27 September 2013

Seven (Really, Really) Quick Takes

1. Sam started playing the piano this afternoon and my heart leapt. Then he stopped.

 2. I just found out about the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and I would give anything to visit.

3. I love teaching. I love being the mom of five kids. I just don't like doing them at the same time. I am so thankful for the maternity leave opportunities I have had the last two years. It is the perfect balance. 

4. There aren't enough Fridays in the week. Who do I ask about adding another?

5. Completely blindsided by a particular postcard in the mail this week advertising SENIOR RINGS. When did that happen? Senior rings, college applications. I am. NOT. READY.

6. Read this, this week.  The next time you want to have a melt down when dealing with a difficult person, try "melting down" in this way.  Great advice.

7. Sam playing the piano sparked something in me so I picked up the computer to write this short post.  Although he stopped, it got me started.  That's a good thing.

Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for getting my blogging wheels in motion again!

Happy Friday!  Happy Weekend!

13 July 2013

The Summer of Letting Go

How has our summer been you ask?  Well, there wasn't much time to catch my breath after packing up the classroom and putting the finishing touches on the school year.

First order of business was getting two children off for three weeks of camp in North Carolina.  With finishing the school year as a good excuse, this mom nearly forgot to reserve a spot on the bus for them.  Fortunately I called in the nick of time which meant there was a spot for each child but not their bags.  This had me scrambling to cram things into duffles and ship it off, leaving me a few dollars poorer.  Lesson learned, maybe.  Call earlier next time.  And hopefully there will be a next time because the kids came back three weeks later full of bug bites and stories and wonderful memories, wearing crosses around their necks given at the last "Friendship Council".  They still put them on faithfully every day which makes me happy.

After my campers were happily on their way, the next order of business was to prepare Sam for his summer in Germany.  Passport?  Check.  Appropriate wardrobe?  Check.  Epi-pen because he has severe nut allergies?  Check (at the very last minute I might add when I noticed the one we had was expired, phew!).

The night before his departure we stayed up late talking.  I was trying to absorb every last bit of him hoping to bottle it up allowing it help me through the long seven weeks ahead.  Tears filled my eyes and I remember telling him that I wish I could go back in time, just for a moment.  I would have him be one or two again and curl up in my lap one more time.   I don't often miss that small child.  It is wonderful to watch your children become who God intended them to be.  But at that moment, sitting in the quiet of the living room, my heart ached for the chance to stroke that soft still-blonde hair and kiss his cherub face, soft and smooth.

So the time came to send him off.  I knew I would be sad and I knew it would be hard.  I just wasn't prepared for the tearing away at my heart.  The small part of me screaming to stop this foolishness and just come home.  So loud was that voice in my head I almost looked around to see if anyone else could hear it.  Just as I had waved, smiling to hide the tears as the campers' bus pulled away, once again I was saying good-bye.  Good-bye to the kids but more a good-bye to them relying on me completely.  Good-bye to a part of their childhood.  An introduction to making their own way in this world.  Thankful for baby steps.  My heart couldn't take it any other way.

It hasn't been a great summer.  It hasn't been a bad summer.  It has been a summer of change and growth.  A summer of letting go.

17 June 2013

Writing Motivation

I have been in such a writing funk lately.  Not wanting to blog, not wanting to write in a journal, etc.  I often think about why and how I started blogging.  It was to share our time in England with family and friends.  That was easy.  I just had to write about what we were seeing, doing and experiencing on a daily basis.  I felt like I was your eyes and ears and it was so fun to give you updates.

Now we are home.

Now life is normal, or as normal as any life gets.

Now I feel I need to make up for the mundanity ( funny aside- I looked up the noun form of the word mundane, chuckling to myself.  Would it be mundaneness or possibly mundanity?  Well, both are actually acceptable.  Who knew?  Well, now we all do!)  Anyway, I need to make up for the ho-hum every day stuff by blogging big thoughts.  Now, don't misunderstand me.  I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person and will even credit myself with some bona fide "big thoughts" from time to time.  It's just that, while raising five kids, managing a house and even substitute teaching more often lately than not, those big thoughts can be few and far between.  Then add the step of getting them from my head to the paper and you see another layer added to an already mounting problem.  But...

