Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped - The Gift of Words

I reluctantly threw The Shack in my purse last night before heading out to Miss Bit's ball game. I've been slowly trying to make my way through Young's novel since February. I just finished The Help and haven't started a new book yet so it just made sense. Having a book to retreat into keeps me entertained during the uneventful game and it allows me to escape from the idle small talk and gossip when I want or need to. If anything, I know my limits.

Not more than a page in, Mack- the protagonist- witnesses his dead daughter playing with her living brothers and sisters. This glimpse fills him with immediate relief and immeasurable joy...she is okay. He wants to go to her, but cannot. And then he wonders if this vision is even real, and if his other children are really communing with their deceased sister. The answer brought tears to my eyes and warmed me right there in the cold bleachers.

They are, but they aren't. Only Missy is truly here. The others are dreaming, and each will have a vague memory of this - some in greater detail than others, but none fully or completely.

Reading these words, I felt such warm validation of some of the recent dreams I've had that seemed like much more than dreams. Dreams so real and clear. Dreams so matter of fact and poignant. Dreams so heart breaking and life changing. The smallest, simplest gift in any day can remind me that my Mom is with me every day, and that is the most meaningful and monumental gift that's ever been bestowed upon me.

(Today I'm taking part in Tuesdays Unwrapped.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Summer = lots of time to chill.

My Dad got out of the hospital yesterday. He needed a stint in a very blocked artery. I am almost as relieved as he is that he'll be good as new soon.

Homemade cards for one awesome Dad!
Miss Bit and her main squeeze. I know he really rates because not just anyone gets peace sign hearts.

(I never said I was an artist!)

Of course, T. Bone's subject matter is baseball.

These are his very own sweet words.

T. Bone made the district tournament team.

On the way to Miss Bit's game this week, my girl said, "Mom, I really don't like the unbatting part of the game."

My hubby for taking a half day to help me strip wallpaper this week so we could be all set for the painter to come work his magic. We now have a barn red ceiling in our family room, and one wall is a ginormous magnetic chalkboard that Miss Bit cannot wait to write on when she plays school.

Picking up noodles for dinner and heading over to the in-laws to swim into the gloaming. T. Bone perfected the Nestea Plunge and Miss Bit showed much improvement diving.

The storm that sent us to the basement Monday night, didn't cause any damage. A tornado touched down that night within miles of my Dad's house in the woods, but he didn't even lose a branch. Then I was woken very early Wednesday morning by a roll of raucous thunder so robust in rattled my bones. The bolts that followed illuminated the sky much more magnificently than any fireworks display I've ever seen. I listened to the storm for over an hour as it moved north until it was merely a distant, muted rumble, and then I fell back to sleep.


Up dos.

Stripes and plaids...just not together. (Not to worry...he changed immediately after this photo was snapped.)

Bells of Ireland, peonies and hydrangeas.

Very little computer time this week. My laptop charger died. Instead of being connected, I escaped and managed to read The Help in it's entertaining and touching entirety. It is a MUST read.

Rumor has it that Kathryn Stockett has another book coming out soon.
T. Bone has recently started calling me "Mommy" again.
Miss Bit loves to put on my shoes and prance around my room when I'm getting ready. The taller the heel, the strappier the sandal, the brighter the color the better. Then she raids my jewelry boxes.
I woke up before my alarm this morning. I was out walking by 6:00. I miss my Friday morning walks alone with my thoughts. It's the best way to clear my head.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrations, Signs and Sunday

Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. Friday evening we gathered with family and friends old and new at my brother and sil's for a party before the party. Let me tell you, these two know how to show us a good time, and once again they really outdid themselves. It was a quaint group. I very much enjoyed the time to get to know some of the bride's lovely relatives and friends.
After a slow start to the day Saturday, we had to hit the ground running. T. Bone had tryouts for a World Series team in the morning and a regular conference game in the afternoon. My Uncle and hubby spent the day sweating in the sun. The Red Sox lost the game, but T. Bone was one of 12 little leaguers to make the team. We just got word this morning. Unfortunately, if the team is fortunate enough to advance all the way to state, the championship game will be played when we are in Cape Cod. The coach asked if we would consider leaving our star catcher home. We put the question to T. Bone. Without a nano second of hesitation, he agreed that he would forfeit this family vacation he has very much been anticipating IF his team needs him. THAT, folks is how much my boy loves baseball. It's really quite an amazing thing...his passion that is. His achievement is just as awesome as is the fact that he truly appreciates what an honor he has just earned. When I brought up the sad fact that cousin Knox would be disappointed if T. Bone isn't able to join us at the cape, he reminded me that it may not come down to that. Then he went on to say, "But it probably will Mom because our team is A-W-E-S-O-M-E, and every single player R-O-C-K-S!" Of course, he doesn't exactly know which of the 20 or so sluggers that tried out for the team actually made it! Miss Bit's reaction upon hearing the news was to say, "I'm really happy for you T. Bone." Be still my fast beating heart!

