Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Leaves are Changing, and I'm Not Ready...

The leaves are changing. It feels like it's too soon, but it's actually right on schedule. Any earlier and it would have been summer. Any later and it would be winter. Still, it seems as though fall is arriving ahead of schedule this year. I naively thought I could hold off the change by having All The Fun... even if only for a few extra weeks...

Why does she need to become a pre-teen?

Why does my baby have to rush into this hormone-ridden stage of life? Can't I just delay it for a bit? Just a few more years? Months? WEEKS?

"Mommy, sometimes, I just feel like crying and I don't know why!" 

Yes. It happens, sweet girl. Hormones and growth spurts are invisible but powerful and may leave you with no other option BUT to cry. Cry. Let it out.  It's horrible and wonderful and confusing and thrilling and I am sorry that all I can do to help you is to hold your hand as you walk up to the roller-coaster park that is Womanhood. I wish I could sit beside you on every single ride. I wish I could protect you the entire way, guiding you to the rides that I am positive you will enjoy and steering you away from the rickety wooden coasters that nobody likes; in fact, I wish I could hold onto the safety harnesses and keep you from feeling nauseous or jarring your back. 

I wish so many things.

While I cannot choose your path, trust me when I say that I will be beside you all the time. You don't need to feel my hand within your own to know that our love surrounds you. No choice you make will ever change that. No triumph or failure is greater than the love of our family for you. 

So quickly, these years have sped by. So soon, you are nearly as tall as I am, and can fit into my shoes! It's been years since I have chosen your clothing and rarely do you ask for my help on fixing your hair. My youngest most mature child. 

"I'm scared, Mommy. I don't want to grow up! It's scary..."

Me too. 

You will always be MY baby.

Yes, Life is scary; but without the risks, there would never be thrills. Trust me, sweet girl, the thrills are worth the risks. YOU were a scary risk; one we almost didn't take. My third child, conceived after an operation that left me truly petrified - you were the most amazing reward for climbing onto that new, towering roller coaster 10 years ago. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Not Back To School

If you had told me 8 years ago that there would come a time when whole months would pass by without posts on my blog, I would have literally laughed at you.

The stories I have to tell aren't my own anymore, though. The kids, they grow.

Damn them.

And my own life has felt less shareable as of late. Add those compounds together and shake vigorously to get a blog with cobwebs and crickets in every corner.

Still, I have these stories in my head... They may get told. Maybe not.

Until then:

 Checkers outside. "So Fun, Mommy!" Score.
 A week studying Italy resulting in art, flags, and dinner prepared by my 9 year old. Score.
 Helping with the Ricotta cookies. YUM.
 First day of school on the floor in the middle of many storage boxes.
A fourth grader! She is the same age that Justin was when I pulled him from public school... Unfathomable.
Forced togetherness with my 13 year old because posing for first day of school pics is NOT COOL anymore.

Monday, July 27, 2015


This morning, Corinne and I were watching one of her favorite YouTube people, Rosanna Pansino. If you have never watched "Ro," I highly recommend her videos. Very adorable, totally kid friendly, and since my kid loves baking/cooking, it's right up her alley as most of Ro's videos are of cool cakes and such. Today, though, we were watching video after video of Ro and her sister Molly (Aka, Mo). Ro and Mo are hysterical together! Similar personalities that are really complimentary towards the other without taking life too seriously; as far as YouTube personalities go, these are definitely ladies I am 100% ok with my daughter watching.

It was these sister videos, though, that started our conversation today and led to a moment of wistful reflection. "Do you wish you had a sister, too?" I asked.

"Yeah," deep, meaningful sigh.

"Sisters are pretty awesome," I said, "but you have your brothers, and that's something special, too."

She quietly nodded, but I am pretty sure she was thinking "But brothers don't do THIS. They don't giggle and snort over silly games and share clothes and give advice..." 

