My husband was born with a gift: he’s absurdly coordinated. Give him a ball, a bat, a racquet or a club and he’s in his element.
Thank goodness, because with him donating half their genes, our kids have at least a fighting chance. They need him to offset my DNA, which is pretty much coded for clumsiness. I stumble over nothing, collect random bumps and bruises all day and have even broken a bone while walking around my house. And sports? Let’s just say I’m still the last kid picked.
It’s no small wonder, then, that we’re together. Through courtship and the early years of our marriage, he was always out mixing it up on some field, course or court. Not to mention his marathon bike rides and two-day hikes on the Appalachian Trail or the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. You’d never find him inside, much less cooped up at the gym, which he deemed a spot for muscleheads and uncoordinated folks like me, who needed to sweat it out in a controlled environment. He always maintained he’d rather be out playing.
But lately, something has changed. The poor guy is falling apart. He’s got weak ankles; early signs of arthritis; and, at 6’4”, a back and neck perpetually inflamed by living in spaces designed for much shorter people. What’s worse, a round of golf can put him practically in traction, and jumping for a fly ball while coaching our son’s Little League team recently landed him in a neoprene ankle brace, hobbled for three months. (more…)
It’s taken me years to publicly admit this but here goes: I’m a napper. That’s right. Almost every day, at some point between 1 and 3 p.m., I sneak off and lie down for an hour of delicious, refreshing sleep.
In our go-go culture, where busyness is often viewed as a badge of honor, my nap habit sometimes feels like a moral failing. I have had friends and acquaintances who–upon hearing of my snoozes–offer remarks such as, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly rest during the day, I just have too much going on,” or “You’re so fortunate that you can find time to relax.” As if I’m lying around dozing and eating bon-bons all day.
True, I don’t work a full-time office job. But I get up before five a.m. and with work, kids, pets, husband, volunteering at school and keeping my household running, I barely sit down. Fast forward to three p.m., and I’m on the go again, supervising homework, more volunteering at school and church, and feeding and chauffeuring children ‘til well past 9 o’clock at night. Suffice it say, I’m no slacker. And I need to nap…with no apologies.
It turns out I’m not alone. Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Salvador Dali (imagine his dreams!) were all devoted nappers. And study after study extols the benefits of a brief nap. (more…)
Home renovation projects really do take on a life of their own.
First allow me to note that, within a seven-year period, my husband and I moved three times–all in the same town. We weren’t house flippers or wannabe real estate moguls; we just needed the space for our growing family. Adding on to our homes was never really a consideration; on some level we both knew we’d crack under the strain of construction. It was safer to call the realtor and start packing.
Fast forward to us happily ensconced in our current home, which is roomy enough for our family of five. My grandmother had left us a small sum of money and we decided to use it to re-do a space in the house in her memory.
We targeted the mudroom. Found in lots of homes here in the Northeast, mudrooms are areas between the garage and house designed to store coats, boots, shoes and, of course, backpacks. Ours did triple duty—storage, laundry and makeshift pantry–and it was a disaster. Not to mention a tripping hazard. We decided to reclaim the space with shelves and cubbies for our gear, a homework desk, and, at last, a proper pantry. Our contractor friend drew up plans we loved at a price that fit our budget.
There was only one problem…the washer and dryer had to be moved. And this is where–as I’m fairly certain it always does with construction–one thing led to another. (more…)
I miss the good old days of airline tickets.
Trust me, I’m a huge fan of technology. The Internet delivers loads of convenience and general awesomeness to life but, in my view, the demise of paper tickets is hardly one of its crowning achievements.
Getting that sleek packet of tickets all lined up in their colorful folder and stapled to my itinerary was always a highlight of trip planning. In the weeks and months prior to departure, I’d take them out of the drawer and gaze upon them, attempting with my layman’s eye to decipher the mysterious codes and hieroglyphics that marked my coming adventure. It made me feel like I was in the Golden Age of Air Travel…and that excitement lay just around the corner. Somehow, calling up my flight confirmation email on the smart phone just doesn’t deliver that same thrill.
And right about now, I’d clutch them to my chest and tuck them under my pillow at night, if only… (more…)
When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of my family. Every year we celebrate together…my husband always writes me a beautiful card that makes my heart skip a beat, and leaves a tiny trinket or treasure on my pillow. And, of course, I absolutely melt over the sweet little handprint Valentines and drawings the kids make for me. I’m such a softie.
But there was a time, back in my single gal 20’s, when Valentine’s Day wasn’t all hearts and flowers. It seemed like the whole world had a sweetheart but me. When February 14 rolled around, I wanted to pull up the covers and wallow in my lonely bed all day.
Every year, though, something got me smiling. My Dad would show up with a beautiful card and a big box of candy. In fact, the more miserable I was, the bigger the candy box. I guess he wanted me to know that, no matter what, there was one guy who’d always love me. As time passed, and I built a family of my own, the cards and candy from Dad slowed down. But that’s okay—he got me through the tough times.
