Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Okay, so it's been nearly a year since my last post...what can I say? Life has been busy.

I stopped at Family Dollar today to restock my prize box at school.  At the check out two elderly gentlemen were ahead of me.  They kind of resembled the gentleman on the right here - a random photo I acquired from a Google Images search for "old men."  How old do you think this guy is? 75? 80?  I have no idea.

Here is what I do know: I love him.  I love elderly gentlemen.  I do not know why and I have been trying to find the words to explain it for a long time. All I can say is, those two guys at Family Dollar, buying their toilet paper, chili in a can, and potato chips just made my heart...swell? Swoon? Go soft? I'm not sure.  Like I said, it's really hard to explain.

And it's not related to my feelings toward my grandfathers.  That is something wholly different.  I loved my grandfathers and spent a good chunk of my childhood with them.

I think the feeling comes from my intense curiosity about the distant past.  I've always been a sucker for historical fiction...or just actual history and historical places, in general.  When I see these men, they remind me of the enormous Hemlock trees we pass on the trail to the Ice Glen in Stockbridge.  There is a story in every wrinkle.  Strong and seasoned, wrinkled, vulnerable, but filled with stories of how the world used to be. (I do not believe that sentence is grammatically correct...I should correct it, but it's a blog, so there.  I like the way it sounds.)

An 80-year-old man might have played with a toy like this:

Or driven in a car like this:

An 80-ish-year-old man might have fought in the Korean War or Vietnam.  They witnessed the first landing on the moon on black and white televisions, the birth of computers, the Internet, cell phones...9/11...they have seen so, so much.  And I suppose I find that fascinating.

More than once, these gentlemen have held a door open, offered a kindly, "good afternoon," and a handful have even wanted to load groceries in my car.  (To which I graciously decline mostly because my parents raised me to respect my elders and...let's face it, they also taught me to be wary of strangers and you know I have SUCKER basically tattooed to my forehead.)

I will admit to stopping and talking about the weather with these gentlemen in the parking lot of Hannaford or other similar markets more times than any of you would guess.  I can't help it.  I respect the time these guys have spent on this planet and if they want to chat with some oddly overly friendly lady loading groceries...well, they can have my two minutes.  In whatever small way, each generation paves the path for the next...and now, maybe at the end of does have to do with my grandparents.

At 39 years old, I really wish I could speak with them.  I remember so many stories my grandparents told of their childhoods, the wars they lived through, family triumphs and tragedies....but I was so young.  I want to hear their stories as the semi-seasoned adult I sort of am, now that I've experienced a few tragedies and triumphs of my own. Hmmmm...

Maybe they are just cute.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How I found LOVE

Not sure where to start this one.

I guess I'll start with my sisters.  I have three.

  • My mom had Lauren when I was 16 - she is now 22.  
  • My stepmom had Alie when I was 20 - she is now 18 and
  • Jill when I was 24 - she's now 13. 
  • (I feel like I should mention that my stepmom also had a son when I was 16 - my dear brother, AJ.  AJ was her first and Lauren was my mom's last...and if you are a mom or a parent, you know that means something.  I'm not sure I ever let any one hold Liam until after he was know..the dynamic is just different.  Okay.  Just had to say that...don't want anyone to feel left out.)
  • That probably means I should mention Willie...he was born, to my mom,  when I was 10 - a little too young for the bigger emotions that I'm about to touch on...but...that's another post!  Same goes for Chuckie, my only whole sibling from the first marriage..but GOODNESS, I am getting off topic.  I have a lot of siblings.  I could draw a diagram, but I want to focus on the sisters for the moment:
So, obviously, I am a lot older than all of them.  We don't have typical sister relationships - ones where we fought over the bathroom or stolen shoes or sweaters.  I left for college when Lauren was just turning 3 and I was already out of college when Alie and Jill were born!!  That said, I have a very special relationship with each of them, but I'll get to that later.