I will admit, I had two pretty awesome sisters. We didn't get along 100% of the time, of course, but in the grand scheme of life, they are my best friends. I can't imagine life without them. Having never had a brother of my own, I have little experience in what that kind of relationship is like, other than the sibling bonds within my house right now. I know that Corinne wouldn't give up her brothers, but most of her female friendships are determined by the whims of the world; "Will this friend move away, too? Will this friend change her mind and lose interest in me? The age difference with this friend was too large, and she aged out of me." 

Sisters don't move away/lose interest/worry about age differences. Family is usually connected forever, despite any of those obstacles. I know she sees me and my own sisters and is wondering "Will I ever have that?"

My hope is that she remembers her girl cousins, especially the two that are born within a year of her (though she adores her older girl cousin, too). I hope they can remain her surrogate sisters and stay close (if not closer) as they grow up. 

Reminding her of the unique bond she has with her cousins, and how a sister isn't a guaranteed BFF, helped. She is still wistful for the unknown, and I would have loved to have provided her with the sister of her dreams, but it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps that mythical sister would have been her undoing? Maybe my easy-going and accepting girl might have been permanently altered if a little sister had been in the cards?

Friday, July 24, 2015

You cannot live in Tahiti and Italy at the same time

I never used to indulge in regrets. They're a waste of precious time and completely illogical. Why think about what you cannot change? And, if you COULD change something which you regret, what unforeseen adverse effects would that one difference bring about in your life? I've seen The Butterfly Effect; I am quite aware of the ripples caused by the smallest of moments.

This month has been... difficult. Why? Why, exactly. That is the question, to which there is no answer. I live a life full of love and privilege. It isn't without an enormous sense of guilty self-indulgence that I am allowing these feelings to be written about on this blog. I am fully aware that to complain about not being able to live to Tahiti when I am currently living in Italy* is a first world "problem." But to ignore it any longer isn't helping, either.

It's got to be the age. I am 39 years old. I have currently lived, hopefully, half of my life. Or more...Or less! Who is to say how many days or years we have left on this world? Within those 39 years, I know I have accomplished much and experienced every possible opportunity within my path. Within those 39 years, each time I turned left, I never once looked over my shoulder at the pathway that forked to the right and watched it slip further and further away. I knew that I couldn't go down each path; it's pretty freaking obvious. 

But this month.... THIS FREAKING MONTH... I have spent more time thinking about each and every pathway that wasn't explored. I have felt intense anger at myself; not for choosing the left instead of the right, but for feeling this overwhelming anger and regret. REGRET! WHAT THE FUCK?

Honestly, I don't know how to "get over" this, other than to go straight through it. And so I'm allowing myself this space in time to feel the anger and regret when it comes to me. Not for long, maybe 15 minutes a day? And then I will force myself to count, LITERALLY COUNT, my beautiful blessings. The results of every decision I've ever made are right in front of me and I will not waste this 39th year in mourning for anything I didn't choose. I will feel the feelings and acknowledge the losses. When regret and anger begin to knock, I will not ignore it. I'll answer that goddamn door and look it in the eye. I might even let it give a slick sales pitch. But when it comes right down to it, I will shut that door in its face and say "No thanks. I'm not interested."**

*I live in Illinois, not Italy. This blog is full of analogies, people. I am a fan.
** Because you really should be polite to door to door salespeople. They're just trying to make a living.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Knowing that my hormones are responsible for the crash doesn't make the impact any less painful. Kind of like knowing that the reason you got a sunburn was because you ran out of sunscreen. It still burns.

