Monday, February 28, 2011

Unconditional Love...

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to love unconditionally. It's the kind of love that God has for us. People like to throw that term around, but I’m not sure many understand what it really means to love someone regardless of their actions. Yes, I’ve heard the “I love you, but I hate your behavior” line. I’m just not buying it.

How many people decide to marry thinking it is going to last forever and then it ends in divorce? Too many. Instead of planning for a lifetime together, people today plan for the possibility of divorce. Prenuptial agreements are very popular for successful people who want to protect themselves from losing their assets, in case things don’t work out. So, considering the high divorce rate, does that mean people do not enter the state of holy matrimony loving each other unconditionally? Marriage is a decision to love until “death do you part.” You are supposed to work on it if there are problems, not throw up your hands and head to the nearest divorce lawyer. But can you love a spouse who breaks their vows and cheats on you? Or does the hurt and anger and broken trust make it impossible to get back what you had?

If we can’t find unconditional love at the marriage altar, where can we find it? It’s easy to love friends unconditionally when times are good, but what about when they hurt you, distance themselves, betray you? Are we really willing to turn the other cheek? Do we still love them unconditionally? Are we ready to forgive so easily? Does a broken heart trump unconditional love? I think the pain of hurt makes it impossible to go back to a state of pure unconditional love. Something is broken, maybe trust. Regaining 100% trust may be a nearly impossible thing to do.

The only place I find genuine unconditional love to exist is between parent and child. That is one relationship where, no matter what the child does or says, the parent is going to love them and help them get through it. A good parent never turns their back on a child no matter what the cost, no matter how big the heartache. Somehow, when it’s your child, you can get past the anger, the hurt, and broken trust and stand by them. You keep trying because that is what unconditional love is in its purest state. It is as close to God's love as we mere mortals will experience on earth.

Just think of that moment when your first born was placed in your arms for the first time. You know, from that moment on, that this new life is yours to protect, love and cherish forever. The love you feel almost takes your breath away. That is unconditional love.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hanging Up The Phone On Someone…

I received a special request to blog about phone hang ups so I will do my best. I have rarely been hung up on, but I know that it is infuriating when it happens, no matter who is on the other end. It is about as rude as one can be using the telephone, as far as I am concerned. I think my mother hung up on me once or twice, but she was allowed to be rude, she was my mother and that excuses her bad behavior. Mothers can get away with things that other people can’t, that is one of the ten commandments. In my mother’s case, she always felt that I provoke her bad behavior by my choice of words, tone or attitude. In any case there would be no winning that argument.

If someone, other than my mother, were to hang up on me, that might be the last time I talk to them. If someone has the audacity to hang up in the middle of a conversation, without allowing me the consideration to have my say or respond, then there is nothing left to say. Chances are that is it a heated conversation to begin with if it ends in a hang up. It leaves the person hung up on angry about the conversation, as well as, the abrupt, rude, disrespectful, ending to it. There is really no excuse for such behavior and if someone thinks so little of you as to hang up, you better re-examine that relationship more closely.

There may be times when hanging up is excusable, in my opinion. One exception to the rule are telemarketers who will not take no for an answer and just keep talking. We all know they like to call at dinner time, when they are sure people are home. On top of that, I don’t recall ever saying yes to any offer a telemarketer has made to me, and I have had plenty of these calls. So, when they start talking, and you’ve heard it all before, and you say sorry I am not interested once or twice, then it is perfectly ok to hang up on them. I have registered all my phone number with the DO NOT CALL registry so that I will not get many if at all and they will be fined if reported. I will post the link below if you haven’t done it.

Also, if someone is screaming in your ear about something they are pissed off about and you can’t get a word in edge-wise, then say you are going to hang up one or twice, as a warning, then do it. You don’t not have to subject yourself to verbal abuse.

Most serious conversations would be better had in person anyway. Body language plays a big role in communication and might set a different tone for the conversation. On the other hand, if the person has violent tendencies, then the phone would be much better.

Personally, I would find it very hard to hang up on someone. But if you ever want to get someone really pissed off, this would be one fool proof way to do it. Many people will write you off after that, so if you want to end a relationship give it a try.  National DO NOT CALL registry

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kissin' Cousins!

My parents were not only husband and wife, they were also first cousins. Everyone is always interested to hear how this happened to come about, so I am going to tell you the story.

As my mother approached 36, my grandmother worried that she would never get married. My mother even said that she intended never to get married. An unmarried daughter does not sit well with a little old Italian lady who wants to see her daughter taken care of by a man and also wants more grandchildren. So my grandmother decided to “make things happen.”

My grandmother wrote to her brother in Sicily. He had a single son who was 29 years old. Letters went back and forth until the elders decided this would be a good match for their children. Then my grandmother broke the news to my mother. She told her that her brother had a single son who wanted to marry her and since her brother was a good man, his son must also be a good man. My mother said “No.” My grandmother took out my father’s picture. He was extremely handsome, a long the lines of a Clark Gable (no exaggeration). My mother said, “No.” My grandmother insisted that all they would do is go there and meet him, if my mother didn’t like him she would not have to marry him. She wore my mother down and she said “OK.”

So, in August 1952, my grandmother and mother got on a boat to Sicily with all their luggage, which happened to include a huge formal wedding dress in the trunk. The wedding invitations already went out to all the family in Sicily. My parents “courted,” with chaperones, for three weeks and were married on September 20, 1952. My father took my mother to Rome for a honeymoon. There they stayed with an elderly couple who hid my father from the Germans during World War II. When the honeymoon was over, my mother and her grandmother came home to Brooklyn and filed the paperwork for my father to come to America. He arrived here in May, 1953 and they stayed in my grandmother‘s apartment.

My grandmother loved her nephew/son in-law, and she didn’t want him to work for six months. But my father was always a hard worker and couldn’t sit around doing nothing. He got a job in a shoe factory making shoes. When an apartment opened up in my grandmother’s six family house, she gave it to my mother and father.

In August, 1954 I was born. Because I was born of this “special union” I instantly became my grandmother’s favorite grandchild. She doted on me and never allowed my mother to scold me when she was around. Even though she died when I was four, I have very fond memories of her still today.

I often asked how my parents were allowed to marry when it is taboo for first cousins to marry. Apparently, no one was concerned about genetic defects in our family. The rational I got was that because my parents did not grow up together and didn’t know each other, it was acceptable for them to marry.

I guess I should be thankful because I wouldn’t be here otherwise!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Writer's Block...

The day is almost over and nothing has inspired me to write in my blog today. Not a word, not an experience, not a conversation. I always have so much to say about everything and anything, but today my mind has been blank.

So I am brain dead now. It’s late for me and I go to bed soon so there is no way anything is going to come to me now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Should Parents Help Adult Children?

This question came up yesterday as a topic of conversation and I thought I would address it today, from my perspective. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, so the question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. I grew up in a family where it was ingrained in us to work hard and achieve success. Our family also believed in helping those who helped themselves. My parents were always quick to lend a hand to make our lives easier, even if we didn’t need or ask for help.

In my case, both my husband and I had college educations, I saved up quite a bit of money and when we married we were doing very well financially. We were both working and saving up to buy our own home where we could raise our family. After I got pregnant with our first child, I knew I was going to be a stay at home mom. When the baby was 18 months old we bought our home and had only one salary with more expenses. We were able to manage, but things were a lot tighter money wise. So when some expensive house repairs came up, my parents offered to pay for the cost of them. We had a water main break, the house needed to be painted on the outside, and the basement needed to be waterproofed. These were all costly jobs and my parents wanted to take the burden of the expense off of us. They were able to do it and they never asked for anything in return. My husband always worked and provided for our family, and my parents agreed with my decision to stay home and raise my children.

