Category Archives: Me

My Semi-Isolated Life

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I started doing daily dispatches on Facebook when the Corona virus started to really impact our day to day life.  They are just my musing as we adjusted to distance learning, working remotely, the inability to go most places and everything around us shutting down.

Social distancing started in earnest for us on Saturday, 3/14.  The kids were sick with bad colds, schools shut down that following week but distance learning wasn’t up and running yet and we had no idea what was coming.

March 18th.

Alright, Day 5 of our extended stay-cation at home and I woke up without the huge ball of anxiety in my stomach. It was only medium sized (think basketball vs beachball) and the band around my lungs was a little looser.

Denial? Acceptance? A complete breakdown looming? Who knows – any of the above are possible.

The good news is my kids are being rock stars. I never thought I’d be so very thankful for technology- but there you have it. They are keeping in touch via PS4 games, facetime and messaging and I’m not complaining.

I wish I could tell you we have some die-hard color coded schedule, but we don’t. Scorch will have his school work tomorrow and Bean will on Monday. Once we evaluate how much work they have, we’ll set something up – most likely 1.5 hours of work / reading in the morning and 1.5 hours of work / reading in the afternoon once I’m done with work. I’ll be throwing their butts outside as often as possible. Their new basketball hoop gets installed tomorrow, so that will help A LOT.

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March 19th

Day 6 finds me counting my blessings, which includes the prompt delivery and assembly of a basketball hoop.

This sucker keeps the kids busy, gets them outside and gives us all something to do after dinner- which isn’t something we had time for before this slowdown.

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March 20th

Day 7: Yesterday my teeth ached. I was a bit freaked out- was it a low key sinus infection? Are my teeth rotting out? Do I need to see the dentist? CAN I see the dentist?

Then I realized – nope, I must be grinding the shit out of my teeth at night due to this stress. So, that’s fun…or, you know, the opposite of fun.

Not going to lie- today we started home school with Scorch and I’m a little worried how I can be a full time employee and helpful mom (on top of being the cook, part of the cleaning crew, social coordinator, and sanity saver during the day because the Hubs is still having to report to work).

Bean starts school work on Monday. *sigh* I’m very thankful for having a community of teachers around me who can virtually help, but the stress of needing a schedule, being available and answering questions all day long is daunting af.

So tonight we’re disconnecting and watching Jumanji 2 (we love these movies).

I’m very glad tomorrow is the weekend so we can re-calibrate and figure out how to make this work.

March 21

Day 8: I can’t remember the last Saturday where we didn’t have to wake up 8 am at the latest. Practice, game, gym- whatever, we’re usually up and out. So it was super weird not to *have* to get up for anything. We had no place to go today – just a house to clean, a workout to do….and that was it. So today was the day that the weirdness really hit me.

It was also the day that my kids – who have been *wonderful* thus far- were DONE with each other. Squabbling, arguing, nitpicking – they made each other (and me and the Hubs) NUTS. I made Scorch run my errands with me (Redbox return, book drop off our Little Libraries) just to get her out of the house and get her away from her brother.

On the upside, the house is clean and we watched a super fun family move- Spies in Disguise. Yes, it’s about a spy who turns into a pigeon but it’s adorable and funny- I dare you not to love it!

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings renewed patience, Scorch’s cough to subside and more sunshine.

Emmie_2020

 

March 22

Day 9: Another odd day with *nothing* to rush off to do. Decided I could get behind this whole, do-nothing-on-the-weekends vibe as I was laying in bed at 9 am. Then by 11 the boredom hit and we cleaned the bathroom cabinets out and rearranged Bean’s room, doing some spring cleaning as we went along.

Today was the literal calm before the (snow) storm, so I took advantage of the sunshine to practice some socially responsible socializing with my BFF (a walk with 6 feet between us at all times) and some basketball with the kiddos (who wouldn’t know what social distancing from me meant if you offered them $1M).

