Sunday Funday at the MFA

IMG_2990I don’t know if you’ve heard but southeastern Massachusetts got pummelled by the storm that tore up the East Coast this past weekend. The nor’easter whipped through on Friday night and left a wake of flooded basements, toppled trees and downed power lines. 100% of my little coastal town was without electricity until today. Our house was dark and cold and wet and miserable. But you know what? I feel pretty lucky. Because this is the second major storm to knock out our power since Puerto Rico was devasted by Hurricane Maria back in September and though much of their island is still reeling from the disaster, we’re already back on our feet. And we had relief even in the worst of it- friends with generators, neighboring towns with power (and hot coffee!) and crews working round the clock to clear the streets and get the lights back on.

Anyway, we are very fortunate AND we’re none the worse for wear. Plus, thanks to some pretty fabulous friends, the weekend (and my birthday!) actually turned out pretty great despite it all. Sat night was a girls night in that left me feeling really grateful for the people who are always there to pick me up when I need it and Sunday was spent at the MFA with two of my fave lovely ladies and the fabulous (and cheerful) Takashi Murakami. The MFA is beautiful and classic and full of surprises. It’s a perfect place to spend a rainy Sunday. I really love it and I think you will too.

I was so excited to see this exhibit because I’ve been thinking about it for months. I think Japanese art is really cool and Murakami is extra great.
My daughter thought it was weird that I took a pic of this, but I love typography. It’s part of the experience for me. Maybe that makes me weird? Probably.
Can you spot the one sad flower? That was me on Friday when I turned a number that sounds really old. Really, really old.
All of Murakami’s works are whimsical but also powerful.
Ok, maybe not ALL of them are powerful, but they are all whimsical. And cute. And just a tiny bit perplexing.
This is what the inside of my brain looks like after a long week of work that also includes coordinating kids activities, managing household responsibilities, juggling a bajillion other peripheral things and generally trying to keep my shit together while remaining happy and healthy. Takashi gets it. He really gets it.
Meet Mr. Dob. He’s kind of like Mickey but more menacing and possibly under the influence of some psychedelic drug. But he still manages to be cute.
We decided that Murakami must have painted this one on his birthday when he turned my age.
What we wanted to know was how big is this guy’s studio? This is one continuous canvas and it has to be like a half a mile long. Also, it’s pretty fabulous.
Moving on to the American Artists floor: furniture is art, even (especially?) mid-century furniture.
I think I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy Chihuly. This one is pretty great, isn’t it? Also, this is a good spot in the museum to stop for coffee. Or wine. Wine is always a good idea, no matter where you are (Chihuly or no).
This was part of the”Japan in the Psychedelic Seventies” exhibit. I can’t show much of this because most of the images were really bizarre and bordered on the pornographic. But this one was just kind of Pink Floyd-ish and I think that’s pretty safe.
Another great exhibit on now is the (Un)expected Families photo collection. I don’t know why I didn’t take more pics in this hall because so many of the images were really beautiful.
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You can’t skip Escher’s Passion for Patterns. We walked right by these at first, but I’m glad we doubled back to see them because they’re super cool. There are 50 that you can study and ponder and try to wrap your brain around. Til your eyes cross. Then you’ve got to move on.
There are so many good things happening all at once here in this hallway. It kind of looks like a happy accident. That’s the way life should be.
This Mark Rothko piece is the most interesting and complex one in the entire museum. These people spent so long looking at it that I started to think they might actually have been part of the installation. Maybe they know something I don’t? Or possibly (probably) they are just more sophisticated art viewers than I am.
I’m calling this “self-portrait featuring daughter and friend”
Everything is an illusion, or is it? We spent some time pondering this…
Then we got to the halls that housed what my daughter called the “boring art” …
But art is never boring.
You just need to be one with the art.
But really and truly, if masterpieces just aren’t your thing it’s ok. You might like the Making Modern galleries better. There you’ll find O’Keefe, Kahlo, Pollock, and Piccaso. Inspiration at every turn!
And yes, please do all of this. And don’t do the other stuff. Except eat. Why is eat crossed off? We all need to eat.

When my son was small he used to call any experience that didn’t last all day a “tiny day”. And by that, I think he meant it was so good that we should have spent more time doing what we were doing but since we didn’t it was tiny when it could have been huge. Well, that was our tiny day at the MFA. I hope you enjoyed tagging along.

Before I go I’m going to give a shout out the other ladies that made this a really great weekend, despite the crazy weather and the scary birthday number. And, I’ll leave you with a little advice. When you’re feeling down, put on a little red lipstick. You’ll look ridiculous but feel fabulous and sometimes that’s all you need to remember that life is pretty great.



Whatcha’ doin’ in DC? Museums, Monuments & Memorials!

IMG_2542Never mind all the stuff that’s happening behind the scenes and behind closed doors in Washington these days. It’s still a great place for a little trip. In fact, with all the unseemly things going on, it’s actually a perfect time to go. Because D.C. is a shrine to everything that’s good about America. It’s a reminder of all the wonderful things that have been dreamed, designed, created, engineered and produced by Americans in America. I have to be honest- I needed the reminder. We are a nation of people who have pushed boundaries to overcome great adversity, invented innovative products and developed cutting-edge technology to solve complex problems, and created a vast array of arts and entertainment to enrich lives. We have found common ground during contentious times. Really, we have! If we can hold on to all the good, there’s no end to the amazing things that can happen right here on American soil. We just need to cut out the crazy. So, let’s cut out the crazy, ya’ll!  It’s really distracting and we’ve got a lot of work to do. In the meantime, take a quick walk around town with me and I’ll show you why all of a sudden I feel a bit more hopeful. Remember the future is rooted in the past…

