Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dear Firstborn Son,

Fourteen years ago to the hour, Dad and I were on our way to the hospital in the midst of a snowstorm excited and a little scared to welcome you.  Excited because we already loved you so.  Scared for the very same reason.  Parenting is a colossal responsibility and an even bigger privilege.  Being a mom is both the most difficult and most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Difficult because I never want to make a mistake.  Rewarding because you love me even when I do.

We'd read all the books and prepared the nursery in the months before your arrival.  Family members stocked our fridge with Christmas leftovers in the days before, and Dad just finished installing our satellite dish a few hours before my water broke on the 26th.  We called Dr. Trebian because that's what they told us to do in birthing class. She told us she'd see us at the hospital and to drive safely.  We did.

We arrived a little after midnight.  Nanny beat us to the hospital and was waiting for us when we arrived.  I didn't quite understand exactly how eager she was at the time, but now I apologize in advance to you that I may do the same thing one day.  My labor was textbook and easy just like my pregnancy.  I got my epidural, relaxed for a few hours and then pushed when the doctor told me to. 

And then you were born on the cold, snowy December morning.  I loved you more than I could fathom in the very moment that I held you and looked into your eyes.  You stopped crying and looked back at me.  It was but an instant, but time stood still.  You were mine.  I was yours.  In that moment, I realized what no doctor, book or grandparent could convey.  I realized what an incredible gift it is to be a be your mother.  Teddy you were the last and best gift of Christmas 2000.  I have cherished being your mom every day since that first.

It seems like yesterday that you were born and now here you are fourteen and in your last year of middle school.  There are so many firsts in your bright future.  Growing up is exciting and hard, but you sure make it look easy for the moment.  You're a natural at life and we are so proud of you. You are an exceptional young man.  Just know that the promise I made to you in the moments after your birth December 27, 2000...the promise to love, protect and celebrate you always...well, that promise will always be true.

I love you T. Bone.  Happy Birthday!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The abundant blessings of Christmas.  It has been a festive few days filled with so much goodness.   I love it all: the traditions and rituals, the time with family and friends, the giving and receiving, the carols and cookies and the church service that always puts me in the best spirit.  Here are just a handful of the brightest joy moments.

1. We had to wake them on Christmas morning.  It wasn't easy as Christmas Eve was long and lingering in the way that all the best nights of the year ought to be. Despite the fulfilled wish lists from the night before, they had more presents to receive and were made even happier as if that were possible.

2. Christmas is for cats too.  The boys loved everything, but especially the ribbons, boxes and sleds.

3. Miss Bit patiently waiting to open presents (if you can call that expression and stance patient).  You should have seen her after presents when she wanted to get home before Santa.

4. Cookies for Santa.  Even T. Bone helped do a little decorating again this year.  Lily is my side kick in the kitchen, but it is nice when he too joins in on the fun.

5. We fancied up a half batch of gingerbread because we are working with a small interim oven.  Still we ended up with dozens of Rudolphs, doves and candy canes.  A few red squirrels too...don't judge.  It's one of our unique traditions.  I pared down the cookie list this year, but we still made about ten batches and 5 different varieties. 

6. I wasn't sure Fred would be back this year.  The kids are growing up, but then Lily reminded me with a twinkle in her eye that he usually arrives with St. Nick.  Lo and behold she was right.

7. My Nanny tree.  I love having this bright shining reminder of my mom.  I managed to not feel too sorry for myself until late on Christmas night when Coach and I watched The Family Stone.  I laughed and I cried and then I slept the sleep of the dead.

8. Another tradition: the annual Li Bien ornaments.  My mom started buying them for Teddy and Lily when they were born, and I carry it on as I know she would want me to.

9. Christmas morning with just my four.  My six really.  We get coffee or cocoa with lots of whipped cream,  turn up the carols and take our time opening our gifts.  It doesn't have to be much.  It just has to be right. 

10. After opening gifts, T. Bone confessed that he couldn't think of one more thing he wants or needs for his birthday.  His birthday is in a few hours.  He is fortunate.  He both knows and appreciates this.

11. It was a tacky Christmas Eve.  The guys all got into the theme.  I'm pretty sure I gave my dad the ugly sweater he's wearing.  I'm pretty sure I gave it to him in the 80s.

12. The girls.  Lily is actually wearing the vest my mom wore every Christmas Eve.  That made me smile with my heart.  I knew I saved it for good reason and although it wasn't tacky, she donned plenty of accessories to ensure she fit the theme.

13. Christmas Eve mass is not the most convenient, but it is the most beautiful.  I love it more than any other and especially when Father Tim is presiding.  The take away from his homily this year was stand up, make peace and give love.  When he rhetorically asked the congregation if we didn't agree that the world would be a much better place if we reacted with love and hugs instead of anger, the three year old in the front pew loudly answered, NO!  The whole church cut up as Father went straight to the alter and got down on his knees to pray.  He's part comedian part spiritual leader and we all love him for the lightness he brings to the levity.

14.  A horsey Christmas for my equine loving little lady.

15.  A sporty Christmas for our resident all American.  His bases were covered: baseball, football, golf and skiing.

16. This guy headed back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas night.  I was ready.

17. Ugly sweater selfwies.  I regretted not buying the selfie stick for someone.

18. Tigger should have enough cat nip to last until 2016.

19. Coach made the Christmas morning cinnamon buns, and they were the best!  He made the traditional Polish sausage too.  I am so passing the baton on this one.

20.  Christmas treats like candied cranberries and other seasonal goodies not pictured but also often consumed like Tom and Jerrys, homemade Irish cream, peppermint bark and fairy food.

21. These gingerbread cakes were not easy, but they were worth it.  They tasted as good as they looked.  I went to put them in the oven at midnight on Christmas Eve Eve only to realize that my muffin pan didn't fit in my new Easy Bake oven. I don't know what I was thinking to take on dessert this year.  At least I didn't have to bake the panna cotta.

22. The most longed for gift of Christmas 2014, and the very last one she opened.  She handled it well though and resigned herself to asking for it for her birthday if need be, but Grandma and Grandpa Wags came through.  Her birthday is in August btw!

23. Cousin GiGi put together a touching video that we laughed and cried through after Christmas Eve dinner.  It was such a thoughtful gift and one we all needed.  Ugly sweater snark and holiday cheer aside, it's good to get a little touchy feely during the holidays.

