When Snert was first talking, he had the most high-pitched voice you ever heard. Cisco and I worried to each other “Do you think it’ll stay that way?” (It didn’t. He sounds normal now.) I remember it so well: making dinner in the kitchen of our second apartment (it had mustard-colored appliances and a glorious in-unit washer and dryer), and in toddles not-yet two-year-old Snert, squeak-yelling “Mom! Mom! Ah you makin’ dinnah? Ah you? Mom! Ah you makin’ chickin’? Aaaahhh you?”

Cooking for that boy has only ever been deeply satisfying. Such appetite! Such joie de chew. The first time baby Snert tucked into a booster-tray of my cooking, I swelled with joyful pride unlike anything I’d ever felt before. It was so right, so primordially satisfying for me, in a way that even breastfeeding him never was. I’ve never felt more maternal.

I love to feed people. Somewhere inside my crusty heart lives a Jewish mama. And an Italian one, for that matter. I like to tell Cisco that there’s also a very exotic woman inside of me, trying to bust out of my buttoned-up exterior. She dances with her hips (can’t), kisses strangers (won’t) and is the best, big-heartedest company you ever had. She’s a sloppy cooker, obviously, so at least I have that part right. Cisco looks a little frozen when I talk like this. Intrigued, maybe, but uneasy. Seeing as how he married a pale-ish, repressed-ish, clumsy person who has terrible posture and no fashion sense, that other lady is probably not his type. Well, people can change, Cisco! People can change.

On that note, I invite you to make possibly the least exotic dish you could make: chicken soup. I know, but wait. I am not a soup person, either. No matter how many times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by soup, I can’t get excited about making it. But if you are cold all the time these days, if your people are sick, if you have a chicken in the fridge that’s skating dangerously close to its expiration date, or if February blues have set in and you would like a hug that doesn’t feel as pathetic as actually hugging yourself, chicken soup is the ticket. As the Brits say. Or is it just old people? They have all the best phrases, old people. Kiss your grandma! I can’t kiss mine without getting more Heathcliff than I would like.

Lately I’ve been using the Pioneer Woman’s chicken soup recipe, and it’s about as basic and tasty as they come. I use it as a rough guideline and throw in whatever I have around. The point is to use a whole chicken. This is key for several reasons: for starters, you plunk it in the pot right out of the package, thus minimizing human-to-poultry interaction. There’s no browning, no spattering oil, no softening of mirepoix, no faffing whatever. It’s easy easy easy, and your soup won’t suffer for it. Most importantly, though, you must use a whole chicken so that you get all the goodness of cooking with the bones. Even the smell is more nourishing and silky with the bones. If you have any soup left at the end of the day, you’ll notice when you next pull it out of the refrigerator that it has set up into a gelatin. That’s the sign of a good soup.

In PW’s recipe, you chuck in some onions, carrots, parsnips, celery, etc. and cover the whole mess with chicken broth. The broth is extravagant and unnecessary, and yes you could absolutely use water and it will still be delicious. I have been throwing restraint to the wind and using the broth, though, and oh, is it rich and lovely! Her recipe is so very simple that you can really do whatever you want with it. Perk it up with colorful spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, or leave it plain and comforting. Add noodles or rice, or any number of vegetables. That’s the thing about a soup. It’s endlessly forgiving of both culinary whims and tired fridge contents. Either way, the smell in your home will be heavenly, and fill your heart with a sense of rightness. When chicken soup is bubbling on my stove I feel all bosom. Maternally Speaking.

Just for the love, season your soup well. Soup always needs more salt than you think. If it tastes like a sad failure, it’s probably just not seasoned enough. Add salt, bit by bit, until gradually, like the rising dawn, your soup begins to have flavor. You’re nearly there. Add a bit more, and a good deal of pepper, and be delighted. There’s a reason Christ urges us to be salt. It changes everything.

