All posts by kir

Pour Your Heart Out: 10

I’ve always been a talker, a writer, a dreamer.

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My desire to chronicle moments and memories didn’t just appear one day; instead I  believe I was born with it. I have notebooks and journals stacked among my favorite paperbacks, I have highlighted passages and small pieces of paper with quotes and my own thoughts and stories scattered in the zippered pockets of my purse and bulging out of the drawer in my nightstand.

I can barely pay attention to you because I am  busy writing our story in my head, right now. People watching is one of my favorite activities next to naps and shoe shopping and drinking in a story is the best way to spend a day, afternoon or evening.

So my journey to spreading words didn’t begin ten years ago when I published my first piece to Kir’s Corner. No, it was a part of me yearning to get out and the only difference was it now had a home and a name.

In the last ten years of my blogging journey I have written so many words, shared so many stories, divulged so many secrets and realized so many dreams. It doesn’t seem possible that a decade has passed since I began offering myself to you in the form of essays and haiku.

Blogging is different now, it’s less and more simultaneously. It’s about going viral and taking a stand, picking a side and honestly it’s exhausting. Yet, I can’t say goodbye to it because it’s brought so much to my life and my hope is that my words return, that I find something to say that is worth reading.

In the meantime I have been pondering and reminiscing about the decade gone in this space. I’ve never gotten famous or rich, but I am the first person you think about when cupcakes or high heels are mentioned and that fills my soul. I’ve learned where my strengths lie, that in building a community I built friendships that my life would be empty without.

I’ve accepted that perhaps I can use the term writer when I describe myself.

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And to that end I found that I write about so many things; from the happy to the tragic, from the wild creative stories of fiction to the memory tugging words of memoir. I have invited people in to share Proud Mommy Moments and I have blog-hopped, music-shared and meme-ed myself silly.

To think in ten years I didn’t get pregnant and then I did, I talked about karma and Aruba and IVF. You’ve seen my miracle boys born and  grow up and in a larger sense you saw me grow up too. We’ve hugged and shared, laughed and celebrated my birthdays (and more) together.

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We are friends inside this screen and outside  of it.

I’ve attended Blog conferences and Bloggy Boot Camps (connecting, networking and just talking), I’ve been published and syndicated, seen my name added on an Amazon page and read my own words about my incredible sons on a stage in New York City.

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I’ve found my center being a cheerleader and supportive commenter. I’ve never been happier than when my friends found success with their own words or been more motivated to dig deeper, kill- my-darlings, share all I have in an effort to someday be like them.  I have spent every day being so grateful for the friendships this space has poured into my life from every corner of the world.

And while I procrastinate and ponder my place in this space I know I still have a long way to go, so many things to share, words that are bursting and stories that are still simmering.

This year two of my greatest dreams came true:  I was able to direct Listen to Your Mother-Lehigh Valley and a piece of mine  was chosen as a Voice of the Year by BlogHer for the first time!!!

My life continues to change and evolve here in this corner.

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Ten years ago I hit publish and introduced myself, thank you for coming into my life and enriching it, you mean so much to me.

Thank you for reading the words I share.

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It’s all been worth the wait and now I can’t wait to see what the next decade has in store for me.

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So thankful for people like Shell who gave us Pour Your Heart Out so that I have a place to share this milestone with all of you.

 

 

32 Flavors (Old School Blogging)

I am a non apologetic daydreamer

I wonder if my deepest, darkest hopes and dreams will ever come true

I hear my sons laugh and squabble , my mom’s voice, my husband’s love, my gut telling me which way to go
I see the world as it is and it scares me
I want a full, money-back guarantee, on anything that goes wrong in this life
I am not as hopeful or optimistic as I used to be.

