Thursday, December 31, 2009

how will you spend the last day of 2009?

My last day of the year started with a lazy morning and was followed by an afternoon at the beach. Pizza, we've discovered, tastes best served up with a bit of sand and sunshine. Now, I'm home and relaxing on the back porch (okay, yes, it is a lanai but I like to call it a porch and pretend I still live up north) and drinking a delicious cup of tea and catching up on blogs I like to read (okay, I don't have too much catching up to do - I've had lots of free time on my hands lately). Tonight we're going to spend the night at my parent's house and play board games. All in all, I'd say that this is a lovely way to end the year.

Do you have any new year's resolutions? I always make them and then forget them. Ah well. This year I resolve to not take myself so seriously. How's that? Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ahhhhh . . .

Yesterday Leslie and I treated ourselves to facials at the Aveda salon. Heaven. They put all of these really nice smelling creams all over your face and then keep covering them with really warm wet cloths that smell yummy. Really, heaven. To add to the pleasure overload, you get a foot and arm/hand massage thrown in for good measure.

If I become insanely rich someday, along with my personal chef, I am going to build a spa and employ someone to give me a facial every week.

On another note, I am loving all of the creative energy that I am having during my 2 week holiday. I have been playing and trying out lots of new art projects for the littles. I'm so excited to see the littles again and try them out! I'll share photos of the kids trying batik and monoprints in the new year . . .

Friday, December 25, 2009

ho ho ho

Our Traditions We Kept This Year:
trimming our tree (and one in Leslie's room as well)
Lori and Paul's cookie exchange
Bret's famous sugar cookies
celebrating with Char and Carlos the weekend before Christmas
Christmas Eve dinner & presents at my mom and dad's
a special Christmas breakfast
Bret making Christmas lunch
going to a movie in the afternoon (Sherlock Holmes)

Traditions We Skipped This Year:
the beach on Christmas day (kind of rainy for the beach)

And Maybe a New Tradition . . .
hitting the day after Christmas sales with Mom and Les in the morning (not sure why we don't usually do this but sounds like a good idea to me!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When I was about 4 years old my mom had a miscarriage. I'm not even sure how I knew about it. I remember staying with my aunt and knowing that my mom was in the hospital and thinking that she was there to have a baby. For some reason this stuck with me all through my childhood and I always wondered if that baby would have been a sister. I loved my little brother but I really really really wanted a sister. Someone to dress up. To play dolls with. To tell my girly secrets to.

My brother went into the army and moved to Germany when we were in our early 20's. He called home and said he had a new girlfriend. He sent photos. He was crazy about her. When he called to invite me to the wedding in France I couldn't wait to go. It was an adventure. It was exciting. It was really outside my box. But most importantly, I was finally getting that sister. I think one of the first things I ever said to her was "I always wanted a sister."

Well, having a sister was everything I hoped for. While I didn't dress her up and we didn't play dolls, we did go shopping and do crazy art projects and take trips together and I did finally have someone to share my girly secrets with. I was devastated when many years later they divorced. But somehow she and I managed to stay friends and keep in touch.

And now she has an amazing little boy. She looks radiantly happy and I am beyond happy for her. She is such a good mommy already and her boy is a lucky little guy. And even though she is not my sister on paper any longer - she will always be my sister in my heart.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

i never knew

I never knew it was so easy to make homemade tomato soup. For years I just relied on the old red and white can - dumping it in a pan and adding a can of milk. A few years ago I discovered some pretty tasty tomato soup in a box. No addition of milk needed! But yesterday's cool temperatures got me in the mood to make homemade soup. So, throwing caution to the wind, I gathered supplies and made soup for dinner. Bret and Leslie said they loved it - and they ate it all so I guess it was a success. Here's the recipe:

Saute an onion, a few chopped carrots, a couple of stalks of celery chopped small, a little thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic in olive oil. When it's soft add a box of chicken stock, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of white kidney beans (that you've rinsed to get rid of the salt). Simmer for about 30 minutes. Then puree with a hand blender.

This soup was really yummy and easy to throw together from things I just had on hand. I don't think I'll be going back to the red and white can any time soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

gratitude list

I've been reading Katrina Kenison's follow up to Mitten Strings for God which I read when Leslie was in preschool. While Mitten Strings was written as a guide to living a simple life with children, her latest memoir, the gift of an ordinary day, is about how to move into middle age with grace and thought. How to navigate the turbulent waters of life with teenagers as they prepare to go out into the world on their own. How to discover who you might be when you are no longer defined by your role as mother. While Leslie still has a few more years here with us before she goes off into the world, I found this book to be so right for this particular time in my life.

In gift, Kenison writes a gratitude list, as she embraces "the muddy magnificence of now" and realizes her old habit of longing for the future has no place in the world she inhabits as a 40-something year old woman. In the past few years I've been making an effort to take the time to be still and be thankful and really live in each and every moment NOW. So much of my past was spent wondering about what might happen in the future. What career path might I go down? Would I be able to get pregnant? Would I be able to have more than one child? Would my marriage be strong enough to survive the tests it was put to? What next? Now, I don't spend too much time wondering about what will be. It's enough to be happy in this moment. Thankful for the the many blessings in my life. Ignore the imperfections and embrace them along with the moments of true bliss.

