life and death and everything in between

Memorial Day weekend ran quite the gamut of emotions and experiences.

It started on a high note, that Friday was Travis's birthday! 35 years young. We gave him one present in the morning, and another over our Sonic dinner.  :-)  Boy loves Sonic, and we never go there, so I figured, why not? That celebration went right along with the early celebration for my goddaughter, Casey's, birthday on Saturday. To top it off, Ethan and Elise arrived on Saturday as well, and we grilled steak. Very good things.

Sunday was a slightly different story. On Sunday, Ethan, Elise, and myself piled into my car and headed north. While Trav and Gwen enjoyed tennis, the three of us went to gather with my family to inter my Gram's ashes.

Grief is such a funny thing, it ebbs and flows and rises and falls. It is hard and heavy and sometimes beautiful. Here's the thing, it was not necessarily a sad day. As my Gram would have wanted, we relished in each others company. Its not all that often that we get to gather en masse, and we did our best to make the most of it. I had the most amazing time getting to know my cousin's fiance, who is one fun guy!

While it did remind me of just how much I miss her - and man, I do miss her - it also reminded me of how fun my extended family is!

Monday we made the most of our bonus day and headed a park about an hour away from our place, to meet and visit with a friend (Elise), her wife, and three kiddos, who were down from Connecticut. 

Gwen was shy for about 5 minutes, then we were good to go.

The weather was gorgeous, and the park was great. We picked up food from the local orchard market, enjoyed a picnic lunch, then explored the rocks, woods, and lake.

Its always so wonderful to see one of my momspirations, and all around favorite people, in person!

After that it was time to head home, cook up some dinner, and get everyone to bed early!
It was a long, full, tiring, awesome weekend. I need another to recover.  :-)


Book Reviews: What's in My Bag?*

I love to read. Love it. You'll find me reading at some point everyday, especially on the train to and from work. You'll find me reading Harry Potter almost annually! But that's not all I read. So here's what I've been consuming lately.

Yoga Girl - This is the book that inspired this post. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book before I began. You know I have a love affair with yoga, but this book is about so much more then that. Its part biography, part cook book, part yoga instruction manual, and completely inspirational! I snapped pictures to text to friends of no less then 3 passages. There is something in here for everyone, whether you are a yogi or not, and I recommend it highly!

Mockingbird - This was a random purchase. I bought one for me and one for a friend who has a child with a disability. The book is a super easy, quick read. Its actually written at a young adult level, but it is a good book, and a sweet story. Written from the perspective of a teen girl with Aspergers, who's lost her brother, the one who kept her grounded, and now has to find a new way to navigate life.

The Bone Bed (Scarpetta) - I've been a big fan of Patricia Cornwell for a long time, and particularly her Scarpetta series. If you haven't read these before, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning (with this one: Postmortem the first in the series). I will be the first to admit that the stories aren't what they once were. The characters have become a little caricature-ish, but she still creates a good mystery.

Dreaming Spies - Another series, but this one just keeps getting better and better! Where Cornwell's characters have stagnated, Laurie R. Kings' (Mary Russel and Sherlock Holmes, yes, that Sherlock) have flourished and grown. This newest book was a page turner and I'm already dying for the next one.  [And though its not new, I have to mention my favorite book by King:  O Jerusalem; and recommend that to get the most from the books and the rich character histories, start at the beginning: The Beekeeper's Apprentice]

Inferno - Yup, another series... of sorts. The newest Robert Langdon book by Dan Brown is as fast paced and exciting as the Da Vinci Code. If you liked that one, I think you'll like this one. I love the mix of history, art, and murder. And the ending on this one is definitely a twist you won't expect.

What are you reading right now? What do you recommend? 
If you read any of the above, what did you think?

*Everyone says "what's on my side table..." but I totally don't keep books there, if I really love it, it's in my bag ready for my train ride! 

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Road Tripping, the Ohio Chapter

Last Friday we took the day off, woke up early, and headed West. By this time last week, we were already we were already North of my Parents place and West of Blue Mountain, and well on our way to visit with Trav's family in Ohio. My nephew's 5th birthday was this past Monday, so we were ready to celebrate.

