Beach bound

We leave tomorrow, bright & early, for our annual trip to Salisbury Beach. I. Can’t. Wait. My bag is packed, I’m ready to go. My favorite girl made a count-down sign and has been packed for a week. The two male members of this household have yet to pack but will throw trunks & toothbrushes in a bag at some point today. Between now and our 6 a.m. departure tomorrow, a few important things need to happen, including one last swim as I attempt to hit my goal of 800 meters before I let myself go completely to pot on vacay; delivering a birthday gift to our favorite 18-year-old (happy birthday, Alexis!); and one last cooking club gathering tonight with some of my besties. We’ll toast the waning of summer while sipping bubbly in the pool.

My math may be off, but I think this is our 9th year to make the beach trip. Two summers ago, I was benched by the heinous post-mastectomy infection. Missing the trip was as tough as the ordeal that caused it, and I’m still in do-over mode. I usually invoke a 10 a.m. start time for drinking on the beach, but in true do-over fashion, I may just relax that rule and say anything goes in the beverage-consumption department. 

The beach trip is always special and much-anticipated for many reasons: spending time with our surrogate family, escaping the brutal Texas heat, lounging on the beach, eating lobster, and going to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game or two. The trip has taken on additional relevance for me in the wake of a health crisis, because it signifies the light at the end of the tunnel and the reward for making it through the really rough stuff. It symbolizes a return to normalcy after a hellish span of time.

The bittersweet part of this year’s trip will be leaving our little piggie behind. While she would be a fun addition to our beach party, the logistics of getting her from here to there and back again are too stressful — for her and for us. She’ll be in good hands, though, with Keely the piggie-loving pet sitter. We stocked up on provisions for our little piggie, so it will be business as usual for her as she fills the hours in between breakfast and dinner. 

On the way home from Costco, with a half ton of produce in the backseat, I saw this car and smiled to myself. I viewed the whimsical paint job as a harbinger of good things to come: fun, carefree, colorful days in the sun, surrounded by the people I love the most. I couldn’t help but notice the placement of the Modelo billboard just beyond the St Arnold’s Brewery tie-dye car as I prepared for our big trip–that’s some good karma right there.

This beach trip will be full of all of our favorite things, and we’ll have the added bonus of sharing our favorite beach with none other than Amy Hoover, my medical sherpa, and her 3 boys as they make the long journey home from Maine. Salisbury Beach is right on their way home, so we’ll rendezvous on the beach. How fun!

We’ll be doing a whole lot of this

and some of this

with a little bit of this

and a pinch of this

and of course, a healthy dose of this.


Loyalty

The news of our beloved Red Sox trading Kevin Youkilis got me thinking about loyalty. It’s an under-appreciated trait, IMHO, and its value tends to be most noticed in its absence.

Youk was one of my favorite players, both for his on-field production and for his feisty attitude. He spoke his mind and took the heat that ensued from fans and press who prefer their players to shut up and play. He was part of the Red Sox from 2001, and was an integral part of the roster that my family fell in love with in our early days of Sox indoctrination. I’ll never forget this little Sox fan asking me what his beloved Nomar did wrong when he was traded in 2004. This loyal fan didn’t yet understand that baseball is not just his favorite game, but a business as well, and players are commodities that are moved and used to ensure financial success. It’s a hard-learned lesson and one that removed forever a piece of my little guy’s innocence.

Despite Youk’s last name, he’s not actually Greek but this Greek girl considers him an honorary countryman. In the wildly successful book Moneyball, author Michael Lewis christened Youk “Euclis: The Greek God of Walks” and the nickname stuck. I appreciated Youk for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was his record for most consecutive errorless games at first base (until Casey Kotchman came along, anyway). He’s scrappy and intense, and as Boston Globe writer Jackie MacMullan so aptly described, “He does not look like an MVP candidate; more a refrigerator repairman, a butcher, the man selling hammers behind the counter at the True Value hardware store.”

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I’m thinking he could easily pass for a crew member on “The Deadliest Catch” as well. All part of his charm. His Gold-Glove-Award-winning, three-time MLB All Star, and two-time World Series champion self will be greatly missed by this member of Red Sox nation. Upon my first visit to Fenway, a decade ago, I couldn’t understand why fans uniformly booed Youk when he came up to bat. I quickly realized they weren’t booing but chanting “Yoooooooooouk!”  I hope to see many jerseys sporting #20 when we go to Fenway in August. I’ll be wearing mine.

