Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-Bye 2010!

It seems to me just about everyone is sick of 2010 and cannot wait to welcome 2011. Maybe there is good reason for that. This year has not lived up to our expectations, hopes, or promises. It pretty much started out on a catastrophically bad note which foreshadowed the rest of the year’s lousy legacy.
My memory isn’t that great, but I’ll try to review the highlights of 2010 and let’s see what we are saying good-bye to.

The year started off with the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 12th. If that’s not a bad omen for the world, I don’t know what is. I looked it up to refresh my memory and there were 52 after shocks 4.5 or higher, 230,000 dead, one million homeless. The devastation is really too overwhelming to comprehend.

Before we know it, there is another devastating 8.8 earthquake in Chile on February 27th with over 500 deaths. This earthquake generated a tsunami which could have affected 53 countries, including ours. I distinctly remember watching the news all day because they were expecting it to hit Hawaii. It really felt like we were doomed and the end of the world, as we knew it, was around the corner.

What else could happen in 2010? Aren’t two devastating earthquakes enough for one year? Well apparently not, because on April 27th we experienced the largest oil disaster in history when the BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. I never knew why they called it an “oil spill.” Was that to minimize the extent of the environmental damages? The “leak” was supposedly capped on September 19th, 2010. The gushing of oil ranged from 53,000 to 62,000 barrels per day for 5 months, if you believe what they say. Personally, I don’t believe anything anyone tells us. The clean-up will take till the end of time, maybe longer.

If you haven’t already seen pictures of the Guatemala sinkhole of 2010, you really should take a look. A huge hole, 66 feet wide and 100 feet deep, just popped up in the middle of one of their cities. I've posted a link at the end of the blog for you to see.

On August 5th we had the Chilean mining accident where 33 miners were buried, 2,300 feet below ground, for 69 days when the mine collapsed. All were miraculously rescued on October 13th.

We’ve lost many celebrities we grew up watching: Art Linkletter, Barbara Billingsley, Dennis Hopper, Dixie Carter, Eddie Fisher, George Steinbrenner, Jean Simmons (Gone With The Wind), Jill Clayburgh, John Forsythe, Lena Horne, Kathryn Grayson, Lynn Redgrave, Merlin Olsen, Mitch Miller, Patricia Neal, Peter Graves, Robert Culp, Rue McClanahan, Tom Bosley, Tony Curtis, Teddy Pendergrass and many more.

We’ve all had our own personal problems with 2010 too. Maybe it was a failed relationship, health issues, unemployment, or other crisis. Then general feeling I am getting is that no one was very happy with 2010 and is looking forward to 2011.

Let’s hope that this New Year is better than the last. Let’s pray we are able to enjoy good healthy and prosperity. Let’s set goals we can work at and attain. Let’s support and encourage each other to get through hard days. Let’s challenge each other and make each other smile.

The important things in life are the people we love and value and we should be at the top of our own list. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other and the rest will fall into place.

Have a Happy, Healthy New Year and may 2011 be good to all of you!

P.S.  For anyone who is interested, I will be starting my 17 Day Diet on Monday, January 3rd, and will add postscripts to my regular daily blog commenting on it's effectiveness, complaints (I'm sure there will be many) and what prgress I am making (if any).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year’s Eve at Times Square

I’ve lived in New York City for 56 years and have never gone to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to see the “ball” drop at midnight. I never even had the slightest desire to go. I am perfectly happy watching it drop on my television as they count down from ten to “Happy New Year!” I never did understand what the big deal was and I still don’t.

I never had the urge to stand outside for hours, in freezing temperatures, amid one million people to watch this traditional, magnificent event that lasts ten seconds. It seems to me that it’s a lot of effort, time and inconvenience to get to Times Square and then add to that how uncomfortable it has to be to stand for hours, in a huge crowd, with all the noise, as you shiver in your coat. I think that’s the last place I want to be on New Year’s Eve.

It’s amazing to me that there has not been, to my recollection, some kind of maniac shooting bullets at the crowds of people or some kind of terrorist attack. Thank God for that, because it would be devastating. There is no place to run or hide in Time’s Square if something were to ever happen. It is literally like being packed in a sardine can with no way out. People would be trampled to death if anything set the crowd off in a panic. How can you screen a million people? They can’t and they don’t. Anyone can go there with the intentions of doing harm and succeed. That has always worried me, but not as much as it has in recent years.

And, even the best of all possible circumstances, leaving Times Square after the ball has dropped, has got to be an ordeal. You have to wade through a sea of a million people to find your way to the subway to get home. I never heard anyone complain about it, but it can’t be easy.

So I’ll watch it on television again this year, in the comfort of my home. Have my champagne, toast a Happy New Year to my family, shut the television and go to sleep!

Here's a sample: get it out of your system, lol.
Here’s hoping 2011 is a lot better than 2010! One thing is for sure, it doesn’t have to try very hard to succeed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions…

Or as I like to call them, Broken Promises. Resolutions are promises we make to ourselves to do better or to be better. We want to improve things about ourselves that we aren’t happy with, we want to change. Some things are harder than others. Changing takes work, motivation, patience and time. Nothing worthwhile is going to happen overnight or we would have done it already. The New Year symbolizes a time for new beginnings, new opportunities, and “new and improved” versions of us.

I think we all announce our resolutions so that we make ourselves accountable to other people instead of ourselves. It’ll be harder to give up on that diet if other people are watching and waiting to see our results. If we don’t mention we are on one, we can always quit after two days and no one will have a clue. Change is hard and we need support and encouragement anywhere we can get it. Once we have momentum and see a change, or better yet someone who doesn’t know what we are working on notices it and comments, then we are well on our way to achieving our goal. So why do so many resolutions fail?

I think people like to talk about resolutions, but committing to them and following through is another story. I don’t think anyone even expects people to follow through on their resolutions. I’m skeptical anytime someone mentions the word “resolution” because I associate it with failure; a broken promise to oneself. I’m not sure if I have even ever seen a resolution fulfilled, have you? Have you ever heard some say, “Hey, kudos to me for living up to my New Year’s resolution!” Instead, what I hear is, “This year I am really going to follow through on my resolution to…” or “I’m not making resolutions because I always break them anyway.”

I wonder why breaking a promise to yourself is so much easier than breaking one for family, friends and even acquaintances? It’s like we don’t matter to ourselves and everyone else's needs are a priority. By the time we get around to ourselves, there is no time or energy left. This year could be different. This year we can make at least one resolution and stick with it. No excuses, no giving up if we slip up one day, no allowing anyone to sabotage our goals. Rally up some cheerleaders for yourself; people who will encourage you when you need a boost. As you make progress, that in itself will self motivate us to stick with it.

I hate diets, but I am going to try this new 17 Day Diet. I am reading it right now and am prepared to start on January 3rd. I need to lose some weight, about 20 to 25 pounds, and my muscles need to be toned up. I am going to stick with this diet. I have already announced it to the world and gotten a cheerleading squad to back me. If I don’t follow through I will be letting a lot of people down who matter to me, but none as important as myself. After taking care of people all my life, it’s time to take care of me!

In 2011 I resolve not to break any promises I make to myself and I hope that you all do the same. The happier and more fit we are, the better we feel about ourselves, the more we can give to others when they need us.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time For A New Diet?

New Year’s Day is around the corner and so are all the new diets and exercise programs along with millions of resolutions to get fit and lose weight. I found a brand new one thanks to Dr. Phil, called the 17 Day Diet, which promises a weight loss of 10 to 12 pounds in the first 17 days! Dr. Phil is going to be starting this diet with audience members in January and I am going to hop on board. I asked for the book and DVD for Christmas so I could get a head start and plan my menus. I am going to encourage my facebook friends to join me so that we can all support and encourage each other. Who knows, maybe together we will stick to our diets and actually lose weight?

I managed to skim through the book yesterday just to see what I was in for. I hate diets that make you measure everything you eat…no measuring here. I just want to be pointed in the right direction. Give me a list of foods that are ok and let me pick and choose what I want and how much. This diet seems to do that.
I noticed there were four 17 day cycles, all designed to help you lose weight and then maintain the loss.

Psychologically, thinking the diet is only 17 days, already helps to convince me I can stick with it. After the first 17 days a new cycle starts and the foods change to fool the body metabolism into losing more weight. I don’t know about you, but my body has been playing tricks on me for years now, it’s time I got even with it!

The exercise part also worried me. I do not want to wear myself out exercising. The first thing I read was that the exercise was also 17 minutes a day and is easy, like walking. I can still handle walking without hurting myself! So I will check out what else he has planned in that department and make sure I don’t have to call 911.

