Thursday, August 30, 2012


You know how husbands are always accused of not listening?

I used to defend those husbands because let's face it, sometimes we wives can be a pain in the ass...and we nag....we can't help it, it's in our DNA

Sadly, I now have proof husbands don't listen and gentlemen, I can no longer defend you

Conversation I had with my husband:

We were in the car leaving for Church a couple Sundays ago when I said

That white car has been parked there for a few days now....I wonder who it belongs to, who they are here visiting....?
Said as I was pointing the visitor's parking area in front of us as we pulled out of our parking spot

I made this observation because
1. I'm nosey
2. I had not seen anyone go near the car for days
3. I was curious/concerned about there being a strange/foreign car being parked in our little haven called home (and I have an over active imagination)
and 4. Sean is on the Board and takes his role pretty seriously

Sean's response:

Which car?
That green one?
Said as he was pointing to a car in front Miranda's house which is no where near (read across the circle from) the visitor's parking area

Maria the Mum

Mrs Alley

Prompt #3 from Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop

Write a post about your third grade teacher

It just so happens I wrote about Mrs Alley about a year ago - and since I'm all about the environment, I'm recycling

As originally posted on Thursday, September 1, 2011 (with a couple typos corrected):

I read the Bangor Daily News ( every morning - that's the hometown newspaper

First, I scan the headlines and if there is one that catches my eye, I'll stop and read the article right then - but usually, I just scan the home page and then go straight to the Obituaries

For some reason, the obits have this hold, this allure over me - and I feel it is my humane duty to read said obits, to say a prayer for the souls who have departed this world and then go back to reading the rest of the paper

So I'll go back to the first page and read the articles that go with the headlines
Then I check the letters to the Editor (mine have never been published)
Police Beat is up next; I like to see who is wreaking what kind of havoc in the Pine Tree State (and if I know any of them).
If it is Monday, I also check the Wedding/Engagement Announcements

This past Monday morning, the very first name I read in the Obituaries was that of my third grade teacher, Mrs Alley

My first reaction was Huh, she was only 80
My second reaction was to say a quick prayer for her
And my third reaction, which I'm going to admit surprised me, was one of great sadness

Reaction 1: Huh, she was only 80
When I was in the 3rd grade, I thought Mrs Alley was old - I mean like really really old
If you had asked me how old she was when I was in the 3rd grade, I probably would have told you I thought she was like 70.....old like my grandmother ....

Turns out, she was only 50 when she was my teacher...which means my grandmother was around 56...which just goes to show when you're a kid, you really have little or no concept of age

I think of my Mum at 50 and I never would have called her old - she did not look old, she did not dress old, she did not act old
My Mum dressed from Talbot's, never wore nude nylons, tweed or polyester skirts or orthopedic shoes despite her knee problems
She never tucked tissues up her sleeve
Never said things like children should be seen and not heard and I'm pretty sure she could not stand Lawrence Welk
At 50 my mother was still working full time, still had a couple kids at home (my youngest sister was maybe 13/14 when my mother was 50) and still rocking out to '80s music
Mum was not an old 50...she's not even an old late 60 something

Mrs Alley was old
She dressed old, looked old, wore nude nylons that sagged around her ankles in her orthopedic shoes She even moved old

Some would say she was mean
I think a couple of my younger sisters had her as a teacher as well and said she exercised certain punishments that may or may not have been questionable

When I was in her class, my mother had her 7th and final baby
I remember going in and telling Mrs Alley my mother had another baby
She peered at my from over her glass and in that old person disapproving judgemental tone said something to the effect of
Humph. Another one?
Yeah! I answered all excited, for I did not quite understand her tone
And its a girl! I have another little sister and I'm going to read to her!
To which she responded something about that would get old faster than I realized....
I'm not sure if she meant reading to a younger sibling or having another (read 5th) younger sister

Reaction 2:
I always say a quick prayer for whomever has passed away
Sometimes its just a Bless Bless in my head for all the obits I've just read
But for Mrs Alley, after reading her obituary and realizing that she had 4 children of her own, a bunch of grandkids, a handful of siblings and lots of nieces and nephews, I felt she deserved a Hail Mary on top of the prayer for the dead.

