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 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" 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 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 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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bedroom manners

We have a nice playroom in our basement for the kids. It's super cool in the summer on a hot day and super cold in the winter on a subzero day - but that's a conversation for another blog post.

When the kids have their friends over, they can all go downstairs to play. There is a mix of toys, a TV and a table and chairs. Good stuff.

Inevitably, at some point during the visit, they start to wander back up to the main floor of the house. They'll use the bathroom, get a drink, sneak some snacks, ask a question, chase the cat....and then they seem to try and wander to the second floor to the bedrooms.

Now as a child, the only play area we had was our bedroom. I get it. Not everyone has a shit play room. I remember spending HOURS with my girlfriend in my bedroom playing school, house, library, restaurant - you name it! But I don't remember boys in my bedroom. My brother would have his friends in his room. I'd have my friends in my room. End of discussion.

As I have a mixed age group of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds running through my home now, I expect the same thing. If you all want to play together, then you go to the basement...if the girls want some alone time, head up to Abby's room. If the boys need a break, then Alex has Lego's in his room and off you go.

But somehow, without fail, they go back and forth and back and forth from bedroom to bedroom. I've set the bedroom rule but now I wonder if it's fair?

Am I too restrictive? Am I too old fashion? Am I expected to roll with the flow because it's the 21st century, dude? Do they all play together in the bedrooms at other houses? At what age do I really start to worry about bedroom manners? Should I loosen up a bit?

Nah. I think I'll keep my rules, thanks. What are your rules for bedroom play? For the under 12 crowd, you dirty mind..... :)

Monday, August 6, 2012


We named him Coach. But we called him Bubba.

In fact any variation of Bubba would do.  Bubba-licious. Bubba-lips (don't ask). Bubba-biskie (I think that was biscuit gone bad). Bubba-do.

And lately, at the oddest moments, I've found myself shedding tears for my little friend. Not totally sure why, as we had to say our good-bye over 3 months ago. But my guess is that the love you hold in your heart doesn't always break at once, but breaks in pieces over time.

I miss my little office mate, vacuum cleaner, protector, and snuggle buddy. This tear is for you, Bubba. May there be no snow this winter in doggy heaven. You deserve that much.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What I learned at Jury Duty 2012

1. There are plenty of parking lots near the Lawrence Superior Court. There are not, however, a lot of attendants at those lots at 8:15 so I was quite surprised that a local officer didn't pull me over for violation of entering and exiting too many parking lots in a state of confusion.

2. People snore. Especially the ones that fall asleep in the jury waiting room. They snore loudly.

3. When they tell you to shut off your cell phones, that's not for everyone. For example, the super important lady in the pink shirt and the preppy guy in the plaid shirt don't count. They get to keep theirs on...while the rest of us suffer through offline time itching to tweet "He looks guilty" as we enter the courtroom.

4. I crack under the pressure of a court room, judge, attorneys, stenographer and microphone. Even I didn't understand my answers. Do I or don't I support drinking and driving? Yes, I have...wait, what?? I DON'T KNOW!? Can I phone a friend?

5. I secretly wanted to get picked. And was quite pissed when I wasn't...still feeling rejected even though the judge told me not to feel that way. Sniff.

6. Court Officers can be funny...and nice...and accommodating. And they don't all look like Bull from  Night Court...just a few of them do.

7. Our judge played tennis this weekend. He told us.

8. I secretly didn't want to get picked. And was quite happy to walk out the door and turn my cell phone back on. Disregard #5

9.  You can hook a DVD player into an old VHS player connected to a 1982 TV on a 1974 metal TV stand from the local elementary school to watch the orientation DVD. It was amazing.

10.  I am in awe of our judicial system. It could have been my abundance of American pride with the kick off of the Olympics occurring the same week as my jury duty, but I wanted to lead a sing along of God Bless America in the court room. Plus that would have guaranteed my dismissal. But I refrained.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I didn't forget about you

Thought I forgot about you, right? No....I didn't.  I just went on a little vacation with the family. It's our annual pilgrimage to the White Mountains of NH. We've been heading north for 6 years and when asked if they wanted to try something new this year, the kids gave us a resounding "NO!", so off we went to bear country (sadly didn't see any bears this year).

But now that I'm back I thought I'd look up the word "vacation"...see what is says.


An extended period of recreation, esp. one spent away from home or in traveling.

I was extremely pleased to see that there were several words missing from the official definition, such as "stress-free", "relaxing" and "peaceful". It did not read "extended period of joyful, tear-free recreation", much to my delight.

You see, I love getting away and letting someone else cook my meals and make my bed, but nothing about vacation sends me into a relaxed state. I seem to worry more when I'm away with the family than I do when we are  home.

Where will we eat breakfast?
Where are we headed next?
Have they had enough water to drink?
What time does that park close?
Do we need dinner reservations?
Who will share a bed with Alex, the world's most violent sleeper?

And trust me, the list of worry doesn't end there.

I will say that our vacation definition does include words the official one forgot, like "fun", "spontaneous", "memory-making" and "priceless"! Because after all the bickering, worrying and a few tears, we are so fortunate to be together exploring new places and revisiting some old. And in the end, the time "spent away from home" as a family is what makes it so special.

Now, in the words of a Mom right after a vacation, go pick up your dirty clothes and clean your room - vacation is OVER!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The lovely ladies in my life!

We had drama last night with little guy but he's over it. He had a fun day at camp and loves his life again. Sadness averted for now!

But it really got me thinking about my girlfriends. And ironically, one of the women who inspires me to be the type of Mom that I am today recently moved to Arizona and is back for a visit and we had dinner tonight - and I realized how much I missed her!

