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18Nov/120

Feelings and all of that

I should probably be sleeping right now.

I've been awake since 4 am, and at this point, I can't just go back to sleep. Which is okay, because I'd love to spend some time with my keyboard.

Nolan's been sleeping through the night lately, in his own bed. Getting him there took nearly a year, but we got into a good rhythm just before we left for 5 nights in Gettysburg. I thought that might be the end of that. It wasn't.

The past 2 or 3 nights, though, he wakes up upset and needing to snuggle. We are just about done with breastfeeding, and I think he misses all that comfort and extra cuddling.

Maybe I do, too?

Yesterday,  Nolan's grandparents and Aunt Steph came over for cake and to shower him with so many presents. (We decided against a big party this year.) It was lovely. Nolan was showered with lots of attention and love, which is exactly what I wanted for him at his birthday celebration.

I was surprised to find out that I didn't feel the way I thought I would. I thought I'd feel warm fuzzies and movie-worthy magical moments, or something like that. Instead, I just felt sad.

I know that seems strange, doesn't it?

I just remembered today that I wanted to make a banner out of pictures of Nolan's first year. I really wanted one, but somewhere in Tim's traveling and getting sick and me trying to wrap my mind around how to adequately celebrate a year of being parents to an amazing little kid, I forgot. I also really wanted to take Nolan to the park yesterday. It was a beautiful day, and we need to get ourselves into the sunshine as much as possible these days, but I knew I couldn't do it all in time, so I stewed. I mean, I was really grumpy for a little while. And then I wised up. Everyone would be fine with out a banner, right? We went to the park and climbed the stairs, slid down slides, crawled under a bridge, rode those springy things that rock back and forth and make me nervous every time. We ran through leaves and found a basketball and enjoyed our neighborhood on the trip up and back. At one point, I answered a text just as Nolan looked back at me in a look, Mom! kind of way. It broke my heart that I was on my phone just when we was trying to share a moment with me, so I put it away.

The whole experience was just good. Just what we both needed, I think. But it meant there were no decorations. Although I still feel like I made the right choice, I just know I can do better at putting together a get-together than that. I know Nolan doesn't care and  only I do.

I just...maybe it's the time change(I struggle with S.A.D) or my little boy growing up or the not knowing how to wrap up this past year in a nice and pretty way, but yesterday was just emotionally difficult for me.

Steph stayed afterward last night and we drank wine, and I so needed that.

My husband listened while I tried to explain the mess that was in my head, then hugged me tight and rubbed my feet.

Today, I am going over to a dear friend's house, where I will share a meal with some of my favorite people. Kelly and Lindsey both have adorable, crazy little boys, too, but they are older than Nolan. I know they'll commiserate with me and make me feel like I'm going to be okay.

And I am. I'm okay.

.......................................................

In list form, the things in this post that are so good in my life (as in, things I am thankful for)(because I think I do need this right now):

#7 (still continuing that list and trying to get to 25 before Thanksgiving). Time to myself, in the morning,my prime time.

#8. Nolan is sleeping (mostly) through the night! In his own bed!

#9. seeing Nolan so loved by his grandparents and his aunt

#10. Playing in the park with my son? One of my favorite things to do right now.

#11. Nolan's grandma and grandpa got him snow gear! So unless it's actually dangerous, our outdoor time has been given new life over what's supposed to be a snowy winter.

#12. I love my sister-in-law, of course, but I also really like her. I mean, I would choose her as a friend even if we weren't related. Also, I really just needed to relax and have a glass of wine last night, and she was there to enjoy it with me. That did me so much good.

#13. Nolan sleeping through the night means I can stay up sometimes and hang out with  my husband, who I miss.

#14. Kelly

#15. Lindsey

#16. French press coffee. (Oh, I didn't mention that? That is happening this morning!)

8Aug/121

Where Were We?

We traveled just over 1,000 miles to celebrate the birth of a marriage.

Not just any marriage.

Well, of course it was the kind that would have us driving a thousand miles with a baby.

We arrived early to explore the town and spend extra time with the queen of my heart.

(So glad we did.)