24. Tigger is counting the days until the Epiphany.  That's when the tree can come down and the bench he sits on 12 hours a day gets moved back.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

two day pass

it was a weekend of finishing touches, firsts and lasts.
the kids had their last day of school and are now on vacation for 2 weeks.
they are off for 14 whole days!
miss bit had her last riding lesson friday night.
she cantered without a lead for the first time.
she was first nervous and last elated.
we bought the last gift and i wrapped the first one.
i made the first batch of irish cream and mixed the last batch of gingerbread.
although if i'm to be completely honest, i'm pretty sure more cookies will be coming.
and a few last minute gifts as well.
we watched the christmas story for the first time and celebrated the last sunday of advent, which fell humbly on the winter solstice...the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year.
we hummed silent night for the first time this season, or rather we wooo woooed it.
there is a beautiful difference between hmmmm hmmming and wooo wooing.
i got chills and a tear or two in the middle of the song.
we surprised the kids with tickets to see varakei.
at first only lily was over the moon, but in the end even our resident teenager was impressed.
it was quite an amazing and beautiful show.
funny too and not as dark as so many of the stories.
of the five cirques i have seen, this one ranks second only to mystere.
after the show we made our way up brewers hill to have dinner at the jackson blue ribbon.
it was t. bone's choice and a good one.
coach says they have the best wings in the city, and ted is rather fond of their pizza and shuffle board.
i regretted splitting the grilled pork chop sandwich with mike only because i wanted the other half for lunch the next day.
after holiday lights tour around the neighborhood, lily and i curled up in bed and started the sound of music.
i drifted off in the middle of my favorite things, which is to say not long after the show started.
this last weekend before Christmas was a good one.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

My buddy.  It's a vanilla almond cappuccino number that I am happy to be friendly with.
Lily's and packed with a decade's worth of St. Nick and Aunt Jess ornaments. 
The 18 year balsamic we picked up last weekend.  It's so good that even Lily switched from her beloved ranch to oil and vinegar.

Holiday classics like The Family Stone and A Christmas Story all lined up for the weekend ahead.

A weekend that will mostly be devoted to wrapping and relaxing before the festivities begin.  And perhaps the consumption of a hot toddy or two.

Cake for breakfast.  Cake for breakfast with lots of whipped cream and a few berries.  Smiles from happy kids.

Miss Bit reading all my favorite children's Christmas books out loud to me before I tuck her in at night.  That we are never too old to enjoy these classics from childhood.

I made a few batches of cookies this week.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas until I bring out my tattered Electric Company cookbook and get busy with dough.  It's the same cookbook my brother and I used when we first started baking  probably when I was my daughter's age.  It's so special to me that now she and I bake together.

A meeting tomorrow with a kitchen designer.  It's the first scary and exciting step in what I know will be a long remodeling road.

Harney and Sons cinnamon tea.

I don't have to make lunches or shag kids off to bed for the next two weeks.  Coach doesn't have to rouse sleepy heads, supervise homework or go to work for that matter.

A change in routine.  It is a good thing and we are all ready for it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

On My Mind Monday

  It contained some of my personal favorites such as:

 And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden 
How wild it was, to let it be.
-Cheryl Strayed, Wild 

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.
-Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

I would also add: 

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.
-Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God 
I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.
-Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird 
Grief does not change reveals you.
-John Green, The Fault in our Stars 
So this is reality, I thought.  It's hot and bare and permanent, it's broken and chipped and huge, it will last forever, even if it ruins, it will make you speechless.
-Susanna Kaysen, Cambridge 

Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I've only found sorrow.
-Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

 A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.
-Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

And I could go on and on because I love words and the feelings they convey when they are soulfully strung together, but I won't.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

two day pass

this weekend was...

friday on the farm.
our second to last until spring.
she rode with confidence even though admiral was testy and a little uncooperative on the cold, dark night.

dinner out with my brother and sil after riding.
i finally quenched my months long burger craving.
it didn't matter that they no longer make milky way pie 'cuz lily had no room after fried cheese curds, wings and chicken tenders.

up early on saturday to see teddy off for a day of skiing.
(after a night of skiing.)
lily and i ventured reluctantly to the mall to do her christmas shopping.
we were surprised to find parking easy and check out quick.
she rocked it and managed to pick out presents for all but one person on her list of 12.
she also found several things for herself.
i told her my no buying anything for myself in december rule.
she wasn't impressed, but she adhered.
we celebrated her shopping success over lunch at the food court.
why do kids so love this experience?

a chill saturday night at home.
the four of us played a game, and enjoyed dinner that coach planned, shopped for and prepared for us.
he stood outside in the damp cold grilling us ribs in the dark.
now that is love.
he had the flavor down and plans to perfect the technique.
we will happily be his guinea pigs.
we all lived and there were no leftovers.
after dinner, we watched remember the titans.
even teddy who can usually give or take a night at the movies unless it's james bond or such.
we all enjoyed it very much.
it was uncannily timely.

up early again on sunday for church.
it was the third sunday of advent known as gaudete sunday.
gaudete is latin for rejoice.
father tim acknowledged that things are difficult in this world right now and rejoicing is not always our first or most comfortable response.
but he reminded us that it is natural to feel joy and sorrow simultaneously.
it is what makes us human.
we sang o come emmanuel and i was definitely rejoicing.
while the kids attended sunday school, coach and i visited the public market.
i wanted to see the gingerbread houses on display.
they were the handiwork of students in the culinary arts department of a local college.
our favorite was the church complete with stained glass windows and pews inside.
miss bit and i have to up our game next year!
we scooped up the kids and headed to gloriosos to get some lunch.
muffulettas and pizza pies and pizza breads before homework and chores and errands and workouts.

company pot roast for sunday dinner.
the gravy for which is made of leeks, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cognac, stock, red wine, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper, and is so amazing that you want to eat it on everything especially if you are coach.
i had to take a nap after dinner and before finally finishing a secret history just in time for a new week.
(weeks start on monday in my world.)
i cannot say to you read this, but i'm not disappointed that i did so I cannot say don't.
i'll start something new tomorrow.
every day offers a fresh start.
isn't that the beauty of it all?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Keeping it real...This blog post.

Keeping it light...This Williams Sonoma snark!

Keeping it silly... this book.  Mike and I made a bit of a scene at Target laughing through it.

Wild is finally out.  I loved Strayed's novel for many reasons.  I'm hoping I love the movie just as much. I hope Reese does the part justice.

Children of character.  I am blessed because both of my kids are moral, honest and kind. I learned something this week that filled me with mama pride, but I've been sworn to secrecy and so I'll leave it at that.

Teachers who make a difference every day.

Stellar first semester report cards and the hard work that delivered them.

Gingerbread house decorating.  This was a first for me, but it was such fun that I see it becoming another annual holiday tradition.  Lily thought it was a blast too and I think we could have coerced Ted into joining us if we told him that was the only way he could sample the candy.

