Thursday, December 31, 2009

365-49: Getting Back on Track

Well, it looks like I've gotten off-track. That's okay, no time like the present to get back ON track!

2009 hasn't been the best year for our family - no major crisis but some loss and just a lot of health stuff. It seems to have been true for so many I know - lots of people lost beloved pets and family members this year, and way too many illnesses. Just today I heard about two more kids with pneumonia, another kid with a perforated appendix, a friend's husband broke his leg, and another friend had the stomach flu. JUST STOP IT, UNIVERSE. We're ready for 2010.

I don't really make new year's resolutions, simply because I feel like I don't keep them and that's just inviting failure! Somehow it feels more doable to have goals, and mine are fairly simple. I want to be kinder, more loving, more generous and more patient this year. I have some concrete goals, some things I want to accomplish but really, I just want to keep working on being the most compassionate person I can be. I want to live with more love and less fear.

I am grateful for this night, to reflect on the past year, on what I've done and not done, on where I've succeeded and fallen short, on where I might go this next year.

I found a quote from Mark Twain I really like:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I wish us all a year of exploration, dreams and discovery. And cut it out with the illness, okay, Universe? Thanks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A couple of FOs...

We've been at my ILs' house for a few days and I've grabbed time to knit! I've completed two pairs of slippers (except for the felting) and a hat for me!

This yarn picks up the greens of my coat perfectly! I didn't swatch, of course, I just went by the label needle size (10.5) and gauge, and my own head size. Fits great! I "had" to make a hat because I left my fleece hat at home!

I did a pair of felted clogs for my oldest:

It's the fiber arts pattern, 8" size, in Lamb's Pride worsted.

Then I did a pair of the French Press ballet slippers for me:

The knitting was fine, though the fourth top was a bit tedious...I just hate seaming. I also put the soles on purl-side out. Oops. I'm calling it a feature. I'm not a great seamer so I'm hoping the felting process evens them out a bit. Otherwise, it's back to clogs for me!! I'm also not sure how to sew on the strap post-felting and I'm pondering attaching it pre-felting (but not tacking it down). Do I use thread? Yarn? I have really pretty mother-of-pearl buttons that I think will look nice. It's a nice pattern but pricey!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 25, 2009

Actual Knitting Content!

I auctioned off a hat and scarf for our preschool's annual benefit. A friend had seen my purple Foliage and wanted one just like it, so she bought it! I ended up making it in exactly the same color. Just a note, I contacted both designers and requested permission to use the pattern for a fundraising item, and even though I already owned the Just Enough Ruffles pattern, I repurchased it. Both designers graciously gave me permission to use their patterns to benefit the school.

So, the pattern for the scarf is Just Enough Ruffles. Knit exactly to pattern, so any mods are simply my own errors. I knit this in Malabrigo Worsted in the Jacinto which I ordered online from somewhere, I can't remember where! As always, Malabrigo is *just* delicious! I used my KP Options for this one. I was very nervous about the blocking because it's not a skill I have, really, yet. Need to finish some more lace so I can get more practice, right? :) I ended up steam blocking it. I wet down a cotton pillowcase and placed it over the areas I wanted to block and ironed it. I didn't block the ruffle at all, I liked it really curly!

The hat, is of course, Knitty's delightful Foliage. I seriously love this pattern. I love leaf lace, and this hat is so cleverly constructed! The only modification I made in this one is the same as I made for mine - I knit 2.5 pattern repeats instead of three. I found the lace opened up with wearing and with my original version in the bulky (RIP pretty green hat), it soon became too long. Which is odd because normally hats knit to pattern specs are too short for me, what with having a long, pointy head. *ahem* Not that I'm insecure about it AT ALL.

These are both pretty quick knits, and fun to do. In the process, though, I have (re)learned a valuable lesson which is that while I love to knit for others and give my work away, I do not love knitting for a deadline. In this case, the deadline is internally imposed because my friend was very gracious about taking my time, but I really wanted it done by Christmas. I am going to VT in January and want to have my sister's shawl done by then, and I have some other projects I'm excited about. I also have FOUR socks in flight, so I need to finish those. I just don't like feeling like I *have* to get something done by a specific time. This is not an unusual thing for me, that's my general attitude (though sometimes I think without those deadlines, I'd never have finished graduate school!).

