Nine? Already!??

My Anthony is NINE!

I know, he’s big he looks nine…but really, nine? I mean, I know HE runs faster than the wind but does time have to? Gee whiz.  My Anthony is nine.

And he’s some great kid! He’s smart and funny and kind and sweet and good. He’s fast and sharp and can kick a ball faster and farther than I can see.  He’s handful and he’s a lamb.  He’s my sweet boy.

And today he is nine.  And we love him and are SO proud of him.

Happy Happy Birthday sweet Anthony! Nine is a fantastic age (and your last year of single digits, wowee)!

We are so proud of you!
We hope all your birthday wishes come true!!

We love you!

And Now We are Six…

Oh my Gabey…he’s NO baby!

No.  He’s six.

Of course he’s getting the book, duh!  That’s tradition.

But anyhow, all I can say is that this sweet boy is growing into the most delightful boy.  He is SO six.  A stupendous six.

We love you sweet Gabey!

We hope ALL your birthday wishes come true and are SO proud of you!

Happy Happy Sixth Birthday!

“But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever”

Fabulous Fourteen!

Oh my, my Emmy is fourteen!

My girl, who has a heart of beauty that surpasses all…she is a wise old fourteen today!

She’s my other “old soul” in the house and I hope she has a fabulous happy birthday! She’s the only kid who gets a visit from Peter Joseph for her birthday, so that’s pretty special too.  The WHOLE family here to celebrate with her; yeah, because she’s all that.

Happy Birthday beautiful Emily!

We are SO proud of you and love you so!

Sweet Sixteen

It’s Marta’s Sixteenth Birthday!

I would say we can’t believe it but of course, she’s been anxiously waiting for this big birthday and reminding us and everyone she knows or meets that it is her birthday, today.

If this pic doesn’t say “birthday” I don’t know what does!

Marta is going to have a good year ahead I think! School is going well, as a sophomore  she is back in the groove with the role as the girls varsity basketball team manager (she even has other frosh managers to boss around, she’s in heaven!).  And, for her most special birthday present, she got her hearts desire. No, not to drive, though you’re right. THAT would be her hearts desire.  But, her OTHER desire: to see a concert.  So, she and her sister both got bday tickets to a concert for tonight, each get to bring a friend and Dad and I get to go be the old fogies at the Regina Specktor concert.  I hope it’s teen friendly and fun.  I know it will be a thrill for Miss  Marta, her first concert EVAH…..

Anyhow, our Marta.  You are just such a teenager girl!  Happy moody bubbly sleepy talky fashiony picky silly crazy moody funny girl, through and through.

We wish you the very happiest of Birthday’s.

We love you!

And hope you have a Sweet Sweet Sixteen!

Happy Happy Birthday!

We are so proud of you!

Now, CAKE!!!!

To be seventeen….

Not again, the first time.  To be seventeen the first time is a wondrous thing.

It’s not that gooey overhyped age, SIXTEEN.  Nope, it’s a step forward and beyond to a whole new zone: SEVENTEEN.  Heck, in some ways its such an inbetweener age….but it can’t be ONLY a marginal one can it?  I grew up with Seventeen Magazine (Yes, once again, I’ve just dated myself.  Still).  Seventeen is such an age of…promise.

And my Hannah, it’s her age, today!

Hannah at Scripps, college visit

Yup, my Hannahbanana is 17!

Nope, I can’t believe it!

But, then again, as ever, I can.

Because she is a very different girl from the 16, much less the 15, year old we’ve watched the past few years.  Seventeen is a blooming, not of that fresh beauty – she’s had that!  But of promise.  Seventeen is the age when a lot of that INNER beauty starts to shine forth, the real stuff, the deep beauty.  Seventeen is an age that harbors hopes and dreams and instead of seeing them SO very far off in the distance, too far to touch or feel like they are possible….those dreams are right close.  Those dreams are possibilities.  Those ideas and hopes are just, almost, within reach.  They only need some focus to clear them and strength and determination to meet them.  They need hard work and faith in yourself and the willingness to go get ’em…or fall down trying.  Which is ok too.

Seventeen is when I see my sweet firstborn girl start “owning” the who of her.  She is standing strong now about who she is and what she’s about.  She has ideas of changing the world, maybe a little bit at a time. But I tell ya, she’s got some big plans and I’m cheering her on along the way.  I hope she can, the world will be a better place, our education system needs enthusiastic young folks like her to set it on fire.

She’s got plans for college and beyond.  She’s dreaming big and working hard to finish high school strong and be able to step forward to her next adventure.  She was always, always, stubborn and determined.  NOw, finally, we are starting to see her embrace the confidence to become the Her of herself.  Seventeen, it’s all about the promise that this newly confident and able young person can see…..and, it’s beautiful.

My baby girl is seventeen.  So tonight we’ve got plans for her birthday party with bestie buddies and her traditional birthday…..fondue!  She’s not a cake gal, she’s a fondue gal.  Of course!

We love  you, our Hannah.  

Seventy times seventeen….

We are so proud of you and so happy for your birthday!

78 Hugs for my Mom

It’s my Mom’s Birthday today!

She is 78!

And this post is short and sweet because I am visiting her, on her birthday! How often does that happen? Not so  much.  But, we had tickets about to expire so, I grabbed them and here I am!

I get to hug her in person, my goal is one for each year…she’s feeling sqooshed right about now I think.  But, she is just one of the most special people in my life and I think she’s wonderful.

She’s my mom.

I love her.

Last May, most recent pic of my sweet mom (and dad)

So glad I get to be with you today! Happy Happy Birthday!



Happy Happy Joy Joy Birthday Boy – 51!

Happy Joy Birthday Boy…to my Tom! 51 Today!

It’s been a bit of a weekend long celebration.  The family party was Saturday night as we had the rare and wonderful occurrence of ALL the kids home at the SAME time!  I never really imagined we’d get there, but that is no longer the norm and it’s extra special.  I’m a bit overcome, every time.  It’s just that big a deal.  So, it was fitting that we decided to celebrate Coffedoc’s bday a day or so early…in order to relish the goodness of it all, with all!

At First Profession/Vows. Best gift: all boys home!

Thus without further ado, I’m marking this birthday of this happy boy, my sweet Tom, with just a few pics of his best gift: A full family weekend.

Tonight I’ll take him out on a solo birthday dinner date, where we can catch up and marvel at the goodness in our lives and in gratitude for his birthday.

Happy Happy Happy Birthday Tom!

I hope all your birthday wishes come true, I love you so!

51! His expression is goofy. He’s not sad, I’m just choking him by accident…..

50 for 50

So, it’s my 50th birthday today.  Yeh, I can hardly believe it myself. I surprise myself every time I catch a glance in a passing window, wondering why my mom is tagging along.  Oh wait…..

But, instead of focusing on some of the mournful aspects of turning officially 50 (body changes oh my…)…..I want to mark this day with my own personal list of 50 things for which I am grateful.  I want to put up this list for me (to mark as my memory goes, sooner I fear rather than later); it is not anywhere close to all encompassing, it will not list every person because that list would probably be endless and my memory is going so I wouldn’t remember the names and then I’d get all stressed out and, well, you get the idea…..

It’s my birthday and I’ll list as I want to.  No particular order or relevance or profundity – mundane and inane and momentous included.  It’s barely a scratch of the surface of the goodness in my blessed life.  Just as with people, impossible to list every thing to be thankful for.  Comments will be closed because this post/list, really, it’s for me to officially recognize all the bounty of goodness and wonder in my life.  

