Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2 day pass

i have to say we inaugurated summer in style this weekend.
mother nature even accepted the invitation, and anyone familiar with these parts knows that's often not the case.
storms friday evening delayed ted's baseball game, but it was absolutely perfect for both his games saturday the second of which was a comeback battle i'm sorry to have missed.
lily and i had to care for a sick peanut and then prepare for a quick getaway to windmill beach.
we enjoyed so much sun sunday and monday that we are all glowing (and in need of aloe).
we spent 24 hours on the lake michigan shore at my brother and sister-in-law's beautiful new cottage.
how is it that by going 30 miles north, one can feel so remote and disconnected from world worries? relaxed, recharged and refreshed too.
well, one way is 50 some degree water, which never got above my knees.
the only family member that got in the water faster than lily was bodi, and he's a lab.
and yet she spent the most hours submerged.
saturday gloaming we sat on the beach and watched the lake take on the colors of the sky: so many shades of blue beautiful beyond description, then pink, periwinkle, lavender and lapis as the sun sunk in the west signaling the end of day.
we feasted on my dad's carolina bbq and then my s'more cupcakes for dessert.
i woke up just after sunrise monday morning lured by the smell of coffee and another beautiful day.
i took my book to the beach where i found my dad sound asleep.
he was up for sunrise.
the rest of the house gradually greeted the day and it went like this:
walks on the beach, walks of death into the lake, fishing, frogging, footballing, cribbage and backgammon, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and then before we knew it, it was 6 o'clock and almost time for another gloaming.
we came home sandy, sun kissed and ready for bed.
also ready for summer.

Monday, May 30, 2016

On My Mind Monday

"If the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again."

~ Christopher Cross

I'm here at the computer uploading the hundred or so photos I snapped in the past 24 hours. My heart is full after a really beautiful time spent with family, but there is always that empty spot for missing my mom. She would have loved Windmill Beach. I can see her sitting on the shore wearing her Jackie O. sunglasses and a sipping a Miller Lite. Earth, Wind and Fire's September suddenly jolts me back to the present as it plays on Pandora at such a precarious moment: my mom's song here in the present and she in the past. The next song is Sailing and another that always reminds me of her. I'm listening now because this cannot be coincidence. 

I know what you're trying to tell me mom: to be happy, to let go, to be.here.now.

Thank you. I love you. Goodnight.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May Inventory

Reading slowly and not often enough. I don't know what it is, but lately I literally cannot keep my eyes open after just a couple pages. I recently finished H is for Hawk. It was touted as a memoir as much about grief as falconry, but I think it was heavy on the later. At times I found myself a little lost in the long rambles about T.H. White and definitely anxious for the end, but it was a worthy read. May We Be Forgiven was more conducive for reading spurts as it was easy to get into and quick to hold my attention, but it was long. I was ready for the end after close to 600 pages, and I appreciated the conclusion too. Just finished My Name is Lucy Barton. This book found its way to me with so many rave reviews, but it wasn't until the end that I understood it's impact. I read somewhere that the silences were loud. Strout's restraint delivered a story that is haunting and powerful in what wasn't said and that left undone.

Wondering if it is possible to truly know another person. Really know them.

Watching baseball and softball games, and spring season finales. Now that DWTS and Survivor are over, I don't really have a show and I may keep it that way. 

Listening to the Steely Dan  and the New Order stations on Pandora. They both remind me of really happy times in my life.

Eating Whole30 starting June 1st because I've been eating too many muffins lately, which is to say sugar and white flour and butter. I'm nervous and excited. Nervous because I know it's going to be a challenge. Excited because I need a tough test. The hardest thing is going to be preparation of an extra meal. Most nights I prepare two already, or I adapt the meal for one of the kids. That and no wine. That will probably be the hardest component if I'm to truly come clean. 

Wanting more hours in the day. That desire seems to make the cut here regularly.

