Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

I accidentally deleted only 4 posts when I was applying labels over the weekend.

Miss Bit getting all dressed up for open house last night. I seriously had to iron her dress for the occasion and could not convince her that perhaps the party shoes and lipstick were just a little over the top. She woke up excited to show us her school and the anticipation had all day to build.

T. Bone has been one very busy 4th grader. There were so many awesome projects/artifacts displayed around his room. My favorite, hands down, were his haikus. He must be...has to be...making time with my Mary Oliver books.

Numerous people shared with us that he has the best teacher in the school. We were due.

Open house was welcoming and we stayed much longer than I thought we would. I'd seen so many familiar faces and old friends throughout the night that on the way out my hubby said, "You know lots of people here." He's right.

Date night at the bowling alley.

Leisurely late start days.

The beautiful day that Tuesday was. Jess and I took a long hike during the sunny afternoon. I saw 1, and only 1, monarch butterfly. After our trek, we went out for a little happy hour. Although I was really missing my Mom, I was mostly happy that day.

Homemade buffalo chicken pizza.

Scoring brand new brown leather riding boots at the resale shop. Just the day before, I almost ordered a pair on line.

T. Bone's new line: "I may have been born at night, but I wasn't born last night!" (btw, he was born at the crack 'you know what' of dawn.)

Miss Bit practicing her reading this week while her brother practiced his guitar.

After dinner entertainment courtesy of this proud and pretty puppeteer.

At least T. Bone hung up his shirt.

Fall and today is the first day of my favorite month of the year.
This week is over. It's been a difficult, draining, depressing 10 days. I'm ready for October.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Friends

A true friend is:

  • Someone who calls often and can tell by the way you answer the phone whether or not you can talk at that precise time
  • Not slighted if you cannot chat, and that doesn't stop her from calling later when you forget to return the call
  • Always available to listen and to really hear you
  • Known to say often, "How can I help you?" or "I'm sorry this is happening" or "What can I do?"
  • Also likely to just do whatever she thinks you need before you have to ask like take the day off work to take care of your children who are off of school again or arrive the night before a party to help you set-up or arrive with a vase of orchids the bluest shade of blue to cheer you up
  • Someone who is the sister you never had and another doting aunt to your children who she loves like her own
  • The person that you trust with your wildest dreams and scariest fears
  • Good at making you feel understood
  • There for you always to celebrate happy milestones, to mourn in times of sadness and to shore you up when the load is too heavy
  • The kind of person that makes you want to be a better friend...a better person
  • Someone you can laugh until you cry with or cry until you laugh with
  • Honest, kind, and fair
  • Someone you always have fun with whether you are on the patio watching the kids play in the yard, on the beach with your books or belting out Billy Joel in a piano bar
  • The giver of thoughtful advice
  • Not a score keeper
  • The kind of person who loves you flaws and all
  • Someone you can be yourself around always
  • The guest who stops for a glass of wine after work and ends up spending the night
  • The frister who takes the afternoon off to take a hike with you on your Mom's heaven day beacause she doesn't want you to be alone

The truth is a good true friend is all of these things and so much more. I was completely at a loss for words this morning because what is there to say really...two years ago today I said goodbye to my first best friend, my Mom. She always said that good friends were hard to come by, but that you didn't need many. She was proud of the fact that she could count her good friends...her fristers...on one hand. Although she knew what seemed like everyone and everyone knew her, she had a very special place for a lucky close few. This morning I checked in at chatting at the sky as I usually do on Tuesdays and was not surprised to see that today's topic is the gift of friendship. I'll take that as a sign, thank you. Jess will be here soon, and I am beyond thankful to her for spending the afternoon with me and also for my Mom who taught me what treasures good friends are. Today I'm at Tuesdays Unwrapped and with my frister, Jess.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Date Night

Tonight was date night. The boys went out for a little Monday night football and some hot wings. T. Bone spent all day dreaming about and drooling over saucy chicken drummies like they are his favorite food ever. It just makes me laugh cuz' I'm quite certain he's never even had one. The best laugh I had today though came after I asked him if his Uncle was joining them and he chortled, "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Miss Bit and I were going to go to the movies, but we ended up getting a dvd from the library instead, which tickled me because I'm in serious shut in-mode. We ate our takeout and watched Hannah Montana The Movie. It was entertaining especially cuz' my girl loved it so. She even got up during Hoe Down Show Down to line dance across the family room. I'm sure she'll watch it a few more times before it's due back so it was well worth the $1 rental fee.