I am miserable if I am not writing.  I am composing things in my head all the time so I am always feeling guilty about not getting them down on paper or a screen, whatever the case may be.  I am also of the mindset that I need to hash it all out in my head then it will flow out flawlessly.  Wrong.  Oh so wrong.  Terribly wrong.

I was reading a blog yesterday, falling in love with the family's story.  Then it hit me.  I was wasting time reading everyone else's story when I needed to be writing mine.  Regardless of what it is.  Besides that, some of my best posts, in my opinion have been ones that start out one place, meander a little and end up where I didn't expect.  Not sure who said it but I love the quote- No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.

So...I was lying in bed just about to slip into a summer siesta when the phone rang.  Bummer.  Then I saw that the number was from the kids' camp in North Carolina.  in one second flat, I am wide awake, heart pounding.  Funny how much runs through your mind and the way your body reacts to sudden stress.  Breathe, Dina, breathe.  Answer the phone.  Yes, yes, I know where you are calling from.  Broken bone, please say it is ONLY a broken bone.  I am sure it has to do with William- my two visit-by-the-time-he-was-four emergency room kid.  "Yes, Mrs. Zelden this is (fill in the blank here)."  If you offered me a million dollars, I couldn't recall the person's name.  My head was too busy yelling- spit it out, for God's sake, spit it out!  What is wrong and with which one of my kids?  "First of all let me reassure that that everything is fine with William."  Big, huge sigh of relief.  "Well, it seems William went over his store account.  He went on an overnight so sometimes this happens."  It seems he had accrued a fifteen dollar balance.  Yes, you read that right fifteen dollars.  Heart attacks come cheap these days.  A mere fifteen buckaroos!

Now I am relieved but wide awake so I make my way downstairs to the computer and here I am.
Writing again.  Thanks to Camp Chosatonga, William and a $15 balance.

I'll take motivation any way I can get it!

04 June 2013

Five Favorites (The Blog Edition)

Thought today I would share five of my favorite blogs:

1.  Starry Sky Ranch- So, they say comparison is bad.  I know.  I've said it myself but I still do it.  Kim is amazing.  She is a homeschooling mom of ten children.  She's beautiful and so is her blog.  Remember when you were little and you noticed this amazing girl who was slightly older than you and you formed a girl crush?  Kim is my girl crush.  I would have wanted to be her when I was younger.  I still sort of do but it is not as acceptable to say that out loud when you are in your forties.   By the way, the post I have linked will make you cry.  You should read it.

2.  In the Sheepfold- Another "shouldn't compare, wish she was my older sister" story.  Love, love, love Kelly.  She is funny and real and I so wish I could hang out with her and her family.

3.  Zen Habits- If you are trying to improve anything about your life, this blog is a great resource and Leo is an excellent teacher.  His blog is simple and so is his approach to life.  You will feel refreshed and educated.  I used his principles of forming habits to begin and stick to my running program.  If you think maybe he is just a preachy guy who has always had his act together so he couldn't possilby understand you and where you are, think again.  Over the past seven years he has lost about 60 pounds, stopped smoking, gotten in shape and started eating healthy- one habit at a time.

4.  The Stone Soup- Recently stumbled onto this blog through Zen Habits.  I am going to use it to overhaul my meal planning technique which of late hasn't even existed so it shouldn't be hard to improve.  I am also going to use it to reintroduce veggies to my and my family's life.  Busy May always means  a lazy approach to food which generally means fast food and crap.  Jules Clancy to the rescue!  I even bought her Two Minute Mal Planning for $20.  Will let you know how it works out.  I am loving it already because she references the idea from Zen Habits of taking small, doable steps in changing the way you plan and prepare meals.  This all-or-nothing girl can always use a reminder.

