Tag Archives: family

Next Steps

if anyone had told me when i was a kid that i would get as much pride out of my kids’ achievements as i did of my own achievements, i would have told them they were crazy. and yet, it has happened.

j, our youngest just graduated from temple university’s boyer college of music with a degree in music education and jazz performance. he was our third college graduate, so we’re three for three and most of our friends and family are sick of us bragging about it. well, sometimes you get the privilege of bragging. at least for a little while.

it’s not just the big things like graduating from college that get me beaming. it’s all the day-to-day things they do – things that show how they use their skills and talents and figure things out – that make me so proud.

all three of our kids are working and mostly self-supporting and these days that’s saying a lot. so maybe they don’t have the job they always wanted yet (how many of us do), or are earning as much as they want to earn (how many of us do) but they are working and living their own lives, making their own decisions and navigating their own relationships. in short, they have been launched.

every once in a while we meet up with parents of kids that our kids went to school with and it’s astonishing to hear just how many kids didn’t make it through the whole launch process very well. i’m not judging based on things like living at home due to college debt or trouble finding a job — that’s stuff tied to the economy and screwed up political decisions in this country – i’m talking about bigger issues like drugs or crime or early divorce or aimless/chaotic living, jail or even death from drug overdose.

it’s very sad to hear that some of those kids who were filled with potential when they were little just lost something along the way. it makes me wonder what happened and why. sometimes you could see that it was parents not taking up the job of being a parent and sometimes it seems like there is little reason at all. i don’t believe in always blaming parents because it seems to me that parents can’t take credit for all the good in their kids nor can they be blamed for all the bad.

it makes me grateful that c and i have three great kids. we love them, we’re proud of them and we’re so happy to have good relationships with them and their significant others. life doesn’t get much better than that.



Filed under college, family

dying breed

her obituary described her through her relationships with others… daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, community volunteer…  i’ve read a lot of obituaries (and have written a few) and what strikes me is how often people are described by what they did rather than who they were.  mary’s was spot on about who she was. 

she was a kind of a dying breed, a woman who could be defined by her presence in almost every aspect of family and the community around her.  

mary was a woman who knew how to nurture relationships, not for the purpose of personal or monetary gain, but because for her, that was the essence of life.  she was not a saint, nor was she a martyr.  she was a delightful person.  she was outspoken.  she was the soul of our community.  

hundreds showed up to pay their respects (and maybe just to have one more moment with her). 

martha stewart once said that her mission was to “elevate the role of the homemaker”.   and (regardless of how you feel about her perfectionism), she certainly taught people that knowing something about architecture and history helped with decorating, and that learning botany made for better gardening , that classical technique was the basis of great cooking and that cleaning and organizing also meant preservation.  in short, reviving the old adage that, ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well’.   

mary did life and relationships very well.  she elevated the roles of daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, employee, community member and volunteer and now leaves us now with very big shoes to fill. 


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Filed under death, family, Uncategorized

the not nutritionally correct cookie monster zone

of all the sweet wonders of the world, none send me over the edge like cookies.  December is International Stuff Yourself With as Many Varieties of Cookies as You Can month.  or something like that.  in accordance with tradition and folklore, the making of the cookies is a sacred act wherein recipes handed down by generations of cookie bakers (or not) are baked and served alongside the newest more modern entries (or, many pounds of cookies are purchased from local bakeries).  i’m pretty sure it is illegal on all 7 continents to not taste as many of these wondrous treats as possible.  (okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration) 

i have discovered over the years that these labor intensive bites of heaven have to be timed for maximum freshness, which poses a wee bit of a (time) problem when I’m baking 8 – 10 different kinds of cookies.  and i have to show up for work (badly interferes with my cookie making time).  ever efficient though, i’ve developed the art of the one bowl for all dough technique:  ‘clean cookies’ get mixed first (plain butter or sugar doughs), then ‘clean’ doughs with additions (butter dough with nuts flavorings), then finally come the chocolate, coffee or other ‘dirtier’ doughs.  voile!  one bowl, just a wipe out in between.  

