Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A certain litigator in our family was just promoted to partner status at his law firm. Insert big, big sigh of relief. Congratulations, Joe! To use my favorite off mic political quote ever: This is a big *bleep*in' deal!


This past year of soccer, Hank has developed a favorite position to play.

He's good at it too. When he plays goalie he puts his whole heart, head and body into the game in a way that he doesn't do at any other position.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good Week

In my goal of blogging every day-- or every weekday, anyway-- I often fall short, and most frequently posts fail to come not as a result of a lack of ideas, but because of a lack of time.

Take this week for instance. An outing with home-school friends. Days spent outside, basking in the warm, bright daylight hours. Weeds, which had staged a full-on assault on the flower borders, were staved off and, ultimately defeated. Garden conundrums were dealt with. (How does one provide enough produce for a family our size with two hurdles to jump: a small yard and a head gardener who insists on lots of flowers and color?) And, of course, amongst all of this everydayness was more everydayness: cooking, cleaning, errands.

My story is not unique. Thousands (millions?) of parents across the globe can relate. Parents of small children understand that a task that should take certain amount of time takes at least three times longer than alloted for with kids in tow. But-- and I'm sure other parents will say this too-- there is joy in the unforeseen. A tiny hand placing a pole bean in the dirt. A peaceful cuddle on a blanket in the grass with a giggling baby.

No, I didn't blog this week. But it was a good, good week.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Pretty Fish

Many years ago, before I was born, a canvas found its way into my grandmother's possession and she created what you see here. I don't know how she did it; talk of oils and pastels and anything else relating to putting a vision onto paper usually escapes me.

From what I understand from those who knew my mom's mom-- she died just months before I was born-- she didn't consider herself to be terribly talented. I somehow doubt my inexperienced opinion carries much weight in the art community, but I beg to differ. I find Grandmommy's work to be fantastically appealing, especially her use of color and, in this case, texture.

Every day I admire this painting; it's one of my favorites, but I can't help but wonder what its story is. What was Grandmommy thinking when she painted it? Was my mom running underfoot as the fish grew in her imagination? Did Grandmommy lose herself in the orange, blue and pink to drown out the noise of quarreling children? Or, rather, were the seeds of this painting visualized in late night hours after her three daughters were grown? How many troubles of later life were mixed in with the paint?

It doesn't matter, I suppose. With so many artistic endeavors, the interpretation is skewed by our own experiences. No matter how well something is conveyed, it is impossible to get inside someone else's head, and so, for now, I take it for what it is: a beautiful, brightly colored fish that brightens my home.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Cheated... and I'm Glad

Today I told myself that I would photograph something around my house that I found beautiful, and the only caveat was that whatever subject I chose had to be ordinary. Mundane. Easy, peasy, I told myself. I like my house. I have lots of things in my house that I enjoy seeing on a daily basis.

However, the task proved to be more difficult than I had imagined and, ultimately, I failed. Granted, my foes were bad lighting and constant interruptions, but still, couldn't something better than a jumble of...well... crap piled on the bench just inside our front door be found?

Probably. And for someone with more forbearance than I would have found it and made it beautiful.

But me?

Well, I cut my losses and reverted back to an old standby, one of my very not mundane or ordinary photographic crutches.

And really. That smile. Those eyelashes.

Can you blame me?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How I Cook

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food. -- Julia Child or W.C. Fields, depending on who you ask.

I love that quote. Most evenings find me in my kitchen, apron on, cutting board in front of me and a glass of wine near at hand. More often than not, that wine never finds its way into the food. For me, a glass of wine coupled with the familiar tasks of washing, slicing and sautéing are rather cathartic.

Tonight's pairing is a favorite Beaujolais and a fast, easy and delicious stand-by of roasting chicken sausage with whatever vegetables are at hand. For our large family, I cut up two packages of precooked chicken sausage into bite-size pieces and toss in a 9x12 pan with red potatoes, vegetables (tonight's line-up consists of various colored peppers and a red onion), olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender.

