Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday's Signs of Spring...

We are starting our garden plants from seed this year and it was a family project.  It appears our little plants are off to a good start!
Reaching toward the sunlight!  I am not sure it will ever be nice outside again!  I saw my breath last night entering the grocery store!  Come on now!  It's the end of March....but alas, we live in Chicago.  The dreaded hanging on forever winters of Chicago.  Just about everyone I know is OVER it!

Evan gets a ride in the wheel barrow and the kids and him remove all the dead grass from alongside the house...

 Clippers, a rake, a bubble mower and a bike!  
Definitely signs of Spring!
Dad's tool...
Evan's tool!  He ran into the house to get this 
when he saw Dad's tool!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Fun Decorating Idea....

You know all that unused fine china and special plates you have in your hutch or buffet in the dining room?  Well I first saw this fantastic idea on Apartment Therapy.  You can unleash it all from storage and create a cool wall display.  
This is a display found at Anthropologie.  A store I could pretty much spend all my money in.  However, I like to think I can do the same awesome stuff on a budget.  Because as the self-proclaimed queen of  Goodwill, resale shops, thrift stores and garage sales, I strongly believe doing anything on a budget is half the fun!  The thrill of the hunt gets my blood pumping!
Here is a similar idea found on Apartment Therapy.  I like both looks~the plates really close together or more spaced out.
Another goodie found on Apartment Therapy.  Plates are the perfect kitchen display!  And if you've been in a Goodwill store lately, you can find a lovely assortment of plates in all shapes, sizes and colors for cheap!
This plate (I have 2!) is marked "Tiffany & Co. New York City" on the back. We got both when my husband's Grandmother passed.  I adore them.  
This is my (mother's mother) Grandmother's "fine china" from a million moons ago.  Very simple.  I had no idea she even had china.  I had never seen it before my request when I was planning my wall display!  

This is my (father's mother) Grandmother's china.  As a child, it was part of every holiday  meal at her house.  Such great memories.

This is how I remember my (mother's mother) Grandmother.  She had every piece known to mankind of this popular wheat pattern.  She had sold the entire set years ago so my mom found an antique store to supply this plate for the beloved wall!   It wouldn't have been complete without this memory.
This is our fine china.  Before we were even married we purchased a whole set of Limoges (France) china at an auction.  Simple and elegant.  And we rarely use it.  Hence, make a wall display so at least you can enjoy it!  This particular Limoges was sold at M F & Co. and also has that mark on the back.  (That would be Marshall Field & Co. ~ A Chicago classic!)
My Grandmother (mother's mother) gave me this special plate that she had in her cupboard, given to her by a dear friend.  I really got everyone on board with my plate project!!!  I remember this woman (Loretta) living next door to my Grandmother while I was growing up so it has special meaning to me too.
This is the church where my mom and dad got married.  She got this when they got married.  She used it as her cake plate for years.  This is a keepsake.
I have 4 of these assorted Sierra Club plates from back in the day.  My husband's Grandmother had them and we received them when she passed.

And last but not least, the below photo is a plate my Grandmother (father's mother) had in her house forever. I just remember it.   Like, it was always there and always a part of her and her house and how I remember everything being.....just perfect and just her.  I can smell how her house always smelled right now.  And the pantry?  Don't even get me started.  I'm on a trip down memory lane tonight (apparently)!!!!!!
I love that pink iris.  In the Spring, we have so many purple irises that bloom and bring life to the yard after the long, hard, cold winter.  I have never seen a pink iris.  
So the idea here is to take the special memories and special collectibles and get them out of the box (literally) and do something with them that allows you to honor them and cherish them.  Don't wait until somebody dies or you find the "right thing" to decorate with.  Just go with your instincts.  It works every time.

This is a shot from farther away.  This is my a corner of my dining room.  I usually have a big plant or flowers on that table when I have people over.  I can still add more plates to the flow.  Decorating is a process and I find that if I don't rush things, they gradually come together and make me very happy.  (As opposed to rushing and spending too much money and falling into trends that don't last the test of time.)

