Category Archives: PourMyHeartOut

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.

blogbraceletPM

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.

 

 

 

BlogSignature2014

Boys and Bingo : Pour Your Heart Out

Jacob picked orange even as its front proclaimed the color as pumpkin and Gio picked red, because they were all out of pink. He begrudgingly followed us to the table and sat down next to me, smoothing the small tall stack of flimsy boards that were newspaper-like in their texture. Uncapping the oversized marker he went about smacking the color into the Free Space and then rested his chin in his palm and waited.

Both boys scanned the table of purses and bags that would serve as the prizes of the lucky and declared their intentions right before the room buzzed with the scratch of a voice over a microphone.

When I conjure my Grandma Helen my thoughts float, zip and pause for moments on things like condensed milk, crisp five dollar bills and heavy, colorful rag rugs stacked in a roomy, musty basement. I reminisce about things like Little Debbie cookies, clean houses, open doors and small juice glasses filled to the top with generic black cherry soda.

She was a sweet old woman who cursed by saying things like “son of beech-nut” and thought badly of anyone who smoked.

I chuckle when I remember how she stacked boxes of crackers and snacks in the oven she never used, bills and important policy papers in the microwave she never plugged in and her ability to gossip, apply a fresh sweep of lipstick and build her upper arm strength by shifting her small black Valiant into gear all at once as we zoomed around free of seatbelts.

Her guilty pleasures ran the gamut from Saturday night polka dances to cheap icy cold beer or the once-in-a-while highball. She never missed church or a viewing lest she miss the chance to socialize and grieve and she harbored a love of costume jewelry and the ability to match it to every outfit she owned. A trait she happily handed down to me.

But her bliss was Bingo.

From the time I was the smallest of girls my mother would tell me the stories of her family, passing down the tall tales and truly hard to believe legends that would become our history. Regale is the word that comes to mind. I wasn’t simply told stories; I was regaled, entertained and quite possibly distracted to ensure maximum help as we dusted baseboards and carried buckets of soapy water from one end of the house to the other in a futile attempt to keep dust bunnies away.

And the stories about my Grandma always start and end with the Bingo. The way she would cook dinner, clean the kitchen and leave my mother in a very quiet house with strict instructions not to wake her dad, or drink, eat or soil anything while she gallivanted off with a pocketbook full of small red markers, jingly coins and prohibited (and therefore hidden) snacks buried deep in the folds.

I was only invited to accompany her to a Bingo hall twice in the whole time she and I inhabited the earth together. My mom used to tell me to not take it personally, “Grandma takes Bingo seriously” and I got to see it up close and personal those trips where I watched her work that room and her twenty-five card spread like a barker at a carnival. Coaxing, soothing, clucking like a mother hen and then her unbelievable transformation when it came down to the first letter and number called. She’d scan her cards like a paranoid auditor and still be able to hear every story being shared in rapid whispers in between the boom of the announcer.

She treated those evenings like a job more than the one she schlepped to in the dress factory that existed to fund them.

I came out of my reverie to one son on my left all energy and talk, easily distracted  and unable to sit still while the one on my right channeled his inner competitor and seemed to challenge every middle aged woman in the room. Just as one son remembered he was six and chucked his marker and paper at me in exchange for a run around the room the other seemed to settle in as fortitude rose in his soft pink cheeks.

Raising boys often leaves me on the outside of their activities. I reject the athleticism and the roughhousing and it isn’t often I see the women of my past reflected in their eyes. But that evening, even as we went home empty handed, I caught a spark of Helen and the great grandchildren she didn’t live long enough to hold.

Gio would have given her a run for her money.November2014BoysatBingoKP

Linking with the amazing Shell for PYHO this week.

It Took a Village

 

August2013KindergartenJacobontheBus2

Kindergarten.

We found hope and laughter in unexpected places. We were taught about faith in small, quiet moments. I have tried (and failed) to put my feelings about this year into words and all I come back to is that “it took a village.”

Kindergarten took a village but we made it.

Last Friday as we drove into work and the boys got ready at home for their last day of school, I turned to John with tears in my eyes. I am sure he was ready for me to become a sentimental fool, recounting the year and my wonder in our sons in overly dramatic fashion.

