The Thing You Never Knew

You’re not going to believe me when I tell you but last summer I wanted to die.

I didn’t have a plan or attempt it at any time but a small, unreasonable piece of me thought this world would be better off if I was gone.

The feelings I was having last year in the middle of my favorite season were crude and disruptive. They made it hard to sleep or smile. But I did, I smiled even as the voices inside my head told me how unworthy I was, what a horrible person I had turned out to be and there was no quieting them. I would cry into my pillow, I would sit on the couch and watch the world go by. I would dream of my funeral and wonder if anyone would miss me, if anyone would even bother to show up.

I was disheartened and depressed.

Not sad.

Sadness had come and gone and left a lousy house-guest sitting in the middle of my chest that said awful things to me, ruined my furniture and self esteem and made itself at home in the deep corners of my mind.

I was down in the mire and fought every day to claw my way to the top of the pile, to laugh with other people and hide the darkness that threatened to engulf me.

And some days were okay and livable and some days were not but like so many of us are sharing our feelings after the news of the suicide of Robin Williams,I was ashamed of my sadness.

After all I was everyone’s cheerleader and unconditional supporter and I felt like I had no right to be upset or sad, or even if I did, I needed to get over it and move on with my life. Our society has no room for rumination or regrets that swallow us whole.

So I played the part I have perfected, that of consoler, bridge builder and optimist,  never letting on how much I was hurting.

I had felt this way before, most recently during the four hellish years of our infertility. I learned to force smiles, bury pain and fake my way through the days. But once the boys were born and I narrowly escaped PPD I truly believed I had no right to have bad days.

I was lucky.

Even after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and complex migraines I knew I was lucky to have healthy, happy children and a diagnosis where my disease wasn’t debilitating.

So lucky. 

I had a husband who loved me, the sons I had prayed for and family/friends/ villages who reminded me often how much I meant to them. I was working in a time when so many other people had lost their jobs and I had a home, a car and a very cute dog.

Can you hear those voices?

“You have nothing to be unhappy about.”

So I sank deeper into the pit because now I was obviously ungrateful.

“Don’t you know how lucky you are?” 

I hated myself and I hated feeling so helpless in my quest to change my thinking.

The only person who heard this secret  was my husband last autumn and after the fact when I  believed I was past the worst of it and had changed my medication, somewhat settled my mind and put one foot on the path to self forgiveness.

And then Ben died.

Ben, who was bright and talented but who had his own demons; my baby brother who had battled against the bottle and the sweet sirens of drugs in his young life, Ben who had been spiraling, sad and we didn’t know.

So bad genetics and depression took him away from us and I waited, again, for it to find me.

But I also knew I needed to take care of my family who were reeling from his devastating death. I needed to keep watch over my mom who had now lost a child and my sister, my mind still haunted by her own failed attempt to leave this world decades ago.

We were lucky to be alive, lucky to be survivors. 

Once again I reminded myself there was no time or reason to be sad.

And yet I was, because even the sadness was genetic.

It started slowly, an anxious moment here or a mild panic attack there until I felt myself slipping backwards into the darkness.

It is an endless battle.

Day by day, I fight against the constant ache of my fibro; a slight headache always threatening to become fierce and the stress of everyday living, to be better.

I have bad moods and selfish moments  and crying jags that leave me breathless but (thank God) I haven’t thought about dying once.

I’m lucky 

Instead I try…

To see the good.

To know there is no easy way out.

To be a wife to John, a mommy to Giovanni and Jacob, a sister and a daughter, a friend, a flawed but happy human being.

I am taking my medication.

I practice gratefulness in every way I can.

I reach out when I need to, I say the words “I’m not okay” and I allow people to help me.

Because there is no coming back, there is no alternative or plan B if I don’t.


Pouring my Heart Out with my amazing friend Shell. 
Please don’t suffer in silence or believe you are alone.

You’re not.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Score those Galaxy Guardians (Twisted MixTape)

I missed Twisted Mix-Tape didn’t you?

Because if there is anything I love more than cupcakes, TV, shoes and books…it’s music. 