5. She Reads and Novel Matters- Lumped these together so I could stick to the rule of five but also because they are both about one of my great loves- BOOKS!  I love She Reads for recommendations of books and getting to know authors.  I enjoy Novel Matters for reading and thinking about writing.  I hope for it to spark more actually writing on my part but for now I am mostly reading and thinking about it.

Happy Blog Reading!
Happy Tuesday!
Happy Summer!
Just Happy!


PS.  Want to see more favorites or share your own?  Check out Moxie Wife.

17 May 2013

On Shortcomings and Strengths

There is a priest I know who has lots of shortcomings.  Most people will roll their eyes or share an understood smirk when his name is mentioned.  He is an extremely intelligent and learned man. This intelligence and knowledge can make him hard to relate to personally and it definite makes it hard for kids to relate to him.  He can be a little condescending and snotty because of it as well BUT... 

After he finished his homily last Sunday, I turned to Mark and said- "He sure is good at giving homilies."    He educates, provoke more thought and applies the Gospel to everyday life- all in an appropriate time frame! 

Now for the light bulb moment.

I would be a lot happier and kinder person if I let go of what people AREN'T and focus on what they ARE.

Honestly, this thought struck me like a lightning bolt.  Think of all the people in your life and how often you dwell and harp on who they aren't, their weaknesses rather than their strengths.  Think about all the disappointment, stress, anger and sadness that has resulted- ON BOTH SIDES!  Husbands, wives, kids, friends.  The list goes on and on.  Even co-workers, bosses and anyone you interact with.  Why couldn't they just...?  Doesn't she know that...?  If only they would...!

Everyone has a good side, has assets and strengths.  These are the flip side of the coin to their weaknesses.  Often it is their strengths that dictate their weakness and the very thing you love about them begets the very thing that makes you crazy.

I'll share one more priest story because I think we expect SO much more of them.  They are men of God but they are MEN, after all- flesh and bones, different personalities, shortcomings and all.

Years ago I went to Mass with my grandmother.  I was very pregnant with Anne and had a three-year-old and 18-month-old in tow.  Child A bumped into Child B who then let out a cry.  Pause here for quick aside:

I always take small children out of Mass when they make noise.  Always.  I do think you need to give them a chance and as they get older the time IN church will finally begin to eclipse the time spent OUT of church. 

Back to the story.  Before I could even scoop Child B up and whisk them out, I was blocked by an usher waving a note in my face.  I was surprised and embarrassed so I took the note and quickly exited.  When I composed myself I looked at the small square of paper which read:  The 4 pm Mass is a non-disturbance Mass.  It went on for a few lines but after the first line, my heart started racing and I swear I saw stars!  I was furious!  Non-disturbance Mass?  All Masses should be non-disturbance!  A man was standing near me and could tell how upset I was so he asked if I was okay.  Of course, hormones were not on my side being seven months pregnant.  I can remember having a hard time even catching my breath.  I showed him the note.  He kind of shrugged and said- Yeah, well that was the alternative to what Father Brown used to do.  He would stop the Mass and stare down any offending family until they slunk out of the church in shame.  Long story short, I ended up confronting Father Brown after Mass, in my hormonal state.  The exchange amounted to him saying that he believed that children shouldn't come to Mass until they could sit still and be quiet while I shrieked back that I had a different opinion and I believed Jesus did as well.  I wish I could accurately describe the iciness of his manner, his steel blue eyes which showed not an ounce of warmth.  I thought it was not possible for this man to have any compassion in his heart and I hated him.  Honestly, I hated him and knew it was a sin to feel this way.  I halfheartedly prayed about it occasionally.