After a quick brunch, the girls made a trip to every one's favorite corner store to stock up on some very important things like copious amounts of candy, a Fourth of July light up tiara, hair bows and a peace necklace. It was my Aunt's idea to take her on a little spree since she wasn't in on the golf outing the day before, and of course, my girl likes to shop...she is the definition of kid in a candy shop.
The new babysitter arrived right on time. I think we all fell in love with her like immediately. What 13 year old tells you that you look beautiful and hopes you have a good time? And then plays with the kids ALL night long and somehow manages to keep two 9 year olds (T. Bone and Miss O.) who bicker like they are siblings and a 5 year old (Miss Bit) more than just happy, but also entertained? And then doesn't get mad that you are almost an hour later than anticipated because she was very much enjoying a show on the Food Network? I think she was worth every penny, and we paid her lots of pennies. So many that I'm seriously thinking I might quit my job and take up babysitting again.
We enjoyed cocktails on the club's rooftop deck on the most glorious of June nights. We then made our way down to the beautiful ballroom. It's the same regal room we celebrated our marriage in almost 15 years ago. The tables were decked out in festive tablecloths and the flowers were stunning. I was happy to see the bells of Ireland in the bouquets on each table. The salad was so delicious that almost everyone at our table cleaned their plates, and the other courses were also impressive. I wish I had one of those velvet cake balls right now.

The bride and groom were beaming all night long, and I was (am) so happy for them.

When the band picked up the tempo, the dance floor was the happening place to be.

My Mom's brother eventually found his happy feet. He's a dancer thanks to childhood ballroom dance lessons that he took side by side with his little sister.

There was a whole table of my Mom's closest friends who are some of my favorite people too.

This picture of my Dad's sister captures the mood of the night.

This is "The Dancing Fool." Think
Elaine Benes. He's her male counterpart and maybe just even a little more over the top and out there than her when it comes to dancing. He never left the dance floor, and yes, he did completely saturate his sport coat in sweat. We decided he could start a business and market himself as the life of the party promising to keep people on the dance floor no matter the tune. You could do any old outdated or uncoordinated move you wanted and all eyes would still be on him and his crazy moves. My hubby took like 10 photos of him he was that entertaining.

Toward the end of the night, the band started to play Proud Mary. I recognized the song immediately and immediately the significance of Rolling on a River did not fall on deaf ears. My Mom was there just as she promised, and that realization filled me with complete joy. The irony of the fact that the bride's mother's name is Mary also was not lost on me. She lost her mother to the same awful disease that took my Mom several years before meeting my brother.

At the end of the night, we held hands in a circle around the happy couple and we serenaded them to the tune of All You Need is Love. Truly it was the perfect end to a perfect night celebrating their union.

Sunday the kids were eager to wake up their Dad so they could give him their Father's Day gifts. Miss Bit gave him a tin of his favorite Virginia peanuts. She wanted them open so she could sample them before breakfast. T. Bone picked out a waffle iron as his gift. He's been talking them up ever since he had homemade waffles at a friend's house a few weeks ago. When I suggested that maybe that was a gift for him and not his Dad, He reasoned, "Well, I'm gonna make him waffles for breakfast on Father's Day." And that is just what he did (with my help). They were good too.

After breakfast, we spent some time in the yard enjoying the beautiful day before heading to my Aunt and Uncle's for a kitty and pizza fix.

After so much quality family time this weekend, I truly feel blessed. My kids are blessed too...blessed to call the man they do "Daddy." He is an amazing father. A man we celebrate everyday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

This boy braved getting braces the other day, and I dare say he looks handsome and so grown up too. Of course, he opted for red and blue bands being the diehard Sox player that he is.