I pretend I’m thinner, smarter, wittier, liked for who I am
I feel helpless and overwhelmed sometimes
I touch people when I’m talking to them in an effort to connect with the world
I worry about unexpected phone calls, bills coming due and the other shoe falling
I cry in Hallmark stores and during romantic comedies. I cry when I’m happy and sad in equal measure.
I am a conundrum; an air sign wrapped in the name “water bearer”

I understand how quickly time flies and how precious today is
I say “I love you” as much as I can…because I do.
I dream of being the person I always thought I’d be
I try to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be good
I hope and dream and pray and sin and forgive and love every single day.
I am thirty-two flavors and then some…

Linking with my  wonderful, sweet friend Elaine and her partner for OSBlogging this month ( the dancing queen!) Angela. 

Ah-choo! Welcome to Allergy Season (CVS MINUTE CLINICS)

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 Spring in Pennsylvania 2015

Spring has arrived in our backyard. Time for short sleeved shirts and afternoons full of blowing bubbles into the blue sky.

And my sons are ready for outdoor adventures as much as any other seven year olds but over the weekend I heard the other tell-tale sign of Spring’s arrival.

The sniffling. 

The sneezes: 
Ah-Choo!!!!!! (that stuns and scares me every time) from my husband and son Jacob.

“Bless You!” I called into the living room.  A tiny voice yelled back “thanks!” before another wave of sneezes.

The mountains of discarded tissues littering every square inch of my house. 

It’s Spring but it’s also Allergy season in the Piccini house.

Known as sniffling, sneezing, can’t-sleep-because-of-the-tossing-turning -and-snot-ridden-noses. My family loves to be outside, chasing fly balls and enjoying dinner on the deck but I catch myself looking at the gently swaying limbs of the cherry blossom trees and I see all the yellow pollen coating cars, handrails and recently our front stairs and I know what’s coming.

More sneezes.

More congestion.

Of course the best preventative medicine is to stay away from the allergen but you try to keep two little boys in the house when the sun is shining and the dandelions are blowing. There is just no escaping the allergens.

And my poor Jacob ends up looking like this:
Blog2015CVSJacob'sNosethat is one red, raw and sore nose folks. 

So thank goodness for the nurses, doctors and staff of CVS Minute Clinics who will explain the differences between allergies and an actual cold (normally a cold is accompanied by a persistent cough, body aches and a fever) and allergies (itchy, watery eyes, a runny, sore nose) to us and then help us find a speedy remedy so that we can continue to enjoy our days outside among the allergens.

Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from season allergies or asthma?  Look around ; one of the 5 people around you right now are carrying their weight in antihistamines and tissues in their pockets hoping for some relief of their sinus pressure, nasal congestion or a host of other symptoms of their allergy woes. 

It’s simply “that time of year” for many of us. Those beautiful flowering trees and bursting flower gardens are a welcome sight after the cold, barren winter we had here in the Northeast but they carry all the airborne substances (proteins) that float around, get up inside our nasal cavities and cause so havoc.

In our house over the counter decongestants and antihistamines are life savers and Jacob has become an expert at knowing how to use a nasal saline, tipping his head just so and allowing all the yuck to drain from his tiny congested nose. (If only my stubborn, suffering husband would follow suit! LOL)

We take our allergy season seriously and remember to wash our hands a lot, to keep our bed sheets laundered (weekly) to wash away the allergens and try to wash off enough of the “day” before we go to bed.

All of those things combine to help Jacob look like this instead: check out those bright eyes and smiles! (#SneezeFreeSpring)

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Here is some important info about the way  CVS Minute Clinics can help you through allergy season :

minute clinic

  • Open 7 days a week
  • No appointment necessary
  • Most insurance accepted

Here is someone from CVS Minute Clinics to tell you a bit more about how allergies are diagnosed and treated:

 

Wishing you a happy, #SneezeFreeSpring! 

Find Minute Clinic online, Facebook and Twitter…follow along #SneezeFreeSpring for more information about symptoms, diagnosis and remedies for allergy season.  

***I have received promotional consideration from Minute Clinic, but the thoughts, opinions and sneezes contained in this post are all my own. ***

 

Uncharted (LTYM/Lehigh Valley 2015)

I felt the lights come up and warm my face, heard my voice echo through the room and reveled in the low murmurs and adjustments of the audience as they settled in.LTYM

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt. But I smiled as tears picked  at the corners of my eyes. I touched the binder full of stories, ran my hands across the words of these amazing writers and allowed them to sink into my skin.