Now, today at 50, here we go….

50 for 50:

  1. My family: husband, each and all my kids.
  2. My mom and dad and sister and brothers;  my nieces and nephews.
  3. My Godchildren.
  4. My faith and my church, the Catholic Church and all that comes with it: the saints, the smells the bells the big perpetual global prayer that unites us all, the eucharist and the simplicity and beauty of this mind blowing truest thing.
  5. my friends, old, new, virtual and in real life….don’t know what I’d do without them/you. close ones far ones near and dear and darn ones……
  6. raspberries and blackberries
  7. coffee, espresso, iced coffee
  8. Vanilla almond milk for my iced coffee
  9. the warm soft early summer air in the south before the air turns heavy dripping with humidity later
  10. the beach, any and all
  11. Carlsbad, perhaps my favorite place, anywhere
  12. novenas
  13. the rosary
  14. the Dominican Provence of St Joseph
  15. my bulldog sitting next to me as I read
  16. spending much of my childhood riding my horse all over
  17. horseback rides with my dad, both the long trail rides through the desert and the local walkabouts around the neighborhoods
  18. sitting out in the ocean, beyond the breakers waiting for the next set on the boogie board as a teen
  19. yakking in the sun with girlfriends who are (still) like sisters as we waited and teased each other (or they teased me) for being scared for the next set of waves
  20. figuring out, finally, how to make really good homemade bread/boule with a crunchy crust and a soft airy inside
  21. watching my kids, especially my big boys, devour the bread I make
  22. singing badly in the car to old songs just to aggravate the kids, as needed
  23. having run a few marathons, having loved running a few half marathons
  24. college. grad school. all of it.
  25. reading, forever my favorite thing
  26. electronics and our convenient world; the net, iphones, email
  27. e-readers, the kindle and ipad for the liberating ease of use and portability
  28. routines of stretching for helping my body age and transition
  29. girls night out, especially when it involves my sister
  30. wine and lemon drop martinis
  31. the “love letters” my son makes me: books and songs and pictures
  32. saturday night standing date night with my tom
  33. movies, especially going OUT to movies
  34. hearing my kids play music and sing
  35. listening to my kids play the music and sing downstairs in the living room as I lie above them drifting to sleep in bed
  36. late afternoons at the beach as the sun starts sinking lower and the crowds fade off and the sand starts to cool but the last bites of conversation or being are still being savored
  37. late afternoons at the pool watching my kids swim and reading as the heat of the day ebbs away
  38. prepping and making a sunday dinner as tom takes the kids out on boat and the house gets quiet and I can prepare a simple ‘feast’ to mark the best day of the week
  39. sundays
  40.  my family still being connected despite all of us being different and in different places, we are and will be there for each other
  41. watching my nephews graduate from college with my sister
  42. a baby, especially my babies, falling asleep on my chest
  43. the difficult events in my life that have scared me, tested me, indeed darn near or indeed broken me…because I healed stronger.
  44. being able to give an assist, however small, to others who’ve found themselves struggling with the same or similar events or issues
  45. the Liturgy of the Hours
  46. telling my kids jokes that only their dad and I get, sharing the high fives with him
  47. making sure my kids know I’m a laugh riot
  48. the smell of tom’s neck and his arms around me
  49. bubbly water, bubbly anything
  50. waking up to face this next era, knowing that life is beautiful, challenging, and all gift.


Great Eight

It’s my Little Man’s big birthday!

He is eight today! Whoa.

I asked him how he felt this morning, did he feel different, did he feel good? He said, “Yes, I feel excited!”  And well he should.  I told him eight is a GREAT year!

Eight is the year when you are past being a really little kid, you are kind of a middle kid.  You’re not learning all the rights and wrongs anymore; mostly, you know ’em.  You’re not caught up in the crazy hormones and boy/girl dramas.  You don’t have to get a job yet.  All ya gotta do is stay steady in school, do the  usual chores, and be a kid…a happy kid.  Play, preferably outside, a LOT.  It’s a great time.

That, just that, is what my birthday wish for my boy.  I wish for him to have a happy few years, starting today, of just “kid stuff.”  I’m not sure I can give him that wish or make it come true.  Life tends to be a bit more complicated than that it seems, and already for him it is, a bit.  But even so…his heart and laugh can carry him a long long way to having a few really simple happy kid years and we are gonna do our best to help him make them happen.

So, today on his birthday I’ve just gotta list a few pointers on my Little Man:

  • He is a happy, good boy,
  • with a heart that is bigger than most any others,
  • and a keen sense of justice.
  • He has energy to burn,
  • if our best scientists could figure out how to harness it, we’d solve the global energy crisis with the greenest energy going: his.
  • He is crazy creative,
  • a talented artist and budding musician, already.
  • He is athletic and strong (and did I mention, energetic), and loving his basketball team and his teammates.
  • He is not happy that the season is drawing to a close, he could play forever…
  • and is gonna try.
  • He is so fast.
  • When he goes to steal the ball in a game and then rips off the other way with it, I can’t help but shout out, “GO! GO, GO!”
  • He’s so fast and fun to watch play.
  • He is so doggone smart, sometimes his warp speed mind spinning makes him distracted, but it’s because his attention and synapses run at Maserati speed.
  • He is loving and sweet and, still – on the good days – writes me “love letters” or, even sweeter, talks them to me as we drive to/fro those practices.
  • He is a night owl, the king of night owl’s.
  • We need to find a career for him where this will be an asset, because this boy can’t seem to sleep much when the moon is high.
  • He really does NOT like spiders or snakes, period.
  • He is a great eater, especially if you are talking about cheeseburgers…not much better than a good cheeseburger in my son’s eyes.
  • I could brag on this sweet son of mine forever, but I won’t.
  • But I will kiss his head today and hug him tight, feed him basketball cake and clap when he blows out his eight candles,
  • and I will wish for him a few really simple joyful happy years of kidhood…
  • to revel in the crashing loud happy singing quiet muddy wondrous years of middle kid time.

My Anthony, he is eight today.  He’s getting bigger at an astonishing rate; like they do.  So I will spend this year trying to really see him, with clear eyes and heart.  I will make sure we do all we can to have our hearts beat together, even as we shout and cheer him on through his fun middle kid years.

Happy Happy Eighth Birthday My Anthony.

We are SO very proud of  you and we love you so!

Mom, it’s my birthday!

Oh, my baby is five. And he has told my “It’s my birthday!” today, oh, 83 times I think so far.  And it’s only 8 am.  He says it with wonder and mild surprise, every time.  It makes me laugh.   Happily, he also dives in for a hug each and every time; which makes me grin.  Because yup, it’s my baby’s birthday, and he is five.  Oh happy happy day, to be five.

He is no baby, anymore.  He will be quick to tell you that. And I will be quicker still to tell you he will always be my baby.  But, be that as it may…he’s a rough and rowdy five year old now!

Happy Birthday to my Gabriel!

You came to us, and we to you, when you were just a tiny little toddler.  And now  you have grown into a loud busy wild sweet funny smart big boy.  For your birthday today we will sing songs, take you to your buddy’s party (thanks Beck!) and celebrate double.  We will cook  hot dogs and serve spiderman cake tonight.  We will clap and cheer and hug you tight all day long, for your big birthday.