So, we're off to visit my ILs for a few days and I've packed up the knitting - the shawl, and yarn for some felted slippers for the kids and for me (my awesome clogs are just about worn through). I'd like to have it all done so I can felt them in my mom's top loader.

For all those who celebrate, Merry Christmas! For all those who don't, I wish you the joy of the season. I'll have my phone with me, so I'll be posting from Western MA.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

365-48: Silent Night

It's not silent at all, actually. Not yet. The baby (not a baby anymore) is chattering in her bed, the boys are running around, overwrought at the whole thing - the pageant tonight, and SANTA tomorrow. But, they will wind down, and the house will settle down around us. We've still got a lot of work to do: I've got a nice brunch to put together, and everything has to be wrapped. It will get done, I'm sure, and I'll enjoy a glass of wine while I do it.

The house I grew up in was at the end of a dead end row, 10 houses on the street, on a hill. Sometimes in the winter, it would be too icy to get up the hill, and we'd have to park at the college and tramp home through the woods. I have a memory from being a teenager, so clear (true? I don't know), of coming home from the late-night Christmas church service at the Episcopal church we attended (back when I believed), and we got stuck on the hill, and had to go park and walk through the woods. It was cold, and so clear. It was dark, they hadn't yet built up that part of campus, not the way it is now, and we came to a part of the path where the woods drew back, a small clearing. I remember looking up and seeing the amazing array of the Milky Way stretched out above and just being filled with a feeling too profound for words.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. Christmas right now is more work than anything for me. We do go to a Christian church but my theological belief system is far from clear to me right now. I'm drawn to belief, yet I resist it. I want to be that perfect, always patient, always loving and kind and soft-spoken mother who never loses her temper and created perfect memories for her children, but I'm not. I threw an honest-to-god, mercifully brief, temper tantrum today when I discovered the kids had thrown the clean, folded laundry on the floor. There was shouting, a door may have been slammed.

And yet...there's so much about Christmas in the Christian church that resonates, and it's the same things that resonate about why I celebrate the Solstice. There's darkness all around, and always has been. People experience pain, loss, grief, devastation. And yet, I have hope for the world, for us. I believe in love, and joy. I believe in the light, and I believe that the light will not just overcome the darkness, it will heal the darkness, if we let it. Just like in that moment, when I was a teenager, so long ago, looking up and feeling filled with starlight. I believe that feeling, that joy is there for us. It's what keeps me going, really, those moments where I can just get out of my own way, and let the light in.

I am grateful tonight for those moments, and my own journey and faith that the journey is worth it. The light is there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

365-47: Can't Think, Tired.

I've been staying up way too late, not doing anything productive and just generally goofing off. So, I'm way tired and it's my own damn fault so I can't even whine about it. I will, of course, but you and I both know I know it's my own fault so feel free to ignore.

It's been a very hectic day. Got DS1 on the bus for his last day, including making sure he had fancy cookie decorations that were artificial food dye-free! Go me. Got DS2 to school, ran a couple of errands (turns out it if we want to send out all those cards and letters that I put together, they need this new-fangled thing called a STAMP). Went back to school for the preschool solstice brunch. Left that early to get DS1 off the bus, stuff some lunch into him and get him to the dentist where they pulled his first tooth! The grown up tooth was coming in behind and the baby tooth wasn't coming out. For some reason this just makes me think that this is SO like him. He was badly positioned in utereo and wasn't coming out then either. This amuses me, for some reason. Anyway, where were we? Dentist. Came home, worked on the hat I'm finishing for the preschool auction. Took all three kids to karate, then to the chiropractor then convinced DH to meet us out for pizza. It went as well as could be expected, really. Good pizza too. Came home, worked on the hat. It's almost done, but I hit the wall (seriously, I'm about 1/4 of the way into the bind-off) and I had to do the Tooth Fairy letter. Apparently the dentist's office told him that you get extra if the dentist has to "wiggle" your tooth out. *eyeroll* It's fine, all we had were fives anyway so he scored.