Tomorrow is a late start day so that means they'll probably be up early. Not me. I'm staying in bed as long as I can get away with. I'm not anxious to face the day or the reality that it's been two years since I last held my Mom's hand and told her I loved her before she took her last breath. It's strange because in some ways it seems like yesterday and in others it seems like ancient history, and I don't know which is more painful...the passage of time and the way life carries on, or how those last 24 hours are indelibly etched in my mind for me to revisit time after time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sundays Are For Lovers

I saw this today and was inspired to capture my day.

My home base is the Midwest near the shores of a great lake and on the banks of a lazy river. It's where I was born and bred, where I've almost always lived and more than likely where I'll die.

Day to day I work in many roles including chef, laundress, maid, personal shopper, chauffeur, cheerleader, nurse, referee, editor and then some days I go to work at a job where I am paid in currency other than gratitude and grins so, of course, it is nowhere near as rewarding.

If I didn't do this I would or a least I used to think I would be an elementary school teacher, but then I went back to school to get my license only to never finish my final four credits. Now I dream about owning an inviting little book store or a quaint neighborhood bakery, or both. And it's always been my heart's hope and wildest dream to write a novel.

Next year I will travel to a house on a lake. Perhaps, Lake Winnipesaukee in beautiful New Hampshire. We'll likely take jaunts to Chicago, the Michigan coast and also Door County. This was a year of going places...wonderful places like the mountains of Colorado, the beaches of Bermuda, the shores of Cape Cod and the attractions of Disney we'll be staying closer to home unless we find some treasures.

To me Sunday means church, breakfast out alone with my husband while the kids are at Sunday School, getting ready for the week ahead, relaxing, reading, boys watching and playing football, play dates for my girl, family dinners, cozying up to catch The Amazing Race, getting a good night's sleep.

And I like to eat an egg sandwich, bagel or scone with my coffee in the morning and something comforting and home cooked for dinner. This time of year that may be a pot of soup, a pasta dish, a roast. Quite often my brother and sil join us to welcome a new week together.

And I will get out of bed with just enough time to get dressed and ready for early church. I usually forgo a shower so I can sneak a few extra minutes of slumber. It's a struggle to resist the urge to stay in bed, but it's worth it to take care of our obligations and still have the better part of the day to do as we so choose.

And I will get dressed by 8:30, but I'm back in my yoga pants and a fleecy pullover before noon.

And I will smile about mine and Miss Bit's twin denim skirts... and the way my girl sports a scarf... and the homily during mass... and my pumpkin spice latte... and Miss Bit forgetting the name of God's son... and the eccentric mother character in The Lacuna as I steal away for a few pages... and my cats taking a sun bath on the dining room floor... and T. Bone taking a break from watching the football game to go out in the yard and run a few plays with his band of boys... and Miss Bit and her friends staging a silly band swap... and the neighbors bringing us a bag of apples from their orchard visit... and singing along to Trains in the Distance after being inspired to play the cd by yesterday's post...and the glorious sun on my face as I watch T. Bone's baseball game... and chatting with old friends... and making new acquaintances... and cocktails and conversation with my brother and sil... and a warm family dinner... and a hot shower before bed...and clean sheets.

And I may just daydream about this question I came across in a pile of old magazines I was leafing through: What do you really know?

And when Monday comes I'll wake up wishing it was still Sunday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Music Makes My World Go Round

In honor of Farm Aid, I thought I'd participate in a meme I came across somewhere out in blogland. The idea is to list the 15 albums that define you in as many minutes.

1) Chuckie's in Love/ Rickie Lee Jones

I adore all of her recordings, but this one is special because it was my first love. I fell hard and fast for her when I was in high school. A couple I babysat for turned me onto her. She's had a lobe of my heart ever since because she's real and raw and gritty.

2) Every single Jack Johnson Album...I simply cannot choose.

Jack just makes me swoon and dream of surfing, or at least moving to Hawaii where life must be so much simpler. I end up falling and staying in love with each one of his songs at some point and time. It's a love affair I share with my hubby. He confessed no less to me the other night, and it makes me love my man all the more.

3) Hits/ Joni Mitchell

Joni speaks to the part of my soul that is a free spirit. I discovered her in college and I've found my way back to her when I've needed her over the years. Her lyrics read like poetry especially River and The Circle Game.

4) The Unforgettable Fire/ U2

It was hard to narrow down a single U2 album, but hands down...this is it. It's the bridge between my youth and my adulthood. Yet, I have never felt again the way I felt when I witnessed Bono belt out One one beautiful night many years ago. That's my #1 U2 song. I have a U2 album or 3 for each decade of my life.

