Let the fun begin!!!
Notre Dame varsity tennis player Matt Dooley attempted suicide in 2011. He came out to his team exactly two years later, and their acceptance helped save his life.
A touching essay on acceptance and self-acceptance.
Big love to Matt for living in truth
and to his coaches/team for exemplifying acceptance - for just doing the right thing.
T minus 6 days until we leave for a week in the mountains. A family vacation in Beaver Creek!
It will be Hazel’s first time on skis, Fee’s first time in snow school….and the first time the whole A. family clan will be together on the slopes in at least a decade. Hoo boy, am I excited!
This weekend was spent prepping for the trip. Unsurprisingly, there is a whole lot of gear you need for a first time (almost) 3 year old skier. The good news, I suppose, is that ski-coats get marked down dramatically the last 8 weeks of ski-season meaning the cost of pint-sized snow gear was slightly less offensive than I thought it would be (the discount was also enough to justify me refreshing my own ski-look…see above).
This winter has been a good one….a full one….a crazy ass one
and most definitely a long one
This trip has been the event that I have been working towards since before the first snow of the season. The light at the end of the proverbial wind-tunnel.
I can’t wait to see Hazel’s pizza wedge, follow my dad’s tracks, ride next to Simon on the lift,indulge in apres ski festivities with my people.
and point my skis down the mountain and just cruise.
Hazel wasn’t tired last night….
Instead fighting a bedtime tantrum, I offered to keep her company.
(I’m coming off another spell of around-the-clock meeting prep and business trips - so I was in need of some quality time with my girl)
I crawled in bed with Z and by the glow of the nightlight, I told her Auntie Ellen stories. Those are her favorite.
She is partial to the one where El gets lost in the woods…
and chased by a bear
But I am tired of that one. I have told it a million times, at least.
I racked my brain for some new material.
And then, like lightening, I was struck by a genius idea. (One that I couldn’t BELIEVE hadn’t crossed my mind before). I knew it was going to be a crowd-pleaser before the words even came out of my mouth….
I told Hazel a great pair of stories:
The one where Auntie Ellen played Belle in her 4th grade play
The one where Auntie Ellen played Ariel in her 5th grade play.
(Musicals + Disney Princesses + Aunt Ellen. Pure Gold!)
I told Hazel about how Ellen brought the house down with her tour de force performance
how she sang more beautifully than all of the matilda’s put together,
how she looked even more radiant in her ball gown costume than Belle does in the movie
and how I was so proud of my little sister that I was the first one on my feet for the standing ovation and how I clapped so hard, my hands actually stung.
Hazel asked if Ellen swam on stage when playing Ariel.
No, she didn’t swim…but she did sashay, I explained.
She asked if Ellen’s Belle gown had sequins on it
Millions! I assured her.
Then Hazel asked if I brought Ellen flowers….
Did I bring her flowers?! Did I bring her flowers?! You betcha!
I was so moved by her performance that I threw a garden worth of roses on to the stage as she took her bows and I delivered a bouquet taller than Felix to El’s dressing room during intermission.
Hazel liked this response.
My goal in telling Auntie Ellen stories is obviously to entertain my girls - but more importantly these stories are a way for me to reinforce the message I wrote to Hazel the day before Felix was born:
And truly, even now - 20 odd years after my sister’s star turn in the Western Avenue School Plays, her performances remain one of the proudest moments of my life.
And they make for an exceptional bedtime story!
because clearly, i now need a gold sequin blazer. [here]
Oooh me too!
I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He screamed: “A benny!”
"What’s a benny?" I asked.
"That’s his name," said his mom.
Another post about roses
published may, 2010
I have thought about this ride many times since…and it is in that spirit I retell a story:
"It’s been a good week for flowers. First, Simon brought home a just-because bouquet for me. Then maura sent me flowers, of the virtual variety..
And then this happened. This was something special.
I hailed a cab last night after work (no time to walk, I was late for a date with Mama), and got into, what can best be described as a rolling secret garden. There was beautiful arrangement displayed on the dashboard and then at least 60 rose stems strewn about his front seat. The cab smelled incredible and at first, I was so charmed by his floral cargo.
I noticed the driver held a flower up to his face, but he wasn’t just smelling it. He was whispering to it. And then he moved the rose to his ear, and listened intently. This pattern repeated uninterrupted for the duration of the drive (save for the moment he switched from a yellow to pink rose before resuming the conversation).
