Monday, March 30, 2015

On My Mind Monday

Perhaps most of us never stop needing a person from whom we can fledge and return repeatedly, continually trying our independence in the knowledge that there is somewhere and someone to which we can return.

~ Alexandra Fuller
Leaving Before The Rains Come

Friday, March 27, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

That sometimes she still wants to hold my hand.

An after school stop at the nature center.  We found many heart shaped rocks to add to our special collection, and we mused that we will be swimming in these waters sooner rather than later despite the fact that it doesn't much look or feel that way now.

Fresh air and broody sky.

Calzones and Coach for making them after a long day of work.  They were maybe even better than pizza so I hope that he will oblige us soon again.

The Washington Monument by Ted.

Cuddle buddies.  (Yes, he looks huge here!)

No phone call from the clinic where I had my very long overdue mammogram this week.  They said no news was good news.  Whew!  I was really angry at myself for putting it off for so long.  Never again.

The Badgers made the Elite Eight.  Atta boys!

The huddle.

The conversation reading this sparked with T. Bone yesterday.  He's just firming up his course schedule for his freshman year - his freshman year of high school - but he already has college on the brain.  His top 5 are all Ivy League Institutions.  I applaud his goals and confidence, but this offered a nice little segue into possibilities and potential outside that elite echelon.

Commencement addresses.  There have been so many inspiring speeches delivered over the years, but This is Water is one of my personal favorites for many reasons.

Happy hour on the farm with Jess tonight.  We'll sip wine and eat cheese while Miss Bit canters her heart out and it should be a satisfying end to a full week.. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

2 day pass

friday on the farm.
it was all so familiar.
admiral remembered lily.
more importantly, she remembered how to ride.
she was comfortable and even commanding in the saddle.
ted had friends over for bagel sandwiches, pizza and the badgers in that order.
growing boys!
saturday around the house.
it was gratifying.
it felt good to get things done before a night out.
a date to celebrate a friend's bar mitzvah.
dancing and chatting the night away.
miss bit even joined the circle for the hug dance.
a more mature musical chairs.
sunday at church with the family and then the theatre with lily.
in the audience to support a friend on stage.
we loved it...her.
home to work side by side in the kitchen.
first with ted for frosting 101 to curb immediate sugar cravings bought on by baseball practice both days.
then with lil to make a batch of mac & cheese for the week because she likes to cook.
last with coach to make dinner: chicken cordon bleu, risotto and asparagus because i was too tired to do it myself.
asparagus that i am happy to report was eaten by all family members with less enthusiasm than i like, but zero complaint.
the boys then gathered to watch the victorious badgers.
lily and i snuggled up to watch the firm circa 1990s.
yes, already 20 years old, and by her definition still "intense."
i was ready for bed before the news, and yet not ready for the weekend to slip away.
there was so much more i wanted to do.
but in truth, i usually feel this way come sunday night.

On My Mind Monday

The fact that our heart yearns for something earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.

~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, March 20, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Lunch with a friend yesterday.  It was a nice break from the day...from the week.  I had the most decadent cup of reuben soup that I am now on a mission to recreate.

School teams.  Ted joined volleyball this year.  He's having fun and he's quite good too.

We're headed out to the farm.  The spring riding session starts tonight.  Lily is super excited to see Admiral.

We almost forgot the green freckles on Tuesday and then we didn't.

Soda bread for breakfast all week long.

My boys have Badger fever.  Go Bucky!

Dinner out in the middle of the week just because.  Just because I didn't feel like cooking.

Words and the books that are comprised of them.

My very own editor.

The vernal equinox.

It's the weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Inventory

Reading All The Light We Cannot See.  It was a haunting, but beautiful story.  The kind that you read and find yourself changed for good and forever. It was rich in heart and soul and conflict.  Conflict of character and plot. WWII is the setting.  I think that Doerr has proven himself to be a master of characterization and description once again.  I felt like I knew these people and was walking the streets of Saint-Malo or Zollverein along with them.   I so appreciated the short chapters seeing as how it was a more lyrical work. I can see this on the big screen without doubt.  I'm also reading Alexandra Fuller's Leaving Before the Rains Come and The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber.  Fuller writes a most compelling memoir.  I've read her other two.  Lieber's book comes highly recommended.

