Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Really! I Keep Trying!

Disclaimer: Seriously, I'm trying here!!

I get a phone call at 4:14pm this afternoon from my friend Megan who's daughter is Anthony's best friend. (Remember Anthony? AKA Dennis the Menace?) Megan wants me to tell her all about our "Block Island" bathroom. Huh???? She then proceeds to tell me that she saw Anthony's "Student Work" published in his elementary school newsletter. (huh? #2) Cool, though! I, of course, had not opened a backpack yet! No idea what she's talking about...

So I rummage through the backpack and find the newsletter.

Check it out.

Brushing My Teeth
By Anthony Morman
Grade 2

I eat breakfast before I brush my teeth each morning. (YOU DOOOOOOOO?) I go upstairs to our Block Island bathroom. Next, I get my toothbrush (Do you OWN a toothbrush anymore????) and I put mint toothpaste on it. (That's funny, there IS no toothpaste in the "Block Island" bathroom.) Then I brush my teeth. (Oh, did you forget to mark the Toothbrushing Chart????) I brush the back and the front and even my tongue. (OMG!) Last, I spit three times (Three??? Oh - ok.) and then I floss. (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????!) Now I am ready for school. (You are? How come you never have your shoes on and can't ever find your jacket when it's time to go out for the bus???)

Remember that Toothbrushing Chart hanging on my refrigerator that I was complaining about a few blog posts back? Take a look at February's chart. Do you see any check marks next to Anthony's name???????!!


Epilogue: You know what the KICKER is? This child NEVER has a cavity!!! Aghhhhh!!! Also - please note that my oldest son, Michael? FINALLY, brushing his teeth at least once a day.

I keep trying...

PS - The joy? I LMAO writing this blog!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Get What You Give

I know this blog post is long but I think it's important and I hope you will stay with it to the end. Thanks so much for reading it!

My mantra in business has always been "You Get What You Give". I give and give and I get and get. It's a perfect arrangement for me. In life, not so much. I always feel like I don't have the time to volunteer and I get crabby if I finally do commit to a committee. And forget contributing $$$$! So basically, I remain an uninvolved citizen. I often think how important it is to invest in my karma bank but, I can't even get my sorry butt down to the food bank to donate a turkey over the holidays! So karma bank?? Doesn't one experience joy when giving? Why is this such a stumbling block for me? My intentions are there...

Although - I did finally did do something in this arena a few years ago. The Relay For Life came to our community and The Fitness Connection (the gym that I own) became very involved in the fundraising and my girls raised enough money to become the group that raised the most of over 30 groups - over $12,000. It was very fun and I coordinated it again the following year. What I took away from the experience was that my small group of women were very powerful. We could make a difference.

But Relay is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and quite honestly, I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to where your money actually goes when you contribute to these huge fundraising non-profits. How much of my contribution really reaches the actual cause? How much ends up in the many paychecks of the administrators? Call it another one of my conspiracy theories but I'm just not into giving my money away and not have it get used the way I intended.

That brings me to another thing. Not big on contributing to causes that benefit other countries. We have so many issues in this country. Surely, my money can make a difference here. But who do you trust? Do you trust The United Way? The American Heart Association? Save the Children? UNICEF? St. Jude's? I just don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Recently, I found a cause. Surprisingly, it is a cause that benefits people in Haiti (doesn't quite fit my criteria, does it?). I think the fact that it benefits the innocent "little" people in this country is what sold me.

The earthquake in Haiti not only killed upwards of 250,000 people but even more startling, it created an estimated 1 million orphans. Maybe this fact touched my heart because my husband and I are raising a child who is not biological to us - an orphan, per se. Or maybe the number is so staggering to me that I felt compelled to at least take a second look at this cause.

Most important to me, I think, is that a friend of mine is one of the people trying to make a difference through this cause. I know him well and trust him implicitly. He is passionate about this cause and I am completely confident that any contribution I make will be used exactly as I expect.

My friend Mike, is a high school history teacher here in Connecticut. I am positive that some people are just meant to make a difference. Certainly he and his family are a perfect example. His wife (also a teacher) along with their 14 year old daughter, have been involved with shipping "soldier boxes" to Iraq for the last few years. Again, this cause is about the children. Contacts were made with soldiers in Iraq through Anysoldier.com who coordinate this effort and essentially, they collect, fill and regularly ship boxes packed with items that children in Iraq need/want such as socks, candy, coloring books, crayons, pencils etc. It is an ongoing cause and sounds very successful.

When Mike first approached me about this Haiti gig, I was a bit skeptical. You know - my criteria and all...but he has actually managed to bring me on board. He is going down to Haiti this summer for two weeks. He will be working with school and food programs in four villages served by volunteers from "A Heart for Haiti", based in Maine. The villages are all near the city of Cap Haitien, the second largest city, in the northern part of the country. Has anyone actually looked at the images of Haiti? Even before the earthquake it was not a pretty place.
The poverty is horrifying and this country is now even more burdened with these little homeless angels. It breaks your heart and trust me - this is not a vacation for this team of relief workers.

I have watched Mike work tirelessly to raise donations to bring with him to Haiti. His crew is spending weekends selling bracelets for Haiti, attending events where they can set up a table or booth explaining their cause, and researching options for raising additional funds. He has a Facebook event page set up that explains the whole cause and he continues to add to it each day to keep the supporters of his trip informed.

Mike called me the other day with the greatest story. One of the soldiers based in Iraq, who was a main contact for the Soldier Boxes program, sent him an amazing contribution. She had recently gone through a divorce and instead of selling her diamond engagement ring and pocketing the sale, she sent the ring to Mike and advised him to sell it and add the $$$ to the kitty. Is that wild or what???? What struck me about this act was that she has never met this giving family but because of her connection through the Soldier Boxes program, she trusted them to follow through with her request.

The plan for Mike is that he and 3 college students will be part of a team led by 2 volunteers from A Heart For Haiti. They will travel to Haiti at the end of June. He plans to bring 2, 50 pound duffel bags filled with donated supplies like toiletries - toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc. He will also bring as much cash as he can raise between now and June 21st. Because the infrastructure of Haiti is so compromised, shipping anything down there has no guarantee of reaching it's destination and certainly $$$ is not safe to send and therefore must be brought in person.

Once the team arrives, they will become involved with analyzing the needs of the projects A Heart for Haiti is involved with. Their mission is to help Haitians help themselves. The team will decide where best to spend the donation money they are bringing with them. Essentially, 2 schools are being built for the orphans and a weekend feeding program is in development.
Turns out, these kids only eat at school. Therefore - on weekends? No meals. The weekend food programs are designed to feed the children from the orphanages and from the "foster" families housing homeless children because the orphanages are overfilled beyond capacity. It's quite the undertaking.

On an individual basis, A Heart for Haiti is involved with helping Haitian families acquire food and rent, and monetarily aiding young people with their schooling - particularly funding higher education to foster greater independence. It's a working start, using a bottom up mentality, and one may question if it will make a noticeable difference. I asked my friend that question and he quoted Gandhi: “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems - what we can do we must do." That pretty much sums it up.

So - here's why I am writing this blog today. I've decided to do what I feel "capable" of doing. I realize there are dozens, if not hundreds of fund raising relief efforts out there right now supporting Haiti. I just feel this one works for me because I know someone on the relief team. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can make a direct difference. Afterall, it's not like I can donate to The American Cancer Society and say "I want you to use my donation for breast cancer research".

My hope is that those who trust me, will trust in my judgment and contribute even the smallest donation. If I can get 50 people to donate $20, that's $1000. Even $10 will make a difference. As an example, I am told that $1 will feed a person in Haiti for 2 days. $10 will feed someone for 20 days.

