Monday, May 23, 2016

Sunny California

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These past few weeks have been a whirlwind—getting my seniors prepared for end-of-year events, lacrosse for youngest daughter, and a much-needed visit with my oldest child in sunny California. This week I will walk down memory lane and reminisce about a trip that came and went much too quickly.

I had a major work event last Monday, and like the spastic creature I tend to be, I planned to leave for CA early the following morning. I arrived around 11:00 AM West Coast time, and we hit the ground running: lunch, local sight-seeing, a winery, dinner (delicious and prepared by Cassie), and bedtime.

On Wednesday, we drove up to Napa, a short distance from my daughter's apartment in Alameda. I had never been to Napa, so I didn't really know what I'd been missing. But now I do know, and I intend to go back to this bucolic place sooner rather than later. OH, it was lovely! And the sun (which we haven't seen in weeks and weeks here) was shining. We had a picnic lunch, did some shopping, and then devoured an amazing dinner in town that evening. Our cottage was sweet, and there was even a rooster wandering around. He was hilarious, in fact.

We hit a winery and did some tasting, ate more delicious food, went on a hike we thought was 6.5 miles. Actually, it was 8.5 miles. It was a very special time with my oldest girl.

Even better, I did NOT take my computer. I did not do any work. Instead, I really enjoyed this time to savor food and wine and precious moments with the first girl who made me a mom. What a fine young woman she has turned out to be, and she is only just getting started on this adult path!

Here's to a great week!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mother Nature Hates Me

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I don't believe in complaining about the weather. It's total waste of time. But after seemingly endless rain, I am tempted to complain. Or, take it personally. Mother Nature hates me, I think. Before this constant rain, I captured a few spring images of my yard. Feast your eyes on this: SUNSHINE!

As much as I'm not liking this rain, my yard is loving it. Seriously, it looks like Ireland around here, so lush and green.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Falling for Fresh Flowers

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And then she falls off the face of the planet… Last week was nuts. I was out every single night. On Monday I took my senior students to New York City. We visited the Strand and New York Public Library. I LOVE these kids. They are a wonderful group, and we had great chaperones, too. I could not have asked for a better day. Of course, it wouldn't have been much of a trip without a story. Our beautiful coach bus broke down on the way home, so we sat on the Jersey Turnpike for 2.5 hours. We were supposed to return at 8:00 PM. We arrived at almost 11:00 PM.

Tuesday night was dinner with a good girlfriend.

Wednesday was my middle daughter's band concert.

Thursday I had an event at a middle school. It was author night, and I got to share my books with a wonderful group of teachers and students.

Friday dinner out.

Saturday with friends.

Do you ever have those nutty weeks? Run, run, run! Spring is always like that, however. It's part of being a teacher for sure. Double whammy when you have school-age children. Not complaining, though.

These viburnum are from my friend's garden. She suggested I cut the stems and smash them to help soak up water. It worked. These gorgeous, fragrant flowers lasted a full week! Isn't that the sweetest vase? It was my MIL's, and we got it after she down-sized. I love the pretty silver. A very special piece for sure.

The viburnum below are actually from my garden. Not as fragrant as the others, but still pretty. There is nothing like fresh flowers. I'm an addict!

More pretty flowers from our local market. Love that color combination. 

Here's hoping you have a fabulous week! It's supposed to rain here.




I'm gonna need more fresh flowers to brighten things up around here. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Being Someone's Mama

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I wanted to be many things when I grew up: a teacher, a lawyer, a writer. Rich and famous was probably on the list, too, though I've since decided famous probably isn't such a great thing, after all.

Number one on my list, though, was mother. Even as a child myself, I knew for sure I wanted children.
And this is the single greatest job, my most glorious accomplishment. The weird thing is that after all those hours of dreaming and then the reality of it, I can now see the end of my most pressing years of motherhood.

Don't get me wrong. Children always need their mothers in some capacity. As a "child" who lost her mother at 40, I know this firsthand. What I'm saying is that the years when my children need me intensely, pressingly will soon come to an end. Even my youngest daughters, 14 and 16, are finding their independence now. It's lovely to watch, actually. Terrifying, too.

