Sunday, October 31


Saturday, October 30

Connor and Swimming

There is no grey area with Connor and his swimming.
There is either apprehension or elation.
Rather, there is apprehension and THEN
there is elation.

So this is Connor before swimming the 1000 free:

And this is Connor AFTER the 1000 free.
Did it for the first time this morning.

To say he was nervous would be an understatement.
We've been talking about it though.  I try to find the words to make
him a little more at ease.  Do you think he knows that I don't really
know what I am talking about?  Not ever having been a swimmer?
You see,  Connor is my thinker - and in his own mind he needs to analyze
everything, get it all straight in his head, and then proceed.
This morning was it.
His day to do this swim.
After he peed about a hundred times,
and I tied and re-tied his suit for him a hundred times,
he was ready to go.

And he did.
Pretty stinkin' fast for his first time.

I am so proud of him.
He says he wants to do it again.
It appears I may have another distance swimmer on my hands.....
I love this kid.
Just as much in picture number 1 as I do in picture number 2.

Friday, October 29

I never thought I'd be saying this.

So let's just take a guess as to what this colorful thing is.

No idea?
You'll never guess.

It's a mound of...

As Seen On TV
Space Bags.


As I become increasingly nervous about the amount of stuff we have to move,
(yeah I said that last time as we filled up a tractor trailer....)
Bill and I decided to invest in these thingys after his cousin told us
how amazing they were.
Thank you Costco.

Garrin is having fun with them.

He might as well because as time goes by,
his toys will be getting packed up.
What boy doesn't want to play "King of the Mountain"??
At least he'll stay busy...

So seriously.
Did I EVER think I would tout anything that is sold via infomercial??
But these things are unbelievable.  Those 4 "mounds" are holding the contents of
FOUR 20 gallon plastic totes.

Did you know there is a WEBSITE for As Seen On TV products????
Crazy.'ll never catch me in one of these:

Or forcing Lucy upon one of these:

Or purchasing one of these for Bill..............

Ok - well I might buy this:
fetuccini, linguini, martini, bikini......

Thursday, October 28

It is hard to stop

Did some packing yesterday.
Boy was it hard to pack a box,
and not feel like all those months ago when I said
how good it felt to know that I'd unpacked for the final time,
turned out to be a lie.
A lie to myself.
And I hate lying.
I preach that actually.  How wrong it is to lie.

Many many years ago,
when I was a not so good girl, I took to lying.
A lot.
Pretty much because I could get away with it most times.
It was all a part of the dysfunction of growing up Johnston...

One day I flat out lied to my aunt.
She made me slap her in the face.
I was terrified.
She told me to slap her so I would realize how much it hurt her
that I'd lied.  That slapping her would somehow inflict the same kind of pain,
as she was feeling after I'd been dishonest point blank - to her face.

And I did.  Slap her.
It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it today.
But from that moment forward
my life became my truth.

As a mother, I know that my kids could do just about anything,
but lie, and I'd be OK with it.
It makes me furious - lies.
Furious to think that my kids might do things that I did when I was young.
I don't ever want that to happen.
I try my best to impress upon them how important it is to be truthful.
To gain and keep trust.

So I struggle with the mere thought that I've been un-truthful.
That I've lied to my family.
That I lied to my kids.
or Bill.
or worse still - me.

Has this all been a lie?  I have to think NOT.
Someone very close to me asked me, when I told him we had
decided to move, if everything I had written on my blog was a lie.
I was so taken aback.  Sick in fact.

This all has not been a lie.  It is what it is.
A stepping stone to the next chapter of my life.
A necessity in order to save my sanity.
A chance to take a breath.
A time out.
My appreciation for every day,
for what my life was,
where I was,
who I was with.

So as I pack, I have to think too,
that the smile on my face,
my excitement for what is to come,
the weightlessness that I feel in my heart,
is, in fact, my truth.

Wednesday, October 27

the fog is slowly lifting....


and figuratively.....
Did I mention yesterday that I was happy?
I am.

Oh and I took these cool pictures down at the Meadows here in Longmeadow,
early one morning, as the fog was starting to fade away.
The photoshop technique?? - well, I learned it HERE.