As women we come across those straight shooters that tell it like it is;

"That shirt makes you look fat." 
"What were you thinking with that hair cut?" 
"Time to use face cream."

But she isn't one of those shooters, she's the type of shooter that supports your decisions, encourages you to achieve and makes you believe you're doing the best you can, given what you are handed in life. And I love that! Because that's the type of girlfriend I want to be. 

I would never want to be remembered as the friend that points out your weaknesses, but rather the friend that reminds you of your strengths.I'd want to support your decisions no matter how hard they are for you, or how different they are from the decision I'd make. Because at the end of the day, friends are there to lift you up, make you laugh, remind you of the beauty you often forget is there, and support your matter how crazy they may be. I hope each day I can give that back to the women I know.

And with that, I want to thank the lovely ladies in my life that laugh at my silly stories, tolerate my insecurities, and remind me that no matter how much I doubt myself that I'm doing an okay job.  YOU keep me grounded and help me get through the crap. And whether we've known each other 40 years, 20 years, 10 years or 5...there is a special place in my world for all of you and that is so freaking cool!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Seeking Best Friend for Little Guy

I am a girl. I love my girlfriends like they are my sisters. That's the way it has always been. I have bonds that go back almost 40 years and that simple fact amazes me every time I think of it.

I am not a boy. I don't completely understand the role that boys play in each others lives. I do know that my son is capable of inserting himself into most groups without hesitation and will emerge with a "friend" or two by his side.

Take baseball camp last month, for example. It was 1,000 degrees out when a group of kids, ages 6 - 12 were thrown out onto a scorching hot baseball field to learn some basic drills. Within a few minutes of learning how to karaoke (a dance-like skill I mastered quickly myself, but I'm sure I'm calling it by the wrong name) he was laughing and chatting with the boys in his group. For me, that was mission accomplished! He is capable of making friends and creating bonds.  Or so it seemed.

Flash forward to tonight, when I found him fixing a Lego in his room and I quietly reminded him, "It's bed time, not time for Legos" at which point he dropped his Lego and exclaimed in tears, "I hate my life!"

Ouch. It's just a Lego. You can fix it in the morning. With a few questions and some gentle coaxing, the real underlying issue is that he doesn't feel like he has any friends. A best friend, to be exact.

It never occured to me that something like that would be important to him at 7 years old. He had a play date with a boy from his school today, and other than the adrenaline kicking into overdrive to the point I had to remind him that basketball on rollerblades is a sport for outside the house, they seemed to have a lot of fun. 

He rides off on his bike every afternoon to play with the kids in the neighborhood (which is a pretty even mix of boys and girls all near to his age) and never mentions being left out or left behind. But his sister has a BFF...someone that comes to the door looking for her. Someone that schemes about sleepovers, the next time they'll see each other, and how much they'll miss each other when they're apart. He doesn't. And it just became clear how important that could be for boys, too.

Now what's a mother to do? Seeking a best friend for my little guy. Inquire within.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The mojo has returned

You know what's awesome? I figured out how to login to Blogger with my new persona without having to keep logging in and out as the old persona - which is what was really preventing me from blogging!

Ok, which was deterring me from blogging. 

Ok, ok...which was my excuse for not blogging.

It feels great to be typing so I'd just like to wish you and yours a Happy July 4th and I'll be seeing you on the Blogger!

Friday, June 29, 2012

It has been a long, long journey

Oh, this blogging trip. What a long journey.

First was the road of trepidation.
Then the street of uncertainty.
Which lead us down a dead end of ideas.

But I hooked myself up to a new wagon and decided I needed to "make" time to put the thoughts in my head, and at my fingertips, down on paper (which is so not true because this is not paper, but "down on computer screen" doesn't sound right!).

Our world over the past 9 months has been full of milestones and adventures. A winter that never arrived (fine by me!). End of another school year, beginning of another summer.

The hardest hurdle was the loss of this awesome little guy:

I still tear up when I discover pictures like this on the computer. He loved Christmas chaos and this year will be especially difficult when Santa doesn't leave a stocking for our four legged friend. It will be a while before we think about adopting another dog. We miss you Coach.

On a happier note, Abby isn't terrified of the dentist any longer. What? That's not a big enough deal to blog about? I totally disagree...because back then, I never thought we'd be in and out of a dentist office in 30 minutes! Yesterday she proved me wrong. She is turning into a lovely  young lady who will be 10 this year and that just freaks me out the point that I am unable to catch my breath....breathe, breathe. Where does time go??

And our big man Alex has the attitude of a 14 year old but the coordination of a 7 year old which is proving to be interesting. Slow down little'll be a "big kid" soon enough. He has taken a liking to hockey and baseball and was fortunate enough to go to baseball camp for a week in June when the temperatures hit 100 degrees. Such a lucky kid --- not! What are the odds that the "early" week of camp would lend itself to late July temps? He was a trooper and never asked to skip it or quit. I didn't relax for a moment, terrified he'd pass out in left field. It.Was.So.Hot!

Hubby got a well deserved pat-on-the-back at work. He's worked hard for 6 years and it was dutifully recognized. I'm so proud of him for his display of work ethic which I hope the kids understand and emulate one day - because right now they run far way from anything that looks or smells like hard work!

Me? I'm just me...working with some great clients with this great team. What started out as a "let's see how it goes" has turned into a "let's see how it grows".  My business partner and colleagues are amazing. Every week is a new adventure and opportunity so I am just blessed to be a part of it.

So, how are you?? We should get coffee some time. OK, that's a lie.  I don't drink coffee, but I never pass up a glass of wine so let's make time, shall we?