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Embracing Murco Mayhem

March 7, 2014

The beautiful, infuriating, invigorating, awful, addictive thing about Murco is the chaos of the job. On any given day, I find myself both exhilarated and exhausted by the trials of Murco mayhem.

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This is how I felt during my first month working for Murco

Let me explain.  Like any employee, I have numerous responsibilities that I must attend to during the average week. All working adults are familiar with this. But what makes Murco special is its particular, unflinching accountability factor. Murco is comprised of Jodi and me. That’s it: two people, one whole business. So when I mess up, I mess up. No one is checking over my shoulder to remind me of my typos before I present my report to the boss lady. Any blame accrued cannot be diffused and diluted by other employees around me. There is no cushion for mistakes. I feel the consequences of my mishaps 100%, and unfortunately, Jodi does too. Our partnership makes it so that the repercussions ripple to us both.

On the converse, however, when I do well, I get to revel in it. My sale is my sale. I made it, I know every ounce of effort poured into the project, and I know what it took for everything to come together just so. And Jodi’s sales benefit me as well. Like I said before, our partnership makes it so that the repercussions ripple to us both. This is because Jodi and I occupy the Murco universe, and we experience all of its ups and downs.

When I started working for Murco, I felt like I would never conquer the chaos. Every time I thought I had mastered one aspect of my job, another dimension would pop up and throw me off kilter again. Conversations with Jodi were almost incomprehensible. We would be talking about one project, only for her to switch conversations mid-stream and start on an entirely different tangent. I was not yet fluent in the Murco language, so this came across as complete jibberish. Here’s an example:

Me: “Hey Jodi, how are things at the Western Springs property?”

Jodi: “They’re great, the only thing left to do is- what’s up with the tub in Chicago?”

Me: “Wait, what do we have to finish in Western Springs?”

Jodi: “Talk to Dave yet?”

Me: “Who?”

Jodi: “Dave! The guy with the face in Countryside.”

Me: “What do we have to finish in Western Springs?!”

Jodi: “The kitchen is coming out of Yonkers on Tuesday.”

As you can see, Murco has numerous projects, people, and schedules at work simultaneously. We have to manage all of the various details at once, or things come to a standstill. I grew up on the fringe of Murcoland, but I never knew of the true insane nature of the biz until I tried to live within it.

After my first month of endless mistakes and herky-jerky work days, when I was sure I had failed, I finally found my way. The solution came by watching an episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I’m a science geek, and chemistry and physics interest me. So when the show started to discuss the principle of entropy, it all clicked. Entropy is essentially the measure of disorder in the universe. Since there is an endless number of molecules, collisions, and energy transfers in the universe, naturally, there is always a degree of chaos to contend with. The same is true for the far smaller Murco universe. Entropy is the name of the game. It cannot be diminished because, like it or not, it is an essential component of the business’ system. So instead of making it my enemy, I learned to go with the messy flow. To quote any alien movie ever made (I think), “resistance is futile.” Deals will fall through, schedules will change, materials will suddenly become available, and then just as quickly become unavailable. Jodi will never finish a conversation without bouncing from topic to topic like a kid hopped up on pixie sticks. I can’t change the chaos; I can only accept it and work with it. And you what? When I adopted that attitude, my job became damn fun.

 So, to you, I have two bits of advice:

  1. Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. No matter who you are, that stuff is fascinating. And entropy is a snappy word to throw around at parties.
  2. Embrace the Murco mayhem, folks. You’ll always be on your toes, and you’ll always be entertained. 
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We’ve got the whole Murco world in our hands!

Blowing Gender Bias Away

January 27, 2014

I can do anything I set my mind to. I know I can; I’ve proven I can. I’m a self-proclaimed “tough chick” who holds her own in a male dominated profession. Yet, when faced with certain household tasks, my normal “I’ve got this!” attitude suddenly gets all girly on me (I can say “girly” and it not be offensive because I am a girl). I hate to say it, but I was taught that some jobs like snow-blowing, grilling, gutter cleaning, furnace filter changing, and tire rotations are best left to those possessing a penis. I’m talking about straight up “dude work.”  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have harbored gender bias when it comes to the division of labor. Yep, “men’s jobs” and “women’s work”…who says that out loud these days? Me, apparently. What’s funny is that I uphold these arbitrary gender assignations when they are unfounded in my personal life. I am a single mother, and to make these distinctions is all well and good when there are two genders to share the load. But what if you don’t have a man around to do the “man work?” When there’s no guy in the picture and there are tasks to be done, then isn’t all of the work “women’s work,” right?