I took him out shopping this week to buy his gifts.  Shopping with him is an experience.  He really makes me laugh.  He so loves a good deal and will tell anyone and everyone when he gets one.  It's nice and rare to spend one on one with my busy teenager, but when I do, I am always happier for it.

Li Bien ornaments.  Each year my mom gave the kids one of these beauts and I have carried on the tradition so we have like 40.  No two are the same, and they all are special.  I buy myself the signature angel each year in memorium of her.  This year's angel is one of my favorites. My mom wasn't overly sentimental, but she definitely left her mark, and lives on in our hearts and on our tree.

T. Bone has two ski trips this weekend.  He has lots of energy so it's good for him (and us) to expel it.

Family night on the farm tonight,  My brother and sil are coming to watch Lily ride.  She's made much progress since they last saw her so I think they will be impressed.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Inventory

Reading I'm just about finished with A Secret History, Tartt's first novel. I started it at the beginning of November proving that sadly there hasn't been much time devoted to reading this month.

Wondering what to buy my dad and my brother.  They are always the two people I have the most trouble coming up with gift ideas for.

Noticing the phenomenon by which time moves faster as I age.  Intellectually I know that a minute is still a minute...a day is still a day, but emotionally time passage defies any rational thought or logic.

Watching Master Chef Jr., Top Chef and The Taste.  I gave up on Californication.  I felt like I needed to go to detox after each episode. We have tickets to Varekei later this month.  I think the kids will really enjoy it.  They've seen one other Cirque, but Lily was only 5 and she has no memory of the show.

Listening to all Christmas all the time.  My favorites are Sarah McClalan's Wintersong, Jack Johnson's A Christmas Song, Grover Washington Jr.'s Breath of Heaven, Natalie Cole's The Holly and the Berry, and O Come Emanuel sung by the church choir.

Eating comfort food lately and a new old recipe last night.  I've had Swedish meatballs on my mind.  I finally found a recipe that I liked.  They were delicious.  Lily, our resident carnivore and meatball aficionado, gave them a 10 out of 10, and Ted gave them a high 7.

Drinking the usual suspects and thinking of making a batch of Irish cream for the holidays seeing as how I will be forgoing most holiday baking this year.

Dreaming about a year of Decembers. 

Feeling everything, which is both good and bad.

Wanting to keep the focus on Christ and also to think of and do for the less fortunate and lonely.   It's a serious challenge in a culture so consumed with stuff.  We are enticed by the latest and the greatest when what we have is perfectly fine and enough.  The Millennials have an insatiable appetite for more, which is not as disturbing to me as is their expectation that it is their right to be given what they want when they want it.  And equally as unsettling is the way their parents, my generation, stuffs them with stuff without thinking about the consequences.

Wearing a pretty new to me pink scarf I had to have when I spotted it at the consignment shop, and lots of black and grey.

Hoping that 2015 is a year of action for me.  A year of growth too.  2014 felt stifling and a little bit sad.  I don't want a repeat of that.

Thinking that a walk would feel great today.  It's only in the 20s, but the paths are clear of ice and snow and I have lots of warm layers.

Enjoying the cats enjoying the Christmas tree.  This is them right now:

Loving peppermint bark and fairy food, a Frasier fir scented candle, a house and world awash in twinkly lights, advent season at church, and the joy and wonder of the holidays especially as experienced through the eyes of my children.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2 day pass

we woke to find st. nick visited in the night filling stockings and then some.
i guess the kids and the cats have been real good this year.
the best gift for the whole family was the cats' nano bug.
the boys are stalking it right now as it roams around the living room disappearing behind couches and under armoires.
t. bone spent most of the weekend at one ski hill or another, and was perfectly happy to do so.
miss bit was happy to hang out with mike and i.
we cheered her on in a swim championship saturday.
she was, however,  less than excited to see the back stroke as one of her events again.
lily did fine with it as we knew she would, and she rocked the breast stroke and free style.
her team was in the lead for the entire meet and then ended up in second place.
she was just thrilled to get a real medal.
lily and i trimmed the tree after catching up on masterchef jr.
she is learning the significance of each and every ornament, and i think loving them more for their story.
the oral tradition lives on at casa wags.
ted returned home in time for carryout from our favorite tacqueria and we settled in to watch the badgers.
miss bit and i only lasted for the first half before retreating upstairs to watch its a wonderful life.
i had never seen it.
well, i still haven't seen much of it as it put me to sleep.
i guess i'm more of a christmas story girl.
is that blasphemy? it feels like it.
we slept in sunday morning and almost missed church, which certainly would have been blasphemous.
while t. bone was at sunday school, the three of us went for hot drinks and bagels, and then we all celebrated the second sunday of advent at late church.
and also said special prayers for my grandma who went to heaven 7 years ago that day.
it seems impossible that it's been 7 years and also that christmas is in less than 3 weeks.
i know the days aren't shorter and the years aren't faster, but it sure feels like it.
lily and i stopped at a friend's holiday craft fair to do a little shopping.
miss bit picked out a few gifts for herself and for others too.
ala one for me one for you.
and then she won a door prize because she's the luckiest person I know.
also purest of heart and most deserving.
and then the phone rang to say she and coach both won prizes in the church raffle, which just reinforced her lucky streak.
coach made my salsa and our favorite dough for pizza.
the salsa tasted better than when i make it and the pizzas were more cumbersome down an oven, but just as delicious.
my brother and sil stopped by for a little holiday cheer and we wrapped up the weekend beside the warm glow of the tree.
 and at that moment in time all was right and good and at peace in the day, weekend, world.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Curling up in bed last night to watch Peter Pan with Lily.  I wasn't particularly wowed by the production, but anything I do with Miss Bit is worth doing.

A quiet house tonight as I write.  Coach has taken Miss Bit riding and T. Bone is at ski club.

We've already made a sizable dent in our Christmas shopping.  Choosing just the right gifts in the spirit of the season.

Someone asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I couldn't come up with anything off the cuff.  I'm grateful to have all of what I need and most of what I want. 

Coach found the boots Ted wants.  Needs too.  Last winter he wore a 10.  He's a 13 now.  Most stores are already sold out of his size.  I'm a little flummoxed by that given that it is not even officially winter yet.

A house strung in white twinkling lights inside and out.

I spent all day Wednesday cleaning the house and then cleaning my car.  When I crawled in bed, I felt like I endured a tough workout, which I, more or less, did.

Peace in my city.

My bed flannel sheeted and usually occupied by two snuggly cats.

An electric bill that was less than budgeted despite record cold temperatures this November.

Simple family rituals that define our little life here at Casa Wags.  The holidays are rich with so many meaningful traditions that bring us all closer together.

