Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

We are back after a magical, fun-filled vacation at Disneyworld. I thought of my Mom at least a hundred times each day and I felt her with us. This trip was such a blessing.

One year ago today I had to say goodbye to my Mom. The devastating sadness over this incredible loss is overshadowing a week of happiness. It hurts just as sharply 365 days later. Time has done nothing to mitigate the pain.

Today I miss her just as much as yesterday.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 27, 2008

(Excerpt from personal journal)

It's just after 3:00 in the morning. My Mom has been making this noise for the past couple hours. It's a cross between a giggle and a moan. I'm trying to figure out if she is in delight or despair. Then I worry that she is feeling both: delight for the grace of God and despair over leaving loved ones behind. I guess one could say that I am in the very same position.

What I really want to write about is how I know I am not alone because I do believe. God is listening. One could say that I have had a crisis of faith during this 11 month, 5 day battle (but who's counting?) I've gone from complete cynicism to a being a bigger believer than I have ever been in all of my 39 years. I have felt spirits, been shored up, ad libbed beautiful, moving prayers and submitted to HIS will. It has taken me almost 4 decades (but who's counting?) to realize that I can talk to God anytime about anything, and when I do, I feel the load lessened.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 26, 2008

(Excerpt from personal journal)

Throughout the night, my Mom mumbled mostly inaudibly. I found myself in and out of sleep until about 4:00 a.m. when her talking caused incessant coughing. I was laying beside her hospital bed on the couch thinking, "OK, if she coughs one more time, I'll get up. Please don't cough." It took me back to the days of tending to my kids when they were infants and I was sadly struck by how we gain each milestone in our lives only to be agonizingly stripped of them on our way out. I am just as sleep deprived and selfish for more slumber as when I had newborns stirring. I eventually had to get up, adjust her position and give her more meds. She woke easily. She kept her milky gaze fixed in the direction of the French doors and she reached out for something...a hand? She became agitated and started pulling at her covers in a frenzy. Clear as a bell she said, "Pearl." I knew Pearl was in the room and I felt such comfort even though I couldn't see her. Then she turned to me and with clearer eyes she said, "Goodnight honey, I love you."

She slept peacefully for hours and I rested beside her.

This waiting is the hardest part. I feel like I'm sitting around waiting for my Mom to die, and it is just finally setting in that when she is gone, she will be gone forever.

When I was a kid - about 6 or 7 - I remember grasping death. I realized that when I die I would be gone forever and ever. I would close my eyes and picture infinity. It was like a dark, endless, claustrophobic tunnel collapsing into a never ending black hole. This mind game always left me feeling so unsettled and thankful that I was young and didn't have to die for a very long time. It was only a month ago that I realized my Mom would be dying before I was ready. My Mom is too young to be facing death too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(Excerpt from personal journal)

Today seems to be starting off the same as yesterday. I am reminded of the cruelty of Groundhog Day. Unfortunately, we are not bracing for a happy ending though. My Mom woke up coughing, took her medication (more and stronger than just a day ago), happily ate every last bite of a long john over the course of half a day, and drank a little coffee (out of a straw now). She is back to sleep as I write, but before she dozed off, I told her that when she is ready to go, she can go knowing that I will always love her and know that she is beside me, and that my brother and I have each other and will be ok. I asked her only that she send me signs from above. She confessed, "I hope I can." We held hands, shared tears and expressed the breadth and depth of our love for one another. I thanked her for always being my rock, and I mustered up the courage to tell her that going through this beside her has been my honor.  She has always taken such good care of me.  I am blessed to be able to take care of her.

The thing is, is really very different than yesterday for I feel that my Mom is very much in a state of transition between the living and the dead. I believe she has had visitors.

I didn't sleep much at all last night despite the fact that I was beyond exhausted. I felt various presences in the room with us and I even sensed energy moving through my body several times. It didn't scare me...I was simply in awe. It felt like an electrical shock. a pulsing, living current. 

My Mom spent much of the night carrying on whispered conversations. I strained to hear what she was saying, but I never could get in on the clandestine conversations.

