Monday, June 19, 2017

The Young Girl and the Sea

I took the kids to the beach the other day while we were staying at my parents' house. This was the first time Georgia had been there as a cognizant, communicative toddler. She seems to have a complicated relationship with the ocean. She wanted to be near it, but always held above it. The closest she would get would be to have me lean down so she could dip her fingers in while the rest of her clung, koala-style, to any part of my body she could touch. She was afraid of the water, but wouldn't retreat from it.

I had both kids by myself so for a while I was focused on watching Leo jump the waves on my right side while holding Georgia in my left arm. Then I heard her shouting and turned her way. I saw my girl bathed in sunshine, sparkly purple sunglasses sliding down a nose white with sunscreen, golden curls being tossed by the wind, and yelling at the ocean like an old lady on her porch telling kids to get off her lawn.

At the top of her lungs she shouted "GO! GO! GO AWAY," while making a shoo-ing motion with her hand.

At first I laughed and told her that, unlike any adults she has encountered in her life so far, the sea would not bow to her every command. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized - YES, this who I want her to be. This is who I hope she grows into with poise and confidence; someone who encounters something that frightens them and doesn't run away. I've always wanted he
r to be strong and smart and brave, but this moment really crystalized the shape of those dreams I have for her. May she always be the girl who faces her fears, who stands up to bullies, who refuses to be cowed by a force that seems greater than her. May she grow into a woman who, when facing an intimidating challenge or meeting a formidable foe, squares her shoulders, narrows her eyes and tells it to back the hell up.

And, because she's my daughter, may she always wear flamboyant shades and a high SPF.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Love Is...

Love is many things. We've all heard that "love is patient, love is kind" or "love means never having to say you're sorry." If you Google "love is" you'll see poems, comic strips, scientific studies, books and of course, song lyrics.

I am lucky enough to have found the love of my life, and yesterday we celebrated five years of marriage. After five years with my soulmate, here's what I have decided love is:

Love is going out to a scrumptious dinner and reminiscing about where you've been, what you've done, how much you've learned and how your relationship has grown over the past five years. You laugh at beloved stories, you revel in the joy you've found in creating a beautiful family.

Then you walk home in the moonlight, enjoying the cool spring air on your cheeks juxtaposed with the warmth of your best friend's hand in yours. You get home and start getting ready for bed. You walk into the bathroom and your husband reaches out to you. You go in for a hug thinking how lucky you are to have found each other - to still feel such a strong connection after five years. Then you look down at his hand. And you realize that he was actually just trying to hand you a Gas-X strip.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Goodbye, Aunt Fran

My Aunt Fran was the first person I ever heard use the F word. But she was also the first person to take my hand and guide me up to meet a character in Disney World. She was the aunt who bought a three year old a drum set. But she was also the one who piled four or five of her nieces and nephews in her car and took us for a weekend of fishing and pizza and movies and pillow fights. Only now as a parent do I realize that she was doing something even nicer for her sisters than for us kids, but still, we had the time of our lives.

It was from Aunt Fran that I learned what French manicures and the concept of reincarnation are. Why Pinot Noir is the best wine to drink to avoid a headache, and that every child will giggle when you creep your nails up their spine and say “spider up your baa-aack.” My mom has told me how she envied her older sister’s wardrobe and sense of style when they were growing up. I have a vivid memory of a Thanksgiving my family hosted, waiting on the front porch as Aunt Fran walked up the driveway (since of course I was so excited she had arrived that I couldn’t just stay in the house), and hearing her say “If I’d known it was going to rain, I wouldn’t have worn suede.” And I looked at her beautiful brown suede heels that perfectly matched her dress and thought: “Okay, remember this. Suede is cool and special and you don’t get it wet. Add that to the file.”

I always felt that I had a special connection with Aunt Fran. She called me Alley-Cat. She always wrote on my birthday cards the previous year’s age with a little “plus one” next to it. Every year. Every card. But if I asked a lot of my cousins, I think they would say they felt that special connection too. As children, you got the sense that she really saw you - that you were a full, real person in her eyes. You could tell that she wasn’t going to behave differently toward you or in front of you because you were a child – hence that first F-bomb and the many that followed. I think to many of those who knew her, no matter what your relationship was to Fran, that was what drew you to her and what made her special. She was who she was, she told you what she thought and she made no apologies for it. She was funny, she was curious, she loved to learn new things, she never shied away from an argument, and she loved to laugh.

Everyone who knew her would agree that Fran was taken from us too soon. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense. But I hope all of us who love her will honor her life by taking a page out of her book – to be unapologetic about who you are, to never stop learning, never stop laughing, and to just say “fuck” every once in a while when it feels right.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thoughts for Mom

Earlier today, I was preparing some food for Leo to eat throughout the week.  I was painstakingly cutting sweet potatoes into petite cubes the perfect size for his little mouth and beginner's pincer grasp.  As I did this I thought about how important it is to me to take good care of him and do everything I can to give him what he needs. And though he might take all that for granted right now, seeing his face light up when he sees me is all the thanks I need.  Then I thought about how one day there is a good chance that, for some period of time at least, he won't even look up when I walk into the room - will begrudge me even asking how his day was.

