Category Archives: Uncategorized

11.

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Dearest Scorch,

Last month, you turned 11. Eleven. E-lev-en.

How, sweet child of mine, is that possible? Weren’t you just born? Tiny? Toddling? Learning to talk? Starting pre-school? Kindergarten? Playing t-ball? Sitting in a 5-pt harness? Sleeping in a toddler bed? Wearing adorable white onesies?

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Physically, you’re not a big kid compared to many. But because you’re mine- my first child, my first baby– some days, you seem gigantic. Your toes have dark hairs on them. Your feet seem too big for your body. You want to style your hair and look good. You want to read books and see movies that boggle my mind because I’m convinced they are too mature for you…but they aren’t. My brain just hasn’t caught up to your age.

10 started out rough as you began to spread your wings and test your limits, but it ended on such a high note. Over 5th grade you’ve evolved into a kid who I love spending time with- good natured, funny, sweet and smart.

At the start of May, you and I traveled to NJ for a baseball tournament. We never get to do 1:1 things like that and it was the best. I got to watch you not only do your favorite thing- play baseball- but also see your whole world open up as you made new friends, played in the biggest sports complex you’ve ever seen and see how far baseball can take you. I came home glowing because you were so.damn.happy.

~*~*~

I started this post last month. You know- around your actual birthday, not almost 2 months late. But life- life just took off at warp speed and dragged all of us along with it. And that’s not a bad thing- it’s NEVER a bad thing when you’re so busy living your life, you forget to document it.

Since I started this post, 5th grade ended. On the very last day of school, your whole building has an awards ceremony and 3 kids from each class are recognized. One for academic achievement, one for Catholic identity and one for their character. This year, you won the award for Character. Your teacher gave a speech that makes me tear up every time I hear it because she captured all the reasons I’m so very, very proud to be your mom.

We talk a lot about baseball in relation to you. It’s hard not to when you are rarely not talking about or playing the sport. It dominates our lives 9 months out of the year and we’re all better people for it. But you, my sweet, smart, amazing child, are so much more than a sport and I want you to know it.

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You are….

….a friend to everyone you meet. You have never met a stranger and you’re always quick with a smile, a nod and a friendly word.

…kind. Your heart is huge and you’d pretty much do anything for anyone. Kind is such a small word- it doesn’t sound like much. But it is the one thing I wish for you and your sister to always be. When in doubt, be kind. Always.

…smart. You love to read (sometimes), enjoy math (most of the time) and really dig science. I hope you always want to learn and discover and expand that amazing brain of yours.

…funny. You always love a good joke and funny story. There is nothing that makes me happier than watching you laugh so hard that it looks like your dimple is going to drill right down to your teeth.

…self confident. You can laugh at yourself- and your frequently do. But you seem pretty darn comfortable in your own skin and that’s amazing. I hope you cling to that innate sense that you are, and always will be, good enough for what ever life throws your way.

And now, you are 11. You’re starting 6th grade and full of so much life and laughter that, at times, it brims over. You’re also occasionally moody, more than a little dramatic and sometimes a giant pain in my butt. But you’re one of my favorite people on this earth and I thank God every single day that you are ours.

So here’s to an amazing year- may 11 be your most magical one yet.

All my love,

Mom

 

 

A Beginner for the Third Time

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The good news is this winter is going by crazy fast! The bad? It’s been almost a month since I’ve wrote anything here.

Normally winter drags here in the frozen north. I can handle November and December because of the holidays, but mid-January through mid-March are the longest months. The days are short, cold and snowy and my motivation to do anything is at a low—all of which doesn’t help pass the time. But this year I decided to change things up a bit and became a skier.

Again.

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The first time I skied was middle school when all the kids joined ski club. We’d hop on a bus after school, drive for 35 minutes and then have 3 hours to ski before heading home. It was the most freedom we had had pretty much had ever and I was so excited. But then I realized I hated the snow, was lazy and that enjoying hot chocolate and french fries was much more fun than falling down a mountain, so the total time actually spent skiing that year was probably under an hour.