Books and people who love them as much as I do.  One of Ted's friends told him the other day that he is a voracious reader and then he quipped, "Most people live 100 years, but readers live 100 lives."  I wanted to reach into the back seat and give him a hug so tickled was I by his words.  I will give A. a ride home any day!

Friendly people.  Kind people too.

Authenticity.  It is a word that is a bit overused now, but I haven't found a less liberally used one that resonates quite as deeply with me.  It's what I admire most in others, and what I strive for too.

St. Nicholas comes tonight.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Goodbye November

The Day grew small, surrounded tight
By early, stooping Night --
The Afternoon in Evening deep
Its Yellow shortness dropt --
The Winds went out their martial ways
The Leaves obtained excuse --
November hung his Granite Hat
Upon a nail of Plush --
The Day grew small surrounded tight
Emily Dickinson

The smallest day is coming in December.  Like so many I am here wondering how it is already the last month of 2014.

Monday, December 1, 2014

2 day pass

i wasn't going to write this weekending wrap up today.
and then after i wrote it, i wasn't sure about posting it.
i write honestly, but i don't disclose everything.
some things are too private, or too painful, and some things are just mine, or not mine at all.
this long weekend was filled with high highs and low lows.
and that's all i can say because the lows are not my stories to tell.
in some ways it seems inauthentic to edit out the dark spots and share only the joy moments.
but in others, it seems like exactly the way to proceed...
to focus on the good, to extract the marrow, to shine the light on what i want to remember.
things like miss bit staking claim to not one, but two turkey legs and then bellying up to the poker table with the boys after dinner and walking away the big winner (with lots of help i am certain).
and realizing that t. bone is as tall as my tall aunt now, and he picks out the best christmas trees too.
and spending so much spontaneous time with my cousin visiting from colorado.
and in laws who understand that i need to be with her instead of them this time.
and connecting with my cousins spread out across the country if only by phone.
and a beautiful day for shopping in lake geneva.
and a brother in law who comes to help his brother hang lights, and a frister who comes to help me heal my heart.
loved ones hurt us and they help us.
families are complicated and forever.
holidays are bitter and sweet.
life is at times trying and at times rewarding.
we must take the good with the bad and live on.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Grateful Friday

 Today I give thanks for...

Celebrating my favorite holiday with family yesterday.  I felt filled with gratitude all day long.  I woke to a quiet house and was able to enjoy my first cup of coffee with my cats and my carols.  Miss Bit was next to rise and we watched the parade together.  My Mom loved the Macy's parade and I just know she would have loved to curl up on the couch with us for those 3 hours.  I miss her everyday so this holiday is certainly no exception.  And everyone that I shared the day with is missing someone special...we all have moments of sadness in our happiness.  We made a hearty family breakfast to tide us over until the big feast.  Then coach and I layered up and went out for what used to be our annual Turkey Day run.  Only now we walk.  The fresh air and fast few miles were just what I needed.  It started to snow as we made our way over the river to my dad and step-mom's neck of the woods.  Woods that were filled with so many ruby breasted cardinals that they looked like ornaments perfectly placed on the snow painted branches.  There were red headed wood peckers and a gang of turkey too.  Then the day carried on in usual fashion with football, two beautiful birds (not from the yard) and all the fixings thanks to the chefs of the house, perfectly paired wines thanks to my brother and sil, a trip around the table and down memory lane, a game of poker and a viewing of Elf.

Family and good friends who are my chosen family.  So many blessings in my life in the form of angels on earth.

After work today, I met up with my cousin and my stepmom for a little late lunch at our favorite Italian deli.  I was able spend some quality time with them, and also to give Carol her birthday gift, which I'm pretty sure she loved!

A cozy movie night in with Coach.  The kids are busy with friends so we can watch something R rated.

Baristas who top off my 10 year olds hot chocolate with clouds of whipped cream.  Colectivo has a customer for life in Lily.


DALS and this simple yet delicious recipe for Scalloped Potatoes that is perfect for Sunday dinner.

Lily was awarded 5th grade Student of the Quarter this week!  That is an BIG exclusive deal!  The principal called me on Monday morning to give me the news and to rave about what a wonderful student and person Miss Bit is.  I am proud of her hard work and kindness, and grateful that it is recognized by all her teachers.

One on one time with both my kids last weekend while Coach was off having fun with his father, brothers and uncle in the north woods.

Miss Bit saw me looking at a dress on line and got excited because she thought it was for her.  I was ordering it for another little lady we know. Lily's not much into dresses lately so I have to get my girly fix elsewhere. To say I was surprised that she loved and wanted it is an understatement.  It's no surprise that I ordered her one too. Maybe I'll be a little surprised if she wears it.

Shopping with Mike Wednesday morning.  We had just a couple hours while the kids were in school for half day, but we made lots of progress.  The stores were dead.  Everyone must have been waiting for all the Black Friday deals and I couldn't have been happier than to shop in peace even though there were no door busters or blow out deals.

A movie afternoon.  We picked the kids plus one up from school and went to see The Mocking Jay.  We all loved it.  Only Coach has read the book, but now I don't think I can wait for part II.

Cooking with Lily.  She helped me make my Mom's zucchini dish Wednesday night.  She stirred, sautéed and seasoned, and then eventually she tasted and loved it.  It's simple, but delicious and it reminds me of my Mom because this was always a part of her Thanksgiving menu.  She left no recipe, which left me in a panic, but I worked it out.  Because I wish I had learned more of her recipe secrets and spent more time beside her in the kitchen, I always divulge my own recipe secrets to my daughter along with the stories and memories of each dish.  Plus I write everything down!

I decorated my dining room tree with all my Mom's ornaments, and now I feel close to her every time I walk by it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

There are things you do because they feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good.
 –Brian Andreas

Today it's just that simple: love, share, give, receive and remember that Thanksgiving is a day, but thanksliving is a way of life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I'm experiencing de ja vu.  It snowed into the night, and for all I know, the pre dawn morning too.  The drab decay of what was a kaleidoscopic fall is covered in the softness of fresh fallen snow. Every lonely branch shimmers even though the sun has yet to shine.  I hope it stays hidden all day.  Cloud cover is more forgiving and cozy.  Coffee.  Check.  Candle.  Check.   Carols.  Check.  Dean, Bing and other friendly crooners are keeping me company.  This feels a lot like last Tuesday.  And I feel a lot like Oblomov.  Do you know him?  I do.  I met Goncharov's superfluous man sophomore year in Russian Lit, and he comes to mind more often than I like to admit when passivity settles over me.  This ability I have to channel my inner Oblomov is not something I boast about.  The guy frustrated the hell out of me because he barely left his bed or room for the duration of the novel.  Back then I was stuck in a small, cinder blocked dorm room with a girl I barely knew who often overslept and thus rarely went to class.  Every night she would fight with her long distance boyfriend for hours on the phone. I just knew I would never be Oblomov.  That room was a prison and the bed a tomb as far as I was concerned.  All I wanted to do was escape.  I spent as little time as possible in that room.  I rarely even slept there.

