Tuesday- Thankful


Thankful for:

1. The last glimpses of fall colors.


2. Friends who drop off dinner and other friends who drop off loaves of delicious bread

(especially when they know you can’t cook).


3. Toys that keep a three-year old occupied for more than 10 minutes (thanks Uncle Ryan).


4. Girls growing and realizing that one day they may be each others best friends.


5. Movie night with Audrey. She is the best cuddler.


6. Discovering new songs that just sort of fit the moment.

Hey Brother – Avicci and Dan Tymniski

picking up pieces

How does one continue on with a blog entitled “joyful life” when life doesn’t feel so joyful right now?

How do you look up at the world around you when you feel entitled to weeks and months spent hidden under covers?

I’m finding the answer in taking living one day at a time. Slowing down from the incredible force with which this life moves and making myself find joy in every moment.

There are long conversations with neighbors turned friends where they remind you to not turn away.

There are evenings on a treadmill where you are grateful for the lung capacity to keep breathing when your legs are on fire and you heart physically aches.

There are soccer lessons where your middle child shows up and turns out to be the only girl on a team with 11 other boys. Moments spent in awe of that 6-year-old in her head to toe pink taking on the boys, no fear.


There are dear friends who share their good news with hopes it will bring a smile to your face. And it does, because their news makes you feel like life does and will go on.

And there are little girls who make you bracelets to wear so that when you are alone all you need to do is look down and feel them with you.


I am not sure what today holds but I know I will find my pockets of joy.


An open letter to friends and family

Dear Friends and Family,
We apologize for this mass e-mail instead of personal correspondence with each of you, but as you know we both value the written word and felt it the best way to convey this news.

We have decided to divorce.

We know this will come as a shock to many of you and it is already rocking our worlds, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that our priority is the children.

We have created an amazing life for these happy, contented, well-adjusted young ladies and we still view the five of us as a family regardless of whether or not their parents live in the same house. Those of you who know us well (which means everyone on this email) know that we have always charted our own course and don’t always do things by society’s perception of the “rule book”.

So keeping that in mind some thoughts for you to consider:

1. There are no sides. We have arrived at this decision with a great deal of thought and consideration. We are not angry with each other. In fact we love and appreciate each other so deeply that we have chosen this course for the betterment of our individual well-beings.

2. In light of the above – please don’t feel the need to eliminate either one of us from your lives. We love and respect each one of you and the role you play in the lives of our significant other.

3. We plan to continue to be a family so that means you will see us together a lot- at school, gymnastics, basketball and even at holiday gatherings. We want this period to be as stable for the kids as possible.

4. We will need your support and love- a listening ear, a hug, a kind gesture will help sustain us through this time. But please don’t use this time as an opportunity to speak ill of our significant other to us. We may need to bitch, moan and complain but what we need most from you is the space to do that and the knowledge that you will not use it against us or our partner in the future.

5. Finally for the kids, give them hugs, kisses and love. Give them the grace to approach you on the topic if they so desire. We ask this of you because our children don’t think of themselves as different. They are well aware of what is occurring between their parents and they feel very much loved and supported by both of us. Too many staring gazes or pitiful expressions from well-intended friends and family will only serve to make them question what they believe to be true.

Thank you for your love and support of our marriage over the last 14 years. Regardless of what happens legally in the weeks and months ahead we will always be proud of what we have accomplished together.

Much love,
Brock and H

October 23


On a gray day 6 years ago, as the turning of the page added another year to my mother’s life, my father passed away in her arms. The journey of life so starkly juxtaposed together.

For the last 5 passing’s of this day I have let myself sit in it- let myself be absorbed by the numbers on the calender; looking inward and thinking of nothing but my loss and the loss of my family.

This morning, I woke up, hopped on the treadmill and ran a quick three. Somewhere in my slumber I had decided that this October 23 would be different and I would face it down. I would run straight into it.

I think it’s a fitting test of my promise to spend the year looking up spending this day paying attention to all that surrounds me.

Ellie’s calling now. She’s wearing her new Sophia night-night gown and wants to dance at the ball.

I think I have a dance partner waiting.


Walking into this weekend knowing this week I looked up every chance I could; realizing that life smacked me hard with its realities and they were beautiful.

The moment I watched the mom help her child off of the school bus. I was late picking up my own girls from school and frustrated with life, but the sight of the young girl lowered by the contraption designed to help those wheelchair bound leave the bus moved me. The look on the mom’s face welcoming her girl home. Their journey about the long country driveway, mom pushing  wheelchair with one hand and walker with the other.

