Friday, December 23, 2011


I used to make lists, but I never accomplished anything that was written on the lists, so I stopped making them. Today, because I happened to be sitting near a piece of paper and a pencil (it happens sometimes when you homeschool your kids, but only sometimes) I thought to myself hey, why not make a list. I got bored pretty quickly so the only thing I wrote down was pick Anthony up from basketball camp at 2:30. As it turns out, Anthony was meant to get picked up at 2:00, so the list turned out to be an epic fail.

Now tell me, if I were to begin writing more posts, would the previous story be the kind of thing you would be looking for? I mean that is some pretty hardcore writing right there. The truth is, I can't seem to get on the computer and write about much of anything but I saw that I had only written one post this month so I decided to try and fix that.

How about a list to wrap up 2011! This will be a fun list.

Favorite books I read this year... The Liar's Club and lit, both memoirs and both by Mary Karr, and Surrender! by Fr. Larry Richards. I like to do one of three things when I read...laugh, cry or think about things more deeply. If a book does all three it's a bonus and these books did that for me.

Favorite new habit of the year...taking Buster for a daily walk in the evening. Just ninety minutes with me and Buster and an ipod filled with favorite songs makes me happy. If you need a way to unwind in the evenings and you have a dog living in your house, take the dog for a walk. Dogs don't talk, they don't ask for anything and they happily go wherever you lead them. It's a real treat! Plus, if you do have a dog and you find him mildly irritating, he will become much less so when you being walking with him every night. Your dog will suddenly love you more than he loves the rest of the people living in your house, and if you happen to be slightly insecure and pathetic, that simple truth will make you happy.

Favorite new song...Fake Empire by The National. This song makes no sense to me. I'm not intellectual and so I'm sure there is some deep meaning behind it, but since I am not a hipster doofus, it's all lost on me. Regardless, the tempo that slowly builds up throughout the song, and the lead singer's voice make me love it. If you aren't real keen on strangely deep voices (think Leonard Cohen) and lyrics that are nearly impossible to make out, skip it. I live with a fifteen year old child who mumbles her way through life, so the fact that I have to strain to make out the words of this song doesn't bother me too much. Here are some of the inane lyrics..."stay out super late pickin' apples, makin' pies, put a little something in our lemonades and take it with us. We're half awake in our fake empire." HUH!? Please share if you have any idea what in the helk he is talking about. Is he putting booze in his lemonade so he can make it through this half arsed life here on earth? What about the apple picking super late? Who picks apples late at night? Well, who can explain why certain things bring us joy. This song does makes me happy, so I shouldn't get too wrapped up in the meaning.

Most fun thing I did this year...went on a trip with my husband and kids to Georgia. I had to check my pulse a few times because I was so relaxed that I wasn't sure I was even still breathing. I hoped to get on here and show pictures and write about our vacation, but all I can tell you is, it was wonderful and the thought of going back every year makes me happy.

People I'm most grateful to this brother in law and my sister who generously gave us plane tickets so me and the kids could go to my Nana's funeral. My sister thought it was no big deal, my brother in law thought it was no big deal. Everyone gives away plane tickets, right? This is how my sister and brother in law live. They are generous - not just to me, but to everyone in our family and not just with material things. If you want to feel welcome somewhere, go to my sister's house. You know the best part of being with my sister? We Hacics go into her house and create chaos and confusion and she just laughs and says how much fun it is. And she says it so convincingly that I actually believe her! Anyway, if there is ever a time to be with family, to celebrate life, to tell stories and enjoy each other, it's when a loved one has passed on to the next life. My Nana would have been quite pleased knowing that my sister made it happen for me and the kids.

This list barely touches on my past year, but I am tired and getting bored with myself and my house is a mess and I'm having people over tomorrow evening after Christmas Eve Mass and if I don't want them to lose their appetites I must go clean! Hey, because of this list here, I just realized I had a pretty fabulous 2011. Hope you did , too. And Merry, merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leaving for another trip away

Whenever I make Maggie something to eat, no matter what it is, she looks up at me and asks, "mama, is there love in this?" She thinks love is an actual ingredient because I always say, "I made this with love so you better like it." I feel it best to threaten your kids into liking all you make and so far so good. My kids think I'm a fantastic cook and regularly praise me. The best is when they praise me in front of other people - double points for that one. And when they say nothing, I stew. Wouldn't it be nice if I were humble enough to not care if they complimented and thanked me, if I was merely cooking to serve them and in turn God. But I'm not that humble and not nearly that mature, plus, the last time I checked I wasn't God so I don't need to be perfect. I'm not afraid to admit that I enjoy, relish, thrive on compliments when I make dinner or lunch or anything else edible.

