Sunday, November 29, 2015

List: 2015 Thanksgiving Gratitudes

My multiple, ample, excessive cups runneth over.  I am pausing to appreciate the bounty.


1.  My husband with infinite patience for my job and its demands, as well as my habits... He's a rare find, this man, this father, this more-than-co-partner.  He inspires me with his patience, awareness of local and global issues, and earnest desire to teach, guide, and love our girls and pets.

2.  My daughters, who in their own unique ways give to their world, to their family, and to me.  As they and I grow older, I more deeply recognize how they reflect and gently guide me to be their better model and supporter.  Big Sis has discipline and drive as well as creativity and tenderness for family. Middle Sis celebrates a joie de vivre (goofiness) that is contagious, and a natural penchant for taking care of younger children. Tootsie is a force of nature, survivor of minor mishaps, talented copycat, and keen observer of all that occurs around her. Thank goodness she, our last, is a snuggler, too.

3.  My parents who are here and available for great conversation, family meals, childcare, professional mentorship, cheerleading, appropriate course corrections, financial assistance, grandparental cheerleading and support, and a safe place where we can flock.

4.  Extended family and friends who are wise and honest as well as forgiving and loyal and generous, and who step in, pick up our kids, create cousin company and aunt and uncle admiration, offer guidance, make us laugh, reassure, invite us over as well as come over, and support us unconditionally through life's mishaps.

5.  My job, which affords me the opportunity to bask every day in the company of people who exemplify what's possible:   Inspiring, creative, selfless professionals dedicated to enriching young people's minds and souls; and teenagers who are hilarious, infinitely intelligent, bursting with energy and potential, generous, insightful, wise beyond their years, and daily reminders that we adults don't know or control everything. Working in a public school is real work with real people and real rewards, and I'm grateful that the days that await me are full of problem solving, dreaming, teaching and learning, and evidence of what matters. 

6. Our neighborhood of community givers, activists, artists, business owners, non-profit supporters, hard workers, volunteers, and dreamers. How I love this place we've invested in and where we've bought two homes. Our environment boasts canyons, parks, playgrounds, trails, craftsman homes, hills, narrow streets, old trees, raccoons, coyotes, opossum, skunk, hawks, squirrels, rabbits, and tumbleweeds. 

7.  Our daughters' schools:  We are in our tenth year of appreciating the play-oriented, multi-age, loving preschool which has helped raise our girls. Middle Sis is attending our incredible neighborhood elementary school with its loyal and passionate teachers, tireless parent and community volunteers, and unparalleled performing arts, garden, and enrichment programs. Big Sis attends a large urban middle school where her teachers and peers, who represent true international diversity, inspire her. We love that these schools give awards for qualities and attributes versus achievements, and invite us to both shadow and participate in our kids' daily educational experiences.  

8.  My health and the health of my loved ones, which I do not take for granted. 

9.  Our house, which has had to compete with our cozy first home, but which has won me over with its peace and quiet, windows, space, views, safe cul de sac for Big Wheel races and skateboarding, and room for guests and gatherings. 

10.  Human tenderness:  One of life's pleasures is noticing the sweet spots, when siblings love on one another, when teammates share a victory or poignant loss, when acts of kindness happen spontaneously out there in the world.  I feel like I am often front row for those beautiful moments which make living worth it and humanity make sense.  

 Additional Gratitudes:

1.  Good books, good art, and good music.  I am so fortunate to know people who create all three, and my early mornings and late evenings rely on their accessibility and power to deepen my sense of my own existence.  
2.  Those who "let it go."  Ain't got time to hold on to grudges, dwell on disturbances, and generally make big deals. I am increasingly grateful for and drawn to people who keep moving forward, focused on solutions, and with a better, peaceful world in mind.  (After venting over a pint or glass).  
3.  Our coffeemaker with a timer (and the guy who loads it each evening).  My morning cup of coffee, secured before my morning pee, is an indulgence I appreciate EVERY DAY. 
4.  My iPad:  Its lit screen has allowed me to read with the lights off while our baby/toddler slumbers beside me. My books, my music, articles, photos, Facebook...all here.  
5.  Running.  Also known as jogging, limping, leaping, stumbling...we'll take it all.  
6.  Youth Soccer:  Our daughters play a lot of soccer and we spend a lot of time at games.  But the sidelines are where we've met amazing families and learned a few things about the culture of our neighborhood, kids' sports, and parenting.  
7.  Beautiful things and places:  The moon, my friend's living room, beach rocks at sunset, cloudscapes, that necklace, twinkling lights, flowers, architecture, fonts, the pattern on that fabric, your haircut, a garden.  
8.  Food:  I'm fortunate to have a brother who is a chef, a daughter who is a foodie, and a CSA box full of fresh vegetables each week.  I love cooking; I love combining flavors; I love the privilege of eating something different every day.   
9.  Comfy clothes.  The older I get, the more I appreciate an outfit comparable to mashed potatoes.  Soft, warm, unobtrusive, dependable, goes with anything.
10.  Funny stuff:  jokes, memes, videos, stories, our toddler, your mishap, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Stephen's such a serious place, this world.  Cats afraid of cucumbers can make it all okay.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

List: Material (Garage Sale) Girl

You know how there are are those items you buy in the grocery store Every Single Time, thinking somehow you've run out, when you're forever in excess?  It's like you have an inexplicable internal fear of ever being without these (maybe-not-even) staples?   FYI, feel free to stop by our house for lentils, quinoa, brown sugar, and cumin powder, as I may need to borrow the maple syrup, ranch dressing, and soap dispenser refill we are always forgetting to buy. 

I'll own up front that I appear to have an inherited case of "the saves" (because I may need it!  For something!  Like a project!), which we will not call hoarding for now. But I feel I live in a perpetually conflicting state of mostly excess and sometimes inexplicable deficit (often of the things we arguably need, like milk). 

So someone like me has no business shopping on online garage sale sites, unless the products for sale are gently used milk, bread, and toilet paper. But in a free moment, and to the dismay of my husband, I just love to browse the stuff others no longer want. And I've figured out I'm quick with the "me me I want!" finger if you're offering the following items which WE DO NOT NEED:

1.  Patio furniture.  Example:  Lounge swing recently purchased, not yet assembled. Rationale:  we have a big deck. Rationale:  it's a good deal, and patio furniture full price is expensive! Rationale:  life outside is good, and it will be better with this item. 
2.  Throw pillows.  Example:  Blue and beige pillows passed on to me by a friend who recognizes my weakness. Rationale:  they're a cheap way to "redecorate."  Rationale:  they're like art, sorta!
3.  Craft supplies. Example:  Box of assorted free stickers. Rationale:  because we may need them!  For something!  Like a project!
4.  End and bedside tables. Example:  Antique drop-leaf table. Rationale: at one point, we could use a few of these. Rationale:  good end tables are useful, satisfying to own!
5.  Kids' items. Example:  Recently acquired push trike. Rationale:  this serves a purpose right now, and will enrich and broaden my child's experiences. 

Meanwhile, I have one daughter who snatches up and uses any free cardboard in our house, and has a funky obsession with binders. I think we come by it honestly (genetically), but far be it from me to point any fingers at the grandma who kept canned food in the trunk of her car Just In Case. 

What are your excesses and weaknesses?