March 28, 2014
by Tricia
10 Comments

Lovely little things, 11

This week’s lovely little things.

tulip

park time
Maybe sometime in the middle of summer, park time will stop being so notable that it tops this list when it happens.

But probably not.

Saturday’s temperature reached into the 70s and we spent two luxurious hours at the park, running into friends, running from swing to slide and back again, running for the sake of running. So much running and filling our lungs with warm, fresh air.

Park time is good for the soul.

date night

champagne

We very nearly cancelled. I wasn’t feeling well. We were both tired. We hadn’t made plans, didn’t know where to go.

By mid-day it was looking iffy.

But we went.

We went to the wine bar that we went to on our last date night. We just may end up there next time too. And I did a mini champagne tasting and it was so pretty and lovely and we talked and relaxed. And yes, we were home by 9:30 and I was in bed by 10 but that’s not the point at all.

her voice
I still miss the days when I could stop in and visit her. Pop in during lunch for a hug or a cuddle. Check in throughout the day via texts exchanged between me and Miss N in one day-long conversation. It’s been a year and a half and somedays I still feel unsettled at the thought that our morning hug goodbye must last hours and hours.

On Tuesday, I volunteered in her class. Helping her friends make collages for the big spring art project. She wasn’t on the list to make a collage that day. I didn’t actually get to spend any time with her at all while I was there. But as I worked, making dots of glue and sifting through Pom poms and yarn, I’d hear her voice. And I’d glance over and see her, with friends, doing her work, in her place.

When it was time for me to leave, she cried a bit and clung a bit but eventually moved happily back to the circle of her friends. And I felt a bit more settled.

happy meals
No, not that kind of happy meal. I’m talking about four people, two big, two small, sitting at a table, eating and smiling and chatting. And did I mention eating? Seriously, all four people eating. Happily.

We’re in that phase of life right now in which meal time is less dignified, less about the joy of eating and more about survival and negotiation. But on more than one occasion this week I was moved to remark on how lovely our dinner time had been. The happy and the eating. And I’m not naive enough anymore to believe we’ve crossed over. But once must celebrate the high points along the journey.

Favorite words

Blasting this one on the morning commute really does make a difference. Try it.

“Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time
Here’s why

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

Pharrell, “Happy”

Happy weekend!

March 25, 2014
by Tricia
8 Comments

Landslide

I settled into my Sunday evening with a calming sense of security that our relaxing and peaceful weekend had led us to prepare well for Monday. That everything was ready and in its place for a graceful easing into the week.

That sense of security was false.

boy and window

Because, instead, we slammed into Monday. Yelling and fighting before first cups of coffee were finished, finding little bits of things undone, lunch half packed, laundry clean but wrinkled and hiding in the laundry basket. We “started the day over” several times before the day even really got started, including one time on the way to school during which we closed our eyes and pretended to be asleep so that big sister could wake us up again and start anew. I have to tell ya, it didn’t really work for me but it did give a four-year-old an incredible feeling of control over her situation and she was all smiles from there on out.

But I worked my way through the day in that way I do when emotions and family and mothering and marriage and talking, oh especially talking, are hard but words are easy when I type them or write them out and the letters sit just so, just as I intended, so I’ll stick with just making letters into words until I can gather the muster to go back to the rest.

And then on the way home, I listened to the news because my podcasts hadn’t downloaded (because, apparently, technology is hard too) and I listened to stories about the missing plane and Russia and the landslide. And I learned a lot because usually I cull headlines but don’t often delve into the news, partly by choice because news often hurts my heart. And so I just couldn’t think about that plane and the people and the families because that is hard too. And I couldn’t think about Russia because woah talk about hard. And so then there was the landslide.

And I kept trying to reduce it to simple. Eight people gone and over one hundred missing? What kind of a landslide was this? Why were there that many people on that mountain? What is happening here?

And then I learned it was a town. The hill slid into a town. Homes, cars, people, all there. On a Saturday morning. Waffle making, cartoon watching, paper reading time. Home time. And the science reporter talked of how this hill had slid before and they know, those who study these things, that once a slider, always a slider, they just don’t know when the next slide will fall.

And again, I kept trying to reduce it to simple. Why live there? Why not move? Why not make those people move? Why make your Saturday morning waffles at the bottom of an unstable hill?

And the reporter noted that the hill had slid before and they had done nothing to fix the problem. No engineering on the hill. No telling people to move. And he noted that, unfortunately, it takes situations like this one, people dying, homes crushed, to move people to action.

And it made me sad. And angry. That as a human race we know this to be true and we know it costs lives to gamble on the chance that we might all be ok rather than planning to be ok. And yet we still gamble. Because planning is hard too.

