Saturday, December 6, 2014


Many years ago (but just yesterday in my mind), I was a young mom living a fairy tale, expat life in Denmark. I had three little ones, 6, 4 and 9 months and it was Christmastime. Christmas was my favorite time of year in Denmark.

 It was beautiful.

 It was simple.

 It was magical.

Classic amusement park Tivoli Gardens puts on a festive market in Copenhagen.

 And I couldn't leave it at that...I had to complicate it.

M was traveling a lot in the month of December that year. The details are fuzzy now, but I remember being faced with a lot of empty days and nights with just the kids. And just for the record, I use the word "days" lightly, because the sun was rising as I rounded the last corner to take Katie and Cole to school in the morning and it was pitch black as far as you could see out my kitchen window by the time we were having our afternoon snack. Winter days in Denmark are very short.

So I hatched a "great" Christmas plan. Armed with my well-loved, past Christmas issues of Family Fun and Parents magazine (the current issues wouldn't reach me in Denmark until around February), I decided that the kids and I would make a new Christmas craft every day for the month of December. Good grief!

I'm sure you're starting to get a picture of how this unfolded. We started strong. Beautiful little glass jars covered in glued on squares of tissue paper so they glowed like stain glass when filled with a lit votive. Beautiful, right? We still have them. But I was quickly in over my head. By what I like to think was day seven or eight (but could have been day three or four), I lost steam (and I think my will to live). What had started as a fun project to engage my children in the joys of the season, became a herculean task that felt like a weight around my neck as I scoured the aisles of the local hobby shop for just the right supplies (made extra fun by my inability to speak Danish). This hare-brained plan of mine almost sucked the joy out of Christmas for me that year.  And that would have been awful.

My lovies that Christmas

I'd love to tell you that this one example provided the epiphany I needed to simplify Christmas and my life in general, but that was definitely not the case. Fourteen Christmases later, however, I think I'm finally starting to get it. Sometimes less really is more. Moms, and moms of little ones in particular, put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect, or Pinterest-perfect, as I like to call it. We run ourselves ragged trying to complete tasks that we think make Christmas. So here's my advice this holiday season...


Take a deep breath and really think about what matters this year. Make a list of things that MUST happen before Christmas at your house.  But here's the catch -- just put five things on that list.

 Yes, I know this is tricky. But you can handle five.  Twenty-five gets a little unwieldy. Try to let one of the five be something that's just for you, really.  I have friends who pass up every holiday invitation they receive because they are too busy, or life is too crazy to squeeze in a bit of simple joy for themselves. This makes me sad. You deserve really do.

So here are some thoughts...

Say "yes" to that invitation to the cookie exchange if it means spending an hour or two with people you care about that you never get to see. Buy the cookies (gasp!) if that's the only way you can go. Your friends want you, not your cookies. Okay, let's be honest, one or two of your friends really want your fancy cookies, but most of them just want you.

Don't send Christmas cards. Don't get me wrong, Christmas cards are one of my very favorite things about Christmas (and definitely one on my five musts), but if things are so crazy in your life that sending cards has become just another chore, than give yourself a break. Take a year off.  No one will cross you off their Christmas card list for missing one year. The world will not end. I promise.

Meet a friend for coffee. It's just an hour. The laundry, or shopping or wrapping, will still be there when you get back.

Cheat a little. Slice and bake Christmas cookies, or better yet, the break apart kind, are just as fun for little hands to decorate. The sprinkles and the icing stick just as well to these as they would to that homemade dough, and you can use the time you save to have a cup of tea and read that beautiful Christmas issue of your favorite magazine that just arrived.

Cheat a little more. Christmas crafts are just as special made from construction paper and crayons as they are from modge podge, or fancy lace, glitter or other supplies (note to my much younger self). And who doesn't love crayons?

Decorate less. I know that you have forty-five carolers that need to be arranged in cute little vignettes around the house (oh wait, that's me), but maybe this year, they could send a small delegation to represent the rest.

I had friends in a few nights ago to assemble Christmas/Finals care packages for our college kids. It was way too early in December for my house to be fully decorated (I was just taking down the very few fall decorations that were out), so I went in the attic, grabbed what was within arm's reach, and did what I called "Five Minute Christmas". A few simple decorations spread out around the house to hint that Christmas was indeed coming. Guess what?  It was perfect. Lots of laughs and stories and good cheer with good friends.