Baby kitties...cute, cuddly, playful.

Miss Bit took on and won her Daddy's challenge to make 7 new friends at camp. She has at least a dozen new cohorts.

This team.

This coach.

This catcher.

Slow Summer days. This week we stayed close to home so the kids could play the days away with neighborhood friends. The boys worked on a movie, Zombie V, in between games of baseball. They held tryouts for the parts. Miss Bit scored the highest. During her casting call, she had to cry, pretend to be shot, act like she was being eaten by a mummy, play dodgeball and run a race. I cannot wait to see this.

Girls with muscles.

My boys turned 3 this week. Happy birthday Peanut and Tigger. I still owe you a tuna fish cake.

My in-laws have been married for 45 years today!
Tomorrow we celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's marriage with lots of family and friends over cocktails, dinner and dancing. They have been married for 28 days!
T. Bone is playing hookie from camp today and instead he's golfing with my Aunt and Uncle.
Time to work through Gennen Roth's insightful book Women Food and God, and to enjoy Kathryn Stockett's The Help.
Participating in Tuesday's Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky this week. I was inspired to visit some new (to me) blogs and even to leave a few comments. I never do that. Sometimes I want to, but I end up just lurking. I even got a few comments of my own. I think I don't care about them, but then I see I have a message and I get all giddy. So if you read this, do me a favor and leave me a comment whether I know you or not and consider it your random act of kindness for the day because it will make me THAT happy.
Trader Joe's.
Summer "To Do" lists: go to lots of beaches, hike at Audubon, make play doh and slushies, eat lots of ice cream and smores, play mini-golf and baseball, go to batting cages, Six Flags, State Fair, Irish Fest and a water park, meet Dad for lunch, swim in Grandma and Grandpa's pool, spend a rainy day at the museum and the movies, see fireworks, go to church festivals and farmer's markets, paint pictures and rocks, have picnics, play dates and sleepovers, read and write everyday, take bike rides, and plan road trips to Chicago, Madison and Door County.
A half day of vacation today to get started on that list.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

And We're Off! (Tuesdays Unwrapped)

Well, not really. It's our official first day of summer vacation and I'm sitting here in relative silence while T. Bone and Miss Bit snooze on. The only sounds in the air are my fingers tap, tap, tapping the keyboard, the blue jay bully squawking somewhere in the yard, and the chippies chattering away from the safety of the wood pile. It's a cool, gray morning perfect for catching up on sleep or writing.

After T. Bone's baseball game on the BIG field last night, which I am happy to report did not get rained out and unhappy to report was lost, we let the kids stay up watching T.V. in our bed until quite late. I now confess that was my well designed plan to ensure that this Tuesday morning would commence in the same manner in which I am accustom: coffee, computer, quiet. The cloud cover...well, it's surely a bonus.

There is something about a skyful of clouds that simply speaks to my soul. The threat of rain keeps me inside where it's warm and dry, but it's more than just seeking shelter from the storm. It's an invitation to retreat to my interior, to prod, uncover, delve, and to sit in silence with the heaviness in my heart. I'm drawn in to listen...to really hear. It is in the calm before the storm that I can see clearly and feel intuitively the truths that sustain me. Yes, I am alive. Indeed, life is hard, but good. Without a doubt the sweet moments out number the bitter bites of this beautiful life. The rain will eventually come to clear the heavy air rife with thickness and thunder. The cleansing tears will fall and wash away the sharpness of my fear, regret, sorrow, and shame. Even before the sun once again shines, I will have renewed resolve to be alive...fully alive. And it's a good thing too because it is our first day of freedom, and I want to be present, plugged in and even joyful in every little moment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Off To A Good Start

Summer vacation that is. The kids came home from all kinds of fun at the in-laws Friday night long enough to sleep before being whisked away to my Dad's for more sweet spoiling. In the 24 or so hours that they spent with Grandma and Grandpa, they were plied with movies and popcorn, mini golf and ice cream, playing at the park, homemade pizza for him, all you can eat chicken nuggets for her, and "Grandpa's Famous Breakfast" for all! It's not surprising that T. Bone and Miss Bit weren't all smiles when we drove down the driveway straight into their wiffle game. They (Grandpa and the kids) tried in earnest to extend the visit by embarking on one last mosquito-infested hike through the woods. For obvious reasons, it didn't last long despite the fact that my nose sensed the kids had literally bathed in Deep Woods Deet.