All the right words....

I've been pretty obsessed with Anna Quindlen for some time now.  The first time I encountered her writing was when I was pregnant, working my "dream job" and super hormonal.  Someone gave me an essay she wrote on motherhood.  It still kills me.  I cry every time I read it.  You too can read it here and cry!  I'm crying again.  I read it again.  It never gets old.

Next, I came across her book "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" and I high recommend it.  On Wednesday night I was killing time in a thrift store while I waited for Lauren to get out of Spanish class.  I'm not sure why I bought Anna's book.  I try not to buy books anymore, but simply get them from the library so I don't have more things cluttering my life.  However, for 99 cents I felt that familiar tug at my heart that Anna's words seem to have on me, so I bought "Being Perfect."

There was some divine connection to why I bought this book.  It happened around page 35.  It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.  I must share.  That's what bloggers do.  We share.

Page 35~
What perfection requires is a kind of lockstep.  Look at that word; imagine it in your mind's eye, the forced march of the fearful, the physical opposite of the skip and the jump.  Doesn't it sound like something to avoid at all costs?

Lockstep is easier, but there's another reason why you cannot succumb to it.  Because nothing great or good ever came of it.  Sometimes I meet young writers, and I like to share with them the overwhelming feeling I have about our work, the feeling that every story has already been told.  Once you've read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to every write another novel.  Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time every has.  That is her own personality, her own voice.  If she is doing Fitzgerald imitations, she can stay home.  If she is giving readers what she thinks they want instead of what she is, she should stop typing.

But if her books reflect her character, the authentic shape of her life and her mind, then she may well be giving readers a new and wonderful gift.  Giving it to herself, too.

~I could go on and on but I will end here.  Fabulous words that resonate within my soul.  Thank you Anna!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Old Friends are the Best Friends....

This photo is not a "real" photo of Kelly and Tricia!
Photo is merely a  representation of our fab 80s style (ha!)  
I couldn't find any of my 20th reunion photos or flashback photos...

My friend Kelly just started a blog.  I must share.  Not just because her first post is all about me (hahahha!) but she's a really cool person who is really smart and funny and I like her.  We've been friends since 6th grade!  That is pretty amazing!
You can check out Kelly's blog  here:  Kelly's Deli

Here is Kelly's first post:

Inspiration, part 1
One of the first blogs I started reading is written by an old hometown pal.

We didn’t keep in touch much after high school. Ran into each other at class reunions. She was the one still working the corporate life, with no kids at year 15,  enjoying being an “aunt” to her friends with children. Shortly after the 15 yr reunion she got pregnant. So did I, and our daughters were born a few weeks apart, email keeping us informed of our pregnancy adventures. In 2008 we jumped on the facebook bandwagon and somewhere in there she started writing a blog.
Now she’s a stay at home mom, with a son as well, writing a blog I find very entertaining, Mommy*s Missing Pieces Maybe it’s because I know her, and can hear her voice as I read. More likely it’s because she’s just a darn fine writer….it all started in 6th grade, I’m guessing.
We met in 6th grade, when all the elementary schools converge into middle school. In addition to homeroom, which we shared throughout the years due to our mid-alphabet last names, we also had English class together. Our group assignment was to determine which language would reign throughout the world if only one language could exist. Would it be English? Spanish? French even? …. hold on….we concluded, and I’m not even remotely kidding….the new official language of the world would be, now remember this was the 80s….Valley Girl. Like ohmahgod, could you die! gag me with a spoon. As I recall we provided a very strong argument for why Valley Girl would be all the rage. And we probably got an A. But thank (ohmah)god Valley Girl did not become the universal language of the world!

A note from a friend....

I wanted to share a note I received from one of my BFF's Mom:

Hi Tricia,
I thought of you today.
I know you are a writer and I truly think you have a gift for it after reading your blog.
A friend and I exchange book. Today she gave me The Lost Hours by Karen White.
I have not yet read it but she has quote on the back that reminded me of you and i think it is very true--

"Every woman should have a daughter to tell her stories to.Otherwise, the lessons learned are as useless as spare buttons from a discarded shirt. And all that is left is a fading name and the shape of a nose or the color of hair. The men who write the history books will tell you the stories of battles and conquests.  But the women will tell you the stories of people's hearts".

