passing joy

The girls are here!  Renee and Linnie are in da house!  Renee is still the same best girlfriend…we can go years without seeing each other, but when we finally get together again, we don’t skip a beat.  She’s great that way.  She’s never let us lose touch, which is lucky for me because I suck at keeping up with old friends.  And she is one I will always want in my life.  We’ve been best friends for 20 years now–I can’t believe it (I mean, I can believe we’ve been friends forever, but holy crap, am I really that old??!)  The coolest thing though, is this:
Sophia, Emma and Linnea
Sophia, Emma and Linnea

I think we’ve all had those friends in our childhood that we made pinky promises with–the promises about how we would grow up together and get married at the same time, and have kids at the same time and they would be friends too, and how we would always stay best friends.  How many of those pinky promises actually came to fruition though? 

Well, I am so very lucky, because my best friend and I did indeed get to see that come true today.   Just look at those girls!  It’s been so amazing to see how quickly they took to one another.  Just like it had been planned all along.  Only better.

One of these days, perhaps after they leave, I will write the homage to Renee that she deserves–I mean, we do have a long history after all.  But for now, I have some company to take care of and that means getting my butt to bed.
I look forward to more girltime tomorrow.
Getting their drink on at Uncle Mike's house.

Getting their drink on at Uncle Mike's house.

My lovely niece, Meghan.

My lovely niece, Meghan.

Uncle Nick repurposes his cell phone for naptime.

Uncle Nick repurposes his cell phone for naptime.

The cute newlyweds.

The cute newlyweds.

check out my new hat

check out my new hat

Keeping tabs on Santa

Keeping tabs on Santa

My "rare" but sold at Home Depot ice punch poinsettia

My "rare" but sold at Home Depot ice punch poinsettia


I keep cutting it close here…slipping in my posts at the last possible minute.  Story of my life.  I like to live dangerously.

This morning I awoke from yet another bizarre anxiety dream, this one about my A.T.’s overhearing me calling them A.T.’s.  It wasn’t surprising though, as I’d fallen asleep still seething about the whole situation.  Fortunately the anxiety remained with the dream, which is to say, it dissipated as quickly as the dream itself, and as I lay semi-awake in bed, my only anxiety was driven by the sound of my kids bickering in the other room.  New day, same crappy wake-up call.

The day got a bit brighter however, as soon as a more welcome sound filtered through the bedroom door…the sound of my husband’s voice.  It wasn’t what he was saying so much as the fact that he was there to say anything at all, being that this was a Saturday morning.  Before he got this new job, having Matt home on the weekend was as rare as seeing Paris Hilton eating a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast.  I smiled as I thought about the day that lay ahead.  The planets were obviously converging in some sort of galactic confluence (huh?) because an even more unusual event was about to take place.  An event this planet hasn’t seen since, oh, I don’t know, probably 1997.  Matt was going to go shopping with me.

Sadly, if I want to fulfill my Nablopomo promise, I need to hit “Publish” in less than 6 minutes.  I therefore cannot get into the particulars of this earth-shattering event.  Matt and I used to love going shopping together (ssh…don’t tell any of his friends, but he is quite the little mallrat.)  But since I can’t get into the details of our venture to Ocean County Mall, suffice it to say this:

Doing the tandem shopping thing on the Saturday before Christmas was a tad ill-advised.

Apparently Nablopomo bloggers get a pseudo-pass on Wednesdays as long as they post some photos.  Cool.

I’m still smarting a bit from the “official” move out this week.  So in an attempt to stay positive and in love with LBI, I have turned my attention to holiday decorating using a beach theme.  I continually add to my list of reasons to love living here, and here’s the latest:


 Everything on the tree is handmade or straight from nature.  The majority of it comes from up the street, at my favorite “shop”–the beach.  The end result (it’s still a work in progress–hope to finish before next Christmas) will be our least expensive and most beautiful Christmas tree yet. 





I’m working on some garland for the mantle, and the girls are making some “snowflakes” with pipe cleaners and tri-beads. 

Christmas at the shore is shaping up to be one of the best ones ever.

Busy weekend.  Late.  Tired.  Can we just get this over with?

A picture is worth a thousand blogs anyway.




The snow didn’t last very long into the day, but it lasted long enough to give the girls a proper wintertime adventure.  It almost makes me look forward to the next snowfall.

Here’s something we haven’t seen in a long while:


Note to self:  buy these southern belles some snow boots and waterproof pants.


