Awaiting a wedding

My brother Vinnie got married this weekend to Audrey, one of my favorite people in the world. Needless to say, it was an incredible event in all levels. I still feel a little like a truck hit me this morning, two days out. It was worth it though. Here are a few photos taken by Nora, who learned how to take pictures with my iPhone this weekend, and put her new skills to use while we were getting ready the day of.

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At summer's end

I know I haven't written in awhile, so I thought that instead of trying to play catch-up with you, my lovely six or seven readers, I would instead start right here, today, in our house. Where, just an hour ago, I realized that this was the last day I'd spend with both of my kids at home before they went off to school for the year. Nora, to kindergarten (KINDERGARTEN!!!!) and Gabe to a three-times-a-week preschool program for two-year-olds, which he is very excited about for the time being, and which he calls, "Gabey's school." He may become less excited when he realizes J and I won't be attending with him. Time will tell.

But back to the point, I was putting Gabe down for his afternoon nap, thinking about this, and got a little teary-eyed realizing the inevitable for all parents of young kids: that they are growing up, and will continue to do so. That they will start doing things like homework and sharing private jokes with friends that we don't get at all. What's more, they don't care if we get it.

That my little boy, who still proclaims loudly - and often - that he, "LOVES diapers," may indeed remain a baby for awhile longer, but certainly not forever. Because you know what else he loves? Women.

And that, despite craving a bit more freedom after spending most of this summer with my children, that freedom is - suddenly and oh so surprisingly - right around the corner.

The end of summer is, as I find so often, a bit of a strange and bittersweet time. This year is especially so as we are anticipating potential newness; J, ending his postdoc, has begun the permanent job search. Which means we are not sure what - or where - lies ahead.

The salve, of course, is that all the potential newness is exciting, too. I've always liked fall, both for its weather its sense of new beginnings, never able to escape the feel of the school calendar even when I was no longer attending. Technically the season is still a few weeks away, but symbolically, this is where it starts.

Now, of course, we're in it all the way with our two tiny and eager students, and I can't get enough of their enthusiasm. Or, in the younger one's case, a sense of good-natured obliviousness about it all; he's only two, after all. Still a baby, really. For now, anyway.

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Ok

1. 8:43 p.m., Monday. Everyone in this house, including my husband, is asleep, except me. Do I a) also sleep b) plow through some more of Dan Brown's "Inferno," thus learning more than a person could ever possibly wish to learn about Florentine history c) watch 5-7 episodes of "The West Wing"? 2. Summer goals time!

3. Today my two-year-old son counted to "eleventeen." So. Genius.

4. I'm leaning towards "also sleep."

5. I have a LOT of thoughts about being 35-years-old, and if you are lucky enough, I will whine incessantly share them with you.

Vacation, the aftermath

Back in 2010, you'll recall, I wrote about an amazing family vacation in Emerald Isle, NC, where we saw dolphins and had cocktails and went swimming and ate Pop-Tarts. Big emphasis on the Pop-Tarts. Well, just last week we did it again. Same house. An even bigger crew (meaning even more socializing, and hands on deck to help out with the kids) and more Pop-Tarts.

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The trip was, once again, amazing, and perhaps even more than it was the first time around, badly needed. While I'm still spending a fair deal of time at home these days, I'm also doing a fair deal of freelance writing. So I've been busy from sun-up (or, to be more exact, first-child-up) to sundown (which is, let's be honest, when I put on my pajama pants and call it a day) and I was truly ready for a break.

Because of that, I was lamenting the trip's end before it even began. So when it did end, I had a bit of a comedic breakdown. Every song seemed meaningful. Every piece of bacon seemed like my last. It was time to get organized again (or, maybe organized for the first time is more like it). It was time to stop eating everything in sight. It was time to return to what sometimes feels like a taxing work schedule. Hey, I'll take working over not working, but after a few months of regular output, professional stress has become less of a novel and welcome feeling to me. Now it just manifests as plain old, regular stress.

That's ok, though, because I've always felt that stressful situations are good impetus to change your life for the better. Maybe you need a new daily schedule! Or to clean out your desk! Maybe you need a new fitness regime! I love the promise of those ideas.

And that's usually how I've dealt with the end of great vacations. I've switched it up a bit, or planned something exciting. I think that's part of a vacation does: it energizes you for something new.

The difference at this stage of me and J's life is that we're on the brink of a LOT of new things, at least potentially. As he finishes up his post-doc, we will be thinking about what's next. Including new jobs and a whole new place to live, maybe. It's both scary and exciting, but most of all - for me at least - it's unsettling. I'm constantly on guard regarding my emotions; if I'm feeling in love with New Haven, I'm careful not to love it too much. When I talk to people about places they've lived, I'm overwhelmed with the details - the places, colors, pros and cons - in their stories.

So what I'm trying to do is convince myself that not knowing what's next is good. That we're on the brink of a million exciting things, whether that means new things here, or new things somewhere else. Our vacation was a chance to stop worrying about the routine parts of our life, and also to stop worrying about these bigger issues.

Now that we're back, it's game on. It feels better to admit that there's a lot to think about rather than utter my normal refrain, "Well, we'll see what happens." So, people: there's a lot to think about. Thanks to the beach, and our family and eating shameful amounts of refined sugar without guilt, I am rested and ready to plan.