November 26, 2013


It's almost time for my favorite holiday.  A day to say thank you and to be grateful.  What a beautiful day.  We will spend it at home, with Kevin's family.  I just picked up the turkey and some veggies from the farm, and I'm officially in preparation mode.  I went to Costco yesterday, and they had these big beautiful pomegranates, so there's our centerpiece.  (Pomegranates are so beautiful, and the boys love them.)  I spent an hour and a half in line at the cheese shop this morning, and I'm sure I got too much as usual.  But oh my goodness the joy and awesomeness in that place!  I haven't hosted the big meal in a while, but I'm excited about it.

My lists often look similar, but that's okay.  It's always good to give thanks.  Here's what I'm thankful for this year:

1.  My boys.  The three of them.  Always.
2.  My family.  They live too far away, and I miss them all the time; but I love them and am so happy I have them.
3.  Friends.  The ones I've known all my life, and the ones I just met.  You can never have too many.
4.  A warm house.  I love our house.  It's old and is a never-ending project, but it's home.
5.  Music.  Learning how to make a little of it myself only strengthens my love of people who create songs.
6.  Food.  Like that big block of Stilton cheese in my fridge.  And pie.  Roasted acorn squash.  Carmelized walnuts.  French toast.  Yummmmmm…..
7.  Books.  There's a seemingly infinite supply.  Lives to experience.  Facts to learn.  Emotions to feel.  I love them.
8.  My slippers, my fleece, my pajama pants, fun socks….clothes that keep me warm and cozy in the wintertime.
9.  A little splash of maple liqueur in my egg nog.
10.  Vacations, travel, and looking forward.

November 21, 2013

Learning and Links...

You know what I love most about my guitar lessons?  It's not the playing, although obviously I love that, and after two lessons I have already picked up some tips that have improved my technique.  It's learning about music.  The language and structure of music.  Learning how chords are built, and the structure they take on.  Learning the notes that are in each key.  I've been a singer all my life, and I know how to read music, but I never learned to understand it.  I never took instrument lessons and therefore was never forced to practice scales and build each chord one note at a time.  That's why I've never been able to advance beyond "beginner" at piano or guitar.  I'm going back to do this now, and I'm so excited to be doing it.  Learning is fun.

I'm enjoying a nice, if quiet, week.  Lots of time at school - tomorrow I will spend the morning doing experiments and observations with cranberries with Aaron's first grade class (and I can't wait!).  Lots of time thinking about next week - the menu is pretty much set although I want to ask Kevin his opinion on a couple sides.  Lots of time reading, exercising, cleaning, errands, and doing all the other tasks that make up a lot of my days.  I find I am content with this little life of mine.

Here are a few other things I've run across this week...

One of the best ads I've ever seen.  I never go into Toys 'R Us.  I did once, many years ago, and I was so saddened by the "pink" aisle and the "everything else" aisles.  I will never go back.

Are you right-brained or left-brained?  A quick and interesting quiz.  I'm not sure I agree with the results, though.  It says I'm right-brained, and I've always thought of myself as more of a left-brained person.  (Even though we all know that's a bunch of crap anyway.)

Yet another of my favorite classic albums turns 20.    This time, it's Belly's Star.  This is an interview with Tanya Donelly, who remains a fave.

The busy trap.  Another good article reminding us that it's more important to experience and ruminate about life than it is to stay busy all the time.

A great holiday dessert recipe - spiced pumpkin pie with candied hazelnuts and eggnog cream.  I keep shaking my head…how have I never made eggnog whipped cream before?  It sounds fabulous!

November 20, 2013

Wish List...

Even though we're not doing a gift exchange this year, it's hard not to think about what would make up my wish list.  It's okay to want things, right?  I also always end up getting Kevin something, because I think we should each have a little something under the tree.  It's just more fun that way.  So just in case he decides to reciprocate, I thought I'd share a few of the things I'm wanting right now.  My birthday is in just a few months too, so here are some early ideas.

Perfume.  I need a new scent, and I'm thinking I'd like to try Nectarine Blossom & Honey by Jo Malone.