And so, on your fifth birthday, here is what I see:

  • I see a little boy who runs FAST and jumps high and laughs hard:
  • who loves to make jokes
  • and funny faces
  • and go places, most ANY places will do.
  • I see a big boy who just loves silly things,
  • and be mischievous; as is proper to any true five year old.
  •  I see a boy who is literally too big for his britches,
  • but still loves a cuddle,
  • especially at bedtime and first thing in the morning…
  • unless you’re the dog, and then it’s a cuddle and a nuzzle, anytime!
  • I see a big boy who loves superheroes,
  • especially spiderman and batman,
  • who is learning to read and write his name,
  • but isn’t too too interested in numbers, yet…
  • unless we are counting cookies!
  • My big boy loves to play outside, swim, ride bikes and scooters, and play basketball and jump on the trampoline…
  • but he also loves loves to watch tv (oy).
  • Happily, he loves to also listen to stories and begs me to keep going when it’s time to stop.
  • He still has the little crinkle on his nose when he smiles,
  • and he knowingly uses it to charm…most everyone.
  • My big boy still has, and I hope he keeps, his sensitive heart.
  • It is a big softie of a heart, but it has a little bit of a carefully constructed turtle shell around it too.
  • We try to keep extra special care of that precious part of him.
  • Because his heart, it’s tied to each and every one of ours….
  • our lives would be so much paler and poorer if we missed our Gabe.
  • Because this big rowdy five year old big boy…..?

We are crazy about him!

So, happy happy happy happy happy Birthday to our Gabey!  

It’s an exciting day and we love you so!


Did you hear that? It’s his birthday! What d’ya know?  Too fun!

Happy Birthday My Teen Emmy!

Happy Happy Birthday to my next new teen: My Emily!

Ah, this one, she is some special girl. And, as with all of them, I can hardly believe she’s thirteen, already! But then again, I can. Because she’s ready for it. She’s got a very mature heart and soul, this one. God gave her a special gift of a heart to see and he filled it with compassion. Now, to temper all that soft goodness he also gave her a really whomping powerful “Death Stare”…which, when she learns to use such power for the good, will be some extraordinary skill. In the meantime, we have the countdown:

Oh my Emmy, I love you so…not for these things only. No, I love you because you are YOU. But, these things, well, they are part of you too:

1. You are an animal lover in the biggest way,
2. especially our dogs,
3. but we won’t forget your love and fascination with dolphins and marine life….
4. even mermaids!

5. You ARE athletic,
6. even though you don’t always think so and think folks are wrong about that.
7. It’s your wickedly competitive streak (you HATE to lose those team games) that makes you feel like you are not so athletic,
8. because you won’t believe it until you reach pro or Olympic level.

9. As we see with your athletics conundrum, you will push yourself to do your utmost, always.
10. But happily enough, you still love to have fun.
11. You are growing into a remarkable, beautiful young woman,
12, who has an amazing future of adventures ahead of you….
13. Which I hope and pray will always let you laugh; your laugh is the best laugh in the world.

Happy Happy Birthday to my Sweet dear birthday Girl.

Thirteen….here we go!

Your dinner will be the best Carbonara I can make, homemade bread, fresh green salad and your favorite ice cream cake!

We are so proud of you and love you so, my Emmy.

Happy Merry Christmas Birthday Beauty!

Merry Christmas to all and an extra special Happy Merry Christmas Birthday to my sweet Sarahbird!

Halloween this year, silly last minute costume grab

Today is her birthday…her 13th birthday!

Yeah, it’s a biggie!

Because, now, she is officially a teen. Ok Ok, she’s been kinda sliding into this teen stuff for, oh, at least a year or so now.  I mean, you know, the moods, the bling, the nails, the eye rolls, the music, the giggled comments with her friends and sister, the fussing over shoes.  She’s the whole little preteen teen package.  Whoa, no more PREteen.  Now, it’s all teen, all the time.

But, you know, with that teen-hood, comes wider eyes and her heart is growing too.  Yes, some more rocky times, and bigger worries, of course for the parental types (be kind to us sweet Sarah!).  But also, with teen years comes those times for more heart to heart talks and understanding.  Some of the best stuff comes in the teen years too, it’s just easy to overlook it.  I promise you, honey, that one of my bday gifts to you is I will try to NOT overlook the good.

Anyhow, enough musing, today, this Christmas day when we are brought the greatest of gifts – once again I am reminded of one of our greatest gifts: our Sarahbird.  I know you were born on THIS day for a reason  honey: so we would never ever forget that you came swaddled in soft gift wrap, a living jewel.

  1. Your smile, your REAL one, can light up a room.
  2. You are shy at times,
  3. but you are also an extroverted firecracker,
  4. and, best of all, quick to say hello and befriend the new kid.
  5. You love music,
  6. and anything flashy,
  7. and nail polish, and fashion,
  8. and boots, oh…the boots you crave….oy!
  9. But you still are just young enough to still have fun w/ sweet toys, I love that.
  10. You are doing great in school, and that fortitude is one of your great gifts.
  11. You ARE a little bossy at times, ahem, like a teen girl, I suppose.
  12. You are fierce on the basketball court, a great fearless defense player, fun to watch.
  13. And you are a key part of this family – we love you so.
  14. This rock wall was scary but you did it!

We are so proud of you and we hope all your bday wishes come true.  You are our beautiful sweet Sarahbird.  We love you so and hope today is special and shiny and full of bling that makes your face light up with happiness.

Happy 13th Birthday Sweet Sarah, we are so proud of you and we  love  you!

It’s all about my brother….


 It’s my big brother’s bday today!
Happy Birthday David!

My biggest brother, I love him.  I only see him once in a blue moon.  I hate that but, BUT, I”m gonna see him in a few weeks and I’m so excited!
He’s some special guy.
He’s a mountain man at heart, a GIA certified jeweler (I know! Cool, huh?!),  a crazy freaky fast far distance runner back in the day/decades, and entrepreneur now importer/exporter, and a world traveler extraordinaire.

He’s the kid in our family that would alway surprise you, and at the same time, NEVER surprise you.

Because with Dave, anything could happen.

And…still might.  Ya just never know….

(the infamous 70′s prom pic, with my beautiful sis next to him)
He was the one to strike out, on his own, across the globe.  Totally and utterly self-sufficient – an Eagle Scout you know – he was kind of an early version of “Man vs Wild” but without the gross out food stuff and the video cam strapped to his pack.  David can pretty much  handle anything, anywhere…unless maybe it’s a gaggle of wild unruly loud crashing kiddles….or meat.

He likes to pose as a gruff curmudgeon, but he has the best of hearts under all that and his twinkly eyes give him away.

(Trumpkin reminds me of my big bro, every time, just a shorter warrior version.  
It makes me smile.)

He can make me laugh til I cry, he is innately witty and with that dry sense of humor he is just laugh out loud funny, always has been.

He is loyal and true and just an all around best kind of guy.
I love him to pieces and am sending him bday hugs from the south.

I miss you Dave and hope you have the best happiest of birthdays!!
I love you!

Happy Happy Bday David!  I will see you soon, yippee!

Twenty times, my Jon

Happy Happy Birthday to my boy, my second born son, my Booboo!

You are twenty!!