After 20 years of living together, we also bought a second TV today to save *all* our sanity when the weather gets too crappy to go outside and the Hubs is eventually told to work from home. Am I ashamed of having an electronic babysitter for my kids? No, no I’m not. #survivalmode

 

March 23

Day 10. Alright folks, shit got real today as home schooling started at Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning, the Hubs left the house at 4 am to go arrest bad guys and I had to work. Do you want to know how well things went? It was not pretty and I was texting my family group chat by 10 am in ALL CAPS. That’s never a good sign.

Things I learned today: my kids, bless them, are terrible at self-motivators when it comes to school work but not PS4 games, math is something I will never, ever be able to help them with, they could get their work done in half the time if they stopped complaining and their teachers are *amazing* with all the prep work they did to help ease us into this. #godblessteachers

By 11ish, I was feeling pretty good about things and then I heard that VA cancelled school for the rest of the year…so I had a small panic attack thinking that NY may do that. #deargodno

I realize how very, very lucky we are that both the Hubs and I are employed right now when so many are struggling and I know we’ll find our groove. But today the thought of working + ensuring my kids get their work done + helping them with new concepts seems daunting as hell. So, if you need me, Imma going to be hiding in the paper bag with Emmie. #tomorrowisanewday

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March 24

Day 11. I wallowed in my anxiety and fear yesterday, wrote it out and then got a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning knowing it was time to put my big girl pants on. So, that’s what I did.

Day 2 of home school at the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning went a lot smoother than yesterday. One of my kids was thrilled to Zoom with their class and do the online work….and one bitched and moaned the whole time, but got it done.

I started putting into practice the advice I’ve been giving others. I exercised, set up breaks during my day and then took a nice 30 minute solo drive with my audio book to get out of the house. I managed to find that balance between being an employee and a mom today with some success. Will tomorrow go just as well? Who the hell knows, but I’m taking my victories where I can find them.

March 25

Day 12. We all (except the Hubs, which is weird since he’s the only one leaving the house daily) have colds with coughs. The kids were tested for Corona last week – they came back negative on Sunday (thank GOD). But, my house sounds like a TB ward, so that’s a fun soundtrack to this new normal.

Day 3 of the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning went off really well! Scorch is fully my child – he sits down and immediately is distracted. “How can I hook up my airpods to the Mac?” “There are too many tabs open on this computer – what is on each of these?” and on and on. But he buckled down and got the work done between bouts of yelling at the computer, throwing his beanie and randomly breaking out in dance. #13yearoldboysareweird

Yesterday, Bean read my daily FB posts and was *shocked* that I wasn’t happy about being forced to stay home. “Mom, this is pretty much my dream come true” said my sweet little homebody who does her school work everyday with zero complaints. I had to reassure her that no, I was not depressed. Yes, I am worried. Yes, I do miss our old life. But no, I wouldn’t pick anyone else to be stuck at home with – even if she made her 5th batch of brownies in 12 days yesterday. #corona15

Temps above 40 with blue skies meant that PE was at the Nature Center with miles of walking. Does this mean the kids will be tired enough to go to bed without bitching? Most likely not, but a girl can dream. #momjokesfordays

March 26

Day 13.

Patience is the name of the game today as I (still) try to adjust to this new normal. I don’t do well with uncertainty – not just the horrible uncertainty of the spread of the illness and who will get sick (and how sick they’ll get) but when this will end. I realize that none of us are God and no one knows- but I’d be willing to throw good money at an accurate soothsayer right about now.

Day 4 of the Heat School of (Maybe) Learning had both kids on Zoom calls with various class. Emmie, our cat who can’t stand most people, cannot stop showing off and walking on our keyboards during said Zoom calls which leads to both kids hiss-yelling while trying not to move their mouths or show their panic for me to GET THE CAT while I’m in the middle of my own work day.

All in all, today was a good day despite the uncertainty and my cough that makes me worried that I’ll be beaten if I go out in public.

 

March 27

Day 14. We survived 5 days of the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning! A huge kudos to all the teachers who have worked so freaking hard to transition to 100% online learning. Nothing about this has been easy – but we lived through the first week and I’m calling that a huge win! I’m so proud of how adaptable the kids have been, they make this look easy.