Thinking that as the days get longer, they expire faster.

Enjoying more relaxed attitudes as we near the end of the school year, watching both my kids pitch, the rewards of hard work around the yard, curating a gallery wall above our bed, open windows and fresh air, evening thunderstorms and summer dreams.

Loving Trader Joe's almond croissants, watching Lily's clever and creative Musically videos, my new Birkenstocks, the long weekend ahead and lots of family time.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Teddy is ok after being hit in the clavicle by a pitch when he was catching during Tuesday's game. He almost fainted, his vision was blurred and there was ringing in his ears, but a cold Gatorade, rest and ice took care of it.

The spring choir concert. It was a busy week. By Thursday, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a hot theater on a beautiful night, but the kids sang and danced and entertained. I really enjoyed the performance. The theme was movie music. The whole choir sang Hero from Boyhood as the last number and it got me verklempt. Lily waved to us at least 6 times so I know it means a lot to her for us to be there, and really, that's exactly where I want to be.

A trip to the nursery for my annual haul of strepto carpella. Every year I meander along the country roads to get to the nursery and I travel down memory lane while I talk with my mom. The plants were twice the size they were last year, and my grief was twice as small.

The beautiful funeral service I attended for my co-worker's husband. It was my first time ever in a baptist church. I was loving the strong sense of community, the freedom of expression and the music. It was a sad sad occasion, but the service was a celebration of his life and his new calling.

I received my new Kitchen Aid mixer this week. Hopefully, this one doesn't crap out on me after 5 uses.

Peonies in bloom.

Baby bunnies. They eat apples I've discovered.

Girl talks. Lily and I had a big one late last Friday night. I am not at liberty to disclose what we discussed, but I can say that she has a heart of gold and a wisdom beyond her 11 years. I admire the way she already holds herself to the same standards she has for others, that she can say she is sorry and truly forgive and forget, and her positivity.  She looks until she finds the good in everyone and always assumes the best of intentions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

two day pass

this weekend was no different than the past few, and the next few will likely look very much the same.
the days are busy with baseball, softball, golf and yard work.
the nights are busy with friends and family.
lily had a party one night and a sleepover the next.
ted played his first high school game saturday at short.
he had a great play and scored the first of 21 runs.
then after the victory, he, mike and i went to hooligans for wings and sandwiches.
it's so rare that it's just the 3 of us, and it was a little bit nice.
on the way home, we drove along the lake to admire the full moon...a blue moon.
we stopped and walked to the water's edge to get a good view and the air felt a touch magical.
sunday my brother and sil stopped for happy hour.
we toasted their anniversary and reminisced about where we were 6 years ago...the pink bermudian beaches.
how was that 6 years ago?
the weekend seemed too short...too fast.
how did it already become sunday night?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

My quiet house. Lily's at a birthday party with the girls, Teddy's golfing with the boys, Mike is enjoying happy hour with his brother after a day of golf and trout fishing, and I'm here. 

Before coming here I finally finished May We Be Forgiven. I almost didn't want it to end, and yet I was satisfied with the ending. Read it.

This line: May we be forgiven; it is a prayer, an incantation.

Girls. When I dropped Lily off, they all came to the door and surrounded her like the paparazzi. We should all receive warm greetings like that when we arrive at a party.

Boys. When I dropped them at the golf course, suddenly they looked so much more like young men despite the fact that they're first and foremost...goofballs.

Brothers. Lifelong friends.

Tonight's sky softly tinged pink. It seemed to promise a weekend of possibilities in the purview.

Yesterday's reminder that we should always try on our new uniform prior to minutes before the first game. I was the definition of speedy as I raced to the sporting good store last minute for proper fitting pants. I was proud, Lily was thankful, and I think Mike was stunned. We even had time to spare for a picture.

The way Lily worked through her nerves and kinks while on the mound. Once she found her groove, it was almost 1-2-3. 

#6...at the ready on third.

