Monday, December 31, 2012



Are you ready for 2013? I am!

This year, for all things big and small, I will celebrate.

My first celebration? Completing my very first 365! Wahoo!

Happy New Year!



While this photo technically ends my 365, simply because it's number 365, I was lucky enough to attempt my first 365 in a leap year, thereby garnering myself an extra day. A 365+1, so to speak. So I have one day left, which makes me smile.

Will I do another? I'm not sure. Maybe. There were more than a few nights where I scrambled to find something, anything, to photograph (hello, Max). Then again, it was a great exercise in keeping my eyes open to look for images when I otherwise would not. Especially this year, a year of packing up our entire home and moving, wrecking and rebuilding a house, and searching for, finding, and starting a new job. Zozer graduated from kindergarten and started first grade. She had her first summer of camps. She played soccer and baseball and launched her Girl Scout career (and I began mine as Troop Leader). I traveled to Florida, Las Vegas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Chicago, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, and California. M went overseas (too many places to list!). We got a new pet and learned how to live in half the space we used to (somewhat). We welcomed new people into our family and new friends into our lives.

It was quite a year.

My word for 2012 was focus. It was intended to help me keep what was important front and center. I thought it might also remind me that I need to not forget to literally focus: focus my camera's lens every day and keep my photography going. It worked well. It's time to retire it, though, and start afresh.

My new word for 2013? Well, that'll have to wait for another post. It's a good one, and leaves much to live up to. It, too, makes me smile.

Saturday, December 29, 2012



Spent much of today sleeping, again, and I still can't seem to kick it. Normally one good day of sleep gets me back in order, but then again normally I fight it for four or five before admitting defeat and crawling into bed. This time I went straight to bed. Methinks I should go back to my regular routine.

Despite our both being under the weather, Zoe seems to be escaping it. Fingers crossed that continues. And that I get better soon because I miss hugging and kissing on her, snuggling, etc.

She's not missing me at all, apparently. I seem to have been replaced by an iPod Touch.

Friday, December 28, 2012



Home sick today. Watched my Zozer play. Watched M plot and plan for next year's Christmas display. Watched Downton Abbey and the three animals who share our home do their thing. Slept.

And that's about it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012



Stopped by the house after work today. Nearly all the drywall is done, plus the bathtub. A day laborer cleaned up the debris, so it really is starting to feel like a house now, instead of just a construction site.

It makes me happy to wander through and imagine the finished product. Furniture placement, wood floors, shelves and cabinets. It's getting closer every day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012



Half day of work, noon prayer with my monks, more holiday festivities and a night with my hubby and my West Wing DVDs.

Not too shabby.



After all the great presents yesterday and today, she spent a lot of this evening playing in this box. Of course.

She even took a nap in it, although for the life of me I can't figure out how this was comfortable.

What she doesn't realize is that the content of this box is the greatest gift I could ever receive.

Heart is overflowing with love tonight for my hubby and our daughter, my family (both the one I was born with and the gift I received when I married M), and my friends scattered far and wide. I am blessed beyond belief.

Laus tibi domine!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012



Christmas spirit present and accounted for. And we still have another day!

Merry merry!

Sunday, December 23, 2012



Zozer and I made biscotti tonight. Last minute decision as I had already written off having a chance to get it done. We had a lot of fun, and since it was unexpected there was no stress about getting it done. Bonus biscotti, I guess you could call it.

What a great season. We experienced a hiccup in one of our gifts tonight, but we have a plan and I think everything will work out just fine. Tomorrow we jump into the full swing of running hither and yon. I can't wait.

Merry Christmas Eve eve!

Saturday, December 22, 2012



Playing elf tonight! All but two presents are wrapped, and those are on their way to being set up. Watching Christmas Vacation and laughing. All in all, a good night. Far less stressful than I predicted, and than what I've experienced in years past. Not sure why...different outlook, perhaps?

(Methinks my monks have been good for me.)

Friday, December 21, 2012



Found this little nest as I walked across campus today. It's in a large bush right next to the church. I can't count how many times I've walked past this bush and never saw it.

Now that I know it's there, I can't wait for spring so I can see its new occupants.

