“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

King of the Hill, Top of the Heap

When your family knows that you write (and are randomly quite good at creating slideshows set to music), they ask you to write the speech. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to write or speak, two things which usually come easily to me. But when someone gives you a legacy, you can give them a speech. Here it is.

My name is Mary Pat; I’m Santo’s granddaughter. I’d like to thank you all for coming today, to what is my grandpa’s last great party. We didn’t do this for my grandmother, and I think that’s something we all regretted, so we really wanted to say a few things about Grandpa today.

At the funeral home this morning, my brother reminded me of how Grandpa always wanted to know where each of his grandchildren were. If one was missing, he’d immediately notice and ask: “Where’s Pauly? Where’s Janie? Where’s little Joe?” It occurred to me as we were talking that I would never again hear anyone shout, “How’s Mares!” when they enter a room, and I would never again hear him ask for a “high five” from one of my kids.

It would mean a great deal to my grandfather to see you all here, as it does to our family. I’d like to take a second to point out that Grandpa was not a man to mince words. If he didn’t like you, he made sure you knew it. Everyone sitting here should give themselves a pat on the back – you made the cut.

When I was asked to write this speech I was both honored and nervous. I wasn’t sure what I’d say. My grandmother, who we all love and miss, was easy to know, and easy to get along with. She was my best friend when I was four years old. Her, I could write a speech about. But Grandpa was a different sort of person. I remembered a time when my sister and I were at a drug store shopping to buy him a Father’s Day card. Most of the cards for a grandfather didn’t really fit with who our grandpa was to us. Puppies or flowers or cookies or hugs, the cards in the store suggested a cuddly man, a doting “gramps” sort of guy that Grandpa just wasn’t. As it turns out, there’s no card with  a picture of a Manhattan or a big bottle of Chianti on the front and then blank inside so you can write down the names of all your kids.

It took a big extended family dinner to get this right. Italian style, just the way Grandpa liked it—a couple bottles of wine, lots of my mom’s good food, and all of us sitting around the table long after it had been cleared, just talking to each other. And here’s what we came up with.

Grandpa, Santo to many of you, was born in 1927. Historically, that was two years before the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. Grandpa was raised on the West Side of Buffalo by parents who had come to America from Sicily in the hopes of providing a better life for their family. The story sounds like any other, and yet Santo Bueme was a man all his own.

The newspaper summarized Grandpa’s life in just a few short paragraphs. A retiree of Niagara Mohawk, employed at the Huntley Station in Tonawanda, NY. He ran B&B Heating and Hardware alongside his cousin and partner, Carl Bueme, until they started Bueme Construction. That turned into Bueme Development Corporation, which included the great Wimbledon establishment in West Seneca. And finally, Oakridge Estates, known to me nearly my whole life simply as, “The apartments.”

But reading off that list still doesn’t define the person we knew. When we talk about Santo going into business with Carl, that wasn’t just a partnership. As my dad said, Partnerships come and go, but this lasted eighty-nine years. That’s not just business. Hardware stores and construction companies don’t explain that Carl and Santo grew up in the same house on West Avenue, that they ran lemonade stands together as little boys, were best friends for life. In fact, the story goes that my grandfather and his siblings and all his cousins, regardless of age, all started kindergarten at the same time. Because none of their parents could read, write, or speak English very well, every single one of those kids had “Bueme” spelled a different way on their record. It was the kindergarten teacher who figured this out, and looked over all the different spellings, and made up the way we all spell the name today. This might explain some of the confusion over how to pronounce it, because to a lot of people it doesn’t really look like “Bueme,” but we can all take a lesson from what Grandpa said about it: “If people say it wrong, just don’t answer them.”

Grandpa was proud of his name, and he worked hard to make something of it. Joe and my mom Judy can’t think of any part of their lives when their father wasn’t working at something. He went to work every single day. At night, he’d sit at the table with Grandma and say, “What are we going to do tomorrow?” and he’d be excited about the prospect of another day, more to do, let’s get going. Santo was a man who came from nothing, and just by getting married he put himself $75 in debt. His focus became not just working his way out of debt, not just making money, but working as hard as he could to build a better life. It was about providing for his family. I think it’s pretty cool that his job, the career and business he and Carl built for themselves, was building homes. Because homes are the backbone of family. Grandpa and Carl committed their lives to creating the place for families to go. I always loved being able to point to my house when I was growing up and saying, “My grandpa built that,” and I know my sister will always appreciate that she can say that about her house now. And even though when it came to be my turn, my grandpa had to say he was too old to build me a house, I want to take a moment and thank my husband for making sure that he got to see our house that we are building before he died. It meant a lot to him and it means a lot to me.

