What’s Love Got to Do With It?*

Last weekend, I was cleaning out the garage and organizing all the toys, tools, and trash.

By “organizing trash” I mean strategically placing those items the kids might give me grief about in the bottom of trash cans.

Who needs broken plastic golf clubs from the Dollar General, a fabric frisbee that has taken on a pentagon shape, or a crusty bottle of bubbles?

Not this mom!

Anyway, as I was cleaning I was reminded of a funny story from years ago.

Ian and I had spent an entire day outside playing “ball.”

Baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, lacrosse, kickball, volleyball, bouncy ball, paddle ball, and “Swick”.

(“Swick” is a mash-up of a game of kick ball and swinging. There is a complicated scoring system that only Ian really understands, but the rules amazingly stay consistent.)

Anyway, as we were cleaning up our yard, which looked like a ball pitt that had exploded, Ian recapped how fun the day was.

“We played baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, lacrosse, kickball, volleyball, bouncy ball, paddle ball, and “Swick”!

“Yeah, buddy, that’s a lot of ball. It was fun!”

“Yeah, we never do that at Dad’s. Dad doesn’t have any balls.”


*What’s this title got to do with this post??


Dad’s Story: Snapdragons, Duct Tape, and Tomato Soup

I recently read a short piece called “Grandpa’s Story: A Comb, Penknife, and Handkerchief.”

Jack Bruschetti was born in 1999, the same year his grandfather, Leonard Carpenter, died from Alzheimer’s disease.
But 13-year-old Jack wanted to know more about his grandfather, who worked as a tire builder for BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio, where he also raised his family.
“It was very important for him to be in control at all times,” Jack’s mom, Lynne Bruschetti, said to him during a visit to StoryCorps in Atlanta. “We lived in the city, and we had very tiny yards, and he didn’t use a lawnmower. He used clippers because he wanted every blade of grass to be exactly the same height. We could play in the driveway, on the sidewalk, in the middle of the street, but we were not allowed in that showplace yard of his.”
Lynne said her father — who was 86 when he died — always kept a comb, handkerchief and penknife in his pockets.
“And the handkerchief was always clean and pressed, and he would use a handkerchief not to blow his nose but to clean. If there was like a mark on the side of our house, he would wipe it,” she recounted. “And when I was a teenager, I was starting to lose respect for your grandpa Leonard.”
Lynne said she resented her father for “always wanting to keep the house perfect and always being in control, and I was starting to realize that he wasn’t that educated.”
Carpenter became president of the board of trustees of Park United Methodist Church and served as president for a few years. When the trustees met, he would take apples.
“First he would pull out his handkerchief and he would wipe the apples and make them shiny,” said Lynne, who is 51. “And then he would pull out his penknife. And he’d always cut so that there was just one long apple peel. And as they’re arguing, he would slice the apple, put it on the penknife, and hold it out to each member of the trustees. And every meeting, they would eat apples together.
“And they started getting trust back. And so he had that ability,” she continued. “He didn’t have a lot of money. He didn’t have a lot of education. But he had that handkerchief, and he had that penknife in the trustee meetings.
“And people did start to get along. He was an important part of that.”
                             ~ Copied from http://www.npr.org (originally posted July 1, 2013)

Unlike this woman’s father, my dad is an educated man and just recently retired.  He now spends his day doing all the things on his To Do list that he hasn’t had time for. He also got involved with the local Rotary and does volunteer work all over town, from placing flags on holidays to landscaping the local park.

My dad is a funny, loyal, creative, and compassionate guy. As I tried to think of this year’s Father’s Day post, three things came to mind: Snapdragons, Duct tape, and Tomato soup.


My grandpa, Dad’s dad, had these amazing little flowers that lined his front walkway.  Fascinating yet terrifying, their little mouths opened up when you pinched them in just the right place.  Such an ironic little flower; not what one would expect. This summer, I bought my first snapdragons and put them in pots in the yard. I wish Grandpa was here to tell me what I was doing wrong, because all the little flowers have dried up and have not come back.  Still, every time I walk out my door,  I am reminded of him and I smile.

Taken from flowerinfo.org, because mine don't look anything like this!

Taken from flowerinfo.org, because mine don’t look anything like this!

 Duct Tape

What great dad doesn’t have a million uses for duct tape? It is the universal fix-it tool.  So many times my dad has come to the rescue with a trusty roll of duct tape. Most recently, he temporarily patched my front window with styrofoam and duct tape after someone shattered it into a million pieces. While it wasn’t pretty, I only had to look at it for three days while the new window was made.  There is nothing duct tape (or a dad) can’t fix.