And now we’re staring down another weekend. Weekends are the weirdest time for me- there is no schedule, there is nothing we have to do – it’s just 2 days of freedom. Not going to lie, it freaks me out. I love having places to go, I love seeing our sports family on Saturdays, I love being able to go out to dinner or to the movies and I take great comfort in the tradition of Mass on Sundays. And now, none of that is possible which is unsettling and odd.

Instead, we’ll be cleaning out bedrooms and researching local hiking trails if the weather is nice enough. If it’s not, I foresee lots of movies, PS4 gaming, reading and game playing. Maybe I’ll learn to like naps?

To ease the weirdness, we ordered a sundae making kit and ice cream from a local restaurant. Ice cream makes everything better.

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March 28

Day 15. I saw someone on FB chastising someone else today for complaining about this self-isolation. You’re healthy, they said. You’re safe, you have a roof over your head, a family to love and savings in the banks. Stop complaining, they said – enjoy the family time, the time to reconnect and play and catch up on TV. This isn’t so bad, they said.

And they are right, this isn’t so bad. I *am* blessed beyond measure and complaining seems petty – it really does.

But I can acknowledge all that and also mourn my normal life. I can be sad and scared and worried while realizing that my worries are so first world, it’s not even funny. But it doesn’t make them invalid and it doesn’t make me not feel them.

I can enjoy the heck out of my family’s company….and still want them to go back to school / work. I can enjoy playing games at home…and still wish we could get out of the house. I can know my worries are insignificant in the grand scheme of things…but still fret nonetheless.

But I can also choose to count my blessing to keep me grounded in the here and now. So today, I’m thankful:

> That the Hubs came home safe and sound this morning after working all night after a local police officer was shot.

> That the officer will recover from him injuries.

> That an dear friend got married last week an ocean away and I was able to virtually share my joy over his news.

CaronoCation

The End of Summer

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This summer has been amazing – hands down, one of the best we’ve had. We have traveled to new places, visited with family, caught sharks, hung out with friends, welcomed a new nephew / cousin into the crew and watched more than a few ball games.

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We’ve had quiet nights at home where we’ve all retreated to our own corners and nights we’ve danced in the streets. My house has been, more often than not these past few weeks, filled with at least 2 kids who aren’t mine- usually more. My backyard is littered with wiffleballs and makeshift bases and Gatorade bottles. We’ve heard coyotes chattering in the hills across the street and adopted a new kitten.

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We’ve celebrated birthdays – mine and the Bean’s – as well as our anniversary. We’ve floated in pools in the hot sun and had to bundle up to stay warm on boats. We’ve roasted marshmallows and ate more ice cream than I could measure.

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We’ve worked out 3x a week at 7 am and the Hub’s has rehabbed his knee from ACL surgery. I quit two jobs that I had and loved for over 5 years and started a new one, requiring a trip to CA to meet my new coworkers. We’ve dealt with some stress (ask me how our home addition is going- I dare you) that comes with adulting, but it hasn’t overshadowed the fun.

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All in all, we’ve simply enjoyed the hell out of each other. School starts in a week – the shoes have been purchased, the supplies sorted out and the schedules posted. We’re ready for routine again and all the fun that comes with fall- football, Halloween, the gorgeous leaves and the upcoming holidays. But I can’t lie, I’m going to be more than a little sad to say goodbye to this perfect season.

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18 Years After “I Do”

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18 years ago today, two kids got married.

We had been together three and a half years and had been living together for a year an a half. The Hubs had been in the Secret Service for almost two years and I had had two different jobs in the past 20 months that we were living in DC. We had already changed apartments, figured out what the hell 401Ks were and thought we were bonafide adults.