And I know that you’re in finals and you’re swamped….and that you want to take a raincheck, or an exam-check, on your birthday until you are home to celebrate properly.  And we will.  But, even so, you have to know that today I am thinking about you, remembering your birth, the day, the entire crazy morning…and I’m sitting here doing it with a grin.  I’ve said my morning prayers for your birthday intentions, you’ll be in my heart and head and prayers all day long.  I can’t wait until you’re up so I can call you, but out of deference to your age (did I mention, it’s 20?!?!?) I will wait until a more reasonable hour when I’m sure you’re awake.  How about around noon?

I’ve said all your birthday wishes and notes before.  But, I can’t  help it, I’ve gotta post something for you, for this momentous day.  So, without further ado, yes, you guessed it, twenty things about you, my Jon, in no particular order of rank, on your birthday:

  1. I love it that  you are so creative.
  2. and so musical and I get to listen to you play.
  3. and that  you have so much fun being a DJ and it makes me grin that you’re so successful at it.
  4. I love it that you have a mind that is always scheming,
  5. even when it also kind of worries me.
  6. I figure you will always land on your feet
  7. because you have crazy sharp common sense and savvy
  8. and let’s face it, you were an old man the day you were born.
  9. You have such a soft compassionate heart
  10. that you hide from most
  11. though you have a harder time hiding your keen sense of justice
  12. and your eyes to see the littler ones.
  13. You are an amazing big brother
  14. and we count on  you to be that, more than you might realize.
  15. You can make me laugh til I cry
  16. which is one of my favorite things.
  17. You love babies and dogs
  18. and, perhaps not surprisingly, they love you back (they are natural good judges of character!)
  19. You seek the truth, no matter what
  20. and have the heart to go there, wherever you find it.

And it’s not part of the list, because it’s way too big for that…but we love you and are so very proud of you, today and every day.  We miss you and cannot wait to hug you in person.  In the meantime, enjoy your birthday cake (I hope it arrives in good, delicious, shape!).

Happy Happy Birthday My Jon, Happy 20!

We hope all your birthday wishes come true….and we love you so……

Sweet Sixteen

Oh what a day it is!

Our sweet Hannah Banana turns sixteen today!!

Yup, you read that right…she’s gonna be a driver!

I know, I can’t believe it myself.  See her up there? Those are her new wheels…..cute huh?

Ok, so she doesn’t get new wheels after all.

But she will get her license (today or in a few, depending on homework particulars, of course) and she actually is a pretty good driver…and she’d better be.

So, instead of the  usual long winded birthday post, I’ll just let you all marvel at the fact that my sweet beautiful first daughter is now, already, a sweet sixteen  year old.  I’m all kind of astounded by it myself.  A little nervous.

 But, even more, so very proud of her and who she is becoming: a beautiful capable talented amazing young woman who is prepping to go grab some shooting stars.  And she’s got just what it takes to do it.

Happy Happy Sweet Sixteenth Birthday Hannahboo!  

We love you so much and are so very proud of you!

I hope all your birthday dreams come true! 

Happy Birthday Brother Peter Joseph!


Oh yeah, it’s my son’s birthday today.  My Chris. My Brother Peter Joseph.

He’s 22.  Read that again – he’s 22!!! Just. Wow.

At Yellowstone last winter

So, he won’t see this post…which means I can write anything…he he he.  I mean I could tell about that time with the lasso, the marshmallows, and the cat….kidding.  Nothing happened!

Really, it’s a little weird honestly, what do I say? He won’t see it, and my little birthday posts are really for the bday kid..a little extra way to shout to the world that I love them.  But, for me now, I’m still gonna shout to the world that I love him.  So, if you will, indulge me a minute.

Young Chris and Baby Anthony

I am so proud of this young man.  He went from being my firstborn son, the baby that wouldn’t really open his eyes for a few days, kept them squinched up tight despite my nudging (Yes, I tortured them from the beginning)…to this amazing young man who sees more clearly than most.

I remember being SO very scared the day he was born.  He was breech and big and didn’t wanna flip so he was c-section and I was scared.  They told me it was time for the epidural, I saw the humungous needle and said “I’m not ready yet!  Just give me some time, maybe come back in a few hours…” (Actually, I said this every time, except when I was already in labor with Jon, then I think I might’a cussed at the doc who told me to stay still during a contraction so he could insert that needle…but that’s a whole ‘nother story…).  But, he did end up being safely delivered and I remember as clear as day just marveling at the wonder of this boy, a boy! And just being blown away and a little (ok, a lot) overwhelmed by the  muchness of it all and  by his perfect little head and the whole gig, the smell feel touch all of it.  Gobsmacked.  Totally.

And now, once again, I am kind of blown away, and have been of late, by the muchness of it all.  As you all know if you’ve been following this past six months.

But isn’t that just what it is supposed to be? Isn’t that just what being a mom, ok a parent (I’m not leaving you out Coffeedoc!), is all about? I think so.  We should be blown away by the muchness of it all.  And sometimes we forget to do it.  And birthdays are the day and the time that we should step back and consider and observe the arc of it all so we can remember, yes, remember the muchness of it all.

This is our "Cleaver Family" look....very retro 50's eh? this

So, today, I can’t put my arms around  my son….but I’m saving those hugs up, with interest.  And I hope to have  him call and hear us sing, badly, the Happy Birthday Song to him. And yes, we will even eat cake to celebrate.  And yes, I made four cakes to send to the Novitiate House, plus one for us too here, (and two for his brother and roomies, sshhhh, a surprise).  Yeah, are you counting, that’s seven cakes I made.  Now THAT”S life in a big family.  And now, my son has brought me more, more sons that I send cakes.

Best Buddies, connected always, even by cake....

This one was first.  He began our status as “family” instead of just “couple.”  Now Brother Peter Joseph, my firstborn son, is expanding our family to include the Dominican family and it’s awesome.  And we miss  him.  And we love him.  And today we send him a spiritual bouquet of prayers for his birthday.  And, ever, I marvel at the muchness of it all and of this young man.  My boy.   

Happy Birthday my Chris,  my Brother Peter Joseph.  We love you so.

Another year older


49 times now.

It keeps on happening and I am finally learning to embrace it, enjoy it, own it.  I’ve written before how I used to play it down and kind of zip through it as quietly as possible.  No longer.  Now I try hard to  just wake with a prayer of thanksgiving and sit back and enjoy the day.  Nowadays,  this day brings unexpected gifts… seems to come with more sagging and bagging and tired, but then again it also brings greater contentment, acceptance and I daresay, even a tiny bit of wisdom and much  more joy.    Really.  I wouldn’t go back for anything.  Which works out well since, of course, I cannot.

The Old Lady, by Bernard Safran, 1970

And now I am on the cusp of fifty.  The forties have been really good.  Life in the forties has brought many changes and challenges, perhaps more and  harder than any other decade.  And yet, I have found my heart expanding and my happiness growing.  Which is the greatest of gifts.

I woke to streamers and cupcakes in my kitchen (thank you godkids and Jean!), and multiple happy hugs from my kids.  Gabey keeps saying, “I’m so happy it’s your birthday!” It just makes me grin at the sweetness, every time (tho really, I think he’s happy due to the promise of cake…even so….).

Me too, buddy, me too.


>My Baby Bro, Happy Bday!


The quintessential John as a boy

 Happy Happy Birthday and St. Patrick’s Day to my dearest baby brother!
John is 45 today, which means I’m getting old.
But so is he and for the record, he is grayer than I am!
But even so, he is still cuter and has those eyes that sparkle and laugh, to go along with his crooked goofy grin and his razor sharp wit.

