Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Get your gems here!

Ugh. If we are friends on Facebook you already know my drama from yesterday. If not, here it is in a nutshell:

Nine year old needs an app on his iPad for school. Forty-five year old mother puts her debit card into his iPad to buy said app. Mother forgets to "remove" debit card from son's iPad. Mother goes into la-la land after surgery for 4 days and when she emerges she checks her bank account to find 36 transactions for iTunes. Now, mother is pretty sure she was feeling good while on her happy pills, but not happy enough to agree to 36 transactions for gems for Clash of Clans.

The sum of the story: $1,326.47 to be exact.

The moral of the story: It is WAY too easy for kids to push that buy button when they think there is an endless supply of gems...er, cash...in the bucket.

I do agree there were several missteps along the way, and they have all been corrected - mainly due to the "generosity" of Apple to eventually refund the purchases because they were done by a minor - but I think the larger lesson is the cultivation of a plastic generation.

When I bought the app for the iPad I used my debit card. A square card with numbers on it. That is eerily similar to the iTunes cards my son gets as gifts. Square. Plastic. Numbers. And with that comes hours of excitement as he gets to draw from this magical plastic card and buy whatever he's in the mood for - until Apple says "all gone". This time, no one said "all gone".

Our conversation yesterday will remain private - but I will say that the biggest eye opener was this idea that they wait for someone to say "all gone" because we (or I) have raised them on the currency that is the gift card.You enter in the numbers and they will notify you when you have run out. Unlike my generation when you handed the clerk the money and you knew right away when it ran out.

I'm optimistic that thanks to mothers like me, the iPad 7 will be currency based only...it would be a lot harder for my son to get himself to a bank and clean out my account the old fashion way if he had to slide $20 bills into his iPad! Anyone?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I used to do nothing

It's a true statement: I used to do nothing.

On Sundays, I would sit on my bed, turn on my stereo (yes, stereo) and listen to music while doing nothing. Nothing.

I would come home from school, wrap cheese up in a piece of bologna and sit in front of the TV with only 22 channels to flip through and do nothing.

There were the random days when I was young that I'd sit under our back porch, on the cold cement and crack open rocks to look inside - but basically doing nothing.

I would start, then stop. Then start. Then stop. Then start a "diary" - which contained a whole lot of nothing.

Even as recent as 15 years ago I'd meet friends on a random Tuesday night, drink some Miller Lites (hold the comments), go home, lay on the couch and fall asleep - thinking about nothing.

Now this is where you expect to me say, "But my life is so full now. I savor every moment with the hectic sports schedule, long work days and constant "what are we doing today?" questions"...right?

Sorry to disappoint. I reallly, reallly, reallly long for a day doing nothing. Nothing as in not thinking about dinner or food shopping. Or school events. Or the commute in or the commute home. Or cleaning the house, bathroom, clothes, dishes, bedrooms or yard. Or checking email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Texts or SnapChat (OK, you caught me. I don't have SnapChat).

I kinda think if you are reading this, you sort of long for it, too. Let's schedule a national "Do Nothing Day". Who's in???

Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm being introduced to a new language: Tween

When I first started this blog I would chronicle all the funny things my young children would say. The words they'd mispronounce. The popular phrases they'd get wrong. But now that they are so much older and speaking English, I'm still discovering I have a lot to learn about their language. And I'm not talking about the texting kind...I mean the one using WORDS!

My daughter will be 12 in December. Let's think about that - but not too long because it scares the crap out of me. She is exploring her sass and swagger and is PERFECTING the eye-roll. Bravo my dear.

She also insists on talking. All the time. About things I don't understand. All the time. All the time.

Typical evening in my house.

I arrive sometime after 6 because traffic sucks, again.
I walk into the house with an almost-12-year-old trailing behind.
A puppy attacks me for attention so I walk into the other room.
I put my bags down and it begins:

"Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mommy Mom. Mom. Mommy. Where'd you go?"
"Right here Abby!"
"Oh good. You know what happened at school today? It was so funny. Matt and Tom almost fell and then Gabi said "You're a chicken" which made Cooper laugh. [shoves a snack in her mouth and continues] (Muffle, Muffle) and then I ran backwards. Brendan didn't see that. So Matt threw the ball and hit Brooke, but that's okay because she's tall. And I had to go to the bathroom. It was so funny LOL!!! Oh, and then I saw Ryan but he was wearing green. I'll let Sandi know."
"That's great Abby. Did you finish your homework?"

