Monday, December 30, 2013

Chesapeake Winters

I always hated Maryland winters. They are cold and gray and mostly snowless. But there are days sprinkled in, warm days when the sunshines and shoes are abandoned, that help get me throuh. Knowing that I don't have to wait for Spring, knowing that there will be sandy toes, even if they are a little chilled, helps.

Last week we got one of those days, and I'm sure more are on their way throughout these months of quiet and relaxation. I will try hard to love this winter, love the crisp air, love the warm blankets, love the somber beauty of it. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Post- Holiday Red Bliss

I think that last night we established a new holiday tradition, quite possibly my favorite holiday tradition. This new tradition involves buying your family and friends matching footie pajamas and having them come over and roll around like giant babies. 
It involves taking ridiculous pictures in front of your tree and setting up a slack line in the dark. It involves eating coq au vin lovingly prepared in your beautiful, elegant copper dutch oven in pajamas with butt flaps. It involves board games and a lot of cheese. It involves laughing and maybe a bit of grossness. 

I'm feeling happy and ready to say good bye to Christmas, ready to take down the Christmas tree earlier than usual, ready to think about what I want from the new year, ready to bunker down through January. I'm feeling hopeful that my spirits are going to lift and I'll be back to being filled with joy.

P.S.  These pajamas already have plans for a boozy, hot chocolate, sleepover in a couple of weeks. Best purchase of my life. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Remembering Christmas

Christmas Break started on Friday with my youngest sister's birthday dinner. My sister Abby, who absolutely typifies the youngest child, who thinks more than she observes, who gives Gus killer haircuts for free, who is pretty as a Southern Maryland Barbie and really funny to boot, turned twenty-four.

It was neat seeing her surrounded by her three best friends, beautiful women she has been friends with for years and years. Abby, as independent as she is, has always been good at making friends, friends who the rest of us steal from her from time to time.

On Sunday we had friends, family, and neighbors over for cookies and cocktails. The weather was too warm for plans of hot buttered rum, but it lent itself to porch playing and sitting. Kids ran and ran and records spun and it was merry and festive and an easy way to spend on Sunday.

On Christmas Eve we went to my grandma and aunt's house for their annual party that is loaded with more sweets than you can shake at stick at. The kids got their first Christmas presents but couldn't relax for fear that Santa might get to our house before they were safely tucked in their beds.

Christmas Eve did not bring much rest. The kids woke up over and over again, hoping to hear that it was finally morning. Meanwhile, Tom and I were fighting a stomach bug. But the magic of Christmas didn't need our energy to barrel through. It was once again declared the best Christmas ever, despite sickness, despite the fact that the wrong Skylander game was purchased. The kids were merry and bright, and I tried my best to match their enthusiasm.

And then it was off to my parents' house for bay views and grown up present exchanging, a brief nap back at home for me and Arlo, back to my mom's for a giant family dinner and foosball tournaments.

 And now, hopefully, I remember these days, the Christmas they were eight and six and one. The Christmas I was a Scrooge who managed to avoid all the photos and my family pulled me through with their good cheer. I have more thoughts on family and my complete gratitude, but I'll save that for tomorrow. For now, I'm going to go figure out the new camera Tom got me, while listening to my kids play with their cousin in the basement. 

Merry Christmas. We still have 10 days of it left. 
I'm hoping they will be peaceful and merry and full of love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rear View Mirror

This year has been so good to me, so sweet, so nearly perfect.
And I am so grateful for this little space on the internet where I documented so many joys and gratitudes.
And  I spent too many hours looking back over this year and all of the wonderful things it brought, and because I'm feeling sentimental, I'm sharing some of my favorite moments again.

(1)Alumni Swimming, (2)Wintry Beaches, (3) Friends Got Old, (4) Weekend Trips,  (5) A Perfect 29th Birthday, (6) October Happened, (7) Summer Splashing, (8) Friends Got Married,(9) County Fair

And this list doesn't even include all the book clubs, kid birthday parties, house projects, and family moments that have really brought me so much joy.

It's good to slow down. It's good to remember.

Monday, December 16, 2013

This Weekend- Arlo's Brunch

I can't get enough of this little guy with his big brown eyes and those strong, Weaver eyebrows, which will one day become a single eyebrow. 

His birthday was celebrated quietly and without much fanfare. He turned one on Tuesday, our lucky "snow day." But this weekend my parents, sisters, and a few boyfriends came over to drink a Bloody Mary's in his honor and to wake him up from a nap so he could eat cupcakes. He received only one present, a ball pit from my sisters. 

Mothers always say that their babies are sweet, smart, and good. I am no different. This boy is made of magic. He is pure wonderful. 

