Oldies and Youngsters

Now that little Lennie has been here for a week, I have a few observations to make.

1. Puppies Are Energetic

This is how I imagine Lennie’s internal monologue.

“Oh, boy, oh, wow, foodfoodfoodfood….where can I pee? foodfoodfoodfoodfood….A BABY! gonna jump on her!….she smells great…poop! Gonna run, gotta run, think I’ll eat this book…foodfoodfoodfoodfoooooood….I’m tired. Sleep.”

Repeat every 25 seconds.


2. A Sleeping Puppy Is As Irresistible As A Sleeping Baby

3. Old Folks Really Benefit From Having Young Folks Around

Today both of my dogs went out the doggie door. Tucker went first, the Wolf King on a stately journey into the back yard to poop. He stepped out carefully, checking his footing on the icy deck.

Lennie went out behind him, leaping through the door in one bound. He jumped down the deck stairs, onto the snowy grass. They both did their business, Tucker with his nose lifted and his eyes closed, considering the meaning of life. Lennie squatted three feet away, grinning up at his big brother, little puffs of frosty air coming from his snout. You could just hear his thoughts.

“This is so cool! Pooping with the Wolf King! Oooh, a bird! I’m done! Now what can we do?”

Usually Tucker makes his way slowly back up the stairs and into the house after depositing his daily doodie. This time, though, I started to hear both dogs barking in the yard. I was inside with Ellie, reading a book. I noticed that the barking had a rhythm to it. One deep “woof” followed by three or four excited “yips.” Over and over again.

I picked up my granddaughter and carried to my bedroom, where we stood looking out the window. And there they were.

The Little Dude was dancing around, chasing his tail, jumping in the air, one ear folded back by the wind he generated as he raced. And the old man, the Wolf King, pretending to be annoyed, but bowing his front legs down to let Lennie nip at his neck. Growling and barking in fake anger, then running, a bit carefully and very stiffly. Chasing Lennie, who shrieked and yipped and ran away while looking over his shoulder the whole time.

The deep rumbling voice of the Wolf King, “I’m coming for you, kid. I’m gonna get you…..”

And Lennie, the baby dude, giggling back, “Nooooo! Don’t catch me!!!”

And it hit me.

It was me and Ellie, played out in the dog world.

She runs, I pretend to chase.

I remember, when I play with her, what it was to jump and twirl and race without aches or pains. I remember being young.

The Wolf King is reliving his youth in the back yard with little Lennie.

I’m reliving mine in the living room with Ellie.

Good for both of us.


Memories of Motherhood

This post started out to be humorous, but it just changed. Very suddenly.

Oh, life, you funny old thing.

I spent today, as I do every Monday through Friday, with my best buddy, my heart, my love, my granddaughter Ellie. I am in love with her eyes, her grin, her crazy curly hair. I am in love with the shape of her nose and her long fingers and toes. I practically swoon with pleasure when she waddles across the room to throw herself into my arms.

I get to snuggle every day with her warm little head pressed to my cheek. I get to hear her say, “Hi” when she comes in and “night, night” as she falls asleep for her nap. I have no more work stress, no more long commute. No paperwork. My only boss is my first born child, who is definitely not bossy.

Today I thought to myself, “I don’t remember motherhood being this perfect and sweet!”

Yes. I did jinx myself.

Our Ellie is a little peanut of a girl. We try to give her high calorie foods because she’s just tiny. She eats like a starved wolf, but she doesn’t seem to put on weight. She did NOT get her Nonni’s metabolism.

However, she poops more than the average baby. Or the average horse, I’d dare to say.

So this afternoon, after having fed her breakfast, played with her, put her down for a nap, changed her poops twice and given her a bath, I found myself faced with yet another poopie diaper and a little red bum. I said to her, “You stay naked for a bit, and I’ll run downstairs real quick to get the laundry.”  I figured that the air would be good for her skin.

I left her in one of those cute onesie shirts with the snaps between her legs open and the front and back flapping along in the breeze. She stood at the gate at the top of the stairs and I ran down, pulled the clothes from the dryer and raced back up.

There she stood, bent forward at the waist. Playing with both hands in a lovely puddle of pee all over my floor. She was literally splashing it.

I burst through the gate, threw the clothes onto a chair and scooped her up. Her shirt was soaked. The floor was soaked. Her hair was….well….soaked. Back into the tub. No more empty hamper. I washed the floor as I held Ellie on one hip.

Holy exhaustion, Batman. I just remembered that motherhood is not all warm snuggles and adorable shampooed curls. Motherhood- and grandmotherhood- is back aches and endless repeated chores. And puddles of pee.

