Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Girl's Night Out with my sil-to-be this week although it was snowy, not starry... a little date for her birthday. The E.B.F. (Everything But Fish) pizza was delicious. For dessert we saw, Valentine's Day, and I think we were both pleasantly surprised. It was a quintessential chick flick.

Coaches. Last night my hubby called all the players on his Little League team to introduce himself. I think that was such a thoughtful gesture, and I'm impressed by his efforts to build team spirit.


Love seats.

Mother-in-laws...mine came to our rescue Monday to meet the kids after school when I had to work late.

Spying this guy outside my bedroom window the other morning and that he lingered long enough for me to run downstairs and get my camera.

My hubby loaded lots of songs on my I Pod for me this weekend. I only had 19, but now I can listen to it for hours and not hear the same song.

Boys who play dress up.



Miss Bit has a play date today with her boyfriend R. after school. I cannot wait to hear all about it.


Fresh pineapples for dessert.

A date to go tubing with my family tomorrow.
Helping hands. I helped T. Bone take down the trash yesterday and in turn he helped me unload all the Girl Scout cookies from the van without a complaint.
Beautiful dresses my flower girl already cannot wait to wear.
Easy tomato soup with a hunk of crusty bread... a healthy, hearty mid-week dinner.
Taste of Home's St. Paddy's Day compilation in my mailbox this week.
Nora Jones in the morning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Too Sweet to Forget

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Happy Valentines day,
And I love you,
Miss Bit your the best friend ever.
And I wouldn't have a perfect life without you.

Miss Bit's friend, A., gave her a card bearing the sentiment above along with a little bag of candy as a belated Happy Valentine's gift yesterday.

It made her smile. It made me smile. I thought it might make you smile too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Too Good To Forget Tonight

When I walked in from picking up Miss Bit's girl scout cookies, T. Bone said, "Smalley (District Administrator) called to talk about Spring Fling. It's $35 and blah blah blah." The incredulous look on my face at his comments and lack of use of any customary salutations such as Mr. then prompted him to add, "What? I don't know why you would waste your money on boring stuff. I don't think an extra recess with Miss K. (principal) is worth $50 bucks! Or I could go to the museum with Mrs. W. and what would I say, are you single?" Ok, he doesn't want to go on a date with a teacher. Well, no worries because we have other plans this weekend and won't be attending the fundraiser to bid on any auctioned dates or privileges.

I snuggled up with Miss Bit to read before bed. Tonight I chose a Dr. Seuss title from T. Bone's shelves expecting her to have some success, but I was almost as thrilled as she was when she took off and read several pages. Then she took off down the hall to read for T. Bone. He may have been quick to point out when she skipped an And, but I know he was proud of her. She showed off for her Daddy too. Learning to read is just such an exciting milestone.

The sleep police...I mean T. Bone poked his head out from the shower to announce that it was 9:00 and past Miss Bit's bedtime when we had a few more pages to go. It was hard to take him seriously as he was singing and dancing away the suds in a small shower stall moments before: "Pop it, lock it, polka dot it, countryfi it, hip hop it....zig zag cross the the hoe down."

I tucked her in and she started to say her dinnertime prayers. She caught herself with a giggle. I went down the hall to say goodnight to him. He was a little burned that she got to stay up late and pretended to be asleep until I offerred to tickle his back. He loves it when we draw letters on his back and he has to guess the words. She started sniffling and crying when she got up for a final potty break and realized that I was cuddling with him. Drama has become a regular part of any regular day around here. I assured her that I would tickle her tomorrow night. When she realized that I meant business, the waterworks were turned off just as quickly as she turned them on.

I am having a hard time focusing here...I think I should call it a night too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Sunday Drive Up and Down Memory Lane

I dropped T. Bone and Miss Bit off in their Sunday school classes after church. My hubby was in the middle of a grueling Little League draft and I just didn't feel like solo small talk in the parish center so I decided to take a drive. I had no plan, no route, no direction...what I had was about an hour. I found that each block held memories. I found myself remembering, reliving, laughing and even shedding a tear or two.

I drove up the lakefront and thought about all the times I spent on Bradford Beach with my friends getting burned to a crisp. Back then we lathered up with baby oil...forget the SPF anything. You can barely see the sand beneath the snow right now just like the time Jack and I climbed along the icy caverns huddled together for warmth, or like when I brought my friend Matthew who was visiting from Connecticut to see the frozen shores of Lake Michigan in early Spring. We took pictures of each other climbing over the the slippery, sharp ice caverns and killed time until it was time at last for him to head back East. It turned out that we weren't on the same page with regard to the nature or future of our relationship. I don't think I ever had the pictures developed and I haven't talked to him since.