When I was a kid in school, I never thought of my teachers, especially the older ones, as having being wives, mothers, grandmothers or aunts
I just assumed they had always been old and were just here to be teachers
Again, I was a pretty naive kid and who knows how my little brain worked back then
I'm still trying to figure out how it works now

I knew that some of my teachers had families because their kids were in my class
I even remember when one of my teachers got married
She was a student teacher while she was planning her wedding and then came back as Mrs Lent and was my 5th grade teacher
She taught me to knit slippers, I made like 100 pairs of ugly green slippers
Her first name was Roxanne and I thought that was just the coolest name I had ever heard
for a spell, I totally wanted to be her...and if I remember correctly, she and her husband used to ride motorcycles which was even cooler

But other than that well, I guess I just did not realize that teachers had families, that teachers were not just teachers
I just did not think of Mrs Alley as having a family
I just thought she was a teacher
I did not realize there was more to her life than being my 3rd grade teacher

Reaction 3:
Reading about Mrs. Alley's passing really made me sad
I'm not sure why
I was never one of her favorite students (I used to get in trouble for talking in her class and reading ahead in my books)
I don't even think I ever saw her again once I left the 3rd grade
But I was sad

I was sad because I realized my childhood is farther and farther away from me

I was sad because she left behind a family who seemed to adore their mother/grandmother/aunt

I was sad because I realized, as I read a short summary of her life, there was so much more to her than being my 3rd grade teacher:
She was a volunteer at the AFF for 8 years (started when she was 70)
She was a volunteer usher at the Maine Performing Arts Center
She camped, bird watched, fished, loved boating and hiking (last year, she hiked Bald Rock at 79!)
She cooked hot dogs on a stick and made S'mores
I also learned she was predeceased by two grandchildren; I hope she sees them again when she gets wherever she is going

I was sad because however mean some of her students may have thought her to be, I liked her because she used to read us Paddington Bear
She was one of the three teachers who instilled in me a love for reading and to this day, the Paddington Bear "chapter books" are some of my favorites to read

When I was done with whatever book we were supposed to be reading for class, she did not make me wait for the next book to be assigned, she'd give me one to "tide me over"

She may have been a bit harsh when she asked if I really read the assigned book and yes, she scared me a bit when she peered at me over her glasses while quizzing me about the book (because she thought I did not read it)

And sure, she may have been a little gruff when she handed me the new book to read
But she always handed me a new book
She used to pull it out of her desk drawer, it was never on the shelf with the other books
And it always had her name written on the inside cover
She would tell me it was one of her favorites
Then she would tell me to enjoy it and we'd talk about it when I was done (which meant an intimidating oral quiz)

She always told me to enjoy the books she gave me........
No point in reading of you don't enjoy the book she said

And I did....I always enjoyed the books she gave me

I enjoyed and savored each and every book......not only because the books were always good but also because I wanted her approval.....I wanted her to be proud of me, I wanted to have a connection with her that none of the other kid's had......

Who are we kidding, I wanted to be the teacher's pet

I even enjoyed the quizzes if for no other reason, she would begrudgingly give me a half smile when I answered all her questions correctly

There was a picture of Mrs Alley in the paper with her obit holding one of her grandchildren (maybe even her great grandchild) who was just a little bitty baby
She looked so happy
She looked like a Mom
An Aunt
And so much like a grandmother whose lap you want to curl up in while she reads you a story........

Thank you Mrs Alley....and may you find everlasting peace, love and happiness at Number 32 Windsor Gardens

A Bear Called Paddington (Michael Bond, 1958)
Chapter 1: Please Look After This Bear

Mr and Mrs Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.

Maria, the Mum

Friday, August 17, 2012

We went to England for the first time as a family in November of 2010

I loved it there

Aside from the fact we got to spend time with family and friends (some family and friends I was meeting for the first time no less) I truly fell in love with Northern England

London was nice

I loved seeing Buckingham Palace and someday, I hope we can go back and spend more time roaming around London and seeing all there is to see but if I were being honest…..