And 70′s music?


I haven’t seen Guardians of The Galaxy and I’m not likely to before it’s on TNT or another cable channel years from now but I have (because of fans like Jen) seen the the soundtrack for the movie.

And it made me (almost) want to see the movie. 

Jen, in an attempt to ease us back into Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesdays, has asked us to help make Volume 2 of the movie soundtrack this week before we get back to business in September.

(Here’s Volume 1) 

I picked some of my favorite songs of the decade I adore and of course I thought they’d make a great addition to the saving of earth with a little sap  thrown in for the hopeless romantics like me.



There’s nothing better than this song in the summer.

Plus it’s about something everyone enjoys…. 

Fallin in Love

Elton John serenades us with a song of redemption and soul saving…goes well with that whole “guarding the galaxy” theme don’t ya think?

Someone Saved My Life Tonight :

You remember her/him don’t you? The first love that did your heart in? Well if you don’t Rod can tell you all about it while you’re off protecting the planet :

First Cut is the Deepest: 

And after heartbreak comes the determination to get them back in your heart no matter the cost. The Gibb brothers wrote this song  I made up moves for in my childhood bedroom and still use when I dance around my kitchen today:

If I Can’t Have You:

Oh yeah….

Wanna Be Starting Something:

I love me some Barry Manilow and I couldn’t offer a  soundtrack laden with 70′s tunes if he wasn’t part of it. Plus “you wouldn’t believe where I’ve been, the cities and towns I’ve been in” sounds just right for a band of misfits who are put in charge of guarding the galaxy.

It’s gonna take a miracle…

It’s a Miracle:

Because everyone needs one…

Hand to Hold On To:

and a bonus song I thought was the best way to end this compilation:
(and I was watching DreamGirls last night and had Ms. Ross on my mind)

“If there’s a cure for this I don’t want it….”

Love Hangover:


Welcome Back Twisted Mix-Tape

Rock on.

My Summer of Change

One of the things I love about the internet is the community of people I have the chance to meet, interact and become friends with.

Elizabeth Flora Ross of the The Writer Revived  is a long time friend, a staunch advocate of mommies and a beautiful writer.

This summer she has invited a lovely host of writers to be part of her #SummerSeries and I am grateful and humbled to be one of them.

The post I am sharing is one of daughters, mothers, changes and childhoods. I hope you can take some time to come over and read it.

My Mother’s Child 

Elizabeth, thank you so much for including me in your #SummerSeries this year.

Just Write: Freaks







“I’m a freak.”

I was hardly listening so when I answered it was a gut reaction, “You’re not a freak silly” and I kept on making the bed, straightening the corners.

“They think I’m a freak.”

I still wasn’t listening, consumed with a bag to pack and the time on the clock slowly ticking away. However, I was still answering, “You are not. Hey, where did you learn that word?”

“They just said it on TV.” I twisted to see an episode of SVU on, which is normal in our house at any hour of the day.

“Well you’re not.” I concluded out loud, navigating the bedroom (stopping to plant a kiss on the crown of his head) carrying on with my Sunday morning duties and wondering if I should lay clothes out first or shower.

“Mommy?” he said. I looked over at him standing in front of the mirror wand in hand, shirt and argyle vest donned under his Hogwarts robe and small round black glasses circling his eyes.

It was 8am.

“Yeah buddy?”

“It’s okay if I’m a freak. I mean, I love Billy Joel and Willy Wonka of course. I know songs they don’t know and I like to make them do plays of Rocky at camp.”

I thought about what he was saying.

“I don’t think that makes you a freak, Jakey.”

But I worried.

I wondered.

Children are honest, raw and brutal. There are bullies who want nothing more than something (or someone) to make fun of and a child like Jacob is ripe prey.

Deep down I know how Jacob feels. He is a big thinker with a heart that is soft and all encompassing. He also doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how he’s perceived. He knows who and what he is, right now, in this moment.

Standing there in my bedroom I saw his life years from now as the creative and quirky kid in his class; the sensitive boy who remembered your favorite movies and colors, the outspoken twin who wore interesting outfits and took acting classes on Saturday mornings, the Piccini kid with the big personality.