What?! Did you get that?? Cuz I certainly didn't. But that represents a typical story. Every night. In fact, after sitting with her at Alex's football practice for two hours, I told her I was going to look for the "off" switch. She said "Good luck. It only comes on at night." I think she's right!

So, I am going to implore Rosetta Stone to create the Tween package instead of Spanish, German and Italian. Because there must be mother's around the globe that prefer to learn THAT instead. Raise your hands!! And I do love that she talks to me - and I do listen - it's the comprehension that throws me for a loop. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My fear of small spaces...it's all Fred Flinstone's fault.

When I was 7 or 8 or 9 - the memory is the first to go, they say - my parents finally moved my bedroom to the attic of our Cape style home in Waltham. The smell of the paint and the glue from the linoleum - what, who could afford hardwood back then - seemed so fresh. It was my own room. My own closet. My space to find comfort and joy!!!

Until I had a nightmare. A horrific, awful, larger than life nightmare.  In that safe, wonderful room I was being held hostage by Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble. Go ahead...laugh. You can do it. But it was terrifying.

They were laughing these evil laughs and every time I reached for the door they stood in the way. And when I screamed for my parents, my voice was empty and silenced. Oh the fear!!! There was no escape and suddenly the room seemed so small...and was shrinking.

Now, I don't know if I ever shared this story with my parents, but the memory followed me for 29 years (see how I just reduced my age by 15).  And I think that, in some weird way, it played into my fear of small spaces as an adult. Which brings me to another post for another time...my upcoming trip on a cruise.....in an inside cabin.......think about that for a while, will ya? If I see a turkey leg in someone's hand, or a shirt made of animal hide, I might just jump overboard.

What scared the poop out of you as a kid? My guess is it wasn't a killer cartoon character...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The trouble with being "all about that bass"!

I was a size 2 at my aunt's wedding in the early 90's. Or maybe a 4. I don't remember. I think I was 118 pounds. I was pretty thin.  Oddly, I actually had a hard time finding clothes. I guess when you're 5' 8" you aren't supposed to be that weight because everything was usually too short - in the arms AND the legs - likely because they assumed I had a little more meat on my bones at that height. I'd love to say I was a happy, healthy, aerobic loving machine and that's why I was shopping the single digits... but the real reason I was that size was stress.

Who had time to eat when it felt like my world was being tipped upside down and was in a constant state of "nauseous"? When I wasn't sure about my job, my relationship, my future. And when the paycheck wasn't covering the bills and the food, I'd skip the food and pay the bills. Beer was a main food group, cigarettes dulled cravings and rice packets were on sale for $1. Thank God for Beer Fridays at work - we had snacks.

My point? I haven't seen that size in decades and when I was "skinny", I wasn't happy. Just like when I was a size 18 I wasn't happy. After Abby was born, you'll find very few pictures of me. Pushing 200lbs when I was pregnant proved really difficult after she was born. Add all the other emotional changes that come with being a first time mom and I was a whirlwind of emotions shoving chips and dip down my throat. I was laid off, laying low and eating my way through parenthood.

See the trend here....just like money, weight can't be the driver that makes you happy. YOU have to be the driver that makes you happy. So while I love the song by Meghan Trainor, and sing along with my daughter, I don't think we should be "all about that bass", just like I don't think the life of "treble" is much better.

I do think we are an unhealthy nation. I also think we perpetuate it by obsessing over looks and body image. Wouldn't it be wonderful to flip through a magazine and see thin girls that the thin girls can relate to, right next to full girls that full girls can relate to, all in the name of reality!!! Like real-reality, not "size-8-is-full-size" reality.  Because when I look around my world, I don't see all size 2's or size 22's. I just see people. Seriously. I don't know the size 8 from 12 these days...or the 16 from 20. And who gives a crap.

Funny that body image was the trigger to get me blogging again. It has been "weighing" on my mind (yes, pun intended) ever since I noticed my son weighing himself incessantly this spring. I removed all of scales from the bathrooms and have been keeping a watchful eye. Eating disorders aren't just for the females, my friend, so this Momma isn't taking chances!!

Plus, I guess I'm tired of beating myself up over this roll or that jiggle. Talk to me next week when I complain about my jowls, or my larger-than-life ass, but for now I'll just remember that skinny or heavy doesn't make me happy or sad...I control that from within.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My God is Santa Claus

Every now and then I pause and question my faith, and then I question why I am sending my kids to Catholic School. It would save us thousands of dollars each year if we sent them to the local public school. It would help avoid the blank stares I give when my kids ask me questions I can't answer about Catholicism. And it would certainly make me *feel* like less of a hypocrite. Lord knows (no pun intended) I breezed through CCD without a care for any of it and haven't confessed a sin since 1986.

