Friday Links

Friday Humor

November 18, 2016

For some reason, everything felt rushed this week, like I was constantly behind. I was also trying to make sure a sore throat didn’t become something worse and so far so good. I want to be in tip-top shape for tomorrow when I’ll be joining a few friends for an aerial silks class at a circus arts school nearby. Never mind that I’m totally out of shape and afraid of heights. That should make it comical at the very least.

I’m not the only one doing a fun workshop this weekend — Ryron Gracie is coming to Baltimore and leading a class for kids at the girls’ dojo tomorrow morning. That means nothing if you know nothing about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but if you do, you’ll understand the excitement.

It seems like it’s been an intense week for a lot of people coming off the recent election, with social media still buzzing. I maintain that one must always keep their sense of humor and sometimes you just need an extra dose of funny to help you along. At the end of this week I needed a good laugh and without realizing that, one of my sisters obliged by texting me this video. Warning: if you’re offended by vulgarity or at laughing about lady parts, you might want to pass. As for the rest of you, you’re welcome. Have a great weekend!




Friday Inspiration

November 11, 2016

Hiking Appalachian Trail

Feel like you need a drink at the end of this week? Plenty of people do! While something like whiskey might be your first choice, I suggest you consider this:

Iced minted lemonade

It’s not alcoholic, and may be a bit summery right now, but it’s a nice tonic when you need a boost. It’s called an iced minted lemonade and my mother-in-law ordered it recently at a Greek restaurant we all went to. Everyone liked it so much that the next time we were there, S and H insisted they have one.

Today I’m lifting a glass not simply to toast that the election is over (and c’mon, no matter what your politics, there is surely some relief across the board that it’s now over… Facebook was becoming unbearable); I also want to wish my sister Kate a very happy birthday today, and acknowledge with gratitude the many and profound sacrifices of our veterans on this Veterans’ Day.

Any plans this weekend, friends? Last Saturday, we got out of the city, booked a hotel (with a pool for our little fish) on points, and took a short fall hike along the Appalachian Trail just west of Frederick, Maryland. The girls lasted, oh, about half a mile before the complaining began. They’re not bad little hikers generally, but it was mostly steep and rocky going up and that was a bit tough. The weather was perfect all weekend, though, and we found some good food, stopped at an apple orchard, and visited a beautiful shrine before making our way home. This weekend there are practical things on the agenda instead… catching up on a freelance project, doing a little Christmas shopping, (yes, I am determined to get a  head start his year in order to make December slower and more meaningful!), and some much needed house cleaning.

Hope you have a peaceful one, and I’ll see you back here next week!

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul


Pull Up A Chair

May 13, 2016

Erol Ahmed cactus photo

So let’s get the weekend started with a lemon lavender gin rickey from Food52. I always want to try whatever I see in my Instagram feed from that recipe site!

I have so many random things in my brain at the moment…

  • Next week is our last at our homeschool academy for this academic year. I love having it two days a week — it  provides structure for our homeschooling and has been great for the girls on many levels. But it will also be nice to have a break from having to get the kids out the door early in the morning and make lunches and deal with homework for their classes there. Gosh, what would I do if they went to “regular” school every day? It would be so excessive. Haha
  • You know you’re busy when a delivery of Frye boots shows up at your door and you’re too busy to even open the boxes for days. Also, picking our boots online is hard! There’s a long story behind these boots. Back when we had our TV trip to North Carolina, a friend gifted me with a pair of Fryes. The problem was, they had a major defect and there wasn’t time to return them. The customer service folks at Frye said they were okay with me wearing them for the show and sending them back afterwards for credit. Which I did, hoping to get another pair just like them. But they were out of stock and weren’t going to be back in for months. So, I waited, and then kind of forgot about them, and then realized my credit was going to run out so I better hop to it! But then I wasn’t sure I wanted the same pair; maybe I should try some other styles just to complicate things? So, I did. And now I’m going back and forth between two colors of these Phillip Harness boots. I wanted the camel color and they’re out so it’s between the cognac and the black. I like the former slightly better, but the latter is more practical with my current wardrobe. I’m not good at these kinds of decisions. They’re just boots, but I don’t get Fryes everyday and I want to get it right!
  • We’ve had so much rain and many cloudy days. But I find it strangely comforting because it reminds me of home. Nova Scotia gets a lot of clouds and rain — a lot like the northwest of the US. So, speaking of boots, I’ve been wearing my Hunters a lot. I love throwing on rubber boots to head out the door.
  • My husband got me hooked on a show called Peaky Blinders. Heard of it? It’s a gangster drama located in the streets of post-war Birmingham, England, on the verge of the 1920s. B liked it right away; I was like, meh… And then it kind of sucked me in. Great performances. And I like that it’s not too violent, at least compared to so many other shows and what you’d expect from a show about gangsters.
  • Did I mention I had a lovely Mother’s Day? Low key and relaxing. The girls made me awesome homemade cards. Those are like pearls to me. And we went out for a special brunch where I had the best Bloody Mary ever. The girls tried to be on their best behavior all day. Sometimes I still can’t believe I have the privilege of being their mom. It’s a gift never lost on me.

