Thursday, August 30, 2012


I made these potatoes last night for dinner. "Oh my" is all I can say about them.

I know it isn't the greatest photo, but I could have had just these for dinner.
And from these,
I made this.
The girls picked out most of the shavings of parmigiano reggiano before we sat down, but I do love me some Summer tomatoes!
And I never made bok choy before, but I have to say, it was tasty. Next time, some ginger would be good in it.
This time next week, I will be here, with just Molly. Liv and Charlotte at school. All day.
 I am smiling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everywhere you go

Last week, at this very moment, I was sitting in a beach chair, firmly planted in the sand, where the waves and the shore meet, watching my girls swim, and body surf. Granted, we were at the bay, so the word waves, should really be "waves". Tiny, and safe.

We were on Long Island, visiting my parents. I take the girls to the very beach that David used to go to as a little boy. I get a kick out of watching my girls walk up and down the sand, collecting shells and rocks, at the very same beach where my husband spent countless hours, as a child. Even as we walk down the path through the beach grass, and smell that yummy smell of dirt and trees, meeting sand, and bayberry...the same path David walked on...I smile. Every time.

I grew up swimming in salt water. There was a lake near my house, but I never dipped even a toe into it. It was either the ocean, or the Long Island Sound that I swam in. Long days at the bay, from breakfast until the sun set were some of the best memories from my childhood. Sleeping in bed at night, and feeling the grittiness of sand in my sheets, still feels good to me now. Molly had so much sand plastered to her, even after a bath, there was still sand in the bed. I just loved it.

This week, I unloaded all the buckets, and shells, beach glass, and rocks out of my car. I vacuumed up all of the sand that we brought home with us. I considered putting the beach toys back into my car, but school is here, and I think that was our last hurrah for the summer. Labor Day weekend is here, and school is starting. Charlotte is already onto Fall in her mind. Not only has she requested meat loaf for dinner, but just this morning, she wanted oatmeal for breakfast. We woke up this morning, and it was actually chilly!

Half of the leaves on my property are yellow. I kid you not. That quick! Overnight. It happens every year, yet it still surprises me. This summer was really one of our best. I hate to see it go. We had so many great nights out on our deck, sitting and talking around a fire. We took a few road trips, and swam in lakes, and pools. Made s'mores. Ate way too many hot dogs. We even went to a beach party on the ocean last week, complete with a bonfire, and fried chicken.

Today, I will finish unpacking from our week away. I will put our beach towels away for another year. I will find a place for the bug spray, and sunscreen, and goggles. School clothes must be organised, and readied. There are forms to fill out for teachers, and my girls rooms need to be overhauled. Big time!

And this afternoon, I have a messenger coming to pick up the 10 pound pile of paperwork that is every bit of evidence that we have against our mortgage company's illegal foreclosure on our home. Our lawyer is preparing for trial.

I hope next summer, we will still be here, doing what we do. Watching summer melt into Fall, with all of it's rituals, after another productive, and wonderful season.

But if we aren't, that's OK.

 Because home isn't a house.

Home is something you take with you, everywhere you go.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

stream of nonsense

The end of summer is in sight. I hate this time of year. I do really look forward to big sweater weather, but I hate the thought of snow. Last year, we had a snowstorm before Halloween. It's still in the distance, but it's coming. The girls were talking about what they want to be for Halloween this year, just last night. And Charlotte wanted to know when I was going to be making meatloaf again.

The light is changing, and the leaves are starting to turn. The tree outside my kitchen is the first to go, every year. It has crimson tipped leaves. It is glowing a golden red as I write this. Pretty as hell, but it is the first sign of Fall.

This weekend, after the bills are paid, we have to get school shoes, and a violin for Olivia. She is going to be in the orchestra this year. She didn't want to play, but I insisted she learn to play something. I played the flute, and wish to this day that I never gave up on it. My parents didn't seem to care that I did. I wonder why they let me. No arguments from them.

Last night, I had too much wine. Again. It seems like such a good idea, having another glass. But today, not so much. I wish it were raining out. Then I would have an excuse not to motivate. But the tree is glowing red, and telling me otherwise. And the dishes in the sink aren't going to clean themselves. Nor is the bathroom.

Some days, I just want to go back to being single, and living in my apartment in NYC. My biggest challenge was getting out of bed, wriggling my size 2 ass into some jeans, and picking what color I wanted my nails painted at my weekly mani/pedi. As I drank wine last night, I chewed my fingernails off, and tore and ripped away at my cuticles. They don't even look like my hands anymore.