Many adult children are struggling today because of the economy. Even if they want to work, there are no jobs out there to be had and there is a lot of competition for the ones there are. I think as long as children are working hard at jobs or at getting a good education, parents should help out as much as possible. If that means children have to stay home longer to save up money before moving out, or helping pay off college loans, or help furnishing a new house, condo or apartment, then that’s what parents who can afford it should do.  And, let's not forget that a college education at a private school can easily cost $130,000 for four years.  That kind of money, with interest, could take a lifetime to pay off.  As long as the child is motivated and working hard, a parent should be there supporting and encouraging them in any way possible. One day they will get traction and be able to stand on their own and they will do it sooner with a little help.

However, if a child isn’t doing anything to help themselves, isn’t motivated to work or attend school, and comes to expect or feel entitled to help, then it’s time to rethink any kind of assistance. Assisting lazy kids with attitudes of entitlement isn’t helping them, it’s enabling them to do nothing. They will always be dependent and bleed you dry financially if you let them.

Kids who grow up with good strong values will not want their parents help. Sometimes they have to graciously accept their parents help, when they offer it, because parents still want to feel needed. A parent’s job is never done. Once you have a child a parent will worry about them for the rest of their life and want to take care of them and know they are ok. It’s part of the parent/child relationship.

If you’ve done your job and raised hard working children, then it becomes your pleasure and your duty, if you are able, to lend a hand when needed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Idol Season Ten!

I have watched American Idol for the past ten years and I love this show. I enjoy watching different singers take songs I’ve heard before and make them sound brand new. I think what I appreciate most is that talented people across America get a real chance to live their dreams by competing on the show. Many have been discovered through the process and gone on to have great music careers, not just the winners. I never realized there was so many talented singers out there.

This season seems very promising to me. There are so many very talented singers I don’t know how they are going to narrow it down to the top 24, then the top 12 and come out with one winner. Once I get to the top 12 I feel terrible every time someone gets voted off. It looks to be an exciting season.
Of course anyone who knows me knows that Carrie Underwood is my favorite winner from season 4. She is not only a phenomenal singer, but she is a great role model as a human being. In fact, most of the singers to come away from that show seems to be the nicest people. You can’t help but want them all to win.

This season we have lost Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul and have two new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. I thought Simon’s absence would jeopardize the show. Instead I find there is a lot less bickering and joking around between the judges and more attention is focused on giving constructive criticism to the contestants. I have to say that I am enjoying the new judges so much that I don’t even miss Simon. I hope this professional behavior on the part of the judges continues throughout this season.

If you haven’t been watching, it’s not too late to jump on board. They will be selecting the top 24 and the live shows will begin soon. If the singers perform as well as they have in the auditions you will be seeing some amazing performers, some of whom are only 15 and 16 years old!

Who will be this year’s American Idol? It’s going to be a tough call.  I don’t envy the job of the judges.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My High School French Teacher…

My high school French teacher was Miss Leah Silverman. She may have changed the course of my life. I’ll never know that for sure, but I suspect she did.

I always loved the French language from the moment I set foot in my first class in 7th grade. It came easy to me and I enjoyed it. I wanted to share what I learned so I made my brother and cousin take classes with me at night so I could teach them what I learned. I took it for three years in middle school and then continued on in high school.

Miss Silverman walked into my first French class in high school. She was very plain looking. Pale skin, red hair always in a bun, and she wore little, short black boots on her feet. Her dresses were all identical except for the material. I suspect she made them all herself from a McCall’s pattern. All boxed dresses, a pocket on each side, collar, and three button on top. She always walked into the room promptly, with an arm full of books and got right down to business. I think she looked older than she really was because of her appearance. She was the epitome of the word old maid.

Miss Silverman took teaching very seriously. There were no jokes or digressions to stories of her life or trips to France. We stuck to the book and learned our grammar, vocabulary and culture. Somehow she took the joy out of learning French for me. She made me uneasy though she never really did anything to me.
As in any language class, participation is very important. It’s the only time you really get to practice speaking the language. I hated to speak French because my accent was terrible. When she called on me, I was nervous and uneasy, which didn’t help my accent at all. One day, after struggling to read something out loud, she asked to see me after class. I dreaded this like you would not believe. After class I reluctantly approached her desk. She told me that my pronunciation needed work and that I should pick out a sentence a day to read to her after each class. I was dying inside. There was no way this exercise was going to end because my accent was terrible. Then I remembered that my young English teacher knew French and offered to help any of us if we needed it. I decided to go to her, have her read me the sentence, and then try my best to imitate her when I got to French class. That worked. However, it also killed my confidence and ability in continuing with French and maybe teaching it one day.

When I got to college, I had the option of continuing with French or taking a new language. I chose to take Italian. I was afraid that I was not good enough to pursue French and felt maybe the other students would be ahead of me. Ironically, my brother went on to major in French when he got to college.

It’s now 40 years later and I still remember the first sentence I picked out to read:
Hier, toujours cheminant en revant, je suis arrivee sur la queue de la Seine. (trans. Yesterday while walking and dreaming, I arrived at the mouth of the Seine.) I will say it out loud every now and then and tell the story of Miss Silverman when I do. And I will wonder, if I had had another French teacher, if I would have continued my studies in French and became a teacher.

I guess I will never know the answer. But maybe I do…

A bit more irony. In 2001, 30 years after leaving Miss Silverman’s class and forgetting all my French, I went to a local college to take French classes. I got all A’s and the professors suggested I take graduate classes and get my Master’s degree and teach. I got all A’s in the graduate classes too and write two papers, in French that were over 25 pages each. I love French literature and being in class. So I think the answer to my question is yes I could have easily majored in French and become a teacher if Miss Silverman had bolstered my confidence instead of shooting it down.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Verizon Strikes Again….

I started my first blog with a complaint about Verizon and here we are 5 months later with the same complaint. Blogs are good for keeping track of things. I had forgotten exactly when I had my issue with them. I have had ongoing problems with my phone over the past two and a half years. It’s very frustrating. Today I called the repair department and unleashed my frustration!

First thing this morning there is extreme static on the line and then no dial tone. Why? Because they “fixed” our cable lines when they moved the lines to a new box and pole outside my house. When they were there a few month ago they worked on the lines and then covered them with a black plastic bag. I thought the was a temporary “fix” and they would come back later to finish the job. I knew they were backed up because of the hurricane/tornado that hit our area at the time. When November came, the plastic bag started shredding so I called Verizon to complain. My concern, and I was clear, was that once the plastic bag was destroyed by the weather I would lose telephone and DSL service. So I wanted someone to “fix” the lines before me and many others lost our service. They promised to come and they don’t. I must have called 5 or 6 times in November and December. I told them to note it in my file because when I lose service I want it recorded that I made several calls. They assured me they did.

Well, after 9 or 10 snow storms I lost my phone and DSL services. I call Verizon and after going through their long automated system, I get repair. I explain it all to the customer service rep and he says he can make an appointment for Thursday. I demand to speak to the foreman,. He says he can’t do that. I tell him fine, give me your name and I am going to go over your foreman’s head and call an executive of the company. He tells me to go ahead.