The fact that this diet was created by a medical doctor and has Dr. Phil’s endorsement gives me some real hope that it will work. If I lose the 10 to 12 pounds promised the first 17 days, I will already be halfway through my goal of losing about 20 pounds! Of course I’m skeptical about it, but they must think it’s going to work because instead of having the book for sale at all book stores, they have it available only on their website. I guess that means a lot of extra profits for the doctor with no middle men? Because after all, when you get Dr. Phil on board and he has you on the show to prove it works, you know that book would be flying off the shelves if it was in stores. So that also is an encouraging sign to me that there is something to this diet.

Read, shop, eat and start losing weight! That’s the plan for January 3rd 2011!
Who’s with me!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzards…and Being Snowed-In

Blizzards in NYC are no joking matter. I’ve written about snow before and how it affects us, particularly by reducing our parking to a minimum. Most of us do not have driveways and on a good day it’s difficult to park. I have to thank God I live near a cemetery, because we can usually manage to find parking there, worse comes to worse, and walk the five to ten minutes back to the house.

Today’s blizzard is still in progress from yesterday morning. The wind is blowing and the temperature is in the 20’s, but feels like the teens. There will be no place to pile our snow and yet I am feeling thankful today.

I’m thankful because this is one of those rare occasions when we are all at home, together. When the kids were younger, that used to be the norm on the weekends. They had the same days off and my husband would take his vacation days when the girls were home too. We would plan things to do or go visit the grandparents. Now no one is interested in doing the same things, the grandparents have since passed on and everyone is doing their own thing on the weekends. But this Christmas weekend, from Friday to Monday (so far), we were all home together. I cooked and baked and there are lots of leftovers. There is no where to go, the blizzard has us all snowed in. We’ll eat, shovel, watch the dvds we got for Christmas and play some Wii games. I have my family back for these few days and my heart is happy.

I never took those days for granted when they were little, but it went by too fast just the same. I miss their little hands in mine while we walked to the stores. I miss the way they looked forward to Christmas and how they opened their presents with so much excitement I thought they would burst. I miss reading them stories and tucking them in at night. I miss them waking up early and coming into our bed and talking and playing before breakfast. I miss the cuddling up together. I miss hearing the word “mommy.” I miss watching them play and laugh together. Even tough it was years ago, it seems like yesterday to me. I’d turn the clock back in a heartbeat, if I could, and do it all over again.

Today, when I wake them up, I’ll stand there a minute or two and watch them sleep. They still look like babies when they sleep. Then I’ll gently wake them and give them hugs and kisses, like I used to do. They are both home for another day and I’ve been given a precious gift this weekend of having my family home with me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Returning Gifts…

I always here a lot about people returning gifts after Christmas and I can’t figure out why. I’ve never returned a gift and no one I have given gifts to has ever had to return one my gifts. So what are people doing wrong? Maybe I should pass on some of my philosophy to those poor souls who no sooner got off the checkout line only to be standing in the returns line today.

I try to think of gifts that will not need to be returned and that will vary from individual to individual on your list. A nice sweater that’s a neutral color can always be used at some point. In fact, the winter has just started and there are months of cold weather ahead, so a new sweater should be very useful. Books are great if you know what a person is interested in. A little snooping can go a long way to keeping you off the return line. The same goes for cds and dvds. If you know what television shows or movies, old or new, that someone on your list loves, you can always pick up one or two of those. Even boxed sets of a whole season are reasonably priced and provided hours of enjoyment on those snowed in days. If money is no object, jewelry is always nice for women and silver is still not too costly and makes a very nice gift.

When it comes to gifts for yourself you should drop lots of hints so you don’t get anything you have to exchange. Be subtle, but get the point across. For example, “that’s a very nice blouse you are wearing, I could use a couple of those myself.” Or, “Bewitched was my favorite show when I was a kid, but I never get to see reruns of it on television.” If you are talking to men you may have to be less subtle and mention it a couple of times to get what you want.

Haven’t we wasted enough time and money in stores before Christmas? The only things I would go back for are half priced items and wrapping paper on sale for next year. I’ve noticed the whole month of January there are some great sales and no one is in the stores. I happen to have three birthdays to buy for and I can get twice as many things for my money than any other time of the year.

And when in doubt, gift cards to a person’s favorite store are available everywhere, even drug stores carry them. Most teenagers today prefer to buy their own things anyway, so why not make them happy? Beware of the prepaid credit cards though. Even though they can be used everywhere, they charge you to buy them. What’s the point when every store you can think of has their own gift card at no additional charge.

Good luck with your returns, I’ll be sitting right here when you get back!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All…

I know it’s going to be a hectic day in the lives of those who are staying home, cooking and having people over. Those of you who were smart enough to make reservations or lucky enough to get invited to someone else’s house, enjoy it while you can! I’ll keep today’s blog short and sweet for all our sakes.

I started this blog at the end of September almost as a joke, after watching that Julia and Julie movie. I have a lot to say, advice to give, wisdom to pass on, anecdotes to tell and no one within earshot is interested in listening. The idea of a blog seemed like the perfect outlet for me and it didn’t hurt that I enjoy writing. So far I am almost at the one quarter mark of my goal, which I set at one year, as Julie did in the book and movie. I figured I normally complain about something every day and so, how hard could it be to find something new to write about every day? Sometimes I write about things that piss me off, but I also notice that I tend to write about things that happen to me or what’s going on at the moment. Some blogs write themselves, others I have to think about before coming up with an idea. I noticed that the more popular blogs are the ones that come from the heart. Those are also the easiest to write.

Of course, I also inherited two very fine and wonderful critics who pass along their observations to me should I exaggerate, repeat myself, or write a boring blog. I’m glad they are reading every day. They do it to see if they are mentioned and need to defend themselves. But, I find it ironic that the very things they do not want to hear me say and roll their eyes because they have heard it all before, they are now willing to read and review. Maybe they will learn some of the things I have been trying to tell them? Wouldn’t that be a nice consequence of all this? Maybe all mothers should start blogs and mention your kids every so often. They might take to reading your words and it might just open up some great dinner time conversations.

Well, I hope you all are enjoying your Christmas. You certainly deserve to after all the work you’ve put into making it one of the most special days of the year for your families! And, even if no one says it, I will. You are very much appreciated for all you do today and throughout the year! God Bless you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Mother's Christmas Wish...

Merry Christmas To My Readers...

There is nothing like a mother’s love for her children. To me it’s the purest kind of unconditional love there is. We try to protect our children from danger, from being hurt, from disease, from disappointment? Good mothers go through great lengths to give their children everything they want and need. I remember many a Christmas of trying to find those sold out, impossible to get toys on my girls Christmas list, so they would not be disappointed on Christmas morning. But that’s just really symbolic of what we do all year long. We are tuned into our children and just like a classical musician can hear when a note is slightly off on his instrument, we can hear when something isn’t quite right in our children’s voices. I always knew, for example, when my kids were coming down with colds 24 hours before they had any symptoms. I could tell if they were hurt, angry or disappointed or even hiding something. And really, what do we all want for them since the day they were born except that they should always be healthy and happy and live a good life, maybe a better life than we had.

I came across this song on the internet and wanted to shared with you today. It doesn’t have a good beat and you can’t dance to it (American Bandstand, lol), but it’s message resonated with me as I listened to it. And, if you aren’t a mother but you were blessed to have had a good one, you can be sure that whether she is still here or looking down on you from above, that she feels this way for you. So here is the link and the lyrics and I hope you can relate to it as much as I did.

A Mother’s Christmas Wish
I wish you love
A life to share
And when you find
Someone to care
I hope that time
Is kind to you
And that all your dreams come true
This is a mother’s Christmas wish for you

I wish you peace
Of heart and mind
To use your strength
But still be kind
To learn to give
To learn to lose
To live with truth in all you do
This is a mother’s Christmas wish for you

And when you wake on Christmas day
With children of your own
I know then you’ll see
What you’ve been to me
You are the greatest gift of all

A child was born
On Christmas day
A shining star
To lead the way
And Mary’s love
Was pure and true
And that’s the way that I love you
I pray that love would guide you through
This is a mother’s Christmas wish for you

Merry Christmas to you and your families. May you all have love, peace, joy and many blessings today and throughout the New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Questions Kids Have About Christmas…

When my girls were little, I did everything I could to keep them believing in Santa for as long as possible. When you think about it, you are only young and innocent for a very short time and then the harsh realities of life start to creep in. So I want to keep that childhood innocence for them and a big part of that is believing in the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus. But kids today are too damn smart for their own good and have to question everything and anything, including Santa. Here are some of the questions my kids asked and my answers (which I had to make up on the spot), and some of the lengths I went through to keep Santa real for them.

