Monday, April 25, 2011

A few of my favorite things...

The house is quiet, my boys are in bed. I can hear Colby breathing, fast asleep in the other room, and Scott and Chase are bunking together in Chase's room also asleep. I look around our messy, cluttered family room filled with Easter baskets and toys, old ones and new ones, Chase's "football shoes," Colby's stuffed animals, his new walker, and I realize that in this very moment I am happy. I am overwhelmed with this feeling of contentment, peace for what is and what will be and for all I have, nothing more and nothing less, this feeling is bliss. I know this feeling, I have felt it before, and know I will again, this perfect moment of happiness and feeling of fulfillment. I am lucky to have felt it often in my life and also lucky that I can recognize it and be grateful. 

After a weekend of sunshine (mostly on Saturday), friends and family near and far, time with my husband and children, good food, time to relax and wind down, and feeling really good emotionally and physically, it makes me think of the things in life that I truly love and enjoy. The things that make me happy, big and small. It occurs to me that if I focus on these  "favorite things" that I can find glimpses of the happiness and joy I am feeling right now, all the time whenever I need it most... when I am stressed, sad, upset, or angry, these simple things can take me back to this moment and back to happiness...

Maybe it's just like the song in the Sound of Music..."When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when I'm feeling sad, I just think of a few of my favorite things and then I don't feel sooo bad"... could it be that simple?

A few of those things, my favorite things that come to mind...

When Scott hugs me, he gives the best hugs
The day Chase was born, and the day Colby was born
Sitting in the sunshine listening to the waves crash on shore
Playing baseball with Chase, running with him, catching & throwing the ball
Watching Chase & Colby play together, giggling and looking at each other
Laughing hysterically with my husband
Spending time with my boys
Chase's smile and Colby's toothless grin
Going for a run
Dangley earrings
Point No Point, WA
Fun nights out at Hoyt's
My first apartment on 3rd Ave West in lower Queen Anne in Seattle
Listening to live music
Hiking on any trail in the northwest in the summer, the smell of the trees & flowers
Road trips
Lake Tahoe & San Francisco
The painting of flowers in my bedroom
Chase wearing his superhero cape
Weekends at home with nothing to do
A really great day at work
Daisies, Sunflowers, Dahlias and Tulips
A warm bath with bubbles
Swimming in the ocean
Going to Pt. Defiance Zoo with my family
Non-fat Vanilla Lattes
Building a snowman with my brother
Fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella
A glass of wine, gin & tonics, margaritas
The Crowning Glory of Calla Lilly Ponder -- my favorite book
Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and Hope Floats
My lucky jeans and my Frye boots
Visits from my Gramma & Grandpa in their RV
Walks around Lake Wailes 
Little league baseball games at Barranco Field in LW
Playing first base
Kalaluia Hike in Kaua'i
Spa time with my mom
My itty, bitty tatoo
Shoe shopping
Baseball games at Safeco field
Ferry rides 
Camping trips
Tasha, Jazzy, Charlie and Molly
Movies & popcorn
Listening to my grandma & grandpa tell stories
Going for walks with Scott & the boys
Concerts at The Gorge
Picking up my mom, dad, sister or brother at the airport for a visit
Planting things, anything... herbs, flowers, 
Listening to raindrops on the rooftop
Sunrise on the ocean
Sunset behind the Olympic Mountains
Rocky beaches and sandy beaches
Walking down the aisle with my dad at my wedding
Road trip to Forks with my sister
My new house, I love this house!
Phone calls from my brother
Camping at Fort Wilderness when I was a kid
Sitting by a campfire, bundled up with hot cider or cocoa
Looking at the stars on a clear night
Laughing with a good friend
Oak trees with moss hanging down
Water skis and snow skis
Photo of Scott & me laughing outside the church at our wedding
Foot rubs
Snow days
Walking off the shuttle at MCO and seeing my mom & dad waiting for me
Seattle, Washington
When Chase says "I love you, Mama" before going to sleep

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ready, Set... Go Green!

Lately, I've been thinking more and more about what it means to "go green." I think we're all at a point now that we recycle glass, plastic, and paper but I'm wondering for me and my family how we can step it up a notch and make a bigger impact. I work at an outdoor education center where we teach kids every day about the natural world and their connection to it. The idea that if kids know about something, they are more likely to care about it, and if they care they are more likely to take action really resonates with me, especially when it comes to our environment.  