I turned up the winding, tree-lined road that cuts up the bluff. My Dad, brother and I spent many a Saturday playing hide and seek in the woods that flanked this road. When I was little, the woods seemed so magical and vast and now at the tail end of winter I can see straight through them. It makes me sad. I pass the sign for the Bistro and I am taken back to a summer's night a few years ago when we were there celebrating someone's birthday over steak frites. Mine? My Mom's? Does it really matter?

As I drove along Downer, I smiled when I saw the coffee house that hubby and I often visited pre-kids for a Sunday breakfast. We lingered luxuriously long over lattes or mochas and the paper. A little further on down the road and I saw the candy wagon with the red striped awning that was the delight of my youth even though it's been replaced by a parking lot and now exists only as a figment of my imagination. It was the kind of place where you stood in line to get your penny candy on a hot summer night when life was so much simpler. I could almost taste the gritty sugar mixed in with a little leftover paper from a sheet of dots. My kids have never had those.

It struck me that my brother and I used to follow this same route when we would take the bus to spend the day with our Great Grandma at the Catholic Home. She'd be waiting for us all eager in the lobby. We'd spend the day being introduced to all the residents in between games of Yahtzee. Pearl's been gone for almost 17 years, but the home looks the same.

A little further south and I couldn't miss my Mom's favorite pizza place. Actually, it's a favorite of most people who have experienced it. Last winter we got into the habit of going to Saturday evening mass and then we stopped there for an early dinner a couple times. We'll have to do that again soon.

Before I knew it I was passing one of the coffee places my hubby and I frequent for this hour every week, and then I was back at church. The kids wanted to know what I did while they were in Sunday school. I told them I just took a drive. Miss Bit smiled and said more than asked, "Alone in the peace and quiet." Yes, alone with my memories.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Heart Saturdays

I love them...really I do and especially when they are lazy, snowy, go with the flow days. Today was lazy, at least for the girls. We got to lounge around in our pjs listening to music (Taylor Swift and Princess and the Frog) while we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. The boys had to head out for a free throw contest at the high school. T. Bone took home second place for all 3rd graders in the area. He brought home more than a red ribbon though... his friend C. accompanied him as well and they hit the snow-covered ground (it's a snowy Saturday too) running as they usually do.

Miss Bit and I headed out to get some groceries to feed our hungry athletes. Aside from the fixins' for tacos, a box of Bendaroos (AS SEEN ON TV) found their way into our cart. I have to give credit where credit is due and share the fact that neither T. Bone or Miss Bit ask for much, and before you point it out, I'll beat you to it and admit that they don't have to because they have good and plenty. That doesn't always stop kids, though, as we all know. So when they do ask, I do listen. No, I don't always say yes, but I also don't immediately say no. Besides...I'm a sucker for fun craft project. I know I'll have as much fun with the waxy wands as the kids. At first, I told her she could spend the money Uncle B. and Aunt A. gave her for Valentine's Day to purchase them. Man she hemmed and hawed and suddenly she knew she didn't need them and wasn't even so sure she even wanted them. And then I caved because I kind of wanted them, and I really wanted her to have them. Come on you would too...No Glue, No Stains, No Mess.

Hubby was just as happy as the kids to have a hot and hearty lunch since he had just wrapped up his Kenpo workout. At the tail end of lunch, Miss Bit's friend M. called to invite her over. When C. heard I was talking to Mrs. S. making arrangements (a go with the flow day), he couldn't stop himself from telling us that M.'s older sister and fellow 3rd grader, also M., was going on a date with S. I don't get any goods from T. Bone so I give his friends the 3rd degree. Then I debriefed Mrs. S. when I dropped Lil Bit off cuz' come on it's the 3rd grade. I didn't even know boys existed at that age. Apparently there are no dates on the calendar and in true crush fashion, now that they know they have one, they are avoiding each other like the plague, communicating through friends on the playground and poised for a break up. Nine is the new thirteen! Heaven help me cuz' I am so not ready for this at ALL. I'm glad T. Bone's first love is baseball? Or basketball? Or snowboarding? Or football?

