Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everybody "Used" To Love Raymond

It’s been a habit of mine to watch reruns of favorite shows over and over every night. I watch lots of Seinfeld, King of Queens, Friends, Golden Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond. I do this because I don’t have to pay close attention all the time so I can also do other things, and I can still get a good laugh out of them. Somewhere along the line I stopped laughing at Everybody Loves Raymond…or at least at Raymond, the character.

When Debra married Raymond, he was a nice guy who didn’t think much of his looks and felt he was very lucky to get such a beautiful woman to marry him. But most of the show is about the marriage, and Raymond has not been the ideal husband by any stretch of the imagination. When you watch large doses of the show, a pattern starts to emerge about Ray’s behavior. The best thing I can say about him is that he has a good full time job and supports the family, he doesn’t cheat on Debra and he does everything his mother says. But, in virtually every episode he is not nice to his wife. He is thoughtless, he is selfish, he is lazy, he is hurtful, he lies, he manipulates her, he is rarely affectionate and never pays her a lousy compliment…shall I go on?  As a wife and mother, I don’t find all that funny and I wonder why I ever did.

Examples? He just returns from a 5 day business trip and he and his friend scheme to lie and manipulate her into letting him go golfing. They pretend to have a fake conversation in her earshot about golfing and when doesn’t respond, they throw in it’s $100 off. Finally, Debra tells him to go golfing. 

Then there is the time they return from vacation and he leaves a suitcase on the steps, expecting Debra to take it upstairs. It stays there for a month! Then he has a business trip and still refuses to touch the suitcase so he packs his clothes in a plastic grocery bag. For spite, he puts cheese in the suitcase so it will stink up the house. 

He hates to go dancing, but Debra loves it. The perfect solution comes up! Robert, his brother loves to dance, so he and Debra start going out dancing. Ray gets jealous and decides to scheme and tell Robert that Debra doesn’t feel well so he can take her dancing instead. Problem is that Debra, Robert and Ray all end up in the same place to dance and the truth comes out. Once they find out Ray is jealous it ruins the dancing for both of them.

Ray never helps Debra out around the house. Instead, if there is anything to be done, he calls his mother in to do it. He wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night for their daughter, so he snuck in his mother to sleep over so she could do it. The plan backfired when Marie’s cold creamed face scared the granddaughter and she started screaming. 

Then there was the episode where they come home from celebrating their tenth anniversary. Debra decides she wants to watch their wedding video, only to find out Ray taped a football game over it!

Episode after episode Ray proves what a jerk of a husband he is and yet Debra stays and loves him through it. When you add his across the street parents to the mix it’s mind boggling. Frank is an obnoxiously, rude bore of a man and Marie is an interfering, intrusive, critical, woman who barges into their home any time she pleases. It’s a wonder that Debra didn’t run for her life years ago. She gets no support at all from Ray when she is trying to deal with his mother. He always sides with his mother on everything. He has no backbone at all. So now, instead of laughing at each episode I find myself getting more and more annoyed.

I think they should rename the show, Everybody Used To Love Raymond, because when you watch episodes back to back, day after day, there is no way you’re going to like him, much less love him.

Monday, January 30, 2012


When I was younger, I never heard about “enablers” or “enabling,” but now we hear it all the time. And what exactly is an “enabler?” You could say it’s someone who is trying to help someone, but is actually doing more harm than good. Why? It’s because they are seeing to it that the person they and helping is becoming more entrenched in their problems by not forcing them to help themselves. They actually mean well and they care a lot, yet they are making it not only possible, but even easy for the person to continue their problematic behavior. Let’s see what the definition has to say, because I am curious.

“Most often the term enabler is associated with people who allow loved ones to behave in ways that are destructive. For example, an enabler wife of an alcoholic might continue to provide the husband with alcohol. A person might be an enabler of a gambler or compulsive spender by lending them money to get out of debt.”

It might be hard to describe yourself as an “enabler” when you actually see your actions as helping a person out of love. You might think eventually they are really going to do something about their problem. You have hope that this is the last time you will need to help and that they will finally get their acts together. But as long as they keep getting help from anyone, they are going to keep things the way they are; and why shouldn’t they, they are happily making anyone else, everyone else, responsible for their problems. They won’t take responsibility for it themselves. Many enabled people, who are fortunate enough to have loving family and friends, can take advantage of their feelings and have a nice circle of enablers established. And often, enablers feel that they are bad people if they don’t keep trying to help. They don’t want to let their loved ones down. The problem is that their help is keeping the person from hitting rock bottom and realizing they are the ones who have to “fix” the problem, no one else can do it for them. And while no one wants to see a loved one “hit rock bottom” because it’s painful,  it’s really only way they are going to seek the help they need. They have to have no other choice.  Everyone seems to agree on that.

If you have a loved one who exhibits destructive behavior you might want to take a look at whether or not you are helping them solve their problems or making them worse? I guess that why interventions were created? Maybe a group of enablers confronts the enabled person in question and tells them officially that they are not going to help them any more unless they get the help the need. Interventions seem to work in many cases, not all.

I guess if you really love or care about someone with a serious problem, an enabler is the last thing you want to be.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jennifer Lopez Robbing The Cradle?

Jennifer Lopez recently got a shout out on X Factor in season one, for being the most beautiful woman. Shortly thereafter, we hear about the breakup of her marriage with Marc Anthony. I never understood what she saw in him in the first place. It certainly wasn’t good looks, but to each his own. Now, at the prime age of 42 and, after having twins, Jennifer has started dating. Who is she dating? Casper Smart, that’s who. A man/boy who is a mere 24 years old. Barely “fully cooked” as Judge Judy would say. Sorry, I just don’t get it. Some of these Hollywood romances are just plain ridiculous. This is one of them. The pair took to tweeting about their romance to fans saying age was not important. Really? I think we can figure out what they are both getting out of this little arrangement, besides publicity.

It’s not exactly a May-December romance, like one source described it. I would not put Jennifer in the December category, she is far from old. I wouldn’t put Casper at May either for that matter, he hasn’t lived long enough to get that much credit. I would place him at April and Jennifer maybe at July. If they are together long enough, which I doubt, they can age their way up to May/December. Even though she looks great, she could be his mother. There’s an 18 year age difference between them. I think it makes her look foolish. And the paparazzi is busy taking tons of pictures, so that when her children are old enough, they can look her up on the internet and ask her if she was having a midlife crisis after leaving their father. Is this just a fling? I hope so, because if they marry, I think we can predict what is going to happen before long. Not too smart.

By the way, I went to check out Casper’s website just for the hell of it. For a young guy he has a pretty impressive set of credentials in choreography. Choreography. All of a sudden I can almost hear Jennifer singing, “I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, and still have begged for more…” Good luck to them.

Casper’s Website: http://www.caspersmart.com/bio/

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mitt Romney Jokes About Unemployment…

Ironically, last June, Mitt Romney joked about being unemployed himself, to a group of voters in Florida. Mitt has spent the last eight years running for president, so technically he would be correct. However, as a concerned citizen about the high rate of unemployment, and watching it affect my loved ones and friends, I do not find his comments funny. I find it even more offensive when I have come to learn, in recent days, that the man claims to make over 20 million ($20,000,000+) a year. AND, on top of that, pays the bear minimum of 14% in income tax! Imagine him trying to “relate” to the general public and “whine” about his misfortune, joking or not?