Please consider making a small donation. Contact me at jomorman@comcast.net. And you should know that as soon as Mike returns from Haiti, he vows to provide a complete accounting of funds contributed, to be posted on his events page in Facebook. You can also get a copy from me.

Thank you for reading my post today. I must tell you - surprisingly? I caught ALOT of joy writing this. My heart was lifted as my enthusiasm grew. Cool!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rant and Rave

Rant: a speech or text that does not present a well-researched and calm argument; rather, it is typically an attack on an idea, a person or an institution. Very often rants lack proven claims. Such attacks are usually personal attacks. In some cases, rants can be based on partial fact or may be entirely factual but written in a comedic/satirical form.

I believe I will be ranting today. My rant falls under the latter definition - based on partial fact or may be entirely factual but written in a comedic/satirical form. I doubt it will be that comedic or that there will be any joy found in this blog. But then again, perhaps there will be joy caught in the act of ranting! So if you aren't in the mood for my ranting and raving, I suggest you leave now. I am sure this blog will contain politically incorrect-speak, conspiracy theories and possibly swearing! I could also be boring...but I need to do this. So hold on if you're coming for the ride!

Like many of you, I am dealing with an elderly parent. My father will be 85 this July. His mind is clearer than mine (possibly not saying much, but you get my drift!), he lives alone, still does his own grocery shopping, bill paying, wood chopping - essentially, the guy is completely independent.

He had his first stroke at 54 and many years and several TIAs later, his health is held together with pills and a pacemaker and a thousand doctor's appointments each month. (A TIA is a transient ischemic attack. It is an episode in which a person has stroke-like symptoms for less than 24 hours, usually less than 1-2 hours. A TIA is often considered a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.)

He has complained (although not alot) since the first stroke that his left side is compromised and that his hip pains him. For years he has told me that his doctor says he needs a hip replacement but he refuses to have one. (BTW - I am not welcome at his doctor appointments) Now he is falling way too often and the new story from my father is that the doctor says it's from his swelling ankle not his hip. Whattttttttt? Since WHEN???? After much arguing with him, I thought I won when he finally agreed to get the situation seriously checked out by a specialist.

Now, let me tell you about my mother. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 84. With the HUGE exception of an Alzheimer's diagnosis, this woman was never sick my whole life. That's where this story begins. She began to get a bit confused around the age of 76. But not so much that I didn't feel safe leaving my newborn with her. In fact, for 2 more years, I felt it was still safe. But it did progress a bit too far for that comfort once my second was born 2 1/2 years later. Still, in her defense, she was very clear most of the time.

Then she came down with a bad case of shingles and she experienced ALOT of pain for a long time. She was seeing a neurologist (aka Dr. Idiot) for both the Alzheimer's and the shingles and one day, because of her high level of pain, Dr. Idiot decided to double the dose of the pain-killer Neurontin he had her on. Essentially, my mother disappeared that day. Within hours, she didn't know almost anyone from our family. She was completely confused nearly all the time and Dr. Idiot INSISTED she continue this dose to counteract her pain. I became involved at this point and came to despise this man.

Not only did he have an abrasive, annoying manner about him, he could barely speak english. Now - I'm not one for profiling but for god's sake, you are an intelligent man from another country. You are a doctor. How is it that you can master medicine but you can't freaking master the english language??? It's beyond me.

And...AND... you see your patient fall into a state of complete dementia and it matters not one bit to you?? It was like she was some big science experiment that he had completely removed any emotion from. "We must treat the pain." "Well, non-english speaking Dr. Idiot, will her MIND come back after you are done treating her pain?" "One can not be sure" he replied. YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT????? You give my mother a drug that renders her mindless and helpless and you want her to continue on it????

Long story short? She never found her mind again and she died in a comatose-like existence 3 years later. Do I blame Dr. Idiot? Totally. I am intelligent enough to know that my mother had Alzheimer's and would eventually die, possibly from the disease itself, but I know first hand that her demise was hastened by this drug pusher. I know first hand that the quality of her life disappeared that day and that Dr. Idiot is responsible. His attitude about it disgusts me. The fact that he calls himself a doctor disgusts me even more and I ask, what of - to do no harm????

The ironic thing? My girlfriend Sue's mother had the exact same thing happen to her, not 3 months later! In her situation, it was a different illness and a different drug but this woman went from living totally independent with a completely clear mind to a psychotic being who tried to commit suicide in her hospital bed and was subsequently committed to a psych hospital. She died two months after the first dose stole her mind. I wonder how many times this happens to our elderly. The thought is mind boggling. Call it a conspiracy theory but this smacks of a cover-up.

So starts the rant. Big Pharma? You know - the paid representatives of large pharmaceutical and biomedicine companies in the United States who seek to influence federal government policy? You suck. With your money & power you are allowed to influence and promote legislation friendly to drug manufacturers at the expense of patients. Your direct advertising to physicians, free samples, and research stipends encourage doctors to overprescribe medications and you make me sick.

Dr. Idiot? How do you live with yourself? It makes me absolutely crazy that you are still "practicing" medicine? "Practice" is a perfect word to describe what you do. You experiment (aka practice) on your guinea pig patients. I'm sure that sometimes what you experiment with works, but god knows how many times you are mistaken. How ironic that you "practiced" on my mother and killed her mind. I bet you never thought twice about the incident and that you learned NOTHING. I predict that in that same exact situation, you would do it all over again hoping for a different result. I truly despise you.

So why am I telling you about all this? Remember when I told you earlier that I thought I had "won" my argument with my father regarding getting his falling situation checked out? Well, he went to his regular physician (BTW - another doctor I can NOT understand!!!!!!) who referred him to what my father explained to me as a "leg" doctor. A "leg" doctor? WTF is that? Is he an orthopedic guy? A vein guy? A swollen ankle guy? A hip specialist? I finally pressed my father for more information about this "leg" guy. Take one guess who it is.

I can barely say it...it's GD Dr. IDIOT! I am SICK over it! How does a neurologist end up as the "leg" guy? I have no idea, but I am livid! I mean - I understand that he should be checked out in case the falling is neurologically based. But this a_ _hole? Aghhhhhhhhhhhhh - FML.

And to add insult to my injury, when I realized who my father had an appointment with on Monday, I reminded him who Dr. Idiot was. He proclaimed he wasn't going to go to him after what happened with my mother. Yay! I got through to him! But I also feared that he would just decide not to do anything, once again, just because it was too much work to re-schedule with someone else. (You know how stubborn our parents can be!)

But noooooo, it's worse. Now he has decided to go to his appointment with Dr. Idiot afterall, because "all the test results are going to him." God forbid our parents advocate for themselves! God forbid, he lets me advocate for him so I can get this idiot out of our lives.


So I apologize if I have bored you to death today. But truth be told? I'm feeling a bit of joy that I got this off my chest!

Rant - over and out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Michael

My oldest son, Michael repeatedly brings me the most joy I have ever experienced in life. He is such a sweet, wise, old soul. I swear he is 10 going on 90. He has this amazing sensibility about him. He loves fiercely, always takes the high road and is concerned for all beings, great and small.

The other day, I was marveling at how quickly the month of March went and Michael made the comment that the older he gets, the quicker it goes. He then began to weep. Pulling him into my arms I whispered into his soft, still baby fine hair, "Mikeeee, why are you crying?" (I still love, love, love holding that child in my arms so tight. It will be ME weeping the day he doesn't want that from me anymore.)

His reply? "I don't want time to go by that fast. It means I'm getting older and I don't want you and Dad to die so soon! I haven't had enough of you yet"


He fills my heart with you know what...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beautiful Bloggers

I received a blog award the other day! Is that exciting or what?!! I mean it DID come from someone I know but I'm still excited! Afterall, just this morning she told me she didn't like the color I painted my bathroom! So it's not like she gave it to me to be nice!!! (At least that's how Joey sees it!!)

