She in the CLE

USA-Cleveland-267x267There’s a new blogger collective in Cleveland and it’s called She in the CLE.

From the She in the CLE site: 

Welcome to She In The CLE! We are a blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.

Happily, I’ll be a contributor.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with other Cleveland women and the conversations, friendships and connections that lie ahead. Here’s a link to my first post:

From Homemaker to Single, Working Parent (sigh…)

Happy Weekend!!

1st Day of School Pictures …

THROWBACK POST: Originally posted in August of 2012. These are my favorite back to school pictures. Love them! Love these children. 

In many cities it’s the first day of school…

There are smiling faces all over Facebook this morning. Children in new clothes. With backpacks. And sports bags. Ready to go.

This year both of my children are in high school. One starting as a Freshman. One finishing up as a Senior. And today was their first day.


What is wrong with this picture? And these children?

They weren’t in the mood to do 1st Day of School pictures. The ones I take on the front steps every year.

I tried to get them to coöperate. Asked them to turn around. So they did.



But with their eyes closed.

And it wasn’t planned. They both sort of turned their backs to me when I pulled out the camera. Then I asked them to turn around. So they did. But with their eyes shut.

Classic Daughter & Son move. Also classic that they worked together, without words…

So all the other parent’s have ‘nice’ pictures of their kids heading of to school.

And I’ve got these beauties for the family photo album…

One of My Favorite People…

File Mar 05, 1 58 01 PMOne of my favorite people ever is my daughter.

I’ve called her Darling Daughter in this blog for the 5+ years I’ve written it.

Since the day she was born and still to this day, I feel lucky. I love every bit of her personality–wouldn’t trade her for any other little girl in the world. She is Perfect. Just as she is. Not like anybody else;  unique, and unique in her outrageousness, always has been. Never what I’d call an “easy” child, but I LOVE that about her. Her sense of humor, intelligence, drive, guts, compassion, kindness, her softness with little kids and dogs, her generosity with her brother, and her (sometimes) patience with me. And that whole mix of complexity that is Darling Daughter. I especially love the “college” version of her, because she’s matured, grown into her personality, and she’s far more relaxed than she was in high school, her younger years.

Riding in the car…

Riding in the car not too long ago, she was mumbling.

ME: Huh?

DARLING DAUGHTER: I’m praying. For patience.

ME: What prayer?

DARLING DAUGHTER: Not saying a specific prayer. Just talking to The Lord.

ME: Oh.

Driving with me apparently didn’t “feel safe” to her.

Speaking of cars…

We tend to have a lot of cars in the driveway, a lot of the time. Last fall, I got a new Mazda. Only had it a few months when I noticed a large dent in its side. The kids were both home on Winter Break (Christmas vacation).

ME (TO SON): Did you see the dent in the car?

SON: Yeah. Just noticed it. Did you hit something?

ME: Me, too. And no, I didn’t hit anything.

Son and I were at the dining table. Daugther was at the stove, scooping dinner onto a plate.

SON: Maybe it got hit in the school parking lot?

ME: Could be.

DARLING DAUGHTER: Yeah. Let’s go with that…

Son and I turned (at the same time) to look at Daughter. Her back was to us. She was still loading her dinner plate.

DARLING DAUGHTER (Heading over to table): That might have happened.

SON: Did you hit it?

DARLING DAUGHTER: Yeah, but I didn’t know it left a dent–with all the snow on it.

ME: When?

DARLING DAUGHTER: A while ago. I backed into it, when I was trying to get out of the driveway.

This was NOT a small dent. But we laughed, continued with dinner. It was a newer car, but just a car. Nobody was hurt.

photo 2

Also last winter…

We suspected there might be a mouse (can’t even think of their being mice…) in the house. I was freaking out. Not handling it at all well. Was looking for contact information to call Orkin Pest Control.

SON (Deadpan): Just give Lenny a call.

DARLING DAUGHTER: Nick just referenced a piece of classic literature, one still considered important enough for high school student reading–in regular conversation.

Son smiled at her.

DARLING DAUGHTER: Let’s just take a moment…

ME: Huh?

DARLING DAUGHTER: …to thank me for making him take those classes.

She referred to the Honors/Advanced Placement track she worked out for Son before his freshman year of high school. Darling Daughter has always guided him with his class schedules. I generally have no idea what he is taking.

She also spoils her brother…

Son googled sneakers one evening, while doing homework. I rang my daughter.

ME: What are you doing? Nick seems to be looking at shoes…

DARLING DAUGHTER: I’m not looking for any shoes.

ME: Oh?

DARLING DAUGHTER: But if HE finds them, he can have them…

ME: His homework isn’t done. He’s searching for black PF Flyers (from The Sandlot).

DARLING DAUGHTER: Tell him he can have them after his homework is done.

She is a second mother to her brother. Takes him to concerts, buys him things when they go shopping together, helps him with homework, and talks to him about college, life, relationships, just about anything. She is truly a model Big Sister to her brother. She is often his first call when there is big news–both good and bad.

