Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A new sound in our home...

So, I don't write about Dan too often. Mostly it is out of respect for his privacy. He doesn't read this, and I don't blame him - hearing about your life through someone else's eyes would feel pretty strange. But tonight I can't help but write about him and the new gift he is giving our family.

After bugging him about ideas for Christmas, about a week and a half before the day itself, he comes out with the fact that he would really like a used guitar. This wasn't totally out of the blue. Nine years ago we went to the EMP (Experience Music Project in Seattle) just after it's opening. There was a room there filled with "tester" instruments - basically the early version of Guitar Hero, but with real instruments. He had a blast playing around with the guitar and bass, and since then has had this idea that someday he would like to learn how to play.

Well, it turns out that he wanted to make this that time. So, being the romantic that I am, I gave him ...a check. Turns out that after some conversations with guitar playing friends, the guitar player should really choose their own instrument. It needs to fit them, feel and sound good to them, and motivate them to put the work in. And about two weeks after Christmas, he found it - a steel blue electric guitar. (Now, he had told me that he wanted an acoustic, but I always knew that there was a deeper yearning to be a crazy rocker lurking in the heart of my mild-mannered computer geek.)

Like everything else he does well, Dan is teaching himself. He plays every night, and in fact, is out with friends tonight playing. The callouses are developing on the tips of his fingers and the practicing of chords reigns supreme.

And I am in love with his new hobby. Nightly I get the gentle sounds of strumming cascading down the stairs to where I sit working on my laptop. The boys eagerly follow him up and beg to help strum, or join in on their own instruments. And Dan himself is finding a great release at the end of the day that he has been hoping for.

My house is filled with music, and I owe him big for his Christmas gift that turned out to be a present for all of us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This is the end...

And it's bittersweet.

For the first time in 5 years I am not pregnant or nursing.

Over the last couple of weeks, Luke has weaned. Or I dried up. Or more than likely, some combination of the two.

I remember how sad I was when Max stopped nursing. I was five months pregnant, and he was 23 months old. Since Luke was on the way, I knew that I would have another chance. Now, I really am done.

Nursing my babies has been an incredible gift. They were both easy and avid nursers from the days they were born. Other than some minor discomfort at the beginning and one round of mastitis, things have been textbook. And don't think that for a second I don't know just how lucky I am for that. Years of late night feedings, months of pumping, hours upon hours sitting with babe in arms. It was something that I could give them that no one else could. I am proud that neither of my boys ever had a drop of formula. And it may sound silly, but I can't tell you the number of prayers I've said in thanks for the privilege of breastfeeding.

Luke is 26 months old. I'm not ready for him to not be my baby any more. But it's times like these that I have to admit he's growing up. I already miss those eyes looking up at me like I'd given him the world. The weight of him in my arms. The wiggling legs and satiated grin. They're burned into my brain and onto my soul. I hope that I never forget.

I miss it already.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Facebook rabbit hole...

I'm sitting here tonight in a quiet house. Dan's off playing guitar with some friends, and the beasties are in bed. I've got a stack of papers to grade, and American Idol on the tivo. All in all, a fairly average evening.

Then, I pop open facebook. Read some status updates, laugh at friends' children and the funny things they do. Wish a high school friend happy birthday. And stumble upon the announcement that a college friend has released a single that is getting airplay. WHAT?! Seriously? And then I'm off to check out his webpage and buy one of his songs on iTunes. Then I'm watching an interview of him on youtube.

And I'm now sitting here stunned. And a little down. In the last ten years he has earned a heavy degree from a prestigious university (not the one we attended together), worked as an investment banker, moved to the UK, became an amazing slam poet, and now is releasing a hip hop CD. That is quite the 10 years. And mine is not nearly that exciting.

Want to hear my 10 years? Got married. Taught middle school. Had two kids. The end.

But you know, it gets me to thinking. Would I have wanted his 10 years or mine? If you know me at all, you already know the answer.

And then you know that I have to reform my list:

1. I was lucky enough to meet the person I will spend the rest of my life with. The person who pushes me every day to be better than I am today, and loves me unendingly despite my journeys down the facebook rabbit hole.

2. Every day parents trust me with the most precious thing in their lives, and ask me to help shape their children. I get to spend every day with 62 passionate, energetic, justice-and-truth driven individuals who have it well within their capabilities to change this world. Over the last 10 years, I have shared the lives of over 800 students, and even altered the course of a few lives.