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I don’t know about you but when I’m about to embark on a new journey there is always an air of anticipation and a belly of butterflies. Happiness, terror, bliss and nerve wracking fear fight for center stage in the middle of my chest.

My chest, at that moment, was fluttering, kicking and bursting with emotions I don’t have the words to convey just yet, and yet… I was happy, proud, thrilled and overwhelmed with the honor of the journey I was taking.

My dream was coming true. 

Listen To Your Mother-Lehigh Valley didn’t come easily. After reading in for the 2012 NYC show I began to dream of hosting it in my own backyard but the journey to that stage in the middle of Bethlehem was one filled with disappointment, false starts and rejections and then a miracle. A true eleventh hour email and introduction , Hail Mary pass,  that found the right hands.

As I stood on that stage two Sundays ago I wondered how it all came together when just a few months ago I had no idea if I was capable of doing any of it. I met Kristina and Lauren and that made it better, sweeter, possible. But like any Type-B personality I was wondering if I could.

Could I produce, direct, audition people and and say no, could I ask for money, sponsorships? Could I work  full time and still WOW! an audience? Did I have any special talent that would allow me to express the enormity of this show to anyone who asked, “what is this you’re doing?” Because I’ve tried to explain LTYM to people and realize that I just end up saying…”You won’t know until you’ve experienced it. You won’t know until you come.”

It was a completely uncharted territory for me.

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Last Sunday I sat in another dark auditorium and waited for the spotlight to come up on two precious sailors. They both held tight to the ship’s wheel and when the music allowed them they found their voices and raised them to tell the story of a Little Mermaid.

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Pride puddled in the middle of my chest. Even when props faltered or songs stuttered my boys  carried on. They found their voices and sang their songs loud and clear.

This first year of glee club, I’ve seen them blossom and open, stretch themselves beyond nervous tummies and band together in a way only twin brothers can. They made their own village in their uncharted territory and faced all the fears and bellies of butterflies of their own.

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I’m not reading, you know.”

I  must have uttered that line to dozens of people who told me they were coming to the show.

They’d smile and assure me that it was of no consequence…they wanted to help me witness my dream coming true.

“I’m going to emcee!” I’d offer as a consolation prize until realized it was exactly where I wanted to be for this inaugural show. I had learned how to produce, how to sell our show, how to reach out to people and organizations in order to make it success and while I was quite proud of how far I’d come in that capacity I knew that the talent I possessed was that of mama bird, cheerleader,  supporter.

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And so when my voice shook, or my eyes filled as I read introductions it was because pride had taken over. I was moved, inspired and deeply proud of the twelve people who had overcome their own fear and doubt to not only audition but to come up onto that stage.

They did what they do.

I did what I do.

And it was MAGIC.

LTYM was amazing and moving, touching and everything I had imagined it would be.

*******
I sat in the back of the auditorium as The Little Mermaid had their first intermission. A fellow mom strode past and touched my shoulder.

“You should be so proud! The show was great!”

I smiled and nodded, “they are doing such a great job aren’t they?”

She nodded. “They are, but I meant YOU! Last week! You were wonderful and you have to be so proud of all you’ve accomplished.”

Caught off guard, in unfamiliar waters, I floundered for words.

Finally,  “I am. I’m so proud. Were you there? I didn’t see you.”

“I was and everyone is talking about it. So many more people want to come next year.”

*****
I took a deep breath and took one look to the left and then to the right as our cast took their seats.

All those smiles, all those stories, the cast members who had become friends, family.

I let myself soak it in, I swam toward the deep waters and dived down.

In the shadow of Bethlehem Steel and in the company of the people who mean the most to me in the world, I reached the shore.

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Standing at the edge of the stage we took our bows.

 

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*******

Three performances later, my little sailors had found their sweet spot.

