September 27, 2013

Tanya Donelly - Swan Song Series

Tanya Donelly has been one of my favorites since I discovered Throwing Muses my freshman year of college.  I followed her through her other bands, including The Breeders and Belly, and through her solo work.  She's still making music, and I have been getting to know her latest group of songs, part of what she's entitled the Swan Song Series.  They are beautiful, and I've had several songs on repeat this week, including the one above and Mass Ave, which is on Vol. 1.  You can listen via her website, or buy the songs via band camp.

Happy weekend!

September 24, 2013

A Few Things...

source unknown

I was going to review a parenting book as part of Blogtember, but I'm not quite done with it, so I thought I'd just share a few things I've come across lately.

The most wonderful marriage proposal - Break out your tissues before you watch this.  You'll need them.  This is so full of joy that it made my cheeks hurt from smiling.

18 Totally Random Things I Only Know Because I'm a Gen Xer - Banana clips, Facts of Life, after school specials, white out, License to Ill...  Ha!  I'm getting old.

The Loneliness of the Alt-Rock anniversary - Along the same lines as the above, let's revisit another great album that's turning 20.

A wonderful new project - Kimberly Taylor is starting a new project after a recent trip to Africa.  It's inspiring.  It can be difficult to find ways to contribute that feel meaningful - writing checks is a good thing, but it's hard when you're not really sure what's happening with the money.  This is a small, focused project with real names and faces.  Check it out.

Happiness Habits of Exuberant Human Beings - I want to be described as exuberant!

An interview with Linda Ronstadt - My mom was the one who informed me that Linda Ronstadt had Parkinson's disease and could no longer sing.  She feels exactly as I do - how horrible would that be?!  Linda Ronstadt is an amazing singer and artist, and to have that taken away must be incredibly painful. This is a cool interview of a really cool lady.

Empty Space Captured by Hubble - Want to have your mind blown?  I love how looking into space can do this to us.  We all hear that there are billions and billions of galaxies in the universe, but our brains simply can't process what that means.  These images help.  Awesome.

September 23, 2013

Life, Lately...

baseball practice

Day 15 of Blogtember:  A "life lately" post.  Plus some added musings...

This year already feels so different from the last.  Nathan's school day is just a bit longer, and the boys are involved in more now.  I am spending more time watching baseball, and swim classes, and piano lessons.  I love it, but I also think I need to use that time better.  While they are swimming, I could be writing the week's menu, making a grocery list, or reading a book!  I'm making that a goal for the coming weeks.

Can I just tell you how excited I am that Aaron is taking (and enjoying!) piano lessons?  Fingers crossed he continues to love it.

I'm thinking about the holidays already, too.  I know it's ridiculously early, but the end of the year requires some preparation and thought.  I like knowing where we'll be spending Thanksgiving and Christmas, having plans for Aaron's birthday, costume ideas for Halloween, gift ideas...  It's a wonderful time of long as I'm prepared for it.

September continues to be my favorite month.  Crisp air, blue skies, and changing leaves.  I am looking forward to pumpkin and apple-picking, warming apple cider, baking a pie, and pulling the sweaters out of storage.

before the show

Kevin and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this month.  We spent a night in the city, enjoying a fabulous dinner at our favorite fancy restaurant and then watching a concert by City & Colour.  It was a wonderful night.  After all these years, we still have a lot of fun together.

My sister-in-law is pregnant with her first, due in December.  It's exciting to see the family growing, and I know she and her husband are going to make wonderful parents.

Carl Yastrzemski (Yaz) threw out the first pitch

We went to our last Red Sox game of the season yesterday.  The weather was perfect, the Sox won, and the boys were into it.  (Sometimes they're more excited about ice cream and cracker jacks.)  It was a fun time, and I'm excited for the playoffs.  

I've gotten back into my exercise routine, and I'm getting up early every morning to get a workout in before the boys get up.  It feels good.  I did an hour of yoga on Friday and felt it all over on Saturday.  Now if I only could cut back on the ice cream... nah.

I watched the Emmys last night.  I am always sucked in by awards shows, for whatever reason.  I had recently watched "Behind the Candelabra" and was happy for Michael Douglas.  He and Matt Damon really were spectacular in it.  Oh!  And Colbert!  The Daily Show will always be a favorite of mine, but they'd won ten years in a row - it was very fun to see The Colbert Report break their streak.  

