Saturday, November 30, 2013

The End

For this year. 
This has been a fun journey.
Some of the people I thought it would be hardest 
to write about turned out to be some of the easiest.
 I am a blessed woman.
 I may not have as much as some

 but I have more than many others.
And way more blessings than 
I could count.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Pie

Or, Gluten Gullet. 
Right before Mike and I decided to 
try to cut gluten out of our diet
I made this:
It was so good that I have to get this 
down for posterity. 
Or anyone else who might like a 
carbo-loaded piece of heaven.

I used a quiche pan but a deep pie plate would 
work easily as well.
I sprayed it with Pam and then mixed
up 2 cups Bisquick-like baking mix
with one cup water and "lined" the pan with it.
It is very wet so mostly I made a big well
in the middle of it.

Then I browned up some ground turkey with
onions and zucchini, but you could use
any veges you have on hand
(as well as left over turkey).
I mixed in some gravy and poured that
into my dough "well" and then 
a thin layer of cranberry sauce.
I topped all that with Stove Top stuffing that
I mixed according to the directions and put 
it in a 325 oven for about an hour. 
You want the crust to get cooked and nicely browned.

Soooo good!


He's new here.
I think I kinda like him.
He can take a joke. 
That's important.

He loves my Bean. 
That's most important.

I think we will keep him.

Welcome to the madness, Calvin.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I saved her for almost last. 
She had a whole month! 
What else could I possibly have to say?
So, I handed it over to Shanna :)

Whether you know her as 
Mary, Big, Miss Osborne, or Meme, 
her joyful spirit has no doubt crept into yours, 
surrounding it with warmth. 
From Meme, I’ve learned to 
dance with the dolly with the hole in her stocking, 
that you don’t put pennies in your ears, 
that the best soundtrack for a drive is 
whistling with an index finger tapping 
along on the steering wheel. 
From Meme, I’ve learned 
the smell of possibility from opening a fresh box of crayons, 
the importance of a Hallmark Gold Card, 
the love of all things soft, 
the words Mimsy and Hummel. 
From Meme, I’ve learned 
that you can fall asleep at any time in any place, 
that you must announce your choice for dessert 
(tiramisu at Francesca’s) 
to the hostess, busboy, and any server in sight 
lest they run out of it before your turn comes to order it, 
that sometimes your feet do not
 go the direction you tell them to.   
From Meme, I’ve learned 
to pick baby violets for the bud vase, 
to show love to others through cards and letters,
 to let your family adorn you with antlers, 
margarita sunglasses, 
Santa hats, 
and anything else they can find 
that would make them laugh and take pictures. 
From Meme, I’ve learned 
that “Amazing Grace” is on page 368 of the hymnal, 
that you can have dessert after breakfast, 
that you stick by each other no matter what.

I’ve not always made the best decisions 
(quarter-life crises are real, people), 
but Meme has never made me feel judged. 
Through the letters she has written me
 every week since 1997
she has proven to be the epitome of unconditional love. 
Don’t get me wrong: This is a woman with opinions, 
but she never lets them get in the way of 
showing God’s love to the least of these. 
I’ve been surrounded by her influence 
since before I was even born, 
and I’m beyond grateful that 
God put someone like her in my life. 
I don’t care what anyone else says, she’s my Meme.
I love her TONS.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I'm a lucky woman.

I have heard some real horror stories about 

I don't have any.
Michelle is so considerate of Michael's family.
She is in charge of the social calendar 
and always seems to make 
herself, Michael and now Maddie
available for whatever shenanigans our family is up to.
Which included this one.
This involved changing en masse into PJs
in a teachers lounge and then going outside 
for photos all while a reception 
for Butler's new president was going on.
In this room. 
They left the room. 
We took it over.

We took Michelle over too :)

Monday, November 25, 2013


It's amusing to me to even try to write
about Maddie.
Something happens when a grandchild
wriggles its way right into your heart.

Lory has a phrase:
when your heart beats outside of your body.
That's it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


She's pretty much where my family starts.
Nancy is Mike's sister and the person
who set us up on a blind date.

We don't get to see her much but when
we do, her exuberance is amazing.
She works like a maniac and loves 
with a passion.  

She is also who supplied us with this:
...once she moved away.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Where to start?
Shanna was a bit disappointed 
with my post on Breese. 
She felt it should have been longer.
I explained to her that I have so much to say
about some of you that I just have to make it 
short and sweet.
Witness Honey's post.

Well, I've been given my marching orders.
Nothing less than 150 words.
(how many do I have now?)
I get to count "I"s, right?

Where Mike is my heart, 
Shanna is my left lung.
We grew up together.

She was the recipient of all the parenting
mistakes I had in me.
But she still loves me.

She and I have no boundaries.
But she still loves me.

I can tell Shanna things I can't tell other people.
She "gets" me.
And she still loves me.

I love, love, love, love,
love, love, love, love, love, love,
love, love, love, love, love, love, love,
love, love, love her.

My work here is done.

PS, pictures should count for something.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Conner and Leon

Dear boys.
They will go through their lives as one name. 
"The Twins"
"Conner and Leon."
I think twindom might be a 
double edged sword.
You always have someone at you side.
you always have someone at you side.

One perk or curse they won't endure:
No one will ever mistake one for the other.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


 I love my Dirk.
 We hang together.
We cause some trouble together.

Dirk and I have traveled a bit together.
We've been to 
The Grand Canyon.
(Mike's aunt, Marlese, used to say Dirk could
 make going to the Post Office an adventure)
(don't let him drive in France)
Disney World, 
Cape Cod.

I think that's most of it.
That's MY Dirk.

