Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Inventory

Reading The Life and Death of Sophie Stark.  I picked it up from the library last night and got right into it.  I also started The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry last week.  So far, both seem to be well-written, entertaining reads.  Lily and I are still working on The Mockingjay proving that as bedtimes get later, before bed reading isn't happening.  Last week I read Still Alice and I loved it.  I felt that the way it was written so subtly conveyed what she was going through.  As readers we were given glimpses into Alice's decline and it was haunting.  It could have been a longer, more detailed story, but I appreciated the careful editing of just enough information to invest in these characters.

Wondering how we are already into the third week of summer vacation and a day away from July.

Noticing that time has a way of revealing to us what truly matters.

Watching or trying to watch the third season of Orange is the New Black, but there hasn't been much time for television these days or nights.  Soon the last season of Homeland will be available on dvd and I'm anxious for that too.  Also the baby red squirrels who are oblivious to the cats as they play chase all over the yard.

Listening to Stevie Wonder.  Also Motown.  I made Jess a cd of the music from the musical we'll be seeing next weekend for her birthday.  Rickie Lee Jones' new album which Coach burned for me in advance of her upcoming show.

Eating lots of leftovers when we have them.  Or sandwiches.  And late.  Too late.

Drinking the first batch of iced tea this summer.

Feeling pretty chill.  Almost like I got this even though this is different every single day.

Wanting the kitchen fairy to appear to tell me exactly what to do with our remodel.  We're thinking of looking at a house a couple blocks away that has been completely remodeled.  I like the kitchen and Coach likes the pool.  Clearly, we're confused.

Wearing my hair in a messy bun every day and thinking that maybe I need to chop off a few inches.  Flip flops and only flip flops.

Hoping that we are granted a glorious day Saturday because we'll have a yard full of family and friends for a graduation/4th of July fiesta.

Thinking my cats are trans species.  Seriously they behave more like dogs.

Enjoying that my kids are preparing meals and cooking more for themselves these days.  Of course, the breakfast smoothie Lily made yesterday contained raspberries plucked from our neighbor's bushes unbeknownst to her (she wouldn't have minded) and vanilla custard instead of kefir or almond milk, but she made it.  Teddy made a pepperoni panini for lunch after golf yesterday because there was no other lunch meat. He said it was tasty.  Of course, he forgot to clean the press, but he fed himself so yea.

Loving sleeping until I wake up, having all the windows open, a new to me Stevie Wonder ballad he sang the other night called Send One Your Love, pesto, party planning, and these words: It is not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.

Monday, June 29, 2015

On My Mind Monday

You are the sunshine of my life
That's why I'll always be around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you'll stay in my heart
I feel like this is the beginning,
Though I've loved you for a million years,
And if I thought our love was ending,
I'd find myself drowning in my own tears, whoa oh oh ah
You are the sunshine of my life,
That's why I'll always stay around, mmm mmm yeah yeah

You are the apple of my eye,

Forever you'll stay in my heart

You must have known that I was lonely,
Because you came to my rescue,
And I know that this must be heaven,
How could so much love be inside of you?
Whoa oh oh oh
You are the sunshine of my life, yeah,
That's why I'll always stay around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you'll stay in my heart.


two day pass

i'm not sure what we did to deserve this sublime stretch of days.
we enjoyed everything about this weekend.
friday we all went our separate ways:
coach to summerfest with friends, ted to help his grandpa on a paving project, lily to a softball party, and i took jess to dinner for her birthday.
we enjoyed the beautiful night and cafe centro.
especially the prosciutto grilled asparagus on top of baby greens dressed in a lemon vinaigrette.
we stopped for two night caps on the way home because we I was trying to find my friend a hot and worthy man.
to be con't.

saturday i went to fetch t. bone for his final regular season little league game.
cue the kleenex.
pictured below is his last time on the mound.
that was a #s-t-r-i-k-e!

his fans showed up and so did the tigers...
they played to win.

i expected to be a little more nostalgic, but the boys were so upbeat after they won the battle
that the happiness was infectious.
i didn't even get teary.
for that teddy owes me.

he bid adieu to these fields he's been playing on since he was just a little shaver.
this has been his second home.

lily planned to go home with grandma and grandpa to swim and hot tub.
teddy went to a friend's to celebrate their #1 season.
coach and i went back to summerfest with my brother and sister-in-law for a little stevie wonder.