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Is it strange to feel so sad seeing our current favorite player hugging an outgoing Sox mainstay? Is it weird to feel bereft about a player’s departure from a favorite team? Is it naive to want everything to stay the same? Sometimes loyalty brings great sadness; to pledge oneself opens one up to vulnerability. And unfortunately, loyalty does come and go. I learned this firsthand when given a cancer diagnosis.

A crisis, whether health or other, galvanizes some and chases away others. Friends show their true selves, for good and for bad. Some of the people I most expected to be there for me upon diagnosis and in the trying days beyond were the first to depart. The reasons are as varied as the people. I imagine fear is top among the list of reasons people flee when a close friend is given shockingly bad news. While everyone knows in their rational brain that cancer isn’t contagious, the proximity of a dreaded disease causes some people to distance themselves from the afflicted person. Personally, I don’t get that, as I was brought up to believe that a time of crisis is the best time to be by a friend’s side. This lesson was reaffirmed and underscored tenfold as new friends appeared on the scene in my hour of need. Y’all know who you are, and I thank you, again and again. Another reason for the exodus is lack of loyalty. My sweet mama used to tell me it’s easy to be a good friend when everything is peachy, but the real friends, the loyal friends, will be there when things aren’t so peachy. As usual, she was right.

Confucius said, “The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith.” I’m not much of a scholar, but I do treasure loyalty.

 

 


Good news for Ells

A mere 5 days ago, baseball was dead to me.

The season was over before it even really got started.

My favorite player suffered a nasty injury as his shoulder was crushed by the Rays’ Reid Brignac. Speculation ran rampant that the hottie center fielder would be out for the season.redsox.com

Brignac had dislocated Ells’s shoulder, causing my favorite player a lot of pain. Shame on you, Brignac.

According to the ESPN article, “A minor dislocation typically requires a minimum of four to six weeks, but if further evaluation reveals additional trauma to the shoulder, such as tears to the rotator cuff, labrum or other muscle or tendons, Ellsbury could be in jeopardy of missing months more.”

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had no info on Ellsbury’s condition after the Sox-Rays game, saying only that he expected another outfielder to arrive in Boston on Saturday. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Bobby V didn’t have a clue. Raise your other hand if you think that moron has a chance in hell of being able to find his brain with both hands. Bring back Tito! For the love of all things holy in the great sport of baseball, bring back Tito!

As Sox blogger Dan Lamothe says, “We’re on the cusp of a year that will be filled with more annoying drama than your average Adele song, and there’s nothing we can do to about it. At the center of this, of course, will be the transition from Terry Francona to Bobby Valentine.”

Amen.

After reading about Ells’s injury and DB Valentine‘s lack of info on this time-stopping, all-important topic, I hung my head, dried my tears, and channeled Doris Kearns Goodwin with thoughts of “Wait ’til next year.”

Alas, there is good news for fans of Ells: Orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum reviewed Ells’s MRI results and agreed with Sox docs that the injury is treatable and won’t require surgery.

Hopefully we’ll soon be seeing less of thisthe bleacher report

and more of this

and this

and this

That Ellsbury won’t be out for long is the best news I’ve heard in a while. Come on, Ells! Heal fast, ok? The game isn’t the same without you.


The Thanksgiving list

 

It’s Thanksgiving and I would be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the things for which I am thankful. This time last year I was fresh off the post-mastectomy infection train and trying to navigate life as a survivor. This year, the infection is finally in the rear-view mirror, and 8 surgeries later I’m on the road to reclaiming my normal life.

I’m contemplative on this day of everything good in my life. Not gonna think about the bad stuff today. Here’s a short list of the things I’m grateful on this day of Thanksgiving.

My family. And the beach. Two of my favorite things at the same time — good stuff!

Living in Texas, where it’s warm enough to swim on Thanksgiving. People joke about how Texas is a whole ‘nother country, and it’s true. Everything is bigger here, and better.

My kids. Every parent thinks their kids are amazing and wonderful and I am no different. 

As the grow I see more and more the people they are becoming, and that will always be a source of pride for me.

Youth sports. Being a part of a team, and experiencing the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat is a wonderful thing. 