But the kids have an Uncle Dirk. 
He's an uncle who has had Big as an example
of how to love a niece or nephew.
Dirk hasn't had the luxury (?) of living close
to any of his, but he has managed to worm his way into
each of their hearts.
Dirk isn't a stranger to any of them.
Ask any one of the 8 
and I'm sure they can tell you some "Dirk" story.
I am equally sure each can tell you of a time of
support and encouragement they have had from Dirk.

I love my Dirk.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Mr. Banks

That's what we called him when he and Gaye were dating.
It's a long story.

Dave spent his entire career at the same bank.
I have had more jobs than I can count!
He has stick-to-it-tivness.

He and Gaye have been married for over 30 years.
Gaye had some pretty rough years in there.
He stuck by her.

I admire his 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oma and Opa

My off-the-top-of-my-head
fun facts.
They raised the amazing Man I am 
blessed to be married to.

They had a hand in raising our two children
and I am beyond thrilled to say they
are impacting Maddie's life as well.

They became Shanna's grandparents when she was 4,
you would never know they hadn't been all along.

Opa would buy old electronics at garage sales
so Michael could take them apart. 
For fun.

Marlene would quite often mix up 
Michael's outfits that I sent for him.
When I do that to Maddie I just smile and consider 
it heritage.

Opa doesn't like to leave a good party. 
Marlene doesn't like to overstay her welcome.
It's fun to watch.

Marlene is the model of the mother-in-law 
I want to be.

They took my children to the zoo
so I didn't have to.

Opa took each of the kids driving on the tollway
and into Chicago when they were
learning to drive 
so Mike didn't have to.

Not only are they 
(in every sense of the word)
they are 
my family.

Monday, November 18, 2013


He's the brother my son never had.
But that's how our family rolls. 
We kind of blur lines, 
Dan is at that age where you are finding
your way in the world.
I don't see lots of him but that
is how it should be.
He has a life.
But every now and then Michael will mention
some time spent with Dan
or some thing Dan has done to
help Michael and Michelle out
and my heart is warmed.

Ultimately, what I want as a parent, is to know
my kids have each other's backs.

I know Shanna and Michael have each other's.
But I also know, Michael and Daniel 
have each other too. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Doesn't she look like the sweetest bride ever?
She is just tiny, but a real power house.
She'd have to be to deal with my brother :)

Mark and Patty are loud.
A lot of yelling went on in that household.
You would think they were Italian, but
I guess a spunky little Irish gal can make 
a lot of noise too. 

I don't judge.
Three wonderful kids came out 
of that household.

I know we all have our own 
ideas of what we would like our
legacies to be. 
I feel that Patty's will be the
three loving children she raised.

And I think most of us would 
give our eye teeth for that. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I have a surprising number
of pictures of the three older girls.
 Even though Maggie has never lived in Illinois.
 And none of us has lived in Rhode Island.
But somehow over the years we have managed to connect.

And I gotta say a big 
to Facebook.

Thanks in large part to the ease Facebook 
makes keeping in touch I really feel 
that Maggie and I are an important
 part of each other's lives.

She is the mother of twins.
No small feat but from 
1200 miles away, she 
makes it look,
I won't say easy, but doable, 
even enjoyable!

Her mantra the whole first year was, 
"I'm new here."

Maggie is more than that, 
she's an artist, 
a lover of words, 
open minded, 
big hearted, 
and beautiful.

I love Maggie.
A lot.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Michael was my little shadow.
I took him everywhere.
Any time I left a store the sales people
would shout, "goodbye, Michael."
Mostly because I spent most of my time calling to him.
Michael loved to talk to strangers.
I met a few good friends because of Michael.

He did a couple of trips with 
People to People.
Most noteworthy would be the Australia trip.
Most notorious would be the England/Ireland trip.
I can't help but smile when I think about 
the walk of shame upon picking him up early at O'Hare.
He's always been such a light in my heart.
And honestly, even when he has rarely gotten 
himself in trouble, it was never out of meanness.
Just a little overly exuberant.

It made perfect sense when upon graduating
 college he took a month and a Eurorail pass and explored .
All I asked him was, 
are you good with God?
He said yes and I sent him off with my blessings.

I only saw Michael laid low once.
He wanted to marry the love of his life,
Michelle, and their church elders were
putting stumbling blocks in their way.
Nothing made me more angry than to see my son
so disheartened. 
It didn't last long.
Michael persevered.

That picture up there was his kindergarten picture.
I was so angry with him that he didn't flash his 
heart melting smile.
So he struck the same pose the next year.

My heart melts.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Mike and I have a soft spot in our
hearts for Taryn.
Always have and always will.

Mike and I met on a blind date.
Gaye was VERY pregnant with Taryn at the time.
I really wanted to have Gaye greet Mike at the
door just to see if he could take a joke.

As luck would have it, Gaye was not home
when Mike came to get me.
But Taryn became and remained
part of our story.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I have a strong sense 
of joyfulness when I think of Leslie.
We see each other less than 
once a year but every time
I see her she is so sweet
and so welcoming
and just makes me feel special.

And look at that face!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


There is the family God gives you,
and then there's the family you choose.
I'm pretty sure God gave me Lory.

We each have birth sisters.
And we each love those sisters to pieces.
But we also have each other.

We puzzle through God together.
We grow through God together.
We yell at God together.
We praise God together.

We also drink Margaritas together.
..because we never take ourselves too seriously....

Friday, November 8, 2013


He goes with Maggie. 
He is an amazing photographer who has
an album titled, 
I want to trespass with Nelson.
Wait, that sound inappropriate.
I want to take pictures of graffiti on trains
and I think I need an experienced trespasser to 
get me into a train yard.

He is also one of the nicest people 
on earth.

Oh, and his name isn't 
It's Michael. 
But we have too many of those.
And he lets Gaye and me 
call him by his Facebook moniker.

I like that about him too.