Interestingly, they are all coming into or are in that age when they truly begin to pursue and explore love.  Love from a companion, a friend, a mentor, and love in their lives for a career or a passion. Naturally, the search for companionship and love in another human being is a driving force, especially budding in the teen years.  It's a maddening time, as I remember it...heart-wrenching, etc...And it got me thinking about how lucky I was to have met Bill when I did...but more specifically, how I recognized love when I stumbled upon it.

And that's where one sister plays a role in my love life she could never have imagined...

It starts with Lauren.  I was 16 when she was born and even though my mom had a live-in au pair, I spent a LOT of time feeding, diapering, and being with my new baby sister.  I never resented my mother when she asked me to pick up Lauren or change her, as I have heard some older siblings sometimes feel...honestly, my mother may not have even asked...I probably volunteered.  I wanted so badly to love someone with all my heart at that time in my life and then here comes this perfect little baby; living right down the hall from me.  Not mine, so I didn't have to get up for 4 am feedings or worry about child care and all that scary/real grown up stuff, but mine in that I could pour every ounce of love I had into this little baby and she would give it all back in return.  This wonderful baby who needed and wanted nothing more than love.  (Well food and clothes and all that, but that's where my mom came in...)

The moment I knew what love felt like, what true, deep love felt like, was when Lauren fell asleep in my arms, after being rocked for who knows how long, and I breathed her breath.  Her sweet little baby breath.  And her heart beat against mine and I knew I would love her forever and ever.  Now, at 16, I did NOT know what was happening.  I just knew the feeling of her body asleep in my arms, her cheek, sticky with sweat and maybe a little drool stuck to my shoulder, was amazing.  A gift.  Something to be treasured.  Her complete trust of ME.  Crazy, irrational, always fighting with my mom teenage Britt.  When she was awake and I gave her all of my attention and sweet words, she cooed and smiled right back at me and she taught me, I think, a whole lot of what I know about love. If you give someone everything, you might be lucky enough to get it back.  I was lucky - in the midst of a bunch of a-hole teenage boys, I had my sister Lauren, loving me with her whole heart, as I loved her.

Now, before I met Bill, I dated, I did stupid things, I searched for the ONE.  I wanted each one of those guys to be THE ONE. (Kind of ridiculous, but hey, that's who I was.)  And then one day I met Bill.  And the day I knew HE was the one, was a day when he sat close enough to me I could breath his breath.  We did not kiss that day.  We just sat so close, for such a long, quiet time, and I knew I wanted to share that tiny space, that breath forever and ever.  I knew it was love because I had felt it before.

Bill and I met when we were very young - I was 18, he was 19.  We had some tumultuous times.  But throughout those years I kept getting these little gifts.  These amazing little sisters who I could rock and cradle and love.  And they reminded me time and again, about how you get what you give.  Even though I lived, at times, thousands of miles from them, when I was with them, I gave them all of me.  My WHOLE heart.  And to this day, they know that.  Even Jill.  I think.  She moved to Arizona when she was 2, so I had the least amount of time to impress my love on her.  And even though we aren't as close as I wish we could be (98% because of distance 2% awkward 24 year age difference) I know she knows how much I love her...because I cradled her.  Breathed her sweet baby breath as she slept in my arms from time to time.... will my sisters know love?  What have their lives shown them?  How will they take their experiences and use them to shape their love?

Well, one thing is friends with daughters:  The secret to teaching teenage girls about love: give them a baby that's not really theirs at around 16.  Um...good luck with that!

But seriously.  No one wants their parents to have a messy divorce when they are a kid...but...after living these 38 years, it's clear that there is something to be gained from every experience.  I wouldn't trade my life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing for ANYTHING.  Does it all happen for a reason? (As I often say...)  Whether it does or doesn't - MAKE it happen for a reason.

And thank you, my baby sisters.  Thanks for letting me love you with all my heart...and even though I have babies of my own that I immerse in my love, you all still have my whole heart.  (Just not my time...I seem to have lost all of that.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

A bad bra day

By all accounts today was a really great day.  A great, wet walk in the morning with a wonderful friend.  Happy breakfast time with Billbers.  An oddly PLEASANT and quick trip to the dentist.  A really nice afternoon and dinner with my bestie and the kids.  A successful baking experiment.  And we ended the night as a family, on the couch, watching the Muppets Christmas Carol.  You can't really beat a day like today.