Raising kids who love animals. Whether furry or slimy, cute or with a face only a mother could love, my kids adore animals and have learned compassion and sacrifice through caring for them. 

Good books. I love a good read. And I love that my kids are readers, too. My sweet mama the former English teacher would be so proud!

Natural beauty. Whether the rolling waves of Salisbury Beach, the mountains of Utah, or the public gardens in Boston, I’m grateful to have beautiful scenery to gaze at as I go about my days. 

Tennis. I’ve learned so much from the game, most notably humility, and continue to be challenged. People laugh when I say I started playing tennis because I like the clothes and had no idea how hard a game it is, but it’s true. 

Funny art and snarky humor. I hope I never outgrow my enjoyment of them. If I’m ever too old to laugh at something like what you see here, smother me with a pillow. 

Jacoby Ellsbury. Because he’s so fine. Oh, and baseball, too. I’m thankful for baseball. But mainly Jacoby. 

 

 

A legacy. The women in my family are strong and funny and kind-hearted. I hope to continue the traditions they’ve established. 

Mentors for my kids. I’m so grateful for the people in my kids’ lives who teach them, guide them, and love them.

Cocktails. Need I say more?

Great food. To soak up the alcohol.

Puppies! The more the merrier! Sometimes I think I like dogs more than people. Puppies especially.

Things that challenge me to get outside of my comfort zone. Like modeling in the Couture for the Cause a few weeks after my latest hospitalization last fall. Yikes. After wondering what in the sam hell made me agree to do it, I ended up having one of the single best experiences of my life. And plan to do it again in March. Get your tickets now, before it sells out!

Friends. Couldn’t have made it through the last 18 months without them. Whether buds from way back or newly connected, I’m imminently thankful for my friends. 

Cheers to Thanksgiving!


Slacker mom

That’s me. I admit it.

Yesterday was the first day of school, yet did I take one photo of my kids before they descended into the joys of another school year? Nope. Not even with my iPhone camera. How lazy & shiftless is that?

It occurred to me at some point last night that this will be the first year on record without a back-to-school photo, and I suppose I could have hauled Macy out of bed and pried Payton away from ESPN long enough to recreate a photo. But it would have been dark on the front step, where we always take the photo, and Macy would have had to change out of her jammies and back into her school clothes, which were no doubt in a heap on her bedroom floor. I had to admit defeat and accept that it wasn’t going to happen this year. A second-day-of-school photo seems too lame to contemplate, so this will be the year with no back-to-school photo. Macy’s entre into 4th grade and Payton’s into 7th will go unchronicled for time immemorial.

And yet, I think we will survive.

I’ll throw in a classic back-to-school photo, from Macy’s kindergarten and Payton’s 3rd grade year. That’ll do, right?

Chalk it up to cancer fatigue, or to pre-surgery jitters, or to me being a slacker mom. Either one. The reason isn’t all that important, really. The kids don’t really care if we have a photo, and I’m pretty much over it as well. I will state for the record, however, that Payton did indeed wear a Red Sox shirt for the first day of school, as has been his tradition since kindergarten. Some things never change. 

If you thought I was done with my slacker mom antics and were ready to forgive me, hang on. True, it’s been a rough ride. It’s been a long year, full of medical drama and pain & suffering. I feel perfectly comfortable saying I deserve a free pass from juggling all the balls, getting everything right, and catering to everyone’s individual  needs (ok, maybe that last one is going a bit far; I’m not much of a caterer).

However, life goes on and I’ve yet to find the slot into which I insert my free pass. I’m looking for something like the coupon slot at the grocery store self-checkout, but I haven’t found it. Also curiously absent is the “make it so” button — push the button and make it so, whatever “it” happens to be. In this case, it would be the back-to-school photo. I would push the “make it so button” and a photo would fall out of the sky, into my cupped hands. If only.

I certainly needed the “make it so” button last night, when Macy’s loose tooth came out just as she was getting into bed. She has been wiggling it for days, and it was hanging by a thread, or a root, or whatever loose teeth use to hang on. She emerged from her bedroom clutching a slightly bloody molar, grinning hugely and aquiver with anticipation about the upcoming visit from the Tooth Fairy.

Uh oh.

