Friday, August 31, 2007

Great and Small

First off, about ten minutes after I arrived in Boston, the Boston Tea Party Museum burned down. I mean, there ain't nothing left to the thing:





I have lots of pics from Boston, but this one, although not technically the best, is my favorite. The kids loved checking out the yachts in the Harbor outside our hotel. Sean threw his arm around his brother and was saying, "I think it would be easy for us to live here, Mom."





Here's Noly, at the Children's Museum. Big Papi was part of some tribute to stellar black athletes in Boston.





And here's Seany, climbing the rock wall:





I have more. I'll post them little by little.

***

Some of the things my kids have said this week:

Sean, in response to my wise-ass comment that I know everything: "You don't know everything. Only God knows everything."

This is interesting, because I don't really talk about God. I'm very spiritual, and the kids are actually going to Catholic School (!), something I swore I'd never do. But things change. So off they go. And before school has even started, we had this conversation.

"You're right. I just know almost everything."

"God knows everything because he sees everything, but no one can see him. And the only person who knows everything is Yoda."

"Even though we can't see God, what do you think he looks like?"

"Babe Ruth."

***

Walking out of school after orientation the other day, Nolan stopped in his tracks by the big Jesus statue near the front door and said, loud enough for every church-going, good Catholic there to hear:

"Who is THAT?"

"That's Jesus, honey."

"Jesus? Is he stuck?"

My kids are going to be the terror of uniformed education in the Cove.

***

Nolan jumped on my bed yesterday morning with Spider-Man on the brain and said,

"You're Mary Jane, Mom! You're the girl next door!"

Haha.

***

Happy Friday. Another beach day.

xo

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning Ramble

Nolan's new alterego is Peter Parker. Not Spider-Man, but Peter Parker as he becomes Spider-Man. He's been busy drawing his Spider-Man costume with crayons. Pretty adorable.

"Peter Parker has blue eyes, Mommy!"

Yeah, Mommy knows. Mommy's got a thing for Tobey Maguire.

Nolan now runs all over the house shooting webs at everything. "I GOT YOU IN MY WEB, MOMMY!"

He is also literally trying to climb the walls.

***

Everyone once in a while, I get this stuck in my head:



One of my favorite love stories, which is sayin' a lot...



***

I have lots of photos from our trip to Beantown. I may post a few here at some point. Right now, it's time to make some sandwiches and rock the bikini. It's a beach day for me and the boys.

xo

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Return

I'm home. I'm back from Beantown, aka Red Sox Hell. As Sean put it today, walking past Red Sox merch kiosk #6,379,

"Jeez, this town HATES the Yankees."

Yep.

Sean actually took some serious ribbing around Boston, since he proudly wore his Yanks hat. He's little, and he did a good job holding his own ground. I was surprised how many grown-ups teased him about it, but it was all in good fun.

Nolan, who only three and therefore easily influenced, asked for, and received, a Sox t-shirt today. But the kid is a baseball fan above all else. He loves the Yanks. He likes Boston. He wore a Mets hat all around town, too.

Most people didn't seem to care much about Nolan's hat, excepting one pan handler who asked, incredulously, as we walked through the North End to some Eyetalian joint for dinner last night,

"The METS?"

He even stopped jingling his paper cup for a few seconds to stare at the little kid in the orange hat.

Baseball aside--is that possible in Boston?--we had an excellent time away from New Haven for a few days. The kids absolutely loved being in a hotel, and a posh one at that. My decision to book our stay at the Boston Harbor Hotel was a good one. The service was amazing, the room was gorgeous, and the view was just beautiful. The kids loved looking at the "pirate ships" ten stories down. Ferries. Yachts. Sailboats. Hot air balloons. And planes landing across the Harbor at Logan Airport. When Sean ran through the room our first night there, he raced to the window and said, "IT'S A MIRACLE! I think we should LIVE in a hotel, Mom! Don't you?"

I could handle that.

We hit the Aquarium. Sean dug the sting rays and sharks. Nolan loved the penguins, to whom he referred as his "little buddies." I was happy to see the sea dragons again. Ethereal creatures. They amaze me.

We also hit the Children's Museum, Quincy Market, some of the Freedom Trail (more by proxy than anything else), and Newbury Street, where I bought a bunch of stuff, including--but not limited to--MAC make-up, some sexy lingerie, and some new Pumas to kick around in. The kids had a blast at Newbury Comics, where they couldn't decide what to buy. Transformers? Star Wars stuff? Decisions, decisions! Then we hit the Pour House for lunch. Good times.