It was beautiful.

It was simple.

It was magical.

Make your list of five, and try to stick to it. Give yourself a break.


May your days be merry and bright!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

It Really is All About the Food

My sister and I have had this running joke for years. In our house growing up, one of the first questions my mom would ask if we had been out was "what did you have to eat", or "how was the food?" In high school, I worked on the weekends waitressing for a large catering company. When I'd get home from working a wedding or event, my mom would want every detail of the menu. We could spend an hour talking about the scallops wrapped in bacon or the spinach triangles make from phyllo dough. My catering friends would even send me home with the leftovers for her.
 Family cookouts were a huge deal in our house, as were holidays, and even Saturday lunches out. All those menus to plan. It seemed to have far less to do with who would be there, and far more to do with what we would eat.  So...over time, the running joke prevailed.  When there were gatherings that included my mom (and this still continues to this day), it really was all about the food.

But here's the thing -- she was right.

My boy was home from college this weekend (can you hear the glee in my voice?). Days before his arrival, the questions began via text message.

Me: Food ideas please!!! Dinner Saturday night? Crepes on Sunday?

Cole: I would love a simple pasta and chicken dinner.

Me: Like carbonara or fettuccine alfredo? Or pasta with red sauce?

Cole: Oooooo carbonara would be clutch.

Clutch, apparently, is a good thing.

The next day, as I'm getting ready to make the three plus hour drive to pick him up, I inform him that I'm bringing banana muffins for his ride home. He loves banana muffins.

So the weekend unfolded with an amazing dinner of spaghetti carbonara with pancetta and peas (thank you, Mike) and was capped off with crepes on Sunday morning, one of our favorite traditions.

 Joe, Cole's good friend, even came to join us. He knew exactly when the last time was that he had joined us for crepes, and could recount the times he missed  for various reasons.

So I'm telling you all this, not so you can rest assured that no Iafollas went hungry last weekend, but to explain why it really is all about the food. In our house, and I'm guessing in so many of yours, the food is so entwined in all of the good feelings and all of the memories, and absolutely in all of the best stories. I feel like we are our best selves when gathered around a table. Feeding our family and friends is just another way to show them how very much they are loved (I talked a lot about this BACK HERE ). And in a house filled with girls who love to talk and share, and boys who would rather not (husband included), the table is a wonderful place to find common ground.

It was a great weekend. Far too short, and not enough time with my boy (I reluctantly shared him with his friends), but filled with lots of hugs and great talks and just being.

And on his way out the door, Mike put a still warm loaf of homemade pumpkin bread in Cole's hands to take back to school. Because in case you were wondering, it really is all about the food.

This is our well-loved recipe. We use a whole stick of butter and regular muffin pans. They are delicious with chocolate chips or blueberries too. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I am a Terrible Parent

I'm a terrible parent. It's true. The evidence is everywhere.

  It's all I've been reading about these past few weeks. My Facebook feed is filled with stories and statistics about how my over-parented offspring barely stand a chance in life. All of my well meaning help, advice, support and love has evidently crippled them and left them unable to make choices and fend for themselves in the real world.  At the first sign of rejection or adversity, they are apt to curl up in a ball and stay that way until I come to their rescue. They have been over-indulged by my helicoptery (yes, I made up that word) parenting style, and now they are doomed.

Up until a few days ago, I was actually buying this. It's been a rough few weeks, for so many different reasons, and I let this sort of stuff get to me and make things worse. Lots of self-recrimination, self-doubt and wishes to turn back time and do things differently. Well, I've given this a great deal of thought and  here's what I say now...BALONEY!!!

I can't for the life of me understand why so many people spend so much time looking for ways to put everyone else down or make them feel inept, misguided or broken, or at the very least failures at the one thing they thought they had done well. After reading all of this new "research", I am so very grateful that I am not the parent of little ones anymore, because I think I would be paralyzed with fear at the thought of doing everything so completely wrong. At least I had the good fortune of getting my kids to 20, 18 and 14 before realizing how badly I bungled everything.

