Monday, June 30, 2014

2 day pass

1. World Cup inspired backyard soccer matches
2. Girl with a gun
3. Fans at one of three hot and, at times, wet baseball games
4. Happy cat
5. Summer eve
6. Water war
7. Goalie Dad
8. Freezie pops for lunch
9. The life


Friday, June 27, 2014

Grateful Friday

What I am most grateful for on the cusp of the weekend is that I have vacation for the next ten days.  The transition to summer schedules, which often means no schedule at all, has been trying at times.  I intend to just be. here. now. as I soak in the sun, breathe the fresh air and wallow in freedom.

I also give thanks today for...

Setting off for a mid week bike ride with Miss Bit.  We rode side by side enjoying the scenery and casual conversation.

Sam.  Coming home from work to a tidy house and happy kids gathered around the dining room table deep into a game of Monopoly.

I finished Valley of Amazement.  It was loooong, and while it was not one of my favorite of  Tan's works, I did enjoy it.  The story was beautifully told by a trio of narrators including the author herself.  Despite the length, I wanted the story to go on a little longer.  It felt front-end loaded to me.

Now I am listening to Wally Lamb's We Are Water, and I was smitten after chapter 1.  I am liking the story as well as the narrators.

Cherries.  I bought 2 pounds worth and ate them almost all by myself.

Miss Bit is working hard on mastering the underwater turn in the pool.  She went to swim team several times this week despite the chilly temperatures and looming fog.

T. Bone is really loving his tennis camp.  He wants to sign up for another session.

T. Bone and Miss Bit went with Grandma and Grandpa to cheer the Brewers onto a victory this week.  I think Lily enjoyed the game a little more than Ted.  It may have been her first.  She came home talking stats and favorite players (Rickie Weeks).  (And Hank too, of course, but he was not in attendance.)

Long days.  Extra hours of daylight.

A walk with Coach tonight to kick off the weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer (So Far) Squared...

1.  Sun worshipping
2.  Curve ball
3.  Last day of 4th grade
4.  Lawn girl
5.  Tame Tom
6.  Friends on and off the field
7.  The boys on Dad's Day
8.  Froggin'
9.  Family reunion
10. Cooler near the lake
11. Batting practice
12. Boy and cat
13. First day of summer vacation celebration
14. Girl with ganache
15. Because.
16 Goin' golfin'
17. Peanuts
18. Jackson Street Pub
19. Right left right
20. Cool(er) cat
21. Girls
22. More girls
23. Water worshipping
24. Warming up
25. Critter watching 

2 day pass

we left town early friday for a baseball tournament.
we were excited for a weekend in the wisconsin dells...
aka the waterpark capitol of the world.
peanut was not excited to see us packing up to leave.

 the all star's first game was friday evening.
they lost, but it was a good game and a different experience to play on turf.

miss bit was bat girl.
the players were so sweet and mostly handed her the on deck bats instead of chucking them at her.

as we left the ball park, we were wowed by a brilliant bifurcated sky...
on what was the longest day of the year.
the night was still relatively young, so the kids explored the pools...
before poker and then pizza, which may not have arrived until just before midnight.

 the boys were a little listless for their early morning game...
against the #1 team in the state.
yikes! it was a bit brutal...
that winning combination of little sleep, lots of chlorine and a seasoned, well rested opponent.

they looked like a different team during their afternoon game...
filled with energy and enthusiasm.
and that was the winning recipe.
the celebration commenced first at the pool...

and then at the restaurant where we gathered for a team dinner. 
the next morning the team had to take on the #1 thunder cats again.
really twice in one tournament?!?
they played much better and even had the lead for a short while.
ultimately they lost, but i know that everyone had a fun weekend.
the silver lining was that we were home in time to cheer on our other team in the world cup.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

It is officially summer in our house.  Monday of this week I was not so very thankful when I was getting texts and phone calls galore from T. Bone while I was at work, or Tuesday when I was in my car driving hither and yon for what seemed like hours, but by Wednesday we were easing into a semblance of routine. I was finally able to exhale and ease my white knuckled grasp on the reigns. Summer is about spontaneity and freedom whether I like it or not.  I'm trying my darnedest to like it.