Anyway, thank you Karen! I totally respect your opinion so I am very flattered. (Even if you don't like my bathrooom color!!!) As you know, one of the rules for accepting the award is that you must award it to 5 other bloggers. Just so you know - your blog is the first that I would award it to but since you have already received it from another blogger, I will choose 5 other bloggers under protest!

So, here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award along to 5 bloggers who you have recently discovered and you think are fantastic!

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

I have already thanked Karen who's blog I love, called This Old House. As for the 7 things about yourself, hmmmm...

1. I am a rabid reader;

2. Because I love the name Michael, the deal I cut with my husband when I finally agreed to have children (at 42!)was that if it was a boy he had to be named Michael;

3. I drove nothing but Saabs from 1984 - 2007. Now I drive the dreaded mini-van...sniff;

4. I ran the Marine Corp. Marathon in 1996;

5. My friend Pam and I have been best friends for 47 years. We met in 1963 and still live 1 mile from each other as we did in childhood;

6. In 1979, Hulk Hogan "stalked" me for a date for weeks;

7. When I was 27, I dated a guy who went on trial 3 years previous - for killing his wife.

Lastly, I needed to choose 5 Bloggers I recently discovered and think are fantastic. The criteria I used was that the 5 blogs had to be ones that I went to everyday to check if they had a new blog post. There are some blogs I love that I know post only once a week or less so I didn't include them. Here are the 5 Bloggers I am awarding a Beautiful Blogger to and thank you all for the bit of joy I catch each time I read your posts:

1. The Fitnessista

2. Skwigg Blog

3. Choosing Raw

4. Fine Little Love

5. Diary of a Yummy Mummy

One last thing - I love the way my friend Laura writes on her very informative blog Bamboo Balance. Even though she did not fall into the criteria I selected when I decided on my awards, she's getting one too! Be sure to check her out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Joy in the Dark Side

It all started with a tiny homemade caramel. Well, ok, I suppose it can be traced back to a few days earlier when those Hershey's chocolate kisses were calling my name across the kitchen. If you haven't figured it out by now - I'm talking about my sugar addiction. Did you notice that the ticking sugar clock is gone from my blog page? The conscious decision to end my "sweets and treats" abstinence actually took place yesterday when I picked up that homemade caramel at a trade show I was attending in Boston. Yes, I fell off the wagon a few days before, but I stated my intentions in my last blog post that I was immediately going back off the sugar drug and continuing on to Easter, which was the original time frame for my sugar fast. It was not to be.

You see - I took a short little girls trip to Boston. I went with my youngster friends Missy and Christine. Missy owns a toy store and is also partners with my friend Karen in a great artisan shop and she was attending the gift show there and invited me along for the fun!!! So the caramel was a freebie that some candy maker had at his booth. Missy pointed it out to me and then remembered my sugar abstinence to which I replied, "That's it. It's over." Popped the caramel in my mouth (the joy) and I was back on the drug. And there was my conscious decision...but god did we have fun!

After we left the show, we headed for Quincy Market which actually was kind of lame but we managed to "get through it". We had lunch at this place called Dicks Something or other, where the waitstaff were extremely rude and obnoxious. (Apparently that is the way they are supposed to be.) Had a few beers there. Got really happy, went shopping again and then landed at Cheers. Yes - THE Cheers!

Now THAT was fun. A few shots and some beers later and I was even happier. Now I am not much of a drinker in my old age. I never was really that good at it in my young age!! And it doesn't take much for me to get a teeny glow going. But I have to say, tequila? Is that actually a drink or a drug? Cuz, I think it's a drug. I get really happy "there". I mean, check out this picture. Are we glowing or what? Missy says she likes me like this because I get giggly. I DO? Ha - now come on, do I look "giggly"? (Is that even a word?)

Now Missy and Christine - the youngsters? I would say they can party. I KNOW Missy can! (She's gonna kill me!) So I was a bit fearful about going away with them for a few days! I envisioned a late night of getting my stones busted, peer pressure drinking, being dragged around the town after my bedtime, headache, hangover - the whole 9 yards. But you see - I fooled them. I had a plan. JOEY initiated the drinking early. I figured - get them good and happy early and they would be worn out by my bedtime. Actually? It kinda worked!

After we had some fun with our bartender, Skip - I mean Andy (you had to be there. There he is making me a
Cherry Bomb), we headed to the North End - you know Prince Spaghetti Day North End? (dating myself aren't I???? Missy and Christine are so much younger than me that they probably don't even KNOW about Prince Spaghetti Day. Ugh)

Anyway - we had dinner at some Italian place and then the real problem began. We entered Mike's Pastries. OH-MY-GODDDD. I was doomed from the start of this trip. If it hadn't been the caramel (or even the Hershey's kisses calling my name three days prior), it was going to be all over on this night because Missy and Christine weren't NOT going to Mike's - trust me!

If you're from my area of CT, you are probably familiar with Libby's Pastries in New Haven. This was JUST like Libby's. It was a complete zoo, a mob scene. I walked out with a chocolate mousse cannoli (huge) and something called a Chocolate Moca. Cake with chocolate mousse and mocha chocolate fudge going on also. The girls decided to go back to our hotel, freshen up, eat some goodies and go have a few more cocktails in the hotel bar. I was actually on board for that. (I was such a big girl keeping up with the youngsters!!!)

Well, we hit that room, turned on a movie, I curled up on the bed, chowed the evil Moca thing and it was all over. The youngsters were BEGGING me to come out for a last cocktail and I was so over it. Movie, bed, chocolate?????? Nope. Sent them on their way and I was in heaven. Regarding my plan (you know the one about starting the drinking early?), it worked! I got a text about 15 minutes later from Missy informing me she was drinking club soda!! They were back in a flash and lights were out before 11. Party ANIMALS!!!!!!

So Monday morning comes and we sleep IN. 8:30 and I'm in my glory! We putz around, drink strong Starbucks coffee, take showers (eat a chocolate mousse cannoli! Aghhhhhh!) and decide to head down I-95 toward home and stop at Providence Mall for breakfast. Well it actually ended up being lunch at THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY. Good god - I told you I was doomed! Let me go over this again. If it wasn't the caramel (or even the Hershey's kisses calling my name three days prior) and it wasn't Mike's Pastries, then it was going to be The Cheesecake Factory because A) never been there and wanted to; B) cheesecake is only my most favorite sweet/treat. (2 Thanksgivings ago I ate a whole cheesecake by myself in 4 days. Aghhhhhhhhhhh!); AND C) I am a cheesecake purist and had been dying to put their cheesecake to the Joey Morman Cheesecake test. (I am truly a cheesecake snob.)

So, being that we skipped breakfast (well - I had the cannoli...oops, forgot about that little joy) we went right to work on lunch which was excellent. Then came cheesecake. I went for the plain cheesecake (Told you I was a purist. There's only like 100 different kinds to choose from.) with some glazed strawberries. The youngsters went Tiramasu cheesecake and Red Velvet Cake cheesecake.

I have to tell you, my choice was pretty darn good! Not as good as my OWN homemade cheesecake, mind you - but a close 2nd and certainly the best I've had out - in maybe forever. So once again - I was happy! And no alcohol involved!! Oh right - sugar drug...whatEVER (as Missy would say). Come ON - it's all about the joy...

Friday, March 19, 2010

TGIF - The Best Day of the Week

This post is going to be a little scattered but I don't care because today was such a good day. Caught so much joy! Now - don't get me wrong - it was not without it's drama. After all, drama is SOP around here. But it's Friday and Friday is my favorite day of the week. I actually get to sleep in (7AM) because I only have to train for a few hours in the morning, and then I am free, free, free! What a day to be free. It reached 72 degrees today. It's only March 19th! It was absolutely beautiful out and I was loving life.