Wondering what the next stage of my life is going to look like.  What I want it to look like, and then how to create that vision.

Noticing so much about what exactly makes me tick, and how these things both help and hinder me.

Watching Secrets and Lies despite the fact that it is chock full of plot absurdities and cliches, and devoid of nuances that would lead to a more believable story with richer characters.  Also The Slap, which has it's own cast of cardboard characters, but sometimes (like after a long day) bad television is good.  Lily and I saw Cinderella Friday after school.  And sometimes the happily ever after fairy tales promise is just what we need after a long week.  Platitudes along with an extra large tub of popcorn.  A simple message like: Have courage.  Be kind. may be just what we need to hear even if our step mothers aren't evil and we don't believe in magic or fairy god mothers.  For the record though, I would claim Helena Bonham Carter as my very own fairy god mother IRL.  Before Cinderella, a Frozen short was played.  Lily was almost more excited by that and the news that there will be a Frozen II than by the featured film.  I, on the other hand, don't remember much of Frozen the first or the very difference between Elsa and Anna.  Yet I know the Frozen fever is alive and burning for women of all ages, which is to say young girls and their mothers.  The fairy tale is an archetype that isn't going anywhere soon despite the fact that they are more romantic delusion than diversion, and I'm OK with that.  Last night we watched Foxcatcher.  It put me to sleep.  It was loooong and slow.

Listening to the last couple episodes of Serial.  I 100% think Jay is not telling the truth, and that he could have killed Hai.  I'm also still loving the Parenthood cd I mixed.  I have songs from Dylan, The Lumineers, Eddie Vedder, Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee and Richie Havens to name just a few.

Eating the first grilled meats of the year.  Burgers, dogs and chicken all in one weekend.  Shepherd's Pie and soda bread on St. Pat's Day.  It was my second attempt at soda bread this month.  The first, a new recipe, ended up in the trash.  I made my trusted recipe last night and it was better than ever.

Drinking a Nutty Irishman last night for dessert.  (That may be partially responsible for putting me to sleep during Foxcatcher.)

Feeling unsettled.  Overwhelmed too.  Change...any change...even the change of seasons, and especially winter to spring, leaves me feeling out of sorts.  Akimbo.  But I know it just takes time. As simple as it sounds, I remind myself to  Right here right now. Not to worry about what is passing or what is in my purview.  Just to focus on the present.  The day, the hour, the moment, and then it feels possible.

Wanting to get the summer all planned.  It would be such a load off to figure out camps and lessons and summer school and a sitter.  All of the uncertainty of the upcoming 12 weeks only adds to my fractured feelings.  See here I go again.  I'm a work in progress.

Wearing my Mom's shamrock scarf yesterday.  No jacket most days.  Flip flops soon.  New walking shoes now.

Hoping we can get our summer trip planned.

Thinking that I emphatically know the answer to this question: Don’t you want to be alive before you die? All The Light We Cannot See lingers in the way only the very best books do.

Enjoying being able to take a walk after work with Mike.  Monday it looked, smelled and felt like summer. The longer days.  The tulips Jess brought me when she came for dinner Saturday night.

Loving watching Dancing With The Stars with Lily.  She voted for Noah Galloway, Patti Labelle, Robert Herjavec and Willow Shields.  Those ballots tell you all you need to know about my girl. That after 3 years and just before we get rid of it, Teddy is now starting to use the trampoline.  Of course, he thinks we need a new one! He kept calling me out to video his new tricks the other night while I was in the middle of making dinner.  My first instinct was to say, "In a minute."  It irks me to no end when they say that to me so I tried to be patient and present while he flung himself into the air again and again to do back flips and cork screws.  We all need an audience at times.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slainte to Heaven McGurk (Mom)

For every wound, a balm.
For every sorrow, a cheer.
For every storm, a calm.
For every thirst, a beer.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On My Mind Monday

“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.