I've written about this struggle before, but from a different view. Now that Abby has spent 5 years in her school, I'm forced to look at it from the view of of my children. What does going to Catholic school mean to them...not what do *I* want them to get out of it. What does all of the studying of religion provide them on a daily basis? Does it steer their decision-making? Do they even think much about it?

Recently, my daughter had a sobbing meltdown in her room before bed. We had gone to church that Sunday and given the Easter season, there may have been talk of death more than normal - I was too busy with my own insecurities thinking that every parishioner there (it was a full house I tell ya) KNEW I hadn't been to church...well...EVER when you really think about it. So later on when she was inconsolable talking about her fear of dying...her fear of never "seeing" anyone again...her fear of growing up, I was stunned. She said they were talking about all the dead people in church. What? I was clearly not listening.

Then it kept on. She was asking me where her soul was? Was it really inside her? How did I know? I panicked. I assumed she'd never question it since she was spending endless hours at school "learning" about it. I guess I just thought she'd accept it until she got much older and could understand the complexity of it all.

I calmed her down and tried to explain that God didn't want her worrying about what happens next, but wants her to enjoy every moment of now. He wants her savor every minute with friends, family and explore all of the wonderful things that can be! And then she said it....

"What if there is no God....?"

How do you believe in someone or something you can visually see? How do you hold onto hope that when your body stops working (or in her words "your eyes rot") that there really is a final resting place in heaven?

Then it sort of hit me. Just because she's learning more than I ever did about her faith, doesn't automatically mean she's comforted by it.

And so I began to think about my belief in God again. And I realized that my God is like Santa Claus. I never saw Santa Claus as a child, but of course he was real. As a child you want to believe SO BADLY in the enchantment of it all...relish in the wondrous joy that an unseen force loves all the good you do day after day and you are rewarded beyond your imagination on that one morning....so you behave and do good and be good and make smart choices. It's the blind faith in something.

Growing older brings certain realities about Santa Claus, and it also brings certain realities about God. There is a jaded quality that uncontrollably emerges as we age - the horror on the news. The life experiences that break you down just a little bit. How can this happen? What is going on?

But just like your youth, there is also an innocence that comes with getting older. The innocence in knowing that your time spent has done some good. Has made some difference. Has had a real impact so when that one day arrives, you just know.....one way or the other, you know. And you can be at peace with that - regardless of what you believe will come next.

So when Abby asked me to "come back when your dead and whisper in my head to let me know you can see me", I'm remaining hopeful that is many, many, many years from now and she won't need any whispering. She'll hold onto her faith. She'll believe what she's been taught is good and wonderful and it will guide her to continue to do great things. And when she finds out about Santa Claus, she'll be ready. And when she figures out her own relationship with God, she'll be ready. I'm just proud, amidst the tears, that she's asking questions and talking to ME about her fears. I'll continue to just wrap my arms around her as many times as she'll let me. But don't ask me if I completely believe in God yet. I'm not *that* old. I still have a lot of questions myself...and I'm sure I'll know when I'm ready.

Friday, November 16, 2012

When I hit the lottery...

When I hit the lottery...

I will give it all away.

Well, most of it away. I'm not sure if this blog is a binding contract so I want to be clear in my intentions.

I've learned in recent years the value of "stuff" and by "stuff" I mean the non-essentials to live. The things that are cluttering my basement, filling my home and stuffed in my drawers. The items that I "had to have" because the marketing machines told me I did - or because I felt I had a right to own them because I had worked so hard to earn them. The tangibles that don't make my days any brighter or my family any happier. This "stuff" really has no value, especially when it sits in a drawer or on a shelf. It's just stuff...so when I win it big, I'm going to figure out how to keep giving for years and years. I totally understand now why Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates want the uber-rich to make Giving Pledges as a way to increase awareness of American philanthropy. (Note: I'm not to here to discuss the pros and cons so keep your politics to yourself for the moment.) And this is where my fantasy stops and reality starts...

Fact is, this holiday season I'm trying to give *just a little more*, because giving makes my days brighter, my family happier, and those around us smile.

