After a Fall

dsc_0414-2I don’t how it’s possible, but I can go from feeling life-satisfied and competent one minute … to a total failure the next.

It happens. It’s not reasonable or rational. But it happens.

It happened Monday morning.

All out of nowhere and despite my very best efforts to keep it all together. 

“It all” can mean one thing on a Monday and something entirely different on a Thursday … but mostly, “it all” is life and whatever living needs doing that day.

And as much as I can try to get and keep my own ducks in a row, my life intersects with other – important to me – lives … and one phone call can scatter all the ducks to the far corners of the lake.

And that’s exactly what happened Monday morning as I readied myself for the day.

A text. Followed by a Face-time phone call. And my day went left, not right.

Afterwards, all preoccupied with a thousand, thousand thoughts, I packed all my bags … the book bag, the lunch bag, the gym bag … and headed out the door, across the porch, and down the steps.

The icy steps.

After that very first step … I slipped … and my whole body, bags and all, seemed to fly up in the air … and back down again. Hard. On the granite steps.

And I sat there for a minute. Whimpering. Bruised. And feeling  a little bit defeated,  I think.

I looked around.

Whimpered a bit more.

And stood up.

Sometimes it takes a bit of encouragement to get back up after a fall. Here’s a link to a daily affirmation … Thought for Today … which can be sent right to your inbox. I’ve been receiving their daily emails for years now, and more often than not … the inspiration, motivation, or encouragement offered that day is exactly what I needed to hear.

#hopefortoday

 

 

A Breakfast, A Dinner … and Dessert

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We’ve been enjoying more family dinners lately.

Getting three guys over the age of 21 in one place – much less around one table – is nothing short of ah – ma – zing!

And I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve been stranded at home with so many snowy days, or if it’s because I’ve been more creatively cooking, but either way, it’s pretty special to spend so much time with our children.

I wrote here about my Rally Cry for the New Year. 

And so far, I’ve tried nine new recipes in 2017!

Last night’s was this Garlic Rosemary Monkey Bread from Real Simple Magazine. Partnered with lasagna and Caesar salad, this bread earned an “OMG” and an “unreal” from the over 21 crowd.

Also?

These Five Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars from Cup of Jo literally rocked our world. I mean … their world – I’m on a diet, so I’d eat the tiniest little corner and sigh happily.

One more recipe for the early morning breakfast crew:  

(Which would NOT include the over 21 crowd.)

Follow this Best Granola EVER recipe for a toasty, tasty topping for your fruit and yogurt. A granola that lives up to its hype, for sure.

Yummers. 

Reading Love

dsc_0346-2Love.

LOVE.

Love my students.

Love reading.

Love my students reading.

Here’s a quick little Valentine bookmark for the book lover in your life.

Supplies:

  • scrapbook paper
  • card stock
  • heart-shaped paper punch
  • ribbon
  • rubber stamp
  • gold ink
  • ribbon
  • coordinating marker
  • washi tape

Originally, I shopped at Walmart for multi-pack Valentine cards for my students. Since I have 30 students, and the cards were $7.97 for a pack of ten … I decided I could do better on my own. I didn’t even like them really.

These bookmarks are soooo much cuter. With a bonus: it’s a reading love note too!

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And made with love.

 

Snow Day

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There’s something pretty special about a snow day.

Whisper of disbelief:  It’s a … Snow Day.

Like all of the very best of good fortune, a snow day is really sort of magical.

Dream-like and unexpected.

And, of course, I had all the very best intentions to use this sudden abundance of time so wisely, so well.

But magic simply won’t permit such practicality. Or allow itself to be managed.

Because magic is … well, magic.

With a spirit all its very own.

And so, I wasn’t all that productive … but here’s a list of my very favorite picture books about snow… because the spirit and magic of a snow day never grows old.

1.  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

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2. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

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3. The Big Snow by Berta Hader

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4. Snowflake Bentley by Jaqueline Briggs Martin

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5. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

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Photo credit for book covers to Barnes and Noble. 

Note: The links I’ve provided are for the love of literature … not profit.

Winter and Oatmeal

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My skin’s had a rough winter.

And it’s only February.

I was diagnosed with rosacea about a month ago. My face often feels like it’s burning. The inflammation and itch spreads from my ears, to my chin, just above my eyebrows, and all across my cheeks.

I’m a vision.

I’m also not convinced I have rosacea. Symptoms aren’t always consistent, no matter my diet, and it’s winter in New England so that means drying heat, drying cold, drying wind … drying skin.

