Expecto Patronum!

Why do moms have such a propensity for guilt? patronum

Why does this guilt seem to surface most visibly around our children’s birthdays?

I have a secret to share: I suffer from a lesser-known anxiety disorder. It’s called Party Compulsive Dysfunction. I’ve had this affliction going on nine years now. It is a wholly personal affliction that usually sets in 8-12 weeks ahead of either one of my children’s birthdays.

I suffer from PCD because I am under the false pretense that having in-home birthday parties is more low-key and easier than the expensive, elaborate off-site parties so prevalent these days.

(how very wrong this assumption is) More

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Enjoying the Journey

happy anniversaryBack in my early twenties, when the internet was still in its public nascency and using e-mail was pretty novel, I used a quote in the auto-signature of all my outgoing mail.

“Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.”

It was a quote I came across while preparing for a nine-month journey home from Japan, where I had been living for the past two years. As someone perpetually focused on the outcome, I am consistently guilty of “achieving the product but missing the process.”

I’m not a live-in-the-moment sorta gal. In fact, quite the opposite, I’m more of a busy-myself-in-the-moment-by-planning-for-all-future-moments kinda gal. So you can see how the concept of enjoying the journey as well as the destination would be a novel one for me.

I have since matured out of using this quote in my auto-signature but I continue trying to follow its mantra.

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, DH and I took a journey.

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Our Bags Are Packed And We’re Ready to Go

suitcasesIn fact, I’ve been halfway there since we booked our first, family overseas trip back in September. Because for me, one of the hardest things about settling down and starting a family has been, well, settling down…

Truth be told, I’d much rather be traveling the world, meeting new people and exploring different cultures, or at least still doing that WHILE having a family. Don’t get me wrong, the kid journey can be pretty amazing too but I’ve been eagerly waiting to have them participate in the bigger journey pretty much since I first conceived our daughter, 8 years ago.

Prior to that time, the world was an open road waiting to be explored. In our twenties, both DH and I did a fair amount of traveling in some pretty extreme locations, predominantly Asia but some in the Middle East too. We carried backpacks and our Angus MacGyver tool was the multipurpose sarong (which doubled as: a dress, a scarf, a sheet, a towel, a curtain). We thirsted for third-world travel, where we found life stripped away at its rawest and yet most complicated state.

Traveling became part of who we were and what drew us to one another, then also how we grew together. Now that we’re married, kids do the same thing for us. More

40: Shades of Gray

shades of grayWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

No, really. What do you want to BE?

Because, let’s face it, whatever you’ve been doing in your twenties and thirties, probably isn’t what you still want to be doing in your forties and beyond. (If it is, congratulations, you can stop reading now because you are way ahead of the pack).

I know this is true because in the past few years I’ve been watching friends and acquaintances around me turn 40 and each time, within months of their birthdays, many of them have initiated one type of major life change or another. Some of them have changed careers; some have started families; some have ended marriages; and some have finally worked on turning their dreams into realities.

Forty is reality.

It’s time to take charge of life rather than allowing life to take charge of us. Out with what society expects of us; out with what we’ve been groomed to do or be our whole lives…what is it YOU want to be?

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Seeing the World

DH and I once hoped to raise our kids abroad. A few years ago, when DH’s career focus shifted from overseas to California and Texas, that hope dimmed. Such is life, plans change and opportunities arise at mysterious intervals.

So, we have planted our roots in our cozy, New England suburb and begun to blossom. But by doing so, we realize that if we aren’t providing our kids with an international address, then raising them with international outlooks means finding other ways for them to see the world instead.

When life puts up road blocks, come up with alternative routes. More

Three Hundred Sixty-Five

A year ago today I launched a blog. This blog. It came around after many months contemplating the blogosphere, weeks of agonizing over what I should write about and finally voicing the dream to some dear pals during a girls weekend. Their response: go do it!

I’m a writer and like any craft or skill, it takes practice to improve.

