Friends & Family

I’m Thankful for Josie


Before deciding we wanted to have a second child, we decided we wanted to have a dog. We started watching the local shelters’ websites for new arrivals with one key phrase in their profile: kid friendly. As it turned out, that was a rare descriptor. A lot of dogs who end up in shelters are uneasy with children, especially if they’ve come from a home where they were abused by kids. Even if they might decide they like kids eventually, they’re often too fragile to deal with little hands and fingers when they’ve only recently been rescued. In fact, I rarely saw the phrase “kid friendly” on any dog, and the local shelters would not adopt a dog to a family without feeling fully confident the dog would be safe around children. Continue reading “I’m Thankful for Josie”

Inside & Out

I’m Thankful I Learned to Be Flaky

I used to be the kind of person who never started a book without finishing it, as if the act of quitting would somehow impugn my intelligence or prove I wasn’t committed to my education, or that it would somehow be an act of disloyalty to the author or the academic world or myself–I’m not sure. This wasn’t just books for school–I was equally hard on myself when I’d picked up a book for personal enrichment or even for fun. I was not a rule breaker in general. I did my homework and I showed up for class, always on time. I liked rules: they gave me a sense of confidence in myself and the world around me. I did not question them, or life in general. I simply wanted to be (and be perceived as) good. Continue reading “I’m Thankful I Learned to Be Flaky”

Inside & Out

I’m Thankful for Small Acts of Kindness and Love


It’s been a stressful week, huh? Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for me and many of my friends and acquaintances, and for many more people whom I’ve never met. I can feel the fear pulsing through the news and social media, thumping louder and faster as the hatred (and its callus dismissal by so many who would have the fearful simply shut up) that has been stirred up in this country flows in the whirlpool created by the campaign and victory that stirred the pot. My heart wants to jump from my body and touch those other hearts that are hurting, but it’s held back–not only by my rib cage, but by my own fear of what to say. So I won’t say much. I will act. I will be kind to those who need kindness. I will love those in need of love. I will listen. I will think. I will teach kindness to my children. I will light a candle in our household, and I will not let anyone snuff it out.



Cooking & Eating

The Season of Thanksgiving Day Four: I’m Thankful for Bread

The girl loves homemade English muffins and staring at Mommy’s phone. You can kind of see the needlepoint in the background.

There is a piece of needlepoint hanging in my kitchen (I made it myself) that reads, “All sorrows are less with bread.” This is a quote by Miguel de Cervantes, from his famous masterwork, Don Quixote. It’s also kind of my motto for life.

I’m not just talking about eating bread, though I’m obviously a fan of that. There’s something about baking bread–mixing it, kneading it, watching it rise–that’s about the closest I get to going to therapy. It’s a little bit scientific, but it’s a science I mostly understand, so a good loaf of bread makes me feel smart. Once an understanding of that science is achieved, bread is a blank canvas for creativity and experimentation. A good loaf of bread from my own recipe makes me feel triumphant.

There’s almost no smell as wonderful as the smell of freshly baked bread. Almost nothing so satisfying and pummeling and hand-kneading the dough. Continue reading “The Season of Thanksgiving Day Four: I’m Thankful for Bread”

Friends & Family

The Season of Thanksgiving Day Three: I’m Thankful for Scout


I don’t say much about my cat, do I? Well, her name is Scout. She was born on April Fool’s Day (or so we like to think), 2002. That makes her fourteen-and-a-half years old and I can hardly believe it.

Scout came to my family because my mom was doing a play: You Can’t Take It With You. She’d landed the leading role, and for one scene of the play, her character was supposed to have two kittens. Bullheaded as he was, the director wouldn’t just cut the kittens or change it to “cat” and accept our fat, calm, Siamese as a substitute. And my mom really wanted to please him, and really wanted to do the role right. The kittens were her props, in a way, and so she signed us up to foster two sisters. One of those sisters was Scout. Continue reading “The Season of Thanksgiving Day Three: I’m Thankful for Scout”

Cooking & Eating · Friends & Family

The Season of Thanksgiving Day Two: I’m Thankful for Apple Days


Back in September, our family had one of those golden days. We took a long car ride, the baby napping while the boy happily watched cars and trucks go by, and ended up at an apple orchard, where we picked our weight in apples. It was a cute little farm, nothing too touristy, with good variety and neatly numbered rows. My husband played with the kids while I did the bulk of the picking, and then we wandered the rows, the boy ducking back and forth under the dividers and the girl riding on Daddy’s shoulders. Continue reading “The Season of Thanksgiving Day Two: I’m Thankful for Apple Days”

Friends & Family

The Season of Thanksgiving, Day One: I’m Thankful for Teachers

My son is three-and-a-half years old, and he attends a developmental delay preschool. It’s an amazing program, available for children who qualify as having significant delay in at least two areas (for Sam, it’s speech and fine motor, though they are in the process of adding gross motor to this list as well). They get up four days a week, get on a school bus, and go to school like the big kids. There are kids with all different kinds of challenges in the class, and Sam loves each and every one of them–he even has a best friend, and the bus driver tells me there’s a girl whose hand he holds every day climbing off the bus. But though he now has nearly a dozen friends to babble about, I know that his first loves in class were his teachers.

A small sampling of the artwork the boy has brought home from school, courtesy of his teachers and therapists. My favorite is a big green monster with a purple hat, but that one is taped to his bedroom door. Until starting preschool, the boy was never particularly proud of any such work, but now he tells me what I should hang up and where I should hang it.

Now, for rhetoric’s sake, I’m going to lump them all together as teachers: the actual teacher, the paraeducator, the occupational therapist and the speech language pathologist. Because when you get down to it, they all teach. At a recent parent-teacher conference, the OT showed me a photo she’d snapped of Sam coloring that robot. It might look like scribbles to you, but my boy has managed to put dots into circles and generally color within the lines, identifying each separate shape and using separate colors. And he smiled while he worked–not the cheesy, you’re-pointing-a-camera-at-me smile, but a real, Look-what-I-can-do! sort of smile. Continue reading “The Season of Thanksgiving, Day One: I’m Thankful for Teachers”