By MBPDLPayday Loans

Category: Family Shackles

Dec 29


I can honestly say that I will always be in love with 2010.

I’m getting married in 2011, and going back to school and hopefully starting to forge a career path that is fulfilling and engaging and satisfying… and I still think 2011 is going to have a hard time topping 2010. 2010 was the year I started to take my writing seriously enough for others to take it seriously, too. And I got engaged, and James and I took the first big steps toward being more than a couple… toward being a family.

And I successfully hosted my first “Crew Christmas”, made my first Christmas Dinner with only small injuries, and I survived a suburban snow-in in the last yawning week of the year. So there’s that. And here are photos!

Crew Christmas:

{The Crew’s All Here}
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{Rich & Kallie being adorable!}
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{Rich & Kallie’s Hands, also being adorable.}
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{Drew & Ally. We have really adorable friends.}
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Christmas Christmas:

{The Whole Family! Please excuse how exhausted I clearly look.}
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{The Fingertip Casualty – taken by the evil Mandolin. I did you the favor of replacing the skin flap before snapping the photo.}
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{Moose: “OMG crazy lady, no more photos!”}
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{Sleepy, after the long day.} I don’t know why I love this photo so much. I just really, really do.
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Snow Day!:

{Elephant snuggles in as the snow keeps falling.}
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{Moose also burrows down for a long winter’s nap.}
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{It snowed for 14 hours, and we woke up to this…}
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{That’s James’ car in the front. That’s Jen’s car in the back. That’s 3-4 feet all around them both.}
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{Please forgive my bathrobe. And my face. Look! 2.5 FEET at the garage door! FEET!}
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And now, for my next trick, I shall keep quiet until 2011. :) Try not to miss me too much until then, OK?



Dec 14

{The Suspension of Disbelief}

There is a phenomenon in Film Theory that is called The Suspension of Disbelief. It’s what you, as the viewer, bring to the table when you watch a movie. It’s a simple, tacit agreement that you will, for the duration of the film, surrender your tendencies to say, “Oh, that’s ridiculous!” Movies – and your ability to enjoy them – heavily depend on your willingness as the audience member to set aside the facts {like that the guy with the machine gun could probably land a single shot without Indiana Jones and his lone revolver taking him out}.

It’s your unspoken contract that, for the length of the movie, you are willing to let yourself be wonder-struck once more.

That’s how I felt this weekend when I hung out with Kristin and Jonas. {Ryan, too, of course – if you’re lucky enough to know Ryan you know how wonderstruck-capable he is, what with his dry humor and his way-too-tall-ness. :) } James made a joke on the way home that my mother’s hair style changes each time he sees her. {He didn’t say it in a mean way; he said it in a “I didn’t realize mothers could do that, as my mother has had the same hair for as long as I can remember,” sort of way.} It made me smile because… well, he’s right. My mother is one of those exceptionally lucky women who is beautiful no matter if she’s blonde or brunette or red-head. She can wear her hair short or she can wear it long, with loose curls or a tight perm, and it always looks quite lovely on her. {She will tell you that none of this is true, especially because of All The Weight She’s Gained, but it needs to be said – my mother is a dirty liar when it comes to stuff like that. I am telling you the truth. I promise.}

I took it for granted that my mother changes her look so often. I assumed all mothers were so lucky and fortunate. Mothers have superpowers, right? Chameleon-ity seemed like a standard trait for a woman expected to handle so much all at once without sucking any of the limelight from her kids. As we get older, I told myself, it’s just what we do. We change. And it’s OK.

But I found myself completely wonderstuck when I saw Kristin, who is now around 6 months pregnant. I kept staring at her little belly {which sits in a neat little bump on her little waist} and apologizing. “I’ve never seen you this pregnant before,” I finally told her.

She laughed, because to her, it feels like she’s been in one of the stages of pregnancy {trying, succeeding, vomiting, growing, laboring, nursing} for the past decade. But when she was pregnant with Jonas, I found out Christmas Eve (6-8 weeks along), saw her once in early March (2ish? months along) and then wasn’t able to come home again until after the little man had joined us. I have a cardboard cutout of her at 5 months pregnant, in a leopard print dress doing a flamenco pose… and it’s life-size… but that doesn’t count.