My social calendar was literally over-filled today. I actually had to re-schedule a few invitations but then I did it up. I had breakfast with my friend Chrissy. I went for a 90 minute walk on the beach at Hammonasett with my friend Darcey. Then Darcey and I went to lunch at Saavy Teas and had great soup and paninis (no - not martinis!). And THEN, I came home, threw on my bikini (ummm - not so much joy there) and laid in the sun. And I wasn't even the least bit chilled. Definitely a rocking day! Oh and it ended well also. Took the kids out to dinner and a movie and only yelled a few times! Can't imagine what I did to deserve that!!! (OMG - did I go out to eat THREE times today???)

And tomorrow is the first day of Spring. I do not have one memory of the first day of Spring actually being a true Spring day. I do believe this is the year! Best of all? The peepers are here! Yay! I LOVE hearing the peepers the first night of the season. It signifies hope! Hope that Spring is here. And it renews faith. They always come...every year. I have faith! BTW - isn't this picture great? Those are crocuses!!

We are supposed to have 2 more days of this beautiful weather and the next 2 days are Saturday and Sunday! Now THAT'S timing. Leaving for Boston on Sunday for a girls getaway so I am more than happy to have a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday in the city with my sistas!

So lots of joy caught today. Although I DO have a confession to make.

I broke down. Sniff. I had chocolate. Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Okkkkkk - I said it. But do I HAVE to take down my sugar clock at the top of the page??? It was only a little chocolate? I did make 30 days? I'm planning to stay the course from here on out?

I think I should get to keep it. Oh wait - this is my blog. I get to do what I want.

Uhuh! You guessed it. It's staying.

Have a great weekend every one. And girls? If you can't tone it, tan it!!! Get out there this weekend and get started on looking lean!!! (Spoken like a true trainer!!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad Mom

Every week for about the past 6, my middle child Anthony, comes home with a slip from the elementary school library showing that he has not returned a book called Fat Bat and Swoop and he owes an increasing fine. Now - it's not like this is the first time one of his books has gone missing. It happens all the time! Sigh. The missing book has always shown up and the minuscule fine is paid. But this was a little different. This had been going on for a while.

So each week, when we get the slip, we ask him if he looked for the book (perhaps in that drawer full of marbles in your classroom where your missing glasses were found????) and every time we ask, he stomps his foot and yells, "I can't find it!" And each time he does that, we sigh, roll our eyes and one of us goes off and searches through the bookshelves, peruses the cluttered corners of the house and looks behind his bed in the hopes that the missing book has materialized this week. Probably spent a good 3-4 hours looking for that book over the past 6-8 weeks.

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from one of Anthony's teachers. She informed me that Anthony was becoming increasingly agitated on "library" day - acting out in the library, blah, blah, blah and she felt it was because he was stressed about getting yet another "slip" from the librarian. She was "merely" pointing out that perhaps the situation could be taken care of - in other words - go pay for the book so this kid will stop being a pain in the a_ _. Sigh again. That freaking book is somewhere and I just hated the idea of paying for it but obviously, "Bad Mom" needed to give in and let this one go.

After one last search of the house and one last plea to my child to look for the book, I told him that tomorrow, I would accompany him to the library and he would have to pay for the lost book out of his Christmas money.

So today, we went to the library and paid $13.95 for the missing book. The librarian reassured me that if we found the book, we would get our $$ back and I reassured her that the book would definitely show up, perhaps as early as tomorrow!
She gave a little chuckle and I whispered under my breath, "Go ahead, laugh lady, but don't go spending that money because I'm getting it back!" (Okay - I didn't really do that! Sigh.)

Burden lifted. Another issue put to rest. The book is out of my life. I'm still bruised from being the "Bad Mom", but hey - I'm trying here...at least it wasn't a call from the teacher like last year asking me to clean out his backpack because he spilled applesauce in it 2 weeks ago and it was starting to stink. Now THAT'S Bad Mom!!! Ha!!!

Anyway, a few hours later, I'm waiting at the bus stop in my trusty mini-van. The kids get off the bus and come piling into the vehicle all talking at once, competing for my attention. Through the chaos, I hear an excited voice say, "Mom! I found my library book!!!"

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????? did you say????????????


Ahhhhh - HELLOOOOOOOO???? Is anybody IN there???? You know where he found the book?????? IN HIS DESK.

"Ummmm - I forgot to look there, Mom."

"And I suppose the teacher who called me forgot to look there also?"

Actually kinda feeling like gloating joy over this one! (Happy sigh!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's a Hard Knock Life

Last night was Brooke's ice skating "recital" at Wesleyan University Athletic Center. It's a huge 3 hour production - very professionally produced with the lights and music and costumes - the whole nine yards. Much like a dance recital, the kids skate with their "class" and solo performers are interspersed between the groups across the night. The costumes are beautiful and the kids just love the whole ordeal. (Bit of an overload on the Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus songs this year but...whatever)

The costumes are ordered in early December and it's always exciting to see what you will be wearing. I think dressing up and wearing make-up is what makes the night so exciting. This year, Brooke's class did "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie (that is NOT a Taylor Swift number!). When we went to order the costume, we were so disappointed. Instead of the glitzy, sequined, flashy, sparkly number we had last year,
the costume was a boring cute pinafore and bloomers number - with a babushka!!! Needless to say, Mom Brooke whined for months.

Actually, the group looked adorable. They came out on the ice each carrying a bucket and a sponge (which each child was required to bring from home) and the number began with the kids on their hands and knees scrubbing the "floor".

Friday night was the dress rehearsal and when we got home, we left the bucket and Brooke's skate bag in the car so we wouldn't forget those very important items. So, yesterday afternoon I organized for our departure - costume, check, make-up, check, snacks, check, blankets, check, water bottle, check. The family jumped into the car (in a torrential rain storm, mind you!!) and off we went.

Bob dropped us all off at the front entrance and because there were so many events at Wesleyan last night, the parking was horrendous and he had to park a good half mile away and walk in the dark, pouring rain to the athletic center. He's such a good sport - my husband!

The show began at 7PM and at 6:36PM (I remember this clearly), my daughter turns to me and says, "Mom. The bucket!!!" I turned 3 shades of white and froze. We left the bucket in the car! SHIT Oh DARN!

I spotted my husband across the rink and frantically motioned him over. "Bob, you have to go back to the car and get Brooke's bucket!!! Hurry, we only have 20 minutes!!" Now it was his turn to turn 3 shades of white. I already knew what he was going to say. Please don't say it. PLEASE don't say you took the bucket out of the van when you were cleaning it this morning...


So being the good Dad (and husband) he always is, he ignores me ripping him a new one said he would go buy one at Home Depot down the street. He has 20 minutes, it's torrentially raining and he is parked a half mile away.

By now, Brooke is crying and I'm trying to console her thinking - he's never getting back here on time. It's a 10 minute walk to the car, both WAYS!!! But at 5 of 7, in walks Bob. He's carry an over sized SQUARE white bucket with the word PICKLES in huge letters written on it. Groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Brooke, in her squeaky 8 year old voice shouts, "I'm not using THAT!!" OH YES YOU ARE YOUNG LADY!!!!!!!!!!


How did Bob find a bucket so quickly? He ran to the deli/convenience store down the street and when they didn't have any buckets for sale he begged them to look for one in their basement and the owner came up with the pickle bucket from the alley. He even hosed it out! It doesn't get any better than this! Except when my oldest son ran to the bathroom in the middle of the show because he had to throw up...

Catching the joy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SEX update!