I have a picture of my toes, painted a really bright red. I was in Greece. Lying on a lounge chair. I took pictures of my feet all the time. This particular day, my toes looked relaxed, I thought, against the backdrop of the hotel pool. There was a swim up bar, in the distance. I recall being disappointed that the bar never had a bar tender, or anyone sitting at it. I felt like I got gypped. Like it was at one time a cool place to sip a cocktail, but those days were over by the time I got there. I remember thinking that there must have been a better hotel around, and I booked at the bad one.

Silly girl.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The last ten years of my life, I have been busy being busy. Got married, bought a home, had three girls, and watched the economy tank in 2007. If our life was a graph, the line was on a continuous incline, until that fateful October, when we suddenly found ourselves standing on line at the Department of Social Services, hoping we could get health insurance for our kids, and myself, who had that third baby girl in my body, and felt humiliation beyond belief that I was told I had to bring proof of pregnancy, despite my swollen belly. The line on that graph took a sharp dive. In about a day.

I, nor my husband, ever expected to be hitting such a low. This was not supposed to happen to"us". We were smart, college educated people, who always had good jobs, paid out taxes, lived within our means, didn't over borrow, and didn't use credit. We were cash only. If we didn't have the money, we didn't get it. Period. For crying out loud, my living room couch is the same one I grew up with. The very one I lied on, dying from the chicken pox. Nothing fancy at my house. But enough. We had enough.

In the last few years, we have struggled. Just like so many of our friends and neighbors. Some days, there is no money left between here and pay day. Some days, we make it just fine. I don't stress about it in the way I used to, because it's pointless. I will put myself into an early grave worrying about "what if", and "what is going to happen". My husband and I have never worked harder for the very little we have to show for it. Frustrating? You bet! But we, like millions of others, are doing the very best we can at this very moment, and if I ask myself if we are doing better than we were four years ago, the answer is yes.

And if I think about going back to how things were four years ago, I shudder. I remember every other house on my block having unemployed people. I remember seeing David, and our neighbor out, blowing leaves that Fall, both out of work, and both on the brink of nervous breakdowns, because despite sending 50 resumes out daily, the phone never rang.

 Things are still, so not great. I get that. I see that. We have a huge unemployment problem. And we have way too many families eating dinner because they have food stamps. (very NOT LAZY families, I might add, because that stereotype is really antiquated)

Having three little girls also has me worried. About their future, and their choices. About their ability to pay for college, and to have every opportunity I have had. Even their choices about when motherhood is right for them. It all seems scary, and uncertain. Very uncertain.

But I'll tell ya....going back seems more uncertain. Helping out the uber-rich on the backs of my girls seems uncertain. Cutting social programs to those families, one of which my own family was one of, seems uncertain. Hitting our future in the gut, in the form of cuts to education really paints an uncertain future, in my mind. Denying health care to elderly, and children at the very least, seems horrendous.

This November, we all have a huge decision about our future. And the future of our children.

 Do we help out the people who really need it?

Or do we continue to help out those that really don't need it, in the hopes that they will help out those that really do?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I read a funny thing today. It was something about an advent calendar should be designed, counting down, and awaiting the first day of school. A glorious day indeed, but one, that is still a few weeks away. It's coming though...I can hear it at night. The cicadas chanting "Katy did" "Katy didn't"...the signal that summer is wrapping up. I am in no means trying to bring on the cooler weather mind you. Just routine. I am craving it.

I did, though, have a little break this week. My girls are at Girl Scout day camp!! So, two out of three of them are gone, and I am left with sweet little Molly. She is my biggest fan, and adores me, so spending the day with her is a dream. Constant compliments, and hugs. We giggle and she loves running errands with me, which the older two loathe, and let me know each and every second, while doing them. Molly is 3. And she is as sweet as sugar. I could eat her with a spoon, so this week has been a treat.

I did, however, spend a few hours at the camp the other day, trying to help out. The campers are all different ages. From Daisy's until Girl Scout cadets, which are High School girls. They are all broken into little groups, and each group has an adult in charge, as well as older scouts, who are there, helping out.

To watch the older Girl Scouts help out, and care for the younger girls, was beyond impressive. They are the ones actually running the show. All of them are veterans at day camping, and overnight camping. They have gone from being nurtured, to nurturing. They treat the girls like their little sisters. (I mean that in a good way!) They were organizing games, and musical chairs. Teaching them songs that you only sing in summer camp, and helping them do crafts. I loved watching how the little girls really looked up to the older girls, and it made me remember my years as a Girl Scout, and how much it all meant to me.