We can't afford to give much in comparison to many in this world. We can't serve 1,000 hot meals to the homeless out of our kitchen. Or send $100,000 to every charitable organization. But we give what we can. Sometimes it's just our time. Sometimes it's $10 worth of groceries or $20 worth of cleaning supplies. I don't think the details matter, I think the actions matter. It took me too long to realize the reward that comes with doing small deeds. Give these simple ideas some thought:

  • Next time you are in the supermarket parking lot, take a glance around and see if an elderly person could use a hand loading groceries in his/her car.
  • When you purchase something and get change - see if there is a can or a donation jar close by and drop your coins in there. Do you really need 38 cents?
  • Instead of grabbing one of something on sale, grab two and see if your can donate one to a local pantry.  Many supermarkets have boxes up front for donations.
  • Get your old sheets or blankets that aren't suitable for giving to families and see if your local animal shelter could use them for pets waiting for their forever homes.
  • Think about what you love to do in your spare time and see if there is a non-profit that needs help with your services. Maybe you love photography and could give them an hour of your time at their fundraiser event. Or perhaps you love crafts, knitting or quilting and you have scraps that a local preschool can use for crafts. Games in good shape can also be a nice donation to after school programs (I know our kid's school loves getting games in good shape!)
  • Traveling at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Pay the $2.00 toll for the person behind you in line. You don't know them, but if you're fortunate, maybe they pay it forward in some way.
  • Buy local. Purchase one holiday gift from your neighbor-owned store. It may not seem like "giving" but your patronage could help them put food on their own holiday table (or better, help pay the salary of a worker who desperately needs their job). Small businesses don't make millions like the big guys. They work hard and pay taxes towards keeping your community safe and clean so adding to their sales this month could go a long way.
  • Give blood. I'm a wimp and can't bring myself to do it - but I bet you could!
I know we're inundated with requests to give money, give more, sponsor this, sponsor that. But in the end, there are some inexpensive, much needed ways you can help right in your own neighborhood. And simply put, be kind. Kindness is the best thing you can give to those around you. Judgement and hate are equivalent to "stuff"...it really has no value.

Carry on. You have some good things to do today.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Love of Hotel Bars

There are two moments in my life when I vividly remember feeling like a real adult. This could go to a bad place, but I'll keep it on track.

First is when I went away to college.  I had the opportunity to attend Emerson College which is an exceptional communications school, but is only 20 minutes from my childhood home. The other option was Ithaca College, which has an equally impressive communications school, but was over 6 hours away from home....where no one knew me....where only one other person from my high school was attending....where I could be anyone I wanted to be.

Most popular? Sure! Prom Queen? You bet! Played 10 sports and ran for student council? Absolutely! Had every lead in every drama production? Now we're talking!

But in reality, those little "mistruths" would catch up with me in college where people actually get to know you over time, so I stuck to the facts!

Which brings us to Hotel Bars! The other time I remember feeling like an adult was my first solo business trip sometime around 1995! Or 1994. Or 1996. Lord, I can't remember the year. Point is, whenever I walk into a hotel bar now, I relax. I feel grown up, but not in the "I'm getting old" way but in the "I can be anything I want to be" way. I'm taken back to an exciting time when I was figuring out my path and my goals.

Plus, they are always so clean - the bar stools lined up, the little bowls of crunchy snacks, the clean tables with their little tealights lit. In a hotel bar, not a single person cares if you are..well...a single person. Tables of 1 are everywhere and it is perfectly okay to spend the whole time with your head down, immersed in a book, a smart phone, a lap top or a newspaper. Bartenders offer friendly banter, and if you're lucky, some great insight to the area or a "No way!" story about a past patron.

People there don't know if I have 2 kids or 9 (could you imagine??!!), if I'm local or from far away and if I choose to engage in a conversation with someone nearby, it could turn into a business lead, funny story or wasted moment. But who cares! You're in a swanky hotel bar!

I promise I don't spend hours trolling the local hotels pretending to be someone I'm not, but as I was building my career that occasional business trip out of town helped me to build a little confidence and a lot of independence. And when this Mom of 2 had to drop off a PTO flyer the other day to a hotel restaurant and was directed to the hotel bar to find the manager, let's just say I wasn't a Mom of 2 for a moment but a 20-something excited about my first business trip! Man I love hotel bars. Wanna go for a drink?

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Rock Star Weekend

If we are friends on Twitter or Facebook, you already know how this story goes...but I have to say, playing groupie for a weekend is a lot of fun!

First, thanks to a totally hooked up cousin, you are invited to hang with your favorite band ever, ever, ever...AND when you meet her in the hotel lounge for a pre-concert cocktail, you unknowingly (for a fleeting moment) get to see that band in their natural habitat surrounded by family and enjoying some down time before the "gig" (that's rock and roll for concert).

