Friday, August 29, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A week of vacation.  Staycation is what, I guess, would best apply since we stayed close to home.  That is just how things worked out, and I think it's for the best as I am happiest at home these days.  Not to mention, there are so many experiences to have in our own city in the summer that it seems rather silly to leave. 

We visited lakes, quarries, ponds, rivers, forests and prairies.  Spending so much time outside in so many beautiful places was just what I needed.  It truly helps me put all things in perspective, and let's be's all about perspective.

We had an idea for each day and then depending on when we woke and what kind of weather we woke to, we went forth into the day knowing that we would be flexible and our time fluid.  We didn't get to do everything we planned, but we enjoyed the things we did do. 

And the weekend's not over yet.  We have hopes to visit one more lake and plans with friends on two different nights still to look forward to.

We have several friends who have taken their oldest sons to college.  I felt the massive shift in their lives and families from afar.  T. Bone isn't even in high school yet, but he is a teenager so he had more social engagements than the rest of us this week.  Often, it was the three of us while he was off with friends.  I got a little glimpse of what it will be like when he is grown and gone.  It will be OK.  I will be OK.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On The Whir of a Hummingbird's Wings

The time had come to make a rather weighty decision.  Please allow me to clarify: weighty in my own little world.  I'm a hemmer and a hawer.  Despite the fact that I almost always have an opinion or a feeling, I like to shilly shally.  I tend to fudge and mudge.  I often back and fill, which is all to say I'm rather prone to doubt and double thought.  I lack trust in myself and I give too much power to others.  Then the other day as I weighed the pros, cons and angles, I realized that none of that stuff mattered when measured up against the lingering feeling in my gut.  My instinct has rarely failed me, although I have most certainly failed it, and so I went with the feeling.  Before I could even sabotage my decision, which I was just about to do, a hummingbird came to visit my streptocarpella.  I recognized her rare presence as an affirmation that I had done the right thing.  Her quick, timely visit was an all's okay from my Mom who sends me the hummingbirds just when I need them to remind me that she is still with me, and also that I got this.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2 day pass

1.   enjoying beautiful birthday flowers and thoughtful gifts from loved ones.
2.   getting in on the green and gold tradition in green bay.
3.   decorating and organizing her middle school locker.  already middle school and already back to school.
4.   tigger glamping.
5.   they told her they will protect her if she needs it.  it's all about who you know.
6.   last movie night at the pool for the summer.
7.   mexican cobb salad with avocado cream dressing is perfect late summer dinner.
8.   my dad was a little excited for his first time at lambeau field.
9.   ted and jack were ready for some packer football too.
10. i saw not one but three blue herons during my walk the other day.
11. gloaming at big bay on my birthday.
12. what a treat to party (and play football) at this house with a close view of the stadium before and after the game thanks to my bro and sil.
13. peanut on siesta.  zzzzz.
14. rocking the pastel polo for his friend's bar mitzvah.
15. meatball subs...the way to everyone's heart.  and i mean everyone!
16. enjoying thank you flowers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Up In The East Down In The West

(And another orbit also known as 365 days or a new year.)

I decided I wanted to usher in my 45th year watching the sun rise.  It is the very first thing that made my list of 45 in 45 so it seemed inspired and fitting. #Sunrise was also the day's prompt for the Instagram challenge I dabble in.  Mere coincidence?  Or a powerful invitation?  I thought I was having one of those divine moments where the universe is talking to me and I am all ears.  That is until the weather forecast was, for once, spot on.  Mother Nature be damned...I woke to a perfectly cloudy day yesterday.  I was awake before dawn, albeit briefly, and I contemplated going to my favorite nearby beach on the shores of Lake Michigan despite the cloudcast.  Then I drifted back off begrudgingly and also greedily.  I was unhappy about the fate of my best laid plans and also still not sufficiently rested.  So I missed the sunrise.  That sad fact set the tone for most of the rest of my waking day.

It was not my best despite the many lovely texts, calls, voice mails and even a delivery of the most spectacular bouquet of South American red roses.  I was cranky and still sour in mood from the day before, which was one of the lowest of all of my 44th year. It was also a stressful day at work as I was wearing several hats and none of them particularly well with almost two weeks of vacation dangling like a carrot in front of starving moi.

When I got home, I crawled into bed and begged Mother Nature to let the rain fall from the still saturated sky.  You see earlier in the day I may have mentioned a swim at our favorite little beach to my favorite little girl.  Earlier before my mood went from gloomy to gloomier.  Said little lady does not take such promises lightly, and I knew her fury would be worse than Mother Nature's if I even tried to back out.

Jess came bearing wine and a French silk pie.  And a bathing suit.  Jack, my honorary second son for the week, returned at the end of his day wondering when Teddy would be home from football practice or when we were going swimming.  In other words, I'm already bored.  Apparently, I got him all excited too.  So after a glass of the best rioja, I corked the bottle and said to the beach!  I said to the beach! and I meant to the beach!  That exclamation point is very important here because when I committed to acting the way I wanted to feel, I felt it.  I was suddenly excited and empowered.  When I was searching for a safety pin for Jess (wink wink), I found my Mom's O' Shit button lost since St. Pat's Day, and then I knew the universe was still talking to me and I better get on. At that point I may have even been eager.