I miss him so, but I know he’s having a great day surrounded by his gorgeous wonderful wife and two beautiful brilliant daughters, not to mention sparkling blue water, tropical palms and no doubt some great breaks as he heads out to surf this morning.
He’s in Micronesia, still.  But to our great familial joy, and my parents relief and giddy exhales, he is coming home.  His family returns for good in only a few days and we are all counting down to the moment they get to go hug on them at the airport.

John and I were always partners in crime, play, you name it.  We were “the little kids,” which we now lord over our older siblings with relentless pleasure.
I was terribly jealous of him while I was young, because he was the baby and ridiculously cute and was terribly spoiled and I couldn’t stand it.

 I was spoiled too, as the  youngest girl, but I didn’t understand that then.  Now, having many kids of my own, I get it.  It’s the baby thing.
And John was and is the baby and favorite in the family.

 It can’t be helped, we all accept it now..and admit it’s just true.
Even though I was terribly jealous and imagined great suffering because of him, he could and still can make me laugh harder than anyone I know.  He makes me laugh until I cry and one of my favorite things is when all of us kids can get together and reminisce around the kitchen table, start telling stories which get bigger and more um, vivid, with every telling.  Soon enough we are hooting and wiping tears.  Great stuff.

So, today he’s on my mind and in  my prayers and I wish him a last tropical blast of a birthday.
I love you so much John, I miss you and wish you safe swift travels home.
Catch some great waves and I can’t wait to see  you soon.

My new favorite pic of him, ever.
 Happy Happy Birthday Little Bro!
I love you!

>Happy Birthday Little Man

>Ah my little man is seven now.
Anthony, seven…and yes, a little man.
He is a wild and rascally seven year old, as all self respecting seven year old boys should be.

Today has been much anticipated and planned for….
precise orders on dinner and dessert and pleas for specific gifts.
It didn’t land on the Super Bowl like some years (last year), which is just the pinnacle of birthdays in boydom…but it’s still just a great bright spot in the winter of February.
It puts a smile on my face, knowing this boy and celebrating this birthday:

Anthony, Little Man, you came to us at three months old.
And I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw your beautiful sweet face.

You’ve been making us laugh and roar ever since.
You have a heart of sugar spun gold: sweet and good.
But tempered with a mischievous bent and a instinctual swift dive for the goofy joke.

You are a loving boy with compassion built in.

You race through your world like a comet.
You run fast and hard,
jump high,
laugh loud and easily,
smile big,
think deeply,
chew happily,
stay up late,
sleep in hard,
snuggle close.

You have developed, this past year, a really cool artistic side.
You have a great ear for music and already are fun to listen to as you play on the piano.
You sing in the car when you’re happy; you did that as a toddler too and it’s one of my favorite things.
You have a great eye for drawing, with terrific attention to design and talent to draw what you are imagining.
You have an eye to really see the world around you; to notice the details with an artist’s appreciation.
This artistic blooming makes my art mom’s heart swell with happy.

You love to play hard.
But you also love to dress snappy.

You are the most dapper seven year old I’ve ever known.

You have a temper to beat the band; it is almost bigger than you are.
You are learning to slow down that firecracker temper and find the gentle underneath.
It will be many years of lessons there.
But you will learn it, it’s your nature.

You are so smart.
And this year you are taking off with your schoolwork.
You are becoming a terrific reader and that too makes your book loving mom proud.
Because reading is power and can open up the world for you.
You have big adventures ahead Little Man, I know it,

And so on this day, your birthday, you may be seven.
But I can still sing you your song from babyhood:
“Oh, my Anthony…
you’re the one for me.
I just love you so, 
never gonna let you go.”

Happy Happy Birthday Anthony!
We love you so!

>Now he is four…..


Happy Birthday to my Gabey!

I would say, “Happy Birthday Gabey Baby!” but I’m not entirely sure I’m allowed to anymore.
Because this ‘baby’ is FOUR.
Well, as the mom, I retain certain inalienable rights, so I’m gonna shout it anyway (and probably will to his great chagrin, for the rest of his life):
Happy Birthday Gabey Baby!

I love this boy.
He IS the baby of the house.
But he is NO baby.
He is a big boy now and he knows and he relishes it.

Because at four:
Gabey goes to school, just like the other kids.
And he loves it.
He cries when he wakes up and it’s not a school day.
He grins and does a little actual jump for joy when he wakes up and it IS a school day.
He tells me about his best friends at school.
He proudly shows me his “green card” for being good, the daily stamp.
He looks for me in the pickup line and grins and hugs me tight.

Gabey loves his big brother Anthony more than anything;
they are best buddies through and through.

Gabe loves to play with cars and trucks…
….and balls and sticks and bikes.
And, thanks to his big brother Jon, nerf dart guns. 
He loves to watch tv and read books.
He has been sucked into the recent zu zu pet fad, oh dear.
He loves to play games and insists even on playing bananagrams.
And so he does.

Gabey is a good eater.
He loves cookies beyond anything else that there is to eat.
Unless it’s cake.
But that really means only the frosting…
He loves hot dogs.
But not the buns.
He loves ketchup on anything and everything, from fries to eggs to pumpkin bread.
No kidding.
Yes, it kind of grosses us out too.
His drink of choice is water.
Which kind of baffles his mom, knowing his penchant for unhealthy goodies.

He loves his dogs.
Sometimes too much.
They have learned to hide if he looks like he is in head hugging pulling tight like mad mode.
He will grow into a good dog buddy.
Perhaps the puppy and my boy will all grow into calm together?
It may take a bit; wild fun is the name of all games right now.

Gabey is learning to love books.
This makes me, his mom, do my own little jump for joy as I love them too.
His favorite time to read is bedtime.
It makes my  heart swell up, watching him read to himself in bed, kinda lazily perusing a chosen book.
But it can’t last long, because Gabe is no night owl.
He likes to think he is, never wanting to go to bed.
But if you can just get him IN the bed, and things quiet for a few minutes…
he settles down fast. 
We sing our song, ending with a quiet soft “yay.”
And then he lays back, his eyes drifting and then a flutter; to sleep.

But today he is up!
He will take cupcakes to school, oh boy!
And he will have his requested hot dogs for supper.
And we will have another Mickey Mouse cake after.
And we will sing and laugh with my big sweet four year old boy.

Happy Birthday My Gabriel!
We love you so much!!!
And today you are FOUR!

>Happy Bday Happy New Year!


Happy New Year and Happy Bday to my beautiful, best and only sister!!
Happy Birthday Nancy!

What a way to start the year off right: to be able to wish my big sis a happy bday – for all the world (or handful of blog readers) to see and hear.  I love my sister!

I wish I was there to walk to the bagel store and yak along and buy some hot coffee and bagels to go;
blowing on the hot coffee and trying not to spill as we laughed and mosied back to her house, stealing time together before we were dunked back into the pool of loud happy kids at her house. 

I wish we could go to the spa and sit in the sauna and talk about girl stuff, then go across the street to Border Grill and have margaritas and mexican food. 
I wish we could shop and she could scold me on my frumpy fashion sense as I teased her about her ridiculous shoes, while secretly coveting the fabulous ones. 