Fast forward a few years.  I was at Mass at another church and ran into a friend.  Somehow, Father Brown's name came up and I relayed the story to her.  She was on an email list that received a daily scriptural message from him.  Did I want to sign up?  Hmmmm?  Just retelling the story made me angry again.  On the other hand I had prayed that I wouldn't feel so awful towards him.  Maybe this was what I needed.  For the next few years, until just recently actually,  I read his message daily and encountered a different side of Father Brown.  Not only was I able to forgive his shortcomings, I was witness to his strengths.  There was not a ministry for Father Brown in dealing with young children but his reflections about the Saint of the day and the daily readings of Mass were inspired.  Now I can focus on what he IS rather than what he ISN'T and it has given me peace.

I have started trying to consciously work on this each day with the people I encounter.  It is not easy but it is a worthwhile practice because...

“When we seek to discover the best in others, 
we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” 
- William Arthur Ward


01 May 2013

Five Favorites

 I have BEEN wanting to participate in this post hosted by Moxie Wife.  I am sure you have been dying for me to participate too.  Well you can stop holding your breath because here are my five favorites for the moment.

pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

 I am completely, totally addicted to pumpkin seeds.  I buy them raw from Whole Foods and roast them myself.  They are fabulous!  Roasting them brings out a nutty flavor.  Besides, my favorite texture is hands-down CRUNCHY.  The crunchier the better which leads me to...

Whole Foods Seed-duction bread

Favorite number two is the Seed-duction bread from Whole Foods.  It is loaded with seeds- pumpkin, sunflower, flax seeds.  But...just to add a little extra crunch...for breakfast I toast up a slice then add a layer of roasted pumpkin seeds on top.  Did I mention I like crunchy foods?


Favorite three is the TV Show Arrested Development which I watch on Netflix.  Reason number one for watching it is simply staring at Jason Bateman.  Reason Number two is it is so freakin' funny.  Whenever I am in a grumpy, umpty mood this is my medication of choice.  Who needs pharmaceuticals when you have this?


Favorite four is Jeff Galloway.  I am counting on his run-walk-run method to get my bad knees across the Disney Princess half-marathon finish line.  I bought a book the other day (one of his many) titled something like...Running Until You Are 100.  And I thought, Wow!  Am I really being lumped in with the 100-year-olds?  Some days these knees feel that way so, fair enough.


Favorite five are Tru Melange candles.  They come in lots of sizes but my favorite is the 3.5 ounce tin.  I get them at Whole Foods.  They are fabulous enough to feel like a splurge yet cheap enough not to feel guilty about.  I love Harmony which is a blend of vanilla and peppermint which the company states is "a radiant, grounding blend that fills you with quiet energy, keen insight and welcome optimism."  I think that may be a little much for one small candle to live up to but one can always hope.  See, you can sense my welcome optimism since burning it.


28 April 2013

Fed up Flump

Usually when I am in a bad mood I don't like to blog.  Writing takes energy and I feel sapped when I am grumpy.  Being in a bad mood sucks all the energy away.  Life has been hard lately and I am not dealing with it very well.  I was trying to think about how I could share being grumpy without sounding too whiny and miserable.  I was sorting out my feelings this morning so I could present them on the page to you.  That's when I remembered these little fuzzy brown creatures that captured our family's heart when we discovered them in England:

See the one in the middle?  That's me.  The one under the cloud.  His name is Perkin.

In this episode of the endearing, quirky show Mother Flump asks Perkin,  "Are you feeling alright?  You're looking sorry for yourself this morning." 

Perkin replies,  "No, I'm not feeling alright.  I'm feeling all wrong.  Sort of yucky, all horrible.  I feel umpty.  Fed up.  I'm a fed up Flump." 

"The flumpet music is too bumpy.
The water is too lumpy.
The floor is too wet and sloshy.
And the porridge is too loud.

 It's a too much morning."

Well said, Perkin!  That's it!  It's a too much life.  For now.  This too shall pass, I keep reminding myself.  And reminding and reminding.  Maybe one day I will stop being UMPTY long enough to listen.  After all, Mother Flump wisely tells Perkin,

"Cheer up or you'll be under a cloud all day.  
You can't see the nice side of anything under a cloud."