I was prescribed a cream by my doctor and admittedly, it helps soothe the inflammation and burning. For a bit, anyway. But it also dries my face something fierce and results in flaky rough patches everywhere.

I thought maybe it was time to return the doctor’s cream to the medicine cabinet and turn to my pantry for a little relief.

I remember my toddler son’s struggles with eczema and the soothing nature of oatmeal, so I started there. After a little more research, I learned yogurt has soothing properties of its own. Yogurt moisturizes, helps reduce discoloration, and calms feisty skin. And don’t forget the honey – also a natural moisturizer.

I mixed about a third cup of oatmeal with some very hot water and let it set a bit. I added enough water so I achieved a slushy mixture with a little more water than oats. Instantly, the hot liquid took on the milky oatmeal tone, and the oats softened. Finally, I mixed in equal amounts of honey and plain Greek yogurt – about a tablespoon of each.

Let the smearing begin.

I mostly used the liquid and left behind the oats.  Immediately my red skin returned to it’s normal New England winter whiter shade of pale.*  There was a bit of stinging sensation at first, but what followed was pure bliss: No itch. Therefore, no scratch.

With my facial skin improved, I’ll be straining the remaining liquid into a soothing bath for the rest of me.

It is winter in New England which means a good, long soak is necessary for survival.

*Thanks to Procol Harum for the perfect description of my New England winter skin.

In January

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As I write this morning, small pellets of ice or sleet or some kind of freezing rain tap at our windows. It’s an hour or so before sunrise, but when I peek out by porch light, I can see a couple inches more than a dusting of snow. And the wind blows.

It’s January, and I’m almost always cold.

Funny thing is, the best way I’ve come across to feel cozier in this long month of dark and cold – is to get outside.

Truly.

It’s hard, I know.

It’s exhausting just getting dressed. All those layers. Bundling up. Hat head. Clunky boots.

Brushing off the car. Hauling in the groceries. Pumping gas. Feeling something close to what must be dread at the anticipation of walking from warm house to cold car.

Doing anything regular feels harder, and there’s always a quick intake of breath with the first step outdoors and then the reactive thought … man, it’s some kind of nasty cold out here!

But the first step is important … because it leads to the next and the next and I’m outdoors and breathing in the cold air and it feels a little bit like I just woke up from some sort of full body slumber.

After a bit of a walk, I feel energized. Awake. And very grateful for the cozy warmth I walk back into when I’m done.

Grab a friend and go for a quick 15 minute walk.

It’s like peppermint for the soul.

 

Towards a More Positive Pace

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My Fitbit is old and cracked. When I do remember to wear it, I use it to count my steps and sometimes, my heart rate.

It occurred to me this morning I’d be more interested in the pace of my steps than the number of them.

Every Saturday, my pace slows. I’m more intentional. Even choosy. I have the wide open air of fewer obligations in which to make my decisions and walk my walk.

But flip the calendar page a single day and my pace quickens and probably my heart rate does too. No amount of list making or organization in the world gives me more than 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.

Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve written lists in notebooks and planners. I’ve cleared clutter and created systems. All of these attempts are positive or important somehow to my sanity – and perhaps I’d be far worse off without them.

Still, life often feels like I want or need to be in two places at once and every single thing on the list is mutually crucial. Making one choice precludes another. If A, then B. All of the above sometimes feels like the only answer.

The pace quickens.

Stress provides a running commentary: Do it now. Don’t forget. Be sure to. And on and on and on.

I’m learning, however, that stress is a liar.

Stress tells me, “Do it all, and do it now,” but reality is different than stress-speak. The list needs doing in its time, yes, but the time isn’t all for one, one for all.

So how do I slow down in a hurry up world?

Well, today, I’ve been chopping garlic – a task which needs doing in order to get dinner on the table, but also a task with a needfully slow pace. Chop. Peel. Slice. Dice. There’s rhythm in the knife on wood. A pungent aroma. I’m zesting and squeezing an orange. More delightful smells. And then I add a satisfying grind or two of kosher salt.

Dinner’s on it’s way after a sensory symphony.

Slow and gentle living. Appreciative, even.

My tasks are either as pleasant or unpleasant as I care to make them. I can walk slowly and calmly or at a frantic, demanding, do-it-now pace. I can be more positive.

So what’s next in your day?

I’m off to fold clothing, warm from the dryer.

And won’t that be grand?

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