Slacker mom was not prepared for this. See, Macy and the Tooth Fairy have a “special bond” as she described through her tears this morning. The Tooth Fairy doesn’t just leave a few bucks or some loose change, like she does for most kids. Her Royal Dental Highness knows that Macy isn’t at all concerned with or motivated by money. She likes stuff. She’s funny and quirky and a bit outside of the box. And the Tooth Fairy is usually well-stocked. Lip gloss, a stuffed animal, a stationery set…things like that rock Macy’s world. The Tooth Fairy usually picks up such items throughout the year, as she’s running her errands and comes across something that she knows Macy would like. But the Tooth Fairy was ill-prepared this time. Even though she knew that tooth was loose, the light didn’t come on and make her think, hmmmm, I better make sure I have a nice prize for Macy when that tooth comes out.

So the Tooth Fairy was forced to resort to the lowest common denominator, and she left a $5 bill. Macy was not amused. See, she had written a note to the Tooth Fairy, which she always does, and asked for a unicorn Domo. I imagine the Tooth Fairy said WTF?? I know I did. I’m fairly certain that a unicorn Domo does not exist. Or it does, but only in Macy’s imagination. I guess it would be a cross-breed between a unicorn and Domo. Interesting. But not readily available, and certainly not at 9:30 at night.  

 

See my dilemma? I had no problem finding images of these guys on googleimages. I even found a t-shirt of Domo riding a unicorn, which I was all set to order pronto but it’s sold out online. Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want a t-shirt like this? 

If I find one for Macy, I may have to get one for me too.

I can see why the Tooth Fairy flubbed this one, big time. Some requests are too tricky and unique, even for the TF.

Macy wrote another note, which she expects the Tooth Fairy will collect tonight as she makes her rounds. The “special bond” between Macy and the Tooth Fairy is splintered, but not beyond repair. 

 


He does it again!

Apparently my favorite Red Sox player likes having Texans in the house…since we’ve been here, he’s hit back-to-back walk-offs for Sox victories. Very nice. Last night’s was especially exciting because it was a walk-off home run.  Just as we were hoping against extra innings, Jacoby delivered.

There will be lots of happy Sox fans on the beach today. I’m heading down in a few minutes for more fun in the sun. Last night’s lobster feast at Markey’s was as good as ever. Macy had asked if she could have some of my lobster tail, and rather than share what IMHO is the best part of the lobster, I said, “Get your own, kid.” We figured she’d eat part of the tail and we’d have extra lobster to put in scrambled eggs this morning. Then we learned that there’s no such thing as “extra lobster.” That bug was picked clean. 

So there will be no lobster & eggs this morning. No matter; we’ll get more. That’s the beauty of being at Salisbury Beach — plenty of lobster, whether from Markey’s or steamed on site at the grocery store.

Trevor will be creating another sand sculpture today, to add to the two he’s already done: 

He’s taking requests, so if there’ something you want to see, by all means shout it out. His sand sculptures are pretty popular around here and are much admired, although I thought Macy might smack the lady who walked by yesterday and thought Perry the Platypus was a dinosaur. Sometimes being in the presence of art invokes strong emotions.

We’re all about traditions at Salisbury Beach. Whether it’s dinner at Markey’s or dessert next-door at Dunlap’s or sand sculptures on the beach, tradition rules, and this year our traditions are even more special. Like the Joni Mitchell song says, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” traditions become more important when threatened with extinction. To say I’m glad I’m here this year is to be loaded with meaning. I’m glad I’m here, in Massachusetts among friends I consider family at a beach my family loves. But even more so, I’m glad I’m here.


Walk-off

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It’s a great morning at the beach. The Sox won last night with a walk-off hit by my favorite player, Jacoby Ellsbury. Hopefully the photo will load; I’m blogging beachside again and don’t want to interrupt my blissful morning to post on a real computer; if my iPhone and the WordPress app can’t handle the photo, I’ll get to it later. Maybe when a cloud passes overhead.

It’s unusually clear today, enough to see the Isle of Shoals. The sun is shining and the west wind is blowing. I’m pre-hydrating with a water course so I’ll be fully prepared for the beachside beverages, whenever they may appear. While the lure of the Bloody Mary is strong, I’m going to stay strong and wait for the pm bevvie.

Meantime, all hail Jacoby!