We did lots of other things, big and small. I had a killer massage from what turned out to be, through divine providence, a woman who was voted Boston's best massage therapist several years in a row. She was also cited by Allure magazine as being one of the best massage therapists in the COUNTRY. My appointment with her was no more than a case of who was available to see me last-minute. What a treat. She's got amazing hands, raised three kids by herself, and knows her baseball. She found knots I didn't know existed on places I didn't know were connected to my body. Then she told me she thought I wasn't a day over 20, and therefore she couldn't believe I was a mother of two. This was AFTER she saw my naked ass. Man, she sure knows how to work that 20% tip. She earned it. Not to mention that I almost needed to be wheeled out of there when my session was over. Bliss=a massage by Myrtha at the Boston Harbor Hotel. People drive hours for an appointment with her. Now I know why. You should find out for yourself.

As we packed up the car today and headed back home, I was sad to leave Boston. It's not my favorite city--that honor is reserved for New York. But it is a GREAT city, home of my McAncestors, and I was so happy I chose to take the boys there for a few days. They deserved it. So did I. And while there is so much more for us to do in Boston, we can save it all for next time. And the time after that. The kids are great little travelers. They go with the flow. They can stay up late, like they did last night, chasing each other around a green while we listened to an impromptu choir performance. My little guys are a delight. They exhaust me, too, sometimes. But they are a delight, above all.

And Pettitte pitched a sweet game last night, which the kids fell asleep watching with bellies full of ice cream.

Now, I'm home. I'm off the rest of the week and have plans to be at the beach every sunny second between now and Tuesday, when the kids start school. I'm looking forward to more much-needed alone time with the kids. I have a lot on my mind about Grandma, among other big and small matters of the heart. Time with the kids firmly roots me in the present and helps me achieve new awareness about things without really trying. And this week was a bonus: A few days out of town, no chores, and a killer massage has been good for me. And the kids. Our little family needed that.


Happy Wednesday. Go Yanks!

xo

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Before I go.

I went for that bike ride. Felt great. I'm sticky and sweaty and gross, and I feel awesome. In fact, I love this weather so much that Ian's mom now refers to the Hot and Humid days as "Moira Weather". Funny.

Anyway, riding my bike around the neighborhood and by the beach gave me time to think. And I realized something simple: That one of the reasons why I love this often crummy town so much is that I have so many friends here that I've had forever, and I absolutely LOVE the fact that I'm still getting to know people I've known all along.

I mean, some people I've known for decades, and I'm only just beginning to really know them. And even those I know well and love dearly are sometimes strangers to me. And getting to know them even better is an awesome thing.

And that's my very corny thought for the day. Eat it.


I've posted this before on my gayspace blog, but I'm posting it here, too. Because...oh Jesus! Come on! Nothing turns me on more than this:

What's My Name




I'm leaving town. Smell ya later.

xo

Curry, Dick Jokes, and Punk Rock

Last night I ate a fuckload of overpriced, but tasty!, food from Thali. It's Indian food, so it's a crime that the bill came to nearly three figures. But it was pretty damn tasty. Just not THAT tasty. Shit. With tip it was over 100 bucks.

Then it was on to 116 Crown, which makes a mean old-fashioned and other cocktails. The bar is beautiful. Nice new place that gives Firehouse 12 a run for its money. I'm not a big booze drinker (read: I can't really handle hard alcohol), so one drink did me right after my beer with dinner. And then it was on to see Superbad at the Criterion.

Okay, my review of Superbad:

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahaha!

Dick jokes never get old! Go see it. Please. I'm a pretty big Seth Rogen fan, so the fact that he wrote it, produced it, and starred in it (as a cop, no less), was beautiful. Fucking hilarious. Exactly what I needed last night. Especially after this summer's debacle of a date with a cop... but that's an entirely different story for a very different day.

Today I have a few hours to myself before the runts get home and I get packing for our trip. I'm headed out on my bike, since it's not really a beach day. Bummer. But I'll spin my wheels along the "boardwalk" by Lighthouse. And why not? It's two seconds from my house. Might bring some money and buy an ice cream while I'm down there.

I have had a lot on my mind this week. Thoughts about Grandma. My family. Other stuff. Big thoughts. Little thoughts. Old thoughts that are new again. Maybe it's the weather. Summer tends to stir up some powerful feelings and memories for me. But I don't know. Maybe a bike ride will help. We'll see. An hour-long walk with the dog this morning was certainly good for the soul. A bike ride can't hurt. And maybe a long ride behind the wheel of my car will help, too. Listening to "Safe European Home" and "Cheapskates", loud and on repeat. Both songs have been stuck in my head for days, and playing them to death is the only way to exorcise them.

Not that I'm complaining.

