Defining Love & Happiness

I planned to write a Valentine ’s Day blog about love, but I couldn’t. Instead I took pictures of my loves. I thought maybe I could find words by St. Patrick’s Day, but still, words did not come.  Instead I showed love with food on my husband’s and grandmother’s birthdays. I have been trying to find the words to write a lovely love blog, but I can’t.  I have been thinking about writing and how to write about love and happiness without sounding sappy or corny, and I’m bad at it. I’ve also been wondering why happiness is so boring. There are no great novels or wonderful movies about everyday love and happiness because it’s boring.  There’s always a happy ending, but what about the happy existence afterwards? All we ever want to see is the struggle up to the happiness.

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It is so easy to describe hate, anger, frustration. There are so many more words and combinations. But love is different. Love always sounds corny and cliché because we’ve heard it all before. There are only a handful of words I can use to describe the love I feel for my children, and that is no way the same as the love I have for my husband, or my mother and father, or my sisters, or my dog, or my friends, or even the love I feel for nature and animals, yet the language is the same. How can I describe it all differently?  I truly love all of these people and things, but in no way is that love the same.  I can go to a thesaurus and look up alternatives for “love,” but there is still no differentiation between kinds of love.

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Blush, brick, wine, burgundy, salmon, cherry, fuchsia, magenta, rose, maroon, pink, scarlet, rust. These are all distinct shades of red that are not interchangeable. A cardinal’s feathers are not the same shade or red as a glass of merlot. With colors it is obvious. We can see a difference.  But with feelings it is not.

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Why is it that we have dozens of names of colors and only one word for love?  There are actually no words.  It all sounds the same.  The language of love is boring, and likewise the language of happiness is corny. It’s actually very hard to be happy. It seems easy because we don’t have the same depth of language to express positive feelings. Everything sounds so cliche. When people are happy, they might seem brainwashed or in denial, especially during such volatile times in this world, in part because the common vocabulary used for happiness is much less varied than the weighted words of negative thoughts. It’s easy to explain how scared I might be of threats outside of my control, but difficult to explain how I can, at the same time, be happy and hopeful imagining my children making the world a better place. There are no shades of love and happiness to describe the in between time, the time when you’re scared, angry, blissful, and hopeful all at once.

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Then there are kinds of love. When I was a kid, there was a tree outside my home I climbed almost every day. I’d hide in the leaves for hours and read, or daydream, or eavesdrop on the conversations below. There was one spring when I’d sit up in my tree so regularly a family of birds nested just a few branches above me. When it was cut down, I was devastated. I went to my room and cried and cursed my family for killing my friend. It was a tree, not a person to talk to or pet to cuddle with, yet I was still so overcome with the loss my mom had to lie and say the tree men did it on accident and felt terrible just to calm me down. I am still sad that the tree isn’t there for my children to climb.

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How could that level of grief be caused by anything other than love? I loved my tree, I truly did. But how can I explain that love without sounding ridiculous when I have to use the same language I to describe the love of my children or the happiness my dog brings? I love my mother. I love my children. I love my house. I do not love all of these in the same capacity, but I am limited as to how to explain the difference.  I have been trying to find words to describe my different kinds of love and happiness without sounding like every other proud mom, wife, daughter, woman. I realize I am trying too hard.

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I will never find the words because I am no brilliant writer, but I can see the look of affection my children give each other the first thing every morning. I can smell the warmth of my small flower bed as I open my front door. I can feel the plush comfort of a blanket during a thunderstorm. I can taste my Mama’s pizzachene while hearing her sing lullabies to my babies.

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The problem with happiness is it can’t be described in a word or two. It is best described in a story, a photo, a color or feeling. Love and happiness are too good for words. True happiness and love transcends anything we can ever put into a language. I hope you enjoyed the photos that show my happiness!

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Baby Feet

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I am absolutely revolted by feet. The idea that there are people who have foot fetishes turns my stomach. The person who invented this is a damn lunatic.

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Feet are repulsive. I hate looking at them and I especially hate touching them. I know I’m not the only hater of feet. There are others out there like me who cringe away on beaches and in swimming pools.

But then there’s baby feet. Not just any baby’s feet, your baby’s feet. I know it sounds like a given, but even when you hate feet you love your baby’s feet. I didn’t think it was possible. My mom told me I’d be kissing my baby’s feet all the time. I told her she was disgusting. It turns out she was right and I was wrong. As gross as adult feet are, baby feet are that much more adorable. They are the sweetest part of a baby’s tiny body and oh so kissable.

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Whenever I hold my children, my hand naturally falls to hold a tiny foot. Daisy’s are so small, I can hold both in one hand. Her little tiny toes are smaller than peas and in constant need of kissing. Sometimes when I play with Jack I put my foot against his, and apparently the size difference is hilarious. The other day I put his foot against Daisy’s. It must have been the most amazing and funny things he’s ever seen. This time it was his foot that was bigger! He laughed and laughed while he touched her toes and tapped his foot against hers.

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My mom recently bought him dinosaur feet slippers. He stomped around the house roaring and growling at anything in his path. A few days later we stopped in the store for clothes and Jack spotted little pink dino slippers that matched his. He grabbed them from the shelf yelling “Daisy! Daisy!” and I couldn’t leave without them. Their matching dino feet must have been the second most hilarious thing he’s ever seen.

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At some point seeing Jack compare his feet to his sister’s hit me. His feet were once as small as hers. I could hold both of his in my hand. Now only one fits. I still kiss his tiny toes and hold his little foot, but those feet get bigger and bigger every day. I don’t know when his feet will no longer be cute to me, but that day will come (probably with athlete’s foot).

