Boys will be…Men.

Two decades ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. A rainbow baby, forced to arrive into this world, and a full 8 pounds, with complications throughout his delivery, I was smitten from the get go. I worked hard for this miracle child’s safe arrival, and knew that he would leave an imprint on my heart. What I didn’t know at the time, but continue to learn more and more each day, is that he is FULL of heart, and, much to his dismay, much like his mom in so many ways.
He has had more than his share of challenges, having been a severely allergic child, to numerous things, and reliant on epinephrine which he has carried on his person for almost as long as I can imagine. This was often met with resistance from many people surrounding him, from a lack of play dates, to legally advocating for being allowed to carry epi pens and ride the school bus. Responsibility came early to this little boy, who was required to carry his epis (auto injectors) with him from about 19 months old, in his little duck backpack, until he began carrying them in assorted waist packs that changed sizes and styles throughout his growing years.
He spent years working on his allergy challenges and self esteem, not to mention his music, and is an accomplished flautist because of it. Listening to him play, is like nothing I have ever heard or could even imagine that one day, that small child, carrying his school back pack, wearing his waist pack, and toting along that flute to school, would sound like…truly beautiful. He has been a section leader, taught music to others, and became a lifeguard, head lifeguard, and water safety instructor at earlier ages than others might. I listened in awe at his college auditions from outside audition rooms, as the music swelled, as those auditioning him engaged him in conversation, and shared exchanges. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but he always left with a handshake, a smile, and a kudos to his mom in the hallway, many moments longer than other candidates remained amongst the evaluators. However, the ultimate goal that I had for him, early on, was to not only be a contributing person to society, but to do it lovingly, and with care to others, and to treat them with the ultimate respect. I joked, early on, that I was raising the perfect spouse. But, I really wasn’t joking, and one day, someone will enjoy the fruit of my labors!
I’ve noticed much growth in him as of late, both spiritually, and emotionally. Along with adjustment and finding your niche, comes great potential. I never doubted the intelligence of my son; he has always been intelligent, but, he didn’t have to work as hard at it as others, as logic came easily, and he therefore didn’t often study or prepare ahead of time for things, and found it quite difficult when he had no choice but to change his ways. The conversations are changing, the sharing has increased, the defenses are lowering, and he reaches out sporadically to check on his mom. The moments of tenderness are increasing, and it touches my heart. He reminds me often that he is not a kid, and he’s not, but like any mother will tell you, he will always be my kid.
I’m reminded of a few things over the last couple of weeks… Early on, I kept an ongoing communication journal, if you will, between him and myself, in a marble composition book. It was an idea I stole from his preschool teacher who required a daily journal entry, just to get my, 3, 4, and then 5 year old writing. I did the same thing at home, but, instead, wrote to him, and left it under his pillow, just to keep the lines of communication open between us, allowing him to respond to me, as I have always worked crazy hours, and I know that it’s much easier to write as they get older, than talk, face to face. Eventually this fell by the wayside, but then, years later, when I got an iPad, he left me notes, which he challenged me to find, and conveniently, this was after those sleep away camp letters arrived less often, and then ceased. I would have my iPad charging somewhere accessible, and, every now and then, there’d be a note to respond to. Next, came texting… I was left in the dust at first, as I didn’t have a texting plan, but then I caught on. Texting now, gets a bum rap, but, it’s been a lifeline for us during times when talking by phone just won’t do. He’s not as far away geographically as his older college sibling, but the distance feels similar. We’ve always talked openly about everything, and for that I am grateful, but, I think, as a parent, those seeds must be planted early on. When he was home on break, I took him out, just us, to a deli for matzoh ball soup, which we sporadically did as a mother/son date night when he was little and thereafter. He didn’t recall having done that, but put down the phone on his own, and easily slipped into conversation with me in the comfort of his surroundings. We both love matzoh ball soup, sushi, and Broadway musicals, as well as many other things that he probably never thought we had in common. And, I know, as well, that we have our differences. But, I’m finding now that it’s a wonderful thing to see that not only will boys be boys, but boys will be men. And I do hope, that my man will be the man I hoped he would be, because it already looks like he’s well on his way.


The numbers game


The first of the year was weeks ago, February 14th has come and gone, as has the 50 percent off chocolate thereafter (though I WAS lucky enough to score some) and now, just short of a week later, there are numbers swimming through my brain…yesterday was the 19th, and marks precisely one year since I have been struggling to keep us afloat, working a number of jobs, right after several years of pay cuts, supporting 4 of us, and all of the many number of things and expenses that go along with that number and contain their own numbers.

However, I am struck today by another very significant number, with that number being 20.  Today IS the 20th and though we only became aware of its significance about 8 months ago, our daughter will graduate from college on May 20th…a mere 90 days from now…3 short months. It seems like we were just looking at colleges while in high school, looking at SAT scores, ACT scores, tuitions, loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, and more numbers.  And now, the numbers are back…numbers of grad school responses…7…still to hear from…7…costs, offers, financials, scores, employment outcomes, and, of course, tuitions,  loans, miles away, hours away…numbers, numbers, numbers. It’s amazing to me though, that her knowledge is numerically oodles higher than the four years of knowledge she has now experienced.  The conversations  vary greatly from a mere 4 years ago, when she was only 4 years younger, but 140 plus credits ago, 2 fabulous internships ago, 2 TA experiences, multiple extracurriculars, grant writing experiences, classes, papers, living accommodations, close friends, roommates, and professors and instructors TOO numerous to mention.

We wonder, when we agree upon attending a college and committing, whether or not we’ve made the right decision; whether we will stay, whether we will be successful there, gain the intended knowledge, be employable or successful in pursuing an even higher level of education, but more so, whether we will be supported in our endeavors, have mentors to help us along the way, as well as people to be our second family.