Poor Mitt has a family fortune of about a quarter of a billion dollars. I came across an article that said in 1998 he made 342 million from a company, Bain Capital in Florida, that was going bankrupt. I’m sure I could find many examples of why he shouldn’t be joking about unemployment. He will never be able to relate to the average American citizen, he has been rich all his life. Why should unemployment be a priority to him? I think he is just saying what people want to hear, but his true colors came out last June.

I am not listening to the politicians campaign. Maybe after the Republicans settle down and pick someone, I might pay more attention. However, I can’t help but be caught in some of the crossfire when I hear things on the news or some discussion at the family dinner table. When I hear Romney speak, I find him annoying. I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t think he takes the issues we face as a country seriously. He seems to have a cavalier attitude to me. I am not going to listen more closely to see if I change my opinion. I don’t care enough. However, I heard this morning that Newt Gingrich is gaining more support these days, but the polls keep fluctuating. No one is clearly ahead when it comes to these two. And this is the case even after Newt’s ex-wife put out some disturbing information about their marriage. So, I guess Romney isn’t irritating just me? Either way, I am not happy with either candidate.

I find politics exhausting. People are always debating the issues to death. We all basically want the same things. To live as our forefathers said, with certain inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s just that simple. We have to fix the things that are interfering with these rights. No one seems very happy to me. This used be called the land of opportunity. It held promise and hope for all who came here. Now all we hear about are people in despair, who want to work and can’t find jobs; who are sick and don’t have health care; who want to pay their bills, but have no money for food. Something has gone terribly wrong and pointing fingers of blame is a waste of time and energy; it’s not productive. What would be nice is if democrats and republicans rolled up their sleeves, forgot about party lines and got to work. That’s only going to happen if we get rid of all the male politicians and elect females instead. Women know how to work together to accomplish a common goal without their egos getting in the way. They don’t care about getting the credit, they just want to come up with a solution. How about a little experiment? We make all the male politician stay home and let their wives take over for a while and see how things go?

I’ll bet Mitt Romney’s wife wouldn’t be joking about unemployment, she’d be working to fix it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Demi Moore's Addiction & Marriage

I really didn’t want to blog this disaster, but now that Demi’s addiction has entered the story I feel compelled to voice my opinion. Who didn’t see this marriage ending when it first began? The age difference alone was enough to set off red flags everywhere. Sure Demi looks great for her age, she always has. But, Ashton is 16 years younger than she is and 16 years is a huge gap between a man and a woman, especially at the ages they got married. She was 42 and he was 27, at the time they married 6 years ago. She already lived half her life, married and raised a family. He was barely fully cooked and always appeared to be immature. Why on earth would she think that a marriage to him would stand the test of time?  I am surprised it lasted as long as it did.

Now she is in the hospital from doing “whip-its” or inhaling a nitrous oxide. She supposedly had a seizure and was semiconscious. Now she is in a treatment facility for substance abuse, but half the media is reporting that she is there due to exhaustion. Let’s keep it real. Will we ever have the true story? This is like the question what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Did his immature behavior and cheating drive her to drug use or did her drug use drive him out of the marriage to cheating? You don’t develop a substance abuse problem overnight. And what kind of drug is nitrous oxide? It’s hard to say what is true and maybe, after rehab, Demi will explain things herself.

Friends say Ashton is “acting like a teenage boy.” Well, what’s new about that? Hasn’t he always acted that way? And Demi was always appeared to be mature, as she should be in her forties. It was like she was his mother instead of his wife. And the story goes that Ashton was having multiple affairs and she put up with a lot, giving him the benefit of the doubt time and time again. I think Demi married the man she wanted Ashton to be, not the man he was. Maybe she was hoping he would fix what was broken inside her, only to find herself in more despair.

I do feel bad for Demi. I heard that she said she was afraid she would die without anyone ever loving her. That statement speaks volumes about her own self worth and how hard she is taking this break-up. But feelings like this don't develop from one or two bad relationships, I think this goes way back to her childhood. Maybe it's something she has been carrying around inside her, hoping another person could change it, when it's something she really needs to work on herself. 

Then again, maybe celebrities shouldn’t marry other celebrities. It seems that it rarely works out for one reason or another. Maybe they should take a page out of Meryl Streeps book. Marry a regular person; live in a normal place; raise your family and keep them out of the limelight; take jobs that do not require you to be away from your spouse and family; and turn down acting jobs when they interfere with your personal life. It seems to work for her and she is one of the outstanding actresses of our time, in my opinion. 

What do you think?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My OWN Witness Protection Program…

When my older daughter was in middle school I had to be her “witness protection program.” During the time my daughter attended that school, and maybe even before and after, there were a lot of fights between students. Apparently, they were getting worse in the spring and she would come home and tell me there was a fight at lunch and they called down several students to the office to tell them what happened. From the various versions, they would get an idea of who started it and how to best punish the parties involved. I know it began to irk me that they were taking my daughter out of her classes several times, where she was missing work, to report on what she saw happen that day. I told her I sent her to school to be a student and learn something, not to be a witness.

Not one of the girls, who was the primary aggressor in these fights, probably got tired of seeing my daughter called down to rat her out. One day she confronted her and pushed her in the hallway. My daughter came home to tell me what happened. Now I am livid because the school placed my daughter in this position. She never had anything to do with this girl before and now they may have made her a target, in addition to making her miss time from her classes. You all know how I love to write? Well I sat down and typed a two page letter to the assistant principal, who had been handling all the interrogations and problems concerning the fighting. I wish I had a copy to paste right here, but I am riled enough to give you the gist of what I said.

Dear Mr. So and So, I am writing to advise you that yesterday my daughter was pushed at school by a girl you had had my daughter testifying against. In addition to making her miss her own class work, she has now become the target of this bully. I send my daughter to school to learn, not to testify and not to worry about her safety. The school is supposed to keep her safe. I am writing to advise you that you need to take care of this problem as soon as possible. Please advise the parents of the bully that if she lays another hand on my daughter again, I will not hesitate to file a police report for assault and follow through. This letter documents the first incident, which occurred yesterday, of her pushing my daughter. I will not tolerate anyone putting their hands on her. The school is also on notice for placing my daughter in harms way. Please take care of this today and advise me on how you plan to proceed.

I sent my daughter to school, with my letter, to be delivered first thing in the morning. She went straight to his office as she was told, and handed it to him. When he was done reading it, it said to her, your mother writes some letter! When I felt enough time had passed, and that the letter was delivered and read, I called him on the phone. I introduced myself and asked if he had gotten my letter. He said yes he had, and planned to act on it today. He assured me that he would call me back and inform me of what he was doing to take care of it. I asked if my daughter was okay, and he said yes. He felt he could resolve the issue and there would be no more problems for my daughter. I said that’s fine because I am very serious about what I said in the letter about going to the police. He understood, but didn’t think that would be necessary. He was true to his word and called me two or three times that day, telling me what he had done, including meeting with the girl and her parents. Thankfully, that really was the end of it. My daughter had no further issues with the girl and was not called down to make any more witness statements.

The only reason I didn’t go up to the school in person was so as not to embarrass my daughter or bring additional attention to the situation. If I had gone there I’m sure everyone in the school would have heard about it. I was pretty angry and I guess the tone of my letter conveyed the message to the assistant principal. My daughter described his reaction after he read it as stunned, and I could tell from his conversation with me that he knew I was serious. I’m just glad I didn’t have to take matters further, but it’s times like these that I am glad I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Like the minute men of the revolution, I am always ready, at a moment’s notice, to take any action necessary to protect and defend my girls!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Teacher Runs Out Of Gas!