Next year is shaping up to be a big travel year.  We just booked a ski trip to Vermont for winter break.  We are planning on visiting my mom and little sister in North Carolina for spring break.  And then my sister in Spain for summer holiday in August.  Better start saving and planning and anticipating.

I turn 40 in March.  That's occasion for some celebrating too!

September 20, 2013

Kid's Music Playlist

My kids have been exposed to a lot of music.  I pretty much always have music on in the house and in the car.  I listen to a lot of different genres, including classical, which was my favorite in the car when the boys were babies, and it's still my favorite for dinnertime.  I've occasionally mixed in some kid's music, some of which is actually pretty good.  With the purchase of my current car a couple years ago, I got the option of playing my iPod/iPhone in the car.  I cannot tell you how much I love this and how much time and money it has saved me from having to burn CDs all the time.

Anyway I digress.  I created a playlist for the boys.  Anytime they point out a song they like, or when I notice them requesting a song to be replayed over and over again, I add it to their list.  It's an evolving mix, with songs getting deleted as they tire of them too.  While I am still the driver in the car and control the music, I honestly don't mind playing this mix when requested.

This past weekend, the boys got out of bed independently, went downstairs, got their own cereal, and Aaron was able to put on their music in the kitchen using my iPhone.  How awesome is that?

I wonder sometimes if, when they grow up, some of these songs or bands will remind them of when they were little.  The way Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, barbershop music, and the theme song from The Muppets does for me.  I also wonder if their taste in music will stray too far from mine as they get older - I hope that even if/when our music tastes diverge, we'll always be able to talk about it and appreciate it together.

Here's a peek at a selection of their playlist as it looks today...

The Way I Tend to Be - Frank Turner
Hurricane Season - Trombone Shorty
From This Valley - The Civil Wars
Mahna Mahna - Cake
Ride On / Right On - Phosphorescent
Beautiful Mess - Kasey Chambers
Emmylou - First Aid Kit
Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
Paradise - Coldplay
Engine to Turn - Tift Merritt
M.T.A. - Ben Rudnick
Street Corner Preacher - Amos Lee
Backatown - Trombone Shorty
In the Morrow - Brandi Carlile
La La La La Lemon - Barenaked Ladies
That Old Black Hole - Dr. Dog
Rhthm and Soul - Spoon
Lonely Boy - The Black Keys
Live and Die - The Avett Brothers
Write My Ticket - Tift Merritt
The Lion's Roar - First Aid Kit

September 19, 2013

Menu of the Week

pictures via Martha Stewart and Cooking Light

Grilled Salmon, Rice, Sauteed Kale, Broccoli
My garden is still producing!  I was surprised to see how much kale was there, so we enjoyed another wonderful dinner.  Grilled salmon is now one of our family favorites, too.  Both boys are now eating it with gusto, and they love it when a food they like is a super food.

Baked Ziti, Salad, Baguette
An old family stand-by.  As much as I love summer food, I love moving with the seasons.  Fall food is wonderful, too.

Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder, Baguette
Super easy and the boys love it.  I made it during the day and was able to just add the cream and warm it up after baseball.  

Potato & Onion Frittata, Honey-Glazed Carrots, Sauteed Zucchini
I start with this frittata recipe and modify as desired.  I added some cheddar on top this time.  I've tried adding more veggies to it - zucchini, peppers, etc. - but I've found that the boys like it better just as it is, and they do fine with veggies on the side.  That is just fine by me.  

Roasted Corn & Goat Cheese Quesadillas, Yellow Rice, Black Beans
Another old stand-by, but one I haven't made in a while.  We do burritos or quesadillas a lot, and I like adding this variety into the mix.

September 18, 2013

Life, in Photos...

Day 12 of Blogtember:  Only photos.

September 17, 2013

Trick Question...

Day 11 of Blogtember:  A memory you would love to relive.

This one is fun, but it really is a trick question, isn't it?  I mean, I loved thinking back to some of my best memories, but how could I possibly choose just one that I'd like to relive?  