Unless you are wearing your bad bra.  Oh, yes.  You know the one I mean.  The one you bought, but didn't have time to try on in the store.  Or you did try it on, but afterwards it just didn't feel so great, but you already cut off the tags.  That bra that's at the bottom of the drawer.  The one you wear ONLY when you have messed up your laundry rotations and you have nothing else.  The one that digs under your arm and makes you pull and tug at it all day long.  The one you WISH you weren't wearing.

I had to wear that bra today.  And all day long, as I enjoyed every minute of walking and baking and smiling and hugging the kids and kissing Bill and eating pizza this stupid bra was tugging away at all the wrong places.  Ugh.

But tomorrow, after all the laundry is done, I will hopefully not have to wear this bad bra for a long, long time.

That is all.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finny's Fourth Birthday - Pirate Party!!

Today Finnster turned four.  With much less fanfare than Liam's party, I sort of whipped up Finn's pirate party.  I invited a few of my favorite people over, had the wonderful pleasure of having my DAD and our old friend Zach in attendance, and hoped corn dogs and cupcakes would be enough for every one.  And you what?  It was great.

Liam was all ready to be decked out in pirate garb.
The yummy stuff.
This little 'pirate toss' game was my idea, but Bill's creation.  I can't draw, but I can come up with a way to keep kids entertained.  :)

Friends and food - yay!

Happy Birthday to you, sweet Finny Finn.

My dad and Zach enjoying the festivities.

Sweet baby Brynn giving me a little love.


Some of our favorite girls getting a little tree time.

Playing is VERY serious business with these boys.

I was pretty excited about this robot piggy bank.

The vet is in the house.

This vet is also very interested in flying space ships.

Thanks to every one who came and celebrated with us.  And thanks to every one who could not be with us but sent their love.  It was a great day.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Camping in New Hampshire's White Mountains...

I wonder if they are called the White Mountains because of all the clouds... The clouds were ginormous, amazing things.  Truly spectacular sights to behold...but I could have done without all the rain.  Still, we had a great family trip.  Every time we asked Liam what his favorite part of the trip was his response was, "Spending so much time together, especially with Dad."

Within minutes of setting up camp, Finn was right at home.  Trucks, dirt, what more can a little boy ask for??

And after just a few more minutes, Finn found a buddy with similar interests.  In fact, all the neighboring campsites were filled with boys ranging from 2 to 12!  My boys were in heaven.

Our first morning was all rain, so we took the boys for a ride on the Hobo Train.  It was a bit touristy, but the kids loved riding and having lunch on the 100 year old train cars.

You can't really see it, but the mountain stream is rushing past our site just beyond the boulders.  We stayed at the Franstead Family Campground. (

It is, hands down, the BEST family I have ever visited.  The sites are private and clean.  The bathrooms and showers are CLEAN.  They have a covered activity pavilion with ping pong and foos ball.  There's mini golf, a playground, and a shed on a field filled with basketballs, baseballs and gloves, frisbees, dump trucks, volley balls, you name it.  They really thought of everything.  If you want to camp in the White Mountains and you have kids, this is THE place to go!  Not to mention the creek running through the campground with tubing AND a beach!  It was awesome. we the top of Mount Washington, the highest point in the entire north east...and it's all rain and fog and clouds.  Spent 40 bucks to drive up the hairpin turns and scary was kinda worth it.  It was cool to be up there..but I sure would have liked to have seen SOMETHING.  Another time, I guess...
You do get a 'free' bumper sticker with your $40.

We did get one afternoon of sun and we spent it tubing in our campground.  It was awesome.  It was 'gentle' and shallow enough that Liam could run to one end of the campground and tube down to us, waiting at the beach area. 

There was even a small wading area where Finn could tube as well.

We started this hike in the rain and the weather cleared up a bit.  This was the Falling Waters hike in the Franconian Notch.  Beautiful hike...but I did fall in a small waterfall trying to get Liam across safely. 