All at once, I was glad that he wasn’t in public school. I knew first hand that a small Catholic class might not be enough to insulate him from teasing or ridicule but I also knew it could help to encourage his huge imagination.

“I’m a freak too.” I said to the air around us.

He nodded, “Because you love Harry Potter too? And your books? Oh and Mommy, you and me love Pride and Prejudice. “

“You and I.” I corrected.  “But yep.”  I answered sitting down on the bed and pulling him into my lap.

“You and I.” he repeated.

“…are freaks.”  I finished and hugged him close.


Every Tuesday Heather invites us to “Just Write”.


The 7 Ways Blogging Has Changed, Enhanced and Saved My Life

In May 2005, I took a tentative but determined dip into the world of blogging.

Kir’s Corner (eventually The Kir Corner) was born and during the next five years it truly was a place where “love, life , infertility and then motherhood…met”. The corner where I invited my friends in and told stories about my inability to get pregnant, where I shared stories, quotes and anecdotes about my marriage, my struggle and my all too painful and all too heartbreaking yearning to become a mom.

In 2010 I added fiction to my repertoire and in 2013 launched a second blog specifically to highlight my fiction. 

Some days my posts were about transvaginal ultrasounds, sperm counts and egg retrievals and other days it was about my friendships with other women like me or a funny story about how scheduled my sex life was becoming, but it was always my space, fair and square, and it gave me a safe haven where I could write away my fears and share my joys.

Through the years blogging has opened my life and my heart. Once I started writing I realized how much the art of wanting to share stories and words has always been a part of my DNA and writing was a gift I had been blessed with.

In celebration of their 10th anniversary the staff at BlogHer asked us to share what blogging means to us.


Brought me a village

My internet friends are real. They are women who have been infertile with me, women who have held my hands (virtually and in real life) through some of the best and worst times of my life. In all my life I know that if I need a kind word, a kick in the ass or both simultaneously that I have a powerful, incredible, supportive gang of people behind me who believe in me when I can’t summon that emotion for myself.

Plus they’ve taught me how to be part of a village, reminding me that when you give with an open heart you get back more than you could have ever dreamed of. (My last three birthday celebrations have been the sweetest of my life)


When I feel my heart getting heavy or my dreams diminishing I simply reach for my tribe. They are the greatest gift the internet has given me.

Reminded me it isn’t all about me

It wasn’t shocking, since I’ve never thought this life was all about me, however I saw firsthand how it calculated in real life as our small blogging communities grew and opened to include every voice and opinion.

Even as an infertile, mid 30’s married woman who did IVF to get pregnant with fraternal twins and went on bed rest for almost 14 weeks to then go on to deliver babies who spent time in the NICU, I wasn’t special.

I had large amounts of company online and off, people who had gone through what I had and more.

Reassuring me that my story wasn’t the only one of its kind but it still deserved to be told.

I learned early on: “There’s room for everyone in the pool.”

People Can Be Mean

I’m a softie; an honest to god, flesh –and- blood optimist. No more so than back in 2005. Even in the middle of my heartbreaking yearning to be a mom, I believed in the goodness of the universe and continued to trust blindly.

I never really had any trolls come calling, perhaps because I never got big enough of important enough to invite it but over the years as blogging let more of the world in, the world arrived with hate, venom and unsolicited opinions.

I’ve spent most of my life being told, “You have too kind a heart. People are not always going to be like you.” I’ve spent many days and weeks mulling over that statement when I face someone that disappoints or hurts me in real life or here inside my screen.

Just like in real life the people in our screens are human beings (well most of them) and they come with flaws. They can misrepresent, lie, condescend, hurt your feelings and try to break your spirit.

When this happens, see #1 and go find your tribe.

Also remember there are people who will be your lifelines and your greatest support system. Don’t let the mean people diminish that fact.

Offered me a place to tell my stories

Since I was a little girl one of my favorite things has been to talk and share stories. I can sit for hours at a table swapping tales and nodding heads. It is a place where I feel most alive.