My little girls have mostly grown up, which feels unbelievable to me. All those carpools. All those Halloween costumes, the ones I so laboriously hand-stitched (just kidding). The early wake-ups and sleepless nights. The clinginess and irrational childhood fears. The diapers! So. Much. Poop. The special meals. Potty training. Reading books in bed. Singing in the darkness. The pink nursery and then twin beds. The long trips in a goldfish encrusted mini van. Pictures hung on walls, crude drawings soon faded in sunlight. Learning to swim and write and read. Parent-teacher conferences. Listening to the CD "Multiply with Power" again and again. Watching cartoons and witnessing senseless heartache. Easter dresses and egg hunts in the too tall grass. Trips to the emergency room. Watching through the window as oldest daughter "played deer" in the yard or barked her head off on the trampoline, a mighty convincing bark, too, I might add.

The list of memories is endless and precious and funny and downright weird.
Childhood is such a strange and fascinating pit stop.

This is not a sad post. While I do feel the pressing passage of time and what that means for all of us, 
I also feel a sense of accomplishment. I can glimpse my own future, though what that will bring exactly I haven't a clue. I haven't dared to think of it in detail yet.

What I know for sure, especially as I see these girls are quickly becoming women I love and admire, is that the family dinners and time spent reading or curled up watching movies or having long talks on long drives or setting boundaries or letting children break rules was totally worth it. 

I love these girls madly, fiercely, crazily.
Being someone's mama, three someones, actually, is the very best thing.
Really, it's the only thing that matters.

To young mothers, especially those at home (for the short or long term), I have some unsolicited advice for you. Own your  most important job like a wild woman, like a badass. When the jerk at a cocktail party glazes over with boredom or tacitly downplays your meaning and relevance, pull out your phone and shamelessly share all those pictures you took. Approach this like Clint Eastwood: "Go ahead. Make my day." 

The end of it all does come, and if you want to find your position in the marketplace, you will. Or not.
It doesn't matter. The people you raised matter. The woman you became in the process matters. 

Okay, stepping off my little soapbox here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pig Latin

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This is the last of my blue stuff post, but I love this fat girl in the corner here. Yay for Home Goods. Sometimes I go and find nothing; other times it's a big ole jackpot. Can you hear the ding ding ding sound yet?

I polished those brass candlesticks, too. I volunteer for my church's flower guild, which is right up my alley, let me tell you. I was arranging flowers with some other women right before Easter, and somehow the topic of brass came up. Anyway, this woman (who has an old stone farmhouse to die for!) confessed that she put all her brass candlesticks away. I asked why. Her reply had nothing to do with decor trends. She said, "I just got sick of polishing it."

When I was polishing these the thought did occur to me that I could just put them away.

There was an episode of Will & Grace a few years ago that struck a chord with me. Will got home and Grace was all worked up. "What's wrong?" Will asked. "We have to move!" Grace exclaimed. "We have to move right now. I can't stand this place another second!" Will looked at Grace and deadpanned, "You just don't want to clean your room, do you?"

I have a thing for flying pigs. It all started a few years ago when I decided to read John Steinbeck's East of Eden. On one of the introductory pages was a quote in Latin: Ad astra per alia porci (to the stars on the wings of a pig). Steinbeck said the winged pig "was earthbound but aspiring," and as a writer who worked hard and longed to be published, this quote spoke to me.

Not too long after that, a dear friend sent a gift in the mail. It was a winged pig (she had no idea about the Steinbeck quote), and not long after that, I had three book contracts with Penguin, the publisher not the bird. Winged pigs have always seemed a sign of hope, and who doesn't love a sign of hope?

This corner was looking too stuffy, so I plunked him up there. He has a nice view out the window.

This critter came from pottery barn. I'm not sure what he's a "sign" of, but he was lonely in that store and didn't seem to fit in, so I brought him home. Maybe he's a symbol for taking leaps of faith. I've done that plenty of times, too.

Here's to a Wednesday of hope, leaps of faith, and no polishing of brass whatsoever.
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