My first thought was of our trip to St. John.  Sitting on an empty beach with Kevin - the above picture was our view.  I'd certainly do that again, but I think perhaps the fact that it's a little chilly today makes me simply long for a warm sunny beach.  Would I really choose to relive that day over another?  My mind continues down a long playlist of happy moments...

Talking about football and religion with my dad.  Sitting in the grass watching Pearl Jam with Kevin. Singing around a bonfire with my extended family.  Sitting around the dinner table with Kevin and the boys.  The first time he said "I love you".  The moment we said "I do."  Listening to my Uncle Bob tell "The Man with the Golden Arm" at the lake.  Sitting on a beach in Kauai with Kevin.  Eating gelato in Florence with Dawn, Francesc, Kevin and the boys.  Driving to the beach with my best friends in high school.  Watching shooting stars in my dad's front yard with Emily, Christine, and Mary.  Doing a crossword puzzle with Kevin in Washington Square park in San Francisco.  Dancing to Dave Matthews Band at a college frat party with friends my senior year of high school.  Roller skating with my mom around Greenfield Lake.  Walking to the candy store with my cousins and picking out penny candy.  Eating snails and drinking too much wine in Paris with Dawn.  The first day of my honeymoon.  Seeing Aaron's smile from his crib as I walked into his room in the morning.  Watching him play his first baseball game.  Or rock the hula hoop.  Getting my first "best hug ever" from Nathan.    Watching him run.  One of our many dance parties with the boys.  

I could go on like this all day.  I'm working to make my life one moment after another, so while it's fun to look back every now and then, I wouldn't want to go back.  I might miss something.  

September 16, 2013

Dear Tiffany...

Today's Blogtember Challenge topic:  Write a public love letter to someone in your life.  (It doesn't have to be romantic.)
Pictures via Tiffany's Facebook
This was taken this morning, on her way into the hospital for surgery.   I adore it!

Dear Tiffany,

I know you must be nervous or anxious or just downright scared today.  Going into a major surgery must be daunting. But you've handled this whole cancer thing with such dignity and grace, and I know you'll be able to face this part of the process with the same amount of positivity.  If you do falter and allow your mind to travel to darker places, that will only serve as your reminder to dance and smile and pull yourself back up.  If you forget, I know you have Rick beside you to remind you.  If he forgets (Ha!), you have so many family members and friends surrounding you with love and light and energy.  Today is one major step towards the cure.  Tomorrow, it will be behind you, and you can keep looking forward to many healthy dance-filled days ahead.


Everyone else, if you'd like to follow along as Tiffany goes through this journey, check out her blog at  I promise you'll be inspired.

September 13, 2013

A Self Portrait

Day 9 of the Blogtember Challenge:  A self portrait.

Yes, I felt like a total dork taking this picture.  But here I am.  Wearing my favorite Ramones t-shirt and Lucky jeans.  I don't have a single bit of makeup on, and my bangs are all curly because it's rainy out today.  This is me.

I'm going to go clean out the cabinet under the kitchen sink now, and then I'm going to pick up the little man from preschool.  We will have lunch together, do some playing and errands and possibly more cleaning before getting the big guy, and then we will start our weekend.

I must admit, though.... now that I'm home, the start of the weekend is not the huge relief that it used to be.  I look forward to every day in a way I hadn't in a long time.  I hope that I'm able to maintain this feeling, this approach to life, every single day for forever.  It's really the only way to live.

Phosphorescent - Song for Zula

I had heard a lot about Phosphorescent's album, Muchacho,  before I actually listened to it.  I kind of hate when that happens, because then I listen to the music filled with expectations.  This time, I wasn't immediately drawn to the music, but I think that's only because it wasn't quite what I expected.  I came back to it a month or so later, and I put it on at the right time, and I fell in love with it.  It's so beautiful and unique and lovely, and it's now one of my favorite albums of the year. 

September 12, 2013

I'm an Optimist!

Day 8 Blogtember Challenge topic:  Discuss ways that blogging or social media has changed you.