This morning I said, "Tell me there were angels here last night?" She smirked and said, "If you say so."  Then she winked.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(Excerpt from personal journal)


My Mom has only been awake for a few, quiet moments today. She roused long enough to take her medication, eat half a long john and blow me a kiss. It hasn't been silent in here though. I have been reading to her stories of miracles, prayers answered, after death communications. She is listening. She is listening. I have been talking to her...telling her that I know she will always be with me and the kids, that I will always love her. I can tell that she is listening by the fluttering of her eye lashes and the changes in her breathing. She is hearing. She is hearing. Now I'm playing Watermark and singing to her as I hold her hand in mine. She is calm. Relaxed. I hope it is soothing her. It certainly has that affect on me. It is what I need, but I want to give her what she needs. I am listening...wanting to hear whatever it is she needs to know I am near and that she need not fear.
It has been difficult for me being alone here the past few days, but this morning I realized that I am not alone and I never will be. I am beyond thankful for this morning's tender moments and talks of truths...the time we shared just the two of us. This is time I will never get back.  I'll sit here beside her for as long as she needs me. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

(excerpt from personal journal)

What a difference a day makes.
Just as I suspected and thought I had accepted, my Mom was really holding strong resigned to reach 60 and to plan her send off. Yesterday I noticed even more changes in her. Today she is even less of herself. She is more confused, distant, shaky, despondent, sleepy and she seems plain tired of this demoralizing fight. I cannot say that I blame her, but I can say that I am now absolutely certain that watching her lose her will and succumb to this poison will be harder than anything I have yet endured in my lifetime.
As she was leaving today, Sparkle said, "I'll see you Friday for your shower." My Mom replied, "I'm not sure about that." I'm not sure about that either. I am sure that I am not ready to let her go, but then I'll never be reday for that. Now I is out of our hands.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 22, 2008

(Excerpt From Personal Journal )

My Mom turned 60 yesterday and all things considered, it was a beautiful day. She was awake, alert, and happy to share the occasion with her closest family and friends. When I remember my Mom on this special day, I will see her just as she a state of grace...filled with and surrounded by peace and love. So much love.

Her "inner circle" all played an integral part in making the day memorable. We gathered together to commemorate 60 beautiful years well lived. During my toast, I confessed that my biggest wish is that there would be...could be...60 more, but no one can deny she's done a lot of living in that too short of a time.

Her supportive neighbors made sure her day started with plenty of thoughtful whimsy. They came...all of them...bearing bouquet after bouquet of sweet pink balloons. They decorated her entire deck with the inflatables, brought her a glass of bubbly and gave her hugs and well wishes. It was so terrifically touching.

Jess came early and spent some time with my Mom because she had another commitment later in the day. When my Mom snoozed, she did laundry and washed crystal for the luncheon she was unable to stay for. Kathy also came early as she had to work later in the day. She sat with my Mom and she vacuumed the family room because she saw it needed to be done. So many friends to do whatever is needed even before you know you need it - it is such a buoyant blessing. Shortly thereafter, Mary B, Debbie, Candace, Rose and Mary G arrived. My brother and his girlfriend picked up my Mom's favorite burgers and fries. My hubby came with a bouquet of 60 roses in 6 regal colors - one for each decade of her life. The house is filled with the most stunning flowers. As I walk from room to room, I think I'm in a florist shop. Yesterday, Kristen dropped off the perfect cake decorated with shamrocks. My Aunt brought her favorite cheesecake and she lit up like a Christmas tree because her sweet tooth is stronger than ever. My other Aunt spent days in the kitchen and delivered more than a week's worth of warm, tasty meals. My cousin sent flowers. My Dad even came bearing a bouquet.

We celebrated - we ate, drank, laughed, cried, remembered and shared some absolutely beautiful time together. It was a warm embrace just to be in the love filled house. I never cease to be utterly amazed by the communion of kindred spirits or of the amazing strength of my Mom's spirit even as she grows weaker in body.

The day itself was a gift to be cherished. Isn't every day a gift? A bow tied present?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

I started to compile this collection when my Mom was still alive, but I could feel her slipping away a little more each day. I was filled with fear that I would forget the unforgettable, and so I did the one thing that always brings me comfort and clarity...I wrote. I made a list. I have carried this purge of memories with me for almost a year. It is cathartic and incredibly difficult to revisit and edit. The reality of changing from present to past tense is agonizingly agonizing. The golden nugget in all of this is that I haven't forgotten a single thing that I wanted to remember about the incredible woman I was blessed to call Mom, mentor, and best friend. And this compilation of things both large and small helps me focus on her life, not her death. I am still haunted by the fact that I am most often taken back to her last days. I yearn for the day when I think of my Mom and I remember her healthy, happy, feisty and full of life - the way she was for most of her 21,907 days. These are just some of the things that I will never forget...