Instead I wiped my tears and punched him lovingly in the shoulder.

August2013KindergartenCollage2

“We did it!” I yelled. “I am so proud of us.”

He looked at me, sideways, and smiled, “you mean we all did it?”

“No!” I sing-songed, “I knew the boys would make it through kindergarten. I mean it’s Kindergarten! I’m more impressed with us for getting to the end of this in one piece. New school, new schedule, new sports and new bosses at work along with a whole host of obstacles in our way and we found our way to the finish line with kids that are smarter, braver and cuter than ever before. Plus we’re all still alive.”

When the boys were merely babies and then toddlers I used to tell myself, as I would fall exhausted into my bed, that if everyone in my house was still breathing then it was a successful day.

I still feel that way since parenting is hard.

In typical fashion he allowed me my own little celebration.

But I know it wasn’t just us. Sure Giovanni and Jacob did their share of learning and growing but it was the village that held us up and made it all possible.

June2014KindergraduationClassPicnic

It was my mom and stepdad who gave us advice, attended bingo and soccer games and end of the year picnics. It was Grandma and Pop-Pop who took over when Mother Nature got wicked this winter and watched Shrek the Musical far more times than they wanted allowing us to save some vacation days for, um, vacation. I can’t say thank you enough to my parents. They were /are the first cornerstone of this village even in the midst of overwhelming grief of their own. They lost a son and then took care of mine, they celebrated kindergarten as much as we did and I’ll never have enough words for how grateful I am.

June2014KindergraduationwithGrammy&PopPopsepia June2014KindergraduationwithGrammyPicMonkey

But our village had 3 more cornerstones, lifting up our family.

My sister stepped in when my parents couldn’t. She’d arrived like Mary Poppins with bags of munchkin donuts and coloring books until she gave the word “Aunt “new meaning. Alongside her, my best friends Lisa and Noelle offered me humor, hugs and sanity checks when I needed them.  These three women were a constant source of strength and reminded me often that even when I felt like a pretty lousy sister, wife or mother, that they saw, loved and believed in me. I’m a lucky “sister.”

June2014KindergraduationwithAuntDaniePicMonkey

Next in was Carly. I don’t talk about our rock star nanny very much, but I tell her about once a week that I couldn’t do what I do if she wasn’t in our lives. We found Carly last summer through Care.com when we realized we were going to need a nanny in the mornings and it’s the best online find I’ve ever had. She’s kind, smart, patient (whoa, is she ever) and when she shows up at 6am as we are heading out the door I know that our sons are good hands. You can’t buy that kind of comfort and trust and I feel very lucky to have Carly as a part of our family.

And last but not least I turn to all the people from Our Lady. The other kindergarten parents, the teachers and amazing staff and even the other (older) children that took this journey with us, allowed us into their lives and family rooms and made us a “family”.

June2014KindergraduationGioJacob&MrsKohlerPicMonkey

I feel a need to shout out to women like Kii, Jen, Jackie, Colleen, Jen, Anna, Rochelle, Chrissy, Kendra and my Morgan, the other moms who commiserated with me as school started, who taught me the ropes and wrapped  me in virtual hugs when Ben died, who giggled  with me with through the field trips and always gave me a new perspective and a whole lot of love. Thank you for holding my hand and my heart this year. You’re the gift Kindergarten gave me.

June2014KindergraduationwithGrace&CaitlinPicMonkey

And my roof on this amazing house and village are my internet friends ; my virtual village and community that keeps me centered, sane and understood. Thank you for the virtual hugs, cocktails and place to rest my heart when it needs it. You mean so much to me.

 

We just couldn’t have done it without any of you.

These amazing little Kindergarten graduates are older, smarter, cuter, kinder and safe because of all of you.

June2014KindergraduationGio&Jacobframed

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

HAPPY SUMMER!

 

(And Giovanni and Jacob? Mommy is so incredibly proud of everything you accomplished this year xo)

may2014MothersDayMommyandBoysonbenchSmaller

 

Linking with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out

A Letter to My Father {Pour Your Heart Out}

Dear Daddy,

It’s been 17 years and yet it feels like just yesterday that I was standing in a college dorm room in Shippensburg, PA listening to mom telling me that you were gone. She had all the details, gave me all the information that a first born child should get. Her voice was even and emotional but behind it was the strength and care that is the very core of her, as a nurse, as a mom, as a wife.

