Thursday, November 28, 2013

Woohoo! I made it!

The last day of "thankful" posts as today is Thanksgiving. Today was a bit of a mixed bag. Miranda and I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade for the first time together! I got some exercise in (I wanted to negate some of those calories I expected to be getting at the Feast later), and then dinner with Justin's family. It was a good day. I'm thankful for family, friends, good food and conversation, but I'm mostly thankful for my two little sweethearts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stupid Movies

Justin and I are "enjoying" another stupid movie together. As awful as it is we chuckle and add our own dialogue. Inventing stupid dialogue is pretty easy. But it's something silly that makes us laugh and have some adult time together without the kiddies. So, as painful as it is to watch, I'm thankful for the stupid movies that bring us a little closer together.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I am thankful for snuggles every day. I guess one of these days my littles won't want to hug on their mom anymore, so I get in as many hugs and kisses as I can now. Today I got all perturbed about some comments left on an article on Yahoo. I shouldn't read the comments section, because that's where the trolls come out and try to make people mad. I didn't say anything on there, but I was out of sorts for a bit. I played my flute, had a little wine, and then got Duncan ready for bed. We read a couple of books all snuggled up together. And then shared some hugs and kisses at bedtime. It was sweet and wonderful, and took my mind to a better place.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I'm thankful today for the curiosity of my children. They (you know, "them") say that children's minds are like sponges. I totally believe it. My kids ask questions all the time. All.The.Time. Duncan gets a little fixated on certain subjects and asks questions relating to that subject for weeks or months. The nuclear power plant phase was pretty long. The chicken phase, thankfully, didn't last. But he still asks every once in a while what I would do if I found a chicken (or sometimes it's a cat) on my head. I answer, "I'd probably freak out." Or sometimes, "I'd lift it off my head and place it on the ground." The cat would get a snuggle. Duncan has been asking how many of (fill in the blank with an animal of your choice) would measure a house/person/car/etc. Before bed he asked how many wolves would it take to be my height. I said I didn't know but could look it up. I kissed him goodnight, and Googled it. The gray wolf, which is the largest of the wolves, can reach from 4.5-6 feet long from the tip of the tail to the nose. I had no idea wolves could be that huge! And up to 175 pounds! That's massive! I went up and shared that info, and naturally, he wanted to know about smaller ones since the gray wolf is the largest. I'll look that up later, I suppose. I guess that old adage "You learn something new every day" is true. Especially with little curious kids in the house!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Good Day

Today we marked the 7th anniversary of Evan's death. It's hard to believe it's been that long. He would have been 9 years old...10 come February! Today could have been a day where I wallowed in self pity. It could have been a day of difficult memories. But it wasn't. I went to church this morning and after getting situated, I took a look at the flowers that I'd ordered to remember Evan. With the memory of the all white debacle last year, I had noted "colorful" next to my order. I didn't say what colors. When I finally looked I saw all of the red. Evan's favorite color! They were beautiful. So much red and orange. A very autumnal color combination. Just lovely. And even prettier up close. Later, we went to Moe's for lunch (one of Evan's favorite restaurants.) We had cookies in the afternoon, and then released colorful balloons with notes and drawings addressed to Evan. And all day long my friends on Facebook were writing nice little notes on my wall. It was a good day, and for that I'm thankful.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful for Memories

I've been looking up Advent calendar ideas on Pinterest lately. I feel like I try to do something new every year, because whatever we tried the previous year was a dud. We've had wooden things with doors and chocolate cardboard calendars. The kids never seem as excited about them as I was when I was little. When Evan was about to have his second Christmas (he was about two months shy of his 2nd birthday), I decided to find a special Advent truck calendar. He was all boy and loved trucks and trains. We looked on ebay and Amazon, and finally found something cute. It came in the mail and before too long it was time to stuff it with treats. I purchased a bag of Hershey's kisses. I put a kiss behind each door on the little wooden truck and presented it to Evan. He opened the first door with glee, and ate the kiss, foil and all (he did spit the foil out!) Then he started to open the other little doors, looking for more chocolate. I tried to explain the whole idea of having a chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. I put the truck away. But Evan, being a little smarty-pants, found it and helped himself to some more chocolate. Needless to say, we ran out well before Christmas!