  • The way she would always say, "Do you know what I mean?"
  • My wedding day was as big of a day for her as it was for my hubby and I, and I am absolutely certain that she watched our wedding video many more times than we have.
  • She spoiled all of us, but especially T Bone and Miss Bit, the absolute apples of her eye.
  • When she had a gift for someone, she could never wait until the occasion to give it.
    The way she used Windex, one would have thought that she owned stock in it. She used to joke that when she died, she wanted to be buried with a bottle of it. That was until she got sick and had to face her death and decide that she would be cremated not buried. But she did go with Windex (a single Windex Wipe).
  • Her animals were like children to her. She treated them so well that they lived long, happy lives. Our first kitty was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was still a kitten and the vet wanted to euthanize her, but my Mom wouldn't have it. She lived to be 23! One of her dogs had chemo and acupuncture.
  • She always spoke her mind convincingly and was smartly opinionated.
  • There wasn't a day that she didn't look like a million bucks.
  • Except maybe one New Year's Eve night in the late 80's when she left the house in a floral embroidered sweater, a jean mini, jet black Lycra workout pants and her sable mink coat!
  • Even without hair she was beautiful.
  • She lost a few strands and made an appointment the next day to have her head shaved. She preferred to be in control. That was an empowering afternoon filled with hope and courage.
  • She was a die hard Republican, and always aware of the issues.
  • I was dead set against going to Madison for college because I was convinced it was too big. She secretly filled out an application for me and that is where I ended up going and having 4 of the best years of my life.
  • Summer 1987...Student Orientation...leaving my Mom singing in the piano bar at the Governor's Club and heading to bed.
  • I talked to her each and every day...several times of the day and night. I still do.
  • She was present for the births of both of her grandchildren, and I know that those incredible experiences were highlights in her life. In fact, she almost beat us to the hospital when T. Bone was born!
  • She was honored that Miss Bit was given her name as a middle name.
  • She spent hours walking and rocking T. Bone while singing Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra to calm his colic.
  • She was a closet Jerry Springer junkie.
  • Her generosity was unparalleled.
  • Her father was her hero.
  • She always had such sadness that he died before we were born and so regretted that he was not able to be a part of our lives here on earth.
  • She talked to Grandpa Mack every Christmas Eve after my brother and I were tucked in bed. It upset me as a child, but I very much understood it as an adult.
  • She was drawn to convertibles because they reminded her of him.
  • Pumpkin 2...
  • Her sporty racy red Celica...
  • Her classy black Miata...
  • And the Saab with the awesome satellite radio!
  • She was the ultimate list maker.
  • My Mom would clean her house for her cleaning lady...I'm talking scrub and scour.
  • She worked 2 jobs when she had to make sure that we had all that we needed and most of what we wanted, and she rarely complained.
  • Although she did not have the best relationship with her Mom, she made sure that she didn't repeat the cycle of benign neglect with her children.
  • When she looked at Miss Bit, she would appear to be in awe and a 100 million miles away.
  • She came to see T Bone and get her fix every single day for months after he was born.
  • We always talked about building a mother-in-law suite for her someday to move into.
  • Together we used to laugh at the way my Grandma would set the dinner table in the morning and fill pans with water to boil hours later, but she did the same thing.
  • Family vacations...trips to the UP, Eagle River, Ixtapa Mexico, Little Hills Lake, Lake Noquebay, Powers Lake, Lake Winnepisaukee and Disney World.
  • T. Bone's first trip to Disney World was her first time ever at the "happiest place on earth." She was thrilled to experience the magic with him.
  • She was a carpet sweeper and could always tell when we would walk on the carpet in violation of "house rules.'
  • She encouraged me to join a sorority and made sure my brother went abroad even though I know she didn't have the extra money for those experiences.
  • She was queen of the sudoku and a puzzle fanatic always.
  • I had to have a canopy bed when I was a little girl because she always dreamed of one as a child.
  • She made the best ever tuna casserole, beef stroganoff and chicken ala king.
  • If you told her you liked something, you would get it every time she went to the store.
  • Cheeto Nanny!
  • Junior Mint Grandma!
  • She took care of me my whole life.
  • Her traditional Thanksgiving feast was a family favorite...turkey, stuffing sans giblets, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, zucchini casserole and rolls.
  • There would be lots of leftovers for everyone and plenty of turkey for white bread and Miracle Whip sandwiches, her favorite, the next day!
  • Her other favorite sandwich was liversausage with onions on rye.
  • Leisurely lunches at Greny's.
  • Slim's and the Swinging Door too.
  • She was so sure that my brother and I wouldn't come through on a 50th birthday party that she threw her own. She ended up having 2 in 1 week!
  • I have never known a classier, smarter, spunkier lady!
  • The night we went to see Anita Baker and sang under the starry skies.
  • In college, she took me and my hubby to see Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints tour.
  • She and I road tripped to Chicago to see Celine Dion in style... in a limo.
