Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016

 My alarm didn't go off again this morning.  Ted was up and getting ready (amen alleluia), but there was no spare time to make him a hot, balanced breakfast before his day on the slopes.  I gave him a bit of a hard time last night about getting up promptly, not making people nag or wait.  I let him know that getting up before dawn on Saturday morning isn't on my weekly bucket list, but then...maybe it should be.  It should be because then I'm awake to see this...

Amen.  Alleluia.  Sunrise no filters.  None.  This is the humble, honorable work of Mother Nature and I wouldn't miss witnessing a sky so showy for another second of sleep.  


Lily is still sound asleep.  It appears we have a little sibling role reversal going on here today.  She is tuckered out after plenty of fresh air last night.  She squeezed her feet into her size too small ice skates and skated away with a friend without a complaint about frozen fingers or cramped toes.  They lasted much longer than I anticipated as I lost myself in a book beside the roaring fire.  On the way home she thanked me for taking them and then apologized that I sacrificed my walk for her fun.  It's tough, but someone's got to do it.  See proof of suffering below...

I'm motoring through Carly Simon's memoir.  She's someone that interests me because I grew up listening to her music, and I've always wanted to know just whom she is carrying on about in You're So Vain.   Is it really Warren Beatty?  The writing is not polished, but her words are compelling and raw.  I get the feeling that she really needed to tell the stories about her life in order to keep on living.  That I relate to. 


I couldn't relate when I saw that today is the rear end of January.  The older I get...they get...the faster it goes.  And it's not like I have my head in the sand.  I'm present noticing things every day, honoring the extraordinary ordinary and living with a grateful heart.  Maybe that's the crux.  The finiteness...of what I can only believe to be infinite beauty, wonder, goodness, grace.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What Now?

Today I have the house entirely to myself.  It's the first Wednesday since late October that I won't have the company of contractors.  About this I am wildly jubilant.  I don't have to listen to saws, someone else's music or Spanish.  One worker who was here for over a week spoke incessantly to his mama', his tia', his hermanas, his novias all day long.  For ten days, my life was a telenovela.  It's no surprise that his work (drywall and painting) suffered as he chattered away on blue tooth. Wherever you are Jesus, know that I know Spanish.

Ah, but I digress.  It's also the first Wednesday in months that I have mostly free and clear.  Don't be silly, there are always to dos, coulds and shoulds, but there is nothing pressing. I have a day to myself, and the wealth of possibility is paralyzing.  Isn't that how it goes?  We want and yearn and desire, and then we receive and we scarcely know how to proceed.

We're so programmed for longing that satisfaction is rarely sustainable.  People like to set goals and there's nothing wrong with it except the preoccupation that comes with always needing to be, do, have something we're not, haven't, don't.  It's a surefire way to set yourself up for a life of languish. That's not what I want. You?

I'm not advocating stagnation or even complacency, but I think there's something to be said for accepting and celebrating the now.  Who we are now.  Where we are now.  What we have now.  There are any number of cliches I could insert at this point, but I won't.  We've heard them so often, they've lost their power even as they ring true.

I guess my point is that time has a way of showing us what really matters: this moment right here right now so

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


What I've come here to write about tonight could easily be material for numerous posts.  Could be, but won't. That's because I find that my writing here has become an act in stream of consciousness.  My thoughts spring forth in a fluid and dynamic way so before I can dig too deep, I feel compelled to move on.  I attribute this recent modus operandi as much to pining as to prescience. I am equal parts trying to capture the moment and excited to live it.


Big Ben(ita) expired.  Lily went to feed her Monday morning and found her grey and gone.  She came into the kitchen rather verklempt over seeing her usual Kermit green lizard looking drab and in decay.  BB was certainly on borrowed time.  When she brought the lizard home at the culmination of a science unit, it was the spring of third grade.  We were told she would live a year maybe two.  We shared a tear, a hug and even a laugh before she left for school, but I just hated to send her off with a heavy heart.  And I knew she'd see her curled up in the corner of the cage a little withered and off color over and over and feel that aching sadness that comes when we must say goodbye and know our time together is over.  

She admitted that it weighed on her all day and wondered what we would do to dispose of her body.  I offered a few suggestions and she decided that it would be best to put her under a rock so she could simply go back to the earth.  She couldn't fathom her washed down the toilet or stuck in a box until spring.  It may seem slight and small, but it revealed much to me about my thoughtful, tender-hearted girl.  Honoring the dead is important to her, just as is celebrating the living.


