Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rainy Afternoon

Today I ignored my "to do list," I refused to be a slave to the laundry overflowing out of all our hampers, I chose to turn off my brain and my cell phone so that I could share a movie (and a large soda with 2 straws and a side of Skiddles) with my daughter. The moment I made the suggestion she declared, "You are my best Mom ever!" I will admit that it was one of my better ideas.

We enjoyed Monsters Versus Aliens. Although it could have been much more clever, it still was cute. The thing is that I couldn't shake the feeling that I have seen it before...kind of a Monsters Inc. meets Wall E meets The Incredibles. And what bothered me even more than the feeling of de ja vu, was that the heroine, Ginorma, uses the word "jerk," a word forbidden in our home, many times. Too many times people! There are just so many other choices. I don't get it.

Nonetheless, it was such a treat to check out for the afternoon and to spend some special time with my best girl. The funny thing is that the laundry is still here and dinner still needs to be made. The obligations...they wait when we want to step away for the day. That is something I need to remember.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fiesta Fabulosa

We took my brother to Spain for his birthday Saturday, or rather we brought Spain home.

I do love a good party. And it's even more fun when parties are planned around fun themes. My inspiration for this weekend's celebration was tres leches cake, a favorite of my brother's. My sister-in-law-to-be has already mastered this indulgent postre so I was happy to concentrate on the rest of the menu.

It was great. I made a couple simple tapas and concocted, or more like copied, a signature cocktail...the motini, which is the delicious union of the mojito and the martini. I was disappointed that my garlic alioli separated, but it was still tasty. I put on the Gipsy Kings and despite the snow falling outside, we were transported to another place and time...warmer, more exotic.


I had a local chef take care of the soup and the main course so that we could all relax and spend our time visiting and sampling the various vinos I had so much fun selecting: a tempranillo, a rioja and a rueda. She made us a batch of gazpacho and a flavorful paella that we all enjoyed. More than any thing I enjoyed being able to chill at the table with my family.

I only wish that I had hired someone to clean up after us, because right after dessert we turned into Wii rock stars. I think I may have even sung Weezer and maybe Nirvana too...in Spanish. No se.



Friday, March 27, 2009

Lessons Relearned This Week

Look at the world through the eyes of the child that you once were..I just dropped my daughter off at school. Her class is spending this cold, dreary, early spring day at the zoo, and she could not be any happier. She loves animals. She loves the zoo, and it has been awhile (fall) since we have been. As we got closer to our destination she said, "My heart stopped beating. It's pounding, and my tummy feels so excited, so nervous!" Of course, I knew what she was talking about, but I had to really go back in the catacombs of my mind to remember a time when I felt that kind of anticipation. It is sad, but true that we adults seem to lose that awesome, all encompassing sense of wonder. I am so thankful that a simple trip to the zoo can totally rock my four year old's world!

Size doesn't matter...And this weekend, it was the really little things that caused a stir…Tic Tacs. Both my kids came to the grocery store with me just so they could get a "case." They never even asked for a cookie from the bakery because they were literally so thrilled to get not 1, but 3 "cases" of the little mints. (My 8 year old realized it was a much better deal to buy in bulk, and I simply could not let that lesson go unrewarded. Now that's what I call Everyday Math!) The whole way home in the car the two of them extolled the virtues of the candies… how they first taste of vanilla and then turn minty fresh, how they make your breath cool, how they wouldn't have to worry about running out any time soon (a fate worse than a chicken nuggetless or pizza free house), how they needed to hide them for safekeeping from robbers and friends (in that order). I was holding back the laughter and thinking that it was the first time in a long time that they agreed on much of anything! Here’s the thing…we have no shortage of candy in our house. In fact, I believe that we even have treats from last Easter. Forget Kit Kats or Jujus…Tic Tacs rule! I had 1...actually 2, as they both insisted they wanted to share with me...and they are right! We adults tend to think bigger (Life Savers) or stronger (Altoids) are better, and we miss out on some of life's tinier treasures.