3. I grew two people. Two people who make me laugh harder than I've ever laughed before. Two people who someday will find their own paths to their passions but today are content to cuddle on the couch and tell me they love me best (when they aren't loving their daddy best).

You know, it's not so bad to be me. Sure, it doesn't sound as glamorous as some, but I never was one for all the flash and excitement. Give me a blanket on the couch, sleeping babies in bed, conversation with the man I love, and yarn in hand.

And while I get flashes of jealousy for the lives that I don't have, those flashes are quickly replaced with the reminder that I have the life I want.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Settling into winter...

This last week has felt like we are preparing to settle into winter. I know that most of you believe that winter started over a month ago - I consider December "Holiday Season", separated from regular winter by all the hustle and bustle of preparing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.

January feels like when winter really begins. That time of year when things go internal. We stay in our homes more, avoiding foul weather. For me, I also find that I stay in my head a little more. My brain starts hatching plans - but that's all they are at this point. Lots of plans, ideas. Not necessarily a lot of action - which I'm ok with. After all, spring is a time for action. And it will be here soon enough.

In the meantime, I thought I'd show a couple of the crafties that was working on before Christmas. Now that they've been gifted, so here they are:

Here are some fingerless gloves that were knitted from this pattern. (This is one glove from each of the pairs, not just a crazy stash-busting project) They knit up really quickly, and are fun. My favorite thing was working with the Dream in Color yarn - it is just so soft and the variation in the color is perfect.

Another knitting project for Christmas was a series of three hats (Dan's isn't pictured, as it wasn't finished until right before gifting.) They were from the pattern here, and again were a quick knit for this busy crafting season.
Another project I had a great time working on was a knitting bag, needle roll, and pouch for my little sister. I used the Birdie Sling pattern from Amy Butler, a combination of online tutorials for the needle roll, and the instructions from Bend the Rules for the pouch. The fabric is all from a great Joel Dewberry line that I had been drooling over for a while, but couldn't figure out how to use.

And finally, another quick knitting project - washcloths for my grandma. These are from a fun little pattern on the Purl Bee:

All great crafting fun. Thanks for taking a look! Hope your winter is settling in nicely...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Things heard around my house the last few days....

1. "Ok, do you want to be a pilot ogre or a controller ogre?" (Max) "Ummmmm, piyot ogre, 'k?" (Luke)

2. "Moooooom, you just need to be patient." (Max)

3. "I so lucky, mama!" (Luke)

4. "Aunt Carrie loves me, Grandma loves me, Grandpa Tom loves me, Mema loves me, Papa loves me, Aunt Erin loves me....." - on and on naming every family member he knows. (Luke)

5. "Super hero firefighter pirates to the rescue!" (Max)

6. "But I don't wanna go back to school!" (Me)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome 2010!

You know what? Looking back at the year that just ended is for sissies.

Ok, totally kidding. It's for those who have a healthy sense of reflection and appreciation for all that they have accomplished. My problem is that I have an incredibly overactive sentimentality gland (right next to the Catholic guilt gland), and tend to get lost in wallowing in what was. I lose all perspective and appreciation for what will be.

So this year, I'm just moving forward. Welcome to Two Thousand Ten, or Twenty Ten or Two-Zero-One-Zero, or whatever you are rolling with.

One of my favorite new traditions is the "One Word" tradition that I first heard of while reading Ali Edward's blog a couple years ago. Essentially you choose one word that you want to focus your attention on, or symbolizes your goals/hopes for the year. This last year my word was "Cultivate". It was a word that worked really well in helping me focus in sometimes on what I wanted to be doing with my time.

This year my word is...

1 : bearing in mind : aware
2 : inclined to be aware

Far too often, I feel like I don't have the time to do the things I want to do. But the truth is, I DO have the time - I just choose to use it in other ways. Watching junk TV, frittering away hours just cruising from one website to another, and puttering around the house are all time vacuums that provide me with little joy or fulfillment. I really want to spend this year being mindful of how I spend my days. When I am with my boys, I want to really be with them. When I'm not actively enjoying my evenings, I want to work on sewing or knitting or blogging or reading or taking a bubble bath or whatever it is that will help me feel more fulfilled. I also want to be very mindful of what it is that I put into my body, and how I am helping to make my body healthier. I want to be mindful that I am nurturing my relationships with others, rather than taking a passive approach with people I love.