  • She liked to find reasons to take limos.
  • Concha y Toro vino.
  • We saw the Rolling Stones a few years ago and were so close we could see Mick's wrinkles and ribs.
  • She would never forget a face or a name.
  • She was friends with everyone she came in contact with from work acquaintances to the check out girls at the market to her hair dresser to her neighbors.
  • When she looked at you, you always knew whether she approved of what you were wearing.
  • Yet her motto was, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!" She never had to because the look said it all.
  • And "If you want something done it yourself!"
  • She owned chaps and a cool black leather jacket and she could tie a mean doo rag.
  • Her traditional Christmas Eve dinner...tenderloin, baked potatoes, spinach stuffed tomatoes, salad and dinner rolls.
  • Dessert for her was always another glass of wine.
  • But she could never resist butter pecan custard.
  • She would never leave the house on St. Paddy's Day without a shamrock on her cheek.
  • She rarely put off until tomorrow what she could do today.
  • Jackie O. sunglasses...the bigger the better.
  • She owned at least 50 pairs of black slacks and hundreds of pairs of shoes!
  • She saw every movie on the Lifetime channel more than once and every episode of every Law & Order multiple times. Da dut!
  • When she knew it was me calling, she would answer the phone, "Yes, maam."
  • Every Mother's day she bought me 2 bluebells. They will always remind me of my Mom.
  • Every salad she ever made was loaded with hard boiled eggs.
  • When we were little, we could always tell by the sound of her voice whether it was really time to come home.
  • She was horrible at keeping secrets and withholding surprises.
  • She was an early riser.
  • She was a terrible liar.
  • Patience was never one of her best virtues. She despised being kept waiting.
  • Her greatest fear about an untimely death was that her grandchildren wouldn't remember her. That fear has proven to be unfounded.
  • She received blow after blow, yet she never gave up the fight and she never gave up hope.
  • Ritz perfume. When I was little, I knew she was going out when she sprayed the Charles of the Ritz.
  • She brought an entire suitcase full of Miller Lite beer to Ixtapa.
  • She always was drawn to men who didn't value her enough and that's why I think she never remarried.
  • That and her fierce independence.
  • She didn't care what othe rpeople thought of her.
  • When she retired, she wanted to finally finish her college degree and join an acting troupe.
  • She ended up working almost until the day she died.
  • Her beauty secret was Oil of Olay and it works. She never looked her age.
  • Strangers used to think we were sisters.
  • I have her eyes.
  • We moved a lot when I was growing up, but she always made every house a home.
  • She was quick to anger (Irish temper), but she was just as quick to forgive and forget. I was rarely grounded for more than an hour or two.
  • Porch wine.
  • She would work crosswords while she dried her hair each morning.
  • Without enhancements her hair would have been gray.
  • She knew the words to almost every song ever written.
  • Her homemade tapioca, warm.
  • Homemade gingerbread hot out of the oven with a dollop of whipped cream.
  • This past Christmas Eve I watched my Mom and Miss Bit drift off to sleep...cheek to cheek.
  • Her last Thanksgiving she was up to stuff the turkey hours after she had brain surgery. She had one heck of a will.
  • Every opportunity she got, she would share my brother's success with anyone who would listen. She was incredibly proud of him.
  • She had an eye for decorating...her house looked like a magazine. And everything always had to be perfect. everything had its place.
  • She was the ultimate planner.
  • When we were on vacation, our dirty clothes would magically appear clean on our bed every day because she was aways doing laundry.
  • She loved Harleys. She rode on them, but never drove one.
  • She was a hard worker who possessed an incredible work ethic and could get any thing done.
  • Numerous people are now responsible for the job she did singlehandedly.
  • She had the best laugh, was the life of the party and was one heck of a joke teller.
  • She didn't like exercise and she despised shopping.
  • Yet we used to take semiannual trips to Chicago to stock up.
  • She was not a fan of coupons.
  • She liked Robert Redford.
  • She once made it to my house moments before the police when an intruder tried to break in. Then she slept on my couch until my hubby returned home from a trip.
  • She was our protector, our rock and our cheerleader.
  • There will never be another like her. She truly was one of a kind. She may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. Amen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Yesterday was my Dad's 62nd birthday and we took advantage of the beautiful weather to play the day away at a local festival. It was such fun that we ended up staying 4 hours longer than we anticipated. T. Bone entered a Guitar Hero contest, Miss Bit had a butterfly painted on her cheek, we ate hot dogs and cotton candy and drank lemonades and beer. The kids spent hours going on ride after ride. Miss Bit overcame her fear of the giant slide and became a regular customer with her very own potato sack. We missed the tractor pull, but we had great seats for the wrestling matches later in the day. Think AWA old-style pro wrestling. The best part was after "Thumper" exited the ring and was high fiving his 4 foot fans, Miss Bit ran up and started to squirt him double barrel with her squirt guns. He grabbed one and a chase around the ring ensued between the two of them. It was entertainment at its best.

