Sunday, May 31, 2015

This Amazing Planet

Netflix Streamteam
 *As a reminder, I am part of the Netflix Streamteam. I am being compensated for sharing with you, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago my husband came to me and said that he had heard Netflix had the show Planet Earth and would I like to watch it with him.

So I did.

And then our son started to watch it with us.

And then one of our daughters.
Planet Earth DVD Cover

We were all fascinated by this show. Our planet really is amazing - the animals that exist on land, water, and air. The paths that rivers take. The underground caves to the tallest mountains. Even the things that scare me (huge spiders, deep underwater caves, the tallest points) are beautiful. Just gorgeous.

I won't ever travel the world or see many of these things in person, so sitting on my couch, in the comfort of my house is the closest I will get to it. While I'm sure these things are even more grand in person (I remember going to the Grand Canyon and just being knocked out by how gorgeous it is!), they are still amazing across the television. Baby bears coming out of their den for the first time? Eagles diving down to get food? A hungry lioness looking for food to feed her cubs? Underground caves so large, I think our entire city could fit in it? Deserts, tundras, ice, forests, swamps, all these things that exist on the same planet I exist on. It is. Ah. Maz. Ing. Truly.

chicken egg candling
Candling one of the eggs
And I love watching every moment of it.

In our house this spring, we got to the witness some of the wonders of our planet. In mid-April, we headed out and picked up a dozen chicken eggs. Not ordinary eggs mind you, these were not eggs to scramble or fry or beat. We brought them home and placed them into our incubator. For 22ish days we monitored the temperature, the humidity, we turned them, we candled them, and we were constantly amazed by them.

There is something about holding an egg in your hand, shining a light on it, and seeing a chicken embryo moving around.

In May we were treated to 4 of these eggs hatching. Three of their births, we were able to witness ourselves, with our own eyes.

chicken hatching
Newborn chicken being greeted by another
It was purely coincidence that we watched Planet Earth while getting to watch our own little miracle here at home. But it makes you realize how all at the same time, the world is a massive place and yet so tiny all at once.

I'm so thrilled my children got to watch these chickens as they developed and were born and as they continue to grow for now. I'm also glad that we can flip on Netflix and get to watch so many amazing things about this world that I just can't take them to see. What an education both provide
Brandie holding a chicken
The chickens are growing!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A letter to Rita Wilson

Dear Rita Wilson,

First of all, let me say that I'm sorry to learn about your breast cancer diagnosis and that you had to undergo a mastectomy. I myself, was there just four long and short years ago myself.

I know many are grateful that you have talked about getting a second opinion, which I think is great too! I had a second opinion several times during my breast cancer treatment and I don't regret doing it. I think too many people are hesitant to do it, when they shouldn't be. But, that's not why I writing today.

Earlier, I came across this interview you did for The New York Times, and I just want to give you a heartfelt thank you. I read this line

"Let's face it - it's amputation," she said, of the mastectomy."

And I just wanted to stand up and cheer. Because it is amputation. And far too often these surgeries are treated as if they are no big deal and really, like a bonus. You know the whole "Oh, you get a free boob job"! mentality. Which, I understand, is people trying to find the silver lining of what is really an awful situation, but still. It's not that. It's not easy. It's hard. As you say, it's amputation.

I've often wondered, if someone had a leg amputated for cancer, if anyone would say "Well, I would do it in a heartbeat too because I am not defined by my legs" Or if someone would say "I'm so jealous! You are going to get a prosthetic leg that's going to look nice." Would we talk about
no more varicose veins instead of talking about no more droopy boobs. I've never heard things like that said, and I don't imagine anyone does.

But when it comes to breasts and mastectomies, somehow hesitating to get it might mean you let your boobs define you. Or getting reconstruction is great because you'll get a perky set of boobs.

So I just want to thank you for saying what it is: amputation.

Anyway, I hope the rest of your reconstruction process goes smoothly. You are right, those expanders are weird and hard, so I hope you get your exchange surgery as quickly as you can.



Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Jaded and Cynical

We are in full mode ball season over here with 2/3rds of the kids.

Mister Man is playing baseball and Miss M is playing softball.

Neither kid played in the new town last year, so we are making some new friends and enjoying the teams the kids have been placed on. At a game the other night, one of the other parents mentioned that the snack schedule was out and I might have whined a bit. In our last town, team snacks were pretty much over. Many teams stopped doing it when the economy got especially tight and it never picked up again.

My kids are 9 and 12. I just don't think they need a snack after playing 2 hours, and if they do, I'll give it to them at home.

Yes, I'm a crotchety mom over here! And yes, I laughed at myself as well for how much I apparently hate the idea of team snacks!

