Monday, February 24, 2014

What Love Looks Like

I am married to a great guy. He is so many wonderful things, but if I listed them here and he ever saw it, he'd be mortified. He is a humble guy, and a man of few words. I can tell you what he is not, however. He is not a gusher.

 He does not profess his love at every turn, he is not full of compliments and he most likely won't notice if I'm wearing something new. When I ask him how I look (usually only if we're headed out somewhere nice), his answer is almost inevitably "fine". Oh, and don't let me forget to mention this...he HATES Valentine's Day and refuses to celebrate it.

 For years I secretly (OK, not too secretly -- sometimes quite vocally) wished for the "romantic comedy" type of husband. You know, the guy who always says and does the most romantic things.  And then I started paying closer attention.

 Mike does profess his love and care for me and our family...and he does it often. His way is more subtle and quiet -- just like him. Here's what love looks like...

 Grilled Asparagus Pizza with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Fontina - A huge favorite at our house

 Seared Scallops wrapped in Bacon with Fresh Sage and Golden Delicious Apples

 A Snack Cake Birthday Creation he made for Cole's Sixteenth Birthday Guys Weekend

 Our Gorgeous Thanksgiving Turkey cooked on the Weber grill every year

 Lobster Risotto

Ice Crean Sandwiches with Chocolate Chip Cookies, Bananas, Toffee, Hot Fudge and Vanilla Icecream

Homemade Bellinis starting from Fresh Peaches

"Mike's Potatoes" - Delicious Potatoes cooked with tremendous amounts of butter, garlic, Swiss cheese and love

So there it is, folks. One man's quiet way of showing everyone around him how much he loves them. He takes what little free time he has (and he truly has very little), and he creates beautiful meals for us. These meals give us the moments together that grow into some of our favorite family memories and stories.  That kind of love can't fit on a Valentine. <3

Disclaimer: These photos were snapped with my phone, and long before I knew they'd show up in a blog post. Next time I'll pull out the good camera to do Mike's meals justice. A food stylist I'm not. But boy, were these things delicious!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Perspective is a Wonderful Thing

I thought I was having a tough few weeks. Turns out I was wrong.  Here are the things that were happening:

  • Cole was home sick with what we thought was the flu, but actually turned out to be mono. He has two AP classes this semester, and I hate to see him feeling so awful, and also missing school and having to scramble to catch up.

  • Katie was going through sorority rush at college, and for a minute there, it didn't look like things were going to go her way. It was heart-wrenching. She is such an amazing girl, but fairly often, things just don't go the way they should, and Katie ends up with the short end of the stick. It's not fair or right, but it happens, and as a mom, it's terrible not to be able to fix it (everything DID work out perfectly in the end).

  • Abbey's weather anxiety kicked in big time yesterday  (more on that in the coming weeks). The weather has gotten a bit warmer, which is causing some freaky thunderstorms. She's on a field trip today, so dealing with her worries last night was challenging to say the least.

These things, and some other disappointments and aggravations were all weighing on my mind and heart and, if you had asked, I would have said it wasn't a great week.

And then I read Facebook this morning. 

There on my news feed was a post from a woman I recognize from town (and from other friends' Facebook pictures) but don't know personally. I will call her Jane.  Because my friends commented on her post, I was able to see it. It said:

Game On! First Chemo starting now!

Below that one line was a smiling picture of this strong and brave woman receiving her first treatment. 

 I was blown away by her amazing courage and her beautiful smile at the beginning of a journey that must be so daunting and terrifying. I was struck by the sudden urge to know her, so that I too could write words of support and encouragement below her picture, and find ways, however small, to lend my help and support to her and her family.  In an instant, Jane put my "bad" week into perspective. All I could think about was Jane and her family, and the struggles they had ahead of them. And there she was, facing all of that with a smile on her face.

I'm not saying that the things happening here at our house weren't real or worthy of some genuine mom stress and worry, but they were little things; little bumps in wonderfully full, rich lives filled with good health and lots of love. And don't get me wrong, as a family, we have weathered some really big, horrible bumps too. But not now, thankfully, and certainly not this week. 