Apparently, not quite as eager as Lily and Jack who flew down the slick stone stairwell and headed straight for the water that is still feeling palpable effects of last winter's stubborn polar vortex.  As I dipped my toes in and thought no way, I remembered a similar night last summer when I think I referred to the sensation of being submerged in the icy water as electric. And it was.  So I started to wade in.  It took me a little while to get to my waist, but I knew I was going all in because I knew what was in store for me.  I put my mind to it and willed my feet to carry me forward as I said my intentions for this new year.  It was a  inspiring and symbolic moment for me.  Almost holy.  Like a baptism if you will, and certainly a cleansing.  I swam forward into the grey water with my eyes on the grey horizon and prayers in my heart.  Water and air were one and I felt such a surge of hope as I took a deep breath and dove under.  My tears ended where the water began, and I took a deep breath out of awe as well as sustenance.

I felt so blessed to behold such a beautiful, meaningful place.  Beautifully meaningful.  I don't really know how to adequately express how grateful and humbled I am to know that even the grey gloaming is full of incredible magic.  It is subtle and soft.  It is muted and mottled, but it is awe-inspiring in its own right.  The eastern sky is just as showy as the western sky in the golden hour, and that realization recharged my staggering spirit.

Jess and I finished our rioja in the lake while Jack, Lily and our old friend Darla the dog splashed around us. Coming to this place on this night was the best gift I could have asked for on my birthday. That and finding McGurk's O'Shit button.

We stayed until twilight reluctant to leave.  Then as we ambled up the path on the moonless night, the fireflies lit the way.  I was water logged and sandy, and most certainly ready for another year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two Day Pass

as far as the kids are concerned, weekends are no different than weekdays this time of year.
yet we all know that will be the case for only a short while longer.
as i traveled a prairie lined path friday eve, i noticed that even the hearty vervain is in rapid decline.
i scarcely remember the blooming of bergamot or aster, or so many other nameless wild beauties.
where did june, july and half of august go?
the days of summer delirium are numbered.
i surmise that is what makes them so sought after and sweet.
special too.
even when nothing extraordinary is slated for the day.
i long ago learned that the ordinary moment is precious in its own right.
as long as you are present in the task or activity at hand, the time spent can feel hallowed.
don't laugh but i believe there is something sacred in chopping heady herbs or folding fresh laundry or spotting fireflies flicker as the gloaming gives way to night.
there is also something divine about coming together with loved ones at the end of a full day.
after the boys golfed with my brother and sil saturday afternoon, they joined us for a rather impromptu bbq.
it seemed fitting that my brother made my mom's famous harp burgers on irishfest weekend.
two of her favorites.
when i woke to a cool, grey sunday morning, i fought the urge to stay in bed.
i'm grateful i rose because the mass at irishfest is one of my favorite of the entire year.
there is something so humbly uplifting to be in open air prayer with an amphitheater full of worshippers.
talk about divine and devout.
i choked back tears as we made our way to our seats to the sound of the color guard practicing amazing grace.
i don't stand a chance with that song especially when bagpipes are involved.
tears fell throughout the mass and i let them.
 tears are good and cleansing just like church.
i didn't even notice that the mass was almost two hours long because i never once gave a thought to the time.
part of me didn't want it to end.
oh but the kid's were hungry.
we sampled some corned beef and beef stew, listened to some irish music, watched a little dancing and did some shopping.
when it was time to leave, my heart grew heavy.
it's unsettling the way that i feel so close to my mom when i'm here.
leaving this gathering feels like saying goodbye to her all over again.
so i got a hand stamp...
 even though i knew i wouldn't be back.
well, not until next summer.

Monday, August 18, 2014

On My Mind Monday

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

10th birthday celebrations have ceased.  This year we were a tad over the top with birthday revelry, but 10 is a big double digit deal, and Miss Bit is sweet and most deserving.  I know she felt the love!  She is so very special to so many...most of all me!

Jess for her help with the beach party, bringing me an awesome succulent plant after a draining week, and always just being exactly the kind of friend I need!

I couldn't give away our old patio set, but somehow coach managed to sell it!  King of Craig's List he be.

Grill master too!  He served up the most delicious ribs for Sunday night dinner.

This perfect combination of summer veggies and spices I adapted from Pinterest.  Corn and zucchini are quite tasty companions especially when finished off with a squeeze of lime, some herbs and a little fresh grated Parmesan.

Monday nights.  T. Bone and I have a standing date to watch a show that shall remain nameless because his viewing it is not likely to earn me Mother of the Year. So why do I let him watch it?  I let him because he cozies up with me for a couple hours, and I take what I can get.  Also I have no interest in Mother of the Year.

Reading at the end of the day with my girl.  Lily and I started The Giver last night.  She picked it out upon Sam's recommendation when they went shopping yesterday afternoon.  It got our attention right away.  I think we may even finish it in time to see the movie in the theater.