So, all that being said...I am so grateful today for my family. My little (big) guy was so brave at the dentist's office, my littler guy was so cute at his brunch - so proud of all of his hard work, and my daughter continues to delight and amuse me. My husband is pretty great too. :) It's not easy all the time, but every once and a while, it just clicks, and I felt like I had those moments with each member of my family today, which is nice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

365-46: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

In this busy season, it's easy to get stressed out. It has really hit me since having kids, how much *work* it is to be a grown up. As a kid, all the wonderful holiday experiences we had magically appeared, courtesy of my mom, of course. But I didn't get that. Now I do. To have any holiday traditions requires that we not only create them, but that we sustain them. And that takes effort. This year, for the first time I think, both boys really are into the whole idea of Christmas, with presents and Santa and (for the first time), the whole baby Jesus thing too. We're going to church on Christmas Eve, I'm hoping they'll be in the pageant, all that stuff. It's weird for me, but I think it'll be good.

Anyway, I spent some time running around today, and just got totally overwhelmed and unable to make decisions. Do we need more presents? Fewer? Different from what we have? I really hate the materialism of the season (don't get me wrong, I'm as materialistic as the next person, have you seen my collection of diaper bags??), but really, the emphasis on BUY BUY BUY is pretty sickening. So, I'm trying to remember all that I have to feel grateful for. And to take a breath here and there and just focus on where I am, and with whom. My beautiful younger son sat on my lap at dinner and chattered away at me, and all I could think as I looked at his blue, blue eyes and rosy cheeks was, "How lucky am I?"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

365-45: Sort of a day of rest.

We have cats in our household. We said goodbye to our wonderful L in June, and quickly acquired the boys. They're great, but they're not MY cats, really. I still have my A cat. I have had her from the time she was a weency little kitten, she came to me at about 6 weeks old. She's now almost 16 1/2. She's been a handful, my dear love kitty that she is. I think things are going downhill with her: she's very thin, she's got kidney disease and she's now started peeing on the bathmat. We just can't have a kitty peeing all over the place, so if it gets worse, we're going to have to make a tough decision. I'm not ready to lose her. She and L were with me through some very long and painful years. In some ways, they were the *only* ones who were there with me. They saved me. The thought of losing her breaks my heart, though it is, of course inevitable.

So, how is this related to gratitude? Even as I sit here, knowing I *will* lose her, and probably fairly soon, I haven't lost her yet. She's here, now, still herself, still okay. I am reminded, yet again, that pre-suffering really doesn't serve any useful purpose and only robs you of the joy that's available to you in the here and now. In this exact moment, nothing bad has happened. We don't have to make that call today (though I am calling the vet just to rule out a UTI). We don't have to say goodbye just yet. So, I am grateful for that, today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

365-44: 'Tis the season... more ways than one! We are back from a lovely party with good friends! It's fun to feel like we really have a *life* out here! Most of these were women from our book club, and some of the men, DH included, decided they'd have an "after book club" club, the night after our book club meeting! I think it's an awesome idea, and I really hope they do it.

We're also slated to get somewhere around a foot of snow by tomorrow morning. It is New England, after all, and we do get snow on a regular basis. I'm hoping we can make it to church tomorrow.

So, lots of things today to be grateful for - good friends and gatherings where the kids all really got along, wonderful food, my amazing husband spending a good chunk of his day in the attic re-insulating, to keep us warm...

Okay, I gotta go to bed. I was up most of the night with DD who decided that sleep is for the birds, and I am *beat*.

Friday, December 18, 2009

365-43: Naps and Exercise

I have a long standing ambivalent relationship with exercise. I've done yoga for years, I'm a reluctant runner (just read Born to Run though which is fascinating!), I used to lift weights, I swim, I used to bike a lot... Recently I got turned onto Jillian Michael's workouts which ROCK. Today I am thankful for the huge nap that DD took, for the energy to work out, and for my hysterical son, who not only attempted to do the whole workout with me, he offered running commentary the whole time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

365-42: Whoa, where did the week go??