Love Pat

What I aim to write on this blog are the stories from my heart.  Thank you for reading.  We all have stories to tell.  They connect us to the past and help guide us to the future.

Finding Light at the end of a long tunnel...

Hi Friends!  I'm back after a little hiatus that I was unaware I would be taking!  In a nutshell, I attended wine club last Thursday (St. Pat's Day), prepped for house guests on Friday, attended my Mother-in-Law's memorial service on Saturday and hosted a rockin' after party with tons of our friends and family (fab!), took my Mother to Northwestern on Monday, went shopping and did a million errands on Tuesday (without hauling the kids!  thank you very much!) and Wednesday made two pans of lasagna and taxied Lauren to school and Spanish class.

Today, the guests left the house and I've turned back into my maniacal O.C.D. self.  The usual~ laundry, scrubbing the floors, and having a little afternoon date with Jillian Michaels.  She never fails to kick my arse!  Hello, life!  We are back in the swing again! It's Thursday already and I realized I haven't blogged in a week!  I don't like not connecting with my blog at least every other day.  It's an outlet and I flex my writing muscle  So I'm back with avengence!

Or maybe not!  We have a family get-a-way planned for Lauren's spring break next week to Door County with a pre-trip to my mom's house.  (even though she's just been here for 6 days and is coming to Door County with us!!!)  It's a good thing we get along so well!

For those of you who read my post Cancer-schmancer about my Mom's multiple myeloma, I have an update.  It's stem-cell city baby!  And if you can't make a joke about something really frickin' serious you can't laugh about anything.  So there.  My calendar is scribbled and noted and marked with important dates and my family plans and my sister's family plans for the upcoming months.  It's scratched and scribbled and a yellow legal pad sits next to it with a detailed outline for mom's treatment plans.  It begins with a three or four day stay in the hospital getting chemo.  And in the spirit of "taking one day at a time" we will focus on our fun time in Door County and my own thyroid surgery days before she will enter the hospital.  If I only had a nanny this would all seem easier.

But it's all good.  Because this is life. This isn't "oh, I feel so bad for that person and what they are going through."  It's the real deal. And because my mother-in-law didn't even get the chance to fight, Mom's gonna kick some cancer ass.  Our family is committed to what will most likely be a 3-4 month journey of chemo, harvesting stem cells and the actual stem cell transplant.  But by this time next year I hope to say "mom is in remission."

Thank you for your continued support, love and friendship.  I can feel it.  It sustains me.

Monday, March 14, 2011


As a stay-at-home Mom, I enjoy a good day out of the house.  A day filled with errands, lunch, accomplishing things on my list.  (Most of the time lugging two kids around.....Lauren is easy as she can get in and out by herself and usually buckle herself in.  Evan being two years old, ugh, not so much!)  Today I had the good sense to get a babysitter so I could take care of a few things without Evan while Lauren was at school.  

Back in the day, in my old-life, (ha! my "old life" would mean before kids....those deliciously selfish years that you thought you could never give up on, and now, post kids, you realize meant nothing!) most of my days were filled to the brim with work and all those things you do before work, during your lunch hour and after work.  Most everyday in the old life I felt a pretty good sense of accomplishment.

Today the sense of accomplishment feels different.  I still hold myself to a pretty high level even if I don't leave the house.  It's all the little things I do during the day that in totality equal a happy life for the whole family.  Laundry isn't glamorous but it can give you a sense of fulfillment if you keep up with it!  The same goes for every other aspect of cleaning and organizing and my general O.C.D ism's!  As my BF Janet says about me, "I could drop by your house any time, any hour and you'd have your house in order!"  It enables me to be spontaneous.  You can't be spontaneous if you are up to your armpits in chaos.