Little does he know I have been in touch with several people over the last two and a half years. I start with a repairman who gave me his number for all my future problems. I explain it all to him again. He says he will be out in the morning to fix it. We’ll see about that. I have had so much trouble, been stood up for appointments and blown off that I am not sure they will show up. Meanwhile, they make me wait because they didn’t fix it right to begin with and then didn’t take my concerns seriously!

So I have come full circle from my first blog. And I have noticed that it is not only the phone company, but all things that we have to take care of. They never get done! We scratch something off the list of things to do and before you know it it’s back on the list. It’s so exhausting!

But I don’t give up so easy and if they give me the run around I ask for a month or two of credit for my aggravation. And I get it.

I can’t even switch companies to let’s say Time Warner Cable, because I hate them too!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Living On Borrowed Time...

When I was about 12 years old my mother turned 50 years old. Of course to a 12 year old that seems very old, what did I know. At that time she announced that she was “living on borrowed time.” I hated that expression. It scared me to think that at any moment something could happen to her and she would be gone. She liked to use it often too. I think it was to guilt trip me, but it scared me for a very long time. I swore I would never ever say it to my children, when I had them.

Six months before I turned 50, exactly seven years ago today, I had a tumor removed that was diagnosed as a rare cancer. It is called LMS (leiomyo sarcoma a cancer of soft muscle tissue). I never heard of it. It was in my left groin. There are many blood vessels there so the doctor could not take out much extra tissue around it. I really thought I did not have much time to live and I just prayed that I could finish raising my children, who were 14 and 16 at the time. In all my fear, the irony of those words “I’m living on borrowed time” hit me like a ton of bricks.

My mother was 88 at the time. She had been “living on borrowed time” for the last 38 years. I wasn’t even 50 and here I was running out of time. She had Alzheimer’s and I couldn’t even tell her what I was going through. She still had the ability to understand and I think she knew something was wrong, but I never told her anything about it. Why worry her when there was nothing she could do? She didn’t have much time left and I wanted her last months to be peaceful and not full of worry and anguish. And when she passed away a year later, she died in her sleep, never knowing anything was wrong.

Unfortunately for me, the professionals advised me to tell my girls about my illness. So I could not keep the promise I made long ago about not telling them I was on borrowed time. It had to be done. My fears as a child were becoming their reality. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to tell them about the cancer and how I was going to do everything possible to fight it and be here for them. They were scared, and withdrew. They had no questions. They went off together to distract themselves. I didn’t look or act sick. We could all pretend nothing was wrong between the CT scans. But every time one rolled around, every three months, there was dread and anxiety. What if the scan showed something? It’s a hard way to live. I did everything to keep things normal at home. And since they never came to me with questions, I would go to them to make sure they were ok. And when every test result came back fine, we would all breathe a sigh of relief.

They say you are out of the woods after 5 years. But if you read about this cancer it can come back any time, ten to twenty years later. No one knows why. It’s too rare to raise big money for a cure. I will have to have a CT scan every year for the rest of my life. I can’t shake the feeling of being on borrowed time.
My doctor is very optimistic. She calls my visits “well visits” like when you bring a baby in for a check up or a vaccine. I love my doctor, she has always been very compassionate and thorough. I wish I were going to visit her under other circumstances.

I’m going to share a little something extra I used as a coping mechanism. After seeing my doctor for about six months she informs me that she is going to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and I can change over and see her there or see another physician at this hospital. Of course I didn’t want to leave her, but my insurance wasn’t accepted at MSK. Out of the blue, on the doctor’s first day at MSK, my insurance changed to covered all expenses at that hospital and it actually cost me less money to see her there.

I noticed that she was not her usual self the first time I went to visit her at MSK. I think she was having a hard time transitioning and it showed. So I made it my business to “cheer” her up. So with every subsequent visit I would bring a little gift bag for her and her little daughter, who was two. In my mind, the visits became not about the cancer I had, but about helping my doctor by bringing a little joy into her day. I did this with every visit. She would tell me I shouldn’t and I told her it’s my therapy. She would tell me how much her daughter liked the gifts I brought from the previous visit. And for a few minutes, on those days, she didn’t have to think about terminal patients. So I started to look forward to my visits and shopping for little things to bring. It put a positive spin on my tests and results.

Of course, I know I was blessed with a miracle. I shouldn’t be here today, but I’m on borrowed time. I’ve been cancer free seven years and my younger daughter will soon be a senior in college. My prayers were answered in more ways than one.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Family Days...

Today we are having a “family day.” I have two twenty-something daughters and they enjoy a day at the mall and lunch afterwards. I kind of enjoy it myself, not too sure about my husband, but he is a saint and just wants to make us happy. He carries our bags while we shop. It’s hard to find things to do when the kids get older and even harder to find a day when everyone is free. Two weeks ago we went to see a movie together, “The King’s Speech.” It cost us fifty dollars for four tickets and I didn’t even ask my husband how much the popcorn was. But, we rarely go to the movies because we all have very different tastes in films.

When the girls were little is was so much easier to plan things to do. We did seasonal things like pumpkin and apple picking in the fall, going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center at Christmas and the neighborhood houses that were decorated beyond your imagination with lights and holiday displays. We took the girls to farms, zoos, aquariums, planetariums, museums, amusement parks, the beach, a Renaissance fair…all of which they have long since forgotten. Luckily I have pictures to prove we were there.

But, as they got older and into their teenage years, these little outings were now “lame.” And, it became harder and harder to find things that would interest them that we could all do together. However, they never get tired of going to the mall or to the outlets. Shopping seems to always interest them. So, today we will head out to the mall, thirty minutes away, spend about four hours shopping then find a nearby restaurant and eat.

Have a happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Life Lessons Learned - Part 2

Life Lessons for my daughters Continued...

Don’t rush into marriage. You want to make sure that whoever you meet is compatible with you and will treat you right and respect you. You need to get to know their family because when you marry someone you marry into their family. Don’t overlook red flags. If something is troubling you you should not overlook it, but think about it and be aware of it. The time to bring it up is before you get serious not after you get married. Make sure you are on the same page about children, how many to have, where to live, finances, and other important issues that become a “couple’s” decision. Get premarital counseling and a prenuptial agreement if you have a lot more money than the person you are marrying.

Make time for yourself and the things that make you happy. You should do this in order to keep yourself from getting burned out with work or the kids or stress. Women really have a lot of responsibility and most work and also take care of the household and children. It’s important to take care of yourself so that you can do all the things that are expected of you and you need to do.

Be true to yourself. Do what you know is right for you, don’t go along with what other people think is best for you, if it’s not. If something is important to you, it will be important to those who really love you too.

Don’t worry about what others think of you. You just have to be happy with who you are and people should love you for who you are. You are both very special, loving girls. Do not settle for anything in life. You can have whatever you set your mind to.

Marry someone who is not only your mate but your best friend. It will be easier to get through life situations if you can talk things through with your spouse and have someone who will understand and care about how you feel.

Never lend anyone money. Money issues can ruin many relationships. If you lend friends money you are likely to lose both the friend and the money. Just say you don’t have any to lend and keep your finances to yourself. If people know you have money they will ask you for it and you will feel bad to say no.

Save your money and pay off your credit cards. Don’t put yourself into debt and add stress to your life. My family never had debt, we either had the money to pay for something or we didn’t buy it. Real Estate is a good investment, location is sometimes the most important factor for property values to go up. A beautiful house in a lousy area will not go up much, but a run down house in a good area will get you more than its worth.