Speaking of the Clash, I finally finished Ian's mix. It's just a primer, really. A Clash 101, Volume One CD. A crash course in essential Strummer and Jones. But if you're curious, the 11 songs go something like this: Safe European Home/Complete Control/English Civil War/All the Young Punks/Charlie Don't Surf/What's My Name/Hate and War/Cheapskates/Career Opportunities (Sandinista! version with the little kids singin' it)/Rebel Waltz/Garageland.

Not a bad start.

I'm off. I've got air in my tires. I'll post something when I'm back in town.

xoxo

Friday, August 24, 2007

Melt

I should really live somewhere that's hot and sticky all year 'round. Most people don't like extreme heat and humidity. But I do. I love it. Maybe it's because I prefer to run around wearing as little clothing as possible, and that's not an option around here roughly nine months out of the year.

Today is my last day at work before I have a week off. Bitch as I may about the workload in this place, I get 20 days off a year plus holidays AND the week between Christmas and New Year's. In the end, the job is rewarding, and it's better than being bored to tears like I was at my last job.

Besides, I work for a noteworthy non-profit. So today I drove my ass over to New England Brewing Co. and asked Rob if he would generously donate some beer to our golf outing next month. He agreed! Good man! The little drive also gave me an excuse to say hi to Craig and grab some food from Katz's. Not that I can't get food from Katz's II downtown every day, but the original Katz's is...special. I grabbed something for Ian, too, and brought it to him at work before heading back to the office.

As I crossed State and headed toward the horrendous intersection right in front of my office, I was suddenly reminded of the intersection two blocks from my old house. Central and West Elm. What a shitty intersection. There were lots of accidents there. What's ironic is that this intersection is way more dangerous, and yet in the time I've been here, I've never seen an accident. Lots of near-accidents, sure. But nothing major. I've seen more episodes of road-rage from the Abate's delivery guy more than anything else.

Grandma goes to another specialist today. With all three daughters. I'm stuffed from Katz's chicken salad melt. Mmmm....bacon. Think I won't wbe needing dinner. Tonight I swing by Renee's softball game. Then I'll drag her out for ice cream afterward. Ashley's coffee oreo is calling my name. Again.

xo

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Don't Whisper It.

First, how I'm making myself feel better: I'm making a Clash mix for Ian, by request. Ian's not one to typically dig the Clash. He's kind of stuck in the '68-'72 era of rock. Which is pretty fucking soulful. Unlike, say, New Wave. (To paraphrase Nick Cage from Valley Girl, that techno rock is gutless.) But after riding shotgun in my Subaru a lot lately, he's been bitten by the Clash bug. Ain't no turning back from that one.

As for today: I have a summer cold. But whatever. Who cares. It's just a cold. I was in denial about it for a few days. It was just allergies, right? Allergies wake everyone up with a nose leaking snot at 2:30 AM. Right? Nah. I've got a good one. At least I'm getting it out of the way BEFORE I go away for a few days.

My grandmother is very concerned about my cold. I spoke to her on the phone today, and all she could focus on was my nasaly (sp?) voice. "I just hope you get over it soon. Get your rest," she said, about 100 times. But I'm not surprised. After all, she's very maternal and very selfless and very much in need of focusing on caring for others today, since this afternoon she was diagnosed with a MOTHERFUCKING TUMOR. I HATE THAT TUMOR. We don't know yet if it's operable. We'll know more Monday, when she goes for a "procedure".

Cancer. Fucking cancer. CANCER. Why do people whisper that word?

At least my family can all stop calling it "the blockage", as in "there's some kind of blockage there, but they're not exactly sure what."

"What? Like a tumor?"

"NO, IT'S JUST A BLOCKAGE, MOIRA."

Got Grandma's tonal smackdown for suggesting we be frank about her condition last week. I forgot protocol when it comes to these things. I'm not a whisperer. I'm the one in the family who outs things. The one in the family who calls a spade a spade. The one who will freely say the words "tumor" and "cancer" just as much as I freely, and sadly, admitted that I strayed in my marriage. (My willfull admitting of this fact distressed my relatives more than the fact itself.) My family is very lace-curtain Irish. Read: Painfully polite. They keep up appearances. I, on the other hand, don't really give a fuck. How could I? I was the original black sheep of that clan, the illegitimate love child whose birth turned their world upside down for the better and challenged them to think about things differently--and for the better. I can pull the etiquette card anytime, and I don't usually drop my g's when I talk (more when I'm writin'...), but as for appearances? I gave away my wedding china and bought Smurf glasses off of eBay when I moved out of my lace-curtain Westville dwelling. I don't wear the diamonds or the sapphires or the platinum anymore. And my Tiffany cheese knives are packed away. I gave away a Waterford mantle clock because it simply "wasn't me". (Grandma was very upset to hear about that one.) And I use a Pepe's pizza cutter to slice everything.

