53: Ten Things I Love About My Daughter

Mother-daughter relations have been rather strained in our home lately, so I decided to make this list as a reminder of all the great things about my girl. She’s at a difficult age and it won’t last forever.

  1. She’s extremely inclusive. She’s always the first person to walk up to a newcomer, child or adult of any age, and invite them to join whatever game or activity she’s involved in.
  2. She loves to play. She can make up a game on the spot just about any time.
  3. She’s great with young children – she enjoys teaching them, swinging them around, carrying them on her back… they follow her around like she’s the Pied Piper.
  4. She’s very patient.
  5. She is always creating – crafting, drawing, painting, etc.
  6. She loves to give her creations to others as gifts.
  7. She knows what she wants, and isn’t afraid to ask for it or go get it.
  8. She is very compassionate–she wants to help people and make sure they know what’s health/not healthy for them.
  9. She loves spending time in nature – hiking, building fairy houses, having adventures, etc.
  10. She’s very independent and enjoys doing things for herself.




52: Bring It, People!

I have a lot of brilliant ideas and emotional experiences when I’m driving in the car by myself. Probably because it’s the only time I can hear myself think, or just process how I’m feeling and doing. I usually prefer silence, but sometimes, like today, I’ll turn on the radio. I heard this song right away and it was like I was hearing the lyrics for the first time. I didn’t realize this was such a great song! And I’m feeling it to the depths of my being with all the craziness in the world today. We need a much higher love! Sing it, Whitney.


51: Peachtopia

One of my fun goals for this summer was to go peach picking, so today we went to a festival called Peachtopia at Fishkill Farms. They were supposed to have peach picking, but somehow all the peaches had already been picked, so we had to settle for early apple picking. We got some Ginger Gold apples, which I don’t usually buy, but they’re pretty tasty. And I will always love apple picking.

Despite the minor disappointment of no peaches to pick (we did get some from their farm store), we had a great day. The farm is absolutely beautiful and surrounded by the lovely mountains. We did a tractor ride around the orchard twice, heard some live music, visited with a sheep, and most importantly, enjoyed some delicious cider donuts. I also had some yummy hard cider in their cider tent.

We went a bit later in the day so it seemed like we missed most of the crowds, and the worst of the heat. It was still very hot, but I enjoyed it, knowing it won’t last much longer. I may still try to go peach picking before the summer ends. Lawrence Farms is a possibility, and I’ll keep my eyes open for other places. I just thought I would share my experience at Fishkill in case anyone is looking for farms or orchards to visit this summer or fall. I love living in the Hudson Valley!



49: Careers I wish I had pursued when I was younger

Today’s post is pretty lazy. I’ve been a bit tired and frustrated lately, and sometimes I just wish I had taken an entirely different path as far as career and lifestyle (as long as I could keep my hubby and kids). Here’s a short list of my dream jobs.

  • Neuroscientist
  • College literature or language professor
  • Eco-friendly home designer/builder
  • Classical cellist or violinist
  • Painter/sculptor/artist
  • Professional cross-country skier
  • Developmental psychologist
  • Poet Laureate

I suppose there’s still time for some of these. You never know…



48: All or Nothing

I’m an all or nothing person. When I do things, I like to do them all the way, 100%, or I prefer not to do them at all. This is why I’m terrible at maintaining acquaintances or long-distance relationships and end up losing touch with people, even when I think they are awesome and want them to stay in my life. It’s why I ended a 3.5-year long-distance relationship with a guy I was still totally in love with when he wasn’t ready to get married. The pain and effort of less than 100% commitment was too much for me to sustain.

I do this in all areas of my life. I’ve completed several successful workout challenges, like training for a Spartan race when I turned 40, only to plunge into weeks or months of inertia as soon as the challenge was over. Same with dietary changes and hobbies. So, part of me is afraid that once I finish this 90-day challenge I’m not going to write or blog again for months, or even years. But I really hope that doesn’t happen. I don’t think this is just a phase.

There are many times when you can’t just abandon a person or a project you’re not all in on, and as I think about it I would say that that’s a big source of our suffering in life. When we can’t do what we want to do with all our hearts, or be with those with whom we most want to be (did I say that right?), we suffer. And others suffer as a result of our suffering, in addition to suffering for their own reasons. I wonder to what extent we can fix this problem and end or lessen our collective suffering. For myself, I’ve done this at times by making the choice of “nothing” and completely walking away from things and relationships my heart was no longer in. That separation also causes suffering, but I wonder if it’s a lesser suffering than continuing to try to force or pretend that thing is working when it isn’t.

In other words, I’d say that one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for those we care about is to live as authentically and transparently as possible. We should search within ourselves to find out what we truly want or are, and then be honest about it. Make the changes we need to make–gently, when possible–and hopefully make fewer and smaller mistakes as we continue. We shouldn’t abandon people or projects unnecessarily, but we should make course corrections and plan for a better way forward.

What do you think?