Being a relatively new parent, I learn something new everyday when it comes to parenting especially with my three-year old. He is like a little sponge soaking up everything around him, everything my husband and I say and do is processed in his little brain.... a little scary to think about. I remember the days when we could have "adult" conversations and he was oblivious. That is definitely not the case in our household today, Chase is our little "thinker" and he picks up on everything even the words we spell out! So, with that in mind when it comes to our actions, our morals and values, I really want one of the lessons they learn from us to be caring about the environment and understanding that how they live and what they do does make a difference.

As parents it's up to us to model the behavior I want them to learn, right? No pressure there! :-) With this in mind and in honor of earth day, my goal for the rest of the year is to incorporate specific, tangible ways that we can live a "greener" life. I have identified our 'Top 10' list to get us started in addition to the typical recycling we do. These are things we can do or change in our household that will begin our journey to living a more sustainable, earth-friendly, health-conscious life. Some things are 'no brainers' while others will take us out of our comfort zone a bit...Ultimately, my hope is that these 10 things will get us going and things that were once challenges will soon be a part of every day life. And, that my kids will learn the important lesson of taking care of our environment and what they do every day, even the little things make a difference. 

I'm planning to update and elaborate on each of the items on my list as we tackle them in the coming months... the first one is already underway (with a few photos to prove it :-) thanks to our sunny, Sunday afternoon this past weekend. 

McDaniel Family 'Ready, Set Go Green!' Challenge - Top 10 list
1. A little garden for teaching & eating 

2. Get outside everyday!!!
3. Buy less/buy local/buy smart 
4. Our landscaping challenge
5. Compost, compost, compost!
6. The great light bulb exchange
7. Our carbon footprint
8. What is a Library? 
9. Bags & mugs
10. A baby's guide to the 3Rs

Stay tuned for updates on our Going Green challenge... and enjoy one of my fav songs, Chase's too, from Jack Johnson . :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Fever

Technically, it is Spring here in the northwest but it certainly does not look or feel like Spring. Since February 1st, we have had only two days above 55 degrees making this the coolest start to Spring on record. And, it is taking a toll on me. This has been the hardest winter/spring for me since moving out west from sunny, warm Florida almost 13 years ago. I would never think that the weather would have such an effect on me emotionally or psychologically because it really hasn't before all these years but I am not happy girl. 

Overall, I am happy with all the "big stuff" and of course grateful for all I have and everyone in my life whom I love and love me but I guess I'm just a bit out of sorts... This may seem trivial or petty even but I've hit my limit with the all the grey and gloom. For some reason waking up to the same chilly, rainy, windy, weather day in and day out is totally depressing me...and, I guess I'm a little run-down when it comes to the normal stresses of life, kids, husband, work, etc... so that isn't helping. These days, however, it's taking me 3-4 cups of coffee in the morning just to get to a point of being able to function, regardless of whether or not I've had a good night sleep or have been up with one of the boys multiple times throughout the night. That's not normal for me. I am a morning person. I've never had to use an alarm clock, ever. Not in high school not in college when I had an 8 a.m. class or as an adult. I'm the one waking my hubby up for school usually with a chipper tone, not these days. I have a feeling if I wasn't waking up every morning to the same doom and gloom, chilly weather my whole outlook on the day ahead would be much different.

We have had glimpses of semi-sunny, warmer weather but not often and definitely not consistent. I have been somewhat lucky that those days have fallen on my Wednesdays at home with Colby and Chase a few times and so we've been able to spend time outside. Like today, I had a great day with the boys. We had our whole day planned with activities and a fun, Easter painting project that Chase loved, Colby wasn't too interested but had fun crawling all over. And, just as we were finishing up our Easter eggs, low and behold the sun made an appearance though it was still not overly warm but we were able to have lunch and play for a couple hours outside before the clouds rolled in... I find it so sad that a partly cloudy day with the high in the mid-50s is my "sunny, spring day!" I am so tired of wearing my down coat, rain coat, sweaters, clogs and jeans/cords and scarves. 