My younger daughter had a teacher called Ms. Stavola, in elementary school. She taught in different classes throughout the day. One day my daughter heard a story at school, from another classmate, who also has this teacher. When we sat down to eat dinner that night, my daughter suddenly bursts out in uncontrollable laughter. We ask her what is so funny. The more we ask, the harder she is laughing, and she can’t even eat or talk. The tears are streaming down her red face. Dinner is at a standstill while we wait for her to compose herself long enough to tell us the story. I can always use a good laugh!

Finally, between continuous bursts of laughter, she begins to tell us that she heard a story about Ms. Stavola from her friend. During her friend’s lesson that day, Ms. Stavola let out a huge fart. Becoming embarrassed by the class’s laughter, the teacher ran out of the room crying. But, as my daughter’s friend told the story, she made a gesture with her hand that my daughter replicated at dinner. When she gets to the part about the “fart” she puts out her pointer finger, making a spiraling motion in the air and saying, “it went like this.” That is when we all fell on the floor laughing. “What do you mean it went like this?” I asked, how can you see a fart?” My daughter, still laughing, says, “I don’t know, that’s what my friend did” and she repeated the spiraling motion with her finger through the air. It’s been about ten years since that story was told, but it still makes me laugh out loud today. But that’s not the only time this teacher ran out of gas, so to speak.

One day Ms. Stavola assigned a state to all the students in my daughters class. They were to prepare a report on various things about the state including things like the flag, motto, population, etc. My daughter got West Virginia. Wes Virginia is a lovely state and certainly not the worst state, but it’s not a very exciting state. I told my daughter to write to the WV Department of Tourism and get some brochures to include in her report. She had plenty of time. I got her a small looseleaf binder for her project and she wrote her report, illustrating it with maps, the flag, pictures of the state, letter from the governor etc.

The day the report was due, Ms. Stavola called them all up to her desk, row my row, to look at their reports. As she was doing that she was commenting on the quality of their reports, some were great, some good, some poorly done. Then she gets to my daughter and looks at what she has done. She starts praising my daughter, saying how her report is excellent and all the others stinks. “This is how to do a report!” You can imagine my shy daughter wanting to crawl into a hole. And, to make matters worse, she sends my daughter to other classes and tells her she is to show all the students what a report is supposed to look like!  My daughter gets out of school and never says a word to me about all this. However, when I get home, my phone is ringing off the hook. It’s parents of the other students, they are asking me if my daughter is ok. I said yes, why? They told me what had happened because they children had told them and they were mad at my daughter (who probably didn’t know that). The parents all told their kids not to be mad at my daughter it wasn’t her fault. And thankfully, the incident died there.

Later in the school year, Ms. Stavola gave a test and my daughter got an 88. However, two questions were identical and she got them both wrong, which I was willing to ignore, until the report cards came out. On my daughter’s report card was an 85 for the quarter. I said “Oh no, you deserve more than this.” My daughter was willing to leave well enough alone, but I wasn’t. Open school day rolled around soon after and I went up to see the teachers, as always. I made a point o go see Ms. Stavola, who told me what a wonderful student my daughter was and I agreed. I told her, however, that I did not agree with her grade for the quarter. She looked in her grade book and showed me her grades. I said that all well and good, but she deserves a higher grade. For one thing she wrote a report on West Virginia that was excellent enough for you to send her to all your other classes to show the other students. Then I take out the test and she immediately says well, she got an 88.  I say yes, that’s what it says, but two of your questions are exactly the same, so if she got one wrong she was going to get the other wrong. If we adjust the grade by eliminating that duplicate question, she would be getting a 92. She sat there stunned. She took the test and said she would correct my daughter’s grade. She had run out of gas again.

I had to wait until the next report card to see that the change to the grade was made. It was a small thing in the scheme of it all, but I wanted my daughter to get what she deserved.  That’s why I was a stay at home mom. I wanted to keep a close eye on what was going on at school and tried to make sure that my kids worked to their full potential. If there was a problem or issue, I made myself informed and stepped in when necessary. It’s all in a day’s work!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Handling Teachers...

For the most part, my girls have had good teachers throughout their education. They liked some more than others, who doesn’t. But I always told them that they have to “feel” each teacher out at the beginning and figure out what they are looking for. You can’t always have teachers you love. On the other hand, sometimes teachers and schools can be unreasonable and my girls weren’t the kind that were going to open their mouths and say anything. That’s a mother’s job and I did my job.

My older daughter was in a prestigious public high school. She graduated valedictorian of her middle school and was in a high school full of valedictorians. It was very difficult to say the least. She worked hard and would do homework up until 10 or later each night and her weekends were for studying and working on projects. She got a damn good education, but it came at a very high, anxiety producing cost. But she selected the school and she lived with her decision. 

One day she submitted a paper on the trade routes between Japan and China back in the 800’s to 1100’s.  In any case, there was virtually no information on this topic. We went to several libraries and were lucky to find a page here or there in some old books. She gathered all her information and wrote a decent paper. She got an “F” as did several other students, for not properly citing her sources. The problem was that the students had never been taught how to cite sources, but no one wanted to hear any excuses. An “F” was devastating, to put it mildly. My daughter came home in tears. She worked so hard on the paper and would have done it properly if taught. I was livid! I couldn’t bear to see her so distraught, so I suggested she talk to the teacher. She flatly refused and began to explain why. She had an English teacher who had assigned a paper, but failed to return them in a timely fashion. A student complained about it and the teacher retaliated by giving the whole class a boatload of extra work. Word had gotten around the school about the incident. So my daughter was afraid to speak to her history teacher for fear of retaliation. I said, fine, (as steamed poured out of my ears), I will call the school and speak to the principal. She almost died, telling me I couldn’t do that. I said I won’t give my name. She told me they might trace the phone number back to her! I didn’t know what to do frankly, but I wasn’t going to take this lying down. Finally, I suggested that I would call using a phone card that they couldn’t trace. She agreed that I could try it. 

 I get my phone card and proceed to call the principal, who is not in.  I call again and ask for the assistant principal. This woman aggravated me to no end. I explained to her I was a parent of a student, but could not give my name because my daughter was afraid of retaliation. I explained how upset my daughter was and how concerned I was and needed to talk to someone. She refused to speak to me, because without a name, I could be some nut on the street! I was frustrated to no end. This is a school with the cream of the crop of students, always saying that they are concerned about them and now there is a problem and I am getting nowhere. I move down the chain to the guidance counselor. 

The guidance counselor also wants my name. I tell her I cannot give it, my daughter is scared to death. I said let me tell you what the problem is. I proceed to tell her all about the “F” and how the kids were never taught to cite sources. She says she can’t help me without a name. She says my daughter should talk to the teacher about it.  I tell her she is too afraid and that I even had to use a phone card to call for fear this would be traced back to her!  The guidance counselor says that she has no reason to be afraid, all the teachers are out for the well being and education of the children. I sigh and take in a deep breath. Then I tell her, yes, that is what you all say, but my daughter is here is tears and afraid. Do you know the story abut her teacher Ms. Kahn? The English teacher who didn’t return the papers fast enough and a student complained so she retaliated against the whole class giving them extra work?  Silence on the other end. So I say, so you have heard of it?  That’s why she is afraid and now I can’t get anyone to help her. Finally she says she will talk to the teacher about it. The issue was resolved the next day when the teacher told the class that they could correct their papers with added citations and get a “C.” It was better than nothing. The whole incident still makes me furious. 