It's a sort of celebration to wake early on my days off.  It's my intention to eke out as much time as possible.  It never fails that before I know it, it's noon or 9 o'clock.  I never understand how it is that when I wake, the day feels endless and then when I'm ready to call it a night, I scarcely can tell you how the day descended.  I look at the calendar and am stunned that we're fast approaching February.  Years are minutes...this much I absolutely know is true.  


You know what else is true?  There's no time like the present.  There's so very much I put off or on hold.  It never feels right either because we aren't promised any tomorrows.  Every night there are things I pray about and I promise, Tomorrow God. Forgive me my procrastination. My sin. Even while I'm giving it my energy, I feel like a fraud.  I believe in the tabula rasa, the fresh start but also the power of the past, and I don't give up because I know I'm running out of time.  


Tonight I read Dear Future Man Who Loves My Daughter from Dear Mr. You. It was a beautiful piece that spoke to me as a mother and as a  sister.  Mary-Louise Parker describes her brother meeting her daughter for the first time and how that is one one of the moments she wants to revisit if in fact we revisit moments in the end. My eyes welled up and over with memory upon memory after reading that one sentence so I know we must...we do.  I not only saw a barrage of images, but I felt a flood of emotions.  I decided to ride it instead of capture it, but it's what brought me here tonight.

Monday, January 25, 2016

On My Mind Monday

I learn so much when you are listening.  Thank you.

~ Mary-Louise Parker
Dear Mr. You

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I set my alarm to get up so I could wake, feed and ready my son for a day of skiing.  Never mind that he is capable of this himself at 15, and disregard that it's my only day to sleep in past dawn.  I feel good about being there to send him off with a hug and a $20.  But alas my alarm never sounded.  I woke just in time to tell him half dressed that his ride was waiting in the driveway.  I'm sure this is somehow my fault, but I'm also sure he'll forget all about it by the time he takes his first run of the day.

Tigger is no where to be found this morning.  He is still in the habit of hiding at the first sign of light lest he come in contact with any strange men wielding power tools.  The thing is there will be no more men. The kitchen is complete!  We had our final walk through scheduled for this morning, but we decided to skip it and release the final payment by fax.  That was a concerted effort to officially break up with the contractor without the drama of tears or accusations.  While we love our new kitchen, we are much less amorous about him and the experience.  A face to face meeting posed too much of a risk that we would say all the things on our minds, which at this point no longer matter. We're not ever getting back together.

Last night we sat around the table after take out dinner talking.  (I have a new kitchen, yet I've ordered takeout the last two nights.)  Jess and I were getting all sorts of unsolicited information from Lily and her friend.  They had lots of opinions to expound upon and stories to share.  I was a little like, "Where is this coming from?"  Day after day, she gets in the car and I ask the questions. How was your day?  What did you do?  Did anything happen?  I'm privy to only terse one word answers. Fine.  Nothing.  No.  I guess chicken parm on a Friday night opens the tween flood gates.

They had plans to go to activity night at school, but then they decided that they would rather stay home.  Instead of singing and dancing in the crowded cafeteria, they opted to make music videos at home.  I cannot blame them.  Crowds give me hives these days.  These are sort of no nonsense girls. There's an awful lot of nonsense that goes on at this stage of life.  The kind of shenanigans these two cook up involve hiding when it's time to go home, or getting on like a well rehearsed comedy routine.

E's mom came to get her at 9 o'clock and left close to 11 o'clock.  The girls didn't even have to play hide and seek. I really just love when it works out to have mom daughter friends.  It's like couple friends.  It's rare when that unforced, authentic friendship is present for all parties.  

It's also rare when friends are more like family.  Jess stayed with Lily while I went to get Ted.  He called a little exasperated because he had sent me a text to pick him up 20 minutes before.  It's not that I didn't see the text; I didn't get it.  In his teenage brain though, if there is a fail, it's human not technological. I pulled into the driveway and waited and waited until I had to get out and go to the door in my slippers in the snow because I forgot my phone and couldn't text. That was a human technology fail.

