Toasting Each Season

One of my favorite Parisian celebrations is the anticipation of le Beaujolais Nouveau every November. Shops paint their windows declaring, Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! At midnight, trucks unload the new wine and everyone became a connoisseur. In college, I had no idea what to look for in this new batch of wine, but the communal aspect of an entire city coming together to celebrate in the grayness of late-fall remains a favorite memory.

 

beaujolais-nouveau-2015
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Because of its release in mid-November and the light, new flavor, this wine goes well with heavy Thanksgiving foods. So, every year we buy a half case to enjoy throughout the season. I’m sure we could find better Thanksgiving wines but the Beaujolais is good and filled with memories. I still look forward to joining in the celebrations, even from afar.

 

Last week, I found a forgotten bottle and we had it with some ratatouille. It was ok. This is not a wine to save – it’s meant to be tasted right away. We drank it and agreed that a certain je ne sais quoi was missing from a late-February experience. It just wasn’t as good.

Life is a little like Beaujolais Nouveau, isn’t it? A lot of experiences and opportunities are perfect for a certain season or moment. Letting them sit too long can make a good thing just ok.

I’ve been grappling a bit with this idea. Recently, some opportunities presented themselves that made me consider some next steps. I really struggled with timing and direction. I was confronted with my own feelings of contentment and an idea of scarcity in making decisions.

I’m still not sure the direction the next few months or years will take. I’m always surprised at where this life leads – it’s never what my plans really look like. But I’m learning to be picky. I think a lot of paths and directions will lead to good things but I want to be sure that I’m not missing out on a great path in place of something that is ok.

Sometimes choices remind me of a Beaujolais Nouveau. They are good and fun in a specific season but in the long-term, they’re just ok. I’m remembering that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll always love drinking new wine in November and December. There are opportunities and paths that are perfect for a short season.

But I’m learning to hold those loosely and not to forget my bigger goals and dreams in the midst of all this. I’m remembering to be patient and discerning while also allowing myself to be excited and dream.

I’ll be ready to declare la Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé again in November but in the meantime, we’ve stocked up again on slightly aged Cabernets and Pinots with a couple rosés thrown in for those warm springtime days. I’m toasting to this particular season and remembering to appreciate these moments.

What are your favorite seasonal beverages? Have you ever taken a path that was good for a season but not great long-term?

Finding Balance is a Gift

The windows are open, at least for a couple hours on this warm January afternoon. The backyard fountain is running, reminding me of summertime when it flows nonstop. Our new deck is finished and, with the sliding door open, I’m thinking about the next season and using this space that has been too unsound for us to enjoy since moving in.

img_3388During quiet rest, Bea curled up next to me with her pile of books while I read Rising Strong. I debated sending her into the playroom, which is our usual quiet rest custom. Both of us need time apart, time to reenergize. But I’ve been thinking about kindergarten a lot lately and how these days together are quickly coming to an end. So we snuggled and read and were just together for a while.

I’ve drafted several blog posts lately but none of them seem right. Perhaps it’s because of my helpers, never far, always talking. Perhaps it’s because when I want to write something deep and profound and yet also encouraging, I’m just too tired.

Like everyone else, the news is exhausting. I wake up in the morning wondering, what next? A friend recently wished we could return to the days when Facebook was newborns and what we ate for dinner. And while part of me wishes for that too, I also recognize the privilege I have in being able to turn it off. I don’t need to check the news all that often because the news doesn’t really directly impact me.

But I also recognize this reality and am finding this balance. Of feeling grateful that our lives continue without too much impact. And of finding ways to instill important values. How do I want my daughters to remember this time? How do I want them to view their childhood? What do I want our family story to say?

So, with these windows open and the true blessing of sitting at a big work table with my daughters working next to me, I’m thankful for our life right now. For the ability to enjoy this day and these moments. And I’m also looking into ways we can spend our money to support those who are far more equipped and qualified to fight injustice. I’m emailing organizations about volunteering our time as a family.

