Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Heart You!

Good morning guys. By the time you wake up and see this, I will be on my way to Washington D.C. for a extra long weekend of fun with Aunt Jess. I'm looking forward to everything about this trip except leaving you.

Remember to feed Joe twice a day and Peanut and Tigger in the morning. A little tuna treat will make them love you even more than they already do. Don't forget to eat your fruits and veggies, and please drink something besides iced passion fruit tea lemonade every day. At the very least shower Saturday and Tuesday, but Sunday too if you are stinky, and Bit make sure to dry your hair. Say grace before meals and prayers before bed.

I'm quite sure I don't even need to remind you to have so much fun that I'll want to hear all about when I get home. And be good.

And most of all remember that I love you T. Bone to infinity and beyond...I love you Miss Bit to the moon and back, and I'll be back real soon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The 3 minutes that I drove along the lakefront this morning listening to Adele sing the Cure as the waves came up and crashed over the break walls. I felt like I was in a movie and she was singing just to me as I drove along the Nova Scotian coast to meet my destiny.

I'm packed and ready to leave for a fun-filled 4 days in D.C. with my frister.

So many offers to lend a hand while I am away.

Another frister getting us tickets to see The English Beat in 2 weeks.

Another frister sharing with me how Miss Bit's Jazzercize teacher gushed over my girl when she mingled with her at an event they both attended. She said she wished she had a class full of Miss Bits. I get it.

Pork marsala this week. Chicken marsala is better, but it was a nice change.

A long overdue mani/pedi this week.

I finally finished listening to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It was sort of painful in an I cannot wait to get through with this sort of way. I kept holding out, hoping to be griped, but it carried on only slightly compelling and as slow as molasses.

Monday, March 26, 2012

On My Mind Monday

Sometimes when we gorge ourselves on meaningful words, we fall into an intention coma - too overwhelmed by other people's thoughts to identify the right choices for ourselves.

- Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha that's my problem.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2 day pass

it was a happy birthday weekend.

a saturday surprise...dinner with friends.

a sunday brunch with family.

4 decades of memories and mug shots.

more captured memories.

Happy Birthday Baby Bro!

It's true it may have taken me a day or 2 to warm up to him, but just for the record he WAS eating my mommy. And also for the record, I've been one of his biggest fans ever since.

My wish for him today is 40 more years of good memories, fun times, hard and not so hard earned successes (HELLO lottery!), pleasant surprises and happiness of any and all kinds.

He is the most amazing brother and friend to me, another brother to my husband, and uncle of all uncles to my children.

I'm so blessed we are family forever, but friends first.

He is a cherished and celebrated constant in my life.

Happy Birthday Baby Bro!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Minding our manners...whatever it takes. This is T. Bone's place mat. He wrote himself a note because he's tired of dish duty, which is what he gets when he's caught without his napkin in the right place.

chillin' and cuddlin'

Room for two

Our resident brew master bottling his Irish Ale.

So much fun spelling with shaving cream.

T. Bone is well into The Hunger Games.

sunbathing squirrels

My first sunburn of the season. Actually, I was more sun-kissed than sunburned after my walk in the heat of the day Wednesday.

Old pictures. I showed T. Bone a picture of me and my dad taken when I was probably 3, which makes my dad like 23. When I asked him who it was he said, "John Lennon." After I guffawed, he was quick to come back with an "I'm only kidding." Miss Bit held up a picture of my little girl self next to her sweet cheeks and said incredulously, "Look! Look! You look just like me!"

Someone dear to me was offered a job near to her, and now I'll be thankful if she wins the lottery so she can quit and retire.

A whole week of shorts weather. No furnace. No air. We've even been able to sleep with the windows ajar.

Fresh pineapple. Every time I cut them, I think of my Grandma.

How hard Miss Bit laughed when I told her she was sleepwalking the other night. It was pretty funny.

Dog cats.

T. Bone and his friend, K., were doing homework at the kitchen table yesterday after school while I was getting dinner started. K. was watching me rather dreamily and then asked, "Do you make everything homemade?" It made me chuckle because T. Bone envies the fact that they eat out exclusively while K. obviously longs for a homecooked meal.

My aunt is home from the hospital and on the mend.

A post St. Pat's day supper this week. Hubby usually makes the corned beef in the pressure cooker, but I made it in the slow cooker and it was perfect.

17 miles already this week and counting.


Daffodils and forsythia.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Writing About Remembering and Rosie

In the midst of Operation 40: 4 Decades of Photos Featuring Uncle B. Bone, I have come across a wealth of other relics. Some finds are treasures that tug on heart strings while others are good for a long laugh out loud. In other words, some tokens make me cry until I laugh and others make me laugh until I cry.