In real life, things are messy and beautiful at the same time.  There's a reason why beautiful mess is such an apropos combo.  IRL we laugh until we cry or we cry until we laugh.  I just watched The Middle and it happened to me.  I mean The Hecks actually pulled off a birthday party for Frankie. Of course, she missed it.  We're hard when we should be soft and soft when we should be hard.  IRL we do the best we can with what we have and then we get up and do it again the next day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Instagram: 2 day pass

1. ted and his uncle had a boy's weekend working out, eating out, watching games and movies.  this was right after the packers tied the game saturday night and we were sure as #^&! they were going to win.

2. my mirepoix cooking for ina's company pot roast, a fam fave.

3. peanut peppers mostly slept through the game, and failed to bring the team any luck.

4. t. bone crashed after a long day on the slopes.

5. i see this and think of something hunter s. thompson wrote, "there is no honest way to really explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over." it's called the edge.

6. after a double header (the giver and the secret life of walter mitty), this girl was too tired to even make it to bed.  i can count the times she's fallen asleep on the couch on both my hands.  this is a first for the floor.

7. santa knew she would love this game.

8. silly and sweet.

9. saturday or sunday morning silhouette.  maybe even monday morning this week too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Even though today is Tuesday, it's our Monday.  We much enjoyed our long weekend, but another change in a schedule we had just become reacquainted with is a bit taxing.  Today was a rude awakening.  I didn't sleep well.  My hands, which I like to place under my cheek while I sleep, still smelled strongly of the garlic I chopped for Sunday dinner.  I'm blaming that pungent odor for my restlessness.  Even if vampires were a real threat, I'd forgo the clove of garlic.  Just sayin'.


It's frustrating when I wake early and spend the day sluggish and uninspired.  Everyone whines about how cold it is, but when the wind blows and my bones chill, I feel oddly enthralled and alive. Driving to work it was heat on heat off.  I suspect I'm nearing that season of my life.  The season of private summers and changing hormones and no more babies.  Amen.  


Driving home from school with Lily today, it occurred to me that next year she'll be one of the bigger kids in middle school.  I momentarily thought about driving off the bridge into the frozen river. I'd rather crash than drown.  Hormones.  Don't judge.  It's like I know what's coming, but I cannot for the life of me or for my sanity believe it.  Just this weekend she and her girlfriend played Pie Face and giggled like the little girls they always will be in my warmest, fondest memory.  Of course, then they went upstairs to cleanse and exfoliate lest the whipped cream clog their pores.  She was in charge of the neighbor's labs all weekend, and while she wasn't super excited about getting up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to care for Louis and Maddie, she got straight out of bed when I woke her.  She's responsible and reliable.  I was super proud of her.


Tonight Jess asked me if I'm prepared to start making college visits.  My answer was an emphatic "No."  Please, not yet.  Who is ever prepared for them to leave?  And yet, when it's time, I will celebrate the exciting milestone with my son.  And then my daughter.  It's beyond my comprehension that Teddy is halfway through his freshman year.   He has exams this week.  Last night I quizzed him for Spanish.  I entered college with 16 college credits thanks to my success on the Spanish placement exam and I don't think I learned what he is learning his freshman year.  Sometimes I feel so yesterday.


Speaking of yesterday, it's not a day I particularly love despite the holiday for an honorable man.  My mom and I always spent MLK Day together lady lunching. Since the stock market and little else was closed, we were the only two off.  Partners in crime.  Lily was my partner yesterday.  We did a little shopping.  Her choice, not mine.  I guess her dog sitting earnings were begging to be spent.  Thanks to China, oil prices, Walmart and a kitchen remodel, I'm feeling much less rich than Roosevelt these days.  We met Teddy, my brother and sil for lunch.  The boys saw The Revenant.  I'm surprised they could eat.  But it was really nice and being together sort of eased my shifted my focus.


Tomorrow I'm off again.  I'll take the last tree down...the big one, and probably have a few words with my mom while doing so.  A few tears too.  I'll likely read some more of the various books I'm reading now.  The stand out is Dear Mr. You.  Earlier today I read Dear Orderly and I nodded so adamantly through my tears that my neck is now sore and my eyes out of focus even with my cheaters. I'm adding Mary Louise Parker to my who to invite to dinner list.  