Before building homes, and long after that, Santo showed what “work ethic” should look like. He started out small, and took everything he earned to turn it into something better. A hardware store. A construction company. Real estate. Not for himself. None of it for himself. For his family.

One of his biggest beliefs was that you have to focus on something, and whatever it is that you choose, if you give it everything you’ve got, you’ll do well at it. He’d say, “If you want to focus on girls, you’ll get girls. If it’s a sport, you’ll be good at that sport. If you want to focus on money, you’ll find a way to make money.” This seems simple, but it’s hard to achieve. And yet, it’s the way he lived his life. He believed in work, so he worked. When he retired from Niagara Mohawk, and he wanted to start running with my grandma, he started running. He won medals and awards. Runner of the Year. He did a half-marathon in an hour and 43. He wanted to do it, so he did it.

He also believed in family. He and Grandma were married for 67 years. My uncle Joe said, “As tough as my father was, my mother was just as tough; they both put up with a lot.” All the married people here know what that means, but 67 years of marriage is impressive. And he loved her. You could see it in all the old pictures, and we could see it after we lost her. They spent their life always together. And they were happy to be where they were, happy to see you. No matter what else was happening in their lives, if you had something going on, they showed up for you. Santo and Helen, walking through the door. You could count on it. To many of you that meant friendship. To many, it meant support. Friendship. Family. To me, it meant Grandma and Grandpa. Whatever they were to us, they were there. Because that’s what they believed in, and it’s what Grandpa believed above all. Family before everything.

He spent a lifetime showing us what hard work looked like, and how the reward was sharing it with the people he loved. He taught Joe and Judy: money is not about buying stuff. You could tell he believed this just by looking at him on a regular day. He used to pick me up from school in an undershirt and old jeans, in a pickup truck with the snowplow still attached, even if it was May. He was so understated that everyone at Joe’s wedding thought he was “the banana guy.” Amy had no idea what they were talking about. She said, “What banana guy?” and everyone said, “You know, the guy who delivers the bananas to the gym every week! He’s standing over there next to Joe in a tux!”

No, to him, money wasn’t about the stuff; it was for building a life. I think now, looking back over his life, and what a life, that it makes sense that my grandpa was a builder. Because while he built houses and apartment buildings and bowling alleys, he really built much more than that. He built a family, he built a life that has carried all of us. And now, we can carry with us the lessons he taught us. Hard work, family, love. His life was full and well-lived, one we can only hope to live, and it is worth carrying on his great legacy.

To show that we already do live his legacy, I’d like to share a story. When I was first dating my husband, he asked, “What are you?” I said, “I’m Italian.” He said, “You don’t look Italian. And…Michalek…isn’t that Polish?” and I said, “I’m ITALIAN.”

And my mother, she married a Polish man. Joey married a nice Polish girl. Even Grandpa married a nice Polish girl. And these are my blond Polish sons and my sister’s Irish redheads. Grandpa was our last full-blooded Italian. And yet, we all go to my mother’s house every week for Sunday sauce. We don’t miss it. We sit down as a family and we do that, because we are Italian. And that is from Grandpa. It’s because of him that we are a great Italian family.

In loving memory of Santo Joseph Bueme 
July 30, 1927-September 2, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Letter to My Sick Boy

Dear Max,

Right now you are asleep on a towel on the bathroom floor. Every once in awhile, you shudder, but mostly your breathing is deep and steady. I'm glad for this, and I won't move you. You might wake up and be sick again.

I have promised you every day for too many days that you will feel better tomorrow. Each time, I'm relieved you don't actually understand promises yet. I will be in trouble when you do. But right now, my promises have not been true and each day this week you have felt equally sick as the day before. It isn't my fault, but I'm still sorry.

I am selfish because I want to go to sleep. I am impatient and my back hurts from holding you and my heart hurts from letting you see that. Instead of thinking about it, I remember the day you were born.