actually, there's nothing little about stevie wonder.
he has a larger than life personality and his voice is limitless.
his energy is palpable especially when your brother and sil score tickets 6 rows from stevie.
the first time i saw him perform 7 years ago i thought it would also be my last.
i decided it would be my last.
maybe i even took a vow.
it was the last concert i attended with my mom, and while it was a beautiful, joyful night, those kind of nights were running out for us.
i just didn't know that i could sit in the audience and hold it together while he sang you are the sunshine of my life ever again.
that's always been my mom's song.
but time heals, and i felt like being there again might smooth some bumps and fill a few cracks.
and i was right.
he saved that song for his encore and as hard as it was to hear it without her,
it would have been worse not to hear it at all.
ala better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.
it was another beautiful night and i felt that my mom was pleased that her children were carrying on a tradition that started in the 70's in her orange honda civic: singing along with stevie.
it was also amazing to get to experience this with my husband.
i'm pretty sure he's an even bigger stevie fan now.
you can not be in his audience and not be changed for better and forever.
i'm still smiling.
feeling the chi.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Naps.  Never in my adult life have a been a napper, but there is something so refreshing about nodding off after a long day with a book in hand and a breeze on my face for 20 or 30 minutes.

Two days off every week.  A weekend in the middle of the week is a luxury.

Despite the snark of my rock star rant, I have found my summer groove.  My days off work/on kids this week had an easy ebb flow to them.  We were all happy: at times engaged and others free and unconsumed.

Ann Taylor linen tees.

Road trip planning.  Yellowstone here we come!  

John Mayer circa 2001.  

The new email call back ap.  Now if they can only create one for my mouth.

Recycling.  Finding beauty in broken things like shards of glass plates turned into works of garden art.

Dinner al fresco and fresh pesto pasta.

Lily landed her first job and tended to her charges with complete enthusiasm.  She is saving her earnings to buy her own computer.

Today Ted is working for my Dad.  They are resealing his driveway.  My Dad bought 20 five gallon containers of tar.  He can spend his hard earned pay on some new golf shirts since that's what he plans to do the rest of the summer.

Rainbow cats.

This post. It's sad and so true.

T. Bone and Miss Bit played baseball together in the yard for a long stretch the other day.  Of course, I had to force strongly suggest it, but once they got into it, they had a good time, and she even let him coach her a little.

A birthday dinner with Jess tonight and a gift I am most excited to give her.

Happy Birthday Friend!

Today my much younger, but just as wise friend is celebrating a milestone birthday.  All you need to know is that it ends in zero.  I'm beyond blessed to have Jessica in my life and I realize my luck several times a day. Everyone should have a friend as loyal and true and interesting as Jessica.  And she's smart and fun too!

When we met many years ago and she was just a teenager, I never could have imagined that she would become the sister I always wanted, another daughter to my mother, or an aunt to my children.  She is family in the best sense of the word.  To think how far we have traveled from sharing stories of MAC towel boys, horny owls and fly by the night friends to stories of the loves of our lives, our  hopes, dreams and darkest fears realized.

The thing is that the best moments are better when shared with friends, and the worst are bearable when you have a buoy.  We have championed and we have bolstered.  We have laughed and we have cried.  We've done our fair share of listening without judgement and in total confidence.  She's become a much better secret keeper with age I'll have you know.  We've also talked a blue streak.  In fact, we usually talk every day at least once about anything and everything.

She's my confidante, my memory (she never forgets a thing), and my voice of reason.  She's always quick to come to my rescue, join me for a spontaneous celebration or show up for a serious talk.  Our friendship is just easy...natural...real.  We don't keep score or keep secrets.  We don't hold back or hold grudges.  At the end of the day, we just want what is best for one another.

At the beginning of this new year, I am wishing Jessica a decade of the most beautiful, meaningful gifts: a happy heart, a healthy body and a peaceful spirit. No one is more deserving of ten years of treasures than Jessica.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Just Call Me Bono

I feel like a rock star.  This week I'm slaying summer.  It's seems impossible to believe that last week I was looking at the 12 weeks in my purview with equal parts anxiety and dread.  Voila!  Here I am this week the Polyanna of the warmer months.  This week I'm all bring it on, yes, you bet, sure, why not, who cares.  It is the very definition of flip of the switch, and yes I'm considering the benefits of medication for my manic moods.

The past couple days, I have been on my game.  I've been getting up before the kids so I can have the peaceful entry into the new day I so need, a strong cuppa and also maybe 10 or 20 minutes on my computer without anyone peering over my shoulder awaiting his or her turn.  What's mine is their's so why fight it.

I made a batch of homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast this morning.  I didn't pick the berries myself, but I should have.  Let me add that to the summer bucket list.  I served them warm and let them eat as many as they wanted reminding myself that when the kids sleep until 11:00, they wake up extra hungry.

