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Snow Schmow

2015 February 26
by Mia

Post dedicated to MaryAnn — thank you for reading!

I try to be optimistic and full of sunshine and smiles — but this winter has transformed me into a true New Englander…hard, bitter, grumpy and complaining about all-things weather.  Over 100 inches of snow, 6 snow days, 5 ice dams and breaking the record for the longest string of days below 20 degrees — I’m ready to throw in the towel.

I started down the path of writing about the impact of 102.6 inches of snow — snow mounds that bury stop signs, buckets sporadically placed to catch the ice dams leaks, and the fact that the kids have not had a full 5-day week of school in a month.  The post started to take a depressing turn and quite honestly, is most accurately captured in this NY Times Op-Ed piece.

So instead, I’m going to write about the small (and they are small) signs of spring that I’m noting on this winter day.

  • The sun.  The source of my freckles and melanoma is also the source of my strength and certainty that brighter times are around the corner. The sun gets me outside and I can’t help but look up, close my eyes, and take in all of the solar energy.
  • Easter candy.  So thrilled to see Easter goodness populating the aisles of Whole Foods.  We may be hunting for Easter Eggs in our snow pants, but seeing Peeps is a sign that spring is coming.
  • Forsythia.  I read that in March, I can cut my Forsythia branches, soak them in water inside, and they will bloom in two weeks.  Now if I could just find my forsythia branches beneath the snow.
  • March. Seeing that our milk will expire on March 9th (MARCH!) makes me giddy.  We are getting there.
  • Lola dress.  I was killing 30 minutes before school pick up and next thing you know I’m standing in a fitting room wearing a bird-print sundress with a ’50′s cut.  Even though I can’t wear this adorable frock until June, it makes me happy to know I’ll be ready for an 80 degree happy hour.

Happy End of February! Let’s get this spring thing going stat!

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Get Away

2015 February 23
by Wendy

Wow, a few weeks have gone by! As per usual, the days just seem to melt away.

A few weeks ago I went away for the weekend with some girlfriends. It was a fantastic weekend in the mountains, filled with lots of laughter, tears, food, talking, and fun. It was tough to get away, though.

I spent the week before running errands, crossing things off the list, scheduling rides, and making the to do list – including items such as “7:30am – feed the dog”. And, I spent the three days after digging out from being gone all of 48 hours. Exciting things like cleaning the house, grocery shopping, catching up on email, and loads upon loads of laundry. Given how much time it took pre and post trip to go away, I did wonder a few times if it was worth it.

But, it was really, really worth it. Here’s why:

  • Cede Control: Its important for our husbands to run the house for a weekend. Even with detailed instructions, it is not easy. But, they can do it. They may not do it the way we do, but it gets done and everyone is better for the change of pace.
  • Bonding: I came home with a hoarse voice because we talked the entire time. We covered topics from yoga pants to death with dignity, and everything in between. And, we got deep. Really deep. I went in knowing three of the other six ladies, I walked out knowing all six really well. I also realized that everyone has a big, BIG story behind them. Lots of grief, sadness, loss, hurt, but also lots of love and resolve that got us all through a rough patch. It is powerful to see other people who have made it to the other side of something bad.
  • Fun: One night we stayed in, one night we went out. The night we stayed in, we played Cards Against Humanity, watched Jimmy Fallon lip sync battles, and obsessed over Maroon 5’s new video for Sugar. The second night we went out…  dancing at the local country club (mountain-style, old school country club – very entertaining!). As the designated driver and a girl who doesn’t love to dance, it was actually a ton of fun and I danced as much as the next gal.
  • Happy Homecoming: The best part of going away is coming home. Everyone was happy to see me, and I felt refreshed and renewed from time away.

Have you been away, without your family, recently? Anything I missed here? If not, you need to go!