As a parting pinch of persuasion (culinary alliteration, ten points!), soup is all the excuse you need to rekindle your romance with butter. Chuck together a banana or pumpkin quick bread, or just have a slice of sandwich bread. Butter cares not. Butter forgives. Butter covers a multitude of flaws in luscious reassurance. This is getting too sexy, so I’ll wrap it up. Make chicken soup this week. It will only cost you a few minutes of prep and a couple of hours of heavenly smells. Great will be your reward.




Made Me Laugh

Some of these are from a while ago, but I still get a kick out of them.

1. Cisco’s Mom moved, and gave him a bunch of nice things that wouldn’t be coming with her, one of which was a ceiling light fixture. Cisco brought it home and asked if I wanted him to install it in our entryway. It’s a nice fixture, but it doesn’t fit so well with what we’ve got going on around here, so I said, “I don’t know… I’m not so sure it’s what I’m looking for. Besides, it’s kind of a boob light.”

I probably shouldn’t have initiated the “boob light” conversation with Snert around, but he was totally (I thought) engrossed in his legos.

“It is not a boob light,” said Cisco.

“Well, yeah, it kind of is.”

“No, it isn’t.”

And then Snert, without looking up says, “It’s the shape.”

2. Recently, Snert and I had “words” so he stomped up to his room, wrote me a note, folded it into a paper airplane and threw it at my head.

“I am sad beecus of you mom”

3. It seems that my nephews and nieces like coming over to play. This makes me happy. They are so comfortable here, in fact, that they routinely relax right into their daily BM’s on my watch. It’s such an honor. One day I was watching some of them when the three-year-old, who was struggling at the time with severe potty-training-lockdown-stubbornness (think not “going” for days until he’s at desperate-bottom-grabbing point), came over to play and… you know. He was so proud. Later on he joyfully told his mom, “I’m going to tell Dad that I pooped to Aunt Rose!”

4. Snert: “Mom, how do you sing or whistle from your feet?”

5. I have another three-year-old nephew, and to him everything is HUGE and AWESOME. Except his mom, who is DINY. One day he was sitting on my lap and we were goofing around with my scarf, wrapping it around our heads and being “little old ladies”. First I put it on his head, and then mine, and when I said “Am I a little old lady?” he laughed and said “You’re not a little lady. You’re a huge lady.”

6. We were saying the Rosary in the car. I asked Snert what the fifth Joyful mystery is and he said, “Well, it’s when Mary and Joseph and Jesus were in Jerusalem, and I don’t know why they were there, but they couldn’t find Jesus, and they looked and looked and they found him in the temple teaching people all about the Our Father and the Sign of the Cross and stuff, even though he was only a kid.”




Lookout. This One’s About Feelings.

A couple of years ago, many times over the course of nine months, I saw a therapist. I went because I felt stuck, and even with regular prayer and sacraments I couldn’t get un-stuck. I was disconnected, unable to feel much joy, and very very sad. Infertility was an overpowering presence of sorrow in my life, and it bled into everything else. I was a ball of repressed feelings. I hated who I had become (dramatic much?), so I went to see someone.

I am proud of myself for that. And I got un-stuck, praise the good Lord. I’m so un-stuck now that I feel every damn thing. So many feelings.

I’m so happy. Achingly happy at times, most especially when I’m home with my boys. I feel searing gratitude on a daily basis. Cisco and I laugh again. You know about that. Pretty much all the feelings go to eleven.

It’s sort of awesome and sort of awful, but a lot more normal than I felt before. Mostly, it’s tiring. The more time goes by, the more I wish I had a better record of things: particular rough patches, what they were like and what got me out of them; graces received; prayers answered. I think it could help in the future, because infertility seems to be a never-ending recycling of the stages of grief. Thought you weren’t angry anymore? There you are saying something bitter and small you didn’t even know was in you. Thought you were done being kicked-in-the-gut sad? Nope. You are crying in mass like a weirdo again, and Cisco looks dodgy.

And acceptance? Well, that’s a minute-to-minute challenge, isn’t it? Much as I’d love to have one great cinematic moment of heroic surrender (I would be wearing an enormous red dress), the soul is stubborn and lazy, and has to be redirected time and again.

