Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Inventory

Reading: Small Victories and finding a mostly kindred spirit in Anne Lamott.  It's What I Do: A Photographers Life of Love and War and living vicariously through Lynsey Addario. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults and feeling grateful that I finally acted on my friend Mary's recommendation.  Thanks Mary!  Slouching Towards Bethlehem because how can I never have read this being the faithful fan of Joan Didion that I am? And Mockingjay aloud with Lily.

Wondering whether we should get a fourth kitchen consult.  I wasn't kidding many months ago when I said it would be Thanksgiving before we had a kitchen.  Now I may have to amend that to New Year's.

Noticing the way the yard has come to life.  Everything is growing and blooming, and everyone is out and about chirping and screeching and buzzing. 

Watching nothing noteworthy.  The nights are so full we don't sit down for dinner until almost 8 o'clock.  That leaves little time for programming and I'm better for it.  I am happier when I read myself to sleep, and please see reading...I've got quite a stack to navigate and a few new ones waiting for me at the library.

Listening see noticing. 

Eating the first nectarines of the season, lots of grilled chicken and pork,  salads, and too late.

Drinking last week prosecco, montepulciano and chianti.  A little chardonnay too.  I drank my first soda in ages.  And then I drank a couple more, and I realized how much I missed them and more importantly how addictive they are.  It's true what they say: sugar free soda is just as bad for us as the sugar laden.

Wanting to embrace the open months ahead with a free and spontaneous spirit.  I am a planner.  I like a schedule, but I am also a dreamer and a be here nower.  Think Walt Whitman:  "Do I contradict myself?  Very well then, I contradict myself.  I am large, I contain multitudes."

Wearing my favorite skirts (Athleta, Hanna and Garnet Hill) and Birks.  All the kids are wearing Birks now.  I didn't start wearing them until I was in college and my feet had stopped growing.  I still have my first pair.  Lily's been wearing them.  Of course, she wants her own pair now, but I'm not sure she needs or will really wear them, and her feet are still weeds.  Maybe for her birthday.

Hoping Lily can make some neighborhood connections.  We've had a yard full of boys many a day or night this spring and I know she wishes she could meet some girls to hang out with in that casual, constant way.

Thinking of all the projects I want to complete.  And wishing I were more decisive and handy.  Moneyed too.  And on the flip side I'm thinking that I can't let perfect ruin good, or loose sight of the fact that we are blessed to live the way we do where we do.

Enjoying the extended hours of daylight.  The golden hour seems to come and stay awhile, and the gloaming lingers too.  It's such a magical time of day filled with long shadows and low light.  

Loving Any reminder to be present like these Anne Dillard words: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."  Also Anne Beattie's Snow and these words: "Who expects small things to survive when even the largest get lost? People forget years and remember moments." Really sit with those sentiments.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The end of the week.  It was the longest shortest week ever.  Time is not on my side lately.

Books.  Lynsey Addario's memoir has finally taken hold.  It's not a quick read, but it is compelling.  It's the perfect example of what I love about this genre: the chance to live vicariously when I read such personal accounts.

Lavender.  It's such a peaceful, happy scent.

Friends who bring wine and roses.

What has become our annual family musical outing.

The Book of Mormon especially Elder Cunningham and Hello, Turn it Off and Baptize Me.

Trader Joe's before 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.

These girls.

These boys and a girl.


My heels are soft as a baby's bottom after a week of diligent pampering.

Open windows.

A BBQ with friends tonight to kick off the last week and a half of school and the end of 8th grade for our boys.  Trying to keep sight of the fact that "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  It is almost closing time.