But back to Grandma.

In many ways, I'm closer to Grandma than I am to my own mother--her daughter. I lived in Grandma's house with my mom, her siblings and parents for the first third of my life. It was one great big noisy Irish family dinner after another. They outwitted each other. They outsmarted each other. And they outdrank each other. I was raised by wolves. And Grandma.

Grandma is to this day--in her late 70s--a school teacher. Consequently, nearly all of my summer and school vacation memories are of time spent with her. We frequently drove to Massachusetts together, just me and her, to visit her mother and 4,000 of my cousins in Webster. And Boston. And the Cape. We took the train into the city to visit my Uncle Danny, her son, back in the days when he lived in the Bronx. I was 8. He was 22? 23? He wasn't sober yet, that's for sure. We'd walk around his neighborhood on our way to the subway and buy Italian ice from the back windows of Italian widows' apartments. Now Danny's been sober for decades and we visit him in Manhattan. My more recent favorite memory of seeing him with Grandma was when we saw Cristo's "gates" exhibit in Central Park in February '05. In fact, it's one of Sean's first and most enduring memories. "Remember when I ran under all those orange flags in the park, Mom? And it was cold? And Nolan was in the stroller and you were running behind me under all those orange flags that were everywhere?" What an amazing and beautiful memory to have.

I could write a very, very long book about all the moments I have had with Grandma, from polishing silverware and peeling potatoes to sleeping with my head on her lap as we drove up to Webster to long, lazy days at the beach to how tough she was on me when she had me in her 6th grade English class (in which I referred to her neither as Mrs. McGuire or Grandma, but "Um" and "Hey") to taking yoga classes with her on the beach in East Haven to summer dinners on her back porch to her helping me be unafraid to hold a sparkler when I was 3 during my family's bicentennial bash in 1976 to my trips with her to Ireland, Italy, and France to all off-Broadway and off-beat theater we attended together to her amazing listening skills to the golden tan she gets every summer to her sweet smell and to every minute of pure joy and delight she shares with my children--her great-grandchildren. Grandma is beautiful, smart, funny, classy, tasteful, sweet, kind, thoughtful, selfless, painfully well-educated, and until very recently, healthy as a horse.

I'm hoping Monday's procedure proves the tumor is operable, but until then, we won't know.

Today, my mother and her two sisters -- one of whom flew in from Oregon two days ago because of all of this -- went with Grandma to The Appointment. Mary, Anne, and Kate. Three good Irish girls. When they aren't fighting with each other and everyone else, they're rallying around a member of the family. They can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. And if they're your family, they're both. And they will never, ever let you get a word in edgewise.

Tonight Keith came by to tuck in the kids. I went out for a spell, driving past the lights of the airport on the way to the drugstore to get some cold medicine. Grandma's house, the only house that has ever felt like home to me, is two blocks from that airport. I thought of all the times Grandma would pull her car over when I was a kid so the two of us could crane our necks at a plane taking off or landing. Tonight, the red and blue lights twinkled and blurred in all the tears streaming down my face. I was crying one of those silent cries, where tears pour out of your eyes and you don't make a sound. I didn't exhale. I just gasped a few times. Not because this tumor might kill Grandma--it might not. It might be benign. Suuuurrrrrrrreeeee, it's on her LIVER. But it might be operable. Or not. We don't know.

I was crying because I was just reminded that we're not here forever. And I hate being reminded of that. I hate losing people. I try not to lose anyone. I try to keep everyone I've ever known and loved as close to me as possible. To keep them safe. Or to keep me safe. Or to keep us all safe. From what? I don't know. From being sad, I guess. Sad about losing each other.

As I again drove home, I realized how dark it was just past 8PM. Summer's almost over. Again. And, again, I don't know where it went. I know I ate hot dogs and held sparklers and savored moments.


It's all just moments.

Moments and sparklers.


I love my Grandma.

xo

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday Sampler

A sampling of where I'm at today:

First, go here to see my latest favorite:

Harajuku

and here:


Poketo


and here:



Superbuzzy

It's enough to make me snag one of my mom's three sewing machines.


Vacation next week. I skip town for a few days with Ian and the kids, and I cannot wait.

Then it's back home for a wedding reception for friends who were married in a private ceremony in Italy back in May. Happy to have an excuse to dress up.

And then the kids head back to school. And to karate. And soccer. And more skateboarding. Sean skateboards with dad a lot lately. The little guy sure can drop in on those ramps like the big boys.

