The Wheels on the Bus

We have done it! We’ve taken the leap. We are now a one-car family. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we’d do this. Yet here we are…with only one vehicle. (How snobby do I sound? Just one of the most ridiculously extravagant forms of transportation First. World. Girl.) But, wonder of wonders, it is wonderful!

To be honest, this was not our plan. It wasn’t even on the radar, which makes it all the more fun. This new adventure invited us to join. And even that…the invitation…was not direct. It went something like this:

We took our red minivan on a wild ride to California and back…well, almost back. About thirty miles away from our blessed beds, the van all but exploded. Driver error. Ahem. Anyhoo, big hole. Right in the engine. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As far as we knew at this point, the thing just didn’t work. We had the van towed to the auto shop to await a verdict…after the long holiday weekend.

And then the new year rolled around. Our car in the shop…awaiting the examination and diagnosis. I casually asked Phil if he had any New Year’s resolutions. If you know Phil, you  know he struggles with time. Never. Enough. So he asked me if I could help him get more than 24 hours into a day. And if you know me, you know that I figured I just might be able to do it. Me and time. We’re buddies. (That’s code for I’m never late. Never. Eh. Almost never.)

After a quick analysis, I noted Phil’s commute was killing him. Forty five minutes to work, forty five minutes home. Then play, play, play with kids…send me to bed…and do a bazillion chores…and put in a few more hours of work. Oh, and take care any crying babies in the middle of the night. (I know. Right? Who is this man?)

“Phil. Your commute is the problem. Can you work from home one day a week?” NOPE. He must be in the office. But not for the full eight hours. Just daily in the office. Sigh. “Hmmmm. How about the bus??? You can work on the way to work and on the way home.” And just like that, a crazy new scheme was hatched.

Wednesday morning, Phil jumped on San Antonio’s public transportation. It has been forty years since he had ridden a bus. Forty. And it went well. He picked up some tips from friends at work who commute by bus. He picked up some tips from the bus drivers. And he picked up a bike…complete with helmet…to help him cover those two miles between the last drop off and his office.

Suddenly, Phil was getting home at 5:00 with NO work to do. None. All work complete via office and bus. We found 90 more minutes for his day. Yea!!!

And then the news came. Hole. In the engine. It would cost more to fix the engine than the van was worth. What. To. Do? We slept on it. For a week. We slept hard because we did NOT think we could swing one car. But, the bus experiment was going so well, we figured…let’s try this one-car thing.

And so, here we are…one car! A brand new adventure. Not sure how long this will last…but… We’re loving the teamwork this requires. We’re loving the simplicity this inspires. We’re loving the money that we’re saving. This might be a long-term fix!


Twenty Three Skiddoo


Twenty three years ago, I married Chuck Picciuti. In an outdoor ceremony. With no plan B. Good thing the weather held!

January 1. My favorite day of the year? Maybe. Maybe so. For me,  this day simultaneously holds joy and hope beyond compare coupled with incomprehensible grief. January 1, 1994. Me and Chuck. It cracked him up to introduce me thus, “This is my first wife, Jan.” So it is with irony that each January 1st, I reflect on life with my first husband, Chuck.

I am forever grateful for my years with Chuck Picciuti…for each laugh…for each ridiculous fight…for each jaw-dropping moment (and trust me, there were many.) My soul is etched with his name. Not a day goes by that I do not lean on a Chuck-Picciuti-lesson. The man taught me:

  1. To see and embrace the funny…in even the darkest of moments.
  2. Sometimes the rules need to be broken.
  3. Just act like you know what you are doing and people won’t question you. (This move is useful for crashing everything from a Spurs luncheon to the box seats of…any event really.)
  4. The mind has an amazing capacity to override the body.
  5. To trust my instincts.
  6. To fly by the seat of my pants.
  7. To. Do. Nothing. To just sit and be.
  8. When nervous or scared to try something new, to imagine the very worst that could happen and reflect on whether or not I could live with the worst outcome. This little exercise gets me to “jump,” more than anything else.

And of course, he taught me to grieve. He taught me that great love is worth great pain. He taught me that life can be filled with joy and laughter and light even after unspeakable loss.

He was a keeper. And so he stays…etched.




This Mama

Oh my soul. I did not want to be this mama. And granted, my expectations were likely (giggle, giggle, snort, snort) unrealistic, but wow. This mama?