Friday, November 22, 2013

School's Out...

for Summer. No, that's not it. School's out for the Thanksgiving holiday! I'm so thankful to have a week of sleeping in getting up at the usual time! Oh yeah, not so excited about that, actually. We'll probably get up early every day. But at least I'll have a break from fixing lunchboxes and nagging at the kids to do their homework. Although, I have told Duncan if he wants to play Minecraft anymore he's going to have to read to me first. No more freebies. I'm looking forward to some down time with the kiddos. Hopefully, we'll do more than just sit around the house watching the Magic School Bus.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Haircuts and highlights

Yep, that's right. I'm thankful for getting out of the house to do something for me! I got my hair cut and colored (just a bit) tonight! So, I will look all dignified in any upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas photos. Another thing about going to the salon tonight: they were sponsoring a Salvation Army program that helps get presents for kids whose parents are having a tough time financially. So, I picked up a name of a little 9 year old boy (the age Evan would be this year), and I look forward to doing a little shopping for him. I'm thankful I can do a little something nice for a little boy. (I hope he likes what I get for him!)

Prodigal's return

Today I'm thankful that my husband is FINALLY coming home from his business trip abroad. It's been a loooooong week+. He'll probably be pretty useless from jetlag for a few days, but that's ok. We'll make it work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I hurt my left foot over the summer. I took a while off vigorous exercise, but was still feeling pain, so I finally went to see a podiatrist. Nothing was broken (yay!), but he did think I had peroneal tendonitis. That's a tendon on the outside part of the foot that reaches from the calf, down past the ankle, and dives under the foot about halfway along. He told me to wear shoes ALL the time. Bummer. I was a total barefoot gal. I ordered the shoes he suggested: Orthaheels. They have what I decided to call an aggressive arch. I have high arches, but these made it feel like I was walking on baseballs! So, I was supposed to wear supportive shoes all the time. That meant getting rid of the flats, flip flops, and the like. I also picked up some orthotics to put in other shoes (running shoes, church shoes, etc.), so I wouldn't have to buy even more shoes! It's been a slow process, but with a combination of the awful Orthaheels and the orthotics, I seem to finally be making some progress with the pain! And, honestly, it seems more related to the orthotics. I was still having some pain before I added them in to my running shoes. Now, things are starting to feel pretty normal again. So, I'm thankful for finally getting some relief for my foot!

When I went to the podiatrist, he suggested I take time off running/walking. Although, I'm not sure any podiatrist loves running! So, I decided to explore some other exercise options. I wanted to avoid my usual holiday weight gain and depression. I decided to start going to a gym. I picked one where several friends go, so I felt like I'd always know someone there. I started attending Yoga twice a week. I saw all these friends that first week, and then they weren't there for a while. Turns out everyone went through a sick phase. I kept going anyway, and added a Spin class. So, I've been going to these classes regularly, and slowly added a bit to my walk/run. So, I feel like I'm getting in shape. The endorphins help keep me happier, and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm in enough of a routine that I think I can manage to go through the holidays. Although, I'll have to figure out things when the kids are out of school. But, overall, I'm pleased and thankful for joining a gym!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

I am in two minds about teaching kids about "stranger danger." The whole "Never talk to strangers" lesson falls short of what happens in real life situations. Sometimes, you need to depend on a stranger for help or information. I've talked to Duncan about different kinds of strangers who might be ok. Mommies, workers at a store, he always suggests police officers. Justin was in a situation over the weekend where he had to depend on the kindness of a stranger. He flew into his destination city at four o'clock in the morning. He got a cab to his hotel. Either it was closed or the cabbie was wrong. They tooled around for a while, looking. Justin asked to be taken back to the airport. The cabbie instead took him to the owner (I think?) of the company, who knew Justin's coworkers and put Justin up in his own home. In a little girl's room filled with Hello Kitty decorations. Justin must have felt right at home. Haha! I was worried about his safety, but the people were kind and he got to where he was supposed to be eventually. I am thankful he was taken in and not left somewhere where he could have been mugged

Let's see...Three Days Behind?