So last night, my son Michael, you know the one from yesterday's post? He asked me what I was doing and I said watching Grey's Anatomy.
And he replied, "Ohhhhhhhhh, you always watch that! All they do is have sex, sex, sex (big intake of breath from Mom). And it's about dumb doctors."

Enter Mom dipping her toe in the water. "You don't even know what sex is!"

"YES I DO! (Oh god) It's when you get naked in bed and kiss!!"


"You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how." - Gone With the Wind

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex

I was fooling around in facebook one day and my niece had a quiz posted that I decided to take. One of the questions was "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Ok so aren't I just so funny?!! I answered: Puberty!! No? Don't get it? Well get this - in just a few years, I will have 3 kids in the throes of it - pretty much all at once! God help me...

Speaking of sex - I'm laying in bed last night using my laptop to catch up on last week's Private Practice. Just so you know, I literally only watch 3 tv shows - Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Friday Night Lights (which, oh btw, starts up again on April 30th!!! Love that show!). So in the middle of PP, my 10 year old son jumps into bed with me and is hanging out but kind of watching the show. Do you have ANY idea how many times they said the word "sex"????? I was squirming big time! I kept peeking at him out of the corner of my eye to see if he was indeed watching (which he seemed to be) and just cringing, waiting for the sex question. Now the good mother would have just turned off the show. Operative word being "good"?

Thankfully the question never came but I had my answer all set, "Honey - why don't you go ask Daddy?" Haaaa!!!! Shhh - don't tell Bob I said that!!! But if that wasn't bad enough, I then turned on Grey's Anatomy and don't you know it! Sex, sex, sex, sex, SEX...jeez! Thank goodness, his father came home and distracted him!!! Do you think he knows about sex? Am I naive? Because I honestly don't think he has a clue yet. I mean, my baby still believes in Santa Claus!!!

Speaking of sex (again - teehee), I was training a group of women in the gym this morning and if you are one of my clients you know that ALOT of conversation takes place in that hour. Well, one of my clients starts telling this story.

Her son is in his freshman year at college and the other day he butt-called home. (I call it pocket call - you know, when your cell phone dials a number while residing in your pocket and you don't know it!?) So anyway - she realizes it's a butt call and she puts it on speaker and she and her husband listen in on the conversation.

He's in his dorm room talking to his roommates and they're discussing what they are doing this week - going bowling, pizza, whatever and then her son says, "well I can't go Thursday night. That's KY night." (OMGODDDDDDDD!) Can you IMAGINE??!!! You should have seen my face! The intake of breath!

My client then explained that her son has a girlfriend and he has informed her they are sexually active, blah, blah blah - the make sure you use protection talk, blah, blah, blah. Of course, I'm just dying listening to all this - you know, putting myself in that future situation as a mother!

So I guess the conversation continues and at one point the son says he has to "take a piss" and mom and dad are now listening to their son peeing in the bathroom. How funny is THIS??!! I am just beside myself laughing. But this is the clincher. She TEXTS HIM after he leaves the bathroom (not flushing the toilet - mind you!) and she writes: "Pauly - you go back in there and wash your hands right now! And - make sure you use a CONDOM!!!" Are you cracking UP or WHAT???!!!!!

I definitely caught some joy this morning!

PS - you know why he didn't flush the toilet? Because the boys like to see how long it takes to fill the bowl...good god - BOYS!!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Friends" on Facebook? Priceless.

About a year and a half ago, I was bullied into joining Facebook. Like I needed another reason to sit at my computer for more hours each day. I say bullied because one of my clients (also now a close friend and of course, a "friend") nagged me every class for weeks to sign up. So I finally agreed and I have to confess, my life has never been the same. That sounds so DRAMATIC!

But it is entirely true. When they say facebook is a social network, OMG, they weren't kidding! Did I even HAVE a social life before facebook? To say that facebook provides me with joy on a daily basis is an understatement. I catch it whenever I sign on. It may only last for a precious minute or two but nevertheless, I catch it and quite honestly, it's a guaranteed highlight of my day. (I swear, I really DO have a life!)

At first it was a goofy, fun way to bust on my "friends" which consisted of like 6 girlfriends from town. The daily posts were fun and often hilarious and that moved into collecting and sending flair, uploading photos and answering silly quizzes that often opened a window into who I was or at least provided entertainment to my now 20 "friends".

As the weeks went on, more and more people were popping out of the woodwork "friending" me and pretty soon I had about 50 "friends"! It was crazy. Did I even know 50 people?

But I did my part and also "friended" people. I rarely left my comfort zone though. Mostly "friending" relatives, clients and maybe an occasional person from town that I wasn't exactly real friends with but knew them from seeing them at the elementary school. As the months passed, an indescribable bond was formed with many of the people who posted regularly. It was just really fun and it added another dimension to life.

Things really changed when I started making connections with people from high school. I connected with one guy who I went to elementary and high school with. It was so amazing to exchange emails and update each other on our lives. Not in a million years would I have thought I would EVER connect with this person again. In fact, it was surreal. To date, I have connected with about 10 high school classmates. One I never spoke to even once in high school and now connect with on a daily basis. Once again, life has taken me by surprise and I am not sure I will ever get over the wonder of the relationships I have renewed through this strange, cyberworld connection.

I now have 135 "friends". That's nothing compared to my niece who has over 700 "friends"! Yikes, what must HER wall look like each day! Besides my real life friends and my clients, I'm "friends" with cousins I have seen all of twice in 30 years, my ex-husband's ex-wife (high school acquaintance), my ex-stepdaughter (who was 6 the last time I saw her and is now almost 32), my ex-husband's girlfriend after me (actually SHE is one of my bffs in real life but that's a whole other blog post!), high school boyfriends, elementary school boyfriends, wish you had been my boyfriend, boyfriends (♥), college amours (I'm sensing a theme here!), people I worked with over 30 years ago from 2 different companies and acquaintances from all different parts of the last 30 plus years of my life. I even have a "friend" who is a friend of a friend (and a "friend" - this is confusing!) and I have never met this person, but they have something to offer and a connection was made.

But without a doubt, the most thrilling connections are the ones I made this past fall. I found an old college friend and she in turn connected me with my college roommate and 3 other college buddies. Not only did we connect through facebook but we got together! It was an amazing, uplifting reunion and I was high for days. I missed them so much and I didn't even know it! I hadn't seen any of them in 30 years and had resigned myself to the fact that they were gone forever. Such joy I captured in the fall of 2009!

The really cool thing about facebook besides all the human connections, is the exposure to so many different facets of our world. "Friends" post videos of every sort from music to lectures, post quotes that often take on meaning relevant to where you are in your life's journey and I have been known to not only post but receive a great recipe or two. You get to follow the thoughts of our young people (sometimes reallllly scary!!) and the wisdom of the "elders". Yes, you get exasperated at the Farmvilles, Mafia Wars, Zoo thingamajigs and the rest of the rigmarole of that part of facebook I could do without, but it's an information party that I never tire of because I learn something new almost everyday.

I've discovered music I never would have listened to, books I never would have read if not for "friend" recommendations and if nothing else, it is a forum where I can let off steam on a really bad day and express my greatest joy on my best day. Most definitely a place for self-expression and I have seen a side of many people that I never would have known about if not for this crazy forum. So surely, my life has never been the same and I am grateful.

So, to all my "friends", I say, you make my life more fun and I love you for it. I have no doubt that you will continue to surprise and thrill me. To those that I did not really know before finding you in this most unlikely place, getting to know you has brought me unexpected happiness. And to Chrissy, the "bully" who made me join facebook, I say thank you. The amount of joy I catch from this nutty cyberworld is priceless and I forgive you completely!

Don't Grow Up Too Quickly, Lest You Forget How Much You Love the Beach

So I am one of those people that doesn't do real well with change. But I think this is a good thing - that I have to establish a routine for every part of my life. It organizes you. It keeps you focused. Yea, yea - it's a good thing... Then of course there's that whole joy thing! Joy in being organized, joy in the predictable, joy in being in control!