Don’t say mean or hurtful things in the heat of the moment in an argument. Words hurt and once they are out, there they are out there forever. You can’t take them back and you don’t want to regret saying something and feeling guilty about it afterwards.

When someone confides in you and needs compassion, listen with your heart. Everyone needs support at one time or another. Be there for your friends and they may be there for you when you need them. But always remember, you each have each other as sisters and best friends. You will always have each other’s back because you love each other. Always stay close and care for one another. You can be sure you can depend on each other, when other people can be unreliable.

When someone hugs you, never be the first to let go. Affection is very important. Express affection with your spouse, your children and each other. Hugs and kisses are very important for happiness.

And, life lesson #1, always put the toilet paper on the roll the right way, over is right, under is wrong!

 You are now ready for life!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life Lessons Learned - Part 1

One day I decided to write some lessons I learned to pass on to my daughters.  The list got a little too long for one blog, so I am dividing it up into two parts.  Wisdom from experience cannot be taught in a classroom, but it should still be passed on whenever possible.  Here goes:

I want to tell you the main lessons I have learned in life and I would be curious to know how many of them you have learned so far. Some of these were instilled in me by my mother and father and other things I have learned on my own.

Always be honest and truthful. If you are, you won’t have to have a good memory, like you do if you chose to lie. Lies and being dishonest destroy people’s trust and confidence in you. Once a trust is broken, and it only takes a second, it will take a very long time, if ever. to rebuild.  Surround yourself with honest, genuine people, like yourselves, so you will not be hurt.

If you love someone, tell them. Life is short, tragedies happen, and you never know if you will see or talk to someone you love again. You should never be afraid to say those three little words whenever you have the chance. You will never regret saying them too often, but you may regret not saying them when you had the chance.

Get a good education. That is something you should instill in your children from the moment they can understand you. You should never stop learning. Even though you may need a break from school after graduating college, you should consider going back and advancing to the next level at some point. You are both extremely bright and you are able to attain higher levels in your education, if you want to do that. In fact, I think it would be a shame if you both didn’t.

Always do your best, whatever you do. Anything you do, you should give it your all. If you do things half way, you will be perceived as someone who performs in a mediocre way, and then that becomes part of who you are and what people expect of you.

Don’t take loved ones for granted. None of us knows how long we will have the people we love in our lives. It will be easier to accept their leaving if we know we did not take them for granted when we had the opportunity to tell them and show them how much we appreciate them as often as possible.

Spend time with your children and, if you can, be a stay at home mom or work part time. Children grow up in the blink of an eye. You don’t want to miss out on their milestones or their first few years. You want to be the one to raise them and teach them, hug them and kiss them, make memories with them.  It's not very long until they will be starting kindergarten, and then if you want to add more hours to work you will be able to. I did not miss work for one second. If I had gone back to work I would have regretted not being there with you.

Say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” when you are. You will feel better and it will prevent any situation from getting worse and stop hurt feelings and anger from festering. Do it as soon as possible. It makes you the bigger person and you can stop dwelling on the issue and move on.

Stay Tuned For Part 2 of Life Lessons Learned Tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

STOP, THINK, What Are You Doing For Yourself Today?

There are 365 days in the year that many of us spend thinking of other people, putting their needs ahead of our own, and forgetting about ourselves. We just got through a series of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. Did anyone put as much thought and consideration into pleasing you as you put into pleasing each and every person on your list? If so, then you are one of the lucky few.

So today I am asking everyone to think of something you longed to do, would love to do, just for you and you alone. Whatever it is: a trip to the mall, a manicure, a massage, a day at a spa, a new outfit, lunch with a friend or anything else, make an appointment now. If you wait the idea will fly out of your mind on to thoughts of what to make for dinner, getting that laundry done or an errand you just have to run. If you make the appointment the more likely you will stick to it and you will have something to look forward to.

Men get burnt out at work, the kids get burnt out at school, but wives and mothers get burnt out everywhere we go. There is no sanctuary for us, no peaceful safe haven. The rest of the family has “home.” That’s where they relax, play, eat, sleep, recharge their energy. “Home” is where we work and use up the better part of our energy. They look around and see the big screen tv, the video games, the inviting couch, the cupboards loaded with snacks. We look around and see all the things that need to be done, the piles of laundry, the dishes in the sink, the dust on the furniture, the spots on the kitchen floor.

We have to treat ourselves to something because it’s not likely anyone is going to think about it for us. No one is there to anticipate our needs like we are for them. And all our thoughtfulness is pretty much expected and taken for granted.

Today I am going to contact a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in a long while and see if she wants to have lunch this Friday. The weather has really delayed our getting together, but now the sun is out and I am dying to get out of this house and catch up on things with my friend.

What are you going to do for you? Don’t put it off another minute. I can’t keep sending out reminders.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dating Today...

Back in my day, prehistoric times, the only way for a girl to get a date was to wait for some guy to ask her. Girls would never dream of being so forward as to ask a guy out unless it was February 29th, Sadie Hawkins Day. Sadie Hawkins Day was created by Al Capp (Li’l Abner comics) in 1937. Dances were held that day and girls were supposed to ask guys out.

Even after woman’s liberation, girls would not ask guys out. Sure they would flirt and get their attention and entice guys to ask them out. But if you weren’t good a flirting, didn’t have a beautiful face and a hot body to go with it, you weren’t going to attract many prospects. That’s the category I fit into for a long time.

Nowadays, women and men have all kinds of options available to them. In the past we counted on meeting people during your walks of life like school, church, museums, bars, the grocery store, and work. Today there are online matchmaking services like “perfect” or "eharmony" where you fill out all kind of information about yourself and they match you with suitable people. The biggest problem with that is that people lie to make themselves more desirable. Faced with questions like do you enjoy reading, traveling, sports, etc, many an applicant will lie and say yes. So you do not always get the “perfect match’ at the end of your search. Yet many honest people have met and married other honest people using these services. Of course these site charge a fee. A free online matching service you can try is called “Plenty of Fish.” You can go through all the people yourself and contact anyone you might be interested in, chat and arrange to have coffee. I have heard some success stories come out of this site as well.

Another option we have is speed dating. Companies organize a large and safe meeting place for men and women for a fee. It takes about two hours and in that time you spend about 6 to 7 minutes, one on one, with about 6 to 12 people. If you are interested in pursuing any of them, you would be able to arrange a meeting later in the week for a drink or lunch, just to see if you click. It seems like a good way to go through many prospects in a short amount of time and it’s not very expensive either.

There are also professional match makers out there which are probably the most expensive. I’m not so sure I would want someone who barely knows me and my personality to select someone for me. It’s one thing to put your interests on paper, but how does a matchmaker assess character? And if you pay for their services up front, they could set you up with anyone and if it doesn’t workout you remain a client. It might be different if you paid a fee if and when she found you someone that you clicked with. There would be more incentive in her doing a better job of matching people up.

Of course, as I told my daughter, this is the 21st century. You do not have to wait for a guy to ask you out and limit your dates to guys interested in you. If you see a guy you like, try asking him out. All he can say is no and you just prepare yourself for that. Girls should no longer be afraid to ask guys they are attracted to out. Girls are smarter and have an innate intuition about people. They are more likely to make wiser choices and better matches for themselves.

So, if you are looking for a guy, check out all the available sources, use your intuition and any trick up your sleeve to lure him in, and do not be afraid to ask him out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Marriage Proposal...