When they queried after lunch at 1:00, I was so happy to serve her a plate of pesto pasta and him eggs and toast.  It makes me feel good to know that if I ever lose my job, I can probably find one as a short order cook.  I really should thank my kids for the ongoing professional development.  Plus cleaning the kitchen 6 times a day keeps me out of trouble too!

When his friend in Ireland had to sign off Mine Craft to go to bed and he clearly had nothing to do, I was so happy to suggest he text a friend in real life to golf with, hand him the $20 fee, and wait by the phone for his call to be picked up.  I didn't mind it one bit when I got there and had to wait 10 minutes while they finished their putting challenge because I am at their beck and call.  I'm pretty sure I could get a job driving for Uber if I ever lose the one I have too.  Thanks kids for the chauffeur experience as well! I owe you!

I love arts and crafts projects so when Lily asked to do one, it was my pleasure to gather, set up and then clean up all the supplies when she was done creating.  She had the urge to jump on the trampoline and I aim to please.  You know those creatives...they are charmingly impulsive.

I've said yes to every Popsicle request, haven't harped on their aversion to reading, and I've acted like I didn't even see their unmade beds, baskets of folded laundry waiting to be put away or wilting flowers they promised to water. I've pried my eyes open with toothpicks to read to her when it's way past my bedtime because I was up 5 hours before her, and woken at 3:00 every morning to take out his headphones and turn out his light even though then I am wide awake for the dawn avian chorus.  I love books and birds so who am I to complain.

This morning I got up early before work to bake them cinnamon buns, make sure baseball uniforms were clean and pressed and set the day's itinerary.  When I left the note for Sam, I felt a more giddy than guilty that today he gets to be Jim Morrison or Axl Rose.  My set is over.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

two day pass

1.  Celebrating most of the men in my life on Father's Day.  I am a lucky sister, daughter, mother and wife (from left to right).  Not present is my amazing father-in-law!

2.  A baseball tournament.  Ted battled as pitcher.  Two wins on Saturday and an almost win...a should have won on Sunday.  The sweet part was that the loss meant we could spontaneously enjoy the rest of the picture perfect day at my Dad's with family and wings.

3.  Lily is the best fan in the stands.  The team was ahead almost the whole game and then down in the 6th inning by one run.  She told Coach to have a huddle and give the boys a pep talk.  He did.

4.  My two smiling despite the loss.

5.  Peanut has perfected chilling.

6.  Lily got a job.  She is absolutely over the moon to be a canine supervisor.  Maddie and Louis seem pleased as well.

7.  Fresh produce is one of the things I love most about summer.  Crispy shallots and green beans is a meal unto itself.

8.  Watermelon is one of the things she loves most.  She ate almost a quarter of one.

9.  Yes, that's my 15 year old son driving a Porsche.  Oh, brother!

10. Driving home Sunday at 9 o'clock on the longest day of the year.  Still twilight.  Magic.

11. Boys will be boys.  Father's Day entertainment was a little shooting competition in my Dad's woods.  Nothing alive though.

Monday, June 22, 2015

On My Mind Monday

She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic.

~ Lisa Genova
Still Alice

I started this book Friday.  It came to me unexpectedly last week and then I chose it from my leaning Tower of Pisa pile because it was the least precarious to reach.  It grabbed me from the start.  I could have finished it in one sitting, but I didn't.  I put it down and walked away because I wanted to sit with it.  The loss of Alice's memory was so sudden and swift that it didn't seem right to give her so little of my time.  I have 10 pages left that I'll likely finish tonight, but Alice will be with me for a long time.   

Friday, June 19, 2015

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

These muffins from Huckleberry.  I find that this is the perfect starter batter to add fruit to as well.  The batch I made this week was half dark chocolate chunk and half blueberry so as to satisfy multiple cravings.  I think the stars are the almond flour and the yogurt.

 These Dani Shapiro words on writing:  When writers who are just starting out ask me when it gets easier, my answer is never. It never gets easier. I don’t want to scare them, so I rarely say more than that, but the truth is that, if anything, it gets harder. The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know — if we know anything at all — is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is that we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worked in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt — spectacularly, brazenly — into the unknown.

I finished The Royal We.  I have one word for it: rubbish!

Coach is back from Toronto.  I don't sleep well when he is gone.  Tigger missed him lots too.

Something always happens when he is gone too.  This time a big branch from our ash tree fell on my neighbor's new roof the other night.  Thankfully she is the nicest neighbor ever and it didn't do any damage.

Sam is back for the next 5 weeks.  The kids are both stoked to hang out with him. 