Many moons ago

I am a good parent. Great on some days, significantly sub-par on others, but on balance, I am good. Are there things I wish I had done differently? Yes, tons of them. Here are a few...
  • I should have taught them to do laundry sooner (definitely sooner than the day or week before they left for college. Oops.)
  • I should have bought them fewer things
  • I should have given them more chores
  • I should have stayed off of Parent Portal and not micromanaged their schoolwork (I wish Parent Portal was never invented)
  • I should have given them much better money management skills
  • I should have given them a much stronger foundation in a church. I never had it, so I did my best, but I really wish I had done more. I'm still trying.
  • I should have held out longer on things like cell phones, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • I should have said "no" a lot more when "yes" didn't feel completely right
  • I should have worried far less if they liked me or not (but that goes for everyone in my whole life, so this is a skill I'm still trying to master)
But there are many, many things I did that were right (for me), and that I would do all over again, and that I will continue to do, regardless of the naysayers. 

  • I told my kids I loved them a lot, OK, a crazy amount. Sometimes several times in the same phone conversation. I will continue to do this. They will always know how very much they are loved.
  • I raised children with excellent table manners. I think it's really important and will get you far in life. We used to play "the queen is coming to dinner" game while practicing when they were little. 
  • I taught my kids to always be polite to their elders. To this day there have been very few reports to the contrary
  • I taught my children to look people in the eye and to shake hands
  • I taught my children to always have an opinion
  • I taught them to love food and great big family meals. It's where the best stories are told.
  • I taught them to love travel and adventure
  • I taught them to love books
  • I taught them to hold doors
  • I apologized when I was wrong
  • I taught them that no topics were off-limits. I did this by talking to them about EVERYTHING, even the embarrassing and really awkward stuff, and I did it often. I did a lot of this talking in moving cars. They can't escape.
  • I taught them that if they have a choice that will make someone feel good or someone feel bad, that should be the easiest choice they make. It starts with sharing a toy or a seat at a lunch table, but carries on to so many bigger choices in life.
  • I taught them to love animals and babies
  • I showed them that service to others matters and told them that they have so much to give
  • I listened
  • I praised them...a lot. I refuse to put this in the negative column.
  • I took them lots of grown up places and trusted that they knew how to behave. Kids can't be expected to behave in restaurants, museums, hotels, etc. if you never give them the chance.
  • I told them they were smart, and beautiful and kind, because they are.
  • I asked too many questions, but as a result, I got a lot more information than most moms
  • I taught my kids to be confident public speakers, a life skill that will never be wasted
  • and I told them I loved them some more

I have watched each one struggle through hard times, from middle school mean girls (and yes, they are the worst), to bigger disappointments, and even through some really big things that I wished I could have protected them from forever. I helped in any way I could, even if that help could only be crying right along with them sometimes. I refuse to believe that praising them less and letting them fail more would have really made them more ready for the lives they are trying to live now (but the money management skills would have helped). And even if all of these articles are right and I am wrong, my kids knew (and always know), that they are never alone, no matter how far away they are.

So while they were clearly over-indulged (and still are to this day), over praised and definitely "over-parented", I think my kids are amazing, good, kind people, and I have every confidence that (with a few stumbles, I'm sure) they will forge their own paths into their own happy adult lives. They are not perfect. I am not perfect. We are, however, pretty perfect together.  And in case you didn't know...I love them.

I know my use (and non-use) of periods in my bullet points will make some of you crazy. I should fix it, but I'm just so grateful to publish this post after so much time has past, that I'm going to let that go.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hanging in There

My last post was two days before Cole's graduation, almost a whole month ago now.

 He left for college ten days after graduation, and I have to be honest, my heart broke a little ( OK, actually a lot). He was so ready and so happy that it was hard not to be happy for him, but I do not like him being gone one bit. I miss him terribly. Which is kind of funny, actually, because he really wasn't home all that much before he left. He managed to cram a whole lot of fun into those ten days. But his head was on his pillow at night, right where I like it. Well, except for the night he and his pals slept on an island in the Delaware...but that's a story for a different day.

We keep in touch primarily via short, witty texts, but I have had a few phone calls, two of which lasted more than 45 minutes each!  When I shared that with my good friend and neighbor, she informed me that she didn't think her teenage son had spoken to her for 45 minutes straight since he'd been in high school. I guess I should count my blessings and be glad that I raised another talker. The best part of my last conversation with Cole was when I told him I was trying to give him space and not call or text too often.  His response..."Mom, I don't need that much space." Glee! That's what I felt right then!

So this is what's been happening since he left...

