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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.

Documenting the Joy in Each Day

2015 January 12
by Mia

My strong parenting vision right now is for my daughters to notice the wonder and awe in the every day. I want to train their brains to seek and find joy — even when the day may be grey, lonely, draining. I want them to know there is light to find…even on the darkest days.

To encourage the practice of finding joy, we have been keeping a gratitude journal where each night, we document nuggets of gratitude found in our day. It’s been fun to see what their 2nd and 4th grade eyes find as joy — a board game, hot chocolate after school, first ice skate of the season.

My adult eyes are a bit beyond the hot chocolate.  I seem to be documenting the fleeting moments that I want to hold onto forever.  Youngest who fell asleep in my arms, exclamations of “Mama, I just LOVE baking with you”, Husband who gave a spontaneous hug, honest conversation with Oldest after witnessing some unkind behavior.  My theme in the gratitude journal takes form in the relationships I am cultivating and nourishing.

I’ve kept a similar journal like this when I was 20, after seeing it on Oprah. The instructions were to write 1-2 sentences of what brought you happiness in the day.  I still have this journal and love seeing what my 20-year old self valued as happiness — no surprise, most of it was pretty shallow!  A new green sweater from Ann Taylor, down 2 lbs after a flu bug, quick conversation with THE cute boy, new OPI shade of polish.   Such a glimpse into my 20 year old mind and values, but I’m grateful to have it on paper and will get a laugh sharing it with the girls one day.

Tell me, have you ever kept a gratitude journal?

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Cool Mama

2015 January 9
by Mia

So this happened yesterday….

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And let me tell you, the “feels like -22″ was more like “the end is near”.

Head-to-toe coverage was required all day….

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I’ve never experienced cold like I did yesterday.  The it-hurts-to-breathe cold as I dragged the Christmas Tree remains to the curb.   And when you are frigid cold, grouchy is soon to follow.  Add two squabbling elementary school kids to the mix and it was not a pleasant ride home from school.

That is until I did something that even surprised me.  I pulled along the side of the road, turned off the car and ordered everybody out.  (I might have smelled a little fear from the 7-year old who was non-verbally telling her sister that Mama has officially cracked).

Not a word was said until we walked our 30 steps to the new ice cream store in our town.  The girls have been begging to go, but my unwritten rule is no ice cream below 40 degrees.  So it was a huge surprise to them (and me) that in we went to order peppermint oreo cookie ice creams topped with gummy bears.

The temperature was still in the deathly numbers when we drove home, but the grouchy attitudes were left behind.  And that is worth breaking any rule.

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Snapshot of January 7

2015 January 7
by Mia

What I’m Reading: I just finished two FANTASTIC books, so am finding it hard to read anything that would top We Are Not Ourselves or Light Between Oceans.  On my bedside table sits An American Childhood…waiting for a quiet January snow day to dive into chapter one.

What I’m Eating:  More like, what I’m NOT eating. After waaaaay too much chocolate bread pudding, homemade pecan rolls and lobster tails (the pastry, not the fish), January was welcomed with eggs, almonds and veggies. At least for the first few weeks until I can see my feet again. :-)   Dinner tonight will be the family favorite, white bean and chicken chili.

Movie I’d Like to See:  At the top of my list is Still Alice.  I loved the book (as well as Lisa Genova’s other book, Left Neglected); the topic of Alzheimers hits home and I have a fondness for redheaded actresses.

What I’m Wearing: 17 degrees is the HIGH today. Brr. My pom-pom hat has not left my head since 7am.  We also have a few of these in the house, which tend to be glued to my body whenever I’m at home.  Even with the heat up to 72, it still never feels toasty in our house!

What I’m Thinking:  My calendar is relatively clear which usually indicates that my mind is free of distractions and obligations.  I’m in a state of gratitude and in awe of the small, ordinary and simple.  As I write this, I’m enjoying the low winter light that makes it way to our kitchen, the bare branches twitching in the wind and the many shades of brown that were once my hydrangeas.  I love when my mind can be still and take it all in.

2015-01-02 19.15.22Blurry photo of family game night by our bedroom fireplace.  One of my favorite traditions is falling asleep with the sound of crackling wood as the fire slowly comes to an end.

Present

2015 January 6
by Wendy

A good friend recently shared her New Year’s Resolution strategy, which I mentioned on New Year’s Eve day: find one word and focus on that word all year long. A couple of friends shared their word in comments; both chose “connected”, but with different spins. Yesterday, Mia shared her word, “light-seeker”.

I love the thought, creativity, and honestly used to arrive at these words. They are really so beautiful when you think of the meaning behind them and the meaning each person wishes to bring to her life in the coming year.  Thank you so much for sharing!

I came up with a few words, all roughly similar, but needed to try them on for a few days before committing. While “here” resonated with me because it is so strong and simple, I ultimately settled on “present” – a more graceful and meaningful take on “here”.

My goal this year is to be present (here) for the presents (gifts) that surround me – my family, my friends, and all the good and not-so-good that will come my way in 2015. My goal is to not focus on the things that are not present (here or a “gift” of sorts) – technology when real people and real things are with me and needing me, baggage I can’t change no matter how much I worry about them, and trappings and dealings that don’t enhance my life or the life of my kids and husband.

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. - Bil Keane

One Word

2015 January 5
by Mia

First of all, I loved Wendy’s heartfelt post last week. Thank you dear friend, for your words of truth, courage and optimism.

And I love Wendy’s idea of choosing one word for 2015 — a word which can become my mantra during both beautiful and crushing moments. After a few days thought, it came to me on the most dark and grey Sunday:

Light-Seeker.

Hyphenated…so it is still one word. :-)

Light represents strength, growth, visibility, clarity, awareness, brilliance and warmth. Our human nature is to be drawn towards light — isn’t that the final chapter of our lives to “walk towards the light”?  Yet sometimes, that light isn’t as bright and obvious as a sunlight emerging through a tunnel.  Sometimes, that light is from a friend with wise words; an extra mile on the run; a tears-rolling-down-your-face laughter; family games by the fireplace or an unexpected hug from your honey.

Recognizing the every day light in our lives and going towards it — that is worth seeking.  So light-seeking, that is my word.

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Captured some light on a morning summer run in Maine.