Now, here is the really critical part: make sure you save some wine so that after you've thrown the pan in the oven you can sit back, relax and enjoy whatever variety of wine you've chosen with, if you're lucky, nothing but the heavenly aromas that will soon be escaping from your oven to keep you company.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blue Ribbon Winner

The other day Madeleine competed in her first horse show: two flat work classes (walk, trot, canter) and two jumping classes. She did not win any of them. She competed in classes with kids who have experience far beyond what she does. She was assigned her least favorite school horse. I could continue to list excuses but, the bottom line is, at the end of the day, she did not do as well as she had hoped she might.

I have a hard time parenting disappointment. It's easy to mother a blue ribbon winner. Congratulations, Sweetie! I told you you're a fantastic rider! But a middle of the pack, or worse, a last place finisher? I said the same thing I would have said had she won: Congratulations, Sweetie! I told you you're a fantastic rider! Somehow though, to her, the words don't ring as true; she wants validation from someone other than the family and friends there cheering her on.

Madeleine was happy enough to participate. She believes her family when we tell her she's a good rider, and she should because she is, but her desire for independent validation mirrors my own; she has a competitive spirit. She's learning, though, that sometimes the competition you're participating in is with yourself, against your own nerves and insecurities. Before she rode her nervousness was on display for everyone present to see (see photo directly above this paragraph) and, despite those fears, she went out in front of family, friends, spectators and judges and let herself be judged.

For that, she is a blue ribbon winner in my book.

Friday, May 07, 2010

You Must Allow Me to Tell You

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Those words, spoken by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's most well-known work, Pride and Prejudice, have become almost iconic; every Austen fan out there who reads or hears those words knows, instantly, who spoke them and when.

This morning my friend Terri gave me the mug you see above. It was ostensibly a birthday gift-- an early one-- but I suspect that it was a gift that my friend saw in her Etsy surfing and decided that it was something I, a lover of Austen, needed to own. She handed it to me outside Barnes and Noble, in the rain, where she and I, and some of our children, huddled under a lone umbrella.

We were there to pick up a copy of Artful Blogging, a magazine which a few months ago I had never heard of, and was introduced to because Terri's blog is featured in the current issue.

We stood there in the rain, exchanging "We need to get together soon!"s, quick hugs and this lovely mug that I will use and think not of Jane Austen or Elizabeth Bennet, but of my crazy, dread-headed friend, who has been my friend since we were seventeen years old and who still knows me well enough to see a mug that, had I seen it first, I would have bought. In a lot of ways we've grown up together and, ultimately, we've grown into very different people, but whatever that bind is that makes people friends, Terri and I have it. I have the magazine sitting beside me, a cup of hot coffee in my new mug and I am about to turn to page sixty-eight in the summer edition of Artful Blogging and read words that are unknown to me but that I already love.

Thanks again, T.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Flashback: June 2003

Moving day. We leave Janesville, the only home we've ever known as a married couple, and head east to a new everything: a new job, a new home and, eventually, new children.

(then-- that's Hank)


The June day is warm. Sunny. Joe and I arrive at our new house alone-- Madeleine and Hank are with my family. We spend the day cleaning and unpacking and, later, the children are brought to their new home full of boxes, apprehension and excitement. We eat carryout pizza.



This was to be our home for a short time. The theory was we would find something bigger. Later-- someday down the road. This house was to be a stepping stone and meant to be lived in for a few, short years.

Of course, that was seven years ago and we're still here. The boxes are gone, and so is the excitement and apprehension. Our neighbors are no longer strangers, but familiar faces and good friends.



I feel though, lately, as if the end is near. This dear, sweet home that has housed so many wonderful gatherings, welcomed home two daughters and stood comfortingly by during the death of a beloved mother, mother-in-law and nana is growing smaller and smaller as we grow bigger and bigger and, as much as I love this house, I feel we may part ways at some point.


I might be wrong. It's always easier to do nothing than to do something, and buying a home, selling a different one and moving from one to the other is no small something.

But yesterday I realized we are now finally ready to make that jump. We didn't make the jump, ultimately, but we realized we're ready. The idea of calling mortgage lenders and all that implies wasn't just an idea, but a reality and we were ready had the house we looked at been The One.



I love this dear little house and today, a day much like the one on which we moved in seven years ago, has me feeling a bit nostalgic.