Little Happys.

This morning was one of those unset the alarm clock mornings. I didn’t even know that we didn’t have school until Wednesday, what a nice surprise. We stayed up watching Steel Magnolias and setting no alarm. Lucy came up to my bed and said “I am first one up”… I said “you can snuggle with me or go watch George”. She of course chose PBS over quiet with mommy, and I closed my eyes and situated with Bacchus (Molly’s dog).


After a little while of checking emails and playing on my phone Lucy brought up breakfast for me to have in bed. She knows me well, a Greek yogurt and a nice big spoon. She then set out to make me coffee, even had to add water to the side. Then she got upstairs with my ‘Best Day Ever’ mug and a big smile. So I get to sit in my bed and drink coffee and type and take a little while off the day of picking up and organizing and working out.


As I sit in bed I feel happy, it is a little thing but it makes me happy when my daughters take care of me. It makes me even more happy when I told Lucy that she could add a sticker to her chart (something we are trying for kindness and responsibility and picking up dog poop… to earn allowance) and she said this was not for a sticker. She didn’t need a sticker for being kind… BAM. My heart feels good right now. This has been a short morning, so far, I think I have only been awake for an hour… but my bucket is filled and I feel happy.

Small happy moments, small gestures are big deals. Seeing my girls hold doors for others or pick things up for people… make me feel happy and proud of them. This morning I feel proud of Lucy (Amelia is snuggled in bed with me a little tired and I love her just the same J). I just feel full and happy and blessed this morning for Lucy’s small kindness.

For the months before Madeline passed, even though it was winter, she would tell me on Mother’s Day she was going to bring me breakfast in bed. I asked “What will you bring me?” she would tell me a Chobani and coffee. I told her, Mads you know it doesn’t HAVE to be Mother’s Day for you to spoil me J. I don’t know if she caught my drift (every weekend I would love breakfast in bed and well behaved children)… She would insist that she would take care of me on Mother’s Day. Lucy knows it is my Birthday weekend and they are with their dad, so I don’t know if she would think to spoil me regularly, but this is more than enough.

After Madeline died, Amelia knew Madeline’s plan and she took care of me that Mother’s Day. She brought me a pink tray with coffee and a Chobani with a spoon broken into the foil. I think some fruit as well. It was a great morning, a bittersweet happy- a bucket fill, small/big happy.

Small stuff, it is all about the small stuff… not sweating it, appreciating it, giving it, loving it… this morning I am thankful for my lovely’s small happy kind gesture.

Violet. Spring. Birthday.

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violet 4I feel like it has been ages since I typed a little to share a thought or story… in a way it has been. I have felt a little uninspired lately, a little heavy. Maybe I was just following my mother’s rule- if you don’t have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all… who knows. I say that like there is something worth sharing that has bugged me, but alas that is not the case, nothing worth sharing has happened. I am stepping out from my little dark corner though… popping back into my words and work.

My last weekend with no Musto Chicks was a really great one, full of runs, wine, friends, surprises and amazing people. Those are my favorite kind of weekends…

My friend Melissa, one of my hot and confident soul ladies, was hosting a wine night at her home. I had a friend coming in from out of town, I was scared she would be uncomfortable. We arrived and were instantly surrounded by a major part of my herd… my women. There was no uncomfortable to be had… only warm light, great dips and strong women. My friend Mel was welcomed and comfortable in this big group of ladies… because that is how they are. We are family, we are all family. We are not just ladies who like wine or moms who bonded when our girls were younger or women who work their butts of to be healthy… we are family. I am blessed to have family in so many places… people who love me for me, accept me with my butthead characteristics, applaude my strengths and help build me in my weak areas… I am blessed with family to carry me. If you let yourself see it I am sure you are as well…

That night around a big and overstuffed dining room table (homemade and amazing)… there was talk and stories and laughs. Around that table we all became more vulnerable and more alive, a little lighter in this crazy life. We each connected more than most can imagine. It was easy, it was fun and it was another favorite night for me. I ate way too much jalapeno dip and might have drank too much… water, but it was a perfect night. I was sitting around chatting and eating and drinking and then all of the sudden out came a cake. After eating so much I could burst, I had to blow out the candles and eat some cake… sometimes it is hard to be me ;). I managed… and it was awesome. I sat surrounded by some of the most important and special gifts in this big crazy life… eating cake and enjoying my gift- Violet.

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I met Violet that night. She is strong, sturdy and moves so easily. Violet is up for adventures, she is ready and alert… in fact she is probably pissed I have no trips to Florida planned. She is lovely and beautiful and useful. She also can carry one of my friends or my two daughters… she is one powerful and purple piece of luggage. I met her in Melissa’s dining room and I know she will be along for the long run. Who knows maybe she will carry my stuff when I travel to Greece someday or Paris, or celebrate my daughter’s wedding in Bali (crap I am getting ahead of myself here…). For now though, she is right with me. She is busy being very easy to maneuver and perfectly purple… she is perfect. My family knows me, how I love to squish my favorite people around a table and eat lots… drink wine and plan adventures… this is my life. I love it. Violet is a reminder of those who support my adventures in life, travel, writing, parenting and running… She is perfect.

