These are three of my favorite photos. They are of me, my daughter, and my son, all wearing the very same homemade angel costume on our respective second Christmases on this planet. I remember when my mom unearthed the costume after my daughter was born – the occasion for which she had been storing it for twenty-six years. I couldn’t wait to have my child put on a piece of my own history. And when she did, it became one of our all-time greatest Christmas cards (despite our continuous efforts to top each previous year): an adorably mopey little angel with the caption, “You better not pout. Santa’s coming.” Then three years later, it was my son’s turn to take part in the tradition. And again, we were gifted with a memorable card donning another grumpy-but-precious angel and a sweet preschool-aged Mary holding our 50lb dog wrapped up as baby Jesus.Continue reading “The Moral of the Three Angels”
Last month, I lost my maternal grandmother, less than three months after losing my paternal grandfather. Where once there were four, and then three, there is quite suddenly now only one: my paternal grandmother. I count myself so very lucky to have had all four of my grandparents into adulthood. In a way, it feels selfish to be upset about having to let them go. But the most extraordinary thing about knowing your grandparents as an adult is that you come to know them as people. They aren’t just the ones who let you eat cookies past your bedtime or think you played the recorder the best during the school performance. You are able to see their complexities of character, understand sacrifices they made, and come to appreciate them as the people everyone else around you knows them as. I was blessed to find out that not only were all my grandparents extraordinary grandmothers and grandfathers, but they were also extraordinary people. Because of this, I wanted to share the eulogy I read for my grandmother at her funeral. I’ve written about her before on this blog…about the memories that were stirred up when I had the chance to revisit her old home, and about her battle with Alzheimer’s. But she was more than that. So very much more… Continue reading “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”
Almost every week for I don’t know how many years, an envelope would land in my mailbox, my typewritten address perfectly stamped out directly in the center. I never needed to look at the return address to know exactly who had sent it or what I would find inside. There was rarely a note…just a handful of meticulously clipped coupons from the current week’s mailer. And every time, it made me smile. I could hear my Grandpa’s voice saying, “Well, I don’t know if you can use any of these, but just throw them away if you can’t.” Continue reading “Coupons from Heaven: A Eulogy”
What does a 14th wedding anniversary look like?
It starts with a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp class. When you get home, you spend 15 minutes with your husband before he heads out to work. It’s the only 15 minutes you will see him all day, but you’re a sweaty mess from bootcamp, and he is dividing his time between talking with you and finishing up his morning routine before walking out the door. You’ll spend the rest of the day doing laundry, running errands, then heading off to spend the night with your daughter’s girl scout troop before your husband even gets home from work. You’re the troop leader, and tonight was the only night that all the girls would be in town to have their final field trip. So 15 minutes with your husband on your anniversary will have to do. Continue reading “Fourteen Years, And Just Another Day”
“Provided the test comes back fine, I’ll plan to see you back here in, let’s see…maybe June.” My OBGYN gave me a little smirk on his way towards the door.
“June? You mean next Feb– oh. You’re funny.”
It wouldn’t be an annual womanly checkup if Dr. H didn’t joke with me about trying for a third kid. I’d like to think it’s because I’m his favorite patient, and it’s just his way of saying he would like to hang out with me more often. (Is that a weird thing to say about your OBGYN? Because I feel like it might be weird. Even though I don’t mean it to be. It’s just that Dr. H is kind of the bomb – and a great conversationalist, considering the circumstances surrounding our interaction. Like, I’d totally go have a few beers with him…if he wasn’t checking up on the health and wellness of my lady bits.) However, as the father of seven or so children himself, I think his enthusiasm for me getting pregnant again simply comes from him being pro-baby…and pro-more income to pay for seven college tuitions. I also *may* have told him I would name the next kid after him. Continue reading “This Mom Thought About Having a Third Kid. See What Changed Her Mind!”
