Category Archives: for fun

Happy, Shiny Day

There is always a summer day that stands out to me – The Happy, Shiny Day. There is a quality to the day that makes it quintessentially summer, special and a little sacred.

This very blog chronicles some of those days. I am not always sure it is happening, when it  is happening, but when that day begins to inhabit my thoughts in mid-September and take up residence in the spot labeled ‘Best Summer Memories’, it takes it’s place at the head of the line and earns itself that title. When it turns into a day whose heat and sunlight fuel my hope in February, it is forever sealed into the mental album where the others of their ilk are stored.

I knew this day was going to be in the running for a summertime award, when all three invitees amicably accpeted my invitiation and readied themselves in record time. When my request for time on the bayside, rather than the oceanside was met with resounding positivity, my happiness quotient expanded.

I sank down into my beach chair on the bay of Sandy Hook and I sank deeply into a space of sheer gratitude as I watched my boys play together. Play – with kind words and happy voices. I bought them ice cream and wished for a few more weeks of summer. Someone may have uttered the words, ‘Thank you for the beach day, mommy’. That someone may have been a teenager.

Sea creatures, and tidal pools and endless strand lines to comb for teasures are always ingredients that mix up into a delightful concoction for me. I wish that I had magical chemistry equipment that could distill these days down into a ‘Felix Felicis-type’ serums and save them in medicinal blue bottle for another time.

The school year has barreled into September like a NJ Transit Train with blaring horns and loud announcements. It’s dumped paperwork, early morning alarms, tight schedules, homework and a bit of unwelcome chaos and calamity on the platform as it sped off with my two of my boys.

I count the days to the Autumnal Equinox – I know it’s coming. So, I will line up my happy, shiny days like glossy, beautiful magazine photos for reading and purusing during the cooler, grayer and darker months that are coming. I will try to stay positive, but don’t blame me if I need to resort to what is in the cobalt blue bottle. 

Off The Rails

There is a roller coaster at the pier at Seaside Heights in which you hop into a little car and a chain pulls you to the top of the metal structure with clicking and clacking noises. It perches you at the top and releases your car to swivel, swerve, turn and dip by the shear forces of gravity.

My mornings go the same way. Clack, clack, clack and then ‘Go!’. The same 7 chores, in the same order and then a turn here, a dip there, faster, slower. Almost always exactly the same and firmly attached to metal rails to ensure the same route each time.

The remedy to the predictable routine, is to go off of the rails. A sure fire way to do that is to leave town. Usually I try to get my family to do that as often as physically and financially possible. But not this time. This was my first solo road trip ever.

I was invited to a friend’s wedding in Vermont and I truly wanted to be there for the occasion. I have never driven that distance alone, rarely do much of anything without our whole family, Dennis or at least one kid, and had never slept in a hotel room by myself. I don’t experience many days without an extensive to do list and a great deal of domestic responsibility.

I am fond of trail signs.

I am also fond of trails

Look at that sky!

Endless landscapes.

Firetower at Mr. Olga

Simply couldn’t resist. 

The wedding I attended was beautiful and all you would want for a dear friend and I squeezed every single drop of fun out of 36 hours in Vermont – 3 hikes, a climb to the top of fire watch tower, a ride on a high and fast ski lift and a beautiful reservoir kayak excursion. I felt free and accomplished and renewed.

When I woke up Monday morning to no coffee and no way to make it, I simply grabbed a five dollar bill and walked the quaint main street of Wilmington, Vermont until I saw an open sign at ‘Dot’s’.

The coffee was great and the experience of having nothing else to worry about except for a cup of coffee was fabulous.

Day Trippin’

If you don’t know what ‘Earthing‘ or ‘Grounding’ are and you don’t have a friend who reminds you that the best way to traipse through the New Jersey Botanical Gardens is barefoot, I suggest you remedy both deficits.

I love day trips with the fervor usually reserved for say … your firstborn. I dream of places to scoot off to at a moments notice and always have a list running in my head. I love packing my sage green, insulated picnic basket and trekking somewhere new and exciting or old and wonderful. I know from experience that the things I think are so important on the list for the day…can wait. Day trips pluck me from the thick mire of tasks and to-dos that hold my feet firmly in the muddy constraints of life. I can hear the metaphorical sucking sound as I break free.

If it’s one of my best days ever, you will find me floating in a river-fed, natural pool hewn out of rock in the middle of the woods. If you don’t believe in the healing power of nature, good vibes, the transformative power of stones, maybe you will get lucky and I will take you on a pilgrimage to a place that will change your mind.

I am the dot in the middle of the EMPTY pool! Photo by Sean Costello

Days like this lightening my load, feed my soul and clear my mind – and all for $13.

Crocheting is Hard

I love crocheting.

I think about patterns and yarns when I am washing the dishes and stitches and multiples when I am folding laundry. I have dreamt about crocheting.

I don’t know exactly how this started. One moment before my obsession with yarn and a second before I learned how to single crochet, I would have never believed you even if you had just returned from the future and told me I had ‘a yarn stash’, 42 sizes of crochet hooks, books of vintage patterns or completed multiple gift-worthy projects. One moment, I was a non-crocheter and the next I had produced an octagonal, spiderman-themed blanket for Sean.

During my first project, I learned several different stitches, how to change colors, increasing, decreasing, attaching with a seam and working in the round. Might as well dive right in!

Many times, I have tried to learn to knit. I come from a family of prolific and talented knitters – but it didn’t ‘stick’ and did not acquire a knack for it. Crochet stitches make sense to me and I like how it feels to make them and I love how they look when they are made. Except for hats. I dislike crocheted hats.

I distinctly remember most upticks in my skill set – when I could vividly spot an error (an fix it!), the first time I noticed a pattern was poorly written, and when I finally understood crochet diagrams (those beautifully perfect little mathematical buggers).

I have always been a fidgeter, with nervous habits like biting my nails and picking my cuticles. Phooey, such an ugly habit. Now my nails are neatly manicured and I have not had a problem with these habits in a loooooooong time.

I know for a fact that crocheting decreases my anxiety and I believe that reading through a pattern and learning a new stitch have both taken my mind off of something stressful or upsetting. I have been in situations where I regretted not having a crochet project with me, but it is not always appropriate – but I sure wish it was.

It is NOT HARD to find blogs like this, and this and this to inspire me and fuel my dreams and aspirations for future projects. I love hearing why other people crochet and who they crochet for. I have enjoyed honing my skills with lessons on Craftsy.

It is NOT HARD to find beautiful yarns that I cannot wait to work with like this, this, this & this. Yum. Anything named “Smooshy Cashmere” is for me!

It is NOT HARD to fill a Pinterest board with new and exciting patterns for interesting and useful gifty-type yarn creations.

It is NOT HARD because of the intricate stitches, math-based patterns or all the strategies and skills that allow you to produce near-perfect specimens of lovely, soft fabric.

It IS HARD but because crocheting calls to me and I don’t know how to answer it.

What IS HARD, oh so hard, is to find time. It’s hard to grant myself permission. There are pressing chores and tasks to tick off the list. Life rolls at a certain pace around here and the laundry waits for no one. Meetings, phone calls, paperwork and regular life often consumes the minutes and hours until there are only tiny scraps left with which to do the things that bring me the most pleasure. I often save it for car rides and late nights watching Dateline. Crocheting seems like a luxury and I don’t give it its own line item in my trusty bullet journal.

Crocheting is hard.

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New Year

What’s so good about the New Year?! Only EVERYTHING.

It’s like ‘Hope’ in a bottle. ‘Hope In A Bottle’ is not what caused my party-goers to fall down the front stairs, doze off on the couch or take a little rest on my front lawn. It was beautiful revelry – with a side of Karaoke. Totally my cup of tea.

partyroomThe dates leading up to the New Year…28…29….30….ah! They call to me. ‘Look! A blank page, a new start, a chance to begin again.’ Dennis laughs and asks me if I realize that I don’t need to wait for a date on the calendar for all of these things. Of course I do! There is no avoiding it – it really is 1/1 and to me that is exciting.

The day is a tool. Aren’t they all? It’s a reminder, a symbol and a beacon. It is a clear demarcation – a line in the proverbial sand? Do you know how much I love sand?

I use today to set intentions and solidify my ideas. Last year and this year I used Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook. I unraveled, raveled and developed a word for my year. No, I can’t tell you! It’s super-secret. But it’s awesome.

I have a new pen and a new notebook. I have plans, dreams, resolutions and goals neatly line up. I have big ideas that are full tiny details. I am constructing lists. I am one big walking, talking and breathing New Year’s cliche and I love every minute of it.

Happy New Year everyone. You don’t have to do it my way, but do it someway. Sure, it’s just another day, but it is all that we’ve got.

Can you guess what one of my New Year’s Resolutions is?

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Where Have I Been?

I’ve been right here.

But I’ve also been here…

Niagra Falls was crazy-cool. It’s somewhere you hear about, but just haven’t gotten too. At least we hadn’t. But now we did.

I’ve also been here…

The observatory made me tear up. It was truly awe-inspiring. If you can go, do that. I highly recommend it.

I’ve been in my kitchen.
I’ve been in the car.
I’ve been in therapy.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to write about. I’d say I’m back, but I’ve been here.

Sunday Scenes – Bye, Bye Boy Scout

Bright & early on Sunday morning, Gavin left for a six-week stint as a staff member at Boy Scout camp.

DSC06858 DSC06862People keep asking me if I am going to miss him. I suppose that I am. He is very helpful and keeps us all laughing, but I think camp is exactly where he should be and he is doing exactly what he wants to do be doing. I am more happy than sad!

Breakfast brought cooking lessons. I am trying very hard to work my way out of a job.

The results were stupendous.

DSC06880

Summertime is also an awesome time to learn new chores. I’ve got a list of things to teach Mikey & Sean – and just wait until Gavin gets home….

DSC06884 (1) DSC06886 DSC06885I am a gardener by no means. I have no talent for it and hardly enjoy it. But I dream of being good at it and enjoying it – so I keep trying. So far, the payoff is good.

Apparently, we also have a burgeoning comic book writer.

DSC06909 (1)Overall, these are my favorite scenes of any day, not just a Sunday. Keep ’em coming.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James