It’s that time of the year again. Summer is slowly fading into the background and before we know it our kids won’t be sitting at picnic tables every afternoon instead they’ll be busy at their desks.
And those leisurely weekend afternoons at the pool will be replaced with Saturday mornings on dew soaked soccer fields.
The school year is looming even as we take one more deep breath of salt air and dust sand from our feet. With that comes the need for things like school and sports physicals and a review of what to do if your child is injured during practice or a game.
While my little 2nd graders don’t need a sports physical before they take the field, your little athletes might and the CVS Minute Clinicsare a great place to have them done and get all the authorizations on your required paperwork. They can keep your kiddos up to date with immunizations too. (Just remember to hold their hands if they need a shot and allow them some candy on the way out of the store.)
Earlier this week I also lovingly arranged the new bags I got for the boys and then I read this, taking it all in and reminding myself to keep checking the weight of the backpacks once school is in high gear to avoid backaches, headaches and long term damage to their backs.
Then I ordered new cleats for their Fall soccer season and read up on the best ways to keep them hydrated, energetic and avoid injuries. Lots of useful and important information in this pamphlet.
And don’t forget things like snacks for the games, calamine lotion for the bug bites (oh those dew soaked fields are filled with buggies ) and the sunscreen; because here in PA even though we hear school bells and the leaves start to change the heat of summer will follow us into September and it’s important to keep up with our skincare.
The industrial size box because little kids and scrapes knees go together. It never hurts to have different sizes, shapes and character faces.
I think these smiles are ready for 2nd Grade!
Questions or just need to feel a lot less alone as we send them back to school? Take a look at the articles and videos offered by the Minute Clinic online, they are a wonderful resource.
CVS Minute Clinics can help us make sure all our kiddos go back to school happy & healthy. Hey before you know it, it’s going to be time to talk about Halloween costumes, candy and flu shots.
Wishing you a wonderful school year!
Don’t forget – you can get $10 off a sports physical from now until
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...
A 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.
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 andeven 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 Andreacan 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 andNicole 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 friendJennifer:
Nope, my friends….Never Gonna Give You Up!
…you’re welcome for the ear-worm and Keep Dancing!
Every year, right after Halloween, I find myself in the Christmas spirit. Humming carols, sipping hot chocolate and dreaming of the warmth, joy and peace of my very favorite season of the year.
And so I call on my favorite photographer and endeavor to have funny, frame-worthy pictures taken of my family. I ended up buying the sweaters the boys are wearing during the after- Christmas sales of last year so I knew that our color palette would include cranberry and white this year.
I was giddy with the prospect of more beach pictures but this year we added a fun, midway-feel to the typical family photos. We posed, we pondered and we giggled. We tried in vain to stand up straight and I kissed the beautiful, soft cheeks of my sons too many times to count because it was soooo cold on that boardwalk.
And you know what I did after that fantastic photo shoot?
I headed over to Shutterfly to make those memories into our gorgeous Christmas cards . Every year I am thrilled, surprised and up spending hours in their galleries picking the perfect backgrounds and accompaniments to our photos.
You can choose from all different kinds of trim options like rounded, scalloped and bracket and then add back-of-card designs, various fonts and colors to compliment your color scheme.
I was lost in a palette of snowflakes, candy canes and holly leaves. No one has the kind of selections they offer and I might have used about 22 fonts and colors before I settled on one.
The joy of so many choices!
And if you’re planning a Holiday party, bash or get-together you can customize your collection with invites,address labels and stickers to match your holiday cards and put together a lovely streamlined look.
Is it any wonder that I turn to Shutterfly for all my holiday needs?
Once upon a time I had a very good girlfriend. A best friend. She was the better, best parts of me and fortunately I’d met her at a time in my life when I was open to a deep solid friendship with a woman.
And we are led to those Who help us most to grow If we let them And we help them in return
She taught me many things, not the least of which was how to care for another human being. How to make family from a friend. She changed me in every way that matters.