When dad is your very own personal coach.

All smiles after the game and before pizza.

Teddy has his first game on Saturday night. I picked up his friend today and we chatted the whole way home about baseball mostly, and how it sucks that Teddy isn't on their team. Honestly, I learned more from Zach in a 5 minute car ride than I do most weeks from Teddy.

This commencement address. I hope the graduates she was addressing took Sandberg's words to heart because her message...it's the kind of wisdom one doesn't garner from lectures or books.

This blog post. I need to read it daily.

This cake. I didn't change a thing except I doubled or tripled the chocolate chips. We never finish a cake. This one didn't last the week. Bake it.

My husband's hard work landscaping last weekend. He started an edging project that made a world of difference in our front bed. Now I'm inspired to plant some new bushes and flowers. I'd be grateful if I knew what. There are too many choices.

Wednesday. It was my perfect day. It went like this: Tigger wakes me up, make kids lunch and breakfast and get them off to school, enjoy coffee while blogging, 3 mile walk while I  listen to my new book on a gorgeous morning, wash and fold all the laundry and clean out refrig, bake a batch of blueberry muffins, pick up Ted, take him to practice, pick up Lil and take her shopping, make dinner while rest of the family is at practice, enjoy happy hour with Mike, sit down for family dinner, retire to read with Tigger and Peanut.

A brand new Kitchen Aid mixer is on its way to me. My used only about 5 times mixer failed. I immediately called the 800# rather hot, and the rep calmly told me they would send me a new one. I'm lucky I registered my purchase. I feel like my grandparents when I say things aren't made the way they used to be though. That actually deserves a whole rant post of its own.

Finding selfies on my phone.

My brother and sil closed on their new Lake Michigan retreat. I'm happy for them and looking forward to all the fun times and family memories we'll make on Windmill Beach.

Only like 3 weeks of school left.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dear Lily Kates,

This summer we'll celebrate your 12th birthday. Twelve is a major milestone year because at thirteen you're a full fledged teenager. That hardly seems possible because you are still so sweet and only occasionally roll your eyes at me or act all teenagerly. I guess you could say this year is both an ending and a beginning, but then aren't they all?

I was on my way to pick you up from school this afternoon. My phone dinged when I was one minute late. I didn't look at the text...didn't have to. I knew it said: R you coming Mom? I pulled in 30 seconds later and yes, a little late. Tardiness you can blame on your brother. We had plans to shop for shoes. You are pretty much down to last years's pair of Reefs, a well-worn pair of tennis shoes, a pair of Vans and a pair of cleats. I inquired whether you wouldn't like a pair of Birkenstocks the the other day and your eyes lit up. I am and have been a Birk girl, and when you still could, you would slip a pair of mine on. You're now a 39 and I'm a 37 so that's no longer feasible. I told you I'd rather buy you a single pair of good shoes than five pairs of cheap ones so shopping we went.

As we browsed, you shared that so and so has this pair and so and so has that pair. You were drawn to a safe pair of black leather Arizonas at first, but you ended up with exactly the shoes I knew you really wanted. You were being practical and I wasn't about to have it because I was you so many years ago. I ended up picking out a winter coat I didn't particularly like because it was on sale even when my Dad said I could have any coat I wanted. It's our nature.

You thanked me numerous times for your new shoes and weren't the least bit phased when I suggested you put a little hard earned skin in the game. I couldn't resist telling you that I never owned a pair of $100 shoes at your age. You were both annoyed and grateful.

After the shoe store we made a pit stop at Winkies to pick out a birthday gift for your friend's party this weekend. You asked her what she wanted today and she told you so we sorta had to pony up. You decided on a calligraphy kit because it was something you would like to receive and it didn't look cheap. For the record, it also wasn't cheap, but your assessment made me chuckle. I let you pay for the candy you wanted to include and you didn't balk at the suggestion or put the loot back. Thoughtful generosity pretty much sums you up.