All of the sudden that night the tired hit me and I needed to go home. My friend dropped me off and I went to bed. I felt light and loved… I was reminded of the amazing in this. The plans the Big Guy has for my girls and I. I love sharing life with them. I love sharing life with my family home and here. I am so eternally thankful, so blessed. In the hard stuff, when there is nothing good to say, there is plenty of amazing carrying, pulling and supporting me. I know I need to feel it all, let it all out. I know that. I look forward to the adventure of my girls and I with Violet, they fit in her too! God takes awesome care of us, even when we are tired.

So… in another year where my birthday feels itty bitty and my age feels old… He sent in my family all over to make sure I saw it all bigger… I am still here. I feel 55, I am almost 33… I love age and aging… I just want to feel younger and lighter. I know this life has been heavy and hard, but I know amazing is coming, awesome will smack us in the face and super will pop in. I know this. I am just chuggin’ and livin’ through to summer… to a time that is brighter and lighter. I hope Violet has gotten lots of experience before then….



Garth. Freedom. Rewind and Refresh.

Woke up with sore feet, a hoarse voice and happy heart. Damn that was a good show… that was a great night. I think EPIC is pretty close…

On Monday my sister in law asked if I wanted to go Friday night to see Garth Brooks in Buffalo. I had all sorts of reasons to say no, I had just driven all weekend and had a thousand events, I was exhausted from that… but I thought screw it, I am going. So there, the plan with no plan was made. I didn’t know where we were staying, what we were eating or where we were sitting, only that I needed to be in Syracuse by 6 to park and get picked up.

A little history… while all of my friends growing up were loving and obsessing on boy bands and boyfriends… I was busy being in love with Garth, wearing oversized Tweety Bird tee shirts, watching HomeTime and refinishing furniture (all of which I am proud of except the big tee shirts… people should have warned me). I have a huge collection of Garth CD’s and badly wanted to see him perform. Then he went into semi-retirement. He took all of that time to take care of his family and his kids growing up… but I missed him. So when a chance to see him came I was in… BAM.must.attend. I was so flippin’ excited getting in the car, free from all my life crazy-… to go see my man (well Trisha Yearwood’s man, but I can dream). I dug out my collection of Garth CD’s and rocked out in the car… singing Rodeo and The Thunder Rolls and one of my favorites How you ever gonna know?… Heck, I made it through them all. Then my ride grabbed me… they were not privy to knowing that I had a bag full of CD’s and a plethora of trivia knowledge with me.  They probably learned a lot about the Erin that grew up in Brownville.

We laughed in the car ride and sang and told stories and caught up. It was a van full of fun and funny women- free from the craziness at our homes. We were free, did I mention that. The conversation was quirky and funny and most definitely involved a very sexy navigation voice (we’ll call her Vivienne) guiding our way and making us laugh. We got to our hotel and managed to turn into an alleyway into the underground parking garage that would not let us in. As always this trip was an adventure, the best kind. We got to town with enough time to grab some fancy Domino’s Pizza and a tiny bit of wine, before heading to the show. The show started at 10:30pm… I was unsure of how I would stay up… but after a cold and squashed trek we made it to the arena. I might add, that while loading my things into my sister in law’s van I forgot my jacket. I was the idiot in Buffalo, at night, in the winter with no freakin’ jacket. I probably looked like I was trying to be cool, but really I was just stupid cold. Thankfully, a week before I did a Polar Plunge and the added insulation and up-to-date experience really helped me thrive in that cold. So… there was a positive to that super cold fundraiserJ.

We got to our seats, 300 something and looked around from the super high vantage point and saw SOOOOO many people. Apparently Garth can fill a stadium with 40,000 people 6 times over in about 3 days… because he rocks. The seats we had, that were luck of the draw and all priced the same throughout, were the same.exact.seats as when I went with girlfriends to see Lady Gaga. It was weird, like a little note from the Big Guy that I was supposed to be here. What the heck are the odds… in that whole space, in the randomness of those tickets, we were in the same spot. It was a cool feeling and made me remember a lot from a really fun night. I remembered details that I had really forgotten, or maybe put away, who knows.

The show started and time passed by way too fast. When I could tell the show was ending soon, it was sad. He performed for 2 and a half hours, but it went by in like moments.   I would do it again tomorrow in a heartbeat… it was awesome. I felt very light and happy and a little like old Erin (the naive one from a long long time ago). I remembered how those songs that used to be so tangible weren’t the ones I connected to anymore. I loved being surrounded by so many positive and happy and entertained people… it was refreshing and made me feel stronger.