When we got married, we were the first in our crew to do so. We had a gorgeous Catholic mass complete with all the trappings: escorts down the aisle, a veil, and family and friends blowing bubbles as we left the church. I was completely calm and collected on my wedding day- there was no doubt in my mind I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

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Our reception had over 200 people in attendance, great food and an open bar. The party was epic and included a school bus, grandfathers dressed up as the Village People and hours and hours of dancing. The party officially ended at 11, but the after party was still going on at 3 am when my father finally ordered Pete and I to go to bed because we had to be up for the post-wedding brunch the next day. 😉

We were two kids with the world at our fingers tips, promising each other forever in front of God, family and friends.

It’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

~*~*~*~
Over the past 18 years, those kids grew up. We moved a handful of times, adding two kids, three cats and a dog to our crew. We battled infertility, dealt with job loss and said goodbye to friends and family that left us too soon.

There were a few times over these past 18 years that I wondered if marrying the Hubs was the biggest mistake of my life. Times where I looked at real estate listings, wondering what house I could afford on my own for the kids and myself. Times I laid in bed next to this man I promised my love to, wondering what in the world I was thinking when I said “I do” all those years ago.

It seems cliche to say that marriage is hard work…as well as slightly dishonest. I don’t consider my marriage hard work, but our marriage is something we have to work at. We need to remember to prioritize each other, to talk to each other about the things that matter, and to love each other through the rough spots. Sometimes my marriage is a feeling of completely contentment and sometimes it’s a decision I make daily to forge ahead with, and make things work.

Thankfully those hard times are completely overwhelmed by all the times I can’t stop grinning, so very glad this messy, loud, chaotic life is mine. Times when I am so very grateful at all the happiness around me and this life we built together.

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So, if I could tell those sweet kids getting ready to start the biggest chapter of their lives anything, here is what I would tell them:

  • Happily ever afters don’t just happen – they are attainable, but you better be ready to work for them!
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a date night.
  • Therapy is a God-send, don’t be afraid of it.
  • Change is good – just because it’s scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a leap.
  • Money comes and money goes – stay on budget, keep talking and have faith.
  • Friends – individual and couple friends- are essentials as is time to develop your own passions.
  • Find things that bring you together – a love of movies, history, travel, whatever- just make it yours.
  • It’s OK to go to bed angry, sometimes you need time to cool off. But don’t let things fester even if the conversation is hard and uncomfortable.
  • Figure out your damn love languages – it’ll help a lot!

Here’s to many more years of a happy, happy life!

 

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

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Back in the fall, I took Scorch to one of the varsity football games. He was settling into middle school and feeling like the big man on campus wearing his modified football jersey to hang out with all his friends under the lights. Oh, he thought he was hot stuff and he was feeling it…

…until I made him leave before the game was over because he had a 3 hour long practice starting the next day at 7 am.

He wailed, he pleaded, he tried to bargain – he was pissed at me like never before because I was making him leave early.  He was in SEVENTH GRADE and he was NOT A BABY and why was I SO MEAN?!!?  He ended his fit asking me if I wanted to be a COOL MOM because this was, unequivocally, not cool.

I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom

NOOOOOPE

~*~*~*

Fast forward 3+ months and Scorch, the Bean and I have had lots of conversation about the fact that I am not the cool mom, the Hubs isn’t the cool dad and we’re all OK with that.  Because right now, to my kids, being the cool mom means letting them do whatever they wants….and nope, not going to happen.

Here’s what kind of mom I am though:

  • I’ll be the mom that shows up. Games, recitals, plays, concerts – if my kids are in it, I’ll do my damnedest to be there. I might complain because it’s freaking freezing, unbearably hot, or boring as hell, but you’ll still see my ass parked in the stands without fail.
  • I’ll be the consistent mom. The kids might not like my rules, but they’ll know them. Their friends will know them. Heck, our neighbors will most likely know then when I yell them at the kids loudly (hint: I’ll never be the quiet mom). The rules won’t change, ensuring the kids will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be expected to follow them.
  • That said, I won’t be the dictator mom. Rules will flex as the kids age – we’re all going to have to adjust. I’ll always be willing to hear the kids out in a respectful way – it may not change my mind, but they’ll never be discounted or ignored.
  • I’ll be the mom you can blame. Both kids know that I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus. If there is anything they don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable with, they’ve been told that saying that their mom / dad will kill them is a very welcome excuse to give. I don’t care if my kid’s friends think we’re nuts, as long as my kids are safe and happy, make me out to be the bad guy as much as needed.
  • I’ll be the mom with the open door. I admit, the Hubs and I like a peaceful home and having a ton of tweens over is the exact opposite. It’s loud, chaotic and expensive as those kids can eat. And that’s 100% fine with me. My door will be open anytime the kids wants to have friends over. I want to be the house that my kid’s friends feel comfortable in because I know as they get older, my kids and their friends will need safe spaces. We’re it. Nope, we will never condone drinking or drugs ever, but need a break from your parents? Had a bad break up? Need a warm meal? My door is open.
  • I’ll be the mom you can talk to. My kids know that they can talk to be about anything and I’m there for it. Question about your body? Hit me with it. Friendship quandary? Let’s talk it through. Mad at a teacher/coach/friend? Unpack that drama. Sex, alcohol, drugs? Get it alllllll on the table. There is literally nothing that they can bring up that will embarrass me or shut us down. If they are willing to talk, I’m willing to listen. I may laugh like a loon with them, I may have to work really hard not to throw out advice – but I’m always here.
  • I’ll be the mom who is a vault. Admittedly, this is a new one for me. Before if my kids shared stuff with me and I repeated it, it wasn’t a big deal but now it is. So the kids and I have agreed that if we pinky swear on it, nothing will go past me unless the information involves someone getting hurt/hurting something else/self harming/doing illegal things. Those things are going to be shared with the appropriate adults, but the other stuff lives and dies with me.
  • I’ll be the mom who laughs – a lot. This age is hysterical, the kids are AMAZING and there is nothing wrong with having fun. I’m going to poke fun at kids, allow them to tease me and call out their friends as needed. It’s way too easy to take life too seriously especially as a teen. I’m here to point out the crazy and to laugh at it all with my kids – otherwise, what’s the point?!

 

Maybe one day I’ll earn some cool points, but I’m not losing any sleep over it if I don’t.

Peace Out 2018!

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Despite what I keep writing every.damn.time I have to write out the date, it’s 2019 and I have high hopes for this year. There is nothing particular special about this year, but I have a good feeling about it. The date rolls off your tongue and it just sounds right.

2018 had it’s ups and downs, but it ended on a high note. A healthy family, a joyous holiday season, time with loved ones and friends.  Lots of laugh, a tad too much wine at times, a few excuses to get dressed up and hours upon hours spent cheering on both kid’s basketball teams.

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2019 hasn’t started on the best foot.  We lost a dear, wonderful man yesterday.  An old family friend who we spent countless hours with growing up as our families vacationed together. You know those friends who you don’t see for years, but you pick right up on without missing a beat when you see each other again? That is Jim’s family. The soundtrack of my childhood would have been a lot less bright and hell of a lot quieter without Jim’s booming laugh and bellowing yell when one of us was in trouble. My heart is breaking for his family as they navigate this much duller world without him.

And then there is the government shut down. The Hubs, a federal employee who has to work during the shutdown, refuses to allow me to freak out until he’s actually missed a paycheck as he knows my inner Chicken Little is thisclose to coming out. So, I won’t freak out- I’ll just continually update my financial spreadsheets preparing for each of the 1 millions ways things can go.

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All this, though, doesn’t mean the whole year is going to suck Right?! I mean, it can’t. I won’t let it. So…here’s what I’m hoping to do this year to help it suck less for me and my little crew:

