One Year Ago

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As it turns out, a year really isn't very long.

The hurt still stings when I remember the new reality, this new world order...tears can spring to my eyes instantly when it registers, yet again, that this is how things are now.

The person who taught me how the word "charisma" could be embodied, my best friend from high school is gone from this world too soon.

There have been so many times in this year I wanted to come here and write about this grief. 2013 was such a strange year; we welcomed Molly into the world and our family. We lost my precious Granny, after 93 full years. Then suddenly, bona fide tragedy, losing this friend also.

The juxtaposition of the two different griefs, along with the new life--it was too stark to bear sometimes. I missed (still miss) my Granny... but I can think about the last time I laid eyes on her, asleep forever, peacefully in her bed, after almost a century of life on this earth, and I can grieve with a peaceful heart. With thankfulness.

With the has just simply taken my breath away. At thirty years old, my childhood has (obviously) been completed, with plenty of time for reflection, and thus the Important Memories have risen to the surface to possess always. For a bulk of my formative teenage years, in those memories that have risen to the top, so.freaking.many of them are with her, around her. Being such a magnet of a personality, she was a party in and of herself.

We took years of French together (and even made a summer trip, just the two of us, to Nice, France to study and live with a family there). My French classroom name was Lise, her Juliette. Yes, my firecracker/shining star of a friend sparked my love of the name. A namesake for my firstborn, in a way.

Adulthood led us in different daily directions. But the weight of her impact on my life supersedes how often we were getting together for lunch at the time of her death. I simply miss her, and think of her in a state of disbelief that the world no longer has her in it.

They say time heals all wounds. But this...for all of us who knew her, we will likely carry these scars of grief always. I've learned more about grief over the past year than the in the 29 years preceding. But I do remain enormously thankful for the myriad happy memories that go along with that electric smile.

miss you, kelly

Anything and Nothing

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Juliette doesn't know the word "nothing" or "no one" - she thinks it's "anything" / "anybody." I can't bring myself to tell her the difference.

Leslie: What did you do at school today?
JTJ: Anything.
Leslie: Who did you play with?
JTJ: Anybody. 

(Do I have a sullen teenager in my house already, or a 3-year-old? Are they secretly the same thing?)

Leslie: What would you like to eat for a snack?
JTJ: Anything. I'm not hungry. 

Leslie: What did you just do to Molly? (Following lots of ruckus and or a little wrestling/gnashing of teeth)
JTJ: Anything. She did it to herself.

You get the picture.

The thing is, this logic sort of makes sense to me sometimes. Anything and nothing, somehow the same thing. That's what I feel like I've been doing lately--anything and nothing. Raising kids, going to work, holding down the fort, spending time with loved ones, going places, doing much of it is the same week after week. But yet every week is different, every week brings a new challenge or developmental milestone for the kiddos, the seasons change, budgets may ebb and flow, and there's always more - "anything" - to learn. I don't guess any of that made sense.

My bachelors degree is in English--a degree I used to call the "anything and nothing" degree. Devoid of a teacher education-focused track, I graduated qualified to do anything and also nothing. Obviously, I found my way (being able to craft a sensible, appropriate business email can go a long way).

My dear husband had the day off yesterday (the first in a while), and we spent the afternoon as we like to do, pretending it's Saturday. We took the gals to this old old drug store here in Memphis, for milkshakes. They sat at the counter, feeling like big girls, enjoying every bit of the sweet sugary nectar.

Anything and nothing... I like it.

Books We Love Right Now (kiddies)

Monday, September 01, 2014

I'm not the first one to blog about books my kids have been loving, but I figured I'm always looking for new recs, so here this goes out into the universe and maybe we'll get something back our way?

(clockwise from top left) A Sister More Like Me | Girl of Mine | Read Aloud Bible Stories: Vol. 3 | The Bunny Hop | The Day the Crayons Quit

1. I read about the Frozen book on another blog, and I'm SO glad we bought it. The story of two sisters with different personalities is of course apropos to having two girls of my own (as any sister - or even sibling - duo would be). The illustrations are simply incredible and darling. Here's the post from the personal blog of the illustrator, about the book if you're inclined to read.

2. Girl of Mine was gifted to us by my dear Jesse when we were expecting Juliette, and it has been one of our favorites since we started reading it to her. The story/rhyme is so sweet, and illustrations are so pretty. Molly reaches for it regularly now.

3. Read-Aloud Bible Stories are a favorite of Jules. They read these books regularly at their school, so it works great in tandem with reading them at home too. I love the illustrations, and the way the stories are phrased make them easy for her to remember. We have volumes 1, 2, and 4. There are a few families who gift this to every new baby, and we've been so glad to have our own copies.