We took a new route, which meant that though the trip was still long, at least we had new scenery to look at. Well, its a whole lot of Pennsylvania, so its still woods and hills and cows, but at least it was new woods and hills and cows.   ;-)

We made great time and were there by 2 in the afternoon, which gave us time to have a snack and get settled in before Wyatt's kids party that night. It was a good time for everyone...

I'm sure you've noticed, but we're really close to our families. So having the chance to hang out and just spend time together is our favorite. That's exactly what we did Friday night.

The next day we had a lazy morning while Wyatt had T-Ball, then headed out to lunch.

Afterwards it was time for Wyatt's family party. Besides us, Andy and Megan, and Trav's parents, lots of Megan's family came by to celebrate too.

It was hard getting Gwen to stop long enough to go to bed that night... just too much fun and excitement! But she slept like a log once she was down.

Sunday morning we got up and relaxed for a bit. We needed to get going, but not so early as we were stopping on the way home to see Trav's other brother, Scott, for lunch. We ate breakfast, packed up our items, then headed out. An hour and a half later, we were eating some delicious food (Scott is a chef!), and meeting some new pets.

We headed out after lunch to finish off the long ride home. Dinner in the car, then straight to bed when we arrived! We were all tired the next morning, but we'll mark this down as another wonderful, successful trip in the books!


And the Survey Says...

I'm trying to grow A New Day into an even better blog. One that sucks people in and makes them want to stay! I'd love to get a community going.

On that note, could you do me a favor? Could you please fill out this quick survey to let me know what you want to see here? It will only take about 2-3 minutes of your time and will be invaluable to me!


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A Thought and a Reminder

This is as much for me as it is for you:

Stop thinking of yoga as just exercise to sweat.
Love yoga for all its benefits, including to heal.

Listen to your body an know what it needs in that day.
Some days that might be a very fast, strong, dynamic flow.
But if its not, so what?! Just get on the mat.

So often I find myself not getting on the mat at all because I don't have it in me for a full practice in that moment. What a waste!

Today I'll lay down and put my legs up against the wall and enjoy the restorative lower back posture. And I'll know that I did what I needed to do for my body in that moment. 


After the Rain

Spring is full of storms. Rains that blow in and last for hours. Lashing the windows, drenching the grass... and anyone unlucky enough to have to walk through them. Life's stresses can feel like that sometimes too. They sweep in and knock you right off your feet. They feel endless and suffocating.

But... the rains always stop.

It took a recent literal rainstorm to remind me of that. 

At some point the clouds drift away, the wind dies down, and the sun peeks out.

A day or two later, you notice something. The grass is thicker, lusher, greener.

So too with us. Eventually the stresses get resolved, and we are stronger for them.

The storm, it turns out, served a purpose.

Sometimes I need a reminder of that... but its true, the sun always pokes back out again in the end.


Wordless Wendesday {Delicious Things}

Hot Cross Buns
(by Gruncle Wray)

Portuguese Easter Bread
(by future sister-in-law, Elise)


Badass Broads Raising Spirited Children

Brand new post over on Indie Chicks today! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Glitter and grit. Being a badass broad is not one thing or another. It’s embracing whatever makes your soul sing. At some point or another, for many of us, that means bringing a little miniature asskicker into the world. If it’s not—you do you, girl—no worries. But if it is, then chances are you are thinking about what it means to be a badass broad raising a badass kid.
I was sure that I was going to have a little boy, my husband’s family has little boys. Period. But here’s the thing, often the universe doesn’t give you what you want or what you think you’re going to get, instead it gives you what you didn’t even know you needed. And it gave me a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lanky-legged baby girl. A little girl that loves superheroes. 