  • We’re going to keep encouraging the hell out of our kids. School, sports, music and travel- it’s a big, amazing world and I want my kids to sample as much of it as they can.
  • We’re giving back. We’ve been lucky that have been able to give back financially to the causes near to our hearts, but it’s time to find the time to give that as well. The kids are old enough that they can be a help and find what they are passionate about. Animals? Families in need? I don’t know yet- but we’re going to figure it out.
  • I want to find my passion. We’re in that weird parenting stage right now where the kids need us for a lot of logistical things – rides, etc – but the end of that overwhelming time is inching up on us faster and faster. So, when my kids are grown, when my time is marginally more my own, what do I want do? Besides read in bed – because, let’s be honest, I would do that all the time.
  • Find a couple’s hobby. I know, gag-worthy, right? But after almost 21 years together (HOLY SHIT), the Hubs and I will also soon have time for more than once a month date nights. So what does that look like? Are we volunteering? Dancing (hahahaha – I know, I know, just a thought)? Cooking? Traveling? What are we doing together to keep us strong?
  • Make our health a priority. Dude – the kids schedules right now are unrelenting and it’s wrecking havoc on our gym schedules and waist lines. So, one thing we have started laying out is our weekly “who is working out when / what are we having for dinner” schedule in the hopes of getting healthier.  It’ll work great until baseball season shoots it all to hell, but it’s a start.
  • Let’s be real- there will also be lots of reading. Life is too share not to fill up alllllll the minute nooks and crannies with books you adore. And I adore a lot of books.
  • Write more. I’m a happier, more centered person when I write. I just need to make it a priority again – here and on the local mom blog I write for. It’s been much more challenging as the kids get older. Do I very, very, very much want to write about the afternoon I explained to Scorch what male and female orgasms are? YES. Would he kill me if I did? Also YES. (Kids suck the fun out of everything).

So, that’s what I want out of 2019. Here’s hoping the highs outweigh the lows, the laughs out number the tears and the love continues to grow.

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This is 40

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I’m reading a book right now that takes place the summer between high school and college. Do you remember that summer? For me, it was 1996 and 22 years later it’s still one of the most vivid in my mind. There was that sense of excitement and fear and joy and worry – I can hear the music that played on repeat and smell the clove cigarettes to this day.

There was also a boy.  A beautiful, damaged boy – a boy I wanted to know and be known by.  A boy who I thought I could fall in love with despite all his warnings that he was too broken and not capable of love. A boy I wanted to try with regardless.  A boy who came thisclose to breaking my heart.

This book reminds me, achingly, of that boy and that summer. That summer when anything could have happened and my life could have gone in so many different directions.

~*~*

This past summer was not an easy one in so many different ways, personally and professionally. There were storms that I honestly didn’t know if we’d get through without sinking.  Tears, anger, frustration and hopelessness- they all colored this past summer.

This was also the summer I turned 40. Despite what I *think* I’ll see when I look in the mirror, there is a middle aged woman staring back at me with the start of crows feet, silver at her temples and a squishy middle that is the bane of her (my) existence.  There are bags under my eyes and still some faint marks on one cheek from when I developed chloasma gravidarum when I was pregnant with the Bean.

But my eyes sparkle, my smile is always ready to burst out and those crow’s feet- they’re laugh lines.

If you ever want to know how loved you are, I highly recommend hitting a milestone birthday during a particularly shitty time. We celebrated my 40th five times over four months with friends and family from all over the country.

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I was kidnapped and swept away for a night of bar hopping and dinner, I traveled to Nashville with my best friends from 3rd grade, and I went on a wine tour in the Finger Lakes with some of my favorite people on earth. I turned 40 sitting on the bleachers watching Scorch do what he loves most in the world while the Hubs coached and the Bean and my parents sat next to me. I sang along with Jimmy Buffett when he played in Fenway Park, I danced in the rain on a rooftop bar and laughed and was loved on so damn hard from the people I adore most on this earth.

This summer was the craziest mix of highs and lows – full of fury and fun and heartbreak and overwhelming love.  I dissected my life – my choices, the path that led me to where I was now, the people I surrounded myself with and every little thing in between.  There were a lot of what if’s and daydreams about what could have been.  Could I have been happier? What would my life have looked like if I went right instead of left? Took Option A instead of Option B? Would my life be better? Worse? Different in a whole other way?

But then I realized, it doesn’t matter. This IS the life I picked- and I’d pick it again.

I would pick this life again in a heartbeat.