They made me walk to the operating room. With Noah, an unplanned cesarean, I was rushed on a gurney. But with you I had time and, according to the doctor, plenty of strength. At 70 pounds of baby weight gain, I disagreed, but the man was about to bring you into the world so I didn't argue.

Your dad was made to leave the OR during my spinal tap. You probably won't want to hear this but, buddy, I took a massive needle in my spine for you so you're hearing it. My doctor held on to me to keep me still, and he and the anesthesiologist joked over who was more worthy to be the baby's namesake. Both had terrible names, but again, I stayed silent.

You had already been Max to me for quite awhile.

When that awfulness was over, they laid me back on the operating table. One side of me wasn't numb, so they tipped the table and I felt the rush of nothing fill my other side. It's a weird feeling that you only understand once you've had it.

I was afraid.

I have never fully been able to comprehend you, Max. You weren't part of my plans, which has always made me feel unworthy. From the moment I learned you existed, I felt sure I would mess something up for you.

But I was afraid for nothing. You came into the world screaming, if a bit blue. You already looked chubby and round and I loved you instantly.

Then you refused to breast feed. Clearly starving, nothing I did could make you eat what I offered. You just preferred the bottle, and that was that. It was hard for me to give up, but you had begun to lose that lovely chub. You are more stubborn than I am, and in the end, I was afraid.

But I was afraid for nothing. You ate from the bottle perfectly, and became the chubby-cheeked baby everyone needed to squeeze and kiss. You're not a cuddler, but you put up with it.

Now you are two. You are a monster toddler. I feel sure most days that I won't survive you.

But I look at you now, asleep in the floor in the bathroom, and I would give anything to make you better. It has been long days and long nights, and you hurt. I hate that you hurt, Max. I know there are much worse things out there in the world than this nasty virus, but I don't want you to hurt anymore. So I'm praying. I've tried everything else, and now I'm just praying.

You are my special angel sent from up above. You are my special angel, here for me to love.

I am afraid tonight. But I hope I am afraid for nothing. I pray tomorrow you will smile and laugh and make such trouble I only have to be afraid I won't survive you.

Sleep tight, special angel.

Love, Mom

Monday, February 1, 2016

Groundhog Day

I would just like to whisper a small thought out into the cold winter night.

You are not forgotten.

There are times I still look for you. I think you might just be in the kitchen, or in the next room, or getting ready back in your bedroom while everybody waits. It would be OK with me now to wait just one more time.

I see a gigantic car in the road, a real whale, that cruises smoothly along at a whopping thirty-five miles per hour and isn't going to move any faster, not even for fire or blood, and I think of you. I think of how we kids groaned in the back seat because we were never going to get where we wanted to go with you driving. I can smell the inside of your car: leather and fruit, because you kept ten thousand oranges and bananas in the garage. You let Pauly and Janie climb in and out of the windows like they did on Dukes of Hazzard, but not me. You took me by the hand and said, "They're just crazy and going to get hurt!"

I opened your cupboard about ten months ago and I saw your sugar bowl. If anyone had said, "What does Grandma's sugar bowl look like?" I would have laughed. "How should I know?" I would have said. But when I saw it there, tucked neatly in with the dishes, my heart stopped for a moment because I could hear your voice again. "Just put this on the table, Lovey, and then come back and help me."

When it's a bad day, a really bad day, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I remember your arms around me. Not like at the end, where you were a feather and I was a gust of wind and it made me afraid. No. Instead I think of the real you. The one who could bench-press a train and once lifted me up in the Statler ballroom and polka-ed me around the dance floor, laughing the whole way. Your hugs made the world stop. They held me in place. They said, "You are all I care about in this moment." You were so strong. I know that.

When I look into my son's green eyes, I have to close mine for a second. So much of you is still here. It's still your world, and it amazes me that it keeps on turning and we have to live in it without you. 

When I look down at my hand and see your ring, which fits perfectly, I imagine the day you first wore it. The way you laughed your laugh and placed your hand over your heart, and it caught the church lights and sparkled and you said, "Some day maybe you'll have one just like it."