Q. Why does Santa use the same wrapping paper as you?
A. Because there is a special place at the North Pole where wrapping paper is made and that’s where I get mine.

Q. How does Santa get in the house when we have no chimney?
A. Santa is magical and he can do anything like shrink and come in through the keyhole. (Don’t laugh, my aunt told me that and I believed it!).

Q. How come Santa’s handwriting is the same as yours?
A. It is not the same as mine and since when did you become a handwriting expert?

My older daughter starts kindergarten and she was in a gifted class. She was only five and a half years old when some smart ass kid, Dennis, told her there is no Santa Claus. He had really put some doubts in her little head and I had to do some damage control.

When the girls went to sleep that Christmas Eve, I had my husband go outside with a bunch of sleigh bells and ring them under their window so they would “hear” Santa’s sleigh flying over our house. In addition to cookies and milk we had to put out an apple for the reindeer. I drank most of the milk and ate the cookie and put some chocolate on my thumb so I could leave a large thumb print on the dish. I took a few bites out of the apple. The next morning, when she saw the leftovers, that seemed to put a damper on some of her doubts. But, every year it got harder to keep Santa alive and it didn’t help one bit that Dennis was in her class every year trying to crush her belief with his big mouth!

Another thing that bothered her was seeing all the different Santas everywhere at Christmastime. I had to explain that those weren’t real Santa’s, but his helpers because the real Santa was too busy getting ready for Christmas and making toys to visit all the girls and boys.

I really did the best I could to keep it going for as long as possible. I must have been one na├»ve kid back in the day. I wanted to believe and would swallow any explanation hook, line and sinker not to burst my own bubble. Today’s kids question every explanation, don’t buy half of what you are selling and
end up bursting our bubble.

I wish there was a way to put the “magic” back in Christmas and the innocence back in childhood and keep it there, where it belongs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Three Days Before Christmas!

T’was three days before Christmas, and I continue to blog,
While the rest of my family is sleeping like logs.
The laundry is done, but there is still more to go
And the food shopping list, continues to grow.

Nothing is wrapped, not one tiny present
And the thought of that job is rather unpleasant.
Most of the house is still in disarray
Maybe if I try hard, I can clean up today:

The bathroom, three bedrooms, the kitchen floor,
The living room, the dining room, the basement and more.
I’ll speak not a word and go straight to my work
All the while feeling like a maid or a jerk.

My eyes are so tired, my cheeks seem so pale,
I’m quite a bit rounder, I won’t get on the scale.
The smart phones haven’t arrived at AT&T
What a disappointing Christmas it’s going to be!

I plan for three months for the occasion,
But I still can’t factor everything into the equation.
I have enough paper, boxes and bows,
But the main presents may be no shows.

Once the house is cleaned and the presents all wrapped,
I’ll start on the cooking, if I haven’t snapped.
I’ll try to bake and prepare some food in advance
So that things can go smoothly and are not left to chance.

You know once they’re hungry, they will all want to eat
I hope they save me some dressing, while I carve the meat.
A meal that took three days to make at best,
Will take them all about 30 minutes to ingest.

Even packing the leftovers takes longer to do,
And where do I store them, I haven’t a clue.
And then it’s time for coffee and cake,
Rice pudding, cookies and pies that I baked.

Now that everyone’s gleefully happy and fed.
I’m going to go throw myself into my bed!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Social Networking and Chat Room Drama!

About three or four and a half years ago, I discovered the American idol Discussion Board on AOL. Finally, I thought, a place where I can share my love for the show with others and discuss each contestant week after week. How great this is going to be! And that lasted not even 24 hours. Why? Because I had no idea how much women love drama and arguing. I was soon going to get a new education into the online world of chat rooms. I’ll share some of it here, from what I remember at the moment, and it will give you an idea of why I all but stopped posting there.

First of all there are some very nice people there. The majority are nice, but the few rotten apples do ruin it for everyone. Everyone has their favorite Idol, but when you try to express how much you enjoy one, the maniacs of another Idol jump in and put yours down. You can’t express an opinion without getting flack for it. Then the attacks get personal and there is name calling, harassment and stalking from thread to thread. When the attacks reach an all time high for a particular argument, personal information, pictures, and potshots at people’s children start to be posted. Some create “trolls” to do their dirty work for them. Groups form, and it’s “them” against “us,” especially after the season ends and there are no shows to distract us. The people on this board have a long history together, since American Idol has been on for nine years already, the majority know each other for many years. There is no hope for them, they are like a dysfunctional family and seem to like it that way. Every attempt to restore peace and order is sabotaged and no reasonable appeal to everyone’s kindness and compassion ever lasts more than a couple of hours before there is another clash of words.

So why am I reminiscing about American Idol? Well, yesterday I found that that board may not be the exception, but the rule. I have been visiting the Dr. Phil Housewives Facebook page for maybe 7 or 8 weeks tops and guess what? The same thing is going on in a relatively short amount of time, with people who have no history at all and have just met in this newly formed group. Yesterday the arguing escalated to the point where one woman used another’s beautiful, innocent baby against her because they baby has Down’s syndrome. How anyone can resort to saying anything like that to anyone is beyond me. This is more than hitting below the belt, this is an arrow straight through the heart! This occurred when the hurling of insults was not satisfying enough. It’s appalling the lengths people will go to to “win” an argument and lose the war. This person has now probably alienated herself from the vast majority of posters there for good. She proved she will stop at nothing to inflict pain, but what did she gain really? For me, this showed her true character and a black heart. I wonder how she can look herself in the mirror today and not be ashamed of herself.

I find all the interactions on these chat sites very interesting as a participant and an observer. I have visited other sites, for very short periods of time, and I have heard many stories of terrible experiences people have had. It makes you wonder how many people have serious mental disorders or a need to lash out and hurt others. Some are only happy if they start arguments and keep them going. The majority are at their mercy. It’s almost impossible to keep the peace, even by ignoring them. Ignoring only works if everyone does it and there are some who are always compelled to answer them.

It seems to me, that this form of social interaction is becoming a big part of many people’s lives. Maybe psychologists should be studying the dynamics of what goes on in these groups and why. I think a study of this kind would be very interesting.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Malls and Temporary Insanity…

Had a bit of temporary insanity yesterday when I decided it was a good idea to finish up the last minute shopping for Christmas. Turns out it was a lousy idea. I must have been crazy! I would have been better off going one morning during the week when some of the people are back at work. Every year I swear I will not set foot in a store at the last minute and every year I end up there.

The usual complaints come up every time. No place to park the car, so my daughter and I get dropped off and picked up to make it easier. All the merchandise is thrown around like a tornado hit it. People are still out in droves, looking for bargains that do not exist at Macy*s. In fact, Macy*s was the worst store I visited this past weekend.

I really just needed a few simple things for my husband that I had trouble finding online. I thought how hard can it be to find gloves, a scarf, pajamas and slippers? The men’s department is usually neat and organized and basic items, like the ones we were looking for, should have a piece of cake to find. They weren’t. Gloves and scarves were depleted and winter has yet to arrive! We did find plenty at Macy*s, but I did not want to spend $60 or more on each item because if my husband lost them I would have to shoot him. Even pajamas and slippers were in short supply, so I guess we know what all the men in my city are getting for Christmas this year.

I really just wanted a few things to put under the tree because all the girls’ presents are so small they hardly look like anything. Next year I am going to rethink my strategy and have a little pad handy in my purse. Every time someone says they want or need something, I’ll jot it down. Then I’ll shop in October and wrap in November and make reservations for Christmas dinner!

Now that I’ve come to my senses I’ll go wrap all my gifts so I can start shopping for the menu items I need for the feast.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mothers Find Yourselves Again…

I noticed that from the time I had my children, until they were young adults, I put aside all the things I loved to do in order to be a good mother 24/7. I used to have a life before they came along and I had varied interests too. But from the moment I found out I was pregnant, everything centered around what was best for the baby. And when they were born, I had them on a nice schedule of eating an sleeping, so they were very happy babies. We did everything around their feeding and nap times, so their routine would not be disturbed. Pretty much everything was done with the children in mind.