Since arriving home, we've been recovering, yoga-ing, writing, eating, kind of- sort of getting back into a routine...and not really sleeping.

I've been extra sensitive lately and a little angsty, and I think the lack of adequate sleep just might be the culprit.

Today he is 9 months old.

If you look closely, you might be able to see evidence that he loves to feed himself.

(That's peaches, pancakes, and yogurt adorning his face, shirt, and body...and maybe a little in his stomach.)

He also loves water and bubbles (which helps with after-breakfast clean-up), the color red, "reading" to himself, wheels, electronics, climbing, his tunnel, and just generally being a crazy little boy.

He's cheerful even when woken up too early, and I think his favorite food is a toss-up between watermelon and banana.

My baby is 9 months old- so much and so little time all at once.

15Apr/121

Happiest of Birthdays

Yesterday was my birthday. It was perfect, thanks in part to so many people that I felt I just had to find a way to pay homage to all of them. I hope I didn't miss anyone, but yesterday was just so full of good that I have a feeling I likely did. Still, if you played a part in making the day so refreshing and beautiful and special, thank you. My heart is full, and I am so grateful to have the friends and family I do.

Nolan has changed yet another part of me (in a good way) because most years I have "needed" the day to be perfect (whatever that means) and FULL of celebration. Those are good things, but usually I will put too much pressure on it which kind of takes away from the fun.

This year, I just wanted to go to Rodale's Tulip Festival with my family; I wanted to bask in mass quantities of my favorite flower and show them to Nolan.  I wanted to go on a date with my husband. Since those events were already on the books, I took on a much more relaxed approach to the day. I was free to enjoy it.

And enjoy it I did.

Some of my favorite parts:

-Snuggle time with Tim and Nolan in the morning. Oh MY, you should see this baby in the morning. He is chatty and happy and so excited that hey! all 3 of us are together! I love it when we can all lounge in bed together.

-An hour long conversation with my sister. It made it seem like she's not so far away. Also? She's getting MARRIED to a man who is perfect for her, and I'm so excited for them and her and OK, me,too because I just got a new brother-in-law whom I adore.

-Two hilarious phone messages, one each from Katie and Steven. Really. I laughed out loud.

-Tim took care of Nolan while I did Yoga for the Warrior. I'm getting closer to being able to do Bird of Paradise! (See below if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)

-Birthday mail! My favorite piece today was a card from my friend Kristen T. I'm pretty sure Kristen is my long-lost sister. Words from her just kind of seep into my heart and fill in the cracks.

-The Tulip festival! Rodale is a bit of a drive for us, so it meant time for Tim and I to talk. When we got there (after a bit of a panic because oh, no! We were going to be late! I HATE being late and making people wait), I fully sunk into Tim's everything is going to turn out fine and soaked up an hour and a half of wandering through fields, rows of beautiful flowers, and what I think is going to be Rodale's kids' summer camp with Tim, Nolan, Mary Ellen, Bill, Steph, Eric, and my mom.

Can I just tell you how much I love my family? I had a blast just taking in the scenery and exploring the grounds with these people who I feel so lucky to have in my life. And I got to watch them love my son. There's not a lot that can fill my heart like watching people love my baby well. (Also? You should have seen Bill with that little boy. They looked like they were just meant to be together, chilling, and taking in the sights. Ho.ly.Cow.)

-Tim and I went on a date! Just the two of us! I'm not quite sure when the last time that happened. I mean, my parents offer to watch Nolan often, but we usually have to use that time to work on homework or complete a project. But today? No projects, no homework. We wandered into a health food store when we arrived a bit too early for dinner (I got a few new things to play with- dried cherries with no sugar added, coconut oil, and fair trade cocoa nibs.) and then ate quite possibly our best dinner out to date.

Tim's cousin, Stacey, has been recommending The Farmhouse for quite some time, and I'm so glad she has. Words are my love language, but right after that? Food. Really good, well-thought-out food. The Farmhouse does that kind of food well. They source local and organic ingredients whenever possible (part of why it tastes so good- it's fresh!), aren't afraid to use fat (hello butter, pancetta, cream, and duck fat) and are creative with their menu offerings. Love, love, love. I'll certainly be talking about this meal for quite some time.