07 April 2013

Seven Quick-ish Takes

1.  I am finishing the Chronicles of Narnia- finally!  My fifth grade teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to my class and I have been a huge C.S. Lewis fan ever since.  Reread the book before the movie came out then read Prince Caspian (#4) and The Voyage of Dawn Treader (#5) for their releases.  Finally decided to finish the series when my oldest son said, "Mom, the end of the whole series is SO worth it.  I was crying like a baby at the end of #6 so I am bracing myself for The Final Battle.  Bless you Clive Sinclair Lewis for sharing your gift of writing with all of us!

2.  Sit down.  I am going to say something amazing.  I enjoy running.  The Couch to 5K app is fabulous and I am halfway through my journey from the sofa to being able to run 3 miles.

3.  We were with Mark's family for Easter and his aunt brought bags of photographs and other "stuff" that belonged to his grandmother.  She passed away in December about two weeks shy of her hundredth birthday.  Among the yellowed letters and kodachrome photos was a small box of recipes crammed full with handwritten recipes and a well-used and tattered cookbook.  My heart skipped a beat wondering what would become of this treasure.  Mark's aunt suggested everyone take a little something from the collection.  I immediately jumped in offering to make some sense of this treasure trove which I could then share with everyone.  I have no idea what I will do and I hope no one is holding their breath waiting for my finished product BUT I am thrilled to be the keeper for now.

4.  Funny aside that when I offered to do something with this disorderly pile of kitchen memorabilia Mark's cousin (who is single and childless, I might add) turned to me and said, "Well, that's good because I certainly don't have time to deal with it!".  Guss I should stop twiddling my thumbs and get to work.

5.  We are traveling to San Antonio this week to attend the celebration of a dear friend who has been a priest for 60 years.  60 years!  Just think of all the Masses, weddings, Baptisms, confessions and more.  What a blessing!

6. I am tired of feeling like I have handed the reins over to the weekend allowing it to run roughshod over me.  I am also tired of those darn Reese's eggs calling my name.  Can you hear them?

7.  It's fun to use the word roughshod in a post.  Just saying.


P.S. Conversion Diary hosts Seven Quick Takes every Friday.

17 March 2013

For the Love of Reading and Writing

This morning I was doing my usual round of blog browsing and came across this post about The Art of Reading.  It describes a book called Shadow of the Wind.  In it, a young boy is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  He is asked to choose one "making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive." One character tells the boy, "Every book ... has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands ... its soul strengthens."

I immediately thought of my favorite book from childhood.

The story.  The illustrations.  Be still my heart.  My mom read this to me countless times.  Then I read it myself.  Again and again.  Andrew Henry is the middle of five kids, sandwiched between two older sisters and two younger brothers.  He is left out and misunderstood.  Andrew Henry has a passion for inventing and building.  He builds the most clever, hilarious things that have all his family members annoyed.  When everyone has had enough, he moves to a quiet meadow and builds a home for himself.  One by one, he is joined by the town's other misunderstood children- the girl who loves birds, the one who has too many pet rabbits, the boy who loves fishing.  The list goes on.  Each child gets a specially-designed house and before long, they have a lovely little village.

Eventually, the families go looking for the missing children.  The reunion picture is one of my favorites.  This illustration amazes me with the fact that pen and ink can be used to convey sheer joy.  The faces, the embraces, arms flung open, children running to their parents, even thankful sisters and brothers.  I scoured the internet but couldn't find the image to share with you.  In the end, everyone has gained an appreciation for each other.

That is why I immediately thought of this book to save from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books BUT... it would appear, after searching the internet, it is not so forgotten.  I found several blogs that wrote about sharing this book with their children.  I even found information on a film adaptation that is in the works.  That makes me happy and sad.  Happy with the possibilities that it could be a fabulous adaptation, sweet and meaningful.  Sad with the thought that it could be an over-the-top modern day adaptation relying on fart jokes and smart-mouth kids for laughs.  I'll remain cautiously optimistic, hoping for the best.  Either way if you are interested in the story or sharing it with your children, I suggest you buy a copy and enjoy it before the film version threatens to ruin it.  But that's just me.  I consider myself a bit of a "book Nazi", requiring reading any book before seeing the movie.

