While still reveling in the joy of spending time with April and Crew, another surprise awaited our clan. Jenny and kids flew in from Hong Kong several weeks ago, and I was just waiting for the word on them arriving in Virginia.

Same scenario as the first shocking surprise. We were all settled in reading together, but this time Monkey answered the doorbell.

She pushed open the door, began to laugh with joy, covered her face with her hands and said, “Not again.”

This time I captured it on film.

Will his heart break?

When all of us were gathered around Chance this morning, before Buds and I left for the vet, Yessa looked at me and said, “Will his heart break, you know, when they put him to sleep?”

I explained to her what would happen, but realized later, Chance’s heart wouldn’t break, but ours would…

Sweet, sweet, gentle, patient cat…my heart is feeling so achy.

You only get one Chance

I could not write a better ode than Buds, so I will simply repost his Facebook status from this morning, July 29, 2012.

On a Friday the 13th, seventeen years ago, we adopted a black cat and his sister. We named him Chance. He wasn’t calm and patient as a kitten. At night, our feet were a tempting target and the best time to attack was 3 am. But Chance grew into a quiet and kind fellow. Sure, his sister needed the occasional knock on the head and he liked to yodel at night. But he preferred to spend his days in Virginia at the window watching for birds. In youth, he would sometimes chatter at them too, a quick chirping with mouth open to the excitement of prey.

His patience was legendary. Chip could lick and chew Chance’s ears and the whole time Chance’s attitude was of bemused approval. In age, personality narrows and mellows and then his tolerance of the world was extreme. Just let me watch the squirrels and wait here at this window dreaming.

The last week found his strength gone and the pounds melted away. Dehydration, failing kidneys, certainly some cancer, all stole strength. Now he has found the end eternal where the squirrels play outside the window everyday and sun warms the asphalt where he can loll contentedly. Take time this week to exhibit his cardinal virtue. Sit and watch the world, wait a beat before tempers flare and be calm.

Among my favorite memories will always be how you would be working on the computer or reading a book, and suddenly you would realize there was a purring cat sitting snuggled in on your lap. He would kneed you a little, then settle in to sleep with the contented, heavy-lidded look that only a happy cat can wear.

Sweet, patient, wonderful, loving black cat, you will be very, very much missed.

Best Compliment Ever!

I gave my first presentation at work today. Despite my background, I was nervous. Buds gave me some great suggestions last night, and I had spent weeks thinking about the content.

I was ready, but still nervously excited.

It went well, and I was so impressed by the insights and ideas people shared.

After it was over, a co-worker turned to me and said, “That last part was like a TED talk.”

THAT made me happy.

Good byes suck!

I’m all for choosing to have people in your life that you love spending time with, and I’m all for people growing and changing and doing cool things with their lives.

But I’m tired of having several weeks in a row of fantastic times with people we adore, followed by the painful good byes. I’m trying to look on the bright side; we have specific dates for when we’ll see all of these people next. They are all people we will have in our life forever.

Still, good byes suck.

Struck dumb

I never thought I’d live to see the day when our very verbal children were truly struck speechless, but I witnessed it a couple weeks ago, and it was priceless.

I knew April and the children were coming up from Florida for a whole month, but I didn’t tell our kids since I wasn’t sure when we’d actually get to see them.

So, on a hot summer morning, the children and I were snuggled in on the couch, reading together.

The doorbell rang.

I said, “I wonder who that could be?”

I walked over to the door, opened it, and moved aside so the three children sitting on the couch in the library could see the five people standing on our front porch.

All three Gemignani children had dropped open mouths, eyes as wide as camera lenses, and not a sound was heard.

For a full minute, they were speechless, then Ms. April (Am I remembering correctly, April?) said, “Yes, we’re real.”

Then we all started to laugh, and cry, and laugh some more.

It was a perfect start to a perfect visit.

Out of the mouths’ of babes

As the children and I were zipping to SaladWorks to pick up the lunches for everyone at the Juice Reston office in preparation for a Lunch & Learn, the Buster said, “Mom, you are a drone, and Dad and Uncle Zach are the queens.”

When told of this comment, Uncle Zach replied via email:

Too much thinking by Zachy. Tell him that you are the Queen bee and he should act more like a drone.

Luckily, I will always be a queen bee in my own brain.

A Williams Weekend

Twenty years ago, Buds graduated from Williams College. We attended the 15 year reunion, and looked forward to the chance to return to the gorgeous Berkshires with the children to continue that exposure to the wonders of a college campus.

Mary and John also agreed to come down and spend a couple of the days at Williams with us to allow us the option for Buds and I to attend some of the adult events in the evening.

As always, Williamstown was beautiful. We loved spending time with Eric Kaye and family, Sarah Biran and her crew, and Pete and Val. I completely understand why Buds loved this school and these friends.

Breakfast time

They were intrigued by the library.

The wrestling room was a highlight for everyone.

The sweet girl

Buds hiked with some wrestling cohorts.

We love Pete and Val.

A little grappling

Thanks for the fun shot, Zoe.

Time with Meggy

We were lucky enough to get to have Cousin Megan spend a whole week with us the week before Gemignani Week. With our trip to Williams for the Alumni Reunion, the timing was perfect.

She did a fantastic job being so far from home, for so long, all on her own. She slots right in with our crew, and our kids loved having the extra constant companion around all the time.

Some pics to help us remember our fun week, which I hope will become an annual event.

It's good to have a buddy.



Fun under the rainbow

Our pot of gold under the rainbow

Gemignani Week

We spent a week with the Gems side of the family a couple weeks ago. Some of the family spent a couple days in DC, then we headed out to Massadoah for some tubing, games, fireworks, a slide show to celebrate Mary’s amazing career as an educator, and hours and hours of cousin playtime.

We toured Shenandoah Caverns and some crazy Americana at America On Parade, as well as the Route 11 potato chip factory.

Two of my favorite moments from the week, out of many wonderful moments:

1) Getting to take care of Olivia while Liz and Tony went for a float. Zoe had designated herself Aunt Liz’s personal tube driver, so they had lots of time to visit, and I loved having time to really get to know Olivia. The time went too quickly, and I have a much better feel for the amazing, funny, sweet spriteling she is.

2) When I asked Miles to pass me something, and he said in his sweet little boy voice, “Here you go, Chrisjennie.” I LOVED that.

Some assorted pics from the week.

Zoe presented an impromptu magic show.

Miles is happy with his popsicle.

All ages played so beautifully.

Playdough is always fun.

Uncle Scott taught the big kids how to play Magic: The Gathering, and they LOVED it! As did Uncle Scott.

Many s'mores were eaten.

I'm sure the kids are asking Scott if he's ready to play Magic.

I love this laughing picture of the brothers.

Shenadoah Caverns were beautiful.

The colored lights added to the magic.

Much football tossing was done.

We do have a bunch of kids between the lot of us.

I love seeing a big group in the Massadoah kitchen.

The whole clan