Their timing was impeccable, their laughter was contagious.

I beamed with pride.

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The past two weeks have been a lesson in steering my own ship, of knowing when to ask for help at the wheel, when to let the tide determine the course and when to just drift and allow the waves to carry me.

Sails up!

Onward!
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Our amazing, beautiful, loquacious, funny, smart :

LTYM-Lehigh Valley Inaugural Cast 2015

L-R: Melanie Madamba, Rebecca Einstein Schorr, Michelle Meeh, Meghan Moravcik Walbert, Lauren Hale, Jerry Waxler, Kristina Grum, Maggie Cooke, Me, Denise Whitney, Jeannette Bellesfield, Christine Burke, Amy Kruzel, Dana Schwartz.

 

…and just because this song/video makes me laugh and I adore Sara Bareilles:

Uncharted but no longer afraid.

 LTYM2015KirandMomPMMe: Listening to my very proud mother.

**Cast photos courtesy of Elaine Zelker Photography, our local sponsor and amazing photographer!**

 

We will…Listen

Jacob has a new app on his tablet that allows him to record his own voice and play it back.  much like a digital recorder.  He has penned stories and songs, all original content, his own thoughts and imagination pouring itself into his little fingers as he types away and hit SAVE.

He relishes the editing, the intricate tweaking of his own masterpieces, before he stands before me and sings the songs he’s written or performs the stories he’s woven. He beams when he’s finished , so happy that he’s captured them in his little black device for another performance later.

I love this side of him, the storyteller side. The actor/performer side. I never interrupt or tell him to change this or edit that because I know that the magic lies in his way of telling it, the story is his and his alone and no one can revise, revisit or recite that tale or tempo but him. I just sit back and listen. And giggle. And sometimes tear up at the creativity he’s offering me; his audience.

When I read in the NYC Listen to Your Mother Show in 2012 I was given the gift of an audience. A theatre filled with people willing to hear my story, to listen. There is no greater gift.

So when I was chosen, along with Kristina and Lauren, to bring a

LTYM show to the Lehigh Valley I knew that I would be part of the team that would be giving the gift of an audience to our community and it’s storytellers.

 

Our auditions are this weekend and I can’t wait to sit and simply listen. To offer the people willing to share their stories with me a place, a “stage”, to pour their words out about motherhood in all its forms.

We are ready.

We are excited.

We are just as nervous as the people trusting us with their words.

But most of all….

We are ready to listen.

(Wish us luck!)

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With special thanks to Jon and Emily at  our #local sponsor Arts Quest /Banana Factory for offering us a place to hold auditions.

 

There Are Always Reasons to Dance: The 45th Birthday Celebration

 

Blog2015PMTSEliotquoteYellowBackgroundWe’ve been doing this a while now.

Celebrating my birthday in this space.

I have such wonderful memories of adding  more and more people to invitation list and getting to spend the day reading the greetings you gave me. From favorite cakes and presents to the quotes that speak to your hearts I have opened each gift with all the reverence reserved for the kind of love they were given with.

But this year is different, This year I turn 45 and  instead of bemoaning a likely mid-way point of my life I want to smile, I want to giggle and dance instead.

So I asked for a song. In the words of my dear friend, Holly, I wanted your “razzle-dazzle” song.

A hip- swinging, butt- shimmying, hands- over- your- head, white-man’s-overbite, get- on -down or get- on- up song that moves your body & mind while making it impossible for you to sit in your chair.

I’ve been sitting  in my chair for far too long.

My birthday seems like that perfect time to celebrate and reminiscence, it’s the perfect time to DANCE.

The answers came from every corner of my world and added up to over 12 hours!  (wow) of music, memories and songs that are guaranteed to make you want to celebrate 45 with me. 

Here it is...

Spotify (ready to share list of all the songs given to me by everyone I love.

Hoping this gift helps you celebrate this birthday me.