And so, with a nod to Katrina Kenison, here is my gratitude list for today:

My daughter choosing to sit in the room with me (instead of in her room) while we both type on our computers, the lovely coolness of the day, the companionable silence of our house.

A day with friends, Bret feeling enough like his old self to cook for them, laughter, quiet conversation, company.

Leslie's room filled with art and music and fashion and laughter, a teenager who still wants to be with us and talk to us and let us into her world.

A job that lets me be creative and allows me to sing and dance and paint and do all sorts of things that I might not do if I didn't have ten little people to teach about the world they live in, a job that lets me be home with Leslie in the afternoon, the realization that my days of nurturing her are drawing to a close in the not to distant future and how that makes them sweeter still.

A cup of tea, Leslie asking me to please bring her the last piece of peach bread.

My parents stopping by with an impromptu pizza, throwing together salad, making 3 ingredient cookies, playing dominoes after dinner just like when I was a little kid eating Sunday dinner at my granny's house.

Our life today, right now, just as it is, with all of it's imperfections and joys and ups and downs. Because it is ours.

Thank you Katrina Kenison for a lovely read.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Education

Bret and I saw the film An Education last weekend. Loved it. Loved the period (early 60's) and setting (London). Great fashion. Great cars. Really, really lovely to look at. And the coming of age story was interesting and surprisingly believable - a 16 year old girl falls for a 30 year old man. The man is charismatic and smarmy at the same time. He somehow convinces the girl's parents to let him take her out and even to spend the weekend with him. Okay, I have a 15 year old daughter. I can't imagine ANY 30 year old that I would encourage my daughter to marry - but somehow it is plausible that these particular parents would allow this. Anyway, if you get the chance, see this film.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I miss winter. Real winter. Michigan winter. Put your layers on, don't forget your mittens and hat and scarf, let's go out and play in the snow winter. No school, snow day, unlimited possibilities of what we can do to amuse ourselves, there's no way I'm driving today winter. Let's go downtown and look at the lights and do a little shopping, don't you love the way your boots crunch in the snow, let's stop in here and get a hot cocoa winter. I miss winter. I surely do.

ps happy birthday little blog. you are one year old this month.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Beautiful Girl!

Dear Leslie,

I'm so happy that you had such a nice start to being 15 yesterday! New friends at school showering you with love and cards and even a painting. Old friends calling and messaging and contacting you with more birthday love. Cards and checks in the mail from aunties who love you, too. A cool unusual camera that is right up your alley coming in the mail from Karen. Making your own cake with Mama after school. Finally - a Blythe doll to inspire the art. Dinner with Grandma and Grandpa - basking in their love and your position as the one and only girl in our world. Coming home to a funny sweet message on the answering machine from Sal and Mol.

I don't know how I got to be so lucky to be your Mama but I am grateful each and every day. It is amazing to see you transforming before my eyes from a sweet, shy, little nature girl into the truly lovely, self-confident, brave, artistic young woman that you are. Happy birthday, Girl.

Love you, Mama

Thursday, November 19, 2009

homemade playdough rocks

Homemade playdough is so much cooler than it's store-bought counterpart. It's soft but not plastic-y. It smells nice (this batch smells like oranges!) thanks to organic oils. It is pleasing in it's natural color or with a bit of food color mixed in. I really missed homemade playdough. Good thing I have a new group of littles to make happy.

3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. salt
2 tbsp. cream of tartar
3 tbsp. oil
3 c. water
a few drops of essential oil (optional)
a few drops of food color (optional)

Mix ingredients well. Heat on medium burner stirring constantly until it thickens and pulls away from the pan. Knead for a few minutes. Store in air tight container.

Friday, October 30, 2009

ukulele girl

Goodbye piano. Goodbye violin. Hello ukulele! This girl of mine is incredible when it comes to musical instruments. She has an amazing ear and can pick up any instrument and play it. My dad gave her a quick lesson on the ukulele and she was off. Now she can't put the thing down! A girl obsessed with the ukulele . . . She makes me smile.

Friday, October 23, 2009

a little masking tape and a few index cards

Being currently unemployed (and saving all of my pennies to start a new business) I'm finding thrifty new ways to get my craft on without spending too much on supplies. Trying my best to use up what I have (must say I've stockpiled quite a bit) and get creative with other things in my desk. This mini album is made from index cards. I hole punched cards and cardstock and put it together with a couple of metal rings. I'm loving masking tape lately . . . for journaling on, holding things together, painting on, coloring on, adding depth, etc.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

wild things

We saw Where the Wild Things Are yesterday. It was visually gorgeous but otherwise a bit disappointing. I'm not really sure what the intended audience is. Despite being based on a classic children's book, it really isn't a movie for kids. It's about a boy whose parents divorce and the monsters seem to represent all of the feelings that he's dealing with. It was a little boring. I hate it when you're looking forward to something and it falls short for you. On a side note, Leslie liked it more than I did. Maybe she is the intended audience!