Maybe I will come up with other “school” related stories this week. As mothers we have to be advocates for our children. Even when they are at school, and their well being is supposed to be a priority, it’s not. Children don’t always have a voice or use it. Sometimes we have to step in and speak for them. I learned this from my mother, who never hesitated to protect and speak up for my brother and I when the situation called for it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pictures and Memories...

 I dedicate this blog to my friend, Angela, who inspired me to write it.

When my kids were born I got obsessed with taking pictures and videos of them all the time. I wanted to captured every change in their growth, every facial expression, every holiday, the time spent with grandparents, their baptisms, communions, graduations and on and on. I took plenty of pictures and videos, but we never look at them. Time marches on and in this busy world we never have time to sit still and look through photo albums. A few special pictures hang on the walls of our home, and thousands are packed away just in case we want to look at them. But I realized, as great as pictures are, they are no substitute for our memories. A picture can only trigger a memory, not save it.

Our memories are not in those pictures. Our memories are in our minds, in our hearts and in our souls. They are not flat, two dimensional pieces of paper. They are vivid and alive, they have depth.  They are the keepsakes of our emotions, of our relationships, of the stages of our lives, of where we have been, of what we have accomplished, or what we have learned. They are a composite of who we are as human beings. Some pictures may be worth a thousand words, but memories are priceless.

Pictures are great, but they only capture a second in time. Memories are so much more than a picture. They last longer, they are filled with emotion and details that can never be fully represented in an image. That’s why I love blogging about my memories. I can paint a picture with words that no artist’s brush can come close to putting on canvas; that no Kodak moment, no matter how special, is going to reflect completely. As I write about my memories, they trigger other memories. I may only have time to write one a day, but at the end of a year I can have a book filled with my most treasured possessions. And as I get older, pictures will fade, my memory will fade, but my words will always be vivid and live on forever. 

When you show others your pictures, they will say, “that’s nice,” “looks like you had fun,” “you must be very proud.” They can only guess, based on their experience, what you are thinking and feeling. They can’t know what is behind the picture, what happened before it was taken or what came after, like your memories can. For example, I have a picture of my mother holding our first puppy, Caesar, forty-one years ago. It’s a great picture, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. If you read my blog about how we got that puppy then you would see the difference between a photo and the full memory. My mother never intended to get me that dog, but because my cousin made a remark that anger her, she got me the puppy for spite. When people read that blog, they can picture my memory themselves, as though they were there. If I showed them the picture they might say, “that’s nice.” (Link to Caesar Blog Caesar and Mom )

I have tons of memories that pictures could never do justice to. I have a picture of my daughter opening her ipod at Christmas. The picture doesn't show you her shock or tears of joy when she saw it because she really thought she wasn't getting one. Then there was the year my girls opened their Wii and the picture captured their momentary glee, because they didn't expect it since they were sold out in every store.  What the pictures didn't show was the fact that I called around and searched online for days, using a Wii tracker, to find it on Amazon before it was sold out again. Another year the girls got Toy Story characters that Burger King was selling weekly. I have a picture of them with their dolls, but not of my husband and brother eating hamburgers for four weeks trying to collect them all for the girls. Everything has a story that a picture cannot tell.

Not everyone likes to write, but I would encourage you to try to record your memories. I think it’s a wonderful way to preserve them and pass them down to your children and grandchildren. I realized how much my own girls never knew about me and my family until they started reading my blogs and the “memoirs” I wrote before they were born. Even back then, in my twenties, I realized that my memories would fade one day. Time has a way of doing that. One day I might even be looking at my mother and Caesar’s picture myself and say, “Isn’t this a nice picture,” and not remember what came before or after that moment in time. But now that will never happen because I have preserved the whole experience in words. And if I recall more of the details, I can revise whatever I have written. 

My children will be able to tell all the stories that I heard as a child to their children and grandchildren long after I am gone. I would have loved it if my mother and father had done that for my brother and I. But back then people didn’t write their memories down, they talked and talked and talked about them. And I’m glad I was listening and had the sense to save their memories for my children. We don’t have many old pictures of my aunts, uncles and grandparents so we don’t know how they looked as children. But we know who they are; my children “know” them without ever having met them, in the words and stories I took time to write down. 

Words paint a picture in a way that nothing else can. Preserve your memories with words. Pictures are great, but they fall far short of capturing the richness of the experience. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Baby Turns 22 Today…

Twenty-two years ago I left for the hospital, after The Golden Girls ended. It was a great episode, but I couldn’t enjoy it because the indigestion I thought I had, was getting worse by the minute. I called the doctor, but he didn’t think I was in labor. Nevertheless, I had my husband take my older daughter to my mother’s house. In the few minutes he was gone, the pains had gotten worse and I was shaking. We got to the hospital at around 10:30 or 11 and at 3AM my baby daughter made her entrance into the world. She really came in with a bang, I’m just glad she was in a hurry and the labor was a few short hours.

I can tell you that the labor pains were the only pains that this child has ever caused me. From the moment of her birth until today, she has always been an angel. It’s nothing that I did, it’s just her nature. I noticed very early on that people found her very lovable. She didn’t really start speaking until she was three and a half, but there was something about her that melted people’s hearts. She was always a quiet girl, good natured, calm, and sweet. Nothing bothered her. She knew how to keep herself busy playing from when she was very little and played equally well with other children.

She always did well in school, in fact she excelled, but was always very modest about it. She never considered her accomplishments anything special. She never wanted to be the center of attention or have any attention focused on her. You know when kids graduate middle school they all want an autograph book so their friends and teachers can write in them. When I read hers, it brought me to tears.  There were no stupid sayings on any of the pages. None. Instead, on page after page, her friends wrote what a wonderful person she is, how much they enjoyed their time with her, wishing her the best of luck in high school etc etc. Again, just like when she was a baby, I saw how she melted people’s hearts in her own quiet way. And these were 14 year old kids writing these warm and loving words, that’s what surprised me the most. The same thing happened when she graduated high school. I looked through her yearbook and a different set of kids had filled up the pages with kind and thoughtful messages about how nice she was and how much she had helped them. I knew she was my angel, but I didn’t know everyone else could see it too.

This will be a big year for her. She is turning twenty-two today and in four months she will be graduating from college. When she started college she didn’t know what she wanted to do. She had started out wanting to be a vet because of her love of animals. But we soon learned that becoming a vet would be a long shot for her and we needed another plan. Although she was good in most every subject, the only one she enjoyed was science. I never knew she was that interested in science. We went to the open houses and literally stumbled on to a medical technology program where she could work in a laboratory after graduation. The program was very hard, I knew it as soon as I saw the classes required. I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to handle all the work involved. But, she wanted to try it, and it would be a great career and profession. She struggled at first, I panicked. I suggested she change majors. She told me she really wanted to stick with it. I supported her decision. And she worked very hard, every day and every weekend for the past three and a half years. There were only 17 students in the program before Christmas break; after the break it was down to 13. My daughter is one of the top students with a 3.6+ GPA. She says maybe she is third from the top, but she would never tell me if she was first. She isn’t completive at all. She just does her best and helps her peers. She has been doing hospital rotations all year and has worked at about eight different hospitals. They all love her, some asked her to bring them her resume when she graduates. As I write this, my heart swells with pride and my eyes fill with tears at how much I love her.

I have no doubt, that when she brings home her yearbook from college, it will be filled with the same sentiments expressed by her previous graduating classmates. There is just something special about her that people love. 

