Monday, September 24, 2012

On My Mind Monday

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Today is my Mom's birthday.  She would be 64.  The day is going better than I was bracing for.  Isn't that always the case.  When you're ready for the world to feel heavy, suddenly there is relief.  I'm trying to laugh when I realize things aren't going the way I planned.  And I'm doing so without much effort.  This morning I woke early to put the banana bread in the oven since my kiddos like it piping hot and fresh.  I ended up turning the lower oven on and then placing the bread in the upper oven before sneaking back up to bed.   I was expecting to be roused by the smell of sweet goodness.  When that didn't happen, I figured banana bread can be today's after school snack.

Coach left me such a sweet card this morning.  Brought tears to my eyes.  Good tears.

I am attending mass with many friends who happen to be co-workers at lunch today.  Our friend (mine and my Mom's) remembers to remember her this way this day each year.  It makes me smile through my tears and have joy in my sorrow.

Not one, but two hummingbirds this week.

Compliments on my well-mannered girl.  Both of our waitresses praised her behavior last Saturday at dinner.  She was the only child in the company of adults, but she immensely enjoyed herself and almost willingly shared some of her mozarella marinara with the rest of the table.

T. Bone is working hard and getting all As.  He is bruised from head to toe thanks to football, but he loves it.  He loves it so much that he is not at all happy to miss two games while we are on vacation.

A heart to heart with my dad this weekend.  It's one of the nicest chats we've had in a long time.  He turned 65 this week.  Happy Birthday dad!  We're looking forward to a Door County celebration in November.

Door County in November.  It's all but desserted and that's the way I like it most best.

Today is cloudy.  It's starting to rain.  I need that today.

Sun spots.

She's only 8!  Even though she sometimes dreams of being more grown-up,  I think she knows and loves the fact that she will always be my little girl.  And she will never drive...just sayin'.

Leftover pizza.  Now that is a serious slice.

Eggplant Parmesan. I had to do something with the two beautiful purple fruits that ended up in my basket at the farm stand last weekend. I'll never understand what compelled me to stock up on so much fresh produce right before vacation.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall.  It is my favorite season.  October is my best month.  If I could have a year of Octobers I'd be forever grateful.  Since I only get 31 days, I'll be sure to make the most of them...each and every.

A new cardy.  I'm wearing it today.  I got it for $11.62 on clearance at Target.  This cardy queen loves a new sweater.  I also scored 2 pairs of my favorite yoga pants for $15.42 each!!!  I felt like I won the lottery since I need petites and they never have shorts and they are never on sale.

This morning I noticed that our maple tree is turning orange.  Miss Bit was abuzz about the changing colors up and down along the river.  I love when she not only sees what I see, but also gets excited by it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I can't believe I'm going to admit to this, but here it goes: I am looking forward to coming home from vacation, from the very vacation we have yet to embark on, so that I can cozy in at home and live my boring, predictable, comfortable little life.  I am sorry to say that I am in denial that we are actually leaving.  I am not behaving like someone who is soon to hit the road.  I've got a list a mile long and do you know what I just did?  I baked a batch of cherry pie muffins - a task that was not on my long list.  But it sure smells good in here.  So good, I feel even less like leaving.  And so it goes.

It makes little sense and then it makes all the sense in the world.  We are closing in on the one week that leaves me feeling upended year after year.  It's not something I can run away from no matter how fast or far I travel.  I know that grief is destined to be my companion on this trip.  For the most part, I even welcome it.  The strong sense of loss I sit beside reminds me of the gifts that were mine.  They are mine.  Treasures.  I know this,  but I am riding this raging wave of grief right now that makes it harder to embrace, and more challenging to remain sure footed and standing upright.  I feel like I am caught in the undertow, gasping for a breath...on the verge of drowning.  Yet when I close my eyes, I picture, not my lungs filling up with water, but me the swimmer proceeding parallel to the shore.  I don't panic. There is no sense in fighting the riptide.  I plod along sideways to the safety of the shore accepting Mother Nature and fate.  I am buoyed up by the knowledge that the tides will turn soon.  I trust that as long as I can see the shore, I will feel the solid warmth of the sand before long.  Just keep swimming I tell myself.  Keep your head above water is what I say, and for the love of God... Breathe.  


