the thirty four things...

it has become a yearly ritual, a tradition, for me to scrap together a list of things I'm grateful for each year on my birthday.  things I love, things that bring a smile, things I say a definitive yes to.  things large and small.  things significant and not-so-much.  so here I am just greeting thirty four and you know what?  something about it just feels different.  good different.  significant, fresh.....  I don't know.  maybe it's got to do with the way much of this year felt like an awful murky blur.  specifically spring (in it's entirety, amazingly) and early summer, when my mama was so ill.  and here we are now, and oh how I learned from and grew through all of that.

I decided I wanted to wake up in the forest on my birthday.  to start off my thirty-fifth year simply, humbly, in the woods.  so we camped nearby last night.  near a creek, the three of us.  rice pasta with bolognese for dinner.  a fire.  s'mores.  papa and I sat up late around the fire, and it was good.  we all got less-than-great sleep and woke with chilly noses, snuggled close.  he delivered the little one to ballet this morning and I sat by the fire wrapped in layers and sipping hot chai, happy for the autumnally brisk morning that left me with reason to don a hat.  journal in hand, though I didn't write much.  I took my yoga mat down by the creek for 20 minutes or so and then back up to the fire for a second cup of chai.   it's Heather's rooibos masala chai (just substitute 2 tsp rooibos for the black tea, if you like, though it's great either way) I'm loving these days, by the way.  shortly thereafter my people returned with more firewood and a cinnamon bun from the bakery.  bacon and eggs in the cast iron pan.  it was a good morning.  a near perfect morning, I dare say.  and I'm not one to pretend perfection.  I'm more than aware that blogs often cast a glow of always-sunny-around-here! and while I try not to fall into that much, well, if you're plugging along and trying to focus on the positive to help keep your chin up and your perspective shifted just the way you hope to, it can come across that way at times.  which is all to say no, it isn't always-sunny-around-here!, but that this morning was truly, blissfully, pretty dang sunshiny.  there may have even been unicorns prancing around.

we stayed home for the rest of the day, putzing around and unpacking an amazing amount of stuff from an approximately 17 hour long camping trip.  my dad came for a visit, brought me an orchid and Claire a kite.  we actually managed to get it up and (sort of) flying a few times.  I can't say I remember the last time I flew a kite.  perhaps tomorrow we'll take it to the park.  calls from loved ones, a visit from a dear friend, and then my favorite for dinner.  scallops with bacon and broccoli raab over linguine.  a homemade cheesecake (his first) with some cherries on top.  yum, yum, yum.

I think it's going to be a good year.

and so, without further ado (because there's been a lot of ado already in this post), the thirty-four things, in no particular order:

* being able to hear the train from home.  there's just something about those mournful, knowing whistles that helps me feel grounded

* with every bit of my being, I am so forever grateful that she made it through.  love, love, love you, mama~ you're the strongest person I know.

* the honey and maple syrup lining the pantry shelves

* and the other jars beside them, in pretty reds and greens and blues

* the garden, for the goods and for all of that free therapy

* for Claire, of course.  as she gets older and we somehow get both more and less entwined, I see different parts of her emerging and am continually blown away and more in love with her and made more vulnerable by it.  but it's a good vulnerable.  yes it's the kind that leaves your heart open in a scary way, but I figure I've just gotta trust it's better to have it open and receptive than closed up, afraid.

* the new sushi place in town

* hot chai in the morning.  or whenever.

* for the occasional (quarterly?) dates papa and sneak away for.  here's to more of those in the coming year, I hope.

* acorns.  this is a big mast year for the oaks around here and there is the steady sound of acorns crashing onto rooftops, cars, the road... I like it.  a lot.

* in two weeks I'm going to the Southeast Women's Herb Conference for the first time since I was pregnant with Claire.  I went the first five or six years and I cannot wait to get back.

* that twenty minutes creekside this morning on my yoga mat did me good

* ever grateful for my dear friends and family

* our upcoming beach camping trip.  can't wait to breathe in that salty ocean air.

* the hard pear cider with dinner tonight was delightful

* my slippers

* for our health

* for her wonderful farm school, because I'm so glad to have a place like that nearby to help her spread her little wings bit by bit

*while we're on topic, her ballet class is pretty sweet, too

* for good neighbors

* clothing swaps.  hello free and new (to me) yoga pants and pajama tops.

* living in an area where it is easy to source and support local farms and farmers, from cheese to meat to produce and everything in between

* we've got great breweries, too

* and the mountains and rivers aren't too bad

* and did I mention the awesome campground a couple miles up the road that we stayed at last night?  lovely.  we will be going back, no doubt.

* I am so very grateful for my job~ for being fortunate enough to be able to make a living doing something fun, where I can bring my daughter along and watch her thrive there as well.

* of course, for my main squeeze (you know these aren't in order of importance, right? because do know I rank you above clothing swaps and cheesecake.) for all that you do for me, for us, for all of it.  for the gentle and full-on way you father our daughter.  you drive me insane sometimes, babe, but that's all part of the ride and I'd rather be riding beside you than anyone else.  big fat kisses to you.

* for good books

* freshly sharpened (like straight-from-the-factory sharp) pencils

* the way late afternoon light dances on the walls

* our big new adventure, renting out the place next door.  so far, so good.

* for the big old frog who has taken up residence in our itty bitty little pond.  it makes me very happy to see him hanging around on the rocks.  I'm just sorry I suggested she name him Kermit, because he's much more a Horace or Harold and Howard or some other such old man name, I think.  unless of course he's a she, and then who knows.