You see, a little something happened in our home earlier this year. A great and glorious event. We…Phil and I…became parents of four little girls…ages four on down. This means that I became a stay-at-home mama to four…ahem…let’s call them little children. (Honestly, I have to daily remind myself…they are ALL age-appropriate in their behaviors. It’s just that their ages are nine months, two years, three years, and four years. Grrrrrr.)

Anyhoo, though I’ve not written much of our fostering journey this go round, it has been rough on this ol’ mama. Rough. I have been stretched in ways that have left me empty, raw, and aching. My nerves are fragile…and my children are no respecter of nerves. And so, yelling has become the order of the day. I yell. A lot. And I apologize. A lot. And I vow to get this thing under control. A lot. And I fail to do so. A lot.

Pretty vicious cycle. But Jesus, in his sweetness, has whispered to my soul. Stop struggling. Stop.

My BEST efforts haves left me in a loop of shame, repentance, renewed effort,  failure. Repeat.

But Jesus has whispered…stop trying to be the mom you think your kids deserve. This is the mom you are…and your kids adore you. You get grumpy and you yell. A lot. And they love you. A lot. Be courageous enough to let them. Let them love you…flawed.

And so, I am this mama. Which is great, cause this is the mama my kids love.





Eden — Four and Ten

My heart bursts watching Eden. She’s intense. She’s tenacious. She’s full of love and wonder…with no reservations about expressing herself.

And now, the many faces of Eden:

At four years and ten months, Eden:

  • likes to concentrate on tasks, “Shhh! I’m working.”
  • is fiercely loyal. She told Den, “I’ll always be there for you.” And she will be.
  • enjoyed RV camping! Her favorite part was the potty. (I think that was everyone’s favorite.) “Mom, it would be so fun if I could go potty while Dad drives.” Yep. It’s the little things.
  • found and held her first frog while camping. It was a small brown frog. She was enraptured.
  • feeds and dotes on Sweet Pea. She loves to hold her…and tries to carry her…and I try to let her without panicking.
  • is developing a wit that makes me swoon. Recently, she was pretending to be a cat and I asked her what her name was. “My name is…wait for it…wait for it…CHLOE.” (Ah yes, the name she always chooses. Why Chloe? Who knows? I bet her firstborn girl will be named Chloe.)
  • has taken the lead on caring for Lady. They are smitten with each other. (Well, sometimes Lady is a bit fearful of Eden’s tenacious love.) They go everywhere together. Lady loves to snuggle, which is just fine with Eden! These two are developing a beautiful relationship.
  • gave Sweet Pea a bath.
  • loves and wants to house every stray dog we come across, “But, Mom! That dog has no home. We have to take it home and take care of it.”
  • calms Clancy, our dog, with a gentle, “Easy, Clance. Easy.”
  • is learning that, and I quote, “Only MY grown ups can see me naked, not the visiting ones.” We’re getting there!
  • loved having “Daddy’s brother” visit.

Sweet Pea — Seven Months

This sweet, snugly, round baby is doing her best to become a toddler. Within one month, she has moved from reclining to rolling to scooting to bear crawling to tripod-ing! And she’s on the edge of sitting up all by her wee self!



At seven months, Sweet Pea:

  • ate some apple breakfast bar because I was busy talking to someone…not paying attention…and fed Denver’s snack to the wee babe. Ooops! She did not choke…and seemed to rather enjoy it. Whew.
  • sleeps on her side now.
  • can control her pacifier. Ahhhh. This little trick makes napping/sleeping so much easier!
  • is eating so much…and by “eating,” I mean rice cereal. How did we get here?
  • tries to feed herself.
  • is all over the floor. She can roll, scoot…honestly, I don’t know how she does it…as she won’t crawl. Won’t. It’s probably because she does not have to crawl to get all over the floor!
  • can sit in her high chair. I pack the sides with blankets to keep her upright. But she’s in a high chair…sniff, sniff.
  • rolls, and roll, and rolls.
  • visited the Picciuti Crew. She approves.
  • scoots backwards…sorta.
  • when she sleeps on her tummy, she turns her head toward her pacifier…for easy access.
  • has mastered the tripod…two legs and one arm. She is trying so hard to walk! No crawling. Just walking.
  • does a bear crawl…with her eyes on the prize. Must. Walk. Like. Big. Girls.