Cherish time together...We went out to do a little shopping mid week, me and my girl, and we ended up in a children’s store. She fell head over heels for a dress that she just had to have. I’ll be honest that it wasn’t my favorite, but she swayed me with her fierce, unwavering conviction so I let her try it on. It is going down in history as our first mother/daughter shopping extravaganza, despite the fact that we shop together all the time, because it was the first time that she actually took an interest. Let me just say for the record...now we are in some serious trouble! I bought the dress and a little matching shrug too because we decided she will wear it for her brother's 1st Communion in May. Sleeveless dresses are risky in our neck of the woods even in late spring. It is turquoise so it will go ever so nicely with the bright blue eye shadow my friend left her the other day. Thanks Rose! Lovely metallic make-up that she smothers all over her eye brows. Apparently, she is starting a new trend! That’s my girl! That will certainly be one way to get Father T.’s attention! (My girl has a huge crush on our priest. The fact that her first crush is on an almost 50 year old priest will be as bribe-worthy as the picture I snapped of her first foray into the world of eye make-up.) Moments...it's all about the moments...capturing them....cherishing them...capitalizing on them!

Invest Wisely (and I'm not talking about your money)...Last night we attended open house/ book fair at the school. I spend time every week volunteering and am very familiar with their classrooms, their teachers, their progress. What I loved was how excited they were to share their spaces and their projects with each other. It was absolute sweetness. I am so lucky to have such amazing kids. We are so lucky to have an amazing school...nurturing, encouraging, energizing, safe and kind. It is what it is because of the people involved...the teachers, the staff, the parents and especially the kids. Every one is very invested. These investments pay huge dividends to every one involved.

I told my kids that they could each chose 1 book. My son has books from last year's fair that he has yet to read, and we frequent the library, yet I can never say 'no' to books. He knew exactly what he wanted and made deals with 2 of his friends who purchased other books in this series that they would switch off. It was good stuff. My daughter was absolutely thrilled with a Barbie Island Princess book that would have never made the cut normally because while I cannot say 'no' to reading material, I do try to influence their selections. They never even balked when I told them we would skip the ice cream social...they gave up ice cream for Lent, after all. Instead we came home, got a snack of last year's Girl Scout cookies (are you noticing the pattern here) and they started reading their new books. It was great stuff! Our children are our future!

What did you learn this week that you already knew?

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Carbon Footprint

I heart books, but there is no doubt that magazines are my guilty pleasure. Stacks of magazines piled high on my bedside table make me long for long, lazy, rainy days. But I have a dilemma. There were no fewer than 7 magazines shamelessly stuffed in my mailbox today: SmartMoney, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, Shape, Health, and Entertainment Weekly. Add to that to the publications my husband gets (some of which I like to read...Runner's World, Best Life), those I can never resist at the check out (The New Republic, Vanity Fair and Martha Stewart Living), and the weekly issue of People my mother-in-law sends my way, and I am drowning in a virtual sea of print. Before I can even make any head way, the next month's issues are piling up on every cleared surface and in every empty basket in my house.

I'm so completely overwhelmed that instead of reading, I am writing about it here. I don't know what I have read, or why I am saving publications I know I have read.

Not to mention, the sheer volume of catalogs that I get on a daily basis overwhelms me all the more. Sometimes I get the same catalog 3 times in one, single week. I have gotten 2 identical catalogs on the same day. Can you say R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S !? That is just wrong and wasteful, but they do make good kindling and also serve useful for craft and cut-out projects. Especially since, we no longer get the worthless. biased, skewed local newspaper to spread on the table when we break out the tempuras or the glitter pens.

When I get motivated and feel strong enough to part with my old friends, I think about taking my cache to a local nursing home. But I think better of it because I cannot imagine these titles having much appeal to those who aren't cooking, working out or putting their money in anything other than bank cds.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I got up early to take a walk in the chilly morning air. The crescent moon was still high in the sky when I set off. When I was in the home stretch, the fiery orange sun was rising in the east. It looked like I could walk straight over the horizon and be swallowed up in its brilliance. I thought about that for a moment...it was just that cold.

I was alone with my thoughts. I was alone with my tears. Tears brought on by the new songs uploaded last night to my MP3 player. Alone except for a rascally red squirrel spotted walking the high wire, and woodpeckers and morning doves heard, but not seen. I was listening to an Alicia Keyes' album that I have had forever and probably listened to once. Those bluesy love ballads were shuffled with Watermark’s joy to Jesus, soulful songs. That is an album that I have had for ever and listened to over and over for it gives me the gifts of joy and peace. It reminds me of my Mom jumping to Jesus, hence the tears. Gone, but never forgotten.