Katie was in Secret Garden. A wonderful show with beautiful, haunting music. I never get tired of seeing her onstage.

Abbey spent a week at Singing Camp with some good friends and I got to enjoy her awesome concert last Thursday.

I cut off all of my hair. I decided to give the Claire Underwood look (from House of Cards) a try for the summer. It so easy. I love it.

My family completely indulged me and took me to fireworks for July 4th. I am sucker for really good fireworks and it had a been a few years since I'd seen any.

The hardest thing I've had to do since Cole left, is leave for vacation without him. We had planned this year's vacation for July instead of August so that we could all be together because Katie and Cole both left for college at the end of the summer. A three week getaway.  We weren't banking on summer session when these plans were made last October. That's what I get for always trying to outsmart fate by planning things to a T.

 But here I am, in my favorite place on earth. The place were I feel the most complete, the most at peace, and the most like my very best self. I hope you like it too, because odds are, every post for the next three weeks will feature this sweet little corner of the world. 
 The view from my bedroom deck

 Navy ships in the harbor

 Sailing School

I'd love to hear about your place. Where would you be if you could be anywhere?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Breakfast

It's another busy day here...Abbey's 8th grade awards ceremony is this morning, her talent show is this afternoon, and Cole's graduation is tomorrow. Lots of last minute things to do.

 I'm savoring a few minutes before it all starts by reading the blogs that I love and that brighten my day.

I'm also eating my favorite summer breakfast...
  English Muffins with Ricotta, White Peaches and Sea Salt

(Excuse the not so great iPhone picture)

I use the Thomas' Honey Wheat English Muffins which have a bit of sweetness. Don't be thrown off by the sea salt. It actually helps to bring out the sweetness in the peaches. Trust me. This one is a keeper.

 This was originally a bruschetta recipe (which is also amazing) with toasted baguettes, but I decided it would make a delicous breakfast -- and I was right. So good.

Enjoy your day!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Eleven Days and Humble Thanks

My boy leaves for college in 11 days. He graduates from high school in two. I'd like to stop time, but I know that would only be for my benefit, not his. His face lights up these days at the thought of what lies ahead. I'm so proud of the man he's becoming.

Cole's graduation party was a big success! Lots of great food, friends and family. 

I think the highlight of the day for Cole was a surprise visit from the town ice cream man. There is only one ice cream truck in town, and all of the kids have known Slobie since they were little. It was a big hit, with everyone. Cole even got to spend some time in the truck.

My favorite part of the day came later when Cole, his uncle and his friends sat around the fire pit playing guitars and singing. He sang Rocky Mountain High, which gets me every time (more on that here). It was a memorable day.

Monday night was Baccalaureate. What a beautiful evening.  Great performances and great speakers.

Late Monday night, I was browsing through Twitter and saw a tweet from Cole. I typically hold my breath when reading Twitter, because Cole has been known to tweet some "heat of the moment" things that I'd love to leap into cyberspace and erase, but that night was different. He had tweeted out enormous praise to a girl at school that he barely knows. She had gotten up and read a long poem at Baccalaureate about some of the struggles she's had in high school and what it all meant going forward. My heart was full. 

And my heart if full of humble thanks this morning to Sarah at Clover Lane. I have a guest post today as part of her Coming Home series. You can read it here. Sarah's blog is my absolute favorite, and reading it gave me the courage to start my own. I was honored when she asked me to participate. Thank you, Sarah!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Music and Memories

Why is it that music can bring you back to a specific moment in a split second?  To a memory so crystal clear that it feels like yesterday.  It's happened a lot lately. More than usual.  Mostly great memories, some bittersweet, some sad, and only a few I'd rather forget.

 I'm  fascinated by music and memory.  I struggle to remember the name of an acquaintance before she gets to my end of the grocery aisle, and most of the time I can't remember why I went upstairs by the time I get there, but if I hear the first few notes, I can sing almost any song from the 50's and 60's (complete with dance moves too) and that isn't even the music of my generation. Those were well spent Saturday nights listening to WHDH's Saturday Night Live at the Oldies on the radio with my family. Clearly I would be able to remember where I left my iPhone (twenty times a day) if I didn't have two decades of oldies cataloged in my head.  But I'm glad I do. I love that the first few bars of  Mack the Knife make my heart overflow with love for my dad. What I wouldn't give to hear him sing it just one more time.