When I started this blog - in 2008! - I had no idea why I was doing it.  I hadn't even really read many blogs.  But I saw my friend Sara's blog, and I thought it might be fun to start capturing some moments and thoughts in this way.  I struggled at first to find my voice, and as I read more and more blogs, I got caught in the thought that I should be writing to find an audience.  After a while, I figured out that I should be doing it for me.  This post was one of the first where I started using the blog to focus on the positives.

Since then, my blog's primary purpose has been to turn me into an optimist, and I'm amazed to say that it has worked!  I had always been a glass-half-empty kind of girl, and I certainly didn't appreciate everything that I had as much as I should have.  I started capturing Three Little Things on a regular basis, which then evolved into my Little Things posts.  After a while, I noticed that I was doing this in my head all the time.  I was looking around.  I was noticing beautiful things more.  I was having moments of gratitude all day long.  It now comes naturally to me.  I assume the best in people, and I expect the best to happen to me.  I see beauty everywhere.

This change has truly made all the difference in the world.  It's the easiest thing to do, and yet many people don't do it.  Expressing gratitude on a regular basis can change your entire outlook on life.  It has done this for me.

Here are a few of the things that I am grateful for today:

1.  My happy, healthy boys.  Of course they are always #1 on any list of things for which I'm grateful.  The boys are loving school, and they have bruises up and down their shins like any active boys their age should.

2.  My back.  I've been getting back into a normal exercise routine, and it feels so good.  The first thing I do in the morning is stretch my back.  It feels especially satisfying the day after a good workout.

3.  Basil.  Summer is winding down, and I have loved enjoying basil on almost everything for the past few months.  I know the cooler days are coming, though, so I'm going to harvest the rest of my basil and make basil-walnut pesto.  I will put it in the freezer and enjoy it all winter.

4.  My voice.  I sing all day long.  In the car, in the kitchen, in the shower...I'm pretty much always singing.  I can't imagine not being able to do it.

5.  My husband.  Kevin and I will celebrate 11 years of marriage on Saturday.  I'm so happy to have someone to walk beside me through life, especially someone as awesome as him.

What are you grateful for today?

September 11, 2013

Recently Read

Today's prompt for the Blogtember Challenge didn't really inspire me, so I thought I'd take the free day to share a few of the books I've read recently.  It wasn't until I gathered them together here that I realized they are all memoirs.  I do that sometimes.  I enjoy memoirs and biographies very much, but I tend to stick to those written by and about entertaining people.   I have to force myself through political and historical biographies.  I didn't have to slog through any of these.

Who I Am, by Pete Townshend
I'm not a huge Who fan, but even though I wasn't around in the 60s, I still love reading about the rock 'n roll legends of that time.  Townsend is an artist, and he's a good writer as well.  I got a bit bored at times with the technical talk - he could go on and on about amplifiers and sound equipment setups.  He was also very careful whenever he named names - he seemed to go out of his way to be complimentary of everyone.  That's not a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if he's being completely honest.  Overall, I enjoyed this book.

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, by Pamela Des Barres
"Miss Pamela" is the most famous groupie of all time, and the inspiration behind Penny Lane in Almost Famous.  It's written around a lot of her old diary entries, and it therefore sounds just like a very immature teenage girl much of the time.  The name-dropping and backstage stories are interesting and fun - Chris Hillman, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Waylon Jennings, Jim Morrison...and the list goes on and on.  Overall, though, it felt a little sad to me.  This was a girl who was so desperate to be a part of the scene, and she really wanted to do something creative, but she could never seem to find her way.  In the meantime, she wasn't just having fun with these guys - she was falling in love, having fun, and then getting hurt by them over and over and over.  I was happy, though, that she did eventually find her happy ending.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, by Nora Ephron
This is a very lightweight book, and it actually reminds me a lot of reading a blog.  Each little chapter reads like a blog post, and they are all funny and honest.  A lot of them are topics that I can relate to - aging, and maintaining our looks, and love for New York city.  But there were some parts that I simply couldn't - Nora lives in a richer world, and she has a love for handbags that I will not pretend to understand.  It's a quick and fun read.

Ball Four, by Jim Bouton
I'm finishing this one up now, and I'm laughing on nearly every page.  I can't believe I hadn't read this book before.  It's one of the most famous baseball books of all time, and deservedly so.  It's wonderful.  You just can't help but laugh at the childish things that grown men do when they are together.  It's also a really interesting perspective on what it's like to live playing baseball - the dreams and desire, the uncertainty, the impact on your family, the competition, the motivation, and again back to the dreams.