Wallet.  The wallet I'm using right now was purchased in one of those little side-street shops in NYC, where they pull you off the street into a dark little room stuffed with knock-off bags.  (Mine is a "Coach" wallet.)  I got it at least 15 years ago.   My mom actually stitched it up a couple years ago to extend its life, but it's falling apart again.  It's time for a new one.

Art.  I want more of it in our house.  And I don't want to wait until I know the exact spot for it.  Photographs, posters, paintings…  I just want to collect beautiful things and figure out where they go later.

Daytrotter Membership.  Access to concerts and albums by new bands and favorites.  Yes please.

Records.  Classics I'd love to own include The Real Ramona (Throwing Muses) and August & Everything After (The Counting Crows).  But there's a lot I'd love to have on vinyl.  Some Christmas music would be fun to have too.

Le Creuset dutch oven.  Or a cast iron skillet.  Two items I'd love to add to my kitchen.

I finally got myself a rain coat, but I still need a pair of rain boots.

And workout clothes.  I'm exercising often enough that I could use a few additional items.  Like this maybe.  Or this.  Or this.  Basics.   I could probably use a new pair of shoes too, but I suppose I'd have to try those on myself.

What's on your wish list?

November 18, 2013

At This Moment...

…It's the middle of a Monday morning, and I'm eating a pumpkin chocolate-chip cookie.  We made them over the weekend, and they are great.  I'm going to help in the library at school in a bit, so lunch will be late today.  A couple cookies will tide me over.

…I'm pretty much done Christmas shopping.  In our house, Santa brings one main present for each of the boys, and he fills their stockings.  Done and done.  I'll wait to do the wrapping in December with Little Women or A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life.  We aren't doing any gift exchanges amongst adults this year.  Keep it simple, everyone.

…No gift exchanges, although I am still planning on sending my mom and siblings a little something homemade again this year.  I should think about when I'm going to do that.

…My fingers are sore.  I had my first guitar lesson last week, and I'm trying to be diligent about practicing.  Preparing for lessons #2.  Yay!

…My to-do list today looks like this:  dentist, volunteer at school library, 3 loads of laundry, pay a few bills, sweep downstairs, clean upstairs bathrooms.  In addition to the usual dishes, cooking, and hanging with the boys.  That's a good, full day.

…I feel pretty good.  My cold is totally gone now, and I've gotten good sleep lately.  It's amazing how much a good night's sleep can improve how I feel.

…I have my music on shuffle right now, and it's fun to be surprised.  Playing music from the computer is especially surprising, because it contains my entire music collection.  (Which reminds me, I should back up the computer today.)  The morning's playlist has included The Milk Carton Kids, Trampled by Turtles, Lucinda Williams, Radiohead, The Lemonheads…  At this moment, it's Madonna.

…It's kind of warm and muggy today, but the cold will be back tomorrow.  I'm ready for it.  Thanksgiving is next week!  I want chilly outside so we can be cozy inside.

November 15, 2013

Recently Read - A Couple Classics

A few months back, someone in my Facebook feed (my nephew?) made a general comment about books, and he inadvertently started a discussion in the comments about the greatest classics and favorite novels.  It's fun when that happens.  In that discussion, my brother said that one of his favorites was The Count of Monte Cristo, and I confessed that I had never read it.  It inspired me to pick up a copy and give it a read.  As promised, it was wonderful!

I'm not really sure what inspired my husband to re-read The Catcher in the Rye, but he did.  When he finished, I realized that I didn't really remember the book very well.  Had I actually read it back in high school, or did I skim the cliff's notes before the test?  Who knows?  Either way, it didn't resonate with me back then.  I read it again (or for the first time…I can't remember), and I really enjoyed it.  I can understand why teenagers find it refreshing - the simple use of language, the rambling thoughts and honesty of Holden Caulfield…  But I found it much more compelling as an adult.

Have you gone back and read (or re-read) any classics as an adult?  It's fun to do.  I read To Kill a Mockingbird last year, and although I loved it when I was in high school, I struggled to get through it this time around.   My favorite is probably East of Eden, by John Steinbeck.  I'm going to go back to working through the giant stack of unread books on my nightstand, but then I may have to pick up a couple other classics from my shelves.  Pride and Prejudice, The Brothers Karamozov, A Tale of Two Cities…  Do you have a favorite?