 There may come a day when he won't care how much time I took removing every blemish from the organic, locally-grown sweet potato before cooking it to the perfect consistency for his two and a half teeth to manage - he'll just want me to leave him alone. It won't matter that I happily got soaked every night letting him splash in the tub - he'll just want some privacy. He won't remember that I got him new toys before vacation so he would have something new to play with on a long drive - he'll want to text his friends in the car, not talk to me.

If I get it right then I can hope this will be a short phase. Or if I'm really lucky, it will happen as a few separate events rather than a whole stage of life.  But thinking about how I fold his tiny undershirts just so, how I'll gladly rock him in my arms at 3am for as long as he needs if he's having a tough night, how I'll stop whatever I'm doing and just soak it in if he rests his head on my shoulder left me with some thoughts for my own mother. Mom, for the whole of the past 31 years: thank you, I'm sorry, I love you, I get it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Toast to Love

Yesterday I saw my little sister get married.  It was a day we had all anticipated for quite a while - probably since when she dressed up as a bride for Halloween multiple years in a row between the ages of four and seven.  I had the honor of being the matron of...honor and I made a toast to Jackie and Andrew at their reception.  I know that everything goes by in a blur on your wedding day so I wanted to record the words for them here and to share with everyone how much I love these two:

A few years ago, before either of us was engaged, Jackie and I were talking about how we knew that we were with the people we wanted to marry, even though Jackie and Andrew had been together much longer than John and I had.  I told her, you know only one of us gets to be the other's maid of honor.  Whoever gets married first has to be matron.  She replied, Oh ew, ok, you can go first then.
The sisters Greco performing "Shoop" at the Greco-Gogarty wedding
 I've never minded being the older, more matronly sister though.  When Jackie was a baby, we shared a room and every night, I would stay awake until I knew she was asleep, then I would get up and take everything out of her crib - toys, blanket, everything.  I didn't do this to be mean (although I did plenty of other stuff to be mean), I did it because I wanted to make sure nothing happened to her in her sleep - I wasn't going to let anything cover her airways or get wrapped around her neck - side note, I was four.

But I know our brother Matt felt the same way about our baby sister - we've told a story for years about how our grandfather yelled at Jackie once, totally justifiably of course, and she was crying and Grandpop told us to leave her alone because she was in trouble so Matt snuck her back behind the shed in our back yard to give her a hug. Of course we also had our sibling squabbles, like when Jackie asked my mom why they even had me, and when Jackie and I would chase Matt through the house yelling words like breast and maxi pad until he'd lock himself in his room.

Through all those years, she was always our little Wacky Jackie and she was always ours to watch out for.  Now she's all grown up and even though she doesn't do things  like hiding behind an e-z chair eating a stick of butter like it's a banana, anymore I know we all feel better knowing she still has someone taking care of her.  The fact that she has someone like Andrew just makes her exponentially luckier.  

I remember when Jackie first introduced me to Andrew.  I was visiting her at West Chester for Homecoming weekend and as we got ready to go out she told me that she had a secret crush on one of the guys who lived in the house we were going to.  I asked how I'd know which one he was.  She told me, he's tall, he looks like Vince Vaughn and he always wears a backpack.  His name is Andrew. 

That was about seven years ago, and Andrew now feels so much like a brother that it's almost kind of weird that he's marrying my sister. Almost, but they are too perfect for each other to be anything other than inspiring.  

Probably our best "Shoop" performance yet at the Greco-Short wedding

Jackie told me not long after they started dating that it wasn't until then that she really understood what it meant to be in love, that nothing short of forever would be enough time to be together.  Well, forever starts today and I'm sure you're all as honored as I am to be a part of it.  Let's all raise a glass to Jackie and Andrew and toast to a beautiful love story.

Friday, September 12, 2014


John and I are both, I think, pretty good communicators.  There are of course occasional misunderstandings, but luckily for us, they are usually along the lines of this recent conversation:

John: Your boyfriend Eric Decker has a porn stash.

Ali: How in the world would you know that?!

John: He was on TV last night after the game.

Ali: He talked about it on TV??

John: No, I just saw it on his face.

Ali: Wait, you're talking about facial hair?  I thought you meant a secret collection of erotic DVDs.

Friday, June 27, 2014

21 Reasons My Baby Needs to Take a Break While Nursing

1) I said something

2) I cleared my throat

3) The phone rang

4) I tried to read an email on my phone

5) I stopped looking at him for a second

6) He caught me trying to close my eyes

7) His Dad walked into the room

8) His Dad said something

9) His Dad wouldn't say something when stared at

10) His Dad walked out of the room

11) His Dad made a noise in another room

12) The TV is on

13) He needed to make sure I'd still smile if he wiggled his head one more time

14) BURP

15) A big truck drove by outside

16) POOP

17) He needed to pet me a little to let me know I'm doing a good job

18) I tried to cut his nails

19) Ceiling fan still there?

20) Ceiling fan still there?

21) Ceiling fan still there?