First of all, make sure you check your tickets and know which airport you’re flying out of. Because if you don’t and you have two likely possibilities you might have to scramble to make your flight. Oops.
We stayed near Dupont Circle which is a great spot because you can walk almost anywhere. Even in the rain. The ceaseless, endless rain that doesn’t let up for the entire time you are there. Luckily there’s a CVS on every corner so if you also forgot to the check the weather before you left, you can buy an umbrella (or two or three).
Plus, there’s a fantastic bookstore in Dupont. I always go where the books are and Kramer Books & Afterwards has all the books, plus a cafe and a bar. What else do you need in life? I could have just stayed there, but I heard there were a few other things to see in town.
So we headed down toward all the main sites, but we stopped to say hello to the good guys. #muellertime
Our route also took us past the EPA. What a relief to see it still standing.
It was a total happy accident that we were in DC right after the Obama Portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.  Honestly, I would have skipped this museum otherwise and that would have been a shame because it’s fabulous.
Kehinde Wiley really captured the essence of President Obama. It’s a gorgeous piece of art. And it’s way cooler than George Washington’s portrait. Portrait art has come a long way, baby.
This woman is everything I aspire to be when I grow up. Thanks, Amy Sherald for the beautiful portrait of a truly inspiring human and role model.
There are a lot of other interesting portraits in the gallery and I can’t possibly show you all of them, so I’m moving on to the other side of the building which I loved equally. This is the American Art Gallery. The building is beautiful and so is everything in it.
Like this Hockney. Wait a minute. He’s not even American! Oh well, let’s not sweat the technical details. And anyway, everyone is welcome in America!! Aren’t they?
Nam June Paik was actually American so that’s probably why he was inspired to create this. I really like this piece- it’s called the Electronic Superhighway. It’s really electric (I mean that literally and as an adjective).
We hadn’t planned to visit Ford’s Theatre but we walked right by it, so why not?
Today it’s a working theatre so you can see a show just like Lincoln did, but you can’t sit in his seat. I asked if that was out of respect but the tour guide said it was to deter people who are tempted to try to recreate John Wilkes Booth’s leap to the stage. Hmm… I don’t know. Really? People really want to do that? But why? Because breaking a leg is fun?
There’s a little museum attached to the theatre and you can ask Honest Abe a few questions but he probably won’t answer you. Probably, but you never know. Stranger things have happened (especially in Washington).
If you’re looking for a cool place to spend some time taking a break from museums and monuments, head to Georgetown. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods anywhere. Is it something about the painted brick, maybe? The wide streets? The variety of available shopping and eating establishments? The general adorableness? I don’t know. But I like it. I like it a lot.
There are several embassies in Georgetown. This one has to be the cutest. It’s the Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda. I feel like everyone who works here would be very cheerful and kind. I don’t know why. Also, it had me thinking of warm, sunny days and how we almost went to Martinique instead where it would have been warm and sunny and not rainy and coldish. Not that that makes any sense because I don’t even think Martinique is near Antigua but this is how my brain works.
My husband did his undergrad at Georgetown University so we spent some time walking around campus and helping him feel young again. I suggested doing a few quick beer funnels and streaking across the quad, but he demurred. I don’t think he would have liked me too much if he’d known me in college.
There are a fair amount of awesome independent and funky shops in the neighborhood. Here my son is trying to figure out how to bring this sign back on the plane. Is it small enough to fit in the overhead? We don’t check bags for weekend trips…
This place had a really fantastic mix of Italian products including imported chocolate that cost $47/lb. Note, that doesn’t say $4.70/lb. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Or maybe you like spending that much on penny candy. For me, it seems like an oxymoron. Or just moronic. Though, it was pretty good chocolate I have to say.
If you’re in Georgetown you have to eat at the Tombs. It’s mandatory. Or at the very least it’s a tradition- so be traditional and eat at the Tombs! We did and everyone was happy.
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The next day, guess what? It was still raining. But what’s a little rain when there are sites to see? Soggy sites are still sites worth seeing.
And anyway, if you go to Washington and you don’t visit the Lincoln Memorial did you really go to Washington?
And if you don’t take a selfie and post it on social media, did it really happen?
This is the new Museum of African American History. I can only show you the outside because getting tickets to see inside proved impossible. We tried for three days in a row with no luck. Gah. Maybe next time.
This is the original Smithsonian Institute building and these are random people who probably just visited it. We didn’t so you’d have to ask them how it was.
I feel like everywhere we go lately we run into an Olmec. It’s weird.
No trip anywhere is complete until you see a Narwhal.  Also, no trip to D.C is complete without a visit to the Natural History Museum.
Or the Air and Space Museum. In fact, this is probably the most visited museum in Washington. I’m totally making that up, but it seems true, doesn’t it? “Seems true” is closer to “really true” in Washington than it is anywhere else.
This brings back childhood memories. I might have been here a time or two or three or ten. My dad was in the Air Force and we were in Washington a lot.
It blows my mind that John Glenn hurled through the vastness of space in this tiny thimble of a spacecraft. How do you not feel insignificant? Oh, I know- because you’re making history, that’s how.
Rockets. Woah.
So many different engines and machines and feats of engineering genius to talk about here! This could have been a very long discussion but luckily I’m good at distracting (usually with food)…
But I could have told you how this would turn out…
Yep, with me capturing the exact minute my son decided he didn’t want to be an astronaut after all.
The American History Museum is also very cool- you can see Dorothy’s slippers and the real Star Spangled Banner (but you can’t take pics so this is the best I could do for you). There’s also a 3D movie about the Natural Parks that makes you want to pack your bags right now and go. I’ve decided we HAVE to go to Utah next. Stay tuned for that…
And there is an auto section. Of course there is. I’ve mentioned before that we always, always, always, somehow end up looking at cars.
One thing I love about visiting the Smithsonian museums is that your kids are being entertained AND educated all at the same time and they don’t even realize what’s happening to them. They’re learning without even knowing it!
Ok. the Hirshhorn is my FAVORITE museum in D.C. I love, love, love it. And, the “Brand New: Art and Commodities in the 80s” exhibit was a highlight of the trip for me because it was like seeing an old friend.
Oh, this. 80’s glam life goals.
Statement Art (obvious)
Statement Art (subtle)
Everyone needs something to believe in. I believe that it’s ok to believe whatever you believe. So go on and believe.
Who’s to say what is art? Art just is.
Phew! That was a lot of museum pics. Let’s switch gears. Books! If you find yourself in the Adams Morgan neighborhood check out this used bookstore. They’ve got really interesting used books. That’s all I’ll say.
And then eat dinner at Bistrot du Coin. This is a really good not-fancy French restaurant that feels really authentic. You can walk in looking all disheveled from the rain and 10 hours of museum-going and no one cares. They’ll serve you an apero and some moules & frites and everyone is happy.
If you eat a lot at Bistro du Coin AND you get up at 6:30 a. m the next morning to try to get tix to the Museum of African American History (and fail for the 3rd time) you can make yourself feel better by taking a (rainy!) run around (adorable!) Georgetown.
No rest for the weary! This is the National Art Gallery. My son dubbed this one the “old people’s art gallery” but what I think he meant was it has a lot of fine art displayed in a classic style.
The Newseum is across the street from the old people’s art gallery and it’s a crowd pleaser for any age!
I like the First Amendment so much more than the Second Amendment. And I am allowed to say that.
This is really a fascinating place that combines history with how it’s been documented and announced as it unfolded through the decades.
The Pulitzer Prize Photographs on display brought tears to my eyes. Really and truly a  moving experience.
So much history displayed here- all documented by mind-blowingly talented photographers. I can’t even describe it in words. The photos are the story and no words are needed.
This is an actual section of the Berlin Wall.  Amazing.
Next up was the American Art Gallery. There’s a giant Calder mobile in the lobby and a Jackson Pollock mural upstairs. We have a few Pollock knock off’s at home that my kids painted, but seeing the real deal is a treat.
The Outliers and Vanguard Art exhibit was really cool. All pieces were made by self-taught artists during an era when they were totally underappreciated. I’m glad they’re finally getting recognized for what they are (which is a beautiful expression of raw talent).
I call this one “boy who is tired of looking at art”.
One last museum to round out the trip. The National Geographic Museum has an interactive Tomb of Christ exhibit that’s fantastic. It’s 3D and VR ( though not at the same time- that would probably be a bit much).
You can also see Stephen Wilkes Day to Night Photography and learn how he captures 24 hours worth of images and melds them into a single photograph. I am way too impatient for that kind of thing, but I really appreciate the result.
The last night we were in town we decided to check out the newly revived wharf district (appropriately named District Wharf). But it was 8:00 pm on a Friday night and all the restaurants were packed. We had a hangry kid who couldn’t wait 90 minutes for a table, so we didn’t stay. But this is an area worth checking out if you’re better planners than we are and you make a reservation at one of the hotspots.
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After we went all the way down to the water and back we ended up here, which was one block from our hotel. And it was the best meal we ate all weekend. If you are in town I highly recommend Boqueria for tapas and wine. And Nutella stuffed churros. Yep, you heard that right.
So, I’ll leave you now with one last thought. Great things have happened in the United States of America and lots of it is on display in Washington D.C. What happens next is up to you!

