#tbt to that time I was born... 
So I turned 35 today. It was a good day. A good weekend, in fact. My dad called from Paris to wish me happy birthday. My brother sent flowers. My mom texted the above picture. Also, let's pause for a moment to marvel at the awesomeness that is the above, and the completely shellshocked look on my dad's face. I imagine that's how most first-time dads feel. Moms seem to handle it better; the nine-plus months gestating seems to give them a leg up. He recovered well, though.

Beautiful flowers, mildly insulting card digging at my middle-aged-ness.
On Saturday at book club I was surprised with a dozen homemade cupcakes, gifted by my dear friend (and fabulous baker) Shannon. They were delish. I may have eaten two. But to be fair, I had to sample the lemon and the strawberry. Then that evening a group of girls from the neighborhood (there are six of us with January/February birthdays) went to the Melting Pot. It ended up being a complete fiasco in every way, but the company was good and the chocolate fondue at the end covered a multitude of sins.

My cupcakes!
In between book club and dinner, I came home to find a string, inspired by Disney's Frozen Fever, duh. For those of you who haven't watched it 483 times like we have, here is a synopsis. It's Anna's birthday, and Queen Elsa has set up a treasure hunt of sorts. Anna has to follow the string as it leads her to all her presents. Hmm... maybe you have to see it to understand:

Anyway, I followed the string through the house, upstairs and down, all the way to my gallery wall, where my present was hanging. Matt got me a photograph print, taken and signed by Ben Folds (the musical god himself) featuring the sheet music of my favorite Ben Folds song.

Fun fact: the first time I heard this song was in the car as Matt drove us to what ended up being a surprise trip to San Antonio so he could propose. I cried. When I heard the song. When he proposed, I was too gobsmacked to do much of anything except say yes. Here, just take a listen. I dare you to keep a dry eye.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend has been spent just hanging out with these noodleheads, doing our quiet family stuff like making pizza, riding bikes, hanging out. It's been a lovely way to usher in the second half of this fine decade of mine. I really am the luckiest.

The Luckiest

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns
The stumbles and falls brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday

And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

What if I'd been born fifty years before you
In a house on the street where you live?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize

And I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

I love you more than I have
Ever found a way to say to you

Next door, there's an old man who lived to his 90's
And one day, passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong

That I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest



For the record, when you say yes to kids, they just keep asking for more.
So I did it. I totally jumped on the coloring book bandwagon. I'm such a trend follower, sigh. But it falls under my new resolution to be more creative this year, so I'm giving myself a pass.

And you know what, it's just as lovely and relaxing as everyone keeps saying it is. I opted for this book because it was co-authored by an art therapist, lending it a bit of legitimacy. And it is organized into areas of life where one might need a bit of stress relief - relationships, work, health, commuting... (that last one makes me laugh, but it is so true. Just don't color while commuting, perhaps.)

I opted for a page from the chapter on "time". Yes, I'm stressed about the amount of time (or lack thereof) in my life. So ironically, I used up some of those precious minutes on this:

But it worked! I felt lovely while coloring away. It was a way better activity than, say, scrolling endlessly through facebook or falling down a click-bait rabbit hole. At one point, I even realized how much more rested my eyeballs felt, staring at these soothing, mellow colors instead of the harsh glare of the screen. And while I can't say I had any super profound thoughts while coloring, it was actually kind of nice not having any thoughts at all. It was a great way to disconnect for a few moments. So, I'm a believer. Here's to more coloring!



I've been feeling like I've been in a rut lately. Nothing deep or dark, just kinda stuck. I feel like I'm in survival mode and have been that way for a while. There hasn't been much time for anything beyond getting through the daily grind.

The other day, a fellow teacher came to me with a request. She knows I like to write, perhaps she even reads here, I don't know. But she wanted me to take a look at her niece's application essay. I asked if I was editing for grammar or style and she said both. So without hesitation, I picked up my pen and got to slashing and rewriting. It felt wonderful, like I was stretching muscles long out of use, but delightfully still ready. There wasn't a moment when I felt doubt about the creative decisions I was making.

I miss being creative. I used to work in a fairly creative field. I got to write on a daily basis. I was paid to make pages beautiful and string words together in a way that made you want to keep reading. That's not to say teaching isn't a creative profession. I'm constantly thinking on my feet, creating learning opportunities, directing the day. But it's not the same.

I've been wondering what my Word should be this year. Something to focus on, some lofty Idea to steer towards. And Create has been in my mind for a few days now. Today, driving to church, listening to some NPR (nothing like listening to other brainy, creative people to get the juices flowing) I had this little thought. What if I picked a different creative arena to focus on each month? Create with Food one month, create with Words the next, and so on. It takes the vague "be more creative" goal and gives it something solid to grasp. It gives me a smaller, more achievable timeframe. It keeps things loose, but still within some boundaries.

So, what are some tools to employ? Keep in mind that some skills are just not my jam. I'm not going to be composing any songs, picking up any instruments, or enrolling in any classes, as much as I'd love to become a fancy photographer or speak fluently in another language. Also, baby steps people. I'm still a full-time working mom of two, with a fairly demanding job and a house to run, husband to keep happy and cat to curse. Let's be realistic. Push outside the comfort zone, but not so far off the ledge that I lose it. Here's what I'm thinking...