I wish we could read the paper and watch the LA news, mocking the weather girls, and tssking about the current crop of teen movie star wannabees…in her quiet early morning kitchen before the kids found us up.
I wish we could solve all the family’s and world problems as we drove around Santa Monica, sidestepping the political potholes and just watching the world go by.

I miss her. 
I think she  misses me.
I have one sister who shared my bedroom and ignored me and my dramas as I grew up…but she means everything to me.
I idolized her and wanted to be just like her.
When we get together the energy level skyrockets, then we both crash in happy exhaustion.
She has my back and I have hers.
We will call each other out, but also cheer each other on.
We are so different, in so many ways.
But she’s my sister and wish I could give her big bday hugs in person.
I can’t, but I’ll do my best to in cyberspace and over the phones.
And we’ll take a rain check on the spa and margaritas!

Happy Happy Bday Nancy pants!
I love you tons and tons!

>Happy Bday Dad!

>It’s my Dad’s birthday!
He’s a still going strong 79!

I can’t tell you how much I wish I was there with  him, to hug him and peruse the paper over good strong hot coffee…
to discuss the merits of coffee and coffeemakers…

(Yeah, we Mahan’s really appreciate some good donuts!)
to drive down to VG’s donuts as we discuss the merits of really great donuts…

to bring all the loot (Read; donuts.  Yep. We throw those diabetic worries to the wind on these rare mornings…ahem….) back to the house and wait for Mom to wake and pad out to the kitchen and join us…
and continue our lazy morning pondering.

I wish I could discuss the latest books we’ve read, what we liked, why, what we didn’t and why….
solve life’s ongoing problems,
plan the futures of all the grandkids,
fine tune the lives of the siblings,
generally save the world – all from our comfy spot on the stools around the kitchen counter.

I would make him tamales and pour him some wine,
we’d discuss why Notre Dame’s team is gonna get better even though he is unconvinced.
But we’d watch today’s bowl game today anyhow, I’d shout and he’d tsk at the fumbles and shake his head.
I know my sister would show up and we would all get a bunch of laughs and Dad would get more bday hugs.
We would all agree that hanging out for a quiet birthday is simply and truly the very best way to spend New Year’s Eve; that there is no other place we’d rather be.
We’d both start nodding off in front of the television,
and I’d peck his cheek as he got up to head to bed, shaking his head at the goofy dogs he his “housing” for my brother {but that he secretly likes quite a bit}.
He would pat my head goodnight.

I’d wish him one more happy bday, and wish him goodnight.
Because I love him.
He’s my dad.

Happy Birthday Dad!
I hope all your birthday wishes come true!
Sending you birthday hugs and wishes and prayers from the south!

>Mi Amo A My Emmy….


Happy Happy Bday to my Emmy!
It’s Emily’s 12th bday today!!

It’s a great day for a birthday, in the quieting week between Christmas and New Years, we have one very important day to mark: my sweet Emmy’s birthday!

It might be easy for Emmy to feel lost in the shuffle of holiday festing frenzy.  But never, oh never, do we want that to happen…because our Emily’s day is the sweet close to the year.  It reminds me, each year, of the goodness of God’s abundance and makes me grin at the gift of this sweet wonderful girl!

Our Emily, virtually twinned with her sister Sarah, and yet so very different.  They share a special bond; but are so unique in their own ways. I can’t imagine life without either one, but today, is my Em’s day so this list is for her.

My Emmy, now you are twelve.
And you are still possibly the most stubborn, strong willed child in my house…though many would like to steal that crown. 

But I’m not sure they can, nor would I want them to. 
Because your strength of will means you will have one of the tools that will help you go far and do whatever you set your mind to do.  
You can set the world on fire, I daresay you will.

You are an animal lover:
Geckos, cats, horses, dogs – most especially jumping dachshund puppies.

You are a lover of sports as well: basketball, swimming, boating, volleyball.
Which works well since you are an impressive athlete.

You love to learn to cook, which works well since  you love to eat.
You have sophisticated taste buds: shrimp, pasta carbonara, toffee, berries, coffee drinks, antipasta salami and olives and cheeses.
Which would work well as you travel the world in your adventures to come….
except that you are a homebody and might be most content to hang out around the house, preferably in flannel pj pants.

You are a terrific friend, loyal and kind with a keen sense of justice.
Which makes middle school a little prickly and painful at times,
and will probably do the same for high school…
but will be a golden toolbox for college and beyond.

You are so smart, but don’t always admit it.
YOu will make a most excellent marine biologist one day;
and I will come tour your aquarium and clap with amazement at your work, so proud I could pop.

In the meantime, I watch you growing, so fast, into a young lady.
And I am already so proud I could pop.
So is your pop.
You are good through and through, my Emmy….{despite your moody self sometimes}.

So on this  your birthday, we wish for all your birthday wishes to come true (except for the permanent pet gecko one).
And we want to  make sure you know, for now and for ever, how very much we love  you.

Happy Happy 12th Birthday Emily!
We love you so!

>Merry Christmas Birthday Girl!!


Merry Christmas to all, but most especially to my best present ever: 
My Sarahbird!!

It’s her birthday once again, she is twelve now!

And I think we are finally coming to terms with the jiving up of the Christmas fun and the birthday fun.
We’ve tried many many things over the years, variations and tweaks.  But what works best is what has become solid tradition: Christmas in the morning, Bday after noon.  And before you get all “aw, gee” about it all, lets look at this clearly:
My Sweet Sarah has the biggest birthday of the year.
It has a month of buildup leading up to it.
The entire world celebrates alongside her; because she has the best most awesome birthday companion possible: Christ himself!
Christmas babies are inherently special, they just are. 
She gets the best breakfast, homemade cinnamon rolls, every year.
She will never have school or work on her birthday.
And she gets the yum of the fancypoo Christmas dinner on the eve of her bday and then gets her pick of dinner and desert for Christmas day.  Even if she chooses hot dogs (and she has)!

 So, we think having a Christmas birthday is pretty special; just like her.
Because my sweet Sarah bird is twelve.
She was my tiniest baby, hands down, the tiniest baby I had ever held.
 I might have told you that before, I still can’t get over it!

She is still petite and always will be.
That frustrates her sometimes, but it suits her perfectly.
Except perhaps when she is guarding in basketball.
Which is probably why she does such a fierce trash talking job of it!

She is a girly girl and probably always will be.
She loves ruffles and sparkles and bling…
and dolls and ponies and kittens…
but not wild jumping dachshund puppies.

She loves to be social and is making many friends at her school.
But  her best friend for ever and ever will always be her sister Em.
They shared a basket, they shared bottles (I know, gross, but try it w/ virtual twins, try keeping them always separate, I double dog dare you), they shared clothes, toys, snacks, baths, beds, and still share a room.
They are just each others best buddy.
Except when they aren’t, because they are preteen girls and that explains it all!

Sarah is creative and loves to draw and craft and cut and design.
Which usually makes quite a mess.
Which makes her mom crazy.
Because Sarah is not and  may never be, a natural cleaner or tidier.
Though she can do a great job when motivated.

Storms and spiders scare her.
As do large dogs, and jumpy puppies.
She loves sugary foods beyond anything else to eat.
And has a knack for figuring out how to score them.

Sarah can be prickly, and moody.
But deep down, she is a sweet not so little (12 now!) girl who just wants to be liked, fit in, and have fun. 
Just like most twelve  year old girls.
Especially the have fun, preferably a party, part. 