Right. I knew when I signed up to do this that I'm not organized. I knew that I had gotten out of being used to writing blog posts more than just every once in a while. I also knew that Justin would be out of town for part of this period, so I'd have my hands pretty full. So, with that in mind...

On Friday Duncan came home from school his usual happy self. He came in and sat down to play a little Minecraft before we hit the road for Grandma's house. Miranda got home a little later. I started gathering all of our things together. I was getting people to brush their teeth and put on their shoes, when I got close enough to Duncan to notice the heat radiating off him. I got him to come sit on the cool sofa for a few minutes and then checked his temperature. 100.4. I gave him a little time. 101. I paced around a bit. I texted Justin about the symptoms (just the fever) and wondered if it was a side effect from the Flumist Duncan got the previous Tuesday. I called Mom and said we probably weren't coming. I called the doctor's office and they said, "Sure, it could be related. Call back if it gets a lot higher or goes into/past Monday." So, we hung out at home, took some Tylenol (which worked), and went to bed. Thankfully, Duncan's temperature was down to pretty close to normal Saturday morning and better today. He never really acted sick, of which I am also thankful.

We did get to go to The Grandparents' House yesterday. We hit Trader Joe's (oh, I wish we had one close by!) and then Mom and I did a little shopping at a couple of stores in their Five Points area. I was pleased to find some locally and US made Christmas ornaments.It was fun to Shop Small even before Small Business Saturday. Then we went back to The House to eat BBQ and hang out. It was a very relaxing little trip. I'm thankful that my parents are close by, so we can just drive over for a visit. I'm also thankful that the kids love going to see the Grandparents and always have a good time. I enjoy the relationships that are building between them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scents from the garden

Yeah, I missed another day. And I'm feeling tired now and not feeling very thankful. So, I'll do the best I can.

I'm thankful for all the lovely scents that come from plants and flowers. I just purchased some Stock (Matthiola incana) for some fall color and fragrance. I sniffed around the various selections they had at the nursery (aka "plant store") and decided on the ones that smell like clove. They smell lovely and spicy. We've had a couple of sub-freezing nights this week, so hopefully I won't lose any blooms. (I did cover them.)

Everyone appreciates a scented rose. So many newer varieties are black spot resistant, bug resistant, humidity resistant, but they have no scent!

I enjoyed the Lavender in my new Evan's garden this summer. I moved it to be along the path, so I could smell it easily. I also have a few Agastaches (Anise hyssop) along the path. One smells like the traditional licorice and the others are more lemony. I love lemon scented anything. All citrus plants have incredible smelling flowers. Some people love Gardenias. One of my favorites, however, is Daphne odora. They seem to have a bit of a citrus scent. I know I've shared this before, but I always think of Evan when the Daphnes start to bloom. I had a Daphne in the Butterfly garden (which is now Evan's garden) years ago. I had a big, beautiful plant that bloomed in late January/early February, right around Evan's birthday. I remember going over to this Daphne, bending down, and taking a sniff. I beckoned to Evan to come over, too. He raised his eyebrows with a, "what's this all about?" expression. He came and took a little sniff. And looked at me with delight in his eyes, and went back for another sniff. Unfortunately I killed that Daphne. But I planted a new one on the first anniversary of Evan's death. It was a plant that reminded me of him, and it blooms around his birthday.