And I can't wait to feather my own nest, too.

(For those of you who might be wondering: Hershey 2.0 is doing great. Lots of eating and drinking and chewing of timothy hay. She even treated M to some wheeking tonight. She is settling in to her new nest just fine.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

growing up


My little girl grew up a little more today.

Hershey seemed to be doing okay when we got up; she was at least no worse. Or so we thought.

At about 7, as Zoe held her in the still steamy bathroom, she began to decline rapidly. Zo freaked out, and it took every ounce of my self control to not join her. M was already gone, so I had to wear my big girl pants and be a real, grown-up parent.

Within minutes we bolted out the door with Hershey in her travel box. I made the snap decision to go straight to the vet, knowing that whatever happened Zoe needed to be with her pet and school could wait. This was the type of life learning that doesn't happen in a classroom.

At the vet, we learned that Hershey's respiratory infection had bloomed into pneumonia and there was no hope. We decided that it was best to let Hershey go to be with God than have her continue to suffer. The vet took Hershey from the room and I held and rocked a sobbing girl as both our hearts broke.

So we talked about it. Together, we decided that God needs a great guinea pig like Hershey. We decided that Hershey would be okay, because she would be with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all the angels and saints. We think that she's now a guinea pig angel, and that her angel wings are rainbow colored because that's what Zoe wants her own angel wings to be.

She eventually came to find her own peace with it, recognizing that while she's very sad she must go on. I gave her the decision to go to school or to home for a bit, and she chose school. M called ahead for us and they were waiting. The receptionist greeted us with hugs, and had called her teacher to give her a heads up. Her principal saw us in the hallway and offered words of comfort. We made it to her classroom and Mrs. F's grandmotherly hug was what finally did me in, and after kissing Zoe goodbye I literally ran from the school in tears. I am so grateful for the phenomenal community at her school.

She had a half day, so I picked her up and we got lunch, and then she hung out in my office while I worked the rest of the day (one of her favorite things to do). The faculty and monks doted on her, and plied her with treats and attention. By the end of the day she was her usual self.

We took Hershey back to PetSmart after work, meeting M there. She had already decided that she wanted another pig. "I can't go more than a day without a guinea pig, Mommy." She wanted to open the box to see Hershey. I debated in my head, and decided that we hadn't held back or sugar coated anything to this point and that she deserved to have her curiosity satisfied. She's seen dead people, after all. We opened the box. She cried again, as it hit her afresh that Hershey is really, truly gone. Then she composed herself and set to work selecting Hershey II. Or in Apple style, The New Hershey.

I am so, so proud of our little girl. She grew so much today, and showed so much strength and fortitude. She also displayed her very firm grasp of her faith, even at the age of seven, and showed me how wonderful it is to rely on that faith when your heart hurts.

I'm so proud of her I can hardly stand it.

Today was one of the more difficult days, because I felt helpless when it came to healing Zoe's heartache. It's been a rough week, on many different levels, but I feel like Christmas is almost here and with it comes magic. And hope. And love and joy and family and whole boatload of other good things. We will find much to celebrate.



My day began with an unexpected trip to the pet hospital and ended with an unexpected trip to the people hospital.

Hershey has a respiratory infection. I shelled out $115 of treatment for a $30 guinea pig because that's what mommies do. It's 50/50 on whether she'll make it, but my hopes are high as tonight we saw definite improvement from this morning. I worked from home for a couple hours this afternoon with her on my lap, snoozing. I find it fascinating and heartening how quickly one can grow attached to a new pet.

Papa is experiencing more complications from his knee surgery. He's now battling cellulitis in his left foot, and was admitted to the hospital after several hours in the ER tonight. Huge, huge shout-out to my sister who continues to be there for him and our mom. Beano, I can't thank you enough for your selfless giving.

Despite working from home and the hospital, I'm woefully behind on tomorrow's deadlines. Who needs sleep, right? Sleep is for sissies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Tonight was The Big Shave. Looks like he and Phil raised a few hundred bucks for St. Baldrick's, which is awesome.

Proud of my boy, and curious to see how long it'll take to grow back. He looks like a Marine. New recruit! Hut! Sir, yes sir!