In a box of many filled with random mementos like snapshots, prayer cards and wedding programs my mom saved over the years, I came across a card my paternal grandma sent her in 1995. It was dated just days after my wedding. Many people sent Mom cards after the wedding. She put on quite a party so it was no surprise. True to her classy nature, she didn't skip a beat, yet most guests talked not only about the elegance of the event, but also the emotion and the exuberance. It was fine and it was fun. Mom shared some of the sentiments she received with me, but I don't believe I ever was privy to this correspondence.

Grandma's words were gushing with gratitude and praise. The consummate party planner herself, she had much to say about the details...all of it good, for Mom outwitted the devils in them (the details that is to say). She had so much to say that there wasn't an inch of blank space left on the card...front or back. If you haven't figured it out yet, this is in the category of cry until you laugh. My eyes got misty after a sentence because Rosie was a one of a kind grandma and an all around Neat lady. I miss her. Then the tears started to flow because I could see her as she was on that day proud and beautiful. Proud because the man I was marrying was "a keeper" by her standards, which God love her she never kept to herself, and proud I also believe because we were being married in God's house, the Catholic Church. She was beautiful in her flowing mint sheath with a gardenia pinned just above her heart. Good God she even wore lipstick and earrings for the occasion. See, she may have been a beaut, but what was on the outside didn't much matter to her and that is a lesson she taught me early on. To that point, I am pretty sure she donned the green frock at any and every occasion that called for a dress from that Saturday forward. She preferred her pink sweater or her wolf sweatshirt most days. And here is where I started to laugh through my tears because when I think of Rosie I remember so much spunk and sass and smart wit.

I'm just so tickled that I found this remnant at all. It's even more of a treasure today because they are both angels now. To me it is so beautifully telling to hear my Grandma's voice as I read her words. And I heard her clear as a bell. She didn't write a lot that I know of, yet she had quite a way with her words when she did. It also speaks volumes to me that my Mom tucked this note away. She was touched by it. It meant something to her and now it is an heirloom that connects me to them both. It's a gift. A hug. A lifeline. I imagine them together smiling down on me as I uncovered the clandestine correspondence thinking it's about time lady.

I'm a keeper. A nostalgic historian...not a hoarder. It's hard for me to throw away a single note, card, or photo. They mean something to me. And it's a good thing too because sometimes I need to take a walk down memory lane for a heart wrenching cry or a belly busting laugh, and I never know what I'll find in one of my memory boxes. I must confess it was impossible to contain my unbridled laughter the other night when I came across a well-worn letter written by my first love on his dad's prescription pad no less. In it he threatened to become a priest if I ever broke up with him. He was 13. I broke up with him when we were 18 and I know for sure he's yet to become a priest at 42!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We saw our first chipmunk yesterday right on is the first day of spring.
He was perched atop the wood pile chirping relentless taunts at the cats.
I went right to the pantry, filled a bowl to the brim with fat peanuts in the shell and put them out to welcome him back, or anew.
I told T. Bone and Miss Bit that when I was a little girl, I would sit on our front stoop with my own bowl full of peanuts.
My chippie friends would come and eat right out of my hands if I sat long and still.
Their eyes went big and wide with surprise when I shared how one chippie was brave and bold enough to sneak peanuts straight from my mom's pockets.
It's true...I remember it.

This morning I was looking through boxes of Mom's old pictures.
I'm in search of those capturing a specific subject, but I'm just beyond delighted by the few that have found me.
One of which, wouldn't you know it, is the image of my 4 year old self, a bowl of peanuts and a chippie just as I remember it.
Just as I relayed it only a short day ago.
It's evidence...comforting and concrete...that my memories are real.
Proof that what I remember is what happened.

I dig a little deeper, and emerge with a picture of Mom on the day of her first communion.
She's Miss Bit's age and Miss Bit is her spittin image.
As I focus on this image in black and white taken on a most poignant day in my mother's life, I am awed.
This weathered snapshot is an affirmation of the thriving circle of life.
Seeing my 7 year old mother smiling from the photo and then glancing at my 7 year old daughter giggling at the table just strikes me as beautiful and breathtaking.
The raw reality of birth and death, of growing up and growing old so often fills me with dread, but today I feel only gratitude and glory.
This aged photograph is a reverant reminder that Mom is always with me.
It is evidence that she will be with my girl when she makes her first communion this May.