Sunday, September 16, 2012

2 day pass

it was a weekend that ran the gamut.
it was warm and then cool.
cold and then hot.
i was warm and fuzzy and then out of sorts.
lots of emotions are coming into play this season.
i feel the weight of them.
it's been hard.
but there are always bright spots.
joy moments show themselves even when least expected.
and the usual suspects are almost always present when they do.
for this i am ever grateful.
we ushered in the weekend at a local pizza joint.
it was almost empty so the kids got to belly up close to the counter and watch the magic of a ball of dough becoming a perfect crust.
i was astounded at how quickly they put a dent in the piping hot pie.
and also how much lighter my wallet was after they raided it for quarters.
each 25 cent game of pinball won them a bouncy ball.
it truly is the little things when you are 8, 10 or 11.

t. bone suited up saturday.
it was the perfect day for football.
and also a trip to the farm stand.
the boys came home with a loss.

we girls came home with fresh produce aplenty.
we passed on pumpkins for now, but it took willpower.
i am feeling that strong pull to desummer.
it must wait until we return from our last hooray at the beach.
i will flip the switch only after our vacation. 

t. bone headed to laser tag with friends for a birthday celebration.
coach enjoyed elvis costello in concert with a friend.
me and my girl gussied up to rendezvous with family.

we stopped to see uncle v. for a short visit.
we found him out in his garden.
he's looking good and feeling ok. 

then we went to our favorite italian restaurant for dinner since aunt c. was in town.
we snapped these photos of bit's mozzarella marinara to taunt her brother, but believe me when i say that the real show stoppers were the eggplant, the spedini and the straw and hay.  Mmmm the straw and hay.

the visit with aunt c. was short too.
she is also looking good and feeling ok.
short and ok.
those are the facts that are giving me pause.

i came home and was the first to go to bed.
i was emotionally exhausted and in carb coma.
the kids were soon to join me.
after 9 hours i woke with a clearer head and heart.
also a quiet house, which is always a special sunday morning treat.
these muffins were a tasty indulgence. 

even tigger thought so.
sorry if you eat at my table.

it was a day set aside for chores.
for shoulds instead of coulds.
coach cut and scrubbed.
i cooked and cleaned.
the kids played with friends.
 the end.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good Riddance

I'm not at all sad to say goodbye to this day.
At 3:00 I woke up looking like botox gone badder than bad.
My lips and tongue were so swollen I couldn't even speak.
T. Bone almost cried when he saw me, and Miss Bit laughed.
That was role reversal if I've ever seen it.
I went from the doctor's office to the ER.
I refused the ambulance they (doctor, nurse, PA) tried to insist I needed.
They feared anaphylactic shock and liability.
I feared over reaction and big bills.
I ended up on another kind of nasty drug protocol and with a few more answers.
I also got to stop for paninis with Coach in the middle of the rainy afternoon.
He was so good to me...there for me.
I am now the owner of an expensive epipen I hope to never need.
I couldn't help napping through my pick up duties.
And then I woke up raring to go.
Steroids are some strange and serious stuff.
Spare me their evils because right now I have no choice and I need them.
I will be scheduling an energy healing session sooner rather than later because I cannot shake the feeling that I am vulnerable this sad month of September.
Energy and stress and samskaras deserve my attention.
Miss Bit is weepy too.
I almost couldn't beat down her fears as she came to me tonight worried about what ifs just after bed.
What if there is no Heaven she worried tonight.
I told her I don't know for certain, and yet I just know.
 I believe in God and angels and the eternity of our souls.
She believes to.
Belief is all we've got I told her, and that is good enough for me.
Her too, thankfully.
Do good, be your best, be real, do what you can and should, I think is the recipe for here, now and ever after.
She headed back up to bed with nary a peep.
I am ready too for the veil of semi consciousness.
These are the only pictures I've taken this week.
You can see where my mind is at.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On My Mind Monday

I started Wild last night.  I wasn't sure this was a good time to start a memoir I knew would thaw so many carefully preserved emotions.  September has become a season of sorrow for me as it marks both my Mom's birthday and her Heaven day.  She would be celebrating 64.  We said goodbye 4 years ago.  I've been carrying the book around, leaving it on the car seat, next to my favorite reading spot and in my purse just in case.  I finally realized that reading this memoir isn't going to make me any sadder than my reality as these milestones come around again.  So I relented that there is no good reason to resist this story I have been anxiously anticipating. I rationalized that, perhaps, there is good reason...kismet, fate...that this book is coming to me now so much sooner than I expected.

I was certain I was going to like this book after the prologue and I was in tears by page 2 of  chapter 1.  There was no one particular quote that resonated with me...all Strayed's words tugged at my heart and had me shaking my head affirmatively.  I had the strange sense that in so many respects I could have been the author of this story.  My Mom didn't leave us as quickly and I was lucky to be holding her hand when she did go, yet unfortunately there are many similarities in our experiences.  The outcome and the aftermath are so much the same and, of course, that is what we are left with.