Sweet Finny Finn...
So...after my shoes were soaked, I tried to dry them out by the fire that night.  In the morning I discovered that I completely melted them.  Awesome.

Here we are heading up to the largest waterfall in New Hampshire, Arethusa Falls.  It poured for most of the 3 mile, super steep hike. So proud of my little hikers.
Definitely magnificent and worth the trek!

We are heading down at this point.

Finn clearly had HAD enough at this point.  But he made it down and was rewarded by the train driving right through the parking lot!

Here's a nice shot of our site.

Our last day...I think Finn was pretty sick of the rain...poor little buddy.
Basically the view we had each day. 
I am sure we will return to the White Mountains.  There are endless hikes and tourist attractions there. It's only a few hours away and truly beautiful.  Today, I am glad for my cozy, dry bed.  :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Liam's 8th Birthday - Super Mario Party!!!

My dear sweet Liam turns 8 today and yesterday we had an amazing Super Mario party.  The highlight of the party was Liam telling me repeatedly what a great time he had.  It totally made staying up past 11 every night for the last ten days blowing up balloons and decorating star cookies worth it.

My posting pics is two-fold today.  I know the far-away fam wants to see the festivities, but these pics are also for the moms out there in internet-land who need ideas for a party.  I would have been lost without the posts of others!
Some of you will be shocked to hear that the one corner I cut was on the cupcakes.  They are Duncan Hines.  Finn can finally have a box mix...and while I hate all the chemicals in the box mixes, since everything else, including the frosting and favors was made from scratch, THIS was a short cut I was willing to take.  I bought "sugar sheets" (in the cake section from Wal-Mart) and had Bill cut circles for the 'mushroom' cupcakes.

Oh..Oriental Trading Co. had customizable swirly lollipops...with MUSTACHE stickers!!  I ordered those and made a 'Mario brick' stand out of styro-foam.  Star cookies were from scratch and took an eternity...but every one loved them.

When the kids arrived, they could decorate a wooden 'mario kart'.  I made race tracks out of some old wood I found in the basement for racing.

Simple, but loads of fun. A little rope and some duct tape = awesome!!!

Here is the start to the obstacle course. Cardboard boxes and paint.  Also simple and super fun.  I enjoyed spray painting the grass.  THAT was fun for me.


 The next 'event' was shooting down plastic cups with water guns.  (Water guns were also favors to go home with kiddos.  Wallet AND kid friendly, double yay.)  My wonderful friend, Karen, manned this very wet post.  Thanks, Karen!!

 Here's a close up of the cups.  I printed out one sheet with the images and used packaging tape to adhere them to the cups. 

 The final (and most time consuming to make) event, was the balloon/ghost stomp.  Inside each balloon was a gold coin.  AND, each balloon was decorated with a Sharpie to look like a ghost.  (I made about 68.)  The kids had to stomp and get three gold coins to finish the obstacle course.  I think the boys got a little nuts and stomped on more than their share...still, no one cried and every one had fun, as far as I could tell.  :)  Using a hand pump, it took me three nights to 'stuff,' pump, and decorate all the balloons...It took the kids about 2 minutes to pop ALL the balloons.

So, it took me over a week to make all the activities/treats and it took 20 kids about 14 minutes to run through it all.  Still, it was totally worth it.  I'm not saying I'm going to do an involved party like this again in the near future ore even the relatively distant future...but, the kids had a blast.   And Liam's thank yous were all I could ask for.  There's something to be said for making your kids' wishes come true. 

Another added bonus to this party - we asked that no one bring presents.  They could make a donation to their favorite charity in Liam's name, but as we said on the invitation we'd just be happy to see them.  And you know what?  Liam did not miss the pile of presents.  Not at all.  Between Bill and I and the grandparents, Liam got everything we wanted.

I kind of wish I took more pictures.  Don't we all?  While doling out hot dogs and filling water balloons, many photo ops were missed.  But I think ya get the gist.  It was a great day.  Let's see what 9 has in store for my first born bundle of love.