Our family was sinking into shock. You were only 52 years old and even as I type that it seems inconceivable that you could be dead then and now. You weren’t ill in any conventional sense. Sure high cholesterol and heart disease would be classified as reasons for your heart to stop beating but back then there were no pills being hocked hourly to deal with those culprits. I think of those miracle drugs and how they might have kept you alive if you’d lived long enough to have your insurance cover them every time I turn on the TV.

Death is unfair. There is no denying that.

I think of you so often now, more in the past few years than I had previously. I see you in Gio’s dance moves and Jacob’s deep and unapologetic love of music and fashion. How much I wish I could see your face light up as they run into your arms or stand over you with my hand on your shoulder as they made good use of your lap and you read Green Eggs and Ham. I don’t pretend to know what kind of grandfather you would have made, but I know that these little boys would have lit your world.

In writing about you I always sit on the invisible fence of remembering the good or  the bad. There were so many bad times, so much hurt and ache in our history. Screaming, yelling, fear and bruises and yet when I bring you to mind my thoughts scurry to the good side: to the sight of you as I attended my first formal dance, or the times you danced me around the kitchen. I choose deep down and forever, to forget the bad as I embrace the happiness that you gave me. I close my eyes and hear you imitating Fr. Guido Sarduci, I reminisce about how much you adored music, Halloween and the special wrapping paper that you bought every year for mom’s Christmas gifts. I tear up thinking of the way you used to look at her, a mix of love, lust and pride, which I always promised myself that I would find in the man I gave my heart to.

There is a saying that I have grown to adopt, “don’t let your struggle become your identity”.  So many times I could have made my writing and my existence about my past. I could have been the ‘Daughter of an alcoholic”, ‘The daughter of domestic violence”, “the daughter of a Vietnam vet with PTSD”, “the daughter of a survivor of domestic violence “(because your childhood was even more painful than my own). I could have chosen to make that my whole story, claim it as my identity but I know that’s not what you would want for me.

You loved me as much and as deeply as you could. I was the daughter you prayed and hoped for, I was the little girl who was so much like the woman you married that she frustrated and entertained you as much as her mother.  I was the girl who loved tap dance class more than ballet and listened to Anita Baker and Lou Rawls with you. I think that if you were around now, we would have been good friends. You would have loved that I am writing and published and you would have been so proud that I never gave up on my wish to be a mother.  Tenacity would have been a trait that you would have given me a lot of credit for. Many times before I hit the publish button I think of how you’d feel about what I’m about to share with the world (most times I’m sure you’d like it).

Even now, 17 years later, a song will stop me in my tracks, tears springing to my eyes. A well dressed man, good cologne or the scent of French toast will bring you right back to me. Would you love all the shows on the USA network too? Yes, yes I believe you would. This is where I choose to remember you, in the spaces of goodness. I don’t deny our struggles as a family or even yours failings as a father but if you taught me anything it was to survive in spite of them.

I have, we all have.

Dana, Benjamin, Mom and I have a bond that is tight and strong, laced with our collective memories of you. I would be lost without them, because those three people are the core and center of me, my sweetest memories and the holder of all our secrets. They are my family because of you.

So,  thank you for falling in love with my mother and bringing us into the world, for passing along a love of music, skin that tans easily and pure joy in the written word.  I’m sorry that I never fell in love with Star Trek or Tony Robbins and Rush Limbaugh the way you did, but I do kind of have a thing for Patrick Stewart, does that count?

October 23rd is the day you left me physically, but you never really did. You are always and forever tucked inside my heart in the deepest recesses and now, more than ever, you are ever present in the smiles, personalities and character of your beautiful grandsons. Thank you for helping the universe answer that prayer,  I like to think they are the gift of your hasty and untimely leaving.

We are okay. Mom is loved; George is her best mate, he is also the best dad a daughter could have in the second half of her life , the wonderful Pop-Pop  I always dreamed of for Giovanni and Jacob. Dana is a strong, capable and independent person with a mind of her own and so many accomplishments behind and in front of her  and Ben is making his way in this world,  knee deep in the world of music and economics , as if you are still tapping your foot along to his tunes. There are dogs and boats and second houses, they are beach days and family traditions that still have you living on in some part of them. There is peace and quiet, there is harmony and love.