I'm a list lover.  I keep them for everything.  Everywhere.  Grocery lists, wish lists, project lists, to read lists, to do lists, places to go lists.  Soon I'll be adding a things to do for college list.  On top of it will be get therapy STAT.

Monday, January 18, 2016

On My Mind Monday

"The best quotes don't speak to one particular truth, but rather to universal truths that resonate- across time, culture, gender, generation, and situation - in our own hearts and minds. They guide, motivate, validate, challenge and comfort us in our own lives.  They reiterate what we've figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn.  Pithily and succinctly, they lift us momentarily out of the confused and conflicted human muddle.  Most of all, they tell us we're not alone.  Their existence is proof that others have questioned, grappled with, and come to know the same truths we question and grapple with, too."

Cheryl Strayed
Brave Enough

Amen to that.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January Inventory

Reading Ghostbread, the first book of 2016.  Livingston's memoir is humbling and touching.  I found the short vignettes perfect for a stolen moment or two.  It is the kind of book one could motor through in a single sitting, but I wanted to take my time with her thoughtful words.  I'm well into Safekeeping.  It's a YA account of a world gone mad, but instead of being a political rant, it is more a story of strength of spirit and gratitude. I'm going to pass it on to Lily. I started The Omnivore's Dilemma hoping that it would help kick my healthier eating hopes into gear, but this book makes me not want to eat a thing.  I just started Dear Mr. You.  I've heard many positive reviews, and I just know I'll enjoy it because I am queen of unsent letters. I have 5 books waiting for me at the library too.

Wondering when all the outstanding, little things will be taken care of so I can move into my kitchen.  It has been a long 12 weeks folks and I am done.  I'm done with people not showing up, or showing up at strange times and just entering my home.  I'm done with excuses and shoddy work and more than anything I am done with being told, "Well, this happens."  

Noticing the way fog obscures the scenery.  The way it dulls and softens the world.  And also the way it is lighter a little bit later every day.  We are on the other side of darkness even if it is sometimes hard to notice and accept. 

Watching Star Wars.  We enjoyed a family date for pizza and then the movies the other night.  It was a mid-week adventure.  I think The Force Awakens is a good sequel to the Star Wars institution.  I'm not sure I'll watch Making a Murderer. I am a little caught between the irresponsibility of presenting only one side of the story and my interest in true crime drama.   At the end of the lopsided debate, I believe Avery is a bad guy and he's exactly where he belongs.

Listening to my intuition.  Do you do that?  It's not always easy because it seems unevolved.  I want to ration and reason against what I know to be true simply because I feel it.

Eating pizza four ways.  They were half off so we each ordered our perfect pies and then had breakfast and/or lunch the next day(s).  

Drinking lots of tea.  I recently rediscovered my Harney and Sons Cinnamon Sunset and it's perfect for January.  I want to try a cafe misto with coconut milk the next time I'm at Starbucks.

Wanting world peace, an end to poverty and hunger, that every child and animal have a loving home, and cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimers. That's not asking for too much...right?

Wearing wool sweaters and boots (sometimes Lily's) and scarves (also Lil's at times).  My infinity necklace, a new favorite.  Eyeliner once in awhile.

Hoping Ted has a fun day of skiing, Lil's friend can come over today so I can begin the process of deChristmasing guilt-free, I have time for a workout before the Packer game tonight, that the Packers win, and that there is enough room on our dvr for all the movies we want to record as Showtime is free this weekend.

Thinking how risk invites both creativity and intimacy.

Enjoying cozy family time, and the comfort and warmth of our home.

Loving my new marble kitchen accessories and trips to Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.  UPS just delivered a box.  It's like Christmas.  It's been a long time since I've had a toaster and a blender. It's a long weekend.  I need an extra day even if I will still be sharing my home with contractors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