But we stumbled, this woman and I, and before I knew it she was gone from my life. In the past I had not deeply mourned a lost friendship but this was different, she was different and I missed her like a lover. Songs, books, movies and even certain words reminded me of her and I felt unlovable in the wake of our demise.
Like a ship blown from its mooring By a wind of the sea Like a seed dropped by a sky bird In a distant wood Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
For months I would reach out and beg forgiveness for things I wasn’t sure I did, I would ask mutual friends about her, I would cry myself to sleep replaying those last conversations, searching for the reason that led to our breakup.
I was devastated and said things that I now have a heart full of regret about.
I received a copy of the book to read and I found myself skipping around from one story to the next, reading about how these women had lost a friend like I had and how their breakup had affected their past, present and future. I knew that my story could be nestled in between any of the ones I was reading because it was all relatable. It didn’t lessen the hurt of the loss but I did feel comfort in knowing that it was something that happened to other people.
Our female friends make us who we are.
A few years after this friend and I broke up my husband and I went to see WICKED on Broadway. As the show is coming to an end and Elphaba and Glinda are realizing that their friendship might be past it’s expiration date they sing a song that will forever remind me of my long lost friend.
From the act of asking for and giving forgiveness:
And just to clear the air I ask forgiveness For the things I’ve done you’ve blamed me for But then, I guess We know there’s blame to share And none of it seems to matter anymore
To the acceptance of things you can’t change and appreciation for the time you’ve shared:
It well may be That we may never meet again In this lifetime So let me say before we part So much of me Is made of what I learn from you You’ll be with me Like a handprint on my heart And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine By being my friend
To the realization that all you’ve been through changes you…for good.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? I do believe I have been changed for the better And Because I knew you I have been changed For good.
My friend and I have reconnected and while it is nothing like it used to be, it is nice to have her in my life in any capacity. I am always thankful for the things she taught me, the love she gave me and the person she inspired me to be.
You can get your copy of this truly wonderful book here (or click the book!)
Do you have a friend you’ve lost and miss? Tell me your story in the comments.
(and here are the lyrics/music to “For Good”)
* Disclaimer: I received a copy of My Other Book for the purpose of reviewing it but all comments, thoughts and words about this really beautiful anthology are my own. *
Some say we can’t know great joy or gratitude until we’ve experienced heartbreaking loss and I’m inclined to believe them. You can’t know how much something means to you until it has become part of your life and your story and then been taken away.
Rare Bird is, at the heart of it, the story of a family; a normal, average and yet spectacularly extraordinary family who lose their beloved twelve year old son Jack to a terrifying accident on the banks of a creek behind their home.
Donaldson, with a strength and faith you will feel fill your heart, shares the heartbreaking knowledge that the unthinkable can happen to any one of us at anytime. And within her story are the layers of disbelief, grief, anger and a suspension of the faith you’d expect from a mother who has lost her child too soon.
I read this book in the months after my own brother died suddenly at the age of thirty-four. We had been an ordinary family too as that day in December 2013 dawned and yet as the clocked ticked closer to midnight, I was in another state, holding the hand of my baby brother as we talked about taking him off life support.
Jack: gone too soon.
Benjamin: gone too soon.
There were times when I needed to set the book aside and other times I desperately needed Anna’s words and wisdom to help me process my own grief and to come to an understanding of what my mother must surely be feeling. For while I wanted to empathize with both my mother and Anna but then the selfish and scared part of my heart took over and I couldn’t bear the mere thought of a life without my sons in it.
Until I remembered that both of these women I thought so much of had indeed lost their sons all too soon.
I owed them, if nothing else, empathy and care and a chance to share their story.
There is honesty in this book. There are the answers to the question you expect.
“How do you go on?”
Slowly, painfully, with your faith battered and revived in between the spaces of every moment between each aching breath.
There is no easy way to navigate grief. For better or worse in addition to caring for yourself you also must care for the family you mother and the community surrounding you. Sure, you might laugh at the wrong time or find yourself so angry at the unfairness of your loss that you hardly recognize yourself or your own place in the world anymore but remember, you are human, allow yourself to be.
