Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

I shall return in 2011.  I have made a promise to myself to relax, recharge and reorganize between Christmas and New Years.  In the meantime, if we don't speak, have a wonderful, safe, delicious, fun, outstanding Christmas. Much love from the house the Sierra's built. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to my sunshine and laughter

Happy Birthday Abby and Alex!

You make me laugh every day, give me a reason to smile when I'm down and have made my life complete.  Hugs and kisses to last you a lifetime,
Mommy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You can't take my holiday spirit

It's been a rough day.  Actually, sort of a rough week.  Actually, it has been rough for a while.

But not because any of us are sick or hurt or injured.  And not because our family has suffered unimaginable loss.  And certainly not because we don't feel loved.

We are all healthy. We have come through another year with minor setbacks and a few tears.  We know we are loved, and it shows by the actions of our friends, neighbors and family.

So while I am feeling down and out at times - panicking about the future - uncertain when life will feel "normal" again - I am going to be thankful and grateful this holiday season. I'm going to remember this year as a lesson in life and move on in the coming months. 

You can take away some of the conveniences, luxuries and indulgences in my life, but without a doubt you can't take away my holiday spirit.  My kids find it magical and so do I - I hope I've given them that gift of wonder and joy this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Surround yourself with love and laughter.  I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Words and whinnies

In one corner, weighing in at 49lbs, at 42 inches tall is the little man armed with pencil, notebook and anything with a word on it, including the remote control.

In the other corner, weighing in at 65lbs, at 50 inches tall is the little lady armed with....ahhh....well....not really armed with anything, just on all fours prancing around the living room.

Little man spent the night copying words from everywhere and anywhere - he wants to learn how to spell and wants to read and asks 1,000 questions an hour. He can retain knowledge like no ones business.

Little lady spent the night pretending she was a horse on a farm, complete with neighing, whinnies, rearing and other imaginary horses. She can conduct a mean session of make believe.

As we approach their birthdays in a few weeks, I find myself pausing and wondering what they'll be when the grow up...right now, I have a sponge and a horse.  Stay tuned to see how it all plays out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Allow me this bitch session

9 days.

That's how long it took me to get someone from the Massachusetts Dept of Unemployment Assistance on the phone. No joke. 9 days.

See, their service works like this.  You call a number. You pick a language. You enter your social security number. You get a message "Due to an unusually high volume of calls all our reps are busy so please call back later or on another business day."

Disconnect.

If you are lucky, you get to the step after the social security number and get to enter in the year you were born. Then you are told they are transferring your call. THEN you get the "We are experiencing a high volume of calls please try your call again later."

Disconnect.

So I'm good at following directoins and I call back later. I call an hour later. A day later. Various times for the next 9 days later.  Nothing.

Then, I get through to an automated system that tells me I am in a queue but will have to wait - 41 minutes.  So, I do. Actually, 43 minutes.

My complaint? I went through this similar process back in Sept after I received a check for vacation pay that was due to me in August after I was laid off but wasn't paid to me until September - and the women on the phone in Sept said "No problem. You didn't work this week so you can still collect.  It wasn't for wages earned this week."  Awesome! She was so nice and helpful. I only waited 5 days and 28 mins on hold (oh, I remember!)

Then suddenly 2 weeks ago I call in to the system to claim my unemployment and the money stops coming in. Money I use for gas to find a job. Money I use for food for the house. Money to pay bills, car payments, Diet Coke.  I've even stopped buying bottles of wine.  Now that's cutting back!!

The woman this time tells me the reason I'm not seeing money is because my previous employer paid me vacation pay.  I explained how DUA knew that from my call in Sept. and I explain it again. Then she tells me, sorry, they need an adjuster to call me. But she doesn't know when this will happen because the adjusters are helping to answer the phones.  Really? Really? Then they are doing an awful job because it took me 9 days to get a live person.

She said it could be a week, maybe two. Then she admitted she has no idea when they'll call.

Fan-fxcking-tastic. So in the meantime does anyone at DUA want to share their paychecks for all the overtime they must be making since it's so busy and help me pay for food for Thanskgiving, Christmas gifts, mortgage, gas and electric.

While I bitch, I am rather fortunate that our savings isn't down to zero (yet!) but I can not imagine families that rely on that check to LIVE day to day who are getting the same horrible customer service that I am - 9 days. NINE DAYS to talk to someone.

Who do I call about this?  Oh, never mind.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A sore throat in sheep's clothing

Interesting...it looked like a stomach bug...acted like a stomach bug...but it ended up being strep throat.

Apparently stage 1 of Ab's strep is nausea. One throat culture later and a dose of amoxicillin and things are looking brighter.

Hope Santa is feeling ok because we did squeeze in a visit yesterday before our diagnosis. Sorry big guy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A happy Hannah moment

Little lady wasn't feeling well last night - stomach bug is flying through her school - and although she never actually fell victim, we were up for a couple of hours back and forth to the bathroom just waiting...and waiting...and waiting. I was not teaching an 8 yo how to make herself vomit - as much as I thought it would probably help. I finally put her blanket and pillow in the bathroom so she felt certain she'd make it to the toilet and I retreated to bed.

The joys of parenting.

She bounced up this morning with a skip in her step and seemed fine. We had plans to go see Santa to check that off the holiday list - too many things happening on the weekends starting tomorrow - so I sent her to the shower.

After she was all dressed I peered into her bedroom to find her lip syncing to a Hannah Montana song (don't ask me which one, I block them from my mind whenever possible) and she had her hands waving over her head, the invisible microphone in her hand, some fancy footwork going on and a huge smile on her face.

I stepped away so she wouldn't see me and I cried a little. Not sad tears, but happy ones. I remember those innocent moments in my room with just me and my record player and my favorite 45. I wanted to be a singer...I just couldn't sing.  She was having a blast just being a kid.  I loved that for her...just being a kid.

She's curled up in my bed right now with a fever and a woozy stomach, again.  I'm sure she overdid it, and being up at 4 a.m. didn't help.  We'll work through these germs and on to the next. We put Santa on hold for now.  But for 10 minutes this morning she was a rock star without a stomach ache. Totally awesome.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And I dare to call myself a blogger?

I am lame..at least when it comes to blogging these days.

I swear there are a million great posts floating around in my head, but by the time I sit down to the computer I get distracted by emails, Twitter and Facebook and before you know it - my post has left the building.

And with the holiday season quickly approaching I fear I may never blog again...ever...ever again...never.

I don't really believe that either, but time is moving at the speed of Rudolph and if I don't stop and smell the snowflakes, it's going to be January and I won't know where 2010 went.

How are you holding up as the holidays approach? Ready to throw your turkey out the window or have you found the strength the relax, smile and ignore the fact that Santa has arrived at every major US Mall before Thanksgiving?  I'm not so thrilled about that recent development.  Let me digest my stuffing before I have to panic about filling stockings and cyber-Monday deals, for pete's sake!

Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Epilepsy, Halloween and other random turn of events

Ready...set...go:

1. Our dog apparently has epilepsy. We've begun to medicate him twice a day and his seizures have significantly reduced but haven't completely gone away.

2. BREW (Boston Region Entrepreneurship Week) is OVER.  One week of events turned into a whole month and WHOLE lot of my unemployed time...was it worth it?  If you consider I've started some paid consulting gigs, then YES!

3. Did I mention, I've started some paid consulting gigs.  Just don't tell Massachusetts because I haven't billed for any and I still need my weekly check to pay for the dog's medication.