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Kir’s Celebration Track  

Old school hits from Frankie Vallie and Frank Sinatra to club favorites from Biggie, 50 Cent and Mark Morrison. We’ve got your favorites from Whitney and Pitbull, Chris Brown showed up and AC/DC shook us all night long.

We went from country to club, indie to progressive and pop and came all the way back to disco. From one decade to the next we all found our groove. 

I learned a few new songs from Mint Royale, The Polyphonic Spree, The Philip Glass Ensemble  and Jennifer Tyrnin that have become new favorites.

I learned the Gio loves to get down to some Carly Rae and Jacob prefers New Direction and Pharrell when he shakes his bootie. John opted for December 1963 nights and some Good Vibrations.

Best friends wanted Blurred Lines, Pitbulls and Yeah (3 Times!).

The song  picked more than once:

I Gotta Feeling

and the one picked more than a dozen times:
Our Taylor : Shakin it Off:

Cause the players gonna play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake
Shake it off. Shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake
Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake

Seems like a perfect message for my 2nd act.

There were the Divas;  Madge, Mary J, Mariah and Martina. Aretha came round and so did Donna, P!nk, Thelma and Lady Gaga.

U2 came to play, Katy Perry followed behind in pink heels and Prince finally arrived all dressed in purple.

What would a celebration mix be without Michael, Elvis and Justin? They were all invited and they showed, bringing Neil, The Black Keyes and even the Cast of Glee.

There are ROCK ANTHEMS, ceilings that can’t hold us and Greased Lightening rocking alongside smooth criminals and Mr. Blue Sky.

I realized  almost immediately that Arnebya really needed a post of her own  because there isn’t a song she’s met that doesn’t  make her want to get up and get down to those back beats . The bonus?  She and Andrea can outlast any rapper in the universe.  (this is the joy of sharing my day with all of you, seeing everyone enjoy it and sing the lyrics over one another. It was the pre-game and it was awesome!)

There are ladies that love disco as hard and long as I do…and we so we invited Chic, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Bee Gees , The Village People and Abba into the inner sanctum to get down on it. 

There were stories that touched my heart from Alexandra ( about babies!) , Julie ( about friends that are like family) Kristen (about girls having fun and what her mom taught her about herself!)  and Tricia ( about making every day the Best Day of our Lives!)  Then Kelly picked a song just for us from Darius Rucker and Nicole sent me a message that sparkled with words that made me feel like a rainbow-unicorn. 

We brought back the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and tagging along behind were memories of high school dances, the backseat of cars, first kisses and first heartbreaks. College parties and our free, musical single lives. We danced each other into our adult selves. 

Hey, It  still takes two to get  you into the groove and move like Jaggar.

(see what I did there? )

We wanted to see your tootsie roll and hear you scream “Let’s get loud!” just in time for Mickey to show up. He’s so fine, you see!

And while I’m sure we’ve missed a few of your favorites I’m counting on you leaving them in the comments (consider it my present!) and I can add them on and keep the party going like it’s 1999.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what my go to song is, the one that will bring me to the dance floor every time?

It’s this 80’s classic from the Breakfast Club complete with all my made up dance steps

I could move out to the left for a while
I could slide to the right for a while
I could get up and back
Right on track
But is right on track
Is that gonna get you back?

Wow, this is some party! Careful on the confetti! 

Wait! Before you go …just promise me you’ll listen to this playlist today and maybe over the weekend and perhaps into next month and when you do you’ll think of me and how, in this moment

I’m so happy I could die

there is no place I’d rather be…than here with all of you my friends

And because there is always a parting gift …I’m leaving you with a ditty that promises to “Rick-Roll” you courtesy of my incredible friend Jennifer:

Nope, my friends….Never Gonna Give You Up!

…you’re welcome for the ear-worm and  Keep Dancing!