And so I am trudging through today, in this small but very significant portion of my life (approximately 6.7% of my procreative years. Yes, I did the math). I am plodding and plummeting and climbing back up and wondering why I can't just bring the dirty dishes to the sink, even though I didn't make them messy, so why didn't those who used them do it? In the midst of a full-on brain rant over the dishes, I brake everything to freak out over why it matters. WHY? Why do I care? I don't. I don't give a fuck if the house is a disaster, even though I DO, but "not really." Because, in the end, there isn't a score card for the dishes or the laundry. There isn't a prize for anything. Not academics or careers, or any sort of accomplishment we feel we can tack upon the wall and display for others to gush over. THIS IS IT. I was born alone, I'll die alone, and if I fall, only I can pull myself up. Alone. Alone.

Well, Fuck.

Haven't written on this blog in a regular fashion in over 2 years. Why? Is it middle age? Am I that predictable? Is being predictable BAD? DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF IT IS? The time I've wasted over wondering if I was good enough/funny enough/smart enough is mind-boggling.

I have so many things in my head. Posts about love and choices and equality and justice. Points that I want to make, even if only to my future self, about the Big Questions and revelations I try to hold onto, before they no longer matter. The Big WHY of life... Why are we here? Is it really as simple as "just because"  or is there some greater purpose? Is my life a long list of pre-determined situations and choices or as random as the splatters of paint thrown upon a wall? Which is more desirable? And if I was allowed to know the truth between the two choices, would I REALLY want to know? Which is a more depressing thought: that all that I do and am is at the whim of some omniscient being or that no one and nothing in the universe is able to account for the world within my mind?

Best part of this onslaught of hormonally charged questions is the knowledge that it is NOT unique. It is not particular to me as an individual but rather to all who are blessed with the ability to think beyond ourselves. Human existence is a blessing and curse. We are able to ask "Why?" but not ever able to receive a solid answer until the moment we die. And then? Will there be an answer or only silence?


Monday, July 06, 2015

Florida Vacation, 2015

We went to Orlando in June. It was the bomb. Unbelievably HOT (who would have thought?), but incredibly fun.

Universal Studios was awesome! We got Orlando Flex passes which gave us access to the Universal parks, Sea World (I know, I know), and two water parks, so we went to a theme park Every. Single. Day. And a dream of mine finally came true.

I got to go to Hogwarts.

IT'S AMAZING. If you suspend your adult brain, just a tiny bit, you will have the time of your life. And so, I did. I let go of about 30 of my years and had the time of my life pretending that I had actually arrived at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. When we flew with Harry on The Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts, I WAS REALLY THERE. All in, folks. Allll in.

This must be what it feels like for 4 year olds at Disney World.
Eating at the Leaky Cauldron. THE LEAKY CAULDRON.
 Butter Beer, Gilly Water, Pumpkin Juice... We had it all.

 Wands that work, BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DO! They cost a pretty penny, but these were the only souvenirs we got the kids. AND you can't really go to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley without going to Ollivander's, can you? The answer is No. You cannot.
 I know we spent hours over the course of our week in Ollivander's. These two pulled every. Single. wand from the shelves, no joke. NO. JOKE. I think Evan would have just stayed in there if we had let him.
 While the actual train ride between the parks itself is merely "Meh", it was still pretty cool getting in line at Platform 9 & 3/4. Plus, it's WAY faster than having to walk from one park all the way to the other one.
 Hagrid's Hut is in line for the Flight of The Hippogriff. If you happen upon it when the line is about 2 minutes long, then do it. Otherwise, seriously, pass it up. Super short ride, crazy slow line. The Dragon Challenge is WAY better and the line moves insanely fast through the abandoned castle.
 I had really hoped that George and Fred would make an appearance in their shop. Or that something would explode. Nothing did, but it was definitely loud and crazy and had all of the tricks and jokes you would expect to find.
 In line for Forbidden Journey, AGAIN. (We rode it at least 3 times). This line might seem long, but it is sooooo worth it. YOU GO THROUGH THE CASTLE. The really real Hogwarts. I'm serious. This is the real deal.
I said it. I did. "Sherbert Lemon!" That griffin totally spun around IN MY MIND.