4. Halloween was awesomely awesome.  Kids are at the perfect age and we had a blast in the cold running from house to house and to new neighborhoods outside our cul-de-sac.  I, however, didn't eat dinner and thought it would be a fantastic idea to do shots with the neighbors...for which I am paying for it dearly today.  Headache is gone...nausea is not.

5.  My kids are turning 6 and 8 in a month and I'm freaking out.  I still think of them in months so that would be 72 months and 96 months...that feels better.

6.  The kids are getting baptized again and we have a date and willful Catholics to stand in as Godparents. Check that off the list of "things I never, ever, thought I'd do once, let alone twice"...that list also includes some other things I can't share because my parents read my blog. Ha ha!

7.  I am once again running out the door, because we have reached that time in our lives when the taxi service kicks into gear and carting my children around town, back and forth to friends, and all around the gateway of NH (where we live) is in full swing. 

Carry on! Just wanted to say Hello and throw you some updates.  Cheers! Scratch that...I don't think I can cheer anything right now unless I do it with water!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

*Eye* spy a grown up girl

After trying on 12 different pairs, she kept coming back to these so there you have it - her first pair of glasses! Taking bets on how long they last before she sits on them :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Halloween ushers in my season of sleeplessness and panic

The insanity is coming, the insanity is coming. As *soon* as that last treat is handed out for Halloween and I turn off our front light, I go into panic mode.

Two birthdays (eight and six years old this year - can't be true!) and Christmas will be here before I know it and my children will wake up on Christmas morning without gifts because Santa Claus totally forgot to go shopping come.

The chances of that are NILL, but I still get a rush of anxiety on November 1st.

How will I get it all done? When will we buy the tree...decorate the tree...decorate the house...find the stockings...plan the meal...squeeze in two birthday parties...oh, and two baptism "do-overs" this year (more on that later)...see...panic...sweating...breathing heavy.....

Excuse me while I calm down by raiding the Halloween candy. In a moment of brilliance I bought full size candy bars this year. Unemployment hasn't set in with me, apparently...nor has the fact that those jeans from last season are now as tight as stretchy pants. Add "back to the gym" somewhere in there...fantastic.

As for the baptisms, my children will be spending their birthday celebration at our church - getting baptized - again. I guess Catholic God doesn't recognize all sacraments of baptism, especially those held at Congregational churches, so we are going to do it again...for formalities sake. My daughter is thrilled. I've already given two churches "gifts" for their services of baptism, now I get to do it again...so I'm not so thrilled. But if 15 20 25 years from now my daughter wants to get married in the church she loves, she will be able to without any issues. Unless she marries a divorced man then she won't be able to...but that will not be MY fault. I'm all about getting myself off the hook...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Online education

As some of you fantastic people may know, I sort of got a new job...it is in the works but my name is going up on their web site so hopefully a paycheck will follow soon after :). They are raising funds so if any of you have about $500K to throw our way, give me a shout!

The company is called ScreenRetriever (www.screenretriever.com) and the basis of their technology is to help parents teach their kids responsible online behavior. I was really excited by the technology - as a product person at heart - but even more excited by their commitment to HELP and not just preach.

Sure, companies run off of revenue but this small group (you have more fingers than we have employees) is focused on spreading the word that kids need guidance online just as they do offline.

Think about it this way - as your kids gain independence you let them do things like play out in the yard by themselves, right? But all parents know that those first few days, weeks, months, years you still find yourself peeking out the window to make sure they are safe. The Internet is a billion times more crowded than your backyard so how could you just let them "go out to play" there without instilling some rules and guidelines - and we're not talking blocking sites you think are bad, or limiting them to 1 hour a day on the computer - I'm talking real guidelines - the kind you give them about interacting with others face to face in the playground or at school. Take for example:

  • Don't say things wouldn't want to be said to you - cyberbullying

  • Don't talk to strangers - online predators, cyberstalking

  • Let me know if someone touches you the wrong way - sexting

  • Pay attention in class and don't talk when the teacher is talking - online time management

  • Treat people with respect - online reputation


  • It is easy to transfer offline knowledge to online knowledge - its harder to play catch up when things get out of hand.  Technology IS NOT GOING AWAY.  Get educated. And stay tuned, I hope to share more of what I'm learning with you.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Tale of two students

    Exhibit A:
    I don't want to get up.
    I don't want to go to school.
    I don't like homework.
    Don't make me wear my uniform

    Exhibit B:
    Can I have more homework?
    I got all check pluses today
    Can I buy my teachers pumpkins for Halloween?
    I learned that in school today.

    Most likely the difference between second grade and kindergarten - but two incredibly different attitudes towards school.  But two of the same is boring, so I'm just enjoying the diversity...or so I keep telling myself.

    Are your kids completely different learners?  Does one bound out of bed ready to go, and one hide under the covers an extra 5...10...15 minutes?  I sure hope so.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Getting through difficult times

    What do you lean on when things get rough, or when it appears all hope is lost? Or more directly WHO do you lean on in difficult times?

    Do you have faith in Jesus?  In a higher God?  Or the Universe?  Do you believe life is just a natural journey and it ends for all us regardless of whether you are 9 days old, 68 or 84 years old? Or that Heaven has a calling and something more powerful rules our fate?

    I've received several calls regarding death in the past 7 days and it always gets me thinking about my small family, my inexperience with loss and my own faith.

    I don't have an answer on what helps me get through difficult times as far as faith is concerned.  I wish I could pray to God with conviction for strength, but my inability to do doesn't lessen the fact that family, friends and a deep love of life helps me to move forward.

    I'm sadden to hear of such unexpected loss this week, but thinking of the deeper pain others are experiencing compared to my sadness. 

    May you find peace in your faith...wherever that may come from.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Welcome Fall of '10

    I still get freaked out on occasion that I'm living in a new century where the numbers start all over again.  '01, '02, '03...'10

    People are going to ask, "So, what did you do in the Fall of '10?"  *shivers*  I guess because my grandmother was born in '26 and the next '26 is not all that far off...sort of...and then we'll be like "Which '26 do you mean?" when we ask a question.

    Ok, no we won't because anyone alive in 2026 will be 100 and it will be real obvious which '26 we are talking about when we ask them a question.

    But to answer my own question, the Fall of '10 is going to be my season of change. Not just little, minor changes like try to be more creative on Halloween.  Or, plant next years perennials before the frost.

    I'm talking big changes. Changes that I hope will put me on a new course, in a new direction, and get me excited to wake up to the darkness every day to get going. (Am I overdoing it?)

    What do you have planned for the Fall of '10?  I hope it's something that crackles your leaves and gets you excited.  If I've learned anything from the Summer of '10, it's that time slips away too fast to be stuck in the same routine...you gotta mix it up a bit every once and while to stay alive.

    Happy First Day of Autumn!

    (Photo taken by my friend's husband. His photos can be found at http://miketully.smugmug.com)

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Me, a dog and a really nice house

    If you haven't heard, seen my posts on Facebook or followed a tweet or two on Twitter...I'm sort of back with the work force.

    But not really.  I've agreed to help a really small start up get up and started for no pay.  Why? Because I'm insane. But also because I really think their product has merit, and a need and can change how parents interact with their children when it pertains to the scary world that is the internet.

    I'll be sharing statistics with you all soon...but right now, I'd love if you'd check out http://www.screenretriever.com and let me know what you think...I'm talking to you Mommy Bloggers and Daddy Bloggers. You "get" technology and I'll be hitting you all up for ideas and suggestions, don't you worry.

