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The Song: An honest, soulful look at this beautiful, messy thing called marriage

Marriage is hard, even under the best of circumstances. Add in some problems, and marriage can feel beyond hard, maybe impossible, as evidenced by the soaring divorce rate. But marriage is also beautiful, a calling to go beyond yourself, if it’s done right. Read more

Turning summer stress into meditation in motion

My latest Life Lines column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

Every year, when summer rolls around, I vow to work less and play more, or at least give my kids the lion’s share of my attention. And every year, usually by early August, I wonder what went wrong. Dreams of hikes and fire pits and beaches have been replaced by the realities of doctor appointments and work deadlines and camp forms. At least two out of three kids are being neglected on any given day. Read more

Prescription for a better marriage: Start dating

My most recent Life Lines column: 

About eight or nine years ago, my aunt gave me a lovely picnic basket backpack, complete with cloth napkins, plastic wine glasses, everything you’d need for a romantic al fresco meal in a park or on a beach. And every year since then I have considered donating it to a school garage sale because, quite frankly, romantic picnics just weren’t on our “to do” list.

But something stopped me from throwing that backpack into the Hefty bags along with old puzzles and board games bound for the bargain bin. I had a tiny glimmer of hope that some day we would dust off that backpack and take it for a spin. Read more

My Mighty Girl: Happy birthday, Chiara

When I sat down to write this birthday post for my baby, Chiara Elizabeth, who turned nine today, I found myself unable to get started. Every time I wrote something, I’d shake my head, delete, and stare at the blank space again. Nothing felt quite right, and I wondered, Why? Read more

Manic Monday: Rocking the Bronx. And Syracuse.

How is it possible we have already hit mid-July? I would find that totally unbelievable except for the fact that I’m looking out at my yard as I write this, and it is clearly mid-July out there. It’s like a jungle, with plants run amok and weeds the size of small trees. This is what happens when summer starts to get away from me, and it almost always does. (It just so happens that as I was looking out at my jungle yard, Cari Donaldson posted this wonderful essay  about this very thing. Please go read it when you’re done here.) With everything on our calendar for the coming week (including another trip to NYC with my sister and brother and our families), I suspect things aren’t going to get any tidier any time soon.

Before we get on with the rest of Manic Monday, just take a look at that beautiful July sunset over the Stewart’s Shop near our house. Don’t forget to look for God’s beauty in unexpected places — like when you’re at a gas pump a mile from home.  Anyway, away we go with the rest of Manic Monday…

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I should have known… An Ode to Olivia

I should have know you would turn out to be a determined, amazing, strong, daring girl…

…when you burst into the world in record time (less than 30 minutes in the hospital) and at a whopping 10 pounds and immediately demanded to be nursed.

You were ready for this world since before you were born. Read more

Manic Monday: On the edge of summer

Summer vacation STILL hasn’t started for us. A few more days of school before the kids are free and we sit down to make our annual Beach Bucket List. Noah is taking a Regents exam as we speak and still has his big final oral presentation and a Latin final to go. Olivia is hoping thunderstorms don’t wash out the eighth-grade trip to the Great Escape tomorrow. Chiara is waiting for her last (half) day on Wednesday and her big end-of-year gymnastics performance that night, which will include a triple back-handspring and an aerial cartwheel, I’m told. From what I’ve seen in the backyard, I know she’s serious. And we’ll cap off the school activities with Olivia’s eighth-grade graduation on Thursday morning. Good week behind us, good week ahead of us, lots of good all around us. Here’s our Manic Monday menu: Read more

Happy 19th anniversary, amore mio.

Happy anniversary to us, Dennis Poust, even if we have to celebrate apart for the first time in our 19 years of marriage. We’ll make up for it when you get back from Roma.

For the NSS readers out there, I did not toast our anniversary by myself, as the photo to the left might imply. Dennis bought me a dozen roses and we popped a bottle of Prosecco before he left for Italy. The benefit of being apart for our anniversary? We get to have a pre-anniversary celebration and a post-anniversary celebration. We spent the before celebration at The Merry Monk pub in Albany, and we plan to spend our post-celebration at the slinky, sexy Speakeasy, also in downtown Albany.  Read more

The great Christmas stocking debate returns

Okay, here’s the question of the day: Is the Christmas stocking important or irrelevant? This debate rages at our house each Christmas season. For me, the Christmas stocking is key when it comes to under-the-tree goodies. For Dennis, it’s completely unnecessary and incomprehensible. He says he didn’t get a Christmas stocking as a child, which I think might qualify as child abuse in some states. I, on the other hand, continue to get a stocking from my dad and step-mom. Granted, it doesn’t come in an actual stocking anymore; it’s in a Christmas gift bag. But my dad always hands it to me and says, “And here’s your stocking.” Read more