Many of you know from my previous blogs that my daughter has attended school 4.5 hours south of where we live, and though it could’ve been, and was very much almost 6 hours north of here, we went with the most logical choice, rather than her most desired choice. We know now, how amazing a decision that ended up being for sooo many reasons… And we can’t say enough about it.  True, there was a cultural adjustment for my bagel girl in the land of biscuits and gravy, and a period of needed acceptance to commit to her choice,  but that came with time, commitment, and a little help from those around her.  Not only did she watch many of her class leave, fail out, transfer, lose their honors status, lose their scholarships, and make poor choices, but she gained some amazing relationships with those she might never meet otherwise, including someone from another southern school that she met abroad. She worked in the state attorney’s office, the office of the mayor, the local high school and middle school empowering students with limited English skills, after acquiring her own grants, and teaching them to publish their writing.  She has held offices, sat on boards, choreographed for dance ensemble, has partaken in numerous brunches, lunches, teas, seminars, conversations, tutoring sessions, tours, convocations, awards ceremonies, an honors thesis, and so much more. She has been supported every step of the way, and by some of the most amazing people to have been there for her.     Dr. Kathleen Bands, who returned to teaching from administration, helped my daughter to create a leadership minor, exposed her to a position as a TA, not once, but twice, taught her about style, professionalism, and leadership, and has kept her supplied in post-its throughout her academic career. Dr. Donna Bertazoni, her academic advisor, professor for several of her classes, and department guru, who has advised her  but has also heard her and accepted her choices. Dr. Bean, who came into her world later than the others, but who has been there for her grad school preparation to the utmost degree, pushing her to put herself out there and go confidently. Her English literature professor, Dr. Heather Mitchell-Buck, and all time research guru, that got her (finally…thank goodness) to England for the most amazing research, that she is STILL talking about on a daily basis.  And, finally, Dean Olivia White, who I was smitten by as soon as we met her at accepted honors students weekend…with her fabulous smile, warm demeanor, caring heart, ability to remember anyone’s name, great knowledge of local restaurants, and amazing ability to motivate anyone who walks anywhere near her path;  She has treated my daughter like family, heard her, motivated her to take action, and to always do it professionally, with a smile, a thank you, eloquence, and a warmth like nobody’s business.  There have been a NUMBER of others along the way, but these women are a (mother’s) dream come true. It would not be fair, to not mention Melanie from the Dean’s office as well…another extraordinary connection.

I know that these fabulous people have been brought into her life for a reason, and that they will continue to watch over her in the number of days left, and from afar, as she continues on her journey. I know, too,  that she is aware how blessed she’s been.  And though the number of days rush by, she will count these blessings as numerous and know that in the numbers game, she has really scored big.



Caught off-guard…and no toast.