I learned that within the grief of an unexpected death, was the truth that every day could pose a potential hazard. Every drawer you pull open, every picture inadvertently brought up as you look for another one, every small insignificant moment for the world at large can be the doorway to memories that will bring you to your knees.
Anna does not shy away from those moments, instead she writes them with a grace that amazed and buoyed my own spirits with every sentence.
Anna’s story gave me hope for my own.
Her words let me know it was okay to take my time in finding my way around the lump in my throat and the empty space in my heart. It became an integral part of my healing in those first few months and is still a book I reach for when I feel my faith is waning.
There are moments of pure clarity in this book, other moments of pure unbridled pain and yet the small threads of love and care seem to be sewn into every page offering you a glimpse of life after death for the ones left behind.
Anna’s voice is what carries you through, strong, eloquent and honest. She allows us to see not only the pain but the purpose in her loss. Her storytelling detailing the little things and the private moments is what makes it possible to not collapse under the empathy it is impossible not to feel.
Love and loss placed aptly on the cover, it is a beautiful, tender and moving memoir. You will close its pages changed, moved and forever grateful for Donaldson’s words.
I hope you read this book.
Then, I hope you share it with other people.
I hope Anna always knows how much her story has touched so many lives, especially mine.
If you spend enough time here in the corner you know that I believe in LOVE.
The big, hopeless, romantic, grand-gesture-in-spite-of- what -other-people think, knows no-race- creed- or- gender kind of LOVE.
In my lifetime I have loved and been loved, had my heart broken (broken more than a few of my own) and healed by a variety of boys who grew into amazing men.
Love comes in every flavor. It changes and changes you.
I’m so honored (humbled)to be guest posting at Bon Bon Break today to tell you the story of seven men in my life who taught me the most incredible and important lessons about love and became the reasons for my support (now and forever) of same-sex marriage.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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”.
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.
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.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
(And Giovanni and Jacob? Mommy is so incredibly proud of everything you accomplished this year xo)
A sip of bourbon and a push of her glasses, she can relate, it seems, to whatever trouble you’re having. Or whatever funny moment you found yourself in the middle of.
Where she grew up, boys she dated, meals she burned and how she knew, beyond a doubt that she was pregnant again and not just disturbingly sick with a stomach virus. She’ll regale you with tales about high school, summers cooking, cleaning and learning at her grandmother’s house and how my infertility probably stems from her own mom’s struggle to conceive, carry and eventually have just her.
An only child with enough wisdom, vitality and knowledge to fill half a dozen people.
Life might have been lonely for her growing up but when my mom starts telling the stories you realize her life was anything but boring. Nursing school hazing, the cross country trip that doubled as a honeymoon and really how many of you know where and when you were conceived? Because I do.
It’s those stories that are woven into the fabric of my life, the epic tellings of where I came from. I know how my parents met in elementary school and how they fell in love much much later after my dad came from Vietnam; I know the family secrets on both sides and have seen inside the groaning crevices of their childhoods. So that when I think that perhaps I had a hard time growing up I remind myself they had it worse. They had it worse and yet made a house and home for us, where we all grew up together, navigating the hurt of the past, trying desperately to heal it with laughter, dancing and trips to the New Jersey shore.
We were a family of people who talked too much. A short story takes us at least fifteen minutes and a long story? Well maybe I ought to offer you some bourbon too. Like many traits, it’s a gift and a curse. Sure we can talk to anyone, but the truth is that “anyone” probably wants us to shut the hell up. Wound into my DNA is the urge and ache to be amazed and interested in the lives of other people, passed down to me by the greatest storyteller I know.
And that kind of memory and willingness to share is a useful outlet when you lose people. Even in the middle of our enormous grief and unimaginable loss we’ve learned to keep people (my grandmothers, my dad and of course, now, my beloved brother Benjamin) alive by talking about them, divulging their memoirs, becoming the mouthpiece of their narrative.
