Now this is Gratitude

Oh, yes.  Oh, yes.  It’s cold, friends.

We had a flat tire last night.  We were about 1/2 of a mile from home, on our way to a nice dinner at a nice restaurant–something we haven’t done in quite awhile.  There was a strange ticking sound, and I quickly pulled into a nearby parking lot.  Not too bad, right?  Sure, we were lucky to be near home, and there hadn’t been a dramatic blowout.  But the thermometer was reading 4 degrees Fahrenheit.  FOUR!  Poor Cory had to crawl on the snowy, icy ground to jack the car up, to coax a stubborn tire off, and to place a sorry little doughnut on to the car.  He was frozen, and as you can imagine, the kids were antsy–and hungry. I couldn’t do much except pray that frost bite wouldn’t set in.  It didn’t.

This was not how we imagined our evening.  However, as I sat in the car with the heater blasting, thumbing through an IKEA catalog while the kids chattered in the back, I was flooded with a deep sense of gratitude.  I have been blessed with a hard-working husband who doesn’t blink an eye at doing and being everything his family needs.  I *know* how to change a tire–in my head–but as I felt the car rocking and saw Cory using all of his might (and he has a lot of might!) to remove the stuck tire, I knew with complete certainty that if I didn’t have him, we would have been stranded at the side of the road in frigid temperatures.  I have been blessed with the means to have a warm car that takes us where we need to go.  (Cory’s wet, muddy clothes meant that we didn’t have the nice dinner in a nice restaurant, but we did pick up a quick bite at Moe’s.)  I have a  house with a cozy fireplace, and when we returned from our cold outing, we lit that baby and watched the hot flames dance.

I am grateful.  Life is hard sometimes, but the blessings are abundant.

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Getting Reacquainted

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(Note:  Thank you for the wonderful response to my last blog post.  Here and on Facebook, many of you took the time to offer your support of my resolutions and goals.  That means so much to me!  In particular, I was pleased that you think I could be good at doula-ing.  I’ll do my best!)

On to the post…

I love Valentine’s Day.  I’ve written about it on the blog before.  You can read my reasons here.  Fluffy pink cupcakes are another reason to enjoy this holiday, and this year, we added a new thing to love in a little V-day celebration: reacquainting with an old friend.

Toni and I met in college.  We even shared a suite at one point, and I always found her to be pleasant and fun to be around.  Life moved on, as is time’s habit, and I stayed connected to very few college friends.  (Of course, I married my best college friend, so there’s that.)  Anyway, through the wonders of social media, Toni and I reconnected about a year ago.  We found ourselves in similar positions.  We both had acquired a lot of graduate education, yet we also developed hearts for being home with our children.  We care about nutrition and health, and we are both interested in alternative education choices for our families.  We had plenty of common ground to use as a firm launching pad for a renewed friendship.

On Friday, we were able to get together for a little Valentine party at my house.  Spending time together, becoming reacquainted, watching our children play together, having lunch, and exchanging Valentines brought such joy to our week.  I keep thinking of that old Girl Scout song:  Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is Silver but the others Gold.

Thanks, Toni, for a fun afternoon!

Teacup Tuesday: Planning 2015

Hello, friends.

If you are a fellow cold-weather dweller, I hope that you are finding nice ways to keep yourself warm and well.  If you are in a more temperate climate, well…I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.  Kidding, kidding!  All are welcome at Warm as Pie.  (Just don’t tell me that 40 degrees is cold, okay?)  Speaking of staying warm, this morning I enjoyed a big cup of Lipton’s Vanilla Caramel Black Tea.  Let me just say YUMMY.  I used a little of Trader Joe’s Organic Blue Agave sweetener and my newest teacup–a gigantic clear cup.  This cup makes every sip seem like a special treat.  I love it, and I loved the price:  $2.99 at Target.  Next, I would love to get a clear teapot to match, but that will have to wait.

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I simply love this time of year.  The start of the new year feels exciting and promising and very motivating.  My sister teases me for making a hundred resolutions each January.  I’m actually taking a different approach this year.  I’m dividing “resolutions” from “goals,” and I am really excited to share some of them with  you.  I’m defining resolutions as overarching intentions without firm deadlines or boundaries. Goals are narrow, defined plans with specific steps. So here goes…

Resolution #1: Be more fun! I’ve been in a major funk of trying to “do things right.” I’ve forgotten how to just be and DO fun.

Resolution #2: Send more snail mail. I love to send and receive mail. I bet others do to!

Goal #1: I’m declaring 2015 to be THE YEAR OF CLEAN. I am working toward starting next January with a cleaner, more organized, well run home. I have a list of mini-goals for each month, and I am trying hard to not expect a quick fix.  I have a whole year to reach this goal step by step.  Although I have always been very organized in my student/professional life, I have struggled with organization my whole life.  I can remember spending hours in my room, trying hard to clean it–but instead I was looking at old photos and ancient school papers, reminiscing instead of truly cleaning.  Now, I have four little people who can be excellent picker-uppers, but they are equally skilled at making messes.  This year, we are getting our act together.