Carolina in my Mind will always be a sweet memory of my friend, TJ, and the soundtrack to a story he shared many years ago. He's an amazing man now, but I see that sweet college boy whenever the song starts to play.

I can't hear Rocky Mountain High without thinking of my brother, Donny. It always made me think of him and of his struggles, but after we lost him, it became my anthem to him.

I have a million more, but you get the idea.

The song that gets me these days (and probably every time I hear it for the rest of my life) is Brad Paisley's Letter To Me. This song makes me think of Cole, where he's been, and the great future he has ahead of him.

The tears have started again. So I'll stop for now.

What are your songs and the memories they bring back in an instant? I'd love to hear.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

To Do List

With Cole's Graduation Party in two days, here is my to-do list for today...

  • Rinse off Adirondack chairs out back
  • Organize all the paper products and wrap knives & forks in napkins for basket
  • Confirm what time tent is arriving on Friday
  • Finish washing all extra comforters for Cole's post party sleepover
  • Plan Father's Day breakfast for Sunday
  • Continue to pray that the rain stops and the sun comes out by Saturday
  • Finish Cole's slideshow and add music. Try to keep the tears to a minimum
  • Breath
  • Try to forget that my boy is leaving for college in just 17 days

  • I think I'll get through the first few things. Not too sure about the last three items. Wish me luck.


    Thursday, May 29, 2014

    Multi-tasking (also called Mothering) is Not for the Faint of Heart!

    Wow! It's been quite a week. Scratch that. It's been quite a month (or months). There will always be a reason not to find time to write. But I feel great when I do, so I've got to find a way to make it a priority. Here are just a few things (most marvelous, and one not so much) that kept me running around and away from the computer...

    Saturday:  Set-up for the amazing Relay for Life event!  I had the first shift, so my job was to get Abbey and her friends safely into the event, set up the tent and their supplies, and make sure they were all sun-screened (I'm a fanatic about this). I got to walk a few laps around the track with some friends and reflect on this amazing event and all the good work it does.The five middle schools in our school district run the largest school-run Relay for Life event in the country, and has raised over $2.5 million in the last 11 years! Pretty amazing for middle-schoolers! Abbey was part of a team of only six girls, and they were honored as one of the top three fundraising teams at their school. They raised over $2000 on their own! I'm so very proud of these girls!

    Abbey took pictures of the luminaries honoring my mom, a lung cancer survivor, and in memory of my dad who died of liver cancer,  and my mother-in-law, who lost her battle to melanoma. Relay for Life means a great deal to our family.

    At dusk the whole track is lit up with luminaries. It is such an amazing sight and Abbey knew I was sad to miss it. She texted me this beautiful picture.

    After leaving Relay, Katie and I headed to NYC to see Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, This was Katie's big Christmas gift, and she'd been waiting months to see it. We had an amazing dinner in a little cafe -- great food, great conversation and lots of fun people watching -- and headed to the show.

     What an amazingly powerful show! Probably not a show for everyone, but we loved it! As I've mentioned before, Katie is my theatre girl, and waiting at the stage door is her most favorite thing of all. We went to the 7PM show, and found out immediately after the show that the cast would not be coming out until after the 10PM show. Katie was devastated. After some quick texting back and forth with Mike at home, I decided we would stay. Not a decision I made lightly. This would mean three extra hours in NYC before we even began waiting at Midnight. Katie was overjoyed!  In true Iafolla fashion, we realized the only solution was to find another restaurant. We passed some time in a wonderful Italian cafe, until we took our spot behind the barricade to wait...

    Amazing actress and singer Lena Hall

    NPH - live and in person!

    Not my best iPhone camera work! But it was REALLY late and there was lots of jostling in the crowd!

    As you can see, it was all worth it! Katie's feet haven't touched down yet!  The 2 1/2 hour drive home was brutal, but we kept chatting and made it home safely at 3:45 AM. Yikes! I can't remember the last time I was awake at that hour. My girl was over the moon...and my heart was glad.

    Sunday: I'm sure lots of important things happened, but I was too exhausted to truly remember what they were. I know I made lots of lists in preparation for Monday's adventure.