Well, there’s more, but that’s enough. How was your week, friends? Hope it was a good one, and hope you have a terrific May weekend. See you back here next week.

Image: Erol Ahmed at unsplash



Pull Up A Chair

February 26, 2016

Beetles at Pixabay

Gosh, it’s Friday again?

I spent much of the week fighting a virus, the kind that takes the wind out of your sails and makes you want to crawl under the covers and not come out. But every mother knows that moms can’t really be sick, and thankfully I’m starting to feel like myself again. B had a virus last week so I’m sure I caught it from him. So far, though, S and H — our daughters with immune systems of steel — are fine. Knock on wood, they’ve had one fairly mild cold this year, back before Christmas, and that’s it. I thought when they started attending homeschool coop twice a week and being exposed to more germs — like the sweet little guy in their class who seems to always have a cough and running nose — that they’d catch more. I can’t help but think it’s all those amazing Ethiopian gut microbes they picked up in their first few four years of life.

Anyway, given that I’m still nursing this virus, I’m drawn to something warm and lemony with a little kick today — like this hot rummy lemonade from Jamie Oliver. Soothing, right?

February is when I really start longing for spring. It’s when we tend to get walloped by the cold and snow here. But last night we had tornadoes in the mid-Atlantic and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such rain and wind. And that’s saying something as we can get some pretty incredible rain storms here. I was grateful all of us were snug at home and I whispered a prayer for all those on the roads — it would have been dangerous.

How has your week been? Everyone well at your house? Hope you have a slow weekend. See you back here next week!

Image: Leeroy at Life of Pix 



Pull Up A Chair

February 19, 2016

 Jean-Marie Grange at Unsplash

Fridays are good days to celebrate successes, big and small. A couple things on my end…

First, I fixed our dishwasher. I’m terrible at any home repair and mechanical anything is Greek to me. My beloved husband, who can figure anything out, was very busy and it just one of those times when I couldn’t wait one more day so I found a You Tube video, took some of the dishwasher parts apart, and it worked.

Also, I made it through the week! On Tuesday, it looked like I’d reach today out of breath and grumpy. Last week B had to work more hours than usual, and spent a lot of time at his office, which meant a crazier than normal week for me. That’s okay; it goes like that sometimes. But this week, the tables were supposed to be turned; I had agreed to take on some extra work hours so B was going to cover for me. Then, B woke up sick on Tuesday. So, I kicked it into high gear and somehow managed to get all my work done, get the homeschooling done, make most of the meals, run errands, and keep everyone in clean underwear — with two terrible nights of sleep thrown in there because of all B’s coughing. (He felt badly in more ways than one.)

I know a number of supermoms and I’m not one of them, so while I’m happy I accomplished everything I needed to this week, what I’m most proud of is that I’ve still got some energy and don’t feel like barking at anybody. Something to celebrate!

What about you — anything to celebrate? How about joining me in a glass of homemade cedrata? It’s non-alchololic, but anything lemony floats my boat.

Hope it’s a lovely and slow weekend for you. See you back here next week!

Image:  Jean-Marie Grange, Unsplash





Friday Inspiration

March 6, 2015

When I want to save someone’s life I don’t care if he’s an enemy or a friend. What concerns me is the soul that might die. – Abed

I recently discovered an inspiring group called the White Helmets, a group of Syrians who volunteer to save people on all sides of the conflict, since there’s no infrastructure there to help anyone now. The volunteers pledge three things: humanity, solidarity, impartiality, and they are part of the International Civil Defence Organisation.

According to its web site, the White Helmets mainly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks, but have also risked sniper fire to rescue bodies of regime soldiers to give them a proper burial. They rush to the scenes of barrel bomb and missile strikes and dig for survivors using tools and their bare hands. They come from all walks of life; they are are bakers, engineers, tailors, painters, pharmacists, carpenters, and students. Many have paid the ultimate price for their compassion — 81 have been killed in the line of duty.