Miss Bit has been enjoying the pool when it's not storming so I think we will get our money's worth out of the membership.

Life lessons.  This week T. Bone was challenged with the life isn't fair two cents' worth.  He handled it well and for that I am grateful.  I believe that a little hardship and adversity builds character.  The best athletes have gifts beyond their physical skills.

California Pizza Kitchen's Club Pizza.  It was the best pie of our family dinner out to kick off the start of summer.

Miss Bit told me she didn't want to pitch for her game this week, but then the coach needed her too and she did.  She is really stepping up to the plate, and having so much fun while doing so.

We celebrated Father's Day on Saturday night with the whole family because of baseball conflicts on Sunday. The dads were in rare form: costumed for cards....not just being celebrated, but celebrating.  The next day we were free to enjoy a very chill Father's day with just our little tired family.  We watched a surprisingly entertaining zombie movie in the afternoon, made meatballs for subs and dined al fresco before gathering in the living room for gifts.

Miss Bit is on the audio book train.  She picked up The One and Only Ivan when we stopped at the library last week.

I finally finished Some Nerve this week.  The last chapter and a half were difficult for me to get through.  I started out really connecting to this book, but then I lost interest along the way.  There was no way I was going to quit with 50 pages waiting in the wings so eventually I trudged on.  Ultimately I think I didn't relate to the almost precursory way she just ticked off her fears like they were trivial benchmarks rooted in little more than experiences gone awry.  Just when she would start to dig a little deeper, she would move on to the next, and I was left wanting more insight and less adrenaline.  Now I can move on to the growing stack at my bedside.

Stellar report cards.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Not long after the sun came up yesterday the sky turned as dark as night.  It was the complete absence of light. Starless and thick like ink.  Heavy and eerily stock still. Not peaceful.  Lifeless.  First I thought of  T. Bone who was picked up for a golf tournament as I left for work.  Driving south, the direction they were headed, I felt uneasy as I glanced skyward and anxious for sending him on the open course with metal rods in his hands. So did the other mother. She turned around and brought the boys home with her safe and dry. Then I thought of Miss Bit who was home safe and dry, but alone.  She was still sleeping when I left, and not rousing when I called again and again.  I checked radars and listened  for the sirens I feared might wake her. I felt panic for her vulnerability.  We hadn't prepared her for this potential scenario.  I found myself praying that this wouldn't be the one all while knowing it can always be the one.

Mother nature has been on the warpath.  Assaults have been steady and increasingly violent.  Every time I turn on the news, I'm bombarded with more destruction.  The headlines read Twin Tornadoes or Baseball-Sized Hail or Dangerous Floods.  I have PTSD from watching the Weather Channel.  I've always appreciated a good storm, but I'm starting to rethink that.

I was in a tornado when I was a child.  It was a late spring weekend.  My extended family gathered in a small northwood's cabin for a bout of fresh air fun. Slowly and then all at once the dingy afternoon sky turned an unnatural greenish-yellow like lemon lime soda or a sickly aged bruise.  Those jaundiced clouds gave reason to pause, but the abrupt noiselessness of the critter filled woods gave reason to seek cover. Birds stopped singing, crickets stopped chirping, squirrels and chipmunks stilled.  It was as if we were suspended in time or dangling just above it.  Everything was moving in slow motion or not at all including our dopey responses.  My brother, who was about my daughter's age at the time and the youngest in the group, disturbed the catatonia when he cried for everyone to get downstairs.  He felt the vacuum too. And then we all heard it. Yes, it sounds like a freight train.  It started with a low roar and a rumble, and then it rushed, hissed and moaned. We filed into the basement more together than ever as the telling sounds raged toward us.  My brother hunkered down under a workbench shaking.  Someone turned on a radio.  We listened and waited for the tornado to pass.  It didn't take long.  Within a minute or two which felt eternal, the storm hopscotched through the forest leaving behind downed trees and a wake of destruction.  Immediately the air filled with warbling, tweeting, buzzing and calling again. It was as if someone flipped a switch.  My family was safe.  The funnel cloud whirred up and over our cottage that day.  We were lucky.  Neighbors were not quite as fortunate.