“Darling Daughter” Daisies…

There’s something about daisies that has always made me happy. When I started playing with stones, fashioning a trail of daisies on a pale green canvas, I was thinking of my daughter. She identified strongly with the piece. Said I couldn’t sell it. That was the fall of 2014.

I ended up having prints made in the Spring of 2015, because many people wanted it. Each time I put a print together with a vintage frame, it’s gone. They sell very quickly. Darling Daugther has the print above her bed at college.

Special Offer Prints

Darling Daughter – Shopify Site

Those are the links for anybody interested in seeing the print. The original is sold.

To celebrate my new Shopify site, my Daughters print is on sale all week.

Thoughts on Raising a Gifted Athlete

RegionalsMy son is competing at the state track meet in Pole Vault tomorrow morning.

He is a gifted athlete. And that’s all very well.

But it has nothing to do with me.

At the spring awards banquet last week, he was MVP and complimentary comments were made about his dedication, work ethic, and such. He got an armful plaques and awards. Yet listening to his accomplishments was strange.

I saw my son through the eyes of others.

He started on the varsity football team as a freshman,  made significant contributions as a linebacker, lettered 3 years in a row, was all conference, even all Ohio as a punter by his junior year. The boy went to state in Pole Vault as a freshman; this will be his 3rd trip to outdoor state. (He’s been to indoor state, as well.) He’ll compete in The New Balance Outdoor Nationals in a couple of weeks with the best jumpers in the country. I know these things.

But I don’t see him as others do. To me, he’s just my son. One of the best gifts I have ever been given.

His athletic ability is God-given. Something he was born with. How he channels it, uses it, is up to him.

The child landed a front flip on my bed when he was two, rode a two-wheel bike with no training wheels at two and a half—then headed straight for the nearest ramp. I had to keep him busy. When he was three, I took him for skating lessons; he put on hockey skates for the first time, took a lap, and they said to bring him back later in the week with a helmet and stick. He skipped lessons, went straight to tot hockey.  If I turned my back, he was 15 feet up a tree. He’s played travel hockey, baseball and basketball; football, soccer, and wrestled. Since age five or six, he’s flipped from high dives, low dives, and snow piles and out of trees—back, front, and sideways. On the trampoline, other kids jumped up and down; with him, it was back flip, front flip, back layout, twisting front flip…there was no jumping, just flipping and twisting. At almost 6’3” and 210 pounds, the boy still does standing back flips in the yard, has been known to do tumbling passes, round off, back handspring, and back tuck (self-taught). He’s always hit the heck out of a golf ball, punted footballs a mile, and quickly picked up skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding. Whatever he tried, he could do. And do well.

I gave him opportunities to explore his athleticism, encouraged him, talked with him about safety, and often got him stitched up. But that’s about it.

He’s been successful in sports because he wants to be. There is something inside of him, some drive that pushes him to get better, stronger, and faster.  To “Make it Happen,” as his track coach says.

I couldn’t produce any of his coaches contact information, his training schedule, or his practice schedules, if my life depended on it. He’s always dealt with that, let me know where he needed to be, and at what time.

What’s my role?

  • I pack sandwiches, fruit, snacks, water and Gatorade.
  • I make sure he has Advil and if he needs uniforms dropped off at school, I do that. (Much of the time, he washes his own clothes, and he rarely forgets them.)
  • I keep an eye on him; if he needs something checked out, I make a doctor’s appointment. He wants to compete. Always. But there are times he needs to wait until we get an x-ray or MRI.
  • I sit down to dinner with him each night, make sure he has a comfortable home, that he knows he’s loved, my priority.
  • I sign waivers, fill out the forms he leaves on my desk.
  • I eat funnel cakes at track meets, popcorn at football games.
  • I clap from the bleachers.
  • I tell him to clean his room, feed the dogs and let them outside. And to please bring the stack of cups (crusted with dry Gatorade powder) down from his bedside table.

Things I DON’T do:

  • I don’t weight in, or break down performance; I’m lucky to jump over a puddle. I know squat about Pole Vault. The boy has top-notch coaches to guide him.
  • I don’t spend hours trying to learn how to coach him. I’m just his mom.
  • I don’t ask questions; He comes in after games, practices…and if he wants to talk about something, he will. If he doesn’t, I don’t push. He’ll share when he’s ready.
  • I don’t criticize him.
  • I don’t question his training/preparation: He knows what he wants, where he’s at, what needs done to reach his goals. If he’s off track, he talks with his coaches. I trust him to know what is right for him, and know that he’ll come to me if he needs my council.
  • I don’t set his goals, track his progress, put expectations on him; he does that for himself.
  • I don’t take video, because I’m horrible with it; get footage of the sky and ground, because I’m watching him.
Family Fan Club

Family Fan Club

The state track meet starts tomorrow…

I’ll sit on the sidelines with my family and friends, probably eating a funnel cake. Long ago, Darling Daughter instructed me to sit in the bleachers and be quiet–at both her and her brothers sporting events. Done.

Doesn’t matter if my son is fantastic or terrible. (Though I realize it matters to him.) I’ll clap whether he takes first or last place.