    But for now, I haven't had my first official start date with them yet so I'm not going to say much more - and I'm  trying to learn better time management so I don't give all my free time away for free, literally. 

    If there are any Mamas or Dads who want to offer their expansive network a discount on Screen Retriever, let me know.  That can be arranged :)

    Oh, and the dog? His name is Tucker. He's awesome.  And the really nice house...that's the headquarters for now.  I have staircase and finished basement-envy.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Please tell me...

    Your oldest child constantly yells at your youngest child.

    Your youngest child constantly teases your oldest child.

    Your 8 year old can stomp up stairs so loud that part of the ceiling chips off with every given tantrum.

    Tears flow every day from all your children, for no apparent reason, and from no real water source.

    "I'm hungry" is whined in your ear every 45 minutes.

    "Get away from me" is shouted even more frequently than "I'm hungry."

    No one answers when you ask them repeatedly to feed the dog, let the dog in, let the dog out or leave the dog alone.

    Amusement is only had when screaming and chasing the cat around the house.

    Your basement/playroom/living room/kitchen/multiple bedrooms/garage and yard area contain nothing but piles of plastic toys and little, clear wrappers from juice box straws.

    Because if you can tell me all of these things, then I'll know I'm not alone in this insane parenting world, and I would greatly appreciate that right now.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Didn't he just roll over?

    How is it that my baby boy, who unexpectedly announced himself to the world early, and on his sister's second birthday, can be starting school already?

    Didn't he just smile his first smile; roll over by himself; take his first step; say his first word; dance his first dance; make his first goofy face and hug me like I've never been hugged before?

    There were no tears - just lots of smiles this morning as my baby boy incredibly becomes my little man! Congratulations Alex. Mommy and Daddy (and Abby) love you very, very much!

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    48 inches is a wonderful thing


    Day One: Notice anything?


    Day One: See it yet?


    Day Two: How about now?


    Day Two: I'll give you a hint...


    Everyone is over 48 inches so there are no pictures of Mom and Dad crammed on the rides! 
    Bittersweet.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Can it be any louder?

    We listen to music with our kids.  In the car. On the radio in the kitchen. At night on their radios in their bedrooms. But nothing "musically" seemed to stick with them.

    Alex gets excited over Lady Ga Ga's Alejandro because we told him it was his name in Spanish.

    Abby used to like a Fergie song when she was younger but never really latched on to any one artist.

    Today, however, we may have turned a page.

    When told to clean her room, my daughter lovingly started pouting, slamming doors and probably used the word "hate" when referring to cleaning her room....gotta love that...so I walked down stairs to leave her to herself. I explained she could clean her room quickly and get back outside to play, or spend the day up there, it really didn't matter to me. I had no plans except to clean out the refrigerator - big goings-on in our house on a Saturday.

    About 10 minutes later it happened.  Kiss108 (the station I grew up on) was BLARING from her room. All crackly and staticky because it was too loud.  Appropriately it was Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You - exactly the word I want my 7 yo daughter singing at the top of her lungs.

    I let it go.  I remember being that age and performing karaoke in my room to the Bee Gees, Pat Benator, Aerosmith and Kiss.  It was a release.  It was a distraction.  I loved my loud music.

    And wouldn't you know it - about 6 songs later she came downstairs with a smile and pretty clean room!  Thanks Kiss108. Looks like we'll be resurrecting our love for each other again in the next generation.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    TV sitter

    I've been struggling all summer with the amount of time I let my kids sit in front of the TV.

    Trying to find a job requires me to spend some time in front of the computer searching the job sites  - uninterrupted - and not when I'm exhausted at 9:00 at night after the little ones are tucked in bed.

    So, I will admit that during this incredibly HOT, SUNNY summer (with no rain days to fall back on), I have placed my children in front of 824 for an hour - or two - or maybe three - on a day or two or three.

    (824 happens to be the HD channel of Disney - they feel cool calling it 824)

    Making this confession makes me feel a little better - I've been hiding this secret for a few weeks and now that I've come clean, I bet a few of you can relate? Right?!

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    The Kids Are Alright

    Month one of unemployment.

    Week one of kids home full time.

    Last time I counted there were 10 fingers, 10 toes on each of the two children, two parents still speaking, a mother-in-law and sister-in-law making themselves at home and we were all accounted for in the same house.

    I must be doing something right.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Inspiration at a Pig Roast

    Being forced to take the journey into networking on my own behalf, and not for a company, has proved to be very enlightening.

    Over the past three years, when I'd meet a new group of people, attend an event, talk on the phone or go to the market and engage in a conversation, I would always think "Is there any way this person may want or need text analytics software?"

    Crazy, right? It was my job. I was the evangelist, the motivator and the messenger for the company.  I was wired that way.

    Now, when I go out, I have to figure out how to engage with people and not wonder about their software needs, but wonder about them. What drives them?  Who are they?  Do we have common interests?  Will I make any sort of impression?

    Don't get me wrong, if I met my friends for a happy hour drink I would put the job behind - way behind - in the spirit of socializing.  But more often than not, the job would come up in conversation.  This weekend was probably the first weekend I attended a social event and DIDN'T talk shop or think about networking.  In fact, I listened. And I was so impressed.

    My husband's cousin's son (got it?) graduated from college recently so Saturday they had some friends and family over for a traditional Puerto Rican pig roast.  Pig lovers, don't worry, I won't go into details other than to say YUMMY!  And while there I had two things to overcome: I don't speak Spanish and I'm not 20 something years old.

    A lot to handle at one time.  Amazingly, neither of those things mattered because what I learned from those 20 something year olds is that they are paying it forward.  They are motivated. They are inspired.  They wear their causes on their hats, their shirts and their rubber wristbands.  They are laughing hard, playing hard, and willing to talk about dreams and goals.  I listened to their parents talk about raising children, finding jobs, serving in the military, and overcoming addiction. 

    I don't think I realized how impressed I was going to be by the conversations I was about to have at that celebration.  I sat on a folded chair, in a modest backyard, among 99% Latino men and women playing dominoes and listening to Spanish music among Brazilian neighbors and Caucasian neighbors only a handshake away and I didn't want to leave.  No judging. No ego-trips about their job titles or how much revenue their companies made last quarter.  Just family, friends and talk about how to make it better for the next generation and wondering if they can make a change.

    Such a cultural departure from where I've been.  And so damn refreshing.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Where the hell you been?

    I'm not a very good liar. I was going to post something like:

    Sorry I haven't been around. We've been vacationing in the South of France without the kids. Lie.

    Or maybe:

    Sorry I haven't been around. I landed a million dollar job that I love and was training all week to take over the world. Lie.

    So, truth be told. I found an awesome gig - nonpaying of course - and in the 24 hours I have been involved, it has sucked every single minute of my time that's not spent cleaning, cooking or meeting people trying to find a paying job.

    So hopefully you'll excuse me while I fit this into my very unorganized schedule and once I get into the flow of children home 24/7 and my willingness to volunteer on behalf of Boston's entrepreneurs, I'll get back to my regular blogging. Maybe. Lie.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Parenting 24/7

    Ready for some honesty 101?  Here goes.

    I'm approaching very uncertain times for me - because of the job situation we decided it wouldn't be a good idea to send the kids to summer camp starting July 26 through the start of school.  It was just too expensive and the place we use wouldn't allow us to cut our days to 2 a week.  It was 5 days or it was nothing.