So today we will hang the streamers and cut the cake.
We will open (more!) presents and we will sing the birthday song loudly.

And we will hug this special girl tight and tell her:
“Happy Happy Birthday Sweet SarahBird!”

“We love you so much!”
 “We hope all your bday wishes come true!”


>Happy Bday Bro!


 {That’s him behind my sis, she was always stealing the show…..but they are 11 months apart so all pics tend to have them both.  This pic makes me grin.}

It’s my big brother’s bday today!
Happy Birthday David!

My eldest brother and the one I don’t see nearly often enough.
So much so that finding current pics is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I’m going with the fun old ones.
He’s a mountain man at heart, a GIA certified jeweler (I know! Cool, huh?!),  an entrepreneur now importer/exporter, and a world traveler extraordinaire.
He’s the kid in our family that would alway surprise you, and at the same time, NEVER surprise you.  Because with Dave, anything could happen.

(the infamous 70’s prom pic, with my beautiful sis next to him)

He was the one to strike out, on his own, across the globe.  Totally and utterly self-sufficient – an Eagle Scout you know – he was kind of an early version of “Man vs Wild” but without the gross out food stuff and the video cam strapped to his pack.
He likes to pose as a gruff curmudgeon, but he has the best of hearts under that and his twinkly eyes give him away.

(Trumpkin reminds me of my big bro, every time, just a shorter warrior version.  
It makes me smile.)

He can make me laugh til I cry, he is innately funny, always has been.
I love him to pieces and am sending him bday hugs from the south.

I miss you Dave and hope you have the best happiest of birthdays!!
I love you!

We will have cake on your behalf.
Happy Happy Bday David!

>Hey Booboo! It’s your Birthday!


 It’s my Jon’s Birthday today!!!!
He is 19!

See that cute little guy standing with me in the London underground, above?  That sweet little boy is now a big strapping college boy, standing well over me in height and strength and size.
Because he’s 19 now.
Wow. I could say “wow” nineteen times, and I’d still not be done saying it.
But that he is: 19.
My Booboo. 

Gone are the days of the goofy skateboard cakes and homemade rockets (well, mostly, anyhow…).

 Now we have the days of college classes and games and girlfriend; visits home and dreams of future.

It’s his first birthday away from home, which is making me miss him quite a lot.  But today, on his 19th bday, I want to point out some things about my Booboo.  Because, it’s his bday and I wish he was here and it’s what I do, to make him smile and squirm a little bit too, just like old times!

So, here’s what I know about my dear Jon:

He is a loyal steadfast son, brother, friend, first, foremost always.
I love that about him.

He has a huge generous kind heart; only rarely (now that he’s 19) enclosed or limited by modern teen pastimes.
Though he still will leap at any chance to jam with music buddies and play late into the night…
…or to try out a big adventure or thrill seeking opportunity.
He is athletic and, again, a daredevil, which used to make this mom a little nervous and by this time, now has me mostly resigned to it.
Despite his love for snowboarding, he kinda hates the cold.

He loves home but also loves to travel the world, unless it’s cold, and  has done a fair bit of it, more than me!

He always has, and probably always will, have plans to do big things, make his way, on his own.
To say he is independent is an understatement.

 That is one of this strengths, even when it makes us all crazy.
I am absolutely certain that he will reach his goals, no matter how big…

because he has the drive, determination, work ethic, faith and ability to do it.
No matter what.

Despite that determination, he can be melancholy and philosophical.
Which is also a strength,
and one which will have staying power over the long run.
Because his heart is big, and that very melancholy is a yearning that will call him to great things.
He just doesn’t know it yet….
But I see it.
I know it.

He is a dreamer.
He is an eater.
Especially of sandwiches.
Of those, he is a connoisseur!
They are, perhaps, his favorite thing to eat of all.
Unless possibly it is my homemade bread…but it’s a close close race.

He is enjoying the freedom of college to try out new things:
facial hair,
no uniform restrictions,
or haircut or laundry guidelines.
Even so, he still cleans up nicely when he puts his mind to it,
which is a great relief  always a lovely thing!

 He is a sleeper, extraordinaire!
My best sleeper of all the kids, as a matter of fact.
He won that crown when he slept through the night at four weeks old.
He is still sleeping every chance he gets.
This ability might be put to good use, depending on  his career path.
But let’s just say, he gets this from his father.

 He is funny.
Laugh out loud funny.
He can make me laugh so hard I cry; he does this on purpose.
I miss his quick dry humor when he’s at school.
He is a joker though too.

 He and his father together, dreaming up ideas, is maybe not the best of combo’s…
they get a little wild eyed and start grinning and then you know..
uh-oh…watch out…crazy ideas ahead.
But oh, they have fun.

He is a loyal friend, long lasting.
His friends are not made in an instant, but they are well chosen.

 They mean the world to him.
As does, I believe, his family…
even his sibs…

because he believes in the value of family…
even when it makes him nuts.
And we do.

He is talented:
creative, as a problem solver, a tinkerer, as well as with music.
He writes and produces music that can make me cry,
or make me wonder where does that come from?

 He is thinking of paths:
Somehow, all three?
It’s anyone’s guess….
He is able.
He is one that is able to get along, get there, make it work, work it out.
Those may sound like vague and odd things to mark…
but as a mom, they are key.
They provide me with comfort, knowing he can be ok.
Better, knowing he can thrive.

Even so, no matter how able..
he lives mostly at college now.

 And I miss him.
We miss him.
I am sending him his requested cake.
I will make him another for a post-finals bday party at home.
Where we will finally celebrate this boy’s bday properly, this young man’s bday..
he is 19 now.
A young man.
And one of the finest I know.

Happy Happy Bday Booboo.
No matter how old, I reserve the right to call you that.
No one else  has it. 
But I do.
We are so proud of you on this, your 19th bday.
We love you so.

>Happy Bday Hannah Banana!

>My first daughter, Hannah Banana is fifteen today!
Oh My Goodness!
I know, I know, I say it all the time, but really, ya just don’t get used to it..this whole kid getting older thing. I mean, you DO, but  you don’t.
Not me, anyhow.

Then again, she is an amazing fifteen!
My Hannah.
She is dragging me today to the driver’s station to take that test, of course.
And I will let her drag me and hope she will pass the test, and I suspect she will.
Because she is smart, and what’s more, she has a good feel for the road and the car (in the few parking lot sessions we’ve  had). 
That said, I can’t even look ahead to sixteen and on the road, because it makes me a nervous wreck.  But that’s next year’s post! So, back to this day, this momentous day.

Hannah was our first daughter, hence, our entire universe and understanding of same was rocked that morning she came into the world! Indeed, the heavens opened up and clapped thunder and lightening  to announce her arrival.  We should’a taken it as a sign, no?  Yes.  Because this sweet fifteen year old girl is all about taking the world by storm.  She is a drama queen in all the good ways, and only a few of the not so good ways….(but it’s all her age and I’m quite sure she will grow right out of that…..)..and always has been.

Our Hannah is big-hearted, beautiful, loud, wonderful, moody, smart, strong-willed and just plain good.
She loves her school and her friends to distraction, literally.

She loves to cheer and loves her squad.
She loves to sing and play music.

She loves to sun and swim and boat.
She loves the beach, maybe more than anywhere else.