I think one of the reasons that I love television and books so much is their ability to draw me into a story and teach me about other people.

I want to know who you are, why you are, what brought you here.

When I started blogging it was not only to tell my story but it was to encourage a dialogue much like the ones I had in my chat groups at the time.

Many people will tell you “write for yourself” but it’s never been that for me, I write (then and now) to tell you about my life, to know I’m not alone, to show you you’re not alone either. Blogging has given me that freedom and a place to tell my stories whether they are memoir or fiction.

It offered me a place to BE UNAFRAID.


(which brings me to…)

Rekindled my love of fiction

In 2010 I followed a fellow infertile friend’s blog over to THE RED DRESS CLUB and realized how much I had missed spinning the webs of fiction. I don’t know if I can ever thank the editors and the writers I met for all the lessons they taught me, the support and advice they gave me, the encouragement they offered as I made my way from blogger to writer.

They read my stories, they invested in my characters (and me) and are the reason I still write today.

In allowing me to become a part of their communities they became my friends, my critics and my most important teachers.

When I started my second blog:, which is where my fictions lives now, I felt like a dream had come true. I had made a mark on the world with my stories.


Revealed what my strengths are:

Just like in every group or community you become a part of, you take on a role. Blogging confirmed my type B personality and allowed my extroverted abilities to shine.

I built communities, I celebrated other bloggers with my blog series “Proud Mommy Moments” and I found that when I wrote about my own infertility or shared deep personal revelations it led to BlogHer Syndication.

I loved being a follower and I rejoiced in supporting others, helping to support or pimp their works and projects. I was told over and over, how my cheerleading on behalf of others was an important thread through the fabric of our community. I learned the power of the comment and spent time getting to know the people I was reading.

I’ve been published, I’ve read for Listen To Your Mother and been part of a speaking panel at BlogHer and through it all I have come to know myself more and more with each experience.


You’re going to feel jealousy sometimes, you’re going to want to quit blogging and ask yourself why you do it at all from time to time and you’re going to look around at what everyone else around you and feel very inadeqaute, but that’s normal.

For me, I do it because I love my communities. From my infertile tribe, to my mommy/daddy blogger friends, to the authors (famous and almost-so) and the humorists, I am simply humbled by the gift of being able to read their words.

Blogging is going to show you what you’re good at…and once you find out, go be your best self at it.

 I Never Got Famous

I still don’t have a HuffPost byline, a piece on mamalode, a Voice of the Year or NYTimes bestseller next to my name (maybe someday? ) and when I go to blogging conferences just as many people know me as those who don’t.

But I don’t care. The fact that I’m not famous in any traditional sense doesn’t diminish anything I’ve written or the tiny space I take up in the blogging world. (Plus I’ve hugged a lot of famous people. Bonus!)

Getting famous wasn’t the plan back in 2005 and it still isn’t. I simply wanted to a place to share my journey through infertility treatments when my only prayer was to become a mother.

The guest posts that followed, the small accolades and the enormous community that I’m now a part of now is the sweet spot of sharing my stories. Blogging has enhanced and saved my life more times than I can count.

Thank you, so much, for allowing me to do that for nine years (and counting)!

 Grab your own Selfiebration badge at BlogHer

and write about your own blogging journey.


I am also joining Michele and Mel , my favorite condiments and FRIENDS,

who host Ketchup with Us

(and for June any numbered post..WIN/WIN ladies??)


The 7 Ways My Husband Has Made Me a Better Mom

One of Mama Kat’s prompts this week was to share something your husband does better as a parent than you do.


But when I started thinking about it I kept coming back to something I’ve been trying to put into words for a while now.

I don’t think either one of us does things better; I mean are we really going to compare how we wipe a butt or which of us can talk our kid into breakfast for dinner more quickly? Parenting is better when you’re employing a tag-team effort anyway so it doesn’t do any good to want to keep score.

Your job is to keep your children alive, healthy and semi clean and not kill (or hate) one another in the process.

So when it comes right down to it, the truth is that my husband and the kind of dad he is simply makes me a better mommy.


