Thursday, May 27, 2010

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Caught joy today telling a story to my friend Linda Christine. We were at our sons' baseball game blabbing about our kids and got on the subject of school band instruments.
I started to tell her about my Michael and how he came to play the sax but then remembered this story was way bigger than just that! Remembered? How could I forget...

In 2002, my husband and I were made permanent guardians of our son Anthony. That's a story for another day. Because we have not formally adopted him yet, the state provides certain services for him - for example - health insurance. Another service they provide is free hot lunch at school. So every August for the last 6 years, we get a letter in the mail that tells us that because we are guardians to Anthony, all 3 of our kids are eligible for free hot lunch. It never occurred to us to use this for all 3 kids, although we did have Anthony use the privilege.

This past August, the letter came and this year, it stopped me in my tracks. Remind me why we only have Anthony use this? I started considering it for a couple of reasons. A) My husband is responsible for preparing lunches for the kids because I am in the gym training all morning B) My kids are crappy eaters and anything you send them to school with never gets eaten! and C) Sick to DEATH of scrounging hot lunch money every freaking time they want to buy instead of bag.

This seemed like a no brainer. Bob flips out goes crazy every morning packing lunches in addition to getting the kids dressed and fed so this would alleviate that stress. And maybe the kids would start to expand their food horizons if they had hot lunch. Afterall, they started eating tacos last year because of hot lunch. Hey! Isn't that progress?

Need I address "C"????

So I spoke to the school about privacy issues (hell - I don't want my kids stereotyped!) and it sounded like it would remain private. So we went for it.

3 weeks later.

4th graders start band this year. So Michael comes home with the "band" packet. What instrument he could play, how much it costs to purchase, how much to lease to buy, blah, blah, blah. He decides he wants to play the sax like Clarence Clemons (you know - Bruce Springsteen's sax player?). So one Sunday afternoon, I finally go thru the paperwork and I see that the sax is like $40/month whereas the other instruments are about $20. So I try to reason with my son and encourage him to choose a different instrument explaining the sax is much more than say - the clarinet? NO WAY. He remains adament so I drop the subject figuring I'll make the decision later in the week.

Monday morning.

The phone rings. It's his band teacher. She's calling because Michael came to her and essentially told her (with tears in his eyes) that we couldn't afford the sax and he really wanted to play it. WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT - OMG. He DIDN'T...

She went on to say that the school had one in storage and we were more than welcome to use it for the year. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Bob and I looked at each other. I think I even cracked a welfare joke or two. Well, why NOT??? It's only going to sit in storage all year. It's not like we're taking it away from someone in need. Soooooo - we accepted the offer. Wow! Free hot lunch and a free sax? We are rocking the casbah this year!!

3 weeks later.

The kids get off the bus one afternoon and they all get in the van buzzing about these envelopes they received from each of their teachers. In each envelope was a $20 gift certificate for the school book fair. I immediately started swearing asked them if any other kids got them. They had no idea. Crap. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure THIS out. I immediately contacted the school and ripped them a new one inquired as to why my kids got these gift certificates??? Apparently, that hot lunch list ain't so private, afterall! Turns out, the list is given to someone who makes out the certificates. Urghhhhhhhh.

What's next? The free turkey at Thanksgiving? The sack of presents delivered in the middle of the night at Christmas??? OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG - fuel assistance???? well, that might not be so bad... NOOOOOOOOOOOO...

The moral of the story??

Take a GUESS!!! Could it be?

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch?? SIGHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Such is My Life

Well - summer is here. I started cleaning the screened in porch that overlooks the pool. You know - the pool that's not open yet????? (The pool that's always open by May 15th?) When I get my butt out there cleaning the porch? It's summer! The question is - where does all that STUFF come from that piles up out there throughout the winter??? It doesn't pile up out there in the ridiculous. I had to borrow my father's pickup truck to haul all the crap to the town "dump". And guess what? My husband just found out he has a HERNIA. Lotsa help there. Yesiree. I feel so baddddd for him. Hmmmmmmmmm...timing is everything, isn't it? Haaa - oh well - such is my life...