Since I freelance, I get a fair amount of practice but the professional writing I do is mainly journalistic. I have regular projects, where I get to research, interview and write about fascinating people, places and things but what I write for clients involves gathering a lot of other people’s ideas and opinions, not More

And So, Summer Begins

Well it’s official, summer’s here. Tuesday was this fabulous, warm, low humidity great start and we spent nearly the whole day at the local pond beach interrupted only for a brief period (during the height of severe sun-exposure) for a mid-day nap.

Having a five-year old with boundless energy and a two-year old that still naps in his bed everyday can be tricky. But this year I was going for balance and I think I may have struck it: that perfect balance between scheduled activities, breaks for mom and completely unplanned time, free to go off on whims and follies to our hearts’ desires

(gracious, it’s only taken five years to get it right)! More

A Mother’s Earth Day Gift

Five years ago, on April 22, 2006, it was pouring rain. Not just a soaking, not just a flash thunderstorm but an all out, biblical deluge. Of course, I wasn’t really paying attention; I was too busy willing my lower body to function under the numbing influence of an epidural. As nature would have it, our daughter was born and the rain kept falling.

Giving birth on Earth Day is not like having a New Year’s baby or a Valentine’s Day baby or even a baby on the 4th of July. In fact, a good many people don’t even know that it’s Earth Day. But for me, having a baby on April 22nd has given me a deeper sense of Earth Day, a living reason to celebrate it in a new way. More

Step-by-step

My mom painted me a step stool when I was little enough to need one. She was an avid reader of Beatrix Potter books and I was her number one listener so I imagine that the characters on the stool are Mrs. Tittlemouse and Babbity Bumble but I’ve never asked. I still have the stool today, thirty-five years later. More

The Truth About Parenting…

Sometimes, it boredcan be really boring…OK, so perhaps this just pertains to the early years, from 0-3 but believe me, for all of the rabble-rousing, raucous times your young charges may cause and suck you in to, there are also large swaths of time spent numbing the mind.

Here you sit, a parent with a good education, probably a higher education and very possibly even a graduate degree (or two). Maybe you’re even lucky enough to have opted out of the work force, of a decent paying job, of financial independence, of a system that provided performance reviews every 6-12 months. Now what?

Welcome to parenthood.

You came home from the hospital, overwhelmed by the tasks before you (for which there is no prior job training). You have to figure out the needs of your constituents, except they speak a completely foreign dialect and there will be no Babel fish coming to your aid. You have to completely alter your sleep cycle, eating habits, home decor and daily routine.

For the first year, you desperately look for parenting outlets, classes, playgroups, anything that affords some modicum of a social network. Your days are intermittently spent at ground level, trying to stimulate and attract the attention of your wee charge, or trying to get back in touch with the unique individual you once were, just a short time ago.

By year-two, your groundlinghas mobilized. Watch out world! there’s no need for that Exersaucer anymore. Now everything below waist level has to be rearranged or safe-guarded to accommodate exploring hands, curious eyes and wandering toddler. But at least life is starting to get more interesting. Play gets a bit more interactive, you might even share a few words between you; behold, a conversation evolves!

I don’t claim to be a vaudeville act or anything but I do like to think I’m at least capable of carrying on an intellectual conversation, possibly even about a current event.  Children, on the other hand, expect you to be constant entertainment. And, unless you actually masterminded Legos, patented Mr. Potato Head or work in Mattel’s play lab, you’re probably not cut out for the job.

You may be required to play Uncle Wiggly (for the 4th time this week); to build yet another wooden block zoo for the bucket of escaped dinosaurs; to stealthy fit 200 minuscule plastic beads onto a ridiculously small peg board and iron them together into a coaster. And when all of that is done, they’ll ask for more.

Sure, there are many fabulous, memorable and blog-worthy moments of parenting but I also want to be honest, to take the sheen off and say it like it is. Now, please excuse me, I think I’m being beckoned back to the train table to play the vivacious role of windmill.

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