I think it’s fitting that I should write about my marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day. Every girl dreams of the day when her boyfriend will pop the question and ask her to marry him. We all envision some romantic setting or situation, the getting down on one knee, the little black box with the ring inside. After all, we have seen proposals on television and in the movies and we certainly have learned how it needs to be done.

I guess my husband wasn’t watching any of those shows or movies, because he didn’t pick up any tips along the road of life about how to propose. However, it makes for a cute little anecdotal story.

We met in June, 1980 and were dating on and off casually for months. One night in December 1981, we were coming home from a typical date. It must have been one or two in the morning. We were stopped at a traffic light near my house when all of a sudden, my husband asks, “Have you ever thought about getting married?” I said of course, all girls think about getting married. He said, “No, I mean you and me.” I said, “Not really, we haven’t spent a lot of time together or know each other well enough to consider marriage.” I also explained that there was a lot about me he didn’t know, like I was impossible to please. He wasn’t going to see that side of me by dating once or twice a week. Of course he was na├»ve and didn’t believe me. We talked a little more and decided we would start spending more time together and see how things go.

Two months later, on February 21st, 1982 he proposes to me again, very matter of factly, while we were parked outside my house in his car. This time I said yes. I knew all I needed to know about him. He was kind, compassionate, gentle, loving, honest, intelligent and thoughtful man. I knew he would do everything he could to make me happy and more importantly, I knew he would make a wonderful father. My biggest concern was whether he could live with my much stronger personality. He didn't seem to think it was a problem, but what do men know.

He had no ring that night. That was for the best. I got the name of a private jeweler from a friend of mine and we went to see him. I was able to pick out the ring and setting I wanted and I was very happy with it. I wanted a long engagement in order to make sure we both felt right about taking this step. I wanted to make sure this was going to last. I did not want a broken family or to raise my children in a war zone where there was arguing all the time. We set a date for June, 25th, 1983. Plenty of time to plan a wedding and get to know each other better.

My husband may not have proposed in the most romantic way, but I will say that in the 31 years that I have known him, he has never raised his voice to me in anger, never used foul language of any kind, and has never said “no” to anything I have ever asked of him. One day he said to me, “I live to make you and the girls happy.” And he has succeeded at that each and every day of our lives.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

PLAN B: If No Husband Found…

In yesterday’s blog I described how I set out to find a husband in my twenties and I was successful. But, I did have a plan B. Many of the men out there were jerks and I realized early on that it was going to be difficult to find someone who could measure up to my standards in trustworthiness, honesty, intelligence, morality, education and compassion. I would have had no difficulty staying single rather than settling for a man that was not suitable, however I wanted to have children. I remember wanting to have children from the age of 5 years old. My maternal instincts were very strong. So, what to do if I never find Mr. Right???

I thought long and hard about this dilemma. I was not going to give up on having children just because I did not meet the right man. I was working and living at home, so I decided to take advantage of that and save as much money as I could for my future. If I was going to have a baby, I needed to be independent and be able to provide for it. I gave myself a deadline. If I was not married by the age of 32 I would look into artificial insemination! That would be my plan B.

Of course, I was raised in an old fashioned, traditional Italian family of Catholics. This artificial insemination plan was not going to go over big. One day I decided to mention it to my mother. I brought up the conversation one day and told her point blank that if I was not married by 32 I was going to have a baby on my own. She was speechless for a few seconds. Her brain would not accept the information I had just put out there. I told her how much having a baby meant to me and I would have one, one way or another.

After considering what I said and announcing that my father would kill me, she had her own plan. She told me I should just marry a guy, have a baby and divorce him. To her this was an acceptable alternative to artificial insemination! I had to laugh. I told her, in other words, you want me to PAY for a wedding, have a baby, then PAY for a divorce and have a jerk in my life forever because he is the baby’s father??? No answer from my mother. I told her that makes no sense. I will have my own baby and raise it myself with no one to answer to.

That was my Plan B. I still think it was a good plan. Nowadays, it’s more acceptable than it was 30 years ago. But, it’s good to know women have options. You don’t have to settle or marry beneath you to have children. It’s no one’s business how you conceived or why. Considering the divorce rate in this country, it would be wise to proceed into marriage with caution anyway. But, when the biological clock is ticking and there is no suitable man around, you have to take matters into your own hands and do what’s right for you.

I am convinced I would have used my Plan B had I not married. Being a mother is not something I was willing to leave to chance.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Finding A Husband...

As I entered my mid-twenties I started thinking about getting married, as most women do. I had gotten my BA in psychology and a job at a local savings bank right after graduation. I was promoted a couple of times, I had paid all my student loans and started saving for my future while traveling and enjoying the single life. Then, I was ready to think about settling down and starting a family. How and where would I meet the “right” guy who, would not only make a good husband, but a wonderful father? It might never happen, who knows.

I devised a plan to try different things in hopes it would lead me to the man of my dreams. After all, he wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere ringing my doorbell. I had to go out and socialize and make myself “available.” So, one of the first things I did was to buy a new bike to ride. I thought, if I am out riding I might meet other bike riders and if not, the exercise couldn’t hurt. Wrong, I didn’t meet anyone and the exercise did hurt! I went out for a ride one day, got nervous and slammed into the back bumper of a parked car. I flew off the seat and down and my legs slammed into the “teeth” of the metal pedals. Ouch! I put that bike away and never looked back.

Then I saw an advertisement from the local police precinct for civilian volunteers. They had a formal training program set up and I thought this might be worth a try. Maybe there would be male volunteers there and I might be able to meet someone with a sense of civic duty. Wrong! The whole room was full of less than desirable candidates…not only for a mate, but for volunteer duty. There was no way I was going to find “Mr. Right” there and not only that, I lost all confidence in the police volunteers as well.

My next idea was to take college classes in business for a Master’s Degree that my employers would foot the bill for. I should be able to meet recent college graduates looking for advanced degrees in business there while bettering myself and making myself more marketable. Business was not my strong suit. I took classes in business law and marketing, which was fine because they were in plain English. But eventually I had to take something more challenging, Accounting 101. I couldn’t understand a debit from a credit. After spending hours on my Saturday afternoons trying to do my homework, and getting the wrong answers without a clue why, I had to withdraw from the class. I not only didn’t meet anyone, for the first time in my life I was unable to learn the subject matter of a class.

I wasn’t giving up though. I went to museums, New York city is full of them. I took a couple of “Single World” tours for my vacations. One was to California, where I actually did meet a very nice guy who lived in New Jersey. He had a great sense of humor and we hit it off. He worked for the IRS, which was nice, and enjoyed Broadway shows just like I did. One day he moved out of his parents home and suffered some kind of anxiety or depression and I never heard from him again. The next group trip I took was to Europe. I saw a lot of sights, but didn’t meet anyone.

One Friday the 13th, I decided I was going to go to a local bar by myself and see what happens. Friday the 13th was often a lucky day for me. Good things tended to happen for me, so I figured why not go out and give it a try, I had nothing to lose. I went to a bar called McZak’s, which was just a few short blocks from my home and where I had been many times. I was comfortable there so it made it easy to walk in and sit at the bar and order a drink. As I sipped my drink I looked around to see if there were any interesting guys around. I saw one having a beer along side the wall, standing by himself. I thought to myself, “that looks like a nice, quiet guy.” In a couple of minutes I took my drink and casually went over to stand near him. When he turned my way, I asked if he had the time. That was a clever rouse, don’t you think? When he answered, I told him I was waiting for friends of mine to show up and he answered so was he. However, my “friends” never showed up because they didn’t exist, that was a convenient lie. His friends did show up later, but only after we had time to have a nice long conversation. I learned that he had just graduated from Syracuse University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work specializing in gerontology. He was currently looking for a job in his field. He struck me as being a very honest, decent man. I liked him! When his friends showed up he introduced me to them. They were funny and very nice. It got late and I told him I had to leave. He offered to walk me to my car and asked for my phone number. That was June 13th, 1980.