We headed back to my Dad's and he made us a delicious Mexican spread. My hubby already had leftovers for breakfast!

Today is another beautiful day. I'm trying to stay focused on today and to not fast forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is my Mom's birthday and she won't be here to celebrate another year. There will be no 61.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Power of the Words in my World This Week

Willy’s words on my way to work today -
Some say I need a driver,
A Nixon mask and gun…
But let me tell brothers and sisters,
That’s not how you get a bank job done.
You can’t walk in there brazen with an Uzi like Patty Hearst,
I’m gonna secure myself a seat on the board of directors first.
Oh that’s how you rob a bank.

Headline from Today’s Wall Street Journal -
Banker’s Face Sweeping Curbs in Pay –
Fed Plans to Limit How Lenders Can Structure Compensation for Executives, Traders, Loan Officers; 5,000 Firms Affected

Just about everyone I talked to this week…
You Sound Terrible!

The sentiment expressed on the card we gave Father T. for his 50th birthday...

On last night’s season premier of The Office as spoken to hubby…
That was a good one! Don’t delete that. I’m gonna have to watch that one again.

T. Bone’s keen observation this week…
Mom, your hobby is the computer!

What I heard when I picked up the phone at least once almost every night this week…
Dead silence…no words…not even any heavy breathing.

Conversation with the CEO of my company who gave me the Badger tickets for last week’s game…
T. Bone is a great kid, and he really got into the game. Boy he really loves football! It was so much fun to sit next to him.

T. Bone’s rationalization Monday morning when I was trying to speed his plow lest I be late again for work again because he spends more time talking than eating during breakfast…
A.’s (yes they’re on a first name basis) a really nice man so I don’t think he would fire you.

Comment made by contractor after the phone rang no less than 20 times in the 90 minutes he spent at our house…
Is this Grand Central Station?

On a visit to my Facebook Farmville stead, T. Bone grew envious…
Awww Mom, look at your ugly duckling. It’s so cute! I want one!

What I hear a million times a day…
Mom. Mom. Mommmmm! Mommmmmmm!! Mommmmmmmm!!!

Proof that Miss Bit is already a diva…
Mom, I just don’t wanna wear that because it’s not too beautiful and nobody will tell me I look beautiful and I won’t feel beautiful.

Miss Bit doesn’t miss an opportunity to let others know…
You know what?! We have a t.v. in our car. Yeah, really…we do!

My admission to nail technician this week…
My guilty pleasure is Real Housewives.
After which she sized me up with studied skepticism and said…
OMG did you see the previews for this week? I think Kim got another boob job!
It was the fastest pedicure of my life.

Observation of regular gym rat…
Long time no see. Where you been?

Hubby’s question when going through our Tivo list…
You didn’t tape The Bold and the Beautiful, did you?!
(Another of my guilty pleasures.)

What I told anyone who would listen the past couple days…

I got a new bra!!!
Yes, it is that exciting!

On shirt I wore during yesterday's workout...
Just do it

On shirt T. Bone tried to wear to school for picture day today...
Keep swinging my catcher likes the breeze

On a magnet on my fridge...
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

On a plaque my Aunt gave me this week...
There's always a reason to dance.
(True...we always seem to find one.)

On a card I spotted while waiting in line at the book store...
Promise me that you'll give fate the fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

Flavor of the day on neon sign...
Butter Pecan
(My Mom's favorite)

Miss Bit this morning before school…
My tummy hurts. I don’t know if it’s cuz I’m hungry. I don’t control my tummy. My tummy controls my tummy.

Miss Bit at dinner the other night…
I’m eating my green beans all up before my chicken. That’s will power Mom.

Miss Bit on seeing her new playground friend at swimming lessons…
Mom, that boy looks like Silas. I think that is Silas, but I don’t know. Mom, THAT IS SILAS!!!! Mom, I really like Silas cuz he like chases me all over the playground.

Me to hubby the other day when he let the boys out to quiet the chipmunks…
Don’t let those cats near those chipmunks. You know if they get anywhere near those varmint that I’m going to think they have fleas. If I think they have fleas, I won’t sleep at night. If I don’t sleep all night, you won’t sleep all night!

