction, but my house is only 20 minutes from Fenway Park.  For me, it's the perfect balance between city and country life.

Now that we have kids, I appreciate the location even more.  We can walk to the library, to our community farm, to a nature reservation for hiking or biking, and across the street to the Charles River.  The marathon runs through here each April, the town sponsors a family-friendly 4th of July parade, and there is a growing farmer's market where we spend our Saturday mornings in the Summer.  The boys are free to roam all over our small private road, and our back yard is a baseball field.

Our house.  It is a relatively old house (1852), and it needed a ton of work.  Once we get through this year's big renovation (the last one!), we will have touched every single room.  But then it will truly be ours.  We will have made it into the home we wanted.  My bathroom is exactly what I wanted it to be.  My kitchen will be soon.  We'll also have the pleasure of knowing that we renovated a sweet little old house into a nice place to live.

Wherever my boys are.  Ultimately, of course it doesn't matter where I live.  The house could burn down or we could move across the world, and as long as I have my three boys with me, I'm home.

April 18, 2012

Fenway, Spring Air, and Throwing Sticks

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  We sat in our seats in Fenway, and I explained some of the game to Aaron.  Nathan was more interested in pointing out the numbers on all the seats.  We relaxed and watched the game on a perfect Patriot's Day.  Could it be the start of a new family tradition?

2.  The warm weather and sunshine allowed us to open the windows and let the fresh air in.  The smells of Spring filled the house.

3.  After dinner, the boys and I walked across the street to the river.  They tossed sticks in the water while I watched the sun go down.

April 17, 2012

Weekend Recap

Now this weekend truly felt like a long one.  Gorgeous warm and sunny days filled with playing and laughing and getting things done.  Here are a few highlights:

*Saturday was mostly a day for running errands, but we also sat outside in the sunshine and ate pizza for lunch.  There's also something very satisfying about getting tasks accomplished too, isn't there?  Even if it's just hair cuts and grocery shopping and returning books to the library. 
*Sunday was a day for playing.  We spent the morning at home, riding scooters and running around the yard.  We spent the afternoon at a park in Boston, visiting with good friends we very rarely get to see.  It is always a fun outing to get into the city, and we decided to extend it a bit by going out to dinner afterwards. 
*Monday - a bonus day!  Here in Massachusetts, we celebrate Patriot's Day.  Schools and banks are closed, and although my husband and I typically have to work on this day, we decided to take it this year.  Patriot's Day is also the day of the Boston Marathon, and the Red Sox play an early game, starting at 11AM.  We took the boys to their first game at Fenway Park (100 years old this year!).  We had planned to go watch some of the marathon after the game, hoping to see my friend Sara.  It was a very close game, though, and we stayed until the end.  By the time we were leaving the park, Sara had already finished
*The boys had a lot of fun at the baseball game, and the highlight for them was getting ice cream with sprinkles served in a little baseball helmet.
*After the game, we came home and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.  It was so warm that the boys wanted to run through the sprinkler!  A little taste of summer in April.  I'll take it!

Wow - That was an awesome weekend! 

My Amazing Friend, Sara

This is a picture of me and my friend Sara.  Sara is an all-around amazing person, and she inspires me in a lot of ways.  She had a life goal of qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon.  After many years of trying, she qualified earlier this year, and she achieved her ultimate goal yesterday.  I am so proud of her!  It was a really sunny and warm day in Boston, so it had to be a particularly grueling run, but she killed it.  Congratulations Sara!

April 13, 2012

Of Monsters and Men - Talk Talk

I'm trying to get my boys out of their Gotye phase.  "Somebody That I Used to Know" is a good song, but the entire album is a bit dark for my taste.  We've been grooving to Alabama Shakes after dinner, and I'm now trying to mix in some Of Monsters and Men.  

I've been asking Aaron what instrument he'd like to learn how to play.  I showed him this video to remind him what a trumpet looks like.  He is so far insisting it will be the drums.  Heaven help me.

