Like Peanut Butter Cups

Like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or Oreo ice cream, the Smithsonian's First Ladies' Exhibit combines two things I love, fashion and history. No trip to D.C. is necessary thanks to their Flickr stream. I'd argue that the Flickr stream offers details you'd otherwise be pressing your nose up against the glass to discern.


A few of my friends have been taking to Facebook with 30 days of gratitude, since I only realized that halfway through November, and they were a little sporadic in their posts, I thought I might catch up with them in a lightening round. We'll see how many I can think up before Calvin wakes up this Thanksgiving morning...

I am grateful for:

1. Family: (I know, that's at the top of everyone's list, especially when you are sitting at the Thanksgiving table with all of them and they are looking at you expectantly for an answer to what you are grateful for.) But seriously, I am particularly grateful this year to call ourselves a "family" with the addition of Calvin. I am grateful for how he's brought us closer to the family we have.

2. Friends: (another usual one) but living away from family makes me treasure our tribe of friends even more.

3. The new baby in our lives: ...the relatively easy pregnancy and labor that got him here, the husband that unquestioningly slept in a recliner by my side at the hospital, the nurses and doctor that encouraged me through the labor and the first nights.

4. Comfort: Having a warm home on a cold day; cozy, soft blankets; socks.

5. Knowing people who aren't like me: My friends teach me how life is lived differently, whether in India, Italy, or just the suburbs. I am glad to know them and share their families and traditions.

6. Road safety: Remembering the car accident I had about two years ago, I am grateful that it was only my car that was hurt. I am grateful that there's so much consideration put into my baby's car seat, our seatbelts, and the design of everything from the tires to the steering wheel. Let's make it safer by not talking on our cell phones while driving, even hands-free. Any distraction creates a risk.

7. Abundance: The fact that Jason and I are truly challenged to come up with Christmas gift ideas for both ourselves and Calvin tells me that we have a lot. We are very lucky. The best I could manage yesterday was a handheld vacuum...only because schlepping the one we have up and down the stairs is a chore, so maybe it'd be nice to have two!

8. Books: For how much I can learn from them (baby sleep tips now a popular pursuit) and how they can offer a quick escape. You can never read too much.

And now our #1 is awake, so more later...

...And we are back:

9. Animals: Pets specifically, are pretty terrific to have in your life. The funny things they do that make us laugh, the way they need us (like the rarely-affectionate Piper curling up in my arms at the vet's office), the warm spot they leave on the bed after jumping down, their inscrutable personalities. Ok, maybe the hard-to-read personality disorder is specific to cats; dogs seem easier to read.

10. My job: Funny what this economy can make you grateful for, but in tough and changing economic times, I want to work as hard as I can to keep my job. I have been grateful also to have best friends at work. They say having a close friend at work is one of the highest contributors to job satisfaction, though I am still reconciling to the fact that two of my "besties" moved away, to Maine and Atlanta respectively. I'm now in the slightly awkward place of deciding if my new closest buds are either my boss, or my direct report. Probably neither one is without its complications. But let's just be grateful that this is one of my biggest problems.

11. Music: While I am not a classical music smarty pants, and even struggle to name a favorite, contemporary artist, I can't imagine life without music. The right melody can elevate a moment or a memory to a special space, just like the soundtrack on a movie or fitting background music in a restaurant. I should listen to more music.

12. Seasons: Telling us that time is moving forward, the changing of the leaves and growing chill in the air is something I am grateful for, even if I won't like the perma-frost of snow and ice that comes next. The longer, sunnier days and first walk outside that doesn't require a jacket will cheer me up again.

13. Chocolate, ice cream, chocolate and peanut butter together, pies, cake with white frosting, cake with chocolate frosting.

14. Finding the perfect gift for someone: Though it can't happen everytime, it's so satisfying to see the look in someone's eye when they open the unexpected, perfect gift. First there is the obligatory, expected look of "how wonderful, thank you!" but with the really perfect gifts there is that second wave of realization and delight. I like that the best. I saw it when I found my sister's favorite childhood book, Spectacles, and gave it to her. She had never owned it, but took it out as much as the Frankford branch of the Philadelphia Library would let her.

15. Photographs: I am grateful for photographs that can help us remember the details we will forget, the people we want to remember, the places we've traveled and celebrations of our lives.

16. Fresh vegetables and juicy fruits: An answer to #13. I am also grateful for a plate that includes the colors of fresh produce. Nectarines, peaches, grapes, butternut squash, carrots.

17. "This too shall pass": I am grateful for the wisdom to know that if there are bad times, that they can't last forever. I also try to remember that the same goes for the good times, so enjoy them while they last.

More later...

Two days later and there's been no time to be grateful for more. I forgot to mention health, that's important and proves that this list was by no means in order of priority, or complete.


I feel like I keep apologizing for the intermittent blogging, though by now you know exactly why the posts have been spotty. On the other hand, friends have commented that they are enjoying my more chatty presence on Facebook. I can much easier punch out a sentence or two on Facebook, than the reflection that it takes for a blog post.

