Monday, December 31, 2007

Bring it

About two months ago I made plans for my family (dh and 2 1/2 yo son) to travel to Guatemala. We leave Thursday (!) and will live with a local family and study in a school for 2 weeks. Last week I started having all these fears about it, "Ds is just starting to use his potty consistently - what will taking him away from it do to this pleasant new habit? What if he cries at night and bothers the family? What am I thinking, taking my non-vaccinated child out of the country?!?" Talk about Law of Attraction - I just kept attracting one fearful thought after another until I realized what I was doing. Then I got really clear about my intentions: I traveled through Guatemala extensively and I love the country, but I haven’t been back since 2002, and very much want to see the changes, reconnect, and share it with my husband and son. Dh wants to learn Spanish and I want to improve mine. I know we will have an amazing time and will always be grateful that we did it. I realized that I was creating my fears with my thoughts and I could *choose* a better feeling thought and happily found that the next one and the next one were right behind it. Now I just keep riding that wonderful energy and I get more and more excited. Of course I will report on the trip when I get back, but I wanted to write now about my intention that in the new year I find more opportunities to move out of my comfort zone. Christine Kane recommends that you skip new year’s resolutions and instead pick a word that will guide you throughout the year. My word this year is "courage", or when I want to smile I’ll say, "Bring it."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wishing My Mom Great Joy

I've been working a lot lately and that means I've had less time than I would like with my family and friends. I've been covering for colleagues so that they can have more time with their families over the holidays and they will return the favor when I take a considerable amount of time off in January for dh, ds, and I to travel to Guatemala. So I am happy with the situation - I am just SO happy to have the day I had today. I spent a lovely morning with dh and ds and the afternoon with my mom and dad. Then this evening ds and I went to our church and joined in a potluck supper and made an Advent wreath and calendar - a very sweet way to end a perfect day with my family.

But back to my mom! Today is her birthday! She and my dad came into town and we celebrated at a very good restaurant with VERY good wine. Really, is there any greater felicity than sharing good food and wine with people you love? We will celebrate my mom's birthday again when our whole family is together at the end of the month, so it felt very special to get this time with her today. My mom is amazing in so many ways - she is an incredible mother, teacher, friend, artist and overall an incredible human being. Everyone who knows her loves her. At some point, not too long ago, I realized that I've had a great ride in this life and I attribute so much of that to my mom. She has always set a wonderful example for a life well lived. She has a great love for life, a deep curiosity for everything around her, a willingness to see the best in all people, and a desire to help in any way she can. Thank you, mom, for everything! I hope this next year brings you great joy!

Happy Birthday to You, Dear Mom!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Annual Alternative Thanksgiving Party

For the last four years we have invited our not-belly button family to come over and get a start on the holiday fun. This last Sunday was extra-special because some of my belly button family even managed to make it. You'll see my mom and dad in the red room playing with many of the kids and giving their parents an opportunity to drink their wine and beer without having to share. (Okay, so maybe it's only *my* son who feels entitled and reassures me by saying, "It's just a sip!") Our 12 year old neighbor was also great about keeping the kids entertained. That girl is like the Pied Piper - check out the convoy of vehicles she orchestrated on the porch! Other favorite moments: Ds getting to rock out on a mandolin - finally he's found a "real" guitar just his size. (He quickly dismissed the Spam guitar - from back at the Harvest party in September - as too amateurish.) Our friends sang an amazing and beautiful rendition of the song I loved so much from the movie Once. And then the last shot, of ds, his best girlfriend, O, and the DJ: We googled the Talking Heads' song featured in Lars and the Real Girl, but then the kids quickly commandeered the computer to watch Bugs Bunny singing opera on YouTube. (Thanks for that suggestion, DJ!)

This is usually our big party of the season, but given the fact that we were left with 6 unopened bottles of wine, and many more bottles of beer, I think we have plenty of reasons to party again soon. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day

I got up early this morning, before ds and dh, to take breakfast to the poll workers (Bojangles Biscuits and Sweet Iced Tea. Hey, it's what they wanted!) and to vote. I came home and ds was surprised and intrigued by my "I voted" sticker. Later today he scored his own when he went with dh to the polls. As soon as he got home he pulled the sticker off his chest, and proudly stuck it to the bottom of his shoe and then his nose. He wanted to be sure I didn't miss it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Zoe!

In this blog, I have not yet written about our amazing dog, Zoe. She was born 9 years ago today. We've had 9 wonderful years with her. Except for some graying around the muzzle, she is just like her puppy self - certainly as active and full of joie de vivre. She still greets us every time we return home with some item of ours (if it's me, she has my slipper, if it's dh, she has his) in her mouth and her very special, distinctive sound that we call yodeling. She usually wakes us every morning with said item and a thumping of her tail against the bed, inviting us to pet her and get a good start to the day.

Studies have shown that petting a dog releases oxytocin in our brains, a hormone that leaves us feeling cared for and more connected to others. Even before I read the studies, I knew this was true from my experience with Zoe. I always feel better after I've been with her. If I'm having a hard day, I know she will be a part of making it better, fast.