And so I came home and I made popcorn. More popcorn than a woman and a preschooler and a toddler could eat. And I allowed a bit of TV with the popcorn, even though TV is a weekend-only thing. And later, after dinner, we had dessert, even though dessert is also a weekend-only thing. Because Mondays are hard. And people are hard. And starting over is hard. And the news is hard. Missing planes and hills that crush homes and devastate lives. And countries are led by humans and being human among other humans is hard.

But popcorn and Nutella and family dinner. Those things are easy.

~~~~~

just write.

pour your heart out.

March 21, 2014
by Tricia
5 Comments

Lovely little things, 10

A little roundup of this week’s lovely little things.

daddy’s home

He got home late Tuesday night. Missed bedtime but walked through the door just in time to plant goodnight kisses on a still-awake little girl. And though we filled the days of his absence with fun things, oh how we all sighed a big sigh of relief when he and his suitcase were back where they should be. In the days since, we’ve been enjoying that special lightness and happiness and closeness that always follows separation. I despise the separation but I kinda live for homecomings.

fatherandson

sorta like spring

feetandswinginair

Nothing much more to say because that photo? It says it all. Nothing makes my heart leap like feet in the air against a bright blue sky. I have so many of this same shot of my daughter and now baby boy’s collection will begin to grow.

beauty in the everyday

We bought the hooks and the starfish and the crab months ago. Back when the sun was warm and we ached for the cool breezes of Fall (fools, we were, silly fools!). And we knew what we wanted to do. Had it all planned out. Bought the paint within weeks, a lovely shade of beachy blue ready for some post-traveling nesting. But then it all just… sat there. Waiting as home projects often do once school starts with birthday season right on its heels and then the holidays and, well, you know. But we had an extra adult in the house this weekend (thanks, Mom!) and it was the perfect time. So we did it. We painted and decorated… our laundry room.

laundry room

And go ahead and chuckle. We’re chuckling too. Because our living room still needs a fresh coat of paint and our playroom needs another overhaul and on and on the list will go. The laundry room, at first glance, seems like a silly place to invest a couple of hours with a paint brush. But you better believe that I spend a large number of my precious waking hours down there in that room. And the lovely blue and the beachy feel are so welcoming and comforting, even on the coldest of days during the bajillionth snow storm of the season. And every time I go down there to transfer wet clothes into the dryer, I smile at the beauty in my every day.

favorite words

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt, crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, for tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

a word from our sponsor

Working on stocking up to fill those Easter baskets? I’m a bit ahead of the game this year but I do need a book or two to round things out (because no celebration is complete in our house without books). I’ll be wandering over to Barefoot Books this weekend to pick a few basket-worthy titles. They’ve got quite a few on sale until the end of the month!

Happy weekend! Hope it’s full of all kinds of good luck.

luckycharm

March 18, 2014
by Tricia
13 Comments

Wearing cute shoes

I like cute shoes.

I like nail polish.

I like the feeling I get when I’ve just painted my nails and I catch glimpses of them as I type, or, even better, when I model them to myself in the mirror. Ya know, casually hooking my thumbs in my pockets to see how the color on my fingertips lays against my jeans.

I like skirts and dresses. I like this skinny jeans with boots on top style and I bought new boots this year, for the first time in nearly a decade, to do it right.

boot

Big deal, right? So what? Lots of people like nail polish and clothes and new boots.

Yes, but lots of people also don’t talk about it. Or nurture it.

I don’t normally talk about it. Or nurture it.

When I was a kid, I came to a crossroads sometime during middle school. I went to a Catholic school complete with uniforms. Little plaid skirts and button down white shirts. So in the early years, we all looked pretty much the same. Little girls in little uniforms, hair pulled into pigtails that were almost guaranteed to be messy by lunch time.

But right around middle school, the group began to divide. There was the group of girls who began to actively search for every opportunity to incorporate fashion into their uniformed lives — the way they wore their hair (perm it, of course), the way they wore their shirts (leave the top button casually unbuttoned). They chose stylish brown shoes or very fashion forward coats and sweaters and school bags.

At this crossroads, I went the other way. I focused on my school work. I admired their fashionable looks but at that moment, that incredibly early moment in my life, I decided I couldn’t do that. Because I was studious and serious about school. I had ‘more important’ things to think about.

I couldn’t, I decided, be top of my class while wearing cute shoes.

In the years that followed, I dabbled in fashion. Dipping a toe in here and there with a new, expensive purse or a trip to a posh salon. But mostly, I pushed it aside. I studied and cultivated a persona of serious, smart, important. The path stretching in front of me, I believed, had to be paved in the same stone the entire lifelong way. I believed that I had to choose – fashion or school, fashion or being good at my job, fashion or being a good mom. And fashion never won.

But here’s the thing. These days, my life is a mess. A big, beautiful mess of a million scattered ingredients. I am mother to a four-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy and so my days are filled with glitter and trucks and tutus and sneakers and dancing and climbing and running. I am a working mother and so I move from changing diapers and filling brightly colored bowls with cereal to discussing the importance of developing a comprehensive content strategy for non-profits. I’m an artist at heart and so when the day is done and the emails have been put away and the kids are tucked into bed, I dive into knitting or painting.

climbing

My path is no longer paved in one, single kind of stone but a veritable rainbow of stone and brick and sometimes sticks and mud.

So why can’t I also be fashionable? Why can’t I also paint my nails and buy that new pair of shoes that fills me with an undeniable sense of happiness? And why can’t I admit that yes, sometimes a pair of shoes fills me with an undeniable sense of happiness?

wearing cute shoes

My daughter is bright. She has a beautiful soul. She works hard at school and happily continues her learning at home. She loves to paint and draw. She nurtures and takes care of people. She loves to run and jump, dig her hands into the sandbox and turn somersaults in the grass.

And she cares a lot about her shoes. She picks her attire in the morning with great care and though passers by might think her pairings are haphazard, she very deliberately pulled that pink, fluffy tutu on beneath that t-shirt that she colored herself over the tights with the sparkly silver polka dots.

She hasn’t reached any kind of crossroads yet. She hasn’t been tempted to create any arbitrary rules of engagement. She breezily pulls everything she loves out of this world and swirls it all together into one big marbleized life.

And sure, she contradicts herself on the daily. Layering bracelets up and down her arms and draping a pile of necklaces around her neck and in the same breath whining when I insist on brushing her hair. But so what?

Why can’t she love her accessories and all things sparkly and the idea of literally being Rapunzel and still dread the moment when the brush meets a tangle? Why can’t she spend a fair bit of time in her closet in the morning, carefully selecting the bright white skirt and flowy white shirt that she loves and then, not more than an hour later, charge into the schoolyard for a full-on game of tag.

Why can’t I also be all that I am and all that I want to be, mixing work with motherhood with fashion?

There is no answer to that question. Because, I can. Spending a half hour in the evening carefully swiping a tiny brush across my fingernails does not detract from the way I nurture my children. Taking a little time to plan my outfit for the day or try a new style, even when I’m working from home and will see nobody that isn’t at preschool during drop-off, does not make me less serious about my work. Spending a few minutes dreaming about the new pair of sandals I bought and plotting out what dress will really show them off the first time I wear them is not a waste of minutes that I should have spent reading or planning the next day’s busy schedule. Rather, it is an expenditure of minutes that makes me, me.

I can be a good student, a good writer, a good employee, and a good mother and I can do it all at the same time. While wearing cute shoes.