Tomorrow you have your first soft ball game of the year...your first fast pitch game ever. The funny thing is that it's not with your team, but another team that has requested your support. You were honored and excited to receive such a vote of confidence, and I'm so proud of that attitude. I'm looking forward to seeing you in action tomorrow night. You got this Wegehaupt and I know you know it.

Dear Teddy Michael,

How is it possible that you are in the home stretch of your freshman year? I hate to admit this, but every single mother who warned how fast these high school years fly by was right. I hated hearing it then and I'm reluctant to write it now, but it's the sobering truth. Having my baby enter into this pivotal stage that I still so vividly remember is somewhat surreal. It always seemed so long off and far away.

Last night you learned you'll be playing short on the JV team with the idea that you could advance to varsity by the end of the season. It was apparent you were equal parts excited about this accomplishment and disappointed not to be on the freshman team with most of your friends. I feel the same way. I didn't address it because at this point you know that's life. Life is full of sacrifices one must make and opportunities one cannot afford not to take, and you don't need me to tell you this. This is just what you've worked so hard for the last ten plus years.

Baseball has always been your first love. From the very day Uncle Brad came for a visit from Boston with a pitching machine, you had us all shagging your balls. We went through a lot of batteries as you had that thing working from morning to night. At the age of five, you decided you'd certainly be a pitcher in the MLB...a pitcher for the Red Sox. You don't talk about standing on the mound for a living anymore. Life has a way of fine tuning our dreams. Your still a heck of a pitcher and player, but I don't think any of us think you're destined for the Major Leagues. That's called reality. At some point as parents we must stop letting you believe you can do absolutely anything so you don't end up with a major case of disappointment and no options. You learn all too early about Plan B.

It appears your Plan B at present is to be a golf pro so no worries...your head is out of the clouds. You just finished your season and I know you're ruing its ending. You took fourth overall in the conference meet on Monday. That was out of forty something golfers. You weren't pleased as you relived every shot and decision, and I'm starting to learn that this is the fate of golfers: fleeting satisfaction. I don't want that for you, but I firmly believe there are far worse obsessions in life than a lower score. You have a standing foursome every day of the summer. We'll see how long that lasts, but it's fine by me if you spend your summer going from green to field. Just don't forget to do your chores around the house and earn a little money out in the world whether you ump or caddy or cut lawns. You'll need gas money before long.

Academics always come first because that is the basket you should be putting your eggs in. You've worked hard this year and you've excelled although I can see your attention waning with each day. Spring fever sets in at this time of the year whether or not the temperatures cooperate. Sunday night after golfing 18, you sat at the island and worked on a paper while you watched Jason Day win the Player's Championship. I let you against my better judgement because you have yet to turn in a late assignment or receive a poor grade. I want you to know that you have my sympathies for the fact that you are going to spend these last weeks in English reading Homer. As blasphemous as this sounds, I'm an English major and I found the Iliad and Odyssey to be tortuous. You are in the grueling home stretch Ted so just hang in there. Soon you can ditch the 75 pound backpack for a few well-earned months of freedom and fun.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The kind elderly lady who stopped me at the store to tell me I smelled good. She lit up when she reminisced about wearing the same scent many years ago. I've been wearing it (and only it) since I was 16. I told her she should buy a bottle and she decided that was a good idea. I was in a hurry, but I'm thankful I paused to talk with her for a few minutes. It was a nice reminder to be present...yes, even at the grocery store.

The homing device this guy has for a soft spot. I put a new throw in the guest room and he claimed it as his new spot in a matter of minutes.

Lily picked out new bedding. It's still sweet, but a little more grown-up and certainly more reflective of her budding personality than the pink floral and gingham that we are replacing. It was pricey, but she's had her current Pottery Barn set for 8-9 years and it still looks brand new so it's definitely worth it. She wants the walls painted a soft and soothing shade of blue like the ocean my water baby so loves.

