Thursday, March 31, 2011

March: I Bid Adieu To You

I cannot say I’m dreading your departure. You’re such a tease: 40s one week and 60s the next, 30s by night and 50s by day. One morning I need wool and the very next I’m shedding layers. During my walk yesterday, I was hat on hat off depending on the changing direction of the wind. One night I smell steaks on the grill and the next logs on the fire.

This ambiguous in between is at the heart of my malaise these days. I resist change until it’s undeniably inevitable. April will be the month in which I embrace it. Come May I’ll scarcely be able to imagine wearing shoes or staying inside, nor will I want to.

After my long walk yesterday, I felt energized and downright more up. I didn’t make soup, but I did make a batch of chocolate peanut butter swirl muffins that were so good they’re gone. All 19 of them! I had one for lunch, and then the kids and their friends came home from school and inhaled…the smell and the cupcakes, which is really what they are. I also wrapped some up for T. Bone and Miss Bit’s teachers as a token of our appreciation for the important job they do. I surmise they’re not feeling too valuable given the acrimony in our state. They are. T. Bone told me that whenever Mrs. J. talks about baking she says, “T. Bone I bet your Mom could make that.” Then he beamed, “That’s cuz’ your such a good cooker Mom.” He thinks we should make her a batch of our sinful cinnamon rolls next week. I think that’s just sweeter than sweet. He's a smart one my T. Bone.

The days are getting longer and I’m beginning to adjust to that as well. I was almost through with 27 Dresses when the sun set and I had to call Miss Bit home from the neighbor’s before dark. I ignored the pounding at the back door certain she was playing tricks and that the door was unlocked. It went from a rap rap rap to RAP! RAP! RAP! As I approached the door a tad annoyed, I saw Miss Bit’s face of sheer fear in the window. Not only was the door locked, but someone had chalked a message on the patio for my girl. It said, “I will get you Miss Bit.” She wanted me to call 911. I suggested we give the 411 to her brother when he returned home, sent her upstairs for her shower, and settled in for the last couple minutes of the movie I'd been attempting to watch all afternoon. Seconds later she was bounding down the stairs in her birthday suit and before I could object she confessed that she had something very important to tell me. She said, “I want you to know that you are the best mom ever and I would never ever want another mom ever.” And, “And oh, are you coming upstairs now?” I did. Before she got in the shower she said, “Mom, you’re really beautiful.” She’s a smart one my Bit.

T. Bone reluctantly confessed to a crime he didn't commit. It's still up for grabs just who is writing graffiti on our patio (Mr. turkey? Little Red?), but at least Miss Bit was able to sleep through the night. I wasn't quite as fortunate. I was wide awake at 3:41, and then fast asleep at 6:00 when I planned to get up for an early morning walk. I was probably better off staying in was only 29 degrees after all. April, really what took you so *&$# long?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


After the rest of my family went to bed last night, I decided to watch Manhattan. I picked it up at the library last week because I'd never seen the iconic film, and it's been so long since I've been to the city. I've tried to be an Allen fan a time or two, but the truth is that I'm just rather not. I am a big fan of Play it Again Sam nonetheless, and have fond memories of studying and seeing the play with my college theater class. Perhaps I should track down Casablanca if I want to be entertained. Anyhow...the best parts of the film are the Gershwin score and the black and white cinematography. I found 40-something Isaac's relationship with 17 year old Tracy sickeningly prophetic. I kept forgetting that I was watching Mariel Hemingway instead of Soon-Yi Previn. I laughed aloud a few times, but mostly I was like ewww. The point being that I stayed up past my bedtime to watch the whole thing just waiting to be enlightened as to why it is so acclaimed, and now today I'm dragging. Today very well may be a 3 coffee day. I'm sitting here watching the squirrels in my yard as they do flips and frolic around. I'd be grateful for just a little of their energy. I cannot say that I've ever before experienced squirrel envy. I thought about visiting the Audubon for a hike. It's been so cold that the ground is likely still frozen so I won't have to make a shoe sacrifice, but now I'm full of compelling excuses. I planned to make soup and bread for dinner. Sadly, coring a cauliflower seems like too much of a chore for me right now. I'll probably opt for my regular route around the hood, heat up leftovers for supper, and maybe even watch another movie, although it won't have anything to do with Woody Allen to be sure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the Raw