5) Special Beat Service/ The English Beat

I experienced many firsts while this album (yes...album) was on the turn table, and I'll just leave it at that. There's just something about this ska band that I never tire of.

6) Songs in the Attic/ Billy Joel

My Dad used to play this album on Saturdays while we would clean the house. We would all be dusting and belting out Captain Jack. It's still on regular rotation at my house and it will aways remind me of happy times with my Dad.

7) Moondance/ Van Morrison

Moondance was mine and my man's wedding song. It just speaks to my soul...the song, the album, the band, my man. Everyone should own a copy and play it often when mellow or ready to go...happy or blue. Somehow it always fits.

8) Add It Up/ The Violent Femmes

I grew up with The Femmes...please don't judge. Add It Up reminds me of house parties and outdoor festivals and hot summers and cold beers and coming of age. I still own it, but I haven't listened to it in a while.

9) Led Zepplin I, II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy, In Through the Out get the picture.

In middle school, everyone listened to Zepplin whether you liked them or not. It was the rage. It was cool, and to be 'in' was ultra important at that grueling age. We used to try to manipulate the record to hear "I live for Satan" and I had my first eternal, sweaty slow dance in 7th grade during Stairway to Heaven with Pat. Fool in the Rain is still one of my favorite songs of all time...strange, yet true.

10) Early Indigo Girls

Know all the lyrics, felt so understood even in my angst-filled, ambling post college days, listened to them night and and night.

11) Negotiations and Love Songs/ Paul Simon

This album reminds me of falling in love with my hubby. I first heard it in a little pub in Chicago where we were visiting friends. Trains in the Distance still gets me. Paul Simon will always get me. It's the classic chill album, and every song is decent.

12) Greatest Hits/ James Taylor

This album takes me back to my freshman year in college. I was in a strange place with strange people and a broken heart, but I was trying to be so strong. At night my roomie, a big sophomore, would put this tape (yes, tape) on and we would be lullabied to sleep. I was rightfully soothed into thinking that I would find friends and love again. I saw Paul Taylor many years later in concert and he was charming and captivating. It's still one of my favorite concerts.

13) All REM

Senior Day, 1987...Assembly, SHS auditorium...surrounded by 150 classmates and friends all anxious to graduate...watching a slideshow of our lives to date to the blasting tune of Superman. It was surreal. We were invincible. We had life by the ass and then some. We were going places. Bon Voyage!

14) Labour of Love/ UB40

I'm leaving it at Red Red Wine and Bartels and James and James and Jack and King parties and skinny dipping and clove cigarettes and nothing but nonsense.

15) Songs You Know by Heart/ Jimmy Buffet

Frisby Floor was a welcoming place especially when a little Jimmy was bellowing through the halls. This was a constant in the dorm that we all knew and loved...we all loved to know.

16) The Big Chill Soundtrack

I'm still known to grab a spoon and sing along to Joy to the World or A Natural Woman. Motown speaks to my soul and it reminds me mostly of my Motown loving Momma.

17) Grease Soundtrack

I so badly wanted to be Sandy whenever I heard it....Sandy singing Summer Nights. I was only 9 you know!

18) Many things Bo Deans

They remind me of my hubby and his friends...they were huge fans and groupies, and until it became a major obssession, I was a big fan myself especially of Naked, Beaujolais and Paradise. Funny..this is the only band/record that's made my hasty list that is actually performing at Farm Aid.

19) Various Grateful Dead albums.

I named my dog - one of my college graduation gifts - Cosmic say no more.

20) A Boy Named Charlie Brown/ Vince Guaraldi Trio

Sunday mornings, rainy days, fall nights, quiet times that take me back to being a kid and eagerly anticipating the seasonal showings of Charlie and his clan. Nothing but nostalgia here folks...pure and simple.

21) Colors of the Day/ Judy Collins

This was one of my Dad's favorites. I used to find it haunting as a kid, but once I went to college I was soon on State Street buying my own copy. It's an acquired taste that I find such a comfort. Her remake of The Beetles In My Life brings me to tears every time. That song reminds me of my Aunt who had a soloist play it during her wedding. It was touching.

22) Rapture/ Anita Baker

My Mom and I would belt out...could belt out some major ballads. We never realized that knowing all the words didn't mean you could sing. I still have all of Anita's albums, but I can't listen to them because they turn me into a puddle. I remember driving in the Pumkin with the top down on a beautiful summer's night to hear her play with my momma like it was just yesterday. That makes me happy. That reminds me of the best of my Mom.