I only have time to glance at a few more photos before the day's schedule calls.
What I'm struck by and left with is that every print, candid or close up I come across takes me right back in time and place.
These captured images, some torn...others tattered...yet all intact...remind me of a shared and happy history.
They are evidence that loved ones live on in our memories and in that way never really leave us.
In the same way the camera captured the light and burned these images onto the film forever, these frozen moments are invisible tattoos on my being.
I'm imprinted with and shaped by the sum of my experiences and the richness of my relationships.
Sometimes all it takes is a photograph or two to remember and rejoice in this fact.

Monday, March 19, 2012

2 day pass

it felt like summer this weekend despite the fact that we are at the tail end of winter.
it's not all that noteworthy to have an unseasonably beautiful teaser of a day at this time of year, but it is rather remarkable to have so many strung together.
the gifts of warmth and sunshine weren't the only things responsible for the spring in my step this i must also shout out about my saturday plans.
they entailed enjoying one of my favorite holidays in the company of some of my best friends.
what's not to love about luck, shamrocks, green beer, jigs, corned beef and camaraderie?

before we met up at the pub, i fulfilled t. bone's breakfast request.
forget irish soda bread, this boy has one thing on the brain every st. pat's day morn: homemade cinnamon buns turned green.
i served them up hot out of the oven, and set out for a fast-paced four miler with my guy.
those very few details...homemade bakery, smiley, happy children and a good sweat to start the day...are all i need to feel the chi.
every day should start this way...every good day does.

sunday hubby and i set out for four more miles on yet another gorgeous day.
we picked the kids up from sunday school and then picked up lunch.
the boys went to baseball practice and the girls went to do a little shopping.
miss bit's shorts from last summer have gotten shorter and her taste has changed quite a lot.
we came home with some more appropriate (by my standards) and appealing (by her standards) attire and the fixings for a much anticipated dinner on the grill.
the first brats, burgers and sweet corn of the season were a delicious treat.
we were all early to bed in our clean sheets after a tiring weekend filled with fresh air and friends.
the weekend was good and green.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

More than anything today I am grateful for the true moments of unadulterated happiness I experienced this week. I found myself beholden by the kind of bliss that radiates from inside out urging me to me see the beauty in every little thing around me. I felt joy in the simplest, most ordinary undertakings. Extraordinary ordinary. I was intoxicated by the kind of rapture that fills me up, yet makes me feel lighter.

I marveled at the vase of canary-colored daffodils stretching to the sun before my lens. Literally, I witnessed them unfolding...I watched them unfurl amazed.

Something I do almost daily...create in the kitchen...inspired me so. The simple way the hard tart fruit became the sweetest, softest bread just made me feel so thankfully aware. Just like that lemons became pillowy loaves of lemony bread at my hands.

Day after day I was coaxed by Mother Nature to throw open the sashes and embrace the mild spring temperatures, to revel in the longer days and to smell the air...ripe and fresh. The chorus of birds, the call of cats begging to please...PLEASE! be let outside and the cacophony of kids carousing in the yard sailed through open windows on a soft, summery breeze.

We sat down for family dinner...something we do most nights, yet Miss Bit expressed the shared sentiment that it felt more ceremonious and special than usual. Funny...seeing as how run of the mill peasant food was on the menu: Shepard pie and crusty bread. The kids even ate the peas without complaint. Then again every meal feels more celebratory with the prospect of dessert at the end. T. Bone especially enjoyed the "cricket pie."

The litany of have tos and to dos felt more like an invigorating concerto than a broken record. We all had renewed gusto with which to tackle homework and housework, and that surge of energy left us more time for precious wants tos. Frivolous things like games, walks, books and baseball. Silly things like practice, play dates, bike rides and book club.

It's been a bit of a while since I've felt this kind of serendipitous happy chance and it felt gratefully good.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On My Mind Monday

Happiness was for boneheads, a dumb fog you sank into. Pain, low-level and constant, was a vigil you kept. The vigil had something to do with looking out for your own death, and with living in some constant state of watchful despair.