September 10, 2013

I'm Heading North...

Day 6 of the Blogtember Challenge:  Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

My mom rode with me on the long drive north.  And are those jean shorts I'm wearing?  Good grief.

I'm not sure I can actually point to a "distinct moment".  I am not a spontaneous person.  Every decision I've made has been made with great deliberation and thought.  And in some cases, I've needed the universe to give me a little push in the right direction.

After college, I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I started my first real job, and I made some wonderful friends.  I was traveling quite a bit for work; but I was traveling with a lot of my friends, so it was more fun than tiring at that point.  After a couple years, many of my best friends started making life changes.  Some got married and started families.  Many moved.  Charlotte is a nice, manageable, little city, and it was a great place to start out.  But I knew it wasn't home.  I got bored and needed a change.

I spent months deliberating my next move.  Where should I go?  I could have gone anywhere, really.  I worked for a large company and could have requested a move to most major cities.  I considered San Francisco (too expensive and far from family), Seattle (wet and too far from family), Chicago (too far from the ocean), New York (it's tough being an introvert in NYC), and Boston.  Obviously I chose Boston.  My little sister lived in the area at the time, and my older sister was in New York, so at least I'd have some family nearby.  Otherwise, I didn't know anyone.

I arranged the transfer, loaded up a moving truck, and moved into a very expensive single apartment.  My rent tripled!  But I was on the train line, and I had my own space, and I loved every single thing about the city.  I took a week off for the move, and after my family left, I did some exploring on my own.  My first day to myself, I went to Fenway Park, purchased a single ticket at the window (you could do that back then!), and watched a Red Sox game in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.  I had a beer, sat in the sunshine, and had a wonderful day.  I spent the rest of the week doing some more exploring and getting settled in.  The following Monday, I hopped on a plane for work, as I would do a lot for the next several years.  Returning back to Boston later that week, I very distinctly remember getting off the plane.  I smelled the ocean air, saw the city lights, and I knew I was home.

September 9, 2013

So I'm an Introvert...

Day 5 of the Blogtember Challenge:  Take this short personality test and report on the results.

photo by Anna Gawlak

I hope you all had a nice weekend.  It was a long one for us, and we mostly filled it with productive activities like mowing and over-seeding the lawn.  It was one of those quiet weekends at home, readying ourselves for the change in seasons.  I like weekends like that.  The boys were at each other a lot, though, and I'm grateful they're both back in school today - I think a little break from each other will be good for them.

For today's prompt, I took the above personality test.  I had taken similar tests before, so I was not surprised at the result - I'm an ISTJ/INTJ.  Very strong Introverted, very strong Judgement, and the middle two traits are pretty slight.  I took the test a few times, and I got both results a couple times each.   In reading the descriptions, a lot of it definitely rings true.

"To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. ...many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship).  To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand.  As to other Introverted Thinkers, ISTJs often give the initial impression of being aloof and perhaps somewhat cold."  I've been told many times that I can be intimidating, especially when people first meet me.  I've always found that to be a bit ironic, since I'm so nervous and clumsy in initial social settings.  Some of my best friends have told me that they thought I hated them initially.  This is not a favorite trait of mine, and I do fight against it, but it's who I am.

"ISTJs are easily frustrated by the inconsistencies of others, especially when the second parties don't keep their commitments.  But they usually keep their feelings to themselves unless they are asked.  And when asked, they don't mince words."  If I say I'm going to do something, I do it.  And I will never understand people who act otherwise.

"They have a keen sense of right and wrong...noted for devotion to duty.  Punctuality is a watchword of the ISTJ."  Being late is my biggest pet peeve.

"Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense."  My favorite line of the description.  :-)

I've always found these types of tests to be interesting, but at this point in my life, I am not really enlightened.  I know who I am, and I'm comfortable with it.  I understand my strengths and weaknesses.  It's still interesting to think about, though, as I continue to work towards being the best possible version of me.

September 6, 2013

Hurray for the Riff Raff

Today's Blogtember Challenge prompt:  A story about a time you were very afraid.

