I distinctly remember, growing up in Erie, thinking, “There is nothing to do.”

So why now, when I visit my parents with my children, is the weekend a whirlwind of activity, a blur, a veritable smorgasbord of things to do?

Saturday, we went to the Erie Zoo, which is much improved since I worked there as a teen.

That line you see behind the rhinos? The zoo was having some kind of frozen safari promotion day. It was packed. Before lunch, we had Rita’s ice, ice cream, and a slushie. (Okay, I skipped the slushie — too sweet.) That last one explains the blue-ish tinge around the girls’ mouths in the next couple of pictures.

The zoo definitely has animals and features it didn’t when I lived in Erie.

The we went downtown to The Cove, a new restaurant in a new waterfront hotel. Bun listens better to Nonna and Pap-pap than she does to me.

Of course, Pap-pap buys blue gorilla dolls, so there you have it.

It was Roar on the Shore 2009, so we had to share State Street with about 5,000 bikers. And we went up that tower at the end of State Street — what is that called? — with the children, where I had a severe vertigo attack. Looking out at the horizon, I was fine. Looking down was not an option.

Quiet time was an absolute no-go back at the house.

Then we headed to the Cherry Festival in Northeast. I didn’t even know Northeast had a Cherry Festival.

I don’t remember being this busy as a kid.

Yawn. Zzzzz.

The weekend to this point has been difficult, challenging, and… interesting. I have a lot to ponder and write about, but I need some sleep first.

Due to my high school reunion, the debate of whether or not to join Facebook is being revisited. In my head. The last thing I need is more time in front of a computer. If it is something that can be set up and minimally tended, I’ll do it. But if it turns into a giant timesuck, I’m going to bail.

And if any of the following become too bothersome, I’m out.

So Tired

I am going to have to check how often my Monday post references exhaustion.

We did a ton of work this weekend. I am uploading photographic evidence as I write this.

I picked up the girls at the Grove City Eat’n’Park around 6 o’clock yesterday. To my disappointment, there was not squealing. Instead, Bun simply crawled over Nonna to come sit on me. The girls cuddled up for a bit, then went for a walk outside with Nonna and Pap-pap, while I had a bite to eat. As I suspected she would, Bun threw a fit when she realized she wasn’t going with Nonna and Pap-pap, back to Erie, to see the dogs (Buddy and Roxy — I guess Roxy is very entertaining).

We got home at 7:30. The girls seem to be thrilled by their room. Last night’s transition went pretty smoothly — Monkey pretty much passed out; Bun took a little extra cuddling. They were exhausted from the weekend. I’ll have to see if Nonna got any good pictures.

I’m going to let them sleep a little bit longer, but I have to get them to daycare and myself to work. The rest of the week will probably be pictures. Stay tuned.


There’s a lot going on around here, and I’m going to try to cover it all while also putting my house back together, working full time, getting paperwork filled out for Monkey’s new school and daycare, and, you know, generally trying to be a good wife and mother while still having maybe a half hour to myself at night to keep my sanity. The usual.

We spent the weekend up in Erie with Nonna and Pap-pap. And it was a non-stop whirlwind of adventure, not something I ever considered Erie to be when I lived there. When Nonna and Pap-pap get time with their grandkids, it’s go-go-go.

We spent a good amount of Saturday at the CelebrateErie festival. So did many other residents of Erie and its outlying areas. It was hot and crowded, fun and chaotic. Bun had not napped well in the car, and had no intention of napping more at Nonna’s. As a result she was a mess. Still mostly pleasant and fun, but when not, really, really not. Also, she did not want to stop moving. I think she strongly suspected in her very tired and over-stimulated 19-month-old brain that if she stopped, she would immediately fall asleep. She did not test this theory.

I mostly ran around with Bun while Monkey stayed with Nonna, Pap-pap and Soul Sista. (This seems to be the breakdown most of the time when visiting Erie. I’m on Bun duty, and Monkey just hangs out with whomever is around. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, bad thing, or indifferent thing. It just kind of is. But, for example, Soul Sista (SS) helped Monkey make a puppet while I handled Bun — or manhandled her, depending on how you look at it [childhandled? womanhandled? personhandled? Sorry. Grammatical/Politically-correct-phraseology tangent there]).