23) Every Spyro Gyra album

My Dad introduced me to the band, but I've enjoyed them over the years with many others. They've always been a calmimg presence in my life.

24) House at Pooh Corner/ Kenny Loggins

I discovered this album when I was pregnant for the first time. It's such a beautiful complilation that I still listen to it now that my babies are growing up and older. When I listen to the title track, I can still smell the intoxicating aroma of my T. Bone's newborn head. It takes me always will...and I will always love it.

25) Hysteria/ Def Leppard

Pour Some Sugar on Me takes this girl straight back to the smell of stale beer in soggy, squished dorm rooms. This was on late-night rotation in one of the party rooms most nights: Al's or Christians's or Mark's. At some point, we would rock to it whenever we were all together.

26) That's What Friends Are For/ Johnny Mathis & Denise Williams

I remember my Mom playing this album when I was a little girl after I was in bed for the night. I hated it because...well, just because. I gave her the cd one year for Christmas a few years ago as a peace offering, and then somehow it ended up in my possession eventhough I "hated" it. Then I lost it, and now I hate that it's lost, and I cannot believe I'm admitting that on the www.

27) A Barbara Streisand Christmas Album

Bab's Christmas album was a staple of my childhood and so it also reminds me of holidays spent with my Mom. I don't love it, but I play it often just for that reason.

28) Grover Washington Jr., in general, but the older the better

I find The Best is Yet to Come mesmerizing and Just the Two of Us is the most romantic song I've ever called my own.

29) Reprise: The Very Good Years/ Frank Sinatra

We all love Frank and nothing can beat Fly Me to the Moon no matter your age or time or place.

30) When I Look in Your Eyes/ Diana Krall

Her voice is so soothingly seductive and her lyrics are lulling. I used to sing Popsicle Toes to Miss Bit when she was a baby and all the while I nibbled on her chubby little piggies to the tune of her giggles.

I got a little carried away. You try and stop at 15. I probably could have easily come up with 50. The albums came to me in 15 minutes and then I went back to include the explanations.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The kaleidoscope of colors that is our autumn world.

This week's harvest moon.

Farm Aid is next weekend. Hopefully I'll get to hear Neil Young sing it.

Book club with Miss Bit last night. She participated thoughtfully, although not dominantly. I was able to curl up into a chair on the other side of the room and read for an hour.

Bowling starts Saturday night. I never thought the hubby and I would join a league, but our friends asked us and we couldn't say 'no.' We will not; however, be buying our own gear!

More Christmas shopping this week.

And speaking of shopping, my boys headed off with the list and took care of this week's groceries because I was feeling punky. My hubby only had to call me once from the store with a question.

T. Bone got a perfect score on his first writing assignment!

Miss Bit starts cheerleading with her friend M. next week.

Sweet Tangos.

Church before lunch with the ladies on my Mom's birthday. A friend had mass said for my Mom that day and then we gathered for toasts and memories into the afternoon.

My brother and sil joined us for dinner later that evening. The menu included Nanny's Noodles, corn, rolls and cottage cheese. For dessert we had her pumpkin bars. It was a night of nostalgia.

New horror films soon to be released. I love a good (and sometimes a not so good) thriller.

While I was working on convincing Miss Bit to put socks on with her boots the other day she said, "Oh! I get it! It wouldn't be too girly if I were all stinky now would it!?"

New fall skirts.

Mad Libs on the way to school with the kids.

Homemade malts. son is becoming a fan. I'd be ever so grateful if he would learn how to play Blackbird on his guitar and then teach it to me.

Sunday School starts this week. It will be good to get back to the routine.

When I had a hunch that T. Bone didn't eat his red peppers last night, he finally confessed that he flushed them down the toliet. He's still apologizing for lying.

Knowing what I need to do.

Lists. Lists for everything!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

After Midnight

Happy Birthday Mom.

I just finished watching Naomi and Wynona Judd on an episode of Oprah I tivoed last week. Of course, I ended up in torrential tears. My cats were not even sure what to make of me. This mother and daughter have had a tumultuos, turbulent relationship over the years. Wynona got me when she talked about really wanting to know her mother as a human being, but I was just grateful that I did know and very much like the person my Mom was in addition to loving her so. I only had 39 years with my Mom, but they were rich and filled with too many gifts to count. When I show up for a personal pity party, it doesn't take long for me to remember that I am blessed beyond measure to have had her in my life at all.

