August 22, 2016

A Sunny Week in Barcelona

We had a lovely visit with my sister and her family in Barcelona. The weather was perfect, and my sister's new home is full of so many amenities that Nathan determined that it was like a "hotel of goodness". Being August, many Spaniards were on vacation, so we had this gorgeous pool mostly to ourselves every day; but there were still enough kids around to participate in soccer matches.

A few highlights from our trip include surprising the boys with a Barca game (Messi scored two goals and Nathan could not have been more excited), an amusement park at Tibidabo, and an evening at a local beach. We also ventured downtown once, although coordinating five little boys can still be a challenge. Mostly, we spent a lot of time by the pool, in my sister's lovely patio, and on one of the many sports fields. I love that this is a trip that my boys will most definitely remember.  

Sooooo cool - a definite highlight of the trip!

There were many games of soccer.

The amusement park was fun...

...and the views were spectacular.

Walking Las Ramblas

Oh! And we managed an adult date-night! We overdid it with a final gin and tonic, but it was a fabulous night.

Lots of reading and relaxing by the pool

This is the view from my sister's patio - so pretty!

Another definite highlight - a visit to this beach followed by a wonderful dinner

August 19, 2016

A Few Cool Days in Dublin

Since we decided to visit my sister in Barcelona for our summer vacation, we wanted to add on a few days in a city that was new to us. We'd have to connect somewhere else anyway, so let's go on an adventure! Flying through Dublin turned out to be cheaper, and I've always wanted to go to Ireland, so we went for it.

It felt like a tease, since we only had a few short days - not long enough to venture out into the Irish countryside, see the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, the Ring of Kerry... - but it was great nonetheless. We did a Viking tour of the city, took the train out to a seaside town called Howth for pretty views and fish & chips, rode bikes through the enormous Phoenix park, toured the Guinness storehouse, and walked a lot. It also allowed us to start getting adjusted to the time change before heading to Spain. There was a little whining along the way, but all in all, it was a pretty fun time and only makes me look forward to one day going back for the full country tour.

sitting on the shore in Howth

Riding bikes through Phoenix Park

A carriage ride to St. Patrick's cathedral from the Guinness storehouse

August 3, 2016

Newport Folk Festival 2016

Another fabulous weekend at the Newport Folk Festival. This was our 5th year, and we're getting better and better at maximizing the fun (or more likely, the kids are just getting older and easier to hang out with). 

Kevin's sister and brother-in-law joined us on Saturday, and it was a great day in the hot sun. We stayed for Sunday this year too, which was filled with amazing music. We were exhausted by the time we got home Sunday night, but it was a happy exhaustion.  

Here's who we saw:  The Banditos, John Moreland, Rayland Baxter, Amy Helm, Dave Simonett and Dave Carroll, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Ryan Adams, Norah Jones, and Patti Smith. That was just Saturday!

On Sunday: Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir, Ian Fitzgerald, River Whyless, The Oh Hellos, Brian Fallon, Glen Hansard, Middle Brother, Elvis Costello, and Alabama Shakes. Phew! And that doesn't include the surprise artists we saw in the family tent, where we continue to spend a decent amount of time, this time mostly to escape the sun.

Glen Hansard was my absolute favorite. He owned the Fort stage with his beautiful songs and funny stories from Ireland. The Oh Hellos were awesome and loud and fun. And John Moreland was my favorite new-to-me artist. Beautiful, beautiful music.

For a look at our previous years in Newport: 2012, 20132014, 2015

Surprise performance by Spirit Family Reunion in the family tent 

The Oh Hellos on the Fort stage

We submitted a silly picture and made it on the big screen!

The boys spent an inordinate amount of time building forts to escape the sun

The beautiful view, before the crowds filled in

August 1, 2016

New York Friends

Every Summer weekend seems to be filled with travel and fun. A couple weekends ago (I'm still catching up), we visited our friends in New York. They live in the suburbs of New York City, and we hadn't seen them in too long. You know those friends who are always a pleasure to hang out with? The ones with no drama, just easy and fun to hang out with?  These are our friends. They have kids the same ages as ours, and they are all now friends as well, which has only made it that much more rewarding to spend time together. 

Saturday included several hours at their beach club, playing in the pool; and then we ventured into the Bronx to attend a Yankees game that evening. It was all tremendous fun, and the kids were upset to have to leave to go home the next day. I have to admit, I wasn't all that excited about it either. 

July 28, 2016

Cape Cod

I know, I know - it's been a while.  I will do some catching up soon.  Well, maybe not soon, but at some point. Summer is busy! So many fun things to do. And since work is also pleasantly busy as well at the moment, it doesn't allow time for blogging. But I will check in when I can. 