My Audrey girl looking at me with her bright blue eyes telling me I never have time for her anymore. Pausing, breathing deeply and letting the moment take me. My six-year-old needed me more than those emails, more than that pile of laundry, more than the lame dog needing another round of heating pads and pills.

Sidney hair tangled in a brush and unable to get it out. Scissors in my hands after 30 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to remove it. Frustration from me as this was not my plan for 8:30 on a Tuesday night. Then again the look in the eyes as I tell her we will have to cut it out. The hairbrush finally released and her and I laughing that now she had a bald spot. Too bad I was too absorbed in the moment to take a picture. What a photo for the album that would have made- wooden hairbrush sticking out of a head with giant tears rolling down her face.  Ah but at least we took the moment to laugh.

The weekend is almost here. Thursday is upon me.

The week hit me and I looked up.

I realized that moments were made this week not by actions but by reactions.


We head home this weekend, except now home consists of a hotel room and meals eaten out.

Funny how I still call this place home when I no longer have a “home” there.

We venture back every fall so my girls can feel the place were I spent my formative years.

There will be a trip to Primanti’s were my girls will question how I could possible eat anything that consists of egg, coleslaw, french fries and meat slapped between two pieces of bread.

We will head to the farm where I picked my first pumpkins. The place where my bothers and I always had a contest to see who could pick the biggest pumpkin and carry it back to the car unassisted.

We will venture to the Strip and find crazy, cheap t-shirts that we will wear only once before they shrink down to Ellie’s size.

I will walk down streets that will overwhelm me with memories.

I will feel his presence in the strangest places- the rest stop on Highway 70, watching the leaves in Frick Park and in the smile of the women helping us check out at the market.

I go home just as much for them to know me as I do for them to know him.

I hear his voice reminding me as he often did that home is simply any place we are together.


my dog

zivasickI don’t doubt that my kids are the most important thing I have done with my life. But, what I have come to terms with is that when I am old and gray they will leave me to start their own journey and I will be left with my dog.

Ziva won’t be that dog that makes it to see my graying years but she will be there to see me through those first tentative years of life with teenagers, when those three girls dip their toes into the waters of independence.

She will sit with me on the night Sid ventures out for the first time with friends unaccompanied by an adult. No doubt she will let me stroke her ears and kiss her nose as I stare down the door waiting for it to open and my first baby to return home.

She will join me on early morning walks as I fret over the growth pattern of my youngest. Are we spoiling her too much?

She will exhale deeply with us when Audrey returns home from another gymnastics meet full of medals but minus the injuries.

She will survive the slamming of doors, the loud music and the repeated attempts to coax sullen girls from rooms.

She will listen to thousands of excuses for how she ate their homework, stole the shirt mom wanted them to wear or chewed through one of their new heels.

She will stand next to me while I make every meal; will dance with me late at night to the Indigo Girls and will comfort me when one of those beautiful little girls turned teenager tells me she hates me.

I read an article once that said dog owners who pet their animals first thing in the morning and the minute they walked in the door at night had significantly lower stress levels. No doubt there will be hundreds of minutes spent petting her over the next 5 years as she helps me to survive what may prove to be the most stressful years of parenting.

No she won’t be the best thing I have done with my life but she will make my life better.

Ziva I owe you. Thanks for hanging out with me.


When I was 8 I would watch the evening news and memorize the National League standings. When daddy walked in the door after a day of work I would recite those and the box scores. Daddy and I would go out to one of his events and he would find it amusing to have me recite the baseball stats to those we met. He took pride in my interest in his sport especially in his Pirates.

My sophomore year of high school Dad promised that if he could get tickets to a Pirates playoff game he would take me. He landed three and my older brother decided to forgo a weekend of parties at his private college to make the 4 hour drive home and attend with us.

We watched the Pirates take on the Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. We sat in the fourth row from the top at the now demolished Three Rivers Stadium.

The crowd was electric that night as we watched Tim Wakefield (and his knuckleball) lead the Pirates to a 3-2 victory.

I don’t believe I left my seat the entire game.

Last night, 21 years after that series would end with the Pirates loosing painfully to the Braves in Game 7, I watched Daddy’s Pirates play their wild card game with two of my own children.

The crowd still electric.

Me enamoured with Francisco Liriano’s pitching.

My Sidney memorizing the line up and my Ellie mimicking my cheers.

I didn’t leave my seat.

Amazing how life comes full circle.