I have been blessed with an angel and I hope she has a very Happy Birthday. No one deserves it more.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt Gingrich, Another Dud in Politics!

What is so hard about having morals, ethics and integrity and also being in politician? Politicians want us to trust them with our future, the country’s future, but they are not trustworthy people. They cheat on their wives, they take lewd photos of themselves and tweet them, they deny they are the fathers of children out of wedlock, they misuse government money, they are guilty of sexual harassment on the job, and they lie, lie, lie, lie. So who is the newest member of the Scum Bag Squad? Well the title gave it away, so yes, it’s Newt Gingrich. 

Newt’s former wife, or second wife, has been interviewed and revealed some interesting information that might impact voters and the upcoming primaries. Apparently, his ex-wife, Marianne says that Newt came to her, during their marriage, and told her he wanted a “open marriage.” He had already gone outside the marriage and had been having an affair with Callista Bisek, who eventually became his third wife. 

Here is part of the interview:

MARIANNE: I said to him, we've been married a long time. And he said, yes, but you want me all to yourself. Callista doesn't care what I do.
ROSS: What was he saying to you, do you think?
MARIANNE: He was asking to have an open marriage, and I refused.
ROSS: He wanted an open marriage.
MARIANNE: Yeah, that I accept the fact that he has somebody else in his life.
ROSS: And you said?
MARIANNE: No. No. That is not a marriage.

So, Newt just wanted her to accept the fact that he was having an ongoing affair and put up with it. His own personal interests came first. They came before his vows, moral values and commitment to his wife and family. And the irony is what happened after they had the above conversation. Newt, a man of ethics and principles, gave a speech on family values:

…the day after Newt Gingrich asked Marianne for a divorce, he gave a lecture to the Republican Women Leaders Forum titled, "The Demise of American Culture" in which he decried the way liberals "talk about values," suggesting that they would not prefer that "young people" to "learn that George Washington was...A man of standards, a man who earned the right to be father of this country?"

As Marianne Gingrich told the Post:

“How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people?” she said.

If this is how these men conduct their personal lives, if this is their character, if they betray loved ones and their own flesh and blood, how can we expect them to care about what happens to us or our country? Someone whose character is based on ethics and truly has morals, principles and values, does not compromise them. But, people who lie, tend to do it often and without remorse. People who cheat will continue cheating and lie about it until they get caught. People who will tweet one lewd photo will probably tweet a series of them and then lie about it until they can no longer deny it. People who have committed an act of sexual harassment will more than likely continue that pattern of behavior until several women come and call them out on it. It’s who they are and they won‘t change if elected, in fact they may become worse. This behavior is their norm, not their exception. The fact that Newt had the gall and hypocrisy to lecture on family values when he doesn’t live them up to them himself is reprehensible. 

Anyone looking for a hypocrite who talks about family values, but doesn't live by them, for President? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wikipedia Blackout!

Over the years, I have gotten used to looking up things on Wikipedia.  Any time I do an online search, Wikipedia is always one of the first results that google provides.  You can find almost anything on there.  You can even find a 5,000 word biography on Victor Newman, a character from the soap opera, The Young and the Restless.  You can find the date "The Good Wife," one of my favorite television dramas, premiered in every country.  Anything you want to know, it's there.  Except for yesterday, that is!

Going about my normal routine yesterday, I stumbled to Wikipedia during one of my searches.  Come to find out, Wikipedia is blacked out for the day in protest of SOPA and PIPA.  According to Wikipedia, if the US government passes SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), then they could have the power to shut down Wikipedia and other sites, even my blog!  So much for freedom of speech. You'd think the government would have it's hands full dealing with the economy, unemployment, huge deficit etc etc etc and leave my Wikipedia and blog alone!

But Wikipedia didn't want to make their site totally inaccessible during their blackout.  They made sure to mention you could access the site on mobile devices.  Well, that's all well and good, but what about those of us who don't have "smart phones," and only have "dumb computers?"  Don't worry, they thought of that problem and provided a solution. You simply have to disable the JavaScript in your browser. Okay, that sounds easy enough. Now, what the hell is a JavaScript and where's the off switch? I, for one, have no idea. And, I couldn't look it up on Wikipedia to find out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Italian Cruise Ship Tragedy!

I’ve been searching for peeves the past few days without one to be found, so I’ve basically been “phoning it in” (my daughter’s new term) until now!  I’ve heard about the Italian Crusie ship, but wasn’t paying enough attention to the details until a friend of mine insisted I Google it. She knew my search would be over after learning what happened.  Reading about the Costa Concordia tragedy got me all fired up again. 

Part of my intolerance is for stupidity, which run on a spectrum from slightly stupid to outrageously stupid, like the Anthony Weiner TwitterGate.  However, the tragedy that occur with this cruise ship is even beyond outrageous. At least, in the Weiner case, no lives were lost and the only person he hurt was himself and by extension his family. He has to pay for what he did by losing his once promising career and baring the public humiliation he brought upon himself. In the cruise ship case, Captain Schettino’s action caused many deaths and not all the bodies have been accounted for as yet. Chances of finding survivors are slim to none. The waters are frigid and the temperatures extremely cold. The ship is moving and has become too dangerous to even attempt rescue.

"Captain" Francisco Schettino crashed a huge cruise ship into the rocks close to Italy’s shore, with 4200 people aboard, all because he took the ship off course to say “hello” to his friend.  Actually they have spinned that “hello/wave” into a “‘salute of respect’ for a retired officer as well as to impress his head waiter’s family on shore.“ If that’s not bad enough, he abandoned his ship while panicked passengers were still being evacuated. An angry coast guard officer demanded and ordered him to get back on the ship. A phone call, that was released, revealed that he was making excuses when ordered to return to the sinking ship.  As of this writing, 11 people are dead and 29 people are still missing.  The real tragedy in all of this is that this was entirely preventable.  Schettino has been arrested and is being investigated for manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck. “He has also been accused of dining with beautiful women as the liner crashed into rocks and of raiding the safe before jumping ship.”  But he is now out of jail on house arrest. Nice!

In my opinion, he should be in prison and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is nothing that can excuse what he did. This was not a simple error in judgment. What he did was beyond criminally gross negligence. He knew the possible outcome of taking such a risk as to go veer off course and get too close to shore. He has been doing this for years, he certainly knew better. What possessed him to make such a fatal decision when he was responsible for the lives of 4,200 and the cruise ship itself? Maybe he was drunk? Whatever the case, he just compounded the degree of it’s severity by abandoning the ship and everyone on it to save himself. And yet the Italian police, in all their wisdom, have decided to put him on house arrest. They don’t think he is a flight risk? He jumped shipped, why not run from the law?  He should get the same treatment or worse that Amanda Knox suffered in the Italian legal system. If you’re familiar with her saga, you know that people prosecuted in Italy are basically guilty until proven innocent. In his case, a ship full of witnesses is more than enough to sink his whole stinking case.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Going To The Dentist…

Ever since I was 5 years old I have gone to the dentist at least once a year for a check up and a cleaning. Unlike many people, I never minded going or the “pain” of filling cavities. Some people really dread it and even ask for Novocaine. I never got a shot of Novocaine for any of my dental work.  However, when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, they did knock me out for the surgery. Even then, my face didn’t swell and I didn’t need the prescription pain pills after the fact.

I continued going every year and began taking my girls when they were school age. The routine is so ingrained in us that were don’t even think about it, we just automatically make an appointment for either December or January and the four of us go together. Today was my annual dental visit. It was pretty routine: an exam, x-rays and cleaning.