Oh, and our server? Amazing. I'll be contacting The Farmhouse to find out her name (we were at Table 3 at 5 o'clock) because she was just that good. Guessed immediately that I love mojitos, works there because she loves the food just that much, had great ideas and tips on what to order, and was so sweet and fun. To our server- I'm so sorry I don't remember your name! But I'll be finding it out and remembering it. You helped make our dinner so wonderful.

-With my love tank full, thanks to all the great conversation, experiences, sweet birthday messages (in email, text, and written, and facebook form) and amazing food, I returned (with Tim) to pick up my son, refreshed.  Snuggles happened immediately, of course.

-As a perfect topper to the day, my dad presented me with two cookbooks he personally picked out for me. My dad essentially works two jobs, is training for a marathon,and is in the middle of a construction project at home (plus he tries to spend as much time with his grandson as he can!). He doesn't have a lot of extra time to be picking out presents, but he DID. And he picked out ones that perfectly suit my interests. That made me feel like a million bucks.

-And then my mother handed me giant organic chocolate cupcakes.

17Mar/123

Easter Shopping

As I said I would, I have a few Easter shopping suggestions.

-Divine Chocolate

Mmmm...Have you tried this stuff? Divine Chocolate is 45% farmed-owned. I'm in love with Divine Chocolate for managing to produce a quality product that adds to the quality of life of its suppliers. Read more about the values of Divine Chocolate here.

My pick: The White Chocolate Bar

Runners-up: Dark Chocolate Bunnies

-The Body Shop

The Body Shop sources its cocoa butter from the same farmer-owned coop that Divine Chocolate does. They take care to ethically source other  ingredients "wherever possible." You can read more about the values and goals of The Body Shop here and here.

My pick: Chocomania or Strawberry Body Butter

-Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned coop that trades directly with small farmers. Their work is helping to build up small farming groups and communities who might otherwise be taken advantage of or wiped out by larger corporations. You can read more about the values of Equal Exchange here.

I recommend their Mint Chocolate Bar or Dark Chocolate Minis.

-Simply Organic Carrot Cake Baking Mix

Simply Organic produces several baking mixes that are fair trade certified, but I think the Carrot Cake variety would be the most fun for Easter (with homemade cream cheese icing, of course.) (I find mine in the "health food" section of my local Giant Food store.) Simply Organic is owned by Frontier Natural Products Co-op, sources ingredients directly from small farmers at fair prices and donates 1% of sales to improve the lives of small farmers. You can download a coupon for $1 off the baking mix here and read more about the values of this company here.

-31 Bits

I wrote about 31 Bits here. I love this company! All jewelry is hand-made by Ugandan woman who are pre-paid at a fair and sustainable wage. 31 Bits also provides programs like English lessons, finance training, and vocational training to its workers to help alleviate poverty and stimulate local economy. Read more here.

-Coco Rabbit Planter

I found this via Serrv, a new-to-me site on a " mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide." This particular gift comes from CCAP, a Filipino fair trade organization that has been marketing the crafts of marginalized artisans since 1973.

Do you know of any sources for products that support small farmers and/or artisans? Please share in the comments!

10Mar/123

Oh, hey. Easter is coming up.

Can I share a bit of my heart with you? If you read this blog, I'm guessing I can, so...

here it is.

Wandering through, or even passing the candy aisles during Easter (or really any holiday season) often leaves me feeling pretty sad.

I start thinking about how all that festive, sugary, delicious, bright-colored candy got in those aisles, who had to work for it, how young they are, how they are living and how much of all that hard work is going to sell in the name of celebration.

I can't even picture how many kids are involved, and I hate it.

I'm not trying to ruin the holidays for you. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. I'm just trying to say...

Maybe we can celebrate better this year.

One of the (many) thing(s) I LOVE about fair trade is that the products tend to be of higher quality than their cheaper versions. You can taste it, feel it, smell it. Fair trade offers a higher quality of life for the producer and the consumer.