Then I logged onto Facebook so I could show nice clean Ellie the pictures of her new baby cousin.

I saw a picture posted by a young relative. A beautiful young woman in our family sent a happy birthday message to her 95 year old Great Grandmother.

And I thought, what a gift! To live long enough and well enough to celebrate with a great grandchild. Wow.

So tonight, as I sink into my hot tub with a glass of wine and get ready to clean up the dozens of toys on the floor and the mess on the table, I’ll appreciate every bit of today. I’ll hold onto the kisses and the laughter. And I’ll make myself enjoy the memory of that baby girl splashing in a puddle of her own pee on my floor.

Ya gotta love it.



I was thinking tonight, as I walked outside after supper, that I get some contentment from knowing that every fall will feel the same.

I know that every late summer the air will start to smell sharper. I know that the days will stay hot, but the nights will turn cool.

Even though it hasn’t happened yet this year, I know that the leaves on the Burning Bush will turn bright red. I know that the goldfinches will lose their color and that the turkeys will start to march through the yard every morning.

I was thinking that in a way it’s kind of boring. It’s predictable. After 26 years in this house, I know what color the leaves of every tree will be. I know that the pine needles will turn golden and that some will fall. I know that the snow will come to cover the stepping stones that I’ve placed in the garden.

Ho hum. How routine.

How safe.

Then I started to think of life  as seen through the eyes of my sweet granddaughter. Ellie is in her second autumn, but last year she was barely aware or alert. This year she notices every falling leaf. She laughs out loud at jack-o-lantern faces. She smells every marigold as if it is a miracle.

Every day when we go outside, she searches in the garden for “nomonos”, her favorite little cherry tomatoes. They are almost gone, and I understand that. For Ellie, this is an affront to her sense of order. “Where are my orange snacks?” I can hear her thinking. “I want to come out here every day of my life and eat sweet tomatoes!”

Life just goes around and around in such a repeating circle. Ellie doesn’t know that yet.

I think that the secret to loving life is to always find a way to see the circle as new. For me, that means surrounding myself with children. To them, every day is a brand new adventure.

How delicious!


Nonni In Germany

Well, what a two weeks this has been. The trip of a lifetime has come and gone and this old Nonni is trying to put it all into perspective.

Paul and I have been in Germany for the past 13 days, staying with friends we were lucky enough to meet when their son became our exchange student 18 months ago. We fell in love with him, we fell in love with his parents. They visited us, and now they have hosted us on the most incredible vacation of our entire lives.

At some point I will write about the gorgeous ocean views on the North Sea, about the crazy good food, the well behaved dogs and happy kids, the immaculate gardens and efficient trains. At some point I’m sure I’ll write about how it feels to know that you’ve made permanent connections with someone who lives a life entirely different from your own far across the world.

I know that I’ll have a lot to write about the dark and powerful history here and how the people respond to it. I have so much to share about the Wall and the holocaust and the Hitler years.

Right now, though, I’d like to start my travel journal with a story told through the eyes of those I’ve been lucky enough to meet here in Germany. We have been in Berlin, in a suburb of Berlin and on a gorgeous, wealthy resort island up on the North Sea. We’ve met people of all ages, some native German, some immigrants from other parts of the world. We’ve met people of various ages and occupations, and with vastly differing experiences.

They all share one thing, though, and that is their opinion of Donald Trump.

Please click the link here to read the article that I wrote for Liberal America this week. It’s called “A Writer in Berlin.” See what these people have to say about the U.S. presidential election.


In front of the Reichstag

A Sad Goodbye

It feels like a goodbye.

I know, I know.  Ellie lives ten minutes away. I understand, I have no reason to grieve. Her Momma and I really do enjoy each other’s company, and I know that we will see each other all summer.

I get it.

Don’t shake your head and say, “What the hell is this old woman complaining about?”

I’m not complaining.

I’m just…..processing?

You see, for 30 years my work life was governed by the academic calendar. A new and exciting adventure began each September. Every June meant the end of a community, the end of very special relationships with kids.

And for about 19 years before that, I was one of the students who defined life by the beginning and ending of the academic year.

So the fact that this school year has ended is a very poignant and very powerful event for me. Except……I don’t have the usual markers to acknowledge and celebrate the event. No end of year conferences where I get to look into the eyes of each student and tell them what they meant to me. No last class play where some of the jokes were only between the kids and me.