I'm thankful for the little treats that make the kids excited. I was talking to the dentist when he was about to put in a crown on my tooth. He was talking about how kids would do anything for just a sticker. They'd sit through a cleaning or a filling, just to get that sticker at the end. When it comes to school, sometimes a little treat is necessary to get the behavior back on track. When Miranda gets a green star at school, she proudly tells me as soon as she gets off the bus. It's clear that she's proud of herself. She also knows that when the green stars start to add up, she'll get a treat. A special snack or a small Lego toy makes her day. The special snack is earned when both kids have a good day at school (and only once a week, or else my waist line would grow!) So, they cheer each other on. Duncan says, "Miranda got a pink star? Way to go, Miranda!"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Modern conveniences

Today I'm thankful for all the things in the modern home that make life a little bit easier and comfortable. I'm glad I have a room (actually 2.5) in my home that is for using the bathroom. With a handy sink for cleanup! It's nice not to have to trip out of the house on a blustery, cold night like tonight with an old phonebook in hand to use an outdoor potty.

I'm thankful that I don't have to wash all of our clothes by hand. The scrubbing boards are kinda neat and make a cool zip zip musical sound, but I bet my hands would be pretty rough if I had to scrub dirty laundry on it all day.

I'm thankful that we have a dishwasher. I have joked that I'll be taking the 4th load of laundry down (and back up!) the two flights of stairs, and look over at the dishwasher with a, "I hate washing dishes" comment. I don't have to climb stairs to do it, it usually only takes a few minutes, but I guess the endless (boring) saga that is washing dishes is just one of those tasks that I find abhorrent. Thankfully, I don't have to hand wash all of my dishes. Then I really would hate it!

Vacuum cleaners are great for two reasons: they're good at cleaning up the floors (much better than a broom), and they scare the kids away, so I get a little peace.

It's been one of those days when it started off warm and got colder throughout the day. I am very thankful for our central heating tonight. And the central air is oh so nice in summer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Garden projects

I've been awake since the little boy woke up coughing this morning around 4:45. I'm pretty beat. I considered going back to bed after getting the kids off to school, but I knew I had serious laundry to do (Mondays are always big!) And I also wanted to get a little gardening in before a cold front comes in Tuesday night. I got the laundry going and then went outside. I collected my gloves and tools and took a peak over into the neighbor's yard. Good. No dog. She barks at me and sometimes aggressively lunges at me through our hedge. She's tied up, but it's still alarming. I went to the Back 40 and got to work. I've slowly been digging up an area back there and installing raised beds. They're only slightly raised, so hopefully, any plants I put in won't be sitting in water if/when it floods. I dug up some ferns and Virginia Iris, divided them, and planted them in this newly disturbed area. Then decided, "That is too low. Water will pool there in a regular rain." So, I went to get some soil.  And came back with plants! And soil! I put down the soil and added some Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii). Now, all I have to do is put some weed cloth down and mulch, and hopefully it'll be ready for the cold air moving in tomorrow night. I have to admit that the last couple of years I've been pretty slack in the garden. I've just let things go. I decided this Fall to, at the very least, try to get things started. I guess it's just overwhelming when it gets so grown up. Once I get out there, though, I really enjoy digging in the dirt. I love being able to get a new plant out of an old one, and of course the feeling of accomplishment is always good! It's not perfect and wouldn't appear in any magazine, but today I'm thankful for my gardens and all of the ongoing gardening projects.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Good Read

I'm a reader. I always have a book going. If I finish something I have to start another book right away, or it just feels...weird. I enjoy finding a good book and really getting into it. I enjoy finding a good series even more! So then the story just keeps going. And the characters develop into something more like friends than just something written on a page.