Goal #2: I will return to playing the violin. This is in line with my fun resolution. I am going to begin by practicing every day, even if it is only for 10 minutes. I plan to increase this time through the year.  Last month, I bought new strings and fine tuners.  I had my bow re-haired, and I am really enjoying my music-making…even if it is a bit (okay, a lot) squeaky.

Goal #3: I will work on the DONA (Doulas of North America) reading list, and I will register for a doula certification workshop) through a recognized certification agency (TBD).  THIS needs a post of its own!  Here is the short version.  Shortly after Charlotte was born in the summer of 2011, I started thinking about becoming a birth doula (professional labor support person).  Then I met some lovely doulas in Florida.  Hi, Emily!  Hi, Elizabeth!  I learned a lot from them.  Although we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about doula business, I admired them and their work.   I’m still not certain how or when a doula business will fit into my family life, but on my birthday in 2014, I made a promise to myself to pursue certification in earnest.

Goal #4: I will take my blog seriously!  You will hear a lot more from me in 2015.  I love this blog, and although life is hectic, I am committed to this little spot on the web.

Leave me a comment.  What tea are you drinking?  Do you have goals for 2015?

Warmly, Erica G.

Christmas 2014

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Dear Friends,

We had a beautiful Christmas.  For me, the holiday felt subdued yet special.  There were many moments when I felt as though I were watching my life from the outside–seeing my children smile, watching how they interact with each other, with their grandparents, and with their aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Christmas Day was rather quiet, and it was the kind of holiday we needed–restorative, introspective.  For me at least.  On the kids’ side, it was a major LEGO holiday.  Legos, Legos everywhere.  On a final note, we managed to not have colds, flu, or the like.  Praising God for that!

I hope you also had a lovely Christmas and a great start to the new year.

Warmly,

Erica G.

NANOWRIMO wrap up

So, yes.  I did not “win” NANOWRIMO.  Not even close.  After the midway point, our family had a string of minor illnesses that left me with little sleep and much laundry.  I had a hard time keeping up with my standard responsibilities, so writing for fun got squeezed off the to-do list most days.  I learned a lot though, and I will use those lessons for Camp NANOWRIMO in July.  Here is what I learned:

1.  I don’t write well at night.  I already knew this, but for some reason, I imagined that I would work on my novel after the kids went to bed.  Nope.  Cory simply couldn’t drag me out of bed after I snuggled in to read bedtime stories.  Sleep trumps all.  At least for now.

2.  I missed fiction.  I have been reading nonfiction almost exclusively.  I would say in 2014 I’ve read about 4 or 5 novels and zero in the last three months.  I felt a little out of my element as I dipped into novel-writing.  Before I try again in July, I will need to study up with some good fiction.

3.  Dialogue is hard.  Really hard.  I need practice and great models.  See #2.

4.  I must plan ahead.   And I don’t mean story notes!  I mean meals and chores and errands and activities.  Writing a novel is a bit like birthing a baby.  Although babies are more cuddly!  You really need to figure out how to cover the regular LIFE stuff when the baby (novel!) is being born.  Honestly, generating ideas for my novel was the easy part.  Figuring out how to write those ideas while still keeping my children fed, clothed, and educated was a much bigger challenge.

Those are the main lessons learned.  Thanks for all the supportive messages here and on Facebook!  I hated letting you down!

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Hi, Readers.

I haven’t been writing on the blog for a couple weeks, but I’ve been writing.  Oh yes, I have!  I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NANOWRIMO.  The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30.  I’m going to be completely honest with you.  I’m not going to make it to 50,000 words, and I never really thought that I would.  Okay, maybe for two minutes I thought I might actually meet the goal.  But deep down, I simply wanted to reestablish a writing routine.  In the ten years since I graduated with an MFA in creative writing, I have done very little creative writing.  I’ve written plenty of nonfiction, lots of research papers, pages and pages of student comments, but very few poems and stories.  I’ve missed it, and NANOWRIMO seemed like a good chance to jump back onto that particular horse.  Even better, I actually had a story idea that has been floating around in my imagination for awhile.

November is half over, and the big “win” isn’t likely to happen.  I’m pretty sure that I would have to hand my children over to somebody and run away to a cabin in Maine to reach 50,000 words at this point.  Strike that.  I would have to move somewhere without snow because I would need someone to deliver prepared meals to me so that I would not need to leave my computer keyboard in order to feed myself.

Nonetheless, I do not regret participating in NANOWRIMO.  In fact, I’m very excited.  I’m still writing, and I plan on signing up for Camp NANOWRIMO in July!  If you are interested in this nifty challenge, go on over to http://www.nanowrimo.org.

Warmly,

Erica G.