A graduation gift that he will enjoy all summer long.  He's earned it.  He worked hard for his perfect 4.0.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2 day pass

the extra long holiday weekend was just what i needed...
except i wanted more.
i thought about extending it by another day.
there were just so many things i didn't get to do.
just one more day to get my flowers in the ground or in a pot.
one more day to wash floors after tracking in so much earth over the weekend.
one more day to bake something delicious with my collection of overripe berries.
one more day to wear flip flops on my feet and a braid in my hair.
and even though my reasons for staying home were most compelling, i went to work.
a couple of times though i've perused the photos taken over the past few days longingly.
i think it's going to be a long day.
a long summer too, but it will go by in the blink of an eye.
that may sound contradictory to some, but it perfectly fits my logic.
or lack thereof.
it's just as beyond explanation that 4 days can feel shorter than 2.
there was also so much that i did do.
there was a perfect evening with old friends.
simple food and easy conversation: charcuterie, an italian salad, pasta aglio e olio, memories revisited and future plans proposed. 
a bottle of white and a bottle (or two) of red.
there was a baseball tournament.
teddy had a triple home run which doesn't happen everyday (or ever).
except his next at bat he almost hit another dinger.
i think coach may have been more excited than t. bone.
there was an afternoon at the theater to see book of mormon.
it made me laugh, but it is not for the faint of heart or easily offended.
there was a gathering after the show at my brother and sil's for more festivities.
my 25 year old cousin got us all involved in a word game she played at a wild party the night before.
oh and we were wild too with words like caliphate, potpourri and mormon (of course).
there were bike rides, water fights, croquet and trampoline challenges.
there were the first and best ribs of the season and a beautiful fruit tart.
and it was all good.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

This piece on satisfaction.  I always find such humble wisdom in Karen Maezen Miller's words.

Team Lightning played their first game last night.  Lily didn't want to pitch, and then she did.  She did pitch and then she wanted to pitch.  And she did really well.  Oh and they won and went out for ice cream after to celebrate.

Going to bed early every night this week and sleeping like a rock.

Getting to see Ted win his match.

Getting up early this morning to ready the kids for their annual before school breakfast with dad and then getting myself to work early to finish a project so I can enjoy a really long weekend.

A family outing to see The Book of Mormon Sunday.  Adults only.  I am beyond excited to see this show.

A spot opened up at theater camp for Lily in July.

Spotting a bluebird on one of my walks through the park this week.


The first watermelon of the season.  We polished one off this week.

A bbq with friends tomorrow night.  The forecast says it will be beautiful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Confessions of an Introvert

Last night was spring sing for the middle school choir.  Lily was amped up for the performance.  She even let me curl her hair.  I let her borrow a pair of my shoes.  You see it's sort of a special night, and also one I kind of dread.  There I said it, and I'm not going to take it back.  What I dread about it is that feeling of being a shy and introverted girl in a gym full of outgoing extroverts.  Small talk is not my forte and all the chatter sort of rattles me to my core.  It literally is my every insecurity on steroids.  Lily had to be there a half hour before the concert and that girl is the very definition of punctuality.  Mike was with Ted at a baseball game so the girls were flying solo.  I had a book to pass the time, but was all too aware of the message putting my nose into it would convey.  It looks snotty when it really is sanity.

Turns out I didn't have to crack it because an old friend found me, and we spent that 30 minutes catching up. She has a lovely daughter Ted's age.  It's funny because the two of us also met in middle school and were good friends for many years.  Then I went away to college.  She married and moved away and we lost touch. Nothing happened except life.  We both moved close to home again, and while we are not close like we once were, there is a familiarity and genuine bond that we'll always share.

We started talking about how hard it is to be a young girl in this day and age: the age of social media.  For the record, it also takes thick skin and a level head to be the mother of a young girl. We agreed that we were never so exclusive or mean-spirited as girls are today, and our mothers never ever got involved in our relationships.  We also didn't refer to one another with acronyms like bff and bae, or constantly post pictures of our venti caramel macchiatos and then tag all the people we consumed them with. It was a much different world: simpler, kinder, more innocent, and that just makes me sad.