After discussing snacks, we talked some more. I had not met these other moms prior to that game and we had such a nice conversation. I really enjoyed it, and I think they did to (despite my snack whining!). Well, as it always does, the cancer came up.

One of the women mentioned that I must just appreciate each day so much more than I did before. And that when she feels like complaining, she thinks of the people going through cancer and it gives her perspective. She wondered if I felt the same way.

And because I'm me, I was totally honest with her.

I told her while some people are thankful for cancer, and even call it gift, that it can be life-changing and give them a profound appreciate for life, I am not one of them. I told her the cancer made me feel cynical and jaded.

Here's how I know these woman (even if they wouldn't feel the same going through it) understood ... the one mom said "You mean like about team snacks and things like that."

We all laughed. The conversation moved on and it was good.

But you know what, when she first asked me, for one split second I thought about just saying yes - just nodding along and agreeing. I'm so glad I didn't though. They seemed to get it. We laughed about it and kept talking about all sorts of things.

It felt really nice to me.

I might be more jaded and cynical since having cancer but that doesn't mean I'm always cynical and jaded either. It was nice to say it - to share my truth - and then have a little laugh about it after.

I just hope I didn't scare these new friends away Because if they can get me, even with my cynicism and jadedness, then I think they will be good friends quickly!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Happy Early Mother's Day To Me!

my teas from around the world
Please note: this is a sponsored post. I am being compensated for sharing this information with you, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

The year is flying by quickly and Mother's Day is quickly approaching - the end of this week!

This year I got an early Mother's Day gift thanks to the folks at UncommonGoods. They approached me and offered to send my a gift in exchange for this post (but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own). So I headed over to the site and looked at some of the gift guides that they have already curated for mothers.

I browsed this list, then I browsed this list. And I hemmed and I hawed. The adorable bowls to hold yarn to knit really called out to me, but at the end of the day, I picked this lovely tea set. Both of my daughters love to drink tea and we often make a cup for ourselves and then a cup for each other. So in the spirit of Mother's Day and to be able to share with 2/3rds of the reason I am a mother, I decided to pick a tea set for UncommonGoods to send me. I was so impress by this company, that ON MY OWN (to clarify, the mug was not a gift to me from UncommonGoods, I purchased it myself), I purchased this healing stone mug in red for myself.

our two cups steeping
My packages arrived just a few days later and we opened it up and whipped up some tea right away! I let the oldest pick the first tea and she went with the Genmaicha from Japan. We were a little worried it would be stronger than what we were used to it, but it was perfect. I put a bit of honey in mine and was in love. Definitely going to the top of my tea list.

 Last night, after freezing for my daughter's softball game, I came home and whipped up another cup of tea for us. This time we went with the Butterfly of Taiwan. I thought it would help warm me up. Plus, the tube conveniently told me it was a good bedtime tea, so I whipped up a cup, and once again: so good. I'm so glad I picked this tea set for us all to enjoy!
My new mug with a perfectly steeped cup of tea

I am in love with this company and so glad I learned about them. Right away when I went visited the UncommonGoods website, I was struck by how much good the company is trying to do. First of all, half of everything they sell is made by hand. That is amazing. And you all know, how much I love things made by hand. There are so many talented artisans working with UncommonGoods to sell their wares. Which I think is just fabulous!

I was also impressed by their responsibility to the environment. Many products are made from recycled materials. Nothing they sell has harmed animals (which is the thing that excited the vegetarian and deep animal lover in our house the most!).

And then, when you check-out, you get to give a dollar to one of the four organizations that UncommonGoods supports. But, no, you don't give a dollar, the company gives a dollar. Nothing is added to your total. When I purchased my mug, I picked to donate to Women For Women International. You can also donate to RAINN, American Forests, and City Harvest.

my new mug with my new tea. They taste better together!
So, I bought a mug and was able to support an artisan here in the states and support Women for Women International and felt pretty good about myself. Plus, I got a beautiful mug that I'm positive makes my tea taste even better!

It's possible I'm so in love with UncommonGoods that I might want to work for them now myself. Well as I don't live in New York, I can't work there, but I can pretend that I do by visiting their blog and learn about the people who do work for them. Or take some virtual studio tours with some of the artisans who sell to them. And the whole time dream of having my own lovely studio to knit and sew and craft in (because if I'm going to dream, I should dream big, right?).

Anyway, if it seems like Mother's Day is sneaking up on you, head on over to UncommonGoods and browse this gift guide or this gift guide. I'm sure you will find some pretty beautiful things for the mother in your life! As long as you buy by Thursday, May 10, you can get it by Mother's Day!