Thursday, November 17, 2011

Curtains Down, Curtains Up

You know, when it first starts to get dark at 5:00 in the evening, I get a touch of anticipatory anxiety. Winter must be almost here! With Thanksgiving a mere week away, it's hard to ignore that fall will soon be a memory.

And after months of indulging my wanderlust, I sometimes worry that winter will make me feel boxed in. But then I think about the yin to my wanderlust yang, which is coziness. And winter? Winter is the season for coziness. A curtain goes down on the routines of warmer weather, and with that it's curtains up on popcorn popping, hot chocolate stirring, and general homey togetherness.

There are a lot of pleasures to anticipate in the coming months.

**But while the seasons are in transition, I'll savor the lovely days that still come our way. When we stumble upon 65 degree weather, we race off to the zoo for one more chance to admire lions and tigers and flamingoes. Oh my!

**Tiny was entranced.**

**Don't worry, little man, these days will come again. And in the meantime, don't count out trips to the zoo with snow on the ground. It wouldn't be the first time.**

Though our routines change in the winter, we make room for new ones.
Less zoo, more indoor playroom. Fewer outdoor concerts, more movie nights in. Less ice cream (!!!), more baked apples.

And the search for new routines unearths some pleasant surprises. My urge to get out of dodge (read: the kitchen) on Friday evenings is seasonless. So since we can't have outside BBQ's anymore? Well, we decided to head on over to a diner where the lights are always on.

**Chocolate Milkshake Joy.**


**Multiply said joy when it's a shared chocolate shake.**

**We got the windowseat, which was great for our very social Drummer.**

**He waved at nearly ever passerby, and was rewarded with lots of return waves and giggling smiles.**

And it was awesome.

Cold weather? Flu season? Dark evenings? I'm ready for you. Because your fabulous counterpoints include so many of my favorites: Chrismas carols, snowflakes and twinkle lights. And Diner frequenting. :)

Plus, change is always on its way. The winter solstice hits before Christmas, and the idea always surprises me that the light has begun its slow march towards luminous evenings again, when it seems like it just did the opposite.

I guess that's just the way of things.

To close, I'll leave you with a few links. I work with the youth group at church right now, specifically the girls, and so I think a lot about how to empower them. In honor of them, here are some of my favorite girl power links:

*I'm trying to figure how how to incorporate one of these into Tiny's room.

*I read this article about standards nights months ago when it first made the rounds, but it's still the best article I've read on the topic. I want so much for these girls to understand how powerful they are, and to understand where that power comes from.

*Another article that made the rounds a few months ago, but that I still contemplate as the mom of a young girl.

**Keep on Rockin', my friends.**

Happy Friday. Warm, cold or in between--let's make it good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


**Seeing the two of them up at a door together? Now that's a moment.**

One of our recent family walks (we do a lot of those), Rockstar suggested that we try out a local BBQ shop near our house that we'd never tried. It's a family owned business, and he loves to support those. We stopped in, and ordered hot dogs for the kids and beef brisket for Rockstar(luckily there is also salmon on the menu for the pesca-vegetarians among us). While waiting, the engaging shop owner chatted us up about HS football and other local happenings. A few other people stopped in for food who clearly knew her and got equally friendly treatment.

As we walked home, I smiled to myself as Rockstar talked about the pleasure of finding little businesses like that.

**Then there is the pleasure of seeing Tiny dressed up as Rosetta. In case you are out of the loop, she's one of Tink's friends.**

A week later, we were driving past the BBQ shop again and Rockstar said out of the blue, "Wanna stop there for lunch?" Now, I'm always ready to dine out, but the husband usually takes a little more convincing. So if it's his idea? Yes, sir.

**Drummer's idea was usually to walk inside the house when the door opened. I had Tiny run interference.**

We walked in and the owner recognized us immediately. We ordered our food and again chatted while we waited. I realized that she had an Irish accent that I'd missed the first time.

**The wings missed the memo about staying upright. I assured Tiny that their flying capabilities would not be diminished by hanging upside down.**

She offered Drummer an irish rubgy ball to play with and told me not to worry if he ran circles around the store.

She laughed as Tiny danced on her stool.

**Dancing off on a sugar high!**

We talked about naming our children and the differences between Irish and American names.

Then we ate our food and left. "Good to see you again!" She called.

Rockstar and I looked at each other as we walked out, feeling full in more than one way. I knew we'd be back soon.

**I get the same feeling after a night of smiling at our neighbor's children and their adorable get-ups.**

It's true that in the influx of technology, something of community has been lost. Of course there are new online communities that have popped up to replace them, but as I left that shop, I knew there was nothing that could ever replace that face to face connection.

Nothing can replace the fact that it feels good to have a local shop-owner know your kids names. To stop and talk to your neighbor on your way in from work, and help them shovel their walk in the winter. To chat with fellow moms at the playground.

Having those connections makes the world feel a little safer and a little happier.

**Apparently, candy does that for Drummer. Look at that expression! He deserved it since he said, 'thank oo', to everyone who gave him candy--unprompted!!**

That doesn't always come naturally to me. In a doctor setting, I've learned to be pretty extroverted. But on the playground and in restaurants? My shy side comes out and I'd probably keep to myself if it weren't for an outgoing husband and run-ins with equally friendly strangers.

**Tiny elected to keep her candy to herself and Drummer was none too pleased.**

But our few trips to the BBQ shop have reminded me how satisfying it is to push outside of that initial barrier and build communities. Because now that I've been in a few times? I feel like I could walk in and feel totally comfortable asking the owner about the season closer for our football team, and I'm glad for that.

I'm realizing more and more how that's something worth cultivating. That there's a benefit in turning more strangers into acquaintances. How a smile and a short conversation can brighten a day. How knowing that I'm connected to the people around me, makes my own house feel more like home.