Last February, I had the chance to return the favor. My dad went to the hospital for what was meant to be a routine catheterization. He had done all the right things: he was in great shape, worked out daily and ate a Mediterranean diet. But something was fluky on his EKG. It turns out he had six major blockages…he was the proverbial ticking time bomb. So, the day before Valentine’s Day, he underwent a six-hour quintuple bypass surgery to completely rewire his heart. (more…)
You know you’re in an Italian family when somebody gives you cheese as a wedding gift.
That’s exactly what happened to my (understandably baffled) husband and me, when my aunt and uncle presented us with a 20 pound wheel of aged Asiago procured at great cost and effort from the Italian market in Philadelphia.
Never mind that, at the time, we were living in a garage apartment and the cheese occupied fully one-third of our refrigerator. Or the fact that, two weeks after the honeymoon, we moved to my in-laws’ empty house for the winter. All the wedding presents—the china, the crystal, the cookware—got boxed up and shuttled off to storage before I could so much as admire a plate. But the cheese…that came with us.
The following summer, happily ensconced in our first home, I hauled the wheel down to a local shop for grating. Of course, it had already aged for years by that time, so its months of travels with us newlyweds did nothing but enhance the flavor. I actually felt a little pang parting with it. The cheese guy was impressed, and actually asked for a hunk as payment. Afterward, I bagged it up, gave some away and froze the rest, which we enjoyed for more than a year. It was a truly fantastic present. (more…)
After buying approximately 100 holiday gifts for friends and loved ones, just about the last thing I want to do these days is shop.
However, this is the absolute best time to restock my “present closet.” I learned the concept as a kid at my grandmother’s house. The closet on her stair landing served as a magical storeroom perpetually chockablock with goodies. Swing the door open any day of the year and you’d find china and glassware; pretty linens; charming packages of notepaper and journals; and of course, gourmet sweets—all beautifully wrapped and ready to go. All bought on sale. Yes, my grandmother was a shopper with a great eye for a deal. But what she really loved was giving. She never went anywhere without a present…and nobody who came to her home ever left empty handed.
And so, in that spirit, I’ve been journeying out to fill my own shelves. With a little effort and shoe leather, I’ve found some fantastic deals. I picked up some brand-name gloves and board games that I’m putting away for my kids til next Christmas. I also landed some earrings , scarves and headbands—all for literal pennies—to package up with the gift cards my daughter likes to give to her friends at birthdays.
I have to say, I get a special thrill out of finding the gift and decorative items that the stores are practically giving away post-holidays. I got some adorable bottle stoppers for 75 percent off last week. I squirreled a stack of them away ($2 each) to wrap up with the wine I’ll bring to my hosts at parties next December. My other favorite score was a red wood lacquer tray—marked down to nearly nothing because of the color (did they forget that Valentine’s Day is coming?). I grabbed four of those. (more…)
In my 20s, I was definitely the kind of girl who would follow a band around. I still am. Only now it’s the middle school jazz band.
A few years back, my oldest child decided to take up an instrument. He—and everyone else—hoped to play sax. Instead, he was assigned the trombone. I’m not going to sugar-coat it: for the first year, practice time around here was painful. But by the end of sixth grade, it became obvious that this kid had some musical chops.
This was cool, because we live in a town that puts a high premium on team sports; Nick enjoys sports, but he’s just not a passionate athlete. His brother, on the other hand, is a talented baseball player. I’m sure it’s been difficult for Nick to sit, literally, on the sidelines and watch his sibling get so much attention. So when he took to music, I was overjoyed. He had finally found his passion.
Apparently, I’d also found mine: band mom. I do whatever it takes to support Nick’s music, as long as he puts in the work and keeps enjoying himself. Indeed, the last few years have been a dizzying round of school band; jazz band; chamber band; town-wide orchestra; summer jazz camp; lessons; and, of course, concerts. And while I sometimes remind him to practice, I never need to nag. He’s grown as a musician and, more importantly, he’s having a blast. (more…)
Like any mom, I’ve got a long list of all the (mostly wonderful) ways my kids have changed my life. And one of the biggies is how my husband and I spend New Year’s Eve.
To be fair, we set the bar pretty high: we rung in our first married New Year from our honeymoon on a beach in Antigua. And while neither of us is a Times Square-style reveler, we always enjoyed celebrating with parties, overnight getaways or late dinners with friends.
All that changed, of course, with the arrival of our firstborn. By the time we felt comfortable leaving him past midnight with a sitter, another baby was on the way. And then one more. Fast forward a few years: our children are a little older, and we’re no longer sleep-deprived zombies. We’re ready, willing and up for some New Year’s fun….and there’s not a babysitter to be had at any price. Apparently they’re all out whooping it up like we used to.
And so, we’ve built new, kid-friendly traditions to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Typically we all venture out in the afternoon to catch one of the blockbuster holiday movie releases. Then we challenge one another to a savagely competitive match of laser tag or maybe bowling. The prize: bragging rights for the whole year. (more…)