4. I don't exactly remember where we picked up this little copy of The Bunny Hop, but it's Molly's absolute favorite book right now. I don't hate reading it either, since it's a long rhyme (easy to animate), and the illustrations are pretty cute. Molly loves what she knows of Elmo (of course), and is also a fan of Big Bird. It's a cute one.

5. We're definitely not the only ones to love The Day the Crayons Quit, but oh boy. Such a fun book to read (I enjoy it!), and the illustrations by Oliver Jeffers are so clever. Definitely a crowd-pleaser for both boys and girls.

So hit me back--what have you been reading with your kids?

End of Summer

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's still hot in Memphis (even though the bulk of summer was blissfully mild!), so it's easy for me to forget that technically, Madame Summer is about to exit stage left (hello, Labor Day). This morning, when I was getting the girls dressed, I suddenly felt this compulsion to put them in super summery things that would technically be faux-pas next week (though I'll not strictly adhere to this...just saying it out loud).

Jonathan picked up this dress (and a matching one for then-tiny Molly!) on a medical trip to Guatemala last year. It's shorter on her than it was last year of course, but still fits my big girl:

We just got these gold Supergas for the fall (I lucked out on a sale!), and I am loving them big-time. They're the perfect gold! Not too shiny, not too bright, not too dull, no glitter...just the cutest things.

I dressed Molly in her little white Mexican dress today plus piggies, so use your imagination for all things labeled Maximum Cute.

We had a fun week because Daddy had two days off this week (after working many many days in a row). We enjoyed the last baseball game of the season for our hometown AAA team, which followed pizza and the girls' first trip to see the world-famous Peabody Ducks' march to the elevator and back up to their duck palace for the evening.

In between school/work/outings, one can usually find Juliette dressed as Elsa, traipsing around the house letting-it-go.

This weekend, we're going to enjoy relaxing and an extra day together, playing outside and possibly hitting up the zoo. I think I love riding the train as much as they do.

These are truly the days!

Have a wonderful three-day weekend--I won't tell anyone if you're wearing your white sandals come Tuesday.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Alternately titled "Costco Does it Again."

I know we're "supposed" to be looking for wild-caught salmon when possible (not farmed), so when I saw this package of wild-caught canned salmon at Costco (Bear & Wolf brand), I had to try it. If you're scared of canned meats in general, I totally get where you're coming from, but I ain't. I grew up eating canned tuna salad for lunch every Saturday (a tradition I've carried on into our household too) canned tuna has just been part of life.

I also love "salads" made with tuna and chicken so I thought salmon would be an interesting one to add to the rotation (while getting more omega-3s, always a good thing).

And, I don't know about you, but is there anything better in the world to eat than a perfectly ripe peach? I'm not sure I can think of anything. This summer, I've been buying the (non-recalled) boxes of peaches at Costco whenever we go, trying to take full advantage of peach season. The other day we went to pick up a few things (really, just a few that time), and I was driving home a little before dinnertime trying to scheme something up to eat. Usually when we go to Costco, it's late afternoon so I'll pick up a $5 rotisserie chicken to have for dinner so we don't have to worry about cooking anything when we get home. The other day though, they had nary a rotisserie chicken for sale (no samples either that day! horror), so back to my scheming. I was mentally scanning what we had in our pantry and thought, "peaches...canned salmon...combo?" Quickly googled the two and found that there are lots of fresh salad recipes for salmon salad with peach dressing, etc. but didn't see a "salmon salad" in the "chicken salad" sense upon first look, so voila. This probably isn't original (nothing is), but let me think it is.

It's surprisingly good (my kids both devoured theirs, if that says anything), and came together super-quick (another favorite criterion). I've now had it twice and thought I'd share for those looking for an easy something to put together (for lunch or dinner, for one person or 4...whatever!).

In my everlasting interest in avoiding measuring devices, all of this was eyeballed.

Peach Salmon Salad

1 can wild-caught salmon, drained
2-ish scoops of plain Greek yogurt (I used Kirkland, holla)
1/4 peach, cut up in thin chunks
slivered almonds if you want
3-4 shakes of cumin (or more), to taste
2-3 shakes of coriander (seriously), to taste
salt & pepper
fresh spinach, salad, corn chips (those are the Kirkland organic corn chips), or bread for serving

Combine everything, adjusting to your preferences.

If serving over salad, douse the spinach/leaves with a smidge of balsamic vinegar & olive oil before placing the salmon salad on top. I toasted bread for the girls and made sandwiches and they gobbled them right up! Two cans of salmon/the above was plenty for the four of us.

It would be easy to tweak for Whole30--replace the Greek yogurt with paleo mayo and serve over spinach or salad. Yum!
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