happy video: dog surprised with 100 balls on his birthday

One of the greatest things about dogs is their complete inability to hide their emotions. Meet Maymo, who on his birthday received not just one, but 100 balls.  His delight is awesome with just one ball. Then two confuses him as much as thrills him. Then, 100 balls tumble towards him. Watch and get happy.

when someone lobs an emotional grenade at you

Sometimes someone can throw you off your game when you least expect it.

Last week I met someone new. She was fun and had a good sense of humor.  We were outside on a beautiful, balmy June evening looking out at the skyline of Boston.  As we were talking about our favorite places in Boston (like the classic films on the outdoor screen at the Boston Harbor Hotel), she looked at my left wrist.

"You have a tattoo!" She reached for my wrist and held it sunny side up.

"It's a starfish! Does it have a meaning?" She gazed up from my wrist to me.

"It does." I paused. "It reminds me of my daughter."

"Oh, you have a daughter! she said.

Gently I said "I did but she died."

My new friend looked at me sadly "I'm SO sorry. How old was she?" She looked at me concerned, brow furrowed.

"I was pregnant with her and she died." I gave her a little smile, an honest smile that I always feel rising from my heart when I think of Grayson.

"Oh, well at least you didn't lose a real baby, you know, like one you actually knew."

I felt the familiar swift, cold, wicked sting across my heart. Just when you think a scar has healed, someone comes along with a razor blade and slices right through that tender, soft, fragile spot that you try so hard to protect until you are whole again.

In that moment there were so many things I wanted to say. I wanted to say "You're right. I never touched her soft hand to my lips or knew what color her eyes were. I never heard her voice. (This was something that still bothers me terribly. I often wonder what her voice would have been like.) I never bought her her first pink snowsuit. I would never know if she liked vanilla like me or preferred chocolate like her father. We would never peek into her crib to see her smiling back at us and she would never wave at us from the stage as she graduated from high school." In just one millisecond all of these things flashed in my mind at the same time like a movie montage. I saw them so clearly.

I wanted to tell her all of these things. I wanted to tell her that she was insensitive and rude. What kind of thing was this to say to someone? But what I realized instead is that in this great, big, beautiful world, everyone has a perspective and to her, a child was a child when you held them, when they had a name and clothes and things. To me, however, this child I would never know was just as real a baby as any one that had ever lived. She would always be a part of me, physically and emotionally. I can't imagine loving her more if I had looked into her eyes. Perspective is an interesting thing.

It was just a moment that had passed, not enough of a moment that had reached that awkward point yet. I smiled at this person that I knew would never understand my perspective. I wanted to say "You're a rude idiot." Instead, with deliberate soft kindness I said "You know I love this quote from Dr. Seuss's 'Horton Hears a Who'-- 'A person's a person no matter how small.' Would you excuse me?"

As I walked away, I felt the hot flush leave my cheeks. I didn't cry, I didn't lose my temper. I realized it's just perspective and I can't fault someone for her perspective. What I CAN do, however, is control my reaction to their unexpected grenade tossed into my world. That's all you can do in this life, really. That, and honor what matters the most to your heart.

And so, on July 24th, on Grayson's birthday that never was, I will be sitting in a small chapel in Massachusetts listening to mass being said in honor of our child and later I will listen to this song from Iz and remember the life of this very real little girl.

{happy video} The TED Talk: The Secret to Being Happy

I believe that every single thing that happens in your life happens exactly the way it should. There are lessons everywhere. Last night I stumbled across this TED Talk from Brother David Steindl-Rast, an extraordinary monk. The topic? To be happy, be grateful. Be inspired this morning by one of this planet's most inspiring individuals. It's 14:30 that could change your entire perspective.

happy food: easy orange happiness cake

On a summer day in June a few years ago,  L. and I spent a fun afternoon sampling wedding cakes. Our top choices were the Red Velvet and the Coconut Cream. That was until we tried the Orange Dreamsicle Cake. I remember we both sampled a bite at the same time. We looked at each other and nodded. Yes, yes, yes, this was it. At the clambake the night before the wedding we enjoyed Red Velvet Cake but on our wedding day, we happily savored the memorable Orange Dreamsicle Cake.

Ever since then, just the smell of orange vanilla makes me smile. There is something so happy and fresh about the combination of orange + vanilla. With summer just starting, I wanted to make a dessert for a party we were hosting but I wanted it to be something easy and cool. Something I didn't have to cook would be even better. Researching cakes online, I came a Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake that looked wonderful. I wondered if I could adapt it for an orange vanilla flavor. I did and in the first attempt, this no-bake cake was perfect. I have since made it three more times and each time it is as delicious as the first.

If you're thinking about a dessert that tastes like a perfect, sunny June day, this is it.

Orange Happiness Cake


2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)

2 packages of store bought vanilla cookies (The thinner the better. I started with thick cookies but for future cakes I used Trader Joe's Ultimate Vanilla Wafers.)


(optional) Using a very fine grater, grate orange rind, carefully using just the orange rind and not the white pith.

In a large bowl add the cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, orange juice, orange extract and vanilla extract. Mix until thickened and peaks form.  Set aside.

In a springform pan, assemble a layer of vanilla cookies. On top of the cookies, spread a layer of the orange-vanilla cream. Add another layer of cookies followed by a layer of orange-vanilla cream. Keep adding layers until you reach just below the top of the pan. Finish with a layer of orange-vanilla cream.

Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Run a sharp knife along the inside of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Carefully remove the springform side of pan. Slice and serve.

Easy tip: If you don't have a springform pan or you want to serve this at a buffet-style party, you can prepare this easily in a trifle bowl or even a casserole bowl by following the above directions but serve portions with a serving spoon.

Options: The base recipe is easily adaptable to other flavors. Try chocolate cookies + 1/4 cup of raspberry jam instead of orange juice.