No thank you gifts. No graduation. No good bye slide show made by me for the kids in my room; made with tissues in hand and a lot of quiet sobs.

This year just ended.

Ellie will have the overwhelming joy of spending every single day with her incredibly devoted Mommy and Daddy. Her routine will be their’s. Her hugs will be for them. They’ll sing the songs that rock her to sleep.

So stop right there. You don’t need to tell me that this is exactly how it should be. I know that!  I celebrate it! I love my daughter more than my next breath; I want her memories of summer with her babies to be just as sweet and as long and as challenging as mine were.  I happily give her back the reins.

But after they went home tonight, I got out my tissues and I quietly cried as I put away the high chair and the playpen.

I’ll see my Ellie in a few short days. In a matter of weeks, I’ll have her with me again.

But it won’t be the same. She won’t be my very first newborn grandchild. I mourn the end of the very special gift that was this past year.

Oh, don’t you yell at me! I know!

I am more blessed and more lucky than anyone anywhere has ever been. I know that.

But I’m sure gonna miss breakfast with my Ellie bean for the next few weeks…….


Ah, beautiful child.

Twenty four years ago today I gave birth to my third child. My baby. My last hurrah. The icing on our family cake.

This boy.

photo 2

This fine young man.


My gentle hockey player. My thoughtful activist. My handsome, sweet Tim.

I’m sitting here in my living room this evening, glass of red wine in hand. I’m listening to “Pachelbel’s Canon in D.”  We had that on the radio on the morning of June 11, 1992 as we drove east, toward the rising sun. Our two other children dozed in their carseats behind us. Paul and I held hands, listening.

This was my third birth. Number one was the practice child. I was terrified heading in to deliver her. Number two came with some delays and some confusion. I didn’t know that what I was feeling was labor as I went to the hospital to be “induced” with him.

But with number three, I felt as if I had finally arrived. I knew what to expect. I was ready.

And he came with no scary surprises.  He came into our lives on a bright, sunny day. I looked at him and my heart melted.

Happy birthday, beautiful child. Happy birthday, beautiful young man.

Thanks for being as loving and sweet as you were when I first gathered you into my loving arms.

And thanks for being the best brother to Matt, who greeted you in the hospital 24 years ago by throwing a leggo train at your head.

I adore you both.

Thanks for being a fabulous and supportive brother to Katie, and a wonderful Uncle to our Ellie!

You made us a whole family.



My three biggest achievements.

An Odd Month of June


Ever since I started kindergarten, I’ve looked forward to the beginning of summer. Long days at the beach, hot sun and cold watermelon, ice cream dripping down to your elbow.

And no school!

Summer has always meant freedom. Yay! Blissful days of no pressure!


Not this year. This year is different. This year I am mourning the end of the school year.

Oh, I know. There will still be thunderstorms and barbecues and a few beach days.

But this summer the freedom means that I won’t spend every day with my closest companion.  The person I have had breakfast and lunch with every day since November. The person who kisses me more than the dogs and the husband combined. My BFF. The one I dream about most nights.

This person:IMG_20160601_105608

Sure. She lives ten minutes from here and her Mom and I love to spend time together. I know. I’ll probably see her three out of every five days.


It won’t be the same. Sigh.

Stupid old summer.

Me and Tucker plan to pout all summer. We want fall.

IMG_20160606_151810 (1)

Oh, No. My Eyesight Is Going.

I turned 60 this spring.


My back aches most of the time. My muscles are all flabby. My boobs and my belly button end up in the same place when I sit down.

I don’t hear as well as I used to either.  I’ve noticed that I have to mute the TV if Paul talks to me, or else I think he said “Spaghetti in the laundry” when he actually said “I’ll get the laundry.”

It’s sad, really.

And now my eye sight seems to be going, too.

I know that not only because I wear bifocals, but because when I look at my kids, I don’t see them all that clearly.

For example, this is pretty much what they look like now:


Mate, Kate and Tim K

But when I look at them, I actually see this:


Tim, Kate, Matt

Matt had some surgery this past week.  The poor guy broke his ankle really badly, and had to have three bones repaired with screws and a metal plate. He was willing to let me drive him to and from the hospital, and I was in the room with him as they put in the IV and moved his leg around. I saw him turn white and break out in a cold sweat from the pain.

I heard the nurse ask, “Are you OK, sir?” and I heard a man’s voice say, “Yup.”

I’m sure that the medical staff thought that they were working on a 25 year old 6’3″ man with a full beard. But you know who I saw in that hospital bed? I saw him:



My eyes are definitely going.

But at least my memory is fine.