two day pass

all i wanted to do on friday night was sit beside my tree with a glass of wine in peace.
instead i had a house full of workers and no wine.
i also had a son reluctant to use uber who then needed to be picked up after my bedtime.
then i woke saturday easily and early.
after a quick cup of coffee, i started on the day's long list of organizing and cleaning tasks.
i had intentions to clean and move into my new kitchen.
sadly, we are still shy of that point.
the weather was finally cooperative so ted was able to ski.
i think it made me as happy as it made him.
i am of the opinion that there has been a glut of technology use in our house owing to new games and gadgets over the holidays.
the boys went out for breakfast sunday while the girls went to see a show.
lily and i joined aunt jess and aunt loie for newsies.
it was an energetic production that was most entertaining.
it was certainly deserving of the tony for best score and choreography it earned in 2012.
we then headed home to join a packer party in progress.
my dad brought his better than bw3 wings and my step-mom her meatballs.
we made a pot of italian beef for sandwiches and a couple salads.
we all squeezed in the family room to cheer the green and gold onto victory.
so while saturday was all work, sunday was all play.
and while i didn't get to accomplish all the things i wanted, i did...we did...make measurable progress, and have lots of fun too.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Getting back to my Grateful Friday.  I haven't been a very regular blogger lately.  I do miss the time I spend here.

This piece, which I just read and this book soon to be released. It appears that Lucy Kalanithi is a thoughtful, gifted writer just like her late husband.  I will read When Breath Becomes Air when days are longer and sunier because while it sounds beautiful, it also sounds heavy.

The kitchen is 99% complete and I am 100% in love with it.  We are anxious to have our house to ourselves and also to cook in our new kitchen.  We used the stove the other night to boil noodles for mac and cheese. We are not counting that as our inaugural meal.  I also boiled eggs.  Pasta and eggs are the foods that have been the most challenging to make in our basement kitchen.  The home stretch involves hardware and electrical work, cabinet  repair (yes, they are new and already need repair) and touch-up/clean-up.  It has been a long 11 weeks and some new cabinet doors and stools are still a couple weeks out.  I have learned much throughout this process that I will probably write about at some point to get it off my chest and also to help anyone considering a remodel including my future self.  My Dad asked me if I would do it again, and I didn't hesitate to say yes.

My lap cats.  Sit and they will come.

A very chill NYE celebration.  So chill that we almost served dinner on paper plates.  Aunt Jess and Uncle Mark joined Mike, Lily and I for dinner and games.  We ate Caesar salad and twice baked potatoes with our steak and lobster, and we played Fish Bowl and Name That Tune before ringing in the new year with champagne, kisses and a few fireworks.  

An even more relaxed New Years Day in part due to this burger called the Hangover.  I had no business eating a burger topped with bacon and eggs.  I spent much of the day reading in between naps.

A fresh new year.

More games (Wits and Wagers) and good food (chili) at my brother and sil's on Saturday.

The way he's been coming home and picking up the guitar lately.

The way he's worked up the nerve to come out from under Ted's bed even when there are contractors in the house now, yet  he still keeps a safe distance.

Getting back into the groove.  We're back to healthier eating, earlier bedtimes and other routines.  

My guys relaxing after a long week.

It still looks like Christmas around here.

Tickets to see a show this weekend with my aunt and uncle.

A little Packer party on Sunday to celebrate our new kitchen and, hopefully, the continuation of our season.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Now and Then

Lily and Mike watched the first three (really 4-6) Star Wars movies over break in preparation for viewing The Force Awakens.  I grew up with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Hans Solo.  My brother, Dad and I were big fans and so watching my daughter enjoy the films with her father fills me with warm longing nostalgia.


While they were watching, I dug out a few of my brother's action figures.  They are filed away in boxes in the basement remnants from two childhoods now: mine and my son's.  I am keeping them for the next generation.  Just writing that makes my heart palpate.  For the record, I still have my Honey Hill Bunch Kids and Barbie loot galore.  My future grandchildren are going to love coming to visit me. 


When we were kids, I was relegated to Princess Leia, R2D2 or C3PO and always a storm trooper or two since my brother had at least a dozen of them.  Holding Darth or Chewie still feels foreign and sneaky.  Taboo. We would set up worlds in the small living room of my dad's bachelor apartment, and before we knew it Friday became Sunday. It was time to go back home to my mom's.  There wasn't as much time for playing there because we had school and homework and bedtimes.  We also had our own friends so we didn't hang out as much together.


My kids don't hang out much at all, and that makes me sad.  My brother was almost always my friend.  I think that was partially by design and out of necessity, but those circumstances made us realize we enjoyed being together.  We were quite good at compromise too.  I would play Super Heroes with him and then he would play school with me.  I was always Wonder Woman to his Aqua Man and the teacher to his student. Childhood is so different today.