"Fair trade" doesn't mean everything purchased has to be certified as such, but it does require some extra thought. Maybe buy fair trade versions of the some common baking products- cocoa, sugar, and vanilla

and then make your own Easter treats like...

Peeps

Reese's- Style Peanut Butter Eggs

You can even make your own Cadbury Eggs!!

oursevendwarfs.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Another suggestion?

Go an unconventional route.

I'm 26 years old and my mother still puts together (and hides!) and Easter basket for me. This year, she talked with me about what I might want in it because she knows I'm not a fan of the typical candy. My requests? Nut butter (any kind, so long as it's just nuts and maybe salt) and Larabars (I love these! They contain easily recognizable ingredients, and the ones that contain chocolate and sugar are fair trade certified.)

I'm not sure there's an end to the unconventional treats you could come up with, but a few ideas for kids include:

  • stickers
  • coloring books and crayons
  • a new book
  • stuffed animal
  • finger puppets
  • play dough or silly putty
  • games
  • sidewalk chalk
  • temporary tattoos

And if buying Easter sweets is your thing, I have a post or two coming up on that,too!

4Mar/123

Perfect

My grandmother rolled into town yesterday.

I went to the early yoga class, lacking sleep, 2 cups of coffee in my system, because I needed it.

I'm kind of addicted to my weekly class.

I rushed to get ready

in time to see this

That heart-melting action was happening while I was

printing directions

brushing my hair

throwing together something to eat (because oops, it was getting late in the morning, and I'd pumped and exercised but had yet to eat anything)

But I had to stop and watch

at least a little.

It does something to my heart to see people who are so dear to it love on my son.

And oh, she loves him.

I wouldn't mind seeing that every day.

We-my grandma, my mom, and me-3 generations of woman who are so different and so alike-

We peeled ourselves away in search of a dress for my mom to wear to my sister's upcoming wedding.

The ways that we are alike just screamed at me this time.

We have the same love for having people over, for celebrating pretty much anything, the same laugh.

We laughed a lot.

It's hard sometimes, you know, being part of a family.

You have all this history, all these perceptions, all these stories burned into your being.

As the youngest of the 3 of us, I am and have been a child, an adult, and a friend. Sometimes the mix isn't quite right, and there's friction.

But yesterday?

Yesterday was us, eating great food (I introduced them to a restaurant I knew they would love because the part of me that is them loves it, too), celebrating my sister, celebrating us.

And ok, I know nothing's really perfect because if I were to recall every single moment of our trip, I'm sure there were some that wouldn't qualify

but I'm going to say it anyway-

Yesterday was perfect.

5Jan/122

How to Be Married for 5 Years and Love It

I have been married to my best friend for 5 years today.

I'm not planning on writing a mushy post to go along with my anniversary (but my posts often end up quite different than how I planned them to be, so no promises), but I will say that it's true what you hear about communication being really, really, REALLY important to a quality relationship.

I will also say that a major reason why I think I can say this from experience is Tim.

Communication is not my strong suit.

I mean, yes, I do like to write (ahem, I love to write), but that in-person, super-honest stuff? It's hard. It's awkward sometimes and it requires boldness. (It's scary.)

But over the years, I have learned- through conversation, experience, and observation- how to be more honest. The kind of honest that deepens relationships and sometimes sounds awkward coming out of my mouth; the kind that requires courage (there's that word again!) once in a while.

Let me tell you.

Communication sounds simple,

but it is so not.

Think about it.

We have all these words (and oh, how I love words!), but you know there are times when, even amongst all of them, you can't find the right ones to express what you'd like to say.

You know there are times when you're saying one thing and someone else is hearing another

due to differing perceptions and experiences

with the same words.

It's hard work.

Work which has (mostly) turned in to joy and reward

thanks to the persistence of one man.

I mean it. Many, many thanks to Timothy Koller.

He has made and continues to help me become a better person and is my perfect partner in this adventure called life.

Ok, there's the mush.

(Like I said, no promises.)

2Jan/122

Hello, Monday

Hello, Monday.

Hello to a new week and a new year. (So many possibilities in such a simple sentence!)