The rest was history. We married June 25th, 1983 and lived happily ever after!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine’s Weekend Is Upon Us…

My husband and I never made too much out of Valentine’s Day. Maybe exchange cards and some chocolate and go out to dinner. One year we had the bright idea of doing dinner and a movie, but the movie was sold out. We ended up renting something and going home to watch it. That wasn’t so bad.

I don’t like going out for the sake of going out just because it’s Valentine’s Day. The restaurants are more crowded, the food more expensive and often not as well prepared because they are cooking for larger than normal crowds. You have to make sure to make reservations and not just pop in and get turned away. And besides that, it’s cold out this time of year. It doesn’t inspire me to get all dressed up to go out and freeze.

The commercialism bothers me too. The cost of chocolates are all ridiculous. It makes it hard for me to enjoy a box of chocolate when I know that tomorrow it will be half price. I also don’t appreciate paying twice the amount per pound because it’s packed in a heart shaped box rather than a rectangular one. I guess I want value for my money. I have thrown away dozens of heart shaped boxes over the years, all of which had only a fraction of the chocolate that the other boxes can hold. And right now, on this diet, chocolates are out!

Flowers are outrageously priced too! I don’t need expensive flowers on Valentine’s Day when, as my mother used to say, they are only going to die. Sure they look nice for a day or two, but then they start losing their beauty and fall apart…much the way I feel I am doing. The flowers remind me I have blossomed long ago and every day since, what beauty I did have is rapidly fading. Who needs those kind of reminders?

I have a better use for the money that would have been spent on candy, bouquets, movies and dinner. I’d love an overnight getaway when the weather is nicer. A little bed and breakfast in a rural area where I can hear crickets instead of car alarms. Take long walks and smell the flowers. That is what sounds wonderful to me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day For Kids...

When my kids were little, I made a big deal out of every holiday. It gave us a chance to do special things together and make some memories. I may be the only one of us who still remembers those times, but the three of us had fun. Valentine’s Day was no exception. I tell my kids I love them every day, and this is a holiday about love where you can show someone how much you care by your actions, instead of words.

First of all we always got those little cards to give out to classmates and some kind of snack sized candy to go with it and a little heart filled with chocolate for the teacher. Elementary schools always make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.

This was also a good excuse to do some baking with the girls. We made lots of heart shaped sugar cookies that we decorated and cup cakes with pink icing. They were always excited about baking and giving some of their masterpieces to their grandparents and uncles.

I would make sure I had red construction paper home and a package of white doilies so they could make special cards for their grandmothers. I tried to instill in them that homemade things were much better than store bought because they are made with love.

I also made them cards. Neither one ate very much candy so I would find little Valentine “jewelry” for them to wear or other little popular inexpensive trinkets at the stores. This was more to teach that it’s not the size of the gift, but the thought that counts. They were always happy with what they received.

They used to bring me home the cards they made at school. I made a big fuss over them and put them right up on the refrigerator for days. I remember once getting a coupon book as a gift. Each coupon could be “cashed in” for a hug, a kiss, or some other token of affection. I miss those days.

There are so many ideas online today, on ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children, that I did not have access to. We made the best of old fashioned traditions and had a great time in the process. I always looked at different holidays as an opportunity to create special family times together and to teach them values. Once they start growing up, they become busier with school and friends and the things we used to do with them aren’t nearly as much fun.

I am very glad I thought of different way to celebrate Valentine’s day with my girls and I hope they have wonderful memories of those times. Valentine’s Day may have lost a lot of it’s meaning through commercialism, but there are still ways to capture the essence of it and share that with your children.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Remembering My Grandmother...

I was four years old when my grandmother passed away 52 years ago this month. My grandmother, Maria, had 13 pregnancies, but only seven of her children survived. She doted on all of them and her grandchildren, especially me, because I was her favorite. She spoke Sicilian, as she was an immigrant from Italy, and because of that I was bilingual at 2 years old. She lived in the apartment below us, and we spent a lot of time together. If my mother got angry at me for some reason, my grandmother would always “protect” me.

My grandmother was elderly by the time I was born. She was already 73 years old and had health issues. I remember going into her apartment and seeing a low line of pill bottles across her kitchen sink. As she would open various bottles to take out her daily medications, I would pipe up in Italian, “Grandma you have to finish one bottle at a time.” Everyone got a kick out of my saying that.

In the summertime, we would sit on the front stoop, she in a chair and I between her legs, where she could keep an eye on me. As neighbors would pass by, she would have nicknames for all of them, in Italian. Some of those names still stick in my mind: Crazy, the one with the bad back, Baldy, the one who limps, and so on. No one was referred to by their real name. She even had names for a couple of my older cousins that for some reason she didn’t care for; one was called “horse head” and the other one “the bird.”

My grandmother was revered by all her children. The reason being that my grandfather was a alcoholic and would beat her in jealous rages when he would come home from playing cards and find her at the window. He would accuse her of looking for men, but she was just looking for him to come home. As a result of those beatings, she had a few miscarriages. Her children witnessed everything that went on because the 9 of them lived in a four room, railroad apartment. I often heard them say that she would pray that she lived ten years longer than her husband so she could have ten years of peace. She did end up dying almost tens years to the day he died.

My grandmother always took care of her family. She managed the money and purchased a six family house in Brooklyn. She raised her family there and then three of her children raised their families there. I grew up in that building myself. My grandmother also bought jewelry on time. A door to door salesman would come by once a week and she would buy each piece in installments, a few dollars at a time. She bought many pieces of jewelry over the years including, two gold men’s pocket watches, I woman’s gold pocket watch, a large cameo pin, and three or four diamond rings. All of these family heirlooms were left to my mother and passed on to me for my daughter’s, except for the men’s gold pocket watches.

My grandmother was a stay at home mom, but she also worked out of her home. Her children would pick up work from a nearby factory and bring to her. When the work was completed they would bring the items back to the factory. She had a rough life, but by the time I was born her troubles were all behind her. She gave my aunt money to throw her a big birthday party when she was 76 so she could have all her family together. I was only 3, but I remember that party. Everyone was there. A year later, she died.

My grandmother had the most beautiful green eyes. My mother had hazel eyes and my older daughter has hazel eyes. I see my mother and my grandmother in my daughter’s eyes. They have a sparkle and gleam to them when she smiles and a little devilish glint when she is up to no good.

Happy 52nd Anniversary in heaven Grandma. I know she is looking down on us and smiling, but I hope she hasn’t made up any nicknames for us!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Holier Than Thou People...

Most of us try to do the right things in life if only so we can look ourselves in the mirror everyday and like who we see. None of us wants to live with guilt, regrets or remorse. But, there is a group of people out there who feel morally superior to everyone else and think their above the average person in their ability to know right from wrong. These people are the holier than thou’s group. They see themselves as much fairer, more self-sacrificing, more ethical, more concerned for the welfare of others. I know you’ve already run into some along the way and haven’t appreciated the experience.