Speaking of timing. I ran 3 miles this morning and let me tell you, training for a 1/2 marathon? It affects your life. And I don't mean the running part of your life. I was stretching with Laurel after the run and we were talking about what time we had to start the long run on Saturday which is 10 miles this week. All of a sudden it dawned on me! Crap! We had to leave the house by 5:30AM in order for me to get back in time to teach my first class Sat. morning. CRAP! I can't go to that party Friday NIGHT. I have to get up at 5AM. I can't DRINK the night before a 10 mile run! Damnnnnnnnn - could you believe I had to call and decline the invitation? I forgot about this part of training for a big race. So much for Friday being my favorite day of the week. Not between now and June 27th anyway! I like Saturdays after 9AM NOW! Such is my life...

Then - catch this - I run into an "obstacle" in my bedroom this morning and slammed the top of my foot into a beautiful black and blue piece of art. Hmmmmm - maybe I shouldn't have canceled attending that party afterall. Can I even get into a running shoe????? Good grief - such is my life...

Ok so enough of about my boring life. We've got much more interesting lives to watch! Sex and the City 2!!!!!! Opens May 27th! That's next Thursday! Now that's joy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cause It Will Not Last Forever

Sunday night? I was sad. In a joy filled sort of way. Well, the joy wasn't right away but reflecting back, it did finally arrive.

Meet Bear-Bear.

Bear-Bear was given to Brooke when she was 10 months old. Within a few days, Brooke and Bear-Bear were inseparable. Not a night went by for almost 7 years, that Brooke and Bear-Bear did not sleep together. We had to come home early - from a wake - no less, because the babysitter could not find Bear-Bear (who is a she, BTW) and Brooke was inconsolable and refused to go to bed without her Bear-Bear.

So last night, I was tucking my baby girl in and I didn't see Bear-Bear. So I said, "Brooke? Where's Bear-Bear?" And she said, "Oh, I don't sleep with her anymore." WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT??????? I nearly choked. And I was like, "Ohhhhhhh, Brookeeeee - what do you mean? You always sleep with Bear-Bear!" And she went on to explain that the kittens had claimed Bear-Bear for their own and she was a bit icky from all the licking and sucking that had been assaulted on poor Bear-Bear for the last year.

I was DEVASTATED. Bear-Bear and Brooke were not 2 separate entities. They were connected. They were a team. They were my babies. I immediately reacted and kind of got a little weepy and inadvertantly threw a little guilt her way. (I am Italian afterall. And raised catholic!) "But Brooke, that means you're growing up. You don't needddddd Bear-Bear anymore???" I squeaked out. Ooops - open mouth, insert foot. Brooke starts crying. God I am such a JERK! I pull her into my arms and whisper to her and ask why she's crying. "I'm sad because I don't need Bear-Bear anymoreeeeeeee."

O-MY-GOD. So the next morning I confiscated Bear-Bear and threw her in the washing machine, got her nice and clean and was fully convinced that would change everything. When I went to tuck her in last night, there was Bear-Bear. But not in her usual spot tucked in the crook of my baby's arm. Nope - Bear-Bear was positioned high up on the pillow tucked into her own blanket. Sniffffffff...

So obviously a milestone has passed without my knowing it. My daughter is 8 and doesn't need her Bear-Bear. I was definitely sad. But today I spent some time meditating on the pictures in my mind's eye of Brooke and Bear-Bear. Bear-Bear in the crook of her arm, accompanying her day in and day out, making my baby feel safe. I so caught joy from that. It was bittersweet - but then again - sometimes the best things in life just are, aren't they? ♥♥♥

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

Hey! What's going on? I guess I've been busy because I haven't posted in a week. People are complaining! That's a good thing, right? They like me? Cool!!!!!