I could spend all my time in Northern England and be pretty happy

The grass was so green, it actually hurt my eyes

Stones walls created a maze over the pastures and the walls, hundreds of years old, are, aside from the Queen, probably the strongest things standing in Great Britain

And the sheep were so close, you could reach out and touch them (though I’m sure that would not be wise)

When I was a kid, I marveled at the Clydesdale horses; they were a treat to see at Bush Gardens or in Parades on TV
In England, Clydesdales are working horses
They were hanging out in the pastures on the side of the road so close I could touch them
And those horses were just as majestic as the ones pulling the beer wagon

The Moors were haunting and breathtaking all at the same time
They were cold and barren yet I wanted to stand as long as possible looking for I don’t know what to come out of the fog….. ….
But I thought if I stood there long enough, I would see something or someone emerge…….
That’s how haunting the Moors are

We drove through Bronte Country and though, in my opinion Wuthering Heights is over hyped and over rated (so is Ernest Hemingway), the landscape was gorgeous and breathtaking……..a couple times, I swear I heard the plea Let me in your window – I’m so cold!

Hebden Bridge
The 4th funkiest town in the world
The lesbian capital of the UK
The burial grounds for one Sylvia Plath
Hebden Bridge was one of my favorite places to visits
How do you like that coming from a card carrying conservative?!
Hebden Bridge
The eclectic shops
The fish and chip place
The Watergate Tea Room (which my father-in-law took great delight in getting a picture of me standing in front of….so did I)
The canal filled with house boats (and I’m pretty sure gypsies)
The flea market
The landscape and scenery
I can’t wait to go back to Hebden Bridge

The roads were narrow but cars zipped along them as if they had all the room in the world

The washer and the dryer are one in the same (the washer is the dryer and the dryer is the washer) and the toilets flushed weird, but they had heated towel racks in all the bathrooms

And they recycle everything in its own little bucket…borderline annoying and turns putting out the trash into a 10 minute chore

They put a slice of egg in their sandwiches….and it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had

And when you go to the market, you have to pay for to use a trolley cart 

Halifax has Piece Hall and a gibbet
And its Town Hall was designed by the same man who designed the Houses of Parliament

And it (England) might be more provincial than New England

And I truly can’t wait to go back

So we’re going again

This November

Maria the Mum

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


On Sunday, I went to a Wedding Shower
I came home with a cupcake for Lucy and a cupcake for Sean

On Sunday, while I was at said Wedding Shower, Lucy and Sean were left to their own devices
They came home with a 17lb cat

Meet Ziggy
4.9 Years Old, 17 lbs, Short Hair Domestic

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sound Bites

Cross that off my Bucket List
We went up to Rockport for the Memorial Day Parade

Lucy slipped her Crocs off and was sort of dancing and twirling around as we waited for
the Vets, the policemen and firemen, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, bands and town dignitaries to come marching by 

At one point, she was crouched down observing a huge worm slithering its way along the sidewalk 

She screeched for us all to look as she just could not believe how big the worm was  (seriously, it was the size of Texas)

A few minutes later, Lucy, still dancing around, accidentally stepped on said worm though not enough to squash him….just enough so she knew he was there and he knew she was there

She was slightly skived out "‘cause worms are slimy" and after recovering from the shock she declared quite incredulously

Huh! I never did that before!

What’s Your Name?
Home Depot hosts Little Workshops the first weekend of every month for kids

The kids are given an orange apron, a little craft kit, a hammer and paint

We stumbled upon it one Saturday as we were wandering through Home Depot looking for shelving

On this particular day, Lucy had left the house wearing her super hero cape and mask (she may or may not have been carrying her wand, I can’t remember)

We stepped up to the table to get our craft kit and the women at the table fussed a bit over the masked crusader and we were sent on our way to build our flower pot tray

When we completed our project, we went back to the table to “check out” and Lucy was presented with a Home Depot pin and a certificate of completion

Before receiving her certificate, Lucy was asked her name by the woman at the table

Lucy looked at her and stated quite simply and in a nice clean crisp voice with raised inflection and tone at the end

I am SUPER LUCY!!!!!!!