    So...deep breath...that means the kids and I will be spending 7 days a week together. 24 hours. Non-stop. No school. No camp. You're probably like "So what? They're your kids."  I love them. I have since they day they entered the world. No. Before then. When they kicked and squirmed inside of me.  But save for the first 14 months of my daughter's life, I haven't spent all day with them for more than a week.

    That seems so odd to type.  I went right back to work about 10 weeks after Alex was born and hubby did Mr. Mom duty with him.  I'm nervous.  I've always admired Mom's who are home with their kids all day because I really don't know if I have it in me to be that type of parent.

    So, Moms and Dads, lay on the advice and suggestions on how to keep your kids occupied during the summer months - I'm ALL EARS.  I'm thinking keeping the wine stocked for wine o'clock when Daddy gets home may be the first thing I need to do?

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    How you been? Good summer so far?

    Hey there visitors. How's it going?

    Me? I'm hanging in there.

    I'd love to share some pictures with you from our recent vacation but I can't. You see, on Thursday, about 5 hours after my last and final meeting for my "old" job, my laptop from my "old" job that I was using and borrowing for a few weeks while I cleaned it and moved some files and did some final projects decided that since I no longer had a job, it no longer needed to work.

    It quit. Kaput. No juice. No power. No battery. No reboot. Black screen of death.

    So, all those pictures I had recently uploaded to post on facebook are sitting on that dead laptop. Along with my iTunes folder, resume, crackberry software, passwords, cookies, etc.

    I'm holding off on buying a new laptop until work things are figured out and will be relying on our little netbook which gives me a browser and a trial version of Microsoft Office to post and stay in touch.  Excuse me if there a bunch of typos -this puppy has a keyboard the size of a slice of bread. We're still figuring out how to work together.

    Hope your 4th was fun. See you soon.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    The Definition of Christine

    Christine is Latin for "Follower of Christ"........or a horror novel by Stephen King written in 1983. Depends on your Google results.

    Ahhh.......that doesn't help.

    OK, start easy:  Christine is a mom. Christine is a wife. Christine is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter.

    That's all well and good, but doesn't define me beyond my relationship to others.  At times I stop and really try to define who I am to myself and get a little discouraged.  In a grotesque way I often wonder what my obituary would say.  "She was a nice person. Didn't do anything extraordinary, wasn't the member of any organizations and didn't have a passion for anything outside of a cold glass of pinot grigio with a few ice cubes."

    But seriously, now that I'm going to be forced to talk about myself at job interviews, I'm starting to worry.  I don't want to let unemployment define me.  And I don't want to start a pattern of writing and blogging about how I can no longer "label" myself as a VP, or as a working mom, or even a stay at home mom, because I am in that in-between place right now.  But I have to figure out how I want to present myself to others in order to try and secure that next gig.

    On the flip side, I have incredible pride in the fact that I'm raising two children who don't use many labels so why am I obsessed with my own? They've never used black or white to describe someones skin - they use light or dark.  We've discussed when and how to use fat and skinny and we remind them that people come in all shapes and sizes.  They don't see wealth or poverty in what someone "has" but understand that we do our best to help those who need some assistance, whether it's food or clothes.

    So when it comes to trying to describe or define my own purpose, it gets pretty complicated. Do you ever think about your definition?  And is mine now officially "neurotic"? Could be...probably don't want to start off with that in a job interview, huh?







    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Natures calm

    When things are beyond your control and it seems like you'll never get back to that place that was so familiar and comfortable, nature has a sweet way of reminding you to stop...breathe...and instills a welcome calm into the madness.

    Sunset   June 28, 2010

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Tipped upside down

    I always proclaim, "It's harder to find a new job when you have a job, then when you don't!"

    I guess I'm about to find out if that is true.

    Sneaking around on job interviews and to meetings is so stressful when you are unhappy at your place of work. The lies. The fake sick days. Ugh.  However, when you love your place of work, it is just as stressful to find out that you no longer have that happy place. The shock. The sadness. The despair. Ugh.

    My draft post for last week was supposed to be a tribute to my husband and my Dad for Father's Day.  Instead, that got dumped in a bucket when I found out that the world as I have known it for 3 years was about to change.

    I explained to my children what happened so they wouldn't be freaked out when I started picking food out of the garbage and shouting (more than normal) "This toast is too damn expensive to throw away without eating the crust!" My daughter started brainstorming ideas. They are as follows:

    Work at school
    Work at a restaurant "You'd be really good at that" (been there, done that)
    Work at the Mall (her favorite pick)

    and after her shower last night:

    Work at....uhm...well...I can't think of any more

    Yeah kid, neither can I.

    Onward. Upward. Outward. Chin up. Can't cry until they foreclose on the house. There are no tears in unemployment.

    Keep the wine away. The pity party could get ugly.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    You go get 'em little man

    Congratulations to my snug bug who officially graduated from preschool.  Holla!

    He started the daycare/preschool process much sooner than his sister did so he's a pro at ABC's and 123's now.  His thirst for knowledge blows me away. We love you, little man. Bring on kindergarten!




    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    When life hands you lemons, squirt them in your eyes

    What have I been up to the past couple of weeks?

    Let's see. There's been a sudden, unexpected death. Followed by a somewhat expected death. Followed by an expected death. Not up for smelling lilies again any time soon. How did they become the dedicated flower of funeral arrangements? And must they be so strong?

    Then I rearranged my schedule 100 times to accommodate canceled school days for my daughter because death #2  was a teacher (which still didn't allow me time to attend any of her services). That gave me just enough time to rearrange the schedule again the next week for 3 consecutive 1/2 days of school, a girl scout ceremony, preschool graduation (a very happy event, Thank God! Post to come soon.), a work event and another wake.

    Somehow I managed to find time before my evening work event to travel into the Boston office only to be told "Hey, love the work you've done but the people who pay the bills want to make cuts and lucky you, you're first in line to go. We'll let you know by the end of the week." *mouth drops open*

    Which brings us to said "end of week" and I am taking more time off so my children aren't celebrating their last of day of school only to be dumped right back into a pseudo-summer session the very next day until camp starts June 28.  Should be lovely to coordinate vacation days with them and a pink slip.  Drink much? I think I will, thanks.

    So hand over the lemons.  A direct shot in the eyes would be much more pleasant right about now than what I've been up to.


    Friday, June 11, 2010

    A Hairy situation

    I recently started taking pictures off of my laptop (if you heard it churning and chugging you'd understand why) and storing them on some flash drives.  This should free up space and hopefully keep me from losing all the precious family moments, captured by digital technology, so for generations to come they can all huddle around their portable viewing devices and reminisce about Great-Grammy Sierra's family. (Can you tell I have mortality on the brain?)

    Man, do I miss film! Photo albums rock.

    Anyway, as I was copying, moving and cleaning out these fabulous memories it occurred to me that I need to share the evolution of my daughter's hair with you. Because it's just too amazing to keep on a flash drive.


    And so the journey begins. Age 2 (Heat Miser has a run for his money)


    "She looks like Annie." And the identity crisis began..Mommy, what is my real name? Age 3

    Finally long enough to be in her face, but thanks to one of her preschool teachers we didn't need to worry about that at all.  Age 4

    Here come the headbands. Every color. Every day. Very humid day in this picture. Funny, can't tell with her hair. Looks the SAME every day. Age 6


    At last! Long enough for real braids. From Afro to shoulder length in 7 years. How quickly does your kids hair grow? I can count on my fingers the number of time she's had a haircut. Age 7

    I hope she grows up to love it as much as everyone else does.  Because as a woman with curly - no frizzy hair - there is nothing I love more than to have it blown straight.  Oy vey. I'm in trouble.