Monday, October 19, 2009

like michigan, but with spanish moss

We spent yesterday in Mount Dora and if I squinted my eyes half-closed and pretended not to see the Spanish moss then I could pretend I was in Michigan on the most perfect fall day. It was only about 60 degrees (thanks to a cold front blowing in) and leaves were actually falling off the trees! We walked around town, stopping to watch the train go by, drifting into antique stores (where Leslie scored a great leather jacket and an amazing little purse), drooling over cute little bungalows and imagining what it might be like to live in this hilly sweet town in central Florida. We eventually found ourselves in our favorite restaurant, The Goblin Market. It was appropriately decked out for Halloween. A perfect ending to a really nice weekend in Orlando with Char and Carlos.

This morning I have all of the windows open for the first time in our new house. Leslie didn't have school today so we got to sleep in a little and I'm still pajama-ed and having a relaxing slow morning, watching Ellen, doing laundry, and loving that cool "Michigan like" breeze blowing in. I'll enjoy it while I can - I hear it won't be around too long.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

autumn reading

normal people don't live like this by dylan landis
the gift of an ordinary day: a mother's memoir by katrina kenison
to kill a mockingbird by harper lee
ounce dice trice by alastair reid
the center of everything by laura moriarty

Sunday, October 4, 2009

jen- this post is for you

Apparently my husband feels he is in some sort of wacky "Martha Stewart" competition with you. This morning I woke up to breakfast in bed and a photo of his Dutch Baby on my camera!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Whip It

We loved this movie. Ellen Page is adorable. Love the girl power vibe. And how cool is it that this was filmed in Michigan?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Okay, now I remember why I live here . . .

Perfect afternoon on the water. It seemed like we had the entire Gulf of Mexico to ourselves. The humidity and heat of summer lifted for the day. The skies were free of their afternoon rain. The 3 of us were together, laughing and singing and dancing on the water. Perfect.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am stuck. Stuck in a place that is in between. I am in the limbo land of not knowing what my next step might be. So many directions that I might go in. Each one leading, perhaps, to the thing that will define me. This mucky mire that entangles me is sometimes overwhelming, occasionally exciting, but mostly it just leaves me feeling stuck. I vascilate between flurries of activity which seem to be propelling me forward to some sort of decision and the inability to do anything truly productive. Maybe this soul searching is all for nothing. Maybe the living is the thing after all. I will continue to tumble forward into my future without having to make any noise at all . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the important thing about these sneakers

the important thing about these sneakers is that i bought them so jen and i could walk together and get in shape instead of just talking about how we need to get in shape.

they are big and clunky.
they make my feet look huge.
they make my feet hot.
i feel like a dork when i wear them.
they don't go with anything i like to wear.
but they don't give me blisters.
and my knees don't hurt when i wear them.

and of course, the important thing about these sneakers is that i bought them so jen and i can walk together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

what you'll find in leslie's room

mid century modern
aunt sally
native american rug
grandma marge's paintbrushes
skinny jeans
baja hoodie
music magazines
framed art
unfinished canvas

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

4 things

4 things i'm looking forward to: opening my own school, being my own boss, making cupcakes tomorrow, and seeing a movie with jen this week . . .

4 things i did yesterday: saw the time traveler's wife, swam in my new pool for the 1st time, slept in until 8, had lunch with b and l at our favorite sushi place

4 things i wish i could do: play on a kick ball team, run in a marathon, have more courage, speak fluent French

4 shows i like to watch: grey's anatomy, the new adventures of old christine, a new show called glee (i loved the pilot anyway), Anthony Bourdain's no reservations

4 creative things i did this month: tweaked some old recipes, finished leslie's K-8 scrapbook, arranged our stuff in our new house, made a collage wall in leslie's room

4 wonderful blogs:,,,

Friday, September 4, 2009

i heart books

When I was a little girl my grandmother was a children's librarian at the East Detroit Public Library. This had many perks for me. I had lovely, award winning, hardcover children's books in my home purchased for me by my book loving gram. I was also lucky because I had many adults ( parents, grandmother, great grandmother) who loved to perform by reading in these amazing voices, making my favorite books take on a life of their own. I loved the Uncle Remus stories as told by Grammy (my great grandmother) in a really great southern accent. Two of my very favorite childhood books were The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Marcia Brown and Journey Cake Ho! by Ruth Sawyer. I've owned the billy goats for years (thanks to Scholastic book club) but had been searching for Journey Cake for years. Unfortunately I remembered it as Johnny Cake and not Journey Cake because at the end of the story the Journey Cake becomes a Johnny Cake! This summer, as I scanned the books in an antique store in Michigan I was absolutely overjoyed when I came across a perfect hardcover copy of Journey Cake Ho! As I read through the book, I feel as if I am transported back to that warm comfortable time of being snuggled up next to someone who loves me and listening to a story that is familiar and enchanting to me. I am a little surprised that these two books stand out among all of the thousands that I encountered. They are a little dark compared to the stories that I read to children in my classroom. In Journey Cake, Johnny is an orphan/servant/? who lives with an old man and an old woman. When the food runs out he is sent away. (Yikes!) (But I remember really liking that part!!!) Then the story turns into a version of the gingerbread boy with a pancake substituted for gingerbread. And of course, there is a happy ending. The story of the billy goats is (as everyone knows) a bit violent. And in this particular version the illustrations of the troll are truly awful. Thus, truly wonderful. Hmmm . . .

My love affair with books continues. There is nothing better than reading a book that pulls you into it's world so fully that you are left thinking about it for days after you finish the final page. I love it when I am reading a book that I love so much that I neglect housework, making dinner, etc. just to read a few more pages. (I'm sure my family loves that too.) I do have a confession to make, though. I never, never read a book from start to finish without checking out the ending. As many know, I detest surprises. Really. So, even when I promise myself I won't peak, as some point (usually when I'm about half way through it) I read the ending. I know. I know. I am ruining it for myself. I even do this when a story is predictable and I know what's going to happen. My latest read is Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos. This is one of those "sorry we're having sandwiches for dinner but I couldn't stop reading" books for me. And today, as soon as I realized where things were heading in the story, I skipped ahead to the end. (It's a great ending by the way!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

last night

Last night, as I snuggled up against my "oh so grown up" daughter just before she drifted off to sleep, she admitted to me that she likes that I'm not working this year. I think she felt like I gave too much of myself to my littles. My little one and only, who is so empathetic and giving, still doesn't like to share mom too much.

And how do I feel about not working? Well . . . I must admit it's been an adjustment. We all know that I don't do so well with surprises and change. But I also know that change is the only way we grow. I also know that this little piece of my life isn't going to last very long and I am going to just sit back and enjoy every teeny tiny sip of it. I love how excited Les is about high school. I love having the time to really enjoy this time in her life. I'm realizing that our time with her living here in our house, making us a perfect little triangle, is going to be over in a blink of an eye. As much as I try to stay in the moment, I can already picture her going off to college and starting the next chapter of her life.

Last night I started to realize, sitting there with my girl, that I didn't really lose anything. I've gained some precious time to enjoy this job that has been the absolute priority in my life since it began 14 years and 9 months ago. I can't think of a better job title: mama.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

day 2

Oh boy! We knew that high school was going to be a big change. We just didn't anticipate how big. Yes, she did go to a teeny tiny elementary and an only slightly less tiny middle. But public high school isn't just huge. It's the REAL world in a microcosm. And I know in my heart that she is capable and strong and smart and brave and totally ready for this. But that didn't make it any easier to let her go this morning. I think that Day 2 is going to be a very long day indeed . . .

On a more positive note: Being a SAHM is really growing on me. It's only 9am and I already have dessert cooling in the fridge (trying the cheesecake from Enjoying the Small Things) and dinner in the crockpot. I miss my littles but I do like having time to do things at home. I'm going to enjoy it because I'm afraid it won't last long. I have a meeting later this week to talk about writing a grant to start a school . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 1 of being a stay at home mom to a high schooler!

Day 1 began at 5:40. A wee bit early for my liking. Said high schooler was up and ready to be out the door at 6:40. Small debate on whether or not she should wear the school spirit shirt that the principal handed out at orientation. My little "I'm an orange, not an apple" of course opted for no school spirit shirt. After dropping her off in car line (which went really quickly I must say), Bret and I went out to a "Can you believe our child is in high school!!!!????" breakfast. B. was teary eyed which I found very endearing. I dropped B. at work (maybe we don't need 2 cars any longer!!!) and came home to finish unpacking very last box, do 3 loads of laundry, and upload all of our vacation photos. It's only 10:00 and I'm taking a tea break but feel like I already need a nap! I think I'm going to like this stay at home mom stuff very much thank you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." - Elizabeth Stone

Today my heart went walking around a high school campus for 9th grade orientation. As I dropped her off in the parking lot, I was more nervous (but tried not to show it) than she was. Those wings are just getting stronger and stronger as each day goes by. She is making her way in this wonderful and sometimes scary world. And I am so proud of her that I am almost bursting.

Orientation went very well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Fall has always been my favorite time. Going back to school. A feeling of change in the air. Something ending and something new beginning. Even moving to a tropical climate couldn't dampen my enthusiasm for the season. We may not get autumn color or leaves to rake but I still feel that little kid excitement for the start of the school year and all that autumn brings.

This year, more is changing in our lives than in years past. A new home. A new business venture. High school. Me not going back to the classroom. Kind of makes my head spin just writing about it. Typically I'm not so great with the unknown but I'm feeling like I should maybe embrace all of this newness. I think I'm ready for change. I wouldn't say I was bored but I was definitely complacent.

I don't know what this season is going to bring for us but I'm a little excited to find out . . . For once, I'm not going to spend all of my time planning out what my life should be. And I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

michigan was . . .

leslie's new friends and amazing camp memories

wildlife everywhere! (that's a real deer in someone's front yard!)the familiarity of home
amazing food and farm markets

beautiful days exploring up north

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


today . . .
i woke up on the sofa after moving there during the night with a coughing fit
i took my girl to register for high school (not as scary as it sounds)
i only unpacked 3 boxes (guess i'm running out of steam)
i helped leslie lou pack for a trip to disney with taylor
i had lunch with lou at that cute cafe downtown (french toast- my new fav for any meal)
i had a nice long chat with sal
i attempted to make dinner for lou amid the chaos that is my kitchen

tomorrow leslie's bed will be delivered and i'll try to get closer to the end of the boxes.
wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

hello from michigan :)

hello. well, we've been in michigan for 11 days now. yikes. feels strange to be away from home for so long. 'specially since i still consider this to be home. when i'm in florida i am homesick for michigan and when i am in michigan i am homesick for florida. go figure.

camp update: so far, so great! les seems to be lovin camp. she calls almost every day and her little voice is just joyful. she is meeting new people, having new experiences, testing those little wings of hers. can't wait to see her this weekend though. driving up there with sal and kar to visit and drop off a care package. it will be 2 weeks since i've seen her! then she has one last week of camp and i'll have one last week of fitting in all of my favorite things to do in my home state: garage sales, antique hunting, lunching with friends, eating at junky big boy, catching up with all of the people i love and miss so much, walking along paint creek, enjoying all of the gorgeous flowers in bloom, talking hour long walks through the streets and looking at all of the cool old bungalows that bret and i would like to own one day, checking out fairs and farmers markets and all things michigan.

update on the new house: bret is going crazy getting our new home ready for us to move into when we return. painting. cleaning. building. planting. can't wait to get into it and start nesting. then i can finally turn my attention to the new school year . . .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

last post for a bit

We closed on both houses today. Hooray!!! Feels like a big weight has been lifted. Bret and I have both been a little stressed - worrying that something would go wrong at the last minute.

Leslie and I leave tomorrow (camp for her and relaxing with my pals in Michigan for me!) so I won't be able to blog again until August. I'll let you know how the camp thing goes. This is the first time L has been away from me for more than a few days. I am really going to miss her. I hope I can make it 3 weeks! How will I cope?!

Bye for now . . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I don't love restaurants. (Yes, I do realize it is because we eat out so much. The irony.)
I don't love cooking. (Although I do love cookbooks.)
But I do heart having my friend invite me over to cook for me! This weekend we struck pay dirt. We drove to Boca for Jim's birthday party on Friday and were fed by Pam. And when we came home on Saturday we went to Jen's for a Fourth of July barbeque. She always makes us really yummy, pretty food. (See cake above.) Eating home cooked food that someone took the time and care to prepare for you is really better than anything.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

turning over a new leaf

kay, b. & l. & I have turned over a new leaf.  we are not going to say negative things about this paradise we live in.  we are not going to complain about too many cranky seniors, or the lack of this or that, or even the weather (welllll . . . maybe the weather).  here is my list of reasons to love swf:

*the beach
*the boating
*lots of sunshine
*everything here is new and they were picky about zoning so there are no weird signs all over the place and no tacky stuff like in ft. lauderdale
*the rest of the world vacations here
*there are lots of nice places to drive to for a weekend away
*cafe normandie, miss saigon, food & thought, passage to india & all of the other little places we like to eat
*our cute downtown
*the new gelato place
*the farmer's market
*our new whole foods

ps  found that missing post . . . it just popped up out of nowhere
Hey, I could swear I posted another blog 2 days ago!  Disappeared!  Oh well, maybe in my moving haze  I accidentally didn't publish the post.  I do have a bit of a full plate right now.  Moving is not just boxes but also a million little details to tidy up.  Going on an almost 4 week holiday right after the closings isn't helping matters much.  Leslie and I won't even actually spend a night in the new house until we return from the trip.  Bret will be busy getting the new place clean, painted, shelved (new built in shelves and desk for me! yippee!), and sealed (the floors that is).  Then he'll have the furniture delivered right before we return.  

On top of the move and the trip I'm also a little distracted right now by the whole Leslie school thing.  Turns out we were given misinformation in regards to which high school the new house is zoned for.  Changing from private to public and middle to high is already a big deal.  But my poor little trooper has now been gearing herself up to start school in 3 different schools.  The school that it looks like she is actually zoned for would not be my first pick.  Or even my second.  But one of Leslie's good friends is going there and she seems happy with it.  I know that I tend to over think things & worry about the "what ifs".  I guess I need to just step back and see how it goes.  I am so proud of what a good student she is.  And the kind of person she is. I know that she will make good choices & the best of whatever situation she is in.  The mama in me just wants to keep protecting and watching out, I guess.  But I also know that I need to balance that protection and guidance with giving her some independence right now.  All part of growing up - for both of us, I guess.  

I have to end this little post.  A day of insurance agents, finishing up the packing, mailing out change of address cards, and lunch with my mom and Leslie awaits me . . . 

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Okay, I will have to admit that I would not choose to pack up everything I own into millions of boxes.  But since I don't have a choice . . . I am enjoying some aspects of this dismantling of our home: 

It's really fun to find things that I haven't seen since I unpacked them 5 years ago.  

It feels cleansing to get rid of so much stuff that we don't need any longer.  (And nice to pass it on to someone who thinks they DO need it.)

It will be nice to be dust free for a bit.

Asking Leslie to pack up her old Legos and finding her sitting in the middle of the floor immersed in playing with them.  (She may be ready to go off to high school but the lure of Legos is still there.  Love that.)

Asking Leslie to pack up her old Barbies to give to a friend's little girls and . . . (see Lego entry).

Knowing that this job is almost finished and soon I'll be relaxing in Michigan . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I was going to change this song but it is just SO appropriate for what I am feeling right now.  This is our 14th move in 22 years of marriage.  14!  You'd think I'd be used to it by now.  (I am pretty good at packing boxes, thank you.)  I am just a little overwhelmed by all the stuff we have to cart around in this life.  Do I really need all of my little collections?  Do I really need all of Leslie's baby stuff?  Do I really need all of these shoes?!  Do I really need all of these books?  I guess I must.  Cuz I am packin' em up once again.  

In the song he talks about some stuff he leaves behind and he wants it back.  I always leave stuff behind.  I don't really mean to but somehow I do.  A few years ago, Les and I were back in Michigan and we were driving by all of our old houses.  One of them still had all of my cute little cement garden bunnies and squirrels in the yard.  Les said, "Those are still ours!  I want them back!"  Ha.  Just like her mom.  I really regret that I had to leave the painting that Arnold did for us.  When we moved to Florida I had a really mean mover and Bret was already in Florida so I was doing it on my own and I didn't stand up to him when he was doing such a lousy job and refusing to take certain things.  The painting was so big that I couldn't even fit it in my car to take it to a friend's house.  

I guess this nomad life we have is exciting in some ways.  It lets us try lots of different things. We've lived on the lake, near the sea, in an arts and crafts bungalow, and a noisy apartment, a neighborhood where all of the houses looked the same, a neighborhood with a gate, houses with a best friend for Leslie next door, and neighborhoods where I knew everyone on the block. What will this new chapter in our lives bring?  (And what do you suppose I will leave behind?)

Friday, June 19, 2009

something to read & something to watch

Amanda Soule's The Creative Family.  Love her blog.  Love this book.

I Capture the Castle.  This was one of my favorite books of all time (by Dodie Smith) & I had kind of forgotten about it.  When the film came out I missed it but came across the dvd just recently.  We all watched it last night.  And we all adored it.  Right up our alley.  It has an R rating for some brief nudity (the stepmom is an artist and a nudist) but it was really appropriate for even a pre-teen.  The story is set in the 30's in England and is told by a 17 year old who lives in a castle with her very artsy family.  

Yes, I am still avoiding the boxes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

today i tunneled out from under the boxes and followed my mom and leslie lou to waterside mall.  yippee!  retail therapy.  may just be a band-aid but it makes me feel good just the same.  i love a good deal & one of my favorite shops is leaving south florida & was having a fabulous sale so i bought some cute pants that actually fit me and a few cute t-shirts that cover up the big thing on my arm from the doctor last week.  we also had a nice lunch at nordstrom & some girl talk.  now i am somewhat revitalized and ready to take on the mountain of boxes that is calling my name.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

summer salad

This is our go to summer dinner.  Really easy.  Really light.  Really yummy.
We use romaine lettuce and boneless chicken breast.  Bret and I also like to add onion, peppers, and other veggies but Leslie likes hers with just chicken, lettuce, and dressing.  Here is the dressing recipe:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon crushed mint

Pour lemon juice and oil into a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Add the salt & pepper, garlic, and mint.  Shake jar to blend.  

Friday, June 12, 2009

love this . . .

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrow,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.           -Rumi

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


summer should be sleeping in, pancakes for breakfast, flip-flops and bare feet, the pool, naps, reading, reading, and more reading, evening bike rides . . .

so far, our summer is:  stressing out, not being able to sleep, knots in the stomach, wondering where we will be in the fall, going one direction and then turning and going in another . . .

i am making a conscious effort to make this summer fun despite the fact that things are a little upside down right now.  leslie is doing a good job of keeping my mind on what is really important.  being together.  somehow the other stuff will all work itself out.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Dear Leslie,

I was so proud of you last night - up on that stage, so poised and grown up.  It has been everything to be your mom and watch you grow into the beautiful, caring, lovely young woman that you are. It's amazing really - to still see in you the seeds of the little girl you were and the sprouts of the woman you are becoming.  A heart that is brimming with compassion.  A knowledge of who you are and what you want.  An independent streak that sometimes challenges me.  A person who cares deeply about others and the world around you.  I love you, my girl.  And I am so thankful, every day, that I am your mama. 



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The heart wants what it wants.  Who said that?  My heart wants to be in Michigan.  I was already there in my head.  So close.  Seven years of waiting.  Biding my time.  Finally we decided to put it in God's hands.  Just put everything we own up for sale and see what happens.  If nothing happened then we'd make the best of it.  Stop complaining . . . about the heat, the bugs, the hurricanes, the cranky old people, the heat.  Well, you know the story.  It sold.  All of it.  And the timing couldn't be more perfect, could it?  Leslie poised to begin high school.  A new start for her no matter how you look at it.  

Me.  Already planning.  Wheels turning.  Picturing autumn . . . walks in the leaves, the smell of cider, apple picking, real Halloween.  Summers on the lake, parties in the backyard, teaching Leslie to water ski.  Leslie starting high school with old kindergarten buddies and her sister/buddy, Emma.  Christmas with real snow.  Home.

Now, a hiccup.  Bret has cold feet.  Freezing, really.  How will he start a new business in a climate where even the big guys are going bankrupt?  Will the move be disastrous for us financially?  He's losing sleep.  We're talking big bags under the eyes loss of sleep.  He's asking us to reconsider.  

Leslie is too much like me.  Already in Michigan in her head.  Planning how she and Emma will meet downtown for coffee.  Planning high school in a place she knows and loves.  The heart wants what it wants.  We are heartbroken.

Today I drove around looking for a place to move if we have to stay here.  I found myself sobbing.  I don't care where we move.  I don't want to be here.  I was already gone . . . 

Friday, May 29, 2009

things to like on a friday . . .

*sitting with the littles during snack and asking them to go around the table and tell one thing they'll really miss about pre-k (playground, art projects, etc) and unprompted (i promise) they all said me.  wow.  i almost lost it.  they are sweeter than sweet.  sweetness with a cherry on top.  
totally made my day.

*impromptu lunch with jen & grant

*leslie dressing jack up in doll clothes that i brought home from school (just like when she was a little!  some things never change)

*driving lou to school this morning & getting to do the morning chat thing - love that & i always miss it cuz dad does the morning thing

*chatting with char & feeling a little better about the enormity of the move (it helps that she is going through it too!)

*the whole weekend stretching out before us - love that

Monday, May 25, 2009

We received an offer on the house today.  We counter-offered and haven't heard back from them yet . . . Not sure if I am elated or deflated.  hmmm.  If we do indeed sell the house then that propels us into some sort of a decision.  Action is needed.  But what action?  Which is the best action?  You know me, lover of comfort and familiarity.  I do realize that inaction is making a decision of sorts.  It is deciding to do nothing.  So, I leave myself in God's hands.  And everything seems to be coming together.  But still I am stuck in this limbo of indecision.  Stay or go?  

Leslie is so brave.  She says that going is a new adventure.  She is not afraid to venture into the unknown.  (Yes, I know that Michigan is not exactly an unknown for us.)  We have lived in Florida for exactly half of her life.  What impact will our decision now have on our future - her future?  It will probably help to determine where she will go to college.  Certainly it will change who her first boyfriend is.  Where her first job is.  Where she hangs out with friends after school.  

This is so hard.  Harder even than when we decided to leave Michigan to come here.  Back then I was naive enough to believe that it would be easy to undo any change we made.  Just pack up and move back.  Yeah, right.  

Today we all made pro/con lists for staying and going.  I will miss my friends here.  It will be hard to be so far from my parents for most of the year.  I will hate leaving my job without the knowledge that I have another job with littles to look forward to.  I do know that whatever we decide I will be melancholy with regret for which ever place we did not chose.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

happy birthday to me

46 good things about being 46:

not afraid to talk in front of a crowd
not afraid to stand up for myself or my daughter or what i believe in
not afraid to be alone
i understand myself and my motivation better
understand motivation of others better
not easily upset by the little stuff that happens anymore (unless i have pms)
i do things because i want to and not because i have to
understand that i have a responsibility to give back (looking for more ways to do this)
don't overly obsess about a clean house
remember to do what's important:  tell leslie i love her everyday, be in the moment with the people that i love
have learned to listen more and talk less (really working on this as i am a chatterbox by nature)
am becoming a better teacher because i'm stepping back and listening more
really trying to be a better daughter and sister by not taking my family for granted
realizing what really matters to me
feeling content
feeling brave
feeling confident that things will work out as they should
making sure i get my 12 hugs a day (leslie and the littles really help here)
taking time for quiet, time to just be and reflect and not be on
trying to make time for creativity
pushing myself to do things i don't necessarily want to do because they are out of my comfort zone
trying not to mindlessly chatter to fill silence
embrace silence
being comfortable in my body and accepting it with all of it's attributes and flaws
knowing my limitations
listening to my body and taking better care of it
trying to be conscious of what i'm putting in my body to nourish it - not eating for comfort
realizing that not everyone is going to like me and realizing that that is okay
discovering how much i like to blog
feeling like i still have time to do something big
loving my relationship with my teenager who is a really lovely human being
feeling strong in my marriage but also realizing that a marriage is only as strong as the work you put into it
remembering to share my memories and stories of my grandparents with leslie so they can be a part of who she is too
learning to forgive
learning to move on
remembering to be kind
trying hard not to be judgemental and to put myself in someone else's shoes
strengthening my relationship with God
taking responsibility for my actions
trying to help and not hurt
trying to learn new things
trying to push myself
trying to put myself out there more 
remembering to be thankful
accepting the fact that i am middle aged! (wow, that was hard)
embracing the fact that i am middle aged (okay, that one is going to take some work . . .)

happy birthday to me.  i think 46 is a nice even number.  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

have you ever loved a song so much that it almost hurts to listen to it?  you have to play it over and over and over.  it speaks to you for some reason - you may not even be sure what that reason is.  okay - so then you get a little obsessed.  you have to find out about the band or singer or whatever.  what else do they have out there?  and maybe you buy something else they've done.  but probably whatever it is is not going to measure up to that first thing that really got to you in the first place.  this phenomenon usually happens to you when you're maybe 13 or 14.  the song probably has something to do with guys.  unrequited love.  something like that.  but if you are really lucky and you really love music then maybe this happens to you over and over in your life, no matter how old you are.  my new obsession is called 'light catches your face' and it's by bell x1.  listen to it.  it may not speak to you like it speaks to me.  but maybe it will.  (the song that's playing is not 'light catches your face' - couldn't find it to post - sorry.)

Bell X1 Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, May 17, 2009

sunday morning: what inspires me today

*design sponge blog - i love that the world is so small when you have the web 
*sunday morning t.v. show- they always have such interesting segments, reminds me of visiting my grandmother for some reason
*fresh simple food- we ate lunch at cafe normandie yesterday & i can't wait to recreate the salad 
*leslie's creativity- she is always up for trying new materials and a new project - we're going to buy some ink and real caligraphy pens and play today
*organization- thinking, thinking, thinking of some new ways to organize all of my children's books
*black ballet flats that i spied in the window of a shop downtown yesterday
*a clean house
*the photos on 3191 miles apart
*nyc, asheville, portland, philadelphia, vancouver . . . lake orion

Friday, May 15, 2009

a little sad

The end of the school year is always a bit bittersweet.  I love, love, love the lazy slow days of summer vacation but it's always hard to say goodbye to another year.  I'm sad that Leslie will no longer be in middle school.  I'm sad that my littles, my mini-friends, will be moving on to the next step in their lives - kindergarten.  Tonight I saw an old little (Anna) at our favorite restaurant.  So sweet to see her and her lovely parents - but again, sad.  She proudly told me that she read 250 books this year and she's so tall and grown up looking.  Just wish I could keep all of my littles with me!  Why does time have to pass so quickly?  

Getting ready for our end of the year program.  It's not too bad.  I don't really have to do anything except hand out diplomas and stand near the stage while the littles sing.  I don't know why, but when kids sing or perform on stage it always makes me want to cry.  I was holding back tears the entire night of Leslie's final performance last week.  Jen wants to do the "goodbye" song from Sound of Music for our program this year.  We just introduced the littles to the song today.  Yikes.  I told Jen that it's going to be her singing (I can't seem to remember the words!) and crying.  But maybe it will be her singing and me crying and the littles just standing there looking cute.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Team Teaching

I'm loving the team teaching thing.  I forgot how much I love watching other teachers.  And how much I can learn from them.  Jen does a great job reading to the littles - she really gets into the story and they love it.  Today she read Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed complete with monkey props and a doll bed!  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

what i'm reading in all of my spare time :)

I have 3 books going right now.  The first is actually from a blog.  Or two.  It's called A Year of Mornings and it's by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes.  It's a collection of photographs taken by these 2 women every morning for one year.  They really only know each other from the internet.  And they live 3191 miles apart.  But their photographs are so simple and beautiful.  I'm hoping it's going to inspire me to take better photos for my blog.

The second book I'm reading is New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver.  Her poetry is so accessible.  I love this line:  
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

And, last but not least, a little fiction to round things out. Testimony by Anita Shreve.  I loved The Pilot's Wife but never picked up her other stuff for some reason.  

So, hoping to have some time to read soon.  Last summer I read 50 or 60 books.  Really.  (Yes, I did other things, too.)  Seems like during the school year I'm pretty consumed with teaching so I don't make it through too many books.  But summer is all about recharging and relaxing and reading.  For me anyway!

Project Based Learning: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears . . .

Jen & I have been very interested in project based learning and all of the Reggio inspired stuff that's going on.  We decided to jump into it (well, wade in really) for the last few weeks of school.  It's difficult to break away from theme teaching, though.  We've been trying some team teaching this week and we're letting the kids work in both classrooms.  That has been pretty successful, I think.  The other stuff will come.  It's just going to take some time to break old habits.  I think it's so interesting that my philosophy of teaching continues to change.  I could never be a teacher that does the same thing year after year.  That's why this project based learning has me so geeked.