November 13, 2013

Sounds From Our House...

"But Mom, what can I do?  I want to do something." - Aaron

"I DON'T WANT TO WEAR PANTS!!"  (He screams, as he watches the snow outside.)
"I'm not mad at you anymore."  (He tells me after school, wearing his pants.) - Nathan

"Mom, Aaron pushed me!"  "Well, he was annoying me!"  "Yeah but you shouldn't push people!"  "Well, whatever.  Sorry!"

"Mom, you don't even need a radio anymore, because I know how to play the piano now." - Aaron
(This week's music selection includes Yankee Doodle and Jingle Bells.  And really, what more do I need?)

"What's for dinner, Mom?"  "Fried bugs and onions."  "EWWWWW!  Gross!"  "No, really?" "Okay….pizza."  "YAY!"

"F-R-I-E-N-D.  That's too easy, give me a hard one.  S-P-E-C-I-A-L.   Okay, wanna do math now?"
- Aaron
"Mom, make a word for me!  P-L-A-N-T.  Plant!" - Nathan  (Reading words on the magnetic board by our table.)

"2+2 is 4, 5+5 is 10, 10+10 is 20.  Did you know I knew all that?" - Nathan

"But why do I have to take a shower?  I don't want to take a shower!" - Aaron

"Nathan, do you know how much I love you?"  "A million a cazillion billion trillion willion times a billion."  "Yep."

"Mom, come up and check on me in an hour."  "Why?"  "Because I will want another hug!"  "Okay."

November 12, 2013

Weekend Recap

Winter is coming.  As we ate breakfast this morning, the rain turned over to big fat snowflakes, and I got excited thinking about the coming season.  Of course, it also meant that I had to make Nathan wear pants today, so he trudged off to school this morning with an epic pout on his face.  He's mad at me, and that's okay.

The weekend was pretty good.  I am fighting a cold, so all I really wanted to do was sit on the couch.  I worked in the yard, raking and planting, for a few hours Saturday morning, but then I ventured back inside and enjoyed several hours in front of the fireplace.  I read an entire book!  I can't remember the last time I did that.  Thank you, Kevin, for keeping the boys occupied all afternoon and allowing me that luxury.  The boys stayed outside helping dad dig holes and plant bushes.  They love to help.  

That night, Kevin and I went out to dinner and a movie.  We saw Gravity in 3D.  Now, I am prone to motion sickness, and I generally hate 3D movies - those glasses are so annoying and hurt my head after a while.  But I can honestly say that I am happy I saw this movie on the big screen in 3D.  It was totally worth it, and it was so intense that I never once thought about the glasses at all.  If you can see this one on the big screen, do it.

Sunday included brunch with friends and more working in the yard.  I then cooked up a big pot of this minestrone, which I very much enjoyed and the boys very much hated.  I guess I know what I'm having for lunch the rest of the week.  It's really good, though.  I used some of my homemade walnut pesto from the freezer, and it adds just the right flavor.  I also used up the last of the kale from the garden - I think the garden is officially done now.

Monday was a holiday, so the kids and I enjoyed an extra day at home.  We planted our tulip bulbs, fed our jack o'lanterns to the pigs at the farm, played on the playground, practiced piano and guitar, rode bikes, went to swim lessons, and wrote some letters/postcards.  

Overall, it was a good weekend, despite my annoying cold.  I'm appreciating a bit of silence now, and soon I'm going to dive into the week's to-do list.   

Have a great week!

November 8, 2013

A Few Things...

Happy Friday!  First….I encourage you to hit play on the tiny desk concert above.  I'm just getting to know Daughter myself.  Listen while you read.

It's been a good, and quiet, week.  Our door project is on hold, which is frustrating, but the break has been good too.  Now let's hope it gets done next week.  