    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Fish Out of Water

    Driving across town my son asked me, "Mommy, do fish live out of water?"

    Me: "No honey. They live in water. Have you ever seen a fish walking on a sidewalk?"

    Him: "Ha ha. No. I haven't...but I think I'll write a book about that."

    Me: "That would be awesome. A story about a fish that lives out of the water and can run around the yard with a dog, or live with a family?"

    Him: "No. A book of things that don't exist. Like trees in stores."

    Ahhhhhhh...alrighty then.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Goodnight Ginny

    I wish I could share with you some of our wedding video.  It was taken by a friend - who is not a professional - but who did a better job than any professional could have ever done.

    He simply went around and asked people to say something into the camera and since he isn't one to take No for an answer, everyone pretty much obliged.  And it is hysterical. And we love it. And it's hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago.

    On that video is a wonderful woman who liked to laugh. A lot. And loud. And with the raspy sound of a smoker and the howl of a drinker - but that was the best part. And she is a highlight on our video - flirting with the "videographer", dancing and kissing into the lens.  She only had sons, so growing up she used to treat me like a daughter every time she'd see me. We'd sneak off to talk about boys. Or for a cigarette. And when I was older we'd clink our glasses over some funny joke or comment. She carted around her wine coolers or always had something "on the rocks" in her hand. She never failed to tell me she thought I was beautiful. And I knew she meant it.

    Today I learned of the death of  her dear soul whose time with us suddenly and unexpectedly came to the end of a long, hard journey, but whose love of life and family will stay with us beyond her time on earth.

    I'll have those images of her forever thanks to that video and the memories I hold close to my heart.

    Goodnight Ginny. You were a hoot and always showed me so much love.

    *Mwah*



    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Running update

    Remember that Couch to 5K program I started WAY back when?

    Well, the couch won.  Ok, not the couch, but I decided I am not a runner. Don't like it AT ALL. In fact, can't stand it. I don't like the bouncy, bouncy of running. I don't like the breathing part. And my knees hate the whole stinking idea.

    No worries. I haven't stopped exercising, I've just decided that running a 5K is not in my near future.  Maybe I'll explore it again down the road, but for now I'm happy mixing up my cardio with different levels and speeds on the elliptical.

    As a friend recently explained, "I'm certainly not a gazelle when I run."  

    Me neither, sister. Some would argue I more closely resemble an elephant running...for sure!


    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Happy (?) Memorial Day

    It seemed odd this weekend wishing people a Happy Memorial Day.

    Is it supposed to be Happy? Isn't this holiday all about losing loved ones at war? I understand we want to celebrate the sacrifices made by the brave men and women in the services, but as we lounged around the fire pit, swam in the pool and ate American BBQ fare, it felt weird hugging people and shouting "Happy Memorial Day!"

    I'm certainly not poking fun at the holiday or asking that we change it, I just don't think that I think about it in the right way. Don't get me wrong, we are proud to be Americans. We wave our country's flag in front of our house almost every day (barring the cold months when it freezes up) but we aren't big on parades or visiting relative's graves or talking about family members who served.

    Maybe because I never actually met those family members to hear their stories, or maybe because we are a family with few men (and fewer who were able to fight for our freedom), I just don't find myself "celebrating" Memorial Day so much for the Memorial part as for the Day part.

    I guess whatever your tradition on that holiday might be, one thing is certain, and that is we can all appreciate the Day we get to spend with friends and family who are with us now to welcome in the summer season and for that I am absolutely Happy!


    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

    With dandelions and clover leafs and weeds all in a row.

    Hey neighbor! Not you across the street, you next door. Congratulations on your garden of weeds.  Looks great.  The woman who owned the house before you would be mortified to find out that you pulled up her entire perennial garden which took years and years to cultivate, full of love from her deceased Aunt, only to be replaced with this:

     

    I'm sure the  3 foot high Hairy Fleabane is much more attractive to the cul-de-sac than say the  Phlox or blooming Cone Flowers that used to stand there.

    I know they won't read this because they don't know who I am, what my name is, or the fact that I even exist...but to the other neighbors that might see it...help. Grab a weed on your way by next time, will you? Maybe if we pull them up one at a time they'll eventually be gone and I can sneak in some real flowers in the middle of the night for next year...sigh.

    =====================================
    Very funny side note. I did a quick Google search for "Weed Names" so I could speak intelligently about the dandelion infestation and was laughing at all the marijuana results that came up.  Never knew the hash had so many names. In case you're curious: Street Names for Marijuna - aka Weed Names from Google


    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

    I tweet. A lot. At least for me it's a lot. For some it may not be much and for others it's insane.

    I have followers that are from my Mom network. I have followers from my Business network.  And then I just have followers. Not sure who some of them are, but I don't care. If they get any value from what I tweet, well then I'm glad to oblige.

    I also follow a bunch of people. Smart people. Funny people. Celebrities. Sports fans. Beach lovers and foodies. There is usually a common interest and a reason to engage.

    I often get asked by folks who aren't sure if they should join Twitter how it can work for them - that applies to both individuals who are looking to be social and businesses looking for prospects.  I can't explain what it can do for you personally, or professionally, but I did want to share my latest Twitter story to give you something to think about, if you are on the fence.

    So, here is my personal case study on the joy of Twitter:

    I was reading through my stream of tweets  recently, catching up on news, information, jokes, and updates when I saw a retweet (fancy term for copy and paste) from someone mentioning an iPad contest.  I checked out the link in her tweet, read the rules, and learned all you had to do was retweet the same message/link and follow the President of a company on Twitter and Voila! you'd be entered.

    Not hard at all. I didn't have to provide field after field of data on some form about myself or my company.  I didn't have to "like" a fan page on Facebook.  I just had to follow a guy who seemed pretty intelligent and could actually provide some insight and tips for my job and then let others know I followed him in case they wanted to join in.

    The result?  Check it out for yourself:

    In conjunction with our sponsorship and presentation at Silverpop’s recent Annual Client Summit in Atlanta, The Annuitas Group connected with almost 1,000 B2B marketing professionals both attending and not attending the conference. We did so by encouraging marketers to follow Carlos Hidalgo, President and co-founder of The Annuitas Group, on Twitter, and to enter to win an iPad. Congratulations to @christinelexa, the winner. 

    On the business side (NO they did not pay me for this post - although in all honesty if I hadn't won I wouldn't have shared this story) this an example of how Twitter can increase prospects and is also about why community is important and how one satisfied person in your network can generate some brand awareness by simply bragging, "Hey!! I won an iPad from Annuitas Group!!" And you never know how many people that one person touches when it comes to social media (for example,  I have over 1,000 people following me and you never know how many those 1,000 have).

    On the personal side, I took my iPad to bed last night - so that one little tweet was totally worth the 2 seconds it took to cut and paste 140 characters!  Now, to think of a clever name for it because iPad is lame on so many levels...






    Friday, May 21, 2010

    I'm a PC. Well, maybe.

    My whole life I've only known Microsoft and Dell (or IBM) as a source of electronic amusement. Web browser. Email. Solitaire. I was good.

    Today, I discovered the iPad.  The ingenious little tablet from, dare I say, Apple!!

    I can't describe what is happening on my desktop right now - it's beyond words.

    I'm learning all about the world of "Apps", and my God I may never return from my iPad journey.