It wasn't lost on me that the random order of the songs seemed anything, but coincidence. It was as if each song was a chapter in the story of my life...a well-known narration unfolding. Of course, I chose each song and when I try, I can make any ballad fit my life, but it was really more than that. It was as if I was listening to some of these songs for the first time...or more like, hearing them. Probably because I am usually singing on the top of my lungs and they are background music.

I haven't felt much like singing this week. This has been an incredibly difficult few days for me. I have felt disconnected, numb, so desperately lonely and like I really wanted and needed my Mom. I really haven’t felt much and I think this has every thing to do with my denial over the coming, celebrating and passing of St. Paddy’s day without my Mom to stick a shamrock on my cheek and share a green beer with.

The fanfare over the weekend was all fine and good on the surface. And fun was had during our plan filled weekend, but come the 17th I just couldn't shake the gloom. Sure I put shamrock tattoos on both mine and my daughter's cheeks (my son is already too cool), and I did what I needed to do, but that was all I could do. When we came home from our morning at school, I just wanted to curl up on the couch and check out. It may have been a beautiful 74 degree “summer” day at the tail end of winter, but I just couldn't bring myself to feel or engage in any joy or any sadness either. I felt like nothing more than a programmed robot, a mechanical automaton, a lifeless drone.

Yesterday, I unthawed a wee bit. I forced a few smiles. I allowed myself to have a little fun. Dare I say…I felt a hint of hope? It was a better day.

Today the tears came. They always seem to first find their way to the surface on days like today when I am drying my hair. Looking in the mirror, I saw my Mom in my reflection. I cried through my one-sided conversation with her. I drove along the lake to work today thinking the change of scenery would be refreshing. When I was already at the point of no return, it dawned on me that I was only taking a walk down memory lane driving our old car pooling route alone through our once familiar stomping grounds. The tears found their way to the surface once again and I was most thankful for my wrap around Oakleys.

The noteworthy thing is that warming up and letting the feelings flow, helped me to feel better…to come out the other side. I guess I am learning that even grief has its ebbs and flows like all of life. I have to take it as it comes…not resist it. It is something I must embrace. It is healthier to feel sadness than to feel nothing at all.

Today the sadness is just an undercurrent to the pulsing hope I have that today is a new and better day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Me! Monday

My daughter did not just scream from her bathroom, "Mom, it's real important! My poop is green!" I did not laugh hysterically and then proceed to type it here without shame.

I did not fall asleep during the last 10 minutes of the movie we were watching the other night and then I didn't return it to the library without paying any attention to the title. Guess I'll never know the ending.

It isn't possible that I let my daughter out of the house yesterday wearing a bright, froofy, pink pettiskirt, a sparkly butterfly shirt, a polka dot bow in her hair and rain boots with whales on them. I also did not take a picture for posterity (or bribery).

I didn't have 2 really great workouts last week and then blow off the entire rest of the week.

I did not coach my son at all as to what he might want to confess during his first reconciliation this weekend. I did not put the fear of God or Father T. in him when it was brought to my attention that he and his friend were playing a mature video game when we were out Saturday night.

We sure didn't arrive home an hour late Saturday night because I never changed the time on my watch.

During spring cleaning this week, I didn't set out to downsize our book collection only to realize that I couldn't part with many of them. Then I certainly didn't order more books while on Amazon today to make up for the one bag that I got rid of.

I am not already sick of track #5 on U2's new album because I loved it and played it over and over and over and over.

There is no way that I let my kids eat pizza for 4 of the last 7 meals. (Explains my first confession.)

I am not signing off right now so that I can put my kids and then myself to bed. I wasn't just nodding off at the computer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Top O' The Evening To You

So...we celebrated St. Patty's Day tonight...this weekend. This holiday always reminds me of my 50% Irish mum. I wore her shamrock sunglasses and her O'Shit button proudly! That being said, we toasted her at an early celebration dinner tonight (whoever said that corned beef and Shepard's pie aren't deliciously delicious?!?!) McG. was most definitely there with us in spirit. My Mom has been with me all day!