Lily started jumping today in the arena and then she took Admiral out on the trails.  She was sky high.

My Dad and Step-mom took the kids golfing on Wednesday.  Lily usually just drives the cart, but she played this time and she loved it.  Grandpa is regripping a set of clubs for her now.

While they were away, I spent 6 hours cleaning the garage, the mudroom and the yard.

Teddy is going to caddy this summer.

Lily distributed her mother's helper/dog walker brochures around the neighborhood and then she came straight home and waited by the phone for someone to call.  She's still checking the messages frequently, but she's a little less obsessed.

Peonies in a pretty vase.

Melon.  When I was cutting this the other afternoon, I thought of my grandma.  Every summer my brother and I would spend a week with her in Salt Lake City, and every morning she would serve us a slice of melon with a sharp spoon before we would head to the pool or the mountains for the day.


The little things.  My girl's a collector.  This is a little corner of her desk and it makes me smile.

Ted received a letter from his 4th grade teacher the other day.  A long, encouraging letter.  He sent her a letter last week thanking her for the impact she had on him as a student and a boy.  It was a meaningful project all the 8th grade students participated in, and another one that I feel embraces so many teachable moments. She truly inspired him and helped him develop a love of learning.

Gratitude.  Is it redundant to be grateful for gratitude?  Well, so be it.

See this blurry picture below?  I almost deleted it, but then I really studied it and I saw the other teacher Teddy wrote a thank you letter to.  She was his 5th grade reading teacher and she too is a gem.  She's got a first rate fan in Lily as well.  Do you see her expression as Teddy is walking down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance?  You can see how invested she is in "her" kids.

All of the teachers at the middle school have been first rate educators.  I feel so fortunate to be a part of a school community that embodies such dedication and commitment.  I truly get the sense that for these teachers, teaching is much more than what they do.

Egg yolk ravioli.  They are so decadent, and while they are easy they do require patience. Last night I went through a dozen eggs for 3 ravioli.  I think the trick is to use very fresh eggs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

All in a Week

We are enjoying the first week of summer vacation. The past stretch of days has been very full and festive, and a bit taxing too if I am to be completely frank.  Taxing in the sense of being rigorous not challenging. There has been much goodness - just all at once.

Last Thursday morning's obligatory last day of 5th and 8th grade photo marked both an ending and a beginning.  I can just see how happy they are, and how ready they are to move forward first into summer and then 6th and 9th grades.  I'll be ready come August (if not before).

 I picked him up after graduation practice Thursday noon.  He said Noodles.  I said Solly's, but we both had a lunch date on the brain. We agreed on burgers and malts.  That one on one time was special to me, and also the only time all day or night that I found myself a tad verklempt as I kept feeling the truth that years are mere minutes.  Blink and you miss them. I reminisced about my own graduation from middle school and that naturally brought me to my Mom.  It seemed so unfair that she wouldn't be sitting in the gym beside me for him.  I told him how proud she would be of him as I willed the tears welling up not to well over.  Later I gave him an angel charm to carry in his pocket so she was with him, us, after all.  

The real kick off was T. Bone's graduation from 8th grade that night.  The ceremony was thoughtful and celebratory...exactly what I expected and nothing like I thought it would be.  We were rushed as is usually the case when milestone occasions loom.  Yada yada best laid plans.  That bow tie was a bugger, but Coach muddled through it with a little help from trusty YouTube.  My only advice is to practice prior to 5 minutes before you need to be in the car, or else opt for a pre-tied.  That being said, his first time wasn't a charm, but Ted looked J. Crew handsome, and also very happy.  There was no time for the family photos I planned to curate, but I managed a couple and decided to simply be in the moments rather than trying to capture them. Most of the pictures were a bit of a blur, and at the end of it all that seems like an apt metaphor.

The principal surprised us all by keeping his speech short.  After letting it be known that BSM would always be there for the graduates - to go far, but come back - he sang Phillip Phillip's Home, and he did so quite well too.  It was a memorable gesture and a touching message.  All of the speeches given by students, teachers and administrators were inspiring and the mood upbeat as it should have been.

Teddy felt loved to have all his grandparents and his godfather and aunt in the audience. The family came back to Casa Wags for cocktails and cake while the graduates stayed  for a dance. They were pumped up and all they wanted to do was celebrate together so it was a great end to a great day.  A great week really!  There have been backyard bbqs, bonfires on the beach and a class breakfast.

When T. Bone came home from the dance, we gave him his new irons.  He was excited for the gift.  I think it was the perfect ending for a pretty spectacular day.  I'm glad we tabled the lap top idea because the clubs are more Ted.