I'm lucky to love you Mom.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I'm waiting. Waiting to feel better. I spent much of the past few days lounging around like these two and with them too. They don't need any exuse to curl up in bed all day. Perhaps, they're onto something. I rallied Saturday afternoon for a little celebration in honor of my Dad's birthday. I showered and dressed and had a fine time despite the fact that I couldn't taste much of the Mexican meal he prepared for his own party...that's how much he likes to cook. I could taste the margaritas...I'm just sayin'. The boys watched the Badger game and played a little football during half time. Miss Bit road her bike and helped her Grandpa in the kitchen. Apparently, smart girls cook as well as rule. We all played Pictionary. It was fun.

I'm waiting for tomorrow. It's my Mom's birthday. She would be 62. I really have no words for how sad I feel that she's not here.
I'm waiting for Dancing With The Stars tonight. It's especially fun to watch with Miss Bit who has commentary on all of the costumes, hair, make-up, and music.
I'm waiting for the summery forecast that's going to usher in fall. A few more days of flip flops and fresh air sounds energizing to me.
I'm waiting to find my words again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

School spirit days. Today is sunglasses day - it's supposed to be sunny and 70.

These 2 have been staking their claim in our bed every evening. Last night they turned in while we were having wasn't even dark yet! I thought they were supposed to sleep all day.

When my kids like my cooking. During dinner one night this week, Miss Bit asked if she could have some more garlic noodles if she finished the rest of her dinner. I told her she could if she was still hungry. Do you know what she said? "Oh I want some even if I'm not still hungry!"

When my kids are self aware. The other night T. Bone told me that he knew why we sent him to a new school. He confessed, "You wanted me to learn more. I know it cuz' I'm already learning so much more."
A mid-week 6 miler with my hubby before dinner. When I walk and talk with him, the miles go quickly.
Crossing projects off my list. I edited and ordered close to 1000 pictures last weekend.
A walk down memory lane...time to relive lots of great times and trips.
Exercising my right to vote and effect C-H-A-N-G-E!
Spending time with the ladies of my family at one of our favorite art fairs. I was hemming and hawing over a couple rings. I made my choice and then later my Aunt surprised me with the runner up while we caught up over cocktails and snacks.
While my kids were having fun with their cousins at my in-laws Saturday, I stayed home and in my pjs all day long. The house was completely silent all day long as I worked. I finally turned on the t.v. and poured a glass of wine at 8:00.
Fall scented candles.
I finished The Book Thief sobbing last night. The Epilogue made the other 500 some odd pages worth it. Especially these quotes are resonating with me:
'Don't punish yourself,' she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing.
His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say, 'I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.' Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and so brilliant.
And also the last line of the book, but I won't give it away.
Now I'm onto The Lacuna. I was able to get well into it last night thanks to being sick.
Survivors, and I don't mean the contestants on cbs.
Purging. There was a cake mix from 2000 in my was time.
Sneaking in to pry his book out of his hands and turn off T. Bone's light at night without disturbing him every night this week because he's so tuckered out at the end of the day. When he sleeps he still looks like my wee little boy. Then I stop in and cover Miss Bit up, kiss her and smell her sweet breath. She'll always be my Lil Bit.
I drove past my erstwhile friend the other day and was like 'Wow' because of a recent dream and an errant sighting over the weekend. The uncanny timing made more of an impact on me than actually seeing her face. See what happens when you put that energy out there. There's something to be said for manifesting our own destinies.
Miss Bit wants to be a butterfly for Halloween. Butterflies have been reminding me of my Mom lately so I was touched by that although I've yet to see any pink and purple ones.
T. Bone wants to be a scary clown carrying a chain saw. Hmmm...not much to feel warm and fuzzy with on that front.
Inspiration in the kitchen this week: chicken Marsala, spinach quiche, spicy tomato soup, roasted veggie quesadillas.
Last night T. Bone gave me a big, looong bear hug before bed and whispered in my ear in his baby voice, "You're the best Mommy ever." (That was even after I denied him a malt for dessert.)
This morning Miss Bit came barreling up the stairs to tattle on her brother. She said, "He's really bursting my bubbles Mom!" I looked at her rather confused and she clarified, "Mom he's annoying me!" Like what's wrong with me...Duh!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Long Night

I didn't sleep much last night.

I could blame Tigger and Peanut who made an orange tabby sandwich out of me most of the night. That is until Tigger decided to wake me up so I could pet him every hour on the hour. He's charming like that...good thing he's cute and cuddly too.