Last night I attended my first frat-like house party (lots of people, limited space, loud music, flowing libations) since college. It brought back so many memories. We are all older and our addresses are different, but beyond that we are so much the same. As much fun as I was having, I knew that we had to bid adieu before the festivities wore down (plus we promised my friend we would be home at a 'reasonable hour') and that is just what we did...leave in the middle of the momentum. After all, it's the smart thing to do...leave and rehash the night with my awesome man.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Me! Monday

We did not lounge around all day yesterday and we certainly did not start watching a 3 hour movie at 4:00. That did not mean that we didn't even start dinner until 7:00. The kids did not have to eat dinner, shower and then go straight to bed!

We did not forget to spring forward when we went to bed Saturday night and then oversleep and miss Sunday school and church.

Despite the fact that I scheduled my massage for an hour earlier than last time, I did not arrive home only seconds before my daughter's school bus once again because I sure didn't stop for a latte on the way home.

I did not get so engrossed in dressing up my daughter's American Girl dolls that I didn't even hear my girl talking to me...playing with me.

There is no way I paid $35 for my son to get his hair trimmed.

My college roomie did not call me at work the other day and we did not proceed to talk for almost an hour because we haven't talked in months.

I did not invite my friend over Friday night to celebrate the fact that the market was only down half a percent.

I did not perform worse humdingers than my niece and nephew who weren't even born when the songs were popular during our games of Cranium this weekend. I did not get laughed at by a 13 and a 15 year old.

Friday, March 6, 2009

100 Years


Every day's a new day...I love that and I have always loved this song! I never knew who sang it, but then the other day I was going through some of my Mom's cds and I found a Five For Fighting cd. Something made me pop it in the cd player...lo and behold...this song.

This is more than a coincidence. You see, any music my Mom owned that wasn't either Motown or R&B, I gave her. I know I didn't give her this cd. I do feel she gave me this song when I really needed it.

In Search of Meaning

The last book I read was in August when we spent a week at the lake. After our trip, I pretty much moved in with my Mom to spend as much time as possible with her and to take the best possible care of her. With what was going on in my world, it was impossible for me to find the energy to escape into other lives and realms. I have really missed reading.

I was lying on my bed the other day perusing the titles lining the shelves beside my bed. I was drawn to The Red Tent. I know I started Anita Diamant's novel years ago, but I'm not certain that I ever finished it, which is almost unheard of for me. Once I spent 2 years reading East of Eden. There were times I wanted to give up and had to read something else, but I did finally finish and I liked it...a lot. This quote struck me a single page into The Red Tent:

If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then
listen carefully....The more a daughter knows the details of her mother's
life -
without flinching or whining - the stronger the daughter.
I guess that makes me incrediby strong. And then I read further:

But the other reason woman wanted daughters was to keep their memories

I do feel a palpable pull to remember my Mom and a duty to honor and celebrate the wondeful woman that she was, and I think there is a good reason I chose this book this time from the hundreds of titles on my shelves. There's always a reason, and when I uncover it, I will surely share it here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Queen of Rationalization is Having a Crisis of Conscience

Today has been perfect in every way...a day filled with many bonuses. My husband started the pancakes that I promised my kids before he left for work because I overslept. My massage was heavenly. Auriel spent at least an hour and a half with me and I scheduled another session in a few weeks. The mailman delivered a package from my accountant with better than expected news. My daughter and I went for a hike after lunch and enjoyed the fresh air, sunshine and conversation. We have a craft project planned for when the big kids get home from school. So what is my crisis?

Well...I had plans to end my perfect day with one of my favorite workouts (aforementioned kick butt cardio class) and now my sil has invited me over for a glass of wine. Sharing a bottle of wine is a tradition of our's celebrated when my brother travels. The girls, my Mom included, would get together to catch up. My brother is traveling and my Mom is gone, but we are still here and perhaps it is time to resurrect this tradition.


I gave up wine for Lent.


Father T. shared with me that he gave up sweets and booze, but most certainly not the blood of Christ. Almost sounds like permission for me to have a glass and from my priest.


Who stops at just a single glass?


Auriel did suggest I refrain from exercise today so as not to thwart the release of toxins and radicals freed during my session today. She told me to drink lots of liquids. Wine is a liquid.

I guess what I should do is go enjoy a seltzer with a lemon spritz with my sil.

Stay tuned for what I do do...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Every Day Life

Today I am going to take a break from the anger and malaise that has been following me like a dark cloud because today the sun is shining in my world. No good news, but no bad news either. I will happily take that.