The last 5 days have been an absolute whirlwind. When my daughter, a college senior, attending school 4 plus hours away, phoned me, I had no idea what we were about to experience. She had skipped class to return to the health center on campus as a follow up after having incredible side and back pain over the last several days, and an excruciating night. She was already stressed due to skipping her class to even go there. (You have to know my daughter to know how stressed she was by this, and I mean REALLY know her.) (She DOES NOT skip classes, overachiever that she is.)  The campus doctor was pretty sure that she had an inflamed gall bladder and not the gastritis that they had been treating her for, and advised her to seek Immediate medical treatment. With scripts and referral in hand, she made calls, and attempted to have bloodwork and a sonogram, but the office wouldn’t see her for several days, and having new insurance and no card in hand, would not treat her, even though she had every number necessary. Being out of state, she was fearful to go to the ER, and possibly creating more out of network issues, and called us, quite upset and frustrated. We decided that the best course of action was to come get her, and seek medical treatment in state and closer to home. Her dad headed out, and her friends, geniuses that they are, packed her up for a day or two, and threw her in the car to head toward her dad in order to connect quicker. I called around, endlessly, to find her an appointment near us much later on in the evening to be seen, due to the travel timing, and thought I scored when I got an appointment with her pediatrician at a satellite office, 45 minutes away at closing. We could possibly get her there in time…maybe. Unfortunately, after many years of being with this practice, they realized that they no longer accepted this, new to us, insurance. I got the name of another doctor whom our friends adore, who does participate and scored the first appointment for the following morning! Yes!!!                             Well, we never made it there. Instead, we ended up in the ED of a hospital somewhat closer to home, after the pain worsened and the vomiting began. We parked, were registered and waiting to be seen, and then the guy next to me began to seize. I realized immediately what was happening, and got help. Not the quickest response from the staff, but, I know, it’s all in a day’s work for them. It didn’t help the rest of us with trust. Moments later, she was taken in, gowned, bedded, IVd and examined. The ED nurse, thank you Stephanie, we loved you, and the ED Doctor, thank you Andrew, were great with her, and concurred with what we all thought was going on. Bloodwork and sonogram ordered, nausea meds at the ready, and then my daughter began to have complications while the IV was being done, and had what I’ll call two “episodes” where she lost consciousness and created quite a stir, and a lot more attention. It didn’t help the rest of us, and delayed the sonogram, additionally getting her an EKG, which was very necessary, and then she refused pain meds, claiming she was only at a 7. They warned her that the scan could become pretty uncomfortable, but our warrior refused. Well, cleared for the scan, they got transport, who moved her to another gurney, and then we proceeded to circle around the hospital trying to find the right radiology place, as the one we were sent to had a sign newly on its door…”we’ve moved!”… Not that they told this poor girl to where, but she remained patient and stopped at every known radiology temporary location, while we followed her and the gurney like puppies after snacks. When we finally found the right place, they apologized for not letting transport know, and then the sonographer apologized to us for the tight quarters. The test, itself was pretty intense, and now our daughter’s pain threshold was at a 10….naturally.
We spent the entire day in the hospital, hydrating, treating the pain and nausea, and awaiting results…the scan ruled out the gall bladder, so no impending surgery for that. The  bloodwork showed a probable severe kidney infection, dehydration, and a gastrointestinal ulcer, plus a couple of other, hopefully, non emergent issues to be tended to after healing from this…again, did I say she’s an overachiever? We are finally discharged; I head home to get her Into bed, and the hubbs heads to the pharmacy to get all of the prescriptions, which, of course, without medical cards, becomes the next fiasco, and delays us further, as if it’s par for the course. A few hours later, I head into work, for a mere two hours…only my program director knows what’s going on, and, apparently, I pull it off, as no one there catches on, until someone, well two someones, tell me a couple of days later that they had NO idea, how crazy I am to have come in, and how could I leave my baby? And then the guilt, already sitting JUST below the surface, emerges….How do you explain something that you don’t want to explain? …When you have a job where you forfeit your pay if you don’t show? That you have already lost time, and are the sole breadwinner for a year already…that the impending snowstorm creates more stress and more of a pay loss…that you’re freaked out by how you have even been holding this together financially since before the now unexpected but expected, hospital bills were even an issue…you just can’t….and you don’t. …and I continue to hold it together. I feel pretty focused.
The next day it snows…and it doesn’t stop for 13 hours, cancelling my morning classes, and, shortly thereafter, my evening classes. …And I succumb to it…the decision has been taken away from me and I am home. Maybe, as it should be.      My husband, true to his fashion, is already on the phone, yelling and cursing at the insurance rep that has no idea why our cards still have not arrived.
I cringe…it’s not my way, believing that you always get more with sugar than with vinegar, and it truly just makes me uncomfortable…I know he’s also frustrated, but It’s not the rep’s fault, and I tell him that…he does not appreciate my input. I decide to channel my energy into prepping hospital friendly, safe to digest food, to be at the ready to tend to my patient. I’ve done nothing prior to this snowstorm to prepare for having an ill child at home; I didn’t know it was going to happen. She’s still highly uncomfortable, nauseous, dizzy, and can’t take meds without food. I consider toast…she might be able to keep that down. Maybe not, but maybe. Scared to eat anything solid, my mother suggests jello…brilliant. He makes jello, and I make farina, and then I have an epiphany. I head straight for the cupboard and make pasta…lots of pasta….small pastas…pastina, tiny shells, ditalini, and reject anything larger. I put them all in separate, tiny, portion sized for a toddler, containers, and stack them, and fill the top shelf of the fridge. I feel accomplished. In charge. Victorious. And then….the toaster oven breaks, just as I plan on making toast for her. Yes, it’s the same toaster oven that I have single handedly repaired the handle to two times. The same one that toyed with me in November, and teased me that it was going to die…When appliances are SUPPOSED to bite the bullet in our house, but it didn’t. The timing is all wrong now, and I am completely thrown by it. (Read my “no appliance November”; I promise, you won’t be disappointed.) and, because of the toast, I lose it.
The following day, i set her up, feed her, medicate her, and head to the supermarket, determined to find just the right things to care for my child, and I purchase more pastas, cranberry juice, and a dozen packets of jello, and duplicate all of it to send back to school with her. (The overachieving Apple doesn’t fall far from the overachieving tree.) I then head to kohls to purchase the toaster oven I researched throughout the entire evening before, and when I get there, they don’t have it, even though online it said it was in stock at that location. I find someone to assist me, and he helps me find one at another kohls 20 miles away, which I then call, to be sure they have it, and Andre assures me it will be waiting for me at customer service. I also confirm that it is not an exclusion from using my 30 percent off coupon, which he assures me it can be used for, and I look at the time, and head north. I’m driving “expediently” and toward what will soon be early Friday rush hour traffic for those trying to get a jump on the weekend, but I figure it’ll only be the start of it, and I forge forward. When I arrive there, the store, unfamiliar to me, is flipped around from the layout of the other, and I end up in the wrong area, need a GPS or directions to find customer service, and then see that there is only one woman on line ahead of me. She seems to need every assurance in the book for her credit of $21.67 back to her gift card, and I begin to show my impatience. My daughter is not answering my calls or texts, and hoping she is sleeping, I glance, again, at my watch. Yes, I wear a watch. (Thank you camp, and isn’t a phone for communicating?!) I feel like the nursing mom, running out of pumped breast milk and needing to get back to my newborn. This is taking wayyyy longer than expected, and is further stressing me out. I make it to the counter, the rep? Clerk? Associate? Calls someone to lift the toaster oven to the counter for her, and it is MUCH larger than I expect. She assures me it’s just the box, but then she lets him go. She then tells me that I cannot make the purchase there, and have to bring it to the main cash registers in the front…SERIOUSLY? …ummm, can I get someone to help ME carry it there? Thanks, love. She calls to someone already in a jacket, not the same guy, and he confirms the item number and he accompanies me and carries it to the front. Of course there is 1 cashier, and 7 people ahead of me, already looking like they’ve been there for days, and he gets on line with me. We wait for about 10 minutes, which seems like eons, along with the screaming infant behind me, that can’t be consoled, and I just HAVE to ask him… “Do you always wait with the customer?” And he replies “um, no; I was on my way out for my lunch break and they asked if I would carry this up here for you.” The baby continues to wail, a not so subtle reminder of my mommydom, and I swear I actually looked down at my chest to be sure I wasn’t leaking breast milk, (I haven’t nursed in 17 years) and then I totally lost it…I mean REALLY lost it. I looked at him and said, pretty loudly, “YOU have been VERY helpful, and kind, and patient, but YOU should NOT be waiting here on YOUR break.” And then I got louder…THIS guy has been EXTREMELY helpful, but now HE’S going on his break…RIGHT NOW.” And the guy just smiles at me, I thank him, and he leaves. Picture Shirley MacLaine in the hospital in the movie “Terms of Endearment”… “It’s time for my daughter to have her shot…she’s waited all of this time, IN PAIN…GIVE. HER. THE. SHOTTTTT!” Everyone stops, and looks around, and, miraculously another cash register opens…a very far geographical distance from where I am standing with this huge box, and no one to lift it, but the cashier smiles and awaits my approach. I have no patience for anyone now, and push the box to the register. And, of course, when the sale is rung up, she and two managers can’t get the system to accept my coupon. I name everybody I have ever spoken to from kohls, and they get Andre on the phone who confirms our conversation, and that it’s not an exclusion, but now two cashiers, two managers, and Andre don’t know what to do. I suggest computing what 30 percent off would be and subtracting it from the total. I suck at math and they think I’m a genius. And then the manager tells me she also has a migraine, and I try to help her. I suggest caffeine with her tylenol and I mention how this was a multi hour fiasco, that my daughter is home, not answering me, when all i needed was to make toast…toast that she probably wouldn’t keep down anyway, but she needed toast, and the toaster oven just went, and I had been everywhere I was told to go to get this one, with my coupon. And then, it happens…I begin to cry…REALLY cry…over toast. The manager apologizes to me, and offers for someone to carry out the box, and someone immediately appears to do so. I get in the car, realizing now that I’ve also lost one of the lenses of my sun glasses. This errand has taken hours instead of what should’ve been 45 minutes, and the guilt ensues. I thank the guy, gather myself together and head into the now, not so early, Friday rush hour traffic. I call my mom on the ride home, to help me calm down, and she can’t understand why I need this fancy toaster oven when her toaster cost $18.  I decide to tell her that we “just have different needs”.  She accepts this, but I’m aware of her “tone”.  I probably should’ve just blasted the radio and sung very loudly…next time…When I get home, we unpack the box and prep the oven for use. My daughter, for the last several hours, of course, has been trying to sleep, because of the pain, dizziness, and, of course, needs to eat something before having pain meds, so I sheepishly offer her something….we go with jello….I don’t even dare offer her toast. I may never see toast the same way again. The lesson learned…#gowiththejello