A Little Bit Crazy

Okay, on the whole, I’m pretty sane as human beings go. Oh, but there are moments…when I lose my natural mind. Lose it. And heaven help us all (the fam) when I do, cause there is no talking to crazy.

Here it is folks, this morning’s gentle shove…right over the edge:

imageI look at this photo now and I see color, order…a cute little kitchen. I see that now. But this morning? Sunday morning? At 8:05? I saw…failure. I saw…I never, ever, ever, ever, ever get a break. I saw…this is impossible. I cannot possibly live like this. I can’t keep on top of things. How does this happen? Wasn’t it just clean? I am going to throw out all the food, all the dishes, and all the people. Post haste.

I’m not kidding. Something inside me snaps…and anxiety takes over…and I hear things in my heart that hurt and make it hard to breathe.

Now, being 45 years old, and having lived with these freakish outbreaks of insanity my entire life, I’ve learned a few things: 1. my reality in this moment is warped, and 2. I need a moment to regroup and get perspective.

And so, I said, “Phil, please take the girls to church. I will follow.” Because I knew…I was dangerous. My mouth was dangerous. My thoughts were dangerous. And I just needed to breathe…so that “normal” could return.

Sure enough, by the time we got to church, I could breathe. I could laugh (a little) at how a sink full of dishes could undo me. Undo me. And I thought...hey, go home, take a picture, and share. Maybe, just maybe, there are other crazies out there…who need to know they are not alone.

So, crazy mama, you are not alone. And you’re not crazy. Okay…maybe a little crazy…but that just makes life more interesting, right? Seriously, sometimes the fear of…whatever…just gets too big. And the dirty dishes or the laundry or the diapers…they rise up. Yes. They rise up. But so do we. Do not suffer alone. Do not think you are the only one…cause I promise you…you are not alone. And, you are not crazy. Okay, maybe just a little.

Denver — Two and Four

Our girl has found her voice and is intent upon putting a stamp on HER stuff. “Mine!” is her victory cry. Now, I’m torn about this new development…as a fellow second-born female, I am thrilled that she has found her voice and uses it. Yea. That is huge. (Most of us second-born-kiddos don’t realize we have an opinion until we’re in our…well…later in life.) Now…how to teach my girls to negotiate…share…take turns…with sweet spirits? Bwaaahaaahaaa.2016-01-11 10.55.19

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At two years and four months, Denver:

  • attended her first tea party. We have an amazing neighbor…the kind every family should have…she’s an older artist…quirky…always interesting and not a little odd. She has noticed our two lovely ladies, and invited us to tea! The girls dressed up. Well, Denver put on a necklace with her rain boots…that’s dressed up for our girl. Miss Shirlene made chamomile tea and served it in tiny cups. Swoon. Neither of girls had ever tasted tea…we added plenty of honey. It was a hit. So were the little cheese-on-a-toothpick offerings. We hope this is the first of many such parties with Miss Shirlene!
  • got her first hair cut! She was a champ. Just got the bangs trimmed. She’s adorable…haircut or no.
  • loves water towers…and points them out with glee.
  • says “MINE” at least 500 times a day. MINE!
  • says “Tah dah” when she does something she wants us to notice.
  • loves kitty cats. She has been asking for her kitties at bedtime rather than her baby dolls.
  • attended Eden’s four-year-old-wellness visit. After which, she wanted to listen to everyone’s “beep beat.”
  • held the following conversation with Phil concerning her baby’s poor listening skills:
    • Denver: “My baby’s not listening to me!”
    • Phil: “Does she need a spanking?”
    • Denver: “She needed a time-out.”
  • can “read” Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Swoon.
  • recognizes the O’s and E’s in words. Just points them out…at random.
  • likes to try to catch the moon.
  • has discovered her nipples. Ahem. We’ve had to discuss proper dining table etiquette concerning them. Perhaps if we insisted she wear clothes to the table??
  • uses the word “EVER” for emphasis: “Don’t touch me, Eden. EVER.”
  • discovered that her nose sounds funny when it is stuffy, “I can hear my boogers.”
  • declares, “Hey! I have an idea!” but doesn’t know what to say next. It’s soooo cute. So yeah, she really has no idea…other than to share this cute phrase that delights us all.
  • cannot bear to have attention drawn to her. Cannot. Bear. It. Poor girl.
  • grows sweeter and bolder and kinder and smarter every day.