The reason I have not slacked off on my dental visits is thanks to my mother and father. My mother took us to the dentist every year because the schools required that we bring back a note saying that we went. But my mother and father never went to the dentist for checkups. They started going to the dentist when their teeth started hurting. By then so much damage had been done that it wasn‘t so easy to correct. Little by little, all their teeth had to be pulled and they went from partial bridges to full upper and bottom dentures. My father had a dental plan from work so there was really no excuse for them not going. So, my witnessing the pain they went through for neglecting their teeth, made me determined to take care of my own. And the irony is, for all the annual visits they missed through the years, they more than made up for them by having to go to the dentist to have gum infections treated, teeth pulled, moulds made, getting their false teeth adjusted etc, all of which was far more expensive than a check up and a few x-rays. 

I learned from my parent’s mistakes on this one. Hopefully, my girls will follow up on their own and continue to go to the dentist. Maybe we can break the dentures cycle!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Sunday Routine...

A Typical Italian Sunday Dinner...

For as long as I can remember we have always had a Sunday routine. Before I got married, my mother would make the big pot of Sunday sauce and we would all sit down to eat at 1 pm. Occasionally, she would make something else, like lemon garlic chicken, lasagna, pot roast or London broil; but mainly it was her traditional Sunday sauce with ziti and meatballs. 

Once I met and started dating my husband, he would come over for a dish of macaroni on Sundays. After we married, 29 years ago, we would do our food shopping for the week, run errands, and end up at my mother’s by noon. The earlier we go there the better, especially after we had the girls. She could wait to see them and feed them, like every good Italian mother and grandmother. My cooking was never good enough for her granddaughters; no, they had to have the best and the “best” was always her cooking. After dinner, we would sit around talking and then have coffee and cake. My mother would always make us laugh with some of her stories about people she ran into or an annoying phone call, complaints about my father or reminiscing about the past. 

Now, with both my parents gone, we have continued the tradition up to a point. My husband and I shop while the girls are sleeping, but I don’t always make a pot of sauce on Sunday. Today, for instance, I am making steaks.  When I do make sauce or one of my mom’s traditional Sunday meals, I invite my brother over to eat with us. Otherwise, my brother will eat home and then come over to visit at 1 PM and stays for coffee and cake. My brother has taken over where my mother left off in the story department. It seems like he always has one up his sleeve. We will all be sitting in the living room making casual conversation and then he will pick his moment. He will start with something like “I heard from Maria yesterday…story” or “All the lights went out in my condo again, this happens three or four times a month, just a minute or two, long enough for me to have to reset all the clocks!” or “My friend called me to tell me he was stuck in Atlanta and I hung up on him because I thought he was joking…”  The time always flies by and he likes to leave early, about 4 or 4:30, so he can get ready for work the next day. Don’t ask me what he has to get ready because I wonder about it every week. But, I do look forward to his visits and his stories, mostly because he is so animated when he tells them it’s almost like a re-enactment. I have to work on getting a video of him in action!

I don’t know how other families spend their Sundays, I just always assumed it was with family. That’s all I’ve ever known. I hope, as my daughters have families of their own one day, that they will want to continue to have family dinners together. We are fortunate enough in my family that we have always lived near one another and don’t have to wait for a special occasion to see each other. If you have time, let me know how you spend your Sundays. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joran Ver Der Sloot...

The disappearance of Natalee Halloway has haunted me since 2005. Natalee was a high school honor student, who went to Aruba on a senior trip with classmates, never to be seen again. We may never know what happened to her, only her killer knows for sure. I believe Joran Van Der Sloot killed her. I doubt anyone thinks it was anyone else. Everything points to him. He had conflicting stories, the told an undercover investigator the whole story, on tape, in a cab ride. Then he denied it, saying it was a joke. I cannot imagine what Natalee’s parents went through trying to get to the bottom of where their daughter was.

Van Der Sloot’s father, a judge, even tried to cover up for his son. What a despicable thing to do.  I do believe he knew the whole truth of what happened, but collapsed and died playing tennis one day. What he knew went with him to the grave. But, it wasn’t long before Joran committed another murder. In 2010 he killed a Peruvian girl, Stephany Flores, on the 5th anniversary of Natalee’s death. This time he wasn’t so lucky. They tracked him down and prosecuted him. Yesterday he avoided trial by pleading guilty in court and was sentenced to the maximum, 30 years in prison. I imagine the Halloways got some satisfaction from that, at least. At the same time, their daughter was declared legally dead by an Alabama judge. A bitter sweet moment in a tragic situation. Natalee was beautiful girl who was a scholarship recipient, with so much promise; who planned to be a doctor and help others; a life cut tragically short because of a sociopath. 

I think the reason this case has bothered me from the start was because I had a daughter Natalee’s age at the time. We are supposed to “let go” of our children, as they get older, and let them live their own lives. It’s such a hard thing to do. When they were babies we were there to protect them 24/7. But the older they get, we have less and less control over what happens to them. They go to school  and may run into bullies, pedophiles, drug pushers, fraternity hazing, and so many other people with bad intentions. Can we warned them about every situation? No, we can’t. In this case, an innocent girl took a chaperoned trip. There was no reason to believe she would be in danger. And yet, hours before she was due to come home, her life ended. 

I have my own theory. I think someone put something in her drink that night. I cannot imagine her going off alone with three boys otherwise. Joran explained at one point he had her on the beach and she went into convulsions. Maybe that was a reaction to a drug? Maybe she was talking to him at the bar? Sociopaths can be very charismatic people. She may have left her drink there to go to the ladies room at some point and he put something in it.  When she had her convulsion, he may have panicked and gotten rid of her body in the water.  He may have even drowned her alive, who knows. After all I heard and read at the time that was I concluded. I remember being furious with is mother and father too. They wanted to protect their son at all costs, but never stopped to consider what Natalee’s parents were going through. Because of their silence, another life was taken.

I am glad they found him guilty and both girls’ parents have gotten some measure of justice. I think he deserved the death penalty or at the very least to rot in prison. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Betty White Turns 90!

You may or may not have heard, but Betty White is going to be 90 years old on January 17th. God Bless her! As I watch her perform on her new comedy series, “Hot in Cleveland,” every week I can’t help but wonder what her secret is to long life. I know she loves her hot dogs and vodka, but that can’t be it, those things are supposed to be bad for you. Of course, if someone discovers they’re not, I’d be willing to add both to my diet.

Betty White’s career is longer than most people have lived, over 70 years. She has been on many very popular television shows. Who can forget her character, Sue Ann Nivens, from the Mary Tyler Moore show? Or the ever much loved character of Rose Nylund, from the Golden Girls? And her most recent role as Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland? Her recent Superbowl commercial got national attention and soon after a facebook movement began to get her to host Saturday Night Live, which she refused many times to do, until so many fans united to show their love. 

In 1963 she married Password host, Allen Ludden. She met him while she was a guest on the show in 1961. Unfortunately, Ludden died in 1981 from bladder cancer and Betty never remarried. The couple had no children. I have always heard that Betty was a big animal lover and she has done decades of charity work in animal health.

