Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Links: Tribute to the Obamas

Today is a sad day, friends. I do not have the words to express my dismay at and profound sorrow for the end of an era and the beginning of a dreaded new one. So I will leave you with these, hoping you have a restful and healing weekend:

Ellen's tribute to Obama. It made me cry laughing, then made me cry -period.

My President Was Black.

Obama's secret to surviving the White House: Books! Can we love him more? I think not.

To the First Lady. Ah Michelle. We will miss you.

As one working on education for the world's most vulnerable, I'd be remiss not to mention Michelle Obama's excellent initiative: Let Girls Learn.

The Obama Years. A moving video.

122 of the best photos taken by the WH photographer, Pete Souza.

These always make me laugh. The best Joe Biden memes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Why I March

I have always been an armchair activist but this year I want to become an true ally - a woman who walks the talk. It all starts this Saturday with the Women’s March. I will be marching in Orange County with many men and women who want to ensure that the rights of women are valued and upheld in the new administration.

As for me? I walk for myself and for my rights, of course. I walk for basic human rights like paid parental leave, reproductive rights, education, healthcare, child care. I also walk for and with those women who have to work multiple jobs and barely make ends meet. With those who raise children in fear for their lives because of institutional and systemic racism. With the courageous women who are new to the country and, documented or not, try to build a safe life for their families. With those who raise strong daughters and sons and want to lead by example through kindness and fearlessness. I walk for young girls to know that they are smart and beautiful and can achieve great things. I walk for all the women who build each other up and who encourage one another. I walk because I still believe in Ubuntu – “there is no me without you.” There are no successful men without women behind and around them. There are no successful women without strong women behind and around them, from their family members to their teachers to their mentors and their friends. I march because we must be united in this new political environment, united now and always to lift each other up and remind ourselves and (perhaps, more importantly) others that we are invaluable members of society, that we must rise and raise our voices to defend equality, diversity, and the dignity of all.

(Illustration by Liza Donovan. other beautiful free downloads can be found here)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Have a healthy weekend!

This weekend I am taking it easy. I've come down with the stomach flu and need to rest. I'm a baby when i'm sick and I'm solo parenting until tomorrow morning. I hope you have a healthy and restful weekend! Here are a few articles I've enjoyed lately:

The full transcript from Barack Obama's last speech. I did cry. All the tears.

This inspired me to change the way I talked to the boys -I do a lot of "careful" and "great job!"

Speaking of parenting, this quick devotional also inspired me to be use the phrase "everyone makes mistakes" more often.

I love podcasts but have not listened to audio books for a long time. Maybe this list will make me start again?

I love Rachel Held Evans and her latest blog post was really touching.

Have you tried a wardrobe capsule? I'm interested in the concept, though I don't own that many pieces!

Current TV binge. Current read.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Links I Like

I hope you enjoy a good and relaxing weekend! It's raining here but I'm hoping we'll have plenty of things to do nonetheless (the rest of the country slowly rolls its eyes at this complaint coming from Southern California).

My idea of a perfect dinner.

Trying to have more of these books in my boys' library.

Censored and haunting photos of US concentration camps during WWII.

Mind-boggling account of a journalist's 4 months as a guard in a corporate prison.

You don't have to go abroad to be an aid worker.

We're starting this money challenge so as not to be "surprised" when December comes around... again!

Can I like this woman even more?

One of my new favorite podcasts (and here is the list of my favorite podcasts of 2016 if you're interested).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

6 New Traditions For 2017

I love new beginnings! I love hearing about people starting a new career, moving to a new city, or planning something new. That's why I love the new year. It's corny but it's so inspiring to have a new vision and write down plans to achieve the goals I’ve set forth. This year I want to build solid foundations for our family, so here are the 6 new traditions I want us to start:

1- Monday Family Meetings

I read The Opposite of Spoiled a few months ago. The author talked about family meetings as a way to build stronger relationships between family members. We’re going to start doing that. We’ll center these meetings around a couple of high/low questions that will reflect on the past week, then give Léo his allowance ($5 for now, 25 cents of which will go in a donation box for an organization of Léo's choosing), and… that’s about it right now. Maybe later we’ll add to that but for now that will suffice.

2- Friday Night Popcorn and Movie

I liked the idea of pizza and movie but we already stick pizzas inside the kids’ lunchboxes once a week. Popcorn may be better. The challenge with this is going to be choosing a different movie weekly, and one that can appeal to both boys. We’ve been watching Home Alone daily for the past 3 weeks -variety is not something the boys relish! But this could become a fun tradition.

Alternatively, we may invite family members for dinners, which is fun for all of us and a good way to unwind after the work week is over.