This land is Parkland, this land is…

IMG_1988I can’t write about Parkland. I’m sorry, but I can’t, much as my heart bleeds for the victims, the community, and for all of us. I’ve said it all before anyway… wasn’t it just a few months ago, after Las Vegas that I told you how I felt about gun control? So, yeah. The only thing I’ll say before moving on is that the families of those victims (beautiful high school kids with their whole lives ahead of them and dedicated educators) deserve more from our President. This isn’t about mental health reform. It’s about gun legislation and passing sensible gun laws which he won’t even talk about because of his NRA money. It’s all about the money.

Oops, I’m writing about it. My fingers seem to have a mind of their own. I was seriously going to sit down and tell you about my book club book because we discussed it last night and it was really thought-provoking. But I guess I’m going to talk about the most recent (certainly not the last) mass shooting after all. How could I not? It’s part of the fabric of our lives right now so it’s pretty much unavoidable. The sad thing is, I’m not even surprised anymore. Not even one bit. I am officially anesthetized. You get to the point when you hear the news when you think to yourself “please just don’t let the body count be too high”. And that’s really sad.

One of the victims in the picture looked a little bit like me at that age. Her story ended on Wednesday but I’ve been able to see and do a million things since my high school days. That’s gut-wrenching. She won’t get to experience any of it because it was all too easy for her 19-year-old murderer to get his hands on a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle.

“The AR-15 rifle used in the attack was purchased legally, at Sunrise Tactical Supply in Florida, according to a federal law enforcement official. The arrest report said Mr. Cruz purchased it in February 2017. “No laws were violated in the procurement of this weapon,” said Peter J. Forcelli, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in Miami. “

I watched the speech Trump gave in response to the tragedy.  He vowed (in a measured voice dripping with insincerity and void of real emotion)  to do everything he can to make America’s children feel safe in their schools. Everything but put measures in place that would stop easy access to assault rifles, machine guns and large capacity ammunition magazines- weapons no civilian has any need for whatsoever. A glaring omission.

I have a 14-year-old daughter. As I write this she is currently in the kitchen making her lunch to bring to school. She’s packed her backpack with the homework she finished last night, and she tucked the note I wrote so she could go to a friend’s house after school in the front pocket of her frayed and ripped jeans. After debating for what seems like an exorbitant amount of time, she’s decided what shoes to wear and her new canary yellow Converse hightops are laced up just right. Her phone keeps buzzing with snaps and Insta notifications. There’s a basketball game tonight; plans must be made. Music is wafting from her room, lending a rhythmic beat to our morning routine and the bathroom smells like Bath and Body Works. There is toothpaste all over the sink (gah). In a few minutes, I’ll braid her hair in two neat french braids that she’ll immediately take out because they look “too lumpy”. She’ll kiss me goodbye (or she won’t depending on her mood) and then she’ll walk out the front door.

What if my girl doesn’t come home today?  Tell me, Mr. President, what if she doesn’t come home?

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaking?
But, you see it’s not me
It’s not my family…



12 days into 2018 and…

IMG_0826I’m at a loss for words. I really am. I have just typed, erased, typed, erased, typed and erased again the first sentence to this post, where I had planned to express my feelings about the President of the United States describing other countries as “shitholes”. But now I can’t because I simply cannot articulate how this makes me feel. It was stomach churning at the least, I can tell you that. And he followed it up by asking why more people can’t come from places like Norway. Um. How is it not yet clear what we are dealing with? The Donald has shown his true colors (again) and they are definitively black and white.

Last night, as I sat on the couch flipping from news program to news program, my son said “Mom, why do you even watch this stuff? I feel like it just makes you sad”.

It does make me sad. I feel sad, and exhausted and terrified every single day. I was hoping to find balance, grace, and some sort of peace in 2018 but already that seems like an impossible dream. I thought after last year we had nowhere to go but up, but it’s clear that we haven’t even hit the bottom yet. How low will this deranged, bigoted, misogynistic, idiotic, hate-mongering lunatic take us, and will we be able to preserve a little bit of our human decency?

I know there are millions and millions of people feeling exactly like I feel today, but I can’t help but think of the people that are supporting him, or at the very least allowing him to get away with this type of indecency. I’m talking about the people appointed to serve in our government who are supposed to maintain order and ensure checks and balances endure so that we as a nation and as individuals are fairly represented. I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that any human would be able to justify what he said at all. He is the President. Of. The. United. States. and this is DEPLORABLE. Beyond deplorable. It’s the worst, ever. Lower than low.

I guess the one good thing is that this just strengthens my resolve to take action in 2018 and to be a role model for my kids so that they remain of strong moral character, with open hearts and open minds. I feel like it’s more important than ever to raise my voice in the name of humanity and stand up for what I know is right. I want to do this for me, to help loosen that knot in my stomach that’s been there since Nov 8, 2016. I want to do this for my kids so that they see that words and actions have power; that it’s important to take action against something you wholeheartedly believe is wrong and to have compassion and a desire to help those who are less fortunate than you are. I want to do this so that we as a nation don’t lose sight of what’s good and right about being an American. I want to do this so I can believe that there are still things that are good and right about being an American.

In our house, we watch a lot of Star Wars. I mean, A LOT. It’s something we can turn on and know everyone will be entertained by. How could you not love Star Wars? It’s the classic struggle of good vs. evil played out by endearing characters against a fantastical backdrop. It’s just magic. But it’s deeper than that; it’s real life disguised as fantasy.  We’re playing out the storyline right here on Earth. We’ve got the Empire and we’ve got the Rebel Alliance, both adamant in their beliefs and willing to fight to the death for them. In the latest movie (The Last Jedi), the Rebel Alliance, fighting for justice and equality, are in a desperate spot because the Empire is stronger than ever and they’ve been reduced to a small number of freedom fighters with little in the way of a fleet or weapons. They feel as though their support around the galaxy has deteriorated to nothing. They are running out of hope.