How can it be Thursday already?? It's been a very busy week, I guess! It's that time of year. I was out for knitting with the neighborhood ladies on Tuesday, I've got book club tonight, a party tomorrow night (if I can do it), we've got a party Saturday, a party Sunday...then next week we have, well, Christmas, and then we're off to DH's parents' house to party with the ILs and cousins. All fun stuff, but dude. I am TIRED. :)

Many things to be grateful for...and I'm glad to be reminded right now because I'm feeling a bit annoyed. I've had an on-going issue with Keen Footwear. I had some Calistogas that they replaced for me, and the replacements didn't work for me either...when I returned those, I requested the Saratoga II. They sent me an entirely different shoe instead, which was too small. When I requested a size that actually fit me, they sent the right size, but a different shoe (not one I was interested in). I finally got those two pairs sent back, and they're now telling me they no longer have the Saratoga II in the color and size I wanted. I know, I know, totally an RPP1, but still. I have my clogs but they're not as stable as I'd like, and these look so comfy. I really wanted them in the Soy, but it looks like I'll have the black.

So, in the interest of getting out of my petty annoyance, a list of a few things I am grateful for this week:
  • The fact that I have a warm home, shoes, clothes, and all my material needs not only met, but indulged.
  • The fact that I have a fun new digital camera coming to me tomorrow (birthday present!) *See item 1.
  • My healthy children, my happy marriage.
  • The dinner we're having, that I hope will be delicious (steak, roasted rosemary potatoes, salad).
  • The wonderful friends I have here.
Okay, speaking of dinner, I should go get moving on that so it becomes the actual dinner we have as opposed to my amazing fantasy dinner.

1 RPP = Rich People's Problem: this calculator was very interesting for some global perspective on wealth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

365-41: The Sky's the Limit

My 6 year old son asked me to take a picture of the sky this morning while we were waiting for the bus. So I did.

We talked about how looking at the clouds moving along made us feel. He said it looked like a river, and like a truck had driven in the sky. He said it was beautiful, and he was right.

I am grateful for this moment, to get to see the world, the beautiful sky, not through the eyes of my beautiful son, but along side of him, with him. Thank you, baby, for being here.

P.S. I am really hoping to have some knitting content for you soon!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 13, 2009

365-40: I guess the party had to end some time.

Today was a good day. We had church this morning, and for today, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, the topic was Hope. Our pastor gave a very moving sermon. Then my lovely ILs came to celebrate my birthday yet again! DH had my oldest off at a birthday party, and I got a nap while DD napped. I am plugging away on some knitting, we had Thai for dinner, and my ILs gave me a very generous gift which is going to buy me a new camera!

Today, again, I'm just so thankful to be exactly who I am, where I am. It's not perfect, I am surely not perfect, not even close!! But it's *good*, you know? I know it always changes so I am glad to appreciate the good days when we have them!!

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365-39: up late

I just got back from a lovely evening out with some good friends. I am so grateful tonight for the great conversation and the support of my husband to go out. Not to mention the margarira!!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

365-38: TGIF

And what an awesome day it was!! DH and I drove into Alewife together and took the T. I went and met a friendat her workplace. We caught up a bit and then I did a presentation for her interns. Then I shopped and bought a new "going out" outfit with my birthday money. I hit a yarnstore I really like but *gasp* didn't buy yarn (seriously, I have plenty). I met DH for lunch and had a delicious sandwich. I had a mostly-decent afternoon with the kids and got a Shred in. I picked up DH at the train and we had a very mainstream date: dinner out at the Olive Garden and then the movie 2012, which was fun and exactly what I was in the mood for! Sorry for all the dangling participles, if that's the right term. Now I'm about to go to sleep. Thank you, Universe, for a really really good day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

365-37: Three Days Worth Of Gratitude!

Whoops! It's a busy time of year, combined with a not-sleeping baby, and I'm not keeping up daily on this, am I! Oh well.

Anyway, so many things I'm feeling gratitude for.

Two nights ago, my daughter slept from 8 pm to 6 am.