Miss Bit woke up this morning feeling sad. My girl usually wakes with a smile on her face ready to greet each new day with some level of exuberance. Through her muffled tears, she managed to express her desire to stay home with the family another day. I tell you I got it...I get it. I have felt like more of a homebody than usual as of late where I crave calm and communion with my peeps. This weekend we were goers, and it was all good, but something has to give when so much goodness fills your days and nights. That something is the fuel that fills our tanks for another long week. The quiet moments are restorative...the downtime uplifting. I don't prefer to start my week on empty with my resources depleted. After so much fun with family and friends ALL weekend long, we are all in need of a little lost time. I know it's why I came home yesterday afternoon, put my jammies on and shamelessly escaped in a movie. I cannot remember the last time I had a movie night in broad daylight. When it was over, I prepared breakfast for dinner. It's intuitive that eggs, bacon and homemade cinnamon rolls are the equivalent of comfort on a plate. The kids were tucked in bed early, and I managed to get almost 10 hours of sleep, yet I still resisted Mr. Sun this morning. The morning light felt like an assault on my senses. Miss Bit felt a little better and able to face the day after succumbing to the weepies, a strong hug and the prospect of picking out a new pair of earrings for the day ahead. And the thing is that I get that too. Something seemingly small and insignificant can turn a bad day good...make a hard day easier. Sometimes a piece of jewelry can give me peace, but usually it's taking stock of my blessings that reframes my perspective and lightens my load. Gifts like family and friends to share this life with and good food to nourish my family and a husband who works hard outside the house so I can be here at home for my littles when they need me most. I don't take any of it for granted.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On My Mind Monday


Everybody asks why I started at the end and worked back to the beginning.

The reason is simple.

I couldn't understand the beginning until I had reached the end.