It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.” 

~Anthony Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See

Friday, March 13, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

T. Bone went on his ski trip solo Saturday.  He ended up meeting up with someone he knew from a couple years ago on his football team and they had a blast.  I don't think I would have EVER done that.  He did, and it worked out.

Coach and Lily went tubing with the cousins.  They too had such a blast.

Turns out it was our last weekend of winter (at least for the time being) so we're switching gears to baseball and softball.

Spring cleaning and burgers on the grill too.

Birdsong and warmish breezes.

A walk sans jacket mid week that ended in a full on sweat.

Putting my Mom's fish on a chain and wearing it all weekend long.  She had two.  One green and the other blue and she wore them often.  Now I will.

A new lamp for my dining room.  I've never much liked the lighting in that room because I prefer ambient to overhead light.  This little light was exactly what I needed.

A really lazy Sunday, and zero shame for being a slug.

T. Bone enjoyed D.C. with his friends.  He came home tonight with kaleidoscope eyes. I'm grateful for all of the experiences he had, and eager to hear about them after he is rested, watered and fed.

Miss Bit and I headed to the theater after school to see Cinderella.  We both gave it a solid 9.  I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, and I'm grateful to know that we are never too old for a good fairy tale.

 Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a compassionate doctor and a wise patient. He died this week from metastatic lung cancer, but not before opening so many minds and hearts. Also This piece, which was beautifully written just before his death. He was dying. It would have been so easy to check out, but he didn't.  On his death bed, he worked with colleagues to develop a more sensitive palliative care protocol.  As a doctor turned patient, he had much to offer.  I'm grateful for that because in my experience, there is much room for growth in dealing with terminal patients and their families. The medical profession, the world has lost a rare gem.

This novel.  Thank you Anthony Doerr for your beautiful words that come together to tell such a compelling story.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This Guy

This guy is on his way to Washington D.C. with 80 of his classmates.  I snapped this picture at 4 a.m. in the deserted airport parking lot, and I knew better than to ask for another.  It's fine though because this photo captures what I see.

Look at those man hands.  He seems to grow overnight every night.  And he's all legs now.  This week his new khakis had a 34 inch inseam.  In early winter we restocked with 30s.  Gone from his face is any trace of boyhood, and rumor has it that he's even shaved, but I'm in serious denial about that one.  He's starting to care more about his appearance and is developing his own sense of style.  I like it.

Look at his excitement.  This guy loves to go places and especially on airplanes.  He's a traveler by heart ready to take on new experiences with curiosity.  He quipped how great it would be if I were taking him to the airport to board a plane to Colorado, yet we talked most of the way there about all of the worthy things on his jam packed itinerary. I shared with him that D.C. is one of my favorite places to visit, and that I still want to travel there as a family one day.  One day soon it'll have to be.

Look at his confidence and charm.  He has a level of self-possession I so often admire.  He is comfortable anywhere.  Everywhere.  He can engage anyone.  He respects himself and other people. He knows his worth and he values that of others.  All others from the homeless person on the street to the priest at the altar.  He sees no difference.  What a gift he has to embrace life with such a compelling combination of chutzpah and earnestness.

See his bright shining spirit.  People are drawn to him and they speak of the essence of his character in ways that sometimes make me blush.  He has strong values and a healthy moral code.  He knows what is right and that is what he does.  I briefly mentioned "the rules" for this trip, but I'm not worried about him breaking any.

Look at his independence and fearlessness.  He's ready.  Ready for this trip, ready for high school, ready for life.  He's eager to try new things, meet new people, go new places.  He's ready to forge ahead into a life that I get to hear snippets about, and that just right there is the definition of bittersweet.  It is textbook happysad, but really mostly happy.  He's coming into his own and that is cause for celebration.