Fact of the matter is, I’m not very girly myself. Sundresses are my thang, but only because it’s not cool to walk around naked all summer. I’d pretty much always chose to be outside, stomping around nature and getting dirty. But I would’ve loved this little girl no matter what she loved; whether that was pink and glitter and dresses, or as it turned out, comics and action figures and legos.
The thing about kids about humans, no matter their age or gender, is that they are never one thing. She hates pink, and loves her long hair. She’s not into “girly shirts” or dresses, but she loves to read and watch movies and play outside and do yoga with me. Kids are never what you expect they’re going to be, instead they are so much better. The best you can do is to keep an open mind and learn who they are, who they really and truly are, and embrace that wholeheartedly and with wild abandon.
Only by loving them for them, and embracing who they are at their most basic level, can you raise a kid who’s as badass as you are.
There are those who will try to tell you that you are the adult, and if you want them to wear a dress then you should be able to say so and have them do it no question. I say that’s bullshit. The only thing you’re teaching your child by doing something like that is not to respect, but that who they are, who they really feel like they are inside, is wrong. I do want respect from my child, but not in the form of blanket obedience, and I get that respect by giving it. Your child may be young, but if you want a relationship of give-and-take when they’re older and the problems are bigger, then you have to learn to have a relationship of give-and-take when they are younger, and their problems seem small to you but are the world to them.
So, let your “boys be boys” if they want to and let your “girls be girls” if they want to, but if your boy wants to wear that dress or your girl wants to wear those jeans and the ripped, holey superhero T-shirts, then let them do that, too. Because you won’t change who they are on the inside, they are born perfectly imperfect and perfectly themselves, the only thing you have the power to change is whether they love that inner self.
You didn’t get to be so badass by not loving and embracing exactly who you are at your deepest levels, and never are people more sure of exactly who that is than when they are a child. Before the world has had a chance to change you and mold you into what it thinks you should be. Help them embrace themselves now, and they will embrace themselves for life.
There are times when they will infuriate you, out-will you, sadden you, and just make you want to tear your hair out. But in the end, those same traits are what will serve them well as adults. Those same things are what you see in yourself and embrace. They’re your guts, your moxie, your will-do, can-do, no one stands in my way attitude. And baby, that’s the best part of you!


The Gift of Time and Dirty Nails

We went up to my parent's on Saturday, all three of us. An early Mother's Day celebration with my Mom, and an early birthday celebration with my Dad, who turns another year more experienced on the 13th.

My gift to my Mom was a gift of time spent doing something she absolutely loves... gardening. We met at a local nursery to buy some flowers, then headed to their house for some lunch. Afterwards my mom and I got to work.

We pulled out the old roots, and set to work arranging the new flowers. Four of these bench planters... and a decorative wheelbarrow later, our nails were thoroughly dirty, and we were quite satisfied.

I can't wait to see how they look when they start to fill out in a few weeks. 

While we did the gardening (and rounded out the afternoon by relaxing outside and enjoying the view), Trav and Gwen headed to check out something we didn't realize was happening today until we got up to the area... Lehigh Valley ComicCon!

It was a great coincidence, as was Gwen's shirt choice...

Gwen had an awesome time - as did Trav - and my Mom and I really enjoyed the quiet time together. It was a great day!

Our Sunday, was just as nice. I got to sleep in, which is always the ultimate present. Then had the breakfast of my choice (french toast and bacon). My sweet girl gave me her sweet gift.

Trav and Gwen did tennis, while I took a leisurely shower. Then we all hung out with our great neighbors for a few hours.

A really good weekend!

Happy Mother's Day!


Some More of Nothing More

I decided to do another Nothing New challenge in April.

A Little Back Story: I had been doing so well with it last year, and was in a much healthier mindset about consumption... then I got pregnant. Because of the length of time since my last pregnancy, shifting the timing of pregnancy ever so slightly, and just having a different body to work with, including carrying VERY differently, I found that a lot of my old maternity clothes weren't working for me. So I bought some clothes. Because of food aversions and intense cravings, I loosened up my food restrictions.

Then I had the baby, and well, I got a little uncomfortable in my own body. The thought of going back to work at 6 weeks postpartum, rocking my little pooch, was difficult. I ended up buying 2 new pairs of pants, 3 new tops, and a new pair of shoes. Now granted, they are all well made items, and the pants are all good base items that I will wear for a long time, the shirts all ones the were just enough outside of my normal comfort zone to be great additions to my closet. The shoes are my go to ones (my other pair had gotten stretched out). But those things aside, the fact was that instead of focusing on how far I'd come, I was trying to shop away my discomfort.

How far my mindset had changed.