- White Oleander


I read and very much enjoyed this Fitch novel years ago. Today I finally got around to watching the movie. Astrid's opening remarks resonate with me. I so often wonder why we don't live our lives backwards when we have a lifetime of wisdom and experience to fall back on. Lately, I feel like a well-armed bag of tricks would work wonders in my world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for... A nice night with the ladies last Friday. My only complaint was that it was too short. Miss Bit mingled, modeled all the jewelry and gorged on the Oreo truffles. She fits in famously..she's so one of the girls. Today my brother is 39! We're celebrating tonight with a little bowling and pizza. Girl on girl time with Miss Bit last weekend. We shopped and lunched the afternoon away with my Aunt. She was pouting when we got home and said, "I just wish we could spend some time together just you and me." She didn't want our girl's day to end so we cuddled in my bed and watched a chick flick. That girl of mine is a master at perfectly playing my heart strings. The perfect breakfast: steel cut oats, a drizzle of honey, a handful of coconut, a few slivered almonds and a splash of almond milk. T. Bone congratulated his sister on her almost perfect report card. He is excelling academically, but sliding a bit in the behavior department. We had a stern talk with him about saving the antics for recess and after school. Through tears he said, "I'm sorry...I'm just trying to fit in." I refrained from telling him I was known as Aunt Blabby by my 6th grade teacher. I was new to the school and being the class clown was a great way to get attention. There's still room for Miss Bit in her bed despite her growing pillow pet collection. This week we welcomed a baby unicorn. I wish I could say 'no' to this girl. Hubby's perfectly grilled flank steak... a delicious harbinger of all the grilled goods to come once spring decides to come and stay for awhile. Miss Bit declared it her best meal every. T. Bone also ate every bite. I am always greatful when I don't have to be a short order cook who makes multiple meals. This morning Miss Bit changed her starter earrings. Aqua blue dolphins made the cut today. After I secured them in her ears and gave her some pony tails to best show them off she said, "Mom I just love you more than anyone else. Well, anyone else, but Dad. And T. Bone. And Peanut and Tigger." Both T. Bone and Miss Bit decided to contribute their own money to the school fund raiser for relief efforts in Japan. The rain turned to snow long enough for me to take a walk the other day. I wanted to try out my new waterproof jacket. It kept me perfectly dry. More time outside. T. Bone has been heading out to play hoops after breakfast and Miss Bit amuses herself for hours on end in the yard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I just dropped T. Bone and Miss Bit off at school. I'm basking in the quiet of my erstwhile teeming house as I enjoy another cup of coffee. My day is as free as I choose for it to be. Life is so good. So why do I feel so bad? It's not the sudden throw back to winter. I hail from this neck of the woods so I'm familiar with the precarious dance that eventually looks, sounds and feels like spring. We need umpteen takes and live through many dress rehearsals before we finally get it right. Take one. No, I'm actually rather thankful for the grey, rainy, chilly day because it coincides with the air of gloominess that's invading my head. Mr. Sun couldn't even put a spring in my step today. I just have this overwhelming urge to curl up under an afghan and watch mindless reality t.v. or Enchanted over and over, and I'm not the least bit proud of it. (But seriously, I was very impressed with Kirstie Alley last night, and who knew Ralph could be so debonair. I was elated she wasn't the train wreck I was expecting.) It's better for me to tune out right now. I'm saturated with the suffering that comes to me on every channel as I prepare my organic, non-radiated food in the comfort of my heated house. Our state is in turmoil, our country is a mess and the world is rife with so much destruction and despair thanks to man and mother nature. I lament about what to do. And yet when I was presented with the opportunity to act last week, I did nothing. I was behind a U.S. Marine in the check-out line. I knew he was a veteran because the prosthetic leg he removed from his stump of a leg and placed in his cart bore the emblem. He couldn't pay for many of his groceries. Frivolous things like fresh fruits and vegetables if you must know. I thought about offering to pick up the rest of his tab as a small token of thanks for his service to our country, but then I worried about how it would make him feel. I fretted that my humble gesture would make him feel like less of a man. He already was less of a man. He only had one leg. I didn't even thank him, let alone pay for his groceries. I did nothing. I've been doing so much nothing that I now have a spiral notebook for my growing 'to do' lists, and many of the items are not optional. There are things I need to do...plenty of them...things that are time sensitive and necessary. Things I cannot and should not put off any longer. I consider it a huge success to get through the daily grind: work, school, homework, laundry, meals. The ordinary things that usually sustain me and bring me great joy are feeling like arduous, guilty tasks. Dailiness is an assault. Yet even as I write this from a darker than usual place, I know how blessed I am. I am shamefaced for feeling wistful without real reason. I am not proud to be wallowing in my own discontent. This is a time of great uncertainty. I know people who are playing the odds, scrambling to hedge their bets. And while it's true that we cannot know what is in the cards for us, it's also true that right now I find that terrifying instead of exciting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On My Mind Monday

I haven't been reading much at all unless you count recipes. If I were, I'd have made my way through Heaven is for Real, which is due back to the library yesterday. I managed to get through a couple chapters which were not especially captivating or compelling. After Colton's recent rounds on the talk show circuit, I'll likely have to wait weeks if not months on the wait list to get it again. This morning Colton was on a morning news show talking about his experiences in heaven.

I cannot stop thinking about his claims that everyone in heaven wears wings, that no one is old and we are reunited with loved ones long ago passed, and yet I'm not really sure what I really think about it at all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

That is if I could invite anyone I wanted dead or alive...