How to Change your Mood

2015 February 4
by Mia

It’s been a long few days.  Major cabin fever happening over here….especially after 40.5 inches of snow and 4 snow/no-school days in a week!  Add some house damage due to the historical snow amounts and this Mama woke up cranky today.

Yet by the end of the day, I feel energized, happy and present.  What happened? I think two things:  1) there was sun (!!!!) and the vitamin D was an instant mood booster; and 2) at dinner we realized most of the day was doing nice things for other people.  By 5pm, we had:

 Bought tulips for a friend who was having a hectic day.

Delivered milk, cereal and homemade banana bread to my parents who are arriving home late tonight after a month away.

Called 911 when we saw the aftermath of an accident.

Connected two friends together — one is looking for a job and the other is looking to hire.

Picked up our favorite 8 and 10-yearold neighbors to join us for a Shake Shack lunch.

Delivered donuts to all of the workers who were outside today shoveling, shoveling and shoveling.

We didn’t start the day with the intent of spreading kindness, but as our moods lifted, we couldn’t stop.  I really need to remember this during the winter months when I’m feeling depleted of energy.

And here are a few pics of this epic snowstorm.  Our local pond is stunning now — so bright, peaceful and captivating against the blue winter sky.2015-02-03 12.20.49

Of course there are accidents on the road – -you can’t see what’s around the corner!

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I’m trying to back out of our driveway — but holy cow, can’t really see over those snowbanks!2015-02-03 11.11.16

The Gift of a Seasonal Pause

2015 January 29
by Mia

Most New Englanders can’t keep their poker face when we tell them we chose to move from San Francisco to Boston. The eyes get big, their jaws drop to the ground, and they gasp, “Why? Why would you leave sunny San Francisco for the cold brutal winters in Boston?”

Truth be told, I actually prefer the seasons. I love that we see time slowly turning with each opening of a daffodil or falling of a leaf. I love that we have defined months for skating, biking, hiking and swimming. Mostly, I love the seasonal pauses that naturally occur — that force us to stop, pause and reflect.

The pause come in forms of hurricanes, blizzards or the general heat of August. And when they hit, the town just stops. Imagine that — your rat race just came to a complete halt. No conference calls.  No school drop offs.  No dry cleaning to pick up.

It is during this time that I just absorb everything about our family of four.  Our schedule is no longer driven by commitments, but instead driven by yawns indicating time for a nap or stomach growls suggesting it’s snack time.

Juno was no different. Two and a half days we hunkered down and soaked up every moment of calm and togetherness.

A few photos from the past few days….

Picnic dinner in the playroom…a big treat as the “No Food Allowed” rule was thrown out for the day.

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Walks in the neighborhood.  The was minutes before a giant snow plow tried to take us out.  

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We’ve reached an age where they can actually help shovel!  And what you can’t see is the bickering going on because “she shoveled my section” and “she put snow on my side”….oy.

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The chaos.  We are actually looking at building a proper mudroom in this area and I sent this photo to our contractor to get a sense of what we are trying to avoid!

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“Mama, did you know there are no such things as snowmen?  Nope, only snowoman!”

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One of my favorite all-time shots.  That is the look of 7 year old glee.2015-01-24 09.27.44

The Beanie Boos were well taken care of this week.  This is their “class photo”.

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I think everyone had the same idea.  2015-01-28 13.34.52

The Happy Walk Home

2015 January 28
by Wendy

Yesterday was a big day in our house. Our eldest, now 11, walked home from school by himself. Well, not entirely by himself, but without anyone over the age of 11. We live about a mile from school and the walk home is mostly sans sidewalks, up and down hills, and across a fairly busy street. I think I walked to school by myself in second grade, but somehow things are different now and a group of second graders walking alone would certainly be cause for a call to CPS these days. But, fifth grade seems like a reasonable time to try it now, especially since next year he will be walking to and from a bus stop and riding the bus to school.

We arranged it ahead of time that he would walk with a friend from up the street. Turns out, six of them walked home together, each one peeling off in their own direction as they got close to their respective homes.