For those that aren't on Facebook, here are some of those abbreviated thoughts, with some elaboration now that Calvin is napping:

1. I bought a tube of lipstick at Walgreens the other day that I later realized is pretty much my natural lip color. No wonder I thought it looked right with my skin, however it's completely redundant. In future "describe yourself" moments I can now say, "brown hair, hazel eyes, toffee tango lips." A friend pointed out that this is also a lovely name for house paint. The upside is that I can probably safely put on this lipstick without really paying much attention, since it's definitely the "natural look."

2. No more proof is really needed to know that Mr. Rogers was perhaps the most honest soul in our midst, but 15 more reasons are here. After reading this article, I thought to myself about the need to ask myself, "What would Mr. Rogers do?" more often when dealing with traffic, friend drama, or burnt toast. Make it a snappy new day.3. My camera broke. Perfect timing, Canon! A newborn is in the house looking cuter by the minute and all you can say is "memory card error"??!! (Ok, that is not a very Mr. Rogers reaction.)

4. Not on Facebook yet, but I love Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
"Guess why I smile a lot. Uh, 'cause it's worth it,"
Maybe I should also try to live more like Marcel.

Salute Peace

In honor of both the Marine Corps birthday (today) and Veteran's Day (tomorrow) these Peace Cord bracelets seem appropriate. Made by Afghan women out of military-grade parachute cords, and accented with military buttons, funds from the bracelets "create jobs for impoverished Afghan women, deliver access to education and healthcare, and provide funds to U.S. troops for humanitarian projects to supply necessities like shoes, food and school books to isolated Afghan communities."

While I am far from a eagle (edit: oops, I mean "hawk." I guess eagle seemed more patriotic?) on military matters, I like how these bracelets recognize that much of our military's role is peace-keeping, relationship- and community building. Helping the countries we enter, rather than hurting them. (Although this is not to minimize the damage that fighting and conflict can create.)

It was a epiphany watching a news report on the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 showing a reporter taking pictures of the burning Twin Towers to Afghans in rural parts of the country, and few recognized the image most of us will never get out of our heads. In fact, in a survey of 1,000 rural Afghans, only 8% knew what the pictures depicted. It follows that they would understandably be confused as to why the U.S. military now patrols their villages. The report made me realize how far apart the global issues can be from individual understanding. I like how these bracelets not only symbolize, but truly actualize, helping individual women and honoring the members of the military who serve.

Now the question is, do I get Marine Corps to recognize Jason's service in the reserves? (pictured at top) Navy to remember Dad's civilian scientific work? Or Army for his official service? Coast Guard for Jason's grandfather? Airforce for Uncle Paul? I suppose a have a number of personal family reasons to wear these bracelets too.

Hello, Old Friend

Hello old friend, My Blog. I know, I've fallen out of touch lately.

Those newborns, they are a handful! But yes, pretty adorable, especially now that the little guy is smiling and kind of laughing. Although sometimes I can't tell, is that just a coincidental string of grunts?

Like you, the house is also left to wonder what's happened to my usual attentiveness. I look around sometimes and just sigh, "this place is a mess." But I find I care less and less. My threshold for acceptable household litter has been redefined. I wonder if empty nesters look around and have an epiphany as to how cluttered their house has become over 18 years. In my retirement, I plan to clean.

My Kindle is dormant, except for the book on baby sleep patterns. (Entirely ineffective, by the way. The relaxing infant massage lotion must contain caffeine.)

The cats are also wondering where their usual affection has gone. Of all parties, the cats were the ones I thought would be happiest to be left alone. However, Teedie has taken to sleeping on the bed at night, which suggests he might even miss me! Or he's just jealous. Likewise, my lips may have wondered what's happened to lipstick...or even a moisturizing gloss! My ears remember earrings with nostalgia. (I do manage a shower most every day and put on make-up for my own morale.) Of all body parts, my feet are likely the happiest. They spend most days in socks, or a sneaker if outdoor adventures are on the schedule. But they probably deserve the pleasure, since they suffered the most during the final swollen months of pregnancy.

Babies, they do become your everything. Hope you understand, dear blog. I do fall asleep some nights thinking of good content, but by the weary morning I've usually forgotten.

Knowing When to Let Go

I recently had to say goodbye to one member of our family, and another should probably be allowed its demise as well.

Houseplants, don't get too sad or sentimental.

I'm not sure why, but I realize that I coddle plants until there's just one little leaf hanging on for dear life. Despite years of hardy endurance, every plant meets its end eventually.

I won't see their gradual decline, until one day I glance at the windowsill and sort of see the plant for the first time and realize, "Wow, that guy looks really sad!" At best I could say it's maybe poetic in a simple, bonsai kind of way??

One of my favorite quotes is "a houseguest will see in 30 seconds what you won't see in 30 years." This usually refers to the dust on the bookshelves or the crooked closet door, but I have to imagine all of our guests this month have wondered why this plant is still here.

Let's say goobye, and plan to get another jade plant next time I find myself at Home Depot or Lowes.

Design in CSS by TemplateWorld and sponsored by SmashingMagazine
Blogger Template created by Deluxe Templates