My Mom because I miss her so much and she was the life of every party.
Her Dad because I've never met him, but I've heard so many stories about how he was THE life of the party and every one's favorite person.
Rickie Lee Jones so she could entertain us a capella. I'd ask her to sing all of my favorites, which is pretty much every single one of her songs.
Grandma Rose and Aunt Helen because they were great cooks and I'd definitely need their help to pull off the event.
Ina Garten and I'd have her come early to help me do my tablescape and prepare a fabulous, yet simple meal.
Ellen DeGeneres because her comedic relief would help break the ice and then later she could get everyone dancing.
Steve Carell because he always makes me laugh and I think I could pretty much seat him next to anyone and they would have a good time.
Meredith Vieira, Meryl Streep and Katrina Kenison because I just like them and think they would be nice women to have as friends.
Mary Oliver and Walt Whitman to read us poetry during dessert.
Jack Johnson for the music around the bonfire at the end of the evening.
Oprah because I think she would ask poignant questions to keep the conversation interesting.
Annie Leibovitz to photograph the evening.
Louise Erdrich, Amy Tan and Pat Conroy because I so admire them and think they would make the evening special.
Snookie because then I'm sure at least one person will act more a fool than myself.
Jesus, Buddha and Mother Theresa just because this is my list and I can.
My hubby because he's my other better half and I'd need him to keep me calm in the midst of such awesome greatness.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Our St. Paddy's Day feast: naughty Reubens, "healthy" homemade potato chips and glazed carrots.

I finally beat someone at Scrabble. I should also confess that Jess then beat me in our second game.

I was able to wear a pair of pants that haven't fit for awhile last week.

Starbucks for their 130 calorie grande vanilla lattes and obscure cd compilations.

A new pair of my favorite chinos on order...they are pink!

Sunny daffodils.

Party tonight at my house. Wine, women and wonderful food...oh and pretty jewelry to try on too.

I made crackers from scratch. They are delicious and also very, very easy.

This week's menu: pulled pork tacos, cauliflower soup, chicken chop suey and spinach and chicken lasagna.

Mr. President has no convincing conviction with regard to situations in Libya and Japan, but he does opine about March Madness. The reason that I am grateful for his lack of makes me hopeful that a second term is a pipe dream.

Our Badgers advanced making my hubby and my son very happy.

T. Bone came home from school freckled at the end of St. Paddy's day. He inspired his whole class and made his Nanny very proud I am sure.

Miss Bit's cityscape.

It was nice enough yesterday to turn off the heat and open the patio doors. The cats were in heaven.

Our family day trip to Chicago last was a great adventure.

T. Bone won third place in the city-wide free-throw contest. It was a win win. He earned a trophy and we don't have to travel for another contest.

Peanut and Tigger are 4! Happy Birthday boys!

Today is tacky outfit day for Miss Bit. She had a hard time wearing mismatched clothing. There was angst and tears and as you can see, no photographs.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Think Spring...Think Green!

Happy St. Paddy's Day! It's going to climb into the 60s today. I am blaming it on the luck of the Irish. What a magical combination: warm weather and cold beer! Of course, there's still plenty of snow on the ground, but the chippies are awake and chirping and the robins are actually finding big, fat, juicy worms for breakfast. I'm officially ready for spring and it's a good thing since it arrives Sunday just as this taste of summer flees.

T. Bone and Miss Bit were excited to wear short sleeves today, but they were not eager to get freckled. My Mom used to turn us into lucky leprechauns every St. Pat's Day with the help of a toothpick and a bottle of green food coloring. Really there's no convincing my two so I turn their insides green instead. I made a batch of cinnamon buns for breakfast this morning and colored the frosting green. It's our tradition and I'm just saying that they taste so much yummier than they look. In fact, they are such a treat that I want to make a pan for everyone I know and deliver them warm on their doorsteps first thing in the morning. I'm happy to say that Pillsbury has lost a customer for good. T. Bone suggested I take a picture of his bun to post on my blog. I also made Irish soda bread, although my version is a far cry from the traditional loaf. I add dark chocolate chips, dried cherries and chopped almonds and I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't love it.

Slainte to spring and St. Paddy's Day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trains, Taxis and TIVs

Yesterday we were on the train Chicago-bound before we're even close to getting out of the house most mornings. The sun was shining and the kiddos were smiling anxious for the fun day we had planned. I think I may have been smiling too despite the fact I only had time for one serving of caffeine, and hubby...well, he's always smiling.