When I first opened the gym back in '05, coming from a routine driven corporate world of long commutes, meeting after meeting and a workday that was completely structured, I struggled. Sure it was great to have free time during the day but I am not one to just sit down and read a good book all afternoon. But eventually, I adjusted. I created an alternative lifestyle-type routine and now I can't imagine going back to the 9-5 grind I lived for the first 27 years of my adult life.

That resistence to change even seeps into the vacations we take. First of all, I'm not your "go to a museum, climb a lighthouse or check out where Black Beard probably didn't hide his pieces of eight" kind of gal. (Actually, I HAVE been dragged out to climb a lighthouse or two!) Give me a beach chair, a strip of sand by the water and a book and I am ON vacation. (Oh and SUN!!!!!!) Which actually works out quite well because even when I am not officially "on vacation", I have a talent for escaping down to Hammonasett (our local state beach on Long Island Sound) for many a summer afternoon and I feel like I'm on vacation! (I guess I can sit down and read a good book all afternoon!!) Joy, joy, joy!!!!

I am so routine driven (am I BORING or what???) that we usually go to the same vacation spot year after year. Before kids, we spent Jazz Festival week (and sometimes more than a week) living at the end of Bannister's Wharf in Newport, RI. If you are at all familiar with Newport, Bannisters is the wharf where the famous Clark Cooke House and Black Pearl are located. We had a room with a huge deck overlooking the harbor and for 1 suspended week each summer, for 11 straight years, that wharf was our home. We were SO not tourists like the rest of the crowd! That deck was the livingroom and trust me, I LIVED there! Like from 7am - past midnight day in and day out with a few journeys into the crowds each day for necessities like food! But for the most part - I blew through books, people watched and just re-fueled for another long year of routine driven labor.

But things change and we reluctantly gave up our DINKS vacation and ended up in the Outer Banks. Year after year we make the 13 hour trek down to the sea. Our shack is right on the sand and the routine never changes! I'm up before the sun, out on the deck wrapped in a blanket, drinking my first cup of coffee, ALONE, peacefully waiting for the dawn to break. That segues into an early morning run which prepares me for that longgggg day on the sand. Literally!

You can't budge my ass off that chair except to cool off in the grand, dangerous waters of the Outer Banks. Possibly I will walk the 5 feet to my kitchen for something to eat. (If I can't con someone into bringing me something!) I will get up to make the first cocktail of the day, though! But I sit my butt right back down on the sand as soon as that lime is squeezed into my frosty tank and tonic. Yes, I get my rear up to cook dinner because I love to cook but it is not without yearning to get back out there! (Did you notice how many times I mentioned my butt in this paragraph???!)

And that's exactly what I do as soon as dinner is over. The first few days I can convince my kids to take a long, after dinner walk on the beach but they quickly figure out the definition of long and by mid-week, I often find myself shell seeking by myself. But I love that too! One evening I found a sea turtle! It was dead but it was perfect. Huge! At least 4 feet long.

Even as darkness falls, I am STILL on the sand! Catching spider crabs with the kids, sitting around a bonfire roasting marshmallows (with a yet another cocktail in my hand!), or just hanging in my chair as the dusk sweeps in. Just sitting... (There's that butt reference again!)

Anyway - last year may have been the end of an era. It turns out, a big storm stole my beach and now my shack sits at the water's edge. I am told you can drop a stone directly off my deck into the surf. So we canceled our reservation for this summer but kept next summer's in the hopes that they can somehow recover my beach. I am sooooo sad!

We also spend time in Block Island each summer. Over the years, we have stayed for as long as 2 weeks in a rental but have also stayed in hotels. I love Block Island. When I grow up? I want to spend my summers in a little cottage there. Again - it's all about routine for me. The early morning run, the beach all day, the books, the walk on the breakwater each night.

With the kids, and the high cost of staying on the island these days, we usually only go for 2-3 nights. But, I have to get to Block at least once during my summer. And when the stay is over and the ferry pulls away from the dock with the Morman family on board, the ache sets in, not to be stilled until the following summer when that ferry is delivering us back to my little piece of paradise.

So this year, we will probably spend some time on Block but with the Outer Banks off the schedule, we needed to figure out where to go for our one family vacation we take each year. I had ALOT of anxiety about this. We routine-driven souls, you know... But, per usual, things fall into place. (Somehow, they always do, don't they??)

Just so happens, a client of mine owns a house on Martha's Vineyard and low and behold, she has the 2nd week in July open and the cost is doable. So off we go. I have been to the Vineyard only once way back in 1979. So this will be a whole new ballgame. Me? In a new place? Will I spend the whole week searching for my comfort zone? Where are the grocery stores? Which are the best restaurants? Will I like our location? What if I don't get my books read!? My heart starts to race at the mere thought of spending a week in a new place. It feels so overwhelming.

But then I stop. This is just plain silly. For god's sake, Joey. Do you know how lucky you are to even have time off from work, never mind go away on a VACATION?? Yes - poor me has to step out of her comfort zone. Gadzukes!

So now, I am just grateful. I AM lucky. I'm the new 49! I can handle this! Why do I have to have a routine for everything? Think of the growth! Be an adventurer. Yea, yea - this IS a good thing...right? And then there's that whole joy thing. Joy in being a free spirit (dis-organized), joy in being surprised (unpredictable), joy in flying by the seat of your pants (OUT OF CONTROL!!!) Aghhhhhhhhhh...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Day Late and a...

Here's the crocus I was looking for yesterday!!! What's that saying????? Ahahahahhahahahaha!!!!! Story of my life...

You've Won My Heart Forever!

Ok - I am now in love with Sandra Bullock. See? There I go - falling in love, yet again! (Come ON - I can think of worse things!) Please, please listen to her Academy Award acceptance speech. She is funny and passionate and it blows me away how smoothly she executed that speech. It felt completely spontaneous and from her heart. Blindside is definitely the next movie on my list. This speech spoke to me like no other, ever.

What the hell is Joey talking about now, you say? Well, if you follow my blog, you may have guessed that my life's struggle is mothering my adopted child. In this speech, Sandra Bullock touched my soul and won my heart forever. When she said,

"I would like to thank what this film is about for me, which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked."

I totally lost it. I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain why. Just know, she completely gets me. So, from the bottom of my heart, Sandra Bullock - thank you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Been doing ALOT of dreaming lately. Daydreaming - maybe it's spring fever. I tend to do that to get through March and April. February ends and you're like, "YAY, winter's over!" And then March dragggggggssssss. And April disappoints! You have snowstorms and the beautiful, clean snow melts overnight. Then you have mud and rain and it's bone-chilling cold even though the thermometer reads 50 degrees. So dreaming is definitely in order.

But it is beautiful today. It's really warm and the sky is so blue - without one cloud. I was sure I would find a crocus blooming in my yard, so I went outside with my camera. But not a one. I DID find THIS "growing" in my garden though! If you double click on the picture, you can see my yard reflected in the blue glass ball. Isn't that so cool??

I do have to say, there are certain events that occur in March and April that confirm to me that winter IS ending. Daylight Savings Time starts in 6 days! That is definite joy! While I hate the dark mornings (wouldn't you, if you saw 4:30AM too many mornings a week?), I LOVE the longer light in the evening. And the fact that we don't have to wait until April for the clocks to change anymore! Yay!!

One of the highlights of this time of year is the first night I hear the peepers! Peepers - you say? Come ON - you have to know the sound! It's the sound of spring! Those little froggy like thingys that fill the night with their beautiful song? The weather determines when I start going outside each evening to listen for the sound. If it's a warmer March, I usually hear them the last week of March. Some years - not till April. But to me - it is the sound of hope.