Red Sox + Houston = happy girl

ballparks.com

I know, I know, I’m behind in my blogging. I’ve been busy. No idea what’s keeping me so busy, but suspect it has something to do with drinking Malibu black in the Cremers’ pool; time seems suspended there. Must be something in the water. (I’m all about full disclosure here.) The Sox were in town this past weekend, and we went to see them; the fact that I’m just now getting around to posting about it is wrong, just wrong.

Minute Maid Park is a gorgeous ballpark, if I do say so myself, and I hope the Sox enjoyed their visit as much as we did. The retractable roof is pretty cool, and the glassed-in views of downtown Houston show off our fine city in all its corporate splendor. 

The outfield wall is capped off with a train full of giant orange blobs. I’m not the only person who wondered why in the world there was a train-load of pumpkins at the ballpark only to realize that, duh! they’re oranges. Minute Maid Park. Get it? If an Astros player hits a home run, the train chug-chugs along the length of the outfield wall. Suffice to say that train has been pretty dormant lately. 

The picture below shows you what the stadium looks like with the roof open. There are little tiny motors that turn as the giant walls of glass slowly, slowly slide apart before your very eyes. At first the movement is so slight as to be nearly undetectable. But before long, the chink between the seams of the walls becomes wider.

The trainload full of oranges. Betcha I could make a lot of mimosas with them. 

Before the game, we did something I’ve always wanted to do, and now that we’ve done it, I feel like a true Houstonian. We ate at Mama Ninfa’s–the original one on Navigation, very close to the stadium. Ninfa’s is a Houston institution, with franchises all over the city, but the one on Navigation is where it all started. She’s credited with creating the beef fajita, which is now a mainstay in most Mexican restaurants. 

I can’t vouch for the beef, but can safely say that the michelada was delicious. There’s a section on the drinks menu devoted to micheladas, with the opportunity to choose which beer will be mixed with the addictive array of spices. There are 15 choices. I have no idea what the spicy salt was on the rim of the glass, but my lips burned for 2 days after consuming every last crystal.

The seafood cocktail was out of this world. Gulf shrimp and sea scallops tossed with avocado chunks and a spicy, lemony cocktail sauce. Yum.

As tempting as it was to get a 2nd michelada, it was time to scoot on over to the ballpark. Ninfa’s offers a shuttle from the restaurant to the park, and we happily jumped on. The passenger van was perfectly pleasant for the short hop on the way to the game; coming home, with at least 40 people crammed into that same van, was a different story. Wooshegaga, that’s a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare: tight quarters, hordes of people and Houston traffic. Yikes.

It was all worth it, though, to see my favorite team and my favorite player. Ells wasn’t in the line-up for the Friday night game because of the flu he picked up from Josh Beckett. He rallied with the help of some IV fluids, though, and sparkled in center field and dazzled as the lead-off hitter. Here he is, at his first at-bat. I know, the pictures are terrible. I finally got a new camera, since the iPhone camera leaves much to be desired, and forgot to take it to the game. Sheesh.

Nobody covers center field quite like Ells.

He’s in the middle, with his hat off for better close-ups. One of the Boston papers ran a headline today that says “Ellsbury displays All-Star form” and I think it refers to his play, but could just as easily refer to his form.

He got his 500th hit today, and was selected for his first All Star game on Sunday. All that, plus a mention on this blog? He’s in tall cotton. 

Now all he needs is a mohawk, like the All Star player who lives at my house:

before...

...and after


Happy birthday to me!

Today’s my day.

All mine.

Happy birthday to me. 

It’s been pointed out to me that in addition to being my birthday, today is the official start of hurricane season. Coincidences are funny.

 

Birthdays were a big deal in my house when I was a kid. There was lots of celebration, and we always had homemade cake, decorated by my sweet Aunt Margie, my mom’s younger sister, who was diabetic but still made her Nanny Po a fancy cake every year. See, when I was a little kid, I couldn’t say my whole name: Nancy Katapodis. That was a mouthful for a little girl. The best I could manage was Nanny Po. Aunt Margie always called me that, even after I’d grown up. Dadgummit if pancreatic cancer didn’t strike her down 14 years ago. If she were here, she’d be making me the Barbie bowl cake right now, with lots and lots of frosting, and calling me Nanny Po. 

