Snowflakes

It sat in a block on the sideboard, heavy and foreign.

My grandmother’s cerulean eyes sparkled as I peeled off my layers.

Hat.

“I have so many fun things planned for us,” she said.

She always did.

Every weekend.

Boots.

“First we melt this big block of wax…”

Her excitement simply couldn’t be contained.

Scarf.

“Then, we’ll WHIP it! With the hand mixer!”

There in her entryway, these moments… our moments together… were all that mattered.

To both of us.

Coat, complete with mittens, connected by a long string that ran through the sleeves so that I wouldn’t lose them.

“And once it’s all fluffy, we’ll cover this form with it!”

Those eyes connecting with mine, her joy was just too big for her.

“Before it dries, we’ll sprinkle it with GLITTER! It will be a yule log for the table!”

This is how our winter weekends began. Yule log or Christmas trees made from last season’s J.C. Penny catalog.

The weekends stretched before us, just waiting to be filled with projects and the kind of love that filled her house so full that I’m certain it leaked from beneath the doors and warmed the outside.

This is my second Christmas season without her.

Last year, grief turned everything to a muddy gray. The lights, the songs, the joy of Christmas were heavy and intrusive and my mere existance was set to auto pilot.

I thought I understood grief. I’ve lived a lifetime without my father. Grief has always occupied a space inside me that’s low and throbbing. My grief there from so early on, like a ring deep within a tree.

But this. This is different. This guts me.  There’s a stabbing pain that jars me when I least expect it.

When I see the perfect chunky silver glitter that I just know would glisten perfectly on whipped wax. Or when that Restoration Hardware tome cries out to be turned into a tree. In an instant, the pain in my chest is so intense that I have to sit down. And remember to breathe.

I thought I knew grief.

I thought it would fade and live alongside my grief over losing my father.

I suspect I was wrong.

Perhaps grief is like a snowflake. Each loss different from the next. Each individual crystal so amazingly unique.

Party people: An Invisalign giveaway

My lovely friend Cam Bowman, who blogs over at Growing Up Goofy, graciously offered to co-host a fun Invisalign party with me last weekend.

There was fantastic food and sangria (courtesy of Cam’s amazing menu planning, party planning and amazing cooking!).

There were photos.

There were smiles, laughter and tons of questions from everyone.

We ate, drank, laughed and learned a ton about Invisalign. cocktail napkin pears with gorgonzola caprese skewers 2014-09-17_0005.jpg eppa sangria 2014-09-17_0007.jpg 2014-09-17_0008.jpg 2014-09-17_0009.jpg 2014-09-17_0010.jpg

I was never able to have braces when I was a teen and once I was into my adult years when I first heard about Invisalign, I assumed that my window had closed because I always thought that Invisalign took forever to work and that it was much more expensive than traditional metal braces. Nope. Totally wrong.

It turns out that the average Invisalign treatment is 12 months for adults. And the cost? Roughly the same.

Now that I know that, I think an Invisalign treatment may just be in my future, because really, what’s 12 months?

And when Katie and Matthew are older, we’ll be turning to Invisalign Teen because I love that there’s a less socially-awkward option than traditional braces that allows them to play sports without risk of injury and doesn’t leave them sneaking if they want any of the foods on the banned items list. (Teens are going to eat candy and chew gum. It’s a losing battle if we think otherwise!)

Special thanks to Drs. Cater and Galante for joining us for dinner and staying to educate us and share so much great information.

If you’re like me and you think you know what Invisalign is about and think it’s not for you, this Straight Talk: Smart Path to Straight Teeth Infographic has so many more details about why Invisalign is such a great option.

Thank you again, Cam, for co-hosting this fun event with me. I’m still dreaming about your Pots de Creme!

And to those who joined us, we’re so grateful that you set aside a Saturday night and spent it with us.

Finally, if you’ve always dreamed of getting Invisalign, it might just be your lucky day. Simply enter below for a chance to win a full treatment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Although this is a sponsored post, all of my opinions, as always, are completely my own.

Brussels sprouts, pancetta and crispy shallot pizza

Brussels sprouts pizza, pancetta pizza, Brussels sprouts, pancetta and crispy shallot pizza

It’s September, but that doesn’t mean that the best of the fresh produce is behind us. I can’t get enough Brussels sprouts at this time of year, so I’m using them in any way I can dream up. This weekend, that meant Brussels sprouts, pancetta and crispy shallot pizza. This amazing dish will be in heavy rotation at our house this fall!

