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Archive | January, 2019

Five for Friday

31 Jan

Five for FRiday.png
Just sharing a few of the things on my mind, on my reading list, in my shopping cart, and occupying space on my “to see/do/try” list. It’s never ending.

  1. This article about how long it REALLY takes to caramelize onions
    was refreshing. And — I learned what should probably be my mantra for 2019: the best time to caramelize onions is yesterday; in addition to the correct instructions for how long it takes to actually caramelize them. We all know I’m always looking to improve my kitchen skills.diffuser
  2. Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser with Bluetooth
    Whenever I step foot in a spa, my first impression is ALWAYS related to smell. At my favorite Boston, MA spa spot, Bella Sante Day Spa, whatever they spray on the luxe, textured navy blue towels — a mix of lavender and vanilla — is basically akin to heaven. I haven’t been able to figure out how to replicate it in order to scent my sheets and towels, but I have figured out how to diffuse essential oil into my bedroom — duh — with an oil diffuser. After keeping an eye out for one FOR AGES, I finally found one that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. The reviews were excellent, I waited a long time before purchase, so I knew I really wanted it, and in the end, I’m really happy with my purchase.jade
  3. Jade Face Rollers. Since early 2018, I’ve been willfully ignoring all discussion of these, but I finally caved. I’m listening. I may have even sent a link to my husband for this one from the company Beedewy with the subject line: HINT – Valentine’s Day Gift. Anyone who has read a beauty magazine knows that something cool applied to your face will depuff it. But over time, apparently these rollers help to train your muscles to relax which is a good thing. Unless you are cool with Botox. (As of yeT, I’m undecided. But check back with me when I turn 40). Now, I’m a huge proponent of beauty rituals, but I’m also a beauty minimalist, meaning that I’m moving my routine to a “less is more” approach for everything from skin care to day to day makeup. That said, the feedback about the positive effects is very persuasive, so — for just $30, I’m going to give it a try. I should just note, if you’re going to buy, know that “real jade” is a fortune and finding a roller that isn’t dyed glass takes some legwork. I’m comfortable with this middle of the road model from Beedewy and like that it’s polished with beeswax.Premiere Of FX's "The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" - After Party
  4. Netflix’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, has been both a thrill and achingly painful to watch. The former, not because of the murder/crazed killer aspect, (No! I abhor the genre of murder mystery in both film and TV), but because I appreciate the genius of fashion design and admit, I knew very little about the famous atelier of Versace. And the latter, because the horror of the 80’s and 90’s for the gay community colored my world from a young age. Even today, it still feels raw to me and my heart breaks that there was such stigma and lack of acceptance for the gay community.versace2As for the series, I’ve learned that Giovanni Versace was an absolutely beloved and devoted brother and absolutely adored to dress women — real women. I need to pickup a book on him to separate fact from [TV] fiction here, but if my instincts are correct, this small town Italian boy who experienced the death of his eldest sister while still a boy, and spent his days in his mother’s dress shop sounds like the makings of a truly decent human being. This, in turn, makes me want to take a closer look at the house of Versace. Also, note: It’s pronounced: [ver-sach-eh] not [-eeee]. I didn’t know it either.

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  5. Currently listening to about 5 audio books and 4 different “favorite” podcasts, but for now, I’ll share my two favorites. I’ve been a longtime fan of writer Jennifer Weiner, and am loving her Hungry Heart, almost as much as I’m loving hearing HER actually read it aloud. The other favorite I don’t want to end is David Sedaris’ Calypso. If you haven’t read him, please — get to a bookstore. Go to Amazon. A library. Whatever you have to do. I should note, I think that having siblings you’re close in age to really amps up the appreciation for his writing since he was also one of four. I tend to just pick-up copies of whatever he writes to gift to my siblings each year because I know, A.) they will TOTALLY GET IT and, B) They will laugh/cry as he describes the politics of siblings and families.
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The Present of Presence in Motherhood

22 Jan

motherhood-post

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Earlier this morning, I was re-reading some posts about Emilia at 4 and 5 months, and as my heart twinged a bit that her (and Caroline’s) infancy is long over, it was a nice reminder of how time alters perspective. As I read about her developments, I almost forgot the impatience I felt back then for the next thing she’d do. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to charge through her childhood, or rush her learning to walk and talk, but I remember feeling so incredibly excited for it.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that in the moment, a lot of the baby milestones can seem so inconsequential almost — observing a baby studying a pattern for example. Or learning just one sign, like “milk” in ASL (American Sign Language.) It’s only later when you realize you have a toddler who can recreate a pattern with blocks and utilizes sign language to emphasize her point as she speaks that you become more aware of how foundational and BIG those seemingly small achievements were when that girl was only months old.