The tears I am shedding are cathartic.  I know better than most that a good cry can be cleansing.  Last night I slept fast and hard.  Today I will read on, and I will remember my Mom and also the victims of 9/11.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2 day pass

it felt so much like fall this weekend.
the mornings and evenings were crisp and cool.
in the middle of day sun it was definitely still summer.
this is the one time each year i don't mind being betwixt and between.
i spent most of the weekend at home reading, puttering, laundering, relaxing.
so it was good to get out for t. bone's first football game of the season.
it was a no score, but the knights looked strong.
sorry to say i cannot say the same of our badgers or packers.
#15 played the whole game except a couple plays.
he was bruised and sore and hungry.
especially since he went straight from his football game to basketball tryouts.
i had all the time and none of the inspiration to plan and prepare a feast saturday night.
everyone was agreeable to my suggestion that we go out for pizza.
i pretended we needed to carb load for the 5k walk we were doing sunday morning.
well, most of the 200 attendees walked except for a handful including t. bone.
he ran...or more like sprinted and then sat in the shade cheering the rest of us on.
miss bit spent her free time with our neighbor and #1 bff at present.
the girls cannot stand to be apart for long and it is so sweet.
she also went frogging with coach.
they didn't catch any, but that didn't seem to matter.
t. bone spent almost the whole of the weekend with his friend save a few short hours of sleep.
they're together so much that he's like part of the family when he's here and i jokingly refer to t. bone as their 4th son.
last night we sat around the table finally just the four of us and enjoyed a family dinner.
inspired it wasn't quite exactly, but it was tasty.
coach couldn't have grilled the pork tenderloin any better, and both kids sopped up the balsamic marinade.
i'm getting closer to a ranch dressing i want to make again.
as sunday night sets in, the countdown is on for florida.
as we gear up not so gracefully for the second week of school, we close our eyes and dream of being beach bound, barefoot and sun kissed once again so soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Striated Sky

Last night's stunning striated sky.

After I finished blogging last night, I went out to take this picture, which shares only half the beauty I saw, and then I finished A Writing Life just as the gang got home.

It was a good night and today is going to be a good day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The cool, grey, gloomy day.  I came home from work, and cuddled up in bed with a book.  One cat was beside me and the other at my feet.  I got halfway through Ellen Gilchrist's The Writing Life and then I was lulled to sleep by the rain.  Both kids had friends over and the phone rang nonstop, yet still I slept.  Before I dozed off, I dogeared at least a dozen pages and no I don't own the book...yet.  I will order it as soon as I'm done here.

Now my house is quiet and I am awake.  The whole clan went to cheer on our high school football team.  It stopped raining, but they took umbrellas just in case.  I am sitting here enjoying the solitude and a cup of coffee.

These Gilchrist tidbits tonight:
Write what you know.  Show, don't tell.  Writing is rewriting.  Don't use modifiers unless they are very special and are earning their way.  Question every adjective and question adverbs twice or three or four times.  All of those things are probably true most of the time for every writer.  A writer who is writing at white heat with the muse at his shoulder doesn't need any rules.  All he needs to do is be a good typist.

I picked up The Wild  from the library yesterday.  At the beginning of the summer, I was 142 of 146 holds so I didn't expect it until 2013.  It was a pleasant surprise.  I'm stagnating with Virgin Time.  I think I should probably buy it so I can read it when I'm in the contemplative mood and want something heavier. 

The sky is the foreboding yellow of an ugly bruise right now.  The grass is greener and more plush than it's been all summer.  I wish I could capture the eerie contrast.

Instagram.  I'm a newbie, but I'm digging it.  I have to remember to take pictures with my phone.  I'm so used to reaching for my camera.

We survived the first week back to school.  For a short week, it sure lingered.

T. Bone's homework last night was to name 3 people he'd invite for dinner and why.  He chose:
1) Katniss Everdeen because she could share survival skills and entertaining stories.
2)  Forrest Gump, his favorite movie character...funny and kind, who could teach him to shrimp.
3)  Jackie Robinson because he changed the game of baseball and how T. Bone loves baseball.  
This dinner of moz marinara, pizza and chocolate bread pudding would take place on the beach in Bermuda hence the survival skills and shrimping.  

I also love that his favorite word is gooey.

I have love for so many words such as foofaraw, quasi, declasse, resonate, usurp, aesthetic, jimjams, quirky, faux pas, blasphemy, organic, hedonistic and palpable to name a few. 

Miss Bit bounced out of bed this morning like she was Gabby Douglas, and joyfully exclaimed, "It's Friday!"   I gave her a perfect score.  I wonder when I'll see that again?

