Monday, January 6, 2014

2 years of smiles

2 years ago today we welcomed Shifu into our family, although we didn't know he was part of the family right at that moment. You can read all about it here. Since the first moment he walked into our house he brought light and sunshine back into our lives, even when we hadn't realized we were living in the dark.

He's a silly, little clown. He has made us laugh every single day. He doesn't walk, he bounces. He doesn't run, he flies. He is quiet and sweet and cuddly and stubborn and silly and has a bit of an attitude from time to time. He is a completely different personality from Jasper and yet they share many of the same mannerisms. On the other hand, he seems to have inherited a little of Reggie's tenacity. I can never decide whether that is a good thing or not.

I do know that we have been given a precious gift and I am forever grateful.

And now I must go because the little tyrant is demanding his dinner.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy List 2013

I love Facebook (most of the time) because through it I get the opportunity to find out about things I might have missed otherwise. A dear member of my family posted a blog link this morning that I've been thinking about all day. It's the idea that at the end of the year we make a list of all the things that have made us happy that year and focus on the joy of the year rather than the shortcomings. I love that idea so I've been busy compiling my list all day.  Here are a few of the highlights:

1. Trip to Disneyland in January - not only hadn't we been to Disneyland in several years (and it's my favorite of all the Disney parks) but we got the chance to hang out with some dear friends that we haven't seen in just as many years. This family has 3 girls that were little the last time we got together and now they are all teenagers. It was a shock, at first, to see them all grown up but as the hours went by we saw that each of them had retained their highly individual personalities and they were just as wonderful. We love those girls and we love their mom too.

2. Queen Mary - remember how I love spontaneous trips? Well at the end of January I made the spontaneoust trip ever. Mr. French was flying off somewhere on business and I decided to use some of those airline miles he accumulates with all his travel to fly down to the Queen Mary and see a special talk by Princess Diana's hairdresser. He then led all of us on a personally guided tour of the Diana exhibit on the ship. Thrill of a lifetime. And then to top it off, the next day I had afternoon tea with the same family we had just seen 2 weeks before in Disneyland. I was actually not feeling 100% because I was getting over a cold (and by getting over it I mean I passed out in my cabin on the Queen Mary for the first 8 hours after flying down and barely made it to the special event that night) but spending time with my dear friends was the best medicine ever.

3. Florida - I got to visit Florida 4 times this year to see my mother which is fine but I also got to have a little bit of time to just enjoy being in Florida. I love my house there, I adore my pool and there is never enough time there but I'm content with what I got. One of the joys of being there is spending time with our favorite Florida friends. They were newlyweds when we met them almost 10 years ago and now they have 3 kids and their oldest is in kindergarten. How did that happen? The kids are at such fun ages and we were lucky enough to have time to have them all over for a pool party in April.

I have a much better social life in Florida than I do in California - in June I was lucky enough to have dinner with a friend from Minnesota who was finishing up her vacation and in November I spent a lovely day with a friends from Ontario who are snowbirds in Florida in the winter.

4. Giraffes - I got to visit 2 different giraffe ranches in 2013 and even got to feed them. I love the big guys.

5. Work - believe it or not, my job makes me happy. It's a safe place to land and I know I'm appreciated. It isn't the most enriching of careers and I know that in order to grow I'm going to have to leave it one day but, for now, it's the only place I want to be.

not to mention it's freakin' beautiful

6. Volunteering - I serve on the board of directors for 2 organizations, a national one and a local group. I have enjoyed being a part of both of them. I was especially happy to have a big part in getting a house on the house tour for the local group this year as well as a lecture series on my favorite subject - Hugh Comstock.

7. Home - I was raised in Northern Virginia and it's still home in my heart. We got to make a couple of trips there this fall, my first time back in 6 years, and it was magical. I spent an entire morning driving myself over all the old roads, visiting my childhood home and other places that I once knew so well. I love that place and so many of our friends are there so every meal is an opportunity to meet with someone. We have so many loved ones there, we made a special spontaneous (love that!) trip back in November (after our scheduled October trip) to hold a birthday lunch for me...and a couple of other November babies. Just thinking about that afternoon brings a big smile to my face. And the highlight was the long-awaited meeting of my newest niece. After a couple of failed attempts at meeting her before, I finally got to see her right before her 11 month birthday. She's adorable...and I don't say that just because she looks a bit like I did as a baby. ;-)

that's me at age 1, already hamming it up
I know this is going to sound crazy but one of the happiest moments of my trip to Virginia was getting eat a Roy Rogers roast beef sandwich. I LOVE their bbq sauce. I hadn't had one for probably a decade and that first bite was heaven

8. Gifts - I'm well aware I've been given so many gifts in this life and I'm grateful for each one. Here's one of my favorites

2 years of love
Wow, this is a great way to start off the new year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

no more waiting

Ok, so last year didn't exactly work out the way I'd hoped. New year, new beginnings. Out with the old, in with the new. Anybody else feeling that way?

I've spent the last 3 years waiting - waiting for things to get back to normal. I've finally realized that this is the new normal and if I keep waiting for things to be the way they used to be (or the way I'd like them to be) I'm going to waste years of my life and I'm not the least bit interested in doing that.

I don't have any resolutions for this coming year. I have no list of specific things I want to do, I just  know that in order to have a fulfilling year, I have to DO things rather than just think about them.

The only thing I resolve is that this time next year I want to be able to say that 2014 was a great year and I don't know how I'll be able to top it in 2015. Who is with me?

90 years ago

Laura Ingalls Wilder was a wise woman, her words from 90 years ago still ring true today.

As a Farm Woman Thinks, Missouri Ruralist
January 1, 1923

With the coming of another year we are all more or less a year older.  Just what does it mean to us–this growing older?  Are we coming to a cheerful, beautiful old age, or are we being beaten and cowed by the years as they pass?

Bruised we must be now and then, but beaten, never, unless we lack courage.

Not long since a friend said to me, “Growing old is the saddest thing in the world.”  Since then I have been thinking about growing old, trying to decide if I thought her right.  But I cannot agree with her.  True, we lose some things that we prize as time passes and acquire a few that we would prefer to be without.  But we may gain infinitely more with the years than we lose in wisdom, character and the sweetness of life.

As to the ills of old age, it may be that those of the past were as bad but are dimmed by the distance.  Tho old age has gray hair and twinges of rheumatism remember that childhood has freckles, tonsils and the measles.

The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current.  Some are swept along, protesting, fighting all the way trying to swim back up the stream, longing for the shores that they have passed, clutching at anything to retard their progress, frightened by the onward rush of the strong current and in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters.

Others go with the current freely, trusting themselves to the buoyancy of the waters knowing they will bear them up.  And so with very little effort they go floating safely along, gaining more courage and strength from their experience with the waves.

As New year after New year comes, these waves upon the river of life bear us farther along toward the ocean of Eternity, either protesting the inevitable and looking longingly back toward years that are gone, or with calmness and faith facing the future serene in the knowledge that the power behind life’s currents is strong and good.

And thinking of these things, I have concluded that whether it is sad to grow old depends on how we face it, whether we are looking forward with confidence or backward with regret.  Still in any case it takes courage to live long successfully, and they are brave who grow old with smiling faces.