Blondies, Gratitude and Gifts

This weekend brought my Mom's annual Halloween party complete with grownups in masks and witches hats, wild children in the haunted treehouse and screeching on the trampoline, along with way too much good food. I put a little extra effort in and edited some BH&G invitations and food labels, decorated my glass iced tea decanter with stick-on gems and a 3D skull sticker, and baked blondies and crumb cake muffins. Enjoyed making things nice and pretending for a few hours that I was Martha Stewart.

Good to see everyone too, although I really prefer a small dinner with a few friends and a chance to dig a little deeper. I'm not so great at small talk. Find myself sitting back and smiling, listening to everyone else but not really contributing too much. Some people are so good at it, telling funny stories, drawing others in, making everyone feel like a light is shining on them. I sat next to a pilot last week on Southwest and he was one of those people. He had the eighty-five year old lady on his left laughing and flirting for much of the flight and managed to chat and joke with me, on his right, as well. All while doing crossword puzzles and sudoko and texting his wife. It's a gift, that ability to connect with strangers. I wish it were something you could learn, but I don't believe it is.

The key, I think, is to appreciate our own good points and reframe it. Maybe I'm not so great at small talk, but I am very good at real conversations with someone who is close to me. You can tell me anything and I'll listen deep and true...I don't shy away from the difficult things. We each have our small gifts.

Sunday night. A good weekend behind us. Monday beckons.

But, first, a little Homeland with Ron. A little bath time for Chloe. Lunches to pack. Faces to wash. An old, loved, dog to hug.

A few moments to sit and write, and think, and be grateful, again, for the small things.

What are you grateful for this Sunday? What are your gifts?


Bloggy Boot Camp | Six Word Memoir

Drop me in a room full of bloggers in Las Vegas and what happens? My geeky, sit in the front row of the class, school girl self comes out and I'm giddily in Beginner's Mind land.

That's right, Bloggy Boot Camp. (Try to get past the name.) My head is stuffed full of learning and ideas and motivation. My business card case is filled with new blogs to check out. I met a couple of amazing women. Plus, I had a bonus day to myself to write and redesign my blog and luxuriate in a super cool bathtub. And shop a bit. And eat lobster pasta. Lucky girl, me.

My favorite part of the bootcamp was the writing workshop, and the best part of that was a little exercise called The Six Word Memoir. The classic example is

     Baby shoes for sale. Never used.

Our three minute exercise was to use this method to describe our blogs; then a few people read theirs out loud. First called on was Elizabeth, all shiny five feet nothing of her clad in a beautiful short black dress, a dazzling statement necklace, a dainty and also LARGE engagement ring, accenting the tiniest wrists I've ever seen. Her six words were a surprise...

     (T)hug Life. Part Hood. Part Good.

Well, then. Exteriors can be deceiving.

All explained later when, as the closing speaker, she led us through her personal journey to illustrate being authentic in your blogging. Working from a little stack of index cards, Elizabeth put her soul right out there in the front of the room. Authentic, honest and, most of all, wicked funny. If you are intrigued by someone who had her daughter at nineteen, married five years ago after knowing her husband for a grand total of eighteen days, who can't go five sentences without swearing, and who got huge bumps in readership from the disparate corners of Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) and Tupac (yes, posthumously,) she blogs at FlourishInProgress.com. I'm not sure that I would have loved her blog without meeting her in person first, but with that talk as introduction, I'm there. This woman's got a heart under her tough girl writing style and sparkly jewelry.

So, back to the six word description. (And, yes, I raised my hand and read mine right after Elizabeth....told you I was geeky.) Here's what I came up with:

     Not a natural Mama. Trying Hard.


     Small moments yield meaning. Blog them.

And that pretty much sums it up, I think.

What would your six word memoir be? Share, please!