I’m remembering that finding the balance is a gift I’ve been given. And I don’t take that lightly at all.

How are you finding ways to balance the news and balance your outlook on life? What is your best way to practice perspective?

Taking Time to Nest

Well, we are officially overdue. Bea was nine days late, so apparently we make babies who are content to bake as long as possible. Philosophically, I’m all about letting babies decide on their own when to enter the world. Emotionally, during a hot week at the end of July? I cannot wait to not be pregnant. (And, of course, to meet this new member of our family!)

Since there’s no baby, I thought I’d continue blogging. After a false alarm hospital visit, where I had a brief quandary over whether or not our little girl counts as a “living child,” I thought about writing a post on the importance of language in light of the Planned Parenthood controversy, but that seemed beyond my mental capabilities at the moment.

Exploring the Botanic Gardens
Exploring the Botanic Gardens

Then, I thought about writing about our recent six year anniversary. We spent the day changing a dead car battery, making scones, and having a family adventure at the Botanic Gardens. It was not a fancy day, and perhaps didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, but it was a good reflection of our life now and this quiet, nesting phase that we’re in. The reality right now is that I don’t have much energy to write posts that make connections to life and greater ideas.

So, I thought I’d write a little slice of life of where we’re at in this moment. Frank took the week off in the hopes of spending a week with our new baby. While it didn’t happen as planned, it’s been a perfect week of connecting as a family and relaxing at home – no projects or home improvements, just walks to the park and the store and special treats. I think it was a necessary week of connection before our lives change with this new baby.

A week filled with special treats.
A week filled with special treats.

I also needed a week of full-time two parent attention for Bea. Because we’ve been anxious and there have been a couple false alarms, we’ve been on edge and so she’s been on edge. Emotions have been running especially high and I am so thankful Frank was able to be here to carry some of the weight with breakfast dates, snuggle and swim time, and the novelty of having him home all day long. My parents stepped in, as well, giving Frank and I time to walk, to nap, to take a break from our sweet but high strung daughter.

Especially with an overdue baby, this period of nesting has dragged a bit and taken on different incarnations. From the traditional painting the room and arranging furniture at the beginning of the month to chores and baking and tying up loose ends in the middle to this time of waiting. Our nesting now has looked like reading books and having leisurely breakfasts on the patio. It’s looked like spending time together in ways that will be difficult in the coming weeks.

It’s a reminder that, no matter how prepared I am, sometimes preparation looks less like doing and more like being. Like listening to the needs of myself, of my three year old, even of our dog and recognizing we are all waiting and we all need to process in our own way.

What does your life look like at this moment?

Room with a View

One of my favorite places in our new house is our bedroom. After painting its stark white walls bluish-gray and putting in a sitting corner, it’s a place I’ve come to enjoy just hanging out in. After Bea goes down for her nap, I’ll come in and read by the window, not wanting to go downstairs where reminders of things to be done wait.

One of the best parts of our bedroom is the natural light. The entire south wall is filled with windows and a sliding door. A balcony separates our room from the backyard and neighbors. Tall, old evergreen trees tower over the house and now that the deciduous trees have filled in, it feels like we live out in the mountains, rather than in the heart of the suburbs.

We also have an east-facing window, next to our bed. After making the bed each morning, I’ve taken to looking out and surveying our yard. It began in early spring, just to see what was going to bloom. But, after finding a stray book left out overnight under a tree, I’ve taken to looking to make sure indoor toys are recovered. This morning, I look out and see Bea’s bike parked in the easement. Seeing it reminds me of the hours she spends out there. She showed interest in her bike before, but with a house on a busy road and a backyard decorated in flagstone, we didn’t have many places for her to practice.