In the last few weeks, she's been a bit more social. She's usually more of a homebody and I get that, but I think she's really enjoying being a bit more involved with friends and softball.

Everything about this snapshot. This novel is reminding me so much of Wally Lamb. It's dark and funny. but also full of lots of raw truth. I'm a total sucker for a good Kane and Abel story.

This sweet bouquet from my brother and sil on Mother's Day. All week it has made me smile.

Making a big pot of chili and Mother Nature serving up a perfect cold and rainy day for a hot bowl of comfort. This recipe is a family favorite. Ground turkey, fire roasted tomatoes, lots of chili powder and garbanzos, which the kids eat around. It's best with liberal dashes of hot sauce and plenty of chopped avocado.

My brother-in-law. He came to help Mike put up a privacy fence on his day off. All we had to do was cook him dinner.

I made him one of my favorites: Chicken Marsala, Pasta Aglio Olio, roasted asparagus and caprese salad on steroids, which is to say romaine, sliced romas and fresh mozz mixed with a little pesto oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and then topped with kalamatas and toasted pine nuts.

Plenty of time this weekend for projects around the house and in the yard.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

two day pass

it's the eve of the next weekend and i'm finally writing about the last.
it's just the way things are right here right now.
all last week i felt a great deal of ambivalence about the weekend.
mother's day is now one of those days when i feel overcome with both joy and sadness.
grief and celebration show up in equal measure.
well, not exactly 50/50.
the heaviness sort of settled in refusing to ease or budge.
it doesn't help that my cousin is weathering a tough storm.
i have been trying to be present for her and her daughter as much as possible.
keep in mind that i am in wisconsin while they are in colorado and new york.
you see, mother's day is not just about my mom.
it's about all the wonderful and important women in my life.
they are just two of them.
it was fitting that mike almost had to drag me out for a walk at the end of friday.
my mood was foul and sour.
after a few miles on the beautiful night,  my disposition slowly sweetened.
until...until my leg felt like it was going to fall off and i promise i'm not being dramatic.
i decided to just go to bed.
to bed at 8 o'clock on a friday night.
i cannot explain any of it.
saturday things were a bit better.
i eased into the day well rested with my coffee and my novel and a still wonky leg.
lily spent the night with a friend so i figured i'd have the house to myself until at least mid morning.
you can say i was surprised when ted came barreling down the stairs after a single chapter.
he had a golf date before baseball.
i envy the energy it must take to play 18 holes and 14 innings.
we made it to our final bowling night of the season and quite possibly forever.
in looking back, we struggled to make it all season and our average attendance was only better than my average score.
said average that i blew outta the water saturday when i had the second best score of the night and won cash.
sunday we were so late to church that we had to sit in the balcony.
i almost cried as i ascended the stairway ready for a full on pity party.
but then there was a bit of an altercation that occurred exactly in our normal spot and i turned my annoyance to gratitude at avoiding that.
after mass, i lit so many candles for all those wonderful important women in heaven.
on the way out, father tim thanked me for being a wonderful mother.
the kids had their last sunday school of the year so mike and i quickly shopped brady street and then stopped for an americano at the aptly named pleasant cafe.
it was nice enough to sit outside and all the passersby were especially friendly.
we were invited for lunch at my in laws.
i brought a bottle of rose' and a batch of blueberry lemon pie bars which were as delicious as their name suggests.
the afternoon was really lovely.
my brother and sil stopped for a mother's day toast just before gloaming.
and just before the day expired, mike grilled the yummiest garlic sausages we picked up earlier at gloriosos.
after a quick dinner, there were cards and gifts.
i was quite blessed for the thoughtfulness of my family.
and the very last gift of the day was a facebook post written by an old friend.
she said such nice things about my mom and i sort of felt that at the end of the day
the prayers i said when i lit that candle for my mom were answered.

Monday, May 9, 2016