Beaches–the controversy

“It must’ve been cold there in my shadow, to never have sunlight on your face. You were content to let me shine…”        Yes, we all know the words. We certainly know who sang them. We remember the first time we saw it…and all the times, again and again, thereafter. The countless tissues, the ice cream, the numerous discussions with friends regarding the emotion, and how we are drawn to watch it whenever it’s on, and just can’t seem to stop ourselves.  How it is a go-to movie for so many of us, when we are in need of a good cleansing cry. This gem, untouchable…or so we thought.  Enter The lifetime Movie channel, circa January, 2017.  WHAT?! There’s a remake?!  How DARE they?! There’s no WAY anyone could do this, or that it could possibly be ANY good.  I actually have friends that boycotted watching it, just on principle. I for one, was torn, but secretly set my DVR. Well, not so secretly. In fact, I put it on Facebook that I was going to watch it.  I mean, Idina Menzel was starring in it, and singing, of course,  and I am a really big Idina fan.  (You know, Adele Dezeem?) Well, I just couldn’t stop myself, and I was very hopeful that it would be sort of good. I mean, it would never beat the original; How could it?  But I just had to see it for myself. And so,  I set myself up, snuggling in under the covers, with some chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn, and the worst cold imaginable…the timing was impeccable.  …and I watched.  At first, I thought it was a corny copy of the original, but then I slowly got sucked in by the two girls who played the characters’ younger selves…two girls, both very talented, and, I found out later (when I watched the “after party” show…yup; I did– no judgement) that they are really best friends in real life, having performed in Matilda together on Broadway, and they even submitted their audition video together…Art, Imitating life. And then, the unexpected happened; I stopped comparing it to the original and began enjoying it. You know, it’s amazing when you watch something decades later, in which you know the story well, and it seems timeless, and then you realize how dated it really is. Now, I’m completely aware that that is part of the charm, and the familiarity, not to mention the comfort of this movie, but CiCi and Hillary’s relationship, to those watching it today, for the first time might seem odd.  They meet as kids at the beach, spend a couple of hours together, write letters for years, and then don’t see each other again until their mid 20s, when Hillary just shows up, having left her current lifestyle. To this generation, keeping in touch via social media, in addition to letter writing, and sending text messages to each other probably makes more sense to them. Just them having cell phones alone is a necessity.  What is ageless though, is the friendship that they share…the triumphs, the tribulations, the falling out, and the coming together when tragedy strikes. Maybe it was time for it to be remade, but, I guess you’ll just have to watch it and decide. Feel free to come on over–I still have it on my DVR, as maybe I’ll watch it again two or three (hundred) times.


Comfort and Joy

Is it universal to walk into a holiday gathering and immediately seek out the cheese platter? I mean, do say hello first, but then bee line in search of that specific find?  Gluten and dairy intolerances aside, there is something amazing about a cheese platter, with its familiar varieties, and just a small amount of adventure, and maybe even a little palette cleanser of grapes, dried fruit, or nuts. I’m clearly a big fan, and love to explore new varieties of cheeses, and carry those lovely little  lactaid pills accordingly in my little evening bag, along with the all-important ID, (like I’m going to be proofed…) lipstick, Tylenol, cell phone and key fob. Each claiming their height of importance in the context of my evening.  And, I must say, depending on the adventure at hand, the lactaid might very well be the frontrunner.