He “buys in” before I do:
From the moment he saw those two little embryos growing in my uterus he was all in. While I fretted and worried (and of course given our infertility situation he did too) he never doubted for a moment that we’d bring home two babies to parent.

That hasn’t changed. I have been known to stand still and just be unable to move mentally when I’m not sure how something is going to go or I jump in my heart and not my head. . John simply goes along and makes it easy for me to see that our decisions made together are impulsive and rational because both of us are there making them.

He knows he’s part of the team:

I had color coordinated our outfits long before the boys came along; when they were born I took total control over the clothes we wear, the colors we’re sporting on a daily basis. We’ve been teased and made fun of many times, but damn we look good. Like a man who loves a team sport, John is comfortable with calling us “Team Piccini” and looking to me for a daily outfit. As a woman it’s nice to know that my husband doesn’t believe that allowing me make some decisions slices away at his masculinity and he’s teaching the boys the same thing.  *Bonus*


Plus as a team he knows it takes more than one coach to get things done. We might each have a way that we think we should deal with something but we take the approach of being small parts of a bigger whole. Rob Base had the right idea: “it takes two to make a thing go right.” 


He knows what’s important:

A day off for a picnic? Sure!

Giving up a Saturday to go to mall? Okay.

Missing the first game of The Stanley Cup Playoff to go to a play? Well….

John is a die-hard NY Ranger fan. The Blueshirts haven’t gotten to the Stanley Cup Playoff (that’s code for the BIG SHOW!) in 20 years and he was as happy as I would be if you told me I was getting a new pair of shoes for free every month for the rest of my life. We were all happy. Until we realized that we’d bought tickets to see Beauty & the Beast for the evening of the first game.

First, I never thought about John not going to see this show with us, he is sports fan that love Broadway shows too. Second, I never worried about him begging off. Sure it wasn’t game 7 (and honestly if it had been I also know what’s important. Game 7 is important!) but he came to show with no complaining or regret. Yes, he checked the score on his phone, yes, he was eager to get home to watch the 3rd period but he never let us feel like we weren’t as important as the game.

He never does and that is huge. He has things he loves but I never worry if we’re one of them.

I know we are. This is an incredible lesson to be teaching our sons.


He lets us be who we are:

John and I have a lot in common; we have the same kind of humor, like a lot of the same music and come at things from a familiar place. Yet, there are things about me that are so far from what he is used to that I used to wonder why he fell in love with me in the first place.

I know that I can curse too much, that I can like an off color joke a little too often and I have very strong opinions and a very big mouth with which I will tell you about them. This is far from who my husband is. However, he lets me be who I am. This freedom has filtered down to our sons.

Jacob wants to pretend he’s Billy Joel? Okay, let’s show him some classic Joel videos and play his greatest hits in the car. Gio wants to do play-by-play hockey in the living room? COOL! I’ll just set up old footage and teach him math in the process. Jacob wants to take a drama class?  No problem, let’s help him find his bliss.

One of the biggest reasons that I love my husband is wrapped up in this, he simply allows us to be who exactly we are. I want to write or daydream or nap all day, he never gives me a problem, never makes fun of me or is condescending to me. He accepts the good stuff and the bitch I often become when I’m sad, frustrated or disappointed, he’s a fantastic cheerleader whether he knows it or not.


He’s helpful:

And not in any traditional way; sure he takes the dog out, he is charge of the garbage and vacuuming (Yep, I’m that lucky) but what I’m really talking about is how he helps even when he thinks he isn’t.

When the twins were born and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia we realized that our routines would need to shift. Stress and lack of sleep were my worst enemies and both would lead to awful migraines and me generally feeling lousy for days.

John knows when to step in. He knows that I can get so much done if he is simply sitting on the couch lost in his phone but present for the boys while they surf Curious George movies on Netflix. I can make beds, clean bathrooms and fold clothes much easier if I know that he’s “keeping them alive”. He’d tell you that he’s not doing anything but he is. He’s making my experience less stressful and that’s worth an awful lot.