Something else I’ve realized on reflection of those early newborn months is that it can feel difficult, frustrating even, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Days and nights blur together, particularly if you’re breastfeeding, and those first 12 weeks especially, can feel like a monotonous eternity regardless of whether you’re napping when the baby naps. What I want to say to myself back then, with my first, is to savor each and every second and to be assured that it won’t always be like this. For good and for bad. Babies must be so cute and endearing because taking care of one takes such a great amount of effort that accomplishing any other daily tasks seems impossible. A reminder, (or for the first time moms, simply sharing this insight), that these long, difficult, all-consuming, exhausting baby days have a finish line, is something I wish more women verbalized in discussions of motherhood. We hear (and see) all about the parenting highs on Facebook and Instagram, but the low moments are less discussed. It’s one legacy I’ve taken upon myself to share loudly and often to absolutely anyone who will listen.

That said, if anyone except ME (a future self?) had advised me in this way, I’d have probably screamed — or cried— depending on how Emilia had slept that night. Even now, as a mom of two with almost four years of parenting in the rearview, it is nails on a chalkboard to me whenever I’m casually advised to “Enjoy it, it goes by so quickly!” 

I’m finding myself creeping into that territory though; of all those well-intentioned, seasoned moms and grandmothers whose kids are in high school now, and college. Whose children are getting married and having their own babies. The ones who pause as I struggle through the grocery store juggling and entertaining two girls, but who only see two sweet little girls with their mother and lean in to say: What beautiful little girls, enjoy it! It goes by in a blink.

Just reading that post I referenced before, about Emilia at 4 months old, rocketed me back to those intense “new baby” months when Brian and I would just sit together on the couch, Emilia in my arms, just staring at her in utter wonder. She can track us with her eyes! Is that a smile? That’s her ‘milk drunk’ face. Wait, no, that’s her ‘poop’ face!, as we’d both peal with laughter. It’s amazing how time has tempered my memory of the intensity of this period of time.

For example, in my walk down memory lane, my absolutely brutal experience learning to breastfeed didn’t even factor. I certainly documented it with blog posts and it colored so much of my first weeks and months home with Emilia — yet, somehow, time has softened how difficult that experience seemed. I had a tongue-tied baby who couldn’t latch so each and every 45 minute nursing session every 2-3 hours found me sobbing hysterically, bleeding, and unsure I’d be able to withstand the pain of the next feeding. Nursing for as long as I did made me feel stronger, better. It reinforced what I’d known long before I’d even gotten pregnant: that there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t endure for my children.

So here I am, with the 4th birthday of my eldest on the horizon and I’m reminiscing about when she was just months old. It’s made me pause in those trying, day-to-day, “grind” moments with young kids, and realize that these moments, right now, are what I’ll be fondly remembering before long. A year from now, I’ll miss the way Emilia mispronounces “dumpling” (ducklings) and “earmuffs” (earmops). And how Caroline puts her hands to her mouth to mock shout “Nya Nya” (Emilia) whenever we arrive at preschool pickup.

If nothing else, longing for the sweet newborn smell of my girls’ and how completely they’d relax into me while they chest-napped reminds me — today — to be present and to savor every single second with them, for better or worse. Because I know I’ll blink and they’ll be in highschool. And then college. And then getting married. And then, hopefully, if their own, (ideally) joy-filled childhoods have inspired them as I hope they will, having their own babies.

January Bullet Journal Update

16 Jan
woman standing on pink yoga mat meditating

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It’s such a small thing, but I’ve been doing this AM writing practice I call “Pages” in my bullet journal for about 6 months now and can positively report back that it is life-changing. On other fronts, I absolutely HATE the bullet journal color I selected (navy) and accidentally selected a lined journal instead of a dotted. I toy with scrapping the entire thing, all 75-pages in, but getting into all that is than I want to share right now. Gah!

Also, yes, I am that dork with a #Bujo and I love it. I start with an entire page of gratitude, listing whatever comes to mind. Lately it’s been a lot of appreciation for hot cocoa, cozy blankets, snuggles and movies with the girls, and hot yoga. OK, and Benadryl as I fight off a horrific cold. The rest of “Pages” is my To Do list for the day and a few lines of journal entry if anything notable happened — or not so notable.

I do want to mention that I didn’t INVENT this idea, either. It irks me to my core when people don’t give credit where credit is due, and we’re all inspiring each other, aren’t we? The only thing is, I can’t exactly quite remember who I picked this up from. I want to say it was in Emily Ley’s book, A Simplified Life. But it also may well have been something Jordan from Fun, Cheap or Free mentioned in a YouTube video. There! Credit given!

I didn’t do my “pages” the past few days that I’ve been under the weather and you know what I most missed? Making my Daily Gratitude list. And here is why:

One of my favorite meditations is called “Loving Kindness Meditation” where you basically channel love out into the world for yourself, for someone else (who you might have some friction with), and finally, for all. But before you roll your eyes, just know that I’m not that kind of yogi where I just know this stuff offhand. I picked this up from my yoga-page-a-day calendar.

Practicing for just ONE hour a week can reduce stress and inflammation which can lead to depression, heart disease and cancer. Incredible, right?

I try to remind myself to practice LKM as much as I can, but I realized that my daily gratitude list actually IS a form of LKM. And scientific research has shown that positive emotions like joy and gratitude surge in people who practice.

So there you go.

If you resolve to do only one thing in 2019, I can’t recommend a Daily Gratitude list enough. It has made all the difference.