I won’t rehash the whole movie (you’ve probably seen it anyway) but I want to talk about the last scene. The scene where the little boy on Canto Bright holds the Alliance ring in one hand and a broom floats into his other. He holds up the broom like a lightsaber and the music swells.

tumblr_p12dmtnwE61u5d459o1_500Back in the beginning, Leia thought that Obi-Wan was their only hope and this time around Rey thought that Luke was their only hope. But neither of those proved true. The future of the Rebel Alliance is secure because of all of boys and girls all over the galaxy who believe in the cause, who feel the pull of the Force that allows them to find the strength to fight against the Dark Side. Every mission needs a leader, but no mission can succeed without an army.

Hope for us lies within every boy and girl who are taught to see the good; who are inspired to do something to preserve the good. These boys and girls grow up to be men and women who have the strength and the courage to stand up for the good. They combine their strengths and find power in their unification and collectively they can move mountains.

I mean to say, collectively WE can move mountains because WE are those people who need to unify.  We need to nurture, encourage and support the notion that there doesn’t need to be one strong person to fight for us. We are the ones that need to fight. We all can make a difference, no matter how small we are, how insignificant we feel. We just need to ignite the desire and find the motivation to do so. And we need to wholeheartedly reject the Dark Side.

WE are our only hope.

#action2018 #addyourvoice

Give me liberty, or at least drive me to Philly!

IMG-0368Holy moly- we made it! Today is the last day of the longest year there has ever been (except perhaps before we were measuring time in years).  This was a year of sucker punches and gut-wrenching events and I for one and am not sorry to see it go. Even though we’re starting 2018 in much the same situation as we’re leaving 2017 it still seems like a fresh start. Maybe that’s what drew us to end the year in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. Where it all began if you will. Our forefathers are probably rolling over in their graves right now, given the current state of government affairs, but the city of brotherly love is more fun than ever.  Here are some pics from our short but sweet trip.

First stop was our old neighborhood- Chestnut Hill.  I still think this is the most adorable and best neighborhood ever.  I often wonder why we left such a perfect little spot. Until I remember that someone was shot in the WaWa parking lot behind our house. I guess every place has its problems.
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Here’s our old house. This was our first fixer upper (don’t ask how many have come after- that’s a story for a different day). It holds a special place in my heart because you always remember your first…
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If you don’t know why I took a picture of this door then I can’t tell you.
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Oh ok, I’ll tell you. It’s the entrance to McNally’s Tavern, the coziest local in America, and home to the world-famous Schmitter (aka sandwich to end all sandwiches). There is no sign, and no window so you just have to know it’s there. We found out about it pretty quickly when we lived in town, and proceeded to spend 5 out of 7 nights there. That was pre-kids and when my metabolism was a lot faster.
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Chestnut Hill Coffee is a good spot to stop when the temps are beyond frigid and you need something hot to bring your body temp up somewhere close to “alive”.
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We spent some time peeking into some of our favorite stores. I actually did not look very amazing on this trip because I had a huge stye in my left eye that made it look like I’d gone ten rounds with Rocky. I spent most of the time hiding behind sunglasses, which was annoying because it’s really hard to see inside with sunglasses and also I looked like a total douche. But it was either that or scare small children, so…
Yeah, Philly pillows! And other colleges etc. that I don’t care about (but you might).
I always try to make sure my clothing is refreshing.
Was so much fun to meet up with Cathi and Eddie.  One of the best parts of traveling is reconnecting with people you really like spending time with that you never get to see.
After our meet up in Chestnut Hill, we headed to Center City and our hotel. We stayed at the Logan, and you should too.
The location is perfect because you can easily walk to the Museum of Art, the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk or anywhere downtown. Even when it’s colder than Mars it’s not that painful to get anywhere. And, when you get back you can sit by the fire in the lobby and defrost with a nice drink.
Philly is fun during the holidays because of things like this nice little Winterfest that was happening in front of City Hall.
There’s even an ice rink! We didn’t skate but we could have if we had been able to feel our feet (or maybe that was just an excuse because we’re kinda lazy).
This is just a reminder to #visitphilly
When it’s so cold that you’re afraid you might lose a few fingers or a toe to frostbite,  you have to find somewhere inside to visit. We couldn’t think of anywhere better than One Liberty Observation Deck.
I’m sure it’s amazing any time of day, but we went at sunset which made it extra amazing.
Do you know about the curse of Billy Penn? No? It’s pretty interesting. I would tell you about it, but that’s what Google is for.  Anyway, that’s him perched on the top of City Hall. And we thought we were cold…
I love Rittenhouse Square. It’s so pretty.  Definitely spend some time around the square- lots of good shops and restaurants and all the historic stuff is nearby too. Remember the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed in Philly. If we had made it to Independence Hall I was going to buy a copy of both and send them to Donald Trump. Because, well, you know why.
This is the restaurant in our hotel. It was a tad bit out of our price range (just looking at the menu made my credit card spontaneously combust) but I did have coffee here in the morning and it was really good coffee, and a good place to hang out and catch up on all my social media.
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Here’s my “I stopped to take a pic in the middle of the street like a tourist” shot of Philly.
The next day the fam came to town! Don’t mistake these kids for Philly hoodlums. They are hoodlums, but they aren’t from Philly.
The kids wanted to eat at Reading Terminal. I am not going to lie- this place stresses me out. But, I feel like if you are in Philly, you have to go check it out.  The food options are limitless and the people watching is tops.
All kinds of sundries…
We came here so that everyone could find something they wanted to eat. But 75% of our group opted for cheesesteaks so I guess we could have just gone to a cheesesteak place, but oh well. It was fun to brave the crowds and see the sights.
Like these books! I love it when I run into books.
Even if you’re in Philly at a different time of year,  you should pop into Macy’s on Market St. It’s beautiful. And you can pick up a pair of socks, or a Longchamp bag. Or something.
Our next stop was the Philadelphia Magic Gardens.  This place is probably my favorite spot in Philly. You really need to go to experience it because pictures will never do it justice.
It is absolutely magical.
Truly a feast for the eyes! After you visit the museum stroll down the street to see more of Isaiah Zagar’s work (it’s everywhere on South Street) and then spend some time appreciating the unique South Street vibe.
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This is the view from the rooftop bar at the Logan where we went to recharge after a day of wandering around.  Don’t worry, there’s an inside too.
Loved the view.
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The bar was beautiful. And that’s a $3,400 bottle of cognac.
I opted for the $7 bottle of Yards. Because when I drink, I drink local.
Before dinner we headed back over to City Hall for the free light show. It was really beautiful and mercifully quick (7 minutes in sub-zero temps was just about enough).
For dinner we opted for a spot on Spring Garden Street called Roy Pitz Barrel House. I loved the vibe, and also the giant pretzels. We could have just had those for dinner. I’m gonna remember that next time.
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The next morning I ran up to the art museum. I did not run up those stairs because I didn’t want to be too cliche. Also, that’s a lot of stairs. I don’t know how Rocky ran all the way from South Philly and then up all those dang stairs because my hotel was less than a mile away and I wasn’t going to do that.
It wasn’t my most inspired run, but it was pretty. Pretty short. Ha ha.
And because eating til you feel like puking seems to be a thing you do between Christmas and New Year’s we went to The Dandelion for brunch. I definitely want to go back because the menu looked amazing, but all I could manage was coffee and a small bite to eat. Loved the space too. I felt like maybe Betsy Ross would walk in at any minute.
See- it’s very colonial, isn’t it?
Like you could totally darn a flag in front of this fire.
Then the weather started to get dicer and we thought we should head out because we had a long drive home. The snow in the city sure is pretty, but not very fun on the highway.
We finally made it home after a harrowing drive that took 2 1/2 hours longer than normal. I’m sorry there aren’t any photos of the Liberty Bell, the Besty Ross House, Independence Hall or any of the other usual Philly sites.  But there’s a very good reason for that. And the reason is- we didn’t go to any of those places. Maybe we would have if it were warmer, but as my son said: “why go see a cracked bell when you can go see other actually cool things”?  That’s my boy. He will probably never be good at history, but he’ll live an adventurous life.