8 years ago, my brother was running his own ski club at the school he taught at. He needed an other adult to chaperone the kids, so I volunteered. The Bean was 6 months old at the time and I was dying to get out of the house.  I was so desperate that spending hours out in the cold, hurling my body down a mountain seemed like a better alternative than putting a 2 year old and a 6 month old to bed. Shocking no one, I didn’t like skiing any better this time around- especially after I had an epic wipe out that resulted in one of my skis going down the hill without me while people chanted “Go Lady!” at me from the ski lift as I walked down after it.

So, why, you’re wondering, would things be any different this time around? This time, I was actually doing it with my kids. And there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them. So, for the past 6 Thursdays I’ve been starting all over again and learning how to ski properly. Scorch has been snow boarding for 3 years now, so he’d go off with his ski club buddies while the Bean, having never skied before, took lessons. Since she was not going anywhere without me, I took lessons as well. And- AMAZINGLY- skiing isn’t so scary when you learn how to do it right! (Shocking, I know).

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By the start of week 2, Bean and I graduated off the Bunny Hill. That meant for 4 weeks in a row, I got to bomb down the slopes with two of my favorite people. And by bomb,  I mean, they bombed with zero fear. Me? Well, I made really, really, really big s-turns while repeating calming phrases to myself out loud- things like “you’re not going to fall” and “you won’t die” and “if Beyonce can carry twins, you can ski!”.

Thursdays very quickly became all of our favorite night of the week. The Hubs is normally the one who does all the  physical activities with the kids, so it’s been great to have something that is just ours, where I get to be a participant instead of the cheerleader from the sidelines. The Hubs has had 5 major knee surgeries in in the past 25 years, so you couldn’t pay him enough to try to ski.

So here we are in March. Ski season is over and I learned that you’re never too old to try something new. Again. (And when you wipe out—because you will, even invoking Beyonce can’t help that—helmets are a wonderful, wonderful thing.)

 

Practically Perfect in Every Way

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A year ago at this time, we took the kids to see Peter Pan. It was the first professional play they had seen and it hit all the marks. It was mesmerizing and engaging, with sets that surpassed all expectations and acting that blew us all away! A few months later we took the kids to see the traveling broadway show of Annie annnnnndddd that didn’t wow my kids nearly as much which was a huge disappointment. I want my kids to love live theater. I want them to seek it out and make it a priority, so today we went back to the theater where we saw Peter Pan and saw Mary Poppins.

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I admit to knowing nothing about the play- I just knew we liked the movie very much so it was a no-brainer to get tickets. I did not know this was a full on musical (although, in hindsight, the tag line on the poster should have given that away), all sung in a British accent. About 5 minutes in, the Bean looks at me in disbelief- “Are they going to sing, everything?!”

Well, welcome to musical theater, my loves!

Thankfully the kids adjusted and very quickly got sucked into the show. Like Peter Pan, it helped that the story line was familiar, so the kiddos weren’t asking us what was going on every 2.3 minutes. This show was just as good at the one we saw last year and we all left completely in awe of the talent found around our community. And now, on to find our next show…

 

The Not-So-Picture Perfect Holidays

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Sometimes Christmas is picture perfect. From start to finish, the whole holiday and the time off around it is magical. The kids act and look like angels, the time with family is meaningful and special and everyone glows with happiness.

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Annnnddd sometimes your kid wakes up with the stomach bug on Christmas morning and is so pitiful she doesn’t even unwrap half her gifts. That’s just the way life goes, unfortunately.

The good news is some of our family still braved coming over for dinner yesterday, no one else in our immediate family got sick (sorry extended family, you got screwed) and all this time stuck at home has given me plenty of time to put things away. Now, I need my kid to get better, the rest of us to stay healthy and the rest of this week to go according to plan. #fingerscrossed

Wrapping Things Up (or not)

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So here we sit, on Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve (I think) and I’m surprisingly zen over the small number of presents that have actually been wrapped. Who ever said life slows down around the holidays lied, y’all. Not when your job needs to hit year end quotas and your kids play sports, and in orchestra and sing in concerts. And I’m not complaining because most of the things that make it super hard to find time to wrap are what makes our life full in some of the best ways. I am, however, wondering when my panic will set in. Check in in 24 hours.

The Hub’s solution to my lack of wrapping is to tell me to take everything to the mall and leave it at one of those places that wrap for charity. Honestly, I think that’s a great idea if I could get past my worry over mislabeled gifts or non-matching wrapping paper. I have a systems- half-assed and last minute as it is- and I shudder when I think of some one breaking it.