I've talked recently about my desire to do big things, and contribute in a real way to making the whole (people, earth, etc) better. I want to live in a way that is authentic to who I am, and what I believe in. And that is not a place of mass consumption. It is a place of measured investment in items that meet some important criteria of need (not want), and support of a lifestyle or movement that I feel committed to. Nothing New is one way for me to get myself there again.

In the interest of honestly and raw realness, I had another reason, much less grand and altruistic then the greater good. I had nickle and dimed myself to death in February and March. 

We are working to buy a new house, had worked so hard to save, save, save, and here I was having a panic attack because I didn't realize how much I had spent. [Side note: don't worry, we're not talking thousands here... but still.] 

But that was the real kick in the pants that I needed to see how far I had regressed since last spring/summer. It was the push to acknowledge why I was really consuming the way I was. So April would be my month to reboot, change my mindset, and yes, pay off my credit card bill.

April was the perfect month to start. It was Earth Day on April 22, so what a glorious way to celebrate. There was also a Greatist's Challenge that fit in nicely!

It really went well. Was I perfect? No. But I was pleased with how relatively easy it was once I made the decision. Other then one item that I'd been waiting to come in stock for ages, I didn't buy any clothes. Other then one treat when my brother came to town, I stopped eating out, packing my lunches instead. A concert I wanted to attend (coming up), I opted to ask for as a Mother's Day gift.

Better yet, I'm feeling really good about continuing on, albeit in an adjusted way*. We have so many birthdays this month, but like last year, I'm finding myself gifting activities and experiences more then items. A Celtic Classic membership for my dad, a dinner out for a girlfriend, a day of help in her garden for my mom. These things are great to give because they make everyone happy, and don't take up space! I also don't feel the urge to buy things like I did just a month and a half ago. Its a relief. 

So, here's to more of "nothing" in May! 


semi-wordless wednesday {my heart}

When you feel embarrassed, I'll be your pride, 
when you need direction, I'll be your guide, 
for all time.

Lyrics © Death Cab for Cutie


creating *more*

Its been years since I first felt it. Since then it has come and gone. There are times I'm so content with everything as it is, right now. There are times when I sit in stillness and think that my life is pretty damn amazing (it really is!).

But then there were other times. Times when I would get these pang of, "there has to be more to it. there has to be more that I can do. more that I can show Gwen." Sometimes a girl just wants more. And in those times some amazing things have happened. 60 miles for cancer. Surrogacy.

I want even more though. (More "more"?)

Now, I know that life isn't all about those big things. It is a fine web, woven from the big and the small. Each event, no matter how tiny seeming in the moment, is an integral thread. But sometimes when you hear about all the bad things in the world, you want to do some big great things.

I saw this TED talk online a few months ago and it inspired me.

This is ridiculous maybe, but I want to change the damn world. More ridiculous still... I really think I can. I don't know how yet, but I'm going to keep trying to figure that out.

What do you do when you want to make a big impact?


everything old is new again!

I've recently become a part of a killer group called the Indie Chicks, and today you'll find my face on their main page! They've republished one of my pieces.  :-)

Check it out (pretty please?):
The Beauty in Our Differences 

Also, if you feel so inclined, the Indie Chicks Badass Blog Nominations are now open! If you like what you read here, I'd love for you to nominate me.  


fresh air and card sharking

These past few weeks its finally warmed up. The grass is deep, lush, and so soft to walk on. There are buds and leaves and flowers popping up everywhere. Last weekend we were even outside in shorts and t-shirts!

One of our favorite things to do lately is to drag a blanket outside to lounge around playing cards and enjoying the fresh air.

Gwen has become quite the card shark! She taught us a game called Trash (like this, but in our version Jacks are wild) which she learned at school, and we will play it for hours!

Of course sometimes this happens...
which puts a temporary hold on the game!

These days are so great. Lazy, refreshing, relaxing. Days I love looking back on when the weeks are long and stressful.

After a long, cold winter stuck in doors... it feels good to breathe fresh warm air, and feel the sun and breeze on our skin.

And it feels good just to be silly together.

The big trips and plans are fun, but these simple days are just as important.

Happy Spring all.