Today I had two freelance writing assignment interviews and a meeting.  I ate lunch in my car.  Lunch that was well overdue and I had that weird heady feeling I get when I don't eat and am amped up on caffeine and am go-go-go.  It felt great!  It felt good to have all these "things to do" that didn't involve children.  Just me and my new writing gigs.  I left the house with a good outfit on.  I was busy and felt fulfilled.  I felt like I could do it all!  

Well, just for today.  I have those fantasies of all day kindergarten in the Fall coupled with daycare.  But do I really want that?  Probably not.  But it's nice to have options.  It's nice to have things to do just for yourself.

I picked Lauren up from school and came home to empty the dishwasher and change into my yoga pants.  It's all about balance.  It's all about cultivating those passions and dreams.  And now I need a nap!

Happy Monday! 

Peace to Japan....

In the midst of the chaos and destruction in Japan, may we hold all those touched by the earthquake and tsunami in our hearts and wish them peace and calm despite the immense tragedy.   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Girl Time....

While visiting my sister in New Jersey last week, we took Lauren for her first mani/pedi.  Which in 5-year-old terms simply means getting your nails and toes polished with a touch of glitter and a rockin' flower on your thumbnails and big toes.  Since Lauren is 5 going on 15, she was highly disappointed that she wasn't getting "the works" with a soak and sit.  I was secretly delighted that this was only costing me $10.00!!!
Drying the goods!
Mom and Daughter : )
A little flower power!
As my sister and I later discussed, what 
does a 5 year old have to soak or buff off anyway?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Full Circle Memory....

I remember being a young child and seeing a Polaroid photo taped to my grandmother's mirror in her bedroom.  (My family was very fond of the Polaroid!  And who wouldn't be?  Instant gratification!)  It was a photo of me and my sister Tracy and my cousin Robb fresh from the bathtub lined up in front of the T.V. lying on our stomachs, legs up in the air behind us, smiling big and happy for grandma.  I remember thinking that my grandma must have really liked this photo.  It made me happy to see it and I felt loved.  

Now, as a mother myself, I get it.  I get that glorious fresh from the tub smell and wet hair and clean jammie's thing.  That precious moment of the day when everyone is winding down and chilling out.  When all the other "I wasn't a very good mom today" thoughts vanish.  When you know the tucks into bed and a book or two will then equal some alone time, T.V. time, reading time or computer time.  The time that never seems to be enough when you have small children.  So much of the day can seem like unappreciated Groundhog Day moments, but not this little sliver in the day.

Last week at my sister's house we bathed the kids and they piled onto the bed for a movie and "popcorn party" as my sister calls it.  She also likes to "hide" treats in the popcorn for the kids to find.  Love that!  It was in this moment of taking this photograph that I was reminded of my grandma's Polaroid.  I wonder where that picture is now, or if it still exists.  Is it faded and bubbly?  Is it tucked in a box in a closet?  Is it somewhere where my grandma still pulls it out to look at occasionally?  Precious moments in time tucked away in our hearts.  These treasured memories of trips to Tracy's house with all our children loving and learning from one another, fighting and crying.  It's all worth it.  What worth would my life possibly have without these little souls in it?  Still, it's not for the weak!  And I'm not going to deny my struggle to get through this winter season.  Some days I feel like a warrior mom and other days I dream of day care and a part time job.

Oh, how my retirement travels look in my mind!  But today I have a sliver of time that is filled with sweet smelling heads and kisses goodnight.  It won't last forever.  Many moons ago, a Polaroid.  Today, a blog to reflect upon.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rising to the Challenge....

If you've been through the American Airlines terminal at Chicago O'Hare recently, you may have caught the half-size replica of the famous Abraham Lincoln statue from The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.  It was created by Fran Volz.  The statue measures 10 1/2 feet tall by 9 feet wide and is made out of recyclable materials.  I happened upon this exhibit around hour five of my "day of fun" at O'Hare.  And "day of fun" is dripping in sarcasm my friends!