These pictures are from our week on Cape Cod during the first week of July. It seems forever ago already. We rented the same house we stayed in last year - why mess with a good thing? We went with Kevin's family, and we had a wonderful time. The house is two blocks from the beach, and overall, we had really nice weather. It was a week full of beach time, games, spending time with family, morning yoga, bike rides, and ice cream. We also went out to a Cape League baseball game and met up with a couple families from home - friends of the boys. It was great. 

Aaron is never as happy as when he's on a boogie board.

A cloudy day means bumper boats and batting cages.

It was a beautiful night for baseball.

The boys could skip rocks for hours.

July 1, 2016

Recently Read...

Presence, by Amy Cuddy.  I read this as a part of our company book club. The author also did a TED Talk, but I enjoyed the book better than the talk. It's a fascinating book, although it does go on a bit too long. It could've been half the length and been just as effective. What is especially interesting are the studies that indicate how our body language influences our own confidence. I have found myself sitting up straighter and using more expansive positions, especially before presentations.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain.  This is a pretty powerful book. Typically, when books are centered around a very short timeframe, I get bored with the minutiae and crave more action. This book is essentially focused on a single day, but it is peppered with flashbacks and enough drama and interesting dialogue that I never found myself skipping through or getting antsy. It's engaging and thought-provoking.

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie.  My mom has read all the Agatha Christie books, and she's especially fond of Hercule Poirot, watching the PBS series as well. I know my dad was a fan, too, and he owned all the books. So I realized at some point that it seemed odd that I had never read a single one! I figured that needed to change. I went to the library and saw what they had available, and I figured I'd start with a famous one. I am proud to say that I've now read an Agatha Christie mystery - and it was tremendously fun! I can see why they are so addicting.

June 23, 2016

This and That...

Summer can't come fast enough. We are just about there. Actually, I guess we are already technically there, since summer started a couple days ago, and the boys wrapped up their school years yesterday. But there's one last baseball game tonight, and one week to go before Nathan's birthday and the start of our first vacation. can't come fast enough.

It's been a wonderful couple of months, but it has moved at a hectic pace.  We are all craving a change in routine. One that is quieter, and more open. Yesterday, Nathan asked me, "When can we have a day when we have absolutely nothing planned?"  "Sunday", was my reply. 

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the alligator attack at Disney. Just a couple months ago, we were sitting on that exact beach, and the boys played in the sand near the water as we waited for the movie to start. My heart literally aches at the thought of what happened to that little boy and what that family will have to endure for the rest of their lives. I can't help but think of the seemingly randomness of life. Why that little boy? Why not one of the thousands of others who have dipped their toes in those waters? Why not one of mine? (And my heart aches more.) 

I talk with fellow mothers about our children, making plans and decisions and exchanging stories. It's good to talk it out with people who get it. Parenting is hard, and we all want to get it right. I can second-guess myself, and I recognize that we are not always consistent with the boys. I think we're doing pretty well so far, but I will never let down my guard.

I need more yoga in my life. How to make it happen?  

I am going through a leadership program at work right now, and it has caused me to be very introspective. We get evaluated not only on the hard skills, but there is also a lot of focus on our personality types and history and understanding why we are the way we are and how that influences our decisions and perceptions and performance at work. It's interesting and eye-opening in many ways. 

Meanwhile, I am wrapping up my current project and will be moving on to a new client soon. Consulting is a difficult occupation for someone who is not fond of change.  

But before I start anything new, I will enjoy a week at the Cape with family. I can't wait to relax on the beach, close my eyes and feel the sun on my face, and listen to the waves. 

And before that, I will celebrate my Nathan, who turns 7 next week. (!)  We will have a gaggle of boys running around the yard playing all manner of sport and hopefully having a blast. I can't wait.  

I don't want to wish any time away. I am going to appreciate every moment, including tonight's last baseball game (coaching a team of 7-year-old boys has been the highlight of my spring). 

Summer is here!  Hooray!

June 14, 2016

Masterpiece Wall...2016 Edition

Check out our latest masterpiece wall!  We had this year's portfolio days at school last week, which meant that it was time to make some selections to include in our display. I love discussing and planning with the boys. They are so proud of their work, and we all love showing some of it off for everyone to see. 

This is what it looked like our first year, following the kitchen renovation. (It's hard to believe that was four years ago!)  And here is what we've had on display since last June. I keep all the older pictures in the frames, so it's very fun to put the new pictures in and look at them. 

I love this year's selections. We had to cover up the Sunflowers, but we still have Van Gogh represented with Starry Night.  I love the gorgeous blue flower in the middle, and the eclectic and interesting patterns, and those beautiful orange leaves. Mostly, I love that my boys are learning to appreciate art and that they make beautiful pieces to showcase at home.

June 7, 2016

A Baseball Weekend...