Brussels sprouts, pancetta and crispy shallot pizza
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1⅓ cups shredded Parmesan
  • 1 shallot, sliced into thin rings
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • pizza dough
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, with a bit extra for brushing the crust
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Lightly flour a baking sheet and shape pizza dough.
  3. Brush pizza dough with olive oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Set dough aside.
  4. Rinse and drain the Brussels sprouts. Cut about ¼ inch off the stem end of each sprout and peel off the leaves. When they become difficult to peel, trim off another ¼ inch and continue removing leaves. Repeat the process until you have peeled off all the leaves; discard cores.
  5. Set leaves aside.
  6. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season lightly with kosher salt.
  7. Increase the heat to medium high and add Brussels sprout leaves. Saute until the leaves are bright green and slightly wilted but still crunchy, roughly 3 minutes.
  8. Transfer leaves to a paper towel.
  9. Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium low and sauté pancetta until crispy, approximately 5 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
  11. Sprinkle pizza dough with ⅓ cup Parmesan.
  12. Top dough with Brussels sprout leaves, pancetta and shallots.
  13. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  14. Remove pizza from the oven and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
  15. Serve!

 

A collision of first and lasts

Polly Pocket

My sweet Katie,

Tonight I plugged the drain of my bathtub, squirted in a healthy dose of bubble bath, turned the not-too-hot water on and lined your Polly Pockets up on the edge of the tub.

This was probably the millionth bath you’ve taken in your seven years.

It seems that so much of mothering is focused on all of the firsts. First smile, first steps, first words, first day of school.

And there’s this span of time wherein you are cushioned by those firsts… where it seems as though each one builds on the one before it and there are so few lasts.

But, something tells me that before long, bath time will be a thing of the past. You’ll move on to bathing… showering… in private and this bubble of time will no longer be spent with me by your side, washing your hair for you… handing you the washcloth.

When you were a baby, we bathed together every night. We played with your multicolored foam alphabet letters, sang a million rounds of Old MacDonald and often you settled and nursed there amongst the popping bubbles.

Those days with you seemed so much slower.

Now our days are filled with lunch packing, school pick up, errands, homework and just the overall busyness life.

We are happy. But we are busy.

And somehow the years between when I felt certain that we had this immeasurable expanse of time ahead of us in which we could run a bubble bath and laugh and sing have collided into nownow when I just know those days are dwindling.

In many ways, now has become a time of lasts intermingled with firsts, where a single day can simultaneously hold joy of the new and melancholy over the no more.

But tonight, I drew your bath and climbed in beside you.

We played with your Polly Pockets together, washing their hair and singing our songs. Old MacDonald has been replaced by the entire Sophia the First CD.

Lasts and firsts.

And in each, I am learning, there is beauty.

Thank you for showing me the way, my dear girl.

I am so very grateful for you.

With so much love,

Mommy

Give and get with Schoola!

Okay, it’s no secret that I’m more than a little in love with Schoola and the work their doing to help schools in need.

So now, I want to show you some super cute looks you can easily pull together from the site.

A dressy outfit for Matthew would total $35, with $14 going back to his school. (You can find these items here: shoesshirt and pants.)

Schoola clothes

Here’s a casual outfit for Matthew that would cost me just $16. And $6 of that would go back to his school. (Grab these items here: hatshirt and shorts.)

Schoola clothes

And this pretty style for Katie? Just $30 for all three pieces, with $12 going back to her school. (Buy these items here: shoesdress and sweater.)

Schoola clothes

The playful look for Katie below would cost me $35 and $14 would go to her school. (Grab these items while they’re still available! Skirtshirt and shoes.)

Schoola clothes

The grand total for all four looks would be $116 out of my pocket with $46 going directly to their school. That’s pretty amazing, right?

And if you shop now, be sure to use the code BacktoSchoola20 to save 20% off your purchase. (Code expires on August 20th, so hurry! Limit one use per customer.)

Don’t forget that you can also request a bag from Schoola by clicking on this donation bag request link.

Visit Schoola to learn more about how a single clothing drive in the 2102/2013 school year has now grown to a program that is 3000 schools strong!

Although I was compensated for participating in this campaign, as always the opinions expressed here are all my own. 

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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