-Mary Karr

The Liar's Club was a good read although not uplifting. Now I'm onto Anne Patchett, which I am simply enjoying for its pure entertainment value.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

two day pass

three days of good girl time.
a dinner date for noodles friday night after our stint cat sitting.
we sat side by side as we slurped and planned out our precious time together.
we almost made a list like grandpa does, but had no pencil.
on the way home we sang adele loudly and marveled at the moon.
it was an orangey ocher and really something to ooooh and aaaaah over.
we quick stopped to stock up on more green for our st. paddy's day parade plans.
we were sufficiently shamrocked come saturday morning just like everyone else in the crowd for everyone is irish on st. pat's day.
the last time i watched this parade was with my mom, mcgurk.
i missed her something fierce, and happily, proudly wore her o'shit button despite my daughter's daring disapproval.
she smartly saw it and said, "o'bleep!"
after the bagpipers, irish hounds, setters and dancers, we stopped for lunch and an irish ale with friends to warm up from the wind.
my reuben was both lunch and dinner, and magically delicious.
me and my girl stayed downtown for church, which we attended in all our green regalia and it was a good thing too because although we remembered to spring ahead, i inadvertently turned off my alarm.
miss bit didn't wake me up until 10:15, which is exactly when class starts.
we had just enough time for a hike before we had to pick up the boys at the airport.
it was a beautiful 67 degree day with zero wind.
forget spring here...apparently, we're skipping straight to summer.
the boys came home with sunburn, stories and videos to share.
we all enjoyed the patio and our first grilled meal of the season.
hubby cooks up a mean flank steak.
it was early to bed for the fam.
the boys were actually grateful that they lost 2 hours (1 due to travel and 1 due to daylight savings) because that meant bedtime was sooner rather than later.
miss bit is fighting sleep...sad because she has to sleep alone instead of beside me as she has for several nights.
it's sweet just not at 9:30 on a sunday night.
i have a feeling that tomorrow is going to come too soon at casa wags...hopefully the next weekend will too.

Scenes From The Weekend

(or "Oh bleep!" according to Miss Bit)

(When Irish eyes are smilin')

(St. Paddy's Day Parade 2012...Miss Bit now wants to take up Irish dancing and I aspire to be in next year's parade by taking up a seat on the Pedal Tavern.)

(A beautiful, muddy and crowded morning for a hike at the Audubon.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

They're Alive!

Albeit barely after skiing/snowboarding from sun-up to sundown. When Miss Bit saw this picture she said, "Oh, I guess T. Bone had chicken wings for dinner." That girl o' mine...she sure doesn't miss a beat. She is, however, missing her Daddy and yes...her brother too.



I took these last night. I couldn't keep my eyes off the moon...I kept feeling attracted to it...almost entranced, and certainly awed.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

  • My guys are skiing the slopes of Colorado right now. T. Bone was jazzed beyond jazzed to take this trip, and his Dad and Uncle were rather stoked as well.

  • A girl's weekend with Miss Bit. The plans are still tentative, but are rumored to involve a St. Paddy's Day parade, a movie, a hike and some arts and crafts.

  • A good deal of spontaneity in our lives lately. I'm a girl who likes a plan, but I am enjoying the freedom of a more come what may and why not kind of attitude.

  • My Dad gifted me a spa certificate even though it's not my birthday so that I can accompany the two birthday girls for a day of beauty.

  • Spying bluebirds in the park during my walk this week and hearing the endless chirp and chatter that is spring.

  • 17 straight days of exercise of at least some kind and duration. I have always known that I am a much happier person when I get moving, but this Lenten promise has surely proven it.

  • Another pan of baked oatmeal this week. This time I added nectarines, bananas and blueberries. It was even better than last week.

  • I finally broke down and got my hair done. I had been holding out for an aha moment, but I finally realized there wouldn't be one. Change is hard for me.

  • My girl is feeling back to herself. I got the call to come get her from school a little early Monday afternoon because she was feeling punky. As she cuddled up beside me on the couch, she apologized for making me have to leave work early. That's just exactly the kind of kind person she is.

  • Last week Miss Bit reminded me that we needed to start shopping for a First Communion Dress. I took the liberty of ordering one I had seen online, but I didn't really expect her to go for it because although it is a stunning ivory Dupioni silk number, it is rather plain by a 7 year old's standards. Plain to me means age appropriate and also elegant. I don't want my daughter to look like a grown-up bride in a beaded up, laced to the nines over-priced dress. I want her to look like the beautiful little girl she is. Well, it came this week. She stripped in the family room, tried it on immediately and fell in love with it straight away. It really is perfectly sweet and simple for her special day, and I got it for a song. I am grateful for that because I know my girl. She will beg to take the dress off and go out to play before the party has even started.

  • A Thursday night date with my girl....Shamrock shakes whipped up in our own blender sipped on while watching Little House on the Prairie. She was emotional after dropping the boys off at the airport. I tried to console her while I drove, but she asked me to please be quiet. "I'm trying to refresh my memory. My memory of Daddy," she said. Cue the awwww! That girl is sweeter than any shake.

  • Crosswords and Sudokus.

  • It was so springy a couple days this week that I was able to open up the patio door and let the cats enjoy the fresh air.

