Remembering JFK

I’ve been following @todayin1963 as NPR tweets the events leading up to and news coverage after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago. I keep trying to imagine what that day must’ve felt like.

I’ve only lived through a few moments in history that I can recall where I was when I heard the news.

When President Obama won the election in 2008, Tevis and I were with our friends, The Aldermans, huddled around their giant flat screen as the votes were tallied. We were newlyweds. I felt a sense of hopefulness for our future. I imagined that the children we’d have someday would see the 44th president of the United States as a symbol of change. They would not doubt how far their dreams could take them.

On September 11, 2001 I had just come back home after graduating college. I was sitting in my parents’ family room, at the computer, looking for a job (I had my heart set on children’s book editing at one of the publishing houses in NYC) and my Dad called to tell me to turn on the TV. I watched both towers fall and spent the rest of that day crying.

Today I asked my mom what she remembered about this day 50 years ago. She was in the 3rd grade. She attended a Catholic school in Indiana. The principal came into her classroom and announced that the President had been shot and killed. Everyone cried.

We exchanged emails all day about her memories of November 22, 1963 and other moments that impacted her over the years. I saw history from a different perspective and heard anecdotes about my family I had never known. Why hadn’t I thought to ask her these questions before? I guess I’m realizing for the first time that my own history starts long before me.

Dancing in September

This morning Bean and I woke early, left Tevis snoozing in the bed and crept downstairs. We made coffee, Bean ate her breakfast and we listened to the sound of the thunder and soft rain drops outside. She likes to eat the moment she wakes up; she gets that from me. I could not survive a single day without my first meal. It’s incredible to see little pieces of me and her dad in her already.

While she ate, I broke out my laptop to catch up on my bloglovin’ feed. I put on my Labor Tunes playlist – seems fitting for this Labor Day weekend. While I was pregnant, I poured over articles with advise on how to prepare for childbirth. One tidbit I loved was creating a playlist for the different stages of labor. Our birth experience did not go the way I had planned (does anyone’s?) and we didn’t have the opportunity to use this calming technique (or many of the other ones I had prepped myself for). But that’s a whole other story!

So when Bean and I have our special girl time, I play the music that inspired me while I was growing her in my belly. They go from sweet songs like “Banana Pancakes” and “Three Little Birds” to smile inducing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Feelin’ Alright” to the adrenaline pumping “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “Drumming Song”.

We must’ve woke the sleeping bear upstairs with our singing “I Like the Way You Move”. Tevis came downstairs, pulled me up from my chair at the dining room table and twirled me around the room. Bean stared at us with a toothy, blueberry stained grin. It brought me back to watching my parents as a little girl. My dad was always running up on my mom in the kitchen, dipping her backward with her head in his hand, then planting a big kiss on her lips. Our home had it’s share of ups and downs, but those moments of affection between my parents made me feel happy and secure.

Seeing Bean watch us this morning reminded me that she’s taking cues from us every day. We’re shaping how she sees the world, how she learns to love others and how to enjoy life for it’s small, precious, wonderful moments. I pray that our home is where she feels safe and loved and looks back on the everyday moments knowing she came from a happy place.

P.S. I failed to properly wish my sister, Diana, a happy birthday on the blog this week. Hard to believe she’ll be exiting her twenties one year from now. I have a feeling she’ll go out with a bang!

Summer Summary

Oh blog, how I’ve missed you so. We have been enjoying every minute of our summer. August was packed with day trips, family celebrations and firsts for Bean. She’s mastered crawling and I couldn’t picture her exploring in a better season than summer. Gotta love the instinct to put sand in your mouth! I wasn’t sure that she’d love being in the ocean. The first time we dipped her toes into the water, she freaked at the sight of the tiny waves washing over her toes. But as she watched the big kids splashing and having a good time, she warmed right up to it. Maybe some swim lessons next summer! Somehow I missed the new mommy memo about applying sunscreen before you get to the beach. You might as well squirt the goop in your palm and then give it a good roll through the sand for good measure!  And why do babies immediately rub their eyes with their greasy fist? You’ll get the hang of this stuff, mama.
Bean’s so curious about animals right now. I get such a kick out of watching her nervously pet dogs and stare in awe at the birds in the sky. We can’t wait for a visit to Auntie Laura’s farm this fall. I know Bean is going to squeal with delight at those little piggies.
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We’ve spent more time outdoors this summer than any I can remember. Our picnic blanket hasn’t left the trunk of the car. I’m not sure what it is about eating outdoors, but everything just tastes better. I sufficiently stuffed myself with lobster rolls, ice cream cones and fresh squeezed lemonade with the whole lemon right in your cup that you can only find at the fair.

August 2013 playing in the grassWhen we missed 4th of July fireworks I was bummed that we’d lost the opportunity this year. Luckily, we caught a great show at the Potato and Corn Festival, though we were a little too close up for this nervous newbie.

August 2013 PoCo Fireworks

No fear of heights though. On one of those days that felt like early fall rather than the usual steamy August, we took a hike up to the top of Sleeping Giant. I’ve got to give a big shout-out to Daddy for carrying Bean all the way to the top. I got the easy leg on the way down. Can you spot the two of them at the top of the tower?