I love your outfit!
We were leaving Mass one Sunday and as we exited, the priest was standing at the back of the Church greeting the Parishioners and bidding them a good day

As we stepped up to Father Bakker, I leaned down and whispered in Lucy’s ear to tell Father thank you and wish him a good day

Okay Mama she responds sort of half listening

I shook Father’s hand and told him it was nice to see him

He leaned down to say hello to Lucy and placed his hand on her forehead for a blessing when she pipes up and says

Thanks Father, I like your outfit, you look nice today!

We miss you Uncle Gareth
This past weekend, we spoke with Nanny Claire
Claire is the mother of Sean’s oldest and dearest friend Gareth

Gareth happened to be at Nanny Claire’s house so Sean was able to chat with him for a bit too

When we got off the phone, we were talking about Gareth’s visit last year (May, 2011)
He was such an easy house guest……we had so much fun with him….all 3 of us……and we miss him terribly….

As we were talking about Gareth, Lucy piped up and reminded us that Uncle Gareth showed her Scooby Doo (which he did, and I’m talking Old School Scooby Doo)
And now, she added, he sends me Paddington Bear books (which he does)

And, I miss him says Lucy

We agreed with her and started discussing our (potential/possible/hopeful) trip to England this year

Later, when we were headed up to the tub, Lucy turned to me as we were halfway up the stairs and says, seriously and inquisitively,

Mama, I forget….was Uncle Gareth here last year or last Sunday?

Last year honey

Oh, not Sunday?

No honey, it was last year

Are you sure?

Yes honey, I'm sure

Huh……I was sure it was Sunday…….

A what?
Sean came home the other day with a
“Tube of Pets Animals” for Lucy

As soon as he walked in the door, we had to open the tube and take inventory of all the animals

She identified most of them: turtle, cat, dog, lizard, frog, fish, bird, rat, and bunny
But needed help with a few: hedgehog, ferret, and hamster (which may be a mouse but we’re going with hamster)

Lucy immediately became enamored and enthralled with the hedgehog
She loves it….and it is really cute…..just like Mrs Tiggy Winkle

Lucy has carried the hedgehog around all weekend and it’s ridden back and forth to school with her every day this week

At some point, she could not find the little hedgehog and blurted out worriedly

Mama! Daddy! Where my hodgeheg?? Where my hodgeheg?!?!

Your what honey?

My hodgeheg! MY HODGEHEG!!!


Maaammmmaaa! My hodgeheg! Where is he???

I think she means her hedgehog says Sean

That what I said Daddy! My hodgeheg!

We’ve given up trying to correct her

How Many is Noni (that would be my Mum)
Lucy loves knowing who's birthday is next and how old they are going to be

When she was told my birthday was coming up, she started asking when it would be and how old I was going to be

We'd tell her how many weeks/days away it was and that I would be 40

Last night, as I was putting her to bed, she said

Mama! It's almost time for your birthday!

It is honey, just two more sleeps

How old are you gonna be Mama?

40 I tell her

Oh....Wellll Mama, I can only count to 20 not 40

Well, thats okay honey because guess what? There are two 20's in 40 so you can just count to 20 twice!

Good idea Mama!

Thanks Luce

Hey Mama

Yeah Lucy?

How many 20's is Noni?

Maria the Mum

An Ode and a Fond Farewell to My 30's

To My 30’s:

Today is our last day together........I’m a little verklempt

I will miss you

Time is marching on and our time together has come to and end

It is time for us to say goodbye

Tomorrow, I shall be meeting 40, and I’m afraid it’s something I have to do alone

Don’t worry, I’ll be brave, you have given me all I need to meet 40 head on and though I’ll miss you, I’ll be OK

This has been a great decade; you have been a great decade 30’s

Probably the best of my little life so far
And my 20’s were pretty damn fun but you have definitely been the best decade to me so far

Sure, we got off to a rough start and there were a couple bumps in the road….

Like what you ask? Well......