Nice that Boston was in first place for these shots, too. :-)

It's been a busy spring. Fun, but busy. This past weekend, the boys had soccer and baseball games as usual. After the baseball game, we invited both boys' baseball teams over to our house for a cookout. Our house is a convenient location, since the field is literally right in our back yard! Kevin and I had talked about doing something like that for years, and it was fun to get to the point of being able to do it. There were tons of kids - almost all boys - running through the house and around the yard. Football games and soccer and tag and... I kept the food coming, filling up the grill with burgers and dogs and slicing up watermelon. Once we were down to a handful of families, I got to take a breath and enjoy myself a bit more, relaxing and talking with friends, and watching the next little league game over the wall.  It was a good time, and it helped that it was a perfect June day - warm and sunny.

On Sunday, we headed to Fenway. Kevin bid on a set of Red Sox tickets at a charity auction, and it included a tour of the park and an opportunity to go onto the field before the game. So cool! The game was really fun, too. It was the first time that both boys were totally into the game the entire time, and we stayed until the very last out. It was great!

On our way home, we noted that the entire week was very full of baseball. Since it was a cool and rainy evening, we decided to cap it all off with a viewing of "Field of Dreams".  As I've said many, many times now:  it's a good thing I love baseball.  

Peeking inside the scoreboard. 

The view is nice from left field.

June 3, 2016

Sarah Jarosz - House of Mercy

This song has been in heavy rotation lately. Sarah Jarosz has a new album coming out this month, and based on the first two songs that have been released, it's going to be a great one. 

June 1, 2016

Going For a Bike Ride...

When we went to Amsterdam a couple years ago, I had so much fun riding bikes around the city, and I vowed to come home and buy myself a bike. I haven't owned a bike since college. Well, it took a while, but I finally did it!  Kevin and I both bought ourselves bikes, and we went for our first family ride this past weekend. My legs feel great, and I'm excited to discover more local bike trails as we explore as a family. 

I LOVE my bike!  She has a big comfy seat, a handy basket, and she's bright orange!  

May 31, 2016

Beach time...

Man, did I need that long weekend. It managed to be long enough for me to fully disconnect from work and the everyday stresses of life, and it helped that we went away for a night. We went to Connecticut to stay with family and enjoy a Memorial Day barbecue. On Sunday, we drove the hour and a half to the coast, discovering a new beach town that we had never been to before. It is called Watch Hill, in Rhode Island, and it is an adorable little town with a lovely beach, and we very much enjoyed our day there.  The water was sooooo cold, but it didn't prevent the boys from having a blast jumping in the waves. The weather was beautiful, with a hot sun and cool breeze; and it felt great to relax with my feet in the sand. The restorative power of the beach never fails.

May 27, 2016

Little Things...

Loving my time in the dugout with these boys

Baseball - These seven-year-old Giants, Aaron's AAA Braves, and our Boston Red Sox:  I love watching my boys play. The smell of lilacs in the yard. Our first 90-degree day. Homemade popsicles. Seeing Aaron up on stage, being recognized as a standard bearer for his school. The complete lineup for Newport. Sleeping with the windows open. Sleep. A clean kitchen sink. Flowers on the table. Talking and laughing with friends. Piano recitals. Dinner from the grill. Patience. My new bike! 

May 20, 2016

Recently Read

Dear Mr. You, by Mary-Louise Parker.  I very much enjoyed this memoir. It has a very unique structure: each chapter is written as a letter from Mary-Louise to a man in her life.  The first chapter is a letter to her father. It has chapters to everyone including friends, former lovers, the father of her adopted daughter, and her accountant. They are all revealing in their own way and to different degrees. They are funny and moving and sad and beautiful. Highly recommend.

The Legends Club, by John Feinstein. I read this in March, during the college basketball tournament, and it was fun to immerse myself in college basketball - past and present - for the month. I wish Dean had been alive to share more of his own stories and perspectives, but it is a great book nonetheless. I had fun learning more about these great coaches and fascinating men.

A Window Opens, by Elizabeth Egan.  I didn't like this book at first. It felt too true to real life, and specifically, my own life. I usually read to escape or to learn or expand upon what I experience in my own life, so I didn't appreciate this right away. However, once I got more into it, I was able to enjoy and appreciate it. It's definitely relatable for any working mom.

May 18, 2016


I don't handle things well when life gets too busy. I'm not as patient, I'm not as kind, I'm not as happy. Even when all the "busy-ness" is great stuff. Even when I'm focused on fun and important things. I end up ignoring other items, and life can get out of whack very quickly. And then I end up snapping at people because the kitchen counters aren't clean or socks are on the floor and "will you please just brush your teeth already!?!"...