 

You are unforgettable and loved, Daddy.

Rest in that knowledge, rest in peace.

 

 

thank you Shell, for giving me a place to share these words. XO

 

 A favorite song of ours, my Daddy danced me around the kitchen many times to this song.

**************************

A piece of my fiction was published  (I’m PUBLISHED!!!) in the newest Anthology from
Write on Edge: 
Precipice Volume 2  is available now, have you gotten a copy yet?

blog Precipice_print 3-D

Asking for Help & A Kick in the Ass {Pour Your Heart Out}

This morning I started my day by reading this, my heart broke, my blood boiled, my skin flushed  and  then I read this and my heart exploded with the knowledge that maybe someone out there understood me, maybe someone was somewhere feeling the way I was. For a small and undeniable moment I felt the kick in the ass I have desperately needed.  For a small, undeniable moment I didn’t feel as alone as I have for the past year.

As a great lover of empowering quotes I could wax philosophical about how things that don’t kill you make you stronger, or build a case for how you must take the other, less traveled path or I could just come right out and say that I am responsible for my own happiness and admit that looking to the world around me for it is not only selfish but bound to disappoint me.

And yet here I am, asking.

Because sometimes you need a village, some days you just can’t do it alone.

I need a village.

There are people who will tell you that another person can’t take something from you unless you allow them to. I disagree. I think that some people can steal your pride, dignity and self worth from you as easily as they will cut you off in traffic or step in front of you in line without a backward glance. Maybe the worst lesson a person like me can learn is that some people will hurt you and never apologize.

I’ve watched some of my own relationships and friendships dissolve and bend until they broke, I have watched other relationships around me do the same and it sent me into a sad, lonely place. I’ve shared parts of myself with people that never deserved them because they weren’t careful with them. I felt lost and misunderstood, instead of being open and hopeful.

And every time I tried to pick myself up, dust myself off, read my empowering quotes and move on, I was pushed back by a moment or a memory. I heard my own ugly, spiteful inner voice chiding me for even trying to crawl out of this hole. STAY WHERE YOU ARE.

I learned just how hard it is to give yourself a much needed kick in the ass.

I also learned how hard it is to be good to the people in my life if I cannot find the courage to be good to myself.

But this morning, I was reminded that the world I am a part of, here on the internet, is just as confused as I am. There are pauses and times when we know we should have done something, but we don’t. We sit, we wallow, we excuse ourselves from the world until our voices comes back. We don’t always have all the answers.

 

BlogBlueSky2013Quote

Maybe it’s the light bulb moment I’ve been waiting for while I burrowed under the covers and hid from myself. Maybe what I needed to hear and read and KNOW was that I wasn’t alone. I’m learning that there is no sin in asking for a hand to hold, that power does come in numbers. That if I need a kick in the ass it’s okay to ask for some help with that.

Today, I’m asking for it. I’m asking you to tell me what I mean to you or tell me to keep writing. Tell me you like the way I curse like a sailor in real life or that you enjoy the shoe icons in my header.

Tell me anything, something, everything.

Tell me, knowing that if you were asking me to do the same for you that I would shower you with cupcakes and encouragement. I would remind you how much you mean to me.  I would show you that you are so not alone.

Because you aren’t.

**************************************

POUR MY HEART OUT with Shell today.

Thank you Arenbya, Kristin, Rita and Empty the Well for the inspiration and kick in the ass today.

 

Half of My Heart (Pour Your Heart Out)

 

BlogEmptyPaper2

 

Earlier this year my mom and stepdad got into their car and spent the better part of May cruising down the east coast with states like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in their sites. They had carefully planned their excursion, their eyes starry and wide open to the beginning of the third chapter of their lives.

I say third because I always think that the first chapter of their lives was the one that involved different spouses and raising the children of those marriages. The second chapter of their lives began ten years ago when they married one another and now as they stamped “RETIRED” onto their resumes it was time to give serious consideration to the place where they would grow old together and write that joyful third chapter.