Fristers.  Miss Bit fancies Miss O. not just a friend, but a big sister.

Saying  yes to a swim with Miss Bit this week.  I do believe our days are numbered for swimming in the lake.

Now the sky is striated pink and blue.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The other night while Miss Bit and I were cuddling in my bed reading, she broke the silence.  She said, "Mom, I hope you can live for as long as you can.  I want you to live longer than any other person ever has." I was at a loss for words as I fought the tears and choked on my response.  My response: a hug.  The words just never came.  Her very words cut straight to and through my core.  They were sweet, but also sharp because I finally had to face the truth.  Two truths really.  The first truth is that this is what keeps her awake at night.  The fear of death...of losing people she haunts my young old-souled girl.  And the second truth is even more startling.  I share her fears, and I also know they are not unfounded.  There is nothing more painful than losing someone pivotal in your life.  It doesn't matter if they are parent, spouse, child, sibling, or  friend.  Losing someone who holds a special place leaves a hole you can never plug or fill.  I don't want my children to ever have to feel that sort of pain, yet I know that they will.  They have to.  It is part of life.  It's the hardest, harshest part.  I know because it's happened to me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day is Done

Both T. Bone and Miss Bit reported that they had good first days.  He was happy to not have homework and that he took cold lunch.  It's only his second year of middle school, yet he astutely anticipated cafe lines would be long as fellow students struggled to remember lunch account numbers.  He chilled on the couch until football practice with a slice of his favorite pizza.  She was most pleased to meet up with all her favorite girls on the playground since they are separated in different classrooms this year, and also to get home to rendezvous with her neighborhood BFF. I promised her a trip to the beach in a moment of desperation the night before.  It was an incentive to help her get through the day wearing a smile.  It worked and she cashed in as soon as A. left for soccer practice. 

In true end of day fashion, I would rather have taken a pass.  Of course, I absolutely knew that wasn't an option.  A promise is a promise.  My girl was abuzz the whole way to the lake, but what we saw when we greeted the great expanse filled us both with quiet awe.  Do you see what we saw?  In the sky above and before us was an airy angel.  Her hands were gathered in reverent prayer as she took flight her wings aflutter in the gentle wind..

As the clouds shifted in the evening sky, the angel morphed into a dove.  On that, you'll have to take my word.  I was head deep in the refreshing water without my phone to capture an image, but I was where I should have been.  I was living the moment, not capturing it.  I was immersed in the lake, in life, not watching from the shore or the sidelines. It's not lost on me that the dove symbolizes the holy spirit, peace and tranquility...and love.  It wasn't a stretch to see how any one all of...these attributes spoke to the moment, or held quiet meaning for the day.  It's true I am a bit of a sucker for signs, but it seems foolish not to acknowledge them when they are so blatant to be beheld.  Look and you shall see.  The Bible tells us: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  Matthew 7:7  

My girl...she is a seeker.  She sees what I see.  We share a search.  A search for simple joy in our surroundings.  We worship in church some days, but everyday in the natural beauty that surrounds us.  I am never as pious as when I take in the sights and sounds of His creations.  As we bounded up the path energized and restored, Miss Bit paused to capture one last look.  It was a sight, and this snapshot does not do justice to the way the horizon melted into the water as if they were one in the same.  You cannot see how the azure edge of the sky blended to include petal pink and the lightest of lavenders.  You have to see the almost startling juxtaposition of the ethereal clouds and the stark white seagulls in flight with your own two eyes.

When I opened my book to read before bed, this passage was on the first page:

Pondering was a special kind of thinking.  It was not done in the mind, that chilly place, but in the heart, where the real mystery of intelligence - intuition rather than thought - lay catlike and feminine, ready to pounce.  Life was a scurrying mouse, amusing in its way but ultimately helpless before the fixed bead of the contemplative gaze.

(Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life, Patricia Hampl)

These few words struck me like a bolt of lightning that was flashing through last night's suddenly squall filled sky.  To feel is to know.  I ponder, therefore I am.  If I don't see, I'm not really living fully.  It's true the day was done and what I took away from it allowed me to sleep soundly straight through the stormy night.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another Year Round The School Sun