    Monday: Cole, Michael and I headed out at 7AM for the four hour drive to Georgetown University Hospital in DC. Cole needed pre-admission testing for his surgery the next morning (I talked about this here)  We capped off the day with a great dinner in DC. While we were all dreading the next day, we also had a wonderful night. I can't remember the last time that Mike and I had Cole all to ourselves. We got to talk a lot about friends, graduation and college (which is coming WAY too quickly -- but more on that later). Cole is insightful, and very funny, with his dad's dry sense of humor. I'm going to miss him so much when he's gone.

    Tuesday:  Waking up at 4:30 AM is just wrong. Period. We arrived at the hospital at 5:45 AM and settled in for a long day of waiting. Cole was as cool as a cucumber. I was a wreck. At about 7 AM, I kissed my boy as they wheeled him off for surgery (sinus surgery, nasal reconstruction and three wisdom teeth pulled. UGH!). It was a bit surreal to be in this hospital again. Almost a year ago, Katie had her orthognathic surgery here, and spent three days in the pediatric ICU ( I will write about that eventually because I think could help some people facing the same thing -- but I'm not quite ready yet). We could have had Cole's surgery done much closer to home, but Katie's surgeon was so amazing that we couldn't imagine having anyone else operate on Cole. Three hours and two surgeons later, Cole was in recovery. The surgery went exactly as planned, and this is how he looked.

     Honestly, it was so much better than I expected. You may think that I'm invading his privacy by posting these pictures, but you don't know Cole. He tweeted these pictures moments after his eyes were open. I'm not kidding.

    Wednesday: We had a follow-up appointment with Cole's primary surgeon and then began the long car ride home. Cole was in a lot of pain, but boy was he a trooper. Katie did an amazing job of holding down the fort and taking care of Abbey while we were gone. They were both thrilled to have us all back. Now began the several day struggle of finding things that Cole could/would eat and managing his pain.

    Thursday: My baby turns fourteen!! How did this happen? I wish I could freeze time.  Here was my little tribute to my girl on Facebook...

    Happy 14th birthday to my amazing baby girl. I love you more than you'll ever know. You are beautiful inside and out, and I'm so grateful that you're mine.

    Yes, that is a giant doughnut cake! Isn't that the greatest thing you've ever seen? Abbey's big celebration (complete with mom's carrot cake) was happening a few days later over the Memorial Day weekend (pictures to follow), so a friend gave us this fabulous idea. It was a huge hit and a bargain...$10 for a giant doughnut that lasted for days. We've decided to get one for every Iafolla occasion from now on. Abbey's actually birthday didn't get quite the fanfare it deserved because of Cole's surgery and recovery, but we made it up to her on the weekend.

    So that's a not so brief recap of a bit of what's been going on in our house. Some special moments with each of my kids, although Cole certainly got the short end of that stick this time. 

    He's doing so much better and headed back to school yesterday. Hard to miss six days in your senior year. Six days of AP Statistics is a whole lot to miss...I think his head is spinning a bit! 

    It felt great to be back at the computer, so let's hope it continues. More pictures of Abbey's birthday celebration to follow. There were lots of babies here, and I love babies. Until then...


    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Spring Break

    Katie was home on spring break last week. I am so grateful that this is where she chose to be while many of her friends opted for sunny climates and carefree, parent-less adventures (and who could blame them?).

     The week with my girl went by way too fast, and I want her back.

     I want her back so that we can savor the many, many good times and stretch every awesome second out of them, but I also want her back so that I can pull out my handy little wite-out pen and smooth over the few bumpy parts of our week. The times when I said the wrong thing (or just said it one time too many), or when my exasperation about her way of doing something (read between the lines…not my way) came through loud and clear.  I hate those moments. I am immediately filled with regret, even when I know that many, probably most, of the things I say are things that she needs to hear.

    These moments, the good and the bad, happen every day in every kitchen of every mom that I know. We do the best we can in that moment, but sometimes we really miss the mark.

     I am a mom who apologizes. If I get myself all worked up over an issue, or situation or teenage eye roll and then something harsh, or less kind than I intended comes out of my mouth, I will apologize. But I expect the same in return when it’s my child with the fresh tone, or snarky comment, or utter disregard for everything I’m doing (luckily this last one is rare). I will also apologize is I find out after the fact that I was wrong about something; a situation, a friend, or even just a trivial fact that I was so sure was correct. Again, I hold the kids to the same standard, with me, and with the other people in their lives. It’s a good balance, a give and take, and it works for us.