It's a big world, with big problems, all the time every day. And they matter. To a lot of different people, all kinds of things matter. Probably much bigger than a girl and her grandma. But you still matter to me, and I thank you for being that sort of person. The sort worth remembering and missing. We all love you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Special Blessing

I had my oldest son Joey when I was twenty-five. I didn't think that was terribly young at the time, but now that I'm thirty-five and I have a sixteen-month-old, I am amazed at the difference ten years can make.

I've often mentioned that Joey was a surprise. A welcome one; we wanted children and were thrilled to start our family. But there has always been something about being a mother that triggers my awareness of my own imperfections. When Joey was born, he was perfect. A part of me wondered whether the Universe had made a mistake. How could I, someone filled with mistakes and flaws, deserve this perfect little person to depend on me to help him grow up and stay perfect?

I think in verbalizing that question, I've summed up all the anxieties I've felt since having children.

Joey had surgery today. It was minor and simple, but it took up our whole day and required him to be under general anesthesia, which is a frightening thing. He wore a gown, had an IV, and was taken away from me. Wide double doors closed and locked between us. I had no idea how many minutes or hours would pass before I saw him again. Every episode of Grey's Anatomy replayed in my mind, where some random patient came into Seattle Grace/Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital for something simple (like hiccups, for example) and never left.

All day long I wrote this blog in my head, memorizing details and choosing the words to describe my moment to moment emotions. In the end, all of it really only mattered to me. The fear, the worry, the love. The random moments where I was proud and relieved and just wanted to cry for no reason I could understand.

In the end, what mattered is how I saw myself surrounded by other parents who also love their children so much. I was reminded by the hour, by the minute at some points, that my children's health is a gift I cannot take for granted. Tonight I pray that my little boy won't throw up again from the anesthesia, but I pray bigger prayers for the other children I saw today.

Not long after Joey was born I visited a place called Lily Dale, a little outside Buffalo, NY. Lily Dale can be a little controversial, I suppose. It's a community of psychics. The women in my family like to go, mostly for fun, but sometimes for reassurance or hope. It was my first time visiting and I didn't expect much beyond a lot of laughing and a nice lunch. I had both. But I also had a rather unique experience with the psychic I visited. She was a tiny old woman, who held my hands in her shaky ones. She smiled knowingly and said, "You have a son."

"Yes," I said.

"He was a surprise."

"Yes," I said.

"You doubt yourself?"

"A little."

"Babies choose their mothers, you know."

I was silent. It was a concept I had never considered, and therefore foreign to me.

"They do," she went on. "And your son chose you. It's not up to you to wonder why. What's important is that this boy wanted you to be his mother. He is your special blessing."

I never forgot these words. I don't know how much I can believe the bit about babies choosing their mothers. I love it as an idea, but I've been a teacher for too many years and seen too many lonely and broken children to swallow it whole. I hold tight, too, to my belief that God decides. But her other words, those I have kept in my heart. They are the nest that holds all the love I have for Joey, Noah, and Max. "He is your special blessing."

My heart broke for Joey's fear today. I crumbled more at his bravery. I wished he was still small so I could hold him tight in my arms against my heart. And yet I know what a blessing it is that he is whole and well and tomorrow will be fresh and healthy and strong.

Today made me grateful.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ten Reasons I Make a Terrible Grownup

Confession: I have no idea how to be a grownup. I fear this has been wildly apparent to the general public for some time, but my meager attempts at hiding it have officially exhausted me. I've also become aware of something else some time in the last week/month: I'm not the only one. I don't know if thirty-five is the magical age where people realize this, or if it's taken me inordinately long, but I feel so freed by this that I'm shouting out ten of my craziest I'm-a-lousy-grownup secrets for all the world to hear. Even my Mom. Because you know what? I've decided they don't make me a bad person after all.

1. I don't move furniture to clean. Once in awhile, a toy will fall in a hard-to-reach place or, worse, something large is being delivered and Joe has to shove the couch out of the way and, well, it's mortifying.

2. I have more than one closet where I have to duck when I open the door.

3. My children have clothes two sizes too small in their drawers. Sometimes, when they dress themselves, they come skipping into the room with with their forearms and ankles showing and they are befuddled by my shrieks of horror and insistence that they change outfits immediately.