So, to you single ladies like me, we have two options to choose from when faced with difficult, traditionally male household chores: manipulate random neighbors to do it for us, or do it on our own.

Here’s a scenario that typifies my history: every winter, after snowfall, as every man on the block was gleefully snow-blowing their brains out,  the girls and I would go outside looking as pathetic as possible with our flimsy shovels and mismatched gloves. It was never long before a gassy-eyed neighbor would swoop in with snow-blower a-blazin’ to save the day. We’d faun, thank them profusely, and then go inside to get cozy and watch something dumb on TV.  God bless men everywhere! They may smell funny, but they sure come around handy!

However, I now know that my gender bias view has crippled me, not helped me.  My winter warrior neighbor, who for the past few years always made sure my sidewalks and driveway were clear, moved last summer. Knowing I would be needing help in the snowstorms to come, he kindly offered to sell me his snow-blower. This is no sissy-pants machine, folks; it’s massive. I had never even touched a snow-blower, let alone operate one, when I bought his. My neighbor tried to explain to me how it worked. He was met with a “Yeah, yeah, I got this.” Luckily, he saw right through my overconfidence and left me the operation manual. The manual. Who reads those? Men do, and with good reason it turns out. I recently realized their value when after coloring my own hair for 7 years, I finally got around to reading the application instructions. Turns out, I’ve been doing it wrong the entire time. Botched jobs for 7 years! All because I didn’t read the microscopic, yet extremely informative, text printed inside the box. Suddenly the attitude of “Yeah, yeah, I got this” became “No, no I do not.”

Then the big snow came, and I had to face my fears and break this monster snow-blower out. I could no longer feign my need to be rescued, and no sympathy was coming from my neighbor’s empty house. Moreover, I certainly couldn’t wallow and languish when I now owned the tool to rescue myself. So I fished out the manual and got down to studying. I read the booklet at least 3 times. Choke? What’s that? Auger what? Clearly, it took some time to cover the material, but I did. For most of my life, I thought that snow-blowing was a skill that required a penis. Then, with the help of a manual, a few pictures, and the belief that I could handle the job, that lifelong misguided idea was blown away for good, literally. It took a lot of trying, but when that machine finally sprung into life, I was out of my mind with joy. I’d done it! When I took my first walk behind it (more like it dragged me down the sidewalk) I cannot tell you how proud I was. It made me realize that I limit myself unnecessarily. With enough limitations imposed on women by the outside world, why on earth would I limit myself from within? I was an estrogen saboteur! Well, saboteur no mo’!

All in all, I didn’t just clear my driveway that day; I cleared my own path of faulty logic which restricted my effectiveness in my world.  I know it sounds dumb, but when I conquered that manual and the snow blower, I was empowered with new found confidence, and I exercised it immediately. After parking that beast in the garage, I marched inside and changed my furnace filter. Who knew you’re supposed to do that several times a year? I do now! I read about it.  And I now breathe a little easier because… you know…I got this!

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Hachacha!

 

Murco’s 25th Anniversary!

January 16, 2014

Murco has been in business for 25 years. A whole quarter of a century! That’s a big deal! It’s our silver anniversary!

But here’s the thing: I didn’t realize that this big milestone had arrived. The only silver bestowed upon me this year is in my teeth.  It was my LinkedIn account that gave the news. My daughter, Madelyn, operations coordinator for Murco, called and said, “Guess what day it is?”

“Tuesday?” I replied.

“Yeah…it’s Monday… but more importantly, it’s Murco’s 25th year of business!” My immediate thought was, holy shit! That’s a long time! I have 3 daughters who are all near 25.Through those years I have watched them crawl, walk, run, read, reason, play, study, laugh, cry, and fight their way into adulthood. Even after 25 years, when I think of Murco, I always inevitably think of my family too. The two are intertwined in my mind and my heart.

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A photo from one of Murco’s first auctions. My friends volunteered on weekends to help out. We had fun back then too!

Murco was conceived shortly after my first daughter was, and I treated the business like Cinderella. You know, all work, no play, and there solely for the purpose of making our lives easier. I marked my children’s progress, triumphs, bumps, and bruises meticulously; as for Cinder- Murco, she chugged on without motherly recognition. My business was my wing man throughout motherhood. It was what I did to support my family. In the quintessential juggling act of a single mother – business and family – I quickly found out I’m no expert juggler, and Murco was always dropped first.  In a toss-up for time, my three mini me’s trumped work every time.  So my praise, applause, and growth charts went to the girls, and Murco became the strong, silent type. It always forgave me for forgetting our yearly anniversaries. But my, oh my, how time flies! 25 years, to be exact.