When he finally arrived home, he immediately asked when he can do it again and he was so happy. Happy with the new-found freedom. Happy to have some “guy time” after school. Happy to have exercised a bit after sitting at school all day.

And, I was happy. Happy that he arrived home without incident. Happy that he demonstrated he can handle little bits of new freedom. And, most importantly, happy that he was happy.

Unsolicited Feedback

2015 January 20
by Mia

There is a mother at school who I don’t know beyond “Hi!” and “How was your weekend?”. She always seemed like someone I could befriend, but the right opportunity never surfaced.

She took the initiative to get to know me better and invited me to coffee one morning after drop off. We met at Starbucks and quickly shared stories about siblings, parenthood, life in Boston and work. She noted that I wasn’t “lawyered up” anymore at school pick ups. Jeans and moto boots had replaced tights and heels. What had change, she pondered.  And then she said…..

You seem lighter and more at peace. More approachable.

It’s been over 120 days that I have been a stay-at-home mom. When people ask what I’m doing these days, I dodge the question not knowing how to make “dinner prep” and “family snuggles” sound meaningful and as important as “Digital Consultant”.

My immediate family loves that I’m physically and mentally available to them.  No more distractions by the blinking blackberry or must-reply email.  However, this is the first time I’ve heard someone outside the family notice that something shifted — and not just in how I spend my days.

I’m at a cross roads right now.  Do I go back to work doing what I know?  Do I try something else?  Do I continue on the at-home path?

I don’t have the answers yet, but I do know that whatever path I take — I want to make sure that it doesn’t change my new image. :-)

Week in Review

2015 January 16
by Wendy

Happy Friday! A few tidbits from my week.

Quote of the week: My son, telling me about his friend who was coming over for lunch, “He’s a foodie. He likes mustard.”

Mess of the week: Accidentally hit the “on” button while reaching for the Vitamix lid. Green smoothie everywhere. Like, EVERYWHERE… floor, ceiling, white cabinets, me.

Lunch of the week: This one’s on heavy rotation… Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Trader Joe’s Quinoa Duo mixed in, zapped in the microwave for three minutes, and topped with parmesan and toasted pepitas. I’d share a picture of the finished product, expect that I can’t get it in my belly fast enough!

Inspiration of the week: This advice from a friend, “Don’t try to change who you are, just learn to manage the qualities that need some guidance.”

Adventure of the week: Heading to see my friend, a faux queen, in her latest drag show. She loves it when I chaperone straight suburbanite field trips to her show.

Lesson of the week: As per my post on Tuesday, pictures of my kids + my kid’s friends following me on Instagam = bad idea.

Purchase of the week: The Five Minute Journal. Can’t wait to get started.

 

Randomness

2015 January 16
by Mia

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Lunch, with a side of that incredible low winter light beaming through the kitchen

I’ve never been much of a week day lunch eater. Mostly wheat thins and diet pepsi. I know, terrible? However, since September I’ve been following 100 Days of Real Food and have made a real attempt to remove the processed food from our home. Enter my new favorite lunch: smashed avocado with lemon and sea salt, topped with cherry tomatoes on Great Harvest toasted bread. So easy, tasty and filling.
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Our book club is reading Queen Bees and Wannabes (Rosalind Wiseman) and this one line stood out:
“Parents of kids age 5-12 who have a phone, you are out of your mind”. So much good parenting information for navigating the tricky tween and teen years.  For example, don’t let your kids keep the phone in their bedrooms at night; avoid slumber parties if possible; when your daughter tries to talk to you, always stop what you are doing and listen as this might be your only window.
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Speaking of technology and phones — I have an old one — the iPhone 4.0. There is even a crack down the middle of the screen indicating that this phone has seem some lovin’ the past few years. Fancy ladies around town are all toting the latest iPhone 6.0 and I’ll admit that I’m tempted. It’s new! Shiny and big! Updated apps galore! Yet I’m really trying to restrain myself from upgrading…trying to retrain my brain that just because the latest is available, doesn’t mean I need it.
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Major organization going on here.  I’m really feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we have accumulated.  Especially in the toy department. So I implemented a new process for donating toys — I create one giant pile of all items that I think should be donated and the girls can pick two that they want to keep.  No tears or dramatic pleas, so I’ll call it a success.