Tuesday, October 26

When it rains, it seems to pour..

and by that I mean,
it is pouring down leaves right about now.  holy crap.

well not only the leaves,
but just around here in general...super super busy.
just when you think one more thing can NOT be added to your to-do list.

arizona was great.  our hotel ended up being
awesome.  never did hotwire before, and i admit it is terribly frightening
thinking what you may possibly get, but hey - it was cheap,
and that was at the top of our priority list.

we found a couple of houses to rent, of which we submitted our "bid".
yup....people bid on the good houses...there are so many.  the economy took a huge
hit there and this is one of the indications.

narrowed down the search for swim teams and interviewed a couple of
coaches.  ended up being a no-brainer (as it was for us when we moved here),
and ended up going home on the plane -
unsure if we had a house,
but confident the kids had a new team to go to.
that just sounds wrong on so many levels.............

so back home here now to:
upcoming swim meet (of which I just looked today - to see where it was)
Garrin's doctor appointment
Mother-in-law's birthday
start packing
moving Bill's office to home
braces off for Hannah
pick up new eyeglasses
go buy boxes
un-attach and re-attach the kids from ct swimming to az swimming
thank you notes from Garrin's birthday
research new insurance for Bill's company
enroll kids in new schools (oh yeah....wait to hear if we have a house yet....)
so on
and so forth

what day is it?
at least i'm doing it with a smile

Friday, October 22

judgement day

I'm sitting here in this chilly house.  No one is up yet.
I am feeling a little bit anxious inside and am thinking it's probably not the
coffee I have along side of me.

Today I leave for Arizona to meet up with Bill.
We meet with a real estate agent tomorrow,
and two swim coaches from the list of six that I've narrowed down.

One thing that I have learned from living the last 10 months is:
I am not in ANY position to judge anyone.
Life is not perfect.
Marriage is hard work.
People struggle.
Yet still....people judge.

I know the word of us moving is going to be spreading
like wildfire now.  I even opened my email this morning and read a note
from an old friend, extending a hand.  I talked openly about the move
to a couple of families at the pool last night.  Connor and Garrin's teachers know.

And in all my excitement,
I am feeling a little uneasy,
knowing it is my turn to be judged.

Be gentle folks.

Thursday, October 21


Hannah had a class trip today to Boston,
or Bah-ston as they say.

First off I had to make sure she didn't wear flip flops.
a.  It's cold
2.  She doesn't realize that you have to W.A.L.K. around Boston.

I had to laugh,
as you can see, I am sitting in my pahked cah.

a.  Because I had the heat on and my toes were cold....
because I had MY flip flops on.
"Do as I say.  Not as I do."
2.  Ding Dong has no coat on.
Hello Hannah.  It's 39 degrees out.
Look around baby....

Wednesday, October 20

Failures, Mistakes, and Reality

It's 6:30 in the morning.
I've been up since 4:30.  Bill's left for a business trip to California,
I did a quick re-design of my blog and this blog post is swirling around in my head.
I've put off writing this one.
For lack of time, I've thought.
For not knowing how to put it all down in writing.
So here I am.
One half hour til the kids get up for school.
I'm giving myself one half hour
to get this done.

So failures.
I don't necessarily know if I have easily admitted to myself that
decisions I have made have turned into failures.  I've always looked at stuff
like that as - "experiences".  Things that happen to make you a better person,
and things you learn from.

Mistakes seems like a real harsh word too.  I'm talking life changing mistakes.
Not little bitty ones.  Ones everyone makes.
Normal mistakes.
Reasonable mistakes.
Spilt-milk mistakes.

One year and one month ago, my life became...not my life.
It was fucked up.  Marital issues.
Because of that, changes had to be made in order to save Me,
Bill, and Us.  Changes I thought necessary to not throw away 18 years of
marriage.  That meant leaving a place I'd considered home for the last 9 years.
And move back to family.  A place I'd considered home, my whole life
prior.  So we did.

And things got better.
With Us.
It was not easy.
I look back and sometimes things look kinda blurry.
The last 10 months or so.

Blurry is not good, you see.
Blurry hazes your decision making abilities.
So while we were working on Us,
I was working on Me.
What was going to make Me happy?

Designs on Main?
New very old house?
Things I loved when I was Me here the first time.
It's me after all, right?  How easy could that make things?
Go back to being Gini that lived here before.
Lived in an awesome old house, owned a flower shop.