I kept staring, because there it was before my very eyes… My best friend is changed.

There are a lot of things you feel strangely out of touch with if time and distance separate you from people you love dearly. You miss the little things in each others’ lives, even if you e-mail between 7-24 times a day, like Kristin and I do. Jonas has turned into a full-blown rough-and-tumble but sweet-and-giggly little boy! Kristin is a real, live Mommy, complete with phrases like, “Please don’t put that in your mouth!” and “No, you go get your sippy cup.” and “Oop! Oop!… You’re OK.” if somebody takes a tumble.

It’s easy, if you’re far away and not in the same stage of your life, like me, to ignore these things. When I hear those phrases on the phone, I know she’s talking to Jonas, but she could just as easily be sippy-cup-training the cats. Or Ryan. But yesterday I sat in her living room, snapping photos of her and her son, and the disbelief that I have felt since she told me she was going to have her first baby two Christmases ago – the disbelief that this is it, that we are, full-blown, adults and in this new and exciting and terrifying stage of our lives – that feeling just washed away.

And in its place slipped Wonderstruck, the feeling that I knew I’d find sooner or later. Like it had been waiting in the wings all along, simply biding its time while I worked through all the resisting and the heel-digging and the “I’m not ready for this yet!”-ing.

We’re here. And this is really happening. And it’s so much better than anyone promised us it would be, in a completely different way than we expected. See? See my friend and her beautiful little boy?

Suspend your disbelief. Just let the wonderment of it all wash over you. Hold close to your heart the words Kristin tells me every time I call her with a new 20-something crisis: “We’re all in this together, and not in the scary way.” And soak it all in.

Kristin Laughing

{For this one, please note the drool hanging from his chin. Apparently, babies do this until they get all their teeth. ALL. THEIR. TEETH. Don’t we get our last teeth around age 12?}
Jonas Close Up

Jonas Floor


looking up laughing



Dec 09

{The Birthdays}

Right, OK. So.

First of all, BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mother, who is a very young-looking 52 today:

And my little baby sister, who is holy shit! 23:
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Now. We all know that I tend to march dance plié to the beat of a different drum. And, though I’ve doubt you’ve paused to wonder where my weird tendencies come from, I’ve decided to volunteer a little information. {James has wondered about my tendency to freeze bananas, and why I get so excited the first time it snows that I drag him outside and laugh until I cry.}

Here’s the truth: It’s genetic.

My grandmother {Mimi} and my mother {Mom} keep bananas in the freezer, because you never know when you’ll need to make Banana Bread. And I get so excited that I cry when it snows for the first time because if it sticks, I get to make The Special Snow Cookies, which my mother and I make, normally together, only after the first time it snows and sticks.

They’re our traditions. And we women guard them preciously, because they’re what tie us together.

And, as great as frozen bananas and Special Snow cookies happen to be, there is one tradition that has been observed successfully for the past 25 years: The Birthdays.

My mother, sister and I make up The Girls, and together each year, we celebrate The Birthdays. Mom and Karlene share the same birthday, December 9th. And I dawdle along after them, December 12th. Mom and I have successfully spent each of The Birthdays together every year since my debut, only missing Karlene twice: Once before she was born, and when I turned 21 and my mom came down to visit me in New York City.

For Mom’s 50th, I stayed up for almost 72 straight hours and took an early-morning flight home, and slept for an hour on Kristin’s couch, all so I could surprise her at her fancy Surprise Party. This was after three weeks of Mom reminding me each time we spoke how disappointed she was that “finals” were more important than “The Birthdays.”

Finals were not, as it were, more important, and I proved that by moving heaven and earth to be there.

That was two years ago, when James and I had just gotten together, and it was hard to explain to him why it was so important for met to live in the Silent Reading Room for two days so that I could be ready in time to go home.This year, it’s a lot easier, as James now understands that The Birthdays are better than Christmas and Easter and a Single Birthday combined.

I get really homesick around The Holidays, and getting excited for The Birthdays always helps me get through Thanksgiving and get through Christmas. Needless to say, I therefore get really excited for The Birthdays – with all that happiness riding on them. And, also needless to say, something therefore always happens 24-36 hours before I head home to remind me that coupled with The Tradition of Togetherness comes The Tradition of Driving Each Other Nuts.