I have recently been introduced to something that is now a staple on my cheese platter, called Landjaeger.  Now, some of you might be familiar with this, but I, for one, wasn’t.  It’s a mild salami link that looks like a tiny hot dog, or maybe even beef jerky of certain sorts…Now, I’m not a fan of beef jerky at all, but I am a BIG fan of salami, and I found it in one of the strangest places…kitchen kettle market in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, and it is made by the Amish.  This is a market known for it’s jams, jellies, and canning, overall.  Now, I will admit that I purchased my share of pickled beets, while I was there, i mean i adore beets, but in this little cheese shoppe, I spent quite some time perusing and tasting, and I was not disappointed. I also brought home an AMAZING onion cheese that they highly recommended for burgers, but that cheese never had a prayer, before it was devoured by me, and some of my friends at my annual girly party.  I also purchased  a few cheeses that are staples to my platter, but turned it up a notch because of the adventurer that I toy with being.  I also do olives, usually stuffed with garlic or blue cheese, and roasted garlic marinated in olive oil, and different kinds of crackers…some with sun dried tomato, basil, grains, and of course, the standard triscuit and ritz…gotta have those.  I also put hummus nearby, as it tends to compliment the platter as a whole, and homemade pita chips.  Cheese makes me happy and can be quite the thrill when away from home and in social situations.  I DO have my childhood comfort foods like farina, matzoh ball soup, and stuffed cabbage, and my adult favorites like sushi, roasted Brussel sprouts, and chicken parm.,  but, isn’t it nice to know that there is comfort and joy available in the universal great, wide, somewhere?!  That, for me, is a knockout cheese platter!


Snowed-In Sunday

So, according to some of my readers, my last blog post was upsetting to them–sad, in fact. It wasn’t supposed to read that way, as it was written in response to a word prompt–HOPEFUL.  How many people who have everything are really hopeful for change? How many have gratitude for all that they have? Appreciation? Creativity? Dream about the future?  Probably not many.  I am hopeful, and yes, have gratitude, appreciation, am creative, and have dreams of a better future. But, I am also appreciative of the here and the now, which is something I am forever reflecting upon.

After a crazy day on friday, I missed my morning yoga class, but I was lucky enough to make it to a yoga class later that evening.  The class was taught by an instructor that I haven’t seen in quite some time, and I was overjoyed.  We chatted a bit after class, thrilled to have seen each other. The impending snowstorm held off on Saturday morning, just in time to assure my safe arrival to work. Yes, it was snowing already, but it was beautiful. Classes were cancelled after several hours, and with nothing to rush back for, I took my time, and though it did take three times the amount of time it should have, I arrived back home safely too. My son was already at the stove prepping his own stir-fry, and I walked in just in time for him to offer me some of his noodles…major score!  With my noodles in hand, I changed into comfortable clothing, jumped back under the covers, and caught a movie with my son.  After the movie ended, we made chocolate chip cookies from scratch, which I enjoyed profusely; The two of us catching up, all while prepping, mixing, baking, and snacking. I then watched several hours of the ongoing marathon of my favorite show, This Is Us, and continued to watch the snow fall…and fall…and fall. It continued to fall well into the evening, and I continued to marvel at my luck…nowhere to be, no risks to take, and each of my family members exactly where we were meant to be, and all of us, safe and sound. The temperature continued to drop, the hour grew late, and each of us headed to bed. I had run the dishwasher and done two loads of laundry, but they could wait until the morning, and, for a change, they did.  When I awoke, there were 8 inches of snow that had fallen, and luckily it was Sunday…a day that I could legitimately be snowed-in.  Yes, the shoveling did need to be done in order to get the cars out of the driveway, but what was the rush?  I indulged in a cup of hot chai, and made myself some hot farina, wirh a pat of butter and a drop of almond milk, just like my grandma used to do when I slept over as a kid (boy, do I miss that woman) and later on, made pizza for myself for lunch.  (And, of course, there were home made cookies from yesterday for snacking.)  The hubby took care of shoveling the driveway, so I made fried chicken and cous cous for dinner.  The day was slow paced, low key, I spent it in sweats, and ended my night watching the golden globes, caught Meryl Streep’s fabulous acceptance speech and was thrilled to have seen a few of the movies and shows up for the awards.

It is now late…very late. The laundry is going (there is always laundry), the dishwasher, again, is going (there are always dishes to be done), and the house is quiet, but that just means that the house is full, it’s time to return to normalcy, there’s food on the table, or in our case, over the last 24 hours, in a travel mug or bowl on our laps, and we are living, breathing, appreciating, and moving forward toward our dreams, with gratitude and hope.

Out with the old, and in with the new

My day began with a day off…on a Saturday…which is very unusual, and must mean it’s a major holiday. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I’m not off on Saturdays, with the exception of christmas, new years, and easter weekend. Christmas has come and gone, as have all of the cookies, and there are no Cadbury caramel eggs anywhere near me, sadly, so clearly it is new years eve.  Here I am…all set for the evening…showered, snacks prepped,  bubbly chilling in the fridge and in sweats and snuggly socks, ready for my wild night at home.

Years ago, very  briefly,  we spent the night with some friends, but, before then, and immediately afterward, it was always spent with family and food, hors de ouevres, some chinese food and later, sushi, and everyone slept over…no great plans, no driving, no night on the town. When our children were small, it was no different. Though, having British roots, we watched the stroke of midnight on Big Ben, and called it a night at 8 pm and got the kids into bed. Sometimes the two of us made it to watch the ball drop, and sometimes not.  I’ve spent several unwell… bronchitis, pneumonia, recovering from surgeries, etc., or caring for my brood from similar issues, and more recently wisdom teeth removals, as each has reached that rite of passage and procedures are scheduled over breaks from classes. I’m content to be at home,  as planning otherwise has proven that it doesn’t really work out as hoped.

This year, it was an easy decision, and there was never really any discussion. It’s been a rough year for us, on many levels, but we are here, with a roof over our heads, and mainly intact, so to speak, and for that, I am truly grateful.