And the Boys of Summer are back! I LOVE BASEBALL. I especially love my Yankees. (I especially love Andy Pettitte - HA!) I have sooooo many memories connected to the Yankees. My son Michael was born in the middle of a Yankee-Boston playoff game. The doctor was watching the freaking game instead of me!! Anyway - spring training has begun and I even watched a game already! And we won! Woohooo! But I don't only love Major League ball, I love my son's baseball season. This week is the team draft and by weeks end, we will know who's on Michael's team. My husband is one of the head coaches and we are right on the front line. You would be amazed at how serious these grown men are! You gotta laugh! Lighten up guys!!

Anyway - Michael is 10 and last year he proved himself to be a pretty good little ballplayer. He can hit, he can field and he can pitch! So it's very fun. (stressful to watch him pitch, mind you) But I LOVE hanging with the Yummy Mummys on the hill cheering our sons on and indulging in great conversation in between plays. Adds a whole new dimension to your life! It brings the girls together and we all take turns keeping an eye on each other's kids and I just really enjoy the girl time. And nothing beats watching your own kid play!

Then there's the New Haven St. Patty's Day parade. It's held every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day and I think I have missed only one parade in the past 23 years. Before kids, it used to be one big party fest. Most years, I saw 5 minutes of parade and 5 hours of the inside of a bar. But that was always so fun. March Madness would be blasting from the tvs and everyone was in such a good mood. Afterall, the parade is the spring opener in New Haven!

Then we had kids and everything shifted! Outside - that is! It is always so FREAKING cold out there! I don't remember it being so cold in the olden days - perhaps, BECAUSE I WAS IN A NICE WARM BAR? Helloooo? But we line up our chairs, the women and children wrap up in blankets (Snuggies for the kids - so queer...I mean cute!), the kids talk us into buying dumb, expensive junk toys and balloons, the coolers of beer open and the long afternoon of festivities begins. Quite different from the early years of parade "watching". But hey, life changes...

And don't forget Easter. Huge holiday at our house. We actually end up hosting 3 totally different functions in that one day. I take Easter Monday OFF!!! First thing in the morning, my side of the family gathers for a big Polish breakfast - kielbasa, ham and colored eggs - oh and CHEESECAKE, (This year's first sweet indulgence after 40 days off the sugar drug!) And then there's the annual "Who's Horseradish is Hotter" contest. My father makes it, I make it and we each buy a brand and the same gyrations occur every Easter. Who's creates the best horseradish headache? Which one makes your eyes tear up the worst? Anyone having a seizure? Surely - that jar is the winner!

So that ends about 10 and the Easter Egg Hunt begins. We started this tradition back when we had no children but had nieces and nephews. This will be our 19th year and it has taken on a life of it's own. In an effort to preserve the integrity of the hunt, as children grew up, we invited more and more families with young children and now anywhere from 20-50 people show up. In addition to our own family and extended family, the neighborhood comes as well as friends from near and far. You know how hard it is to hook up with friends during the year? Well, this takes the pressure off. We know we will see each other on Easter so we're good! What cracks me up is how many people still come who don't even have young children anymore. And the teen and adult children are starting to show up again!

It gives everyone a chance to catch up, the weather has never stopped us and there has even been several Easter Sundays where it was so warm that everyone just lounged around outside on the front porch and in lawn chairs and no one wanted to leave! It's 2 hours, from 11-1 and the adults drink mimosas and bloodys and eat shrimp cocktail and coffeecake. The kids eat - what else???? What I love most? The memories for the kids. My best growing up memories revolve around holidays with cousins and I am positive these days gone by will live forever in their memories.

Once the hunt crowd disperses to their own holiday celebrations, Bob's family gathers here and we have dinner together. This year is going to be awesome because -THE YANKEES ARE PLAYING THE RED SOX!! Personally, can't think of a better way to spend Easter afternoon! AND I get the next day off!!!

I am sure there are a few things I have missed boring you with - my daughter's ice skating show is in March, I have 2 different trips to Boston planned - one with the girls and one with the family and some friends and don't forget it's the opener to the running season! In fact, today is a perfect day for a run. But alas - my 8 year old daughter Brooke is sick and there are no outdoor runs in the immediate future. But I can dream!

So yes, this time of year is the long stretch to summer, but there are definitely milestones that we experience each year that break up the monotony. So I try to remind myself that there is joy to catch even during the muddy season and if all else fails - I have my dreams!

PS - look what I DID find in my garden when I was out there with my camera. My daffodils! With buds! Can you believe how big they are? It really IS true - spring is coming!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ahhhhh - Sweet Revenge

When I was growing up, we always had dogs. Never a cat. When Bob and I first got married (back in the olden days - 1988!), and moved into the house we had just built, my father-in-law brought us not one, but TWO kittens. We named them Stripey and Magic. Not being a cat person, I was a bit dis-enchanted immediately. Using houseplants as the litter box, scratching all the furniture to shreds and jumping on the counters did not endear them to me at all. Their first Christmas, they pulled the Christmas tree down THREE times! The day before Christmas Eve they pulled it down for the third time and I picked it up fully decorated, in the stand and tossed it out the front door.

But they did mellow over time and I actually fell in love with them. But living on a main road is not the best housing situation for a cat and over the years we lost Magic, Bridget, Lucy and Ethel to that beast. But Stripey!
Stripey lived for 19 years! I adored that cat. She was the most affectionate animal I have ever owned and when Michael was born, she fell in love with him and visa versa. That cat knew how to love! Stripey died in our arms a bit over a year ago right after Christmas. She died the way she lived - with the utmost grace.

Of course, with three little kids, the nagging for another pet began immediately. I was adament that I didn't want another animal. No one could live up to Stripey and in all honesty, her last year had been a tough one and alot of work went into keeping her comfortable, clean and alive. I needed a break. But as the months went by, I actually found myself yearning for a sweet little something to hold and cuddle with. Of course, I didn't tell them that!! I let them think I was giving in. Come on! I had to get them to commit to cleaning the litterbox! Plus I always need something to hang over their heads!! Finally gave in and I said ok ONE kitten.

In June we came home with two. Aghhhhhhh - I am such a LOSER!
Jeter and Claris have been with us for 9 months and they have yet to win my heart. They are tearing the wallpaper off the kitchen walls, piece by piece, night after night. They have scratched all the furniture to shreds (deja vu!), the kids fight over who's turn it is to clean the litterboxes, and to add insult to injury, they hate me - because I'm the one always chasing them away from the furniture, yelling at them for ruining my walls and scaring them off the kitchen table - grossssss! I can't stand having kittens!!!! They never let me pet them, they won't cuddle with me and when they see me coming, they run. Nope - no joy there!

But now they have started something! It's as if they have triple dog dared me to win their affection. And you all know about me and being triple dog dared! I am determined to get them to like me!! I pick them up (when they aren't looking, so they can't run away) and stroke them so gently. They barely tolerate it, straining to escape! I spend time at eye level chanting "here kitty kitty" in the sweetest little voice, trying desperately to get them to come to me - to no avail. I buy them treats and attempt to win their love with bribes - NOTHING! If I find them lounging on my bed, I whisper terms of endearment and they get up and RUN!

Well you know what? If I can't win this dare, then I'm thinking the next best thing? Revenge! That's it. I'm done. They'll see. When I start ignoring them, they'll want me so bad. But it will be too late. Maybe I should get a puppy....yeah, a puppy!! That'll fix them!! I can feel the joy already - Mmmmm, so sweet...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Looking Good!

