Saturday, November 12, 2016


My high school Latin teacher taught me that a "cornucopia" is a "horn of plenty."

As we sat around our table tonight after dinner, I could not help but feel - but know - that this was a year of plenty.  That we are blessed with more than enough.  That we are so damn lucky.

Since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of having children who could doodle or draw or write, I've been creating trees of thanksgiving, or banners of thanks, or wreaths of gratitude.  This year, we sat down after dinner, ready to fill out our leaves of thanks after a very, very tough week, both personally and in the bigger world.

The leaves that fill our wreath of plenty include the following:

I am thankful for unexpected kindness (Aidan Paul, AP)
My house.  (Pax, P)
The Obamas (Anne, AC)
I am thankful for food on the table (Leo, L)
I am thankful for the great outdoors (AP)
Electricity! (P)
Music (AP)
I am grateful for Mrs. Muddiman (P)
Our church family... the kids whom I teach and whom I love, fiercely.  My youth group kids. (AC)
I'm thankful for unikspektit (unexpected) notes (P)
I am thankful for God's grace. (AP)
Food (P)
I'm  happy we are smart people. (L)
I am grateful for Doctors and nurses like Dr. Mason and Dr. Smyth that keep us healthy. (AP)
I am grateful for health and safety and happiness.  We are abundantly lucky in all of these areas... I am SO grateful. (AC)
Klintine.  (Clinton - P)
I'm grateful that we have awesome grandparents.  (L)
I'm thankful for diversity (AP)
I am so grateful for my friends and colleagues at Burnley Moran:  such smart, compassionate, wise, and funny women.  I love you all. (AC)
I am thankful for people teaching me my grilling expertise (AP)
Our fire pit and fire place.  (P)
I am thankful for the schools.  (AP)
All of the students whom I teach... all of my colleagues and co-workers. (AC)
All my friends near and far.  Benny close and Conner and Patrick far.  (L)
School! (P)
I'm grateful for the unconditional, undeserved love from God.  For grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace. (AC)
I am thankful for friends that always have your back. (AP)
I love our community and network of friends.  Our village loves and cares for us all so much.  (AC)
I am thankful for the wonderful house I live in.  (AP)
I am thankful for all my teachers who teach me, whether in school or not.  (AP)
I am grateful for the family dinners with Grandma and Grandpa, the trails that lead to their home, and so much more.... (AC)
I am thankful for the beautiful state of Virginia.  (AP)
I am thankful for the wildlife.  (AP)
I am thankful for my trumpet.  (AP)
I am thankful that Grandma and Grandpa live so close by.  (AP)
I am thankful for Leo, Pax, and Mom.  (AP)
I'm thankful for my bruthers.  (P)
I'm thankful that I have the BEST MOM EVER!!  And brothers.  (L)
I am so DEEP DOWN GRATEFUL for my three sons.  I love you to the ends of the earth, Aidan, Leo, and Pax.  (AC)

I am grateful for music, laughter, food, wine, beer, ocean waves, birds at sunset.  Coffee in the morning.  Sunrises.  Unexpected hugs.  Compliments.  Friendships:  new, renewed, old, and everything in between.  Kindness.  Thoughtfulness.  Surprise.  Love.  Vulnerability.  Grit.  Forgiveness.  New paths.  The Journey. The memories.  The tomorrows.  And You.  (AC)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

Aidan, Leo, and Pax had an absolutely *wonderful* Halloween night.  My mom was in charge of their costumes, and the kids enjoyed working with her on them.  Aidan dressed as Legolas, from Lord of the Rings - this is the 3rd or 4th year he's chosen a literary character, which I positively adore.  Leo dressed as Hans Solo, and proclaimed to me upon seeing himself in costume, "Mom!  I have the PERFECT hair for Hans Solo!" And Pax dressed as a white ninja warrior "who fights for peace."

It was a good night.  Jeff came over to have pizza with us and see the kids in their costumes, then we met up with good friends.  The moonless night, the bright stars, and the chill in the air made for a perfect evening.  My dad walked the neighborhood with us and helped carry the impressive loot of candy, and my mom stayed at our home to pass out candy.

This past weekend, I enjoyed an adult-only costume party at the home of my good friends Kyle and Jeanne.  Such a good time, so many laughs, and so many clever costumes all around.
My buddy happens to be a cop.  He is dressed as a breathalyzer, which seems fitting that he found
 a flapper (or two) at the party.

Indeed, what a difference a year makes.  In all these months of my silence on this blog, there have been stories too painful and too heartbreaking to share.  And yet there have also been stories that are so poignant and tender and lovely that, in time, perhaps I will be able to make space for them here.  I was reminded of one such memory earlier this week.... In hindsight, it is a story of success, of sweetness, of the power of do-overs.

A year ago, due to myriad reasons, my kids didn't end up getting to trick or treat for very long, and came home with a meager handful of candy.  Their sadness and disappointment over Halloween was too much for my heart to bear, since Halloween is among my favorite holidays.  And so, on November 1, a Sunday last year, I went out and bought several big bags of candy that I knew my kids loved.  I put our trunk of dress up clothes on the porch, handed bags to each kid, and gave them their instructions:  they were to get dressed outside in whatever costume they chose from the trunk, and ring the doorbell.  Meanwhile, inside, I had my own stash of wardrobe changes and a large bowl of candy to distribute.

The first time, the kids rang the doorbell and said "Trick or Treat!" in rather reluctant and skeptical voices.  I answered the door, pretended they were strangers, admired their costumes, gave them candy, and shut the door.  Costume and wardrobe changes ensued; the doorbell rang again; again, I answered them as strangers, oohed and aahed over their new personas, passed out the treats, and closed the door.

This continued for many rounds.  Each round got more entertaining, as the kids added story lines to their characters.  As they neared the bottom of the dress up trunk, the stories became more elaborate as their costumes became more weird.  As I shut the door on the final round, all I heard was laughter on both sides of the door.  A few minutes later, they came into the house, and I greeted them as their Mom, delighted to see them.  I reveled in hearing their tales of trick or treating, and how they had dressed.

This year was a good year - made sweeter by that powerful memory from our bitter past.