But what is her secret to living a long and full life? All I can attribute it to is that she always did what she loved. She has been able to continue her career in acting on shows that were very well written, with actors who adored her, and the comedy was so funny that I am sure she had many laughs herself every day of her life. Betty White’s mind is still sharp as ever. She is quick witted and always manages to answer questions with her comedic quips. When I saw her co-host say that it was going to be Betty’s 90th birthday at an award show, the audience went wild with clapping, but Betty just said, “Don’t give me credit. I didn’t do anything to get to be 90. It just happened. I didn‘t accomplish anything. It just came up on me.”  

I think she did do something. She follows her passion, she keeps on working, she laughs and makes others laugh. I think that’s the secret to a long and happy life. She lost her husband, the love of her life. She never had children. At 90 years old, she has seen many dear friends die before her and I’m sure family too. But, she never stopped laughing and working, and I think that is the real secret to living a long, healthy and happy life.

NBC will be doing a show to celebrate Betty White’s birthday and pay tribute to her career. It will air on Monday, January 16th, the day before her birthday. I plan to watch it. I grew up watching Betty White. She is one of the few treasures we still have around from our childhood.

P.S. I am adding hot dogs and vodka to my shopping list, just in case!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rainy Days...

I never liked rainy days. Some people love the rain, but for me it’s cold, damp, dark and depressing. It’s raining today and I dread it even more. My whole family leaves at seven and won’t be back till five. I will have nothing but this “pitter patter” sound keeping me company all day. It’s going to be a long day.

I don’t mind the rain so much when we are all home with nowhere to go. The girls will get up late and have breakfast. For some reason they are able to ignore the dog’s barking at 5:45 am and stay asleep till 10, unlike me and my husband. Then everyone will busy themselves with something, we’ll watch television or maybe even a movie. I’ll bake something for dessert and make a big dinner we can all enjoy. A nice lazy family day where we can chill out. On those days the rain, or even the dreaded snow, doesn’t bother me at all. 

I have plenty to do today, so I am not at a loss for things to fill my time. As soon as I hear from my daughters that they have reached their destinations, I’ll have peace of mind and go about my day. Of course they think it’s ridiculous that they have to call and let me know they got where they are going, but it only takes a second. I make them call when they are leaving someplace to come home too. This way, if there is a delay, I will know when to start worrying. I especially hate it when they have to drive in bad weather, like today. I guess I am a worry wart and they are stuck with me.

Well, now they have both gotten to work and I’ll have about 8 hours of peace and quiet. Except for the sound of the rain hitting the window pane. 

Now I have Karen Carpenter’s Rainy Days and Mondays in my head so here it goes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Board Games...Remember Them?

Over the past few years I have tried several online games. I find them relaxing and addicting. I’m not sure if the addiction is to the games themselves or the de-stressing factor they have on me. When I am playing, I concentrate so much on the game I forget whatever is causing me stress. I’m sure it has the same affect on many and that’s why it’s so hard to stop. Right now I am hooked on Bubble Witch Saga and stuck at level 55. I suppose if I don’t succeed in passing that level, at some point my frustration will cause me to give it up. But, remember the old board games?

I woke up thinking about board games today, for no special reason. I was thinking of how some of them kind of prepared us for life. The game Life was one of my favorites. You could go around the whole board getting an education, a job, a spouse, kids. Adding kids was my favorite part. You could live a while lifetime in one game and I think it taught us a few things we would have to face in the future. Another of my favorites was Scrabble. I loved word games and I have a knack of being able to look at random letters and see words just out at me. It makes me great at the Jumble in the newspaper. Sometimes I get the answer without figuring out all the words. I got so good at playing Scrabble that eventually no one would play with me. And who could forget Monopoly? All that nice colored money and real estate! Houses and hotels, railroads, rent, the old community chest, jail, and the bank! It was great being the bank! Playing that game makes everyone feel a little like Donald Trump. Other games like Password, Trivial Pursuit, Concentration, Clue were also among the games I enjoyed playing. I wonder how many kids play those games today? There’s probably an online version of all of them, but it’s just not the same.

Board games were great for more reasons than one. They not only taught us a few things about life in general, but they brought people together to interact. Whether for a family game night or to play with friends, these games gave us an opportunity for social interactions. Maybe they weren’t as calming as online games. I’ve seen many a fight break out when someone had to pay rent and was out of money; or someone got nothing but vowels and could make any words, but there was also plenty of conversation and fun.

Even games designed for very young children, like Candy Land, teach turn taking and social skills. I got them for my kids before they even started school. It help them to learn how to be more gracious losers too as we taught them games are not really about who wins, but about having fun playing them. Over the years we have collected a ton of games and have gotten many a laugh out of them.

Maybe it’s time to dust off a few game boxes and bring them out again? It could be great fun to make a night of it with some special snacks. I think I will try to plan a family game night soon. It’ll be fin, especially if I win!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Celebrity Baby Names...

I don’t know what some of these celebrities are thinking when they choose names for their babies. Are the names the rest of us use just too ordinary and mundane? The baby books aren’t good enough, not enough variety? This is something that has been irking me for a long time. I’m someone who has never liked her name and when I had my girls, I wore out the baby book trying to come up with names they would like and not get teased about. Granted, the names I picked suddenly became very popular at the time so it doesn’t look like I put much thought into it, but I did.

Yesterday I heard Beyonce had her baby girl. I love Beyonce and she is certainly entitled to name her baby anything she wants, but Blue Ivy? That sounds like a plant to me. And frankly, hers is one of the better off the beaten path choices. Here are a few others that have sprung up in recent years, poor kids.

Nicholas Cage named his child Kal El

Jermaine Jackson - Jermajesty

Bruce Willis and Demi Moore - Rumor and Tallulah Belle

Jason Lee - Pilot Inspektor

Gwenyth Paltrow - Apple

Ashlee Simpson - Bronx Mowgli

Julia Roberts - Phinnaeus

David Bowie - Zowie

Now all these celebrities buy their children the best of everything, but when it comes to something as important as their names, this is the best they can do?  I’m sorry, but as hard as I try, I just don’t get it. Do you?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Racism Is Alive And Well…

…allegedly at an elementary school in Georgia. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the headline to the story: “Slavery Examples Used n Georgia School Upsets Parents.” So I had to read the article and, sure enough, there was a serious issue. The math problems being used by the elementary school are very inappropriate, in fact they are outrageous. Here are a couple of third grade math examples:

"Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" and

"If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?"

I will post the link to the article below. On top of the fact that these questions are being used, the parents are upset at the way the issue is being handled. What was the rational behind these seemingly blatant racist math problems? They claim it’s part of a cross-cultural approached to teaching, so that lessons in history are worked into the math problems. But, I have to ask, are the educators in Georgia really that dense? If teachers there think questions like these are appropriate, shouldn’t they go back to school? The principal explains it’s a matter of poorly worded questions and from now on they will go over work sheets to make sure the questions are not offensive. Am I crazy, or shouldn’t teachers know better?

And when teachers, who are supposed to be educated, cannot see a problem with posing such questions to third graders, how can we expect to ever eradicate racism in this country? All I can do is shake my head.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/08/examples-of-slavery-in-school-worksheet_n_1192512.html?ref=education&icid=maing-grid7%7Caim%7Cdl15%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D125886

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Diet Off To A Slow Start...

I was more motivated last year to get going on my diet and exercise plan. I guess I felt heavy, slow and sluggish. I also had a couple of other minor health concerns at the time, like water in my ankle and low back pain for over a year. The 17 Day Diet fixed both those things and I was thrilled. I lost ten of the twenty pounds I wanted to between the diet and a little walking every day. I was thrilled. I felt so much better too. But, then I got sidetracked and never found my way back. I didn’t gain back the weight I lost, so that’s a plus. Now I’ve decided to lose the remaining ten pounds this year. I am off to a slow start. I should have planned to allowed one week after the holidays to make sure all the snacks were gone, but it’s not a fatal mistake.