I've had some vein of this conversation with numerous friends who are the mothers of daughters in the past few weeks. Strong women with bright, talented, beautiful girls so these dynamics seem pervasive and indiscriminate.  Knowing that, I know what I need to do.  I need to be my most authentic self and a strong role model for my daughter.  I need to not confuse my insecurities with those she harbors because she is also the definition of comfortable in her own skin.  I need to refrain from projecting my desires and expectations on her because she is not me.  We are so much alike, but we are also very different.  And I need to truly take to heart what my Mom told me many times when my heart was heavy over a hurting friendship.  She would tell me, "Quality over quantity my dear.  If you can count your friends on one hand, you are lucky." She was right.

The concert was great.  I got the chills a few times.  The level of talent these young performers possess when they come together sends electricity into the air.  Together.  That realization was as telling for me as some of the song choices : True Colors, Stand by Me and Hey Brother.  The universe is always talking and sometimes...oftentimes the message I hear cracks me wide open.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

two day pass

this weekend was summer's preamble.
a maple tree that was budless saturday morning grew baby leaves overnight.
where there were no ferns, suddenly a dense patch appeared.
the fat bellied robins run around the yard wrenching worms from the ground until gloaming.
the chipmunks have begun to blaze a trail from the cover of the pines to the bounty of the feeders.
i woke to bird song followed closely by the din of mowers.
the air alternates between the permeating smell of petrichor to the nostalgic smell of fresh cut grass, and then grilled meats.
and the boys caterwaul all day longing for a spot on the sun-kissed patio.
these days and nights are both familiar and full.
familiar scents and sounds and sights.
full of activities and outings and gatherings.
t. bone had his first baseball tournament of the season.
the knights started off strong friday night and then it ended all too soon and way too early sunday morning.
the thing is that he was happy to spend the free time saturday golfing with family, and running around the neighborhood with friends sunday.
it is quintessential childhood, and reminds me of my own.
only i just text him when it's time to come home.
my mom had to shout.
miss bit went from riding to a school dance friday.
and then she was my sidekick for the remainder, which neither one of us seem to mind.
we shopped and went for pedicures now that it is officially flip flop weather.
she also practiced pitching with her dad.
she's so loving softball, and her first game is this week.
every night there is something...something good.
mike and i went out for dinner saturday just the two of us.
the food was meh, but the time together was great.
we had family dinner sunday night much later than i like,
but the sun was still high in the sky.
i have to give in to the fact that we are easing into summer time.
which is to say that the days and nights are fluid and yielding and free.
familiar and full too.

Monday, May 18, 2015

On My Mind Monday

Being smart and rich are lucky.  But being curious and compassionate will save your ass.

Being curious and compassionate will take you out of your ego and edge your soul towards wonder.

~ Mary Karr

These words were delivered via her commencement address to Syracuse grads last week.  I love the little nuggets that are at the heart of these speeches even while I admit that I have no idea who spoke at the ceremony that marked my graduation.  What I do remember is that the morning was heavy with humidity and anticipation. I couldn't wait to get out of the Field House and on with life.  Earlier in the day, I copied a Zora Neale Hurston quote onto my mortar board.  It read, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer."  Twenty five years later, these words still ring true.  I thought I was entering into that phase of life where answers would come easy and often.  That was equal parts naivety and wishful thinking.  Truthfully, I have more questions than answers as I find myself in the thick of things.  I think that's why I find myself perusing these farewell speeches this time each year.  They remind me of that intoxicating youthful optimism and positive conviction that if that: then this, which we come to realize is just not so.  In life, there are no guarantees.  You can work hard and still not succeed.  Or perhaps, you succeed and are puffed up with answers.  Then slowly and all at once you wake up one ordinary day or year and realize that you don't value this or that by which you are now measured or defined. And what really is success?  That's a serious questions crisis.  After a few of these cycles, it becomes apparent that it is often one foot forward and one foot back or to the side.  There are more I think or I hope sos and maybes than yes indeeds.  This is the dance of life and you come to accept the footwork despite the often unpredictable rhythm on the uncertain path.  And really...answers are good, but so are questions. Right?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grateful Friday...

Today I give thanks for...