April 12, 2012

Kitchen Inspiration and House Update

Well, it has begun.  I won't clog up the blog with too many ugly in-process pictures, but every now and then I'll share some, especially as we reach milestones.  It's helpful to celebrate and recognize progress along the way.  I will also continue to share photos that are inspiring me to make decisions along the way.  

This week is primarily devoted to demolition.  We had a small addition on the back of our house. It was not done well, and it was a mess.  It included a bathroom and a room that we primarily used as storage (because it was too cold to be used for anything else).  We are taking it off and building a new bathroom, guest bedroom, and pantry.  I am very excited to see this go.  Maybe even more excited than when we said good-bye to the green curtains.

Here's what our back room looked like:

And after one day of demo, here's what it looks like now!

April 11, 2012

Demolition, Easter, and Spring Flowers

2012 is going to be a year of change for my family.  It seems like many of the past several years have had big changes - moving, babies, and the like.  But this one takes the cake.  My husband is currently in the process of leaving his job, and he'll be starting a new one next month.  I will be leaving my job in July.  The kids will be starting new schools in September.  Oh, and we've decided this is the perfect time to tear down and renovate a large portion of our house!  These are all good changes, but it is a lot to manage.  I will be living in a state of chaos for a while, including having no kitchen (!).  Wish us luck.

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Demolition Day!  There is a big pay loader in my yard, knocking down walls as I type.  Let the renovation begin!

2.  Mimosas, apricot-lemon scones, family, and a beautiful day.  We had a very nice Easter.

3.  The front porch is outlined by beautiful Spring flowers.  The mix of blues, reds, and purples are a cheerful way to be greeted at home.

April 9, 2012

Weekend Recap

It should've felt like a long weekend, but it didn't.  I worked a little on Friday, although I also got to exercise and start some house organizing before picking up the boys to spend the afternoon at a playground.  Saturday....I was grumpy.  I'm not even sure I can articulate the reason - a number of factors, I suppose.  Looking back, I don't really see why I was a crank, but nonetheless, cranky I most certainly was. 

The boys enjoyed the afternoon playing at their grandma's house, riding scooters and running and playing at their usual frantic pace.  We went out for burgers, and I am tremendously disappointed that my leftovers are still in my mother-in-law's fridge, because it was a good meal. 

Sunday was Easter, which for us meant a family brunch and lots of candy and little toys thrust into the hands of the boys.  Aaron amazes me with his self-discipline, saving most of his candy and eating only a little at a time.  Nathan amazes me with his ability to hide behind furniture so nobody can see him gorge on the bounty of sugar in his basket.  My sister-in-law played hostess, and she is excellent at it.  She made tons of great food, and we all enjoyed visiting and touring her new house. 

Goals for this week:
1.  This one is already done - move out of our back rooms.  Demolition starts this week!  (Turns out, moving is not fun, especially when you're just moving into your own house!)
2.  Figure out how to get to the Red Sox game next Monday without running into the marathon route.
3.  Patience.  I don't like turning into Mommy Dearest.
4.  Sort baby clothes.  It's time to donate or give them away.  (The advantage of "moving" is the resulting organization.)
5.  Make a hotel reservation.  I want to go to the Newport Folk Festival this year!

April 6, 2012

Alabama Shakes - Hang Loose and Hold On

Have you heard of Alabama Shakes yet?  If you haven't, no doubt you will be hearing their name more and more.  Their album, Boys & Girls, was just released on iTunes this week with a broader release scheduled for 4/10.  I've heard so much hype about them over the six months that I find myself surprised that this is their first album!

Thankfully, the album delivered on its promise.  It's really cool.  Just good, old-fashioned rock & roll.  With lots of blues and R&B mixed in.  I couldn't even decide which video to include.  "Hold On" is the first single, and for good reason.  I just love "Hang Loose", though.  If you are ever in a funk, this song would be the perfect pick-me-up.  "Hang loose, hang loose...let the ocean worry about being blue.  Hang loose, hang loose...roll with the tide and I'm gonna take care of you."