I saw her a few months ago.  I was on my way to church.  She crossed the street in front of me as I waited for the light to turn green.  A rush of memories and feelings washed up and over me.  Through me.  Not just of her, but of that time in my life.  It was what I always imagine it will be like to see my life flash before me right before death only this was but a short, albeit profound, chapter. I always pay attention to the things that happen on my way to church.  They rarely feel random.

That being said, I'm not going to beat myself up for feeling introspective and solitary today.  The scene is perfectly set for hunkering down and holing up.  It will be a pot of wild rice and chicken soup day.  A few chapters day.  I'm finally feeling the chi with The Secret History.  I almost abandoned it after 100 pages when I was still not feeling its grip, and then finally it took hold.  It will be a few projects day.  I may even put up my dining room tree.  It's something I have to be in the right space to take on because I decorate it with all of my Mom's ornaments so it tends to be a mushy endeavor.  That's why it's best to take my time with it when I'm home alone.  Today may be the last quiet day before the holiday storm so today it is.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2 day pass

it was just ted, lily and i this weekend...
although rarely was it just us.
coach was away hunting in the north woods.
we three stayed home...
although rarely were we home.
the weekend was rather full, but in the best ways.
there was a lot of too and fro, on the go and come what may, but it was all good.
t. bone had plans with friends both friday and saturday night, and a date to workout with uncle b. after church on sunday.
miss bit had a date with admiral to ride, a date with grandma judy to see the lion king and a date with a friend to play.
rose and i almost caught up over wine and cheese on friday.
i cannot tell you how happy i am that she lives so close now and i just know there are more impromptu girl's nights in our purview.
i enjoyed coffee with my aunt saturday morning, lunch with lily and grandma, and then libations for the badger game with my brother, sil and ted on saturday afternoon.
in the first time in the history of ever, ted didn't...couldn't finish his wings.
we all gathered for a little happy hour at the end of the day.
the ladies returned with rave reviews for the show.
lily said it was even better than Phantom, and was especially wowed by the giraffes and the stampede.
coach came home without a deer on sunday afternoon.
he was eager for a shower and to sleep in his own bed.
we grilled pork tenderloin, and roasted some brussel's sprouts and a pan of scalloped potatoes.
then we caught up over family dinner and turned in cozy to be all together again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A family night out in the middle of the week for bowling and pizza.

Grease.  The cast was a little underwhelming, but the audience was not.  We sat in the middle of a group of special needs teens who cheered, clapped, and even hand jived their way through the show.  Their joy became my joy, and Miss Bit felt it too.
Dancing With The Stars.  I love this cast now that at first I had little faith in.  I cried through much of this week's show because each couple danced with such beautiful vulnerability.

An hour in the middle of the week with my dear friend Mary.
Rose is coming over tonight to catch up.


Indie and Jazzy Christmas.


My new oven.  It heats quickly and cooks evenly.
Building confidence.  Miss Bit had a bit of a rough time leading up to her swim meet this week with nervous anticipation.  It's her first meet in a long while and it was a bigger meet at a new pool with new coaches.  Not to mention that she was slated to swim back stroke, which is not her favorite.  She need not have worried though. She came in third out of 7 in her heat.  That turned everything around for her - she took first in her freestyle heat- and now she wants to compete in the next meet.
Warmer temperatures in the forecast and a short, holiday week ahead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snowy Day Ramblings

We woke up to flurries again this morning.  Lily was extra chipper at breakfast as she watched the flakes waft and dance to the ground.  Ted happily reported that we've had seven days in a row of snow.  He hopes to ski this weekend.  I like snow too.  Edited to say I like snow when I don't have to go anywhere.  Today is one of those days so I'm feeling peace as I watch the snowflakes accumulate on branches and roads.  It does make everything prettier and more pristine wouldn't you agree?  I'm listening to Indie Christmas, enjoying my second cup by candlelight, and thinking about what will get done today all while knowing that nothing is particularly pressing. Today I may even L-O-V-E snow.

Come to think of it I haven't met a kid who doesn't love snow, and I know only a handful of adults who don't groan when it's predicted.  That saddens me even while I understand it.  We grow up and so much in life loses magic and wonder.  Our perspective shifts to see work where once there was play.  Delight becomes frustration, but it doesn't have to.  It won't if we focus on being in the moment.  When we're fully present even the stressful or the mundane can be extraordinary.  Even tasks like shoveling, carpooling (even in the snow), changing sheets and making dinner have gifts to offer.  We just have to slow down to receive them.

It's hard though I know.  Everyone is so stressed out.  And then the holidays push us all to extreme outer limits, but I argue that they don't have to.  Not if we are doing and celebrating from a place of love and joy, rather than bitter or hurried obligation.  I know that there is no getting around certain commitments whether they make us feel all Ho Ho Ho or rather Bah Humbug, but there are many things we can do or not do that will alleviate some of the strain of the season.  Only you know what's important to you...what you need, and I challenge you to make those things the priority.  Perhaps, even at the expense of other things because too much takes the joy out of everything.  It's impossible to be present when our plates are too full so while we do more, we enjoy less.  It's taken me likely half my life, but I'm finally starting to grasp that less is almost always more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