Create with Food - cook one new recipe a week. And/or, cook something intimidating. Like a butt. Or exotic type of fish. Or something that has to be impaled on a beer can. You know, just to keep it classy. I'm not cooking my way through Julia Child here, I just want to add a few recipes to my repertoire and become a little more adventurous in the kitchen. Considering I am really only comfortable cooking about five things, this is a legitimate resolution. Ooh, I could even learn to grill! Or at least turn on the grill. Also, I want to get more comfortable handling raw meat. I hate raw meat. So, lots of opportunity to get creative with food.

Create with Words - This one is probably what sparked it all. And should be the easiest, the most second-nature. I just need the discipline to do it. Perhaps I'll set a goal to blog every day. Publishing the world wide web would certainly keep me accountable in a way that "keep a daily journal" would not. Plus being forced to find something to write about on a daily basis would get the juices flowing, especially since my life isn't interesting enough on a daily basis to provide the content.

Create with Yarn - So I used to knit. Nothing fancy, just scarves, the odd poncho, once a hat when I wanted to master double-pointed needles. But there is something inherently soothing about the repetitive motion of working yarn. Or maybe I'll pick up a retro cross stitch project. The time factor, and the fact that it takes two hands and makes multitasking infinitely more difficult, will be the biggest hurdles here.

Create with Paint - I could participate in another "paint and partake" event, which I totally would anyway, Word of the Year or not. Or I could interpret this as "go paint the bathroom already". Either way, I would be satisfied. It was quite fulfilling to get the laundry room redone over Thanksgiving, so I'm up for more. Along that vein...

Create with Color - Or more accurately, "I've been wanting a coloring book and this is the perfect excuse". Perhaps I'll get one now and call this my January theme.

Create Something DIY - This one is a little more vague, but basically gets at the idea that I want to make more things out of nothing. It might mean finding a cool craft on Pinterest and bringing it to life. It could be practical, like these, or just something pretty, like this.

Create with Music - This might be a stretch, but since I'm not about to take up a new instrument or join the church band... what if I made it a goal to listen to a different type of music every week for a month. And like, really let it infuse life. Listen in the car, in the classroom after the kids go home, at home while making dinner. I mean, could an intensive week's worth of classical music make me feel smarter, calmer, more inspired? What about some chanting monks? A week's worth of Kidz Bop? Nothing but REM for seven days? Although technically I'm not creating anything, so perhaps this one won't fly...

Create Community - Intentionally invest in new relationships. Maybe go out to eat with a different family every Sunday after church. Maybe invite a different family over for a Saturday night dinner for an entire month. Maybe a combination of the two. I feel like I have a pretty good community here with my neighbors, and my work family is strong too, but it would be nice to widen our social circle to include other families with children the same age as ours, or start building stronger relationships with the people at church, as opposed to just waving at each other on the way to the nursery.

Create Outdoors - This one is easily accomplished via our garden. Or I could suddenly get excited about yardwork, but that's unlikely. Maybe I'll get a themed garden, like everything I need for salsa. Or mojitos. Whatever. Potato potahto.

So that's nine ideas. I can't think of anymore, maybe something to do with the kids? Create some Space and take a vacation by myself? There are possibilities here, but for now, I think I've bitten off plenty. Off to get myself a coloring book and start creating!


Anything You Can Do...

The mild temperatures from Christmas have given way to a cold, wet January, but there have been a few days pleasant enough to take the girls out for a spin on their new bikes. It took Violet a few tries to feel comfortable on her big girl bike (she still doesn't fully trust that the training wheels will keep her from tipping sideways) but the more she rides, the better she does. Not to be outdone, Annie insists on hopping on her tricycle, even though she prefers to peddle the Flintstone way of feet to the ground rather than on the peddles. Baby steps.

Trying out the new bike!

Not to be outdone, Annie insists on riding her bike.
Annie has decided she has an opinion and that her opinion matters. Here's a sample conversation:

Me: Annie, lay down next to Violet. (The girls share Violet's room now.)
Annie: I sleep in my bed!
Me: Okay (carrying her into her room).
Annie: (shrieking) No I sleep in Violet's bed!
Me: Then get in Violet's bed!
Annie: I sleep in MY bed!

Oy! The things she's cried over. The purple lid (it was the wrong color). Not being allowed to pull dirty knives out of the dishwasher (how dare I). All the clothing choices I make for her in the morning. The number of ponytails (too many? not enough?) I'm not sure how much of these opinions to attribute to her 2-year-old-ness, and how much to blame on the example her highly-dramatic older sister is having on her.

Although, for all the bad habits Violet is passing down, she sure is a good big sister. She hasn't complained about suddenly having to share her bed with Annie, and she is generally quite generous and sweet with her. I hope they always love each other this much.


Hello 2016!

Happy New Year!

New Years 2016

New Years 2015 - off our our PJ party

New Years 2014

We have had the great pleasure of attending New Years parties in our neighborhood ever since we moved in, and it's always nice to be able to walk home after a long night. This year, for the first time, we had a kids party at a different house and partied with our adult selves until 11:30, when we let the kids join us for a celebratory toast. Best idea ever. There was poker and Cards Against Humanity and noshes and bubbly and a wonderful time had by all. Annie woke up during the transfer to the adult party, and Violet had staying power the whole night, so we were able to ring in the New Year as a happy family.

2015 was good. Here's to an even better 2016!

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