So, that’s how we wrapped up 2017. I hope the end of your year was just as lovely, and I hope that 2018 is better for everyone. I know a large part of that will have to do with what we do, so let’s get to it! Here’s our chance to move beyond anger, toward action.  We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do… insert your action item here. 

Home for the Holidays

I live in a teeny tiny town in a part of the state that’s largely ignored. For whatever reason, the south coast of Massachusetts has lagged far behind other areas in terms of commerce and development. Even tourism–which the region is prime for because of its beautiful landscape and miles of shoreline– is basically nonexistent in comparison to other parts of the state. We don’t get the crowds that flock to the cape. And we don’t have enough industry to support any significant growth in the year-round population. So that all translates into fewer amenities for those of us who call the South Coast home.

It’s pretty sleepy, but a few times a year our little community comes alive with a spirit that’s bigger and greater than anywhere else I’ve lived. There are three town events that bring us together- a town party in August, a big Halloween celebration in October, and my favorite by far, the Christmas Stroll in December.


At the Stroll, Santa comes chugging in by boat, and then spends the rest of the afternoon spiriting kids through the village in a horse-drawn hay wagon. The town is packed with people of all ages milling in and out of the festively decorated little shops that are offering good cheer. Sounds of the season (in the form of the elementary school band) waft through the air as you greet friends and neighbors at every turn. Yes, it’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come alive. And I’m not even kidding.

I love to travel, and I often think longingly of all the years I lived in the city (and count the ones until I can return) but there’s no place I’d rather be on a cold December afternoon than in the middle of this picturesque little village, listening to my son pound out Jingle Bells with the rest of the 4th grade band, standing elbow to elbow with friends and neighbors as we sip spiked cider and watch our teenagers flit from here to there, arms linked and smiles wide. It’s like for one day, you can forget about everything else that’s happening outside of our 26 square miles and just be joyful.

Hey there Jaime!  Always happy to see you!

It’s called the Stroll because you do a lot of strolling.
We’ve got a few pretty little shops like this. This is Kates Simple Eats. You can go there and eat, and it’s pretty simple. But also pretty great.

The fourth-grade band plays first, followed by the more accomplished 5th & 6th graders. It’s kind of like when the Lumineers opened for U2 at Gillette this summer.
The set is kind of interesting- they play all the Christmas classics like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Row Row Row Your Boat. But then they do end with a resounding rendition of Jingle Bells followed by the finale of the crowd pleasing Little Drummer Boy. Well, at least I think it was Little Drummer Boy.
My son plays the drums. He practices at home a lot. It’s awesome.
Hi Santa. We’ve all been pretty good this year. Ok, well not ALL of us. But most of us. Some of us. All right, honestly, NONE of us have been good this year. But 2017 was awful and brought out the worst in everyone. We promise to be better in 2018.
I love decked halls.
And I love Prosecco in my cider.
Cocoa, cookies and Santa hats for all, except that guy. He didn’t get the memo, I guess.
If you had cider or cocoa at every single shop you might just float away or at the very least feel like I do today (which is not so good).
We draw all the big names in entertainment…
Big names and holiday stars…even Rudolph! The Grinch comes too, but I avoid him because: good vibes only.
It’s really amazing and wonderful to see so many people on Front Street. This is approximately 2000% more foot traffic than you see on a normal day.

This year it’s especially important to embrace the feel-good days.  The days filled with small moments that make your heart swell. A smile exchanged, a laugh shared, a warm hug- the little things that are actually bigger than you think.

Community matters and communities united in a common goal can do so much. If we all commit to focusing on making positive changes and respecting and supporting each other, the world will be a lovelier place for everyone. We can and should commit to core community values that instill in all generations the importance of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and living joyfully. Yes, John Lennon- we can all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.

I see London, I see France…

This Thanksgiving we traded turkey, stuffing, and mashies for wine, cheese, bread and surprisingly good pub food. Bucking tradition to travel this year seemed to be a trend if my friend’s Insta and Facebook feeds are any indication. Lots of people headed north, south, east, and west to celebrate sans pumpkin pie or a doze in front of a football game. We opted to spend a few days in Paris and London before heading down to the middle of France, where we are fortunate enough to have lots of family to spend time with and a house to stay in. Our house doesn’t have wifi or a tv so an extra bonus is that the kids actually have to talk to us! Woohoo!  They pretend to be annoyed by it, but it seems to me like they might actually enjoy our company.  I know–weird, right? Anyway, here are some highlights and recommendations from our latest family adventure.