I don’t mind one bit that I’m growing older. Not one little bit. I might have B.C. (Before Cancer) but not now. There’s something so very sweet about coming out on the other side of a hellacious battle against a vicious beast and its equally nasty side-kick. Breast cancer and mycobacterium stole a lot from me, but they will not steal my birthday joy. Pre-B.C., I might have fretted about being on the wrong side of 40, about the crow’s feet and the less-than-smooth skin. But not anymore.

I’m planning to savor every second of my birthday. Growing older means I’m alive. I’m here to celebrate another year. I’m thrilled to bits to be 42 today.

I really hope that this year is better than last.

Not to tempt fate, but it can hardly be worse.

This time last year, I was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy. Ouch. Look at that chest — flat enough to play quarters upon if you wished.

Once cancer came to call,  I realized that each birthday is much more than the day of one’s birth; it’s another year of victory. It’s another year of walking upright as opposed to being tethered to a hospital bed. Triumphant and upright yet still scarred, I learned first-hand the Chinese proverb:

“The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow; its disappearance slow like a thread.”

True, so true.

The utter suckiness of last year and the swiftly-appearing disease that is breast cancer, while totally sucky, taught me a lot. One of the big lessons, while completely corny, is to enjoy each day.

And today, on the day of my birth, I intend to do just that.

Let’s start at the very beginning; a very fine place to start, as Frauline Maria would say in The Sound of Music.

I don’t have a lot of baby pictures of myself. Those are still at my parents’ house; my mom kept a lot of pictures and a detailed baby book. Like everything else, she did the historical record-keeping of my life very well. In fact, I think most of my school pictures are hanging in the hallway at the old homestead.

I do have these pics, though, and will embarrass myself by sharing.

No idea whose parents owned the magical mystery bus that we decorated for cheer competition, but it was looking pretty festive. Oh, how I loved this particular cheer uniform. It was my favorite, and I hated to have to wear the other ones. I betcha it’s still in my parents’ attic. My mom never threw anything away. It may be moth-eaten and tattered, but I bet it’s still there. 

I’m almost afraid to post any pics of my lovely self from college, because my bangs were so big they’d take up this whole screen. Go ahead and laugh. I’m right in the middle, surrounded by ’80s bangs.

After college, my first real job was editing Usborne children’s books that were written in England but sold in the U.S. My job was to “Americanize” the books, i.e., change “biscuit” to “cookie,” etc. To this day, I have a hard time deciding if  the word “grey” is spelled with the “e” or an “a.” It looks more right to me as grey. Ditto “colour” vs “color.” It was a super fun job and when I had to leave, to move to Austin so Trevor could start grad school at the mighty University of Texas (HOOK ‘EM!!), my going-away party looked like this:

Randall White, the company president, and I cooked up a little show in which he pretended to insult me, and I shoved a piece of cake in his face. No one else was in on the joke, so it was a bit shocking. No wonder I have such a problem with authority, if Randall taught me these kinds of hi-jinks at my very first job.

Fast-forward through my next editing job, for Harcourt Brace, in Austin, and onto my next career: that of a mom.

Baby Payton got me out of the 9-to-5 lifestyle and into that of a full-time mommy. Keeping up with a hungry baby’s schedule and later chasing after a busy toddler made me wish I had an office to go to again, but only on some days.

Until Baby Macy arrived. 

Then I really wished I had an office to go to again!

Little did I know that chasing two kids around all day every day would be the adventure of a lifetime. 

Being responsible for the care & feeding — not to mention the character-molding — of two small kids was a big responsibility. Luckily, I had a great mentor. Just wish she’d have stuck around to help get me through my little darlings’ teenage years.

Raising my kids to love each other, enjoy each other’s company,

appreciate family ties,

savor family time,

exercise self-sufficiency,

and sit still for a photo shoot are important to me.

May not be all that important to them, but it’s my day, right?

Knowing that my kids are happy, healthy & safe is a great birthday gift. Knowing that they are pursuing their passions is the icing on the cake.

Watching my boy pursue his true love (baseball) is pretty great. It reminds me a lot of my childhood, in which I spent a whole lot of time at the ball fields watching my brother and shagging fly balls. Sharing an unabashed love of the Red Sox with my boy is one of my life’s true joys.

The day Macy met Mo Willems stands out as one of the all-time best. He was so entertaining, and we love his books so much. When it was Macy’s turn to visit with him, she told him she likes to write, too. Instead of asking him some goofy question, she asked for his phone number. In parting, he told her be sure to not let Pigeon drive the bus. She replied: “As if!” I predict those two will collaborate one day. 