I can be taken right back to that afternoon by each one of my senses.  The tastes, sounds, smells and sights are etched in my sensory memory.  The feelings too.  My heart is quickening as I type.

Mother Nature is fickle.  She's as fierce as she is forgiving.  Equal parts beauty and brutality.  Her duality is what awes and humbles me most.  It is one thing to say we are at her mercy, and another to believe it.  I've been spared and yet I know this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In Between

It's 53 degrees and pouring rain this morning.  Teddy's 7th grade class is headed to camp today for an itinerary of outdoor and water activities.  Something tells me this will morph into a day of inside fun like arts and crafts, sing alongs and games...things he would not define as much fun at all. Miss Bit will be no worse for the wear as the 4th graders are headed to a roller rink where the weather has little chance of dampening the mood. She was allowed to bring money and they sell slushies you know!

All week they've been cleaning out lockers.  He came home with only a backpack full just like any old night. The rest, he admitted, he just dumped right then and there.  Binders, workbooks, folders and all.  At first, I was wide jawed, and then a little grateful.  I always feel the need to look through the mass of materials, and then I hem and haw over what to keep and what to toss.  He made the decision for me so now I won't have to move the piles from one counter to another corner until it ends up in the trash anyway.  He's just lucky he brought home his art folder because those are always keepers.  We won't miss the almost complete Spanish workbook,  the science binder or math notebook.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Lily spent a good part of yesterday's school day at the middle school getting acclimated to what will be her stomping ground too come September.  She took a tour, learned how to work the lockers and order lunch with the help of her almost 8th grade buddy. She's mostly excited just like me, yet I got a little sense of what the tween stage will be like with her.  She spent more time worrying about her outfit than usual trying to strike the perfect balance between cute (but not too cute) and cool (hip) and comfortable.  T. Bone still doesn't care about clothes, and usually just throws on whatever he grabs first.  I am getting a strong sense of how this new chapter will be different for my girl child than it was for my boy.  How it will be different for me too.

Tomorrow is their last day of fourth and seventh grades.  Just typing that fills me with a well of conflicting emotions: pride, relief, fear and happiness among them.  Sadness too.  I'm proud of the dedicated, hard working students they are.  I'm relieved for a break from the routine for all of us, and also scared that I will exhaust myself  trying to engage them in the stretches of free time that define summer.  I'm happy for them...they are growing up beautifully...grounded by strong roots.  I'm sad for me...they are growing away...spreading their wings.

Monday, June 9, 2014

2 day pass

this weekend we were only home to sleep.
we rode the momentum like a wave all the way to shore...
still upright, but a wee bit water logged and a way too sun kissed.
coach and i stepped out a tad guilty on a sublime friday night.
the kind of weekend eve that could and should last forever, but never lasts long enough.
we toasted my uncle vic over glasses of cold pbr at what still feels like his brewery.
i'm not a beer girl, but it sure tasted special.
i am a bit of a sign girl, and i sure could feel him smiling down upon us.
then we headed over to see the amazing and inspiring...the amazingly inspiring (and cute as a button) tony bennett croon.
wow! i say wow!
i just about lost it when he sang all over the stage with his lovely and talented daughter antonia.
and speaking of talent...
my all star won not one but two ball games saturday.
it was another move in the right direction for the young team.
t. bone reacted to the opponent's attempt at a second suicide bunt in a way that wowed everyone watching.
oh and also a pickle and a critical out.
he's known not just for his skill as a ball player, but also his game smarts.
we were all the way in grandma and grandpa's west woods so we stopped in for dinner.
after all the fresh air and excitement, burgers and italians never tasted so good.
it was one of those impromptu gatherings that makes you appreciate sudden spontaneity.
sunday we were back at the ballpark for round two.
the team lost, but almost could have won a difficult game against a formidable opponent.
they played a second game and won bringing home smiles and third place medals.
we met up with family at a gathering nearby.
some cousins my kids have never met and that i haven't seen in decades and some we don't get to see near enough because they live in colorado.
it was easy fun.
the kind of get together you leave questioning why you don't do so more often.
when we rolled in after dark on sunday night, it was time for showers and then sleep.
we were all bone tired but heart happy.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The last Friday of fourth and seventh grades.  Everyone is ready for a change in schedules and scenery.