T. Bone when told that his orthodontist consult for this week was cancelled…
Why can’t I go to Dr. Drake? But when can I get my braces then?
Yes, this boy is excited to become a metal mouth!

Words of Irish Wisdom framed on my buffet...
May those that love us, love us. And those that don't love us, May God turn their hearts. And if he doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so that we'll know them by their limping.

Today's StoryPeople email...
Connected by something finer than words that's hard to notice because usually you're doing stuff that should've been done yesterday & you've got no time for it.

Today's Message on inspirational desk calendar...
Magnify the beauty around you, and see the good in yourself and others instead of magnifying the flaws. You will enhance your perspective as well as your spirit.

Closing on the last card my Mom gave me that is sitting on my desk right now...
Thanks for all your support, caring and comfort. Love you forever and ever. Love - Mom

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend in Review

I made it home this afternoon with time to spare before the bus pulled up. It was one of those afternoons that my kids walked in one door and out another in route to find friends and fun. I am more than ok with that today because I am beyond tired and I'm fighting off a raging cold. I am not feeling the least bit guilt ridden for sitting on the couch in my housecoat (cuter than it sounds and way comfortable) blogging while I am watching Oprah interview Whitney Houston. Sure I should be fitting in a run, but my nose is running like a sieve, and there are loads of laundry to tackle, but then again there are still closets filled with clean clothes. The way I assess the situation...I'll be much more productive tomorrow if I rest today.

Fall ball started yesterday. T Bone was anxious to don the catcher's gear and get in on a little action behind home plate. He did great despite the fact that he is usually the star third baseman. He moved up to the minors and despite the fact that it's still's a whole different game. Miss Bit more than made up for her month long hiatus from the concession stand. I didn't balk too loudly though because she has been eating like a baby bird the past 2 weeks feeling the effects of a tummy virus and then double ear infections. I just pray that we are all healthy in time for our trip south to the Happiest Place on Earth!

And speaking of prayers...we made it to church yesterday for the first time after a longer than intended break from the BIG house. I'll save just how long for the confessional. It was good to be back. Father T.'s sermon was inspiring and thought provoking as always. Miss Bit lit up like a Christmas tree when she heard him belting it out during the processional. Then she melted into a puddle during mass. That often happens to her because she always thinks of her Nanny when we are in church, but yesterday she was crying for the nun in the pew in front of us. I surmised that her wheelchair was the culprit, but Miss Bit confessed, "I just feel so bad for her because she's all alone." They made a connection during the sign of peace and as mass ended they shared a special smile. Now I am certain she'll beam every time she sees the sister the same way that she radiates when she sees Father T.

I explained that nuns don't have families, as in husbands and children, because they are married with God just like the priest. She was completely satisfied with that explanation. T Bone, on the other hand, questioned, "What happens if the nun accidentally gets children?" Quickly I let him know that wasn't possible, but he persisted and I'm not proud, but I shut the conversation down. I wasn't sure if he was talking about immaculate conception or broken vows of chastity, but I was ill-prepared to tackle either topic.

And speaking of vows...we watched I Love You, Man this weekend and we laughed and laughed. My 18 year old cousin suggested it and was persistent enough despite my skepticism. I'm sorry to GiGi that I didn't have faith in her taste. It's just that she has some pink hair and plenty of piercings and she loves Hello Kitty and she wears shorts that just barely cover her behind and she is constantly on her i phone texting and there just didn't seem to be any possible way that we could think the same jokes are funny. I really owe her an apology because I picked Surveillance for our movie night Saturday lured by its description...twisted and disturbing...and it was, sadly, both and bad. Then I badly burnt what was left of the popcorn. It's a good thing we were still full from our takeout Chinese. GiGi came for a weekend at the Inn, but she didn't get any home cooking or laundry service. She just moved from another city on the lake for college and she needed a break from the dorms.

And speaking of college....T Bone went to his first EVER Badger football game Saturday. Go Bucky! It was a glorious day and a GREAT game. He had very much fun and I'm glad he finally got to experience it. When he was a baby and we still had our season tickets, I used to fantasize about taking him to a game dressed all in Badger red. Who was I kidding?! Heck the hubby and I couldn't even get to a game back then, and then we got rid of our tickets all together. Saturday, though, it was boy bonding at its best.

And speaking of bonding...the girls did the same. We went for iced coffees and Orangina and sweet treats and then we strolled along the breakwater where we had a blast people watching. When we came home, we did some beauty treatments. Miss Bit now has purple and blue nails and hair that is soft as silk after her deep conditioning mask.