I’d pick the Hubs to walk by my side. I’d go through the heartbreak of my miscarriages to get the kids I have today. I’d surround myself by the incredible people that lift me up every day. And I surely couldn’t imagine a better family to be born in.

I would pick this life again.

The “what if” game is fun to daydream about – and trust me, even though I’d pick this life, I still daydream and wonder what could have been – but the fact of the matter is this is the life I built.  This is the life I’ve worked for for 40 years and I’m so damn glad it is mine.

So here’s to the next 40 with its ups and downs and heartbreaks and belly laughs. Here’s to family and friends and fighting for the life you want. Here’s to figuring out how to right your own ship, weather the storm and come out stronger for it.  Here’s to laugh lines, tear tracks and choosing to love each and every day no matter what life throws at you. Here’s to my wickedly crazy, awesome life

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Bless me, Father…

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On the way home from school today, the kids and I did a quick review of what we were doing that night. The boys had baseball and the Bean and I were going to a Lenten Penance Service. For the non-Catholics out there, a Penance Service is an abbreviated Mass followed by numerous priests taking everyone’s confession. Scorch went to confession last week so he gave the Bean some tips on what to expect and what to do. Then, they started listing out possible sins for her to confess to.

They both agreed that she had to include that she calls her brother names, but a big debate started on whether or not she should share what names she calls her brother. The verdict? It was OK to share “moron” with the priest, but not OK to share “ball sack.” (Don’t judge us- it’s a whole new world when you raise an older son and younger daughter who talk about everything.)

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Our gorgeous church

Confessions can be done one of two ways in our church. You can opt to have a privacy screen up between you and the priest or you can sit in a little room face to face. The Bean was adamant that the only way she’d give her confession is if the privacy screen was up. I explained to her that while I’d do everything I could to make that happen, she may have to speak to the priest face to face. She thought about this for a second and asked if I’d go in the room with her if that was the case. I agreed and told her I’d plug my ears so her conversation could be private between her, the priest and God.

Why? You’ve yelled at me for all these sins, so it’s not like they’ll be a surprise to you.”

Good point, kiddo- good point.

~*~*~

When it was my turn, I opted to sit face to face with our priest. We had a great conversation after he heard my confession and, as we were winding down, he reached his hand out to me, looking like he wanted to shake hands. At the last minute, he raised his hand slightly, so his palm was up, facing me. I was super confused so when he started talking, I admit, I didn’t pay any attention to what he was saying because I was trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do with my hands and what the heck he was doing with his. It was super awkward, so I didn’t really think- I just reacted.

I high-fived him.

After I did it, I started listening to what he was saying and realized he was giving me absolution and praying over me and I high-fived him in the  middle of that. He wasn’t raising his hand for a slap, he was raising his hand to give me a blessing.

So I looked at him and he looked at me and we both started cracking up because clearly I am the biggest idiot he’ll see all day long.

 

To My Badass Bean on International Women’s Day

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Dearest Bean-

Today’s International Women’s Day and, until the past few years,  I hadn’t heard much about this day. Started in 1908, the day was created to mark the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Back when it was started, women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t hold most jobs. They couldn’t be whomever they wanted to be. For you and me- white, solidly middle class women living in the Northeast- that’s pretty unimaginable.

Over the past year, we’ve seen women start to roar, loudly and with purpose. You and I and Scorch watched live feeds of Susan B. Anthony’s grave on election day. We marveled at pictures and videos during the Woman’s March on DC. We blasted Beyonce’s Run the World and we read Rebel Girls nightly. We talk about what it means to be a woman today and how the sky is the limit.

But I have something to confess—until I started educating myself, I didn’t know why this was so important. I have never thought I was less than because of my gender. I have never been assaulted. I have never been harassed. I was raised to know my self worth and even at my lowest, I have never, ever doubted that I am worthy of as much respect as a man. Nana and Papa never made me feel less than my brother. I have been very, very blessed- as are you.