Coming home on Saturday I felt sad to have no backup singers. On Friday I was loving my freedom, but Saturday afternoon I could not wait to share this with my ladies… to see and hug them. It was nice to miss them and know I couldn’t wait to share…

That Friday night was just what I needed. I needed a lil adventure and some easy fun times. I needed to laugh until my cheeks hurt and just be somewhere else. I needed to reflect on the naïve Erin that isn’t me anymore but is a big part of me. I heard his words and was reminded of memories and bits of life that have made me the way I am. I needed to be with some fun women who were easy and simple and free. I am so glad this opportunity popped up. I know it was meant to be… I do. I love how the right things happen at the right time. God provides the girls and I with the people we need, the adventures to explore and grow together and the tools to get through the rough stuff. He always takes care of us… Madeline always takes good care of us… it’s why we are okay in this pile of rough stuff that has been out of our hands… we are loved and carried.


(this one is a favorite, for all, but really shows my feelings with my Lovely Mads and Musto Chicks…)

Everything is a Miracle.

there are two waysI have said this before and I know it is true… life is all about perspective.  You can look and see a miracle interlaced with the mess and only see the mess… or you can look to the miracle.  For every extraordinarily hard moment there are moments of light, moments of love and miracles (or you can look the junk and only see that… your choice).  I mostly choose to see the miracles, though sometimes I fall into only seeing the junk.  I also believe that having, seeing and getting through junk makes the miracle even more amazing.  Would you truly appreciate your children, your home and your life if you didn’t have your own piles of hard to climb up… no we wouldn’t.  Even in this crazy winter think about all of the small businesses that rely on winter to thrive… how hard years past have been for them and in our pile of shoveling, cursing and complaining they are flourishing the way they needed to.

This weekend was chock full of miracle moments.  On Saturday I got to see my favorite little miracle twins… Brynn and Nora.  Those ladies are happy and awesome little people who happened to be born on a hard day for so many.  It was like God was softening some hard, which He often does.  These awesome ladies had nine-ish months to get to know their grandpa and Madeline then grace us with some amazing happy and funny living.  I have loved seeing their mom and dad thrive at parenting and living… good stuff in a hard.

We got to party and celebrate my Nana’s 90th birthday.  Watching the great grandkids run and play and hang out… telling stories and catching up. I think family together is a miracle.  We were all made to be together, but time and life keep so many far apart… so it is pretty special that so many combined and celebrated (not  to mention my Nana turned 90.  ‘nuf said)

Ever had a person in your life that you just see ‘Miracle’???  A child or adult who just defies something really hard and maybe impossible?  That, for me, is Baby Brenna (who is not a baby anymore).  She was born with a very different heart and had a pretty terrible prognosis, then she thrived.  As she grew and thrived she outgrew the heart work that was done… so she was faced with another scary and dangerous surgery- she rocked that recovery and continues to thrive and grow and prove her miracle status.  Yesterday I saw her walk and dance and play- just like a child who hasn’t had crazy surgeries and hardships.  My favorite moment though is when she didn’t get her own way and Brenna proceeded to plop her butt to the floor and slowly drop her head to the floor… then start kicking in the air- just to make it known that things didn’t go her way.  It was awesome and funny… I told her momma she’s a miracle even in her mad.  In all of those crazy moments of surgeries and fear, our minds don’t let us think ahead to things.  One day at a time, then on one of those ‘one day at a time’s’ we look over and she is throwing a normal kid dramatic temper tantrum,… and we see the miracle of life and normal and God- or we see the annoying and junky in it.  It is all in the perspective…

Today I get to take another lil’ miracle to lunch… to catch up with them before they head back to the warmth.  Today the girls and I get to hang with Ryder Snow and his awesome daddy… we get to chat and catch up with a lil’ miracle.  Ryder, you see, has the same type of tumor that Madeline had and he is still doing very well.  It is awesome.  It makes me very happy .  I also love to know that his family let him be him, Ryder, and experience real and normal life. That is honestly the best thing to do always, not just when we are faced with a really hard life. We are not gifted knowledge of the future… life can change at any moment. We are not promised moments, experiences or time in life… we are only here and now, one day at a time creatures. I love that Ryder is surrounded and carried by so many that help Michael and his family do just that, enjoy day by day, hour by hour and moment by moment. Ryder’s miracle of time is one that so many are thankful for… the Big Guy has a plan for him, a purpose. He is an amazing, adorable and loved lil’ miracle. Madeline’s miracle looked nothing like others miracle, her gift of time was so very different… but I trust in Him to guide us all through the puzzle, the mazes and the messes… to see the miracles.

So look to the miracles, stand on top of your pile of hard and see the amazing… it is all around.  Amazing can be disguised as normal or small… or super profound.  Let it be what it is, amazing and miraculous.  Then keep chuggin’ up your piles of heavy and hard and icky…