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I bought a pair of moto boots and I have to say that I feel bad ass each time I show up for school pick up.  Nobody better mess with this redheaded mama!

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Happy weekend everyone!

Best Message from the Golden Globes

2015 January 14
by Mia

The Golden Globes is one of my favorites.  The girls and I sit on the couch and rate all of the celebrities as they arrive in their borrowed dresses and jewels.  Yet we don’t rate them on their hair, make up or diamonds — instead we give high scores to those who smile, who look the interviewers in the eyes, who chose attire that provides coverage in the right places, who seem grateful and kind to their peers.  I really hope the girls get the message that beauty is who you are and how you act, and not how you look.

After everyone is off to bed, I love to see the winners (Go Boyhood and Eddie Redmayne!) and most especially the acceptance speeches.  One in particular just said it all. Michael Keaton elegantly stated:

In the household in which I was raised, the themes were pretty simple: work hard, don’t quit, be appreciative, be thankful, be grateful, be respectful, also to never whine ever, never complain, and, always, for crying out loud, keep a sense of humor.

My name’s Michael John Douglas, I’m from Forest Grove, Pennsylvania. I’m the son — seventh child — of George and Leona Douglas. And I don’t ever remember a time when my father didn’t work two jobs. When my mother wasn’t saying the rosary or going to mass or trying to take care of seven kids in a rundown farmhouse, she was volunteering at the Ohio Valley Hospital where I was born in the hallway.

Keep listening to the end when he tears up over his best friend….his son.  It’s as if Dorothy pulled back the curtains on the wizard and saw the truth.  That Life is not all about success, achievement, shimmering gowns and blow outs.  Life is truly about the relationships we build, the kindness we share, and the respect we give others.

Insta Eye Opener

2015 January 13
by Wendy

I’ve been enjoying Instagram as an easy way to share cute pictures with a small number of friends and family. I’ve been quite deliberate in who I allow to follow me. Facebook now seems so invasive and pervasive and I usually talk myself out of posting anything there, so Instagram seemed like a great solution.

A few months ago, a friend of my fifth grader requested to follow me. I hesitated. Did I really want an 11 year old boy following me? Of course, nothing I post is inappropriate in any way. But it would certainly be a game-changer. My sister-in-law convinced me to allow him to follow me, and to follow him right back; this is a great way to see what going on in their world. It was sound logic, so I accepted his request and started following him.

He’s a nice kid, and a quiet kid, so I wasn’t too worried. He liked a couple of my pictures of my boys, he posted a few things, no big deal.

Over the weekend, I posted what I thought was a darling, sweet, and heartfelt picture of a note from my younger son. He asked to keep a few of the Lego lions that were going to be donated.

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Comments from my friends reflected my feelings, “so sweet!”, “love that kid!”, and “precious!”. I agreed. And then the 11 year old posted, “U should give them away.” I was stunned and saddened. I was worried my younger son would be teased about it, or that my older son would take heat for it.

I shared this with another mom who reminded me that the comment was likely not meant to be nasty, just an 11 year old boy being, well, an 11 year old boy. I certainly understand that, and since the boy’s parent both also liked the picture after his comment, I decided to take that comment with a grain of salt.

However, I also opened my eyes to Instagram as a whole new world now that friends of my boys are using it. Keeping a pulse on friends of my kids trumps me posting sweet and potentially vulnerable family pictures. Going forward, my Instagram feed will consist only of dog pictures, pre-approved boy pictures, and pretty landscapes. It’s so much safer that way.