No matter how many times things in my life shatter, my dad is always there to pick up the pieces.

Tomato Soup

My dad always saves his Campbell soup labels for the kids to take to school. He’s more of a chicken noodle kind of dad, but this story does not involve chicken noodle soup.

When I was very young and married to someone who was not quite handy, we had a problem with a second story door that kept blowing open during high winds.  We had a dresser in front of the door, so we were not worried about someone getting into the house. However, the cold air blowing in was a problem.

After waiting several days for my husband to fix the door with a sliding bolt/lock type thing (forgive me for not knowing the technical name), I decided to take matters into my own hands.   Looking around the house for something that I could wedge between the dresser and the door, I found the perfect object.  I stuck that can of tomato soup right there and there it stayed until Dad was able to fix it for me with the appropriate tools. Because of my dad, I’ve learned how to be my own problem solver. He has taught me that sometimes you just have to improvise.

I can’t ever remember a time when my dad just fixed something without me being right there watching and learning.  When I am working on things around the house, like hanging curtain rods or putting together a t.v. stand, I always think of how thankful I am for the times that he spent teaching me how to follow directions, assemble things, and use power tools. If there is one gift that a dad should give his children, it’s taking care of them, but at the same time, making sure they learn how to take care of themselves.


How perfect! Italian tomato soup for my Italian dad! Felice Giorno del Padre!

Father’s Day 2013 post: All Things Grow With Love (A Father’s Day Tribute)

Father’s Day 2012 post: Big Shoes to Fill

The Underdogs

I sit behind the fence and smile. Each crack of the bat gives me hope that they will have a successful night.

Forty-five minutes to go until the first pitch. The park is quiet and the encouragement is positive.

“Just like that , Keegan.”

“Come on Danny, you got this.”

‘Keep your head up, Brandon.”

Eleven little boys, their stomachs twisting and their minds racing, focus their energy on the task at hand: win this and make it to the championship game.

Nervous energy buzzes, and baseballs criss-cross from third to first and home to second. They’ve done this many times, skip the directions.

Kicking their heels into the dirt, reaching for the fly balls, pounding their gloves, it seems easy as they warm up.

Adults chuckle as they overhear two little ball boys talking in the dugout, “Who cares if they are the best team? They won’t be after we beat them!”

The dark clouds are rolling in and I fear a thunderstorm. I don’t want a game delay. I don’t want to postpone a win or a loss until tomorrow.

I refuse to give up hope. I believe in the underdogs.

I love my little underdog. I love his attitude and his in-his-favor reasoning. He told me at dinner, “In the movies, the underdogs win, you know that, right?”

Yes, they do, buddy!! Yes, they do!


By the look on his face, I guess you can tell what is happening tomorrow night!!



This post is part of The Daily Post’s Writing 101 challenge.

Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.

Sacrifices Moms Must Make

This weekend has been a fabulous weekend for MJ. She was reunited with her “sister” and “brother.” (My ex-boyfriend’s kids.)  With Instagram and texting, they are still in touch, but they haven’t seen each other in person since November.

Some people may think I’m crazy for allowing them to get together.

Well, I guess I am crazy.

I am crazy about these kids.

I loved them like my own and I loved the relationship that all four of them shared.  That they still share.

I spent almost 2 hours in the car this weekend driving MJ up and back.  I had to swallow my pride, take a deep breath, put on a brave face, calm my nerves and do what would make them happiest….

Give them some time together.

Just because we can’t all be together like we were before, it isn’t fair to halt their friendship.

Reading their Instagram posts, receiving texts and pics, and negotiating the pick-up time, I knew I made the right choice.

It’s not an easy spot to be in. And the tears I have fought this weekend come from many places.

But as a mom, you have to be brave and strong, and be willing to make sacrifices for your children. Sometimes what is painful for you, is wonderful for them.  It’s not the part of motherhood I thought about 15 years ago and it’s not a part I enjoy.

But it’s love.

I think of someday not that long from now when MJ goes away to college.  Don’t I want her to go? Of course I do, but at the same time…NO, I don’t want her to leave!!!

Obviously, I can’t keep her at home forever.  But I will do what I’ve seen a few of my friends already do, be brave and strong and pack her up and drop her off.  And I’ll live to tell about it, even if I shed a lot of tears.

Just as I would give up my own healthy pancreas and take on the burden of Ian’s diabetes, this weekend I let my heart hurt for just a little while, so that their hearts could be happy.