I’ve known this was coming. Our whole family has known that as soon as my stepdad put away his button down shirts and ties that the plan included the sale of their houses here in the northern half of the country and a move south.

My brain knew but it seems my heart still hasn’t gotten the memo.

I remember being an angsty twenty-something and declaring quite emphatically, that “I never wanted (or needed for that matter) to live near my mom.” I was a typical woman-child and completely convinced that I would be independent and capable of taking care of myself for the rest of my life. I certainly didn’t need my mom.

Of course, I was wrong. Completely, utterly and thankfully WRONG.

Mothers are the ones who give roots and wings. Just read any back- to- school post that has been published in the last month and you’ll see that. Our children are moving away from us from the moment we take them in our arms. We, as their moms, are put in charge of making a heart and a home that always welcomes them back, from the time they wave to us from the bus on that first day of school.

It’s a delicate, heart-breaking and heart-filling, dance that never really stops.

It didn’t stop when I went away to college or when moved into my first or seventh apartment, it didn’t stop when I endured my first or my sixty-eighth broken heart. It didn’t slow down when I went from being a single girl to an engaged woman or a blushing bride. The music still played and we still tapped, shuffled, swayed and waltzed as I survived those years of infertility and welcomed a pregnancy and then the boys into our family.

Plus with every dance, I ended up moving closer to her; emotionally and geographically. While my siblings are hours from her, I revel in the fact that my mom can watch the boys grow up from twenty minutes away. She is never too far; she is available for dinners and celebrations, birthday parties and last minute babysitting. My mom can drop in on any given night and when she does my heart is happy to have her not only in our home but in our lives.

She has always been my compass. My North Star and having her close is comforting.

She is the other half of my heart, the part that completes me.

But her new chapter is starting.  For Sale signs hang in the windows of their houses and two venues have been chosen, Georgia or Florida. None of them is only two towns away so each one feels like it’s just too far away.

Just like you’d never stop your children from taking their first steps or blazing their own trails, I am reminded that my wish for her to stay close is born of my own fear and selfishness.

While my mom was making her way down the eastern seaboard my I was reading the sequel to Life From Scratch, called Measure of Love by my good friend Melissa Ford. There was a line in the book that hit me in the chest and has stayed on my mind for months now.

“I can’t believe that she left me to the most important grieving I may ever do on my own. Without her next to me.”- from Measure of Love by Melissa Ford.

The simple truth is that my mom is not dying or even leaving me, she will be only a plane or car ride away. Phones, emails and face time will make it possible for us to talk and see one another whenever we want. Plus there will vacations/visits in beautiful places.

So why does like half of my heart hurt so? 

******************************

Pouring My Heart with Shell from Things I Can’t Say. 

A Big Weepy, Messy Ball of Confusion (Pour Your Heart Out)

We came home from the beach; rested, tanned and a little glum.

It’s never easy saying goodbye to the places that refresh your soul.

The vacation was needed, for all us. It gave us family time: laughter time, lake time, holding-hands time. Staying-up-late and sleeping-in time, nothing –on- but- a- bathing-suit time all happening with a golden sun in the sky and gentle breeze cooling us when the walk from sand to sea felt too taxing.

Aug2013VacationBoysonBeachlastday

But I also held back tears as we drove away, the red FOR SALE sign peeking out from the window off the living room where the boys challenged each other in Wii golf, tennis and baseball when we weren’t busy making sand castles.

It might be our last summer at the marina house if things go as planned for my retired parents.

My cheeks were slick with salty tears as I finally admitted that this time we were coming home not to settle into a year’s old routine but rather to ready ourselves for a new one.

I’ve been staring off into space most of this week, trying to capture every feeling and like fireflies not being able to close the lid long enough to save them.

I’ve walked into the daycare that has helped raise my sons every morning this week with a pounding heart, teary eyes and shaking knees. Oh how  I will miss those walls, those bulletin boards, those AMAZING, WONDERFUL, INSPIRATIONAL women who have taken good care of MY FAMILY these last five years. How do I ever thank them for all they’ve done?

I am reluctant to leave, so I stand rooted in place these days, just like I in the ocean, digging my toes in and holding on, quietly hoping for just a “few more minutes.”