Monday, December 17, 2012



I worked on our Christmas cards tonight, so that was about the biggest thing I did all day (definitely the most time-consuming!). I don't think you want to see an image of a stack of envelopes though, so I'll go with a nice portrait of our newest family member. She's still wary of us and her new environment, but we're being patient. Mostly.

Sunday, December 16, 2012



She added "guinea pig" to her Christmas list, and since in M's eyes a guinea pig is light years better than a chicken (also on her Christmas list), he jumped at it. We looked at them Saturday at a couple different places, then went to a third today and pulled the trigger.

She's practically vibrating with happiness, and I have to admit the whole thing is making me pretty happy, too. Joy is contagious.

So please welcome Hershey to the family. Why Hershey? "Well, she's sweet, like candy, and Hershey's is candy. And she's a girl guinea pig and Her means girl and she means girl. And my best friend Katie has a guinea pig named Snickers so now we both have guinea pigs named like candy!" This litany of reasons is followed by a huge grin.

So despite M's assurances that we would NEVER add another living creature to our house, today we added one. Because, you know, we have so much extra space and time.

Honestly, who would've thought a little animal could make the three of us so happy? For me, Hershey is serving as a lovely distraction to the events of last Friday. She's a new little creature to love and care for. She makes my kid happy. She makes my husband happy. She makes me happy.

And we could all use more happiness.

Saturday, December 15, 2012



I still don't know why, or how to keep it from happening in my own community. The stories of bravery and the photographs of little angels are starting to pour forth, and with each one I give thanks yet again that it's not us holding a press conference. I imagine Zoe thinks Momo is a little batty, seeing as how my looks lingered a little longer and she received even more spontaneous hugs than usual and she heard, "I love you" a hundred times an hour today.

I don't know what else to do. I don't know what else can be done.

Just love, I guess.



It breaks my heart that there are so many empty kindergarten chairs in Connecticut tonight.

I couldn't explain to Zoe why I cried when I picked her up from school today, or why I held her so tight. Instinctively, I guess, she held me tight, too, and patted my back.

Blessings and prayers and love, so much love, to the parents who aren't tucking their kindergartners into bed tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012



I had to work tonight, so I missed my evening with my bug.

I really, really missed her. I'm thankful I don't have to work too many evenings and weekends, and I'm super thankful for a job that I love that requires little to no travel. One of the best decisions of my entire life.

As I stood next to my car chatting with a colleague after the meeting tonight, I spotted a shooting star. She told me she heard on the news this morning that tonight was a meteor shower. So I came home and dragged M out with me to catch the Leonids, and we saw many and it was wonderful. It's been years since we've had the opportunity to really see has been cloudy every time.

So a full day with two major projects done for the week and shooting stars. And the news that Papa is doing much better. And being able to go in and kiss my sleeping daughter at will.

Not too shabby for a Thursday.

(S)have yourself a merry little Christmas

Baldy. Cue-ball. Chromedome.

As of Tuesday, these are all nicknames that will be applicable to my darling husband, he of the velcro top.

On his recent ACTS Retreat, he met a nice man. Actually, he met a lot of nice men, but this one in particular talked about how he was going to show his inner transformation with an external transformation. Here is Phil's story, in his own words because he writes it far more eloquently than I could:

You may not remember me by name but you may know me as the guy with the longest hair on the retreat. Why and how I came to grow it so long is a long story and not very interesting to anyone but my wife and me. However, the story of when, why and how it will change might be of interest to you and I hope involve at least some of you. On Dec 18 I intend to have my head shaved to benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation (a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives). I don’t think St. Baldrick is a real saint and I haven’t spent the time to find out the origin of the name of the charity but I do know that they raise and donate a ton of money to research treatments and cures for children with cancer. They do their annual drive in March each year on St. Patrick’s Day and last year my brother created a site for donations and had his head shaved. I don’t have the patience to wait until next March so I’m doing it this year during Advent the week before Christmas.
So why am I doing this in December? At the real estate office where I work we started a new tradition: on your birthday the office gives you $20 to spend doing something outside your comfort range and that you’ve always thought about doing but never had the courage. As you all remember, my birthday was on the Friday of our retreat (thank you all again for making it so special). On the drive home with Ken my decision to shave my head and donate the $20 was reinforced by something he said to me about the appropriateness of making a big outside change to reinforce the inside change that I have experienced. Then it occurred to me that rather than just donate my $20 birthday present, I could multiply the gift by inviting others to share the opportunity. Don’t get nervous, I’m not asking you to shave your heads! I am asking you though to support me by making a donation on my brother’s site. Patrick had set a goal to raise $500 and he didn’t hit it. I would love to be able to help him exceed his goal so I’m not creating my own site, I’m using his.
I know it is Christmas and many of you have large families and lots of obligations including planned charitable donations so I won’t ask much. Even a $1 donation would help and I thank you in advance and wish you all a Merry Christmas! 
Here is the link to my brother Patrick’s page, please just click on the link to make a donation. if clicking on the link doesn’t work you can copy and paste it in the URL of your browser.
To learn more about St. Baldrick’s mission click here.
M has always wanted to shave his head, and now he has a really great reason. While I'm not entirely thrilled about him drastically changing how he looks right before the holidays hit, I can't argue with the fact that this is indeed a truly noble cause. Plus, this experience will give me yet another great M story to share (as if I don't have enough already).
We'd love to have your support, too. Please use the link Phil provided above to make a donation to St. Baldrick's Foundation. If anything, raising money will help me feel better while Christmas shopping with some strange bald-headed dude who resembles my husband. 
(P.S. If we raise enough money - which amount could be jacked up as soon as I see how ridiculous he looks - I'll post pictures here for everyone to enjoy.) 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



Today the Girl Scouts learned to use resources wisely. We turned empty tea canisters into Christmas boxes, and toilet paper tubes into festive owls.

After a busy day at work, the Girl Scout meeting at which I flew solo leader-wise (my co-leader is recovering from hip surgery), and an unplanned trip to the hospital to see Papa (unexpected complications, still unclear what's going on...please just pray), and working from the couch to catch up on what I missed from having to leave early, I'm going to wisely use the resource known as my bed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012





Sorry for the lateness. This is the first moment all night that I've stopped to do something for me. All in all quite a productive day, considering that several hours were spent waiting (and praying) for Papa to come through his knee surgery. He did! Now he has two bionic knees and hopefully will be pain free and more mobile once the healing is done.

This was spotted out the window of the waiting room. I liked the natural monochrome, and how you have to really look for the table and chairs to see them. They are hidden.

Sometimes I think I would like to be a little more hidden. A little less exposed. (Yes, I realize the irony of writing about this on a blog anyone can access. I'm an enigma wrapped in a riddle.) Sometimes I long for a boring, quiet, unpopular life. Or at least a day or two like that.

It is not to be. At least not until sometime in 2013 at the earliest.

One of my tasks tonight was laundry. I sorted, washed, dried and folded. Then I gave up. There is no room in this house any more. We are maxed out. Clean clothes for all three of us are now neatly folded and stacked on every possible horizontal surface in the two bedrooms and the office. I concede. You win, little house. I won't even try to maintain order any more. I shall just wait for The Move, and will experience with fresh joy the feeling of actually putting our belongings away. It will feel delicious. Like...hiding them.

Sunday, December 09, 2012



So this happened today, unexpectedly. We had been talking about upgrading me from the iPhone 4 to the 5 for Christmas. The 4's button started sticking a few weeks ago, plus I had pretty much filled it up. Had only half our music collection and regularly ran out of space with all my images. The lack of space was causing it to act sluggishly, and I was salivating over the camera in the 5 anyway.

Today we headed to the mall for some Christmas shopping and M suggested we stop in the AT&T store to see how much a 5 would be, since I'm eligible for an upgrade. We found out (it was reasonable, but still pricey) and continued on. Then he mentioned that his boss had traded in his old iPhone for a new one, and Best Buy had given him fifty bucks for the old one. Within minutes we walked by a Best Buy mobile store and figured we'd see what they could offer.

Well, they offered $145 for my old phone, plus $50 off the new 5. Holy crap. Sold!