and then… the baking begins.  (no matter how big your kitchen, you don’t have enough counter space) 

spritz, russian tea cakes and apricot bars are cookies i’ve been enjoying every christmas of my life.  c and the kids love them, so now we’re on a 3rd generation (here’s hoping they continue on for many more generations). i’ve discovered that some of them don’t play well with outside audiences.  (oh well, more for us) newer additions are cappuccino stars, rugelah, almond cookies, chocolate marzipan cookies, butter cookies with jelly centers and sometimes white chocolate cherry cookies.  new addition this year might be a chocolate bon bon with either a walnut center or a chocolate covered almond center.  (it was the chocolate covered almond center)

okay, so lately i’ve been throwing in chocolate chip cookies, but i consider them kind of bogus as christmas cookies unless there’s an interesting spin on them.  (E came up with a wonderful spin by adding orange flavor) i made them like a bar cookie this year and put a layer of dark chocolate on the top. 

i had a conversation with a friend recently who comes from a rich cookie heritage and she echoed my feelings about chocolate chip cookies at christmas.  (and about the issue of butter, and top quality extracts and flour for the snobs among us)  first time i’ve ever had a serious meeting of the cookie minds.  thanks A! 

there’ve been years along the way, when the kids were little, that gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies (cut with one of the 50 cookie cutters i’ve accumulated) were part of the baking marathon.  i love those cookies too, but without little hands to help decorate, they’ve kind of fallen by the wayside.  i look forward to the day i can bring them back. 

this year’s cookie extravaganza produced 8 kinds of treats, which have now been given away or are nestled in air tight containers waiting to the kids to enjoy.  

another year, another taste of family christmas.    

 Best Wishes to all in this season of holidays!



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Filed under Christmas, cookies, family


whether it’s food, songs, dance, decorations, travel or even jokes, my favorite part of the holidays are the traditions.  simple things that serve as touchstones, moments that connect you with others and all of you with the generations.   

we grew up celebrating st. nicholas day on december 6th.  (my mother was from austria where they celebrate st. nicholas day and my father’s name was nicholas)  on the night of december 5th, we would raid dad’s sock drawer for the biggest sock we could find and lay it out by the fireplace for st. nicholas to fill.  (in austria, they use a shoe, but we always used a sock) in the morning we’d find the sock stuffed the same way:  an orange in the toe, some nuts, some chocolate, a candy cane and a small toy or two, maybe some other kind of funny gift.   

it was like a christmas hors d’oeuvre, just a taste of what was to come in just a few short weeks.

in some ways it was better than christmas (yeah, i say this as an adult…) because it was just a little nibble, not an all-out banquet.  

aside:  as a kid, i was a huge fan of laura ingalls wilder’s little house on the prairie books.  in one book, laura describes a christmas when they got an orange and a candy cane (and i think something pa carved) and i remember being amazed that laura got the same kind of things that i got in my st. nicholas stocking. (we didn’t get stockings at christmas) 

st. nicholas day kind of marked the real beginning of the christmas season.  after december 6th, we would start cracking the walnuts for mom to make the potica (a bread with a filling made of walnuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon and butter) and look forward to our annual shopping trip into los angeles.  

c and i continued the tradition of st. nicholas day with our three children.  c got a kick out the kids raiding his sock drawer (i swear he even bought certain pairs so that that kids would have the perfect st. nick sock)  there’s a great train/toy/hobby store near us (nicholas smith www.nicholassmithtrains.com – unfortunately you can only buy train related products on-line but the store has so much more) where c and i would find the best tiny toys, stocking stuffer items for the kids.  yep, you guess it, picking them out was as much fun as they had playing with them. 

i went to catholic school as a kid, so it wasn’t unusual to find other kids who also celebrated st. nicholas day.  not so for our three, so i’m pretty sure they didn’t much talk about it with friends.  (i remember one teacher telling j that he wasn’t allowed to share that he got a visit from st. nick because not everyone else in the class got one.  hmmm.) 

everybody’s grown now and there are no little ones for st. nick to visit, so our tradition is dormant for now.  it’ll be back again.  with the simple pleasures of an orange, some nuts, a candy cane and a small treasure.