Aug2013VacationBoysonBeachinAC2

 

Words are not coming easy.

Emotions, however, are.

I am weepy, nostalgic, scared and excited.

I am nervously nauseous, butterflies the size of jet airliners spinning in my tummy.

Trying to collect my thoughts.

 

Aug2013VacationRocksasTreasures2

My sons must be feeling the same because they vacillate between palpable eagerness to become Kindergartners to sullen and teary moments of doubt and confusion.

I’m going to miss my friends, mommy. The ones that I know. I know their names. The ones who know that I love Harry and Narnia.”

I was a good mother, I told Jacob and Giovanni that they would make new friends, have new adventures, learn incredible new stuff, but my heart knew what they were really saying.

Everything is changing and I’m afraid.”

And my heart silently answered, “I know, me too.”

I took them one by one up onto my lap and kissed the top of their sun-kissed hair.

Endings, beginnings, memories and anticipation flood my dreams.

So I stand here, a weepy, messy ball of confusion as the winds of change swirl around us.

Aug2013VacationBoysinLakePM

 

 

My miracle sons, my baby boys, start Kindergarten on Monday, August 26th.

UNBELIEVABLE. 

Pouring my Heart Out with Shell this week.

I’m Proof That Ignorance is Bliss {Pour Your Heart Out}

Last month my sons graduated from Pre-K.

June2013PreKGraduationBoyswiththeirawards1

Jacob the CLASS ACTOR, Giovanni the YOUNG MATHEMATICIAN

Unless you follow me on social media sites, you probably didn’t know that because here in The Corner I am living in a constant state of denial about their age, about the fact that they are starting Kindergarten in a little more than a month, about the changes that are going to be in place when I have children who “Go to School.”

To me it’s just not possible that the little boys I struggled for 4 years and then 35 long, scary, OMG weeks to bring into this world are old enough to be ready for Kindergarten.

June2013PreKGraduationBoysdoingItsyBitsy1

The class sang about 10 songs from the ABC’s, to the Isty Bitty Spider,

to Baby BumbleBee to illustrate all the songs 

they have learned since the Infant Room. (Cue: TEARS) 

May2013KindergartenScreening

 

I’m normally okay with change. I’m not much of a planner anyway so I can generally be persuaded into ignoring “that which I don’t really feel like dealing with” but with this it’s almost as if I am making a concerted effort to just look the other way and wave my hands as if to say…”NOT TALKING ABOUT IT! MY GOD WE HAVE TIME..LOTS OF TIME BEFORE THIS HAPPENS!”

June2013KindergartenGraduationFamily1

But you all know that’s not true (and sadly so do I).

August 26th is going to be here before I know it and that means that changes are afoot.

Slowly but surely I am trying to embrace  the inevitable.

So on Monday we ventured to (the 8th ring of hell) Toys R Us and a mere 45 minutes later we walked out with new backpacks and lunch boxes.

July2013BACKPACKS

We’ve interviewed and hired (thank you Care.com) a babysitter for the mornings who will come in from 6-8am, get the boys dressed, fed and on the bus every morning so that we can get to work and be able to pick them up by 5pm every night. She’s awesome and I’m excited about adding her to our “family”. (Her claim to fame?In her 20’s she worked for the Bon Jovi family..yes! that one!)

Lately:

I only cry in the privacy of my own bathroom when I realize that I’m going to  need to buy higher heels or Gio is going to be taller than me sooner than later.

I only laugh in the privacy of my own bathroom when I see Jacob pretend to be Harry Potter or Willy Wonka or a “Godfather” (Jacob is currently SMITTEN with Catholic Church and everything about it since we started going to mass with them back in April in preparation for their Catholic School education. Instead of using the term “PRIEST” he prefers “The GodFather” ..which actually makes sense if you think about it and stop laughing. )

July2013JacobasHarrySamanthasParty

I have lots of funny stories about my sons that I’m just not telling here. Instead I get lost in a fictional world and story. It’s not that I don’t want to share Giovanni and Jacob with you, I think it’s more that they are a part of my life that I want to keep for myself.

But I will tell you…

That they love doing the Geico commercial with the CAMEL> HUMP DAY!