2 day pass

it was so cold friday night that miss bit wasn't even excited for riding.
well, until we got to the farm, which was all but deserted except for admiral.
he was wearing a blanket and waiting in a dimly lit stall.
as we entered the barn he perked up and there is no doubt in my mind that not only does he recognize lily, but he likes her a real lot too.
he nuzzled her playfully and followed her every move.
he doesn't much care for me, but i'm ok with that.
as i sat shivering in the viewing room, i so missed fall on the farm. 
poor little winston didn't dare step off his coir mat lest his pads meet the crisp concrete.
for once i had to go to him, and this once i really thought about taking him home.
of course, i know he would be missed and also missing the mousing life of a bohemian barn cat.
the boys were off with friends so when we got home, lily and i shared a pizza and a solid night's sleep.
acting class gets us out of bed early on saturday morning.
i mulled around stopping here for rolls and there for meatballs for lunch, and i mailed the rest of the kid's candy to the troops feeling all very accomplished so early in the morning.
the first couple hours of every day sets the tone for all of what is to come.
the cousins came over and the brothers took the children to the audubon for a hike before lily attended a roller skating party.
i took a long, chilly walk before the snow started to fly.
the boys spent the night eating pizza and watching the badgers, while lily and i enjoyed grease at a nearby high school.
as full and frenzied as saturday was, sunday was the polar opposite.
we came home after church and sunday school, and we stayed home.
it was a perfect family day of r and r.
we hung out, we lounged, we chilled all without a single apology.
there were no chores or errands or workouts.
we ate football food for dinner like choriqueso for them and spanakopita for us, and cheered on the packers.
we were in bed early and fell asleep with books in our hands rested from the weekend and ready for the week ahead.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Miss Bit returned from a birthday party yesterday with zero minutes to spare.  Her Dad had to stop for gas on the way home and we were cutting it close even without that delay.  We had 20 minutes to get across town for a play.  It started to snow just as we got on the road.  The first snow of the season, exhaustion from an already full day and rushing to not be those rude people who come in after the show has started were almost the perfect turn-around-and-go-home trifecta.  If not for the happy fact that the show was Grease,  I dare say we would have raised the white flag willingly, but the show was Grease, and so we soldiered on.

I made only one wrong turn and we only missed Alma Mater, the opening number.  As the ensemble cast filed out into the lobby, we slid into our aisle seats barely noticed and measurably smugger than when we were 30 minutes prior.  The first act flew by and before we knew it, it was intermission.  I coached Miss Bit to make a mad dash for the ladies room, and I was relieved when I saw that both stalls were unoccupied.  The line snaked around the hallway as we left patting ourselves on our backs.  I think I made the progression right then and there from being smug to being downright priggish.

Act II commenced. We tapped our feet and clapped our hands through the rest of the show.  The very minute the applause wrapped up we exited the theater and ran down the hallway to the doors closest to our car.  Miss Bit and I were the first ones in the snowy, slippery parking lot. We weren't dressed in proper winter footwear, but I did have my scraper in the back.  As I brushed off the windows, my level of self-satisfaction soared.   I turned on the heat and our seat warmers, and started to drive.  We didn't get far though.  We got stuck soon after we backed out of our spot.  And then everyone behind us in the filled to capacity parking lot got stuck too.  Stuck behind us...because of us.

It was just a small hill, but it was coated in black ice.  The tires were spinning.  I couldn't get traction.  To think: it only took a bunny hill and a nanosecond to bring me back down to earth.  Humbled I dare say.  Miss Bit was getting anxious and I'm quite sure the people in the cars behind us were too.  I felt a little suspended in time for a moment as I considered the irony of the situation.  All night I had been rushing and existing in my own little world and here I was unable to move.  Not forward.  Not backward.  It was one of those situations where I just know the universe is talking to me and I best listen.

It was also a poignant metaphor for the way I feel like I'm living life lately: closed off and stuck.

A kind angel of a woman tried to push me.  She didn't even have a jacket.  Another started directing traffic to a route with less of an incline, and I was grateful that I wasn't alone.  I was touched by the way these strangers were there to help us.  I had to reverse and turn around.  We went from first in line to last.  In fact, we ended up being one of the last cars to leave the lot, but I was no longer in a hurry.  I was simply beyond grateful to be unstuck.

Once we were on the open road, Miss Bit quickly fell asleep. I kept us moving forward towards home slowly navigating the slippery roads.  Alone and yet not.

This morning we woke to a world whitewashed.  It's the kind of day that tempts us to just stay home safe and sound.  It suggests we avoid the risks of icy roads and traffic accidents, but I'm thankful that we didn't.  The universe had more to say.  Father Tim is a direct line to above, beyond, within.  His homilies always strike a chord with me, and today was no exception. This morning he spoke verbatim of being stuck, and I wasn't the least bit surprised.  He talked of sticking in our heels, spinning our wheels, digging holes as we live out of fear and anxiety instead of joy and hope.   And, of course, we all know that's no good way to live.  So universe, I want you to know I hear you loud and clear.  And I'm working on it. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Inventory

Reading A Secret History, Tartt's first novel.  Or about to.  It's waiting for me at the library!!!

Wondering if Miss Bit will make it through the day.  She has been fighting a cold, and woke up feeling punky this morning.  I gave her the option of staying home today, but she told me she doesn't like to miss school because she misses too many concepts.  When the phone rang a little bit ago, it was her.  I thought she was throwing in the towel, but she just needed me to bring her folder that had ALL her work in it STAT. 

Noticing the way my thighs ache after time spent working in the yard this weekend.  Usually, I welcome that kind of pain, but it made me realize that my redundant workouts have been exercising the same muscles at the expense of others.

Watching less.  I've been doing more reading, but have still managed to tune in for Master Chef Junior with Miss Bit and Californication while I workout.  It is edgy and if not for the fact that Hank Moody is a struggling writer, I may have moved on.  I don't know what I was expecting  with that title and all.  Plays again too.  This weekend we have tickets for Grease.

Listening to the freezing rain repel off the window panes.  It sounds like our house is under attack, and has my boys unsettled.  Jazz Christmas on Pandora.  Freezing rain is almost snow so it is a natural choice.  I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas was the first song.  Coincidence?  Or perhaps, plan?

Eating leftover frittata.  Coach has this one mastered.  More takeout and eating out than usual after the demise of our ovens.

Drinking coffee with cinnamon cream, water and pinot noirs in that order.

Dreaming about my Mom more often than usual.  She appears strong and healthy, but I know she is sick.  They are happy sad.  Bittersweet.

Feeling fragile and unpredictable.  Well, more like moody because from day to day I know exactly how I'm going to feel.  Mondays I'm exhausted and uninspired, Tuesdays I'm introspective and enlightened, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays I feel optimistic, energized and focused.  Then by Friday I'm ready to call it a week and retreat.  Saturdays I wake feeling happy and hopeful.  Sundays are always a bit of a wild card. 

Wanting to stop wanting.  This is the season of excess in every aspect of life, and I have a hard time reconciling what has become the commercialization of Christmas with what I know to be the true and everlasting meaning of this season.  I find myself buying too much stuff and giving too little of myself, trying to keep up and quench this insatiable appetite for more more more.  It doesn't feel good or right.

Wearing my new jeans that I love, love, love with suede tennis shoes and scarfs.

Hoping that the new wardrobe of pants we bought T. Bone over the weekend fits for a few months.  He's a head taller than me now at 5' 6" and seemingly growing taller and taller every night as he sleeps.

Thinking that if I agree to some changes at work, my life at home is going to change too.  All of life is give and take.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Enjoying lots of  one on one time with my husband:  a night in Kohler, a date to see James Taylor, an hour while the kids have Sunday school.