Instead of going to “adult” movies we went to every Disney movie that hit the theaters. Our vacations changed from Hawaii and Virginia Beach to Disney World and Busch Gardens. We used to go out with friends for dinner and drinks on the weekends, but that turned into visiting with the grandparents. I worked up until I had children, but I gave up my job to be a stay at home mom. Instead of going to the office, I was going up to the school to volunteer my time there. No more staying up late on New Year’s Eve, parenting magazines instead of People, Dr. Suess Books instead of Stephen King, jeans and sneakers instead of dresses and heels, until you finally feel like another person.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of being a Mom and making sure my girls were happy and healthy and making them the center of my world. But, as they got older and needed me less, I found myself at a loss as to what to do. I hovered over them a little too much. And, while they wanted their independence, they kind of knew I would always be there if a problem arose and they needed help. After a while the “mothering” role lessens, but the “housekeeper” role grows. There is more laundry, more shopping, more cooking and more cleaning and less bedtime stories, less helping with school projects, less spending time together as a family etc. So, you start to feel taken for granted and unappreciated.

That’s when it hits you! This isn’t making me happy. I am doing all these things for everyone and it goes unnoticed. I am going to start doing things for myself! Put myself first! Find things I am interested in and spend my time doing that. All women get to this stage sooner or later. Usually, from my experience, it hits mid forties unless you have had your children at a much younger age and then it will hit when they are in their mid teens and make it clear they are adults and have lives of their own. Some women will feel actually feel selfish, at first, to pursue their own interests and neglect some household duties to make time for themselves. But in time we all get to the point of realizing we need to get back to who we were before children. There is more to us than being loving mothers. We owe it to ourselves to be happy and fulfilled.

In my case, when I made this realization, I went back to school and pursued French. I hadn’t sat in a French Class since High School, 30 years earlier. I brushed up on it online and then went back to college to take courses. I surprised myself by getting A’s and loving French literature. Eventually, the undergraduate classes became too easy and my professors suggested I try taking graduate classes. I continued to excel even in the advanced classes and I loved every minute of it including writing the papers in French and the homework.
I wish I had realized sooner that I did not have to stop everything I loved doing in order to be a good mother. Sometimes, pursuing your interests can actually make you a better and happier mother. It’s also good for children to see you interested in your own activities and not just theirs.

I recall talking about something I did in my past one time, when my daughter looked up at me and said “you did that?” I said, “Yes, I wasn’t born a mother the day you were born, I had a life and interests before that.”

And now, it’s time fro me to get back to that person and find out what makes her happy and fulfilled.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not Enough Hours In The Day…

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times, there are never enough hours in the day to do all the things we have to do. That is especially true at this time of the year. No matter how early I start decorating and shopping, Christmas always sneaks up on me. It’s like a race to the finish line, you are going strong and then, near the end, one of your laces becomes untied and after that you can never catch up. And it’s exhausting how many details we have to think about and all in addition to our regular routine of cleaning, taking the kids to school and picking them up, shopping, cooking, laundry.

I’m going out on a limb here and blaming this on men. I know it had to be a man who created the 24 hour day. First of all, they never consulted women back then for anything. They just took it upon themselves to decide 24 hours in a day is sufficient. Second, all a man has to do is worry about his 11 hours at work (transportation included), his 5 hours of dinner and sports on television, and his 8 hours of sleep. So 24 hours works out pretty well for a man, but for women not so much.

A women does not have the luxury of confining her work to 11 hours, she is on duty 24/7 especially if she has children. So considering all a woman has to do all day it’s doesn’t surprise me that women have not only learned to multitask, but learned to do it well. It’s a survival tool to succeed in life. Men do not need to multitask and have a lot of trouble if asked to do even two things at once. But even with multitasking, 24 hours is still not enough.

Woman have to prioritize if they want to at least get the most important things done or add anything to their daily routine. For example, if we want to add exercise then something else has to go. And we are always at the mercy of fate. Just when things seem to be going like clockwork, life throws us a little curve ball, like one of the kids gets sick. Then we have to change around our whole day or even several days to see the doctor, go to the pharmacy, and nurse our patient back to health.

Maybe we should reinvent the calendar and this time let a committee of women decide how it should look. Maybe each month would each have four weeks for a total of 48 weeks and we could use the other remaining four weeks to add extra hours to each day or an extra day to the weekends.

The majority of people feel they can’t get it all done in 24 hours, so shouldn’t our voices be heard?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Republican Congress and 911 First Responders

Well, I made the mistake of watching the news last night while making dinner and once again I cannot believe my ears. Congress is blocking the bill to provide medical care to 911 first responders, who became ill after their rescue mission, from breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at the World Trade Center. I am almost too angry to write about this and to say I am appalled and disgusted would be putting it mildly.

These American heroes, who were either sent to Ground Zero or volunteered of their own time to save lives and retrieve the remains of victims, are now victims themselves. Some have already died, others are very sick. Ten years have gone by and nothing has been done to help them. We are still talking about it? Congress still has to vote it through? I don’t understand what the hold up is and why the citizens of this country are allowing this to happen. This bill is WAY overdue! We cannot give these heroes back their lives or their health, but we OWE them the best medical care and doctors this country has to offer. How can this still be up for discussion???

Every time there is devastation any where in the world, we are the first to send money, and A LOT of money to help the victims. There is little or no discussion and the response is immediate. We don’t tell them to wait ten years and we will see what we can do! What is wrong with this picture? I wish that the people holding up this embarrassing long over due legislation could experience what these heroes have suffered and see if they would make any effort to move things along. Is ten years not long enough for them to worry and suffer?

What about the next time we are the victims of a terrorist attack? Has anyone in Congress considered that? How many rescue workers will call in sick that day and not respond, knowing their government isn’t going to look out for their best interests or take care of them if they get injured, ill or die as a consequence of their rescue efforts? How many people do you think will volunteer? I wouldn’t blame any of them if they all decided not to show up. Why should they respond when they have seen how others, who unselfishly risked their lives, have been treated?

This political delay tactic, on the part of Congress, is beyond disgraceful. It literally makes me sick to hear of something so unjust as to still be withholding medical care for these poor people ten years after the fact. If there were any kind of justice, all those opposed to passing the bill should be stripped of their medical insurance and then exposed to the same toxic substances for the same period of time, as the rescue workers, and let the chips fall where they may.

Don’t be surprised if the next time we are attacked, and there will be a next time, that no one shows up for any kind of rescue and cleanup. And, we won’t have to ask why or blame them for not doing so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Can't Please Everyone...

Don't lie, I know you can relate to this!  I've met a lot of women in my lifetime many of whom have one, classic trait in common…they try to please everyone. By everyone, I mean everyone. They try to please their parents, their siblings, their children, their friends, their neighbors and very often at their own expense and sacrifice. It would be great if all these efforts were appreciated by even half of the people they unselfishly give of themselves to, but unfortunately, more often than not, their selfless acts are taken for granted or expected. This leaves many a warm hearted, generous and loving woman feeling unappreciated.

Many women I’ve known put everyone else in their lives first and they are at the bottom of their list of priorities. We have to make sure the kids and husbands have new clothes and shoes, so they come first and then we never quite seem to get around to shopping for us. We have to take the parents and kids to doctors appointments, so we put off seeing our doctors for important screenings and tests that are critical to our health. Often, a woman will not see a doctor unless she is not able to get out of bed. I often think she goes, not because she is feeling so sick, but because she has things to do for others in her life and doesn’t want to let them down. Women put off doing the things that make them happy all the time because she wants to help and support others in their activities. If you ask a woman why she doesn’t join a gym or take classes, I’ll bet nine of out ten say I will when the kids are older or I don’t have the time right now.  How many times has she stopped everything she was doing because a friend called who needed to talk? 

All the experts will tell us that it’s very important for women to take care of themselves first. Go to a spa, get a makeover, do things you enjoy, make time for yourself. The reason or psychology behind it is that it will makes us better wives, mothers, daughters and friends. We won’t be as drained. We should recharge our “batteries” and come back better and stronger to meet all the challenges we have every day. There is a lot of truth to that too, if only we had the time to take that wonderful advice! Even if we did do any of the things that makes us happy, the whole time we are there the things we need to do are running through our minds. It is quite exhausting.

I think that’s one of the reasons why women’s friendships are stronger than men’s. It’s not only the emotional component, it’s the understanding without having to be told, of how much rests on our shoulders, the worrying, the unending sacrifices we willingly make for those we love, how we neglect our own needs in order not to let anyone else down. It’s all unspoken, but understood.