I won’t take photos, because nobody wants my photos. They suck.

Here’s what matters to me…

He’s a nice young man, kind, compassionate, well-mannered. He hops on the mower when the grass looks long, without being asked. When I pull up with groceries, he runs out to help me. When his sister lugs her crap downstairs for her trip back to college, he stops her—handles loading her car. Has been known to fuel up her car, get her an oil change, or a new battery before she heads out. If I’m cooking, he fires up the grill and brings everything back inside, cooked. He’s a hard worker, a loyal friend, brother and son. He’s got principles. He’s a leader. He doesn’t leave the car on empty. He’s respectful. He’s funny, has a great sense of humor, is quick to smile, and a joy to be around. These things matter.

If he never played another sport starting now, it matters not to me. When he and every kid on the field of play come off the field in one piece, as they went in—that’s a successful day.

He plays sports, trains, practices because HE wants to. I’m not sure where the inner fire and drive come from, but I know I have nothing to do with it.

When he gets home from the state track meet, I’ll be there to greet him.

I’ll be happy to see him because he’s my son, and I’m always happy to see him.

I’ll probably ask him if he wants a sandwich, or something to eat.

I’ve Lost All Control

Today I’m sharing my secret shame.

I used to refinish furniture and home decor. Since 2012, I’ve created Beach Art on canvas, with what I find while walking on the beach. Somehow, I’ve lost all control of my rocks, sticks, beach glass, beach wire and plastic. But I always turn my finds into something. (Eventually.) I have workspace in my basement, but I never work there. I try hard to contain the mess.

And yet…

We cannot eat at the dining room table much of the time. On a good week, we’ve got use of half of it. We have to be careful to walk around the piles of vintage and antique frames neatly stacked against the dining room wall, in a corner.

Mantle Disaster

The mantle used to be attractive. It’s perpetually a mess now. I set completed pieces up there to make sure I’ve got the right colors and nothing needs added; if something is off, I eventually figure out what’s wrong by walking by it enough times. Also, propping pictures up ensures that my Beach Finds are securely attached to the canvas or canvas board. If they get loose after a few days, I fix them.



Lucky me! Our mantle wraps around a corner, with a bookcase below it, giving me more square footage of mantle to ruin.  We used to have family photos there.

Most people store fancy items in their china cabinets. Mine? Full of sticks, beach glass marbles, artists proofs of prints, and more projects in the works.

My desk has a triangular jug of beach glass and random stones on it most of the time.

Sticks on China Cabinet

I do have a couple of china plates in the cabinet–my mom’s china. It isn’t just beach glass that’s a problem for me. I can’t resist old glass; Carnival Glass, Early American Pattern Glass, and glass vases. I do have a few such items in the china cabinet, but it’s mainly books (I’ll spare you photos of the books stacked all over the house, that’s an “issue” for another day) and the junk I find on the beach.

Notice the branches on top of the china cabinet? Even have to walk under sticks to enter the kitchen.

photo 2 (2) giant tree

We used to have art on the walls. Quite a few of my favorites paintings are packed in bubble, being stored. We have no wall space for them. My Beach Art is on our walls now, because I don’t want anything damaged. Once completed, wired on the back, it’s safer to hang on a wall until it sells. Of course, I have my favorites–that I won’t sell. (Ugh!)

The driftwood and metal tree above the park bench is enormous, about 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall. I could have sold it too many times to count, but I won’t part with it.

The upside? 

My Beach Art sells easily, faster than I can create it. Which is why I started having prints made. Yes, signed, numbered, “fine art” prints–of sticks, rocks, and beach glass.

Almost too shameful to admit…

I keep seeing photos on Facebook of local beach cleanups going on in our area. Good stuff, kids and families getting out there and spiffing up our beaches. But what if they throw away something good? Seriously, that’s what I think when I see the photos.

It’s been suggested I play with Legos. Truth. My kids friends sidestep my mess like it’s no big deal, they’ve gotten used to it. Not too long ago, I was arranging stones, coming up with a new design, when one of my son’s buddies said, “Mrs. Lauria, you should invest in Legos. It’s kinda the same thing, right?”

This hit close to home as Legos were my favorite toy as a kid. My very favorite!  The only thing better was going outside–I rarely came inside unless it was dark out.

A new workspace?

I’ve started pinning barns on Pinterest. I’ll need to do something soon! My house is overrun…



I dream of having a workspace outside of my home; a barn, an outbuilding, anything with a bit of wall space to hang a gallery of finished work, my stash of vintage frames. Perhaps with shelving to hold supplies. I typically use pretty clear vintage and antique glass jars/vases to hold my stones, beach glass, metal and such. Makes it easy to sort by size and see what I have. I also use ball jars for storage, and even to mix paint in.

My “mess” wouldn’t look like a mess in a workshop. It would look attractive, possibly even stunning.

For now I have a home. And my mess is anything but pretty. It’s destroying the vibe…

Interested in checking out my projects? Head over to my website.

Workspace ideas? Comment below or Contact me. In the meantime, I’ll keep pinning to my “Dream Girl Cave” page on Pinterest.