4. School forms are the enemy. I still have some from when Joey was in first grade. They are tucked in the handy "organizers" I've purchased and set up specifically for school forms. I'm quite sure the office has a fat file with my name on it, and it's filled with all the panicked notes I send in explaining that, though I've misplaced the form, can my child still be permitted to go on the field trip/attend the social/eat the candy bars/go to school that day?

5. My basement looks like an episode of Hoarders.

6. My children hide things under their beds and I pretend not to notice.

7. In the event of unexpected company, I have swept dirt under the rug in the entry way.

8. I buy fancy baskets so I can hide, not clean up or organize, messes.

9. My children eat processed foods. Many households have two working parents who have figured out how to have fresh/organic/paleo/gluten free/nontoxic/brain-strengthening meals and snacks at the ready. Shamefully, we are not yet among those people.

10. I still wear maternity underwear and I don't care about panty lines. Of all the problems in this great big world (and as clearly indicated by this post, I have a few), I don't want uncomfortable undergarments to be one of mine.

My hope is that somewhere in this list of my deepest and darkest, you went Gasp! Me, too. (Though it probably wasn't number 10.) And other than that, don't judge me too harshly--my mom will do it for you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I was ten years old when I first experienced the loss that comes with the death of a loved one. It would be a long time before I felt it again. I remember it vividly however, and have carried it with me in all that I do in the years that have since come and gone.

This time, of course, is different. Like visiting a place you knew well as a child after many years, the colors have changed, the sizes seem out of proportion, and time seems to have sped up and slowed down all at once.

I was asked to write something and speak at my grandmother's funeral. "You can just put something together, right?" Right. Easy. My favorite addendum was, "We can all give you our stories and you can just put them together into a little speech?"

As I sat at Grandma's dining room table today, a sea of photographs flowing around my elbows, I was relieved that the speech was no longer a thing. Catholics don't go for personal eulogies, and while we'd hoped to be an exception to the rule, we were gently reminded that we were no more special than anybody else. But I was relieved, because the more waves of pictures that rolled toward me, the more stories I saw. My grandma wasn't just my grandma. She was an ocean herself, deeply layered with the experiences of eighty-four years well lived.

Someone had said to me, "Of course your story will be all about how she took care of you when you were sick." Like that was it, that was all I'd come up with to say about a lifelong relationship. When I was four years old, she was my best friend. Last Thursday night, while we watched Wheel of Fortune, she was fast becoming a memory. The last words I said to her that night were, "'Do you know the way to San Jose?'" I'd solved the puzzle, but she'd already fallen asleep for the night. 

But it was the photographs today, and trying to organize them by relationship or importance or historical sequence, that made it clear to me I could no more compile everyone's stories in a short speech than I could control the weather. It would be an impossible task. My grandmother was a lot of things to a lot of people, and all of them were very lucky to know her. She was what many of us can only hope to be: Important.

But I can tell you a little bit about how she lived her life. 

Runner of the Year for over twenty-five years. We tried to figure it out and lost count. Weight-lifter. Book club member. Tour guide at Our Lady of Victory Basilica. Crisis counselor. Substitute teacher. Maker of amazing meatballs. She made the best salads, of all things, but they were delicious. She was classy. Sleek. She made looking good at any age look like a breeze. Her smile was dazzling. Best of all, it was real, every time. She was a friend, the kind everyone deserves to have but rarely finds. She was fun. She laughed often and loud. And she loved. She loved so many people with everything she had. She fought hard to the end to hang on because she loved us all so much. I know that. She was our friend, our mother, our grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, teacher, counselor, and things I'll probably spend the next few days hearing all about that I never knew.

But dear Grandma, you were the strong hand that held mine when I was a little girl. You were the voice that softly called me "Lovey" and your baby, even on my wedding day. You saw the best me when I was my worst, and more than anything else, you made sure I knew how much you loved me.

I hope you knew how much we all love you. Always.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Moments I Fell In Love With My Husband All Over Again

Most people know that I've loved my husband Joe since the moment I first saw him twenty years ago, and there are some terrific constants that make him easy to keep on loving. He's honest and loving and over-the-top ridiculous about a lot things, which include shutting off light switches while I'm still in the room, but also include making a big deal out of loving me. I really enjoy people who make a big deal out of me because, well, I'm kind of a big deal.

