Monthly Archives: July 2014

Really Bad

“Mom?” Levi said. “I did something bad. Really bad.”

“Really?” I said, over my shoulder. “What’d you do?” You might feel tempted at this point to compliment me for my equilibrium, but you should resist. Levi has not yet developed a sense of scale, and has been known to report a bandaid falling off in the bath as an emergency.

“I don’t want to tell you.”

And that is when both my attention and my head swung around to him. That is not a good sign. After a little more conversation (he really didn’t want to tell me), he pointed me to the window.


I suppose it was inevitable.

In what may be my personal triumph for the week, I did not yell. (I’m a yeller. I’m trying to reform.) I cleaned up the glass and taped the window so no more shards fall down. I called to get a new window sash on order. Bonus: I learned what a window sash is. I was just calling them the top part and the bottom part.

I did, though, sit down with Levi and explain to him that while, as he said, the break in the glass was certainly an accident, throwing hard stuff around the living room was not. Sometimes the things we do on purpose seem like they don’t matter, but they have consequences we don’t intend. And parents usually have reasons for the things they forbid, even if those reasons aren’t entirely clear to a preschooler.

I haven’t decided on the consequences yet – I’m not just being mean; I want to talk to Paul about it – and he’s kind of sweating it out. It’s almost certainly going to involve paying part of the replacement cost out of his allowance. My friend just suggested that he also needs to clean some windows. I like this idea. I wonder if I can get him to break something (really inexpensive) on the stove and get that taken care of, too.

Kidding! I think.

I do want to set a precedent that is both reasonable and scalable. Because … I have a feeling this isn’t our last broken window. Bless their boisterous little hearts.


The Care and Feeding of Hand Knit Gifts

This hat used to fit Paul. It even covered his ears. Now, it looks like a longish kippah for a child.

That, my friends, is why you don’t throw lovingly crafted hand knit items in the washing machine and run them in a hot load.

And it is why this shawl will be hand washed, gently, always.

20140724-200351-72231852.jpgIt came in the mail today, from my friend Jill. She chose the color of the sea because she knows how much I love to be by the water. It is soft, and gorgeous, and beautifully worked. It is a treasure, and I will treasure it. But not exactly for any of those reasons. I will treasure it because it was made for me, with love knit into every stitch, and with the purpose of making me feel that love.

So basically, it’s a blankie. Except you can wear it with a little black dress.

Jill, thank you. I love it.


We’re Still Here

Apologies for the radio silence. I’ve started at least four different posts over the last week or so, and abandoned them all. It turns out that writing things, even silly blog posts, takes mental energy and focus that I just haven’t had lately. The last couple of weeks at work have been a rich, flourishing garden of crazy. I haven’t been sleeping as much or as well as I usually do, either. I am wiped out.


Friday, both Paul and I are taking off work, and we are taking the boys to a Lake Erie beach. They have been begging pitifully all summer to go to the beach, and we are going to make it happen. The Outer Banks it is not, but there will be sand and sun and water, and two parents that are fully present. It will be enough. That evening, we will see good friends, and the boys will get to swim again. That night, what with all the swimming, I am anticipating that they will sleep like the dead. I’m hoping to do the same. Because Saturday morning, we have to do … nothing. Not a blessed thing*.

I have a fantasy of waking up some morning, fully rested and with no agenda. Saturday morning it might actually happen, if I’m very lucky.

If it does, I might have the brain power to get you an entertaining blog post. In the meantime, though, I can probably muster up at least a picture or two of sandy, tired children.

See ya!



*Except Paul, who has to go work. Sorry, honey.

Dribs and Drabs

I’m scanning in a bunch of old pictures. Here’s a sample, for fun.
1979 07 Carol Gasser
Oh, man. That carpet. That couch. That nightgown.

I tore the house apart earlier this week looking for a couple of checks. I knew I had put them in a safe place, but I could not remember where that safe place was. I seriously looked everywhere. It was at least a day later that I finally realized they were indeed in a safe place. Already in the bank.

I think I need a minder.

But later, Elias came up and asked for a hug. I put my arm around him, and he said, “No, Mama. A real hug. With arms, and squeezing.”

And I thought to myself, “Checks? What checks?” And I squeezed very hard.

The Hulk

He might be terrifying if he wasn’t so kissable.
Credit to cousin David for the jammies, which are still on a strict every-other-night rotation to avoid bloodshed at bedtime.

This, too, is hard.

I am … having a rough day. Week. Something.

I wrote a post awhile ago about how difficult I was finding it to see dementia in someone I love. I said it was hard. It was.

This, too, is hard. I remember some things about grief. I remember that the firsts are hard. The first birthday, the first Christmas. There are a lot of firsts coming.

But before I get to those, I think, I have to get used to the everyday vacancies. I will never again pop through Mom’s front door and catch her dozing in her chair.



I found her red sweater (that she wore, to my amazement, on even 80-degree days lately) lying on our garage floor today. I don’t know how it ended up there. She forgot it at our house a lot, but usually I found it on a chair in the kitchen.

I have to wait for the echoes to fade. So many times – hundreds, for sure; maybe a thousand? – I was back in my office and I heard something out in house. When I went out, it was Mom coming through the door from the garage. Worried about some piece of mail, or coming to tell me that someone had called. I haven’t yet broken myself of the habit of checking on faint noises. Sometimes I get all the way to the office door before I remember that it’s not Mom, because it can’t be. I am still reaching for the phone to see if she wants to come over for lunch. I am still turning off the light in our bathroom if I’m up late, so she doesn’t worry.

It has been mostly a whirlwind since she died. But now things are quieter, and the daily things are catching up to me. It is so tempting to find myself something difficult to do to occupy my mind. I do not want to sit quietly and feel all the feelings.

Busyness, though, will not exorcise grief. It may push it away for a bit, but grief will push back. And if all of the weight you’ve been shoving aside crashes onto you at once? Well. That ain’t pretty.

So I am trying. I am trying to be still, and ponder, and feel. It’s hard work, but it needs to be done.

And I will be back to myself soon, I think. With ridiculous pictures of crazy boys and a (mostly) cheerful countenance. For a little while, though, I’ll be over here, feeling.


Noodles and Nostalgia

My siblings and I were talking last night, and while the meandering conversation touched briefly on both Tolstoy and twerking, it settled for a bit on Grandma Stoller’s pot pie.

It’s not what you’re thinking of, with the crust and the peas and carrots. That’s good, too, but in our family pot pie has always meant chicken and noodles. The noodles are thick and square and homemade. And ever so tasty.

So I’m making them for supper. I haven’t made them in years, but I haven’t forgotten how.


I still know the recipe by heart, and it still makes me laugh.

Pot Pie Noodles
– two eggs
– two half shells of milk
– as much flour as you need