Sometimes the best books (or series) come from recommendations from friends or family. I found Terry Pratchett's Discworld series through my sister. Some recommendations miss the mark, of course. "Oh you thought I'd like a romance novel? I see." Before starting a family, I worked at the public library. It was great helping people find books they needed for research or for pleasure. They shared their favorites with me, just as I shared with them. The suggestion that I read the Marcus Didius Falco series (by Lindsey Davis) came from a library customer. I read a few and thoroughly enjoyed them. I don't think I ever read them in order, so I was kind of messed up, story wise. After leaving the library to have Evan, I still read a lot, but some of those recommendations fell by the wayside. I continued with Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and more recently, P.G. Wodehouse and his wonderful Jeeves and Wooster books. Just recently my mom brought over a couple of Marcus Didius Falco books she'd found at the thrift store. I thought, "well, I don't remember much about these anymore, but I'll give them a shot." I started "Saturnalia," and have had a hard time putting it down! I'm upset with myself for letting this series get away from me! What a wonderful writer Ms. Davis is! I'll be digging in the next title soon. But for now I'm thankful for excellent books and that reminder to look at past favorites.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I have this book of twelve sonatas by Georg Phillip Telemann. They are called the Methodical Sonatas. There is a score with the flute part and the continuo (just the bass line for the accompanist.) I've had this book for years. Probably since before Evan was born in 2004. So, it could be a decade old! The pieces are methodical, because on each Sonata one of the slow movements (usually the first movement) has the original part and an alternative much ornamented part. They are on the same score. Original on top, ornamented in the middle, continuo on the bottom. It gives the player an idea of how the composer would take that original, more simple melody and add trills, turns, runs, passing name it. It's fascinating, really. In earlier years I looked more at the original and was a little afraid of the ornamented. Not so now. I read both. I think the point of these exercises is to know what Telemann recommends, and do it in other movements, as the mood takes you. Anyway...I've had the book probably ten years. In all this time I thought I'd played everything in there. I mean, it's just twelve pieces. I probably played the ones in a minor key a little bit more often, too. So, when I opened the book to the Sonata in d minor, imagine my surprise when I didn't recognize it. I suppose it's possible I've played it, and just don't remember. I suppose. I looked at the original Andante in the first movement. Then I played the ornamented version. Oh.My.Goodness. I was blown away. I loved it. I played it (the ornamented version) again. I found bits to work on. And then other bits. I didn't even get out of the first movement last night. I loved it. When I pulled the book out again tonight, it was with a, "Heck yeah I'm playing the d minor!" I played the original, then the ornamented. Worked on bits and pieces again. And, with a sigh, decided to look over the rest of the sonata. Not quite up to the first movement, but good stuff. I love finding new pieces that make me want to play and play and play. Even when the "new" piece has been in my music library for a while. So, today I'm thankful for music that thrills me to my core and makes me want to play.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oops, a day behind.

So, I went to a concert last night with my gig buddy, and was too wiped out when I got home to be thankful. Well, in writing, at least. But that means I have to have enough creativity to think of two things today. The horror! With the gig in mind, I would say that I'm thankful for having gig buddies. I would probably never attend concerts if I had to go alone. I wouldn't want to drive into the Big City, or another state if I didn't have a friend along for the ride. And jumping up and down to our favorite bands is so much more fun with a friend. So, thanks Gig Buddies!

The band we went to see last night was Young the Giant. They are coming out with a new album next year, and they are doing these mini preview concerts to get fans excited. It worked! I liked the new songs they played and look forward to more music! I call Young the Giant one of my Happy Bands. Their music is often in major keys and, well, happy. For me it conjures up images of the beach. Maybe because they're from California. It's nice. Another Happy Band is The Vaccines. Completely different sound. They also play a lot of music in major keys. There's just a lot of feelgoodness to both bands. And if I'm upset, angry, sad, whatever, both these groups can help turn that around. Today I'm thankful for my Happy Bands!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Good health

Last week I was a bit under the weather. I got my workout in on Tuesday, and started feeling poorly that afternoon. It was a mild bug, but I still wasn't up to my usual activity level or my usual fun self (ha!) This week I'm feeling much better and back to the gym/outdoors for my workouts. So, today I'm thankful for being healthy, and having good health in general.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home ownership!

