We went for a little family outing yesterday that landed us on a nice, secluded bike path. We walked for a bit then Rachel encouraged us to run. She was super vigilant and kept saying, “Watch out, bikes!” and “Watch out, snakes!” We kept asking her if she was ready to turn around and she would say, “Keep going!” She’s as stubborn as she is fast, our girl.
As we all ran together, she looked up and said, “Family Run!” And well, that pretty much made my heart melt.
The perfect nap begins with Dr. Seuss and ends with an ice pop. On Saturday, full participation was mandatory. (None of us complained.)
On Wednesday I took a bazillion pictures and wrote a gazillion notes, documenting a regular day in our lives. It sounds cumbersome, but it was fun. You can read more about the day-in-the-life project here.
If you ever think your life is boring, micro document your day. It really helped me realize that some of the things I consider routine are actually kind of unique. Like running over the South Street Bridge. And getting free stuff at work. (We have so many little amenities at my office it’s easy to overlook it after awhile, like free fresh fruit and free random merchandise to promote sustainability…I’ll take it!)
I also let myself get sentimental about some of the commonplace “stuff” in my days. I snapped pictures of all the little sticky notes in my cubicle, for example. On any other day I glance at the quotes and action items and they mean something to me, but they’re not the kind of thing that I intend to remember five years from now. They’re handwritten notes on post-its, which are meant to be thrown away at some point.
I also tried to capture all the books I read to Rachel. The books are stacked upon each other so carelessly these days, and what we read is in some ways a haphazard coincidence of what rose to the top of the pile and how far Rachel felt like reaching. Even so, all of these books have memories, and we love them, and now I’ll remember the ones we were reading over and over this week.
Aside from honoring the routine, I also recorded a few exceptional things, such as the best thing I overheard all day, and the thing I was most proud of myself for accomplishing, the best break in our routine, and a new favorite after dinner treat (steel cut oats with semisweet chocolate chips). They’re all written on a folded sheet of paper that I’ll clip inside my 2012 planner, which I will probably keep for eternity along with my other journals and planners.
I’ll now have a record of my favorite part of the day, a moment that may have otherwise been disregarded as un-extraordinary. In the afternoon Jim and I got to enjoy a car ride by ourselves. I was supposed to go home by myself on the train, but our regular tag team plan changed at the last minute so in a rush Jim picked me up and we rode home together to relieve the babysitter. It was such a treat to get to have grownup time, just the two of us. I got to vent/talk about my day and I could even swear without being a bad influence on Rachel. We laughed so hard. We mocked stupid things like writing “thx” instead of “thanks” in an email. How f-ing lazy! we decided. It was definitely my favorite part of the day.
This project was just what I wanted it to be. A reminder to pay attention and really appreciate each moment. I’m certain that the few negative moments I experienced had less of an impact on my attitude throughout the day because I took the time to notice everything else more attentively. I didn’t let my thoughts revolve around those one or two downer moments, and I didn’t sulk in the mundane. It was a great day, it really was. It was like keeping a gratitude journal, without having to do it every day.
And now, it’s on to the next one.
I have been absent this week, but for very good reason. We woke up on Tuesday morning to the best gift of all: my mom and dad and sister Teri from Texas! They had flown in to celebrate with Rachel and it was like having a second Christmas, perhaps better than the first.
Rachel spent their first morning here showing grandma pictures of all her Christmas shenanigans (we have hundreds upon hundreds of photos honoring the season…I’ll have to make a book out of them. We’ll see!) Then she opened so many gifts: books, puzzles, blocks, a Tinker Bell nightgown that she instantly adored, stickers, finger paints. So many fun and thoughtful presents. Our girl is truly blessed.
Rachel took to calling her grandma and grandpa “mom-mom” and “papa.” And her tia Teri is now “Tia T.” It is so cute. Also, when she calls for her Tia T she doesn’t get louder- she gets higher and higher-pitched. It’s to die for.
We had such a relaxing set of days together. My brother-in-law Sam also came down to join in the fun and it was truly a pleasure to host a full house. Sharing meals, helping each other out with the dishes, chit-chatting over the Philly Inquirer and Texas Monthly (an odd yet deeply appropriate combination)- nothing can beat it. We played way too many games of chess and scrabble and had more than our fair share of food and drink. (For the record- no one beats my mom at scrabble except Sam, and no one beats Jim at chess except Sam, after he’s played a few rounds of scrabble.)
We gave ourselves a break this morning and all went out to breakfast at the local diner- a real diner. It was pretty perfect. Starchy, greasy, and if anyone can banter with a sassy Philly waitress it’s my dad.
Everyone is gone now, except Teri, and I would be so sad that the house is relatively empty again except for the fact that Tia T offered free babysitting for the night. Woo hoo! I’ll have to let the melancholy set in tomorrow. For now, it’s off to be thrilled by Ghost Protocol. Christmas, volume 2 is not over quite yet!
I hope your Christmas day has been filled with joy, peace, comfort and boundless love. Our day has been both adventurous and reflective- a truly Madden Christmas, I’d say. I hope to share so much more in the week ahead. For now, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.