April 29, 2013

Weekend Recap

Neighborhood farm at the start of the parade route

What a fun and happy weekend.  The weather was picture-perfect from start to finish, and we enjoyed every moment outside.  We kicked it off on Friday with pizza and brownies to celebrate Kevin's birthday.  He's now 38, which makes me feel a little better.  That month between our birthdays where he is two years younger irritates me just a bit.  

On Saturday morning, Aaron put on his new baseball uniform and walked in a parade with the rest of the town little league teams.  They walk right in our neighborhood and end at the fields next to our house, so it was very convenient.  It was also ridiculously cute, these little guys (and yes a few girls!) in matching outfits.  Tonight is their first game.  

Aaron attended a birthday party, and Nathan and I played at home while Kevin got started on the yard work.  That night, Kevin slept on the couch while I watched 'Lincoln'.  I knew that it was a long movie, so I expected it to feel rather slow in parts, but I was engaged the entire time and thought it went by very quickly.  The acting was tremendous, as expected, and I really enjoyed it.  

We went to the Red Sox game on Sunday, and the difference between last year and this year was striking.  The boys were much more interested in what was going on in the game, especially Aaron.  Nathan was still mostly interested in pizza and ice cream, but he had fun seeing Wally and did not complain.  Aaron asked lots of good questions, and we talked about the players, positions, and the rules during the game.  He was actually upset when we decided to leave before the last inning in order to beat the crowds.  Very cool and very fun.  

Ahhh....the fun part of Spring has arrived, and I am excited!

April 26, 2013

Little Things...

*The tulips have arrived!  The front of our house is so brightly colored now, and it makes me happy every time I see them.  (I know I post pictures of my tulips every Spring, but they are worth celebrating each year!)  Next will come pictures of azaleas, rhododendrons, and then the lilacs.  Ooooh, lilacs.  We are reaching the happy part of Spring.  

*More and more happy and inspiring stories are coming out of last week's tragedies.  I loved this one - Mass General Hospital ER bought pizza for the hospital near West, Texas.  They were so pleased that they returned the favor and sent BBQ back to MGH.  I also continue to be inspired by the victims.  This woman - Adrianne Haslet-Davis - is a dancer, and she lost her foot in the explosion.  She sounds so positive and determined to keep living.  

*Aaron started baseball this week.  He's excited, and last night he told me he might be a baseball player when he grows up.  It's fun to jump into this new phase.  On a somewhat related note, the Red Sox are in first place.  I know it's April, but still.

*Our friend gave us a box of records he had sitting in his garage.  I love inheriting these old records.  Our little collection is growing fast.  I put on Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy while I did some cleaning.  Nice.  

*I exercised every day this week, including a challenging 90-minute yoga class on Wednesday.  I feel good.  When I start wearing shorts, the whiteness of my legs will still be a shock, but I think I will otherwise feel ready for it.  

*Aaron and I are reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  It's our first non-picture chapter book in a while, because Nathan tends to make this type of reading difficult.  We're about halfway through, and Aaron is loving it.  I am, too.  

April 24, 2013

Recently Read

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
I have always enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver books.  I think I've read them all now, and if you know her style, then you won't be surprised by this one.   It takes place in Appalachia, and the main character is a woman with two young kids who feels trapped by her marriage and motherhood and desperately wants to escape.  She discovers an enormous colony of monarch butterflies in the woods behind her farm, which brings publicity and scientists.  They begin researching why the butterflies landed there, since they usually spend their winters in Mexico.  It turns into a rather long lecture about the reality and dangers of global warming, and while I agree with the message, the story ended up getting a little lost as a result.  Overall, it's good, and I do still love the way Barbara Kingsolver can craft a gorgeous sentence, but it didn't move me as much as some of her other books.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, by Steve Martin
This book chronicles Steve Martin's career as a stand-up comedian.  He started work as a ten-year-old, selling guidebooks at Disneyland.  The book describes how he learned magic and comedy, and how he honed his craft and perfected his routine over many years.  That alone is fascinating, even in the hands of a boring writer.  But Steve Martin is a good writer, too.  He describes his relationships with his parents and sister, his girlfriends, and his bouts of depression with emotion and honesty, as though he's telling his tale to a friend.  This time of his life occurs during the 1970s, and he also writes about some of the decade's major events and cultural milestones from his perspective.  I really enjoyed this book.

Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
I loved this book too.  As in, I stayed up way too late for several nights in order to finish it.  It's the author's first novel, and perhaps you can tell at times, but I liked that he seemed to try hard to perfect the writing.  The setting is New York City in the late 1930s, and the main character is a 25-year-old working-class girl.  The characters are interesting, and the story ends up evolving in unexpected ways.  I also loved all the literary references, the descriptions of the city at that time, and even the jazz.  Highly recommend.

April 22, 2013

Looking Forward...

photo by Alicia Bock

I'm honestly not really sure where this post is going to go.  I just feel like writing.  Last week was...well, tense is the best word I can come up with.  The entire city was on edge.  It was also school vacation week, which was probably a good thing.  The boys provided me with a happy distraction from the news.  

I have to struggle a bit to think about what filled our week after Monday, but I seem to recall a couple playdates with friends, lots of bike/scooter riding, the start of smoothie season, a backpack full of books from the library, and tons and tons of playing catch.  It was good, and only on rare occasions did I hear the dreaded "but Mom, what can I do?" from the boys.  I read the paper and caught up on the news at night, and kept it in small doses.  

Friday was a particularly stressful day here, as I'm sure you know, and I canceled plans to run some errands that morning.  We were nervous about letting the boys play outside, even though we live a few towns away from where the action was.  As I said....tense.  So it felt good to get on the road after lunch and leave the city for a couple days.  We went to visit our best friends in New York, and we enjoyed a fun and relaxing time; especially after watching the capture Friday night.  We talked and laughed and played, and we even managed a double date night, leaving all our kids with a sitter Saturday night.  We were struggling to remember the last time we all went out, but we think it was about five years ago!  So we celebrated the start of a new and easier phase.  

Boston street photo by Meg Fee

And so now is the start of a new week.  The area feels different, but an optimism and determination has settled in.  As we drove home yesterday, highway signs read, "We are One Boston.  We thank all of you."  These signs of solidarity are everywhere, and they are hopeful and inspiring.   And so we all now look forward...

I am looking forward to taking the boys to a Red Sox game this weekend.  
I am looking forward to seeing the tulips in our front yard bloom.  (They are so close!  Tomorrow, perhaps?)
I am looking forward to playing my new stack of records, inherited from our friends this weekend.  
I am looking forward to putting the house back together after a week of messy chaos with the boys.
I am looking forward to spending some time in a yoga studio this week.
I am looking forward to practicing my piano.  (Although I'm starting to feel conflicted about having to choose between the guitar and piano at times.  I want to learn both!)
I am looking forward to planning more get-togethers with friends.  It's the best stuff of life.
I am looking forward to preparing the garden beds for planting.  
I am looking forward to watching Aaron start baseball this week.  

I am looking forward to eating some ice cream and watching a little TV before hitting my bed with a good book, so with that I will say good-bye for now...

April 19, 2013

Kingsley Flood - Sun Gonna Lemme Shine

This is the soundtrack of my week.  Kingsley Flood will make my list of favorite albums for this year.  The song in this video reminds me a lot of Dr. Dog, and it's fun, but it's not even close to my favorite of the bunch.  

April 16, 2013

My Heart is Heavy Today

It really was such a beautiful day.

Patriot's Day has always been my favorite day in Boston, and I've always lived in towns on the marathon route.  I remember my first year, when I wandered up to Beacon Street, and I ended up spending the afternoon with some neighbors and college students that I had never met.  They just invited me to sit down, have a drink, and enjoy the show.  That's the kind of day it is.  Boston has the reputation for being cold, unfriendly, where people don't even know their neighbors.  I refute this fact, although perhaps we do value our privacy at times.  On Patriot's Day, though, the entire city is one big block party.  Everybody is out on their front lawns, watching, cheering, and using the day as an excuse to gather with friends and family.  