First of all, fly Iceland Air. It’s usually the least expensive way to get to anywhere in Europe, they have nice new planes, and the Keflavik airport has cool Icelandic gear for sale, and really, really, really expensive but drinkable coffee. This was probably our 12th trip via Iceland, but all we’ve ever seen is the airport. We need to fix that because Iceland is pretty amazing (you can tell from the flyby and also the 20 infomercial “documentaries” available during your flight). Even the safety video is so beautiful it makes you want to stay.
We flew into Paris and stayed overnight with my husband’s cousin. This is the entryway to her apartment. I took a picture of this because I love the floor, and the doors, and also I just love that it’s in Paris.
But then you have to climb 4 flights of these stairs with all your bags because the elevator is only meant for really skinny French people with no luggage.
This is Martine- our welcome committee and the cutest dog in Paris. I am also convinced she can jump higher than any other dog anywhere. She’s like a circus dog. You can’t tell from this picture because she’s pretending to be calm, so you’ll just have to believe me.
Friday mood.
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Rue Montorgueil is my favorite street because there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from and if you’re wandering in the middle of the road half-dazed from lack of sleep you won’t get hit by a car because it’s pedestrians only.
We decided to combat our jet lag by walking from Les Halles to the Eiffel Tower – not a short stroll even on your best day, but you get to see lots of Paris landmarks, like the Louvre.
My kids were mortified that I took a picture of this statue because he’s naked but he looked about as tired as I was just then, so I felt like he was a kindred spirit.
The Musée du Quai Branly has an exterior living wall so you can experience something cool as you walk by even if you don’t have time to visit the museum itself.
You even get to see art, like this Olmec piece!
Everyone loves Paris in the springtime, but Fall is pretty great too.
The next morning we headed to the Garre Nord pretty early so we could catch our train to London. Yes, that is a bear with wings. The French are interesting.
We dumped our bags and headed out to explore London town. Wild food and festive aromatherapy- what more could you ask for?
So many pubs, so little time.
Rokit is the best vintage store in London. My daughter loved rummaging through the old t-shirts, shoes, coats and other goodies. I spent most of the time alternating between feeling like I’d found old friends and feeling depressed because vintage now means all things from the 80s.  By default, I think that makes me vintage too. Sigh.
There’s always something to celebrate in London! Girl power! Also, cheese!
Lunch was in a pub. Isn’t this cute? Plus the pints were tasty. And the food was good. Yes, really.  We were the first ones there because we were on Paris time (or Boston time?) and we were hungry!
Every time we visit a different city, or country, or really anywhere that’s not home there seems to be some sort of car show or exhibit happening. Even though my husband is a huge, huge fan of all things automotive he swears this is just a coincidence. But I’m not convinced because it happens every. single.time. Case in point- the Ferrari: Under The Skin exhibit opened at the Design Museum just days before we arrived. I wanted to go there anyway, and I did think this particular exhibit sounded pretty good, so win, win.
This is how Ferrari’s look before they become actual cars.
Ferraris really are beautiful…
Vroom vrrooooom
I love race car driver helmets. I don’t know why, but I do. I also love race car drivers. Have you seen Rush? No? You should, and then you’ll love race car drivers too.
The rest of the museum is worth a look too. I mean, the building alone is an inspiration.
Designer, maker or user- which one are you?
Ah- the design love triangle. Can’t have one without the others…
Design is everywhere and influences everything. Think about that.
Life in a nutshell.
How lucky are you when a really great place like the Union Tavern is right across the street from your hotel? Dinner spot!
Haha- no! We didn’t stay at the Ritz but on our second day we met our friend Paul right outside because it was close to the tube station.
We didn’t even mean to, but we got to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace- or more accurately we got to see the backs of heads of tons of people watching the changing of the guards.
Eh, hello there Queen Elizabeth.
We spent some time on the South Bank of the Thames. Insider tip: get the Fast Pass for the London Eye and plan to explore a bit while you wait for your timeslot.
Blue sky and sunshine in London? Yes, it happens!
My daughter would not be happy if she saw this picture, but she’ll never know so…heh heh.  Anyway, this was lunch at Wagamama. I have a hard and fast rule to never eat in a restaurant we can go to at home when we’re away, but everyone loves Wagamama, including me. Rules are meant to be broken anyway, right?
But then when we left Wagamama we saw this place – the British think of everything! Lunch in an igloo? We could have done that! But yet, I wonder how steamy it gets in there with 5 people breathing and eating and etc?
Watercolor view of Big Ben and Parliment. Big Ben was under scaffolding, but still pretty.
I am in love with books. Like completely in love. So, it was really fantastic to discover Books Under the Bridge. A tiny piece of heaven.
Browsing is so much fun…
I also love old maps, and they had loads.
Say hello to Liam Flanagan. He’s living my son’s dream.
We were going to ride some city bikes, but we ran out of time. Good to know they’re here though.
The Brand Academy is definitely worth a stop- chock full of products made by emerging artists and designers. Good stuff!
All the colors.
If I weren’t a procrastinator by nature (and if I’d brought a bigger suitcase) I would have picked up some Christmas gifts…
Holiday market finds- love me some colorful lights.
Here’s Paul! We hadn’t seen him in eons- so it was great to spend the day with him, and get yelled at together by ornery baristas at Nero Coffee.
I actually hate Ferris Wheels and looking up at this extra, extra tall one felt really intimidating BUT…
You can’t skip the London Eye, so up we went!
And it’s so worth it! You get your own personal pod (well shared with like 10 other people) and you feel like you’re headed to outer space.  The views are unparalleled.
Mid-flight selfie fail.
The group below us was having a champagne party. Dang it, we were one pod too early…
Here I am channeling Mary Tyler Moore.
And this is that unparalleled view I was telling you about.
That was fun!
Just walking around is a feast for the eyes, especially when the sky cooperates and gives you this.
You know there aren’t actually phones in these things anymore.
Here’s my pretty little London pic.
Buckingham Palace at sunset…
Shop goals! When I was in the business of flower making I dreamed of having a shop like this…
The kids wanted to know how many pubs we were going to visit. Answer: as many as we could fit in (which was 6 in two days).  When in London…
Being in London near Christmas is extra great because this town takes it’s holidaying to the next level.
It was only November 19 but there were lights and festive decorations everywhere.
It made me feel a little anxious and inadequate actually because I know my own decorating won’t be done til approximately Dec 24th.
Dinner Sunday night was at The Wilmington. We opted for the traditional Roast. I can’t tell you how amazing the food was, you will just have to go and taste for yourself.  Yorkshire Pudding and all the rest.

After London, we headed back to France. I think I’ll share some pics of that in a separate post because this one is getting kind of long, dontcha think? Stay tuned…

Trippin’ down the PCH during a really crazy week filled with things I want to ignore but can’t…

FullSizeRender (30)Yeah, so we were on vacation last week when the awfulness of Charlottesville unfolded. The fact that it happened is sickening and disheartening, but the worst part is that our “President” couldn’t muster enough dignity or human decency to call it what it was or disavow those who were responsible. Ugh. But as I said, we were on vacation when he was not doing what he should have been doing if he were any kind of real leader or moral upstanding citizen. Sooooo… instead of going on and on about how disgusted I am with his response(s) and the state of the White House in general (except bye-bye and good riddance Bannon, you pillar of racism!!) I am going to show you some really pretty pictures of the really amazing road trip we took while all that was happening.  And yes, I do feel a little guilty for experiencing so much beauty during such a dark time, but I also feel like it was a constant reminder that there IS good in this world; that there are really decent and lovely people out there. Also it was really nice to escape to the Pacific Coast and gaze out over the beautiful ruggedness of the cliffs and be hypnotized by the vast sea and just disconnect from everything for a little while– to recharge and renew my resolve to be better and to do more to help ensure the world is a nicer place for everyone.

We drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 7 days- here are the highlights and places I recommend you go to if you ever find yourself driving down the PCH and the 101.