We filed off the train (after 18 stops, but who's counting? Two anxious kiddos is who!) and piled into a taxi to make the trek through traffic to the Museum of Science and Industry. Miss Bit was hyperventilating because she was so excited to be in C-H-I-C-A-G-O, and finally over the fact that T. Bone's basketball tournament was turning our visit into a day trip rather than a weekend jaunt. (I had to promise her a trip to the Dells to swim soon to end that discussion.) It was my third visit to the museum. I first experienced it with my Dad and brother when I was a teenager so many cob webs have since formed and I really only remembered the babies in formaldehyde, which are still eerie cool and on display. Then I visited once again with my hubby when we were newly dating and I was much more interested in him than the exhibits so in a lot of ways I was a museum virgin despite the fact that it was my third time through.

We were all wonderfully entertained and engaged. The exhibits are hands on, and there was something for everyone just maybe not what one would predict.

The boys swept the girls in the mind ball challenge although Miss Bit was a much fiercer opponent for T. Bone than I was for her father. Their match took minutes...ours - well, it took seconds. Someone tells me to sit still and quiet my mind and I start busting moves and find it impossible to slow let alone stop my thoughts. There's a reason I meditate while I'm on the move.

We quickly learned that even dry and boring concepts like high and low pressure effect wonder when presented in fun and interactive ways.

A stint in the wind chamber, where they were belted by 80 mph winds, prepared T. Bone and Miss Bit for their introduction to The Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) and the Doppler on Wheels (Dow) as well as much of The Storm Chaser's crew who were in attendance for the day. I just hope that Miss Bit doesn't have designs on growing up to join the valiant V2 crew 'cuz she sorta looks like she was born to drive the TIV.

In fact, while the TIV tickled her fancy, what she cannot stop talking about is the U505. Touring the German submarine was the best part of her day. It was a highlight for me as well. That exhibit alone is worth a trip to the museum. It was a far reaching teachable moment too as we first learned the history of the sub while we were visiting the maritime museum in Bermuda. That's where the ship was hidden from the Germans after it's capture until WWII ended. Seeing her in all her steel and iron, boarding her and hearing about the difficult life of the crew was incredibly powerful.

T. Bone was captivated by the hatchery. Watching a chick break out of its egg was his favorite part of the day, and I must was extremely awesome. After 21 days gestation, the new chick can take 10 hours to break out of the egg. We were lucky to see one little guy emerge in the 5 minutes we watched.

It was a day long on fun and filled with great family memories.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Buddhist wisdom

Miss Bit pledged to make her bed every day during Lent and she's been keeping her promise and doing a fine job of it too.

Lunch and shopping with T. Bone this week. It's nice to spend time one on one with my guy. He gorged on Rocky's pizza while I watched (or more like drooled - it was Ash Wednesday), we stocked up on Pink Ladies (apples) and he picked out a colorful new basketball shirt to match the new bands he picked out for his braces, which by the way...he should only have to wear for a couple more months!

Tigger's battle call. He has a distinct whiney meow just for when he wants to wrestle with his brother.

New Vera reading glasses. I wanted them because I was smitten with the case. And a fancy new pair of sunglasses too.

A night out with the girls this week. It was a mid-week treat to catch up over a leisurely dinner with the ladies I Iove.


Hubby went grocery shopping this week while I stayed home to clean out the pantry and the fridge. He even found pearl barley, which I understand was no easy task.

Turkey vegetable soup with barley.

Grandparents. T. Bone and Miss Bit had early dismissal yesterday. My Dad and step-mom picked the kids up from school to spend the afternoon with them.

I'm not in high school anymore despite the fact that too many people I know still act like they are.

Governor Scott Walker, Senator Fitzgerald and many other senators, assembly men and women and taxpaying supporters who all are in favor of living within our means in this state.

T. Bone will represent our district's 4th graders in a city-wide free throw contest tomorrow.

I'm not really nursing a baby squirrel. (Tidbit for 2 loyal confidantes and readers.)

These macaroons and my sil for taking this picture of her dessert for me like the true foodie she is. Before sampling these goodies, I thought all macaroons were coconut.

We spent the day in Chicago today. It was an awesome adventure. We practically had the Windy City to ourselves. And now I am ready for bed.