I have tried to please everyone, so I know how it feels. You get little thanks for it all, but if you should slip up and forget to do something or don’t feel up to doing something, that will be noticed and mentioned. So I came to the conclusion years ago, that if you can’t please everyone, you should please yourself. Then you will know at least one person will be satisfied.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News Anchors…

Years ago, when I watched the news, the people delivering it were serious and credible. They took a professional tone. And, rightly so, because if I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times, the news is always negative or bad. If the news is so bad why are today’s news anchors laughing so much? I find it annoying and distracting. Also, back in the day, the anchors transitioned from one story to another without sharing a few moments of joking in between. Sometimes, I feel like I am watching a television series based on the movie “Anchorman” starring Will Ferrell.

I find it very distracting when they have just finished discussing a horribly violent crime moment earlier and then relate a lighter news item and start laughing. I don’t know about other people, but my mind is still on the poor victims of the last story they just told. I barely take note that they have moved on and it just seems so disrespectful to me.

Why are they interjecting their thoughts and opinions into the news? Isn’t the news supposed to be objective and factual? They have mini conversations between themselves after each news item. I really don’t appreciate it and I find that I take the news less and less seriously all the time.

Has the news become all about “personality” and “popularity” and less about factual reporting? That is the way it is coming across to me. I personally find it annoying and unprofessional.

Who knows, the day may come when they hired comedians to be newscasters, and we can all laugh at the bad news…oh, I forgot, we have The Daily Show and the Cobert Report for that!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Presents…

What’s great about Christmas presents when your kids get older is that they are much smaller and easier to wrap. All they really want are cds, dvds, ipods, smart phones, and gift cards. Between both of my kids I could wrap it all up with a roll of paper and have some to spare. I’m saving money on paper, I’m saving time, I’m saving energy.

So what’s the problem? Well, after I wrap all the itty bitty gifts, it’s time to put them under my six or seven foot tree. There, they miraculously “disappear” as they are overshadowed by the tree and the large manger. It doesn’t look very Christmassy to see those tiny packages, and there is no element of surprise, since what you see is what you get. I remember the days of giant packages cascading from the tree and covering half the living room. Now that was Christmas! Paper flying everywhere and huge piles of toys and big smiles.

This year I suggested we put up a four foot tree to make life easier and to help the presents stand out. The girls are so busy and hardly home to enjoy all the work that goes into putting up a large tree and then taking it down. I think they agree with me too, so we’re going to have A Merry “Little” Christmas this year.
After all, everything and everyone is downsizing, why not us too? At least for now. Especially since the house is shrinking!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shrinking Houses…..

When we bought this house a little over twenty years ago, there was lots of space and a place for everything. Now, when I look around, I see nothing but chaotic clutter everywhere and there is no place to store it. Even the basement is fully jammed packed. Either the house shrunk or I think it’s time for a huge overhaul! I am stocking up on trash bags to fill up every chance I get.

How did all this clutter start? I’ve been thinking about it and came to the realization that Barbie was at the root of it. That’s right, the Barbie Doll. If you have girls, you know exactly what I am talking about. Girls get “into” Barbie right away, maybe from the age of three or four. This is due to the Saturday morning cartoons that watch which bombard them with Barbie images from the moment they learn to watch television. There wasn’t a Saturday that went by that one of my girls didn’t fly into the kitchen, after seeing one of her commercials, and asking for a new Barbie. I would ask, “what is wrong with the other 20 Barbies you have?” They answer, “Those are not cool any more!”

Having two daughters, that means I have to get two Barbies for every occasion. I can even list you some of the ones we have had here over the years: Doctor Barbie, Veterinarian Barbie, School Teacher Barbie, Babysitter Barbie, Boom-box Barbie, Barbie on a bike, Cowgirl Barbie, and on and on and on. But, that’s not the end of it. Barbie needs things too. She needs a house, a sports car, a horse, clothes, friends, family members, pets, pool, a McDonald’s where she can work, the list is endless. By the time the girls were 6 and 8 years old, I felt like we were living in Barbie’s house and not the other way around. She had taken over and all I could do was surrender! And that was the beginning of the end.

We have accumulated so much stuff over the years it is absolutely ridiculous. I dread having to go through it all and decide what can go and what should stay. To be honest I feel like throwing it all out and starting from scratch. If I could win the lottery I would walk away from the house and everything in it, and maybe just take our photos and important papers. Why can’t I win the lotto??? Sigh.

In a way I’m glad we didn’t buy a bigger house, because I’m sure I would have twice as much stuff to get rid of. If your house looks like it’s starting to shrink, get some trash bags now, don’t wait until you are thinking or moving to throw it all out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advances In Technology Are Costing Me Money...

Once upon a time we had the VCR and VHS tapes to record and watch movies on. It was expensive to own one and repairs were costly, but we all had to have one. We stocked up on movies, especially all the Disney films for the girls, and as soon as we had a nice collection, technology moved forward to the DVD Player. That was fine, except it started to make the VCR obsolete. I don’t even know if you can find a VCR for your tapes any more. I noticed Blockbuster was only renting DVDs too.

So, we jumped on the bandwagon and got ourselves a DVD Player and a new collection of movies on DVDs. DVD Players have really come down in price compared to the VCRs. Old and new television series are now available for each season so you can have all you favorites on hand any time you want to watch them on your nice big HD television. Over the past few years the girls have been asking for their favorite shows as Christmas presents. They are easy to buy and buy we did.

Last year, while shopping for DVDs, I notice the words “Blue Ray.” So I got confused. What DVD am I supposed to buy? What is Blue Ray? I ignore it and try not to let progress get the best of me. I don’t want to have to start yet a third collection of movies and television shows on Blue Ray DVDs. But still, in the back of my head the words haunt me like the ghost of Christmas future. You can’t escape destiny or technology! I know it’s just a matter of time before the DVD Player as we know it, will become extinct and “Blue Ray” DVDs will take over.

No one tells us what we are supposed to do with all of the tapes and original DVDs. They cost a small fortune if you add them up. But, if we have nothing to play them on, what good will they be? The same thing happened with our old vinyl records, that were replaced by cassettes and now cds. There are very few companies that make record players today. It’s just a matter of time when they will be extinct too.

Even as I sit here typing this now, I know that in two years or maybe three, I will be trying to buy some Blue Ray DVDs and see the words “Infra Red DVDs” advertised right next to the new Infra Red DVD Players. We are at the mercy of technology. But, I still want to know what I am going to do with all my vinyl records, VHS tapes, DVDs, when the machines to play them on no longer exist? Are we supposed to replace them all with the current media available?

When I was a kid, we didn’t have these problems. Technology moved a lot slower and we were able to keep up with it. That’s one reason I consider them the “good old” days!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Internet Community Chat/Spat Sites…

I have been online since 1999, but only a few years ago discovered that there were sites to go to where you can talk about your favorite television programs with others who also enjoy watching. I first discovered the American Idol discussion board about three or four and a half years ago. I have been going there ever since to discuss the contestants, the rules, the music our favorites. I recently joined a Facebook page for viewers who watch the Dr Phil Housewives on Tuesdays. I have been a member for about four weeks now. Unlike Idol, the actual Housewives post with us on the page and it really adds a lot to the experience.

I have met and come to know many wonderful, warm, intelligent women on both of these sites. I would have never thought that was possible, but it actually happens very easily. After dealing with many years of ongoing fighting by posters on the American Idol board, I found myself posting less and less. It was no longer any fun and even interest in the show had been dwindling. But, out of all that, I have made some very special internet friends from all over the country.

As I sat here finding other interests to occupy myself, I learned from The Dr Phil Show, that they had set up a page on Facebook for their Housewives series, and I joined immediately. No one I knew was watching the show and this was the perfect place for me to go to discuss the weekly episodes. I have loved the past four weeks there! Everything was going very well until Thursday night (see earlier blog) when I got blocked for apparently chatting too much! However, there is now a new theory circulating that I was targeted by some person(s) who were jealous of my popularity on the site and they started to flag all my posts so I would get blocked. Well, soon after there was a lot of drama on that Facebook page like you would not believe! Someone seems to be creating several Facebook accounts, ala split personality style, and making trouble between all the posters. And now there is quite a lot of drama and no more discussion going on.

Now I am wondering why grown women, with intelligence, a family and a life, will sit at a computer and harass other women for hours on end, or end days and weeks on end? What is the fun of that? Who in their right mind needs more drama in their lives? I know I don’t. You can’t even point out to them that they are acting like children or your head will be on the chopping block!

I only hope that Dr. Phil gets to see what is happening on his own Facebook page. He just might have another show there just ripe for the picking. At the very least, the posters seem to need a lot more help than his television Housewives.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Facebook Blocking!