Or I could chalk it up to the cold that came on like a freight train in the last 12 hours. Scratchy throat, stuffy nose, watery know the annoying drill. Choo choo!

But the culprit was really my Dad's meatloaf. I had an "aha" moment while I was fast and ever so temporarily asleep. The last time I remember my Dad making meatloaf was when we found out my step-mom had the big C. Today she's healthy. We may need comfort while we lick our wounds today, but we cannot give up on tomorrow. Right? I tossed and turned much of the night trying to find the positive in all the negative and resisting the urge to throw up my hands in a "it's not fair" defeat. My Dad didn't even go there. I'm still haunted by where he went: "It's not supposed to be this way. We're at a point in our lives where things are supposed to be getting easier not harder." I had nothing to say to that. It's so American dream true. So I'm keeping my distance today and not just because my nose is running like a sieve (no I didn't take anything Love), but also because I'm rough around the edges yet completely fragile to my core.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Anatomy of a Day

I woke up before 7:00 this morning rested and ready to start the day. I was able to enjoy a cup of coffee and the last few pages of the chapter that put me to sleep last night before the rest of the house woke up. Miss Bit takes longer to stir so I went in to rouse her first. As I approached her bed, she surprised me with a sweet and cheerful "Boo." Not only was she awake...she was also eager to get up and out of bed. She was itchin' to get dressed. I knew the brand new outfit decked out in glittery symbols from her favorite new store was what was really responsible for my girl's extra sunny demeanor on this overcast morning. Tigger woke up T. Bone who appeared at breakfast in his preppy blue plaid shorts proudly paired with a black and green grunge skater shirt. I complimented his style and strongly resisted the urge to tell him it didn't match. Shirts that look like they've been puked on with peace signs and mismatched clothes couldn't put a wrinkle in this morning.

Despite the fact that we were ready 15 minutes early, we still managed to be 2 minutes late for school's 8:40 start. That ended up working out just fine since I had to be in attendance for 4th grade orientation starting at 8:50. T. Bone acted like I was invisible when he passed me in the hallway. He was the line leader as the 4th graders walked to art. Every classmate after him smiled, waved or somehow greeted his or her parent(s). I sat down at my son's tidy desk and promptly spilled my steaming hot tea all over it. All eyes were on me so it was clear that no, I was not invisible after all. Still I left the meeting feeling like we'd won the lottery with Mrs. J. She's a seasoned teacher who really knows and loves her stuff. After several years of newbie know it alls, it's a welcome and much needed change. There was no way I was going to cry over being snubbed by my son or spilled tea today.

I stopped off at the mall to pick up a couple gifts, stopped off at home for a quick lunch and then headed out for a hike at the Audubon. It was such a beautiful day that I couldn't resist even as I knew there were other things I should really be attending to. I made it as far as Mystery Lake before I took out my camera for a picture. It wouldn't turn on. It didn't take me long to realize that my battery was in the charger at home. The disappointment only lasted for a minute and I went on my long way. I really was the only hiker at the preserve this afternoon, and that always puts a spring in my steps. It had only been a couple days since my last visit yet the late summer trees were already more yellow than green. Dried, fallen leaves littered the paths and trails so the animals had loud advance warning of my approach. I'm sure that's why I only saw a couple deer's tails as they scurried deeper into the woods to avoid me. Today I could count the monarchs I saw on one hand. Even the fast approaching change of seasons and my inability to capture it with my camera could not derail me this afternoon.

There was time for chores and a shower before I had to pick up the kids and get Miss Bit to her Daisy meeting. When we walked in, my girl was received like a celebrity. All of her old friends at her old school, were happy to see her. When moms started arriving, I was sensitive to the fact that my greeting was not anywhere near as welcoming, and more along the lines of a chilly, "What are you doing here?" I refused to catch their cold, condemning cattiness.

Dinner was delicious if I don't say so myself. I made a tasty, super easy chicken Marsala with sauteed zucchini and baked capellini that was the perfect combination of crunchiness and creaminess. It was T. Bone and Miss Bit's first zucchini experience. She claimed to love them despite the fact that she only ate one and instead gobbled up her spinach and red pepper. His single slice of squash ended up in his napkin after some serious gagging. After we prayed, chatted and enjoyed the meal the kids finished their homework. He proudly published his first writing assignment of the school year, and she tallied until her heart's content. There was no way a messy kitchen or the realization that they pretty much skipped the 6 Traits the last few years of my son's education was going to weigh heavily on me even as I think it's rather obvious the value I put on the written word and cleanliness.

