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Flowers and Memories

2014 October 16
by Wendy

I’m not feeling 100% right now due to some combination of poor sleep, a slight cold, and a flu shot today. Not bad enough for me to cancel things or stay in, but not good enough to take on my to-do list with gusto. As I was scrolling through my pictures, avoiding said to-do list, I found this little lovely.

We went to Ann Arbor, Michigan over Labor Day weekend to see a University of Michigan football game, reconnect with some family, and pay homage to my husband’s grandfather – Opa – and his love of all things U of M. The day before we left, we visited Opa’s hometown and the cemetery where he and his wife now rest. Dinner was in Chelsea, Michigan, at one of Opa’s favorite restaurants.

Walking back to the car after dinner, this pretty scene caught my eye. Looking back at it now, it brings back fond memories of our trip, warm and happy thoughts of Opa, and the hope that one day I may be able to plant and maintain something as gorgeous as this.


Snapshot of October 15

2014 October 15
by Mia

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Weather:  Predicted to hit 80 degrees here!  A true humid Indian summer day.  We’ve had a gorgeous fall with few days requiring a jacket.

On the Bedside Table:  The Curse of the Good Girl, Elements of Style: Designing a Home and Life; Not that Kind of Girl and The Marriage Plot.

What’s Keeping Me Up at Night:  Logistics!  We are soon to get the Nutcracker rehearsal and performance schedule and I’m bracing myself for the logistical chaos that will ensue to get my oldest to the city for 11 performances and umpteen rehearsals.  It will work itself out….it always does….but the planner in me wants to have everything mapped out for the next few months!

Exercise of the Day:  I’m finally back to running after an 8 week hiatus, due to the oh-so-clumsy broken toe mishap.  My post run self was tired, with aching knees and a throbbing toe….it might be time to hang up my running shoes for the season.

Dinner Tonight:  Leftovers….my favorite.  I made Giada’s macaroni and cheese cupcakes last night which were a hit with the young ladies in the house.  Wednesdays are our crazy days with school ending at 3:50 and a 6-7:30pm ballet class…so not a lot of time for homework, dinner and downtime.  This meal makes my Wednesdays easier.

Travel Plans:  My youngest and I are off to Florida in a few weeks!  With Big Sister tied up with Nutcracker obligations, I wanted to make sure Little Sister was getting some special attention.  The trip requires a tiny plane….gulp….but I know we will be all over the warm beach weather.

Four Hugs a Day

2014 October 14
by Wendy

When my boys were in preschool, one of my favorite songs they sang was “Four Hugs a Day”. While I can’t remember all the lyrics, the refrain was

“Four hugs a day,
that’s the minimum,
not the maximum…”

All the mommies loved it, and it always ended with lots of hugs.

I recently stumbled on this blog post, “10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Child”. It’s a great post with 10 seemingly simple and ways to be a better parent, including play, turn off technology, connect before transitions, snuggle at bedtime, and aim for 12 hugs a day. The preschoolers were off by nine, but they had the right idea!

Now, I’m off to snuggle with my little buddies before they fall asleep. Have a great day and start counting those hugs!

Joy and Pain

2014 October 13
by Mia

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for our oldest daughter. The week started on an incredible high when she received news that she had been cast in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker (more on that in another post). However, the glow quickly faded when she learned her best friend would be switching schools at the end of the week.  It was a week of smiles, squeals, tears and sadness.

Life is full of highs and lows, ups and downs, good news and bad news.  I remember when my oldest daughter was born the day after Thanksgiving and holding this new life with awe and love.  My post-partum self was full of happy tears –only to be replaced by sad tears when I learned my favorite uncle passed away from a heart attack two days later.  A life added, a life subtracted.

No matter how big the high or how small the low —  the song “Joy and Pain” seems to make its way to my conscious during times like these.  Remember the lyrics by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock?

Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain
Over and over you can be sure
There will be sorrow but you will endure
Where there’s a flower there’s the sun and the rain
Oh and it’s wonderful there both one in the same

Whether you are 11 or 40, these up and down experiences are all part of life and growing.   They remind us of us that life can be beautiful, ugly, sweet and unfair all at once….but there would be no flowers without rain.

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Real Food

2014 October 10
by Mia

A health nut, I am not, Yet I am becoming increasingly aware that I am not making the wisest decisions regarding food choices to nourish my family. So after following 100 Days of Real Food blog and recently purchasing Lisa Leake’s cookbook, I can share some real changes in our kitchen:

- Juice boxes: We’ve eliminated juice boxes from their daily rotation. In fact, 12 are still left on our shelf from a birthday back in May (note to self: time to throw those out). Water, milk and a morning cup of OJ are our liquids of choice these days.

- Bread: I actually feel pretty naive about not noticing all of the chemicals in our Wonder Wheat bread. Now it makes sense why the bread was always “squishy” with the perception of being fresh! These days, I’ve been stopping at Great Harvest  for their honey wheat 5-ingredient breads (whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, honey).  The Husband and kids consume about 12-14 slices of bread each week, so this feels like a big win.

- Snacks:  Per Lisa’s suggestion, there are some better alternatives to the current snacks we are serving our kids.  Instead of goldfish crackers (guilty) use Cheddar Bunnies.  Hummus is now a staple in the fridge.  Dried fruit and almonds/cashew mixes have made it to the lunchboxes.  Small changes….

A favorite recipe in the cookbook has been the pumpkin muffins.  My old recipe from epicurious included THREE cups of vegetable oil and TWO cups of sugar (yikes!).  This new recipe includes spelt (I use King Arthur’s whole wheat flour) and honey.  In fact, honey has made a big presence in our kitchen lately replacing the 1/2 cups and 1/3 cups of sugar in most recipes.

Ok, so you’ll  also note a few chocolate chips in the photo.  Like I said, small changes are being made around here — but chocolate is not one of them.

Happy muffin making!

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Boy Time

2014 October 9
by Wendy

With our oldest son away for the week at Outdoor Ed., it’s been a nice and relaxing few days with our younger son. We have a much slower pace with 50% fewer activities, 50% less homework, and 100% less sibling bickering. It’s fun to see him by himself and without any competition for attention, food, the bathroom, or the TV channel selection. And since he’s the lighter eater, I’ve enjoyed taking a break from major kitchen duties.

It will be wonderful to have our eldest home come Friday, but in the meantime we are enjoying the quiet. And maybe a few extra treats…


What is Home?

2014 October 8
by Mia

A dear friend, K.B., sent me a copy of an article titled “Our Favorite Place: Home“. First of all, how cool to receive a copy of a paper article via snail mail? Only my grandmother and mother-in-law do that!  Love that K.B. is bringing back a wonderful old-fashioned act of love.

And secondly, the topic of HOME really stirs up quite a few emotions.  The author, Rhiannon Bankes, writes “Home isn’t a place but a state of mind.  Home is where we are our true selves.”  I absolutely love this…home doesn’t have to be where your bed or your honey is….home just has to be a place where we can let the authentic side of ourselves surface.

I had a telephone interview a few weeks ago and the selected time would collide with a visit at my parent’s house 20 minutes away.  I felt funny canceling on my parents when I just as easily could have taken the call from their house — but I could be my most confident self seated at my own desk in my own home.  A place where I could be my true self.

My home is where:

  • People magazine can be read with zero shame
  • paint scratches are left from an impromptu dance party a few years ago
  • lessons are learned and stories are shared around the dinner table
  • hugs and kisses can be given freely without concern of PDA or 4th grade embarrassment
  • four different books can be read simultaneously by four different people in one giant bed
  • tears can be shed with no judgement
  • you will find me most nights of the year.

What is home to you?