While almost all of the members of the White Helmets are men, two teams of women were formed in October 2014. So far, 56 women have been trained in medical care and light search and rescue work. In some cases, these women are the only hope for other women or girls who are trapped under rubble since in Syria’s most conservative communities, some refuse to let male volunteers rescue women and girls. The female White Helmets have inspired hundreds of people across the world to donate over $100,000 to buy them the six ambulances they need for their rescue missions.

If you want some inspiration, there you go. I cried when I watched the rescue video above. Incredible.

I hope your weekend is peaceful and I’ll see you back here in next week!


Friday Inspiration

February 6, 2015

This video cracked me up, and then I had to wonder: Did this little girl see someone doing a similar thing in the mirror? Or did she just make it up? Knowing how crazy and imaginative my girls can be, it could easily be the latter.

I’ve always been curious about daily affirmations. Frankly, I’ve never actually put a ton of stock in their ability to do much. Daily meditations or reflections can work wonders, and changing our thinking can lead to enormous changes in our lives overall. But daily affirmations? I don’t know. Have they ever worked for you?

Still, I just love sheer energy and positive attitude of this kid! I hope it puts a little smile on your face as you head into the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, any exciting plans? I’m looking forward to tackling a few projects, having some down time, and getting together with a close friend for dinner tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you back here next week!

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B’s mom arrived last night to spend Christmas with her new granddaughters (and her number one son and daughter-in-law, of course). She’s our first overnight guest and the first family member to meet the girls. It’s also our first Christmas without B’s dad, so we’re all happy to be together.

I lucked out with in-laws who embraced me from the very beginning as the daughter they never had. I married their only child, and I’ve always been impressed by how non-intrusive and respectful they are — always supportive, always effusive with praise.

In-law relationships can be tricky, and tensions can run high this time of year when you’re spending intense time under the same roof, with different expectations and preferences. I’ve passed along a few tips to clients over the years that I’d like to share with you…

Get on the same page with your spouse. If you’re spending holidays with your in-laws — even if the relationships are good — talk things over beforehand and make sure you agree on how to handle certain issues that might arise.

Set boundaries. Most of us are challenged in the boundary-setting department in one way or another. There are ways to communicate your needs and wants in a positive manner — first by making it about you/your own family and not about them. Say it with a smile and be clear so that you may be understood.

Remember the end goal. If you focus on what will help the relationship in the long term, versus zeroing in on the annoyance of the moment, it will help you handle those rougher patches and feel calmer in the long run.

Give the benefit of the doubt. Most in-laws want to be loving parents and grandparents. They have their habits, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses — just like anyone else. Try to see the good intentions behind the words or behaviors. This doesn’t mean you need to pretend all is well, but it can give you perspective, which can help you choose the best response.

I won’t ask how your in-law relationships are; instead, I’ll move on to some links I found this week that I thought you might enjoy…

  • Thai Monks struggle as consumerism and fast-living become the norm. (Is that lead pic not dreamy?)
  • These roasted cranberry bars look yummy and are a little healthier than similar treats.

Is it silly for me to wish you a slow weekend? Enjoy it nonetheless and see you back here on Monday!

Image: Avanti Press


12-12-12 pizza lunch

Although we’re celebrating tomorrow as a family, my birthday was on Wednesday — the magical 12-12-12. I was half expecting a money tree to sprout in the backyard or a fairy godmother to appear with a magic wand. Alas. Instead, it was a day of daring: I took my girls out for the afternoon — first to church so I could spend some reflective time in a sacred space, then to a favorite Neapolitan pizza place for our first mama-daughters lunch date. We stopped at a chocolate shop and a grocery store and then hit the playground. I was determined to make my day a little special with them, and it all went super well — yay!

The one request I have on my birthday — even if I’m not officially celebrating that day — is to not have to make dinner. So Wednesday was a perfect time to accept a friend’s offer to order us a takeout meal — a great gift for a new mom on her birthday! Celebrations actually began on Sunday when I enjoyed my first girls’ gathering — brunch with a handful of local friends. B likes to joke that I don’t have a birthday, I have a birthday octave, and it’s true: At this time of year, it’s hard to get everyone together at the same time, so celebrations end up staggered. Who’s complaining?

This is an extra special birthday — my first as a mom. It was also a kind of marker: B and I decided earlier this year that, if we didn’t have an adoption referral by my birthday/this Christmas, we’d seriously consider moving on to a different plan for our lives. And now, here we are, with two little Ethiopian girls running around our house.

I’ve written a few thoughts about being an older mom in the past. It wouldn’t have been my first choice to start parenting so late, but I’m looking on the bright side: I’m wiser, I’m more relaxed about life in general, and raising these two little girls will keep me young. So, I refuse to lament being an older mom when being a mom at all is a gift no woman should take for granted.