Tickets to my show for Mother's Day from Coach.  I just turned on Pandora and Chuckie's in Love is on.

My brother's Harp burgers delivered to my door, and that he thought to share one with me.

Their heartfelt cards and handmade creations.  The best!

Spring fruits and vegetables and also this lemon chicken with poached asparagus and pan potatoes.  Simple and scrumptious.

T. Bone's graduation speech will be one of a handful printed in the program.  I'm proud because he has become such an articulate writer and it was not the easiest of roads for him.

Lily will be honored at the annual Student of the Quarter dinner in June.  It's an honor given to one boy and one girl per grade per trimester and, thus, quite an honor.

A stack of books.  I'm reading them all simultaneously, but they're vastly different.  I started and almost finished Lamott's Small Victories on the farm tonight.  There was something so sublime to be enjoying a perfect night and her poetic words in such a bucolic setting.  I'm thinking that act set the tone for the weekend.

Looking up.

Friday on the's cathartic.

How comfortable and happy she is in this arena now.

Rain even if it does seem that the minute the crab apple tree blooms, we're hit with a deluge. 

A date with Mike tomorrow.

A trip to Yelllowstone planned for this summer.

A quiet house.  The boys are at a baseball tournament and Lily is at a school dance.  That's my cue to curl up with a cat and my stack.

Jukebox Hero is on now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

two day pass

and i think to myself what a wonderful world...
the theme song for the weekend.
oh. i love a little louis armstrong as i loved this quaint collection of days.

there were skies of blue-
friday on the farm...
lily and admiral were back arm and arm (more like in the saddle).
they'll learn much more than i'll ever know-
and for that i am beyond grateful

the colors of the rainbow so pretty on jess's charcuterie plate-
blue (roquefort) and white (cheddar)...purple (grapes) and red (wine).
some crackers and...a baguette too, she's really saying:
i really like you.

the next bright blessed day of baseball and softball-
felt full even before our girl's day out.
i see friends clapping hands saying-
thank you to peter and the star catcher's cast and crew...
for making us belly laugh for a minute or two.
(actually, i'm still smiling.)

i see moms of heart and soul sayin' how do you do-
over a glass of chardonnay and it's true...
it's a wonderful world when you see it with your crew.
(or tribe, clan or few.)

i see lanes of neon, and jewel toned balls too,
and i hope i'll throw a strike, or a spare for you.
then i'll dance the night away as i think to myself...
what a wonderful world.

after a dark friend filled night,
i wake to a dreary mother's day.
the sun may as well be shining...
i can feel her warmth and love my way.

and i think to myself...
what a wonderful world.

yes, what a wonderful world.

Monday, May 11, 2015

On My Mind Monday

Living in a dream of the future is considered a character flaw.  Living in the past, bathed in nostalgia, is also considered a character flaw.  Living in the present moment is hailed as spiritually admirable, but truly ignoring the lessons of history or failing to plan for tomorrow are considered character flaws.

I still needed to record the present moment before I could enter the next one, but I wanted to know how to inhibit time in a way that wasn't a character flaw.

Remember the lessons of the past.  Imagine the possibilities of the future.  And attend to the present, the only part of time that doesn't require the use of memory.

~ Sarah Manguso

Yesterday was hard, but good.  Happysad.  Bittersweet.  Mother's Day is a colossal intersection of love and loss for me.  For many.  I woke ailing physically.  Oddly that mitigated my emotional pain. The fact that it was a cold and rainy day was Mother Nature's permission to take comfort.

Miss Bit and her trail of hearts ushered me into the dining room once I roused.  The table was set and a candle lit.  She took my order and then helped her Dad prepare my coffee and camel's eyes.  I wasn't hungry, but there was no way I was not going to play along.  Her gesture showed such sweetness.

When T. Bone's baseball game was rained out, we got comfy for an Amazing Race and Survivor marathon.  It kept my mind off my aching bones and heart.  And my memories too.  A commercial made us hungry for burgers so Coach and Lily headed out to pick up linner.  A cheeseburger almost never tasted so good.