Last night was rough despite our careful considerations.  We ate before dark, consumed no caffeine, skipped a surgary dessert and left the bbq exactly when we planned.  They showered before bed, picked out clothes, packed back packs, and were tucked in not early, but at a reasonable hour.  You know what is said of best laid plans.  Shortly after I sat down to breathe my own sigh of relief blog, I was visited by T. Bone and then Miss Bit.  He was simply sad that summer was over.  To that I simply said...I get it.  She was a bundle of nerves about not getting enough sleep and not making friends.  To that I reminded her that she is the nicest, kindest 8 year old  I know, and although I'm incredibly biased I am not the only person who knows this to be unequivocally true.  My tactics were falling on ears that were not listening...not able to hear really.  The easy solution was 10 minutes of  Turtle Man.  That's all it took.  Well,  10 minutes of  T.V. and my pledge to tuck T. Bone back in and then to sleep on the air mattress beside my girl.  I didn't get much sleep, but she did and that is really all that matters.  Let me tell you a secret....I'll do it again tonight if it helps her during this transition. And I may even do it the next night too if it's what she needs to feel safe and secure.  Change is hard...this I know first hand.

So although the night was rough, the morning was a breeze.  I was woken by a cheerful T. Bone who was singing in the bathroom.  Change is not as daunting for him.  He grieved the end of vacation last night, and woke up ready to see his friends and start sixth grade this morning.  Just like that he went from sad to stoked.  He gobbled down the donut he requested anticipating a need for sugar with sides of strawberries and scrambled eggs.  He obliged my request for a first day photo with nary a complaint and said I love you before getting in Coach's car.  That's my boy.     

Miss Bit hit her snooze once before finding me on my second cup of jet fuel coffee.  She was sporting a slight smile which told me that her excitement was winning out over her fear.  After everything she had to do was done,  I agreed to paint her nails beach blue.  She too posed for our annual first day picture relaxed, ready, almost relieved that it was finally here...the first of many firsts.  I dropped her off, confirmed that she didn't need me to walk her to the door, kissed her goodbye and made sure to wait for her to look for my parting wave.  Same as last year, and yet another year round the sun.

It seems impossible that I have a third grader and a sixth grader.  Sorry for the cliche, but it's so humbly true. They grow up in what often feels like the blink of an eye.  It's why I come here to write.  In this space, I write to remember.  My ultimate fear is not that they are growing up- growing up into wonderful, beautiful people I might add- but that I might miss something.  To write is to capture the moments we seize.  This record is my celebration of our journey around the block...around the sun...from morning to night...all the way through this blessed life.

Monday, September 3, 2012

2 day pass

the last weekend of summer vacation delivered many highlights but i am sad to say it did not last long enough.
yet we managed to eke out the moments of the last days of unbridled freedom.
we embraced spontaneity and let come what may in between the few to dos inked on the calendar.
the common thread woven throughout was much precious time with family and with friends...
some who we do not see often enough.
there were football games, victory celebrations, draft parties, spur of the moment sleepovers, much anticipated tee times, leisurely lady's lunches, zoofaris, brisk hot walks, chill patio nights, last minute bbqs and long awaited play dates with a bff who has been on vacation.
we filled up on french macaroons, root beer floats, cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine, bright sweet corn on the cob, juicy steaks, and juicier burgers.
we enjoyed games of twister, dance competitions, and bike rides.
much good conversation was exchanged, and many connections shared.
i can say that it was quite a send-off...
the grand finale of many gloriously grand days and nights.
it was a summer vacation to never forget and this weekend will be the last lingering reminder.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Scenes From The Weekend...So Far

 Bike race...Bit wins!  Must be that fancy, smancy new bike.  And yes, now she needs a fancy new helmet too.

 We welcome the weekend on the patio...

And the bolder, braver among us on the trampoline.

First Badger game of the season for my boys...the day couldn't have any more perfect for football.

Lunch with the ladies started with a meal in a glass.

 The waitress wasn't kidding when she said that this salad required work  I am so getting the wrap next time..

 The best part was getting to spend time with my Aunt and cousin...and no they did not spend all our time together on their phones.  My cousin was setting us up on Instagram.

 We stopped at the French pastry counter and we did not just window shop.

  Our next stop was the zoo.  It kinda makes me blue.

 The zookeeper told us that these two skype on an I Pad with relatives and friends in other zoos.  That is not is sad.

  Mahal is always entertaining.  He was giving us raspberries...I would too.

 I'm totally fine with jelly fish in captivity.

 Cousin Gi Gi is growing up and as beautiful as ever.  So is Miss Bit.

 Just look at that smile!

 Just had to share this one too.

 Bear candid.

 Striking a pose.

 Looking for frogs...always, everywhere. 

 One week old alpaca.  Awwww!

After the zoo, we stopped to see my Uncle and visit while we helped him in his garden.

 Miss Bit picking peppers.

Our share of the harvest.

So far it's been full and good, or good and full.  And behold...there's more still to come.