Sunday was Church (again, I go into the nursery with a misbehavin’ Bun; Monkey stays with Nonna & Pap-pap), brunch, bubbles and digging in dirt in the yard. When Bun passed out for her nap, we left her to Pap-pap and went to visit GG. Then back home to a newly awoken Bun and a scramble to get things together to visit Presque Isle, also known as The Beach.

I had (accidentally on purpose) forgotten my bathing suit, so I was on shore duty. I knew Monkey would go in the water with Pap-pap and/or Soul Sista (Nonna can’ t lift Monkey anymore — at least she shouldn’t and I’m not ratting her out to her chiropractor).

It was Bun’s first trip to a beach. Two steps onto Beach 11, she was bending down picking up handfuls of sand. She would let it run out of her hand. At first, she seemed a little thoughtful, a little puzzled. A little, “Whatever is this?” And then she got serious. In her swimmy diaper and nothing else, she set about to digging up the beach.

And then maybe she thought it would be quicker to just eat it. I am going to have to get that girl checked for pica, I’m telling you.

As fond as I am of Presque Isle, and as much as it’s been cleaned up since I was Bun’s age, the sand… well, the sand isn’t pristine, white (or even tan) beach sand. It’s a gritty, dusty mixture of dirt and finely ground rock. And Bun had it everywhere by the time we left. Including in her belly.

The kids were a little too tired for a smooth bedtime (especially as Monkey had overheard Nonna & SS ordering a “Rainbow Roll” and thought she just had to try that), but we got ’em down (after extensive sand removal procedures in the tub), and sat down to a late dinner of sushi. And beer. And then pretty much everyone passed out in front of the TV.

Sorry I didn’t get pictures, especially of the Sand Eater — forgot the camera. If Nonna sends me any, I’ll post them. But that gets you caught up to … well, two days ago. I’m a little behind. But laundry is coming along nicely!

Countdown to Burgh Mom’s dinner: Two days.


I wish I had a better one.

I wish I could tell you all the stories of my grandmother’s life. Because they are great stories. How her parents met in Italy and traveled to the States. How she grew up in Erie. Her life with her brothers and sisters. Meeting my grandfather. Being the hatcheck girl at one of the Italian clubs. Her life as a wife and mother.

I know that my grandmother has told me all of these stories.

I wish I had listened better, or remembered more.

Because she can’t tell me those stories any more.

She doesn’t remember them. She can’t tell them to me.

Driving over to my mother’s house one night this weekend, she asked my mom, “Who’s watching your children?”

My mother said, “I don’t have children living at the house anymore, mom. Except for my husband.”

My grandmother laughed and laughed.

She does not seem to be sad. For that we are grateful. She has forgotten how to knit; she has forgotten how to play cards, except for King’s Corners, and she needs a lot of help to even play that. She can’t really read, because she can’t remember what she read. She can’t cook anymore.

Now that is a true tragedy, because as a pure Italian one generation removed from the Old Country, my grandmother knew how to cook. One thing I will never forget is her easy acceptance of my vegetarianism. She cooked for me before my mother deigned to. And she told me the stories of what she grew up eating.

“We never ate a lot of meat,” she would say. “Just once in a while.” Read: when the money was okay, we could have meat. Otherwise: peppers on Italian bread, polenta, tomato sauce, homemade pasta, pasta fagiole, ravioli with cheese… Oh, how she talked about food.

She was a baker, too, and no holiday or family wedding was complete without Grandma’s cookies: lady locks so flaky they melted in your mouth, pizzelles, Italian knots, biscotti, apricot-filled fold-overs — the list goes on and on. Thank goodness my mother has the recipes. I look forward to the day she passes them down to me.

Although I really should learn to bake first.

Today is my grandmother’s 90th birthday. We celebrated this weekend at my parents’ house. Most of my generation of grandchildren were there. She seemed confused, and got tired very quickly.

But when they brought out the cake, she smiled and clapped and sang along. And had a nice helping of cake and ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Grandma. I know you may not remember your day. But I always will.

I love you.

Your first grandchild (and your favorite!),