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Me and Madelyn, all grown up! Family and work have come together.

Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard. I am proud of the accomplishments and recognition Murco has been awarded over the years.  I am proud of the improvements our materials have made in thousands  of homes.  I am proud that Murco has done all this while contributing positively to the most precious resource that we have – Earth.  With my girls all grown, they are busy chasing down their beautiful futures. This leaves me to now focus on my own Cinderella story. I can finally give Murco what it has so patiently waited for: my undivided attention, my gratitude for providing the platform that supported our lives, and the recognition it deserves. Murco began with a stumble, which led into a leap of faith, which led to my career, which led to who I am today. Murco is the only child still living at home, but on the upside, it doesn’t borrow my clothes without asking, which  is nice. 

To all who have participated in or benefited from Murco, I’d like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for not only helping my company grow, but for supporting me in my passions as well.  Thank you for giving me the challenge, courage, and fortitude to show up every day both as a mother and a businesswoman

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25 years later and still kickin’! We did it, Murco Warriors!

Maddie makes it to Broadway!

January 7, 2014

In the classic tale of young-girl-moves-to-the-big-city, I moved to Chicago in July following my college graduation. I didn’t have delusions of grandeur, like those of a mediocre actor making it big on Broadway, but I made a big move into my very own tiny studio apartment – on Broadway Street.

I think most of us have a nightmare apartment tale or two under our belts. It’s kind of a rite of passage, and it allows you the perfect dinner party fodder thirty years down the road, when, with glamorous streaks of silver in your coif, you swirl your elegant merlot in your glass and begin your story with, “Well, Cornelius, when I rented my first flat…” Then everyone toasts your hilarious, exquisite tale of youthful destitution and scrappy independence; cognac in a crystal decanter gets passed around (this is what true adulthood looks like. Right, Cornelius?)

Do you remember your first place? Bad plumbing, rodents, neighbors with babies, neighbors who won’t stop engaging in the act that produces babies… the list is endless. So I assumed that I too would encounter a few bumps and bruises along the way. But who cares? Independence! It’s mine, and mine alone. I can now freely admit that had no clue as I signed my name on the dotted line of my rental agreement what trial by fire really meant. Now don’t get me wrong, I love having my own space, and I am privileged to be able to work from home. Half office, half haven, I have a place of my own that reflects my style 100%. But on to the juicy, dramatic details!

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Out of the frying pan… and into the fire!

This is not a sonnet about apartment adoration; this is the chronicle of Maddie vs. Monster Building.   Here’s my blunt, and completely truthful, list of problems I have encountered in my first-ever “adult” apartment (shut up, Cornelius!):