They botched some of the transfer and I lost a few pix from the last couple of days, but everything else seems to be fine.

Santa came early this year, and he looks suspiciously like M.

Saturday, December 08, 2012



"Oooo! They started installing the fireplace!"
"Oooo! Can I sit in it?"

I thought it was huge before, but seeing her sit in it shows just how big it really is. Good call, M. (He was the one who insisted on the 50". He chose wisely.)

We surmised that it's plenty big for Santa.

Another day spent cleaning the house, followed by an evening at a work event. It was lovely (the second part; the first part was just dusty) and now we are exhausted. Something about using the shop vac for four hours and then dressing up in sequins and heels (me, not M) and then prying 300+ melted votive candles out with forks borrowed from the caterers will do a person in.

All in all, productive and good.

It's no wonder that the insomnia that has plagued me since college has taken a hiatus. I definitely have no issues sleeping these days.

Friday, December 07, 2012



Henry sat on his butt and watched movies today. Lazy elf.

Thursday, December 06, 2012



Third of our four geothermal wells, mid-drill. The crew was thrilled; they hit rock 36 feet down and are drilling to 200.

I'm not being sarcastic. Apparently it's better to drill through rock than dirt, because the hole doesn't collapse in on itself.


Learn something new every day.

Fourth well to be dug tomorrow morning, the end of which should please our neighbors to no end as it's a loud and dusty process.

It's not easy being green.



Damn cat.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012



Last year I found a cute camera ornament at Target and didn't buy it. M went back for it and they were sold out.

Found this one at Kohl's a couple weeks ago and didn't make the same mistake.

I think it's a Nikon.

And I think I might have to glue some glitter on my real DSLR. Just for kicks.

(Hear that sound? It's M having a fit when he reads this. Hi, sweetie! Just kidding!)

Monday, December 03, 2012



I needed to check on something in the house today after work and couldn't get in. Garage doorways boarded and all exterior doors locked for the first time ever.

It was a weird feeling. I've visited that job site almost daily since July 3, and today was the first day I couldn't roam freely. I was there this morning, before all that, so it's not like I missed a day.

I'm quite fine with it, as there's a reason it's secure now and I'm actually the one who requested it.

Still. I need a key. Like, now. MY HOUSE. Gimme a key.

It's coming along. Slowly but beautifully.

Is it wrong to say that I love every square inch of it? It's just a house, after all. Just a building in which to live.

And yet...those are the bricks WE selected, the shingles WE chose. Each outlet is where it is because WE said it should go there.

The bricks are my favorite part. Maybe because I agonized over them for months (not the color, the shape and style - we selected the color almost immediately after receiving the sample board). I looked at roman, at king. I lost sleep trying to figure it out.

And then I did, thanks to some help from Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright, a brilliant sod. And afterwards I worried more about if we made the right decision. What would it look like? No one has a striped brick pattern, for Pete's sake. Just what was I trying to pull off here?

So I held my breath the day they started laying, and went to work and tried to not think about it, about the fact that they were laying what could be a monumental mistake that was literally set in stone.

I nearly cried with relief when I saw it. Subtle, gorgeous, distinctive stripes that change with the light. Just what I wanted.

And I will get to live there.

You know, once they give me a key and all.

Sunday, December 02, 2012



Among other things (soccer game, Mass, children's liturgy, pancake fundraiser, finishing a conduit project on the new house, laundry, ornament hanging and more), we visited my gran today.

It is always with deeply mixed feelings that I leave her. I'm happy to have seen her and spent time with her, and saddened by the continued deterioration of her mind. It is bittersweet, and more painful each time.

I love her very much, and will always remember the incredibly strong and capable woman she once was, even if she can't.

(She wasn't entirely pleased that I was photographing her today. "Oh! I don't have any makeup!" I told her what I saw: a beautiful woman.)



We had to dismantle our table to put up our Christmas tree. There was no other option, as there is simply no other space in this house. We shall have picnics from here on out!

I never considered our tree to be that large. It always seemed rather average to me. In this room, though, it dwarfs everything. It sticks out and takes up half the room.

I'm happy to have it, though. Christmas is almost here...let Advent begin!