Teachers astound me. To even consider becoming one, I have always felt that you need to have a certain calling. But being at Girl Scout camp, really opened my eyes even more. All of the women there, the leaders, and helpers, taking time off from jobs, and out of their lives, to run the camp, coordinate it all, and make sure every girl has a great experience, all voluntary, and unpaid, really floored me. Watching the older girls really giving it their all, and being so involved made me feel bad for thinking that all teenagers are the pits. They're not! There are some really great ones, right here, where we live!

Busy parents volunteering their own time, coaching teams, and leading troops of kids, all trying to show them the way, and shape good, productive members of society really deserve a hand.

So, next time you feel irritated by the kids outside of Walmart trying to raise money for their teams, or the tables of Girl Scout cookies you will soon be seeing everywhere, tempting you at every retail establishment, stop being annoyed. They are all great kids, with even greater adults behind them, trying to shape a brighter future.

A brighter future for them, and for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Parenting fail

So, apparently, last evening, Charlotte kept asking David and I to take a look at a video she made, on her iPod. She asked David repeatedly, to which he told her, "in a minute". She asked me several times, as well, and I only know this because David said she did, yet I have zero memory of it. I was getting laundry done, and dinner prepared...didn't have a second to even listen to her request, but apparently, my standard answer of "later" was on the tip of my tongue for her.

After we tucked the girls into bed, and David and I sat down together, both tired from our day, on our deck, David received a text. It was from Charlotte, sending him the video, she so badly wanted us to both see. I guess she figured that was the only way she would get our attention.

The sudden sadness I felt shot right through me. It sucked.

I felt, and feel, not quite there all the time for my girls. Just trying to make it to the end of the day, and herd them from one thing to the other, until they can finally be put to sleep. I waited all this time to have this family, and sometimes, I just feel so sad when I take it for granted. I feel bad that if even for a second, one of my girls felt like a bother to us, I, we have failed. Yet I realize how very often I let them know they are being one.

I read this today.

No is so easy to say. Because yes is a lot of what I don't want to be doing.

But what am I doing any of this for?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


There is a photo of Molly asleep in my arms. She is tiny. There is one of her playing in her playhouse, and the sun is setting. It was Fall, and she was 1. She has her mouth open wide, and her eyes squinted shut. Her cheeks flushed red from the cool evening air. Still another of the girls toasting marshmallows, and laughing. No one is looking at the camera. In fact, they are completely unaware of it. That is the only way I really like to shoot. Candid bits of everyday life. Snapshots while they eat, and play, sleep, and fight. I must take about 30 pictures a day. All of them I love, but there are a few shots that are truly spectacular. Or should I say, were.

They are gone. Deleted. Like they never existed. Through no fault of David's (ahem...) two years worth of memories, that I painstakingly documented, have simply vanished into thin air. A few strokes of the key, and their digital life put to an end. I really haven't been able to think about it much. As soon as David got off the final live chat, with the umpteenth expert on such matters, and informed me that they were irretrievable, I put it out of my mind. Like, if I didn't think about it, and ignored it, it really didn't happen. Maybe they were still floating in the air above us, like that scene in Willy Wonka, when Mike TV is floating above everyone in particles, and finally, moments later, appears on the screen. Maybe my pictures were still in transit.

My childhood pictures are at my Mom and Dad's house. Boxes of photos, mostly posed, with everyone huddled close, in the hope of fitting in the viewfinder. There are the awful school photos, archiving all the awkward years, from baby teeth, to adult teeth that don't quite fit in a 10 year old mouth, to the wretched 80's pictures, in which more makeup, and more hairspray seemed the only way to go.

Yet some of the best photos my Mom ever shot, were of us on a beach vacation. All candid. Simple shots of the sun setting. The sky orange. There is one where the Rose Gallo wine, in a tulip glass on a table catches the light just so,  and my Dad is holding me, and we are watching the sun slip beneath the horizon. I have the photo. It is perfectly square, and worn. I wouldn't recall that night without the photo. Or maybe I recall it only because I can see it actually happened.

I am surrounded by my girls. The family that I dreamed of. I am in awe of these beings, and never take it for granted how much they love me, and how brief this time together here in this house is. One day, they will be gone. College, and careers. Families of their own even, although Charlotte refuses that idea, simply based on how a baby needs to come out of your body.

Will I remember that great big smiling face of Molly in the playhouse? Or how tiny and blissful her face was as she slept. I look at Olivia now, and it is hard for me to recall the baby within her. She is so big. I can't see Charlotte's chubby cheeks anymore, because smooth cheekbones are emerging. Will I remember to recall it all? Will it come as easily as looking at the image in my hand?