Last Friday I was up and packed and waiting for the taxi with kids and luggage, snacks, a bag of tricks, books, stickers, and lots of sugar "treats."  Luckily, my flight was cancelled before I even left the house.  I was disappointed, Lauren cried, and we moved on.  I was able to call the taxi and reschedule.  I was left with that weird feeling of "I was intending to do this and now it's canceled."  Switch gears!  That's what mom's do best!  One less day to spend with my sister and her family.  But I kept trying to look on the bright side.  I wasn't stuck in an airport all day with two kids.  (ha!  YET.)

So my rescheduled flight meant getting up at the crack of dawn.  (not my favorite thing at all!)  The taxi would be here at 7:00 a.m.  I went to bed at my usual time of 11:00 p.m. but woke at 2:30 a.m. and every hour thereafter until I turned off my alarm at 5:15 a.m. and realized I didn't really need that much time.  So I stayed in bed until 6:00 a.m.  I was a groggy, tired mess working on adrenaline.  I have traveled with the kids by myself many times, but Evan is two now so I was required to buy him his own seat.  He's a boy.  He's a little wild, crazy and inquisitive.  I had prepped him all week that when we get on the plane he needed to stay in his seat and stay buckled.  He told me all week "airplane-buckled-momma."  Sure!

By 8:00 a.m. we were through security and waiting at our gate.  This is so easy!  I'm such a pro!  Evan was already a disastrous mess covered in PB&J. (note to self:  navy blue shows everything and forgo the jelly next time!)  I then received a text telling me my gate and departure time.  I smiled and thought, "I'm here!"  Literally minutes later I got another text telling me the flight was cancelled. (I highly recommend these text alerts!)  I was really confused and walked up to talk to the gate agent.  I was first in line as they had not made the official announcement yet.  The gate agent did not seem interested in helping me and wanted to wait until after the announcement was made.  Are you familiar with this announcement? One of the airline  people get on that little microphone and tell you that the rest of your day is royally messed up....all mumbly and garbled.  Sure, it's not that big of a deal if you don't have two kids with you.  I'd happily have read my book and hit the bar sans kids!

I've found that when traveling alone with the kids people are very kind and helpful.  When the gate agent took a closer look and saw the kids he helped me out.  I was on stand-by for the next flight at 11:30 a.m. but was for sure booked on the 1:30 p.m. flight.  HURT ME.  May I remind you that it's now maybe 8:30 a.m?

Since flights were cancelled the day before I knew it was a joke to think we'd get on the earlier flight.  But I had to try.  I had to herd around with all the other people wanting to get to where they wanted to go.  I let Evan free from his stroller while we sat and waited.  He was good for a few minutes harassing all the good-natured people sitting around us.  He then took off like a bat out of hell and I literally dropped everything to sprint after him and grab the little animal.  Evan thought it was hilarious.  I told him his freedom was revoked for the rest of the airport time!  Stroller city sweetheart!  ( got that right!)

When the sign at the gate told me that the flight was full and I was out of luck I calculated how much time I had left in the stinkin' airport.  This is when warrior mom kicked in.  Lauren was near tears just wanting to get to her cousin Liam.  She was also concerned that our flights would keep being cancelled.  I dug deep and gave us a pep talk.  It went something like this, "Okay, this situation is not fun and I'm not happy either but what can we do?  If we want to go on this trip we have to suck it up and wait a little longer.  We need to take a walk and get a snack."

I want to send out a huge thank you to the genius who decided to put children's museums inside airports.  The kids were able to run around and blow off steam before we boarded the plane.

Shortly after my pep talk, Lauren said, "Mom, I know I can do this."  I kept telling the kids how proud I was of them and what good travelers they were.  Lauren is obsessed with Paris and all things Paris.  She talks about the Eiffel Tower and what she will eat when we go there.  I told her this "day of fun" in the airport proves that she can take an international flight and handle the ups and downs of travel.  As I rose to the occasion, I saw the kids do the same.  Despite my frustration and weariness of the day, I knew the kids were looking to me for direction.  When I put on a happy face, so did they.
We finally (whew!) had a safe flight and a wonderful week with my sister.  Our flight home was completely uneventful and we couldn't have been happier!