On the day of my birth, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that make me happy. Like my family (everyone says that, right? Unless you’re on Maury Povich, you say that).

Like my doggies. Maddy, sweet Maddy. My first dog as a grown-up. I saw her being born, and will never forget the shock of how easily the pups just slipped right out from their mama, the polar opposite of all the pushing, sweating & grunting I’d seen of births depicted on TV. Sweet Maddy entered the world easily and wormed her way into my heart. 6 pups were in her litter: 3 black, 2 blond, and 1 white. Everyone who came to look at those pups wanted the white one. But she was mine. I loved that dog all the way to the Moon and back. When she died just shy of her 15th birthday, my heart broke into a million little pieces. 

She was the best dog, and a really good sport. I guarantee she didn’t want to wear bunny ears — she was much too smart & sophisticated for that — but because her girl asked it of her, she complied. Sweet old thing.

My dogs bring me a lot of happiness. A lot of  dog hair, but happiness, too. Harry and Pedey make me smile every single day.

The day we picked out Harry from the Houston Humane Society, I swear he was smiling. And that made me smile.

Later, of course, we learned it’s because he’s insane. They don’t always tell you that at the Humane Society.

Pedey’s not crazy, but he is a weasel. A weasel who makes me smile. Who wouldn’t love a dog who wants to help with the chores?

Then there are the side-kicks. Harry & Pedey’s best friends, Sugar & Snoopy. Having 4 dogs around creates quite a ruckus, and I love it. 

Raising my kids with an all-consuming love for dogs is a very good thing for me. Little kids and puppies make me smile.

Appreciating traditions makes me happy, too. This one is a classic. Seeing my kids straddling the state line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire on our annual family vacation makes my heart sing. 

As does spending time with my tennis girls. Oh, how I love that. If I weren’t planning to drink so much champagne today, I’d have to get out on the court. Going to tennis camp and playing nonstop for an entire weekend was one of the best things ever. I need a re-do! Come on, girls — get your racquets and let’s go. 

It’s been a crazy year, for sure. When they say it’s all down hill after 40, they really mean it! Going from 40 to 41 brought more than the usual changes for me. But I’m on a roll now.

There’s been the influx of new friends

And the stability of old friends.

The past year brought me the finer points of home-health care and wound care–what a joy it is to not need either anymore!

Being 41 and a fledgling cancer survivor taught me to strut my stuff, both at the Couture for the Cause and every day.

As I strut my way into 42, I’ll hold my head high and my glass even higher. This is indeed a year for celebration.

Cheers to a cancer-free birthday! Cheers to the rest of my life!

 

 


Wedding day thoughts

I’m not posting any pics of newlyweds William and Kate, because I’m having a little watch party for the recorded royal wedding tomorrow morning. Really, it’s a chance to drink champagne and eat scones, and I never turn down the chance to celebrate.

I’m really not all that into the royal wedding, so I’m a little sheepish about having a watch party; however, if I’m going to do it, I’m gonna do it right, and I don’t want to see any pictures of any of the festivities before my little watch party.

Apparently this requires me to stay inside my house with the blinds drawn and the computer, TV, and radio switched off.

Went to the gym first thing this morning, to un-do some of the damage I’m going to do this weekend (I’m still celebrating my cancer-versary, after all). All the ladies in the gym were talking about royal wedding this and beautiful gown that. I told LeRoy I was having a little watch party and didn’t want to see any of the footage until then. First he grilled me about what I would be eating and drinking at the party, then he said, “Good luck — there are 3 TVs upstairs and you’ll be in front of them, on the elliptical machine, for 20 minutes.”

I reminded him that I’m as stubborn as a wild hog and if I say I’m not going to see any royal wedding footage until tomorrow, then you can take that to the bank. Yes, there are indeed 3 TVs upstairs, and they were tuned to CNN, ESPN, and whatever channel airs Regis & Kelly’s show. Two of the three were showing royal wedding footage (good old reliable “Sports Center” had NFL draft junk and baseball highlights). Thank you, “Sports Center!”