I mostly exercise at home these days.  The best time for me to do it is first thing in the morning, and the boys are here, so I no longer belong to a gym.  Sometimes I go for walks, but I admit I don't like doing this when the weather is cold.  Anyway….I exercise at home.  I recently discovered a great site on YouTube.  (There's a lot of great stuff out there!)  Awesome, challenging workouts, and new ones posted every week.  So I am feeling my butt and shoulders today and feel great!  

Date night tomorrow night.  Thinking of seeing Gravity, as it seems like a movie that should be seen in the theater.  Have any of you seen it?  

Fun news!  Aaron takes piano, and during each lesson, Nathan and I just hang out.  It occurred to me - or rather, my little sister wondered - that perhaps I should ask if there was a guitar teacher available at the same time.  I did, and there is!  Now of course I will have Nathan with me, so I hope he's okay hanging out and watching.  I'm excited to see if I can make progress and advance a bit.

Here are a few other things I ran across this week:

Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed.  This is so beautiful, it made me cry.

This woman was about to go into surgery for a double mastectomy, and this is what she did beforehand.  Reminds me of my awesome cousin Tiffany.  Brave, beautiful women.

Cameron Crowe's list of the greatest rock movies of all time.  I admit I haven't seen many of them.  Have you?

A 4-year-old Girl Asks a Lesbian if She's a Boy or a Girl.  This is worth the ten minutes to watch.  It's not just about gays coming out of the closet.  It's about the hard conversations we all have.  

Another beautiful song.  Glen Hansard covers a Bruce Springsteen song, with help from Eddie Vedder.    

Eddie and Glen, by Zoran Orlic, via Rolling Stone 

November 5, 2013


Boston photos by Meg Fee

Life is good.  We are all healthy and happy and learning and thriving and having fun.  I'm totally settled into this life at home, content with the cleaning and cooking and school drop-offs and errands and after-school activities.  Sometimes I think that every week starts to look the same after a while, but I remind myself that the same was true when I was going into the office.  Routines are not a bad thing, but it's important to break them up as well.  I work to plan ahead for date nights and meals with friends and family outings and holiday activities and vacations, and I try to add little surprises every now and then ("Let's go for ice cream before piano today!")… these provide the contrast to the everyday.   

When everything is cruising along like this, my inner pessimist starts to make noise, wondering when the other shoe will drop.  What is going to happen to shake things up?  I can't stop this voice entirely, but I remind myself how to balance it out.  Aaron's homework assignment yesterday was to write about five things for which he is thankful.  (There's no doubt in my mind…Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever.)  Anyway, after I reminded him what thankful meant, I was interested to see what he would include.  Here's what he wrote:

1.  I am thankful that I have a lovely family.
2.  I am thankful that I have good food.
3.  I am thankful that I have a nice brother.
4.  I am thankful that I have a baseball field in my back yard.
5.  I am thankful that I have a lot of good friends.

Yes, as I said…life is most definitely good.

November 1, 2013

It's Friday...

The cutest robots ever, don't you think?

This week has felt rather long to me.  Now that baseball is over (yay Red Sox!), I'm looking forward to getting back to full nights of sleep.  I also need to schedule a few fun things just for me over the coming weeks - nothing big, but coffee with friends and yoga classes go a long way to helping me stay balanced.  The new door project lingers on, and it brings a constant level of stress to the house.  I just want it to be done!

We enjoyed another fun night of trick-or-treating.  I was happy the boys were excited to make their own costumes this year.  (Well, I cut and wrapped the boxes, but they decorated them!)  Many people commented on them, and although the heads came off rather quickly, they looked awesome.

They got a ton of candy, and I've changed my approach for handling it this year.  I used to allow one piece at a time, after meals.  I stole from the bag at night to help it dwindle faster, but this still allowed the candy fight to go on for weeks!  This year I decided to let them go at it.  They ate a ton last night, and this morning, and helped along by the fact that Aaron has decided he doesn't like candy with peanut butter in it, the piles are going away fast.  My goal is to be done with it by the end of the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, we are home for the first time in a few weeks.  I'm anticipating a lot of raking and playing outside, and we're having friends over for dinner tomorrow night.  I think I need to make an apple crisp.  I'm looking forward to it, and it's a good weekend to get an extra hour.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend too!


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