Rainy day. Good day for tea.

xo

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

First off, for the record, I'm watching the Da Vinci Code right now. And I'm almost less impressed with it than I was with the book, which I didn't finish. Because it was someseriouslydullassshit.

Ian and I watched Perfume last night, however. And I dug that immensely. In fact, although I was simply delirious with exhaustion, I managed to stay awake to watch it.

Yesterday was a BLAST. My babies' daddy and I took the kids to see their first Yankees game. It was a spectacular day -- high 70s, sunny, no humidity. The Rocket was pitching. The game started at 4, so we made it in early for batting practice. And, in the end, the Yanks beat the Tigers! A pretty incredible day, despite our exceptionally high seats (hey, I bought the tickets late...). It was a nice day out for our "family", too. Although Keith and I are no longer married, our children are our priority. Thus, the friendship Keith and I have trascends our marriage. If he and I can get along like we do, then I'm pretty confident that we're imparting some seriously solid People Skills on our kids. Humbly stated, as usual.

Here are several snapshots from the day:





Batting practice. Torre talks to reporters:


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Jeter, Cano, et al:


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Matsui, talking to a young fan:


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Clusterfuck of expensive talent:


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Babies' daddy:


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Me and the kids:


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Did I mention our seats were high up?


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Clemens on the mound:


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Jeter at bat:


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New stadium going up:


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Happiest kids ever at their first Yanks game:


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Little Nolan, with a passion for the game rivaled only by his brother's. Contemplating the house that Ruth built:


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Yesterday was a great day. AND I drove us in quickly, under 90 minutes using a route shared with me by my UPS guy at work. Ian and I tested it Thursday when we drove it; yesterday I hauled ass with my kids and Keith. "You drive around here like a natural, that's for sure," said Keith, when I screeched a sharp right from Mouslau Pkwy onto the Grand Concourse.

It's in my blood, I guess.

This morning Ian and I went to the Edgewood Farmers Market. As we hopped back into my car, after hanging out, buying flowers and food, and saying hi to the fine, liberal, kept and well-kempt folk of Westville, I said to Ian:

"I had a pretty charmed life once."

"Yep. You did," he said. "And now you have a happy, fulfilling life."

Damn straight.

Go Yankees. Take that Wild Card, hot shots.

xo

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Six Degrees or Less

New Haven, as my friend Craig once told me, is "the smallest town ever invented by humans. Ever." In the sense that we all seem to know and/or be related to each other, that's true. I'm sure it's true for many towns. But seeing as this is where I live, then it feels particularly true here. I guess we really are all inbred.

Case in point, the kids' babysitter for the summer was an amazing, bright, sweet woman that I found via Craigslist and who, it turned out, was the sister of a girl with whom I worked at my first high school job in 1988. The kids loved their 'nanny', and since she is a special-ed preschool teacher by training, she has a bottomless reservoir of patience that most parents and caretakers can only achieve through a lobotomy.

So when the nanny became quite ill this week, requiring immense amounts of rest, doctor's visits and tests, I was sad and more conerned for her than my child care situation. (What's more, she was supposed to start back to her regular teaching job in two weeks, after finishing up caring for my kids next Friday. And now that is uncertain as well. Fingers crossed for her.) After all, I had no reason to panic. My list of reinforcements is long.

Enter Jamie. I love Jamie. And when I called and asked if she could watch the kids, she agreed to six out of the nine days that I needed someone. (!!!) Couple that with my cousin Derek, as well as Craig and several other people who have offered to help out, and I realize just how lucky I am to have a solid core group of friends. And a big one at that.

So Jamie is on day three with my runts, as Ian affectionately calls them. They love her, and why shouldn't they? She's as silly as they are. And she makes funnier faces than either one of them could dream of. I swear her face is made out of rubber.

Since Jamie's camera was just stolen, she used mine to snap some pics of the kids at the playground yesterday. Thought I'd share them with you. They're pretty typical of my kids. Nolan is charming, smiley, flirty...and Sean is silly, thoughtful, and serious.

I love my guys.

And I love my friends.

I'm a lucky, lucky girl.





Sean at the helm:


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Noly comin' down the slide:


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Tough guy:


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Charmer:


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Likely pondering the best question he ever asked me: "Is the sky alive, Mom?":


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The apple that barely fell from mom's tree:


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Going to the Yankees tonight. Happy Thursday!

xo

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Cannoli! What a day...

I could challenge any married mother of one to a week in my shoes as a single mother of two, but it would be too easy. Frankly, when I was a married mother of one, I thought difficult days were oh so difficult. And they were, as far as my then-reality was concerned. But this reality is an entirely different league. And despite the spadefuls of rewards this life has to offer, it can be pretty raw and brutal on bad days.