3- Monthly One-on-ones

I’d like to start monthly dates with both boys -some time alone with each boy to do something fun. And I’d like to start date nights with Joe on a monthly basis as well.

4- Serving 

On top of choosing an organization or a cause to donate to, I want Léo to see service in action so we’ll choose something to do together, like volunteering at the animal shelter, donating food at a food bank, write a card for someone, or letting him choose an act of kindness. We’ll include Jude as much as possible.

5- Birthday Fun

This is going to consist of 2 things: waking the birthday boy up with balloons (or rather putting balloons in their bedroom since they wake up before us) and saying “Yes!” all day. We’ll see how that goes -if there are too many asks or if a request is over our budget, we’ll scale back!

6- Holiday Spirit

We’ve had so much fun this holiday season. A lot of houses in our neighborhood were decked up for Christmas and we spent many evenings driving around and admiring the decorations and lights. I’d like to keep this tradition and others we’ve started this year: baking and decorating cookies with grandma, watching Christmas movies, and picking up toys for kids whose parents don’t have that much money (that could also be included in our acts of service).

I also want to have similar meals and traditions around our major holidays: BBQ for 4th of July, crepes for Bastille Day, and the inevitable turkey for Thanksgiving.

What about you? Any traditions you’d like to keep or start this year?

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Word For 2017

I like the idea of having a word or short phrase that guides the year. I remember that at the end of 2008 I listened to a song called “Walk by Faith” and thought that 2009 would be guided by that -and it was! Since then though I haven’t really had anything I kept front and center. I chose words such as “glorify” or “strong” but much like my resolutions, nothing has stuck. This year however, I want to be intentional and one word came to my mind: steady.

Next year, I want to build healthy habits. I want to take it slow and see positive changes in the way I do life. I do not want fast answers or miracle solutions in any areas of my life. Well that’s not true. I do want miracles! I do want to lose weight in 3 weeks and get my finances in order before taxes hit. But the reality is: I know myself and what I need most is discipline and perseverance (my secondary words, in a sense). I know how to build a plan. I’m a master planner! But I am not so good at following through. I really suck at it actually. So whether we’re talking about parenting, cooking, health, finances, spirituality or advocacy, I want to be steady in 2017. Steady in my tone and in my attention with the boys and with Joe; in making dinners at home and having people over to build community; in keeping a budget and paying off debt; in spending time in silence and reflection; and in being faithful to my values at work and in my life. Steady. It’s not glamorous but it’s essential if I want these changes to last and become part of my life -part of who I am.

What about you? Do you have resolutions? Do you have one word or phrase that will guide 2017?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Rough Parts of 2016

2016 was quite important for our family. We moved to a new (rental) house -a real house, with stairs and a “garden”, which is actually a small front yard, that left Léo in awe for a good month! Leo started Kindergarten at our neighborhood public school -no more French school, which made me a bit sad- and Jude entered a new daycare at the end of the summer. We’re able to walk to both schools and enjoy our friendly neighbors. We spend a lot of time with family as we live about 20 minutes from every one of Joe’s core family members. I really love where we live!

On a personal level, the year has been good but tough in 2 areas: I turned 36 and the November presidential elections left me reeling and depressed for weeks.

Turning 36 has been harder than I thought it would be. When I was just about to turn 12 my dad died at almost 36. When you’re 12, 36 seemed like a big ol’ age and even though everybody said he died “so young” I thought it was old, period. Because of that I have always thought that 35-36 was it -an appropriate age to die. So now I’m 36 and it’s been so hard to imagine the future, to make plans, to be excited about anything because… I don’t really know how to explain this but 36 feels like the end. My brain knows that 36 is young indeed but my heart hasn’t quite caught on to that yet. So I’m left in this weird space between what I know and what I feel. I’m working on it, developing small goals for myself to prove that hey, 36 (and beyond) is a good age!

And the second thing… November and Hillary Clinton’s loss… I felt sad and sick and furious and dumbfounded. I was part of the liberal bubble who frankly didn’t see that coming. I was expecting to celebrate until about 8 PM when I understood that the man who had insulted every single minority population and had flaunted his brash ignorance of facts had won the election. What a disastrous moment that was. Like many people, I cried. But, like many people, I vowed that instead of posting rants and memes on Facebook, I would do something. I have become an active member in 2 social justice groups I had joined before the election and I will be a strong ally to ensure that human rights are not taken away, whether we’re talking about marriage, reproductive health or religious freedom. Now is the time to advocate and let our voices be heard. Now is not the time to normalize the rejection of the “other.” The next four years might be tough -will be tough- but we can be united to show love, compassion, and active solidarity with those who fear for their very lives and liberties.

What about you? What are the main events that shaped how you felt and acted this past year -good or bad?