Now back to Shadow of the Wind.  Near the end of the book, there is this quote:

On page 444, "Julian had once told me that a story is a letter the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise."  And on page 484, "Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind ..." 

What fabulous thoughts on reading and writing.  I love when an author presents sentences that feel as if they pierce your heart, take your breath away and make you sit and ponder them.  These ideas combined with the Cemetery of Forgotten Books have me wanting to add this to my already-too-long list of books to read.

What's on your to-read lost?  What book would you save from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books?

Happy St. Paddy's Day,

15 March 2013

For the Love of Blogs

I love browsing blogs.  I love ALL kinds of blogs- mom blogs, style blogs, fashion blogs, craft blogs, food blogs, blogs with lots of writing and blogs with mostly images, blogs written by young, urban singles and blogs written by homemaking country dwellers.  All this blog hopping often has me wanting to be a better mom, dresser, crafter, cook, baker, home decorator, writer, photographer while relocating to the inner city with a weekend home in the country.  All of which has me paralyzed and dazed in front of my computer not sure who I am or where to begin...accomplishing...anything.

Most of the time, however, it is fun to read others experiences and be inspired by new ideas, recipes or even just eye candy.  I found a blog called Eat Drink Chic.  It is a cool design blog hosted by a graphic designer.  My last visit to her blog had me linking to a website called Typo and another called NoteMaker, both perfect for fueling my paper obsession.

While browsing the assortment of notebooks and NoteMaker, I had to laugh.  There is a search that allows you to narrow down what you are looking for.  First is brand.  Well, I don't want to limit myself since I am not familiar with any of the brands listed so I choose ALL BRANDS.  Next comes size.  What size?  Not just small, medium and large, which would be distressing enough.  No!  Those three standards are joined by pocket and extra large.  Don't even look at the options for your cover.  And then there is the debate over ruled or unlined which is actually not a debate for me.  I am too much of an anal perfectionist.  I need those lines to make me feel safe.  So I choose ALL on every option, except ruled and am completely overwhelmed by notebooks.  Of course, this is the first and last notebook I will ever buy.  I am marrying the notebook just like I marry my hair color and coffee creamer.  Then I shake myself back to reality.  An intervention of sorts occurs.  "M'am, step away from the notebook website!"  You aren't even really going to buy one of these, Dina!  You would never buy a notebook you couldn't see and touch in person.

You can see the fun of browsing through blogs.  How else can you feel completely inadequate, totally inspired and in need of an intervention to stop your hyperventilating without leaving the comforts of home all in one afternoon?


10 March 2013

Steps, big and small

Sunday mornings are such a treat.  Coffee, computer and time.  Sweet, sweet time.  No rushing out the door.  No lunches to make or permission slips to sign.  Weekday mornings are a flurry of activity.  Saturday mornings are a bit of a flurry as well with a teenager who has a job and dance lessons for almost everyone else.  Sunday mornings are when all the dust settles.  Sure there's Mass but 10:30 seems so blessedly late when compared to other mornings.

Last Sunday I was reading one of my favorite Mom blogs and she mentioned a program she had started which included a link.  I was intrigued and followed it.  The program is called Couch to 5K.  It didn't take me long to decide this is just what I have been looking for.  My brother-in-law shared a website called Zen Habits as part of his New Years' resolutions.  It is a great blog about forming habits slowly and thoughtfully.  I am really enjoying it.  So far, however, I have been enjoying the IDEA of starting a new habit but haven't had the courage to actually pinpoint something and start.  Well, Couch to 5K was just what I needed.  It follows the principals of Zen Habits, forming the running habit slowly.  The plan is all laid out for you so there is no thinking about it which for me leads to also thinking about NOT doing it.  There is an app on my phone that tells me what to do every step of the way.  DING!  Begin warm-up now.  DING!  Begin walking now.  DING!  Begin running now.  It's fabulous.  The best part is I convinced my 14-year-old to do it with me.  Mom-Daughter time and getting into shape.  Who could ask for more?  Well, me...

