5 Things I’m Grateful For (January 2021)

The winter cold has been really getting to me, and my creativity and my energy are pretty low lately.

And yet, I continue to be incredibly grateful for my blessings, humongous and tiny.

  1. Our evening gratitude practice. Every night at dinner, we go around the table and share something we’re thankful for. I often forget, but Edgar rarely does. It’s a sweet and lovely ritual, and the answers are amazing. Jonas often says either “baby lighthouses” (I do not know) or “berries.” One night, I was grateful for cheese, Jonas for chips, Tamara for ripe avocadoes, and Edgar for nachos. Many times, one or more of us has expressed gratitude for Edgar’s pre-school program at Irvine Nature Center. The teachers are wonderful, the outdoor classroom is incredible, and Edgar just loves it; it’s been so great for him to get some time to connect with others and learn after so many months at home. Jonas also loves it because there’s a big taxidermy bear wearing a mask right by the entrance to the bathroom. So, blessings for everyone. And I love that our gratitude practice helps us remember these things.
  2. My birthday gift from Tamara – a Nespresso machine! My sister has had one for years, and I’m so grateful for this present. It’s actually, ironically, helping me to drink less caffeine and to enjoy my morning coffee more.
  3. SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. This month, I read the YA mystery trilogy Truly Devious, the novel A Good Neighborhood, and The Midnight Library – all great reads.
  4. Telling Edgar “once upon a time” stories – basically, stories that we make up, either just Mommy or Edgar and Mommy together. Often we do this at bedtime and the story will include little details from our day. It is sweet and wonderful.
  5. Jonas’s super strong hugs. Jo Jo has been frustrating us a little at bedtime – taking a long time to wind down, coming out of his room over and over. Luckily, one part of his bedtime routine is asking to give me a hug and then pulling me down, practically on top of him, and hugging me super-tightly around my neck. It seems to help him relax and settle a little, and it is an A+ hug.

Happy January, everyone! Edgar chose the photo for this post. Enjoy!

Photo by Andre Estevez on

5 Things I’m Grateful For (December 2020)

This is a time of year that is usually great for my writing. I love to reflect on the year, and I love setting intentions for the year to come.

And, as always, I love writing my monthly gratitude list.

  • THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND ALL THE MERRY. Today is December 22nd, and I am just incredibly grateful for the holiday season this year. My family celebrates Christmas, primarily, and I have just leaned in to holiday festivities with all my energy and spirit. It has been lovely, and just the pick-me-up I needed. (See my post about taking merry to the next level here!)
  • SNOW! We had the first snow of the season on December 16, and it was a good snow – about eight inches deep. It came at just the right moment, when many people (myself included) have been feeling the weight of rising COVID numbers and increasingly cold weather. This was Jonas’s first time experiencing snow, and he was in love. (For ten minutes, and then he wanted to go inside to warm up his cold little hands!)
  • The adorable things my kids are doing lately. They make up games, like “Pop” and “Egg” – the rules are ambiguous, the fun is non-stop. They get magically, wondrously excited about the snow. They sometimes hide somewhere in the basement and I don’t even know they’re hiding until I wander downstairs and they jump out at me. (Like, how long were they snuggled together behind the couch?! Could be one minute – might have been ten!)
  • The approach of the new year. I am not really in the “Screw 2020” camp – it’s been a tough year, but nothing’s going to magically shift when the calendar changes from December 31 to January 1, related to COVID-19, ransomware hackers (long story, google Baltimore County), travel, etc. But I love a new year and the blank canvas it provides.
  • The little things. This year, a lot of the big things I’m grateful for haven’t been possible. I’ve found a lot of solace in the littlest things. Picking a tiny sprig of lavender and enjoying the smell. Adding songs I love to an Alexa playlist. Giving myself the gift of zero input (more on that later) by setting my phone aside for minutes or hours so that I can be fully present. My sweet and simply wonderful Christmas tree. Any and all of the tiny joys that make me smile.

Happy holidays to all! May your days be merry and bright and oh-so-awesome.

Photo by Oleg Zaicev on


5 Things I’m Grateful For (November 2020)

Such a great month to be grateful.