The whole family bonded over bbq and football at my brother and sil-to-be's last night. We used to gather for Sunday dinner almost every week at my Mom's. We pretty much have kept that tradition, but now my Dad and step mother are often joining us around the table. At first, that seemed odd, but now it is comforting.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In the Silence I Hear...

The trickle trickle of the water as it free flows from the fountain on the counter...the soothing singing of wind chimes hanging from a branch beside my bedroom window...the sound of my lungs inhaling and exhaling the air that I breathe...the pitter patter and pounce of paws chasing each other throughout the house during a feline frenzy of hide and go seek...the soothing sound of the fan's blades as they rhythmically rotate...the predictable tick tock of time passing as the second hand makes it's way through the day moment by moment...the dull humming of the refrigerator...the whirring sound of the ingenious wings of the morning dove as she takes flight...the chawing, incessant chirping the chipmunks make from their perches throughout the yard...the squeak of the back yard swing as the wind whisks through it and sends it sailing...the distant bark of a neighbor's dog sounding off to passers by...the rumble and squeal of the school bus as it makes it rounds getting nearer and nearer to my home...the laughter of children anxiously making plans for the weekend with friends as they disembark and head up the drive way ready for freedom...the ba bum ba bum ba bum of my heart beating...reminding me that, yes indeed, I am alive.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Moment of Silence Please

As I made my way into to the office today, I passed over the same bridge that I cross numerous times a week, but it was different. It was flanked on either side by flags flying freely in the morning breeze. It was a sea of stars and stripes. I lost my breath for a moment and I held back tears as it first hit me that today is September 11th.

How can it be that I listened to portions of multiple local and national broadcasts this morning and I heard not one mention of today's significance? Have we already forgotten? Become complacent? Convinced ourselves that we are immune once again?

Today I don't want to hear a single mention about health care reform. I don't want to hear a word about the collapse of Lehman nearly a year ago and the ensuing freefall of world markets. I don't want to hear nary a whisper about the decline of the dollar or Cash for Clunkers or any other stimulus sham.

Eight years ago today thousands of innocent people were executed for crimes they didn't even commit all in the name of this jihad that has only grown stronger and this hatred that has only become more dangerous. It is important that we don't forget their sacrifice and remember what is truly important to us as individuals and citizens of this nation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time for Bed

It has been a weekend long on fun. I'm not complaining...I'm just beat. So is my family. I just tucked my girl in and took a quick shower. In the 3 minutes I spent pampering myself, she was out cold and snoring. That is the definition of tuckered out. My hubby gets Dad of the Year tonite cuz' after working all day he took T Bone to the Brewer's game. I know that he would much prefer to be on the couch beside me right now, and unfortunately when he gets home, I'll be in bed.

The beautiful weekend was spent swimming (the pool party did last the duration of the weekend), golfing, bbqing and spending quality time with family. Seriously, Miss Bit spent so much time swimming in the last 3 days that even her instructor noticed the impressive improvements from last week's lesson. When the cousins come to town, my kids have too much fun and do not get enough sleep. I can relate. My demise this weekend was staying up until the wee hours talking with my Aunt. All the sudden I happened to look at the clock and realized that it was 5:00 in the morning. We were not only catching up and having fun, but solving world and family problems too. After 4 hours of sleep, I had no choice, but to hit the ground running. We had been entertained all weekend and it was finally our turn to host. I truly think our world would be a much happier place if every weekend lasted for 3 days.

Today was a day to cross things off the 'to do' list and then to couch it. Tomorrow it is back on track at least for 2 weeks cuz' then we leave for la la land...Disney here we come!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For...

  • Peanut is good as new and Tigger is as good as ever.
  • Making it through our first week back to school. Getting back into the routine of early mornings and decent bedtimes is always a challenge, but I, for one, welcome the return of a schedule to our days and nights.
  • That being said...I am thankful that it is Friday and that we have a long, holiday weekend to look forward to.
  • It is supposed to be in the high 70s and sunny for the duration and that is THE ideal forecast for the only plans on our calendar...a pool party that just may last all weekend long.
  • Multiple challenging workouts this week.
  • Fall is around the corner and it is my favorite time of year. The leaves of a maple I spied this week were burnt beautiful orange and I was called to make soup (chicken enchilada) and bake bran muffins.
  • My Dad made us an entire meal on the grill the other night. Every one should try butternut squash hot off the grill with a maple pecan compound butter, and my Dad's homemade sauce that is perfect slathered over ribs.
  • We have started to plan our upcoming trip to Disney and I am getting very excited for our vacation...V-E-R-Y! I am thankful for The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
  • I had a relaxing and delicious dinner out with my soon-to-be sil this week. We lingered over our seafood and wine like ladies with nothing better to do.
  • I didn't see the bird whose downy feathers littered my lawn meet its demise.
  • Pat Conroy has a new novel out. It will be coming my way soon. I also just bought my own copy of The Shack since I couldn't renew the library copy again. I have been in a reading slump.
  • Aunt Jess coming to babysit this week so me and my hubby could go to school orientation. I love getting to see who is in my kid's classrooms maybe more than they do.
  • Getting to bed early tonight since I haven't been sleeping well this week. I'm playing Farmville in my sleep all night long, but tonight I'm sure I'm going to sleep like a baby because I'm letting my fields lay fallow until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Second Day Not The Same as the First