The first snowball fight of the season.  And in many moons for us former Carolinians.


The quiet stillness, the soft beauty, the sparkle of snowflakes…



the ear-splitting shrieks of an elated 5 year old using her butt as a sled…damons-birthday-snow-059

There’s something quite magnificent about the first snowfall of the year.  The girls’ excitement was contagious.  Sophia probably doesn’t even have a memory of snow…she hasn’t seen it since she was 3 years old.  So for all intents and purposes, this was her first snow as well.  She didn’t care that her heinie was soaked through.  She refused to keep her mittens on, but didn’t mind that her fingers were numb (she was mad that her mittens made it difficult to form snowballs because the snow was sticking to them).  Emma slipped a few times but that didn’t stop her from running sprints just to feel the snow flying in her face.  Something as simple as snow.  No need to plug something in, download, turn on, stare at mindlessly.  No assembly required.  A free gift from Mother Nature that makes my girls happier than any Disney Channel beau hunk.  Chalk one up on the pro-side checklist for reasons I love being back here.

(I’ll get back to you after the first shoveling and de-icing.)

 What a nice Thanksgiving we had this year!  For the first time in at least 6 years (it’s been so long, I’ve lost count), we spent Turkey Day with my parents in Pennsylvania.  It almost seemed odd not to be sharing the day with our surrogate family in Waxhaw, NC, as we have for the past several years.  However, being able to simply take a short drive to PA to be with my actual family is really very lovely.  It felt all warm and fuzzy (nuzzy) to be at my parent’s house.  While it wasn’t exactly Rockwellian in comparison (my parents ordered the food from The Giant after all), it was the place and the company that mattered.  It was great to be “home.”

While mom and dad slaved over the microwave (call humbug if you want, but I promise, you wouldn’t want my mom to be cooking anyway) the kids, hubby and I did something we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t until this year:  we volunteered at a soup kitchen.  Hubby’s restaurant cooked and donated all the food and we helped serve it at a church in a needy section of the Philly ‘burbs.  Overall it was a fantastic experience.  I was especially proud of my 5 year old.  While I figured she’d be the one to participate only under threat of coal and switches, she surprised us all by jumping in wholeheartedly.  I think she mainly just wanted to hang out with Daddy and  help cook, but regardless of her motivation, I know it was a great experience for her.  I hope we can continue to do things like this with her and eventually she will come to understand the purpose and will want to do it for reasons more altruistic than self-serving.  Either way, she had a great time helping.  I love a 5 year old’s contagious enthusiasm for doing anything that helps make mom or dad smile.  “Here Sophia…bring these sodas to the ladies sitting over there”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “OK Daddy!  I’d love to!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And you know the patrons got a kick out of seeing a cute little girl running around  the place.

Matt and Sophia with Buca coworker Caroline, carving up the turkeys.

Matt, Sophia and coworker Caroline, carving up some turkeys.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       My ten year old on the other hand…different attitude altogether.  It was sort of embarrassing actually.  She’s the one who needs to see how priviledged she is compared to others.  She’s the one I thought would learn the most from doing this.  Being the good Catholic school girl she is, I also believed she would have a well-developed sense of responsibility and stewardship toward others less fortunate.  HAH!  Little Miss Abercrombie and Fitch couldn’t have been less inspired to help than if Jesus Himself had asked her not to do it.   She spent the whole time looking like someone who was being forced to scrub toilets with a toothbrush.  I blame myself though.  I set my expectations too high for a girl who has spent the past 10 years living in a bubble of priviledge that sees no suffering beyond a hangnail.  How could I not expect her to feel uncomfortable in this setting?  I myself admit to feeling a bit weird there too, but at as an adult, I know how to hide that and just get to work and do what’s necessary.  Emma simply didn’t want to be there.  Not because she thought she was too good to be there.  Not because she was disgusted by it (although you wouldn’t have believed it by the look on her face).  She just didn’t know how to act and was overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all and by the hustle and bustle of what was a very crowded rectory hall.  I guess I can’t really hold it against her.  You can’t force a person to suddenly have feelings of “good samaritanism”.  But we sure as heck are going to be working on it!  I think Matt may have even threatened to send her back to Catholic school once or twice.  Hopefully it won’t come to that, but in the meantime, expect to see us showing up at the local soup kitchen a lot more often!

Matt's buddy, Joaquin, joins our family photo.

Matt's buddy, Joaquin, joins the family for a photo. Emma was still smiling at this point. Sophia is wiped out.

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