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Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: Taking Stock and Making Plans

Taking Stock: 

This is what I'd like my life to be like every day of 2012.
Or at least 3 days of 2012.  
Boy, so far 2012 has been a whirlwind!  We've been busy with work and travel and birthdays and (unfortunately!) being sick, and I have to admit that I've just finally taken down all my Christmas decorations during this long weekend!  Life has been hectic!

And as such, I haven't had much time to reflect on 2011, which I always love to do at the start of a new year.  So, I'm just going to do it now.  Better late than never, right?

So, here were my resolutions for last year:
My 2011 Happiness Resolutions:
1.  Exercise.
2.  Teach my daughter about God.
3.  Be a better wife to my husband.

I think I did okay with the first two resolutions at the start of the year, but then I kind of slacked off after  Flanna started pre-K.  I'd say it's because we got busy, but we're always busy.  It's probably more a factor of my focus being elsewhere--like on making our new place into a home after we moved, which takes SO much longer than you would think.  

But I do feel proud of the way I worked hard at #3--being a better wife-- this past year.  I think that I was able to lighten up a bit this year, to be less anxious about life sometimes, to make time for shared fun experiences with my husband, to talk about the hard stuff but throw in some humor so we could make it through disagreements with mutual respect still in place, and to just generally listen more fully.  

It also didn't hurt that we moved home this summer, which gave us much more freedom to have date nights while Flanna spends time at her cousins' or grandparents' houses!  That has been a real blessing.  

Making plans:

And now, for the big reveal!  My 2012 Happiness Resolutions!  (drum roll, please!)
1.  Exercise More (seriously, I mean it this time).
2.  Submit some of my therapy activity ideas for publication.
3.  Trick myself into becoming a neat and tidy person somehow.
4.  Call more; write more, visit more.
5.  Breathe more deeply; Go outside more.
6.  Learn something new every month.  
7.  Figure out this baby stuff.  

More on all those later.  For now, it's just good to have had a chance to reflect a bit.  And now I will go breathe deeply.  That's one resolution I think I can keep.  

So, your turn?  What are your resolutions for 2012?   And, also, do you think you breathe deeply enough on a regular basis?  :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Little Helper

Back in November with my mother-in-law.  Cute!
Flannery has been all about helping in the kitchen lately, from making her daddy's birthday cake, to making hot tea, to making macaroni and cheese, to helping with making lemonade.  I've been really impressed by how she'll stick with me throughout so many steps these days!  And she seems to get such a sense of accomplishment from helping.  Today, while she was stirring in the butter and milk, she said,  "I'm actually really making my own mac and cheese!"

She helped with every step along the way for making, frosting, and adding (gazillions of) sprinkles to her daddy's birthday cake.  And tonight, she even helped him blow out the candles!  (Happy birthday to Robi!)

The best part is that when she's helping me in the kitchen, we get to wear our matching aprons that my mother-in-law gave us back in November.  Seriously, those matching aprons might just win the prize for the "most adorable while still being useful" gift of the year.

How can you involve the children in your life more in chores and household tasks?  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Experience Art

On Tuesday, I took the day off from work to celebrate my birthday, and my mom, Flannery, and I spent the day together.  We shopped at Ikea a bit, had lunch, and then went to the High Museum of Art.  Flanna was a good sport at the High, even though walking quietly through crowds of quiet adults staring at walls was probably not the most kid-friendly activity ever.  She  kept pulling me here and there to "show" me different exhibits, and seemed to like the large sculptures best.

Flanna being wholly unimpressed by Warhol

us being silly in front of a self portrait of Andy Warhol
(who Flanna kept calling "Andy Warthog")  :)

an amazing mirrored bowl that casts sound waves backwards quite a distance

Flanna's reflection in the giant bowl

studying a cool ocean/constellation piece

our reflection in the "random pieces of glass stacked against the wall" exhibit.
Needless to say, I quickly ushered my 5 year old through this highly breakable exhibit!

The "Marsupial" piece:  a representation of a kangaroo pouch turned on its side

Grainger McKoy's bird sculptures were truly amazing.  I think this was the most interesting exhibit that day.  

Flanna & her grandma with a Picasso

Flanna paying more attention to the duct tape on the floor
 (which she practiced walking on in a straight line) than the Picasso paintings above.  