January brought great promise, as the start of a new semester began for each of our kids upon their return from traveling overseas all at once, which challenged my heart to no end while they were out of the country.  A good friend who’d been unwell began her journey back in the right direction, and I looked forward to the new year. Early February brought the truly devastating loss of a dear friend, most unexpectedly, as she had now been doing well, and for some time, and I, a grief clinician, struggled greatly with this loss. Two weeks later, my husband lost his job and I came down with the flu, but had to continue working….not the smartest thing, or the easiest, but my hands were tied between lack of coverage and lack of income. In march, though still sick, a little weight lifted, when I realized that my husband was lighter in spirit, no longer waiting for that other shoe to drop; Spring was around the corner, we began to regroup, I saw this as temporary, and we even spent more time together. Dance competition season kept me busy through march and april; applications and resumes kept him busy, and spring break brought our kids home–for the most part. I was able to see my son perform on the flute twice, and was absolutely awed by his talent. I was able to witness my daughter receiving her heritage class ring,  and be a part of the ceremony, and marveled at how close to graduation she was. We were so blessed. May brought the addition of prepping for sleepaway camp, where I’ve worked for over a decade, and some hopeful job positions, and I kept my fingers crossed. The kids were set with jobs for the summer, my daughter got a research grant and with it, tickets and an itinerary to do most of it in England…her dream come true. Then came June, a dead, top of the line,  8-month old, refrigerator, where the company refused to replace it and the numerous hours of back and forth to rectify the situation, while I constantly threw out food and money, and we lacked an appliance…and then, a BIG birthday, no celebration, the rest of my family, including my husband, traveling, and me working. I did take matters into my own hands though, and brought cupcakes and party hats into the studio for my dance students every night that week to make it a party atmosphere. I craved a celebration and being surrounded by love, which I so desperately needed, but it didn’t happen near home. I did have one friend force me to go out for a drink, and she brought me roses, bless her soul, and another friend who brought lunch and a cupcake while I waited for the second (out of 4) repair teams, each time… stumped. …And then I left for supervisors weekend at camp, where dessert was a custom made cake for me, shaped like a jalapeño! (I’m allergic to peppers; best surprise ever!) The summer came and went, and none of those jobs came through…I began to lose my faith, and then lost another friend, who succumbed to her illness. 2016 was throwing me for a loop…jerking me around, and just not being fair.  I ran away…just to change my perspective. I visited my parents in Florida, and then cried when I left, fearing that this might be the last time I’d see them. I visited my daughter, who was/is working on her thesis, and saw her being pulled from me in ways I hadn’t realized, and knew that her life has been launched like an ejection button pressed from under a seat. And then, I stopped at my brothers home on my way back, and soothed my soul by cooking the entire 3 days I was there. My kids were tucked away where they belonged, and I jumped, full force, into a new academic year,  with everything I had, while I watched my husband continue to struggle and try his hands at a business opportunity that I feared would be more of a loss on a few levels. He saw me as unsupportive, and that hurt…still does. My hunter and gatherer was struggling, and didn’t want my opinion. I questioned lots of things, and we lost our connection. The latter part of the year, being caught off guard again by election results, hurt for my family and friends, and now a master at cutting costs, cutting services, stretching leftovers like Dash’s mom in the incredibles, and feeling like everyone thinks I’m scrooge, because of it, I am somewhat bitter. Yup. I’m hurt, and bitter. My blood type really is B+, and I try to live life that way, but I am struggling.  Adulting is difficult. I’ve stretched in ways that I never knew I could. I’ve watched my friends and family struggle, and I’ve watched others go on expensive vacations, and I’ve been jealous. I’ve tried to keep my perspective, and have still given to others in any way that I could. So many others have it worse off than we do.  We were already living modestly, and way away from the Jones’.  Something truly has to give.  December brings a little bit of light again…Our extended family got together for a celebration, and I saw my family and truly spent time with them.  All are well, and I am again, very grateful, as life is precious.  We took lots of pictures together, and I’m doing a good job talking to my parents by phone, and often. I’m grateful to have them, for however long I still do, and for my kids to have all of their grandparents. Lucky, lucky us.

I, like so many others, am hopeful for a better year ahead; I am hopeful for our family, our friends and neighbors, both near and far, and for our country as a whole. I am hoping for good health and prosperity. I am hoping that love truly trumps hate, that we unite as a community, and that the world recognizes that love is love, is love, is love, is love and that it spreads faster than a computer virus. Please 2017, be kind to all of us, and let it be a happy new year.


Hopeful“>Out with the old, and in with the new

We go together like…

Like cookies and ketchup, liverwurst and celery, cabbage and yogurt, I can’t begin to list all of the times my husband and I have arrived at the same place, but separately…never together.   We’ve been together for almost 3 decades, but probably spend most of our time trying to connect, trying to coordinate, and trying to make it all work. It’s a crazy juggling routine that takes great skill, beyond our performing as a  part of our circus. And yes, ours is a three ring circus, complete with a big top and popcorn to go.

When we met, he was intending to move from Brooklyn to manhattan, and I was all set to attend Grad school in Delaware…or so we thought. Taken completely by surprise to be in a committed relationship, 8 weeks later we were engaged to be married, and a year later, we were.  Plans changed, locations changed, and the next thing I know, I am both, working and attending grad school full time in Manhattan, and he is working there, while both of us are living in Staten Island. We couldn’t even commute together because of our schedules, and the next few years added on clinical rotations to this, already crazed, schedule.  This routine continued for several years and, sporadically, we had surprise date nights to meet in the city to spend time together. I do miss those nights. Contrary to popular belief, I love surprises, (if dressed appropriately) (I hate being ill prepared), but, moreso, love the forethought that goes into the surprise…there’s nothing like someone taking the time to plan something with you in mind…that’s just amazing on their part.

Next came kids, and childcare, sitters, schedules, preschool, extracurriculars, gradeschool, more extracurriculars, hebrew school, middle school, music lessons, dance lessons, high school, clubs, interests, projects, and even more extracurriculars, all added to hubby’s bowling leagues, softball teams, and basketball teams, and my dual work schedule, late night patients, yoga, and all of our other things, too many to recall. We took turns, always in separate cars, to make it to each of these things, all while commuting, working crazy hours, and raising our family while trying to balance all of the pieces and also participate in events with family and friends.  …who had to be where, until when, which was closer in proximity to what or whom, and next had to be where, by when, wearing what, carrying what, and all in time to be back for who knows what.  My kids have always had backpacks, Tupperware containers, snacks, water bottles, watches, and organizers out of necessity. Others were thrown when our kids were some of the last to have cell phones of their own; where were they going on their own without us picking up or dropping off that they couldn’t find an adult in charge or a landline to use?  Nowhere that we knew. They always knew that one of us would be there…probably not both, but one of us.  And yes, very rarely, both of us. We even arrived at family functions in multiple cars, always coming from or going to separate places.