The source of the problem is that these people have an inflated, unrealistic view of themselves. They will criticize someone’s actions, say they would never do such an immoral thing and then fall short when their “morality” is tested. The fact is no one knows what they would actually do in any given situation unless confronted with that situation. A holier than thou person can predict he would do the right thing, but it doesn’t always work out that way. More often than not, they will react just like every other average person when in the same or similar circumstances. Statements like: I would never, cheat on a test or taxes, never gossip, never lie, never break the law, and many others, are socially acceptable views, but does everyone stick to them?

These same holier than thou people, with their mistaken inflated views of themselves will then apply these beliefs to others behavior hold everyone else up to their high standards, even though they themselves do not meet these standards of behavior. This leads them to harshly criticize and judge others behavior for falling short and can also harm or ruin others’ reputations. And, when they judge others, it only serves to make themselves appear even more superior in their own eyes.

You would think that if the holier than thou population experienced situations where their behaviors fall short of their own high expectations of others, that that would certainly teach them something and humble them to the point where their expectations become more realistic. They might realize for example, that some behaviors are caused by the situations and not the moral character of the people involved and resist making judgments. That would be a great outcome. However, people’s behaviors are not that easily changed and I think the holier than thou’s would like to keep their little rating system in place. To keep themselves up on a pedestal and the rest of us peons in place, they set up a double standard whereby they are not breaking any rules, even if they are doing the same exact thing. They create their own loop holes and in so doing become hypocrites as well.

I think we all guilty of having a little “holier than thou” tendency built into ourselves. After all, it’s not so bad to think good of yourself and to have standards of behavior that are a little idealistic. The trouble comes from trying to impose your idealistic set of beliefs on others and then criticize them when they fail to meet them.

The sad news for the holier than thou people is that they are going to fall off that pedestal one day; and the trip down will bring with it a rude awakening, that they too are like everyone else.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Trivia...

A long standing American tradition whose popularity has spread around the world. I’m taking a break from complaining to bring you some interesting Super Bowl trivia that you can use later, if you are having a party, to entertain your guests during commercials. Did you know…

Who will be watching?

151.6 million people
194 million blades of grass in the field
232 countries will be broadcasting it in
34 languages
1 language does not translate the word football into soccer

How much FOOD will be consumed?

  8 million pounds of pop corn
28 million pounds of potato chips
53.5 million pounds of avacados
293,000 number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end
1 billion chicken wings consumed
325.5 million gallons of beer consumed

How much money moves around for the game?

$5.6 billion dollars spent on Super Bowl items
$400 million added to the economy
$2.8 million spent on a 30 second television ad
2.9 million HD televisions bought for the game

What about Super Bowl Parties?

41 days in advance plans for parties are made
20 million Americans will attend parties
17 average number of people per party
40% of viewers are not fans
25% of women watch the game and enjoy it
10 million hours are spent preparing food

Saturday, February 5, 2011

When Parents Reach Old Age…

When you are growing up you never think you will one day lose your parents. They take care of us when we are little, they battle with us when we are teenagers, they pay for our college education, they guide us in making major life decisions, and they love us unconditionally. We just always assume they are going to be there forever, making everything ok when the world treats us badly.

But, that is not the way it goes. They can’t stay around forever. One day you wake up and they are older, fragile, and becoming more dependent. Roles reverse as we now have to take care of them and help them live with dignity. With old age comes illness, forgetfulness, doctors, hospitals, weakness, and pain. It’s hard for older children to watch, hopeless and helpless to do anything about it, as it takes over the body and mind of what used to be the independent and strong person we grew up with.

It’s heartbreaking.

My father was a very strong man. He came here from Sicily in 1953 and worked most of his life in construction. His hands were huge. He rarely got sick and never missed a day of work, even if he had a fever. Then, one day, he was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 73. The news was devastating to me. I cried and grieved as though he had just died. He had his operation and they removed the tumor, but he had to wear a colostomy bag and he hated it. But, he recuperated and took care of himself in no time at all. He was so strong. He had a good year, then cancer came back again, but it was at the opening outside the body. The doctors removed it. He had another good year. Then there was another recurrence, this time the tumor was attached to the bone inside the body. There was nothing they could do but give him medicine to control the pain. He suffered, got thinner, and wasted away right before our eyes. We put him in a hospice because they promised they would control the pain. They didn’t. He died in pain because they were afraid the dose of pain medication required would have killed him.

My mother was a strong willed woman and as sharp as one can be intellectually. She was a stay at home mom in every sense of the word. She was shrewd with finances, rarely sick, and the very epitome of the matriarch of the family. One day my brother took her to the doctor and explained some things that concerned him. The doctor told him she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Another kick in the gut. My mother had always had a very sharp and active mind. Now she was going to lose it to this insidious disease. The doctor gave her medication that was supposed to slow down it’s progress and other pills to keep her from getting agitated. Well, she started having hallucinations, becoming more and more forgetful and difficult to handle. She became paranoid. We wanted to keep her at home as long as possible so we hired someone to be there during the day while my brother was at work. She drove the woman crazy. Then, one day she fell in the house. She was taken to the hospital and from there they sent her to a nursing home/rehab. She was there about a year. She kept telling us she wanted to go home, but she needed round the clock care and wouldn’t get it at home. My brother went there every day to make sure they were doing everything for her that they were supposed to. If you don’t visit often, they neglect those patients for the ones whose family visits. One day my mom has a stroke. There is nothing they can do, it’s not a bad stroke, but it prevents her from swallowing food. They want to know from us what they should do. We tell them to keep her on the IV because it keeps her comfortable, but no food tube. They tell us it will be a few days, but it ended up being 5 weeks. She was comfortable, she still knew us and my brother took time from work to be there all day, every day. Then, the IV wasn’t helping any more. They took it off and gave her something to put her to sleep. She never woke up and passed on, in less than 24 hours, peacefully in her sleep.

I miss them both so much. I never thought about their passing on at all until confronted with it head on. They were both so active and healthy until they got these devastating diagnoses and then deteriorated pretty fast.

Old age can’t be avoided, we just never expect it to come so soon, for it to take our parents and then for it come for us.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Are not a new concept in today’s culture, but they seem to be popular and becoming more frequent, especially among young girls. It is a term used to described fights between women. And can involve hair pulling, slapping, scratching, and ripping clothing. It can even be used to describe verbal confrontations between women using nasty, insulting language.

The term “catfight” seems to have originated with an 1824 mock poem by Ebenezer Mack used to describe a fight between women. At that time the word “cat” was slang for a spiteful person, especially a woman.
The most famous television “catfight” took place in the 1980s on Dynasty between Krystal Carrington (Linda Evans) and Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) where their very physical brawl landed them both in a pond. It is really worth finding it on you tube if you missed it. I still remember it vividly.

Apparently, catfights are the result of competition between women in different areas of their lives. You can find them in the business world, in the schoolyard, in the neighborhood and even online. These rivalries can lead to aggressive behavior. Some examples you might relate to is the working mother who decides to be a stay-at-home mother and then criticizes the women who continue working as not properly caring for their children. Maybe you’ve been out at a party with a boyfriend or your husband and a very attractive woman comes over to make conversation, so you get closer to your man and touch him while throwing daggers in her direction? A woman you work with fails to email you or give you a file that is necessary for a meeting and you immediately think she is sabotaging you.

Women feel pressure to look prettier, land better boyfriends and husbands, be popular with co-workers, and be considered good mothers. They have decisions to make about getting married and settling or remaining frustrated and single, be ambitious at work or feminine, be a stay at home mother or a working mother. Then they resort to judgment and competitiveness to validate their choices.