View from our east window
View from our east window

Our realtor had concerns about this easement, as it belongs to the city even though it’s fenced into our yard. It’s been one of our favorite features. On nice days, Bea will go and ride for more than an hour. Daisy, whose herding instinct is strong, loves herding her around, running just behind the bike. Bea’s confidence has grown and she’s able to balance and maneuver around old pots and piles of leaves.

One of our biggest concerns about buying a bigger home is that the yard would get smaller. Even in these early days of spring, it’s been fun to see how our smaller yard seems to be more used than before. The nooks and crannies and groves of trees that the previous owners (who happened to be landscaper architects) created have been the perfect place for a little girl to run and imagine. I’m looking forward to this summer and its days of outdoor living.

What’s your favorite view? Do you have a spot in your home that’s best for looking out and reflecting?

What I’m Into 1:14

I always like reading what people are “into” over at Leigh Kramer’s, so I thought I’d link up this month. January is one of my favorite months. Not only is it a new year, but it’s my birthday month. Lots of champagne and goal setting over here! It’s also the last month before tax season, so we try to pack in more family time, which I love.

Books: Finished & In Progress
I finally jumped on the Shauna Niequist bandwagon and read Cold Tangerines. Usually I’m not a fan of conversational-memoirs, but I connected with many of the stories and found myself wanting to read more. I also finished The Millionaire Next Door, from our Reading Challenge. It was insightful, but I realized I am not a fan of too many tables! (Those are what Frank loved most from the book.)

Book Club Books: Both are yet to be discussed, but Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is worth the hype! Easy to read and I see myself rereading sections in the future. I want to print her parenting manifesto to hang in my kitchen. I also just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Such a fascinating look in the the slums of Mumbai. And, though it certainly doesn’t paint a romantic picture, I appreciate how she focuses on the day-to-day. My weekly book club is into Christena Cleveland’s Disunity In Christ. It’s a very thought provoking read, and a great follow-up to our last book, The Next Evangelicalism.

I’m also currently reading Djuna Barnes’ Collected Stories. Usually I love short stories, but this is taking a long time to get through. Some of the magic is starting to fade…

Screen Time
Since we’re in the midst of toddlerhood, we rarely watch movies. We did finally watch Bernie on Netflix, and it was perfect. I love quirky, dark comedies and I especially loved that this was a true story. We’re also in Season 4 of Doctor Who. It’s been a fun way to unwind after Bea goes to bed, though we’ve each had some pretty intense dreams as a result… We’ve never really been TV watchers, and now we are entering “totally out of touch” status.

Food
We are finally meal planning consistently and I love it! We’re eating so much more healthfully. We utilize our new Crock Pot at least once a week (always on book club nights!) and that’s been a great way to still get a bit of a “family dinner” on busy nights. We’ve been getting most of our recipes out of the Crock Pot Vegetarian recipe book. Now that we’re in the thick of winter, we always make at least one recipe a week with our French oven, using Glorious One Pot Meals. It’s rarely let us down! (Our favorite: African Peanut Stew. So good on a snowy night!)

Blogging
Two blogs stuck with me this month: Jason Boyett, over at A Deeper Story wrote about the balance of time and technology. It was great food for thought, especially as Bea will ask for an iPad to play games, and we don’t even own one. Glennon Melton wrote a beautiful tribute to her child’s teacher. I love reading positive affirmations of hardworking teachers! Over here, my own favorite was on Being Human, though the most popular was Identity.

Day to Day
Our furnace of 30 years went out the other day (of course!) The plus side? We decided to add central air conditioning and Bea was in heaven watching the men remove three furnaces dating back to 1951 from our crawl space. (Apparently, they were always left for the next owners…) Some of her favorite words right now are “heavy,” “dump,” and “truck,” so she gave a running commentary of the events. My other favorite phrase is when she brings us all together for a “group hugger.” She turned 18 months last week – time is flying!

"Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!"
“Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!”

What about you? What are you into these days?

Head over to Leigh’s Link-Up for other fun books, activities, and goings-on from January.