Although, I do have a bone to pick with SC, which plays on a seemingly constant loop at my house, thanks to the 11-year-old boy who resides with me. In this morning’s baseball footage, which I saw once at home and once at the gym, they dutifully covered the Red Sox’s 6-2 pounding of the Orioles, but they lost a golden opportunity and made the pitiful decision to show Adrian Gonzalez instead of  Jacoby Ellsbury.

redsox.com

WTH??

The baseball highlights are brief, and photo opps are precious. Nothing against A-Gon; he’s a stand-up player who’s a lot of fun to watch. But really?? Showing him instead of my boy crush, Ells? Terrible TV journalism.

Ells had a great game and is on a hot streak: last night he had 3 hits, as he had done the night before, and was the hero with a bases-loaded single up the middle to score 2 runs. Ells is 6-for-10 the last two games, and I predict even more great things for him.

Since Ells was robbed–along with the women of America–here’s the Ells shot for the day. I could post more, but I’ll be good.

You’re welcome, ladies.

I’ll be writing a scathing complaint to SC after I finish this post.

Back to the royal wedding.

I managed to not see any footage, a victory that matters to no one, but there it is nonetheless. I did get to thinking, though, about the other royal wedding in my lifetime, that of Charles and Diana

They tied the royal knot in July of 1981, and I had just turned 12. My family had recently traveled to London, and there was quite a lot of hub-bub about the grand event, and being an impressionable young girl, I thought the whole thing was very exciting. My mom and I got up at the crack of dawn to watch it live, London time, and I feel like a bit of loser for having my watch party the day after, but who the hell wants to come over at 3 in the morning? Even for champagne. 

Charles and Diana’s wedding seemed to be a fairy tale, with the grandeur of the monarchy and all the pomp & circumstance that goes along with it. They were elegant and lovely, although my mom couldn’t understand why her wedding dress was so wrinkled! I didn’t notice that, but did wonder if the fashion-forward Di ever looked back and regretted her hairstyle on that momentous day. I know I regretted mine.

Sadly, their fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending. Even though Di carried out her princessy duties with great elan, she never quite fit in with the other royals, including her husband. Her death in a car wreck in August 1997, at the age of 36, was tragic. Just tragic. That she was so young, and was just starting to find some happiness, and that she had two young boys who were the light of her life, is just so very tragic. But as we all know, tragedy knows no bounds and strikes randomly. 

She seemed to be a fun-loving mom who wanted her boys to be noble but also real. Now that I’m a mother, I know how hard it is to raise kids, period, much less royal ones. I’ve known plenty of kids who were royal pains, my own included, but these boys seem to be the real deal. They seem to know how to be serious about their official family duties but also lead full and individualized lives.

Of course, all this got me thinking about William on his wedding day, and how very much he must be missing his mama, despite all the excitement and the festivities. I’ve heard it said that William’s new wife shares some of Diana’s traits, and I hope that her legacy lives on through this young couple.

Marriage is hard, plain and simple. It requires hard work, even when one’s spouse is easy-going and fun-loving, like mine is. Carrying out one’s marriage under the microscope and in the spotlight must be even harder, as the world saw with Charles and Diana. I hope the newlyweds have an easier time, and I hope Kate learned from Diana’s example about how to remain true to yourself while fulfilling your obligations.

I’ll never forget watching Diana’s funeral, and seeing the millions of people lining the streets. Emotions were raw as a nation, and perhaps the entire world, mourned the loss of “the People’s Princess.” 

Watching those teenage boys, one of whom was about my own boy’s age now, walking  along the procession route for their mama’s funeral is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. The grace and maturity William and Harry displayed is a testament to the woman who raised them.

They had to have been so shocked, so sad, and so bereft, yet they knew the eyes of the world were upon them, and like their mama had done so many times, they bucked up and got on with it, fulfilling their duty like the princes they are.

The most indelible image of that day, for me, is this one.

The letter from William and Harry inscribed “Mummy” that rode atop the carriage that carried her coffin to Westminster Abbey.

Nosey-Rosey that I am, I would LOVE to know what those sweet boys wrote to their mama. Of course, I wouldn’t really intrude on such a sacred thing as that, but I am curious. I wrote a letter to my mom, to go in her coffin. Don’t recall one thing I said in that letter, but I hope I expressed the huge love, endless gratitude, utter grief, and bottomless loss I felt in that moment. Words are insufficient when it comes to expressing the most delicate yet most cardinal feelings.

And that, my friends, is why we need champagne. Lots and lots of champagne.


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