  1. A week at a beach house in North Carolina with family. So great to spend time on the beach, to be with extended family, and (on rainy days) just to be in a house that is not OUR house. The boys got to play with their cousins, which was lovely, especially for Extrovert Jo Jo; Edgar has been enrolled in an outdoor nature pre-school, but Jonas hasn’t had time playing with anyone but his big brother for a long time. Also, so glad we were able to do this now; with the COVID numbers going up, I’m not sure we’ll be able to travel over the course of the winter. So grateful for our healthy and loving extended fam.
  2. The excitement of the holidays. I always get really excited to make Christmas special for the boys. This year, with things being really different – no trip to see the Rockefeller Center tree, no social gatherings – I’ve been trying to think creatively about how to make this time special for our family. We actually might hang outside Christmas lights this year, which is something I’ve never wanted to bother with previously. I’m sure there will be lots of moments of sadness this season about missing out on time with family. So any excuse for a little extra joy for me or the little ones is well worth it.
  3. Google Meet story time with Nana. We’ve been doing Google Meets with my mom so that she can read books to the boys. I usually set them up with a snack and she reads some of their faves – A Day At The Fire Station, Froggy Learns To Swim – and some new ones, too.
  4. Three good books – Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicola Maye Goldberg, The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy and When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole. All definitely page turners!
  5. A long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m happy to have a day with our family of four, to put up our Christmas tree, to decorate and be merry – but also? I’m so pumped to just have four days in a row when I can just BE and don’t need to multi-task constantly.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! So grateful for all my blessings, tiny and tremendous, this year.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

5 Things I’m Grateful For (October 2020)

So much to be grateful for. This post is a little late, but it was a lovely October and my gratitude is real.

  1. Great books I’ve read this month, including Nothing Can Hurt You by Nicole Maya Goldberg and All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. Currently reading The Thursday Murder Club and enjoying it so far!
  2. A sweet and simple Halloween, complete with a holiday scavenger hunt (searching the neighborhood for pumpkins, witches, skeletons, etc, and every time we found something on our list, we got a candy from Mommy!), two sharks (hammerhead and great white), the Charlie Brown Halloween special, and an epic morning bike ride with my two little zoomers biking farther than we ever have before in our neighborhood.
  3. Two visits from my mom, who drove down from NY for some grandkid time.
  4. Beautiful giant piles of leaves and two boys who love to jump in them.
  5. The podcasts that have kept me sane during this election cycle – NPR Politics, Pod Save America, and Slate’s Political Gabfest.

Happy fall, everyone. Welcome to November – a great month to be grateful.

Photo by Gabby K on

5 Things I’m Grateful For (September 2020)

This month has been bonkers. It’s been a rough transition from summertime to the school year. That, combined with the uncertainty of COVID times and the horror of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, has made for a pretty tough month.

1. The final season of The Good Place has FINALLY come to Netflix. I’ve never been more in need of something to binge that’s hilarious but also familiar. Bonus: I’m also really eager to watch The Social Dilemma.

2. Edgar has started attending an outdoor nature preschool three days a week, and it is the best thing that’s happened to us all year. He loves it, and it’s already been helping him so much. Edgar is an introvert and a homebody, and he’s never once complained about being stuck at home with us. But I’ve noticed little things – a little boredom, a touch of restlessness, a decline in social skills, an increase in irritability – that I’ve chalked up to COVID side effects. Those things have all improved since he started school. He goes on hikes every day, he comes home with crazy collections of sticks, rocks, and bark, and he’s much less toy-obsessed than he has been in the past. Seriously – best decision we ever made.

3. New books by two of my favorite authors! All The Devils Are Here and Troubled Blood both came out this month. I actually BOUGHT them, which is something I almost never do. It’s been delightful to curl up with a novel. I’ve been reading a ton lately, but mostly nonfiction, which is great but not really the cozy vacation that I enjoy with a new novel by a favorite author.

4. Edgar is newly obsessed with sea creatures, and it’s adorable. I spend a lot of my day answering questions about whales, sharks, and jellyfish. (And a lot of my day looking up the answers to questions about whales, sharks, and jellyfish.)

3. OUR NEW KITTEN! A friend in North Carolina had a little of kittens and drove our new family member up to us last weekend. We’re still trying out names. We’re all obsessed with him, especially Jo Jo, and he’s been a sweet bit of joy in the midst of stressful times.

I was surprised at how easy it was to come up with 5 things I’m grateful for this month, because it’s been a really tough month and a challenging time. My mood has not been great. One of the amazing things about gratitude lists is that it helps us to shift our perspective to focus on the good, even during times that don’t feel great. So maybe Thing # 6 is this: I am grateful for the perspective provided by gratitude lists. Happy September, everyone!

Just a Jo Jo and his Coco! ❤