Loving the ones I'm with, the way Peanut is curled up beside me as I type, this grey day, our new microwave popcorn popper that works sans oil, the kindness my children show towards others (we're working on their kindness to one another), and the fall we have had especially as winter is on its way this afternoon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

On My Mind Monday

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again.  You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

~ Joan Miro'
This sentiment can be adapted to apply to anything that deeply touches us: a song, a sermon, a film, a lecture, a book or poem.  It can also hold fast and true to anyone who impacts us greatly: a mentor, a friend, lover or even a stranger in passing.  I devoted several weeks to The Goldfinch, and now I cannot get it out of my mind.  Usually, a sure cure for a book hangover is to turn to a trusted, familiar author.  Saturday morning I cracked open Pat Conroy's South of Broad, which I've been saving since 2009.  Saving for just this kind of sad, seeking moment.  The protagonist, Leo, kept calling back to mind my old friend, Theo.  I just wasn't feeling it so I closed the book and spent the rest of Lily's acting class people watching.  Then I came home and ordered Tartt's first novel from the library.  I've been a stalker ever since.  I keep logging onto my library account only to see in transit. I think it should be available tomorrow.  Whew!  I think I'll shelf  South of Broad until I can give it the attention it deserves.

2 day pass

this weekend was as they should all be: relaxed, restorative, and also productive and entertaining.
as i sat surveying the weekend ahead friday and then looking back at the time passed today,
it dawned on me in moments of panic that this type of go with the flow weekend is in short supply.
the holidays loom large with lists and events and i'm just not so sure how i feel about that.
i am first and foremost a human being, not a human doing.
the constant coming and going wears on me.
i need my downtime, some peace and quiet, and to be able to turn off.
i also need some wiggle room.
it is such a pleasure to be able to say: hey, let's go to a play tonight, or i think we should go out for pizza for dinner, or let's go to the public market for coffee.
there is nothing better than saying: i think i'll just read for an hour or two, or take a cat nap or a long walk.
i don't mean to mislead...i love all of it: thanksgiving, christmas and new years too, but...but time please slow down.
what is the hurry?

minus ted, who was tired from his day off at the trampoline park, we headed to the theatre friday night to see evermore.
it's a dark tale chronicling the mysterious end of edgar allen poe's life.
while it kept our attention, we were eager for the end.
that does not point to a raving review.
that being said, i am always humbled and awed by the level of talent the young actors display.
at the end of a miscellaneous saturday, we met family for pizza to celebrate november birthdays.
happy happy to my amazing mother in law and her amazing son, my husband!
we were up early for church on sunday, which meant we were in our pew with time to spare.
after another day of odds and ends, we gathered at my brother and sil's for a delicious italian feast first beside the roaring (and at times, smoking) fire and then the television to cheer on the packers.
the victory dance we were doing at the end of the game was fueled by much more than the score.
cuz' here's the thing...we all won this weekend.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

T. Bone earned an award for his contributions to his football team.  About him the Coach said, One of the most prideful awards in 2014 is the Hustle and Effort Award.  For this award, you want to find a player who takes pride in his work, someone who not only leaves it all on the field, but learns from his mistakes and makes an effort to get better.  You never have to tell this player that he needs to step it up or to move quickly.  Part-time quarterback, frequent running back and linebacker Teddy W. is more than deserving of this award.

Pasta Bolognese. 

 This little pasta eating pro.

She's quite accomplished at chicken tenders too.  We enjoyed a GNO this week, and it really felt special to be going out for dinner just the two of us on a Monday night.

James Taylor.  Mike and I may have been the youngest concert attendees, but we enjoyed the show immensely.  Especially, his opening number Something in the Way She Moves, and also Mexico and How Sweet it is to be Loved by You.
I finished The Goldfinch, and I'm grateful that I have The Secret History, Tartt's first novel, still to look forward to.

St. Vincent.  Mike and I saw it last weekend, and while we both agreed that The Judge was a much better film, we enjoyed this one too.  I was especially impressed by Jaeden Lieberher who played Oliver, and surprised that Melissa McCarthy didn't grate on me as she usually does.

The comfort of distance.

A start to my Christmas shopping this week.

Evenfall and day break.  None of us particularly love daylight savings, but the lighter mornings do help us ease out of bed on chilly mornings.  Night setting in earlier is perfect for cozy nights at home too.
Kettle chip crusted walleye.
Tickets tonight to see Nevermore at the high school.

Wine and cheese with Jess last night.

A relatively low key weekend ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Goldfinch

A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don't get to choose our own hearts.  We can't make ourselves want what's good for us or what's good for other people.  We don't get to choose the people that we are.

-The Goldfinch

Sadly, I turned the last page of The Goldfinch this morning.  It was long...771 pages long, and yet I wanted longer.  Mine is not a unanimous position, but I feel that more is more where Tartt's third novel is concerned.  I appreciated the Dickensian flair that permeated this 21st century bildungsroman.  Certainly, Theo is part Oliver Twist and part David Copperfield, and Boris bears a strong likeness to the Artful Dodger. These characters felt like old friends; flawed, but lovable, and destined to get exactly what they deserve.  That is signature Dickens.  Coincidence?  Cruel fate?  Is there a difference?  And does it matter?  Either way we trudge on day after day until we don't so we may as well find some joy, beauty, meaning as we toil into descent.  Or rather liberation.  Freedom?  A freedom we will all receive when it is our fate.

The Goldfinch is a polarizing novel.  It seems that readers and critics alike either love it or loathe it.  I am in the yea camp.  To get my endorsement a novel must do four things. It must entertain me, make me think, inspire me and make me feel something about the human character/condition.  It succeeded on every count most likely because I am not usually a classic's consumer, yet I also don't want to waste my time on genre fiction.  I felt that The Goldfinch was the perfect combination of entertainment and education.

Monday, November 3, 2014

On My Mind Monday

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims for the world be true?
So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.
- Mary Oliver

Oh,'ll be dearly missed.