Justin and I moved into our home in 2001. We beat the big housing bubble, although we did pay more than the house is currently "worth." But not a lot more. We refinanced a couple of times in those early years while the rates were low. So now, 12 years later, our house is paid off! Of course, there are many things that need to be fixed, but it's a great feeling to have a little more financial flexibility, and for that I am thankful.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Back

I'm not usually thankful for the time change. Oh sure, we get an extra hour of sleep...allegedly. It's hard to get an extra 5 minutes of sleep when you have two little kids in the house! This year, however, the kids slept in a bit. So, yeah, that was pretty nice. It was also nice that we have gotten the kids to bed earlier the last couple of nights. We started at the usual "old time," so we're starting to get ready a whole hour earlier by the clock. So, when morning comes, I feel like maybe, just maybe they're well rested. Unfortunately, I woke up at my usual time on Daylight Savings, so I've been awake since 5 this morning. So tired. We'll see how long we can make this earlier bedtime work for the kids. Then I really will be thankful! And for more than just one weekend!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Green space

Today I took the kiddies to a new park. Well, it was new to us. I'm not sure how long it's been there. It was a lovely small park with a pretty, wooded walking trail, a huge pavilion (with bench swings!) and, of course, a playground. It wasn't the usual big, flat, rectangular sort of play area. It was on a hill, so each section of play area was tiered. It was small, but really pretty. And the kids were pretty stoked about the rope pyramid (or spider web) climbing feature. This was not the closest park, but Duncan requested going someplace different.

When Justin and I first moved to our home, the closest park was several miles away. Since living here, however, the county has added two new parks that are just a few miles away. We were very excited for the first small park to open. Evan was brand new, so that became our regular park. We walked there, played there, and picnicked there.  Even at Evan's young age (just 2), he was starting to ask to go to "The Different Park." And when I took him somewhere new, he exclaimed, "Yay, the different park!" Of course, he meant any park besides the one we always went to. Since then, a closer (and bigger!) one has been built and become our regular park. Today I'm thankful to live in an area with so many wonderful parks!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thankfully flutey

Today I'm thankful for the gift of music. I will mention music more than once during this 28 day torture, cough, I mean adventure. Today I am thankful for the ability to play a musical instrument. I've played the flute for 30 years! It's hard to believe it's been so long! I have loved playing from the beginning. I'd practice in those early years because I wanted to. Nowadays, I don't practice like I should, but I still enjoy it. Playing can turn a bad mood into a good one. Sometimes my session doesn't go well, and I end up frustrated. But usually within one or two days, I am back to my happy place. (That perseverance thing again!) I don't perform as often as I like (and I sure miss playing in a woodwind quintet and recorder group!), but I am fortunate to attend a church that has a wonderful music program with a choir director who chooses several flute pieces a year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Season of Thankfulness

This year has been somewhat difficult. Not for any particular reason. I've just had a rougher time than expected dealing with the ongoing emotions from having lost a child almost seven years ago. I come into the Thanksgiving season since Evan's death with more of a sneer than a smile. This year is no different. Perhaps even more of a sneer than usual. Two years ago, when Evan's death anniversary fell on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to do that thing where I share one thing I'm thankful (or grateful) for each day leading up to Turkey Day. It was hard. I wanted to make it personal and share things that really mattered, rather than talking about being thankful for something kind of silly. Because I took it so seriously, it wasn't fun. It was a bit of a chore. It was hard! I said to myself last time, "I'm never doing that again!" Well, here I am, two years later. I keep thinking of all the things I hate about November. So, I decided that I may not want to do another list of Thanks, but I need to. I need to remember what makes me grateful. The little things in day to day life (yes, even chocolate!) that make me smile and feel content. So, with that in mind...

I have been working on some handmade ornaments I hope to trade with friends for the Christmas season. I've added patterns to Pinterest and bought supplies. I got busy a few weeks ago. This was a new craft for me, so I knew I needed to practice. Things kept going wrong. I kept needing to head back to the craft store for something slightly different. I was feeling pretty inept over this "simple" pattern. Well, this week I finally, finally had success! I was getting a bit frustrated for a while, but I was chalking things up to "the learning experience." I'm pleased I kept at it, because the results are very pretty. So, today I'm thankful for the "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" adage. And the successful results! In other words: perseverance.