Just because…

I’ve been reminded this week that it truly is a blessing to wake up each day.  I keep thinking about the fact that if today were my last day, I’d have a mountain of regrets. At first I considered all the things I never would’ve crossed off my bucket list – the places I hoped to visit or adventures I’d be proud to say I braved. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how many planes you’ve jumped out of or the number of countries you’ve travelled. Our lives are really summed up by the people we touch. Those that we leave behind are the only way to keep our memory alive.

Keeping in touch with people has never been my strong suit. I’m not good about calling just to say hi or reaching out to get together with friends. I have taken many relationships for granted and not tended to them like I should. I have not told enough people that I am thankful to have them in my life.

Relationships, whether with your spouse, parents, siblings or childhood friends, require a little TLC. And that’s a good thing because anything worth holding onto is worth the effort. I have decided that it’s time that I start taking better care of the people that matter most to me. I’ve learned along the way that I can’t change who I am overnight, but with baby steps I can work on being a better person. I will be purposefully reaching out to at least one person every week. There is no time like the present to tell someone you care about them.

This week, I sent this little box to someone that has been on my mind a lot. I love her dearly and hope she knows that I cherish her always.  I included a blank, stamped notecard in the package. Perhaps this will spread around the world and back to me some day. I hope any of you out there reading take the time to reach out to someone that you care about, just because…
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Thoughts on George Zimmerman’s acquittal

I grew up in a small suburban town where the handful of black kids in my school, were the extent of my experience with folks that looked different than me. My world began to grow in college as I was surrounded by 30,000 students from all over the world. I elected some African American history classes that brought new perspective and a heightened awareness of race in our country. But it wasn’t until I met my husband, and really took time to ask him questions about his experiences, that I truly began to understand what it means to be black in America.
The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has weighed heavily on my mind this week. Tevis and I had a long talk after we listened to the President’s impromptu press conference. Tevis shared stories with me that he’d never mentioned in our 10 years together. He echoed the President’s experiences with examples of being followed in a Macy’s or having a woman grab her purse, hold it up to her chest clenching both arms around it, as he entered an elevator. Or even as a young man running in his track uniform through a quiet college town and hearing the door locks click as he passed by a car at a stop light.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m married to an African American or that my child is part African American or just because I have it in me, but I am feeling an overwhelming sadness for the Martin family left without a son and without seeing any justice for his death. I’m appalled that there are people in this country that believe race played no part in Trayvon Martin’s death. I’m not calling George Zimmerman a racist. That would be too easy. But just because he had a black prom date, doesn’t mean he didn’t look at a young black male in a hoodie and assume he was up to no good. The problem is that we all make conclusions about people based on their appearance alone. Stereotypes and statistics prevent us from judging others solely on the content of their character.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we will talk about race in our home. There isn’t a handbook for how to raise a mixed family (hmm, now that’s an idea) so we have to go with our gut on this one. We’ve made a conscious effort already to surround Bean with diversity. I’m fiercely protective of her individuality. It is important to me that she learns about her history and has a clear sense of her identity. I’m not naïve enough to think that we can make her world all peace and love and sprinkled with fairy dust. We won’t shy away from her questions and welcome honest talks about race.
To move forward and not this case shatter my hope for a better future for my child, I have to cling to the message of progress the President gave in his closing remarks. He’s absolutely right that we are not a perfect union, but each generation is better than the one before it. Tevis and I have changed attitudes about race. I pray that Bean will do the same. I pray that she will encounter less bias, hatred and violence and more compassion and acceptance.

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!

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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.

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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.

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I GOT YOU

I’m still recovering from an insanely busy and fun-filled family weekend. We kicked off summer with a quintessential New England fried seafood dinner, rides and live music at our town’s annual festival and a backyard cook out to celebrate Father’s Day. We laughed and danced and ate lots of good food and spent time with some amazing Dads.  Laundry and vacuuming and grocery shopping did not get done. A post about my husband on his first Father’s Day did not get published. I jotted down some thoughts in my blog notebook and took some cute pictures of Bean and her Dada.

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But I just didn’t get it together in time. Monday came and went in a flurry. And now it’s just too late for a Father’s Day post. That’s so 2 days ago.

Then this morning a sign appeared and put me back on course. I realized that if there’s any hope of me keeping this blog going, I need it to be fun and to write only when I feel inspired, not because it’s another chore on my to-do list.

I owe Anthony at WEHM a huge thanks for kick-starting me each morning and for the inspiration behind today’s post. It’s usually his selection of an upbeat new tune or his cover story at 20 to nine that pumps me up for the day ahead. But today it was this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhWQSAmXRr4 that struck me; it brought me to tears. Perhaps Jack Johnson crawled inside my head and stole these words, because this is exactly how I feel about my man.

On the night we met, Tevis asked me to dance. He towered over me and spoke slowly and in a deep voice. I’d only dated boys that smelled like soap; his cologne was intoxicating. He was handsome, funny and mysterious. I felt like Cinderella at the ball. That it was a dream and at midnight it would all be over. I thought we’d never see each other again after that night in the bar. Thankfully, I asked about him months later and he crashed a girls’ night out. We haven’t looked back since.

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Fast forward 10 years. We’ve been married half that time and are blessed with a happy baby girl. Tevis makes me laugh every day. He can’t get a good night’s sleep without me next to him. Though we might not look like it, we have a lot in common, from our favorite flavors to our politics. I can count on him to have my back even when I’m wrong and he’s a constant cheerleader. Tevis is an incredible father. He’s amazed by everything about her. His face lights up when she reaches for him, confirmation of their bond. There’ no other accomplishment that he’s more proud of. She has changed him forever.

I know I don’t tell him enough that he’s enough. That I love the family we’ve built together. That our home only needs to be big enough to make memories in.

Tevis, even though it’s 2 days late, I wish you a first Father’s Day you’ll cherish forever.  I hope you know that I GOT YOU. I GOT EVERYTHING.

K

I’m here!

I want to shout in my loudest voice – I’m here, I’m here, I’m here!

Starting this blog has been on my to-do list for years. Not like, “oh it would be fun to write a blog someday”. I’m actually one of those nuts that keeps a to-do list for everything from groceries to Christmas gifts, to the sights I want to see on vacation and my career goals. And time and time again I found reasons (excuses really) to not get off my ass and just start to type. What would I write about? Would anyone out there actually read? How would I find the time in my busy life? And now, here I am, working full time, married to Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome with a 7 month old cutie we call Bean, trying to keep my house clean and food in our bellies, with a whole lot LESS time on my hands.

Having a daughter has been a game changer for me. I want her to see a smart, creative, funny, strong, nurturing mother. I want to inspire her to be the best self she can imagine. For her to look in the mirror and love the beautiful face she sees looking back. To dream big and not be afraid to take chances.

This blog is a declaration that I’m putting a ban on excuses and regrets and will start living in each precious moment. I’m going to write about our family life – the big milestones and the little moments that bring me joy. If our simple day to day brings followers, I’ll be thrilled, and if not, I’m okay with that too. This is the start of a personal journey I invite the world to witness. I finally have found my voice and have so much to say.

These are my favorite people and the stars of Kate’s Full Plate.

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