  1.  My apartment is on the 4th floor and the elevator has been out of service for years. It can be repaired, but  the owners have chosen to not “rise to the occasion”. Get it? Try moving in with your mother as your main back-up muscle without it. Also, I live on the top floor…
  2. On move-in day, I discovered that my fridge didn’t work. Upon further inquiry, it turned out that the fridge was fine, but the wall that supplied the power was not.  This is particularly problematic when you consider the fact that this little cube of mine has only 3 outlets total, and two are on this jerk wall. So in lieu of a fridge, I used a bag of ice and a towel for a few days (note: this is not an acceptable substitute for a modern refrigerator). It turns out that this very old building had not had its very old wiring replaced, and so the wall had to be ripped up and patched back together again.  In mathematical terms, frayed wires definitely equal frayed nerves.
  3. The shower did not shower; it drooled.
  4. A bathroom radiator that wouldn’t quit. And by quit, I mean it spit water on the floor vehemently while amazingly managing to produce no heat at all. If you thought a cold swamp couldn’t exist, hold onto your hats, folks! I have photographic proof and many rage-soaked memories that beg to differ.
  5. A crying ceiling. Yep, a ceiling that was so poorly insulated it regularly dripped filthy water onto all of my belongings. Trust me, this ceiling cried more than a hormonal teenager who just got broken up with at a screening of Titanic. I told my landlords about the problem immediately, but they ignore my calls and 4 weeks passed. That means that there was a lot of water, which leads me to…
  6. Black mold. Black. Mold. Everywhere. The kind that gets apartments condemned, and favorite pairs of shoes thrown away. As my dad aptly described my ruined space, “It’s a goddamn terrarium in here! Start packing, Maddie.”
  7. The emergency moving of all of my stuff to an empty apartment down the hall just days before Christmas. Dad was determined to make sure I didn’t relocate to yet another terrarium, and graciously helped me kick, lift, drag, and toss my things into this new space. On a positive note, of his three daughters I am the official gold medalist in Worst Apartment Rental.
  8. After Christmas, my mom and I hauled all of my freshly washed and dry-cleaned clothes up 4 flights of stairs to my “new apartment.” I named it Version 2.0, whereas Mom referred to it lovingly as Better-Not-Be-Another-Nightmare. We quickly realized that the kitchen sink didn’t drain. And the showerhead was another drooler. But it beat the Galapagos reenactment in Apt 405.
  9. For the second time in 6 months, I reorganized all of my worldly possessions and set up my home office. This process involved the transferring of all of my utilities- AT&T, gas, electricity, new mailing address- and thus I spent a lot of time on the phone. I can now say confidently that ComEd has the best holding music, whereas Xfinity might just be a cruel psychological test.
  10. And finally, the cream of the crop, on the coldest day in Chicago’s history, my old ass radiators go caput. If I weren’t so cold and berating myself for buying yoga pants instead of heavy-duty gloves, I would have appreciated the grace of their departure. Not with a huffing, puffing, whining, and banging. Not even with a steamy sigh… nope, those radiators conspired silently in the night and just let go of their earthly duties. I like to think that they reached nirvana, whereas my body temperature reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, in the case of Maddie vs. Monster Building, I would say that the building is winning right now. I am currently in a Starbucks, most likely creeping out the baristas. I’m that person who has been here for 5 hours now, and I am wearing weird yoga pants. The lease ends in July, and until then I have to summon my scrappiness, keep my landlord on speed dial, and allow my apartment woes to marinate. Then, 30 years from now, I will unfold my experiences like a tapestry, my dinner party stories will be the toast of the town, and Cornelius will sob into his silk, monogrammed kerchief.

Why am I telling you all of this, then? In the end, all of these problems arose not just from the negligence of the owners, but because I live in a very old building. And old buildings, despite being beautiful, are OLD, and they break down often in the most dramatic, inconvenient ways. That’s why I am so grateful to work for Murco. Although I personally could not benefit from Murco’s bounty- you can imagine Jodi’s frustration at the whole debacle- I find solace in knowing that other landlords and owners can utilize Murco’s inventory to keep their renters comfortable without breaking the bank. Radiators, showerheads, faucets… these things wear out with time. Fortunately, all of this and more is standard fare in Murcoland, and that gives young renters like me a chance when we find ourselves unwittingly in the belly of the Monster Building. Moreover, hopefully that means that the next post-college lady or lad, as they skip up and down Broadway Street in pursuit of the perfect, albeit slightly dumpy, studio apartment, will find a space that can be a truly comfortable home.

…And this guarantees that I will beat them as the most entertaining dinner guest in three decades to come.

Fat Cat Syndrome

December 13, 2013

I’m an early riser. I’m talking stupid, crazy early, people. I love being up before the sun. I love to get my game plan in order before the sane world rises. I relish taking time in the morning to gather my personal intentions for the day and to write out my professional to-do list. Early mornings represent a clean slate. Every morning with the first light, I can’t help but feel hopeful. New day, new possibilities. As I make my coffee, I usually flip on the TV if for nothing else the comfort that there are others out there who are awake at this hour. For those of you who are unfamiliar with 5 AM broadcast options there is very little to watch unless you want to detangle, detox, or repent. The one exception is the Animal Planet channel.

One morning, I accidentally landed on an Animal Planet show called Big Cat Diaries. The program chronicles the daily lives of cheetahs, lions, and leopards as they slink through the wild. As I watched, I was immediately struck by the herculean task it took for these cats to just survive each day. Not only do you have to avoid being killed; survival means that you have to kill something every day in order for you to go on. Except for those freakish hyenas. Those little bastards sit back, let the cats do all the killing, only to descend in masse like gangsta thugs to steal the spoils… but I digress.