Remember that time I had my heart broken in 2002 (but fixed in great fashion come 2005)

And then Grammy and Grampy died in 2003 and 2004…….that was a tough year – a sad year for so many reasons

Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 but was lucky, it was “only” kidney cancer fixed with the quick and swift removal of said organ

And what an up and down year 2007 was!
We were planning our wedding when my father-in-law had a heart attack a couple months before it was to take place….and for a spell, it was not clear if he’d make it – and though it did not come to it, I never would have married without him being there for my husband and me
He made it though and what a joy to see him standing next to my husband
Then, at our wedding, my Mum’s appendix nearly burst though at the time we just thought it was something she ate (and it would still be a couple more weeks before she FINALLY went to the doctor…scratch that the ER and they removed it)

In 2010, we lost Aunt Nell and out of everything, this was the hardest

But really, overall it’s been a great decade……

In 2002, I stood up, along with my sisters, for my brother and sister-in-law as they became husband and wife
I then watched my brother become a Dad three times over in 2004, 2006, and 2008

Both my parents were able to retire (2003 and 2008) while they were still young enough and healthy enough to truly enjoy what they’ve earned; for that I am most grateful

In 2004, The Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years…
I still can’t even believe it happened…….
I haven’t totally processed that win yet so when it happened again in 2007…..well, I’ll probably start celebrating that Pennant next year

In 2005, I met Sean

In 2006, he proposed

In 2007, we got married and our families and friends were there to celebrate with us

In 2008, we were able to share with said families and friends that we were expecting our first child

In 2008, I also watched the Celtics win the Championship for the first time since 1986 (along with conference and divisions titles in 2008/2010 and 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively)

In 2009, Lucy Ellen arrived and has brought more love, joy, laughs and happiness into my life than I ever thought possible…this may be the only even that comes close to eclipsing the World Series win of 2004……ok, just kidding….she is way better than a World Series Pennant….
And if having a baby wasn’t enough, we decided to buy our first house 3 months later

In 2010 I stood up, again with my sisters and this time my brother, for my youngest sister and brother-in-law as they became husband and wife

Later that year, we took our first trip to England as a family
My in-laws met their granddaughter/niece/cousin for the first time…and we met our niece Hannah for the first time…and I met all kinds of new Aunts, Uncles and Cousins

I celebrated my favorite Cousin’s nuptials with her in 2011(once in April and once in July) and the Bruins captured the Stanley Cup

If I were more of a football fan, I would point out that in my 30’s, the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004, and 2005 (we’ll leave out the perfect season they blew in 2008)

Oh 30’s! My dear sweet wonderful 30’s…..

We have been through so much
We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve learned about life
We’ve lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained…lost….gained….
We’ve found love…..a love so worth more than holding onto – it’s worth fighting for, cherishing, relishing and appreciating………it’s the love of a husband and daughter I was never sure I would know – thank you for making me be patient and waiting for it

Oh 30’s! My dear sweet wonderful 30’s…………..

We did not quite have the fun we had in our 20’s but I gotta tell ya, I’d pick you over and over again
And, I remember you way better than I remember my 20’s

Oh 30’s! My dear sweet wonderful 30’s…………..

I’m sad we are saying good bye for you are one friend I shall never see again….
We’ll never bump into each other at the supermarket, the airport, a crowded street or the mall
We’ll never meet up again to relive the good times, damn the bad times and dream about the times to come
Tonight, when we lay down to go to sleep, we will have but a few waking moments together and they will be our last….

So if I forget to tell you……….

Thank you 30’s
This has been the best part of my life so far
Thank you for my health, my happiness
For my husband and my daughter
For my family and my friends
Thank you for my confidence
Thank you for encouraging me to grow, to change, to relax, to let go and to laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before

And though I hope even better times are to come, rest easy knowing that the only reason I’ll enjoy my 40’s is because of you and what you have given me

Thanks for the memories 30’s…..sleep well……

With lots of love, gratitude, appreciation and a twinge of sadness as we say good bye....
Godspeed 30's, Godspeed

Maria the Mum

PS: Feel free to take my gray hair with you as a reminder of our time together….and 20lbs!