There’s a reason why infertility blogs don’t often gain followers among the fruited, and I think it’s the same reason why infertility has been silently labeled an unacceptable conversation topic: it is way too loud and sad and uncomfortable. Most of the time I am feeling something (or many things) intensely: Guilt with a side of self-pity, anger laced with envy, joy ladled with fear (I must be hungry), sorrow seasoned with shame (that was just to mess with you). Lady Feelings Management (LFM) can be a full-time job, and a serious bore to read about. I’m a little bored writing about it. And forget trying to act normal with all that crap happening inside.

(On a side-note, I read an article the other day that said that women in fact do need more sleep than men on average, because we use our brains so much more. I think they said because of “multi-tasking”, by which I assume they meant worrying, and panning for emotional-and-people-problem nuggets.)

As much as I hate to admit it, suffering does bring gifts. One of them is a freakishly heightened awareness of one’s own good fortune. But all those heightened feelings can make a person twitchingly intense; a Mrs. Bennett. Someone who cries at flash mob videos and laughs way too loud. Maybe even someone who throws things. (Have I ever told you how badly I want to throw dishes? Is this normal? Ever since I had a second-floor balcony in college, I’ve been dying to throw a stack of plates. Crash. Cisco says I should just do it already, because everyone needs to have a throwing-stuff story. Isn’t he um… supportive.)

People (not men – ha) say that feelings are better out than in, but they do come out all spurty, don’t they? It’s so much better than being stuck and depressed, though.

Well, there it is. Dipping a toe in the writing waters. Sort of murky in here.

For Your Monday: How Glad I Am

My mom showed me this video a few weeks back. How have I never heard of Nancy Wilson? So wonderful. Can you imaging being able to sing like that? I want to work up a little version with my ukulele. Going on two years since I got that thing, maybe I orta use it.

Blah, I don’t know how to put the video thingy here, but here’s the link. And a picture that sums up everything Summer is to me.




Happy Fails

Hello hello! How is your Summer? My thoughts are of Pretty Things, Goals, Talents, Joys, Music, Summer! Isn’t this fabric pretty? It’s from my latest issue of House Beautiful.


Let’s talk about failure:

1. In the car yesterday, I was trying to explain to Snert that it’s rude to yell at people, even if “they make you so mad!”. He argued and argued until I lost my temper and yelled – just as we stopped at the bicycle crossing. It must have been confusing for the cyclists because no one ever gives them the right of way, and here was this nice lady stopping for them, except that she wasn’t nice but terrifying.

I realized immdeiately that I was an enormous hypocrite, and apologized for yelling (even though he “make me so mad!”).

I fail.

(Snert is a pudding most of the time. This is the paper heart necklace he made me for Mother’s Day – 100% his own idea and labor)

I'll eat you up, I love you so.

I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

2. In the kitchen this evening, I was mending fences before bedtime: “I’m sorry I’ve been short-tempered lately. I will try to get control of my temper. And you, honeychild, must stop arguing every last thing and start saying ‘Yes, Mom.’ Even if you disagree with me.”

So then we argued about that, which made me want to scream because he “make me so mad!”

Actually, I couldn’t even get close to yelling because the dog was trying to hump Snert’s leg the whole time. Revolting comic relief or something. I gave up and called it a night because I fail again.

I am here to wreck your life.

I am here to wreck your life.

3. Everyone at airports fail. Well, most women at least. I only fly every couple of years or so, but we took a quick trip to Texas last weekend, and I did not get the memo that junderpants and (semi-sheer? really people, those things are never opaque over your trunkage) leggings are the norm for the under-forty crowd. Everywhere. They were everywhere. All I could see for miles around was bottoms.

This is to replace that image in your brain.

This is to replace that image in your brain.

4. Oh, and Cisco fails. Or rather the world fails him. He had a rough day at work, bad traffic on the way home, arrived to find that the dog had destroyed one of the outdoor couch cushions, and then got a dent in his car playing catch with his loving, argumentative, squealing family. Things continue as they do, idiotic.

Remind me to have a talk with Cisco about blog anonymity, because this is getting stupid.

I’m so proud.

How you doing?