An almost screen free week.  No blogging or Instagram. It made me cognizant of the fact that checking our phones and visiting our sites is such a strong habit, an impulse often mindless.  I don't miss it much when I make an effort to focus elsewhere.

Miss Bit won a Kindle Fire in a church raffle last weekend.  It's the first thing she has ever won and it's sort of a big thing too.  She's been on cloud 9 and though I felt responsible to bring her back to earth, I didn't want to dull her sparkle.  I did casually mention that it is virtually the same as her I pad.  I suspect we have plenty enough devices here at Casa Wags.

T. Bone wrote a poem about his one day dog and cabin that I read with warmth while on the verge of tears. That sweet side gets me every time!

Miss Bit playing catcher.  The first ball rolled by her and she watched it not budging until everyone starting yelling for her to get the ball.  As if!  She did have a nice out at both home and third.

Not so random acts of thoughtfulness.  My sil attended a book reading and had the author sign a copy for me with a message that was not lost on me.

Tickets from my boss to see Tony Bennett tonight.  I saw him perform once before many years ago with my Mom.  It is supposed to be a beautiful evening...perfect for a night out with Coach.

Roasted cauliflower and chick peas in a mustard vinaigrette.

I went through a box of my Mom's cards and mementos from the year she was sick.  It is a long and emotional process, but it also is comforting to remember how many people were praying for her.  I felt very close to her even though it made me miss her terribly.

Angels on earth.

Angels in Heaven.

An gathering of extended family this weekend.

Family always and forever.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On This Week's Menu

And dinner doesn't have to be fancy to be delicious.  I do have to have a plan to make it happen, however.  So here it is...this week's plan: 

Balsamic Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Oven Fries, Chimichurri Corn and Cole Slaw. 

I mix 5 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T. balsamic vinegar, 2 1/2 t. sea salt, 1/2 t. pepper and 2 T. EVOO and coat a 3-4 pound pork tenderloin preferably the night before you grill it.  I made Bobby Flay's cole slaw, which is basically a head of shredded cabbage, 2 grated carrots, some grated onion, 3/4 c. mayo, 2 T. sour cream, 2 T. vinegar, 2 t. sugar, 1 t. mustard, 2 t. celery salt and pepper.  Easy and so much better than store bought.  The oven fries are russet potatoes peeled, sliced to your liking and then soaked in water for at least an hour.  Then dried well or else the won't be crispy, seasoned and baked at 450.  My sil made them last weekend and they were so good and much healthier than store bought.  The corn is from Its All Good.

Chicken Caprese, Cauliflower with Chick Peas and Quinoa.
Stuff chicken breasts with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves and cook in a baking dish with tomato sauce of choice at 350 for 30 minutes.  The cauliflower dish is another from Its All Good.  I make the quinoa in homemade chicken stock and top it with some chopped herbs.
Pasta Two Ways and salad. 
Carbonara for the kids and with sautéed kale and topped with a poached egg for the adults.  Not homemade this week, but maybe fresh if I get to the Italian market.
Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas, beans and fruit.
This is a super simple, make ahead meal that we all like.  Mix enchilada sauce and buffalo sauce.  Mix shredded chicken with green onion and Monterey Jack cheese.  Pour some of sauce in chicken.  Fill tortillas with chicken mixture and place seam side down in baking dish.  Pour reaming sauce over enchiladas and top with more Jack cheese.  Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.  Garnish with gorgonzola and cilantro. 

Thursday is always leftover night and Friday is pizza night.  Saturday we keep open for entertaining or dining out.