Well, I have been consumed. With training my girls, Michael's baseball, my training (running, running, running), Brooke's piano, Brooke's skating, Anthony's school meetings, parties, LAUNDRY. Jiche (Is that a word??? You know - rhymes with quiche? Ahahaha!) I guess there's A LOT going on. Yeaa aaaa - it's MAY. That's what happens in May. Let's look at my schedule:

Tonight - Class at 6, Art Show at the elementary school
Tomorrow - Classes from 5:15AM - 9:30, run 3 miles, eye doctor at 10:45, meeting with Anthony's advocate at 11:30, meeting at elem. school at 12, class at 5:30, baseball game 5:30-8
Friday - Classes 8-10, piano at 4, take kids to play at 6:30, Lia Sophia party whenever (kinda double booked)
Saturday - run 8 miles at 6AM, classes 8-10, baseball game 11-1, skating 1:30-3, party at 5

Oh and then there's:

Tonight, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday - laundry, cooking, cleaning, homework, grocery shopping...are ya getting the picture? Of course you are because every single one of you is in the same boat! We need someone to throw us a freaking lifesaver - you know - A personal flotation device used in water rescue or lifeguarding or LIFE RESCUE!!!!!!!!

(Perhaps this boy can save us!)

And I know I forgot some stuff. But the point is - that's the way the next 6 weeks look! And, I am off the sweets again - as of today. Why? Because I am an addict!! I have been od'ing on sweets and treats. Here I am running 4 days a week totaling 19 miles this week and I am gaining weight. Some trainer - rigghhhttt?!!! Ha! So whatttt! I never said I was perfect. In fact, I think it's the secret to my success with my girls. I'm NORMAL. Not Barbie personal trainer! I'm normal girl personal trainer!

Anyway - I just wanted to tell you something. I had to run 5 miles this morning. Yesterday, it was bothering me all day. Aghhh - 5 miles, agghhh - so early, aghhh - it's going to be raining, aghhh - it's going to be cold, aghhhh - why am I doing this, aghhh - I hate running, aghhh - I don't want to do thissssssss. Hey Wendy Whiner!! STFU. God - I couldn't stand myself! But I was really dreading this!

Robin was coming at 6:55AM. So I set the alarm for 6:26AM (as late as I could make it!) got up, overdressed and met her on the front porch to stretch and bitch. Now - Robin isn't a bitcher so that wasn't any fun!!! Ok people, not feeling the joy...

7:58AM - soaking wet, cold, ROCK STAR!!!!!!!!!! Easy 5 miles, great conversation, no aches and pains, high as a KITE! Now,







Moral of the story? Knock it off! Freaking baby...

PS - Laurel was doing the darn 5 miles in the cold and rain and DARK at 4AM this morning. ALONE! Now she has a reason to whine!

But! I bet she caught some joy - right around 5AM!!!! We missed you Laurel!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I got invited to a "Girls Night Out - Cash For Gold" party last week by my friends Karen and Missy. I planned to stop by for a glass of wine but as far as the gold went? Pretty sure I had nothing to sell.

Well, the day TOTALLY got away from me and by 8 at night after Michael's baseball game, I was shot. Skipped the wine and headed straight home.

The next day, I stopped by to see Missy and she was all over me about "not coming" and "how much money I could have made" and "how much money everyone went home with". She went on to tell me that gold was selling for over $1000/ounce and even a little gold chain or bracelet was getting $100 or so. Her best story was that someone brought in a baggy full of old gold jewelry, broken bracelet, single earrings etc and she came away with over $1200!!! Well that perked my ears up! $1200???? I started thinking of what I had in my coffers and remembered a few gold bracelets I never wore - one broken - and I just groaned. Who couldn't have used a couple hundred extra dollars? God, I'm so dumb!

So being the masochist that I am, I went home and dumped all my jewelery boxes out onto my bed and started combing through my millions, pulling out all the gold crap I hadn't worn in forever. Within minutes? I had a whole baggy full. Broken stuff, ugly stuff, lonely earrings...I am SUCH AN IDIOTTTTT!!!!!

So the next day, I mentioned to Missy that I could just slap myself silly about that gold because I had this whole baggy full. She immediately told me to call Karen because she said Karen had come up with some gold jewelery after the party and she thought the women who ran the gold exchange was meeting with her some time this week. I texted Karen and it was TRUE! The next day I dropped my precious baggy off to Karen and the waiting began.