    I'll share with you how I got this wondrous little iPad in another post soon (hate me, because it was free).  Assuming you can tear me away from the Eye Chart App. I kid you not - I can test the kids eye sight from this glowing, beautiful baby.

    So for now, that's all I have to type on this cruddy, IBM laptop with it's archaic keyboard.

    Hey Sierra, welcome to 2010...

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Friends and family and Bloggers...oh my!

    I can honestly say this weekend was perhaps my most favorite weekend so far in 2010. No offense if we've had fun together this year, but I really enjoyed my weekend. It was the perfect mix of relaxing and chaotic, with a dose of silly thrown in for good measure.

    Friday I met two of my former colleagues for a girl's lunch and we caught up on all the fun gossip and stories. Can't beat gossip! Plus, I hadn't had a lunch date in a long time so it felt great to get out of the house.

    That evening I tortured my daughter by insisting we go to a Pizza place for dinner because we had to be quick so we could run errands, including buying birthday gifts for 100  kids (ok, only 2) and my kids wanted to buy something with left over gift cards from Christmas (out of sight out of mind makes for fun 5 months later).  But she can't fathom not going to a sit down restaurant.  Who spoiled that child? 

    Saturday was gorgeous out!  Little breezy but little man got his uniform for T-Ball.


    Go BRAVES!  Smart organizers for T-Ball don't put anyone on a Red Sox or Yankees team in an effort to keep the peace. My guy still cried when he found out he couldn't be a Yankee...I know, that's all sort of messed up since we live in Boston.

    Saturday night I met some bloggers in real life! That's right, in the flesh!  Including my dear friend of over 10 years, FairlyOddMother, who apparently knows nothing about me - no, I do not live in Mendon and did not work for State Street.

    Then this awesome lady always cracks me up over In the Trenches of Mommyhood.  As does Chicky Chicky Baby who not only can make you laugh but can roll her "r" pretty good for a white chick.

    I was thrilled to meet some new fabulous ladies including  Bossy herself, Shes Just Another Manic Mommy (and we share a name) and Angela who blogs as MommyBytes and insists she's seen me before, to which I promptly responded, "They promised they burned that tape."

    After sleeping off my 1:30 a.m. arrival home on Sunday morning, I did nothing the rest of the day. Yeah. You read that correctly. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

    Ok, I ran to BJ's for milk and gas. Then promptly sat my behind down outside and did nothing...ok, I weeded the garden and mulched a little.

    But that's all. Nothing else. Ok, ok! I may have trimmed all the long grass along the house and fence. But that's it!

    The kids played so well all day - and then in the afternoon had a water balloon fight with their Dad which they were still laughing and talking about a bed time. Took an hour to get them filled, and 30 seconds to throw them all, but they loved it!

    So you see, it appears the spring of 2010 is turning out to be pretttty good around here. I hope you had a nice weekend as well. Here's to continuing the trend: *Clink*


    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Can I ask you a question?

    Hey Mothers!  Can I just say, I mother from the gut. Go with the flow. Do what feels right.

    If you ask me the right age for anything, I won’t know.

    What’s the right age to let kids play outside alone?  Or go into a public restroom alone? Or take a shower alone? Or use a stove?

    I haven’t a clue. And the main reason is that each child is different. Each situation is different.  And each Mom is different.

    So if you ask me, I’m gonna say,  "You’re guess is as good as mine."

    But don’t expect me to bend my rules to meet yours.  Cuz we all know what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the hen.

    Ok, I made that saying up.


    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    I wasn't raised in white America

    Baby oil. The smell of coconuts. Reflective mats. Boom boxes. Bain de Soleil without an ounce of SPF in it. Florescent Body Glove bikinis. Ray Ban Wayfarers. Sun. Sun. Sun.

    For me, those are the memories of summer as a teen. In 1984, tan was the way to be. I mean, come on, who didn't want to be Christie Brinkley?


     As genes would have it, my freckled white skin would never tan.  It would just burn and peel - several times - over the course of a summer. I'd only get fried on one side because I'd fall asleep on my back and forget to flip. But that was okay - I would lay on my stomach next time and was on my way to being "tan".  Wait? Was I?

    No, not really. I was just red, then dry, then red again. But maybe it's because of those fun, teenage memories on the beaches of the North Shore that I adore a little sunkissed glow on my skin.  The time when my freckles start to pop a little, and my feet get flip flop tan lines.

    I KNOW - I KNOW. Bad sun. Bad. I don't want to like it. I mean, I could be a really good white girl if I abstained completely. Like Nicole Kidman or Anne Hathaway white.  But I grew up with a Mom whose skin tanned as soon as the calendar flipped to May - she didn't even need to be in the sun! I just longed for that deep, dark glow.

    So as I get older, I try to be smarter. But I am quite excited to see a little "watchband line" on my wrist this mid-May as evidence I've been in the sun. And as I've learned recently, Vitamin D deficiency is a real thing (3 friends in one month were diagnosed!), and we couldn't have that, now could we?

    Lather the kids in SPF 50, but leave me to my own devices. I swear, you won't ever see me wearing a bikini again and I put the reflective mats away...for good.  The Bain de Soleil...well....

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Glad you joined me

    Hi! How are you?

    Yes, you.

    Over there...I see you.

    You may just be lurking in the background, but that's totally fine. I'm glad you stopped by. Don't feel like you have to comment...I'm just happy you come by to see me every now and then.

    I don't say thanks enough to the readers of my blog. So, thanks. You make writing fun.

    I'll see you again soon. As soon as I can clear out this writers block. How can *I* have nothing to say?

    Bye for now.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Thank you Mom

    We've been busy. Busy in a "how-did-it-get-to-be-9-at-night?" kind of way. Busy in a "when-is-the-last-time-the-kids-took-a-shower?" kind of way. You get it.

    So while I had a minute I wanted to take this opportunity to say Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful, talented, warm, loving, caring, generous, fabulous, stupendous Moms I know out there!


    May you have a relaxing, stress free, kids-get-along-all-day  kind of day....I'm sorry, I can't type that without laughing...but you know what I mean...

    And to my Mom, a very special thank you.  Now that my kids are school age (and trying to insert their independence like a bull in a china shop) I sit and reflect on my childhood a lot more and I think, "What did my Mom do when I was this age?"  And more often than not the answer is: she let us be kids.

    She would quietly stand in the background as my brother and I fumbled through childhood.  She didn't always butt in, tell us the answer to every question or try to control our every decision.  She would watch - I always knew she was watching - but would only emerge when she knew we needed a hug, a band-aid or a kiss. Sure, there were fights, stomping, and door slamming - but what I remember most from my childhood are the laughs, giggles and smiles.

    So thank you mom for mothering.  Thank you for letting us get dirty without freaking out; for keeping treats on hand for when we needed a pick-me-up; for providing for us even when it was hard to provide for yourself; for saying "no" when we wanted to hear "yes" and especially for teaching us the value of respect, love and compassion.

    Happy Mothers Day. I love you.

    Your Daughter



    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Chuckle of the weekend

    Sister: I don't like this cherry drink.

    Brother: I'll drink it.

    Sister: Let me wipe off my germs.

    Brother: You don't need to. We're Spanish!!

    We think the word he was going for was "siblings". But one never knows...the Latino card gets used at the oddest times in our house.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Facebook is sucking the identity out of you! Quick, change all your settings!