Funniest thing you will ever hear is when Gio will say “Guess. WHAT. DAY.IT.IS.”

Jacob’s love affair of church has extended to him singing the Alleluia and Gloria whenever and wherever he feels like it and every day we walk into daycare now to be told that he has performed a mass that day. (I guess we can stop going to church on Sundays. LOL)

 

Gio loves cars and math and is a CANDY CRUSH aficionado. In fact,  if you can’t get past a level just hand over your phone/tablet/mouse, he’ll work it out. He’s sensitive and funny, he’s introspective and so smart it scares me sometimes.

NYCJune2013GioinCentralPark

Giovanni June 2013

Jacob is an ACTOR. He is impatient and distracted, he is creative and draws better than any 5 yr old I know. He can recite movies in British accents and is already so fashionable and outgoing.

NYCJune2013JacobinCentralPark

Jacob June 2013

BlogJacobsHarryPicture

Both boys are friendly, kind and empathetic (Unless it’s with each other and then they are beating the crap out of each other).

Girls adore them and they eat it up, enjoying the females in their classes as much as the boys.

 

and me, well I’m just coasting along.

I know it’s coming.

Kindergarten is coming.

Our goodbye to the daycare/dayschool(and every incredible teacher and staff member who has helped us raise our children for the past 5 years) they have been students of since they were 6 months old is coming.

and I don’t know if I’ll ever really be ready for any of it, but I know it’s coming and when I’m not denying it, I’m trying to embrace it too.

MothersDay2013Boys&MominB&W

 *************************

 Pouring my Heart Out with Shell at Things I Can’t Say. 

I Miss Talking To People {Pour Your Heart Out}

I miss talking to people.

That sounds a bit selfish and (quite frankly) dumb doesn’t it, since for many of us it feels like that’s all we do?

But I do.

Or since I’m a mom, you’re probably thinking that I’m referring to the phenomenon that takes place once you have children. You know that strange moment where you wake up one day and realize that you are conversing in stilted speech and benign topics so that when you are finally in the company of other people your height all you talk about is your children.

But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

I miss talking to people.

Not tweeting them, or texting them or even sharing a facebook chat with them that takes on more than 200 characters.

I miss talking with other human beings for longer than 20 seconds or the time it takes to come up with a witty comeback.

I miss discussions that need time and attention, the debates and dialogues that simmer where you each take a turn mulling over your own thoughts or interrupting one another because you are bursting with things to say, to impart, to share.

You’re going to tell me that there has never been a time like this in history, when the masses are as connected to one another as we are right now, aren’t you?

But I disagree.

We are connected and yet, we are not.(I’m made incredible friends inside this screen and I adore every one of them, I long to TALK to them.)

Sure, if I’m awake at 2am I can open Facebook or Twitter and fire off a status or a line or two of drivel, I might even find a good friend to share my nocturnal insomnia with, but it’s not going to come close to the 2am discussions I used to have in a quiet residence hall hallway or on the (un)comfortable couch of my first apartment. It’s not even going to come close to the way I used to talk to other people before social media became its own catch phrase.

I used to think that I missed my college days simply because of the boys and booze but the simple truth is that I miss those carefree days because it was the only time in my life when I shared ideas freely, when my opinion resounded in my own ears, when I woke up with things to say and I said them.

You’re a blogger. A writer” you say, as if this gives me an outlet for the discussions spinning in my brain. Until I remember that I shouldn’t publish something more than 500 words, whether it’s memoir or fiction, because no one will read it.

It comes down to the fact that I think all of us (me included) have adjusted to the attention span of a five year old.  As it happens five year olds I know and we’ve become a nation of them. I talk for more than seventy five seconds and I’ve lost you.

It’s not even that people don’t want to talk, it’s that we can’t. We’re running, we’re busy, we’re so engrossed in our 140 character conversation that we’ve lost the ability to slow down long enough for fear that we’re going to miss something somewhere else.

“I’ll call you…” has become a promise that none of us keep in this era of firing off a text message, updating a status or simply letting a call go to voicemail  ( hey I do it all the time too) , I mean honestly when is the last time you had a true phone conversation that made you feel heard?