So, as you can see, my blog has a new look! Isn't that bird BEAUTIFUL??? It's called a South African Lilac Breasted Roller. I found the below picture on someone else's blog yesterday and fell in love with it. (So passionate, aren't I? Love affair with chocolate, in love with running, fell in love with this photo? That's what it's all about!!) I posted it on facebook and commented that I thought it was a photo that had been painted. Surely no bird in nature has THAT many colors!?

But alas, I was corrected by my friend Karen. That is a real bird!! AND she found the adult photo of the South African Lilac Breasted Roller and that's how it came to be my new blog header.

Who knew Mother Nature had so much to offer? Amazing. I know I don't need to point out the joy in this post...

Quick Gripe

Please tell me I am not the only person with one of these in my kitchen! NOT the refrigerator, silly. The "things" growing ON the refrigerator!!! (Oh! and is that a Christmas decoration still out??? Aghhhhhh - can you believe I just noticed that!?)

I mean - what the hell??? I swear I removed all that crap just a few short months ago! Where does it come from? What IS all that JUNK!? Is that a "I Brushed My Teeth Today?" chart? And a "Who's Day Is It To Clean the Litter Box?" calendar?! Seriously, why can't they just brush their teeth and clean the litter box WITHOUT A CHART???

And if you double click on the above picture, you can really open a window into my life. See that blonde almost in the center with a bottle of Stoli to her lips? THAT'S ME!!!! Because there IS no joy in owning a kitchen masterpiece like this!! Oh! And the one above it? "I do not have PMS. I'm a bitch."? Hmmmmmm...I'll let you be the judge!

BTW - can I just tell you something? Now this has absolutely NOTHING to do with the theme of this post but since you're here...

As you may know, I am a fitness trainer and I see about 120 women a week. You also know that I personally, am on day 18 off sweets and treats. (Yes - I am human and no, I am not a magician who can make you look 25 again.) I coach women daily on the merits of clean eating and how to get the body/health/fitness level they want by combining clean eating with working out.

So 2 minutes ago, in the middle of my Saturday afternoon, my kids coming running in yelling, "Mom, your client is here!" and I'm like, huh? I don't have any clients scheduled this afternoon! In walks my client that has been with me the longest since I opened the gym - 4 years. She comes bearing a gift. A FREAKING WHOOPEE PIE! You can NOT be serious! This is how my life goes...

PS - I stored it in the freezer of that masterpiece in the picture above. I'm good, aren't I? Come on, SAY IT!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I AM A CHAPSTICK ADDICT. There, I've said it.

I think I have Addictive Personality Syndrome. Is that real??? Well, if it's not, I'm creating it today - APS. I mean, I just admitted to you in a post 15 days, 12 hours, 55 minutes and 54 seconds ago that I was a sugar addict. Now I am compelled to tell you that I am addicted to chapstick. But I know I am not the only person in the world because I definitely know my sister-in-law Jennifer is a chapstick addict also. So it must be real. Besides - I live in my own little world. I can make up any syndrome I want there! So yes - I have APS.

Anyway - I cannot go much more than an hour without swiping the slick stuff across my mouth. In fact, most days, I am reaching for the tube every 20 minutes or so! And it's not the brand name "Chapstick" that I use. I have my favorites - Burt's Bees, Mary Kay and recently, Blistex Deep Renewal Anti-aging Treatment (Because it reduces the signs of aging you know! Right...)

So I was standing in the gym, training for the 5th hour of my morning (lonnnnggg morning today!) and I reached for my trusty Blistex Slicker for probably the 15th time since 5AM and I started laughing to myself as the following memory slid by between lunges and military presses.

This just goes to show you how long I have been a chapstick addict. When I was 27, so that's at least how long I've been addicted (25 years! Oh wait, only 22 as I am the new 49. Phew, now I feel better...), it was Christmas time and I was at the mall one evening doing some shopping. I pulled into the parking space, whipped out the ole chapstick (because if you're an addict, you can't do anything without getting lubed) and applied it across my lips. Now it just so happened that it was really cold that week and my lips were wicked chapped so I actually applied it above my upper lip to soothe and heal that chapped area. Ran a comb through my hair and I was off into the mall.

So I'm inside, shopping for about 20 minutes, walking through the mall, stopping at stores, browsing through crap but not actually purchasing anything at this point. Well, I go into this dress shop and I start looking through some dress racks. As I am going through a rack I feel a tickle across my cheek and I swipe my hand up to my face to brush my cheek and when I drop my hand to continue flipping through the clothes I notice a bright red streak on my hand. It doesn't register at first...AND THEN I REALIZE. Oh God, please don't let it be! I put my hand up to my mouth and run a finger across my bottom lip and OMG, I HAVE RED LIPSTICK on my finger! And in fact, it is not JUST on my finger. It is ALL over my lips and ALL ABOVE MY UPPER LIP, PRACTICALLY UNDER MY NOSE!!!!

I thought I was going to pass out. I had been freaking walking around the mall with red lipstick smeared like a clown all over my mouth (and obviously the surrounding AREA!!!) for over TWENTY MINUTES??????


Lesson learned? If you are a chapstick addict, never, I repeat NEVER, buy lipstick in an applicator that looks just like a chapstick tube!!!

And one last thing? You may wonder where the joy in THAT was? The joy is in telling the story every Christmas and getting a roomful of people to laugh until they cry, year after year, even though it may be the 25th (oops, 22nd) time they have heard it...hope you got a laugh at my loserism! (BTW - Loserism IS a word in my world.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

They Make 'Em Cute So You Don't...

The other day, I found a folded piece of paper on my desk. I opened it up and found this:

I literally put my head down and started to cry. My son Anthony had written it. I could see how hard he worked to form the words "I am adopted" and I knew he had dictated "I have an awesome family" because he probably ran out of time and that made me sad, but it also gave me hope. His message was clear! He liked us!!! Despite all the tussles and struggles and challenges and disciplining we all go through together everyday, He LIKED US!!!

Many of you know that my husband and I have three children, 10, 9 and 8 and that my middle child Anthony, aka Dennis the Menace, is not our biological child. As if raising children isn't challenging enough - when you have an Anthony in the mix - woohoo!!!! Don't get me wrong, I love him very much. He's endearing and charming and funny and cute as hell and essentially I call him the mayor of the Emerald City because he can charm everyone and anyone like nobody's business. He is also defiant, street-smart, impulsive, hyper, has a quick temper and is very challenging practically every minute of his day. (Ask any of his teachers!)

Anthony came to us at 8 months old when I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter Brooke. Our son Michael was 2. He had a rough start in life which contributes to his academic and behavioral challenges as well as his personality "quirks". I must admit, this hasn't been an easy 8 years and certainly the course of our lives has been changed dramatically. He requires a great deal of patience, discipline and advocacy. Of course what child doesn't, but I think we're on extra overload with "Dennis"! And yeah - I do understand why some wild animals eat their young!

Our days are typically longer and more challenging than we ever expected and the litmus test of that is when "Dennis" is away for the weekend at his aunt's house and we are getting a bit of respite. There is a discernable energy shift in the house. It's quiet. It's peaceful. (His brother and sister actually miss the chaos!!) It's CLEAN!!! No one is yelling. Everyone is smiling. We can plan activities that we can't do with Anthony (He has a tendency to get over-stimulated and act out.) Broken parts aren't all over the house! You get the picture...

We are often discouraged and surely question our ability, often and regularly, to parent such a child. But, NOW, amongst all the rubble and chaos of this unexpected life with our Anthony, when my spirit feels crushed, I will remember finding that folded piece of paper on my desk that day. I will recall how it broke my heart to see his struggle in black and white. But more importantly, I will relive that moment of bittersweet joy. We have good moments and we have tough ones and yeah - they do make 'em cute so you don't...well, you can finish that thought! But through it all, even though we don't have the instruction manual, maybe what we are doing with this child is ok afterall.