On the way through the woods and over the river home, Miss Bit began expressing mild anxiety over starting camp the next day, not knowing anyone, feeling scared and shy. She so wanted to fast forward to Thursday when she will know everyone and they will all hoot and holler during a visit to her favorite inflatable-filled gym. T. Bone shared none of his sister's trepidation, but he did start hoping aloud that his "cool" friend whose name we haven't heard mentioned a single time in a year would be in attendance again this summer. The counselor confessed that J. had spent the 2 hours before I dropped T. Bone off hoping to see his "awesome" friend walk through the door. I just love that about boys...they pick up right where they left off without missing a beat.

Miss Bit woke up this morning moaning over a pain in her leg...a "bite." Every remedy I offered just wasn't cutting it. When I had the audacity to inquire whether it was itchy, or throbbing, or aching or pulsing, she sneered at me and sniveled, "It just feels like a bite. Gah!" So as to say now just leave me alone, but do something about this straight away! Eventually she was able to get up out of bed only to limp to the bathroom, suffer through dressing and brave her way through breakfast. The intense discomfort then traveled from her leg to her stomach. It became apparent that the only cure for her curious ailments was going to be facing her mounting fears head on. She ponied up. I was proud. T. Bone and I waved good bye to her as she stood at the end of the line of camp goers going outside to play. She was biting her lip and looking down sullenly, but she wasn't crying. I know when I pick her up in a few hours, she's going to wonder why I'm there so soon. I'm totally on board with the first day jitters by the way.

While the kids were at Camp Grandma and Grandpa, hubby and I went for not one, but two long walks...a four and a six miler. It's something we used to enjoy together regularly, but it's been awhile since we cannot leave the kids at home alone these days. We walked over the river and back through the rolling neighborhood adjacent to our's where the homes are estates and some of them are set back so far from the road that all you can see are the "Do Not Trespass" signs. That works both ways though because it really makes you feel like you are all alone on a tree-lined country road. I even told my hubs that it sort of reminded me of our walks around Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire although this wasn't quite as hilly and we saw deer, turkey and red squirrels not moose.

We scratched the idea to catch a movie Saturday night since we spend many a night comatose in front of our Toshiba and instead headed out for cocktails, dinner and engaging conversation. We tried a new Mexican place that we decided was just mediocre. My quesadilla was disappointing, but my hubby's burrito was pretty good, but the truth is I didn't really care that they used dark meat chicken and canned jalapenos because I was at dinner alone with my man and that was better than any cheesy tortilla could hope to be.

The kids are already asking me what we're doing on the days they don't have camp this week. Makes me wish I'd signed them up for five days a week. On the docket this week are exciting appointments. We have a visit to the orthodontist for T. Bone to finally get his braces. Brace yourself! But as usual, we'll find time for some summer fun too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A quiet morning today. The kids had a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's and are celebrating the first day of summer vacation with swimming and a trip to the zoo.
Impressive report cards for T. Bone and Miss Bit that showed marked improvement. He's one of those kids who was getting 3's for effort and 4's for achievement, but this quarter he applied himself more and earned almost all 4's for his effort. Mrs. DLP proclaimed Miss Bit a reader and a writer. They both were beaming.
Tickets to Wicked. I'm bringing my little girl with the big girls. She likes to play good witch/bad witch with her Grandma. Grandma has to be Elphaba and Miss Bit gets to be "GaLinda."
Spending time with the girls after C.'s party last week.
Shih tzu puppies. I got to hold a fluffy little love this week.
Games the kids can play all by themselves.
Being a sport. Being silly. And being able to laugh at yourself. Miss Bit's friend, G., dressed her up in this eclectic get-up during their play date the other day and of course, I had to take a picture.

Chairs BIG enough for two!


(Living room then...)

(Living room now.)

(Dining room then...)

(Dining room now.)
Beach Bums.

Juicy cherries...sweet and tart.

Family is coming to town next weekend to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's marriage.

Food Network Star.
Shooting Stars.
Full Moons, blue moons and harvest moons.
The Blue Angels. They're flying all over the city this weekend.
Guardian angels.
Angel hair pasta with Parmesan, peas and prosciutto.
Farmer's markets...even though I only go like once a year.