You would think I would say better, but I'm not so sure.  There are things I envy my kids: having a nuclear family, one bedroom and not having to miss social outings happening across town.  The truth is that I think we were so close because our parents were divorced.  We were shuttled around and in the middle the two of us always together in our aloneness...a family within the family. 


There was a family that lived in a massive two unit apartment in the complex.  The parents managed the Colonial Manor.  Stevie and Sherry were twins who were a tad younger than I was and a tad older than my brother.  We spent a lot of time together swimming, visiting the Stop and Shop across the street for treats and spying on one another.  They had every gadget and toy imaginable so we usually gravitated to their apartment.  As big and nice and inhabited by two parents as it was, I realized even as a child that it was not better than mine.  I could tell their mom and dad were brooding and angry.  I remember thinking that they didn't seem to notice their children or their friends no matter how loud we sang The Bee Gees, how acrimonious the boy versus girl feuds got, or how late we stayed up eating candy and having pillow fights.  They were completely checked out.  My parents argued about more time with us.  We were so wanted that our mom and dad fought over whose turn it was. My dad cooked us hamburgers in his Presto Magic and made us go to bed after Fantasy Island.  He watched us while we swam in the pool, or played in the Rocky Mountain-sized snowbanks the plows cleared from the lot, or sloshed around in the creek looking for crayfish and gold.  He was happy and present.  My mom called us home for a dinner at night that she cooked and then again when it got dark out. She always knew where we were and at least thought she knew what we were doing.  She was positive and positively determined to give us a "normal" childhood despite our bifurcated family unit.


I was on the phone with my dad the other day while Mike was driving home from a store across town.  Although I was scarcely paying attention and clueless as to where we were, suddenly everything felt oddly familiar.  Then I spotted it...the Colonial Manor looking mostly the same as it did when I last saw it thirty odd years ago.  It was like seeing a ghost and not because the buildings are white.  My life ages 5 through 14 were on rewind in my head.  When I told my dad we were driving by he said, "Oh, that dump."  I laughed, but truthfully some of my fondest memories were made at that dump and it made me a little sad.


Mike and Lily haven't seen the new movie yet.  Our one trip to the theater over vacation was to see a movie none of us particularly wanted to see.  Point Break was a compromise, or really more like a quarrel resulting from fierce Irish and German roots. Roots that tend to yield stubborn streaks.  I wanted to see Star Wars, Mike and Lily wanted to see Joy, and Ted wanted to see Concussion.  My how things have changed and yet remained the same. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas Captures and Confessions

I have always had an affinity for the 31 days of December.  That fancy goes beyond pretty packages, sweet sounding carols and vacations.  It's a month that invites joy and celebration.  Invitations I rarely decline.  Along with joy comes least for me.  When I feel happiest, sadness creeps in to deliver the blow that this too shall pass.  Melancholy is as much the thief of joy as comparison.
  I was a Christmas loving, Santa Claus worshiping kid like none other, but the holidays often served as reminder of who and what was missing (the displaced relative, the divorced parent, the perfect, intact family).  Christmas Eve was my mom's night, and at the very end of it, it would become her dad's.  He passed long before I was born, tragically and suddenly. It bothered me the way she would sit beside the tree listening to crooners choking back tears at the end of the festive night.  Every year she'd explain that she just needed a little time with her dad.  I couldn't sleep while worrying about her communicating with ghosts.  Today I get her need to sit with the memory of her father who died shortly after her 19th Christmas, and I also know how alive ghosts can feel.  Every Christmas Day I would worry about my mom home alone as I celebrated with my dad and his big  family.  She made light of it and even shrugged off her solitude.  Her last Christmas, she was finally invited to share in the celebration, but she didn't make it because of the selfishness of others including myself.  Guilt shows up around the holidays too.  Timing is everything.

Lightness is achieved when I stay in the present moment rather than those lost or looming.  I remind myself over and over to be. here. now.  Because here is a pretty sweet spot.

1. Fred comes with St. Nick and leaves with Santa.  While he's visiting, he is sure to deliver laughs and small gifts and, hopefully, warm memories too.

2. Teddy wrapped the last gift of Christmas on Christmas Eve under master wrapper Mike's watchful eye.  All the while I'm vacillating between how cute it is and how necessary it is because all too soon he'll be out on his own.  He needs to know how to do all manner of things many of which he has yet to attempt let alone master.   