I'm afraid Scott has taken the brunt of my unhappy demeanor these days and has suggested without judgement and in his sweet wanting to help me way, "why not go tanning or get a UV lamp from some light therapy"... well, I am not going tanning, although the thought of being really warm and getting healthy, tan glow is appealing, I'd rather go the self-tanner route although that is probably just as unhealthy for you with all the chemicals as tanning. The light is a possibility but I'm not sure... I guess I'm ready and willing to try anything that will help me get in a better mood. 

Regardless of the weather, I've been in sort of a Spring Fever frenzy of sorts with cleaning and organizing. First on the list was my desk/office space. Since my boss and co-workers were on the verge of voting me off the island, it was time to tackle the mess and accumulation of 7+ years of "stuff." I've also been on the warpath at home and have started closet clean-ups all over the house, my closet, the boys closet's (getting Chase's old clothes ready for Colby -- he's already wearing 12 monthers!) and tackling the loft/playroom/craft space. We also cleaned the loft closet which is a really great space or nook for the boys. It's one of those attic closets with a slanted ceiling, with enough space for about 4-5 people, mainly kids. My vision for the closet was that the boys could have a quiet, space to retreat to that was fun, sort of hidden, where they could read, play, or just relax and think. I call it the "reading room" and Chase refers to it as his "hiding room." I'd really love to paint a mural of an outdoor landscape or scene, starry night or blue skies, trees, flowers, etc... 

So, I guess I'm trying to distract myself and keep busy despite this "funk" I am in or Spring fever.... maybe it's not just the weather but I think one really warm, sunny beautiful day would do me wonders.... I'm holding on and in the meantime, I'm going to get outside as much as I can when I can, start that herb garden with Chasers, go get a few highlights to "brighten my look," and finally get that pedicure! :-)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flashback Soundtrack

While waiting for the ferry to Seattle this morning headed to lunch with a colleague, I found myself with a bit of extra time... I mistakenly referred to the departure schedule for the ferries LEAVING Seattle going TO Bainbridge Island instead of the ferries LEAVING Bainbridge Island going TO Seattle... so after waiting in line for about 15 minutes, I finally realized that it was 10:55 and I wasn’t going to be on the 10:40. For some reason being the third car in line was not indication enough for me to realize my mistake...

After pushing back our lunch plans by an hour, getting my latte and preparing my "to do list" or rather "the list that never gets done" for the upcoming week, I decided to thumb through my iPod playlist on my stereo to find the "right" song for my mood at this particular moment. I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for but the current music just wasn't quite right... While scrolling through I came across a song that took me back, I mean way back. Actually, it sort of surprised me that it was on my iPod in the first place. You know what I mean, when a particular song, after hearing it for just a few seconds, will conjure up a very detailed, specific, memory from your past. I was completely consumed by nostalgia after hearing this song. My emotional state, what I was thinking, who I was with, all of that just came rushing into my brain after just a few lyrics... I will not divulge exactly what song it was, or the memory... if I told you, I'd have to kill you! :) 

After a few minutes, I started thinking about all those songs that take me back to a specific time or place in my life, regardless of the memory, good or bad, it is comforting in a weird sort of way... We all have soundtracks to our lives, those songs by our favorite artists, musicians, or maybe not our favorites but because of a specific event or genre that may be popular at the time it is ingrained in our brains forever... to remember those feelings, that moment, the place, that time, the people we were with, or thinking about every time we hear it... 

Then came "The List." My playlist or rather, the soundtrack to my life or at least the songs I can specifically remember during those key periods in my life...Starting out with my first memories of music, the artists and songs my parents would play for us over and over again. Then, the songs and artists/bands I started to enjoy, developing my own love for music based on what I liked and of course what was considered "music" then... And, of course my first records, yes--records!!! Can you believe it?!! I'm only 34, I'd like to still think that is rather young, even though I'm starting to feel much older than I'd like to think I am, records do date me, as do typewriters, yes-I learned to type on a typewriter in high school in "Typing" class. The songs played at middle school dances, the first song I danced to with A BOY!!! And somewhere in the early to mid-80s I believe, the MTV factor took over. Really, it took over the world if you think about... Wow, that was amazing... MUSIC WITH VIDEOS!!! That was life-transforming for every child, tween, teen, and adult... Those videos that were played over and over and over whether you liked them or not live in your memory and take you back no matter who you are or what kind of music you liked... you remember those first videos and songs on Mtv.