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My kids got their video from Santa last night, letting them know if they are on the naughty or nice list for the year. A few years back, the Bean was on the “Could Go Either Way” list, so these videos are met with equal part delight and terror. I don’t know how much longer they’ll love these videos, but for right now they are one of our favorite traditions. I never knew kids could literally vibrate with nerves and excitement until we started getting these.

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That damn wrapping fairy hasn’t showed yet, so it’s time to start binge watching something (suggestions?!) and wrapping. Say a prayer for me.

 

 

Thankfulness: Finding the Good

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So, today was a day, huh? I had a coworker leave the office in tears because she was so upset over the results of the election, as she wondered how Trump and his ideologies will impact her family. I have friends who are thrilled that the old establishment is out and someone new is in power. I had to reassure my kids that Trump won’t kick their Indian friends out of the country.

Tonight I found out that two young people from my hometown died tragically this past weekend.  I did some digging around on Facebook and news sites to find out more about these children and their families. I found GoFundMe sites. I found meal trains. I found people – strangers- reaching out to give comfort and help. None of that can replace these gorgeous children who were lost, but it helped prove to me that most people are good. Most people are kind and generous and loving.

That is what I’m thankful for today. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on that point, but believing that most people are good is what I’m clinging to right now. For my sanity. For my children’s future.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and to lose all hope, but don’t. Please, don’t. Regardless of who won and who you voted for, we can all agree there is a lot of work to be done so that both sides feel heard and represented. So remember that core of goodness, and work towards that.

 

 

Thankfulness: The 19th Amendment

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You guys, this election season has SUCKED. I mean, it’s been bad. The hate, vitriol, name-calling and fear-mongering on both sides has been mind blowing. If aliens came down today and decided to judge humans based on what’s in my Facebook feed, they’d just turn around and leave because no one needs the amount of hate and negativity in their lives.

I get that this election is a Big Deal and there is a lot of stake here. I’m intelligent, well-read and as informed as I can be. I try to talk to my kiddos fairly and to present to them an accurate picture of each candidate because what they hear is the worst of the worst- Hillary killed men, Trump hates anyone who isn’t white. And just like every thing out there, the truth about both candidates is found somewhere between the absolute worst and the rosy optimism.

So, here we are on Election Day. And I’m so thankful for that. This election has shown the ugly underbelly of a lot of America on both sides and I’m hoping (praying/wishing) that regardless of who wins, we all walk away from this election season knowing that we have a lot of work to do on so many fronts to knit our country back together.

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I’m also damn thankful I have this *right* to vote. Women have only been allowed to vote for the past 94 years- before that, I wouldn’t have had a voice. That is mind boggling to me. The number of smart, passionate, well-informed women I know is staggering and the thought that there was a time when we were kept silent is sobering. There is still so much to be done for woman’s rights even in an amazing country like the US, but this -this right to have our voice heard – is so very fundamental and will help propel the rest of these changes forward. So here’s to the bad-ass women who fought hard to for the right to vote, to the bad-ass women that are working for a change today and the bad-ass women to come who will keep propelling positive changes forward so we can all benefit.

 

Thankfulness: Princesses & Proximity

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Up until a month ago, I was the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 1 niece. 5 of my  nephews live in the mid-west, 14 hours away and my niece and other nephew live 7 hours south of here.  We try to see our mid-western family at least once a year and the southern family every 2-3 months, but I’ve never had a niece or nephew that lived by.

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Now I’m the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 2 nieces since my sister-in-law gave birth to the most perfect baby girl in October. She, my brother and the new baby live 45 minutes away which is like heaven and makes last minute get together’s a breeze.

I’m extraordinarily thankful for all my nieces and nephews and the technology that allows us to be a part of each other’s lives even when we’re hours and hours away. But after a fantastic dinner with my favorite 3 week old, I’m extra thankful for the blessing of having one of those nieces live near by so I can watch her grow up in person. Is it too soon to ask my brother and his wife when they are going to have baby #2?!