He knows how to lose his shit:

I remember the first real fight I had with John. It doesn’t matter what we were arguing about the point is that I was coming from a place where I wanted to fight. I wanted drama and fireworks and expressions.

I grew up in a violent house. There was yelling and hitting and solving problems with our hands instead of our heads.

John grew up in a very different house.

So when I came at him with words that I knew would set him off I expected what I always gotten; A slap, ugly words or both. Instead he stopped himself short of all of it and looked at me “I won’t fight like this with you.”

I understood in that moment that my life and relationships were about to change.

So when I get ragey or out of sorts and my temper flares (and sometimes it does) I look to him. He knows how to lose his shit in a way that isn’t going to have lasting repercussions and that makes not only a better mom but a better person.

He’s a great dad:

This is a gimme but it’s the most important one because when I think about being a mom sometimes I want to run away and hide. I want to disown my kids, my husband and find a cottage on the edge of the ocean and stay there ALONE for a very long time. But what keep me here in the middle of the chaos, the clutter, the constant chatter of 6 yr old twins is this man and his belief in things like faith, fun and family.

He is funny, he is supportive and he is true blue.

John would tell you (because I’ve heard him say it to other people) that I’m the glue that holds our family together. He would praise me for my mothering skills and go on about he doesn’t know how I do it all but in this space and now before we celebrate Father’s Day I want him to know that I am a better mom because of the kind of dad he is.

Happy Father’s Day honey.



Mama’s Losin’ It

 Linking with Mama Kat


It Took a Village




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.

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.”


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 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)



Linking with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out

Just Write: Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger is playing on the radio as I sit here writing this.  This song is what my husband calls a “blast from the past” and we both turn it up when it surprises us on the iPod or the car stereo. He waits for me to put up my boxing hands and punch the air ceremoniously, which I do every single time, no matter my mood or disposition.

This song makes me want to kick someone’s ass.” I say  it every time out of habit, our own inside joke, and we laugh because the thought of me kicking anyone’s ass is completely out of character( although my husband would probably tell you that depending on my mood or disposition I’m a formidable adversary.)

Our sons, especially Jacob, have begun a love affair with the Rocky movies. Which is what I thought of when the song came on this morning when I could not lift my hands into boxing pose because I am sitting at my desk in high heeled shoes in a black baby doll dress. But most importantly I am working in a corporate office and doing it would be odd. I want to do it, want to punch the air or something else, someone else perhaps, to release the sadness and rage that has been building up behind my non- confrontational facade of the past few years.

Jacob is an actor, pure and simple. When he wasn’t doing so well on the soccer field a few weeks ago (staring off into space, not being aggressive with the ball, more worried about grass stains on his shorts instead of the game) he came off the field, dejected. I pulled him aside, stroked his hair back and kissed his temple.  “I think you need to just pretend you’re a soccer player, buddy.” He didn’t say a word; he just looked up at me. “Yep, you need to imagine that Mrs M. (his drama teacher) has given you the role of a good soccer player and then get out there and be one.”

He nodded and kissed me, “yeah Mommy, I can pretend to be a soccer player.”

I am envious of his talent to immerse himself in a role or a life. I have seen him transform himself into Scrooge, into Harry Potter or into King Peter, Billy Joel or most recently Rocky Balboa. It becomes more than a recreation of a person. He mimics, of course he does, but he also takes on the mannerisms of every person he plays. Drawing pictures of his idols to keep their lives fresh in his mind.

I want to be someone else lately. I yearn to take on a role, like Jacob has, and change my life. Even if it’s only for an afternoon or a few moments where I can look into the mirror and hold my own eyes. My son is fearless right now, completely comfortable not only in his skin but in other people’s too.

How long has it been since I have been that unafraid or valiant?

When I told my mom about Jacob’s new obsession she immediately set to finding a silk robe for our little boxer. I call her “The Enabler” but secretly I love how she celebrates his imaginative spirit. She has procured scarves and gloves, sticks and top hats, feathered pens and every sort of magic wand to advance his varied roles. She found one of course, a short satin paisley robe that my father had worn when they were newlyweds. My dad, ever the fashionable clothes horse, of course he had a cigarette jacket and considering it hits Jacob somewhere around his ankles, I can only imagine that it stalled at mid thigh on my father.