Next for me was high school, what a mix of music during that time in my life. I was truly finding myself then and in the area of music, that was no exception... I liked it all, even county, that particular genre of music takes me back to water skiing with friends my sophomore year or to softball games, bonfires and first dates. But I was also into rock, alternative, etc... Depending on whom I wanted to be or hang with that particular day. Songs also take me back to senior year, that scary time of what's next and lots of fun, memorable events like spring break at Vero Beach, and Graduation/Grad night, Homecoming and Prom. College was my coming out period, if you will, where I finally started to like what I liked and not try to fit in a box. I got into Classic Rock, alternative, acid jazz, and music I could run to. I really got into running then. Songs during that time take me back to beach trips after class, softball tournaments, nights out in Tally on the Strip... That time in my life and the experiences I had, I cherish and I would not be where I am today without them...

There are many songs that take me back to my early days in Seattle. My trip across the country to live in a city I had never even been to before, concerts at the Gorge, nights after work at Hoyt's Bar in Queen Anne, and my first "real" job, and my first apartment. Then, I met Scott and was introduced to The Dave Matthews Band, and my world in music changed forever... I was never a fan but became one pretty fast, it was actually a stipulation when Scott proposed, that I must be a fan, and not just "like" DMB but LOVE DMB, and it didn't take much to convince me. Oh, and living down the street from Dave's house in Wallingford for a bit, and seeing him at Baby Gap in U. Village also helped a little, too... 

So, I'll stop the rambling and just get to it... In no particular order other than the time in my life I remember them... Here's MY "Flashback Soundtrack":

Childhood (Grade school & Middle School):
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer, Big, In Your Eyes
Fleetwood mac - Every song - except some of the ones by Christine McVie
Micahel Jackson - Thriller, Billie Jean, PYT, Human Nature, The Girl is Mine, etc...
Hall and Oats - Kiss on my list, Private Eyes, Maneater, etc..
Beatles - Can't Buy Me love, I wanna hold your hand, Come Together, etc..
Pink Floyd - Learning to fly, other songs my dad would play....
Bob Seiger - Night Moves

John Fogerty - Put me in coach
Madonna - Like A Virgin, Dress You up, Vogue, Papa Don't Preach, Crazy for you, Express Yourself, Holiday, Into the Groove, LUcky Star, Material Girl, Open Your Heart, Who's that Girl, Rain, La Isla Bonita, Justify Your love
Cindi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, True Colors, Time after Time
Tiffany - I think we're alone now, I think that's the song, right?
Debbie Gibson - Not sure of the songs...I'm actually glad I don't remember!!
Expose - Same as Debbie Gibson
Bruce Springstein - Born in the USA, Glory Days
Guns 'N Roses - Every rose has it's thorn, Paradise City, November Rain & Patience
Bon Jovi - You Give Love a Bad name, Livin' on a prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive, Never Say Goodbye
Def Leppard - Love Bites, Pour Some Sugar On me
Billie Joel - We didn't Start the Fire, ONly the Good Die Young, You're Only Human
Wham - Wake Me Up, Everything She Wants

George Michael - Father Figure, I want your sex, Everything She Wants, Freedom, Don't let the sun go down on me
Janet Jackson - Nasty, Control, That's the way love goes (I think that was more like HS)

Pat Benatar - Love is a Battlefield, Heartbreaker, Hit me with your best shot
Tears for Fears - Shout, Head Over Heels, Everybody Wants to Rule the world
Aerosmith - Dude Looks like a lady, Crazy

A-ha - Take On Me
Don Henley - Boys of Summer
Fleetwood Mac-Go Your Own Way

Peter Gabriel-Sledgehammer

High School
OMD - Pretty In Pink
Tracy Chapman - Fast Car, Devotion, Give Me One Reason
Nirvana - Smells like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are
Beck - Loser
Counting crows - Mr. Jones, Rain King, Round Here
Cure - Heaven, Pictures of You, Love Song
Depeche Mode - World In My Eyes, StrangeLove
B52s- Love Shack, Roam, Rocklobster
REM-The One I Love, Stand, Losing My Religion

Pearl jam - Jeremy, Black, Alive, Betterman
Garth Brooks - Fiends In Low Place, Shameless, If Tomorrow Never Comes
Simply Red - Can't help falling in love with You, Red Red Wine
U2 - Achtung Baby (the entire album), New Year's Day, With or Without You
Echo & The Bunnymen - Lips Like Sugar, Killing Moon
Prince - When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, Get Off
Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
Tom Petty - All of Tom Petty & the breakers; Free-Fallin'
Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner

Smithereens - A Girl Like You
INXS - Never Tear Us Apart, Devil Inside

Goo Goo Dolls - Iris, Black Balloons
Radiohead - Creep

Smithereens-Girl Like You


Police - Don't Stand So Close to me, Message in a bottle
Everything but the girl - MIssing
311 - All Mixed Up, Down
Mazzy Starr - Fade Into You, So Tonight I May See
Massive Attack - Safe From Harm, Protection
Candlebox - Far Behind, Cover Me
Live - Lightening Crashes
Sarah Mclaughlin - Angel, Train Wreck, Building A Mystery,
Green Day - Basketcase, Good Riddance Time of Your life, She, Wake Me Up When September Ends, American Idoiot
Nine Inch Nails - Down In It, Head Like A Hole, The Perfect Drug, Hurt
Fleetwood Mac - Again -- all songs!
Alanis Morissette - You Outta Know, Thank You, Uninvited, Hand In My Pocket, Ironic
Sheryl Crow - All I wanna Do, If it makes you Happy, My Favorite Mistake, Leaving Las Vegas

Neil Young - Like A Hurricane, Only Love Can Break Your Hear, Southern Man, Old Man
Prodigy - Breathe
CCR - Proud Mary, Born on the Bayou

Eagles - Hotel California, The Long Run, Witchy Woman
Foo Fighters - Learn To Fly
Blues Traveler - Run Around
The Presidents of the United States of America - Lump

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979, Zero, Disarm, Tonight, Tonight
Oais - Wonderwall
Moby - 
Wallflowers - One Headlight
Beth Orton - Central Reservation
Greenday-Good Riddance

Neil Young-Like A Hurricane

Early Seattle Days
Lenny Kravitz - American Woman, Are You Gonna Go My Way, Let Love Rule
Cold Play - Yellow, Clocks
Bjork - Army of Me
David Bowie - China Girl, Under Pressure
Red Hot Chillipeppers - The Zephyr Song, Throw Away Your Television
Paul Simon - The entire Graceland album
Tom Petty - I love all Tom Petty mostly but American Girl is my song!
The Rollling Stones - Love is Strong, Paint it Black, She's So Cold, Start Me Up, You Can't Always Get What You Want
Tori Amos - Blue Skies, Cornflake Girl, God
David Gray - Babylon

Nelly Furtado - I'm like a Bird
Indigo Girls - Gallileo

Beatles-Come Together
Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill
Modest Mouse - Float On
Bob Dylan - Tangled up in Blue, Like A Rolling Stone, Things Have Changed, Buckets of Rain,  Not Dark Yet, Shooting Star

Sting - Desert Rose
Dixie Chicks - The Long Way Around

Tom Petty-American Girl

Cold Play-Clocks

Modest Mouse-Float On

Later Seattle Days -- Scott & Me
Death Cab For Cutie - Soul Meets Body
Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
Ani Defranco - 21 Flavors, Shameless, In or Out, Out of Habit
DMB- All DMB songs; my favs are: Two Step, So Right, Stay Or Leave, Bartender, American Baby, Dream Girl, You Might Die Trying, Grey Street, The Stone, You and Me, So Damn Lucky, Dodo
Mark knophler & Emmylou Harris -This is Us
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
Harry Connick Jr - I could write a book
Jack Johnson - All of Jack Johnson! My favs; all songs on the Curious George soundtrack, Supposed To Be, Bubbly Toes

John Mayer - All of John Mayer; Belief, Split Screen Sadness, Assasin, Gravity, Say What You Need To Say, Wheel, The Heart of Life, Come Back To Bed
Jason Mraz- Curbside prophet
Pearl Jam- All of Pearl Jam's new stuff; Just Breathe is my fav right now!
Back eye peas -  Don't Phunk With My Heart, Pump It, My Humps, Lets Get It Started
Van Morrison - The Celtic Song, The Philosopher's Stone

U2 - Sweetest Thing, Vertigo, All Because of You
Anything on 103.7 The Mountain :)

Peter Bjorn & John-Young Folks

DMB-You Might Die Tryin

Married Life & Motherhood - TBD