I’m more than a little perturbed this morning. I finally find a Facebook page I love, the Dr. Phil Housewives, and I get blocked for supposedly posting too many comments! It’s a social page encouraging people to discuss the housewives on his show. Problem is, between the 20 minutes of commercials, the teaser clips they posted and aired on television and the little review clips before each new segment, we had only about five or ten minutes worth of tape we hadn’t seen or commented on.

So, when this person, Beth Thompson, who supposedly works for Dr. Phil, posts a thread on who is the biggest fan of the housewives, me and some of my new friends were having some fun posting there. It was all in good humor and respectful. It was all on one thread not all over the page.

Suddenly I try to comment on another thread and, without no warning whatsoever, I am told I am being blocked for too many posts. This block could last a few days. I will not be allowed to post on that page until the block is lifted. Had I had a warning, I would have stopped posting. But, I wasn’t given that opportunity. I tried looking for an address to complain to Facebook, but right there on their own website they say they cannot lift a block once you get one. If I try to continue posting while under this block, they will disable my whole account.

That seems fair. They set up a place for women to chat and then just pull the plug on you if you dare to chat it up too much. They don’t even check it out, send you a warning, or ask what the problem is. It’s the old “one block fits all” situation. Who knows when this arbitrary block will be lifted? I think it stinks.

Now, I suppose if I were clever I would set up another FB account just for posting there. I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I have an idea. You cannot be signed on to two Facebook accounts at a time, so it would be inconvenient to say the least. If someone reported me and it was not face book’s doing, they could report me again. In which case, a new account would be the wise way to go. I will mull this over for a while. In the meantime, they provided me with a blog topic for today.

So stay tuned for the next saga of my life. Turns out it’s not so hard to think up topics, I just have to wake up in the morning and they find me!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where Did The Christmas Spirit Go?

When my girls were little, we had a lot of Christmas spirit in the house. We would be decorating and shopping and baking. Christmas music would be playing. The tree would be up. Everyone was looking forward to celebrating. Everyone was happy.

Where did it all go? We haven’t decorated, we haven’t shopped, we haven’t baked. There is no Christmas music playing. The tree might not go up until the week before Christmas, no one cares. No one is excited. No one has any Christmas spirit. I miss it.

Seems we are too busy for all that nowadays. My older daughter is working during the week, sometimes overtime too. Her weekends are for socializing and taking care of things she can’t do during the week. She is too busy to care about Christmas. She has no time to decorate or put up the tree or to shop. Last night she was talking about working the weekend before Christmas. That was my last hope of trying to get us all together to do some of our holiday traditions.

My younger daughter is in college and studying hard for her finals. Her exams end on the 16th, maybe after that she can come up for air. She doesn’t have time to think about gifts, decorating, lights, music or trees. Her head is full of anatomy terms and toxicology procedures. I can’t blame her, that has to be her priority for the next few days. After that, I’ll see if there is anything she would like to do in preparation for the holiday.

My husband is busy too. Between his job and working on his second master’s degree and doing plenty of things around here, I’m sure Christmas is the last thing on his mind. He would help me if I asked him, but I don’t think it’s a high priority on his list.

That leaves me. Should I decorate, bake, shop, and play music for myself? It just reminds me of how different things are this year. I loved making Christmas special for the girls. I didn’t count on them growing up so fast. I never thought they would lose all interest in Christmas.

Maybe I will go to Toys R Us. I have nothing to buy there, but I can reminisce over the past, pick out things I would have gotten if the girls were still little, and live a few vicarious moments through the other parents searching for the impossible to find toys that just have to be under the tree Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Post Office Rates...

Well tis the season for mailing packages and the lines are out the door at the Post Office. I have noticed their rates rising over the last five years and it’s really gotten ridiculous. I’ve sent many packages the past 12 years and up until five years ago the rates were pretty fair. No more. They have fixed rated boxes you can use and you can stuff as much as you can in them for a flat rate so you know ahead of time what the damages will be. Those used to be reasonable too, but not now, even the flat rates have gone up.

I understand that the PO has to make money because people are mailing less and less every year. Everything is done online now, paying bills, sending ecards and email. It seems the only thing I get in my mailbox is advertisement or junk mail. But, instead of raising rates to astronomical levels, maybe the PO should find other ways to save or cut back? Otherwise they are going to lose more business with people going over to competitors like Fed Ex or UPS instead. Or, they will lose business because people like me will vow never to send a package again!

That’s why gift cards are becoming very popular. I used to think, oh that’s not really a gift, it’s the lazy way out. But now I see it differently. I would rather spend extra money on a gift card and sent it in a card for a few cents, than waste $20 or $30 mailing a gift in a package. Not only that, gift cards are so light and easy for me to manage and carry, while packages strain my already aching back. Most people prefer picking out what they want or need anyway. This way there is nothing to return, no gift receipts to include, no sizes to know, favorite colors, etc etc. One card fits all!

When you are busy shopping for a gift, the main thing you have in mind is usually the recipient not the PO. So you pick up something you think they will appreciate and worrying about the mailing fees later. It’s not until you get your precious package to the PO that you find out what the damages are. The last time I mailed a package, they told me it was oversized or odd sized and the PO charged me extra for that! Here I thought it was only the weight that counted but they added another dimension to their fees. That was the last straw for me, period!

So, before you shop and get on those long, long PO lines this year, consider getting gift cards for all the people on your mailing list. With the money you save in fees, go out and treat yourself to a nice lobster dinner because trust me, you’ll be able to afford it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Little Things for Moms…

Last night I was setting the table for the four of us. As usual, I put out the drinks and my older daughter has tap water with dinner. I was running the water for her glass, but it seem warmed, so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes, until it was time to eat. I called everyone in and saw that she was taking out a glass for herself, thinking I forgot hers. I said, "no, you don’t need a glass I didn’t forget you, I was just chilling your water", and I took it out of the freezer. With a big smile on her face she says, “How was I supposed to know you put my glass in the freezer?”

There is the topic of a nice discussion. How many dozens of thing do mothers do that are requested and how many hundreds of things do we do when we anticipate a need, without ever having to be told? That is the point I have been trying to make for years. Who thinks about Moms in the same way?

Yesterday, I baked fresh chocolate chip cookies for my younger daughter. She loves them and she has been studying for finals, so I try to make her life pleasant in other ways so she can get through the next few days. When she is on her way home, I make sure to unlock the door so she doesn’t have to dig for her keys, I have the light on in the living room because that’s where she studies and florescent bulbs take a couple of minutes to warm up. Tuesday mornings I go out early and get her a bagel for breakfast because that keeps her full till she gets home, since she has no breaks for lunch. Wednesdays, on her day off, I make her funnel cakes. On the days she brings her lab coat home in a bag, I take it out and carefully refold it for the next time she needs it. Last night, I made her mashed potatoes, even though baked potatoes are much easier, because she loves them.

My older daughter also gets her share of TLC. Every morning I get up at 6:15 am, have breakfast, and then make her lunch to take to work. Her lunch is a production, not just a simple sandwich and piece of fruit. The bread must be changed or varied so we use whole wheat with honey, oat bread, rye bread and rolls. Lunch meat must be rotated one week ham and cheese or egg salad, next week pepperoni and cheese or pastrami, occasionally turkey. Fruit is now a problem since the summer strawberries and cherries are gone. Now I use grapes or a banana on occasion. However, she likes red grapes, but not the kind they use to make wine! I substitute fruit with small tomatoes, cucumber or raw broccoli and salad dressing. For snack I throw in raspberry fig newtons now and then or a strawberry pop tart. This can all take about 15 or 20 minutes depending on the menu. I do this without being asked. Why? To make sure she eats a nutritious lunch and doesn’t have to get up a minute earlier to make it. Instead I get up earlier so she can sleep till the last minute. I also took a walk yesterday to buy two small items she need for a Christmas gift she was giving. I know she has little time on the weekends and sometimes feels overwhelmed. I helped her pack up her old laptop in a box so she could start using the new one we got her for Christmas early. She seemed happy with it.

Now, that’s just a few little things among hundreds of others that I do for them. I don’t have to do it, but I know it’s making a difference in their lives. Mothers all do things like that for their children, no matter how old they get. We do it without having to be asked, told, reminded, nagged. We do it out of love. We do it because we want to do it.

My mother used to do those things for me too. I just thought it was part of her “job” as a mother. But it wasn’t. She went above and beyond everyday, to make our lives better. That’s why I turned out to be the kind of mother I am.