Before getting out, he turned around and asked me if I thought his roses were beautiful. ”Of Course.” I replied. And with that he smiled and handed me a flower. He asked me to take care of it because:
“this rose is a good one.”
His behavior seemed a little left of center…but, as far as compulsions go, this wouldn’t be the worst one to have.
Then again, maybe he had just figured out that if you can’t find time to stop and smell the roses, bring the roses along for the ride!
On Monday, Simon put me to bed early….Or rather, he didn’t let me stay up too late. (I appreciated it because I ALWAYS stay up too late)
I had a really busy Tuesday
And wanted to start things off with a couple of quiet hours at the office to collect my thoughts/memorize key data points/drink my coffee before the action began.
My meetings were productive - and I had fun (describing quarterly meetings as “fun” is perhaps the #1 sign your role is a great fit for you!)
My work day transitioned into work night (client dinner at Frontera Grill) - so I called home on my walk to the restaurant We upgraded to facetime.
Felix gave the screen a big wet kiss
Then I heard Hazel ask for the phone (It’s for the surprise, she not-quite-whispered) I watched as the screen bobbled about for 10 feet or so before her little kid hands uprighted the camera and showed me the treat: Pink Roses! Pink!
The flowers were Simon’s idea- but Hazel picked the color….
And took all the credit!
When I finally got home, I let Z get out of bed and plopped her up on counter so that she could see (feel?) just how much joy her (their) thoughtfulness brought me.
And that is sort of the goal of bringing someone flowers, no?
A Sunday in February
Felix & I made the Sunday morning Doughnut run.
Glazed & Infused from Plum Market.
While the lady behind the pastry counter put our Old Fashions into a bag, Felix spotted a loaf of french bread that was taller than her. She pointed and said PLEASE just as clear as could be. I was so delighted by her manners/words, of course I said yes! She carried the loaf around like a bread-sword and gnawed on it contentedly for the remainder our outing. $2.99 very well spent.
Before we set out on an afternoon of errand running, Hazel put on her “work dress” and asked me to braid her hair…TWO braids, she implored. Not one! Ok Hazel, two it is.
Stop #1 Lush: Inspired by something we read in Fancy Nancy, we went on the hunt for face masks! This was a fun shop for the kids - the girls got to smell different lotions and rub a whole bunch of stuff into their hands (toddler paradise).
Stop #2 Costco. Cause, ya know…you can never have too many paper towels. (more samples)
Stop #3 (24 Hours at the) Golden Apple: We shared a plate of french fries, just cause. The dessert case still does not rotate.
As I looked across the booth at my daughter, leaning into her father - I saw into the future. I got a glimpse of Hazel as a young woman.
We went home and I headed upstairs with my girls for our “spa date”….which went over even better than you might imagine.
Dinner and the bed routine went smoothly (which I can’t always say is the case) - I am pretty sure the episode of Curious George we let them watch in their PJ’s helped sweeten the deal.
Our Sunday wasn’t anything special, but we sure made it count. And that, for me at least, is essential to maintaining sanity and joy as a working mama!
This eternal winter is taxing on everyone…
But the toddler set gets hit particularly hard by cabin fever in weather like this.
On Saturday, Simon and I were determined to come up with an (indoor) activity where the kids could run around freely and didn’t have to keep quiet. Simon suggested the Garfield park Conservatory. Free. Warm. New to Us. Sold!
I built up excitement by telling the girls we were going to the jungle.
When Hazel asked if Mowgli was going to be there….I went with it, and was inspired to turn the entire adventure into an elaborate hunt for Sher Kahn & Baloo. It was a TOTAL HIT.
We searched for the fictional tiger in the tropical greenhouse - then made our way through the lush paths, past the waterfall, beyond the Koi pond & wishing well…then finally over the bridge to the Children’s Garden.
This outing was EXACTLY what we needed. And the conservatory solidly earned a top spot (right next to or North Park Village Nature Center) for best pocket of nature in the city.
This was a bang-up weekend.
No formal plans…we just hung out together.
Went where we felt like it, when we felt like it.
Time with my people (in comfortable shoes) proved to be the perfect antidote to a very stressful week.
I mean, just look at those two. How can those nuggets not help put everything into perspective?!
After being essentially out of memory on my phone for the better part of the last year (3K+ pics will do that, i suppose) - I finally transferred my entire photo roll to time capsule and started fresh. It is incredible being able to snap away without having to fight the storage almost full warning. Accordingly, get ready for a stream of family iphone photos :)