My observation of catfights online is that it is very prevalent. Some women become jealous of the more popular, well respected women on a chat forum and then try to discredit them anyway they can. Others have different opinions on subjects or how to handle disruptive posters. Women cannot simply agree to disagree. Instead it turns into a free-for-all insulting exchange of words. I find this behavior interesting, but also demeaning to women. There are ways to have civil exchanges without judgment, name calling, insults and slurs. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard.

That being said, everyone enjoys watching a good catfight, and maybe that is part of the problem?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moms’ Words Of Wisdom And Other “Nagging” Advice…

Mothers around the world all have one huge thing in common…children. This is enough to change a woman’s brain into a mother’s brain and suddenly, upon giving birth, a whole set of new information on child rearing is downloaded into our heads. It has to be or how else can you explain the universal speech of mother’s throughout the world? Here are a few things “we” have been documented as saying, but there are literally hundreds if not thousands of Momisms:

- “Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.” I’m sure that EMT’s are trained to check underwear before checking vital signs in all accidents.

- “You’re the oldest, you should know better” and “You’ll always be my baby” This couple of phrases sends mixed messages.

- “You can’t find it?” which is followed by one of the following: “if you put things where they belonged you wouldn’t have this problem,” “where did you last leave it?,” or “I can’t find it for you, I’m not the maid!”

- And on “life” they say: “Who said life was going to be easy?” “Life is not fair” “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”

- On food: “Think of the starving children in…” “You just ate an hour ago.” “You can’t start the day on an empty stomach.” “Chew with your mouth closed”

- “I’m not…your maid, your taxi service”

- The “If yous” If you don’t finish dinner, no dessert.” “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” “If you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about.” “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times.” “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it!” “If I catch you doing that one more time I’ll…” “If God wanted you to have holes in your ears (tongue, eyebrows..) He would have put them there!”

- The “don’ts”: “Don’t make me get up.” “Don’t run in the house.” “Don’t sit too close to the television, you’ll go blind.” “Don’t go out with a wet head, you catch a cold.” “Don’t stay up late.” “Don’t run with a lollipop in your mouth.” “Don’t use that tone with me.” “Don’t EVER let me catch you doing that again!”

- And the reminders: “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Did you finish your homework?” “Did you comb your hair?” “Did you make your bed?” “Did you remember to flush the toilet?”

Yes we could write volumes on what mothers all over the world have to say to their children on a daily basis. There was a woman on Dr. Phil who actually made up a song about this very thing and all moms can relate to it. If you haven’t heard it you really should give a listen…it’s pretty amazing! (link below!!!)

Mothers are amazing!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Do Women Irritate Men?

I know women aren’t innocent in the battle of the sexes, so there has to be a few ways we get under a man’s skin from time to time. However, I needed a little help finding out what were men’s biggest complaints. After a little research this is what I learned.

Men don’t like it when women go to great lengths to be sweet during dating and then change after they have the guy hooked. For example, they notice that while dating a woman goes through a lot of trouble to wear sexy lingerie to bed, but afterwards comes to bed with curlers and cream on her face. While dating she talks sweet, smiles and bats her eyes, after she frowns, yells, and gains weight.

Women are too clingy and mistrust men. They don’t give them enough space. Some are even jealous and possessive.

Women have unrealistic expectations and want too much. They want the house, two cars, credit cards, kids…more things than a man can afford.

Women expect men to be mind readers. They try to communicate with facial expression, gestures or body language. A man has all to do to understand a direct verbal message, let alone subtle nonverbal signals. This often results in arguments. A man will ask, “What’s the problem?” and a woman will answer, “You know what the problem is!” when in truth he really doesn’t.

Men aren’t intimidated by women who make more money or drive expensive cars. What they resent is the way the women flaunt their success in order to be superior in the relationship. It turns the relationship into a power struggle.

Women call men several times a day to discuss trivial things. They do not like to be interrupted at work for pointless conversations.

Over analyzing what a man says is something some women do. It really isn’t necessary because when a man says something he literally means what he says. This may be due to the fact that women often say one thing and mean another, so they expect men to do the same thing. For example, a woman will say, “No, I’m not mad.” when she really means “I am pissed at you and it’s payback time.”

Men do not like it that women use “PMS” to excuse their bad behavior. They feel women exaggerate and exploit it to get men to do what they want.

Men think women talk too much whereas women think men do not communicate enough. As I explained in yesterday’s blog, women use a lot more words per day than a man (7,500 vs. 2,500) so they can never keep up with us. The best way to communicate with a man is to keep it short and simple if you want to keep his attention and be heard.

Of the biggest things men hate is when women want to go shopping with them. Men and women have different shopping styles. Man is a hunter therefore he knows what he is there to buy and targets it, buys it and goes home. Women like to “graze” and look at everything in the store. Men get tired and bored with the whole experience. They get frustrated when a women tries on 25 items and asks them how they look, when they really do not care what the man has to say.

Well, as far as I can see, they have some valid points. Unfortunately, men and women are wired differently so neither of us is going to change any time soon. But learning about how each sex communicates and behaves can teach us tolerance and understanding and we can make some compromises and adjustments so as not to get on each others nerves so much.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Do Men Irritate Women, Let Me Count The Ways…

Men always act like innocent lambs when you try to bring something to their attention, or they have a “good” excuse handy. Let’s face it, men and women are so different and never the twain shall meet. We just have to accept it. But, there are a few things that could benefit greatly from if they pay attention. Maybe if they irritated us less, their lives would be more peaceful.

The toilet seat is the classic answer. Men, from the beginning of toilet seat history, can never remember to put the seat down.

Another irritating thing men do is assume that the house cleans itself. Clothes jump off the floor onto hangers, dishes wash themselves, the vacuum is always on call and comes out when needed, the food fairy shops and cooks the meals and the never ending laundry goes from basket to washer to dryer to folded neat piles all on its own. That’s is why men frequently ask the question, “What have you done all day?” With the house taking care of itself, it doesn’t leave us much else to do.

Men think their purchases are necessities, but women’s purchases are frivolous spending. Therefore his nice new shiny golf club is far more important than toothpaste, toilet paper, and laundry detergent.

Men want their women to stay thin and sexy for them. However, they don’t seem to mind their own bald heads or beer bellies. Doesn’t staying attractive for one’s mate work both ways?

Men forget important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. If they manage to remember, they shop at the last minute and put little or no thought into it.

Sports widows. Men can be glued to the television for hours listening to announcers drone on and on about the game or the players. They never seem to get tired of listening, never that is until a woman has something to say. What woman wouldn’t want her mate to pay her even half the attention he devotes to a game?
How about when you are trying to tell a man about something that he did or something that went wrong during your day and he responds with, “that’s no reason to be upset.” Not only don’t they “hear” what you are saying, but they pick the worst phrase to say to comfort us.

Men are born with the fixed idea that women can’t drive. Yet men have most of the accidents and get the most speeding violations.

Men grunt instead of having a conversation. I know the reason for this. Men and women use a different amount of words per day. Men use about 2,000 to 2,500 while women use 7,000 to 7,500. That means a man has already used all his words at work and we have 5,000 extra words we need to say. But, he should make an effort to participate in some conversation, if not it leads to a lot of frustration.

I am sure I could add much more to the list. Men are indeed irritating, but a lot of it could be the way they are wired or socialized to behave. I guess we just have to take the good with the bad?