She loves to text and talk and text some more.
She loves to watch bad tv and stay up late.
She loves to go to the movies, almost any movie we will allow, any time we will allow.
She hates when we don’t allow her to go to movies.
She thinks we are too strict.

She is almost at the point of “knowing everything.”
 But not quite.
However, she is at the point now of “texting everything.”

She loves to read and can get lost in books, just like her mama.

She loves a rollercoaster, then and now.
She loves to cook, sometimes, and sometimes, loves to invent new yummy recipes.
She is a terrific and loyal friend.

She is a terrific and loyal sister.
She is a terrific and loyal daughter.

She is artistic and creative and loves art and music.
She is a terrible mess in her room and her things; organization is not her strong suit.

She loves to travel and see the world, like her dad.
She loves her faith and is courageous in defending it.
She loves to debate, anything, from current events to apologetics, or fashion or curfew.
She is opinionated and really, couldn’t be anything otherwise, coming from this gene set.
She is not shy, she is extroverted, outgoing and blows my mind at that.
She could be called a wee bit headstrong.
She is a talker, like me, which can be a blessing or a curse (as I know so well).

She worries her brother – that she will become the standard modern teen diva.
But I know better, she is not that.
She is more.
My Hannah blows me away with her integrity and compassion and willingness to step outside the box…..and I can’t wait to see what she grows into as she truly comes into her truest self.
She is well on her way.
And her dad and I couldn’t be more proud.

 So today on her birthday, we both want her to know how proud we are of her, and how very much, we love her.

And that, yes, the drivers testing station is open til five.

>And today a man, my son…


Today is my first born son’s birthday.
It is one of the biggies: his 21st birthday.

Wow, yah, already!
And I know, I know, how did that happen already??
Where did the time go, blah de blah..the usual. 
But, really….

My baby is 21. 
Which means of course this is the landmark bday for being legal to drink….yah yah…
He already has a cultivated fondness for Italian Reds, preferably quaffed in Italy, and for German beer, preferably quaffed in Germany. Or Austria. Or Polish beer in Poland…you get the idea.
Not sure what he’ll do in South Bend tonight…..South Bend brew??  Hmmmm.
Somehow I think he will find some fun….

But my BABY is 21.
And he is a fine, fine young  man.  
But  you probably already know that….or know that I’m partial there, at any rate.

But because he IS twenty-one…I simply can’t let the day slide by without a list.   
You know it had to  happen, because this is my blog and I love bday lists.  
So, without further ado…..

Twenty-one things about my Chris, my Buddybug, on his twenty-first birthday:

1.  He is a senior at Notre Dame and loves it.

2. He is a rabid sports fan; ESPN perhaps his favorite channel.

3. His personal fav game is basketball, followed perhaps by ping pong; but his viewing favs are all over the map.

4. Except for NASCAR.  Happily, never, never did he or will he  like NASCAR.

5. He is a musician; he has an ear and hands and a voice for music, gifted to him…plain and simple.  

6. He likes all kinds of music, except maybe not so much country or heavy metal…for which I as his mom am forever grateful.

7. He is a genial chap.

8. He is a true friend, to so many, and he means it…once you’re his friend, that’s it.  Done deal. 

9.  He is a lightening fast Bananagrams player, able to create word combos at a maddeningly fast clip… champion – much to my chagrin.  (And tho I put that up as a bday present of sorts….I can still whup him from time to time, and he knows it.  It’s good, it keeps him humble.)

10.  He is very even keeled, patient, and calm..which is probably the armor God equipped him with in order to grow up w/ me as his mom and this tribe around him.

11.  He loves his faith; it truly deeply and really means very much to him, and for that he inspires me.

12.  He loves to travel, has done so all over the world, and will surely continue….just like his dad.

13.  Even so, he loves to come home too and is content to hang out with his mom, read, and play volleyball in the pool with his sibs.

14.  He is not materialistic….at all.  He doesn’t have cravings for many things.

15.  He is very very difficult to buy a bday present…see number 14.

16.  He does however, and always has, like a good watch (exception to number 14…and good, not necessarily expensive, just “good” simple function.). 

17.  Even as a small boy he was fixated on time, to the point of our exhaustion at his referencing the time, ever so precisely, ALL the time, but particularly as you were running late to school….See number 16.

18. He is often late, despite number 17, and thus, number 19.

19. He is a procrastinator….at odds with number 17, or perhaps because of it (?).  

20.  He loves my cooking, especially my cakes and pie; which makes me ridiculously happy.

21.  He has grown into an exceptional young man, a fine son, brother, friend….and we all love him beyond speaking.

Happy Happy 21st Birthday my Christopher.

You have grown into a fine young man. 
I so very proud of you and love you so on this landmark birthday…..
We all miss  you so much and I am sending you virtual hugs and kisses and birthday wishes today…
Eat some cake!

>Happy Bday Coffedoc!


It’s my Tom’s Birthday today!
Hoorah, we love birthdays!

We celebrated with the family last night, because we get the fun bday activity of driving through the hot flat Indiana cornfields today to drive our son Jon (And Julianne, welcome honey, please ignore the crankyness and snuffling as I drive…tell your mom I really am stable.) up to school and get Jon settled into his dorm for Frosh Orientation and the start of school. Whoohoo. 
Not the optimal birthday event, but a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do.
 And that is just one of the reasons we love him so. 


Here are some more.  

{I know you all have read these before, it’s not the first year of blog, but it’s a bday and thus these bear repeating, if only for our own little/big family unit to be reminded and for Tom to read that he is very loved…..}

We love our Tom/Dad
He is funny,
he is an adventurer,
he is a terrible cook,
because he is totally left brained
and thinks linearly
and only does one thing at a time,
which can be a great gift
if you’re doing surgery and putting in a new knee,
but not so great if  you are making a meal.

 He has a sweet tooth and loves cookies best of all,
especially if they are homemade.
He is a man’s man and loves to have a beer
and laugh at dumb jokes outside,
preferably on a boat or by the water,
but he is also a romantic,
who loves to go out to a quiet dinner with me,
and share a drink and smooch.
He is also a gentle dad,
who will comfort the tears of a frazzled daughter,
and hang with his boys listening to music
late into the night.

 He is an adventurer,
having jumped out of airplanes,
and snorkeled around the world,
traveling anywhere at the drop of a hat,
and getting twitchy when he has to stay at home too long.
Which is a direct odds with me, his wife,
and yet he works hard to tamp down that urge
so he can be around for me,
and his kids.

He is somewhat indulgent,
agreeing to a new puppy,
when he was perfectly content with our old dog,
and even assenting to a small little doxie,
when he has historically been staunchly opposed
to any small dog.
Which means he is essentially a pushover,
for his girls.
That’s something of an open secret.

 He is a dreamer,
always thinking big,
and usually complicated,
and often just a little bit beyond the pale,
pushing just a bit beyond the margins,
stretching himself and us all to do more than we think we can.
Which is why he has done many
and many wonderful things,
some might say radical things,
in his amazing life.

 And it’s why we are all so glad that we too
are along for the ride.
Because life wouldn’t be the same without him.

 He loves his faith,
he loves his work,
he loves his friends,
he loves his family,
he loves Italy,
he loves technology,
he loves to laugh,
he loves art, and food, and music, and prayer,
he loves his Church,
 he loves the beach,
he loves his boys,
he loves his girls,
he loves his wife…
he loves life.
And we all love him back.

Happy Happy 49th Birthday Thomas.
We love you so.