Too bad there isn’t a way to make kids realize all the things they take for granted while they can still show their mothers how much they truly appreciate all they do for them. We don’t look for it, but sometimes the smallest things can make all the difference.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Child Abuse and The Catholic Church…

If you think the church has done enough to stop child abuse, please do not continue reading as I do not want to offend anyone.  This might be my biggest pet peeve.

As a child, I used to find a sense of peace and hope when I walked into the church. I looked at the priests as “holy” men who lived their lives according to the laws of God and set good examples for all of us. Well, imagine how I felt about 8 or so years ago when the child abuse scandal broke out? The disappointment, disillusionment, anger/outrage, was tremendous. Almost 6,000 priests was accused (and we know there had to be a lot more) and in addition, all the higher clergy who covered it up, transferred them around and allowed it to continue for many more years instead of reporting them to the authorities. How many precious and innocent lives were forever ruined?

The story broke and like many Catholics I was horrified. My children were attending religious instruction at the time. They were involved in girl scouts. It turns out that two of the priests accused of abuse were actively involved in both these activities and had access to my girls. I can’t them begin to tell you how angry I was then and still am. As far as I am concerned, the Catholic Church has not done anything to prevent this from happening again. I know that they have paid out millions to the victims over the years to settle lawsuits and keep them quiet. But what actions have they taken to cooperate with authorities and punish these priests. Where are all the abusers? How many of them are still in our churches and have access to our children?

My outlook on the church was forever changed by that scandal. I do not regard it as a religious institution any more, I look at it like a business. They are there to make money, and they make plenty of it. I have to wonder what do they do with all the money they collect? I think I would be appalled by that too. Maybe it’s better that I don’t know. But, they aren’t accountable to anyone. They don’t even have to pay taxes. I really believe that should be changed.

About two months after the scandal first broke, I received a letter from the pastor of our church. He was asking for substantial donations for a new roof for the church. He sent along pamphlets with Bible quotes about how we should be giving 10% of our income to the church! I was livid. Were they going to use that money for a new roof or for legal fees and settlements on the abuse cases??? I didn’t trust anything they said. Instead, I wrote a very long letter to the pastor telling him that he would not be receiving one penny from our family unless and until I had gotten some satisfactory answers about what the church was doing about the abuse that had been going on. I refused to give any money at all for fear it was going to a defense fund because there was no defense for victimizing hundreds or thousands of children. And, I made my own pamphlet to send back with my letter, with Bible quotes on how Jesus said we should treat children. I ended with a place for signatures for both my husband and myself. My letter was so strong, my husband was afraid to sign it for fear they would not let my younger daughter be confirmed in three months. I told him if they did that I would call every major news network and tell them my story. After a couple of days he signed it.

I was waiting for a response from the pastor and I got one. Unfortunately, it was a form letter, which only served to outrage me more. I followed up with another very long letter ending with, if you do not want to receive any more letters from me I suggest that you do not send me any more from you. That just about ended the communication and my relationship with the church. However, I am still angry that absolutely nothing has been done about this since it came out in the news years ago. My husband said they would just ride it out and if enough time passes, people will forget about it. Well, I never forgot about it!

I used to enjoy going to church this time of year. I loved the decorations, the poinsettias and the huge manger they set up of the holy family. It used to be comforting and joyful. Not any more. Now it’s just a lot of hypocrisy. They preach one thing and do another. They commit the most vile of criminal acts, cover it up and allow it to go on. I cannot set foot inside a church again.

I’ll always keep “Christ” in Christmas and in my heart, but the Catholic Church has failed to do so.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Packing Groceries…

Thank you to all my followers and readers!  Even though you are my freinds, and my daughters say you don't count, you all count to me!

Every week, for close to 30 years, I’ve gone food shopping with my husband. We go every Sunday morning and shop for the week, then fill in with an item here or there during the week. Ok, so by my calculations, we have been shopping approximately 1400 times, give or take. And we have developed a system for efficient packing. I unpack the cart, putting all the heavy items in the front and this way they will be at the bottom of every bag, and the lighter, crushable stuff on top or in a separate bag. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. I also group like items together so the unpacking (which I have to do) is easier.

So why am I sitting here this morning with a frowny face? Well, it seems the last few times we have been shopping, my husband keeps coming up with new ways to pack the groceries. I wouldn’t care if they were better and more efficient ways. In fact I am all for improvements and short cuts. However, this is not the case. For what ever reason, he has decided to improvise every week, and pack as though it was our first time in the store. Maybe if I had more patience, or any patience, I could just overlook this new found sense of adventure of his, but I don’t. I am a creature of habit and when something works I like to stick with it.

Today, for example, I bought my brother 20 tv dinners that were on sale and we drop them off on our way home because he doesn’t have a car. So, we have always packed his tv dinners in the plastic bags provided by the store until today. Today my husband thinks it might be better to pack them in our shopping bags and then, if we run out of bags, we should put our things in plastic. Of course I didn’t see him doing this until I had finished unpacking the cart and the deed was done. I asked him why he decided to change the way we have always done things, and his answer, “I don’t know.” So he starts trying to take all the dinners out of our bags and repack them in plastic. Ugh! Nothing fits right. He is not putting them in neatly and the bags are keeling over. Meanwhile, I am trying to pack all the rest of my groceries so we can leave the store while it’s still daylight!

Last week, he put my white bread in with the 2 liter soda bottles! I have complained about my bread being squashed for years, and he still hasn’t gotten it. Sometimes, you have to wonder if men to these things on purpose to get out of doing them altogether. If so, it’s working!

I guess I should be grateful for the “help” but I think I would really prefer it if he sat in the car while I shopped and packed, and then just help me load and unload the car.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Knock on Wood or Be Jinxed…Another Friendship Blog

I believe in knocking on wood when you say anything good, so you don’t jinx yourself. Unfortunately for me, when I wrote my blog on “Unexpected Friendships” I forgot to do that. So yesterday, I had to deal with not one, but two friendship issues.

Eleven years ago, when my husband saw me forging yet another “best friend” relationship, he gave me some sage advice. He said, “are you sure you want to put all your eggs in one basket again?” I had to ponder that, but decided that yes I did want to take the risk this one last time. And last year, when this relationship ended, he never said I told you so or reminded me of his words, but I remembered them. And I took his advice, I have been increasing my eggs, but I forgot to put them in separate baskets. Yesterday, two fell out. Even though I had four dozen more eggs, I was very sad. I found myself waking up this morning at 5 am with tears streaming down my face, something that hadn’t happened in over a year.

So what happened, you may be wondering? Nothing earth shattering really. The first “egg” saw a benign statement, written on Facebook, by a mutual friend to all her friends and read a lot more into it. She wrongly concluded that it referred to something we had been discussing the previous day and asked me about it. I assured her, maybe to excess, that it had nothing to do with our conversation at all and that I hadn’t spoken to this mutual friend for weeks. However, I am afraid, in my attempt to allay her fears, I ended up confirming them. And, she curtly ended our conversation. What hurts is that she would rather believe that I betrayed a confidence and lied about it, then to believe she jumped to an erroneous conclusion. I hope she learns the truth on her own, because there is nothing more I can say about it at this point.

Then, late in the afternoon, I was exchanging a few emails with a small group we formed a long while ago. Suddenly, one member of the group is calling me out for always having something to say about her emails (criticizing/correcting or whatever). Again, I was blindsided, because I was giving my thoughts, observations or ideas and never meant to minimize hers or hurt her feelings. Apparently, this had been going on quite along time, months and months, and she never mentioned it until yesterday. Anyone who knows anything about me would know that it you tell me something I am doing bothers you, I am going to try my best not to do it. However, this animosity must have been building for a very long time, over each email, and I realize that she can’t like me very much at this point. I wish she had said something sooner, I would have taken her feelings to heart.

So, here I sit thinking what to do with my eggs now? Because I think, in my heart, I turned them into one big egg and yesterday it suffered a couple of cracks. I am not sure where to get baskets for my eggs and how to divide them up so that if something happens to one it doesn’t pierce my heart. I’m not a believer of “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” philosophy. I am more like the shepherd who has 100 sheep and goes looking for the one who is lost. He wants all his 100 sheep to be well and safe.