We got about a foot of snow yesterday. My husband shoveled the first 4" in the morning, and then he headed off to work. Luckily there was nowhere I needed to be in the morning, so I did some shoveling in the morning and finished it after lunch. I had hit the top of the driveway...we have a long and sloped driveway. There was about 2 1/2 feet of snow at the end where the plows had gone by. I muttered a few curses, and reminded myself that I am grateful to have plowed roads, and being plowed IN is the cost of having a driveway, another thing I'm really grateful for! As I was starting to shovel, a town Water Department guy drove by, saw me working, stopped, and plowed out the end of the driveway for me. A small act for him, a huge blessing for me. So, thanks, Water Department Guy, you really made my day!!

Today, I'm feeling grateful for 40 years of life. I'm 40 today! I can't quite believe it! I thought when I hit 40, I'd feel...well, OLD. I don't. I don't feel young, really, I do feel like I've got a lot of life under my belt, but a lot more to go too. I think I've spent the last year, since turning 39, pondering my life, where I'm at, where I want to go. I think this year was in part about letting go of unrealistic dreams. Not dreams, no. I've got lots of those, and hopes, goals, and aspirations. I am a planner, you know. But more, realizing that there aren't the infinite possibilities that I'd always envisioned. There isn't the infinite time I felt I had at 20. Well, actually at 20 I was pretty sure I wasn't go to make it to 21, so maybe more like at 23. :) I can see the shape of my future. Not the details, of course, but a general shape. And I like it. I know I'm probably not going to sing on Broadway, but I can sing at home and get joy from that. I'm probably not going to be an astronaut, but I can watch my son learning about the solar system and that's amazing too. I will go back to paid employment at some point (don't tell me I don't work!), maybe next year, maybe later...Who knows how it's all going to unfold, but I'm sure it's going to be very interesting! To me, at least.

Monday, December 07, 2009

365-36: Monday Monday...

You know, I actually really like Mondays. Both my older kids are off at school, one (DS1) has a full day of Kindergarten and DS2 has preschool 9-1, so I get some DD-time, which is always delicious. She's a handful, to be sure, but I love being with her! We go to the chiropractor after drop-off, then hang out and do errands, and then go to her gymnastics class. Once we pick up DS2 from school and get home, we're home for a slow afternoon. DS1 is wiped from a full day, and needs the down time.

So, today...I am grateful for so many things: I'm grateful that my neighbors pulled their daughter out of morning care so now she's riding the bus with DS1 every day, and I get some chatting time with the mom. I really like them, and it's cool to get to know her better. I am really grateful for my kids - we had a nice day, not too much frustration. I am really grateful for a lovely conversation with my sister, and with my wonderful friend J (so maybe it's really that I'm grateful for my cell phone??). I am deep into fleece projects, which is SO BAD because I have knitting projects galore I should be doing!! But, I am working on grown-up mittens, and I'm futzing with a pattern. I'm re-engineering something I found on-line, it's a really clever design and I am trying to get a working pattern. Of course in the middle of all this, my needle on my sewing machine broke! So, while I'm so grateful for the fun, I am a tad annoyed that I can't be actually DOING it right now! Maybe it's for the best, I really do need to go knit on my auction stuff. :-)

I guess mainly I'm just overall grateful for my life today. It was nice.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

FOs: Mittens!

Just in time, since we woke up to this! Not much snow, especially out where we are, we get hammered, but it sure is pretty!!

I triumphed over the mittens yesterday. There was much struggle and mistakes were made. The pattern, I think, assumes a higher level of pattern literacy than I possess. I used to have decent spatial-visual skills (I am good at maps, for example) but perhaps all the child-related sleep deprivation has warped my brain. Anyway. One frustration is that they only give you instructions to make a right mitten, and you have to reverse-engineer the (already) unclear directions to get a left mitten. Thank goodness my husband helped. So, the top pair are from the pattern, the bottom pair I just made up when I got frustrated with the pattern. They were very easy!!

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365-35: slacking off

I haven't been as reliable on this project the last couple of days, whoops. Sorry.