Before I left this morning, he gave me an extra long bear hug (or he allowed me to give him an extra long mom hug), and then he disappeared into a crowd of friends who were happy to see him.  For the briefest moment, I felt a tad verklempt, but the prevailing emotions were pride and honor and joy.
This guy...that's my boy.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2 day pass in pictures

1. the sun feels warmer and shines brighter each day.
2. bunches of daffodils are a sure sign of spring.
3. popcorn skies.
4. soda bread. herby cheese this time. smelled great.  looked good, but was inedible.  time to really forge ahead on a new kitchen.
5. he gets ready for a day of spring skiing.  perhaps the last of the season.
6. i think he was almost as excited for the breakfast bagel i made him as he was to strap on his skis.
7. a little cat and mouse.
8. we get ready for a fun st. patty's day birthday celebration.
9. taking turns at the trough.
10. soon the branches won't be bare.
11. i bought all the shamrocks at the store.
12. the menu.
13. the table.
14. slainte to another year birthday girls!
15. the dark chocolate guiness cake before the bailey's butter cream frosting and the dollop of whiskey whipped cream.  the star of the meal imo.
16. lucky to have these ladies.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Girl

She is, at times, 10 1/2 going on 16, but always my baby.  There are times I see so clearly the little girl that she was and others when I get glimpses of the young lady she's becoming.  Yes, she rolls her eyes from time to time.  Sure she's starting to find me annoying in certain situations.  I get that breathy Mom more than I used to, but we genuinely enjoy our time together and cherish the relationship we've forged.

She is a typical tween taking selfies (like the one above that inspired this post) and snap chatting with her friends, and yet there is nothing common about her.  She possesses the kindest heart and a grateful spirit.  She hurts when other people hurt, and is a constant champion of the underdog.  My old soul is a true empath. It's more important to her to be true to herself and a good friend than most popular.  She's already figured out who she is at her very core.  Her moral compass is steady and her character strong.  I marvel at that because I know adults with less depth and far weaker conviction.

She is not only wise beyond her years, but she's also witty.  And opinionated.  Her commentary on anything from life to the Wednesday night line-up frequently makes me pause or simply shake my head.  More and more often she gets things I don't expect her to.  She gets them with fresh eyes and young heart...with unjaded innocence and optimistic hope, and my mother's candor.

She is coming into her own in so many ways.  She's driving the bus, making decisions and choosing paths and I have to respect that.  Sometimes it's hard because I think I know better, but she knows what she wants and what she can handle.  Gone are the days where I oversee every aspect of her life. It's no longer my job to make every choice and decision.  It's time to let her slowly take the reins, to encourage her if she struggles, and applaud her when she succeeds.  I've already given her the roots. She's earned her wings.

There are times I get down on my parental weaknesses.  I stress over the many things I could be doing better as a mom.  I'm not perfect, nor are my kids, but they are happy, healthy, well-adjusted individuals who make me immensely proud as a mother and encouraged as a human being every day.  And that is how I know I'm doing something right.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2 day pass

after a cold and emotionally fraught week,
all i wanted for the weekend was only what i wanted.
that is to say the things that ground me and the people who lift me:
quiet spaces and kindred spirits.
books, walks, whims, comfort food, coffee and wine.
conversations, connections, chilling out and cozying up.
jess joined us friday evening.
we gathered our best ideas to help lily construct her amusement park for science.
i bribed jess with pizza, wine and a batch of double chocolate cookies hot out of the oven.
almost 11 year old girls tend to dismiss their mothers, but not their aunts.
temperatures made it into the 20s on saturday with the sun high in the sky.
coach and i took a balmy walk along the river and then on the edge of town.
it felt good to restore depleted vitamin d reserves, to explore and to see our town with fresh eyes.
since i was up before the crack of dawn to see t. bone off for skiing saturday, sleeping past sunrise felt like sleeping in sunday.
we started our day at church, and i was thankful for the weekly ritual which always makes me feel lighter and less alone.
ted went to workout with his uncle, mike helped lily finish her project and i worked out and made a tuna casserole for dinner.
that was added to my brother's rendition of my mother's beef stroganoff.
sunday dinner was an homage to the 70s casserole and my mom.
for a weekend that was relatively uneventful, it was, in fact, quite full.