You are not who you used to be. The moment my husband entered the waiting room and smiled the words, “It’s a girl,” you became something new and different, while being altogether exactly the people we had grown up with. Before that moment, you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. You were the ones who provided for us, comforted us, bailed us out, held us to consequences, and loved us unconditionally, whether we cared or not (though we usually did). You were either the gateway or the obstruction to everything we wanted to do and be…depending on the day. It was easy for us to find you annoying, or call you unfair, or roll our eyes, or take you for granted. Because we were your kids, and you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. Continue reading “To My Children’s Grandparents”
He entered the world as the resolution to a hotly contended bet in a third grade gambling ring.
I was sitting in Sr. Marilyn’s classroom when the school secretary came to the door.
“Kelly, there is a phone call for you in the office.”
A collective gasp, like the opening of a soda can under pressure, filled the room, followed by twitterings of “This is it,” and “It’s happening.” We all knew the call could be coming today, and every time I heard footsteps in the hall I wondered if it would be for me. Now it was. I felt the excited eyes on my back as I headed toward the office. When I returned I would have what they were all looking for: the answer to whether they had placed their bets wisely…and the more subtle yet implied declared victor in the battle of the sexes.
Continue reading “The Brother Jackpot”
There were three things I was taught to love fiercely growing up: God, family, and homemade ice cream. About everything else I could form my own opinion; but there was this unwritten, unsaid expectation that I would hold these three particular things in unconditional favor. Continue reading “Homemade Ice Cream + Grandma = Love”
When I was growing up, listening to the radio in the car with my dad followed one rule: his car, his choice. But I never knew where exactly that choice was going to land as a cacophony of song snippets whirled in and out of my ears. My dad worked the car radio (and the television, for that matter) like a roulette wheel Continue reading “Radio Roulette”
I just spent a mind-numbing half hour helping my son sign eighteen valentine cards for his classmates. Even he was getting bored, evident by his increasingly lax standards of how to make the letters in his name: “This is a different way to make a ‘C,’ Mom.” Looks good to me, buddy. No one is going to pay much attention to your valentine anyway since mom here went the cheap-o route this year and got the ones that don’t come with any candy.
I don’t care much about Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I dislike it; I am just completely apathetic toward it. Valentine’s Day is like the fifth guy from *NSync in the world of holidays…you know, the one that’s not Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, or JC Chavez. You don’t mind that it’s there, but you also wouldn’t really notice if it wasn’t. (And since I spent a ridiculous amount of time deciding which holidays the other guys would be, please indulge this small tangent: Timberlake is totally the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s triplet threat. Fatone is Halloween; goofy, fun, and you know he has some mad skills for trading bad jokes for candy. Bass, he’s a firework who lets his colors burst like the Fourth of July. And just like the Easter Bunny tries to be as cool as Santa, Chavez ain’t no Timberlake. Now back to the point.)
I am not the only one in my house who feels this way about Valentine’s day. My husband has made a declaration that I never have to buy him a card as long as we live. He thinks they are a racket. In fact, he doesn’t want me to get him anything for Valentine’s day…well, anything that costs money. Wink, wink. (*eye roll*) But we always feel the need to help the kids put something together for one another. I have to be honest. Despite the fact that we know we all love each other, these little tokens of Cupid feel a little forced and trite. For example, my daughter informed me today that she was going to write a poem for everyone in our family: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you.” (Members of our family, I am so sorry to ruin the surprise.) Forced. Trite.
What my kids don’t know is that they give me little valentines all year long. And this is what they look like in my head:
That means the pressure is off for Valentine’s Day. I already have everything I need; and I am pretty sure the rest of my family does, too. So we can instead enjoy the fun of Mardi Gras today and properly stuff our faces for Fat Tuesday. And then tomorrow on Ash Wednesday we can realize that all the crap we ate today might lead to that whole “to dust you shall return” thing happening just a wee bit sooner than later. But at least we won’t have to worry about last-minute Valentine gifts.
However, maybe someone should send something to that fifth guy from *NSync. This is his holiday after all.