This, Too


I miss my baby. I miss baby Snert, I miss my baby in Heaven, and I miss the babies I’ve only ever dreamed of. Will only ever dream of.

I am most decidedly infertile. A test a couple of weeks back showed that my lone fallopian tube, the one that we tried to repair a few months ago, is all but totally closed again. There is no more we can do. It is finished.

We will keep praying for a miracle, for it would most surely be a miracle. But until then, it is finished. Holding ma baby. And I miss that, oh, do I.

I’m ok, too. That’s just grace, I know – lots of people praying for us.


But I had a happy thought and I want to tell it to you, for happy thoughts right now are more precious to me than a thousand cheesecakes: Those baby days, that skin, that bottom-heavy, floppy weight in my arms; those smiles and sneezes and hands on my neck, all of those are. They must be. They are in the mind and heart of my God, who always is, and so they always are. And maybe Heaven is not so much the leaving of these varied happinesses for another, but the Always Is of our happiest times. (And more, yes, of course, much more.)


If I draw closer to Him Who Is, will those long-ago moments, those sweetest memories, grow not farther away from me but closer?

I’m thinking yes.


Happy thought, indeed.

My Guy

Cisco’s been really happy lately. I’ve noticed, of course, but other people have, too. It’s odd that it makes an impression at all, because he’s never been an unhappy person – he’s what people call level. I guess he was heavy with life, though. For seven or so years, we forgot how to laugh.

rosefrank 1

Life was so… churny that we couldn’t stop treading water long enough to laugh. There were times (for a while there, almost all the times) when the thought of trying to “find joy” left me exhausted. (In hindsight I’m pretty sure I had depression for parts of it, too.) Infertility is as heavy as an elephant around your neck. Or at least your wife’s neck, in which case you’re drowning, too, buddy. Marriage.

It is desperately lonely to lose the joy you take in the one you love. Now, somehow, it’s coming back to us. Laughter and lightness. Oh, but I love laughing with Cisco. He delights me. And laughter makes fondness, and fondness, more laughter.

rosefrank 2

What a gift. Damn flipping luxury. It’s been so long.


You indeed are my Savior,

and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

(Ps 63:8)


Cisco and I are not done crying, but we know how to laugh again. Somewhere in there, I don’t even know where, He taught us.

God must be raucous with joy.


Psalm 63

O God, you are my God-

it is you I seek!

For you my body yearns;

for you my soul thirsts,

In a land, parched, lifeless,

and without water.

I look to you in the sanctuary

to see your power and glory.

For your love is better than life;

my lips shall ever praise you!


I will bless you as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.

My soul shall be sated as with choice food,

with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!

I think of you upon my bed,

I remember you through the watches of the night.

You indeed are my savior,

and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

My soul clings fast to you;

your right hand upholds me.


But those who seek my life will come to ruin;

they shall go down to the depths of the netherworld!

Those who would hand over my life to the sword shall

become the prey of jackals!

But the king shall rejoice in God;

all who swear by the Lord shall exult,

but the mouths of liars will be shut!


A Few Things, In The Meantime

My sister told me that this post disappeared for a while. No idea about that, but I reposted it. So.

I’ve been writing a lot lately, but editing myself into oblivion. So much to say, so little coherence. This is a freebie for me, no over-thinking. And there are links to a bunch of things I like at the end.


All my thyroid levels are fine, and the good doctor is baffled. I was so frustrated. It’s desperate times when an autoimmune disease diagnosis looks like a good thing. Because at least then you can get treated or something. Having nothing to go on is so discouraging. The only thing the doc could suggest is a sleep study. Pooooo. I called Cisco, snortling and crying “I’m too tired for a sleep study!!!” He laughed, because what else are you going to do when your wife is losing her damn mind?

I called my sister and cried, too. And then Cisco again, for good measure. I keep thinking about the police man from Doc Martin (do you watch that show? Cornwall is so beautiful!). He was talking about women, and how it’s hard for them to think when “their brains are all clogged up with hormones.” Makes me laugh so hard.

I know, my feminine sensitivity is super beautiful and stuff.