So with the kids occupied with friends of the same sex, hubby and I had time to watch the second half of the movie we started last night. Do. You. Have. Any. Idea. What. A. Luxury. It. Is. To. Watch. An. R-rated. Movie. In. The. Middle. Of. The. Day!?!? The cats were very confused to see us reclining in the daylight, but they cuddled in nonetheless. After it was over, I whipped up another cheesecake. That's how much I love baking people. I can't even taste it cuz' I gave up sweets for Lent and it only keeps for 2 weeks, but I have a couple ideas of just who may enjoy it.

As I'm waiting to take my cake out of the oven, I'm here blogging. The boys are at baseball try outs. On the way home, they're going to pick up a pizza and we'll retire for a family movie night. The 7:00 show is G-Force and the 9:00 show is Jules and Julia, and all's I have to say is that I heart Saturdays...really I do.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A night with friends. The kids all played well together despite the fact that there's almost a decade between the oldest and the youngest. Miss Bit was the only girl, but she's got the boys well trained as you can see. She loves all the M. boys.

My little traveler...he was go with the flow, eager to see a new place and try new things, thankful for the time with family and appreciative of the experience. I know for a certain fact that he learned more on this trip than he would have in school.
My VIK (Very Important Kindergartner). Today is her Show and Share. She carefully selected each item to bring: a blue shell from Grandma P. and Grandpa P. that she decided was from New Zealand, her Princess and the Frog CD, her dream catcher, a photo of her and Ariel hugging at Disney,and her bedmate, Alice. She told me she's going to tell the class, "Alice is from my Nanny. She was her's, and then she gave her to me before she went up to heaven so now she's mine and I love her. Well...I love her Nanny and I love her Alice."
Time heals nothing. It's what you do with the time that makes a difference. These words are resonating with me today.
I had a good cathartic cry Monday. It was such a relief to let it out after working to hold it in these past couple months.
My first issue of bon appetit waiting in my mailbox yesterday. It's no Gourmet, but it'll have to do.

A special Sunday dinner...a little Valentine's Day celebration. I cannot say enough about the company, the food or the wine, not to mention my sil's table. We even got favors...there was a bag of candy at each place setting, and the ladies each got a dozen beautiful roses.

These little vases reminding me of such simple truths: Laugh Often, Love Much and Live Well.
Friday I told the kids about Buddy. T. Bone's immediate response was, "Are Grandma and Grandpa going to get a puppy now?" Miss Bit's eyes welled up and over and she had tears on and off all night. I sat down with the kids and we each made sympathy cards. That's when T. Bone got a little emotional.
Talking with the kids this week about how lucky we are in our more than 1/2 of the world's population subsists on 1/2 a bowl of rice a day. It really made, count blessings, want to be more charitable.

Catching Miss Bit holed up in the family room munching her way through her Valentine treat bag. I surprised her and she surprised me too by actually admitting that she had just eaten 7 pieces of candy! I love her sweet tooth as much as I love her honesty.
During his homily, Father T. talked about how he lost his voice for a few days a couple weeks ago. It was right before he left for his annual vacation to Mexico, and he thought the timing was rather serendipitous. He was quite pleased that as he communicated with nods and smiles, margarita after margarita were placed in his hands. Smiles...they really are underrated.
Pizza eating possums. I have been stocking the critter buffet on the patio for the cat's viewing pleasure almost daily. The last couple nights it's been sold out. Last night Peanut was nose to nose with a possum (through the glass, of course), who wasn't going anywhere until he finished all the pizza.
My brother came over to watch the Badger game last night. Then we turned on figure skating and the boy's commentary was quite entertaining. It was nice to see him in the middle of the week.
The Daisies were so excited to earn a petal this week for being good sisters to each other, and Miss Bit was especially thrilled that her very first petal just happened to be her favorite color...purple. I'm also grateful that I made it to the Girl Scout store to pick up the patches for her tunic. She was so appreciative that it was no longer naked and eager to wear it all day at school Wednesday.
T. Bone was so certain he didn't want to tag along to the Daisy meeting that he went behind my back and took matters into his own hands by calling our neighbors and arranging to ride the bus to their house that day. I guess you could call that resourcefulness (or disobedience).
T. Bone and Miss Bit headed up to his room to build Legos last night and did so for a good chunk of time before coming downstairs so we could settle a disagreement. For Lent they are working on being nicer to each other. I took the opportunity to tell them that my brother is one of my best friends even though I'm a girl and I'm older. Her eyes got all dreamy and he just looked utter disbelief that they too could (will) be good friends one day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Today is the start of Lent. Before I fell asleep last night, I thought long and hard about what I will give up for the next 40 days. I still have the day to make my final decisions as today is a day of fasting. It's a good thing too because truth be told...I'm still waffling. I am not very disciplined when it comes to sacrifice. My Mom used to give up candy, cookies, cake, pie, ice cream and peanut butter and I thought she was crazy. Not that I eat those on a daily basis either, but it just seemed so extreme. Maybe I'm onto something here. I did bake brownies and a cheesecake last week. I only had a couple corners of the brownie and a small, indulgent piece of the cheesecake, but I'm like my Dad like that. I'll take a forkfull, and think it doesn't count. And it's so true that once you start eating more sweets, you come to crave them rather quickly. Refined sugar truly is evil. Ok add it to the top of my list.