I decided to take this plan a few steps- well, miles actually- further.  I had been inspired by a friend's post on Facebook about her participation in the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.  I liked the IDEA of having a goal, especially a fitness one and seeing it to completion but had no idea how to even begin.  The Couch to 5K program has all the steps to get you first to 5K then to 10K then half-marathon.  So, we have set our sights on participating next February.  It's just shy of a year away, a very doable goal.  Yet, it isn't so far off as to lack real motivation.  Today is day 3, which sounds so silly but as the saying goes,

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Now if only I could find the Couch to Novel website with mobile app that walks me through writing a book...


27 January 2013

On Travel

My earliest memory of traveling was when I was six and my family piled into our Oldsmobile for a road trip to Texas.  We were going to visit a family friend in Carrizo Springs.  I loved everything about the experience.  Waking up early, the books and activities for the ride, being in a new place, just breathing air in a different location on this planet of ours.  Coming home was hard.  Back to the ordinary.  The normal.

When I was eleven, this same family friend, a Catholic priest from Belgium, mentioned that he was going home for a family wedding.  I immediately chimed in that I would like to go.  I can still picture having the conversation at the kitchen table.  To this day, I don't know what possessed me.  I also don't know where I get my wanderlust.  My parents rarely travel and when they do, you get the impression they are holding there collective breath until the moment there arrive back on their doorstep when they exhale and begin to live again.  I, on the other hand, live to travel.  My grandmother used to call me her little butterfly.  She said it was because I was always flitting from place to place.

Mark and I just returned from a trip to Austria so I am suffering a bit from post-travel depression.  I know all the signs.  Heavy sighing.  Staring at ticket stubs and boarding passes.  The feeling of sadness and longing deep inside.  Reminiscing.  My head and heart remain here just a little longer.

Sometimes this post-travel depression is combined with not wanting to return home.  This makes it far worse.  The good thing for me is I came home to a place I love filled with people I love and even at a time I love.  To arrive in New Orleans with Mardi Gras and the Superbowl right around the corner is good medicine for my condition.  The BEST medicine, however, is this:

Holding my breath until the next trip...

10 January 2013

A Gray Day (in a pink sort of way)

Today was one of those days weather forecasters love.  Lots to talk about in their department.  Lots of drama.  Today had it all.  Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds and flash floods- all in the form of advisories, watches or warnings.  In my little corner of the city it didn't amount to much, just a dreary, rainy day.  The kind that makes you wish you were sipping a warm drink by a toasty fire in your flannel pajamas.  I almost bought into the drama.  "Don't go anywhere between 10 and 2 unless you have to."   Hmmm...does lunch with a friend fall into the HAVE TO category?  Well, truth be told sometimes it does, with certain friends, especially when you miss them very much.  Besides, a doctor's appointment does fall into that category every time so that got me out the door.

If you find yourself facing a gray day, what better way to arm yourself than with a spiffy pink raincoat.  If I was asked to name ten things I own that make my heart sing, this would make the list.  I often have a hard time naming my favorite color but this coat reminds me just how much I love pink.  It has a classic cut that will never go out of style.  It has a really cool pattern on the lining.  It is well-constructed and will last forever.  All those things said I still haven't mentioned my two favorite reasons for loving this coat.  The first one is that I got it on a fabulous sale at the Talbot's outlet.  The other is that I bought it  in Virginia with my mom when she came to visit us there, when we were evacuated from Katrina.  My mom loves a good bargain and she loves Talbot's so the Talbot's outlet is pretty close to heaven for her.  I don't remember anything else either of us purchased that day but I remember enjoying ourselves.  I also remember the yummy burgers we had at Five Guys after.  That was back in the days before Five Guys was a chain and it was a big treat to eat there.