    If you believe the hype, and the posts on Facebook, and the media, Facebook has taken over the world and nothing you post is private. For example, this circulated recently:

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't believe in privacy

    My response: Why should he believe in privacy?

    He's running a business. A business you (we) opted to partake in that's totally built on us voluntarily sharing information. When did we all start believing that ANYTHING is for free? There is always a price. And for all of us (like hundreds of millions of us!) to be able to post pictures, share links, create events and invitations, share thoughts and take up server space do you really think that comes at no cost?

    How many of us heard over the years "don't sent personal information through email, especially at work." You know why? You don't own it. If you use the channel to send it, you lose rights to it.

    So the smart thing to do is try to take some control back. READ YOUR AGREEMENTS with these social network sites. If that's too boring, at least explore the Accounts area of your "page" and set it at the level you feel comfortable with - and don't panic - Facebook really isn't going to do much more than try to serve up a bunch of targeted ads to you. I'd actually love more targeted ads. I don't need a Russian bride, thanks - but I could use a cute pair of summer shoes! Who's having a sale?

    More importantly, if your kids are on Facebook, check out their settings too.  Until they're 21 (ok, 18), I say you login and see what they have going on in there and set it to Friends Only.  Oh, and you may want to check out their 647 closest friends, too. I can barely manage 150. Is that 47 year old man from Detroit really a friend? Ick.

    The point is, if you put information up on a web site then businesses and their creators have a right to try and make a buck. I mean, what is the world, really, without a few more computer geek gazillionaires walking the planet? 


    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Spring, glorious spring

    By far my favorite time of the year! Welcome spring. I feel like I've been waiting your arrival forever.




    Hanging around near the White House on April vacation

    Trees in full bloom for the first family

     View from our front porch

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    The Marriage argument

    A friend, and devout Catholic, posted this on her Facebook profile yesterday:

    "So, Larry King is getting his 8th divorce, and Elizabeth Taylor is possibly getting married for a 9th time. Jesse James and Tiger Woods are, well... you know... Even Newt Gingrich is on his 3rd marriage. Yet the idea of same-sex marriage is what is going to destroy the institution of marriage? REALLY?!?"

    Bravo. It got me thinking (although I already knew how I felt about this and I'm right there with her) and I'm baffled that something as simple as a legal commitment based on love and support could ever be denied another human being. Stay out of my bedroom and I'll stay out of yours...doesn't matter who you love, it's just the fact that you do that should matter.



    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    13 years ago

    We'd meet up after work almost every night. Ok, every other night. Ok, whenever.

    We'd see each other in the office 5 days a week and laugh. And work. And laugh.

    We'd run off to Eatzi's, Baja Fresh or Tara Thai for lunch. YUM.

    We'd move each other from one apartment to another, or from one condo to a first home.

    We had baby showers, wedding showers and birthday parties.

    We formed a friendship in 36 short months that has lasted over ten years.

    Thanks to my Mid-Atlantic friends for a wonderful reunion and making me feel 28 again :)

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Disconnect to reconnect?

    I've been following the Phoebe Prince story with a heavy heart for a while. That poor, scared 14 year old girl in South Hadley felt she could never escape the torment of her peers so she took her own life. So incredibly tragic.

    Now I'm reading that the accusers are receiving death threats. I'm also reading comments by people saying "Good. Give them a taste of their own medicine. Now they know how she felt."  What?? What?? What??

    We are talking about CHILDREN.  Children who may or may not have know the consequences of their actions. Children who may have been bullied themselves into participating in this horrible ordeal. Children who need the support of family and the community to help right this wrong.  I don't believe this is a time for "an eye for an eye".  I don't think bullies should be able to walk away, but counseling, discussion and support seems like a better idea to me. Just sayin'.

    Then another argument started to bubble up that really caught my attention.  What are the parents on all sides of the issue doing?  They are screaming for resignations. They are showing aggression and teaching their children that it is okay to shout and point fingers and BULLY the administration. Are they coming up with solutions or just trying to be sure they can place blame?

    Then, the kicker...Are parents so disconnected from their kids that they don't actually see, hear or know what is going on and maybe they need to be held more accountable?  And can that lack of connection be blamed, to a large extent, on technology?

    When I was young, the only distraction my parents had when we were out in the car was the radio.  No phone calls. No twitter. No email. No internet-on-the-go.  When we went out to dinner no one whipped out their cell phone to check-in to foursquare to tout their location and win fake badges.  No laptops came on vacation, or to the park, or to the beach. It didn't mean every time the 4 of us were together we had a kumbaya session, but the distractions were a minimum in comparison to today's society.

    Were we more connected as a family because of fewer interruptions? I'm not sure, but boy that connection argument got me thinking.  When do I disconnect? And should I do it more often to be sure I am connected to the most important job I have and that is to raise respectable, kind, compassionate kids who value human life above most other things?

    I also heard a quote recently that smart phones have led to a new technology addiction. He compared it to a slot machine for a gambling addict - will the news/tweets/email/call on my phone be good or bad? The only way to find out is hit the button to find out. Let 'em roll...

    Thinking....thinking hard about it all....

    See you all next week!

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Driving Miss Crazy

    I am the perfect driver.

    Not according to my husband and my children who have recently started to critique my skills, but according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

    No speeding tickets. No warnings, in fact. I was hit once from behind in Richmond, VA but barely a dent.  Since November 1985 I have been a conscientious and safe driver.

    If it says No Turn On Red, I obey.  If I come to a Stop sign, I stop. I don't run red lights and ALWAYS use my turn signal. No joke; humongous pet peeve of mine - it's strategically placed on the steering column - how hard is it to flip up and down??

    I will admit, I do not drive the speed limit and will often text at red lights. Fault me for that, but catch me if you can.

    Now, let's all knock on some wood. Thanks.

    I don't boast about my 25 yr driving record because I think I'm the epitome of the perfect driver, I simply bring it up because it scares the crap out of me who is on the road these days. 

    Take the nut case this morning who got completely flustered when he heard sirens, sort of ran a red light, changed his mind, backed up a little bit but not enough to get out of the middle of the intersection, and then left his car in reverse waiting for the green light.  We all saw his little white lights and KNEW as soon as the light turned green he'd be jetting backwards. We were right.

    Luckily, I was two cars away and as soon as he felt his car going in the wrong direction he fixed it, but seriously dude. What were you thinking?

    So I propose that not only the elderly, but ever driver get retested ever 10 years. Yup. Even me. Heck, we can make it an online thing or simulated test and the real deal every 20 years.

    If you get your license at age 17, you go back at 27, 37, 47, 57, etc.  Imagine how many drunks and drug addicts we could get off the road with this method - and trust me they are out there - I read the Police Logs.

    Charlie shows up for his test after a nice, late night at the local tavern reeking of the $1 draft special. Suspended, dude - thanks for playing. Or the heroin addict that comes in with the shakes and sees hallucinations while parallel parking. Buh-bye. Get off my roads.

    I know, I know. You're thinking, "It costs money. It'll back up the system. People will skip the tests. It'll do blah, blah, blah". Step up people. Be responsible and quit complaining every time the rules-as-you-know-them change. Don't throw the "I have a right" bologna this way - I have a right to be safe on the roads without wondering if you know what the hell you're doing behind the wheel. Prove you're a good driver, if you think you are one. (Feels like a Bobby Flay style driving challenge)

    Remember, as with pregnancy, it only takes ONE positive test to get a license.  After that, you are on your own.

    That is my random sampling of one - but just wanted to share. And I'll be on hiatus for a few days as we reconnect with some friends we haven't seen in years. 





