Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Ward Wedding Toast...Two weeks later

            I discovered a pretty surprising fact two weeks ago today.  It’s still fresh but I think I’m ready to write about it…  I am not good at wedding speeches.  It’s bit embarrassing to tell the truth.  In case you were unaware, I TAUGHT public speaking for almost 6 years, so you’d think I had this in the bag.  But when I grabbed the mic that Friday night, “My mind just drew a blank, like ‘La-La-La.’”  (Anyone? The Game, early 2000s?  No?! anyway….) 
But Hunter and Jane deserve better than that.   And it is not too late!  So, this is what I wish I’d said even though I definitely would have gotten choked up…maybe have had to hold up a shaky hand and ask everyone to wait a minute while I pulled it together….but this is what I would have said if I had the guts.

Photograph courtesy of
            Jane, I love you.  I have loved you since the moment you were born.  I have loved you beyond all reason and cherish every moment with you.  I am so sorry I have tried so hard to be your mother.  I am sorry I have tried so hard to be “cool.”  I am sorry I did not figure out sooner how to be more transparent and genuine with such an extraordinary little sister.  
I’m sorry that I taught you how to skinny dip and streak around town forest….well mostly I’m just sorry you got caught ;)
         I am not at all sorry that we are hardcore Disneyland fans, that we love hiking to Heublein Tower, writing each other letters, and reading the Baudelaires aloud (that was like my first sign that Hunter was “the one” for you.  A die hard Lemmony Snicket fan is a true gem).   
I am grateful for the way you cared for James when I was sick but had to go back to work.  I am grateful that you love each my kids like your own.  I am grateful for our mutual love of ice dancing and Downton Abbey.  I am grateful that we have finally found our groove of being genuine kindred spirits, best friends and sisters.  I feel blessed beyond all measure.  I feel like the luckiest.
And Hunter….let’s be honest….you are the luckiest;)  I kind of feel that Scout should give this part of the speech since she adores you as purely as only a three year old can. She knew from the moment she met you that you were a good man; that you were her friend; that you were family.  
Photograph courtesy of
She has told me that she loves “how you play games… that you are funny and ….your beard.”  I think that is a pretty good list.  But I want to add some qualities that are so admirable about you.  And I’ve found there are a lot of things to admire.  I admire your humility, especially about your skill at lacrosse.  I admire your insight into athletics and the arts.  I’ll never forget how much you seemed to just “get” Jane’s artwork at her senior show.  You didn’t just politely glance at it, you analyzed it and appreciated it deeply.   
I admire your flexibility -both literally and figuratively.  (I mean I’ll admit I was dumbfounded when I heard you could bend over and touch your forearms to the ground…that’s, well, just incredible.)  But more than that, I admire how when you came to visit Jane and she had to go to an Artsbridge thing, you spent the whole day helping me with the kids.  Seriously, THE.  WHOLE.  DAY.  And it wasn’t like one of our best days, when the kids are angelic and I’m like extra sweet super mom.  It was like a real day in the life.  And you were so helpful and gracious.  
I admire how you always notice when Scout and Hadley reach new milestones.  You are always one of the first to celebrate me when Scout overcomes a speech hurdle or Hadley takes a wobbly step.  
Photograph courtesy of
So, with all those amazing qualities wound together, it’s no surprise you are an incredible couple.  My hope and prayer for you as you enter into the adventure of marriage together is that you always see  each other as God sees us, or to make it a little less daunting…try and see each other kind of like how I saw Jane the first time I held her as a baby…noticing each tiny detail, wondering at her unique personality,  and utter gratitude that her miraculous life was tied to mine.  I am utterly grateful again this time that I get to experience a newborn marriage of two people I love grow and mature.  

PS I think I need to give a shout out to Nick’s speech at the rehearsal dinner because it has now become James’ presedent for HIS obsession with eating frosted mini wheats without milk???!!!

PPS Anne and Pedro you are next. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Birthdays for days

    I have spent the last 5 week and 72 hours trying to capture my kids in an Instagram worthy pose for their consecutive birthdays.  God in his wisdom and knowledge knew that I fear and tremble about birthdays; the parties, the presents, the cakes/cupcakes and the decorations (or lack thereof).  Even typing this I feel the anxiety rising into my throat.  Urgh...Birthdays....soooooooo stressful!!! But so fun for kids.  And I have to admit I have sucked the fun right out of many many memorable moments the past month or so trying to make them “better.”  

Kids, listen, I LOVE YOU.  I don’t say it enough because I’m weird and a New Englander and I have a serious complaining habit.  But I. LOVE. YOU. 