Now, if you are sporting a pink raincoat on a not too warm, not too chilly day a lightweight pink scarf with just a touch of sheen to it really fits the bill.  Add a chunky silver bracelet with black and silver balls that swing and clink just enough to add a little drama and you are ready for anything.  That's how I felt walking out the door this morning.  I think that is how Clinton and Stacey on What Not to Wear want women to feel every time they walk out the door.  Even my hair frizzing from the weather couldn't dampen (pardon the unintended pun) my spirits.  Honestly, I think I could get by on an entire wardrobe of black, white and pink with silver thrown in for a little sparkle.  Well, at least I felt that way today.  Tomorrow I'll tell you about the plum gown I bought for a ball I am attending and how I can't live without the color purple.

When I arrived at our meeting place, the first thing my friend said was how much she loved my raincoat and that I looked so put together.  SIGH.  She's the kind of friend to whom I could immediately respond- I know!  That's just how I feel.

Put together.
And pretty in pink.
On a very gray day.


06 January 2013

Christmas Reflections

Today is the feast of the Epiphany, the day the three kings found the baby Jesus.  It is one of my favorite feasts.  The Church is still filled with the Christmas flowers.  In New Orleans, we serve king cake.  I make a point of keeping my Christmas decorations, especially the tree up until this day.  It is the twelfth day of Christmas.  Guess that means I will finally get my twelve drummers drumming.  Yippee!  This is a photo of the three kings in a nativity set that my mom made for me when I was a little girl.  Eleven years old to be exact.  It is one of my favorite Christmas decorations.  Each piece hand-painted so lovingly.

It is a dreary morning which is just fine with me.  I love to light the Christmas tree on gray mornings.  As a matter of fact our tree was lit all day yesterday it was so gray and chilly.  Just my kind of January day.  Now, sadly, it is time to take the tree down.  I don't exactly look forward to the job itself, but even more, I always mourn the absence of that majestic tree lighting up the corner of our living room so beautifully.

As much as I like this feast it is also a sad day.  It means the Christmas season is officially over.  It means all the glitter and sparkle of the season is relegated to the attic where it sits quietly for the majority of the year.  Today is an even better time to reflect than January 1st when the holidays are still in full swing.

Looking back it was a wonderful Christmas as usual.  Christmas Eve we had a nice party with my mom's family.  It is a tradition that all the aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins' children and now even cousins' children's children (!) get together.  It is always noisy...and crazy...and fun.

It was a wonderful Christmas even though our car broke down.  At 9 pm.  On Christmas Eve.  About 35 miles from our house.  But that's another story.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we shared it with a lifelong family friend, the priest who presided at our marriage.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we told the kids we are going to Disney during Mardi Gras.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we spent Christmas Day at my mom's house with my sister and her family.  Sitting down to the meal my mom (with lots of help from my dad) prepares makes anyone feel like royalty.  It is also the one time each year, I eat my ABSOLUTE favorite dish of - believe it or not- cranberry relish.  You have not LIVED until you have eaten my mother's homemade cranberry relish.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we continued our tradition of shopping and lunch the day after with 3 generations of girls- mom, 2 daughters and 6 granddaughters.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we spent the time between Christmas and New Years' with Mark's family.  As always, it was a time of talking, laughing and hanging out with lots of movies sprinkled in between.

It was a wonderful Christmas because we went to see Les Miserables.  One of my favorite books, made into one of my favorite musicals was made into a fabulous movie that left me speechless.  Well, only figuratively speaking.  I talked incessantly about it with anyone who cared to listen.  There is just so much to think about in this amazing work by Victor Hugo.

It was a wonderful Christmas because, no matter what problems are going on- in the world, or even in one's own house (stressful schedules, broken down cars, laying a grandmother to her eternal rest), we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus.

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”
Sigrid Undset

Now on to Carnival Season.  Thank you, New Orleans!