Saturday, June 25, 2022

The View from Up Here

We have been in Upstate NY for almost a week.  Ever since we moved from NH to VA in 2017, our routine has been to spend every summer up here in our old hometown, living in my husband's childhood home on the lake and attending Mass at the church where we were married in 1980.  We own a lake house just three or so miles down the road, which is mostly a VRBO rental, and we manage that property (which we named Oyster Haven) during the busy summer season.  (We have cleaners; but we take care of the laundry and making the beds on turnover days.)

I do love it here, even though I dearly miss what we have to leave behind in VA.  We get to visit with extended family (my husband and I both have sisters who still live here, and my 86-year-old mom lives with one of mine); we get to spend lots of time out on our boat; it's like being on a two-month-long date, in a way.

When we're in VA, we divide our time between the families of three of our five sons who live close by.  Their growing tribes keep us very busy. We are so incredibly lucky to have so many of our precious grandchildren (13 of 19) living nearby in the place where we spend most of the year.

I mean, look at this beautiful view!

I miss being in my own house, because I'm a homebody/nester/introvert; but it's really nice being here in NY, too. My husband and I started dating at 15, so in the almost-fifty years since, I've spent a lot of time in this wonderful house.  It’s like a second home.

Still...I miss my cozy cottage in VA, where the grandkids gather so often.

But as much as I miss those VA views, I must admit the the view from up here is not too shabby.

Oyster Haven's back yard.

And next weekend our VA gang plus our youngest son and his wife will be joining us for a Pearl family wedding, followed by almost a week together, staying at our Oyster Haven house (which we've blocked off for our own use).

So life is good, my friends.  I hope you're having an excellent summer so far.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Birthday Love Letter to My Boyfriend

Yes, I’m a married woman (it’s been 41 and 1/2 years now!).  So what’s up with title of this post?!

Well, you see, that’s the way I think of my husband, even all these years later.  He made my heart skip a beat every time I looked at him, way back when I was a 15-year-old girl in love for the first time.  And he still does.  He’s still the one.

Of all the choices I’ve made in my life, the best one, the most important one, was marrying him.  He has never, in all our years together, failed to put me first and do everything in his power to support and take care of me, to make me happy.  He treats me like a queen (as St. Paul instructed—you know, as Christ loved the Church), and always insisted that our boys do the same.  They all knew that the most surefire way to get in trouble with their dad would have been to speak disrespectfully to me; but honestly, they just didn’t do that. It wasn’t an issue.  They had an excellent role model and they followed his lead, and I’m not just putting on my rose-colored glasses when I say that my husband’s sons treated their mother like gold as boys—and if anything, they treat her even better now that they are men.

He’s one of a kind, my guy—a true family man in every possible sense of the word, the fearless leader of our string of Pearls. He always considered himself a husband and father first; airline pilot was just the job he had that made it possible for him to provide for his wife and sons. He prioritized time at home with his family, which enabled him to help coach his boys’ football and lacrosse teams from youth leagues through high school.  He’s funny, smart, hardworking, soft-hearted (yes, boys, underneath that tough disciplinarian who kept you on the straight and narrow lurked the heart of a big old marshmallow), loving, generous, ethical, faithful, and faith-filled, a talented carpenter and an all-around handy guy when it comes to household projects.  My worst day with him is better than my best day without him, to quote one of the country songs we heard at the Grand Ole Opry on our recent trip to Nashville.

Here is a post called Our Boys' Life Coach that I wrote way back in 2014.  It will give you an idea of the kind of man and father my husband is (and since his birthday falls on Father's Day this year, this will count as his "Happy Father's Day" shout-out as well!). 

I forgot to mention that he’s easy on the eyes.  And strong, too.  Every other day, he does 1,000 push-ups (20 a minute for 50 minutes).  Not too shabby for a 64-year-old, if I do say so. And I do!

My husband was obviously my inspiration for Grace Kelly’s high school crush in Finding Grace.  I mean, who else could be?  And her feelings for him?  All me. That character was not supposed to be like me; but her feelings for Tom Buckley were very much inspired by mine for MY real life love interest.  (Real life: better than fiction!)

In Chapter 10, here’s a peek inside Grace’s 14-year-old mind:: 

Grace couldn’t meet Tom’s eyes, as usual, so she directed her gaze at those arms of his.  He had rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and had his jacket slung over his shoulder...Grace could imagine those strong, golden arms around her, keeping her safe.  She could imagine them tenderly cradling their newborn baby.

“It’s official,” she thought, “I’ve lost my mind!”