47: Exploring Locally–Port Jervis

Even though we moved from New Jersey to the Hudson Valley six years ago, we still feel like newbies and are still getting the lay of the land. We explore different towns and attractions as we get the chance or urge to, but it takes time. There’s a lot of land up here, and it’s a lot more spread out than NJ or NYC.

Anyway, I’ve been curious about Port Jervis for awhile. I’d heard both good and bad things about it. It’s right on the border of PA, has a river, some very inexpensive houses, and is said to be experiencing some sort of revitalization. Today we finally decided to check it out for ourselves–we went to see this super cool house built into the side of a mountain, and drove around a bit in the area. I was a little surprised to see that there are lots of very nice looking homes in Port Jervis. The downtown area reminded me a bit of Kingston, NY. It has its charm, and I’ll go back if I have a good reason.

The main thing I didn’t like about it is that it’s so far from us. We drove almost an hour to get there, so if we were going back for something it would have to last for at least a few hours. There’s so much to do and enjoy much closer to home. I do like to see the history of these towns in Orange County celebrated, and support revitalization efforts that include current community members’ wishes and needs in the plans. I hope to see more good things to come for Port Jervis in the near future.



46: Enjoying Some Milestones

As soon as I woke up this morning, I heard little footsteps rushing to greet me, and a moment later my 6-year-old announced, “Mommy, I finally lost my tooth!” I congratulated him and let it sink in for a minute… my last baby just lost his first baby tooth. Time waits for no mom.

I’m not feeling sad about it–just wanting to be sure that I pay attention and enjoy as much as possible the precious time I have left with all four kids under my roof. I always hear parents of grown children say that it goes so very fast. I also believe that the years fly by but the days sometimes crawl. I feel a constant responsibility to balance those two things–to be patient during difficult periods and to soak up and revel in the special moments.

Another sweet thing happened today with this same 6-year-old at the water park. He has been pretty fearful of the water for years, insisting on progressing at his own, very slow pace, from sticking his feet in, to wading just around his knees, eventually sitting on the steps, going down another step, and lately okay walking around at chest level a foot or two from the side of the pool. At the water parks, it’s taken years for him to go from not even wanting to get wet, to very shallow water but no slides, to baby slides, and now one slightly longer slide, going under little water falls and getting splashed in the face a bit.

But today he took a big leap forward. He watched some other kids taking turns standing under a pretty large bucket that would fill slowly until it tipped over and dumped a ton of water on their heads. Eventually he stood next to them, getting very little of the splash but enjoying himself. Finally, he stood right underneath it all by himself and let the whole load pour down on him. He squealed with delight, belly laughed, and did a little dance. Then he did it again. And again. About 50 times! He had the same reaction every time, and several parents, including me, got a big kick out of his pure joy and excitement over this new experience. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

He’s growing up, but not too fast. I think he’s right to not want to be rushed. There is Absolutely. No. Rush.


45: Hello Trello

I was writing more poems today as well as jotting down several ideas for other poems and collections of poems. I started to think maybe I should buy a bunch of index cards and write the poems–or at least their titles–on the cards so I can organize them into themes/collections and move them around as needed. Then I remembered Trello.

For those who have never used Trello, it’s one of the many online project management/collaboration tools people use for work. I have used many such tools, and I don’t particularly like any of them for work purposes. I find it just as easy to send an e-mail for the projects I work on. But, one of my previous clients used Trello a lot and I gained some familiarity and comfort with it while I worked with them. To its credit, Trello created a mascot which is a Siberian Husky named Taco (two of my favorite things in life in one mascot!), which made it more memorable and user-friendly than some of the other tools I was required to use. Even so, when our projects were finished, I moved on and almost forgot about Trello, until now.

I realized Trello will work great for keeping my poems and other writing projects organized. It basically works like an online bulletin board with sticky notes. For example, I can create a general board and call it Poetry. On that board, I can then create Lists. Each List could be the title of a collection, say Memories. Then under each list I can create several “Cards” which are like post-it notes. The Cards can have the title of a poem, and if I want, the entire text of the poem can be pasted into it as well when I open it up. Each time I write a new poem, I can make it a card on one of my existing lists, or create a new list for a new collection.

I also decided to show Trello to my two oldest kids, to ask if they’d like to use it to keep track of their weekly goals/assignments/projects. For example, they can have 3 basic lists — To Do, Doing, and Done. On each list, they can have various tasks, with as much detail as they want to include. Then, say something on the “Doing” list gets done–they simply drag it into the Done column, and we all have an easy reference of all the work they’ve completed. (And I can fill out my quarterly home school reports much faster!) They both liked it and agreed to give it a try for the next few weeks.

I have to admit, I’m so much more excited to use this tool for personal projects than professional ones. Hopefully it will serve us well. Here’s a screen shot from Trello to show you what it looks like:

Trellow screenshot

Isn’t it cute? If you have used it, decide to use it, or maybe use something even better, I’d love to hear about it!