Hello, saying goodbye to my "little" brother (I'm getting teary just writing that out) and bringing Nolan along to soften the blow...for everyone. That boy's a magic charm.

Hello, getting back to exercise, reading, and blogging.

Hello, dancing around the house with my little boy and

celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary with my man (and massages and a special meal to go with it!).

It's going to be a beautiful week.

What's going on in your world this week?

15Dec/114

Everything

Just a couple of things- I'm linking up with Just Write today. I think I am most proud of this particular free writing entry because I really just let the words pour out of me this morning. So often, when they pour, I'm somewhere where I can't sit down and write.

Also, if you haven't already, check out my giveaway here. I'm not receiving any tangible compensation for it; I'm just really excited to introduce one of my favorite companies to you.

Moving on...

I knew it was true when I said that I'd try to write about Christmas spirit every day, but I probably won't make it.

I originally got that idea from someone giving workout advice. You know, if you want to start working out more, just aim to do it every day. You'll do more than you would have otherwise.

Make big plans, and if you don't accomplish them all, you'll get farther than you were when you started.

Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

That kind of thing.

It's working.

I wouldn't say I'm "among the stars," but I would say that hardness I feel about this time of year is chipping away.

Yes, I still hate the commercialism.

Yes, I still feel annoyed when Christmas becomes about how much can be packed in, rushed in, pressured in before maybe we can all relax on December 25th.

But I get to make a choice, you know?

I get to decide how I'm going to react and from which angle I'm going to look at things.

I get to decide if I'm going to feel stressed or celebratory or whether I'm going to enjoy these quick and fleeting moments.

I write to-do lists most days, but honestly? They are never completed.

Making dinner takes twice as long because I stop to

change his diaper

feed him

cuddle him

look him in those beautiful eyes and talk until he doesn't want to talk anymore.

I can choose to enjoy, really enjoy, those times, or I can let stress weigh on me because I didn't get "everything" done.

When really, "everything" was in those moments I didn't have my to-do list.

I could gather a (probably long) list of posts I've written about living each moment as it happens and soaking up life.

I write about it so much because that kind of thing is really important to me, but it really doesn't come all that easy at all.

But he is already growing so fast, and I don't want to miss it. He makes those lessons a little easier.

So, this season, I'll be making some sweet treats, sending cards, putting presents together that I really put thought into.  I really like doing that stuff when I don't let it come with unnecessary stress.

But if "everything" doesn't get done,

I'll rest in the thought that the important everything's have.

Photo credit.

9Dec/112

Christmas Spirit: Reader Recommendations

On the first day of this month, I asked, "What kinds of things really get you into the Christmas spirit?"

The answers I received left me feeling encouraged, excited, and generally optimistic that I can live out this holiday season without a chip on my shoulder.

In case you didn't get to check out the comments section, here are some of those answers:

Brittany said, "This year I hope to enjoy whatever I happen to be doing at the moment instead of stressing about watching every Christmas movie and seeing every Christmas light display."

Steph said, "This year, my family decided to take all the money we would spend on each other and send a gift through World Vision. It’s amazing how doing something for someone else can really put you in the Christmas spirit!"

Kristen G. said, "As a lover of Christmas, I could give you an entire list that puts me in the spirit. I’ll settle for just a little one though – watching The Santa Claus with Tim Allen. By far, one of my favorite holiday movies and it’s on ABC tonight to kick off their 25 days of Christmas."

Jaimie said, "This year, my children have decided {on their own} to forgo one present each and instead of receiving something, they’re giving something. the money we would have used to purchase a present for each of them will now go to buying a family in Africa {or some other country}some chickens, a goat, or even some clean water. i think the kids have the Christmas spirit even if i’m lagging behind a little… and they are certainly dragging me out of my ho-hum blahs."

Eating as a Path to Yoga said, "I think for me the Christmas spirit comes from giving to others in need & awaiting the Birth of Christ through Advent study & celebration."

Some great stuff, right?

What would you add?

Also, be sure to check back on Monday. I'm hosting a giveaway that I'm really excited about. Hint: it has to do with one of my favorite companies!