College has been no different an experience for them.  Distances make it even more difficult, but one of us moves them in, or out, or back or forth, or to or from, and so it goes and goes and goes. This past weekend, at the completion of their finals, we had to be at a weekend family event, 2 hours north of us from home, and 3.5 hours and 6 hours north of them.  We made it there in bits and pieces, to much more of it than not, snow included, formal wear and weekend necessities in hand, snacks, tupperware, and all the essentials.  I found it humerous as each extended family member sporadically asked about each of their ETAs, while I was the one there with all of them.  If they hadn’t “checked in” on facebook, I might not have known that each of them had arrived! And, of course, with different places to get to, we each left the same way, though enjoying the time we did spend, together.

Maybe this makes for a greater sense of responsibility, time management, preparedness, or flexibility, or maybe each of those things can be amazing on their own and while  acompanying other things.  I’m not a fan of liverwurst, and celery is great with the right dip, even made from yogurt,  but who can do without ketchup or resist cookies? …None of my circus.

Laughter…The BEST food for the soul

It’s just past 10 pm on Sunday night, and I have just finished cleaning up and putting away the platters and last remnants of last night’s annual gathering of ladies at my home, otherwise known as THE GIRLY PARTY. I have been hosting this for many, many  years, as an excuse to kick off the holiday season and celebrate together, but, more so, as an excuse for those who put others first, to take a night for themselves, during what is often the craziest time of year.

Many years ago, I attended a gathering at a neighbors home that changed the way I see things. I had a newborn, and could barely get myself out on a Saturday night after commuting, working a long week, taking care of things on the homefront, trying to get a sitter, etc. It was out of the norm for me to remove myself from such responsibilities, and I hesitated to attend; My neighbor wouldn’t take no for an answer, and so, with a blown glass candy dish in hand, I went.  It was a lovely evening, with a houseful of women, who brought beautiful gifts of Christmas from around the world, one more exquisite than the next. I had no idea there was a theme. They mingled, laughed, drank, and then played a game, politely at first, and then all of them let loose! As the  night went on, they chastised each other, but lovingly, as it became apparent that they had known each other for years. I was one of two newbies, playing along, and learning the ropes. Of course as the only one who didn’t celebrate Christmas, it was certain that I was going to go home with something “Santa extraordinaire”, but I couldn’t help but laugh. Like I said, the gifts were exquisite, and picked with care. The evening flew by, I met some lovely ladies, ate well, thanked my hostess, and headed home with mon Pere de Noel.  I was invited the following year, but couldn’t attend for some reason that I don’t recall.  That spring, that same neighbor’s 14 year old son took his own life, and all of the lives in our little neighborhood cul de sac were changed forever. We remained friends, but grief brings great change, and though life goes on, it does so somewhat more dimly.

I decided that there aren’t enough moments of laughter in between all of the responsibility and seriousness that life causes, and I couldn’t have been more right on the money. I think, often, of all of the things that happen over the course of a year…all of the intentions to get together, the lunches that never come together, the dates that conflict, the distance, the busy seasons, the priorities, the cancelled plans, and the medical emergencies, and worse.  We women are the CEOS of our households and the hours are tough and often long, but if we don’t take a break, no one is going to tell us to. We are super women…we do it all, and we put ourselves last. Therefore, we owe it to each other to be the ones to take care of each other, and sometimes that takes a push to not accept no for an answer. Over the years, the crowd has dwindled from over two dozen women, to roughly 17, to about a dozen. Even some of the faces have changed, as relationships have, but what doesn’t  is the laughter that comes from these women who all work as professionals, and have families and households. They all care for others; Some who need great care, and all of them have been through trying times with their own families, relations, and even themselves…victorious because of whom they are, and how they keep on keeping on. There are a few rules that go along with this evening …Dress in what makes you comfortable, bring something edible to share, or don’t.  Bring a gift, but it is valued at $20, and please don’t spend more (this has never changed, even though it’s been decades), no spouses, no children, and no curfew. Anyone who wants to crash for the night is welcome to as well.  Allergies and intolerances are accommodated, and I shop and cook for days; hors d ouevres and dips and spreads only, but lots of them, so everyone can mingle, refill, and sit comfortably. There’s been punch, or sangria, the room is lit by candlelight, the decor is festive and shiny (afterall, I love glitter) and no one has EVER left early. I believe the record stay is around 3:30 am, or a bit later, which is pretty amazing when one realizes that it’s talking with others that keeps the girls there, and everyone leaves with a heart full of laughter, great memories, and  a gift “that any girl would love”.  We barely have room for dessert and coffee, but that’s provided as well. I love the care that goes into what each of my friends choose to bring, as we are the Queens of our own kitchens, and the best shoppers in town, but there’s no pressure.  I have many that still turn me down, year after year, or won’t commit on an ongoing basis, and those that cancel the day of, which, I admit, drives me absolutely and completely nuts for so many reasons, and just stinks after all that preparation, but there are a staple of about 10 that always come, and know the date that same night for the following year, but, they are the ones that “get it”, and know that their souls will be nourished by the laughter, when the others just haven’t caught on.  These fabulous women know, firsthand, that laughter is THE BEST way to feed the soul and they know they can count on their souls being well fed.