Today he brought her two more books he thinks she'll enjoy.

A manny who takes my girl shopping and shares reading material with her too.

I finally finished Ann Lamott's Imperfect Birds.  I found the narrative flat and the characters unlikable and static.  Rosie was snotty, Elizabeth clueless and enabling, and James was pathetic. The novel was such a waste of time that I cannot explain why I even finished it.  Probably because I kept expecting more development from such a revered writer.  I was disappointed to the point that I'm not sure I'll be reading any Lamott any time soon.

I couldn't be happier to finally be on to 10% Happier.  Third times a charm I'm hoping.

Healing.  T. Bone's toe is healing after losing a nail last weekend despite having hours of football practice every day this week, and my knee is feeling well enough for exercise after a week of feeling my age.

My Mom's and my Grandfather's words of wisdom echoing in my ear and helping me to embrace aging instead of resist it.  I hear her say, "What's the alternative?" I hear him say, "And I should complain?" 

A walk through the park after work this afternoon.  Just me and the Price family women.

Weeping Willow trees.  They are such gentle giants.  Majestic and protective, gentle and proud.  Miss Bit still calls them survivor trees, and I get that.

I taught T. Bone how to make a panini this week.  I love to cook for him, but at almost 14, he needs to expand his culinary repertoire.  Laundry is on next week's list.

Miss Bit is so excited for middle school.  I won't go so far as to say she is excited for school to start, but she is ramped up about the new experience.  I took her school supply shopping this week and she made some tough decisions.  There are just so many choices!  Thankfully, she didn't ask for a locker chandelier!

A new bento box for her.  I plan to get her involved in planning and packing her lunches next year since she is so particular and refuses to eat a sandwich.  I think that this will be the solution offering her the option of a snacky meal with healthy variety.

It is Irishfest this weekend.  We'll go to mass on Sunday at the very least.

Next week I celebrate 45.  The week before my birthday I'm always extra introspective.  I'm skipping the personal inventory this year though.  Instead I'm putting together a list of 45 things I want to do, see, experience, be in my 45th year.  I want to set myself up for inspiration...not deflation.

Realizing that I have a choice!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Clouds, Sleep and Childhood...

I woke up this morning to a fall day.  There is a palpable chill in the air.  It's nobly grey and harmoniously rainy.  This is my most beloved kind of day.  The kind I imagine well stocked in Mother Nature's treasure trove.  It's lazy to be recreated.  The sun is slow to shine, the birds softly to sing, the streets quietly deserted.  It's intimate, deliberate and cozy.  The only problem is that it belongs in late September or early October not the fresh start of August.

The kids are still sleeping.  My resident teenager has been living up to all sleep loving stereotypes, but Miss Bit does not smile when she wakes to only half a day.  I share her sentiment, yet I am selfish for just a little more languid peace and meditative silence.  She has become such a night owl this summer, and when one is up every night to welcome the new day, one can scarcely hope to rise with the morning sun.  I could be more of a task master or naysayer, but stricter bedtimes loom in the very near future so I choose the path of least resistance.  I refrain.  I mute my barbs and quiet my mother's wisdom.  I have found that it's not true what they say: youth is not wasted on the young.

I see how my kids are going through life.  They are living it.  Every simple moment is a delight and I cannot help but be awed by the magic I witness if only I stop to bear it.  The young know how to purely be. here. now.  There is an admirable authenticity in the way they are able to live in the moment.  They don't look back or spring forward.  They don't have to.  Sadly, I can scarcely remember such a carefree existence punctuated by wonder, and bookended by joy and grace.  I am not ashamed to live vicariously, nor to admit that from them there is much to learn about life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

2 day pass

after a very full week -
the kind that has each one of us coming and going in a myriad of directions,
and not always crossing paths -
t. bone had 3 consecutive nights of sleepovers in 3 different homes, and lil was here and there celebrating her big birthday...
we finally came together with a few friends for our resident 10 year olds final celebration -
a day at the lake.
it was perfect for our water worshipper.
luckily her friends love swimming almost as much as she does and mother nature granted us a perfect day.
see for yourself...

*the girls*
-the guys-
lil is the first one in and she finds the water rather refreshing for august!
the rest of the girls get wet and hatch a plan.
the boys think they have the raft all to themselves!
to the raft!
no day at the beach is complete without a little king of the raft.
or rather queens of the raft!
 celebrating victory and maybe gloating just a bit.
protecting the turf or taunting.
 the guys move on to play football and perfect flips and dives.
 frogging and fishing.
a wee little prince.

coach was a good game master.  they all had fun playing simon says, tossing water balloons and competing in a sand castle challenge.
i was in charge of the food and cupcakes.
 miss bit was almost out of wishes as this was her 4th time being serenaded this week.
she managed, but the wind almost won!
it was a really great day.
everyone had loads of fun and no one was ready to go home.
not even after 6+ hours of beach time.
(except maybe the boys who were in serious sleep deficit after the aforementioned string of sleepovers.)
and that is the sign of a good party -
that no one wants it to come to an end.
the end.