I guess I still have a lot to learn, even at my age. I can’t blame it on hormones, because I don’t have any.
So to the rest of you eggs, if you see me treading carefully the next few days, just know it has nothing to do with you. I just don’t want any more eggs falling out of my basket until I figure out what to do with them all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Men & Women Can’t Communicate…

Men and women communicate differently, many times that’s what leads to or escalates arguments. Maybe, if there was a School on LIFE they would have a class that would teach us what we need to know about the opposite sex’s communication style. Instead, like everything else, we have to read self help books and try to figure it out ourselves or deal with the frustration in ignorance. Years ago, being the type of person that is always seeking answers, I researched this topic for my own curiosity. I heard John Gray speak on a talk show a couple of times. He is the author of all the “Mars and Venus” books. I have to say I was not impressed with his appearance or voice or the fact he was divorced, but everything that came out of his mouth made perfect sense. I took out his book from the library to read.

In my opinion, John Gray has really written some very insightful and helpful books on this subject. I had to laugh at how well he had depicted both men and women’s needs, behaviors, and emotions. Since I only knew he had correctly assessed women from my own experience, I asked my husband about many of the things he said about men. Sure enough, all true. And the best part is, he actually gives reasons why we are the way we are and advice on how to approach and understand the opposite sex.

In my own life, for example, I wanted to know why my husband tried to avoid discussing problems and would shut down, when I wanted to talk it through. It got to be very frustrating. After I read the book, I learned that most men tend to withdraw to avoid confrontation and women just want to be heard and continue talking trying to get through to them. Knowing this piece of information made my life a lot easier. I was thinking it was just my husband who did this, but it helped knowing it was men in general.

Another example is when my husband had problems at work. I wanted to be supportive and help him through it. The more I tried to get him to open up the quieter he got. It felt like I was being shut out, I took it personally. After all, when I or my female friends have problems, we talk and vent to anyone who will listen. I really didn’t get it until I read that men will retreat “into their cave” when they have a problem and will come out when they have a solution. So I learned to give him his space, if I felt he didn’t want to talk about work.

The funniest thing I learned was “the point system” difference between men and women. This is how is works: men and women give each other credit for all the nice things we do for each other, but our value systems are very different. For example, men give a lot of points for big things and women give one point per thing. So, for example, if a woman cooks her husband’s favorite meal that might be worth 40 points, if she gives him a massage 20 points, if she fulfills a fantasy of his 100 points. Now women don’t use this system at all. If a man gives a woman a dozen roses then he gets one point. If he leaves her a love note on her pillow, he gets one point. If her says, “I love you,” “you look great,” “did you lose weight?” that’s one point, one point, one point. I found this information very useful and I learned my husband had no clue about how women value things. He thought a dozen roses or expensive gift would be worth more than a love note!

I would definitely say that those books can be very helpful for any couple. My husband wasn’t as interested in reading them as I was, but nevertheless it helped me to understand the communication between the sexes and not to take everything so personally.

If only men and women came with instructions, so we could figure out how they work, maybe relationships wouldn’t break down at the rate they do?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unexpected Friendships.....

Less than a month ago I joined a Facebook group to discuss a shared interest in the Dr Phil Housewives series. I expected to be able to talk about the six women there, who had opened up their lives and problems on national television, in hopes of finding solutions and making peace with the past. I found plenty of topics to discuss and I also unexpectedly found myself making about a dozen new Facebook friends. Several of these women, although we are virtual strangers, have said some very kind things to me and seemed to intuitively “know” me. This gave me pause to think.

I have had three “best” friends, at different times, since 1978. I met them all when each of them was going through some kind of difficult time and, my nature being what it is, I naturally jumped in to help, encourage, support and help them get through it. I was there for them literally 24/7 for years. I went above and beyond what most friends would do, even at my own expense. Then things fell apart. Their problems solved, their lives changed, they found other friends and I wasn’t needed or valued any more. They distanced themselves from me, but not entirely. I went from being the best friend you talk with every day, to a “stew” friend,a term my daughter’s friend made up, to describe people who put you on the back burner on a low heat until they need you. My last friendship of ten years ended September 2009 when it was literally making me ill to continue in it and depressed when I ended it. No more “best” friends for me.

I think to myself, after hearing what these new friends have to say about me, how is it that people who I have not even met or done anything for, can see things in me from three weeks of posting comments that these “best friends” no longer do or maybe never did? I have to accept some of the responsibility and reexamine my part in these failed relationships. I hear Dr Phil’s mantra “You teach people how to treat you” over and over in my head. I think in my putting them and their needs always above my own, I may have taught them that my needs and I don’t matter. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll meet Dr Phil and ask him.

Meanwhile, these very kind women have opened my eyes and given me a new appreciation for myself. Maybe “best” friends aren’t all they are cracked up to be? Maybe they drain the life out of you and then move on? Maybe I’ll continue to surround myself with a warm circle of friends who are very much like myself: intelligent, compassionate, caring, nurturing people, from now on. These are the friends who helped me get through this past year of very hurtful disappointment and depression. I survived, I’m making new friends and I’m looking forward instead of backward.

The Dr. Phil show opened this Facebook page for real housewives to discuss the problems of his “Housewives,” but I’m not sure anyone realized the bonding and friendship that would occurred on that page in just a few short weeks. Who knows how many valuable friendships might be made by the end of the series in May? Who knows how many of us will be helped by a kind word, advice or prayers said on our behalf for one reason or another? I see the seeds of many new friendships being planted every day and I look forward to watching them grow and blossom.

Women can be amazing. They will reach out to family, friends and even strangers in distress and try to help in any way they can for no other reason than they care and empathize. They just want to make things better for everyone who touches their lives. And they do.

P.S. I must add that my daughters will complain that this blog is not a "pet peeve," therefore I must clarify for their benefit that I am complaining about "best" friends, while appreciating "virtually" real friends!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Are Husbands Any Help?

What are most women complaining about? I think their number one complaint is their husbands and the lack of help they get from them. Whether or not a woman works outside the home, like her husband, when they both get home the woman actually has so much more to do. Her husband can come home, check the mail, grab the newspaper and sit on the couch until dinner is done. After dinner he will more than likely watch television until bedtime. Nice work if you can get it.

Now, let’s examine a woman’s routine from the time she or her husband comes home from work. She has so many things to do that I barely know where to start. She will have to make sure the kids did their homework or get it started. Then, as she takes out what she has to prepare for dinner, she listens to phone messages and returns calls. She gets dinner started, sets the table, runs to the laundry room and throws a load in the washer, checks on the kids homework, makes sure nothing on the stove is burning and then gets into some comfortable clothes. Picks up the clothes her husband and kids left on the floor, comes back to the kitchen and does any breakfast dishes, stirs some pots, answers homework questions and runs to put the clothes in the dryer. Meanwhile, dinner is done and served! Here comes the hard working husband to take his seat at the head of the table, while she cuts meat for the kids, pours the drinks, takes out the multivitamins, and piles the dirty pots in the sink. Now it’s her turn to sit. If she is lucky, her food is still warm.

While her husband takes out the garbage, she clears the table, packs up any leftovers, washes the dishes, cleans off the counters and table and makes sure the homework is done, school notices are signed, next day lunches are made.

While her husband turns on the television and takes a seat, she goes down and brings up the laundry to fold, makes sure the kids take their baths, brush their teeth and get ready for bed, and straightens up what everyone else left laying around the house. She reads the kids bedtime stories, gets them a glass of water, tucks them in and kisses them good night. She goes to join her husband, who has fallen asleep watching TV. Wakes him up for bed, only to hear him say, “Boy I’m tired, I had a rough day.”

And so it goes. Husbands will always be our number one complaint. They have to be told or asked to do something. Apparently, they don’t realize that dinner has to be made every night and maybe they could give it a try. They don’t see dirty clothes piling up and attempt to do a load of laundry while we are cooking. They don’t hear us helping the children with homework night after night and take over for us. They can’t appreciate our multitasking abilities because they only know how to do one thing at a time, and depending what it is, they don’t always do it very well. They must think we enjoy being on the go the whole night and getting up the next day to do it all over again.

Yet, after their exhausting night of reading the paper and watching television and napping, they wonder why it is that we are not interested in getting something started in the bedroom? It’s really a mystery to them. They are just so totally clueless.

Maybe one day Hallmark will create a card women can give their husbands that really expresses their frustration with their lack of help? Maybe it should go something like this:

How can you help me? Let me count the ways.
You can make dinner, or get take out one night,
Maybe tuck the kids in and turn out their light,
You can transfer the laundry from washer to dryer,
Just a few simple tasks would light my desire.
Washing the dishes might not pop into your head,
But it would go a long way to heating up things in bed.
And a simple “thank you, for all that you do”
Sure as hell would go a long way too!