Simply put, bad days in the life of a married mother of one were just, well, bad. But bad days in the life of a single mother of two are Pretty Fucking Awful.

Right now, I'm bouncing back from one of those, armed with all the reasoning in the world that I'm "right" to feel whatever it is I'm feeling, because my days start well before 6 and I don't get the kids to bed until well after 9. Sometimes later. And then I collapse. Not counting time alone in my car, or out walking around town at lunch, I get roughly 35 minutes to myself each day. If I'm lucky. Sometimes I do yoga in that time. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I crochet, or write, or watch the Yanks. Or sometimes, like last night, I lay on the living room floor and stare at the ceiling until a motorcycle cruises by and breaks the chorus of crickets serenading me to sleep beneath the ceiling fan.

In short, I get tired.

And so do the kids.

And maybe sometimes I should pick my battles a little more wisely, rather than snap over something silly when what really bugs me is that they want me to play with them when I have to clean up after dinner; then they want something to eat or drink when I'm trying to play with them. I can't win. And, they reason, neither can they. And I feel terrible about it, as if I can't make them happy.

When you cut through the fog, I think the three of us want less routine in our lives and more time together. We get a lot of time together, but, well...less chores, more baseball in the back yard.

The kids are asleep now, wiped out. Like me. I'm watching the Yanks get spanked by the Orioles. What a way to honor the life of Phil Rizzuto, guys! RIP Scooter. 89 years old. Pretty good run. There's plenty to be learned from the scrappy Italian shortstop who could bunt and field like no one else.

Man after my own heart.

I'll be at Yankee Stadium this Thursday and this Saturday. Twice in one week. The kids' first game is on Saturday. I'm certain I will positively cry at the sight of them in their seats, excitedly waiting for Jeter, A-Rod, and Matsui. Sean worships Jeter and studies his every move.

Scooter would be proud.



xo

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Home

Yesterday I rolled out of bed late (!) and made my way to the farmers market where I bought an obscene amount of basil--any amount of basil purchased is obscene, since it's so freaking easy to grow. Then I went to Fuel, where I shot the shit with the usual morning crew there, including several friends whom I've known for nearly 20 years. Or, as the case with Renee, much longer than that.

The air was clear, the sky was clear, and everything felt right as I stood on the corner of Chapel and Chestnut talking with people who know me best. I take absolute comfort in old friendships. They reassure me. They help reset my compass when it's off. And I'm lucky, because I have a lot of old friends who are also good friends. They've always been there, and they always will be. And I'll be there for them, as I've always been.

The last couple of weeks that compass of mine has been way off. And as I fumbled to reset it on my own, I realized I couldn't. Instead, after exercising some pretty bad judgement on a random weekday night, I found myself literally carried down a strange flight of stairs away from some fog and back into the light of my own reality. And when I awoke to find Ian beside me, his eyes full of concern and love, I knew I was home.

Late yesterday, I went to a family party. And after that, Jane and I went out for a much-needed girls night. At Firehouse 12, I ran into friends I had seen that morning at the coffee shop. Nice to greet old friends in the morning and in the evening with cheek kisses. Before going home, I drove Jane to Alpha Delta so she could get her greasy slice on. I saw several people I knew drinking at Rudy's, and I shouted hello out my car window. But they didn't hear me through the noise of the patio and the alcohol ringing in their ears. I threw the car in drive and brought Jane home.

It was a perfect night. Clear. Pretty. I rolled down all the windows in my car and sucked down a deeeeeeeeeep breath as I rolled past the seawall and the boats anchored in the bay of the cove. Several blocks later, I pulled into my driveway and noticed the lights I had left on in my living room were off. "What the--?" I said, before noticing Ian's car parked in the driveway.

I kicked off my heels and tiptoed into the house, happy to be home with Ian there, asleep in my bed, which was a total surprise. I climbed up, crawled between sheets, and slipped into the warm bath of love, sleep, and friendship--safe at home.

xo

Thursday, August 9, 2007

How Timely

Received this in the ol' inbox today. Read on and be enlightened or something.

DAiLY OM

August 9, 2007
Begetting Change

Same Choices, Same Results

Repeated bouts of adversity are an unavoidable aspect of human existence. We battle against our inner struggles or outer world forces, and in many cases, we emerge on the opposite side of struggle stronger and better equipped to cope with the challenges yet to come. However, we can occasionally encounter trials that seem utterly hopeless. We strike at them with all of our creativity and perseverance, hoping desperately to bring about change, only to meet with the same results as always. Our first instinct in such situations is often to push harder against the seemingly immovable obstruction before us, assuming that this time we will be met with a different outcome. But staying power and stamina net us little when the same choices consistently garner the same results. A change in perspective, behavior, or response can do so much more to help us move past points where no amount of effort seems sufficient to overcome the difficulties before us.