Friday the boys went to Great America with friends.  It's an annual father/son trip and a fun tradition.  Lily and I went out for dinner just the two of us and then we met up with the guys at our friend's house.

Saturday we had another exciting day planned at Miller Park.

We were there to cheer on the Brewers, but also to celebrate my in-laws and their 50th wedding anniversary.  That is something special!

Then and now!

The whole family gathered in a fancy suite for the game and then an OAR concert after.  What a fun experience we will always remember!  I had to chuckle because the kids all thought the concert was too loud.  Kids these days!

The party continued at their house late into the night.  The kids went from the pool to the hot tub in the rain and even made soggy smores before coming in to croon and jam with their uncle.  I may have crooned a little myself.

T. Bone was tuckered out.  He crashed in the car on the way home. This never happens so I had to take a picture.

  Peanut was pleased I spent much of the cloudy Sunday prone with a book in hand.  I was grateful to able to:  the kids both had more parties to attend that went into the night. 

Coach and I had a little date in the family room for the release of OITNB while the kids were out partying.  It was, after all, a school night for us, and I must confess that we fell asleep before getting through a single episode.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mom Rant

Yesterday was the first day of the first full week of summer break.  I want to take issue with that "b" word just so you know.  Break for whom?  From what?

There's another word already on my radar.  It's a "b" word too...bored.  When I came home from a long day at work after a mostly sleepless night before, I could tell that my two were restless.  I tried to steal a quick nap out of complete necessity.  Lily woke me twice.  The first time to ask me what our evening plans were and then to ask what was for dinner.  My somewhat guilty response to her first question was, "no plans."  The second question reminded me that I had to make a grocery run before I could serve them real food.  She said chicken and he said pasta. Here we go!

My only question to her was, "Are you! already!! bored!!!!?"  I was rather shocked that she answered me affirmatively.  It was a bold move.  Pay attention to that punctuation, it's important.  It reads more like "Are you absolutely (expletive) kidding me that you are (expletive) bored already?" Instead of, "Oh no please don't tell me that you have too much free time and too little stimulation.  I'm such a bad mom.  Let me get out my bag of tricks to make sure that you can prove to Facebook and Instagram that you have had the best summer ever!"

Seriously, what I wouldn't give for twelve weeks free and clear.  I just know that "b" word would so never cross my lips.  But what's the crime in being a little bored anyway?  Idleness is not the enemy. Down time is essential to restore reserves and after the weekend we had, I thought we could all use a little restoration.  The beauty of unstructured time is that it inspires creativity - it calls children to tap into their own trick bags - only I'm not sure the children of today have any. I am so close to going on a rant about when I was a kid, but I don't have time because today is my first day of summer break. I get two each week oh goody! Only it's not really a break.  Capisce?  I still have to figure out a way to get all my stuff done and in warp speed so that then I can be available to enrich and entertain my children. I'm already exhausted!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

To My Grad:


Today is your last day of middle school.  You are on the very heel of an ending and the cusp of a beginning. A happy ending and a big beginning.  Middle school has been memorable.  You have made it so.  You've worked hard and played hard the past 4 years, and I am proud of you more so for your growth in character than your grades earned, but I'm proud of those too. Very proud!  I know you are too.

Tonight we will attend your graduation ceremony with smiles on our faces, excitement and a tear or two in our eyes, and maybe a trace of nostalgia in our hearts.  The years really are minutes.  The days are nothing but moments.  That's why I'm glad we'll all gather in the sweaty gym tonight to mark this rite of passage.  It's a big deal to end a chapter in the book of your life.  And while I know the story isn't over, this short but determining part is.

I have no doubt that the next 4 years will be even more formative and instrumental in shaping what you decide to do with your life as you continue to learn, grow and mature, but who you are is already deeply entrenched and clearly evident. You are an honest and moral young man who cares about doing the right thing.  You are a hardworking learner who values knowledge and experience.  You are a dedicated athlete, and a team leader.  You are a faithful Christian who believes in a higher power.  You are a loyal friend, a loving son and a mostly patient big brother.  You are family oriented and a much loved grandson, nephew and cousin.  These character traits aren't going to change...you are who you are.

Who you are is different from what you will do.  Yet who you are will inspire what you do.  I have faith that the strong spirited, beautiful person you are today will continue to inspire you to be better only than the person you were the day before. Keep growing, reaching far and wide and deep, experiencing with open eyes and heart, dreaming big and evolving always.  That is the best gift you can not only give yourself, but also others because the world needs passionate people with kind hearts and fierce determination.

Your roots are established Teddy.  Now it's time to spread your very own wings.

I love you and am beaming with pride,