I haven’t been to Lombard St in 20 years. It’s still as twisty as ever and lots of people were either driving down it or walking up it. We just took pictures of it. I like the view from the top.
This is where the streets of the world meet the avenues of the mind.
City Lights has books, but also so much more. You really just have to go to see what I mean.
Chinatown was cool! We were going to have Dim Sum, but then we ended up finding a good sushi place on the other side of Union Square, so we didn’t really experience it like we should have…but it’s ok because the sushi was really good.
I went for an early morning run down the Embarcadero.  It was beautiful and I met a lot of homeless people (not really, but I did befriend a cute homeless dog).
They don’t call it Fog City because it’s sunny…
One day we rented bikes and rode from the Ferry building all the way down the Embarcadero, past Fishermans Wharf and up through the hilly (!!!) Presidio, then over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.  My calves and my buns still hurt from the memory.
While we were waiting for the bike rental guy to show up we checked out the Ferry Terminal Farmers Market.  It was fabulous- fruits and veg, coffee roasters, baked goods, meats, cheeses, live music and YES!! flowers. Flowers make me happy.  Especially when they come in tin cans.
This isn’t Muir Woods but it looks like it, right? It’s Andy Goldsworthy’s installation in the Presidio. I thought it was amazing. My kids thought it was just a bunch of tall trees and logs.
This is in front of Lucasfilms headquarters which is also in the Presidio.  It’s the world’s largest, and also the world’s smallest Yoda fountain.  It might be the world’s only Yoda fountain (but I’m not really sure).
It was still very foggy which might have been a good thing because riding over the bridge was a little scawwwy.
There were a ton of people in Sausalito, but we muscled our way through the crowds and rode down the road out of town to check out the houseboats and that was pretty neat.
Habitat goals. Also #supportthearts
I could totally live here.
We took a ferry back from Sausalito because really a one-way bike ride over the bridge is plenty. Plus…that view.
This was my Rice a Roni moment.
I left my heart in San Francisco (no I didn’t, but that’s a good caption for this pic, isn’t it?)
One of my favorite stops was in Pescadero, CA. It is a little tiny town in between here and there and there’s not too much to see but they have this brekkie spot that was pretty awesome.
Pretty awesome, as I said.
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Actually, there was something to see in Pescadero…this sweet ride in front of this cute coffee shop (which is across the street from the not cute, but awesome breakfast spot).
We tried to drive all the way down to Pfeiffer Beach but the road was still closed. We did manage to see some beautiful sites in Big Sur anyway.
Ahhh… so pretty.
Did I mention how pretty it was?
Super, duper pretty.
We like to ride into town with the top down…
We drove the Pebble Beach 17 Mile Drive but no one was really impressed.  My son pointed out that this cypress is actually not that lonely because there are other trees really close by (cropped out for effect).
We were lucky enough to be in Carmel for the start of the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The streets were filled with millions (billions?) of dollars worth of beautiful cars.  I love the Porche 911 most of all.
I also have a soft spot for VW’s (especially buses). True story: We had an orange VW bus for a few years when I was a kid and when my parents sold it I cried.  I still miss that car. We drove it up from Georgia to New Hampshire and my sister and I both got food poisoning at South of the Border. Also, we bought fireworks but we couldn’t light them in NH because it was illegal. But my dad might have anyway. Ah, memories…
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Quick stop in Santa Cruz…
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We saw surfers, sea lions, and even a giant whale.  It was kind of great.
We all LOVED San Luis Obispo. What a fun, laid-back cool ass town! We stayed here and you should too, if you like hip, loft style apartment living.
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We saw the SMEG and immediately felt right at home, except this one is black and ours is orange, so this one is way cooler.
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Every apartment comes equipped with one of these, and there are stacks of records to choose from.  We took turns playing d.j.
Here’s my daughter, she liked the free Wifi.
Feeling good in SLO
I liked this building. I hope Cody Johnson had fun playing there.
Also, I liked this coffee shop (Kreuzberg).
Except I got chai instead of coffee.
Bubblegum alley is really gross.
Really gross.
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We went to Pismo Beach and caught some waves. This is me surfing (just kidding).


Santa Barabara’s Funk Zone is an artist enclave/wine tasting mecca/antique pickers dream.
Here’s where we had our 11:00 am wine tasting and the kids had freshly baked scones. Win, win.
Another winery. Very tropical, no?
This place made me wish we’d rented a U-Haul instead of a convertible.
This store had only been open for two days when we visited.  I like that bag, and also everything else.
Wine, yes wine everywhere in the Funk Zone. Yay for wine.
And pizza.
Onward to LA! We had a pretty sweet spot to relax and chill out at for a bit. And connect to Wifi, of course.
Our pool didn’t have any chlorine- just natural stuff like copper and other minerals, so swimming in it felt really good, and also doubled as a bath. Time-saver!
I took a lot of palm tree pictures. I don’t really know why except that this view seems very LA.
Santa Monica Pier is prettier from afar, but it was fun to be up close too. This is the view from Muscle Beach where none of us did any pull-ups or anything. We just watched other people working out and then went and ate tacos.
Here’s where we ate the tacos- Blue Plate. If you’re in Santa Monica, you should go here for tacos.
And go at sunset- the view is insane.
We spent our last night in Japantown. It was very sweet.
And, we ate French ice cream in Japantown. I don’t know why except that it was there so we did.

Thinking of you Charlottesville and Barcelona!! #thereisonlyoneside #lovewins

School’s Out for Summah!!

FullSizeRender (17)In just a few short days my kids are going to be done with 7th and 3rd grades, and all I can think is- holy shit, where did the year go? Holy shit- where did the last 13 years go? And also, what the hell are they going to do all summer?  And, also, I’m really, really jealous of them. And, also, I haven’t even bought this year’s supply of sunscreen OR bug spray. And the bugs are supposed to be very, very, very bad this year. And also, I don’t think I have a bathing suit that isn’t stretched and faded to the point of being embarrassing.  And also, I haven’t even cleaned out our beach bag from last summer yet.  I shudder to think what I’ll find. A pound of sand? A half-eaten candy bar? A single water shoe? Some crab carcasses? Waterlogged magazines and books? Yes, probably all of that. And also, seriously, what are they going to do all summer? I mean, they are both signed up for sailing and camps here and there, but the days are long, and the potential for shenanigans is high, at least with my daughter.  My son, I’m not so worried about- I can picture what he’ll be doing in his free time:  read, lego, repeat.  But my daughter… well, I’m sitting here letting my imagination run rampant.

The summer I was 13 my parents sent me to Mexico City to visit my friend, Erin.  Erin was my next door neighbor when we lived in Panama.  We were inseparable in 5th and 6th grade. But, she moved right before 7th grade; her lovely family replaced with one with two bratty kids that weren’t nearly as fun. I made some hard-earned babysitting money off of them but that’s all they were good for. They told me I smelled and that I needed to shave my legs (which was probably 100% accurate but made me hate them all the more).  It was a long year without her. Also, I wasn’t too thrilled about moving to Alabama (after living in paradise for three years it seemed like a crappy hand to be dealt) so the Mexico trip was presented as a way to soften the blow.