Right now, I'm sitting in my big, comfy green chair, drinking tea, listening to cheerful kids, looking at a fresh snowfall. I've got a nice day planned. It's a moment of peace in a busy life, and I'm grateful to have it.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

FOs: Fleece

Maybe it's the New Englander in me, but I really do love fleece! I love crafting and creating in general, and sewing and fabric work are always good opportunities for me to work on my perfectionism. I'm not a great sewer but I do have fun!

The first item I made yesterday, a fleece hat for my daughter. I am going to make mittens as well. I am really happy with this! I didn't top-stitch the bottom section because (a) I thought it was cute as-is, and (b) my top-stitching skills have room for improvement. This is a McCall's pattern, and was pretty terrible. It was on sale for $1.99, which was good. The cutting layout was just plain WRONG and I'm not confident enough in my skills to trust when I think something is wrong. I am quite sure that I didn't do the cutting the way I was supposed to, but it worked! It's a very cute hat and adorable on her, in my biased opnion. :-)

This blanket was going to be a Project Linus donation but there is *one* cut that I made too long and I'm not quite sure if it's good enough. I may put in a couple stitches, I don't think they'd be that noticeable. It's also smaller than they request but IMO, it's a perfect infant size. It's very much not perfect but it's cute and useable. My daughter is a little big for it so I'd live to find it a good home.

I found a gorgeous fleece in the remnant bin and bought dome coordinating fleece to do another blanket, plus some to make a hat and mitten set for a friend who is having a boy.

I *should* be knitting (or prepping the lecture on the Ecological Model that I've been asked to give) but the fleece is calling. I wonder if the fact that we're slated to get 6-8" of snow tonight has anything to so with it?

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Friday, December 04, 2009

365-34: Music hath charms...

Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I played violin and viola, and still do. I love to sing, and have a decent voice for someone who is almost entirely untrained. I love musical theater, and it's one of my wistful dreams of a different life path. I've been listening to Wicked lately (must see) and loving singing along. I am so grateful today for the immeasurable joy that music has brought to my life.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

365-33: With a little help from my friends...

Today we had Kindergarten conferences, which meant, among other things, that the elementary school had an early release day. I needed to be there at 1, without kids. Hmm. DS2 gets out at 11:45 on Wednesdays (when there's an early release, it's complicated), and obviously DD doesn't got anywhere. My friend K and I hatched a plan that included her picking up her daughter and DS2 from the nursery school, the older boys would both come to my house on the bus, and she'd come here, we'd feed the kids and hang out.

K was one of my first Littleton friends. Her oldest and my oldest have birthdays about 10 days apart and are similar kids in some ways. She reached out to me during the summer of 2008, before we started at the nursery school and we've been pretty close ever since. She and I, and another friend, were teammates for the triathlon this summer. Today I am feeling grateful for having her in my life. She's a loyal and good friend, someone I can talk to, and count on. I appreciate her humor and her take on life!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

365-32: A Moment of Perspective

We headed up to Nashua this morning to do some errands. I had pictures to pick up from our portrait session at Sears, and a little bit of shopping to do. We tend to do low-key present giving so I'm pretty much done with shopping for the boys. I'm feeling really overwhelmed with STUFF right now, so acquiring more STUFF isn't really an enjoyable prospect, to be sure.

On the way home, we encountered the aftermath of this accident. Our traffic was moving fine, but Route 3 was a parking lot going North. We saw the SUV being loaded onto a flatbed tow truck, the front end was completely caved it. It gave me a chill, clearly, it was a bad, bad accident. Tonight, I was thinking about it and looked it up on-line to see what had happened. Reading the description brought me almost too tears.

Life is fragile. Life is precious. While I'm not necessarily a religious person, for some reason, this bible quote* is just echoing in my mind for the families of those men, and for the driver too.

"The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."
Number 6:24-26

I held my children a little closer tonight, and I'll give my amazing husband an extra hug and kiss too. And for all in my life whom I love, I hold you close in my heart tonight. Blessed be.

* To be honest, it's echoing in Morgan Freeman's voice as POTUS in Deep Impact