Guess how muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh???!!!!


Joy to the World!!!!!!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Go Yankees!!

Got a text from my friend Missy on Saturday. She wanted to know if we wanted to go to a Yankee game on Monday night. Well - yea aaaa. Only one problem. I have a 6PM class on Monday nights and I had to get up at 4:30AM the following morning to train a 5:15AM class. Not happening. Oh the joy I could have experienced...

But then I started to think "out of the 9 dot square", as my International Marketing professor used to say. Hmmm - could I cancel that 6PM class and make it up to them? I thought long and hard, came up with a few options for a makeup class, dug deep to erradicate the guilt and responsibility I felt to my clients and finally decided that if I could get a babysitter? I would DO it!

Enter Aunty Annette. Remember her?? From a few blog posts back? I asked. She delivered. I re-scheduled. And I even got braver and canceled my 5:15AM class for the following morning! Afterall, everyone knows you don't get home from a night game in the Bronx before 2AM. That would only be 2.5 hours sleep. Aghhhhhhh! I felt the guilt but I also knew it would be such a great night.

So - I saw my beloved Yankees! It was like seeing my lover after a long absence. I was so thirsty. Everything fell into place perfectly. The weather was outstanding, the company was a blast and speaking of thirst, the champagne and the beers flowed. (Not much of a beer drinker but I managed to pour a little of both down my throat!) And the Yankees beat the Orioles 4-1. It was the best kiss! Of course, if it had been the Red Sox we beat...well - we won't go there right now!

It was a joyful night. I stayed in the moment and soaked up every second. And guess what??? We arrived home 2 hours ahead of schedule and I got 5 hours sleep! It just couldn't have gone any better!

BTW - did I mention that at the game, I had a piece of toilet paper trailing out of the waistband of my pants after leaving the restroom? Oh yea - that's me. Well at least you know I line the seat when I use a public toilet!!? Righttt??? Toilet paper, chapstick, toilet paper, chapstick - so damn blonde...but guess what? You gotta laugh at yourself! Woohoo - catching joy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet Children O' Mine

Joy today! Yay!

So I really love to take my kids out to breakfast on Sunday mornings. Nooooo - not the go to church and then go to breakfast kind of Sunday morning. Just the breakfast. I am the first to admit that I struggle with motherhood. So when I find something that bonds me to my kids and bonds them to each other, I go for it. Mom, Michael, Anthony and Brooke all sitting in a booth for an hour or so on a Sunday morning is of all things - FUN!

Why wouldn't it be? You ask. Wellllllll - ever try to sit down to a meal with an extremely ADHD child? Not easy. But for some reason, this almost ritualistic activity finally works (Believe me it wasn't always this joyful!). But who am I to question a seemingly normal activity in the life of my family?! Woohoo! And by the way - you see I have not mentioned Dad. He usually puts a few hours in the office on Sunday mornings so me home alone with my 3 kids every Sunday morning? One a complete crazy boy? Ummmm - no. Gotta do something! Hence - Sunday Breakfast!

So yea - it's fun and I can get through pretty much the whole activity without completely flipping out on Dennis. More than once...

But actually, this post isn't about Sunday Breakfast. It's about the ride home today. I knew it was a blog post as soon as it started unfolding. Anthony aka Dennis? asked if he could make a song request from my ipod. Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses. He loves that song! Honestly - it's not about the lyrics for him. He just loves the sound. But I thought it was an interesting choice considering it came out in - 1987! I mean Anthony was born in 2001! (And this, the same child who LOVES Justin I can't stand you Bieber)

I turn on the song and ALL 3 of my kids start singing - word for word!
So after I pick my teeth up off the floor because I can't believe they all know every word - even my Miss Miley Cyrus fan, Brooke - I couldn't resist jumping in. This is my era for goodness sakes - not theirs!!! (Have I told you I sing like Lucy Ricardo???) So now all 4 of us are racing down the road in my hateful awesome mini van, every window wide open, hair blowing, belting out Axl Rose at the top of our lungs -- collectively making joy!