This year’s earmarker: The Conversation My Mother, Sister and Grandmother Had This Morning, as Stolen From My Sister’s Facebook Profile.

Gma: Oh My God Karlene, what are you wearing?!
Kar: What? They’re leggings.
Gma: No… No, those are for skinny skinny models.
Kar: Grandma! That was kind of mean!
Mom: Yeah Mom, that was pretty mean.
Gma: {Pause} Don’t misunderstand, I was just saying only skinny skinny girls can wear those.
Mom: … And you’re saying Karlene can’t?
Gma: Oh no, she can’t wear them. She better get used to it.

…104.5 hours… until it’s all over. And we can ignore what happened until June 2011, and then get excited for next year. As is our normal pattern.



Dec 07

{Dance it Out}

Over the weekend, James and I were invited to an anniversary party, where most of the Viscardi half of his family got together for dancing and storytelling. {I am horribly awkward on the dance floor, but I do so love the stories.}

Toward the tail end of the evening, James’ cousin Mike asked Grandma Viscardi to dance. Now, she’s a spry one for 85 years old, but I didn’t think she’d be showing us her moves once the song changed to Usher. Boy, was I ever incorrect. ;)

It’s a little blurry because it’s from James’ iPhone, but! You get the point.



Nov 24

{The Storm}

This week, I am baking a home made pumpkin pie.

I’m also making my own village of gingerbread townhouses, from scratch.

And I’m finishing my first novel.


I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll post a funny photograph below… And you will forgive me if I politely excuse myself until Tuesday.



Mom and James

{Yes, that’s my mother. Yes, she’s in my fiance’s lap. Yes… she’ll continue to deny this ever happened.}

See you Tuesday!



Oct 30

{The Support}

This is my 200th Post! It took me a couple tries to decide what it is, exactly, that I want to use it for. A Retrospective? Eh, that’s what the archives are for, and anyway, I’m all-for not looking back when it comes to how much I’ve grown.

Photos of the cats? Sigh. Fine. But just one, and then we’ll get right down to the point. {There is a point, and for once, the point is not The Cats.}

Moose in Kitchen

Here’s what it all really comes down to. 200 posts later, I’m finally completely surrounded by people who want me to chase my writing dream. And not just the people who are obligated to be nice to me– like James, and my mother– but complete strangers, people who have no absolutely connection to me whatsoever beyond the insane ramblings of my Twitter stream.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am eternally grateful and forever shaped by the love and support my Family has shown me when it comes to writing. Writing this website, writing that website, writing my first novel. There were a great many people when I was younger who didn’t have the patience for my creativity and imagination. My mother was never, ever one of those people. There was always time for me to tell her another story. There was always room for her to ask, What then? And then what happened? And my stories and my imagination soared, at her gentle and unconditional coaxing.

When I become a successful author, it will be at least 80% because my mother never let it occur to me that I would do anything else.


When I told her that I was going to do NaNoWriMo, she laughed a little. She’s been patiently waiting for two things from me for the better part of a decade. 1. Grandbabies. 2. A novel, dedicated to her, that will sell millions of copies.

She knows that she has ten years left before the grandbabies. The least I can do is knock out a book, right? My start-and-stop relationship with writing has been steadily growing into “You know what? I really do think I’ll love you forever.” But we all know, and my mother believed me when I told her, that this NaNoWriMo project is my official and final litmus test. If I don’t do it, if I don’t finish… I’m going back to school for Education, or furthering my degrees in Film Theory, and I’ll leave the story-telling to the adults who have the very specific skill-set that it requires to tell a good story completely. {Like, for example, an attention span.}

I haven’t been able to knock one out yet, but I’m determined. And she’s cheering me on, and that’s all I need.

Well, her and James. James, who is my hero in a way that I can’t really quite capture in language yet. The man who liberated me from my fears of commitment and from my awful job and from Manhattan, for better or for worse. The man who tolerates my compulsive shoe-buying, notebook-buying, mind-changing ways. The man who claims to love me despite the fact that his parents’ house makes all kinds of weird noises that require his checking-out in the middle of the night. That man, the man I’m going to marry. He’s my hero.