JWynn, I love your curiosity!  You ask such good questions, and draw hilarious conclusions.  For example, let it be written that you informed me just the other day, “Snakes have fangs to protect themselves from creditors.” Hmm. That could very well be true in addition to protecting themselves from predators.  
Shout out to Monkey King Tea. (#mkt)  You make our week.
Thanks for putting up with our Thursday morning invasions:)
I am honestly and totally amazed by your constant and superhuman levels of energy.  You are incredible.  You can probably run a mile faster than I can and then want to play tag afterwards.  Even I, your mother, am still shocked by the things you manage to climb (the built in pantry shelves for example.)
You love Jesus and really trust him.  I am convicted whenever I tell you something sad because you want to pray immediately.  It’s true, there is no reason to wait to pray. And whenever you get hurt you always call out for God’s help even before me or Dad.  I love that, because I won’t always be there but God will.  

Falling Hard
Princessa Harpinha...where do I begin?  If I was three I would ask you to be my best friend because you are so fun and funny.  Where do you get this comedic timing or these sarcastic faces?  Please forgive me for not disciplining you consistently due to the fact that you make me laugh too hard. 
And yes, your hair really is as beautiful as you think it is.  Don’t get vain about it but it literally does “gleam and glow” (as you’ve informed us through song- thank you Tangled soundtrack).  You are incredibly patient as I brush it and attempt to braid it every morning.  
I think what I thank God for the most though is your affection toward others.  The fact that you always ask your brother, “You okay bud?”  when he falls down.  Or stuff a binky in your sister’s mouth when she is crying.  You look out for others and want to make sure they are as happy as you are.  Thank you for your infectious joy.  

Olivita, my baby. It’s hard to describe how much I just adore your face!  Your smiles are the best part of any day.  You light up a whole room.  
Where did she even find this clementine? 
Your endurance amazes me.  You have let more doctors and specialists poke and prod you than I ever would and you remain sweet despite it all.  I know you are hurting a lot of the time but you have a joi de vivre that inspires me.  
I wish I could make life easier for you but I am comforted by the knowledge that you will always be strong and brave. I can;t ait to see you blow all our minds when you figure out walking and talking!  It’s always an adventure with you. 

So, happy birthday one and all:)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Delicious Dichotomy

This month, I had the honor of writing for the House and Home issue of The Prodigal Chair. ( )
The name of the piece is "Delicious Dichotomy."  It s about many things, including but not limited to:
Which I love and highly recommend!

Which I love and hate. 
Please check it out.  I've been out of commission for a while so I'd love to get some comments:)  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Through the Eyes of Grief

Thank goodness for the Writer's Collaborative in my city otherwise I might never get words down on paper. Our leader gave us a prompt called:
"Sweet And Sour"
Her instructions were to: Describe briefly a lake or a backcountry mountain trail (in other words, a beautiful natural setting) as seen by a person who has just lost a parent in a sudden, unexpected death. The last time this narrator saw the parent, they argued violently. In your narrative do not mention the death, the parent, or the argument. Do not tell a story. Simply show us what the lake or forest or street looks like to someone under these circumstances. 500 words.

When I was small we used to vacation up at Squam Lake in NH.  Those are some of my best memories but I also remember being terrified of the loons up there.  That terror is nothing compared to how I would feel about losing one of my parents.  I thought the loon was also an appropriate symbol because I would probably lose my mind if I lost my parents.  So, without furthur ado, here is what I came up based on this very very difficult prompt:) 

At dusk, a loon broke the water of Big Squam Lake.  His slick black and white coat stained the ripples with incongruous contrast.  It’s said that loons love shiny things.  If they encounter a human they’re likely to gouge out the eyes first, fixated on the gleam.  The teeth are next, depending on what condition they are in.  This loon had recently killed at least three minnows devouring the meat along with the sheen of their scales. 
The sun was setting now and the light made even the roughest rocks shimmer. The water slid off the loon’s back, eager to get away from his violence.  The loon dove again, slicing the dark water, pretending to disappear, only to pierce the surface just as the turmoil had settled.  A trout hung limply from his beak.  The bird’s eyes glittered like garnets. The beak itself shone and dripped. Each drop sunk back into the wake as the loon made his way to a pine needled shore.  
The yellowing sheaths of pine plants stuck to the bird’s flippers.  He threw the trout to the ground with a thud.  Dander of the wooded beach exploded upon the impact of the big fish.  It’s dead eyes no longer had a gleam but the beak of the crazed loon shot through the socket nonetheless.  The dagger beak then went to work impaling the body of the catch.  The gills ripped apart, the liver wrenched out, the heart cleaved into several pieces.  The red eyes served as fierce sentinels as the loon tore the body into mangled chum. 
The water lapped up to the blood soaked ground.  The remains attracted only scavengers.  They circled above, crept and crawled from below.  The loon did not bother to fight them off.  He turned away and returned to the glassy water.  The shore looked much as it had before, but the hum of scrounging insects twisted the land. The smell of fish just before rot drew crowds of vermin to the darkening waterfront.  The water too seemed unaltered but the war wail of the red eyed loon reverberated across the lake.  The warbling wail warned children to shut their eyes tight, to shroud that fatal gleam.  It commanded them to close their mouths around their pearly teeth, to protect their new found smiles.  
Night was fully formed on Big Squam Lake.  The loon’s white flecks reflected the moonlight and his black feathers faded into the shadows cast across the water.  Still, the gleam of red shone from his eyes and he wailed until the trout was nothing but a skeleton waiting to be bleached by the sun.  He called into small hours and beyond.  He whooped against the water that held him afloat.  And his signal went out to others, whose red eyes shone and whose voices hailed back the wail of the loon.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Animated Kiss