Holy crap, there were goblins. COUNTING GOLD.
 These two got to hang out all week which made our lives with the Teenager Who Despises Heat way more tolerable. This is right around the time that Kayla admitted she had never watched all of the movies and NEVER READ ANY OF THE BOOKS. We allowed her to stay with us, but just barely.

HONEYDUKES!! Candy and air conditioning. Two of our favorite things.
If you go to Universal, don't skip the shops in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. Take the time to really explore, because they are amazing. And definitely don't forget to go down Knockturn Alley! The kids used their wands and made all of the creepy spells work and Corinne scared the living @#$# out of me when she put a pretend rat on my foot while we were in Borgin and Burkes. I screamed loud enough to make her laugh and other customers stop and turn. This has become one of her favorite memories. So...yay. Little brat.

 Did you know there are other things besides Harry Potter at Universal Studios? There are. The Mummy ride was a really awesome surprise. If you go, do not walk past this ride!

If these were just a little bit cheaper, I might have been convinced...
 Ice cream for dinner because VACATION. (Also, ice cream for breakfast because you can't take ice cream and toppings on an airplane.)

 On one of the hottest days, we went to Sea World and had a really good time, despite the misgivings of Evan and me. (Ever watch BlackFish? Yeah.) Still, the roller coasters were awesome and there were several animal experiences that were worth the trip. We left early so that we could go back to our rental house, eat Chinese food, and swim. And swim we did.
 I'm starting to really see the resemblance that everyone talks about.
 Renting a house is SO WORTH IT. We paid about $800 for a 4 bedroom, 2 bath with a game room and a pool that overlooked a golf course. FOR 9 NIGHTS. Yeah. Do the math, and try to find a hotel that can even come close to comparing. SO WORTH IT.

These kids swam in the early morning and as late as we wanted. Sometimes for just a half hour while we sat on the deck with our beers and said "Holy shit, this is a good vacation."

Right behind that attractive man is a tree with Spanish freaking moss on it...And a black bird that stole golf balls off of the course. It was an extra entertainment watching golfers in garish clothing searching for balls in 100 degree heat.
And because we were in Florida over Father's Day, we surprised this guy with an air boat ride in the swamp!
5 alligators, 3 cows, 1 turtle and hundreds of birds later, we left with smiles on our faces. It was amazing. We used The Spirit of the Swamp, if you're looking for a recommendation. For the price, experience, and customer service, it was worth it.
My God, so many memories were made...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Life is Good

As I have done hundreds of times before, I sat on my back stoop to watch my dog sniffing the corners of our yard this morning. Steaming cup of coffee in my hand, I sip and reflect, as I have on many similar mornings, on how I don't want to forget. I want to capture this moment and hold it in my hand forever. Nothing could be better than the coolness of the cement seeping through my pajamas and hot hazelnut coffee on my tongue.

The morning doves are in competition with the finches for Best Vocalists. Occasionally, they are both beaten out by the echoes of airplanes as they begin their descent into Midway.

The air has that special quality to it that only exists in the moments before the sun fully rises. Slightly thick with humidity, but still cool and calm. It's air that is full of promise and possibility.

Penny spied something in the tall spring grass by the fenceline. It has grown thick and lush in that area, thanks to the choices our dog makes in where she does her business. It's hilarious to watch this dog darting through the grass and weeds; she's so cautious about where she puts her feet, but SO anxious to finally catch that rabbit.

This is the good stuff. Mornings like these are what I live for. I don't need fancy trips or clothes. Though I love traveling and adventures, the view outside of my own back door is enough to settle my soul for the day. The list of tasks I hope to accomplish today isn't overwhelming and includes activities I'm actually looking forward to. Sorting books for the freshly cleaned book shelves. School with the kids and making lesson plans for next week. Eating those cinnamon rolls that I put in the oven earlier... There is still a lot (A LOT) to do, but it doesn't overwhelm me when I am able to breathe the morning air in the solitude of my own back step.

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