And that's the people who don't run!  The people who run the marathon get a special experience - the type that appears on people's bucket lists.  It's an achievement of a grand sort and one that is and should be celebrated.  Last year, I was so excited to celebrate with my friend Sara who checked that item off her bucket list.  We also got to attend the early Red Sox game on a glorious day.

Yesterday, Aaron really wanted to go see the runners, so we watched for a while from our hometown, which is at about mile 10.  We cheered the wheelchairs, who are always so inspiring.  We watched in awe as the women leaders came racing through.  We watched the first men racers, who look as if their bodies were made to glide along the road.  We then went to spend the day with friends and did not stay to cheer on the later runners, which is where the fun usually is.  The big crowds, the runners who are raising money for charity, the ones who are running for the 20th time, the ones in crazy costumes...

Marathon Monday is such a beautiful tradition, and it has now been changed forever.  I can only hope that the 2014 Marathon is a great, big, wonderful party.  I know I'll be there.  For now, I continue to take comfort in the goodness of people that shines through in times like these.  Today, Aaron said he wished we could've been there to help those that were hurt and the runners who were cold or thirsty.  That inclination to want to help is in the vast majority of us, and that's what I'm choosing to focus on today.  

April 12, 2013

Dawes - From a Window Seat

I've been listening to Dawes for a couple years now, and I'm growing to love them more and more.  Some of their songs don't strike a chord immediately with me, but the ones that do are awesome.  I'm really enjoying their latest album - Stories Don't End.

I'm also including a bonus video, because this collaboration with Dawes and Mumford & Sons is great to turn up loud and belt out.  Do it.

April 9, 2013

House Update - Living Room

Wow.  I'm going to start off by saying that our living room is officially the most grown-up room I've ever had.  It still feels a little weird to have such a nice room.  Weird, but awesome.  

We have come a long way.  You can check out this old post to see a glimpse of what the room looked like when we moved in.  Or this old post to see what it looked like after we painted it but were still using it as a family/TV room.  

After last summer's big renovation, we were able to move the more casual couch and chair into the new family room.  That left this room completely empty, except the rug.  We've spent the last six months turning it into a really nice place to sit and have a conversation, listen to records, play board games, or play the piano.  I have always said that I hate formal living rooms - you know, the ones that nobody ever uses?  We made sure that this is a room where we will want to spend time.  

It still needs the finishing touches, of course.  It feels like it could be at home on a showroom floor, especially when entering from the dining room (the view below).  We will eventually add some art to the walls, books or other items to the coffee table, maybe a plant.  You know, the personal items that make it feel like my home and not just a pretty room.  I have to keep reminding myself that these things take time.  I don't want to buy things to put on display just because I want the room to be "done".  It will happen organically, over time.  We'll fall in love with a painting or print and put it up, we'll get coasters, and our book collection will grow.  We'll get presents from family, and we'll bring home items from our travels.  

In the meantime, I'm pretty excited to get to hang out here.  

April 8, 2013

At This Moment...

*I'm wearing skinny jeans.  I am also just coming off a week of being sick and not exercising at all, so I'm not feeling especially skinny.  But I've been stuck in boot-cuts forever and decided to give skinnies a shot.  Thanks to Lou for the nudge and to my big sister for talking me into these cute little flats.

*I'm still giggling about the movie This is 40, which Kevin and I watched over the weekend.  Such true and authentic moments captured.  Overall it was only okay - not a classic.  But I think most people my age would be able to relate and laugh at a lot of it.

*I have my iTunes library set to shuffle, and Letters to Cleo just came on.  A blast from the past.  I switched it to keep listening to them, because they are a very fun way to spend a Monday morning.

*The sun is shining.  It's supposed to get into the 70s tomorrow, and I. am. excited!  I know it's just a tease - it's also supposed to be back down into the 40s and rainy by the end of the week.  But I'm determined to appreciate the nice days when they come.

*All the sheets are clean and beds made.  Isn't that such a lovely feeling?

*I just ordered Kevin a little something for his birthday, which is coming up in a couple weeks.  It has never bothered me that he's a year younger, but I think it may bug me next year.

*I'm working on our 2012 family album.  Every year I get an album made, and it is a time-consuming process.  I love being able to pull out a printed album, though.  And although it takes time, it's fun to go back and organize our best moments of the year.