Well, I consider myself extremely lucky, because I have no answer here.  I've been nervous, anxious, unsettled, but really and truly afraid?  I can't think of a time.  I think the closest I've come to experiencing true fear is during those few times when I couldn't find one of my boys.  Those moments of panic when one of them wanders away from me in a store, or when they are playing out in the neighborhood and they don't come when I call for them.  There are movies I can no longer watch because I do not want to experience that type of feeling again.  But if that's my biggest complaint, I'd say I'm doing alright.  

This week's music selection is from Hurray for the Riff Raff.  I had heard of them before but never really gave them a good listen until this year's Newport Folk Festival.  The video above is a song from an earlier album, Look Out Mama, but their latest, My Dearest Darkest Neighbor, is great as well.  

Menu of the Week

photos via Cooking Light (1, 3) and me (2)

I had to post one of these.  It's been a while, and I've realized how much I enjoy looking back on posts from the previous year for inspiration as I'm meal-planning.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder, Multigrain Baguette
I thought I'd make this just one more time before the end of summer.  It's so easy, healthy, and the boys eat it all up and ask for seconds.  Hard to argue with that.  Aaron is excited for butternut squash chowder, though, so that'll be on the menu soon.

Cheeseburgers, Grilled Potatoes and Onions, Corn on the Cob, Salad
Grilling up a bounty from the farmer's market while we can.  I think the boys are actually sick of corn on the cob now, which means I've done my job.

Summer Ziti, Multigrain Baguette
I had to make this one last time, too.  Our garden produced enough tomatoes for this, and it makes the house smell so good.  I loved having the leftovers for lunch all week too.  

Grilled Chicken, Corn on the Cob, Caprese Salad
Wait, now they are really sick of corn on the cob.  

Turkey Mini Meat Loaves, Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Kale/Broccoli
It's funny - Nathan, my non meat-eater, has started to enjoy some meat now and then.  He never ate these before but asked to try them this time.  He declared them AWESOME and had thirds.  The boys had broccoli from the garden, and we had kale from the garden.  The garden is almost empty now - just a few tomatoes and squash left.  

Homemade Pizza
A Friday night favorite.  Whole-wheat dough from the grocery store, topped with our favorite toppings.  Cheese for the boys (Aaron will sometimes ask for black olives); spinach, mushrooms, black olives, and onions for us.  

September 5, 2013

A Few Pieces of Advice and Links...

Well, I'm not all that inspired by today's Blogtember challenge prompt:  Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.  But here are a few things that come to mind...

1.  Everything in moderation.  My dad used to say this a lot, and it makes sense.  Anything that requires you to totally eliminate something is suspect.
2.  You don't have to floss every tooth every day, just the ones you want to keep.  Yikes.  My mom said this one to me, and it definitely had its intended effect.
3.  Make your bed every day.  Even if the rest of your house is a disaster, it's so nice to get to your room at the end of the day and see your bed all put together.  It's so inviting, and it has a calming effect on me.  I highly recommend it.
4.  If you don't wear it, get rid of it.  I've heard this one everywhere, so I can't remember where I heard it first, but I definitely stick to the rule that says if I didn't wear it last year, I shouldn't keep it for another one.
5.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  This was a favorite of a partner I worked for when I was a consultant.  It can be applied in many ways, though, and I do like it.  With respect to your personal life, if you aren't happy with how things are going, you need to make a change.  Try something new.


In addition to those friendly reminders, I thought I'd pass along a few links.  After being offline for a few weeks, I've been catching up on all my favorite blogs.  Here are just a few of the beautiful things I happened across during this marathon blog reading...

This Vermont house truly is my dream house.  I love every single detail.  That kitchen, the bar tucked under the stairs, the bookcases, the old clock on the mantle, the quilt on the bed...everything.

This short film about smartphone overuse hits close to home.  I think I'm going to start 'forgetting' my phone at home more often.

I loved this post by Design Mom about their decision to send their two oldest kids to the public high school in Oakland.  The comments are interesting and thought-provoking as well.  I think my little sister, an assistant principal, would like it as well.

I have no idea what Garden & Gun is, but this little performance by Jason Isbell is beautiful.  His album is definitely one of my favorites of the year.