April 4, 2012

Whipped Cream, Progress, and Brothers

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  The boys squeal with laughter as I tease them with whipped cream.  "Is this enough?", I ask, putting a measly little plop on top of their strawberry shortcake.  "NOOOOO!  We want LOTS!"  And so it goes, until I fill up their bowls with yummy goodness.  Strawberry shortcake season is fun.

2.  We're inching closer to the big renovation.  Work has already begun, and our yard is full of wood, ladders, insulation, and as of yesterday, a very large dumpster.  The big start date - as in, tearing down walls - is fast approaching.  It's going to be a very messy summmer.  (Honestly - with a renovation like this comes a lot of stress.  I'm purposefully noting it here as a beautiful thing, though, so I can keep my eye on the prize.)

3.  Nathan moved up to the Preschool room at school this week.  Aaron has been showing him the ropes, explaining the rules, volunteering to spend time in Nathan's classroom in order to spend time with him, reading him books, etc.  Aaron takes his role as big brother very seriously.

April 3, 2012

Pulphead Essays - John Jeremiah Sullivan

Pulphead: Essays, by John Jeremiah Sullivan, is a collection of fourteen stories.  I'm not sure there's a theme that links them together other than the curiosity of wanting to explore a particular topic in more detail.  The author does a great job of doing research, diving into detail, providing an interesting perspective, and communicating it in an entertaining way.  

Sullivan was born in 1974, which makes him the same age as me, and I think many of these stories will particularly appeal to fellow Gen Xers.  The topics range pretty widely, but there are essays on Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, and even a former member of The Real World.  My sisters will find the last story particularly interesting, since the author lives in my childhood hometown, and it discusses the experience he and his family had when the TV show "One Tree Hill" filmed in his house.  The first essay may be my favorite, and in it he writes about attending a Christian-rock festival as someone who went through a "Jesus phase" in high school.  He touches on other topics including US healthcare, the increases of wild-animal attacks on humans, Bunny Wailer, novelist Nelson Lytle, and the time his brother was electrocuted and almost died.

Like I said, it's a pretty wide range.  Throughout them all, though, he maintains an engaging writing style, and he made me laugh out loud at times.  He also made me think in different ways, which is probably the best compliment there is.   It's a really cool book and one that I'd highly recommend.

April 2, 2012

Weekend Recap

A full and pretty fun weekend.  On Saturday morning, we went on a family outing to a stone warehouse.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  I was so dreading it, and feeling a little bad for dragging the boys; but in fact they were pretty impressed by walking through a warehouse full of stone slabs, seeing the forklift in action, and watching a big crane-type thingie (not its official name I'm assuming) picking up the batches of stone.  I was also worried that we wouldn't find what we were looking for:  a stone that looks like soapstone but isn't soapstone.  (We love the look of soapstone, but it is extremely high-maintenance.)  But we did!  And now we feel good that we've checked off one more item on the "Renovation 2012" list. 

On Saturday night, I dragged Kevin to a Wild Flag concert.  I say dragged, because he is not really a fan.  I am, though, and it was my birthday last week, so...  It was a great time.  They put on an awesome show, and I especially loved watching Janet Weiss on drums.  All of them can rock, but she is really something else. 

Sunday was a low-key day, as all Sundays should be.  Lots of playing outside, an afternoon birthday party, and preparations for the week ahead.  I also baked a rock-hard pound cake to enjoy the season's first strawberry shortcake.  (It was dense for sure - think I may've overmixed it or something, but if you smother anything with whipped cream, it's still going to taste pretty good.) 

Goals for the week:

1.  Sleep.  Going to make it my goal to be in bed by 9 every night.  It won't happen, but I'm going to try. 
2.  Start thinking about our 2012 "Summer Fun List".  It may be early, but it's never too early to plan for fun.
3.  Think positive about the 2012 Renovation.  The stress has already started creeping in, and it's really too early for that. 
4.  Plan a menu for the week.  I went to the grocery store three times last week and I still don't have some of the things we need.  I hate being unorganized. 
5.  Put a note in the mail to a friend.  It's fun getting unexpected personal mail, isn't it?  It's fun sending it too.


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