Sunday, July 25, 2010

Here's a Tip

Every perceived setback is really an opportunity. Your attitude is what sets the mood. Don't ever let fear dictate your course of action. You can achieve a lot in one lifetime if your focus includes compassion, tolerance, respect, and the courage to take chances and trust. There is fun to be had in any situation. Don't take anything too seriously. Take care of the vessel, it is your vehicle for spiritual evolution.

I'm off now to Italy for some family fun. Love you all!

 Here's a few more...

wearing weird clothes makes people laugh, which is a good thing, especially if you are laughing too.

Use it or lose it.

A mustache makes everyone look hunkier.

Just go do it.

Don't be afraid to share.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We Crazy Fun

When I met Tom in 1997, one of the things I liked about him was his love of travel. He had spent nine months backpacking through Africa at age 30, lived in Rome for a year with the ND School of Architecture program and traveled through Europe. I had been to Tahiti, Sweden and New York with my friend Tina, and spent two months in Ecuador doing research after college graduation. We both liked the adventure of traveling. Another thing we had in common was we both loved our family. So, inevitably, travel meant bringing the kids. All of them. All the time.
The first trip was Paris, with Cadence and Quinlan, ages 11 and 7. I was newly pregnant with Kieran, so she was there too, without any luggage or trouble.  It all went swimmingly. The girls loved the stories Tom told them about the French Revolution, the Impressionists, and Joan of Arc. He made up a character, "The Man in the White Beret" (Le Homme avec Beret Blanc), who would show up in stories about famous Parisians, like when Le Homme Avec Beret Blanc surprised Vincent Van Gogh and caused him to accidentally cut off his ear. It was magical. The kids ate soup and pizza, bread and ice cream. What more did they need?

So when Kieran came along in 2000, we naturally took her along on our next big trip with the big girls to Hawaii, and that same year, Italy. Kieran was two. I remember Tom saying over and over again to Kieran in Italy "If you had behaved this badly in Hawaii, you wouldn't be here now!".  It was our first international family trip with a toddler. Try changing a poopy diaper in front of the Colloseum on a sleeping child without laying her down. The fountains, sunflowers, farm animals and general vibe of Italy saved us. Kieran ate nothing but butter, parmasean cheese, bread and milk.

The next year, we remodeled the house, had Aidan and gave him a year to mature before his big European debut. It would be Italy again. This time we had two teenagers, Cadence, 15, Quinlan, a mature 12, Kieran, 4, and Aidan 1. This trip started with our international flight where Aidan stood up in his little wall-hanging bassinet, placed both hands firmly on the metal frame of the video screen above him and gingerly ripped it off the wall, where it flew back and bonked me on the head. Surely a sign of the fun to come.

 Most families would stress about taking this crew to a nice restaurant here, in the US, in their home town. We are so crazy, we took them to restaurants all over Italy. I have mostly blocked out the  memories that were too hard to bear. A good one was when Kieran, too tired to take another step, simply lay herself down on the steps of a Venician bridge, hoping someone would feel pity and carry her across Venice.

As the years have passed, we have taken our kids to Ireland, Tahiti, New York City, Fiji, Paris and Amsterdam. In a week, we are jetting off to Italy again. This time we are taking Aidan, 7, Kieran, 10, Quinlan, 18, Cadence, 21, Matt, 22, and Spencer, 18, Cadence and Quinlan's boyfriends. This one seems like a guaranteed magically perfect experience. No toddlers, no diapers, only fun, somewhat whiney kids, beautiful adult daughters with their best friends, and my fellow adventure-lover, Tom. Yeah, we crazy FUN!

The two pictures above are from Ireland, the two below are Fiji

New York, minus Cadence, plus Faith

Paris, sunset under the Arch D'Triumph

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Moon

Hey! The June gloom has really dragged me down along with my supply of Kombucha being abruptly cut off from Whole Foods. I weathered a two day headache and some really dark depression before I decided to sample some of my fizzy vinegar home brew. Whether it is an addiction or a cure, I love kombucha ( an ancient chinese recipie of tea, sugar and a blob of yeast that upon sitting in a glass container for a few weeks, turns the tea into a fermented primordial soup of amino acids, probiotics, enzymes, detoxifyers and a rather interesting life changing beverage, if I do say so.) So now, cloudy or sunny, I am happy again.

Here are the highlights since the solstice:

The power of attracting what you want led me to a very fossily looking rock or two on the beach after the full moon.

I also found an egg.

I'll let you know what the experts say. I have been saying out loud to whom ever can hear me for years and years now that I want to find fossils. It took a few years to really catch and hold, but now I have found many. Mostly small, oyster shell sandstone from our mountains, about 60 million years old, but it all excites me! These are my first BIG ONES!

While Tom was working in Monterey, I took the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their favorite thing this time was the five new baby sea turtles.

 I let them experiment with dipping different things into chocolate at lunch.

carrots, celery, french fries, crackers and of course, strawberries. Hey, it's summer!

The fouth of July brought me a very severe case of June Gloom depression and a really bad two-day headache.

After my two day headache and my miracle kombucha cure- it literally took the headache that Ibuprofen couldn't touch away in about one hour- I had a new easy going feeling and just refused to get stressed out about days full of scheduled activities.  This was really good because Friday was a crazy one.

 I arranged for a babysitter for Kieran and Aidan, went to breakfast with my sister, her friend and her friend's scholarship earning-volleyball playing-soon to be freshman Notre Dame attending-daughter and Quinlan, my step daughter, who will also be an ND freshman, so we could introduce the two SB/ND girls. That went well, but was followed by the drop off of my beloved niece and nephew, Nick and Claire, who came to play for the day.

We went to lunch, chased lunch with a quick nap by me, then I was off to the chiropractor to make sure all was well with my neck and spine, post headache.

I had Quinlan babysitting. After dropping Nick and Claire back to their house, I rushed Kieran to her five o'clock Saxophone lesson. She has a concert next week. She's actually really good. To test my relaxation, I will share that the thirty minute lesson went over by seven minutes and I was supposed to go home, pack a bag and drive across town to meet my girlfriends by six.
Before long, Jill was joining in followed by me- I can't be left out of such frivolity.  My leap didn't end well. It ended in me limping and wincing to the car, with yet another swollen, discolored ankle to add to my fat ankle collection. But, I'll tell you, I'm still relaxed. Still at peace as I sit here sipping my homebrew kombucha.