Happy 2017!


I have to admit that New Year's Day, particularly New Year's Eve, is my favorite holiday.  There is something healing about knowing we can "begin again."  Sure, each year has its own rewards and challenges--expected and unexpected--but on December 31st we can review the old year, take what we've learned, scrap the mistakes, and use our new wisdom for the upcoming year.  It's a beautiful thing!  And since I am one of those people, in general, that enjoys pondering life and planning for the future, today, then, just gives me one more excuse to do it!

Do I have a list of resolutions?  You bet I do...  Each year I try to fool myself into thinking I'm a little bit wiser.  Last year I wrote down philosophies to live by; the year prior, I chose the mantra, "Live, Laugh, Love."  This year...I'm back to listing resolutions again...  The only difference is that this year, I will be following the S.M.A.R.T. method for goal setting--specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-limited.   My vision board is rocking new pictures on it too.

1.  Consume less sugar and eat more fruits and vegetables.  (I recently learned that 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon or sugar; women are advised to have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.  My current diet actually triples this recommended serving.)  This year, I will be substituting more raw foods like nuts, fruits, and vegetables to replace the processed snacks that I bring with me to work everyday.

2.  Drink 8 oz. of water daily.  This is a challenge for me; I get so involved at work and home that I forget to drink anything--especially water.  I might have to find an app on my cell phone to send me constant reminders throughout the day.

3.  Take walks everyday during lunch and do exercise videos three times per week.  This will be a weekly goal.  If I miss a few days, I'll simply hit the restart button each Monday. 

4.  Learn how to "turn-off" work to be more available and present for my son.   Each day, my goal is to arrive to work earlier, so I can be home earlier to help Lewie with homework and to spend quality time with him (such as walking, playing board games, building LEGO sets, etc.)  Some days I'm required to come home late from work, but I will work around those days as much as possible.

5.  Plan two date-nights (or more) with hubby monthly.  The goal is to go out on a date every other weekend to make sure we continue to nurture our bond.

6.  Visit one of our National Parks (national treasures) each year.   This year, in June, the plan will be to visit the Grand Canyon; I want these trips to be both educational and memorable for Little Lewie.

7.  Create a stronger savings portfolio for retirement.  Like most people I know, I don't allocate enough of my salary to retirement or savings.  I will create a budget this January and automate a process to have a portion of my money go directly into savings.  By February, I "should" have a diversified portfolio...

8.  Be a good person.  This is one of those generic goals that don't have much meaning unless I create some tangible ways to measure it.  Hmmm...  I hope to celebrate friends and family more by remembering birthdays and sending them special notes throughout the year (especially during Random Acts of Kindness Week).  I hope to create special surprises for my mom, Lew, and Little Lewie as a way to show how much I love and cherish them.  And for people I don't know or know less, my goal is to be more empathetic, thoughtful, patient, and giving.  I developed the mindset of seeing each person as a child, and you know what?  It works.  There is something cathartic in forgiving, sending blessings, and letting go. 

9.  Be grateful.  Last year I've made it my practice to silently thank God for all my blessings whenever I have a chance (during my drive to work, in the shower, on a walk).  I've recently taught Little Lewie this practice, too, and so each night at bedtime after our prayers, we say at least one thing we are grateful for--it could be something more common and fundamental like food, or it could be something very specific that happened that day.  Sometimes his comments bring me to tears--"Today I'm thankful for spending time with my mom."  Awww....

10.  Smell the roses.  Work is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is my gateway to financial freedom.  It allows me to save up for trips and experiences; it allows me to do things like put a pool in our backyard.  Still, at times I feel married to it.  I worry about taking days off from work, not checking emails, and  not giving my 100%.  When I do this, my family comes second, and I come third.  This year I'm taking more full days and half days off.  I am limiting my email time at home, and I am delegating more responsibilities to others.  We only have one life, and I intend on enjoying it--all of it.  I want my son to learn how to enjoy it too.  Yes, there is a time when work and homework are important, but there are other times when going for a walk, eating at Friendly's, and visiting friends is just as important.  I will be "scheduling" down time in the beginning with the hope that by the end of the year, it won't have to be scheduled; fun will be something that comes fluidly and spontaneously...

As always, I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017.  Last year had it's challenges for sure, but in the end, our family came out more united for it.  I learned that hope and faith aren't just words--they are a way of being.  These are the life lessons I plan to take with me during this New Year.  As for this year's resolutions, well, they're fun to make.  We'll see if these habits of mind stick, or if they end up becoming resolutions again for next year...  After all, life will always be a work in progress. 

Christmas Morning Now and Then...


Christmas morning 2016 was magical...just as magical as it's been for these last eight years.  At 6:35 a.m., I heard quick, excited footsteps leave Lewie's room.  Then, I felt a gentle pat on the back.  "Mommy," he whispered, "Santa came.  He left presents!"

"He did?" I questioned with surprise.

"Can I open them?"

"Of course."

I grabbed my camera, charged from the night before, and attempted to take pictures of Lewie (without Daddy sleeping in the background).  Daddy tried to stay awake to watch the magic but kept on falling back to sleep in his lounge chair.   Mornings aren't his thing, especially early mornings.

This year, Lewie had sent a letter to Santa with three simple requests--Portal II, Skylanders Imaginators, and Star Wars the Force Awakens--all for Xbox One.   To make this Christmas well-rounded, and not all about video games, Santa also brought Laser Tag (for the back yard), Dan TDM's latest book, Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal, and the silly card game, "Gas Out."  

As each present was opened, Lewie squealed with excitement and delight.  It's during this moment (every year) when I hold back tears of joy because I'm so grateful--grateful to have a little boy that fills the house with so much love and laughter every day--and grateful that Santa, once again, has managed to create a rare moment of awe and wonder.

One more picture after the sun has come up...
And...here are a few pictures from 2009, when Santa first made the magic come to life...

Yes, we had a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree.

To all my friends and family, I hope joy and wonder came to your house this Christmas too and stays the whole year through.  Sending love, peace, and blessings from our home to yours!

Santa's Village


For three months, my sister-in-law and I had been planning a visit to Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire.  Finally, last weekend was THE WEEKEND.  Both our families left on Friday night (to avoid a snowstorm) and arrived safely in New Hampshire in the wee hours of the morning (around 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. to be exact).

Around noon on Saturday, we began our day in the snow.  We stayed at the Evergreen Motel (right across the street from Santa's Village), so the entrance to the park was only a quick walk away.  We made sure to bundle up with layers of clothes including snow pants, boots, hats, scarves, gloves, hand warmers, and foot warmers.  With 20 degree temperatures and the prediction of 6+ inches of snow, we knew we had to try and stay warm and dry for the day.

The best part of the trip was watching the kids (Lewie and his three girl cousins) get excited about playing in the snow and seeing Santa,  However, there were many more highlights; for example, one of my favorite experiences was going on the sleigh car monorail ride shortly after sunset--the lights in the park were beautiful, and the ride made you feel like you were going through a true winter wonderland.

On the train...the Polar Express...

We met all of Santa's  "real" reindeer except for Rudolph.

After Santa's Village, my husband took Little Lewie and his cousin Sarah to see the new Star Wars movie.  The next day, we packed up, had a yummy breakfast at the Water Wheel Breakfast and Gift House up the street, and then stopped to visit Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, MA before arriving home.  (Little Lewie surprised me by wanting to make his own candle; he enjoyed the store way more than I thought he would...)

The weekend, not surprisingly, went by way too fast, but it was exactly what we needed to get in the winter and Christmas spirit.  I'm so grateful to have had these wonderful memories with family.  This trip was good for the soul.