One of the most enjoyable parts of raising children is reliving what have become mundane everyday events as exciting “firsts.” 

I remember a friend telling me how awesome it was the first time her son saw a dog.  I mean, yeah, dogs are crazy creatures and so getting a glimpse of a lab for the first time must have blown his mind.  So, I try and watch out for these moments and while the trash truck is no longer the highlight of my oldest's week I am surprised by the things I forget he has never seen.

For example, when we watched his first Disney animated film with him , I, of course, picked my favorite; Beauty and the Beast.  I want to instill at an early age that brains are better than brawn or beauty.  I also wanted it to be extra educational so I rented it from the Library in Spanish.  This was very confusing since the story is set in France.  So we have like Frenglish going on.  I’m pretty sure that most of the story was lost on him.  But he loved the fight between Gaston and the Beast.  He has a strong sense of justice but a tender heart so the Beast exposing Gaston for the coward that he is yet not dropping him to his death was just right to him.  (Oops sorry spoiler alert).  

But then, Gaston sneaks up on the Beast and stabs him to death.  At this point I am a little uncertain about my choice to let him watch this.  But it’s okay because Belle is by the Beast’s side and tells him she loves him before the last rose petal falls.  Then, magic.  I am not sure how to explain this to a (then) three year old, so I said it was a type of special medicine where they shoot light out of your extremities until you get better and an added benefit of this medical procedure is that if you are a Beast the light therapy transforms you into a long haired French prince.  Again, keep in mind the movie is in Spanish and my son is 3 and not bilingual.  

Next comes the part that I had totally blocked from my mind.  G rated movies allow....gulp...animated kissing!  Horror.  What am I going to tell him about that?  My husband and I are not the kissing in front of your kids or anyone or ever type so my palms are sweating like crazy.  “Ugh No!!!”  I inwardly cringe and imagine all the awkward questions that will likely ensue.  All this as the Prince/Beast is spinning about.  

And then Belle holds his face, and he brushes away a stray lock of her brown hair.  The music crescendos.  Inwardly, I am in a fetal position trying to think of a distraction but I can’t seem to find my voice.  And then they kiss.  And somehow Disney makes the animated kiss just as sensual as a human one.  Their faces are practically one.  It seems to be lasting for at least 10 minutes.  I still can’t think of anything to say.  Then, at last it’s over and everyone is happy and all I can mutter is, “Why would they do that?” Like I don’t know what a kiss is. Like I haven’t conceived three children.  My approach is to play dumb.

What is that weird face smashing?  Must be part of the strange firework light therapy.  

Let’s never speak of this again.  

(Probably another bad mom moment)

Based on Prompt #2 from my writer's collaborative...Say It With a Kiss

Kissing uses all five senses, which makes it an extremely sensuous act. It is a beginning and an end—the kiss hello and the kiss good-bye. There are a variety of romantic puckers (passionate, wet, teasing, rough, slow), as well as thrown-across-the-room kisses, tentative kisses, friendly pecks, and the reluctant ones that children give relatives or parents' friends. The poet Tess Gallagher's book Portable Kisses evokes a buffet of smooches.

Your first kiss is often etched in memory, and so is the solitary, experimental kind that you may have practiced on your arm, your pillow, or up against the mirror. Do you remember when you first found out French kissing involved touching tongues? I thought I would gag if I tried it, and I couldn't figure out how adults, who were forever concerned about germs, would willingly do something that seemed even more likely to spread a cold than drinking from someone else's soda bottle.

Write about kissing. Besides being fun to write about, it is an especially good practice for writing scenes between two people. (Approximately 500 words)