* for this odd and lovely online community with fellow bloggers.  what I thought would simply be no more than a way for me to chronicle our days has become quite a bit more for me, and I'm thankful for the many true and meaningful connections I've made because of it.  even though communication in the real world is still often lacking, and even though I make an effort to curb my own screen time (currently taking an extended facebook break), there's something about checking in with a handful of folks and reading about your own mundane days, your own breakfasts, your own struggles and challenges and triumphs.  it makes the world seem smaller, and more friendly.  more like something I can take on and explore, when the mood strikes.

* for the woodstove, which will soon be cranking again

thanks for reading~
should you be interested, here are the lists for 30 (one of my very first posts ever!), 31, 32, and 33.



  1. I just might have teared up a bit when you were describing your morning. Sometimes it does seem damn near perfect, doesn't it? What a way to ring in 35! Happiest of birthdays to you. Also, I was thinking about your birthday yesterday, knowing it was right around the corner...My intuition was spot on. And (one more thing) you have quite a tan! I've been meaning to mention all summer! I'm kind of envious. You and Bea and your nice skin tones...:) XOXO, Nichole

    1. oh it sure does seem perfect sometimes~ and I'm sure that's part of why I feel the need to document those moments... so I can come back to them when things are quite less-than-perfect and be reminded of the simple goodness that is likely right around the corner.

      it's only been a handful of hours, but thirty four is feeling good and I'm intending to go about this thirty-fifth year in a good, good way. your birthday is soon too, right? aren't you an October babe? I am touched that you thought of me and my birthday (you know, of course, you're one of those 'handful of folks') and yes you were spot on!

      I've got my maternal grandma to thank for the easily-tanned olive skin tone. gone are the days when I sought the sun for the purpose of making it so, but sandal-clad feet in the garden all summer do tend towards stripy by this time of year!

      much love, A

  2. Your writing is real, tangible and full of simple beauty. I love this post - all of it. Thanks for sharing your list, for being that soft reminding voice of life's rugged and beautiful yet often crooked paths. Happy birthday and may you have many more years full of things of which to be thankful for!

  3. Happy birthday and here's to many more filled with hope, love and a great list of things to be thankful for. Its so lovely to hear that your Mama is still doing so well. Have a great day.

    1. thank you so much! yes, she is doing well. still doing outpatient physical therapy to regain strength and still needing a bit of O2 now and again, but she is plugging along at a good clip.

  4. Happy birthday, and all the best for a wonderful year ahead.

    So happy to hear about your mom, and your morning at the campsite does sound perfect. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. thank you, Kim. I am so happy to report she is doing well and moving along nicely through therapy and such. yesterday morning filled me up to the brim and reminded me of (among other things) how good morning yoga made me feel- hoping to make that a regular thing again.

  5. Sounds like you're off to a great start into your new year! Happy, happy birthday!!

    1. thank you, Anke! it feels that way and I intend to plug along mindfully in order to try to make it as good a year as I can!

  6. If I had to make a list, it would be very similar. Hot chai, scallops, one little precious babe, a husband that drives me bonkers, great local food and beverages, simple food pleasures, and of course wool slippers would be on my list. Glad you had a wonderful birthday, with family time, Mom and Dad time, and just Momma alone time - and the cinnamon bun too! I'm feeling fine with 34.

    1. sounds like we ought to get together ;)

      yeah, 34 feels good. very good.

  7. happy birthday to you sweet Amanda!!!! I am grateful for your mom's health and she will always remain on my morning prayer list. I agree with you about the fellow online community-we move and relocate and somehow the blogging world connects us and makes us feel a part of something bigger.

    I have never been on facebook so I am permanently on a vacation. My daughter disabled her account years ago and has been quite happy :)

    1. thank you, Karen! and thank you for the well wishes, always, for my mom- they were and are much appreciated.

      I'm surprisingly not at all tempted by facebook at the moment, though I did not yet permanently delete my account and don't know for sure that I will. there are times I find it useful, but it's a tricky balance to strike.

  8. so glad you had such a fabulous day :) LOVE your pictures... wow... what a fantastic place for a yoga break. your list is wonderful. i love that it is a list of thankfulness... that is one i have not seen... and it is so beautiful. my favorite line "you know these aren't in order of importance right?" haha... love it :)

    1. thank you, Jenny~
      yes, it was a great spot for some yoga! I like to think if I had that creek in the back yard I'd be much better at keeping up a yoga practice ;) but, I've gotten my mat out 2 or 3 times since Saturday so I'm not doing too bad. oh yes, had to add that in there- clearly things like my mom pulling through her catastrophic illness and my husband's love rank a bit higher than things like cheesecake and slippers.

    2. haha! yes, clearly... very clearly :) and i'd say two or three times is pretty good.

    3. I'm feeling very good about those two or three times~ it's much more than my roughly 0-0 times per week that I've been getting it out! ;)

  9. p.s. thanks for your comment on my post from this morning :) i felt silly reading it later... i wrote it in the morning... i had great plans for the day... and man it fell apart :) there was a whole lot of chaos and many moments of arguing in my house through most of the evening... ack!! i thought it could make a great follow up post though... sharing how it really went down :) there were a few moments of quiet holiday decorating with my littles though!

    1. if I had a nickel for every day that doesn't go according to plan...... or gee, for that matter, a nickel for every day that I don't get even 50% of what I'd hoped to get done done. the picture in our minds vs. how things actually play out are so starkly opposed sometimes aren't they?

    2. i know! some days all i seem to do is play referee, and fold laundry :)

    3. also... thank you for the fabulous idea!! an apple picking party! holy cow... that could really "save" my fall. i love apple picking but this orchard is too big a job for just us :) i am going to put that fabulous idea to good use... i just wish you could come :(

    4. oh I wish I could, too! I bet you've got some folks around who'd be all about it- I hope it works!


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~