After yesterday's post, I read this one by Natasha at Beautifully, Suddenly.  Just another opportunity to marvel at the stunning beauty that is Sydney.   

Remember my cousin Tiffany and that fun YouTube video of her dancing?  Well, it went viral!  The band, Great Big Sea, tweeted and then posted about it on Facebook, and it has taken off from there.  Stand up for Cancer posted it to their Facebook page also.  Tiffany has been interviewed by the local TV news and newspaper, and she was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcast Service via skype and radio.  It has been very, very cool to follow along as she goes on this journey.  She has opened up her blog, and I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially those going through a health crisis.  It's inspiring.

September 4, 2013

Three Months...

Day 2 of the Blogtember Challenge:  If you could take three months off from your current life and do anything in the world, what would you do?

Well, we might as well rephrase this as "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?"  I imagine we'll see lots of travel posts in response to this one.

For my part, I'd go to Australia and New Zealand.  I had the opportunity to travel to Sydney for work about a decade ago.  It was supposed to turn into a longer-term assignment, and my husband was going to get assigned there as well.  We daydreamed about all we were going to do and see while we were there, and then the job ended and I had to head home.  Kevin never even got to go.

I enjoyed a month there, and I never even left Sydney; but I fell in love with it.  It was so beautiful, but what struck me most was how amazingly friendly the people were.  Since then, I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out when we can go back.  There's so much I want to see and do - I want to dive at the Great Barrier Reef, I want to go sailing in New Zealand, I want to eat at a restaurant the locals love in Melbourne, I'd love to take a surfing lesson...

So if I had three months?  I'd spend them there.

September 3, 2013

Where I Come From...

Jenni at Story of My Life has issued another blog challenge.  I had a lot of fun with it back in May, so I thought I'd give it another go.  I've been away from the blog for a lot of the summer it seems, so this will hopefully be a fun way to jump back in.

The first prompt is this:  Describe where or what you come from.  The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

I am from...

My parents - Like my parents, I am an introvert.  I can sing, and I love music.  I have an appreciation for the value of money - I save before buying things and never use credit.  I also have an appreciation for the value of things - If I can no longer use something, I give it to someone who can.  I think my inclination towards pessimism comes from my dad, whose favorite Disney character was Eeyore.  He was a sweet, lovable guy, but he had the same gruff temperament.  My parents divorced when I was little, and of course this influenced me, although it's difficult for me to say exactly how.  I love good food - fresh veggies straight from the garden are the best.  I am politically active, and I try to stay informed of what's going on in the world.  My mom likes ice cream almost as much as I do, and I also happen to look just like her.

...except I got "cute little curls", as she likes to call them.  That's me on the right.  

The country - When I tell people I was born in New York, they automatically picture the city.  I have to clarify and explain that I lived in New York State, many hours from the city.  We lived in the middle of nowhere.  We owned goats and chickens, had a pond and a large garden where my mom grew all our vegetables, enjoyed lots of fruit trees and bushes, and had enough space for me and my siblings to roam around freely.  I only lived there until I was nine, but I spent those formative years learning to swim, building tree forts, helping Mom in the garden, collecting eggs from the coop, and sledding and ice skating during those long hard winters.

Me (on the dock) with my brother and sister

The beach - I spent the second half of my childhood in a southern city by the beach.  The south never really took its hold on me, but the beach most certainly did.  I could never imagine living too far away from the coast.  The smell of the sea air, the sound of seagulls, the feel of sand beneath my toes...these are all reminders of home.

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

My family - My dad's side of the family is huge.  He had six brothers and sisters, and they all had lots of kids.  I was blessed with 31 first cousins.  I was also fortunate enough to spend some of my childhood summers with them at our cottages on Lake Ontario.  They are such wonderful, amazing, talented, and smart people; and I'm so grateful just to be a part of this family. Whenever I'm with them - really, any of them - I am more motivated to appreciate life's little pleasures.  I am reminded that we should all take care of each other - our family, our neighbors, and people across the world who we've never met.  I am reminded of the important things in life.  Being a part of this family makes me a better person.

This was taken a couple summers ago and contains just a tiny subset of our gigantic family.


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