In the quiet moments today and in the coming days, I will think of Jane and send her prayers and good thoughts for a quick and full recovery, and I will remind myself, often, to be grateful for this week.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Puppy Pangs

It's been ten months since we lost our beautiful Cooper to cancer. It was an awful, devastating loss in an already horrible year, and none of us are really over it, or probably ever will be. We miss Cooper constantly, and everyday, something happens to bring him to mind. Cooper was our first dog, and Mike's very best friend. He was a bit neurotic and needy (sort of like me) but also loving, protective and loyal to a fault.

Cooper and Abbey were both so small back then

After two years on his own, we gave Cooper a brother. Having two golden retrievers and three children was probably a bit crazy (not the three children part!). I spent many of the early days wondering what I was thinking. I said then, and I still believe it today, that having and caring for babies is FAR easier than caring for puppies. But two dogs together are really the sweetest thing ever. Cooper, grudgingly at first, made room in his life for Mason, and the two were inseparable.

Mason's first day at home

Are you really going to let him drink from my dish?

This is my favorite picture of the boys

Helping Mason adjust to life on his own these past 10 months has been hard. In the beginning, it was heartbreaking. If you mentioned Cooper's name, Mason's head would shoot up and he'd look all around for his friend. We have all tried to fill the empty place left by Cooper with more walks, more playing, more snuggles. But it's time. Time to start. Time for Mason to shine as the big brother. Time to turn the house upside down again with a crate, puppy training, chewed shoes.

I will regret this decision for a minute when spring or summer rains leave our backyard a swampy mess and this is what I have to deal with...

but it will be worth it all when I think of these times.

No puppy will ever replace Cooper, but he will be a beautiful reminder of the gorgeous boy who started us on this incredible journey.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Here Goes...Explaining The Road From October

I've been meaning to start this blog for a long time now. In fact, I did start one in September of 2012, when my oldest, Katie, left for college, but it just wasn't the right time. So I set a new goal -- October 2013. Yes, I do realize today is February 15, 2014. So you've learned something about me already. I am filled with good intentions, big plans and lofty goals. Sometimes I hit them, sometimes I don't. Let me explain...

In our house,  the "rule" is that all college applications must be completed and submitted by October 1st of your senior year. I didn't come up with this on my own. Someone very wise gave me this advice. If I could remember who it was, I would give them complete credit here and now, but my 47 year old brain cannot recall this important detail. This "rule" turned out to be the best rule I ever made. In 2011, when Katie was applying to schools, she was a procrastinator. We have an amazing relationship, but it was put to the test by the college application process. By insisting that all applications be done by October 1st, we knew that the stress (and bickering) that we both felt would all be behind us, and she could get on with the fun parts of her senior year. It worked beautifully and I'd highly recommend it.

This is where all of Katie's hard work led her

Enter child number two. This fall it was Cole's turn to submit his college applications. We implemented the same rule, for all of the same reasons, and it worked like a charm once again. Cole actually finished all of his applications on September 28th (just to beat his sister, I'm sure). At the same time, I set a secret deadline of October 1st  for myself too. I had been struggling with the feeling that I was less needed than ever, and wondering where my path would lead me next. I decided that it was time to restart (or really, start) my blog. I've been writing for years, but only for myself. I've gathered a collection of essays that have been for my eyes only.

I didn't make my October 1st goal, for many reasons, but I did The Road From October symbolizes my path forward now that two of my babies are firmly headed down their own fabulous paths. I do know I'm still needed more than ever by all of them (Abbey is 13 and we have lots of busy years still ahead of us),  but I'm needed in different ways, and there is room now for me to also explore additional avenues for my time and talents. Being brave enough to take those steps is harder than I thought. But I will take the first step today by hitting publish. Nothing looks pretty or organized or professional yet. It is bare bones. I will figure it out as I go along. If I felt the whole blog had to look perfect on day one, it would be next October before a single word was written.

The best work of my life

Thank you to the blogs and bloggers that inspired me to do this. They are a very diverse group and I gain something different from reading each one. They each touch a different part of me, and I always look forward to their posts. I will talk more about each of them in a future post.  If I can figure out how to link them here, I will:

Clover LaneSo Wonderful, So Marvelousviews from my kitchen sink71 ToesLisa BelkinCloset Cooking
Wow! I did it!

Thanks for reading. See you soon.