I realized last night, as I was desperately tyring to burn every deleted photo into my memory, that I can remember how warm, and small they all were, when I first held them. I remember how they smelled. I was astounded by how soft their skin was. And the little squeaks and purrs they let out as newborns, are forever in my mind. I can't hold them like that anymore. And now, I have less digital memory of them.

But I have them. And I can still hear my Dad's voice, counting the last teeny tiny speck of the orange sun, disappeared from the sky. Photo or not.

I can still hear him.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Darn sun

It is strange to be in the house on a beautiful summer day, but Olivia is sick. She has a stomach bug, that seems to be running through our house. I dislike the television being on, in the day, but it seems to be taking everyone out of my hair. A very necessary evil.

My energy is low. I have piles of clean laundry to find a home for. I am stressed beyond stressed about money, and bills. Summer feels like it is dragging it's heels in, and taking it's sweet time. School clothes need to be purchased, and gas needs to be accounted for, and disgustingly, I am serving hot dogs for dinner tonight, because that is what we have. Lots of them. David came home with three massive boxes of them, because they were priced so low...I'm talking like a buck and, looks like hot dogs it is.

I hurt even writing these words, because looking at it means it is for real, but David deleted all of my photos from the last two years. By accident of course, but each time the thought flashes into my mind, I have to put it right out. Two years of my girls life, captured only in my mind now. Ugh...I can't..

I guess this is the universe telling me to get on to the pile of clothes, and tackle the dishes in the sink, and go through the mounds of clutter in the kitchen crap basket, and make some kind of order in this place. We have been busy being busy, and today, we are at a hault.

I wish it would rain. That would make me feel better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A moment of Grace

We have hit the proverbial wall, around these here parts. Summer vacation was really moving along quite "swimmingly", until around, last week. The sky has clouded up, and hidden the sun for one too many days, preventing pool and lake time, with my girls. We make plans, and the weather has not cooperated, which has resulted in one too many days in the house. My home is a mess. The girls are fighting, and rolling their eyes at me, and just last Monday, I had a vision of pouring giant bowls of cereal for all of them, double locking the front door, and driving away for the day. It got that hairy here. And I hit my limit. Uncle! I had enough.

The week between payday, and the last paycheck is always tight, and that is sugar coating it. Bills paid, and food purchased, there isn't much left over, except gas money. When I had the impulse to flee the house on Monday, it was the kids bickering, and boredom that had really done me in. But the cherry on the top was being stressed over cash flow, and the lack of it. My head was spinning, and I started going to that place in my mind where I felt isolated, and doomed. Like we were heading right down the tubes.

I picked up my Olivia from my girlfriends house that afternoon, where she was playing, and my friend invited me out for Wing Night, in town, that night. Dollar drafts, and even less expensive wings. She and her friends go often. I never go out, but this time, I really, desperately wanted to. I needed time away from the girls, and these walls. I felt silly that I couldn't even swing a night out that probably would have totaled 10 bucks. My friend said it would be her treat. She said "We got you, we have all been there".

And she was right. She and her husband had suffered through an awful winter, of unemployment, and tragedy. Her girlfriend who was out with us is stressed over her husbands current unemployment. We sat, and had some beers, and ate more blue cheese than any human should, along with our wings, and talked, and I suddenly felt not so alone. I felt the isolation I had all around me that afternoon, begin to melt away. I listened more than I spoke, and heard the same stories, and worries going on in houses right in my own neighborhood, and knew at that moment, that I wasn't the only one going crazy. I wasn't the only one feeding my kids out of the pantry. I wasn't the only one calculating out the cost of gas, and what trips were necessary, and what trips were simply too frivolous. I wasn't the only one feeling like I was slowly going insane.

$39.00 for four women to have some beers, and wings, and...OK...maybe some cheese fries too...ugh..... I left Grace O'Malley's feeling heavier from the sudden rush of calories, but mentally, lighter. I felt no shame in not being able to afford my portion of the bill. And I felt thankful for being taken care of. I was grateful for the laughs, and comforted by knowing that I officially am not going mad. And if I am, I am not the only one.

Kids, summer vacation going on way too long, money, and the lack of it, stress, and worry about the future. It's all going on, in everyone else's house, to a certain degree. Some more than others. I realized my nut house isn't so bad.

And next week, (and there will be a next week!!), I can pay for one of those ladies.

Thanks girls!!