*I'm feeling much better today.  My eye is on the mend, although it will be a while longer before I can wear my contacts.  It doesn't hurt any more, which is the good thing.  I can handle glasses until I get the okay.  My cold is going away, too.  This week will include morning workouts, at least one good yoga class, and healthy eating.  I want to keep the good feelings going.

April 5, 2013

Hey Marseilles - Heart Beats

Hey Marseilles is the band we saw in concert last weekend.  I had only just heard of them.  They put on a really great show.  Their new album - Lines We Trace - is good, but I must admit they are much better live.  Looking forward to hearing more from them.  Check them out.  

April 3, 2013

And Then I See This...

...and remember how true it is.  No more complaining.  I'll focus on all the beauty of today.  An opportunity to spend time on the couch this morning, a healthy lunch, coloring and storytime with my very funny little man, watching the boys play outside, good music, and hopefully an early bedtime.  All is well.

A Little Complaining...

photo by JOHAN CARLSON via Skona hem

I thought I could make it through the entire year without getting sick.  I was wrong.  I have a stupid head cold, and now that I think of it, I am pretty sure I always get one as Spring begins.  Another reason I am not a fan of April.  I also have a scratch on my cornea, so I am dutifully putting in drops and wearing my glasses.  I don't have prescription sunglasses, though, so I am actually thankful for cloudy days (not a cloud in the sky today).  It is also really freakin' cold out, and I feel the chills more acutely when I'm sick.

That is all.

Sorry - I am cranky today.  I will be back to my cheerful self soon, I promise.

April 2, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

Okay, that's it.  I will never buy a box of granola bars again.  I finally made homemade granola bars, and I am of course kicking myself for not doing it sooner!  I did a bunch of searching, because I wanted a recipe for chewy bars, and I also wanted to avoid peanut (or other nut) butter.  It seemed like quite a few people had adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I thought it sounded like a good place to start.

If you read the post, you'll notice that it's really an outline more than a recipe.  You choose what you want to add, and I plan to do a lot of experimenting now that I got my first batch out of the way.  For my first attempt, I didn't stray too much, although I did replace the corn syrup with a little agave. I did not include the nut butter.  And for the "dried fruits and nuts" section, the boys and I chose:  wheat germ, walnuts, rice krispies, coconut, and dried blueberries.  They. Are. Awesome!

I added less than half a cup of sugar, but I still felt they were pretty sweet.  The next time, I am going to try to eliminate the sugar altogether.  I may use a little more agave to compensate, but it depends on the ingredients.  A lot of the dried fruits are so sweet that they may not need much anyway.  I am also going to try to make a nut-free version.  I really loved the walnuts in this first batch, but I'd like to make some that the boys can bring to school for a snack.

The possibilities are endless, and I am so excited that I finally did this!  Have you ever made homemade granola bars?  What is your favorite kind?

April 1, 2013

Weekend Recap

Lots of fun on a nice long holiday weekend...

*A trip to the aquarium, where we saw really cool jellyfish and teeny tiny penguins
*Lunch and ice cream in the city, followed by baseball practice at home.
*Date night with friends, consisting of dinner and a concert.  We saw Hey Marseilles, and they put on a really fun show.
*Easter wouldn't be Easter without a trip to Grandma's house.  The boys were spoiled by their aunts and grandma, which has become Easter tradition.  Lots of sunshine, which meant lots of playing outside.  Lots of good food, time with family, and of course, candy.

Goals for the week:
1.  Figure out what's going on with my eye.  There's something wrong, and it hurts, and I'm worried.  Off to see the doctor, but not until tomorrow.  Until then I worry.
2.  Put the house back together.  After a long, fun weekend, and a couple days away, it needs some attention.
3.  Food!  Have to go buy some and figure out what to make this week.  The Friday holiday has thrown me off my routine.
4.  Start to put together some ideas for Spring Break.  It will just be me and the boys at home.  I want to be prepared.
5.  Put together a Spring music mix.  We are officially in the brown muddy season, and we have another month before we'll start to see flowers.  I need something to carry me through until then.


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