What else? I forgot to pay all the bills last month. That was a fun surprise.

Do you read WellnessMama? So many fascinating things there (this one and this one for starters), although it can be a little overwhelming at first. I happened to read this a couple weeks ago, so I started taking magnesium every evening before bed. After a few days I realized that I was waking up remembering dreams – something I hadn’t done in months and months. Isn’t that strange?

I’ve been taking it for a little over a week, and every day I feel a little more alive, a little less desperately tired and stupid. Maybe it was the sleep? Maybe Seasonal Affective Disorder without the depression? Can that happen?

Anyway, I hope you’re having a super week. Below are some things I’ve been liking lately (I mean “liking” the way people meant it in the olden days, and not the social media way. I don’t know how to do that.)

This house looks so comfy.

I’m mostly over it with soups and stews. Just give me grilled kebabs already. I do want to eat this, though.

I agree with Betty, but sadly Cisco never will.

Don’t know why I loved this book so much as a kid, but I still do. Have you read it?

Speaking of kids books, this is such a cute idea that I am never ever going to get around to doing.

Am reading this right now, and  as much as I’m sick to death of Winter, it’s enjoyable.

If you want a nice vacationy sort of book, all about Italy and wine, read this. I love it so much.

This album is super. Totally unbiased opinion (not). Number 7 is my favorite at the moment, but everyone seems to go bonkers over number 6. And mind, the sound quality is much better on the actual album than on a computer.

Do you know AshleyAnn? Her photos are so beautiful. So are my sister’s, but she never posts any more. Some favorites of hers, though. Come on, Mary, post the photos of your fat, peachy baby with the pudding arms. Or something.

Das it, I’m off to brush my teeth or something. It’s 11:30, after all.

SpongeBrain CrazyPants

My doctor suspects I have Hashimoto’s, and I am pleased to be so exotic. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid, leaving you hypothyroid (and occasionally hyperthyroid, though I haven’t experienced that). Am tired as the dead; hypoglycemic; heart-racey; forgetful. You could cut my brain fog with a knife. Then there are the bouts of semi-apathetic anxiety and weird night vision. A little wikipedia tells me that, left untreated, I could develop a goiter (no, really). Maybe I’ll look like this some day. Will join the circus and scare children for a living.

I’m also on progesterone supplements, which make me high. Yes, I know what it feels like to be high. I have enjoyed many a potent pain killer in my post-surgical history. Part of my brain feebly calls out “This isn’t so good…” but I’m high so I don’t care.

I am straight up stupid now. When Cisco asks me a question, irritation pricks across my skin – annoyance over the sheer amount of effort it will take to form a coherent answer. Writing has become a hold-out. An oasis in the stupor – I sift and sort my thoughts; maybe my brains aren’t quite liquified yet. When they drip out my ears, I’ll have another mess to clean up. Balls.

Everything’s sort of funny lately – it’s so absurd, why not laugh? It will be fixed soon enough. Or not. I told Cisco that I wish he could pack me up in a little suitcase and carry me around. He was intrigued by the possibilities for party conversation: “Have you met my wife, Rose? Why don’t I unlatch my case so she can slosh around and smile vacantly at you?”

The flights of imagination are an amusing up-side. We got our first dog a few weeks ago, and he’s the worst. (Shut up, I know. The boys love him, and he’s very nice for a dog. There.) Shortly after we got him I dreamed that he ran away at a park. After a while, someone pulled up in a car and said, “Is this your dog?” Out hopped a mutt the size of a pony – its coloring just like our stupid Oats. “Yup, that’s him,” Cisco nodded, and I stared dumbly as he unloaded a cow-patty sized gift right in front of me. The pony, not Cisco. Ugh, sorry, this is going nowhere good.

And one more thing. Spiritual enlightenment is positively raining down on me. I scribble things on paper – wonderful, holy things that I don’t want to forget. Potent impressions that momentarily dissipate the haze of idiocy. I discover later that maybe they don’t mean much at all.

At least resignation comes easy when everything is so muffled. Why not offer it up?

Good, now a nap.