Thankfulness: Handy People

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The Hub’s Grandfather was an incredibly handy man. He could fix just about anything – if we had issue with anything around the house, he was our go-to man. Despite him diligently trying to teach the Hubs his skills, it never took. I have great memories of Grandpa driving up to our house to tune up our mower or install the molding in Scorch’s nursery.  My Father-in-Law is also a really handy man to have around- he’s installed flooring and doors in my house. He knew enough to try to teach the Hubs or myself- it just wasn’t going to take.

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So, neither of us are handy people. And that’s fine- we have other skill sets. But what we have been lucky enough to do is to create great relationships with people who know what the hell they are doing. And these are the people who I’m so very thankful for today.

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Yesterday while I was working from home, I kept hearing banging outside. It’s windy, so I assumed our garbage cans tipped over or one of the kid’s throwbacks was being tossed around. What I did not expect when I went outside to investigate was to see part of my roof flapping in the wind.

My. Roof. Flapping. (sometimes I loathe being an adult).

I called the first handy person I could think of – a licensed contractor who has saved our butts more times than I could think of. The best time was a few years back when we were leaving for Fl. We had to leave at a certain time to make our train in VA and as we were literally walking through our house one more time before leaving, the light fixture in our hallway caught on fire. We put it out super quick, took off the fixture, looked around and saw that nothing was smoldering. Then we called our contractor because I was convinced our house was going to burn down while we were gone. He came over immediately, shoo’d us out the door so we didn’t miss our train, and allowed us to enjoy vacation not fearing the worst.

Yesterday, this saint of a man and his coworker were at my house within the hour and determined it was a very quick, easy fix as it was just a rain vent (guard? something?) that was loose. Which was the BIGGEST relief of the day because I was trying to figure out how in the hell a new roof was going to fit in our budget.

So, Jon & Bob- this is dedicated to you. Thank you for always coming when I call since the Hubs and I have no idea what we’re doing 99.9% of the time.

 

Thankfulness: Halloween Soup

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November is the time I take every year to write about what I’m thankful for. Somethings are serious, some funny and some completely irrelevant, but they all are things that make my life better.

Do you guys have a food that’s special because it’s something you only get once in a while? For example, when I’m in the office, one of my coworkers hands out one chocolate covered coffee bean to each person around 3 pm. I *love* that bean- I live for that bean some afternoons. Sure, I could easily get my own beans, but then they aren’t as special, they don’t mean as much.

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Not to brag or anything, but we have the best Halloween traditions. One of our favorite friends live in the city and they let all us country folks to come their house, have dinner, ransack their neighborhood for candy and then come back for more fun at their house. It’s truly one of my favorite nights of the year thanks to this incredible group of people, our parents and our kids, all 13 of them.

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The pumpkin soup we have on Halloween is like that for me. Sure, I could make it- but if I did, then I wouldn’t look forward to it as much as I do every year.  I don’t even like pumpkin, but this soup? This soup is to die for. And on a cold, windy Halloween there is nothing else I’m as thankful for. Without further ado…

Pumpkin Rosemary Soup

For the Soup                                                                         For the Croutons

  • olive oil (2 tablespoons)                                                ·    sourdough bread (4 cups cubed)
  • bacon (12 slices)                                                            ·    olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)                                               ·    parmesan (1/2 cup grated)
  • butter (2 tablespoons)                                                    ·    ground black pepper
  • minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • white onion (1 medium)
  • salt & pepper
  • pumpkin puree (29 oz can)
  • chicken broth (5 cups)
  • heavy cream (1 cup)

Directions for Bacon/Rosemary

  1. Add olive oil to large skillet or griddle
  2. Add bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes on first side
  3. Turn bacon and add rosemary sprigs; cook for 4-5 minutes more until crispy
  4. Set bacon and rosemary aside on paper towel until cooled
  5. Remove rosemary leaves from stem; chop leaves and bacon

 

 

Directions for Soup

  1. Add two tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large pot
  2. Add butter, garlic, and onion; sweat until translucent
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  4. Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth
  5. Stir well and bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes over low heat
  6. Puree in a blender until smooth
  7. Add heavy cream and stir to combine

Directions for Croutons

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Spread cubes of sourdough bread out on a cookie sheet
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  4. Season with ground black pepper
  5. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown

 

* Serve soup topped with parmesan croutons, crumbled bacon and rosemary