And he’s another supporter. He sort of has to be, I suppose. He figured out early on that Writing was something that I Just Did. He likes the way he can hear my voice telling the stories he reads. I like hearing him chuckle to himself, I like that my stories make people laugh. Sometimes. When I’m brave enough to let them be seen.

James and my mother, their approval is important to me, and their support is so heartily appreciated. But you know what? It’s sort of expected. They love me. They’re walking that fine line that comes with love, the one between Telling People Things That Make Them Happy and Telling People The Truth. Sometimes those things are the same. Most of the time, when it comes to creative talents, I think you’ll find some disparity. And where you find disparity like that, you also find family members who Lie To Keep The Peace.

That’s where my new NaNoWriMo friends come in. They don’t have to worry about me giving them the cold shoulder at Thanksgiving, or scowling at them over Christmas, or crying at The Birthdays because they didn’t like my story. They do it for The Craft, and for The Process and because, just like me, they have these stories rumbling around inside them, begging to be freed. Jennifer, who I know through my Wedding World Community, agreed to do NaNoWriMo after I asked her to. {And then begged her to.} Hollie, whose words of excited encouragement lead me to make the commitment, could quite possibly be my intellectual and creative and professional soulmate. Hollie is also the lovely lady who said the thing that I am going to repeat to myself when Writing Gets Hard. We were talking about how our professional trajectory had seen a lot of overwhelming success at very young ages, and how it was paradoxical and horribly disenchanting to find ourselves so young and so miserable and also so “successful.”

She had just detailed all the gloriously gory details of her journey into and then out of publishing, and wrapped it up with the best articulations of Creative Need:

“Long story short, I’m now back to my roots as a journalist and happy as a lark. I just need the novel.”

I just need the novel. BOOM. Right there, that sentence, everything else just clicked into place. All the doubts I’ve had, and the questions as to why I feel the need to barrel ahead with such an aggressive project, and there it was, plain and simple. She’s absolutely right. I have everything, everything I’ve ever dreamed of. … I just need the novel.

So my 200th post, which is atrociously longer than it should be, is a giant THANK YOU! to the people who have rallied together around me. Thank you for your love, and your words of encouragement, and your willingness to answer seemingly inane questions in the name of Character Development. Thank you for answering my phone calls, and e-mails…

And most of all, for listening to my stories.



Oct 07

Family Recipe Family Tree

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Fancy Response Paper {Kate’s Paperie} |  Response Envelopes {Kate’s Paperie} | And, they don’t seem to sell the exact cards I used for the explanatory note, but if I could start all over again, I’d use {these} and {these}, also from {Kate’s Paperie}.

xo -MM.


Sep 28

Recipe Rollout.

This past weekend I got back into the kitchen and did some serious cooking. Then I went out to a bar and did some serious drinking. I find that it’s best to do it in that order, lest the cooking interfere with the drinking. It’s important to fully focus on things like drinking.

But. Being back in the kitchen felt amazing, and it’s a great precursor to a project I’m rolling out this week. So. Brace yourself for more recipes, including that of my Epic Lasagna. The lasagna that consumed 72 hours of my life this weekend.

Epic. Lasagna.



Sep 23

Recipe for Love

Next week, I’ll be debuting a new project that is going to be a Moxie Missives exclusive. This weekend, we’re hosting an Engagement Party for James’ family, which means Saturday morning I’ll be knee-deep in lasagna and baked apples.

So. {Here’s} a teaser for what’s coming down the tube and we’ll meet back here on Tuesday.

Courtesy of Martha Stewart



Sep 14

Cow Spit.

You can’t tell any of my Upstate friends, because they’ll mock me forever– but I really like cows.

Not little ceramic figurine cows. Not cow teapots. Certainly not cow-patterned clothing. And definitely NOT the smell. But, as far as animals go, cows are probably in my top ten, because they’re like a giant Dog & Pony amalgam, and those two animals are in my top 5. I love giant dogs. I want a pony.

But hear me now, folks. I would buy a hundred cows if they would all agree to harangue my mother the way this little beauty did. Why? Because the woman wiped the spit all over me.

And, yeah. I screamed like a girl. So sue me. But the witch-like cackling? That’s allllll my little sister.