2 day pass

the special part of the weekend was a trip to the american club.
mike and i drove up midday saturday.
heading north the bright shining sun made farm field after farm field appear perfectly gilded.
we are a few weeks past peak, so most branches are bare and bony, but still the landscape left me breathless.
we made a couple stops along the way on one whim or another.
first for a beer and the badger game, and then for popcorn and a matinee.
we arrived in kohler with enough time to do a little shopping.
and to have happy hour before our 8 o'clock dinner reserves.
we were looking forward to our celebration at river wildlife.
everything about the log cabin is perfect...
the way it's set in the woods, the way you are greeted by a big roaring fire, the dark, quiet intimacy of the tables set in nooks and crannies and, of course, the fare.
we both started with the cider duck soup.
so few ingredients (duck, wild rice, cabbage and cranberry beans), yet rich in flavor.
the salad of winter greens, roasted pumpkin, dried cherries, cranberry stilton and pepitas topped with a warm bacon dressing was just as perfect a combo.
i barely had room for my kettle chip crusted walleye, but somehow i managed.
mike enjoyed his perfectly cooked tenderloin too.
fall back left us awake what felt like early on sunday.
we enjoyed a slow morning of coffee and crosswords, and breakfast in bed before hitting the trails.
it was a warm, sweaty hike sandwiched between the river and blackwolf run.
we shared a great little getaway...just the two of us for 24 hours doing things we enjoy in a place we love.
happy anniversary love.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Halloween.  I have the Halloween spirit.  It has been a hard holiday for me on more than a few of the last 6 years because my mom was the source of much of my love for this holiday.  I miss her a lot especially since her Halloween scarf and hat still faintly smell of her, and although it is hard, I am grateful for the memories. 

Pumpkin bran muffins.  I came across a recipe I tweaked this week that is what I believe to be the perfect marriage of nutty bran and silky pumpkin.  Not to mention that said muffin is the perfect companion for a cup of cinnamon coffee.

Ina's new cookbook is out.  I'm putting  Make it Ahead on my Christmas list.


Andy Cohen's book.  I lol through my miles. He slays me!

Coach and I are going away for our anniversary this weekend to one of our favorite places. We can only steal away for 24 hours, but I am all about quality not quantity.

The kids will get to spend time with their grandparents and cousins. It's a win win.

Signs, harbingers, foretokens and such.

An invitation to see James Taylor next week.  The last and only time I saw him was in the aire libre on a quintessential July night.  I didn't want to ruin that perfect memory, but a free ticket is a free ticket!

November.  October is hands down my most beloved month of the year, but November is a close second runner.


My ovens died last night.  Yes, ovenS...plural.  The last supper was a perfectly roasted chicken stuffed with stinky garlic, fresh rosemary and bright, juicy lemons.  It was beautiful and delicious.  I suppose I should be thankful that the bird was cooked through before the ovens decided to conk out, but I'm having a tough time seeing that silver lining.

The truth is that most everything in this kitchen is on borrowed time, and I've known it.  Most everything is on, has been on or is mysteriously recovered from the fritz.  I'm always saying a little prayer before I turn appliances on and then a little ode when they comply.  Last night's turn of events has forced my losing hand.  Who can go into the holiday season down not one, but two ovens?

I had to dash plans to make biscuits, and instead quick thought to heat naan in the toaster.  The kids laughed because our American toaster is not configured for our favorite Indian flat bread.  I could only toast half the bread at a time.  Luckily 2 1/2 burners on our stove top still work so I was able to steam the broccoli.  Last night the ice maker was working and the sink was only dripping a little just for the sake of full disclosure.

I must admit that I prayed to the Whirlpool Gods before bed and  hoped to wake up this morning to see the lights on in the control board.  My pleas went unanswered: it was still lifeless.

I called the repairman first thing this morning.  When I described the situation sound effects and all, I could hear him shaking his head through the receiver.  "That DOES NOT sound good," he agreed.  In fact, it sounded so bad that he shied away from a service call not wanting to charge me for units he was pretty convinced were unserviceable.

I surmise, it's time to giddy up on this elusive kitchen redo that we've been dreaming about for a decade and putting on the back burner for a good five.  What has happened is just what had to happen.  Apparently, nothing lights a fire under me in quite the effective way ovens without fire do.

Soon we are headed out to buy a countertop convection oven because even if we start this process tomorrow, it will be many months before we complete the project.  I think it's optimistic to say that I'll be most grateful if we are christening our new ovens on Thanksgiving 2015.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

two day pass

1. sunset on the farm. it was beautiful just like all of the almost summer weekend.

2. this friday she rode so hard she came home with blisters, and more confidence.

3. a lone bloom in the bramble reminding me that there is beauty everywhere and always.

4. evidence: i am the chicken whisperer.

5. sit upright, heels in, arms steady.

6. my little sous chef this weekend. she chopped, stirred, cooked, baked and tasted with complete joy.

7. these little owls were one of her creations.

8. coach and i cheffed up for our halloween bowling night. i love costuming. it was a fun night with old and new friends and lots of creativity.

9. the girls were ready to trick or treat at 12:59 sharp!

10. lily was a nerd and her friend was a scary clown. they were the most lovable looking geek and goof I've ever seen.

11. "kick me."

12. they were also our first trick or treaters. lily picked out our candy to her liking just sayin'.

13. mike was a good sport and an excellent guy fieri for a night. most of our friends didn't recognize him at first.

14. guy got a great deal of mileage the next day too. my brother couldn't resist.

15. reluctantly t. bone guyed up, but for trick or treat he went as a golfer, which is to say he put on the clothes he wore the day before to the course. all of his soccer playing friends went as soccer players.  i guess about as inspired as one would expect teenage boys to be.

16. we had a fun and delicious family dinner sunday that included: perfectly grilled steaks, jaleo spinach, wedge salads and an entertaining game of speak in this accent/language. my brother made us laugh speaking jive, coach was the only one who could speak pig latin. lily is still speaking what she calls british, and t. bone has pretty much mastered the australian accent as he hopes to live there some day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A 19 year! long and loving marriage, and a husband who not only puts up with all my quirks but maybe even loves them. 

Two amazing kids.  Conferences were this week and there was not a single negative shared about either one of them.  Both their teachers gushed and praised.  Lily came home exalting how happy she was, and Ted didn't say anything, but I could tell.

Dedicated teaching teams and a school community that is strong and supportive.
I'm beyond grateful to have them in the same school again too.

The Judge.  Despite less than stellar reviews, Coach and I both enjoyed the film.  I think the cast was brilliant, and I appreciate a good family drama that isn't all happily ever after since rarely is it so irl.

Books.  Still have my nose in The Goldfinch, and still a fan of Theo Decker.

Pumpkin seeds just a tad burnt and for breakfast.

A glorious weekend forecast.  This fall has been perfectly perfect.
Tonight's spectacular sunset on the farm.

The way her instructor is amazed at what she is already doing.

Getting up a half hour early this morning to put the banana bread in the oven just because I know the way they like it best is fresh baked and hot.
Our costumes are ready for the weekend all except for T. Bone. 
Halloween spirit.
Long midday autumn walks.  Slightly cloudy and somewhat cool days.  Tree lined paths and geese lined ponds.
Also known as gratitude.
Knowing life is not perfect, but it is good and full and meaningful.