Love,
Kir <3

(Thanks for celebrating with me: Alison, Arnebya, Andrea, Shell, Katie, Elaine, Jennifer, Val, Leigh Ann, Greta, Kristin, Kristen, Deborah, Kate, Dana, Marian, Jessie,  Angela Holly, Andra, Christine, Charlotte, Barbara,  LoriLauren, Kristina, Kim, Lou, Eli, Tracy, Alexandra, Nicole, Suniverse, Leigh Ann, Tiina, Alex, Michele, Jennie, Laura, Keely, Kiran, Natalie, Julie, Kerstin, Morgan, Lisa, Noelle, Alyssa, Valerie, Victoria, Kristian, CarolAnn, Meg, Tricia, Elizabeth, Carrie, Sarah,  Sherri, Tina, Tara, Tonya and Mom)

 

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This is 7

 

This is seven….

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It is…

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ninja fights that transition to brother hugs

screams of “you’re the worst mommy!” that melt into hugs and “thank you for making us the best Christmas ever, mommy!”

It is unexpected snuggles and deep, throaty laughter at their own bodily functions

It’s stinky feet and rolling around on the floor. It’s trying to ride the dog and whispering secrets to each other

It’s talking in a language only they know until they are belly laughing

it is favorite movies on repeat

and  singing to Annie soundtracks

and Karaoke of One Republic, Imagine Dragons and One Direction.

It’s trying new foods (that are sometimes green. Sometimes.)

It is self sufficient meets “I can’t do this alone, but I’m gonna try!”

Seven is tall legs and high water jeans, it’s little feet growing too fast so that there is always a hole in the sock or little toes poking through the fabric of the sneakers.

It is being an individual and part of a team.

It is “I LOVE YOU!” out of nowhere that stops my breath and brings hot tears to my eyes

“I want to wear something different” until they see it on the other and then “I’m going to change so we match!” (Jacob still loves the little touches like his new gingham bow tie)

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It is battling each other over imaginary things but standing up for one another when the chips are down

It’s old school board games meets technology

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Practicing your smooth dance moves and getting cast in the school play

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It’s being big boys but still  cuddling a favorite stuffed animal

Christmas2014PMBoysKissReindeerXmasEve  It’s the  year of two different cake choices for their family party

It is friendships

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Seven is still whining and challenging me about everything from breakfast meat to homework

It is wasting time and refusing to help and then helping with all their might

It is loving each other and the world unconditionally

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It is magic and smiles

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it still believing …

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it is naughty and nice all at once

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Giovanni

Loves sports of all kinds and honestly gives every color commentator in any market a run for their money with his knowledge of rules, players and  team history

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Is still scared to go upstairs in the dark alone

Can read anything (even the texts I am writing that he should not be reading as I’m typing)

Has questions. So. Many. Questions.

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Plays Trivia Crack and even his guesses are normally right

Still loves the color pink

Plays like a boy, loves like a girl

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Is so grown up and so little all at once

He squeezes my heart just by looking at him.

Jacob

Can create a character and then play that person for hours on end complete with costumes, accent and verbatim dialogue

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Is the best dressed kid I know

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Knows just when to use the phrase “hot mess!”

Loves “A Christmas Carol”, “Harry Potter” and “Santa Claus”

He’s a fantastic artist, with an eye for detail that amazes and inspires me

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Is full of wonder, awe and ideas.

He is the human equivalent of believe“.

Knows the true happiness is blank sheets of  white paper, a bucket of crayons and your imagination.

Jacob loves with his whole heart and cares deeply for other people.

He is one of my favorite people

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*********

Seven is supposed to be a transition age and it feels like just that. It feels like they are still my babies even as I realize they are growing so quickly  they no longer fit on my lap. So I find myself kissing their temples more often and offering myself as a seat far more often just to be able to have them near me. I relish the hugs and kisses, I laugh at their attempts at jokes and I sit in quiet pride when they are smart, when they are kind and when they are more than I ever expected.

I feel proud and special to be their mom.

Seven, if we were in a relationship, would be the year of the itch and the scratch and the exasperation but for me I have fallen in love with my sons this past year.

For the longest time I thought mothering wouldn’t came naturally to me, that I loved my boys but they weren’t my crush, my muses, my breath.

 

But I am smitten.