Flanna was not a fan of Piet Mondrian

Flanna quoting her Olivia book, "I could do that in about 5 minutes."  beside a Jackson Pollock painting

Some of the more quirky pieces we saw included a sculpture made of chewing gum and plastic fake flowers, several animal sculptures by Howard Finster (whose paintings I love, but I didn't realize he did sculpting as well), and a huge canvas of funny looking naked people dancing in a circle (maybe by Matisse?).  Flanna said, "Those people don't have any clothes!"  

It was a busy day, and at one point, I wondered if it was crazy to try to do so much in one day, but in the end, I'm so glad we went.  Art makes me feel happy and calm and connected to the world in a deeper way, which is just what I needed on my birthday.  

What type of art lifts your spirits? Paintings, sewing, music?   I've made a resolution to listen to more music that I love this year, because I think I underestimate just how much music makes a difference in my mood.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Take in the Beauty

I've said before here that taking photos makes me appreciate the beauty all around me a bit more.  But, really, folks.  Taking photos?  Makes me appreciate the beauty all around me.

Take, for instance, the amazing and wonderful New Year's Day party my friends Kirsten and Ben threw yesterday.  It was altogether a grand experience--good food, great friends, fun for the kids, outside where we could experience nature--all kinds of relaxing goodness.

But because I happened to have my camera in hand, I think I got to notice so many tiny beautiful moments that maybe not everyone else at the party was able to see.  Like a quiet tiny girl with wispy hair gathering pecans.  And a boy wielding a stick rather gracefully.  And sweet toddlers hugging their mama's legs before they ventured out toward the band of older kids.  And the bliss of being about to slide.  And also, grown ups enjoying their conversation.  Grown ups staring at fires.  Grown ups catching babies before they fell, without even thinking about it.   Just a protective instinct.

The Weepies sing, "All this beauty, you might have to close your eyes.  And slowly open wide."  And it's so true.

So, happy, happy New Year!  Enjoy each little moment of 2012!

How do you remind yourself to be in the moment, and to take in the good parts of your life?

Share and Create Family Traditions

My husband and I have created a tradition that we now cannot live without.   I guess it's really more of a "couple tradition" than a family tradition, but anyway.   Each year, our Christmas present to one another is a New Year's Eve trip to Athens.  We get a fancy hotel room, leave Flanna with a sitter (this year she spend the night with a friend, even better!), eat a nice dinner out, and ring in the new year downtown with friends.

It's sublime.  And I feel refreshed even just talking about it.

It's so nice to have time together just as a couple, and to get to feel young and fun out on the town now and then!  I think little breaks from the routine of the day-to-day are essential for a good marriage, and I try to plan little excursions and date nights as often as I can.

Here are some of our cute friends who met up with us.  And, by the way, in my defense, there is no graceful way to hold a NYE party favor for a photo.  It always looks silly, no matter what.

What "couple traditions" do you and your partner enjoy?  Some of my facebook friends have a "Wednesday night funny movie night" each week, which I think sounds so great.  

Eat Meals with Neat Folks

caught a smile!
I read a book about being happy at work about two years ago (Now I can't remember what it was called?), and one of the suggestions the author made was to always eat lunch with someone you find interesting, and to NEVER eat lunch alone in your office.  I don't always follow that advice, but when I do, I really do find myself happier at work.

Anyway, I think that advice transfers nicely to home life, too.  Eat meals with neat folks, and never eat alone standing over your kitchen sink.  Not that I've ever done that.  Cough.

Anyway, we met up with some of our favorite folks (and their adorable baby!) for dinner on New Year's Eve, and it was just lovely to sit together and eat some beautiful salads.  Really, I think we all got salads.  It's New Year's, you know, so I think we're all ready to begin to step back from feasts and caloric bounty to, well, goodness and health.  The salad were amazing, though, really!  Big City Bread (now kind of a swanky little restaurant!) was good to us that way.

Oh, and the best thing was that there were fires outside and sidewalk chalk for the kids to enjoy.  Gotta love a place that creates such ambiance even for kids.

this was her silly pose

my cute hubby

neat folks with adorable baby

we are trying to become hair twins
(and no, I didn't tell him to wear gray so we could be matchy matchy, too.  we are just telepathic)

baby boy loved carrying the bucket of chalk the best

not sure if that's ash or chalk dust I captured in the air, but I thought it looked a bit like snow!

What neat folks do you like to eat with?