Whether our intention is to change ourselves or some element of the world around us, we cannot simply wish for transformation or hope that our lives will be altered through circumstance. If our patterns of thought and behavior remain unchanged, our lives will continue to unfold much as they have previously. Patterns in which fruitless efforts prevail can be overcome with self examination and courage. It is our bravery that allows us to question the choices we have made thus far and to channel our effort into innovation. Asking questions and making small adjustments to your thought processes and behaviors will help you discover what works, so you can leave that which does not work behind you. To break free from those unconscious patterns that have long held sway over your actions and reactions, you will likely have to challenge your assumptions on a most basic level. You must accept once and for all that your beliefs with regard to cause and effect may no longer be in accordance with your needs.

Stagnation is often a sign that great changes are on the horizon. Courting the change you wish to see in yourself and in the world around you is a matter of acknowledging that only change begets change. The results you so ardently want to realize are well within the realm of possibility, and you need only step away from the well-worn circular path to explore the untried paths that lie beyond it

For more information visit dailyom.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dismantle, Replace, Mount...

Last night I passed out late after a night of fun with Jane and our four children. I was able to snuggle with Luella a lot, which was a treat. Nothing like the smell of a little baby. Love that.

I passed out, three glasses of sangria still cooling my core, and dreamt that I was dismantling malfunctioning smoke alarms. I would hear one beep somewhere, knowing the battery was dying. And I would find it, take it down from the wall, and remove the battery. In the dream, my kitchen counter was littered with all of these gutted alarms. But I could still hear the beeping.

At 4:30 AM I awoke. The rain was coming down pretty hard. I started to doze back off to sleep, but was startled awake by a "beep" from the kitchen. I stumbled out of bed, and sure enough, the battery in that room's smoke alarm was sending a mayday. It was on its last leg. I pushed a chair over to the counter, climbed up and dismantled it.

I love the moments when dreams and reality bleed into each other.

I replaced the battery this morning.

xo

Monday, August 6, 2007

Around the Water Cooler

My coworker told me a story first thing this morning, before she had even put down her coffee.

Her friend's mother and stepfather just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past weekend. Eons ago, the mom met the stepdad after she had been widowed by her first husband, who died young from cancer after years of smoking. After several months of dating, the as-yet-to-be-stepdad--then a New York City cop--proposed. And even though they were very much in love, the mom declined because this guy was a smoker. Smoking killed her first husband, and she simply didn't want to go through that again.

A year later, the cop returned, smoke-free for almost as long and ready to propose a second time. She accepted. Twenty-five years and a lifetime together later...

Anyway. Just thought that was kind of sweet.

Of course, the stepdad was probably more likely to be killed in the line of duty than from smoking, but whatever.

It's amazing the limitations we sometimes put on relationships, for all kinds of reasons--good and bad. But it's equally amazing how we can sometimes can see those limitations as a chance to grow and be open to a new approach to life.

Or not.

At the end of the day, you can't make anyone *be* anything other than who they are. You can't force someone to quit smoking. You can't force people, including yourself, to want something different for themselves unless they are truly ready for that. Until then, all you can do is stick up for yourself, your wants, your needs, and give of yourself without losing sight of that. If things work, they work. If you're true to you, then things are working--regardless if the outcome is what you had originally intended or hoped for.

Enough fortune cookie wisdom. It's Monday. I have a long afternoon ahead of me at work. And I don't like Chinese food anyway. Never have. Sushi, on the other hand...

xo

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Enough Rope

That MasterCard thing:

-Enough tickets for two kids to go on rides at the carnival: $30
-Hot dogs, cheeseburger, water, lemonade for two kids and two adults: $20
-Enormous Thomas the Tank Engine Balloon that two kids lost complete and total interest in before mom even bought: $10


Me and my best friend spending ten minutes actually fighting with the balloon, which hit every passerby in the face? Priceless.


Renee, the kids and I had a blast at the carnival last night. It was hot. It smelled like smoky hot dogs and fried dough. Kids were screaming on rides that looked absolutely loosey goosey and scary as hell. Babies were everywhere. Crazed-looking, sweaty parents were everywhere. Preteen girls primped for a big night of flirting at the carnival with other junior high boys were everywhere. And that stupid balloon we bought was hitting people in the face everywhere we walked. Seriously. There was something wrong with it. It would only fly at an angle that managed to be face-level of anyone walking by. It didn't seem to matter what height people were, either. The balloon was on a mission to attack.