Filed under Christmas, family, holiday, tradition

Sorry kids, I’m keepin’ the iPhone (but you can have the dog)

i found out late last week that there was a moment in time recently that i was cool.  but i missed it.  now i’m decidedly not cool again (whew!).  but because of it, our kids not cool either.  (eek!) 

what earthshattering event could have caused this? my hairdo?  my jeans?  my love of pink? (oops, she’s too old too)  that i watch jersey shore?  (and yes, i am embarrassed)

 nope.  my iphone.   

the latest declaration of cool/uncool came from martin fichter.  who?  martin fichter, acting president of htc america.  er, um, what? who? (i had to google it).  they make mobile phones.  phones that look a whole lot like iphones except bigger. (and some are even crafted from a single piece of metal… no lie, that was a selling point) mobile phones for windows. enough said.  

anyway, he declared last week that the iphone is no longer cool because old people have them.  this great jewel of wisdom was culled from an impromptu survey of college kids as he dropped his daughter off at college.  (he named the college either as a way to brag about where his kid was going or prove the reliability of the kids he talked to there.  i am not naming said college ) (i had to google it too) the kids he spoke to were using htc phones (like he and his daughter i’m presuming) or seemingly anything other than an iphone.  (i would use a free phone too if it worked like an iphone) he asked why.  one kid declared she didn’t have an iphone because “my dad has an iphone”.  there you have it.  the death of the iphone.   

(of course C has an iphone.  in fact he was the first one to get an iphone. but somehow he doesn’t uncool things.  i guess the final straw was when i got one. i uncool things) 

i wish i had known i was cool while i was cool because i would have enjoyed it.  i had about a whole year of iphone coolness that i didn’t take advantage of.  maybe i would have bought one of those gigantic handbags with all the hardware and the tiny straps, or started wearing thongs or bought leather boots or said things like, “shut up” and “i die”.  or even gotten something botoxed or tatooed.  (not a chance) 

i’ll admit, i’ve tried to be cool at times in my life but these things just don’t work out for me.  i’ve got the pictures to prove it. any hint of coolness i might have picked up has rubbed off on me from being around our three kids.  kids can be useful in this way.  (that might be a reason not to alienate them too much while you’re raising them.  you need them to come back once in awhile to keep you from completely deteriorating)

so, sorry kids for ruining the coolness of you having an iphone by getting an iphone for myself.  but i’m not giving it up.  the dog is still up for grabs.  on second thought, we like the dog too, so you’ll have to settle for the ashes of the old dog. 


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Filed under age, dog, family

opening day

for every season there’s a game that makes sense.  football on a crisp, fall day.  the weather lends itself to running and smashing into the other guy while drums and horns carry across the air.  baseball captures the lazy days of summer.  stillness, followed by a quick gust of wind. games seem to go on for too long, before you know it, you’re committed just to see what happens.  plenty of time to think and stare and let your mind wander.

baseball is the kind of game you can listen to on the radio, translate through your mind’s eye. nice way to spend some time. 

i bleed phillies red these days, but i grew up bleeding blue.  dodger blue.  dad was a fan (though he was a much bigger fan of college football).  it was a treat to go to a game.  we only sat in cheap seats, far outfield bleachers or sky high in the fifth deck.  somehow we always landed in the bleachers on hot sunny days and fifth deck for night games where it was chilly from the breeze. 

dad only sprang for peanuts in the shell and a scorecard.  no drinks.  that’s what dinking fountains were for.  i don’t remember getting a dodger dog, not sure they even had them way back when. 

scorecards were critical, filling up all the boxes correctly was a must.  there was always an echo of transistor radios tuned to vin scully calling the game and a sea of orange union 76 balls on the radio antennas in the parking lot. 

it’s opening day.  in spite of the snow this morning (!), it’s opening day and carefree summer days won’t be far behind.


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Filed under baseball, family