Happy Belated Friendship

There are so many stages in life that bring you friendships; What is the saying…? There are friends for a reason, and friends for a season…

We make friends throughout our school years; There are those first friends, and first sleep overs, and those we played with outside our homes; I am not from the “playdate” generation, and spent most of my time in school and studying dance, so that’s where the bulk of my alliances came from. Of course these friendships changed as did my level of education, expertise,  and my extra-curricular activities. My family belonged to a swim club with several families, and i went to day camp there, but eventually moved onto sleepaway camp where I made friendships like no others. There’s something about camp friends, but I’ll address that interplanetary experience at another time. I attended Hebrew school three times per week, and once our tiny congregation went bankrupt, those relationships were affected, especially once we joined a congregation relatively far from home, and though a couple of us shared the common bond of “family expectations”, they had their own relationships with those they attended school with, and there was never anyone close enough to home to hang out with. I joined the chorus in middle school, and formed some wonderful friendships.  Blending harmonies and rehearsing for concerts with those with the same love of music was fabulous, and gave me something more local and in addition to the  friends that danced with me. There’s an inborn competitiveness amongst dancers, and though we share the same love, we compare ourselves in many ways.  I didn’t realize at the time how this would be the start of my journey in musical theatre, performing, and working professionally in the arts, which might be the closest thing to being an additional (and sometimes even a replacement) family.

Then came High School…and Sing…and Musicals…and Dance Team…and drama…and cheerleading…and still dance.  I spent more time at my school, wearing purple, of course (go pirates!) than I spent anywhere else or with anyone else, day after day, late into the evenings, and often on weekends. I studied French, and made alliances with a few of those students, as I guess knowing a language will do (plus, our instructor of many years, passed away prior to our graduation, and though she was strict, she had been an amazing educator).  I was also in a specialty science program, and homeroom, because of the program, and struggled to keep my A average, but didn’t realize how many others were having difficulty in that program as well until MUCH later on in life. However, while others were glad to move on to the next chapters of their lives, I was devastated to leave.

I was accepted into college by early decision, so I knew early on where I would be going. I was concerned that I may’ve decided too quickly as my friends’ acceptances came in, month after month, and they claimed that I couldn’t relate to their stress, while I panicked that I had put all of my eggs into one basket.  The end of the year activities were momentous for me, and I prayed to hold onto those friendships and memories, and be able to spend time with those I experienced those things with, on a continuous basis. But, we all know, of course, what happens when you all head off into different directions, and those relationships suffered, though I tried desperately to hang on.  Distance took over, as did life, and other interests…some were completely out of touch, both, emotionally and geographically, which upset me greatly, some were working full time, some got married right out of school, and one even had a baby right away, which was soooo far from my world.  I got caught up in a double major, a minor, performing, auditioning, papers, exams, founding a sorority, a serious relationship, a bad break up, and building a career and, eventually, a life.

I ended up unintentionally  taking what is now referred to as a gap year, when I was wait listed for law school, and began working for a law firm as a paralegal on a high security floor, where no one spoke to each other, and then, eventually as a trial prep assistant in the court system, where confidentiality reigned again, but I enjoyed trying to make a difference and shared that with my coworkers.  I then attended graduate school, while working full-time, and commuted back and forth, including clinical rotations to all hours of the night, and it wasn’t until I took my last two classes that I made a connection to two other grad students. One of them, I have since lost touch with over the years, but I was placed into a project with these two lovely ladies, and though our lives were very different, our values were not. I am happy to say that I am still in touch with the other, though life has had its twists and turns in both of our lives.  When I had my daughter, she passed on her favorite little dresses from her daughter from 8-10 years prior, claiming that she had never felt the desire to pass them onto anyone until she gave them to me, and that I had become like a little sister to her.  I was very, very  touched, and we truly took really good care of those dresses and only wore them to special places, loving it, every time. We don’t speak often, but can always pick up where we left off, now, almost 25 years later.

Then life happened…Marriage, careers, kids, moves, overtime, the kids’ extracurricular activities, losses, changes, and the friendships of theirs that take over in between driving to and from everything.  It’s much more difficult to form friendships when not in school, and the other things take priority over your own needs.

But, every so often, a gem of a person comes out of the woodwork, if you paid close enough attention, and didn’t push it on your kids as an expectation for them as well…lately, I have realized how lucky I have been to have rediscovered those GEMS that I found along the way, but only began true relationships with as of late…

Barbara…The wife of a high school friend that I have become very close with, when he and I hardly speak anymore. Sabrina…A girl from my high school French class who I always liked, but we just ran in separate circles.  And Pam…The mom of one my son’s close friends from his high school…now that the kids are in college, we have gotten to know each other better, and I really enjoy spending time with her.  It is true for me, that Facebook has assisted in these “re-kindlings” of sort.  The ones that pay attention to your posts, your humor, don’t have their own ulterior motives, and follow up…just because. I do have fewer close friends than years ago. I do believe that less is more. I never understood those that needed lots and lots of friends, or to be the mayors of their communities, and because I put so much into relationships, I am often disappointed when others don’t do the same.  This has been an epiphany for me as my mom feels the same, and we talk about it often, the fact that we are “best friend kind of girls” and as we age, those best friends leave us for many reasons.  I also talk with her more often than I have in the past, and I truly enjoy those phone calls, but just as long as she doesn’t ask me what’s really going on, because sometimes, I’m disappointed in myself, and some of the things that didn’t work out the way that I had hoped, but, that’s life, I guess.  I’m lucky to have my mom around to even talk to, when others I know, do not.  And, another bonus… I’m also close with my daughter, but, we joke, that she’s the older one in the relationship at times, more often than not.  Women, more than men, need these intimate connections and camaraderie to feed their souls and regroup.  I returned to sleepaway camp 12 years ago, and am glad that I did.  I get to help others form these relationships; Some that will last forever, and some that will just be for a season, or a reason.  I still take dance classes, and yoga to further feed my soul.  I’ll never be able to keep up with the Jones’, but I hope to find further gems to add to my happy belated friendships. There’s absolutely nothing like them, and you must be ready when their brilliance begins to show.