We all got into our cozies and met back in the family room for the season premier of Survivor, and we all cheered on the "old" tribe. Before bed, we snuggled (cats included) in our bed to hear the last chapter of the not so riveting Jake Drake, Miss Bit's book club selection this month. Not even the realization that I would be on the "old" team by more than a decade could make me pause tonight.

After we tucked T. Bone and Miss Bit in, I called my Dad. I usually call on Thursdays. He started off telling me about his "killer" meatloaf, and I followed by boasting about my "company worthy" Marsala. Then he got quiet and said, "There's something you should know." I already knew what he was going to say and yet my heart skipped a few beats. My step-mother lost her job in the insurance industry the day before thanks to the state of our economy and the turn of events in the health care industry. Those of you who know me will certainly know that I am exercising great restraint here. And that folks...yes, that was enough to take me from a high yo to a very, very low yo.

I'm going to go lose my thoughts in my book now. I'm almost finally finished with The Book Thief. If you haven't read's a sure way to drown your sorrows. I feel like Leisel narrowly escaping air raids. Eventually the bombs fall on Molching. No one's safe, sheltered or immune.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pillow Talk

After I tucked her in last night, Miss Bit came looking for me with a quivering lip clutching her Alice. I got her back in the coziness of her bed and I stayed with her to have this sad and sweet conversation.

Miss Bit: I just really miss Nanny right now.

Mama: I know how you feel Baby...I miss Nanny all the time.

Miss Bit: I just wish I could talk to her again.

Mama: You can talk to her any time and she can hear you. She's always with know where?

Miss Bit adoringly: My heart.

Mama: I talk to her all the time and sometimes she talks back.

Miss Bit excitedly: How?!

Mama: Well, she'll send me a little sign to remind me she's always with me and she's always listening. Sometimes I'll be thinking of her and all of the sudden the wind will blow through the chimes that were hers on a calm day. It was like the music the chimes made was her voice saying "I'm here."

Miss Bit: But how come when you go to heaven you have to stay there forever? Forever is a really long time. It's like forever and E-V-E-R!

Mama: I don't think you ever want to leave heaven. Don't you think it's a pretty spectacular place?

Miss Bit dreamily: Ohhhh yeaaaah. God's there and it's special. I'm gonna say my prayers now.

Mama: Good idea...and why don't you say a special prayer for Nanny.

Miss Bit: MOM - I always do!

This interaction with my best girl broke my heart into pieces and warmed it at the very same time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Yards full of neighborhood kids. They may go to different schools now, but they all convene in our yard after school just like old times.
These stunning orchids and my always thoughtful frister Jess who brought them over this week to cheer me up.

Fall break (yes, already) and 3 trips to the Audubon this week. It was a beautiful day to return to the preserve for a family hike. It was nice that Aunt A. joined the kids and I for the trail tour. There was considerable foot traffic so we didn't see as much wildlife. Miss Bit fell off the pier and into a marsh. She wasn't happy, but only a tad bit wet and muddy. Aunt A. saved her, T. Bone rescued her favorite headband and I refrained from taking any pictures despite the fact that I really wanted to. Noodles for lunch made it all better and she almost forgot about it completely after a trip to our favorite toy store where she stocked up on smelly stickers.

Nuestros gatos anaranjados. T. Bone and Miss Bit are learning a foreign language. The kids have Spanish twice a week at their new school. T. Bone is a little behind since his classmates already have 3 years of the language under their belts. We're trying to practice at home to bring him up to speed.
Pizza night last weekend. We made our own using our favorite sauce and ingredients and a new crust recipe that just may be a keeper.

T. Bone spent the weekend at Camp Grandpa where they went out for pizza, golfed, biked, watched football, played poker, shot slingshots, watched movies, ate Grandpa's Famous Breakfasts 3 mornings in a row and just had fun. So much fun that T. Bone was choking back tears as we made our way up the driveway Monday. When I asked him what was wrong he said, "I just had so much fun." I shared with him that we used to go to my Grandma's every weekend for Sunday dinner, and I always cried when it was time to come home. Those are good kinda tears!
A shorter than usual workweek. My Monday was also my Friday.
Bread baking weather. This week I made 2 different kinds of banana bread and a batch of zucchini bread too.
Grandpa gifted T. Bone a new set of "old" clubs. He is over the moon about his "Big Barbara," aka Big Bertha. He's also obssessed with LamBROghinis!
A date at an art fair with the girls this weekend.
Charades for dessert after dinner at my brother and sil's last weekend. Just for the record...I NEVER watched Doogie Houser EVER!
T. Bone started his guitar lessons this week. Kumbaya!
My in laws joined us for an impromptu dinner this week after kidsitting. They liked my cherry mojitos, hubby's ribs and my coconut macaroons.
Authenticity and genuine interaction.
No desire to keep up with the Joneses.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Walk in the Woods, Through the Fields, Along the Shore

The trees are still green -
though not for long.