    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Surrounded by miracles

    Recently, I posted this about a woman I knew who was in a horrible horseback riding accident. We had reconnected via email and were planning to get together.

    What I never blogged about, however, was my other girlfriend who was in a terrible car accident right before Christmas. She was pulling out of a parking lot and was hit straight on by a police cruiser going at a high rate of speed.

    The pictures from the accident on the front page of our local paper were horrific. She, thankfully, drove a car they say saved her life that afternoon, but to see it all mangled with the roof cut off and a picture of her being air lifted to a Boston hospital really shook me. In fact, my husband was stuck in the traffic caused by the accident but unaware it was Angela.

    I've never asked her for details, but I do know she said she had stopped to let him go by and for some reason she remembers him coming straight at her on the drivers side. He was checked out and released. My girlfriend wasn't so lucky. [No, he never called or stopped by to check in on her, in case you were wondering.]

    She is really one of the most giving people I know and the accident happened 3 days before Christmas, her absolute favorite holiday. The irony was sickening and I knew she'd be laying in a hospital on her most cherished family day.

    Now the good part of these stories.

    Kerri, who was thrown from the horse, met a girlfriend and I for some appetizers and drinks (she has to pass on the alcohol now) and she looked FANTASTIC!

    The only way you'd ever know she is recovering from a traumatic brain injury is because her speech is slightly slurred, but she has most of her memory back, is walking on her own, can drive again and is DETERMINED to wear high heels to a friend's wedding in June.

    To say she is a miracle is an understatement. She explained to us that she technically died after being thrown from the horse and a passerby in a car saw the commotion and stopped - that passerby just happened to be an ER nurse from Brigham and Women's Hospital (where Kerri was later air lifted to, ironically!) and she performed CPR on the spot which saved Kerri's life.

    Yes, they do stay in touch. Yes, you should learn CPR. Yes, I believe nurses and teachers are out most under appreciated professionals on the planet.

    She also explained she was kicked straight to the front of her head by the horse so she no longer has a sense of smell or taste. She has to remind herself to eat every 3 hours because without smell and taste she doesn't know when she's hungry. Crazy weight loss method, I know! Those senses will never come back. She actually laughs about it.

    She's still in Physical Therapy to regain simple motions like raising her right hand up above her head (and the balance thing, hence her determination to learn how to walk in heels) and she told hysterical stories about how that area of the brain also controls aggression so she was saying some nasty things as she was recovering. Hard to imagine given her demeanor. A miracle.

    As for Angela, the impact of the car crash had broken her pelvis in a couple of places and had broken her neck. She endured a few surgeries to put in pins and rods in her pelvic area. She was unable to sleep on her side because of a neck brace she had to wear to bed to keep her neck straight, and because of the pain. She was moved to a rehab facility around the new year and then home 6 weeks later because insurance refused to let her stay longer - I won't get on my healthcare soapbox, I promise, but seriously??

    I visited her at her home in February and she was in a wheel chair. She was thankful to be out of the neck brace and miraculously she wasn't paralyzed. She remembers everything about her accident. She looked weak when I visited, but she was so determined to get better.

    Well, get better she did. Last Tuesday Angela walked into my house, on her own, no cane or walker, and all put back together with a smile and a hug. She's slowly returning back to work as a real estate agent (highly recommended as she found us our current house) and she's getting back behind the wheel. She's a bit nervous about the driving part and has been practicing in her neighborhood - I can't imagine the scars from an accident like that - but is confident she'll be cruising in her new car in no time.

    It's a miracle she's alive, let alone getting back to life as she knew it before the accident. It will be a while before she has full motion in her neck, but she's not letting that stop her. She insists her 5 year old grandson is the reason she survived - she wants nothing more than to see him do great things and she wasn't ready to miss out on any of it.

    Now, whenever I'm feeling sorry for myself I have two miracles I can think of to remind me that I have it pretty damn good. I should stop complaining; stop whining; stop acting like I have it so hard and move forward. I have inspiration to draw from - two very strong women. How lucky am I?

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Whose job is this anyway?




    On a recent ride home, the kids started discussing work and jobs and how things were divided between men and women. It was all based on pure observation of how our household runs and I found it quite enlightening.

    For example, men don't plant. Women do. Why? Because Daddy never plants anything but Mommy does. Huh?

    Girls can do anything that boys do except play hockey and football. Boys can do anything girls can do except have babies. Interesting. Almost true.

    In our house, chores are divided between two working parents. Mom is in charge of cooking, shopping (food and clothes), landscaping/gardening, majority of the cleaning/tidying around the house and decorating/redecorating (what? that's a chore!).

    Dad is in charge of dishes, laundry (kids and adults), some cleaning (particularly the kitty litter - yuck), mowing the grass/raking and as Alex calls it "Mr. Fix-it stuff".

    We all share in cleaning the table after dinner, feeding the dog and cat, letting the dog out, chasing the cat after she gets out, and *some* cleaning up after ourselves; coats on the hangers, clothes in the hamper, toys put away, shoes on the mats.

    This topic came up again recently after I slammed my finger in the steel door leading to the garage - uhm, yeah it hurt a lot - and Abby offered to help cook dinner while I tried to keep the obscenities from leaving my mouth.  Alex quickly realized he wanted to contribute, too, so he asked to do the dishes.  He knew this was one of the "Daddy tasks" and he was ready to prepare for his role in life...good man.

    How do you divide the jobs in your house? Should you? Or did it just come about naturally, like ours did?

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Morning runner

    You'd never know it by my blog or my schedule, but I did manage to complete the first week of C25K training and I discovered something very important about myself - I can't run at night.

    Squeezing in a piddly 3 days at the gym last week was almost impossible.  Power outages. Holidays. Weather. You name it, it all seemed to get in my way.  But I did manage to do it and the day of the power outage I realized I should never, ever run at the end of my day.

    By the time I hit the gym at 8:00 p.m. on April Fools (what a joke!) I was tired, full, and not at all in the mind set to try and walk/jog/walk/jog/walk/jog.  About 10 minutes in I was ready to shout obsenities and jump off the treadmill.

    Then I realized something else, I don't follow directions very well.

    Where does it say "increase your incline" in the C25K book? No where. So why did I do it that night?  Don't know.

    I think because I've been doing the elliptical for so long at a higher Level, and when I did incorporate "speed walking" to my routine I always increased the incline to feel a better burn, I figured it was all the same with this program...but this jogging thing is a whole new adventure and pushing the button to a 3 incline was stupid.

    So on day 3 of week 1 I kept the incline at the lowest possible option.  I felt in control. I jogged more than I walked. I jogged longer than the suggested 20 minutes. I jogged at a pace of 5.0! It was also in the morning and apparently my tired, over 40 year old legs like that much better than trying to jog so close to my old lady bed time.

    Tomorrow - day 1 of week 2!



    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Thank you for 75 degrees, Easter Bunny!

    Not sure where you were for Easter but we hope you had a wonderful day.  We were home in the morning opening the bunny loot then off to the coast of Maine in the afternoon...at the beach...in the water...in early April...SCORE!



    Baskets were filled!

    Jelly Bean hunt inside (Easter Bunny is always worried about critters and bad weather to do hunts outside - and apparently my son isn't quite awake yet. Nice face. Or bad photographer.)


    Check every crevice


    Strolling the Atlantic leaving footprints in the sand



    She really wishes she had her bathing suit



    Sandy toes to end a great day