When I turned 40, I realized I had a few options as to how I was going to approach my advancing birthdays — especially when each one would be bringing new lines, more gray hairs, muscles that don’t stay taut, and shadows where there was once only sunshine. I knew I could do one of three things: ignore my birthdays, complain about them (and dream of gift certificates to medi-spas), or celebrate them with gusto. I’ve chosen the latter. (Though, for the record, I’ll never turn down a good spa treatment.) The way I see it, not everyone gets to make it this far, and I have so much to be grateful for. Gratitude is the secret to a happy life, and there are many blessings that come with age (even if one is not a desire to hang more mirrors around the house).

I’m looking forward to sharing some fun time with B and the girls tomorrow. How about you — any special plans for the weekend? (Besides holiday prep, of course.) Here are a few links I found for you this week…

  • This is definitely getting made over the Christmas holidays.

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul



The Girls

Eight weeks ago today, we came home with our girls. It feels like they’ve been here forever — and then again, it all still feels so new.

We continue to see progress each week. In fact, about three or four weeks back, we noticed a marked improvement in the number of tantrums. I’ll never forget the day we reached suppertime and there hadn’t been one major meltdown. I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Plenty of whining, of course, and a few minor upsets, but no long, crazy, thrashing, intense, please-someone-come-and-do-something-before-Mummy-commits-hara-kiri kind of stuff. Of course, bedtime was another story, and the next day was atrocious, but it was the beginning of a big change in the number and degree of the tantrums — and that’s a welcome relief.

The regression is still there and probably will be for a while. Those behaviors can be very challenging to deal with. It’s also hard to know how much to do and not do with them: Sometimes they’re great on short outings, and sometimes they melt down in the middle of the sidewalk. Sometimes they barely notice a visitor, and sometimes it sets them off for the rest of the day. I’m constantly experimenting to try to find the right balance.

They’re understanding and speaking more English, which makes a huge difference. It’s a riot to hear them say words and phrases with their adorable accents, sometimes using words out of context or in the wrong order. Last week, we were sitting at lunch and S said, “I love Mummy. I love Daddy. I love H. I love thank you.” I overhear them calling to each other, “C’mon, sweetie!” And they’ve learned to chant, “Me! Me! Me! Me!” and “Me, too!” Every day they pick up something new.

On the food front, they’re making some big strides. (Can I get an Amen and a Glory Hallelujah?) Not so much in the vegetable department, but even there they’ve had a few breakthroughs. They’ve fallen for pomegranate seeds and occasionally drink the healthy banana smoothies I make, which have a bit of frozen kale or spinach in them. They love my spelt pancakes with maple syrup. I served them fermented miso soup, and they slurped it up. Not so much the superfood muffins I made yesterday morning, though; they were jumping up and down with excitement, thinking I was baking “pupcakes,” but when they tasted them, the jumping turned into dirty looks. No doubt they felt betrayed…and now think Mummy is a terrible cook. They adore pizza — and call it “pista” — and they love hot dogs with kimchi or sauerkraut. One of them is a freak for baked beans, and the other enjoys steel-cut oatmeal with coconut milk. They’re not eating nearly the amount of bread or bananas anymore. They still love Indian food — and, of course, Ethiopian — and have now added Caribbean to their list of favorite ethnic cuisines (much to B’s delight).

Coming up with meals and snacks is still a big challenge, made harder by the fact that one day they love something and the next day declare it “yucky” and push it away. But at least I now have more than four foods I can serve, and they are so much better about trying new things. When I don’t know what else to do, I make a native Ethiopian vegetarian dish called shiro, which they never tire of.

S & H

My two little beans (which I’m fond of calling them) are clearly feeling more secure and safe and continue to attach really well. They’re full of personality, fun, silliness, quirks, and sweetness. I need to start recording the everyday moments before I forget them.

As for me…well, I had three nights in a row this week in my own bed, which is amazing. I’m still falling asleep with them, and we’ve all had some pretty late nights. But they’re sleeping more soundly, and I’m better rested from slumbering under my own covers beside that stranger I like (better known as my husband).

So that’s my eight-week report. We still have a ways to go, but there’s a lot to celebrate!

Before I get to the links I found this week, I want to give a big shout-out to my brother John and his beautiful wife, Noemi, who gave birth to a baby boy last night. We’re thrilled to welcome Samuel Bernard to the world and can’t wait to meet him in the new year!

Also, Hanukkah begins this weekend, so Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers.

  • Great article about loving a child the rest of the world doesn’t value.

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul