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Bits of Bliss

I don’t get a lot of downtime and I am rarely alone. Quite frankly, I don’t often sit down and silence is a strange and very unusual sound for me. I do not have significant blocks of time to myself.

I am though, cultivating my ability to savor tiny, miniature moments that I can carve out of my days here and there. I grab these little moments where and when I can. When that’s all that you have, you hang on to them tightly.

On Monday, I decided to clean the pool. When I don’t want to do other chores, I clean the pool. I sprayed and scrubbed, skimmed and vacuumed. As always, I brought my favorite, waterproof speaker with me and tuned Pandora to ’80’s Pop’. When I realized the sun was strong and hot, I decided my bathing suit was in order – because the more skin I can get into the sunshine, the better! I noticed the pool was sparkling blue, clean and clear. I also noticed that no one was calling for me, my Adirondack chair was within reach and ZZ Top, Robert Palmer and Culture Club were streaming from my speaker. I had the ingredients for a delicious little break.

So I plunked myself down in my yellow chair in one of my favorite spots – my tiny deck, in the tiny yard of my tiny house with my favorite decade of music swirling around my head. I put my feet up on the warm, wooden railing and tipped my head back. With my eyes closed, it might as well’ve been Tahiti.

Dennis asked what I was doing. ‘Nothing’, I said literally. I did that for the 17 minutes it took my phone to run out of batteries. My perfect little capsule of leisure came to an end and I commenced my ‘real’ chores and the rest of my day.

On another day, I found myself kidless (what?) with a few extra moments between appointments. My sister called me on my cell and asked me what I was doing. What I was doing was sitting in my car in the Shoprite parking lot with the AC blasting, eating a salad that I didn’t make, listening to Neverwhere by Nail Gaiman on Audible. All. By. My. Self.

My sister laughed at me when I told her I’d have to call her back.

I adjusted my chair for maximum legroom and adjusted the temperature controls further towards the little blue snowflake. I snapped open the clear plastic lid of a super-market salad bar salad. No chopping for me – just pure enjoyment. Neil Gaiman’s dreamy voice and fetching accent narrate his own books. Thank God. I’ll save Neil Gaiman for another post – I am late to discover his cache of books and am REALLY sorry about that.  I had exactly 20 minutes to kill. Just enough.

And it is just enough. But I have to watch for the moments so carefully. They are like the little blocks in Tetris that begin to pass in front of you so quickly and if you don’t watch carefully, you are not sure how they fit in until they are going so fast they stack up and end your game! I watch for them coming and realize I can fit that little piece in – right here, right now.

Because those little moments of bliss –

You gotta grab ’em.

Sometimes it takes a set back to realize we need to slow down and replenish, we can't do it all, here's an honest from the heart post about creative burnout

Queen of the World

I was once Queen of the World.

You don’t think so?!

Check out the entries on this very blog from September, 2010 or July 2012 or June 2014. Farms and experiments, day trips and tiny, adorable children dot those pages. Easy, breezy fun happened at ever turn and all things were new and exciting. I had little kids whose needs, quite honestly, were easily met.

Even if I was not Queen of the World, I was, at least, Queen of Pancakes, Playdates, Parks and Picnic Blankets – and that is saying a lot.

I haven’t blogged much over the last year, because so much has changed and I now live on another planet. The terrain is unfamiliar and the atmosphere is completely different. Ethan is now an adult and I like to vent my frustrations write about this new world at Living With A Happy Man.  The system in which we are dealing and the emotions that I am contending with are running a tight second to the disconcerting first few years of his life.

The smiling, muddy homeschoolers who were the muses of most of my posts became teenagers and went off to public school. They took to that like fish to water, while I was left floundering a little in a very different role. Definitely NOT Queen of the World. More like waitress and chauffeur. I could not have known the immensity of the statement ‘little kids, little problems’ and the converse about big kids until now. I have really, really good kids – and this teen parenting thing is intense. Emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually, I am always reckoning with an issue with or for one of them.

The adorable, miniature accessory I used to have, otherwise known as ‘Sean’, does not even resemble the skinny little toddler who graced my pages with great photos entitled ‘The Daily Sean’. He is 8 and thinks he’s 12. No kid shows or toys for this one. I’ve been cheated. Homeschooling alone is nothing like the homeschooling a passel and we are trying to find our footing on this new planet I told you that we now inhabit.

This one will ALWAYS pose for a picture! Makes me happy 🙂

My teens do not love me sharing their personal information or letting me take photos for that matter. I feel like an era is over and that has made it hard to continue here in my little corner of cyberspace. But, I’ve been soul searching and going to therapy, which turns out are the same thing, and I realized that writing is my jam. I acknowledge that I like it, love it and really want to hone it. What better place to do that than here.

So it’s back to the drawing board, literally. My goals is to write about what is in front of me – the sights, the sounds and the experiences. My goal is to be authentic and get a little (or a lot) personal.

My goal, really, is to write.

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Skillz

I have a list entitled, “Things I Want The Boyz To Learn”.

Algebra, world history, and chemistry have not made my list. They can pursue these things if they wish – or their schools require it, it’s just that my list is way more important.

How to tie and tie, clean a bathroom, grill a steak and an effective way to make a sincere apology ~ those are on my list. How to start a charcoal grill, light a fire in a fireplace and jump start a car. It’s a long list. I take every chance I can ~ or make sure someone else can ~ to teach them things they simple won’t and can’t learn in school.

I needed to send a paper registration and a check – what?! no internet? – to a government agency last week. I sat Sean down to do it with me. Trust me, these things are WAY easier to do without an apprentice – but it must be done. Return address, stamp and address. Nope, he didn’t know what a zip code was. I explained that we could send almost anything through the mail and stamps are actual currency. His idea of mail was junk mail and Amazon deliveries. He liked the ‘check’ idea too. His usual exposure to any form of payment is ‘the swipe’ 🙂

I made some homemade soup for a sick family member last week. I called the boyz off their various electronic devices and sat them at the kitchen counter – do you think they were thrilled? They have NO concept of why food preparation might be hard if you are ill or grieving. Their food magically appears without much care for the planning, the list, and the shopping. They are getting better at cooking – and don’t worry, “how to make lasagna and chicken soup” are on the list. I explained disposable containers were imperative and not asking, just doing, is the preferred method for providing food – that most people will say that they are ‘fine’. We are men of action – remember that, boyz.

DSC00082Two of the boys, unfortunately, had the experience recently of learning how and why we send sympathy cards. Mikey, the sweet boy, asked if sending a card did not just remind the person of their loss. As sad as it was, I was glad we had a chance to talk about why we participate in certain social rituals regarding loss.

It takes a certain level of mindfulness to remember to pull them or push them into circumstances in which they can master all types of practical life skills. It is usually easier to do these tasks yourself, but not a good, long-term plan.

Other wise moms have reminded me that when there is a huge sink full of dishes – I am not the only one with working arms and when we are out of cookies….

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Memorize & make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

Summer Carnage

The garden is weedy and leggy and the lettuce has bolted. Battered sneakers lay on the front steps, weathered from river walks.  Bathing suits are faded and thread bare from chlorine and salt water. My hair is dry – the texture of summer hay – designed by being out-of-doors more hours than in.

Phone messages are beckoning with blinking lights on the phone console and laundry is statically many loads short of done. Meal planning has digressed to the point that the term ‘meal planning’ cannot be used for what I am doing – which is rummaging through the freezer for appetizers and chicken wings overlooked by the last party. The to-do lists and projects remain undone. Unfortunately. Very unfortunately.

I pursue July & August like a gorgeous, popular best friend of whom I cannot get enough. Pretty and tan – I want all of her attention. I grab at the days desperately in an attempt to feed my addiction to the light, and heat, water, waves and blue skies. I both consume it and am consumed by it in a glorious paradox. Summer.

Even now, there are school forms to be filled out, appointments to be made, routines to be adhered too and activities require that I promptly get on the September merri-go-round.

Excuse me if I don’t comply. If there are sunny warm days that need my attention, I’ll have to reschedule.

September’s Summer only has 18 more days. Astronomical Autumn will occur on September 23.

If it’s good enough for the sun, moon & stars, it’s good enough for me.

“Summer ends, and Autumn comes,
and he who would have it
otherwise would have high tide always
and a full moon every night.”
~ Hal Borland

Ethan Goes Fast

I did say that 20 years seems to have gone fast…but not faster than this Lamborghini-ride-birthday-present Ethan received from my mom.

They went so fast. On a precarious part of the course, I looked away! He loved every minute of it.

CJPH6234Cool day for a really cool guy.

I need to thank Cloud 9 Exotics for a really great day…they threw in a couple of extra laps as a gift. Ethan has that effect on people 🙂