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Being a parent simultaneously freezes and quickens time. Some days Daisy is only four months old and Jack is only two years old. I worry so much about them meeting their developmental milestones. I try so hard to teaching and engaging with them making sure they are where they are “supposed” to be.  Plus I feel like I’ve known them forever. Life has adjusted to them, and I am in a comfortable space of understanding their needs. Then suddenly only becomes already. Jack is already two! I was just throwing his first birthday party and then all of a sudden I was planning the second. Daisy is already four months old. Didn’t I just take her home from the hospital yesterday?

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It’s both beautiful and heart wrenching watching them grow. Daisy is realizing she can move on her tummy if she kicks her legs hard enough. The other day Jack figured out how to climb the playground “rock wall,” something he couldn’t do two months ago. I want them to stay little, but I love seeing them discover new things. I’ll enjoy their littleness while I can. It feels slow but time is going quickly, and those baby feet won’t be as cute as they are now. I never thought I’d want to savor my time kissing a foot, but here I am soaking in every toe filled kiss in.

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Love Letters

I love decorating for each holiday, especially because it gives me a reason to be crafty. The love letters are the easiest Valentine’s Day decorations you could possibly make. They are very similar to the Noel letters I made for Christmas.

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Here, I used a sequence heart for the O in LOVE, and Mod Podged scrap book paper to the other letters. I also added some embellishments to the letter: felt hearts on the L, “pearl” beads on the music notes of the V, and purple and pink rhinestones on the E. I also used different sized letters for a whimsical look.

Most of my Valentine decor is pink and purple, but my friend Sara made her letters in more neutral colors with red accents. Same idea with a totally different look!

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I put my “L-O-V-E”  at my entryway table with pictures of my adorable Valentines, my nieces and nephew.

 

 

I’m also on a penguin kick. I just painted some ceramic penguins and decided they are my new, unofficial mascots of Valentine’s day. How could you look at adorable penguins and not feel love? 

 

 I’m not an overly mushy, romantic person, but I do love Valentine’s Day.I think the idea of celebrating love is a wonderful thing. Many people don’t like Valentine’s Day because it can be superficial, materialistic, cliche, just a reason to spend money, all of the above. But I think we should look at Valentine’s day a bit differently. I know Valentine’s Day is a couples holiday, and I’ll certainly be spending it with my Cheese, but even before then when I didn’t have a boyfriend I’d find ways to celebrate. My Dad would always give me a card and me and my friends would buy each other chocolates. Last year my friend Meg and I hosted a root beer float social at work with pretty heart straws and paper goods.  I’ll bring in some cupcakes this year. I’ll probably pick up some special treats for my pets and some flowers for my Mama.

There are all different kinds of love, and maybe if we focused less on “romance” (and the commercialism attached to it) and more on real, actual LOVE, people would appreciate Valentine’s Day more. Be sure to show the people in your life how much you love them, that goes for your significant other and your friends, family pets, and anyone else lucky enough to have your love. 

 To quote the amazing Jane Austen: 
“There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Home Is Where My Pumpkin Is

It’s finally December, and that means fall is officially over (in my book anyway). I started to pack up all my pumpkins, leaves, scarecrows, and various autumnal decor to replace them with pine trees, holly berries and all my winter decorations. But before I finished I had to use my pumpkin soup bowl.

When I brought our pumpkin bowl out, Matt had me promise that we’d actually use it this year, so I made some broccoli and cheese soup to serve in it. We’ve had this pumpkin serving bowl for years.  When Matt started his graduate program at Rutgers, Camden, we rented an apartment in Collingswood. Matt never cared too much for decorations, but I was always brining new pictures or dishes or something superfluous to “homey up” the place. Matt usually thought my decorations were unnecessary.

I had the intention of attending Rutgers for my Master’s in English, but was offered a partial scholarship to Monmouth University. So instead of joining Matt at our new apartment, I stayed home to avoid the long commute. It was hard not seeing Matt every day, like we were used to, but we did see each other at least once a week.   A few months after Matt was fully moved in, I bought the pumpkin. I thought it was so beautiful. It wasn’t something from Target or IKEA, this was the first “real” and “adult” piece of decor I had ever bought; college kids have no use for soup serving dishes, after all. I spent something like $30 on it, which at the time I thought was very expensive for a serving bowl.

I brought it to the apartment a little embarrassed, knowing Matt wouldn’t like it and wouldn’t like my spending money on the apartment. My embarrassment must have shown on my face, because when I showed Matt my bowl, instead of rolling his eyes, he told me how nice he thought it was. He kept it out on his table all year because he said it was so nice and I was right, it did make the place feel homey.

Of course, it wasn’t the pumpkin that made the apartment feel homey. I always felt at home in that tiny, one bedroom apartment because Matt was there. It didn’t matter that the appliances always broke or that the kitchen was too small for two people. It was where my Matt lived, and where I wanted to be. I like to think that he kept the pumpkin out because my decorations, as unnecessary as he claimed they were, reminded him that I wanted him to feel comfortable and cozy even though I couldn’t be there.

 

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 To this day Matt says the pumpkin bowl is his favorite piece of decor. I know he doesn’t care either way about my bowl or other decorations (and I have A LOT of decoration), but I love that he pretends to. This year, he made me promise to actually USE the pumpkin bowl. After so many years, this actually was the first time I used the bowl! Don’t worry, now that it’s officially broken in, I’ll use it every year.

 Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe:

4 tbs butter
1 onion
1lb bag frozen cut broccoli
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1lb processed cheese
1/3 cup corn starch

Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté onions.
Add broccoli and cook with onions until defrosted.  
Add 3 cups broth, milk and the cheese and let the cheese melt.
Dissolve corn starch in the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth.
Add cornstarch mix into soup and heat through.
Yum!

Texas Craft House

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