My failure is just that though.  Trying to be someone I no longer was
in my search for happiness.  My mistake is not being honest.
Not being real with what I wanted.
But let's not forget the blurry part.  How was I to know?

Until Bill and I had a conversation one day.
One we'd both had in the back of our mind for some time.
A conversation we thought was wrong.
Thoughts of how to proceed FORWARD with our life,
while working on our marriage.
I started that conversation while we were driving home.
Home to a house that I told him that 'I didn't want him to think I loved,
more than I really did deep down......'
A home that I really didn't want to go to.  One that I didn't really feel "at home" in.

And we talked
and talked and talked.
We talked about moving.

I told him about the terrible feeling I had about making bad decisions.
About the fact that my heart was not in Designs on Main.
That I really didn't have the energy or the desire to fix up an old home.
I told him I really wanted to have a life like what we had before
our marriage took a hit.

A life full of LIFE.
I want to be in the warm air.
Near the mountains.
The open space.
Have friends, and take pictures, and get involved
with things I love.  My kids schools, swimming, soccer,...
everything I've backed away from since moving back here.

Here is the reality.
The reality is -
I would not have done ANYTHING different.
The last ten months have brought me back to family.
At a time that it was imperative that I have support.
I do not regret being here AT all.
I have had an opportunity to take a step back from my life..
my sometimes chaotic life...

so things aren't so blurry anymore.

Now that I am better, I am going to find clarity in my life in Arizona.

more time is up here

Tuesday, October 19

Houston, we've got a problem

well, maybe a couple problems...
so more like a few problems.

Here is the first one.

The backyard.  Lotta leaves.  Problem one - we are responsible to clean them all up and get
rid of them right?  Well this is probably only about 1/3 of them.  The other 2/3's?
Still up in the fricken trees....
Next problem is - it was MIGHTY chilly this morning.
Like a "winter-coat" chilly.
Which brings me to my third issue so far.....

Sneakers....WITH socks no less.  Dammit.

Making up for that shock into today,
for today, with a nice cup....ok FOURTH cup, of coffee
on my favorite table,
admiring my beautiful hydrangeas my sister-in-law picked for me this past
Trying to get it all done....whatever "it" is,
before heading to Arizona this weekend.
Some of you know why,
some of you don't.
More on that later.

Have a good Tuesday.

Monday, October 18


It's Monday.
It's sunny and bright.
(a little on the nippy side..)

It's a get up and go kinda day.
And I'm really hoping to "round the corner" and really put a dent in what needs
to get done around here.  I'm feeling it and that's a good thing.
oh...and besides,
I made a list.
That always helps!!

Thursday, October 14

I got nothin'......

Just a really cool photo from a local cemetery...

Wednesday, October 13


Today my baby is five.
So let's talk about me for a second.....
He's five.
I'm FORTY five.....(gulp)

OK...on to the birthday boy.

He got a call from his Meme first thing this morning, on his special day...
now that he is a big boy....a real boy....
and boy does he look it!

When did he get so big?
Probably right around the same time he thought it would be OK
to tell his teachers:
"I've got some sad news to tell you."

"We don't have any money to buy anything."


Happy Birthday Bud.
Go ahead...tell anybody anything you'd like.
We still love you!!!

Tuesday, October 12

I've said this before.

I don't know what it is about this kid,
that erases all stress, drama, uneasiness, pain, heartache,
questioning, seriousness....
A simple walk home from school
and just "being" with him.

Saturday, October 9

I don't know how...

Hannah and Connor get up so early on Saturday to swim.
Especially Hannah.  It's almost as if she just got home from working out last night
until 8:30.....and B.A.M....she's back at it.

I got up and drove them to the pool this morning and brought my
camera, in hopes of seeing some deer that they have seen near the pool.
No go for me.  Not a deer to be had....anywhere.
We are in friggin' "deer heaven" for godsakes....

I did stop along the Connecticut River and took some pictures of this
glorious, crisp, clear morning.
I used one of my favorite photoshop actions on these.  It's called Vintage Butterscotch
and you can find it and many others HERE AT THE COFFEESHOP BLOG.
I started just wanting to do the first picture and I couldn't stop.

With all the farms around this part of Connecticut, I couldn't resist stopping and
capturing the sun coming up and over the fields.
The photoshop action I used here was a quickie that I learned from
a long time ago.  It's not part of her free actions set, but it's a good
one for landscape shots.