  • It was incredibly windy today so our block was quickly strewn with garbage waiting to be collected. Without being asked, Miss Bit set about picking up the trash this afternoon(our garbage and that of our 2 neighbors). When I thanked her she said, "It's no big deal Mom. I wanted to."

Monday, March 5, 2012

On My Mind Monday

We are in the grip of some big machine grinding us along. The force of it simplifies everything. A weird calm has settled over me from the inside out. What is about to happen to us has stood in line to happen. All the roads out of that instant have been closed, one by one.

The Liar's Club
Mary Karr

I've been thinking about fate, kismet, lot in life. About the relationship between destiny and free will. Certainly every action has a reaction, and each single choice many consequences. To concede that it is out of our control seems to me a cop out...but one I'm not above giving into from time to time when I tire of the hard work it takes to be better. Yet this quote is spoken by the 7 or 8 year old Mary Karr. She's just a child. Our children cannot control the fallout from any decision or indecision we as parents make or choose not to make. In many ways they are just along for the ride and it is up to us to make certain that they survive it, enjoy it and learn something from it to use when they are steering their own courses one inevitable day sure to come all too soon.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2 day pass

we kicked off the weekend early.
the end of the second trimester granted t. bone and miss bit a welcome day and a half reprieve so i happily adjusted my work schedule as well.
miss bit and i enjoyed an afternoon of shopping while t. bone played hoops with his friends.
our first stop was a nearby pet store of all pet stores, which always brings a smile to my girl's face.
i smiled because she didn't lament over not being able to adopt the litter of baby degus, the adorable pygmy bunnies or the brother/ sister kitten team.

after we visited all the critters, we headed to the mall.
something for her (tennis shoes), something for me (sweater) and something for the both of us (decadent chocolate brownie almost split in half) later and we were on our way home.
it was breakfast for dinner followed by a rather entertaining variety show starring two silly contestants: miss bit and t. bone.
friday we went out for breakfast: pancakes with syrup for him and with chocolate chips and whipped cream for her.
i ordered an omelet which was a big mistake seeing as how we were eating at a restaurant with the word pancake in the name...that was a big clue...a glaring giveaway.
luckily i was able to sneak a few bites from their plates, but they both made it clear that the bacon was off limits.
good thing too since it was no meat friday, but mama sure did want to try a taste of $1.25 per slice pig fat.
after our meal, we zig zagged down the street and then across town in route to the bread shop, card store, bank and market and it was just fun to spend the day together making stops here and there all the while chatting with clerks, customers and one another.
i dare say even t. bone found our time together enjoyable and not just because i was in a yes mood at the grocery.
we made it home just as the snow was starting to fly.
hubby was soon behind us.
we two bundled up and went for a brisk, wet albeit beautiful walk in the wonderland.
along the way i decided that the kids had to get on their gear and go sledding since who knows when we'll see measurable snow again.
they concurred and then cheered upon realizing they had the hill all to themselves.
they raced up and then down the slope until day turned to night and they were cold, wet and craving hot cocoa.
we called it a an adventure (or a nap) with taco/movie night.

t. bone was up and out early for hoops.
poor miss bit was a tad on the down and out.
i got busy in the kitchen making birthday pies for our february girls.
banana cream for grandma and grasshoppper for aunt a.
my girl was hoping she'd feel up to a piece later in the day and i was hoping that the 4 miles jess and i logged would make my piece(s) guilt-free...wishful thinking.
nelly it was cold, but also good...good as in exhilarating.
family came, pizza was ordered, chianti poured, stories told, laughs shared, presents opened, wishes made and hopefully soon to come true for both the deserving birthday girls.

sunday we woke up to the lightest, prettiest flurries floating through the air.
thanks to slightly sick roads we were late for church, but luckily found seats in the choir loft, which is quickly growing on me.
both kids had reconciliation.
miss bit was nervous for her first confession and i'm pretty certain she need not have been.
she told me she was anxious and excited to feel "all clean."
hubby and i walked a few blocks for a coffee.
once home we had just enough time to polish off the leftover pizza before friends arrived to make the trek northwest to enjoy what could be the last blast of winter.
we dropped t. bone and his buddy off for an afternoon of snowboarding and then enjoyed tubing on an adjacent hill with a pair of our mother/daughter friends.
it was fast, fun, freezing in that order.
the snowflakes danced around us all day warming my heart.
we stopped for a quick bite to eat before heading home.
all the kids opted for shamrock shakes instead of hot cocoas.

and at the end of it as i sit utterly exhausted on my couch, i am left wondering how a long weekend can quite possibly be so short.