~~~~~
pour your heart out

March 14, 2014
by Tricia
12 Comments

Lovely little things, 9

It’s been a lovely, little week.

succulents

dinner
Solo parenting. I hate it. And it’s not the additional work, the logistics of getting two little people up and ready for the day, not to mention through the day and then back down again, all on my own. It’s not even that I have to go for hours without being able to so much as pee by myself. It’s that it’s lonely. And I miss my partner. I miss my love. And I can’t get my body or my heart to settle until he is safely home.

The thing that makes this all bearable? Friends who invite us over for dinner, cook for us, lavish us in adult conversation and extra fun playtime, deal with the extra chaos and mess we inevitably create. Our friends remind me almost daily that we are never truly alone.

bubbles and chalk
It’s kind if our jam. Two mamas and three kids between us. A blanket stretched out on our front lawn or theirs, sticks of chalk and half empty bottles of bubbles scattered about. This year the girls run off, playing almost entirely on their own. And that’s new and fun and surprising (and, yes, a little bit sad, but mostly fun). This year baby boy tries to run off too and we chase him up the hill and back down again and he giggles like a mad man the whole way. And as long as this winter has been, the front yard feels like home now.

bubbles and kids

dreaming
I don’t take many selfies. Unless my kids’ faces are smushed up alongside mine. But this shirt? It’s oh so perfect in every way. And my love for Sevenly grows and grows and grows. Their charity this week is All Girls Allowed, dedicated to restoring life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers revealing the injustice to China’s One-Child Policy. Go wear your heart on your sleeve and support amazing people doing amazing work.

dreamershirt

favorite words
“One can but hope to make a child laugh or feel clear and happy-headed as he follows the simple rhythm to its logical end. It can jog him with the unexpected and comfort him with the familiar, lift him for a few minutes from his own problems of shoelaces that won’t tie, and busy parents and mysterious clock time, into the world of a bug or a bear or a bee or a boy living in the timeless world of a story.”

~ Margaret Wise Brown

Happy weekend, all. May you find a story to lift you for a minute into a timeless world.

~~~~~

linking up with Lizzy for Ten Things of Thankful

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