I have fallen with no thought, excuse , rhyme, or reason.

Finally.

It is the sweetest feeling I have ever known.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY my amazing little boys…

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…welcome to 7!

 

 

First, The Flowers (The Ben Stories)

It is the anniversary of Ben’s death today. A year without him and our family still swings between denial, disbelief and dedication to loving each other while helping one another through the really bad days. (And there are bad days, as expected.)

I had promised months ago I would share some of the stories (miracles, really) of things that have taken place since his passing and yet when I’d go to write the words and they were stuck between my head, my fingers and my heart.

But then I took a creative non-fiction class at a community college this fall and I was able to open the tap on those stories and emotions a tiny bit.

The first story I’d like to share with you is all about the flowers, pink roses to be exact, and the way they brightened our life in the time after Ben left us.

First, The Flowers. 

I’ve never been particularly keen on roses.

It’s not that I don’t think they are pretty or sweet smelling, I just believe them to be pompous.

The truth is that it’s probably the people who send them who are actually the culprits and deserving of my scorn  but when I think of roses my first thought is normally, “eh. They try too hard”  as if the flowering buds were responsible for their own breeding, capable of telling their own history and calculating their own worth.

My brother never liked flowers because his allergies rendered him helpless around them. Yet, he was often a romantic fool so I am sure he loved watching the light rise in the face of the woman he bestowed them on even if it meant he needed to  bark and plead with them later that they must take the said gift immediately from the room because he couldn’t breathe.

Life is funny.

I never held a fondness for the flower the way other women do.

But then something happened.

And it all started the day he died.

He’d been hooked up to machines for days as we prepared his organs for donation. Snow had fallen and Christmas music was playing everywhere while we were said our first goodbyes to a man gone far too soon. The morning they declared him my family took a deep breath and piled into a car on the hunt for a funeral home.

It’s not normally the kind of trip that lends itself to frivolity yet I I can imagine there were just as many tears as there were small sobs of laughter inside that vehicle s they set off. My step dad at the wheel with my sister-in-law next to him in her new role as widow with her mother, my sister and my mother respectively taking up all the room across the back seat. And it would only make sense that my mom, deep in grief and denial would think she could sneak a smoke in the back seat without disapproving eyes and opinion so the way the stories always been told to me goes like this:

(It’s worth mentioning now that we’d all been been praying and hoping for a miracle. As Catholics that included reaching out to the saints of our  faith , in particular, my sister- in- law’s mom’s was beseeching St. Theresa better known as the Little Flower to the faithful to bring comfort and peace to my brother during his passing. She reminded us often that if the saint heard and answered your prayers she would send pink roses to you. )

My mom lowered her window to enjoy a hit of nicotine when the car was stopped at a light in the middle of a questionable neighborhood in Maryland. From her seat my mom noticed a man in a dark parka walking down the sidewalk with his entire upper body obscured by green tissue paper. Obvious he was carrying a bouquet of some kind so as  he drew closer my mom yelled into the cold air:  “some lady is surely lucky today.”

He never broke his stride as the people in the car tensed and he drew closer, the large arrangement bobbing in the winter wind. As he came upon the car he motioned for my mom to lower her window even more. She obliged, hesitantly, and when the opening was big enough, he set the bouquet in her lap.

“I think you might need these more than I do. Have a lovely day.”

Nothing else was said or done as he made his way to the opposite sidewalk, not even the expected stop at the driver’s side of the car to demand money, he simply kept walking. My mother unwrapped the flowers and peered down into a lapful of petite pink roses. Her own tears mixing with the audible gasps of her fellow car mates.

Handing them to them my sister-in-law in the front seat, the girl reverently touched the petals and said, “he never really sent flowers, but when he did, to the office of course with strict instructions to leave them there, it was always pink roses.”

That in and of itself would have been an excellent story to be retold even if there was all there was; a miracle born of serendipity and comfort given to us when we needed it most.

But you must know by now that it isn’t the end of the tale.