She sure likes that handsome boy.  Everything about him, even his arms.

I get that!  I like everything about this man I married, my boyfriend for life.  On our trip to Iowa in May, I snapped this candid picture of him staring pensively out the window while holding our little sleeping granddaughter (#18 of our 19 grandchildren).

Be still my heart!  Here’s what 1,000 push-ups every other day produces, arm-wise: the world’s best baby-holding arms (like Grace Kelly imagined when she looked at Tom’s).  They used to hold our baby boys; now they hold our grandchildren.

Happy Birthday to my best friend and the love of my life.  My boyfriend.  ❤️

Monday, June 6, 2022

I Kind of Like Them

These boys.

I can’t believe that I was their first home, that these five very large, amazing humans once lived in me.  And now, five pieces of my heart live outside my body, which is an extremely vulnerable feeling.  But such is motherhood.

I don’t care how old your kids get (or how tiny they make you look); your babies will always be your babies.  There’s no getting around it.  As long as I’m living, my babies they’ll be, as the book says.  (You know what book I’m talking about! 😭)

(Ummm...they are adorable, but I was not big on parting and combing or slicking down my boys' hair for photos.  Or on fresh haircuts in general, apparently!  LOL)

On Saturday, we were driving back home to VA after a few days in Upstate NY, and we listened to a playlist of our all-time favorite songs for about four hours straight.  Three of them were songs my boys had picked for the Mother-Son Dances at their weddings: Garth Brooks’ “Your Song” (son #1); the Backstreet Boys’ “Perfect Fan” (sons # 2, 3, and 4); and Garth Brooks’ “Mom” (son #5).

So, dear readers...Guess whether or not I did a wee bit of weeping in the car when those nostalgia-inducing tunes came on. And guess whether or not hearing those sweet songs prompted me to start putting together this blog post, while we were still on the trip.

Ding, ding, ding!  Right you are, yes on both counts!

It’s hard for me to even articulate my feelings for my boys.  Any words I come up with will be inadequate.  But let me tell you a few of the things I like best about them.

They love God and live their Faith.  This is the most important thing, obviously.  They have held onto and practice their Catholic Faith, married women who share it, and are passing it on to their children.  And they aren’t “Cafeteria Catholics.”  In a world that is increasingly secular humanistic and morally corrupt, this is everything to their dad and me.

They’re funny.  They make each other laugh.  They make me laugh.  I love just being around them and listening to their goofy back-and-forth, their deep voices, their infectious laughter.  I love when they tease me.  (Teasing is a love language, at least in our house.)

They’re kind and loving sons.  They speak to us with respect, always.  They give the most thoughtful gifts.  They appreciate everything we do for them.  And they seem to like spending time with their dear old Mom and Dad and having us play an important role in their children's lives.

They’re pro-life family men, and they love being fathers.  And what a joy it is to see them in that role!  They do it all: bedtimes, baths, diaper changes, cooking, feeding; they're totally hands-on, and have even started coaching some of their kids' youth sports teams.  (And from time to time, a boy of ours might come home with a pair of light-up—dare I say tacky?—unicorn sandals that his beloved wife would never purchase, to the absolute delight of his 2-year-old fashionista!)

There is so much more to say, and to truly give our sons their due...well, I would have to write ten long blog posts for each one.  Our boys have unique and different personalities; however, they have many traits in common and share a number of interests.  They're all extremely intelligent men, responsible, talented, hard-working, interesting to talk to.  I know I just sound like a proud mama who looks at her kids through rose-colored glasses, and you can think that if you want to.  (How does it feel being wrong, though?  Ha ha!)


Suffice it to say that I kind of like my boys.  I like them a lot.  I love them, of course, unconditionally and with every fiber of my being.  But I also really like them.  They're my favorites.

(P.S. And they do make me feel tiny.  There's that, too.)

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Papa and Grammy’s House...

where cousins become friends.

My husband and I have been in Upstate NY for the past few days, working on our VRBO rental house to get it ready for the busy summer season.  And as beautiful as it is here...I miss that happy house in VA, where our grandkids so often come to gather: where cousins become friends.  Even though our yard there is the size of a postage stamp, and we have no breathtaking views to look at (not counting their precious faces, that is!), I love it so much.

It is a slice of  Heaven up here, though.  No doubt about it.  And I can’t wait for the week in July when our gang will be gathering with us for our annual Pearl family vacation here by the lake.

We head back home to VA today, where most (but not all) of our people are, for a few more weeks, and then we’ll come back to NY for the summer.  

Life is good today.