It’s the little things

Pecan barsWhen we were all sick earlier this year with what seemed like a four month long cold/flu bout, I thought I would be so grateful to breath without coughing or sneezing, to sleep through the night without getting up to help the little guy with his inhaler and many pillows, not to use four boxes of tissues a day (no exaggeration!)

And yet, I forget.  I breath freely, I go to bed without worrying about the boys being able to breath through the night.  I don’t wash pillow cases multiple times I day.  And I take it all for granted.

I took a shower in excellent water pressure today.  What a luxury that would have been in Egypt!  I have not been harassed or groped since leaving Cairo.  How we excepted that as true norm, shrugged our shoulders and went on with our days.  I have forgotten that I wore a warm puffy vest every day, despite the temperature, just to hide myself.

Two years ago, I made pecan bars with pecans that cost $90 a pound!  My mom sent pecans in every care package after I told her that story!  Today’s pecan bars?  About $13 a pound.

I washed my children’s laundry at home this morning – something I longed to do less than a year ago.  This weekend, we will decorate our house for Christmas, with a big tree and lots of decorations.  A far cry from the sad ten inch tree and lonely christmas we spent in a hotel last year.

I have seen incredible wonders – the pyramids in Egypt, Borobudur in Indonesia, Cusco, the herds of elephants in Kruger Park, the Okavango, the Grand Canyon.  The smiles on my little boys’ faces.  Beauty everywhere.

How quickly I forget.  How quickly I take these things for granted.  Today, I am thankful for the things, little and big, that I usually take for granted.  Grateful for breathing easily, taking hot showers, choosing my outfit based on what’s suitable for the day, grateful for the laundry, a kitchen where I can cook a meal to share with family and friends tomorrow.

Won’t you join me?  What are you taking for granted today?

A dog’s life

365-1784When we first got married, I moved to Washington to be where my husband’s job was. In the midst of a recession, it took me five months to find a job, and I was home alone in a city where I knew no-one. I was terrified to go anywhere or do anything since I did not want to spend any money, and probably cleaned our little one bedroom apartment a bit obsessively, if not very well. My new husband was at work all day, and probably got an earful when he came home at night. As stressful as those first months of getting used to living with someone can be, being without any other resources probably didn’t help.

73220552905_0_ALBMy husband, smart man that he is, got me a dog. This dog. I was in love with her from the start, and training, walking, and playing with her, improved those lonely months tremendously.  Not to mention that German Shorthair Pointers are known as clowns.  She is funny! (But not nearly as funny as I looked when she dragged my through the snow and ice for about 10 feet that first winter!)

Research has shown that having a pet can boost your mood, lower your blood pressure, fight depression, and improve you physical fitness. From personal experience I can tell you that this pup can entertain a two year old, chase monsters from under the bed and in closets (and keep them out!), and make all of us laugh at her antics. What’s not to love?

We are so grateful that you are still with us Uti, despite bumpy world travels and 11 long and happy dog years.

Imagination (and toys)

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Oh, going to space from the back yard.

Every parent knows the lure of the cardboard box right?  My sons prove again and again that the box is always more valuable than the content when it comes to toys.  I am such a huge fan of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  Kids really thrive when I am intentional in giving then more simplicity, less choices, and more unstructured play time.

I try to enforce some simple toy rules.

1.  We edit constantly.  Toys are rotated so that there is never more in the toy cabinet than they can clean up easily at the end of the day.  We keep toys in canvas bins, and when one bin comes down to the accessible part of the toy closet, another goes up and out of reach.

2.  We try to be intentional with the toys we buy.  I like toys that are durable, don’t require batteries, and can be used in many different ways.  We have not gone plastic free by any means, although I do love wooden toys.

blog-46673.  Open ended toys rule.  We have always loved Lego around here – my son got his first box of duplo when he was nine months, and has no graduated to “big kid lego.”  Of course, his younger brother is still firmly in the duplo age, but refuses to be left behind.  In the last week, there has been lego fish (and sharks and whales, and a hermit crab).  Before that it was museums (with restaurants) – pictures above.

4.  Dress up is not for girls only.  We have a pretty large collection of halloween costumes (a few picked up after halloween on sale) and several mama made costumes, along with scarves, hats, swords and shields, and many of the other bits and pieces that make pretend play so much fun.

The last load of cloth diapers

lastdiapersThat was my last load of cloth diapers.  While we’re not diaper free yet, his preschool asked for pull-ups, and at home we are using underwear.

It’s a little bittersweet.  My boys are getting so big, and I can’t help but realize that everything they learn to do for themselves brings them that much closer to leaving the nest.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves shall we?

For now, I’m very grateful not to have to scrape and scrub dirty diapers.  ‘Nough said.

What are you grateful for today?  Please share in the comments.

Our art collection

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Doesn’t that sound fancy?  But once you hear my definition, I bet you will realize you have an art collection too!

My husband has collected antique prints and maps for a long time, and also had several art pieces when we got married.  His mom curates an art museum after all!

Since then, we have been acquiring more at a steady clip.  We asked for a piece of art from our families as a wedding gift – a gorgeous pastel that reminds me of my family and native South Africa.  Some of my favorite things are cheap little pieces I collected during my travels – a carved mirror from Bali, colorful cityscapes from Rio De Janeiro, and some miniatures from Rajasthan.

I’m lucky too –  my father is a spectacular photographer and we have several of his magnificent landscapes around our house.

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We have been “surprising” each other with paintings for birthdays and anniversaries, and have vowed to acquire a nice painting from each country where we live.  (Our souvenir from Egypt is at the top.)  The one directly above was purchased recently from Noche de Arte, a charity art show put on by the U.S. Embassy Association here in Lima.

Our collection certainly won’t rival the Louvre, or my beloved National Gallery in Washington, but it brings beauty and joy to my life daily.  I’m grateful to have a home filled with lovely things that remind us of people and places we have known.