Two girls, two hearts, 1 wish for them: A lifelong friendship that stays strong, no matter the distance and time.






Spring Break Love

There’s so much to say, but alas, Spring Break is almost over and I want the words to be just right. So, for now,  12 pictures = 12,000 words.

There’s so much to say, but alas, Spring Break is almost over and I want the words to be just right. So, for now,  12 pictures = 12,000 words.

Trust and Friendship

Last night MJ had her first full-blown sleep-over.  I haven’t ever said NO to a sleep-over. She just hasn’t asked.

It is sort of like when she was a toddler, and we used to take nightly walks through the park. We never got her out of her stroller to swing or play on the playground, because we knew once we started, a walk through the park would never be so simple.   (That all ended around the age of 2.)

So, when I suggested a sleep-over for her upcoming 14th birthday, her eyes lit up and she invited 4 friends.  Three were going to spend the night; the fourth girl was only going to stay until 10:30 or so. She had never spent the night at someone’s house. She has T1D.

She is my Ian.

Ian has never been a sleep-over candidate – even prior to his diagnosis.  He doesn’t do well with things like that. He even has a hard time sleeping at his grandparents’.

And now, with T1D, he’s asked a few times, but we’ve always found alternatives to sleeping over. He has whined a few times, “I’ll never be able to prove I can stay all night if you don’t give me a chance!”


But I also know Ian. The anxiety of the change in routine would be enough to literally make him sick and he’d  be home anyway.

Anyway, MJ’s friend was the last to arrive, but the girls welcomed her and were clearly glad she decided to come – at least for a little while.

A few hours in, MJ comes down and said, “Annie wants to spend the night!”

She was followed by a trail of girls…one I hardly recognized. They had given Annie a makeover; they straightened her corkscrew curls and put a flower in her hair.

Annie’s mom brought over her sleeping bag, pillow, and overnight bag. And her Lantus.

I could tell her mom was apprehensive and Annie was maybe a little nervous.  But of all the places in the world, this was a good place to start the overnight adventure.

I smiled as I thought of one of my favorite lines from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when the creepy garage attendant takes the Ferrari from Ferris and Cameron: “You guys got nothing to worry about, I’m a professional.”

I picture Annie’s mom saying, “A professional what?

True, Annie’s been a T1D for a year or so longer than Ian. But I get it and I could tell her mom did too.

I kindly said, “Are you ok with this? She’s gonna be ok. I can get up at 2:00 and check her. MJ knows what to do. And I have juice boxes!”

She smiled, hugged Annie goodbye, and walked away.

I don’t think I could have done that so easily.

But, what a milestone.

My heart melted when MJ carefully measured out Annie’s brownie and ice cream, just like she’d do with Ian’s.

And then again, when the girls told me that they are all going to do the Diabetes Walk next fall. They want to form a team for Annie and Ian.

I believe they will make this happen.

The only glitch in this experience…planning a sleep-over on the night we change the clocks and lose an hour of much-needed sleep. The girls watched the time miraculously change from 1:59 to 3:00 on their phones.

I have to trust that it was awesome, because I got more sleep than anyone! I was sound asleep by 11:00!

Dreaming on a Saturday Morning

It’s not even 6:00 on. Saturday morning and I’m dreaming.

Wide awake and dreaming.

Dreaming of Saturday mornings past, when I could sleep until at least 8:00, because I didn’t have a bratty puppy and conniving cat who tag team me each morning at 5:25 a.m.

Dreaming of a way to profit from the intelligence of a bratty puppy and a conniving cat who can tell time on digital clock.

Dreaming of a way to teach the bratty puppy or the conniving cat to make my coffee and bring it to me in bed.

Especially on cold morning like this….

Wide awake and dreaming.

Dreaming of a boy who could handle the pre-game jitters of Upward basketball a little better than the nervous boy who started this wide awake dreaming at 4:55 a.m.

Dreaming of my warm bed, which I have been forced to abandon due to the nervous boy, the bratty puppy, and the conniving cat.

Dreaming of a win today at Upward basketball.

Because no one deserves to be on the worst team in every league you’ve ever played in for the last five years…

Wide awake and dreaming.

Dreaming of sunshine and temperatures above 65.

Dreaming of long walks with no destination and no bundled up layers. Just me, my bratty puppy, and some good music.

Dreaming of flip-flops, shorts, and sunglasses.

And then even though I’ve been forced from my bed, the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m.

Because it’s game day. The last game day on the first cold day of March.

Wide awake, but holding onto the dreams.