But a lot of women aren’t as blessed. There are a countless issues women face world-wide and million reasons why a Woman’s Day is needed, but let’s talk about something you can relate to for a second. Did you know that nearly half a billion women cannot read and 62 million girls are denied an education world-wide? People are not taught to read or allowed go to school simply because they were born with a vagina instead of a penis. Girls are more likely to have to stay at home and tend younger siblings and other household chores; ensuring education falls way down the priority list.

As a result, 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. Any chance of living a good life is tied to the men in their life—fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. If they marry into poverty or to an abusive spouse, a woman’s options for getting out and moving up are next to none without an education and marketable skills.

Yeah, yeah—I know a lot of that doesn’t mean a lot to you here and now. Child marriages and abuse is as foreign to you as walking on Mars and for that, darling girl, I’m so thankful. But it’s because we’re so blessed—because we do have it so good—that we need to work even harder for those who don’t.

I don’t know what the means for you—hell, I don’t know what it means for me. All I know is that this year, I’ve been inspired to find out how I can give back. Right now that’s been monetary through donations, but I hope to figure out a way to take action and you can bet I’ll be dragging you and Scorch along with me.

~*~*~

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I saw this picture earlier today and gasped. The bull has been a fixture on Wall Street since 1989 and last night, the little badass girl showed up. Her name is Fearless Girl and when I look at her, I see you. You, child, are my  prickly pear. You’re my kid who doesn’t like hugs and who suffers through inane small talk. You keep your tribe small and tight and you hate when you don’t know what to expect or what to do. You are equal parts sass and stubbornness with a side of humor and grace that I marvel at daily.

When you decide to stand for something, you plant both feet firmly and you don’t give up and you don’t care who is in your way. Often times, this makes me crazy—but little girl, you will move mountains. You will vanquish giants and you will always stand up for yourself and I couldn’t be more proud.

So today on International Women’s Day I honor the women who have come before me, I celebrate with the women who fight today and I wait with eagerness and hope to see how you change the world.

I love you, my fearless girl.

-Mom

Happy New Year!

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Dear 2014,

You rocked on a lot of levels- I’m so glad we got to be such good friends. 2013 stunk- we were hit with ill health, some house problems, job loss and financial uncertainty so when you arrived you were welcomed with open arms and high hopes. You did not disappoint. You brought:

> Kindergarten graduation & First Communion
> 2 new jobs that I adore
> A brand new kitchen and bathroom> Vacations- including one that let us see all my nieces and nephews in one week (that one was by far my favorite).
> Good health for my immediate family
> Health scares for my extended family that were, thankfully, relatively minor and resolved quickly
> Amazing books and stories that helped to expand our imaginations
> and so much more.

But now you’re out the door and 2015 is coming in. Here’s hoping it lives up to all the fun you brought along with continued good health and happiness for us and our families and friends. Here’s what I wish for all of you as well:

New Years Hope

Thanks,

Heather

A Month of Thankfulness

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Yes, as cheesy as it sounds I’m going to try to talk about all the things I’m thankful for in Nov. Prepare yourself now. In reading over my last month or so of posts, it’s been a lot of complaining and whining which isn’t at all who I want it to be. So it’s time to shake off this funk and concentrate on the good stuff. I’m keeping things simple today – here are 5 things I’m thankful for this very minute:

1) My warm house. It’s really starting to get cold and I’m so thankful for a warm house full of comfortable furniture, thick blankets and cats to snuggle up with.

2) A good book. I started reading a new series that I’m really digging and got another great recommendation yesterday. I pity anyone that doesn’t fall into reading like I do- what a boring life they must lead.

3) The kid’s school community. I had a PTA meeting tonight and while being a PTA officer can be really frustrating, it’s also a great chance to see every month how amazing and giving people can be with their time, energy and talents.

4) Friends that speak their truth. Whether it be a dear friend’s moving, heartbreak essay in Salon about the long term ramifications of his sexual abuse at the American Boychoir School or another friend’s mission to education all women on the lesser known facts about breast cancer during the month of October, I applaud all who speak their mind.

5) Skinny Cow’s Dreamy Dark Chocolate Clusters. These make any night better. God bless chocolate.