Basically, I'm looking to place a big neon sign in my brain that screams "PAY ATTENTION". It's the old cliche that time goes too quickly, but I don't want to miss any of the goodness going on in my world because I was too busy wasting time.

So, MINDFUL it is.

For those of you out there who have chosen a word for the year, what is it? Leave me a comment - there just might be something in it for you...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Our second Christmas...

After a great Christmas with Dan's family, we headed out to spend a week with mine. My little cousin Mychael was getting married, so my sister, brother-in-law, and niece came from Ottawa for the week, and we joined them at my parents' house.

Having all three kiddos together was so much fun. Luke and Savannah are about 5 months apart, and seem to antagonize each other more than enjoy the company. But Max and Savannah - they've got a special relationship. It's quite the mutual admiration society. My parents were in heaven having all three grandchildren together, and it was only improved by my sister's perfect little pregnant belly with promise of more fun to come (in late May or early June).

The wedding was beautiful. Mychael and Kieran are a couple so obviously in love, and celebrating with them was a blessing. It was also a great time to hang out with my other cousins and their children. And thanks to a babysitter, Dan and I got to enjoy the reception sans children.

The rest of our time there was spent enjoying time together. My mom, sister and I enjoyed taking advantage of a sale at an amazing quilting store, we hung out with cousins some more, went and saw Avatar 3D, and celebrated my mom's birthday with a girls' viewing of New Moon and some banana cream pie (I won't mention the tragedy of the peanut butter pie, Erin!).

For me, the highlight of our time there was just the moments spent at home. My niece is the cutest, funniest little bug. She is dainty and petite in every way that my boys are rough and rowdy, and I loved getting to play with her. My brother -in-law Alex is great for all the football we can get, and he and Dan had a great time playing Wii. Although my Dad had to work for most of our visit, we made sure to enjoy the evenings together with some heated Wii and Apples to Apples. My mom is the most generous host and Mema on Earth, and there's nothing I like better than celebrating her on her birthday.

And then there's my sister. Love her. Hate that she lives so far away. Admire her as a mama and think she's the most beautiful preggo on the planet. Most of all, I miss her.

So our second Christmas? That one was pretty magical, too.

Lots to catch up on...

Ah, yes, we are very lucky indeed.

The last week has been a glorious one with lots of family, generosity, and laughter. We have enjoyed two Christmases, one wedding, a birthday, and the dawn of a new year. Most of that time was spent in the company of those we love best.

With today being New Year's, I am tempted to jump right to that, and my thoughts on the year ahead. But I can't do that without a little reflection on the year that just ended. And then there's Christmas. Can't leave that out - too many fun memories that need to have their place. So that's where we will start.

(Now, I know that many of you are over the whole Christmas "thing". If so, wait a day or two and pop back in.)

After spending Christmas eve going to Mass and then Dan's parents' home for clam chowder, Christmas day was at our place. It was perfect. Both boys awoke around 7, watched an episode of "Ni Hao, Kai Lan", and then remembered it was Christmas. They came to the fireplace area to see that Santa had indeed been there (as evidenced by the crumbs of missing sugar cookies). Both boys squealed and begged to begin opening gifts.

Luke received a kitchen - he loves to play chef, and this one is the perfect fit for him. He really enjoyed preparing food for all of us and opening and closing the oven and cupboard.

Max had been very specific about what he hoped to receive from Santa - and we all hoped that he wouldn't be disappointed by Santa's interpretation of that gift. Instead of two big firetrucks (a noisy one for outside and a quiet one for inside, remember?), he was given the Lego fire station. Well, rest assured, there was nothing but joy for that little boy. He was in love. He immediately wanted to start building - and he continued throughout the entire day.

Mid-morning my in-laws came over. We shared cinnamon rolls and watched the boys play before opening gifts. It was so nice to take the day at a leisurely pace.

Here's Dan reading a new book to the boys, who were enjoying new additions to the dress-up box:

And Aunt Carrie and Max, with his big-boy gift - an iPod shuffle:

We wrapped up the day with an early dinner. My sister-in-law planned and prepared the most amazing feast:

Seriously - heaven. Carrie is an amazing cook. And it was the perfect wrap-up to a wonderful Christmas day.

It is days like these that just reinforce how lucky I am to have married into such a great family. It was magical to watch the boys and their absolute excitement in leading up to Christmas, and to have the day equal the build-up was perfect.