August 2013 Sleeping GiantA tradition we started as newlyweds has only gotten better with the addition to our family. Every Thursday night we walk up to our town’s green to enjoy live jazz concerts with friends. On a recent Thursday we celebrated Honey’s birthday (that’s my Mom; she’s the most incredible person on the planet). The weather was perfect and the crowd was a delight.  I know it made her happy to be surrounded by good food, great music and a tremendous people. I’m all about pull apart cupcake cakes right now. How adorable is the ice cream cone cake?
August 2013 Jazz
One of the highlights of the month was visiting my Dad (Papa) and his girlfriend (Mimi) for a weekend at their vacation rental in Newport, RI. The beaches are spectacular. The sand is velvety soft and the waves are perfect for little swimmers. Even I got to experience a first this summer. Paddleboarding wasn’t one of those activities I was dying to try. It seemed incredibly difficult from a balancing perspective. And for someone that hasn’t done a lick of exercise since her pregnancy, I was downright terrified of waking up the next day to pain in places I didn’t know could hurt. I’m so glad I gave it a try and I’m eager to get back up on the board again soon. It’s a great workout and an awesome way to venture out into the deep ocean. You know it had to be amazing for me to post a pic of me in my bathing suit!
August 2013 Newport
August 2013 Paddleboarding
Thanks to my bestie over at www.flowingwiththego.com for introducing me to http://pixlr.com/express/. I had a lot of fun collaging my summer photos.

We have one more holiday weekend to sneak in the last of our summer bucket list. I’ve got my heart set on a stop at a farmers market, another picnic in the park, and maybe even a date with my sweetie to watch the sunset.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

236 Hours

We took our first family of 3 vacation last week on the North Fork in Long Island, NY. This is also the first time since I’ve been back to work that I’m using my vacation days for something other than cleaning up puke and cuddling a feverish and listless little one. To say I was excited about an entire week of sun and fun is an understatement. I soaked in every glorious minute of the 236 hours of my vacation.

Last summer when we were pregnant, Tevis and I visited Montauk on Long Island’s South Fork. We made a promise that we’d start a family tradition the following year with Bean. Now that we’ve experienced both the North and South Forks, I can whole-heartedly say I’m a NOFO kinda girl. A local sommelier we met said “the South Fork is where you come to see and be seen. The North Fork is where you go to see the scenery.” The Hamptons boast celebrity mansions, overpriced lunches and Bentley’s parked on the streets. NOFO is dusted with vineyards, farm stands and friendly all-season locals.

Bean loved spending the days outdoors. We walked village streets, dipped our toes in the sand, collected sea shells, picked sunflowers and toured several wineries.

We got back in time to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends. Thank goodness for swimming pools small and large this week; it was a hot one!

Here’s a look at our adventures from the last week. I’d say we crammed in a lot of fun in 236 hours. Welcome Summer!

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July 2013

Cicada Invasion

The east coast is buzzing with the sound of Brood II Periodic Cicadas. These extraordinary insects remain underground for 17 years, emerging just before their death, to mate and carry on the species.

My town has remained quiet these last few weeks, so I didn’t really get what all the hype was about. But at my mother’s house this weekend, I got the chance to see and hear the cicadas up close. Their collective hum is more than just background noise; it is impossible to tune out. And these big, red-eyed critters travel in numbers. There have been reported sightings in Connecticut of over 1 million cicadas per acre!

Cicadas1

The last time the cicadas appeared, I was just 17 years old. I was nearing the end of high school and felt both excited and terrified about the future. I couldn’t predict the twists and turns that my life has taken in nearly 2 decades. But that’s the miraculous thing about the future. When you look forward, there is a blank page just waiting for you to write your story.

As a teen in 1996, I was too self-absorbed to notice or appreciate this natural phenomenon, but it’s caught my attention this time. The cicadas surfaced at a time when change is happening all around me.

My sister, La, moved back east from an 8 year stint in Honolulu. She and her boyfriend dream big and take chances. Adventures are part of their everyday life. I’m in awe of their optimism and fearlessness. Bean gets such a kick out of La and Aron and I’m thrilled that she will grow up knowing them well. I’m looking forward to seeing where their next adventure takes them.

La Aron Bean

Diana is the other middle sister. She left Connecticut at exactly the same time La was coming back home. Di is a military spouse and will move around the country with her husband every few years. We were lucky to have them close to home these last few years. We saw them get married and they welcomed my daughter into the world. I’m excited for Di and Rob as they learn to call Boston their new home.

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The baby of the family, Chick, graduated this week from a Medical Assistant Certificate Program. We celebrated her accomplishment and the official start of summer with a backyard barbecue, iced cold beers and wonderful friends and family. Chick loved the “Smart Cookie” buffet I put together.

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Chick was sure she didn’t want to attend college, but didn’t know what path to take as an alternative. After a few years of work and learning firsthand about exchanging time for money, she’s seen the value of education, experience, mentors and networking. She took this 10 month course more seriously than the entire 4 years I spent in college. Our family has been watching on the sidelines, cheering as she aced her exams and nailed the externship at a pediatric doctor’s office. She is gifted with a kind and compassionate heart. I know she will touch many lives as she embarks on her journey in the healthcare field. I’m certain that 17 years from now when the cicadas come up out of the ground, Chick will have gathered a long list of accomplishments to look back on.   

As for me, I’m marking my calendar for another cicada invasion in 2030. Bean will be 17 just like I was and I hope I can encourage her to pause and appreciate the bugs and the big, bright future she has ahead of her.

Lina chicks graduation