I was only there a few weeks, but we did a lot.  The things I remember most are: stealing her parent’s car and joy-riding around the city; meeting up with her older brother’s friends to drink “cokes” that made me feel giddy and nauseous; making homemade aloe face masks that left us rashy; visiting like 200 museums with mummies and pyramid replicas; spending a dusty, hot day at some Aztek ruin that I didn’t appreciate at all; staying up til all hours of the night watching highly inappropriate movies; throwing up in her dad’s car on a windy mountain road heading to Ixtapa; eating tortillas hot out of the oven from roadside shacks; sneaking out and smoking cigarettes on the beach when her dad went to bed; throwing up in her dad’s car on a windy mountain road on the way back from Ixtapa; and wishing her cute older brother would get back from wherever he was already (I had a mad crush and he was the first and only boy I’d ever kissed). He never showed, but that was still the best vacation I’d had in my young life.

So this is why my mind is going to all places crazy right now. I do not want to imagine my daughter driving, drinking, smoking or kissing this summer. Eh gahhh!  But left to her own devices anything could happen, right?  She is the same age I was that year and look how I spent my time! It was probably a good thing that I moved to Alabama after that and spent a miserable year friendless and mopey, listening to Elton John sing Sad Songs Say So Much and pining for my old life.  It definitely tamed the wild side that Erin introduced me to.  But what’s going to tame my girl’s wild side? Wait, does she have a wild side??!! Ugh… I don’t want her to find out. Not yet.

FullSizeRender (16)Our town isn’t nearly as exotic as Mexico, but there are similarities- there’s a beach for example, and boys, and cars.  We even have a museum of sorts. And we do kinda buy into that free-range-kid philosophy to a degree.  I like that both my kids have their independence and that they can take off on their bikes to meet friends at the general store, the beach, the playground, or any of the other local hangouts around town.  I do trust that my daughter will make good choices.  But we’re getting to the point where those good choices are going to be harder and harder to make. How much freedom do we give her? Enough to feel independent, but not enough to get into trouble? But what does that even mean? Here we are, entering into another phase of parenting and I am completely unprepared.  I don’t even have bug spray. And the bugs are supposed to be very, very, very bad this year…


Mom, then and now (and all of it beautiful)

FullSizeRender (6).jpg This is my mom (on the right) and her friend Barbara, back in -oh I don’t know- maybe the early 80s or late 70s. Back when to me, Mom was just MOM. She was just the woman who took care of me and my sister, the woman who made dinner, the one who cleaned the house, the one who left behind a cloud of White Shoulders perfume and a smudge of lipstick on my cheek when she and my dad went out on weekend nights. She drove me to the emergency room when I sliced my leg wide open on the neighbors swing set and was the one who helped dry out my favorite stuffed animal after I left it out in the rain one day.  She braided my hair for school and made me drink my milk at dinner. She was the one who let us get a cat, and then took care of it when we didn’t. She was Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy.

I knew she liked to drink Tab and smoke Kents, and that she stockpiled crime and mystery paperbacks. I knew that she missed her mom and that she loved to travel. She sang loudly and off-key in the car to music my sister and I hated, and she liked to make small talk with the checkout lady at the grocery store. She had a short temper but a great laugh that came from deep inside when she thought something was really funny. She hated her teeth and never smiled for pictures. She had an amazing sense of style and for a while she made most of her own clothes. She hated to exercise but once she took disco lessons and she had one signature move that she used over and over. When she went in the pool or ocean she never got her hair wet. She was a master at floating with a cocktail in her hand. She liked parties but hated that my dad always had to be the last to leave. She was the family Jeopardy champion because she was sharp and smart as a whip. She made tuna casserole for dinner way too often. She had a seemingly endless repertoire of idioms that she could wield on a dime as unsolicited advice or a spot-on reprimand. She liked daffodils because they were yellow and she seemed to know the name of every plant she came across. Her boarding school days didn’t do anything to dim her spit or fire but did instill in her a deep appreciation for and insistence on proper etiquette. I knew all of this, I saw all of this, but I didn’t see HER. All of these things were just things about my MOM that I knew.

I think sometime in my early 20s I started to think of my parents as people and I started to realize that I could have a relationship with them that went beyond the daughter- parent one. There were a few really good years there when my mom and I could have nice conversations over a glass of wine and really connect. I think if we had been contemporaries we would have been great friends as kids, teens, young adults. I think if she hadn’t gotten sick we would have been great friends as grown-ups. But she did get sick, and that’s where the trajectory of the story changes.

You see now, these days, Ceci struggles with the ravages of Parkinsons Disease.  And it’s a bitch.


Over the 15 years that my mom has had this devastating disease it has slowly robbed her of many of the motor and cognitive skills that have always defined her.  She can no longer boogie down and sing at the top of her lungs while driving down the street. She can no longer tell you the name of every President and Vice President (and who ran against them) in the order they were elected. She can’t paint her toenails fire engine red and some days she can’t put her lipstick on straight. Cooking is a chore because getting dishes out of the oven is complicated. She can’t sew because her fingers don’t work that way anymore and sometimes she needs help putting on her shoes. She can’t string beads to make necklaces and she can’t refinish a piece of furniture when she gets bored of its current state.  It’s hard for her to turn the pages of a book. And there are days she can’t get out of bed. She asks the same questions over and over again, and she forgets things we already talked about. We don’t have conversations about complicated things. I can’t ask her advice when my own daughter has me at my wit’s end or when I feel overwhelmed with the everyday chaos of my life.

I feel like she’s lost so much of herself and so, subsequently, we’ve lost so much of her and sometimes that leaves me breathless. But then I think of who she’s shown herself to be, and with that, what we have been given– and that too stops me short. Because despite all of the challenges she’s faced with this disease, despite all of the limitations she now has, she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t give up and she doesn’t give in. I know she has bad days, and I know she gets frustrated and depressed. But she almost always puts on a brave face. She never says no, and she never says “I can’t do this”. She still travels, she still has dinner parties, she still goes out with her girlfriends for lunch or to the movies. She still tries. Every. Single. Day.

She is the epitome of grace in the face of adversity. She is resilient and brave and determined. She is a reminder that life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it, but if you try, if you really try, you can make it work for you. Sometimes really shitty things happen that you can’t control, but if you have the right attitude and enough determination those things won’t destroy you. They won’t define you and they won’t destroy you.

Mom, I knew you back then, but I didn’t KNOW you. Now I know YOU. Getting to here from there didn’t happen the way any of us wanted, and I’d still change it for you if I could. But, it’s your life, it’s my life, and all of it’s beautiful even when it’s scarred and imperfect. Thank you for teaching me that.