Lately, I’ve been attending a lot of kids’ birthday parties. I am enjoying them very much because while the children bounce, giggle and load themselves with candy and ice cream I can mingle among the parents, moms and dads who are like minded and talk but finding myself wanting to get every thought out of my head while I have the time.  I often leave those parties  still aching for an outlet for what I thought about that book, that movie, my choice of sending the boys to Catholic school etc.

*sigh*

I miss talking to people.

(and I just realized this post is too long. Sheesh)

How about you, do you feel more or less connected these days?

Pouring my heart out with Shell today.

What the Boy Who Lived is Teaching My Sons about the Boy Who Didn’t {Pour Your Heart Out}

I worried at first.

I wondered what their little minds would take in, I wondered if they were too young, if there would be too many questions I wasn’t ready to answer, I thought about just saying no.

Then I considered what other parents would say, what they would think about my decision. At an age where their peers know all about Dora and Blue and Spongebob, they knew about Ebenezer, Willy Wonka and Harry Potter.

Their love affair with Harry Potter began at just shy of four years old and has continued with a passion and interest that even I couldn’t have foreseen. As little boys their attention and devotion change as easily as a summer wind but something about that boy wizard has taught my sons about love, about hate and about caring for other people. They simply can’t get enough of his stories.

Unlike many parents this week, I didn’t shy aware from telling my sons about what happened in Boston. My eyes shed the tears of a heart that has grown weary, angry and afraid of the hate that seems to want to take all the light out of our world and I couldn’t hide that from the boys.

Like most of my emotions, I feel them out in the open, I grieve and celebrate in full view of everyone.

So when we came home and turned the news on, waiting for the updates, my head resting on John’s arm as tears leaked out of me, my sons were busy playing with cars and milling around us, pausing to look up at the TV when they would replay the blasts.

Jacob: “Mommy what happened?”

Me: “Some very bad people did a very bad thing today, they put a bomb…”

Gio: “A bomb that blows up?”

Me: “yes, a bomb that blows up…”

Gio: “and hurts people?”

Me: “yes, it hurt a lot of people…”

Gio: “oh I’m so sorry mommy, that is a very bad thing to do.”

And then my Gio hugged me, came over to hug me and burrowed his head until he was sitting against my chest.

I kissed the top of his head as Jacob came over and schooched onto my lap. Looking me right in the eyes.

“those people are mean like Voldemort?”

My eyes leaked as I kissed his temple “ yep buddy, they are just like him. Mean and full of hate.”

Jacob looked away, “it’s because they don’t have any love, right? I mean Harry says that he feels sorry for Voldy because he has no love in his heart. So these bad people must not love anyone or hug anyone.”

I held my sons next to me for a very long time after he said that.

I worried that the movies would be too much for them, that the violence, the snakes and death, the nuances of the back story would be lost on them.

I was wrong.

As a parent I’ve made some questionable decisions for them, by anyone’s standards. Maybe I let too much of the world in sometimes and allow them the answers to things that other parents would shy aware from or consider them too young to grasp. Yet in the wake of another little boy’s death I’ve found that my choice to let in the boy wizard has produced the sort of magic he practices.

Their devotion…

Jacob: “I love Harry and I believe in Harry because he is all about the love.”

has taught them not only about evil in the world and how it can destroy things, but it’s also given them a hopeful and beautiful message about what LOVE can do to that hate. How is can obliterate it as surely and as completely as a favorite spell.

I am reeling for the victims, the survivors and the whole of our country, no wait, our world. My endless optimism wants so badly to believe that out of everything bad, some good can come and that from every hateful act, one of LOVE and REDEMPTION can spring.

I am holding tightly to that thought as I think of spring in Boston, the lobster bisque in Quincy Market, my faded footprints on the FREEDOM TRAIL and my love and fascination with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

My prayers are escaping my lips as I remember riding the T and wandering around Copley Square.

And while my heart is heavy with the losses it is also lighter knowing that my sons can see the light in the darkness .

Love is the only answer, thankfully my sons know that because of the boy who lived.

 

Sending love and light to Boston.

 There are so many posts about Boston. Thoughtful, wonderful, sincere pieces. This is what I hope is mine.

Please keep Boston in your thoughts and LOVE (always LOVE) in your hearts.

(Linking with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out)