As I sat in my secure, temperature-controlled house, in my fluffy robe, drinking tea out of an oversized Christmas mug (OK, there’s a visual we all could live without), my complete focus was on the Big Cat Diaries episode. I couldn’t help but marvel at the challenge of just surviving that these cats faced. When animals hunt, the process is not a saunter up, hey, how you doin’? Mind if I devour you? sort of affair. It’s an all-out explosion of sudden movement, a chase you down with all that I’ve got because my life and the lives of my cubs depend on it moment. Both predator and prey are literally running for their lives. That’s pretty powerful stuff. An epic life or death battle every day… now that’s stress!

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Yeah, I would call this situation stressful

The metaphoric parallels between my work life and that of the big cats are obvious. As a business owner, my “survival” is also dependent upon chasing down materials, deals, and opportunities. Certain jobs and all of the challenges that they present make me want to run for my life. Other jobs I stalk, hunt down, and really work hard to get. But my stress is cerebral, not physical. Mental, non-life threatening challenges can only be addressed if your physical existence isn’t in peril.

Viewed in this light, my stress becomes a fat cat problem! When big cats have a belly-full, herds of yummy prey can walk by and they’re barely given a 2nd glance. Because their physical needs have been met, the brain is now free focus on other important matters, like napping. I am so grateful that my life is so comfortable. I can afford to expend energy fretting over work minutiae as opposed to worrying about how to not get shot or eaten. My fat cat syndrome (formerly known as “stress”) is a result of privilege. So then what’s my freakin’ freak out?

So yeah, there are some tough business challenges that I don’t want to take on. There’s some deals that I can’t make stick. But if I lose a battle, if I lose a deal, I’m not going to die because of it. If I try my hardest and the answer is still no, well that would be a bummer, but I’m not dead. I’ll take wrestling with a tough decision (even if it turns out to be the wrong one) over a fatal bite to the neck any day.

 Big Cat Diaries re-framed my daunting to-do list into luxury. I’ve got life by the ass. Let’s see, fight off predators or fight for profit? I’ll take the latter every time. Plus at the end of the day, when my task list has been vanquished, I don’t have to worry about those hyenas stealing the fruits of my efforts. Score one for this fat cat.

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Hey, how you doin’? No need to stress out in these fat times

Let Your Own Light Shine

December 6, 2013

Perception is everything. If we think something is good, chances are, we’ll focus on the good in that something. If we think that our life is bad, then we’re hyper vigilant to all signs that confirm it to be so. It all boils down to the perspective you choose to embrace. The older I get, the more keenly aware I am that I am in control of my perception of my world and how I choose to react to it. Not 100% in control (thank you hormones), but to a large degree. I have control in choosing what lens I use to capture my experiences and those of the people I love. What I choose to see impacts my health and joy, so why not make the more positive choice?

My friend, Dodie, and I have been friends for over thirty years. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We met in college and were inseparable. Then, a few years later, Dodie got married and moved to Michigan. Naturally, we fell out of touch for a couple of years as we focused on our children and careers. Once my youngest went to college, however, I just had to reach out. I called her out of the blue one day and she said, “I can’t believe you’re calling me today. I just found out that I have breast cancer”. She came into town before surgery and I threw her a “Bye-bye Boobie” party. All her childhood friends were there and the stories flew around the room, with a healthy helping of laughter and tears. 

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Dodie and I at her home in Michigan. Friends for more than 30 years!

My brave, wonderful Dodie had a double mastectomy with no reconstruction, and after being released from the hospital she went vegan. As a trained dietician, she is a foremost expert on using food as medicine. After going through something so life altering, so terrifying, you would think that her self-esteem would be as scarred as her chest. As women, whether we appreciate them or not, our breasts are a major physical contributor to our femininity. They make us feel like women; take them away, and many females suddenly feel masculine. It’s silly, really, because femininity is far more a state of mind than a cup size. However, I know such an extreme physical change would shake me to the core. But not my girlfriend. She saw beyond the shallow physical realm and celebrated herself and her life. Here’s the perfect example of what a badass Dodie is. We went clothes shopping the other day and with everything she tried on, she struck a pose and said, “Look at me! I’m stunning!” And she was right; she did look stunning. In everything. This was a gorgeous, strong, magnetic mother of four who, instead of focusing on what she lost or was missing, actively chose to see everything she was. I believe it was her spirit of feeling fabulous that made everything look so good. Not only to her, but to everyone who came near the energy that she exuded. Good draws in more good.

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See? How can this not give you joy?

