Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unexpected Beauty

I purchased a Christmas Cactus back in November and it never bloomed around the holiday. Imagine my surprise when I was dusting last week and found that one whole side of the plant was covered with blooms! I hadn't seen them because they were on the window side. A beautiful surprise!

As you can see my blogging as slowed to a near stall. No excuse for it really--just life taking over.

I started my new job as Marketing Director at Ovation Benefits yesterday. Starting on a Friday was pretty fun! Ironically, 11 years ago I did some freelance work with the Ovation partners to help them develop their company name. Now here I am full circle, returning to them as their Marketing Director. I AM THRILLED. The outfit is smart, entrepreneurial, funny and filled with ideas about how to reduce chronic health problems for employees, thereby recognizing significant cost savings for employers and saving lives in the process. This organization is really not much of a departure from the work I have been doing for the last 9 years. I am looking forward to long relationship with them!

Chris stayed home with the kids yesterday, but they will begin attending school full-time on Monday. We spent several hours this past Wednesday and Thursday with each of them in their respective classrooms, which are side-by-side. If one or the other gets lonely their teachers have promised to give them some time together. The staff is wonderful and the kids already have been hugging their teachers and playing with their friends. I know that when I drop them off Monday they will be fine, I will be the one who needs a binkie!

Of course I am grappling with the guilt that many mothers feel when they have made the decision to return to work. I wasn't even really thinking about doing it until the fall when Ella would enter pre-k, but I knew that if the right opportunity came along I would strongly consider it.

One of the great perks with this new job is that I will be able to work from home one day a week, and the hours are very flexible so that I can not have to worry too much about beating traffic to pick up the kids before their school closes.

I have to thank a few people who have really been there for me over the last month and a half as I went through the most arduous interview process of my life. Chris of course, and my Dad and my sister, and then my friends Flan, Katie and Molly, and a few others who would be too shy to see their names here. I know that I have a strong network of friends and family who help to guide me through these difficult, exhilarating, and rewarding experiences. Thanks to each of you!

Now I am off to enjoy the weekend. I hope you will to, and thanks for reading!



Friday, February 18, 2011

Love You, Mom

Mom, Dad, Amy, James & I, 2006

Yesterday was a hard day for my Dad, my sister, my grandparents and I. I know we were all thinking about Mom all day. She passed two years ago on February 17th and I remember that day as a blur. It is tragic losing a parent, and even more so when you aren't at all expecting it. I have a lot of feelings about her death, but mostly I try to remind myself to celebrate her life instead of mourning her absence.

I was looking at some old photos and found these two that are remarkably similar. The first is of Mom holding my little sister Amy:

The second is Mom holding James when he was just six weeks old:

What do I love most about these photos? You know it--her smile.

In her poem "Remember" Christina Rossetti's last two lines say,

"Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad."

I don't know that I think of Mom any less, but I try not to be so sad.

It may sound cliche, but remember to tell your family how much you love them, because one day you may no longer have the chance.

I told my Dad the other day that even though I had a truly wonderful, almost idyllic childhood, right now what I am most grateful for is the adult relationship I had with my Mom. Talking with her about motherhood, about parenting, about juggling work and home, about the weather, about recipes--those things are what resonate with me right now.

Like any teenager and young adult obsessed with themselves, there were a few years where I was not close with my Mom. Once I grew up a little and got out of my own way, I had the wonderful opportunity to look at her as a friend. I am so glad that I did.

I love you my Mother, my friend. And I smile while I am writing that.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Love Day!

I really do love Valentine's Day!

I took the kiddos to get balloons today and they came home with these.

I had to laugh when James had initially picked a Sponge Bob Valentine's Day balloon, but then he said "I think it is just a little silly, Mom, and I would rather have one with cursive on it." So that's what he got!

You might notice that the dress Ella is wearing is the same one she wore in the Christmas card photos. I am a little short of red clothing for her. I was laughing to myself when she and I were picking out an outfit this morning, because she has to much PINK. She's a girly girl!

I am about to start making a heart-shaped chocolate cookie / bar with the kids for Chris. My Dad gave me a wonderful old heart-shaped baking pan and I am excited to use it.

I snapped this photo of the pups yesterday. I feel like it is a great example of puppy love.

Have a wonderful day!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mmmmm . . . a Yummy Saturday

What a wonderful day it has been today.

I am sitting here blogging while the aroma of minestrone is filling the house. Don't you love a homemade soup that fills you up with warmth and love? I always chop some prosciutto and caramelize it with some onions in the beginning to add a wonderful depth of flavor.

I am just about to begin making bread from this recipe. It is a tried and true recipe that gives you lovely homemade bread in under two hours. You can't ask for much more heaven than that. Well, after you have slathered it with some Kate's Butter from Maine, or Cabot.

I just put Ella down for her nap. Lately she has been wanting to sing the pretty song, which is actually "You are My Sunshine" but I sing "You are so pretty" in the first line instead. She loves it.

James and Chris are at this very moment sitting in the XL Center in downtown Hartford watching a Monster Jam Truck Show! James was so excited about it--this morning he woke up and told me that he had had a dream that was "Momster Jam-ish." I add "ish" a lot to things I say, it is a little quirk of mine that he has picked up. I can't wait to see the excitement on his face when they get back home. A little alone time for Daddy and his boy is a good thing.

Before Ella's nap we made Valentine's Day cards for Chris and James. Ella is so insistent "Mommy, I CUT!" and "Mommy I GLUE!". What a personality! Sometimes on the phone my Dad calls her "his little Pumpkin." I love that--but sometimes it is more like his "little Jack O' Lantern," you know, one with a wicked face. She is a sassy girl, for sure.

Wow, look at this--all writing and no photos. I guess you can tell that I am enjoying a moment of quiet.

My bloggy friend Stephanie has been in my thoughts lately. I enjoy her writing style. I used to write much more in my blog, but got somewhat turned off to sharing so many private thoughts. I was reading her blog and remembering how good it feels to get my thoughts out. Not for anyone else, but just for me. And then a family friend let me know that she had started a blog. Her writing style is wonderful, and her thoughts are interspersed with poetry and photos from my home town. Reading her posts, and Stephanie's posts made me want to begin to write more again. So here I am.

And did you see my new banner? James drew it a few weeks ago. Lovely for Valentine's Day, don't you think?

I hope you all have a wonderful Love Day on Monday.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just Some Goings On

My girl napping. I love this--two lovies, a pillow pet, her favorite cowboy blanket (handmade by a family friend) and her Minnie.

I was making dinner the other night and she had been very busy playing. "Look Mom!" she said, "an ice cream cone!"

And then, of course, she licked it!

Here is what my son has been playing a lot of lately.

Chris got an old Nintendo off of Ebay and James get to play it for a little while every day as a special treat. We are taking an extended break from the WII--he gets a little too riled up. I like that the Nintendo Mario game is a little less involved.

The kids were excited to get a package from Peepaw last week--in it was this fabulous chapter book on American Indians that James has been pouring over.

I was so happy to see him reading it. Sure he comes across words h doesn't know, but he sounds them out on his own and asks me what they mean.

And he's pretty happy about being such a good reader!

And here is a little video I shot of one of Ella's new stomping temper tantrums:

That's it for now--I have an interview tomorrow for full time work with a company that I really admire. It is my second in the interview process and involves a webcast presentation that I had to put together. I have enjoyed being challenged a bit, but of course I am feeling guilty at the prospect of going back to work full time. We see how it shakes out. Wish me luck!