I spend every Tuesday morning in my daughter's class...it is time well spent whether I'm helping the kids (games, projects) or helping the teacher (putting up bulletin boards). Four year olds are so special. They love you if you show them kindness and warmth, they laugh at all your jokes even if they aren't so funny, they give you all their attention provided you are engaging, and they so want to please and impress. It was their 100th day of school. You have got to love that it was a celebration because they love school. My 2nd grader has already figured out that the celebration of the 100th day is all about summer being that much closer...forget any glory for 100 days of learning and growing. We made crowns, which they all wore proudly, and we did lots of counting. Whether they made it to 15, got to 29 and then said 20-10 (yes that actually is 30) or went all the way to 100, they beamed when I offered them high 5's and words of encouragement.

Leaving there today, I was questioning why it is that I am not in school finishing my final 4 credits. That's all I need to get my elementary teaching license. I mean, I know what happened to derail me...life happened, and then death happened. The shock of my Mom's diagnosis, the harshness of her battle and the reality of her death literally stopped me dead in my tracks. Ever since, I have been struggling with forward motion because I am still in that place where I am frozen questioning and reevaluating every thing...past, present, and most definitely future. Today was the first time in a long time that I was even able to go there, mull it over and say, "maybe it's time to finish this after all because maybe this is what I want to do after all." I was thinking in terms of the rest of my life, not feeling so stunned and stuck.

After school, we got some lunch and spent a typical Tuesday afternoon. There was joy in the little things like playing games together, having a tea party, making a comforting pot pie for dinner (which my kids ate without too much coaxing, complaining or gagging), and getting in a 4 mile run. All things good for the mind, body and soul.

The icing on the cake of my day was taking my 8 year old son for a haircut. He wasn't excited about getting any of his mop cut off, but he was a sport and by the time we left the salon, he had most every one in stifled stitches. I was along only to pay the bill. He communicated what he wanted and then proceeded to carry on a conversation, most of which he initiated, about every thing from his love of sports (and the scores of most of last season's little league games) to American Idol (and how my sylist looks like Danny Gokey...he's right) to sin. In a rare moment of silence, he blurted out, "You know there is sin on SpongeBob. Mr. Crabs loves money so much. He loves it more than God. He even worships pennies Dude!" I refrained from letting him in on the fact that this haircut cost much more than pennies and probably 4 times what his "normal" haircut cost. When Kevin went to put some product in his hair and explained that he would use the pomade to muss up his hair, my son was like, "Why would someone pay you to do that?" That was priceless. We exited the salon and he matted his hair down, smoothing it to make it hang longer on to his face and said, "My hair grows really fast Mom. It's ok. And besides, it's dark out." He didn't even listen to his i pod on the way home preferring to chat some more with me instead. So I never would have thought that a date to the salon would be such quality time with my little man...my 8 year old who would give any thing to have hair like Zac Effron. He's lucky that I think Zac is cute, but only half as cute as my T-bone!

I am hopeful that tomorrow will be a good day too, and it should be. I'm starting the day off with a nice, long, therapeutic (love that word) massage and planning to end it with one of my favorite, kick butt cardio classes. Every thing in between will be bonus.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Me! Monday!

I did not come home the other day and find one of my cats asleep in the sink waiting for a drink because I do not let my cats on counter tops, and I never turn the faucet on. They only drink out of bowls on the floor.

I did not gag when I had to wipe my daughter's almost 5 year old friend's bottom the other day and then there is no way that I proceeded to suggest that it was time for her to learn to do that all by herself. No, I would never mother, or more like nag, a child that is not mine.

I did not go to the tattoo parlor last week and get my ears pierced just before closing.

I did not quick get on the elevator this morning, push my floor and then hope that the door would close on the woman behind me after she failed to hold two doors for me.

There is no way that I made a batch of cookie bars only to realize that I needed another half a batch to fill the pan and then let my daughter lick the beaters after each batch.

I most certainly did not give my husband disapproving glances while he watched college basketball yesterday and I toiled away at laundry.

I did not make my son sunny side up eggs for dinner tonight and my daughter scrambled eggs because I am not a short order cook.

I did not read my daughter Fancy Nancy and then listen to my son read me Captain Underpants, kiss them goodnight and steal away downstairs to find out if Jason is going to pick Melissa or Molly because I am not still tuning in at my age to The Bachelor every week. No, not me!