This week I stuck to the diet for breakfast and lunch and went off for dinner and a few snacks. No exercise, sorry to say, even though I have Jane Fonda’s 3 DVD’s sitting here. I am a little disappointed in myself, but it’s just a minor setback. I am determined to start fresh tomorrow and give it all I’ve got. The snacks are gone and I have a lot of healthy food in the house. I have my yogurt and fruit for snacks and lots of salad stuff. I have chicken, tuna and eggs on hand and of course, my trusty water bottle.

Today I am playing Matthew Rider’s “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Break My Stride” all day to keep me focused! I find music ingrains the message into my brain and if it has a good beat it makes me want to move! So here we go!  If any of my readers are joining me this year, please let me know how you are doing!  There’s nothing like a support group to keep you on track!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree...

We all like to think that we are instilling in our children the seeds of human compassion. And, that when they get older, they will rise to the occasion to help out their fellow man and try to make a difference in this world by doing what they can. We can’t be sure if we have taught them that when our focus is always on so many other things we need to teach them. I guess we have to hope that somewhere along the way they will develop that desire to help and act on it.

Yesterday, I found out quite by accident, that my older daughter has sponsored a child in a third world country through Children International. She has committed herself to paying twenty-five dollars a month so this child can have an education, medical care, clothing, food etc. This isn’t her first act of charity. When she was in college, her professor mentioned an organization that lends money to people in third world countries who are trying to start a business. They charge them no interest, just ask them to pay back the loan when they can. The people borrowing the money, pay it back to the organization in small increments. When the loan is repaid, the lenders can opt to loan the money out to another individual or take it back. My daughter, still a student at the time, decided to open an account with them for $25. She told me the loan has been repaid four times already and she just continues the lending cycle.  

When I first found out that she had sponsored a child, I was concerned. She has been trying to save money to move out on her own one day. Right now she isn’t even making enough to support herself independently. I thought she should wait until she had established herself first before making such a commitment. She told me that she would rather do this than to go see two movies a month. That’s what it boils down to. As she told me how her money was going to help this child, she had tears in her eyes. She said, this means she will be able to see a doctor if she gets sick. To lighten the mood, I said, she will be able to see a doctor, but I am still waiting for your dental form so I can make you an appointment with the dentist…at least she will be able to see a dentist thanks to you! She laughed as I pointed out the irony; I have asked for this form for a month now.  
In any case, as we talked she said the words that touched my soul, “I just want to make a difference.” That’s exactly what I always say. Unlike my daughter though, it took me years to come to that realization. I never thought about it or considered it at her age. Then I thought of all the good she would do in her lifetime because she has such a compassionate heart.

I expressed my concerns to my husband as I told him about our daughter. He said to me, maybe it’s because we are so compassionate and want to help others, that she has this quality. Maybe she got it from both of us. I agreed, maybe she did and she really needed to do this. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree?

Right now, I want my daughter to know how proud I am of the person she turned out to be. She has made me proud every moment of her life. From her earliest days to the present, it’s been a joy and a privilege to be her mother. When she was two years old she once said to me, “When you get little mommy, I’ll take care of you.” That made me laugh as she had no concept of aging. When she was in second grade and saw new curtains on my living room windows she was appalled. “How can you buy new curtains when there are homeless people in the world? At least we have a home.” In seventh grade she heard about a classmate from elementary school who got some mysterious illness that he almost died from, but left him unable to walk. His medical bills were enormous and there was a fund raiser to help the family. When she heard me talking to my husband about it, she went and took all her money she had saved and gave it to me. “Add this to your money Mom, and send it to Danny.” 

My little girl, who was in the gifted program in elementary school with an IQ of 152; who graduated Valedictorian from middle school; who got into a prestigious high school and earned full scholarships to two colleges; and graduated college with highest honors in a double major of Communications and English with a over a 3.9 average, has always made me proud. But yesterday, when she said to me, “I just want to make a difference,” I think that was my proudest moment of all. Somewhere along the way, she picked up life’s most valuable lesson or maybe it was just in there all along?  After all, I never heard of any other child reprimanding their mother for wasting money on new curtains. I should have realized then, that she had a very compassionate heart. 

When they say children are a “blessing,” that word alone cannot begin to express the joy, the love, the many ways they enrich our lives or the lessons that we can learn from them. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


I was reading Jane Fonda’s Prime Time after Christmas and something in the preface has been haunting me the past week or so.  I have to share this with people who will understand. She wrote there are two concepts to viewing the life cycle and aging. The thinking behind these concepts she credits to the late professor Rudolph Arnheim of Harvard University. The concepts and his diagrams stuck in my head and I decided I would try to blog about it today. 

The first concept views life as an arch. This is the common way most people view life. We are born, we hit our peak in middle age and then it’s a decline from there until death. That’s not a very appealing view. Especially, as Jane points out, we are living much longer than ever before. Of course, our culture is all about youth, that’s where the emphasis is and always has been. People want to maintain their youth, even through artificial means of cosmetic surgery. No one wants to look their age or God forbid act their act. But, aging is a part of life and it can’t be avoided. Your eyesight and hearing will deteriorate and you will be turning up the volume of the television a little more every year. Your bones are going to become more brittle, you will lose elasticity in your skin, you become a little more forgetful and so it goes. So when you think of aging from this point of view, the arch makes sense. And even though we can control some things and slow them down through diet and exercise, we are never going to get any younger, that’s a fact.

So what should we do, just give up and surrender? Hell no! The other concept of life is the staircase. We all have the ability to keep climbing as we age. Even as our bodies are aging and becoming physically weaker and slower, our minds and spirits are not. We hold, in our minds, all our life experience which just gets richer and more fuller every day. They don’t say old people are wise for nothing!  Our potential to keep growing in wisdom and in spirituality still exists and it’s based on all the years that came before it.

I guess I was struck by these ideas because I am entering the age that Jane calls Act III of life. Jane divides life up into three Acts, like a play, each Act is made up of thirty years. The first two Acts are preparing us for our third Act.  And how do we prepare for our third Act? Jane says to do a life review of the first two Acts.  I have always been an introspective person, but I have never looked at aging from this point of view. However, I have looked forward to later years as ones where I have less responsibility to others and when my husband and I can take time to do the things we enjoy most, like traveling and taking classes. In my case, I also realized that, thanks to the internet, I can pursue writing which is something I have always loved. Just because we hit sixty, it doesn’t mean we are done doing things or accomplishing things or learning new things or living our dreams. It’s all based on your outlook for your future and what you have learned from your past. 

We don’t have to sit idly by and let old age take over us and bring us down. We can do something to maximize our health physically, so we aren’t on a fast decline. At the same time we can keep doing things to expand our knowledge, we can use our wisdom, hone our talents, pursue our passions, become more spiritual…more whole. There are no limits as to what we can do, unless we impose them on ourselves. I know one thing, I want to live life to the fullest doing the things I love to do. I am looking at life as a staircase and I am going to keep climbing it!

The play isn’t over until we take our final bow and the curtains close. I am not ready for taking bows, I have things to do. I am getting ready for Act 3 now, and I am going to make the most of it. How about you? Is your life an arch or a staircase? It’s up to you.

Excerpt of Jane’s book on this subject: Prime Time!