1) No Sweets.

And don't get me started on the computer. I never quite fell into the Facebook frenzy and even my farm has now lost its allure, but I can log some serious time blogging. Writing here is a good thing, but I can really get bogged down in following blogs, and I don't even usually take the time to comment. I'm going to impose some online limits during Lent as well.

2) Half an hour at night to read blogs.

Because I realize that I often am dialing my phone before I've even backed out of my driveway, I'm gabbing too much when I should be paying attention. I think it is in the best interest of my safety (and the safety of others) as well as my sanity to put my cell phone away when I am driving. I often feel frenzied because I don't have enough quiet time all to myself. I've had some of my best ideas, some of my most relaxing moments when I'm alone in my car. Not to mention the fact that I'm not setting a very good example for my kids who will have cell phones one day very far in the future that is.

3) I'm taking the Oprah challenge and limiting my cell phone usage while driving to emergencies only (so hopefully I won't have to use it at all).

It seems that my standing Lenten promise is always to refrain from cocktail hour on school days. Coming off of the holidays, a glass of wine or two on random nights becomes habit. So sorry Jess, but we're going to have to schedule our "wine nights" for the weekend for awhile because...

4) I'm limmiting my intake of libations to weekends or special events (not that you're not special).

Many a past year I have decided to incorporate something good rather than give up something not so good. That really seems to work better for me because it seems much less like punishment.

1) Unless I am kidnapped or become violently ill, I will be at mass every single week until Easter. During December, I look forward to it every week because the mood during Advent is joyous. During Lent, the mood is more sad and somber so I have to really motivate myself to go.

2) I am going to practice random acts of kindness everyday. Little thoughts, gestures and helping hands to brighten other's days.

Now that it's here in black and bold, I'm going to be held accountable.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lazy Day

It's noon and I'm still lounging around the quiet house in my pjs. I love that it's snowing outside and that I can just stay inside all day long. Everything that was on today's list has aready been moved to tomorrow and that is just fine by me. I did feel a pang of guilt when I roused T. Bone and Miss Bit this morning knowing that I could go back to bed after the bus came. Could, but didn't. They didn't want to get out of their beds after a late night of Valentine revelry at my brother and sil's. Didn't, but did. The new unicorn shirt that was a valentine gift from Grandma and Grandpa did the trick. She happily rose when saw her day's outfit on her ottoman. During breakfast she was all, "I love parties! I love unicorns! I love being VIK (very important kindergartner)!"

I'd like to say that her enthusiasm was infectious, but T. Bone was not amused. Maybe things would have been different if he hadn't forgotten his new skateboarding shirt at Uncle B. and Aunt A.'s. He ate his breakfast tuning into the coverage of the Olympics while tuning out Miss Bit. He told Miss O. that he's Tivoing the Olympics. Every. Single. Event. I better check that out so we don't find ourselves missing episodes of Lost or The Bachelor or The Office.

We had a very fun and delicious Valentine's Day dinner last night. We were having so much fun that we didn't actually sit down to eat until alomost 9:00, but it was worth the wait. The steak au poivre was perfectly cooked, and the roasted potatoes and green beans most suitable sides. We were treated to a very special bottle of wine for the meal that my brother and sil brought back from Napa. It was THE perfect evening spent in the company of loved ones. Love was in the air. My Dad and his wife renewed their vows the day before, my brother and his fiance are planning their wedding for May, myself, hubby and the kids shared our Valentine's over cold pizza before church.

My brother told me that he felt like our Mom was at the wedding last weekend. She was Cousin K.'s Godmother, and they shared a close bond over the years. My brother is not religious or particularly spiritual, but he received a sign and I think it was good for him. On Sunday morning, he pulled my Mom's old luggage tag off her old luggage before taking off for the airport and then as he stepped off the elevator, he saw a single can of Miller Lite sitting on the credenza. My Mom was a Miller Lite girl. The club was not the kind of place that overlooked litter lying around. I got chills.