Two weeks after his funeral and far too close to my favorite holiday my mom called with tears in her voice.

“Do you remember the angel I got for Emily?” she said. “I just realized how much your brother would have hated it. It’s all pastel colors and she’s smiling, but you’ll never believe what is running down the length of her robes?”

I didn’t need to guess.

“Tiny pink rosebuds.”

I felt the tears sting the corners of my eyes as I realized the connotation of the flower I shunned.

But in my heart it was a bit of cold comfort because these events were also happening to other people other . I felt the connection and the significance but I didn’t have a place in it, my belief that Ben was offering us comfort from the afterlife was coming from outside myself.

Until Christmas day when I opened a gift from my niece.

A silver bracelet encouraging me to “love this life” sat in the tissue paper. I lifted it and pinched the hinge, easing it over my knuckles and allow it to settle on my arm. I shook my wrist to allow the charms to bump and tinkle against one another.

I hugged my niece for the gift and took a closer look at it as it spun around my wrist. My breath caught and my heart opened. My brother had sent me a Christmas gift too, next to the words meant to motivate and encourage my own living was a small delicate silver rosebud and nestled next to it an undeniably pink bauble.

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I don’t know how long it will take me to write and share the remaining three stories about angels, butterflies and pennies but I hope that if you come here and read this story it will help me write the others.

 

Thank you for your love and care this past year, it has made all the difference.

Linking with Shell for some much needed heart pouring.

 

 

 

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This House Needs a Mouse (A Book Review)


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The book showed up and we all fell in love with the cover. My first grade readers were intrigued.

“This…house…neds (no!) neeeeeds (needs!)…a…mouse!”

“Ewww!”

“Mommy? Does our house need a mouse?”

I looked anxiously at my husband, side-eyed and trying not to giggle. “I’m not quite sure this house needs a mouse.”  Ahem.

But then we read the book and my eyes opened up right along with my heart. I found myself smiling, giggling, intrigued and most of all, invested in that little mouse. A mouse that was for all the world ordinary and quite possibly, insignificant, who became so much more than that because of his desire to do his best work and a family’s desire to employ him by looking past his outward appearance.

It was a book about acceptance and love on a large and very, small, perhaps fuzzy, scale. It changed the way I looked out at the world and reminded me (Once again, since I’m obviously a slow learner) that you cannot judge a book by its cover or a person by their appearance or a rodent by their tail.

Author C. Jeffrey Nunnally  (@CJNunnally) brings us a lesson wrapped in an engaging tale about three families and the extraordinary things that connect them.

It’s already a favorite on my bookshelf.

Treat yourself, your family, your favorite children to a copy and I promise it will be a favorite for you too.

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But the thing I love most about this book? It taught me that not everything is what it seems, that everyone has a purpose and that even the most insignificant things are surprisingly significant.  Those things you are so sure are ordinary  are really the most extraordinary of things. They are, in fact, the most special things about you.

And now, I’m quite sure every house, does indeed, need a mouse.

You can get your copy of “This House Needs A Mouse”  on the book’s (adorable) website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Big Tent Books.

 

I was sent a copy of this incredible book for review. All opinions, love and cheerleading for this book are entirely my own. 

 

Building a Dream

Once upon a time John and I were building a house and then, just as suddenly, we weren’t.

Life can take your journey toward a dream on any number of paths, it can tear down one notion of happiness only to plant the seed of it somewhere else.

Eight years ago John and I had a vision of what our house should look like. Jaded and mentally drained by our infertility we began to build a home and soon discovered that a red door and stone facade might not be the cornerstones of the thing we were truly dreaming of.

The story I wrote about that period of our lives is being featured over at Brain, Child Magazine today.

The House a Dream Built is a story for anyone who has given up one dream to pursue another, or watched one path close off only to have another open and carry you onward. And it’s our story, the one that built our family from the ground up.

Hoping you can take a few minutes and visit me there today since another dream came true when Brain, Child chose to feature this piece. I’m so incredibly honored to appear on their pages.

 

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The cutest dreams we every built!