My mom had kept that robe. She brought it to Jacob in a white grocery bag and my son hasn’t taken it off for days. He swears he needs to be naked (with only boxer shorts on) underneath it when he’s Rocky or he must be dressed in full pajamas and then the robe over it to go to sleep if he is channeling Ebenezer Scrooge. I tell him he’s going to melt, he laughs and closes his sleepy eyes, drifting into dreams convinced he is a man on the verge of redemption.

Eye of the Tiger is over; there are playing a song by Chicago. An old boyfriend passed off this song as a love poem to me when I was 16 and I unfolded those white lined pages over and over again reveling in the gift until I heard the song on the radio and realized the lyrics were my special poem.

I dream of redemption…

And realize I still desperately want to kick someone’s ass.

Linking with the Extraordinary Heather for Just Write 

I’m Listening {Happy Mother’s Day to my Incredible Mom}



Kir&Mommyat2yrsShe’s telling stories.

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.

I’m listening.


****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.****

Be. {Pour Your Heart Out}

It didn’t start out as a mantra.

In fact, if we’re truth telling here, it started because I had yelled the night before.

So deep in frustration and beyond a reasonable reaction to the fact that my son could not recognize the word “my”, I stood in complete disbelief as he stood still, staring at the two letter word as if he’d never seen it.

My son could spell and recognize Harry Potter and Christmas from memory, but “my” was going to be a game changer?

Over my dead, word-loving, body.

So I ranted, raising my voice half an octave before stopping short of admonishing him which was, admittedly, not my finest hour.

We all went to bed that evening with sore throats and sore hearts.

The next morning, as I am apt to do, I crept into their room to shift bodies and sheets, wiping tiny whorls of hair away from sweaty, foreheads to kiss them goodbye before I ran off to work.

I whispered, “I love you most” into their ears, hoping my deep affection for them would creep in among their dreams but that day I added, “be smart” before I told them I’d love them forever and ever. Their sleepy selves’ readjusted, small hands and legs entwined as if they were back in their NICU incubators, and I could only hope they’d heard me.

But as we drove to work, a lump formed in the back of my throat and I found tears threatening.

Be smart.”

I’d meant it to be motivational but in that moment I worried that it sounded condescending. Didn’t I already think my son’s were intelligent little people?


Yes, I did.

So the next morning when I sank to my knees at the edge of their bed and smoothed cowlicks away and kissed their sticky cheeks, I whispered, “Be kind. Be smart. I love you most.”

There is a power in kindness I wanted them to hang on to as they drifted from their dreams into their busy little boy days.

The days stretched into a week and a weekend when my sons (as little boys are apt to do) acted out, ignored simple tasks and sent my blood pressure soaring with their back talk and tom-foolery.

So on Monday morning when I found myself leaning over their messed sleep I found myself murmuring,

Be kind. Be smart. Behave! I love you most.”

No guilt with that one, reminding myself that I wasn’t unlike any other mom who knows her children, inside and out, good and bad. Asking them to behave throughout the day wasn’t a bad thing; it was simply a necessary request of growing boys.

And my little prayer for their day stayed that way for a week or so, until one morning, feeling very sentimental while starting down at their restful, dozy sleep, I found words just tumbling out of my mouth into their ears as grateful tears rolled down my cheeks:

Be kind. *kiss* Be smart. *kiss* Behave. *kiss*. Believe.”

It wasn’t until one morning, teetering on my three inch heels and hurrying through the incantation when I realized Gio’s mouth was moving in time with mine, even as he drifted in and out of his dreamy state.

Believe.” he repeated with me in a sleepy voice.

My wishes had found purchase in the minds of my children and I smiled as I imagined a life where our family prayer was always one of kindness and intelligence sprinkled with the certainty of magic.

Linking up with my amazing friend Shell and her weekly meme that allows us to Pour Our Hearts Out.

You can link up here too.


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