I cannot believe that tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. Lent starts Wednesday. February is flying by and yet I am content to sit here today and watch the world pass me by.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile With My Heart

Brothers waiting for the kids to get off the bus after school.

Tulips in winter.
Seeing the people I love smile...knowing they are happy, and knowing they feel they are loved.

This cake made in the shape of a heart...tonight's dessert.
My Linnea poster calendar.
This girl's spunky silliness and the way she will always...ALWAYS stop whatever she is doing and pose for the camera.

The roses from my Mom's 60th birthday bouquet. Reminders of her beautiful, colorful, enduring spirit.

Our fridge gallery...filled with T. Bone's and Miss Bit's artwork.

My boy bundling up to take out a bowl of carrots and greens for the hungry bunnies who live beneath the boughs of our Pines.
A snow covered yard filled with, birds, critters.
A little peace, a whole lotta love and some understanding.
The smell of eucalyptus and the sound of the ocean.
Rainy days and thunderstorms.
Random acts of kindness.
Family dinners, days, vacations.
Journals and blogs.
Ina Garten.
Love stories like Four Seasons, Cousins and Moonstruck.
February 14th!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday Fun Day

Last Sunday we woke up early and got on the road. The snow was flying so we were most thankful for the security of this quasi tank. The slick, narrow, winding roads almost gave me a full-blown anxiety attack, but with my hubby behind the wheel, I knew I was in good hands. It was a long, albeit beautiful drive, down from Vail and then up to Eldora where we met T. Bone and cousin Knox who were eager to get on their snowboards. The day before they strapped on their skis. I think my hubby was most excited to hit the slopes. It was so pretty that I started to regret I committed to spending the day with my cousin in the city. That being said, it was nice to spend time one on one visiting.

We met up with the boys to watch a little of the super bowl at my cousin's bar back in Denver and then all enjoyed a rare Morrocan culinary experience at Mataam Fez. So the boys went from snowboarders by day to belly dancers by night. I thought they were real sports!

T. Bone is not exactly adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. He is also what I call a food purist. He doesn't do casseroles or other combo dishes, but I dare say Knox's love for the Morrocon food inspired T. Bone to try some new and very different things. He really enjoyed the b'stella, ate a little cous cous and even tried some lamb. Later when he was waxing poetic on the experience he was quite entertained by the differences between that night's dinner and our ususal restaurant meals. He mused:
1) You take your shoes off
2) You sit on comfy pillows on the floor
3) You belly dance
4) Your napkin is a towel that you wear over your left shoulder
5) You eat with your hands
6) You get everything on the menu
7) And you don't get a bill.
(#6 and #7 were due to the fact that we were lucky to be dining with the owner.)
Monday was a long day of travel after a long weekend of fun. My cousins on both sides of the family showed us a great time and made us come to know firsthand just why they love Colorado the way that they do.

Wedding Wonderland

I cannot really say that I have ever seen a church as beautiful as the Chapel at Beaver Creek. Actually, it's not the church that is so stunning, but rather the setting. At times it was hard to keep my eyes on the bride and she was absolutely beaming and naturally beautiful too.

Below you can see the view as you face the altar. Nature and spirituality are strongly linked as far as I'm concerned so I felt a heightened sense of reverence as I watched the snow fall on the mountains and trees outside. It wasn't lost on me that precipitation is good luck on your wedding day. It snowed all day and I was happy to remember that we had unseasonably early flurries for our October nuptials almost 15 years ago.

I got up to read this familiar passage from I Corinthians that is often chosen for just this occasion: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that I can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

It's the first time I've spoken in front of a congregation since I gave my Mother's eulogy, and I have to be honest that I was a little nervous. It seemed ridiculous because I wasn't nervous then and I had a lot more to say, but then I was speaking my own words.

We finished taking pictures just as people, mostly skiers, started arriving for mass. It was a sight...everyone bundled up coming in right off the mountains after their last run.

We made our way to the Timber Lodge which really appears to be perched on top of the world. It is remote, rustic, romantic.

This is Gavin. He is for real. A quintessential cowboy he was. He introduced us to Doc and Wyatt and we cozied up on his sleigh to take a wintry ride before twilight.

Tootsies had to be warmed after exposure to the elements so we were thankful for the fire pit.

As the sun went down, the candles that lined the windows of the lodge gave off plenty of light.

After the delicious dinner, we mingled, danced, sang and then lit the sparklers to give the newlyweds the proper send-off only they came back to the party. A couple after my own heart!