3.  The cats love when the gifts are unwrapped and they can play in the boxes and with the bows.

4. After a family dinner out on the Eve eve, the kids burned off their wings and curds by racing through the snowless city streets...

5.  and under the light of an almost full moon.  A full moon on Christmas Day strikes me as something quite special.

6.  The winter solstice is tinged with an air of  heavy holiness too. It's one of those days that leaves me feeling wistful and exposed.

7.  Tigger caught sampling Santa's cookies.

8.  Peanut caught digging under the tree.

9.  Fred rode back to the North Pole on Santa's Harley.  He's got a sense of humor that elf.

I was going to work Christmas Eve day and then I wasn't.  I hemmed and hawed, and then ultimately decided that my heart was more on board to spend the day with my family than at work.  Never mind that I ended up making last minute purchases at the last place I wanted to be: the mall. We arrived in church early enough to claim our seats in time for the concert and two extras for my brother and sister-in-law.  Lily even acknowledged that our awesome time management made for a stress free send off.  This is not always the case on holidays, but it should be.  The night's celebration was in limbo for awhile, but my brother and sil saved it.  We went old school just the six of us celebrating together and it was a great night of stew, spirits, crackers, games and gifts.

1. On the steps of Old St. Mary.

2. The church was candle-lit and decorated with red roses and a bounty of poinsettia.  Coming in on Christmas Eve to see the manger set up and surrounded by twinkling lights, always takes my breath away.

3. Our annual lights tour took a turn up Wisconsin Avenue which was lit up in sparkling blue and white.

4. We four.

5.  My two.

6.  Uncle Brad made such a big, grateful deal out of the golf ball finder glasses Lily picked out for him that rather resembled Blue Blockers.  It made her feel extra proud.

7.  Ted and Aunt Ashley posed for a photo of their own.

8.  What's not to love about boys in pink crowns?  Ted insisted on "dressing" for the Eve.  Of his own accord, he put on a coat and tie and looked handsome.

9.  Or girls plating up cookies and milk for Santa?

Morning came early and went too fast.  Mike and I nearly fell asleep in front of the tree waiting for Ted to shower before bed on Christmas Eve.  That boy and his penchant for cleanliness.  I love our family time Christmas morning best of all because it is cozy and quiet and all ours.

1.  Santa delivered new sleds, but still no snow.

2.  Lily and I modeled our new scarves both gifts from Teddy.  He went back to get me the one I'm wearing after I admired it when we were shopping together.  He had already gotten me something else, and I just found that an extra sweet gesture.

3.  A Kate Spade clutch...from tween to teen in minutes.  

4.  Mitten model too.

5.  Holding their Nanny ornaments and melting my heart.

6.  Ted is stoked for new fleece layers for skiing (if we ever get snow).

7.  And if not, no worries because Peanut will sleep or lounge on the sleds.

8.  The guys.

9.  The other guys.

As we drove to my dad's for brunch on Christmas day, it started to snow ever so softly.  It set the scene for another warm and festive celebration.

1-10 Hi, my name is Lily and I got a selfie stick for Christmas.

Saturday we celebrated our third Christmas in as many days at my in-laws and when that was't enough family time, we invited everyone over for Teddy's 15th birthday celebration Sunday.  We just ordered pizzas and I made a salad since we still don't have a fully functional kitchen.  The gang watched football and jammed and had another good time.  I'm adjusting to the fact that the holidays are over and I now have a 15 year old.

1-9 Family doing what family does best...smiling, playing, loving.

Monday, January 4, 2016

On My Mind Monday

"We all believe our stories.  Everyone does.  But where would we be without them?  They embrace the full contradiction of our lives."

~ Natalie Goldberg

I came across this nugget this weekend in Goldberg's essay Another New Year.  I read it once.  Reread it.  It struck me because I've many stories from the past week of revelry and review to share, but I'm stuck without words because of the weight of contradiction they hold: happy/sad, full/empty, satisfied/desiring, laughing/crying.  And the biggest one of the present versus in the past or in the future.

One thing that did become abundantly clear to me over the new year is my word for 2016.  It is grace.  I find the gift of unmerited favor comforting and also necessary to forgive and encourage myself and others (but especially myself) for all the ways I feel like I can and should do and be better.