Spring is a crazy time of year. I knew it would be hectic due to both boys playing baseball and soccer. However, I don't think we recognized or anticipated the other events taking place. My work has been demanding, particularly since I received a promotion. Kevin's has been busy as it always is, and he has also started traveling more again. And then we have the usual end-of-the-school-year activities. Field trips, piano recitals, portfolio days...  

I am not complaining, because it's all great. I just have to figure out how to enjoy it all more thoroughly. I'm trying to get enough sleep, which at this point means going to bed shortly after the boys.  I'm trying to get more (or at least consistent) exercise, too, which means getting up early.  I've been trying to alternate sleep days vs. exercise days during the week - it's been working the last couple weeks. Five-minute meditations are never not worthwhile. I've also been working to keep the house in some sort of order. A messy kitchen makes for a very grumpy Mary. 

Most importantly, I'm working to be truly present. Life is full of really great moments, and I want to savor every single one.

May 6, 2016

Sturgill Simpson - Brace for Impact (Live a Little)

A cool song for your Friday.  Happy weekend!

Sturgill Simpson

May 4, 2016

Giving Life...

My sister-in-law, Claudia, has a rare condition that, over time, has caused damage to her liver. She had been placed on the transplant list and was patiently waiting for a match. As we were leaving for the airport to head to Florida a couple weeks ago, I received an email from my brother:  they found a liver!  As we were traveling and having fun on our vacation, Claudia was undergoing transplant surgery. Needless to say, she and my brother and their three children were constantly on my mind.

Thankfully, the surgery was a great success, and Claudia is recovering at home with her new liver. I'm so thankful for the wonderful medical care she has received, and I'm also grateful to the family who decided to donate a loved one's organs.

I have always maintained the position that my body should be donated for either transplant or research. My mom set an example by telling us she was planning on donating her body to a medical school after her death. What an amazing way to contribute to humanity! My family has always known my wishes, but Claudia's recent journey as a transplant recipient has brought the topic to the forefront of our minds. We've had the conversations again, and I've confirmed that I'm registered as a donor in my state.  

My brother recently shared the following TED talk. It's incredibly powerful. I'm in awe of this woman, who was able to find wonderful meaning in her son's extremely short life. It's only 10 minutes - watch it, and be moved.  And then if you're not already, think about becoming a donor yourself

April 28, 2016

Disney Recap

Disney World is magical. Truly. I hadn't been since 2004, and I think they've done a great job making it even more magical. Amazing.

Our trip was a smashing success. It was a tiring rather than a relaxing vacation; but we had a wonderful time, and we all got to do the things we were most excited about. The weather cooperated, only raining once and that was during dinner one night! The sun was hot, but that only made pool-time more fun. It was crowded, but the mornings were nice, and we headed back to the hotel each afternoon to relax (or ride the water slide). It was a great routine; and every day since we got back, when 3 o'clock rolls around, I feel a little sad that I don't get to go sit by a pool with a fruity drink in my hand.

A few of the highlights that I want to be sure to remember:

  1. On the first night, we went to a character buffet for dinner. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto all walked around the restaurant.  When Goofy stopped by, I took a picture with Kevin and my MIL. He pointed to the kids, and I said, "Oh, thanks, but they want to wait for the duck."  Nathan was indeed waiting for Donald Duck, but I obviously offended him, and it became a running joke throughout the trip.  "No thanks, we're going to wait for the duck."  Ha!
  2. That first day at Magic Kingdom, we arrived before the gates opened, and we headed straight for Space Mountain, as planned. The boys were running, and the squeals and laughter of excitement as we ran through the park and got on our first ride (with no line!) was everything. Magic. 
  3. Pool-time was especially nice, because the boys are independent and can swim and ride the water slide by themselves. It was fun for them, and relaxing for us. Perfect.
  4. Epcot was the toughest day - the boys were tired, and there wasn't too much at Epcot that they were excited about. However, our dinner in Italy and the fireworks afterwards made for a very nice evening. 
  5. I had never been to Animal Kingdom before, and I loved it. It's very cool. Getting there first thing and having a Fast Pass to the African Safari made it even cooler. The safari is so impressive, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.
  6. Hollywood Studios = Star Wars. Star Tours, pictures with Kylo Ren, a Star Wars stage show, and Jedi training. We ate lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive-In restaurant, rode Toy Story Mania and the Tower of Terror too, but when we think about Hollywood Studios, we will remember Star Wars.  
  7. We capped off our Hollywood Studios day by watching The Force Awakens on the beach at our resort.  Nice.
  8. Splash Mountain = the consensus favorite ride of the family. 

I probably won't ever be able to drag Kevin there again, but this trip was worth it, and we definitely made memories that will last a lifetime. 

Seriously, the African safari was amazing!

Jedi training was really, really cool.

Watching Star Wars while sitting on a beach is not a bad way to spend an evening.


The happiest place on Earth


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