While the boys rode on motorcycles for the second time, after dinner, Renee and I wrestled the unruly, 3-foot balloon into Nolan's umbrella stroller. Using its looooooong string against it, we tied it down, wrapped it up, and restrained it in the stroller. We were laughing uncontrollably. Not that it was the most hysterical thing in the world, but it was the kind of thing that makes Renee and I laugh our asses off. Together. The way we have since we first became friends in 1984.

Thomas was bound. I took a picture of it and sent it to a friend of mine, who is also divorced with two kids. I included the message: "Worst, most unruly balloon ever. $10."

Sarcasm dripped from his immediate reply, "But just think of all the joy it will bring them!"

The kids went on the (age-appropriate) rides, played games, and won prizes. I was disappointed to see that there were no Guns'n'Roses or Pink Floyd mirrors to be won at any of the game kiosks. Just stuffed animals. As far as the eye could see. Stuffed animals.

At one point, Sean came over to the stroller and touched the balloon, saying, "What did you do that fo--"

"DON'T TOUCH IT!" I yelled reflexively, terrified the thing would come loose again. Renee started cracking up. Sean turned away with the "Whoa, mom's craaaaazeeeee" look on his face.

Somewhere around the kids' bedtime, Renee and I headed back to the car. Renee pushed the stroller with Thomas safely strapped down, I carried an exhausted Nolan, and Sean stumbled along holding Renee's hand. We loaded the kids and their prizes into the backseat, and after Renee spent a good five minutes untying the balloon, I pushed that down as far as I could in the trunk of my wagon. The kids absolutely and totally did not care about this balloon. Why on earth did I buy it? My kids don't watch Thomas anymore or even play with the trains very often.

As I backed out of my parking space, and Thomas rose up with a cermonious PLUNK in the trunk, blocking my view of grandparents and small children walking close to my car. Thomas' big, white smile and bright eyes was really pissing me off. I headed down the dirt road out of the Orange fairgrounds. Renee asked, "Where the hell are we going?"

"This is the way out."

"Creepy."

"That's Orange."

Thomas rustled around in the back, pushed around in the breeze of a hot night. When we hit Rte 34 and I could finally haul some ass in my car, the balloon made a racket. The kids turned around and had the biggest belly laugh over the stupid balloon.

"There's that joy, I guess," I said to Renee.

A while later, we dropped off Renee at home and headed back to our humble abode. We went through the bedtime routine much later than usual. I love having kids who like to go out at night. It also helps them completely pass out without a hassle when they finally hit the hay.

A little later, I took the dog out before I went to bed. The crickets seemed to be singing louder than usual. As I tossed the tennis ball to the dog, listening to the cricket, I spotted that great big smiling balloon in the back of my car. His big grin challenged me. I smiled back at him. That $10 was worth every penny.

xo

Friday, August 3, 2007

If the Weather Holds

Summer's winding down. Technically, we've got about 7 weeks left in the season, but the wind-down begins now. Slowly. The first cog on August's loudly ticking clock is the Orange Volunteer Firemen's Carnival.

The kids LOVE this carnival. It's pretty well-run, as far as carnivals go. There are lots of decent rides for pint-sized kids, decent food, and games galore. I took them to it last year. Just me and the boys. Funny, I hadn't planned it that way. But that's how the day turned out. That's how my life has turned out, actually.

Tonight, if the late-day thundershowers don't roll into town, I'm taking the kids to the carnival with Renee and Laurie's son, Chris. I have a lot more time to devote to my children and my friendships these days. So I'm looking forward to tonight. If the weather doesn't hold, we'll no doubt find something else to do. It might not be a carnival, but I'm a pretty resourceful person. I'll think of something to keep us all happy and entertained.

I'm glad it's Friday. It's been a long week. There are some fun items on this weekend's agenda. And looking ahead, it seems like next week is already pretty much booked up--including time with family, time with Jane, time with the kids...and a few new experiences, too. Opportunities keep knocking. Isn't that silly? Anyone who knows me well knows that you don't need to knock before entering my world. Just come on in, and we'll take it from there.

xo

Thursday, August 2, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

And I just recently learned, again, that I should never, ever, ever think for a second that I've got it all figured out. Because as soon as I think I'm "all set" with some aspect of my life, something is just going to come along and kick my ass, or my heart, six ways 'til Sunday just to make me realize how much I have to learn. And grow. And be open to change. Again.

On an unrelated note, I also recently learned the definition of Snow Shovel Accidents. Different blog for a different day.

Today I'm going out for my lunchtime stroll, sans iPod, though.

xo