After they depart the bar and you wipe the drool sweat smile from your face, you head to a small theater for a private show, try to compose yourself as much as possible while your heart is pounding out of your chest, remind yourself over and over that you can in fact form sentences and think of something witty to say so he'll remember you FOREVER, and step up for an exclusive meet and greet:

Kyle Cook and Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty. Rob is also known as my pretend husband, boyfriend, crush muffin and lover...depending on who you ask.

Oh, and make sure everyone with you understands VERY CLEARLY that you claim the spot next to said crush muffin so there is no confusion as you dart to attack shake his hand.

What did I say to my pretend lover?

After Kyle and Rob politely introduced themselves (as if I had no idea who they were) we posed for this lovely photo and then I stopped, touched him gently on the upper arm and poetically stated,

"I wanted to thank you for all of the work you do with charitable causes. I think that is wonderful."

His response, "Thank you. Thank you very much. That means a lot."

At which point my hysterically funny cousin (in the blue pants) stops and exclaims, "I don't want you to think I'm a weirdo (Kyle interjects with "you're a weirdo." We laugh.) but I know your friend (won't mention his name in my blog for security reasons) and he's kind of disappeared. Could you please tell him to call me!"

Rob, with a big smile on his face replies, "I remember you! Yes! He's been traveling for a month so that might explain it."

I swoon, try to stay close to him longer - because holy shitsters we're really engaging in a conversation - but am shuffled along for the next group of less-than-impressive fans to take their photo.

<insert my heavy sigh as I relive the moment one more time reading this over>

Once in a lifetime? Perhaps. Memory for a lifetime? Yes, thanks to this blog.

Okay, rock and roll friends, the fun continued on Saturday when, lucky me, I scored VIP tickets to the official MixFest concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston. I decided that hubby needs some love too, so he joined me for the festivities.

What did our day include?  Only a chance to meet these hot boyz:

Andy Grammer with perhaps the bluest eyes ever!

Gavin DeGraw who is very polite and unexpectedly sexy in all black strutting around the stage

Little band named Train...you know who they are Soul Sister (and you're welcome now that I put that song in your head)
In addition to our backstage fun, we sat about 4 rows back from the "stage" and met some fantastic people who has paid a nice penny to be part of the experience. Had I not been lucky caller 14 over Labor Day weekend, my rock and roll weekend would have ended Friday.

The event machine that is MixFest really was amazing. Over 30,000 people on the lawn at the Esplanade in Boston, enduring rain and heat for upwards of 6 hours, is a testament to the publicity engine they have at the station. It's obvious I clearly understand the draw of your favorite singer or band, but as a marketing person I really was in awe of the coordination and logistics it takes to pull off a completely free concert with popular, headlining acts. So bravo Mix 104.1 - I'll be dialing next year to be a VIP again!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our Neighborhood Nun

As we were seated, sharing a table with an older woman for lunch today, Abby asked, "Mom. Is that who I think it is?"

She had this excited look on her face. So I turned around and sure enough, at the check out counter of our local farm stand, was Sister Janice.

"Why, yes it is!"

Alex was asking, "Who? Who?"

I pointed her out and he got excited as well.  I told them to go say hello, but to remind her who they were because while she looked the same, she was definitely aging.

Alex approached first and tapped her on the shoulder.

"Hi Sister Janice."

She looked a bit confused. Abby followed suit with a smile.

Sister looked back at me and then it clicked.

She hurried to pay for her fruit and vegetables, parked her grocery cart and walked back to me with her arms around both of the kids.

I told her we missed her and hadn't seen her recently. She explained she had spent a year in Biddeford, ME but was now back at the convent across the street from the kid's school. She was elated to see the kids and couldn't believe Abby stood as tall as her (Literally! She's a crazy, petite thing).

She asked us all for hugs. Told us she'd make a special trip to our neighborhood soon and was so grateful the kids recognized her. She was grinning from ear to ear, as were we...it was like a lost family member. To be honest, we had often wondered if something had happened and I will admit to checking the obituaries looking for her name.

The older woman who was sharing our table got up after Sister left and asked me, "Was she one of their teachers in school?"

I replied, "No. Just a wonderful woman who used to take her daily walks through our neighborhood and who always shared a smile, a hello, a hug and a God Bless You."

Somehow, knowing her always made us feel a little bit extra special. Kind souls will do that to you. I hope you have someone in your life like our neighborhood nun - because every time you see them you're reminded that people may come into your life in the oddest ways but for the best reasons. Even if it's just to make you smile.