Friday, November 16, 2012

Gratitude Bags

This is a month of being thankful for all of life's blessings, of which I have so many.  Part of showing my gratitude is giving what I can.  This was SO EASY too!  I hope this encourages other people to give what they can as well.

I don't do this enough, but I want to turn a new leaf in this department.  Especially now that I have kids who can learn how to be giving, caring citizens from such an early age.

We found this activity on Pinterest.  They called them Blessings Bags, but for some reason I called them Gratitude Bags and the name instantly stuck.  I don't want it to seem like I think the recipients of these bags need to be grateful to me, but the opposite.  In being able to give to others I feel grateful for all that I have.

We went to Target the other day and loaded our cart with things that we thought people would need if they didn't have a home.  Snacks, toiletries, socks.

This is what we bought for our Gratitude Bags:

Applesauce (and spoon!)
And we also added a dollar bill

We dumped it all on the table and started a (sort of) assembly line.  Toddlers make any sort of assembly line a little like Lucy and Ethel, but it was a fun activity.  We even listened to Christmas carols while we worked.

I added a card with a note of encouragement in each bag too.  This summer I went yard-saling a ton and one of the treasures I found was a huge box of greeting cards.  I got to finally use some of them which was inordinately thrilling to me.  (I'm weird that way).

This is what the bag looks like when it's filled up with goodies.

We loaded the 12 bags into a box to keep in the car.  My plan is that when I see someone in need, I can just pull over and give them one.  Or if there is a homeless person at a freeway entrance I can hand them a bag out the window, instead of loose change.

Maybe it'll brighten someone's day.

I know that this is such a small gesture.  I know that the problems of the world are overwhelming and this is such a tiny bandaid.  But I hope it helps.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today would have been my mom’s 66th birthday.   I started this blog with a post about the pain of losing her to cancer a year and a half ago, but today I want to honor her awesomeness on the occasion of her birthday. 

Easier said than done.  A few days ago I started to go through my photo library for pictures for this post and suddenly plummeted into a deep and gloomy funk.  I miss my mom!  Seeing these beautiful, vibrant photos of her—so full of life, so full of vivacity—happy and alive, well it was hard.  I totally broke down. 

When I get super sad about losing my mom, I also instantly tune into her.  What she said to me as I was crying and carrying on, was that she didn’t lose any of that vitality, but she only gained more of it when she passed, unencumbered by a human body.  She didn’t become any less warm, loving, or funny, she became more of that person.  She is right here with me all of the time, completely still the same awesome mom, but only more.  I am immeasurably comforted by that. 

I want to honor her wonderful life and the amazing person she was.  I wish I had more and better access to photos of her as a child or of her from when I was a child.  I will get a hold of these some day and do another mom post, but for now let's look at some of the cool things about my mom Janette Dean.

This is where she and my dad lived for years before moving to Washington near the end of her life.  They built their dream house on this gorgeous Colorado property.  Brennan and I spent many Christmas vacations up there in the snow and nose-bleed altitudes (nearly 10,000 feet and close to Pike's Peak--my mom was made of hearty mountain-woman stuff).  

This was the used bookstore that my mom and sister Sherri owned in Woodland Park.  It was called Blue Heron Books and was fairly thriving for about 9 years.  It was awesome!  She and Sherri really followed their passion on this one.  I wiled away many an hour perusing the used books while visiting the family in Colorado.  It was also the halfway pit stop from the airport in Colorado Springs up the hill to nose-bleed Victor, so it was always the first place we'd stop when we visited.  Happy memories!

This is a typical Christmas shot of my parents Janette and Bill.  My mom loved her dogs too!  

Here is mom with her mom--my Grandma Mabel, my sister Sherri, and I having lunch on Alki in West Seattle during one of her visits up here.

This is one of my favorite photos of me and my mom.  We're in Hawaii a few days before my wedding and we are so healthy and tanned and relaxed.  This was a really special time for me and having my mom with me made it all so much better.

This is one of my favorite pictures of mom and Megan.  They both had such a funny sense of humor!

I feel very blessed to have spent 37 years with my mom.  She was an amazing woman and today, and every day I celebrate her.  I love you mom!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My year in Redmond

This last week marked the one year anniversary of moving to the suburb of Seattle that we call Redmond.

We lived in a little, adorable house on Beacon Hill for about seven years.  We had lovely neighbors, an almost view of downtown, and loads of history and culture at our doorstep.  But with the birth of our second child we were running out of room, and Brennan's commute was usually an hour each way.  If we wanted a short commute and a bigger house for our dollar we would have to move across Lake Washington to the 'burbs.

Wasn't it cute?

Brennan and I both lived in Seattle for many years; I moved there when I was 17.  I had a few stints of living in Bellevue or Lake Forest Park, but for the major part of the last 21 year I have considered myself a Seattleite.  It was weird to even consider moving to the Eastside.

We put our house on the market in August and a millisecond later it sold.  We were thrilled to have sold so quickly in a shaky housing market, but knew that we'd have to find a new house fast.  Our realtor Ben Carr was fabulous and showed us a ton of houses in Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond.  Two houses really stood out for us, and one was a truly viable option.  We made an offer and it was accepted!

Homeowners again!
Things I have learned from our year in Redmond:

I really like our new, bigger house.
I like having an open floor plan with the kitchen, play area, and family room all rolling into each other.
I really like our bigger yard and deck.
I definitely feel more pressure to keep our yard looking nice.
In Redmond, they collect recycling once a week!  It's awesome!
I love having a bunch of stores (and their big parking lots!) nearby.
There are some great parks on the Eastside.
I LOVE that Brennan's commute is cut in half.
Redmond is super cute and has a lovely little main street/small town feel.
I like the quiet cul-de-sac we live on.

I completely miss Seattle.
I miss the liberals.
I miss the arts, culture, diversity, ragtag-ness, even dirt and garbage of Seattle
I miss our old neighbors.
I miss the smell of coffee roasting from the Tully's coffee plant.
I miss the constant noise of the ships, trains, planes, and cars of nearby I5.
I miss the independent coffee shops.
I miss knowing the city like the back of my hand.
I miss being close to the aquarium, zoo, downtown, Seattle Center, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Wallingford, Columbia City, the arboretum, Seattle friends, our old park, the Jefferson Community Center...and about a million other little things.

I don't miss the traffic on I5 or the West Seattle bridge.  At all.

I think that when it comes down to it, it's a wash.  The benefits of the new don't necessarily outweigh the old.  There are lots of good things about living in Redmond, and there were lots of good things about living in Seattle.

Will we ever return to Seattle?  Maybe someday.  But for now, my focus for this next year of living in Redmond will be on enjoying every new day.