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Welcome to my Home

All the things…

2014 October 7
by Wendy

…I’ve been doing other than writing blog posts…

I had a little hiccup in our new blogging routine last week and completely spaced on creating a post for last Thursday. And, it almost happened again for this post. It isn’t that I have so many exciting things going on, but I have found myself wrapped up in a few things that have distracted me:

1) Painting. No, silly, not amazing pictures of landscapes. Rather, the inside of my house. I decided I was tired of beige and it is time for greige. Really. The CFO was incredulous when I told him it was time for a change, mostly because he can’t discern the difference between our previous beige and new greige. And given his response to my need for such subtle change, I figured getting sign-off on hiring a painter would be rough. So, I dug in. There’s a sort of zen to painting, and it’s rewarding to step back and see the progress — no matter how indistinct the change may be. Two rooms down so far…

2) Outdoor Education. Every California 5th or 6th grader goes to Outdoor Education for a week, and my older son left today. It happens to be in the same location where he spent a week at sleep-away camp, so there weren’t any huge emotional hurdles to manage. However, there was packing, alerting coaches to absences, changing of dentist appointments, and a myriad of similar items to manage before he departed this morning. I really enjoyed only packing one lunch today, the grocery bill was significantly less, and the laundry will be much easier for five days. But, no doubt we will be ready to have him back come Friday!

3) Weather. We are experiencing an Indian Summer and it is HOT! 90+ degrees all weekend with cooling to the high 80s today. With no air conditioning (because it rarely gets above 78 around here), it sort of takes it out of me. I’m pooped.

Not sure any of this is an acceptable excuse for not keeping up my end of the blogging bargain, but that’s my story.

Mom Always Said, “Practice, Practice, Practice”

2014 October 6
by Mia

We were very fortunate to inherit my grandmother’s piano eight years ago when we first arrived in Boston. When house hunting, it was very important to find a living room that would accommodate a grand piano without over crowding the living room…this turned out to eliminate quite a few favorite houses in the running!

We finally found our home and a corner spot to display the same piano that my grandmother and mother played on for 30+ years. And in the past few years it’s been wonderful to hear the kids fill the house with childhood piano tunes — even when the notes are off!

I despised playing piano as a kid and would slam doors and stomp loudly to rebel against piano practice.  Yet my Mom, the piano player, was insistent that some day I’d thank her for it.

Well, that day has come.  With more time on my hands, I’ve started playing one of my favorite pieces — Solfeggio – that until a few weeks ago, I could only recall the first few bars.  This was a staple song in my high school years as I would release all that teenage angst into the fast hand movements required by the composer.  As the kids shuffle off to school and the breakfast dishes are done, I find myself each morning spending 10-15 minutes at the piano trying to re-conquer this song again.

And once again, I’ll admit that Mom was right.

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How to Get People To Do What You Want

2014 October 3
by Mia

I was at a conference a few years ago and remember the keynote speaker (wish I could remember her name!) sharing the secret of how we can get people to do what we want.  Her compelling example:

If you tell someone, “don’t look in the box” — what are they most likely to do? Look in the box. However, if you tell them to “Keep the box closed” — they are more likely to follow your direction.

The reason why? The first example is telling someone NOT to do something; while the second example is telling them TO do something.  Apparently, humans respond to the latter.

I tried this on my own kids and voila — it really works. When I ask my youngest if she used toothpaste when brushing her teeth, I said “Don’t lie to me”.  Of course she lied and assured me toothpaste was used.  A quick sniff of her breath told me otherwise.  So I rephrased my request and said “Tell me the truth”.  And she did…quietly acknowledging that she did not use toothpaste and quickly returned to the task.

Go ahead and experiment with your friends and family and report back here — I want to hear if this trick works for you!

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A  photo completely unrelated to this post, but I just felt we needed some visual happiness. This photo was taken yesterday during my second run post-broken toe.  I can’t think of any clever hashtags other than #thathurt.