What a difference a day makes!

This morning Lil Bit came into our room with her crazy version of bed head and the very first words out of her mouth were, "I don't want to go to school today!" The reason for her K5 mutiny was that her outfit was just not beautiful enough.

I finally convinced her to either wear what WE had picked out or go naked when she sauntered into my bathroom to get her hair done and it all came undone. I wasn't putting her pony tails in right. I didn't have the right bands. I just wasn't making her look beautiful. Yes, there is that word again!

I finally convinced her to either wear her hair the way I fixed it or have it all cut off when she announced she was going on a fast and there would be no breakfast. Not pancakes. Not cinnamon buns. She agreed to eat some frosting with a side of fresh berries (better than nothing) and I considered it a victory. Pick your battles we always say.

The bus came and I was trying to contain the feeling that I had just won the lottery. "I'll see you in 7 hours little loves!" I shut the side door and raced out the garage door so thankful for the opportunity to work off my frustrations at the Y.

You know what? What a difference an hour makes!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day

First day of school...first day of freedom. It pretty much went off without a hitch. My girl woke on her own and came in with a smile on her face for an early morning cuddle with me, my hubby and Tigger. She was excited to get dressed in her 'beautiful' new outfit and did so with nary a complaint. She liked the hairstyle I gave her (big ponytail with headband) on the very first try, and that almost never happens ever.

I came downstairs to find T Bone already dressed in his new skater shirt (apparently he's reinventing himself for 3rd grade - new year, new image) hard at work on his chores. His virtual chores that is. He was logged on at Facebook harvesting his crops, planting new seedlings and milking his cows. While at the in laws for a couple days last week, he got hooked on Farmville so my mil opened him up his very own Facebook account. Yes, I am now friends with my 8 year old son on the Internet and I am a fellow farmer. The way I see it is that if baseball or now skateboarding don't work out for him, he can always acquire some acres and live of the fruit of the land.

After a warm, nutritious breakfast served by my June Cleaver personality, we headed outside for the obligatory first day of school photos. I always take one of the kids (T Bone, Lil Bit and our friend and fellow third grader, Miss O) with their outrageously over stuffed back packs cuz' you know it may take a village to raise a child, and it also takes an entire Walmart back to school department to educate them! Because I seriously was worried about them being able to haul their supplies to class, I decided to drive them. Me and every other parent in the district. Seriously, we had to park illegally just to get a spot within a half a mile!

T Bone and Miss O went on their merry, mature ways the minute we got into school and it took all my mite, but I strongly resisted the overwhelming urge to run after him and give him a hug. Even I know how detrimental that would have been to his cool factor! Miss Bit and I made our way to the gym where she was to meet her teacher. She was quiet as a mouse so I knew she was nervous. One of her little friends approached her and said, "Lil Bit I have missed you so much!" Then she went in for the hug and my girl acted as if she had just seen Medusa. She was paralyzed...turned to stone.

Finally Mrs. D. came to greet Miss Bit and she seemed to relax a little. It didn't matter how many times I told her what a wonderful person Mrs. D. was, she had to see and feel it for herself. I kissed her good bye and I left and do you know what? I didn't shed a single tear and neither did my girl!

I got to my van and I was all like 'What's wrong with me for not crying like a baby in my coffee?" But I just didn't feel it. I felt proud and at peace and very pleased. And I am not going to apologize for that!

My babies...are growing up, and into two amazing individuals and that is to be celebrated, extolled, embraced. I also have no trouble with alone time to take a 5 miler, shower in silence, shop all by myself and countless other things I did just for little old me today.

Now that being said, I did start listening with one ear for the bus at 3:30. When the bus finally stopped in front of our house at a little after 4:00, I had already gone to the door 3 times. I have missed time to myself, but I did miss my kids today too.