It will never be the same as having them here of course, but I’m glad for the loud, boisterous and unapologetic way in which we convey our feelings, grateful for the words that come together to form their anecdotes. From the time I was little one of my favorite things to do was simply eavesdrop on the stories I heard dropping from every corner of my family tree like small leaves carpeting the floor of our life.
She is a master at it and I was an engaged apprentice soaking up every last lesson in an intricate game very much like photosynthesis.
I might know every history by heart, but somehow, when she starts telling stories…I settle in, settle down and smile.
****Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for teaching me about the power of words and the healing that comes from telling a really good story.****
I am the queen of VANILLA MUSIC for sure, but the one thing besides words that has always helped me through the darkest times of my life has been music.
But I found yet another tribe with the people of the TMT and the more I get to know all of you, the luckier I feel to be part of this musical community.
Back in December, only weeks after my Brother’s death and in the spur of the moment, I emailed Jen and asked her if we could have a week for Ben, using Dance/Club songs as inspiration. I was quick to add that I didn’t want sad mixes, my brother was not sad when he was spinning. He might have been a kick ass pharmaceutic rep during the day but DJ BENNY BEATS was an entertainer by night. I just wanted to honor his life and the music that makes us all HAPPY.
Ben and I didn’t share a love of the same kinds of music, he loved HOUSE and Club mixes, I liked DANCE music with a beat and a story to it.
So today I’m not sharing songs I think he would have liked , instead I’m honoring him (or maybe making him hang his head and say…”Kirst….really?”) by linking to songs that make me happy, make my hips shake and my heart pound.
I’d like to think that this is one song we might have liked together.
It’s the newest song by Lady Gaga Featuring R. Kelly.
Honestly, I just heard it for the first time over the weekend, but the baseline grabbed me and I loved the lyrics. It made me think of of my college days, the sexual freedom of my single days and the adrenaline rush of hearing a song that makes you want to bounce to the dance floor , even if you were the only one out there.
(I did that quite a bit, I wasn’t a shy dancer back then and I would have gotten into a lot of sweet trouble dancing to this song for sure.)
LADY GAGA (featuring R.Kelly) Do What U Want:
The first mix I ever made for my first iPod had this song on it, even today, almost three decades later (did you know Madonna started with THE BREAKFAST CLUB as their drummer??) I will stop what I’m doing and crook my little finger to “move out to the left for awhile” and “slide to the right for a while”, making my kitchen a sticky dance floor wondering what I have to do to “get you back.”
This song never fails to make me smile and dance.
BREAKFAST CLUB: RIGHT ON TRACK:
What do you get when mix the 60’s, 70 and 2000’s: Fitz and the Tantrums.
I love this band, and this song that I’m sharing has been a favorite for years now. Plus, my baby sister, Dana loves it too.
We can shake our tushes together and that always makes me happy.
Fitz & The Tantrums: Moneygrabber:
My sons are great DANCERS. Seriously, they are.
Giovanni and Jacob have some MOVES. So when I’m feeling blue what I love to do is put some music on and invite them into the kitchen, the living room or my bedroom and say “Let’s Dance!”.
This is one song that the boys just adore, they have the rhythm of my daddy and their uncle Ben built into their DNA and it’s such a trip to see them shake their cute little booties down. I remember dancing with my dad, Dana and Benjamin all over the house growing up and I love making those memories with the twins.
Nikki Manaj: Starships:
This one is for you Ben, because whether you liked this song or not you always added it to my mixes, you danced with me to it, and didn’t laugh as I swung my hips and crooned, “All this pain you said I’d never feel..but I do, I do do do...”
Maybe it reminded of you of Shippensburg Universityand the year that our lives overlapped while we shared the campus together. But that summer of 1997, I fell in love with this song and you never forgot.
You were a ROCK STAR even then and it was there at WIBSthat your DJ life started.
All really good, drunk, fun memories.
The Best kind of memories.
Ben, thank you for always dancing with me to
Mark Morrison: RETURN OF THE MACK:
You can make your own Twisted Mix Tapeand share it with us.
I’d love to hear your mixes this year.
(and thank you for all the love and comfort you’ve offered me and my very grateful family the past few weeks)