When I think of Dodie’s strength of character, unwavering confidence, and commitment to her health through this battle, I am inspired. Here is a woman whose youngest child was 6 when she was diagnosed; she endured the horror, pain, surgery dread, chemo, and recovery therapy of breast cancer, and she stands in the mirror with the supreme self-assurance that she is one hot chick. Seriously. The whole experience made me think of my private moments when I feel “less than.”  I’m independent, I’m healthy and unscathed, yet I sometimes indulge in lamenting the sag here or the wrinkle there. I’m bringing myself down over the stupid superficial physical nuances of aging… ridiculous!

Growing older is the only way to a longer life.  Age before beauty? Ha! If you live to age seventy without a single mark, laugh line, scar, bald spot, then I don’t think you have lived well, good sir. So why waste energy pointing out all the flaws?  To direct your good energy into criticizing the physicality that actually brought you this far is just counter-intuitive. It’s like “thanks for picking me up when I was stranded, but before I go, I have to say that your car sucks, your music sucks, and something really smells in here.”  Dodie showed me what a disservice I was doing to myself by my self-critical perspective. Whereas Dodie chose to focus her energies and perceptions to make herself and those around her feel as confident and beautiful as possible, I have been guilty of using that energy to bring myself down. Shame on me.

So, it all comes down to this: perception and perspective are the tools that separate a mediocre life from an exceptional one. We are all exceptional. However, only some of us believe ourselves to be exceptional, and that makes all the difference.

I’ll leave you with a treasured quote: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” –Marianne Williamson

Perceive it, and be it, baby!

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Feelin’ fabulous!

Thanksgiving: An Ode to Oven Dancing

November 26, 2013

For me, the best part about Thanksgiving is not that it’s a stepping stone to Black Friday. Nor is it the football. Nor is it the comments from various sisters that your “bangs look weird.” It’s not even about eating all that butter. Thanksgiving, for me, is just about being together, with everyone contributing to the creation of a great meal. When food, love, wine, and music conspire, feast becomes fest.

It’s a shared, collaborative vision where everyone’s intention is the same: to be joyful, playful, and just plain full.

I’ve lived in the same house for 23 years. It’s the only home that Madelyn, my “baby,” has ever known. I purchased the house when I was 28, 7 months pregnant, and wrangling two other children, ages 5 and 3. Yeah, it was hectic, I couldn’t see my feet, and a decision had to be made quickly. So after waddling through various showings and writing off countless properties because of this or that, I found the home that I arrogantly called my “starter.” What I didn’t realize then was that this house was my starter home, but not in the way you would think; it housed the start of my newly completed family- me, my three girls, our cat and dog- and it has been the steadfast, if not slightly crooked, home that has fostered us ever since. It has seen 23 Thanksgivings. The memories are practically dripping off the walls.

So back to me pregnant and in a muumuu…what ultimately sold me about the house was its kitchen. It covers the entire back of the house. The house isn’t very big, so relatively speaking the kitchen takes up the largest space. And man, has this room seen a lot of action.  By action, I mean dancing. Madelyn grew up dancing to her reflection in my range oven. I’d be making corn casserole or stuffing as she danced between my legs to Frank Sinatra, fascinated by her reflection in the dark glass.

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Just a regular Murphy cooking session. Here the girls are younger, but the attitude is everlasting

Don’t let the name Murphy fool you. I’m 100% Italian. The best feeling as a child for me was coming home from school and getting a waft of what Mom was cooking up for dinner. It smelled like love every day, and it was. Because those memories and the classic Italian equation (food=love) so impacted me, I continued that tradition with my girls. They may be 50% Italian, but they sure act as if they just got offa da boat. Cooking dinner is a process, and wine and music are the sous chefs. Anyone who has children knows of their irrepressible compulsion to be joyful. Couple that with food and some tunes, and you have yourself a show!

Naturally, Thanksgiving is at my house this year. I could easily prepare the old family recipes myself ahead of time, but that would take away all the fun of it. Besides, all of my girls have grown up to be damn good cooks! I can envision my kitchen in a just a few days, when the 28th rolls in. Megan, my eldest, thoughtfully preparing vegetables and having my son-in-law taste to evaluate the seasoning. Ali, my middle, creating some kind of cheese plate while simultaneously doing ballet moves at the counter. Maddie, wearing six-inch heels, no apron, and throwing flour in a bowl for a new cake recipe “that we just haaaaaave to try.” There will be commotion, music, wine (c’mon, we’re Italian), and common vision; it will culminate in literally taking it all in and savoring all that goodness we created. What a great moment.

Then we’ll crank up the tunes for a dish-washing dance party.  I have the Frank Sinatra already queued up.

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