Friday, December 23, 2011


I used to make lists, but I never accomplished anything that was written on the lists, so I stopped making them. Today, because I happened to be sitting near a piece of paper and a pencil (it happens sometimes when you homeschool your kids, but only sometimes) I thought to myself hey, why not make a list. I got bored pretty quickly so the only thing I wrote down was pick Anthony up from basketball camp at 2:30. As it turns out, Anthony was meant to get picked up at 2:00, so the list turned out to be an epic fail.

Now tell me, if I were to begin writing more posts, would the previous story be the kind of thing you would be looking for? I mean that is some pretty hardcore writing right there. The truth is, I can't seem to get on the computer and write about much of anything but I saw that I had only written one post this month so I decided to try and fix that.

How about a list to wrap up 2011! This will be a fun list.

Favorite books I read this year... The Liar's Club and lit, both memoirs and both by Mary Karr, and Surrender! by Fr. Larry Richards. I like to do one of three things when I read...laugh, cry or think about things more deeply. If a book does all three it's a bonus and these books did that for me.

Favorite new habit of the year...taking Buster for a daily walk in the evening. Just ninety minutes with me and Buster and an ipod filled with favorite songs makes me happy. If you need a way to unwind in the evenings and you have a dog living in your house, take the dog for a walk. Dogs don't talk, they don't ask for anything and they happily go wherever you lead them. It's a real treat! Plus, if you do have a dog and you find him mildly irritating, he will become much less so when you being walking with him every night. Your dog will suddenly love you more than he loves the rest of the people living in your house, and if you happen to be slightly insecure and pathetic, that simple truth will make you happy.

Favorite new song...Fake Empire by The National. This song makes no sense to me. I'm not intellectual and so I'm sure there is some deep meaning behind it, but since I am not a hipster doofus, it's all lost on me. Regardless, the tempo that slowly builds up throughout the song, and the lead singer's voice make me love it. If you aren't real keen on strangely deep voices (think Leonard Cohen) and lyrics that are nearly impossible to make out, skip it. I live with a fifteen year old child who mumbles her way through life, so the fact that I have to strain to make out the words of this song doesn't bother me too much. Here are some of the inane lyrics..."stay out super late pickin' apples, makin' pies, put a little something in our lemonades and take it with us. We're half awake in our fake empire." HUH!? Please share if you have any idea what in the helk he is talking about. Is he putting booze in his lemonade so he can make it through this half arsed life here on earth? What about the apple picking super late? Who picks apples late at night? Well, who can explain why certain things bring us joy. This song does makes me happy, so I shouldn't get too wrapped up in the meaning.

Most fun thing I did this year...went on a trip with my husband and kids to Georgia. I had to check my pulse a few times because I was so relaxed that I wasn't sure I was even still breathing. I hoped to get on here and show pictures and write about our vacation, but all I can tell you is, it was wonderful and the thought of going back every year makes me happy.

People I'm most grateful to this brother in law and my sister who generously gave us plane tickets so me and the kids could go to my Nana's funeral. My sister thought it was no big deal, my brother in law thought it was no big deal. Everyone gives away plane tickets, right? This is how my sister and brother in law live. They are generous - not just to me, but to everyone in our family and not just with material things. If you want to feel welcome somewhere, go to my sister's house. You know the best part of being with my sister? We Hacics go into her house and create chaos and confusion and she just laughs and says how much fun it is. And she says it so convincingly that I actually believe her! Anyway, if there is ever a time to be with family, to celebrate life, to tell stories and enjoy each other, it's when a loved one has passed on to the next life. My Nana would have been quite pleased knowing that my sister made it happen for me and the kids.

This list barely touches on my past year, but I am tired and getting bored with myself and my house is a mess and I'm having people over tomorrow evening after Christmas Eve Mass and if I don't want them to lose their appetites I must go clean! Hey, because of this list here, I just realized I had a pretty fabulous 2011. Hope you did , too. And Merry, merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leaving for another trip away

Whenever I make Maggie something to eat, no matter what it is, she looks up at me and asks, "mama, is there love in this?" She thinks love is an actual ingredient because I always say, "I made this with love so you better like it." I feel it best to threaten your kids into liking all you make and so far so good. My kids think I'm a fantastic cook and regularly praise me. The best is when they praise me in front of other people - double points for that one. And when they say nothing, I stew. Wouldn't it be nice if I were humble enough to not care if they complimented and thanked me, if I was merely cooking to serve them and in turn God. But I'm not that humble and not nearly that mature, plus, the last time I checked I wasn't God so I don't need to be perfect. I'm not afraid to admit that I enjoy, relish, thrive on compliments when I make dinner or lunch or anything else edible.

Greg chalks this up to my being my Nana's granddaughter. When my Nana cooked she poured her entire heart and soul into it and she expected something in return. A kiss, a hug, a compliment, anything letting her know that you appreciated her efforts. I was just telling my kids the other day that every time she made anything she did it as though Jesus and Mary were coming to join her. There was love in my Nana's cooking and you could taste it.

She came to stay with us for a couple of weeks when we lived in North Carolina and Jane was a baby. Greg invited a friend over for dinner and my Nana made pork chops and homemade bread and various other things. Greg's friend ate like a pig but said nothing. I remember sweating a little as the night wore on and he continued to make no mention of how delicious everything was. I wanted to kick him under the table,but I didn't know him too well so he wouldn't have understood my glances and nods toward my Nana. I could see the look of disgust on her face, as though this person had been raised by wolves and now she was being forced to share a meal with him.

As soon as he left my Nana stood up and said under her breath, "don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out." I shook my head at her and told her there was no accounting for some people. For the next ten years, every single time I saw her she would bring up Greg's mannerless friend. Greg is still amused by this. Whenever someone gets up from my table without saying anything, I give a look and Greg says, "easy Nana!" And we laugh and I thank God that there is some small part of her that she passed along to me.

For as long as I can remember, my Nana was cooking for me and my siblings and anyone and everyone who she came into contact with. It gave her joy and happiness and a sense of purpose and until I grew up and had a family of my own I didn't fully understand it. Now I do and I'm grateful I was able to share so many good meals with her. She lived a few doors down from us and from the time I was a baby until the time I went away to college she ate dinner with us practically every night. She and my mom would talk each morning so they could start planing the menu for that night's meal.

It wasn't just the food at the dinner table that would make me happy. It was the conversation, the laughter, the yelling and heated discussions, the one hour that would settle into three hours. At some point my Nana would get up and start doing the dishes and my mother would say, "Ma, stop it, we'll do them later." My Nana would insist on continuing and then my mother would flare her nostrils at us, which meant, "get off your ass and help her." And we did, because we were obedient children who also happened to be mildly afraid of my mom's flared nostrils.

My Nana passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 101. She was with three of her five children. A priest came in at some point before she passed and my mother told me my Nana made the sign of the cross and said a Hail Mary. Fitting, considering every time I went to see her she was sitting in her chair saying her rosary. She never needed to say much about religion or faith or the gospel, mostly because she spent her entire life actually living it. I know I'm blessed beyond measure to have witnessed and shared in it.

Tomorrow me and my kids head to New York for the week, to go and celebrate her life. I can't wait. There will be time spent around the table. Food and conversation and laughter and yelling will be plenty and in those moments I will feel her most.