The south westerly wind whips warm today,
but random wisps remind me of last night's chill.
When it blows along the wooded trails, the aging oaks let go of some of their acorns.
Dappled sunshine sneaks onto the forest floor through the thick foliage overhead in whimsical patterns: nature's beautiful stained glass.

A sea of sun-kissed golden rods dance with the mosaic winged monarchs out in mass.
There are so many, I lose count -
Soon they'll be travelling south for the winter.
Dragon flies as big as hummingbirds swoop through the air feasting in mid frenzied flight.
The wind rushes through the prairie grass creating rhythmic music-
When I close my eyes, I swear I'm seaside listening to the tide roll in and back out over and over again.

I feel the ebb of summer flowing towards fall with each one of my heightened senses.

The mossy backed turtles soak up the end of season rays as they drift deliriously on rotting logs.
My every step around Boardwalk Pond is met with a meep, splash -
The toads don't trust my stride so they sound off and then sink beneath the sooty silt.
I scan the murky, pollen-filled water only to find my gaze met by hundreds of little, bulging eyes.
It wasn't that long ago that they were tadpoles.

A lone snake slithers by disappearing into the thick brush leaving me startled.
Three plump turkeys cross the path in front of me and I think how lucky they are to live protected on this preserve.
The Grassland Loop is a labyrinth and I am the Minotaur.
I'm not the only creature exploring the maze:
I spy a doe eyed deer bedding down on the edge of Bird Blind Pond.
Her molten, milk chocolate eyes reveal her surprise at being spotted-
But she's not fearful enough to flee.
This is, after all, her domain.

As I circle the Woodland Loop, I'm aware of the mounting decomposition.
The air is tinged with a rancid over ripeness -
It wreaks of damp mold and dusky decay.
The path is littered with lost downy feathers and thick rolling moss.
Hollowed out tree stumps become critter shelters -
It is time for nesting.
The wind howls and the fragile overhead branches creek and moan despite their fortitude.
A red tailed hawk launches from the canopy above in search of lunch -
Soon her catches will be harder to come by.

Along the lake, gulls squawk in alarm as I approach them on the beach devouring what's left of a repulsive fish carcass.
The wind off the water makes the hairs on my arms stand on end even as the mid-day sun warms my face.
I breathe in deeply and exhale slowly -
So thankful for this glorious late summer day, ever thankful to be a vibrant part of this miraculous circle of life.

(Also thankful to be participating in Tuesday's Unwrapped today.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grateful Friday

Today I am grateful for...

Surviving the first week of school. It was an emotional roller coaster for me that has left me exhausted, but also excited, and because I'm moving forward I'll leave it at that. I think T. Bone and Miss Bit are sharing in these very same sentiments. I'm also grateful for the many great activities we packed into the last week before school really was the grand finale to a summer to remember.

Miss Bit's 1st ride of the day: the merry go round...double decker merry go round that is!

T. Bone's 1st go round is on The Demon...a ride I've been riding since I was practically his age. We all wonder why whenever we venture to an amusement park, the temperatures stagnant in the 90s???

When I tempt T. Bone with a ride on King Chaos, he unfortunately takes the bait.

He even pleases his sister (and appeases his parents) by taking a few turns beside Miss Bit.

Who knew...this girl likes to spin? She's come a long, far way since Disney!
The rest of us fulfill our Tower of Terror desires on The Giant Drop.
This may or may not be used against him at some future time and place.
I lost count of how many times Miss Bit rode the carousel.

One last end of summer hurray at our favorite little lake on another hot and sweaty day!

T. Bone is perfecting his back flop. There may or may not have been tears after that landing.
Miss Bit and BFF B. ready to take the plunge.
T. Bone and his friend J. toss the football around.

The boys conspire to become kings of the raft.

The queens prevail.
Happy Birthday Darlink!
Can you tell they wanna go home?

I'm also grateful for the fact that it's the weekend again and a loooong one at that!