    I am also a mom that speaks her mind. I can’t help it. The words are out before I can stop them. If you ask for my opinion, I will gladly give it. The trouble often comes when the opinion is out there and no one even asked for it. I was out last night with a bunch of really great ladies (subbing at Bunco – so much fun). One mom, whom I adore and wish I knew better, was talking about biting her tongue and not giving her opinion to her 21 year old daughter about a boy that the daughter really likes. I can understand trying to bite your tongue if you think it’s a mistake, or if the boy is no good, but this mom would like nothing better than for her daughter to give this boy and this relationship a chance. I would NEVER be able to keep that to myself. Truly. I know I should really try, and that one day my kids may have to silence me with a big, fat “butt out”, but it is just so hard.

    So I say all this because these types of things are what make up the fabric of our family. It is the flawed and beautiful story of our lives, our collective memory, where we weave our relationships together built on mutual respect, give and take, good times, bad times, lessons learned, tears of sorrow and sadness and tears of laughter and pure joy shared together. Sometimes I say the right thing -- sometimes I don't.   I like to believe that at the end of any given week, there is far more good than bad, far more talking and sharing and hugging and texting with little happy, kissing, smiley face emoticons (I really love getting those!) than harsh words, loud silences and hurt feelings. And I really do believe that on balance we err really far on the side of the good stuff. We are very lucky. If one week is bad, or particularly hard, the next brings just the right amount of joy and laughter to fill the gap of the week before. I guess that’s how life works. One foot in front of another. Tomorrow is another day. Sunday starts another week.

    All of this brings me back to Katie’s spring break. With only one week together, I always wish for everything to be perfect. But it can’t be. I’m not perfect. She’s not perfect (although, she’s close…insert kissing, smiley face emoticon here!). I hope she got off the plane and headed back to her dorm filled with a week full of good memories. I hope that she too used her little wite-out pen to smudge out our less than perfect moments. And I hope above all, that she returned to school with the overwhelming sense that her mom loves her with everything she has and everything she is. Because I do.

    Here are some of the highlights of our week...

    Cole picked Katie up at the airport and drove her straight to Abbey's performance of Dear Edwina. It was a complete and very happy surprise for Abbey, who thought that Katie would not see the show until the next day.

     This is one very proud big sister. Katie performed on this very stage for three years and is thrilled beyond belief to see her sister on it.
    So, so proud of my little Periwinkle

    Katie, Cole and I had a road trip to the DC area for a few doctors appointments. Cole has some upcoming sinus surgery and needed an evaluation, and Katie had her very final appointment, after two plus years, with her completely amazing maxillofacial surgeon. She had very extensive jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) last June, something I will write about soon, when I can work up enough courage. 
    While this may not sound like a highlight, it actually was. We absolutely LOVE Katie's doctor and his entire staff, so it was great to see them. We also squeezed in some really fun shopping at Banana Republic -- my favorite store these days! The bad part is, I think it is now Cole's favorite store too. Oops, I created this monster! But it was really a highlight because Katie and I had Cole in the car for a total of almost 8 hours that day. That much time with Cole almost never happens. He was funny, and fun and just a joy to be with, but he is a very social creature and does not spend a great deal of time at home with us these days. We laughed and talked and listened to a few episodes of This American Life (one of my very favorite things) through the magic of the iPod. We capped off the drive home with a stop at the Maryland House rest stop. Katie and I opted for our favorite road trip food, Nathan's Hot Dogs. Cole went off the board with this...
    It was some sort of Fried Seafood Extravaganza. Not what I would choose at a rest stop. Katie and I were skeptical, but Cole proclaimed it the best rest stop food ever!

    Katie and I had  planned a trip into NYC to pick up some dance shoes that had been a Christmas gift. We knew we would see a show while we were there. Katie decided to invite Abbey along on her "mom day", so we pulled Abbey our of school and went to see...

    It was spectacular! We had such an amazing time! The children in the cast were phenomenal. We actually got to talk to them after the show while we were all waiting for our cars in the parking garage. They were so sweet and little, and their smiles beamed from ear to ear. My girls were thrilled.

     Abbey in Time Square

     Bad iPhone pictures -- but very happy girls. We got home very late, and Abbey was really tired the next day, but it was soooo worth it.

    All of this fun AND my first born turned twenty while she was home. Happy birthday, Katie. It was a good week.