But aside from all of that, my favorite thing about being married to Joe is that over time, there are little moments that make me fall in love with him all over again, right then and there, and the fluttery feeling in my chest, the one that makes me giggle and cover my face like I did when I was fourteen, strikes me almost unexpectedly. In honor of the fact that one of those moments occurred recently, I decided to share a few here.

1. A few anniversaries ago, he bought a leather-bound journal. In it, he will periodically write me love letters and then leave the journal on my nightstand or pillow to read. He doesn't do it all the time, but here and there so that down the road I will have a book filled with all the reasons he loves me.

2. I love to psychoanalyze. One of my favorite questions to consider lately is, "What is your favorite font and why?" I asked Joe. "Oh," he said, thinking. "I'm not sure what it's called. It starts with a G. Garamond." I almost fell over. "That's my favorite!" I exclaimed. His face filled with teasing as he winked and said, "And that's why we're so in love." (*giggle*)

3. He once caught my vomit in his hands. I was seven months pregnant with Joey and in the hospital with kidney stones. Overwhelmed by the pain and the fear that something was wrong with Joey (I didn't know at first what was wrong), I shouted, "I'm going to be sick!" We'd been left waiting too long and there was nothing in the room for me to use and I couldn't get up. Joe dove in front of me, fingers laced together and said, "Just do it. I've got you."

4. We were at JC Penney's buying lamps. The ones I wanted--really beautiful ones with Victorian shades and wrought iron roses up the bases--were labeled as buy one, get one for a dollar. At the register, the cashier tried to tell us the sale had ended the day before. Joe leaned one elbow on the counter, looked her square in the eye and said very calmly and with not a little bit of charisma, "Now, I used to work in retail. So I know you have to honor that sign that's still posted over there." The woman all but melted, and so did I. In that moment I wished I worked in retail, too, so I could tell him something was on sale.

5. The time Joey asked him to read out loud to the class instead of me, and he did it with voices and expression and every little face in the classroom was open-mouthed and awestruck with the magic of my husband the storyteller.

6. The day he taught Noah to read. Noah was two.

7. When Max was a newborn and I found out I couldn't breastfeed, I lay in bed in hours and cried. And not a lovely, delicate, "Oh, my, boo-hoo," but a gross-nasty, snot-covered, choking orchestra of sobs. Joe finally came into the room and pressed his forehead to mine, put his arms around me, snot and all, and said nothing. It didn't erase the pain, but it made me able to breathe again. It made the crying stop.

8. When he wears the Dr. Seuss pajama pants that Noah picked out.

9. When, after a parent-teacher conference, I was all set to talk shop, and I began with, "I didn't like that at all!" and he responded with, "I know! Why are her teeth so small?!"

10. Once, I was in a terrible mood in the middle of a date night, which I realize is a bad time to be in a terrible mood, and so Joe began echoing all my negativity by expressing hatred over everything we passed. "Look at that stop light! Why is it so red? That's stupid," and "What's up with that building? It's too ugly to exist," and concluding with, "What's with that guy walking? Get a car, moron!" These are not things he'd typically say; his goal was to make me laugh, and he succeeded.

11. When he didn't like a new rule at our sons' school which really was a bit of nonsense, he turned to me and said firmly, "I reject that policy." 

12. When I bought Divergent to watch with my nieces, Joe downloaded it to his tablet and read the whole series. He also read Twilight, just so we could talk about it.

13. He has a firm belief that pajama pants should not be warn in public, not even to Wegmans.

14. Once he came home from work, and where his dress shirt was open at the neck, I spied writing on his undershirt. I realized he'd worn a Metallica t-shirt to work under his dress clothes.

15. The first time I bought him clothes, they included a few shirts of a brand I noticed he wore a lot. "Brandini." When he opened them up, he smiled, held them up the shoulders and said, "I love them! They're my favorite 'brandini.'"

16. When he folds my clothes while doing laundry, he handles them like they're all super delicate. "I don't know what to do with them," he said once. "They're so small, like doll clothes!"

17. Every once in awhile, I turn around to find myself looking at a small, foiled wrapped grape jelly. And it's still just as exciting as it ever was.

Nobody's perfect. I'm not perfect, and I can tell you that my husband is not perfect. But life isn't about perfection. It's about perfect moments and how much they count. I love you, Joe.