A Purple Bike and Found Loveliness

A perfect evening for a bike ride. When I was seven I had a purple bike with a banana seat and purple, white and yellow streamers hanging from the handlebars. Loved that bike. It even had a white basket with flowers on it for my stuffed animals. Before Chloe was born I bought myself another purple bike, a grown up one, with a very padded gel seat instead of the banana shaped one. I love this one too. When I ride it, I feel free. Happy and free, even just pedaling around Elk Grove. And I know I'm supposed to wear a helmet, but I don't.

Tonight, I took some photos of my favorite spots along my ride. I usually ride the exact same route...through the neighborhood, across Bond Road at the crosswalk, down the pathway along the creek to Waterman Park. I end up at my favorite street, Laguna Creek Drive, where the houses look like the Bradys could move right in. All low slung and shady. Railroad tracks behind them with the train shaking through fairly often. I ride slowly down that tree lined street, enjoying it. It's my own little bike ride reward.

I can always discover something new on this familiar trek. Tonight, it was two women walking forcefully, travel size cans of mace firmly grasped in their right hands. And a monk. Yes, a young, classic looking monk, robe and all, who smiled at me and said hello. He didn't carry any mace.

And always, there's Boujou. Our neighborhood mascot. This gorgeous dane hangs out in front of his house, never venturing beyond the sidewalk. He watches everyone go by, calmly, and perks up when certain comely female dogs walk by. He used to lust quite happily after Gracie. Everyone loves this gentle guy.

Another found treasure...the espalliered apple tree. I adore how it started out all perfectly coiffed and corralled and now it's growing outside the lines.

A slice of Miami. Our neighborhood being a bit schizophrenic in its housing styles, a traditional farmhouse stands next door to this beauty.

Just a shady corner of impatients and birch trees. Some years the flowers burst from the bed; this year they are a bit tame.

Therese's birdhouse tree. Gotta smile. I used to bring Chloe to sit on the sidewalk in front of this tree when she was a baby and nothing would calm her. I'm not sure that she cared about watching the birds at the big feeder here, but it certainly soothed her strung out mama.

Ah, Auntie Annie. Our one white goose in a sea of messy Canadians. She used to have a mate, before he met a sad demise at the hand of a car, only white feathers left behind for me to recreate the crime scene from. For several weeks she called for him at sunset from the middle of the lake; it was heartbreaking. But soon she crowned herself the maiden aunt of the neighborhood and now she attaches herself to goose couples and their goslings. A fierce one, Annie. Don't come near when the babies are around; she's been known to peck humans. Right in the crotch. Ouch. Lots of goslings grow into geese here, thanks to her.

A favorite little spot along the creek. Can't you picture being ten, and hanging out here all day?

An oak tree, a picnic table, shade, the creek behind. Sit for a spell.

This new bridge replaced an old rickety one a few years back. I know it's much more fashionable to like the old one, but this one is so inviting, I can't resist her. 

I love that this sign exists. I love that people really do still ride their horses here. I'm not sure if they dismount before crossing the bridge though. Did you know that before cars, horse "pollution" was a huge problem, with major battles over what to do about it? Apparently the manure was thick and deep and, I imagine, quite fragrant. And then Henry Ford came along and that problem went away.

Houses feel like people to me. This one seems like she has quite a few stories she could share.

And I always imagine the witch from Hansel and Gretel might live here. The plastic flowers in the plants make me think not...I don't believe witches do plastic.

Right here, the train is plug your ears loud. But at night, when I'm in bed, it's a lovely rumble.

Hope you had a wonderful Wednesday.


Cast Kids, Saint Laurent and a Brand New Book

This is what some of today's happiness looked like...

Cast Images' kids in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog.

So excited for Caitlin. In Paris with a Saint Laurent exclusive. Our girl is launched.

And then, to top it all off, home, making dinner, reading a brand new book by the pool (ah, the feel of opening to that first page), taking a walk with Therese, a few moments to write while I listen to Chloe in the other room narrating her gymnastics moves.

A lovely day. Grab those moments when they land.
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