I devoured my cards and gifts for dessert.  I loved them all, but what means the most to me are their words. Wow!  I say w-o-w.  I was left humbled by the past and grateful for the future as I felt to the core of my being the importance of being a mother.  Their mother.  That is my greatest gift.

I never left the house.  We never prepared a proper dinner, and yet it was a perfect Mother's Day because I felt very connected to and cherished by my family.  And while I missed my Mom, I felt more blessed than blighted.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

This week.  It was a whirlwind of work and activities so I leaned into the commotion and that made all the difference.  I said yes to what I needed and no to what I didn't or couldn't. I needed a little carpool help, daily naps and workouts, and to get to bed before the news even if Lily and I wanted to read another chapter or two.  Permission is purgative.

The weather. We don't always get spring on the shores of Lake Michigan, but we've had a stretch of blissfully warm and breezy days.  An easy transition is just what I need as I am resistant to any and all change, but especially the abrupt kind.  Fresh air is cleansing.

Sunday bbqs.  We grilled the first brats of the season last week and served them with sweet corn.  Before dinner, the kids played baseball in the yard and Mike and my brother played cribbage on the patio.  I sat sipping my Rose' feeling complete contentment.  Sunday dinner is happiness.

Tickets to see Peter and the Starcatcher tomorrow with Lily and the Grandmas.  It's a little Mother's Day treat.  Time with them is sweet.

Rickie Lee Jones has a new album coming out in June and she will performing in my city in July.  This link is for Coach so he can get us front row seats just like he did last time.  I think that is all I want or need for Mother's Day.  Listening to her scat and sing makes me giddy.  

I just got a text from Jess.  She is coming for Friday on the Farm.  I was going to go to Costco (and rather dreading it), but now I'm going to enjoy the beaut of evening with my friend while Lily rides.  Happy hour on the farm is a great way to celebrate the weekend.

Monday, May 4, 2015

On My Mind Monday

To write a diary is to make a series of choices about what to omit, what to forget.

~ Sarah Manguso
Ongoingness - The End of a Diary

Writing a blog is much the same.  Lately I've been choosing not to remember and I really cannot say why.  I cannot say because I do not know.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Dinner with an old friend this week.  I didn't realize how much I missed her until I saw her coming down the driveway.  We shared a bottle of wine, a salad, two girly pizzas, and too many to count stories about our lives in the past year since we were together last.

Leftovers for lunch the next day.

Saying yes and saying no.

A spa retreat with my step mother and sister-in-law.  in the 24 hours we were away, we were massaged and soaked and scrubbed.  We wined and we dined.  We walked and we talked and slept in beds white and fluffy as cumulus clouds.  It was such a much needed respite.

Delight.  It's the name of the polish on my toes.  It is a cross between sky blue and aqua sea and it makes me happy.  Never mind that the nail tech told me all the young girls choose it.

Finally speaking real time and completely honestly with my oldest friend.  It was cathartic to emote. We bitched, we cried and we laughed, and then we thanked God and our mothers for one another.

Summer schedules panning out.  Sam will be with us for the beginning and everyone is cheering about that most of all me!

Spring cleaning.  I've been on a serious mission to clean the grout in the bathrooms.  It feels so good to purge and deep clean.

Bow ties and boys who will wear them.

Teddy and Lily made cookies together this week while Jess and I sat at the kitchen table supervising.  It was a comedy routine.

A long overdue visit to the salon this week.

Sarah Manguso's Ongoingness.  As a kindred lifelong journaler, I'm relating to this work on many levels.  I'm also dog earing almost every other page.

Lily opted for Mockingjay as our current read aloud and we were able to get right into it.  It's keeping me awake for much longer than usual and we haven't even gotten to the most engaging parts yet.

T. Bone's graduation speech.  All the 8th graders had to write and deliver a commencement speech.  I thought it was a meaningful assignment, and I was touched by my son's words.

A summery weekend forecast.