He looks just like his big sister, and he wears his big brother's hand me downs. He walks like a drunk, and his words are still completely incoherent. He is soft, and he gives hugs and waves bye-bye. He has finally started to sleep through the night.

He eats everything, but he prefers his food on a plate, and he tries to eat it with a fork, even if it means using his chubby little fingers to put the food on the fork. This morning, he laughed in his sleep. He really, really loves fans.  Like his mama, he is a third child. He remains our peace maker and joy giver, and we all love him so. 

Edit- My mom took exception to the only one present line. Arlo did, in fact, get several other presents that I forgot about because she gave them to him/ me early. Said presents include adorable pjs, handsome plaid one-pieces, and a new high chair. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

An Overly Sentimental Post about Friendship

Maybe it's because I didn't really have a "best friend" growing up. Maybe it's because I was a homeschooled kid in a smallish town and there just didn't seem to be a whole lot of people like me. I did my best to find adventure and make relationships and keep myself busy, but I never had that friend who really got me through and through.
So when I went to St. Mary's College and met people who liked what I liked, did what I did, I was nothing short of euphoric.
And on the very first night of college, sitting outside a dorm room party, I met my best friend and it was sort of like falling in love. We sat on those steps and talked about the music our parents had helped us fall in love with (Joan Baez, Jim Croce), the jam bands we had seen and wanted to see (String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic), and I knew right away, as maybe only a teenager can, that I had found my friend.
Maybe it wouldn't have felt so profound if the years leading up to it hadn't been exactly as they were. Who knows. All I know, is that I was and am so grateful for my best friend. I'm grateful for the trips we've taken and the secrets we've shared, for the times we've cracked ourselves up and the times we were distraught.
Because I found a friend who takes the state personality quiz, and just like me, gets Georgia, and just like me, retakes it hoping for a different state, one that isn't labeled as "conventional."

And mostly, I wish she lived closer, but there are three reasons I'm happy Joanna moved to New York:

  1. I get to visit New York and I have the best tour guide, the one who knows exactly where I would want to go, knows exactly what I would want to do,  knows exactly what I would want to order. And after four trips this past year and a half, I get to feel like a little bit of an insider. I know which neighborhoods are cool, which neighborhoods are too cool. I know how to use the subway and how to hail a cab. I get to be a little less of a small town bumpkin a few times a year. 
  2. We spend concentrated time together now. When Joanna was a bartender just forty-five minutes away, we had to squeeze in time between two very different schedules. Sometimes in the dark morning as I was drinking coffee, I would find Facebook messages from minutes before, written just as she was going to bed. School teachers and bartenders socialize at very different hours, and sometimes weeks would pass without seeing each other and when we did, the hangouts were short. I would be fearing my early morning wake up, while she was just gearing up. But now when I get to see her, it's for a few days, for a whole weekend. We get to fall asleep recounting the days adventures and wake up planning for the next round. I bet on average, when spend more hours together per month since she's moved.
  3. She's happy in New York. The truth is, Joanna is almost always happy. She is really good at life, and really good at making the best of it. But New York makes her even more happy, so I guess it's okay that she lived up there, even if I still hope one day she'll be my neighbor. 
And Joanna, when you and Geoff come visit in a few weeks, please make sure he is prepared for lots of time spent pouring over old photos. It is completely and totally necessary. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Not Quite Whole, Still Loving Myself

A friend of mine, the one who inspired me to try it out to begin with, asked me about my Loving Myself- Whole30 Challenge. It occurred to me that I put it out there and then never mentioned it again. Maybe in part, actually definitely in whole, because I didn't do as well with it as I hoped.

I'll start with the positive. I lost weight, 10 pounds, which is wonderful and made me feel really great and optimistic. And while doing it I felt great, and I don't mind eating this way at all. However, and there is always a however with me and diet, I didn't stick to it the way I wanted to. I didn't actually do the Whole30; I did the Twothirds30 or maybe the Seventyfivepercent30. That doesn't feel great, not because it's some sort of failure, but because I didn't achieve what I set out to achieve. And when I started thinking about that, I got sort of embarrassed. I started to feel like I failed, but that is nonsense. My challenge had two parts, and the first part was about loving myself.
I did a pretty good job, not perfect, but pretty good. And just because I didn't do it this time, doesn't mean I won't do it. This needs to become my new normal, so today, I'm going to get back on the horse, or whatever it is that cavemen got on, since that's the theme. And tomorrow, I am going to look myself in the mirror and remind myself that I love myself, and that I can do anything that I want to do, and that I'm beautiful (are you guys still reading the cheesiness I'm spewing right now? Man, cheese...that's the hardest part to get rid of) And while I can't commit to the whole Whole30 until after the new year, I can recommit to big changes I have put into motion.

"Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”- Gautama Buddha

And you know what, I'm excited about it, and I refuse to feel defeated.

I might share some of the things I discovered/ figured out along the way, not because I think people are all that interested in the specifics of my changes, but because so often putting things into words helps me to understand them better.

I want to be the best mom I can be, and that means being healthy, and it means setting a good example for my children. The best gift I can give them is a mother who is full of life, love, and energy. Today i am born again. Today matters most.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snowless Snowday Birthday

Yesterday, on the anniversary of Arlo's first day, we all got a gift, an unexpected snowless "snow" day. No work, no school, just time for family, time for Arlo. And I should have been happy as a clam, but for reasons completely unknown to me, I was in terrible, terrible mood.

I tried to celebrate. I made a big breakfast and invited family over. Sena, Gus, and I baked a cake while Arlo napped. But nothing managed to get me out of my funk until Tom suggested we bundle up for a walk. The fresh, crisp air, a little exercise, and my sweet kiddos helped lift my spirits for a while. I mean, look at these faces, how dare I be grumpy in their presence? 

I would say I am a generally positive person (sometimes even obnoxiously upbeat, Heather). But I think it's important to practice happiness, too, to not take it for granted. There are so many habits, practices, and choices that impact my mood and attitude. I've been trying to think about what those things are, the things that bring me joy and contentment. This has been one of the best years of my life, and I will be sad to bid it farewell in a few weeks. I want to me mindful of my happiness in this upcoming year, and maybe use this space to help keep me accountable. I want to be the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher I can be. When I look at those little faces of my little people in particular, it makes me want to work hard at being my best, happiest, most grateful. 

Happy birthday, Arlo. I will try to be the best mother to you I can be, this year and all my years.
 I love you with my whole heart.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My New Favorite Place

This was how my kitchen looked when we moved in. I did not love it. Not one bit. But over the past few months, with the help of half a dozen people who must love me lots, this kitchen has pretty much become the kitchen of my pintrest dreams. 
This kitchen has become this kitchen.  And boy am I happy about that. There are still a few things that need to be done (curtains, a rug, knobs and pulls), but I am happy as a clam. 

wainscotting backsplash painted cabinets

I am so grateful for all the people that helped us- most notably my mom and friend Steve. If you are not best friends with a contractor, I seriously recommend trying to make friends with one asap. Best decision of my life.

It's also been really neat watching Tom learn how to do some of these things. During our many years of renting, neither of us took that much interest in our house. Even though we lived in the same house for nine years, I usually didn't ever plan on staying more than another year at any given point. We didn't completely settle into it. But this house is different in so many ways, not the least of which is the hard work that goes into it. 

I really love this kitchen. I love that Steve started putting in the countertops at 10:30 on the night of my birthday. I love that Gus helped prime the cabinets doors. I loved that I watched my dad and husband work side by side hanging the back splash. I love that my mama is willing to work so tirelessly so that it would be ready in time for my party this past weekend. 

What's next crew? Hardwood floors?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Arlo Will Be One

One year ago tomorrow, I woke up frustrated and impatient, ready to meet a still unnamed little man who was not yet ready to meet me. I walked up and down the foggy boardwalk, mile after mile, trying to force his little hand. Tom drove me to my ultrasound appointment so they could check on him, two weeks overipe, and I hoped that I was not imagining my contractions. I was hoping he would still come on his own time, hoping that his own time was upon us.

And while they monitored his heartbeat, my water broke and we drove straight to the midwife, and a few short hours later, our big, fat boy was born.

And that boy has brought me so much joy. He has brought me happiness and peace with his rolls and his laughter. He has made our family better just by being with us.

Today, he is 27 lbs. He has 8 teeth. He has been walking for a month. He in enamored with fans. He rarely says words. He waves bye-bye and pats my back when he thinks I am sad. He is a bad sleeper and a good eater.

And he makes my heart explode daily.

We'll be celebrating my youngest boy on Sunday, with birthday hats and brunch and a room full of family.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

This Weekend- Prohibition Party

My friend Christina was born on the fiftieth anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. 
This year, for her thirtieth birthday, we celebrated her and legalized drinking 
with plenty of jazz and lots of fringe. It was just what I needed. 

There were men in suspenders playing stringed instruments and there were little boys sliding down stairs. There were oysters and venison and rockfish and so many friends coming together to celebrate Christina, who is as good as you could ever ask for.  She is a loyal friend to me and to my family. She is easy going and kind. She is a year older and it was so good to drink some cocktails in her honor.

A night with friends and dancing did wonders to improve my holiday spirit, even if fear I would sell my soul for a nap right about now. Today there has been some snow, so I guess it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.