One thing I can say about living here now is,  I can appreciate all of this.
I was too caught up in being young, running a business and having fun before to even take notice.
It's good to get older....

Friday, October 8


Let's talk about food for a second.
I've been enjoying a LOT of it lately......OBviously....

ok - hold on...I can't go on.  OBviously that's not really me now,
although I think my rear end is so huge that I probably picture myself like this sometimes.
This is an app for my iPhone called FatBooth.  It's fun.....OBviously....

Back to the food.  I am in soup mode.  Chili mode.  One pot meals mode.
It's been raining and chilly here and I don't want anything but any of the above.

Disaster number one was Monday night.
I hadn't grocery shopped for the items I needed for a recipe I found in
The Food Network Magazine.  So I decided to improvise and empty out the pantry,
and see how close I could come.  Not EVEN close.  It sucked.  Big time.
How disappointing.  I can usually make something out of nothing and it tastes
pretty decent.  Except this night.  Even massive amounts of grating cheese
couldn't help this one....

Disaster number two was Tuesday night.
I'd run by my sister's house a couple days prior during dinnertime.
She'd made this AWESOME dish that I snagged a taste of.  Had to make it.
Here is the recipe from Giada for Penne With Braised Short Ribs.
And here is the problem.  I didn't have short ribs - so I used a beef roast.
Instead of Roma tomatoes I used crushed tomatoes.
I substituted the dijon mustard with some Chipotle Honey Sauce Shit I had.
Beef Broth...well I used some chicken broth........
Mine should have been called Gini's Substitution Nightmare.  It was more like
a Bolognese at best......nothing like my sister's that had made my mouth
water for another taste of that "heaven".  oh well.

Wednesday night was a HOMERUN.
Pork and Pumpkin Chili, again from The Food Network Magazine.
(I'm seeing a trend here....)
It was thick and tasty and filling, with a kick!
Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!
Even though my sister threw up in her mouth when I mentioned the pumpkin...

Disaster number three for this week was on Thursday.
Hannah saw them in a cookbook.
So.........she says jump and I say how high.....
I headed out to the grocery store and got all the ingredients.
Nice and fresh - ciabatta, mozzarella, prosciutto, basil, balsamic and olive oil.
Here's my thought.  Unless you are a sandwich shop and specialize in panini's,
you shouldn't be making them.
Unless you are putting about 45 tablespoons of butter on the outside of the bread,
forget it.  You just won't get it to grill nicely.  Even with a panini maker,
or a sandwich press.  Those need to be made, without thinking of how it
can be made "Light" style.  It just doesn't happen.  They ALWAYS
taste better somewhere else.  Bummer.

I think all of this disappointment in the kitchen means I should
go out for sushi.......ya' think?

Thursday, October 7

for the past few days,

on my way out to the ark, I mean, my car,
I've passed this little guy nestled in the fallen leaves
near the back porch...

and I've chuckled thinking to myself that he's saying,
"You might as well kiss the sun goodbye, girlfriend..."

until today,
the sun

finally peeked out from behind the trees..
that are still CHOCK FULL of leaves
that have yet to fall....

so they can be raked up.

And put...somewhere.  I don't know where yet.
I'm going to have to ask around.

Tuesday, October 5

sometimes... just have to play along.

I wouldn't have worried about getting all spiffy-ed up this morning,
before heading out to the grocery store, if Garrin and I had made these first thing
today.  But going with the flow on this
dreary, cloudy, rainy, a little chilly day?
Well, nothing better than playing with my kid,
importing ALL of my CD's into iTunes finally,
cooking a hopefully fab.u.lous slow-oven-roasted dinner for tonight,

all the while,
looking completely ridiculous
 but happy and silly,
with paper glasses we downloaded from

It's good to be 5.......ahem......FORTY-5.

Monday, October 4


that's a squirrel.....a BABY squirrel.

It was running around my sister's backyard the other night.  Maybe lost it's mommy.
It took a liking to Hannah instantly.

And she to it....of course.  I don't know...something about Hannah and animals.
Maybe this will be her calling.

Though I'd like her to explore that option more....
when she is older and is living on her own....
and turtles and gerbils and longer come into MY house...