Today was a gorgeous day and I took her for two long walks; one this morning, and one this afternoon, and dh will take her for one later this evening. We take her for walks every day. Walking together is one of the greatest pleasures we share. To Zoe there is *no* bad weather and from her I have learned that, indeed, there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Taking my cue from her, I dress appropriately, and enjoy every walk we take whether it be in snow, sleet or driving rain. We think ds loves to take walks because that is all he has ever known, even since he was in the womb. And we owe that to Zoe.

Happy Birthday, Girlie! We love you!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Very Happy Halloween

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays and I've always wanted to pay back the kindness of my childhood neighbors by being one of the houses with the "good candy". It's always chocolate and it's always fine to grab as much as you want. And if you're shy, you're encouraged to get more or I'll put a handful in your bag.

So even without a kid I've always enjoyed this holiday immensely. Last year ds had fun handing out candy, but we didn't venture out of the house. This year he wore his Spider-Man costume for the first time on Sunday when we went to a party. He loved it so much. It is a very fetching costume with big puffy pecs, deltoids, biceps and abs. People at the party thought he must be getting to the gym quite a lot. He wouldn't take it off until bedtime and then asked for it first thing Monday morning and wore it all day. He didn't ask for it Tuesday or Wednesday, but when I asked him if he would like to put it on after we had dinner to go trick or treating he said, "I want to put it on NOW!" So we got to eat dinner with Spidey.

We planned just to hit a few of our neighbors' homes, thinking that he probably wouldn't really get the concept of trick or treating. He was happy to see our friends, and seemed surprised and pleased that he was getting candy from them, but also seemed happy enough with the idea that we were heading back home...until he saw a group of his young friends making their way down the street. He is especially enamored of a 3 year old boy and quickly fell in with him, racing to the doors, and quickly learning to say "Trick or Treat" and "Happy Halloween" and, if given the opportunity to choose the candy, expressing his preference for the "orange one." (Okay, so that happened only after Mommy provided the prompts, since Reese's cups were her favorite candy most in evidence that evening.)

And as a final treat, we were invited to another (previously unknown-to-us) neighbor's home to watch movies al fresco. They had set up a movie screen on their front lawn and were showing the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Nightmare Before Christmas. The older kids gathered inside for a massive candy swap, but ds and I were very happy to cuddle up on a blanket to watch the shows. Ds couldn't get over it, he was so happy, saying, "Mommy, we're watching movies *outside*!" So, a very happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another Wonderful Weekend

Saturday we went to my parent's home *way* up in the mountains. Where I live you see the mountains all around, but you don't feel like you live *in* them - at my parent's, you do. It was gorgeous day and the leaves are far advanced in their colors up there. We went for a long walk, fed apples to the horses, ate a wonderful dinner,talked and played by a roaring fire. Just perfect. Ds had such a wonderful time he didn't want to leave, suggesting for the first time that he stay with Grammy and Papa and mommy and daddy leave. My mom was all for it. Ds was heading for their guest bedroom and my dad was trying to cut him off. I think his words were "Good God, don't let him get into that bed!" He knew what they would be in for and wasn't having it. This kid really only feigns interest in sleep and much prefers using a bed for his gymnastics routines - and his best shows are after midnight. So we managed to coax him into leaving (much to my dad's relief) and today he actually asked to get back in the car "and go on the bumpy road to see Grammy and Papa!"

Then today we had a birthday party for La Senora Crisanta - or so I thought. As it turned out it was a surprise party for me, too! Her whole family came - her husband, their 2 sons and 2 daughters, all with children of their own - Crisanta has 10 grandchildren. It was a rare and special treat to have us all together. Wanting to make something very special, I dug into my Mexico One Plate at a Time and found Cochinita Pibil - slow roasted anchiote pork in banana leaves. It roasted for 4 hours and the smell was incredible. Happily the roast was delicious, as well, and won raves from everyone - even ds loved it. I also made some chipotle black beans and Crisanta's family brought some lovely chicken baked with nopales, homemade tortillas and *two* tres leches cakes. Unfortunately, our camera ran out of batteries before "la mordita". I learned about the mordita, or "little bite", when I lived in Mexico. It's a custom that you lean into the cake to take a little bite and your friends get an opportunity to push your face in it. I let them know that I was onto them as they circled around me and did my best to make it quick and *still* ended up with icing up to my eyebrows. Crisanta's son, Alejandro, got pictures of this and promised to pass them along. I will be sure to post them if I get them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My Groovalicious Birthday Dance Party

It is said that you can never have too much of a good thing - but how often are you *really* given the opportunity to try? Last night I tried. Oh, I tried. It was my birthday and I offered up a table groaning with myriad sushi platters, bottles of red and white wine, and a Triple Chocolate Ganache Cake with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. I could not have ordered a more beautiful night: it was mild and starry. We hung Chinese lanterns and filled the evening with even more light. Some of my dearest friends were able to join me and we ate, drank, danced and were very merry. I felt like a rock star. Here's to more days like this. Here's to it just getting better and better. Cheers!