Greg chalks this up to my being my Nana's granddaughter. When my Nana cooked she poured her entire heart and soul into it and she expected something in return. A kiss, a hug, a compliment, anything letting her know that you appreciated her efforts. I was just telling my kids the other day that every time she made anything she did it as though Jesus and Mary were coming to join her. There was love in my Nana's cooking and you could taste it.

She came to stay with us for a couple of weeks when we lived in North Carolina and Jane was a baby. Greg invited a friend over for dinner and my Nana made pork chops and homemade bread and various other things. Greg's friend ate like a pig but said nothing. I remember sweating a little as the night wore on and he continued to make no mention of how delicious everything was. I wanted to kick him under the table,but I didn't know him too well so he wouldn't have understood my glances and nods toward my Nana. I could see the look of disgust on her face, as though this person had been raised by wolves and now she was being forced to share a meal with him.

As soon as he left my Nana stood up and said under her breath, "don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out." I shook my head at her and told her there was no accounting for some people. For the next ten years, every single time I saw her she would bring up Greg's mannerless friend. Greg is still amused by this. Whenever someone gets up from my table without saying anything, I give a look and Greg says, "easy Nana!" And we laugh and I thank God that there is some small part of her that she passed along to me.

For as long as I can remember, my Nana was cooking for me and my siblings and anyone and everyone who she came into contact with. It gave her joy and happiness and a sense of purpose and until I grew up and had a family of my own I didn't fully understand it. Now I do and I'm grateful I was able to share so many good meals with her. She lived a few doors down from us and from the time I was a baby until the time I went away to college she ate dinner with us practically every night. She and my mom would talk each morning so they could start planing the menu for that night's meal.

It wasn't just the food at the dinner table that would make me happy. It was the conversation, the laughter, the yelling and heated discussions, the one hour that would settle into three hours. At some point my Nana would get up and start doing the dishes and my mother would say, "Ma, stop it, we'll do them later." My Nana would insist on continuing and then my mother would flare her nostrils at us, which meant, "get off your ass and help her." And we did, because we were obedient children who also happened to be mildly afraid of my mom's flared nostrils.

My Nana passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 101. She was with three of her five children. A priest came in at some point before she passed and my mother told me my Nana made the sign of the cross and said a Hail Mary. Fitting, considering every time I went to see her she was sitting in her chair saying her rosary. She never needed to say much about religion or faith or the gospel, mostly because she spent her entire life actually living it. I know I'm blessed beyond measure to have witnessed and shared in it.

Tomorrow me and my kids head to New York for the week, to go and celebrate her life. I can't wait. There will be time spent around the table. Food and conversation and laughter and yelling will be plenty and in those moments I will feel her most.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quote to keep in mind as I teach my kids

"There are some who desire knowledge for its own sake; and that is shameful curiosity. And there are others who desire to know, in order that they may themselves be known, and that is vanity, disgraceful too. Others again desire knowledge in order to acquire money or preferment by it; that too is a discreditable quest. But there are also some who desire knowledge, that they may build up the souls of others with it; and that is charity. Others, again, desire it that they may themselves be built up thereby; and that is prudence. Of all these types, only the last two put knowledge to the right use." (St. Bernard, Sermon on the Canticle of Canticles)

I just read this on American Catholic and thought some other moms would find it as encouraging as I did. What else could possibly be said about how to educate a child?

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Tomorrow we're headed out of town for the week, to the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia. I haven't started packing yet because I'm not the packing sort. I'm more of a wake the morning of the trip, grab whatever is in my drawer, shove it all into plastic bags and run out the door sort. If we're staying at a hotel, I class it up a little and replace the plastic bags with those fancy paper ones you get at stores like Macy's. And if I'm getting on a plane I go all out and use my mesh backpack.

This kind of haphazard packing usually means that I end up in my destination with about five less pair of underwear than I need. Speaking of underwear, you know what word makes me cringe? Panties. It's gross. Everyone in my house knows not to use that word. Use the word underwear or undergarments, but never panties. I consider it vial and pornographic and if you use that word you may need some kind of professional counseling, after which point you may be as well adjusted as yours truly. Anyway, I have no plans to change my packing style anytime soon, so hopefully there will be a store close by if I do forget anything.

Would you like to hear an interesting story about packing? I know what you're thinking - could there really be a story about packing that would qualify as interesting? This one comes pretty close. When we went to NY a couple of summers ago I thought I may have forgotten to pack my glasses, which I desperately need when I'm not wearing my contacts. We were only about thirty seconds from our house when I had this realization and I was forced to say something to Greg. In somewhat dramatic fashion ( because the sixty seconds it took to drive back down our street was going to cut into our twenty hour car ride) my husband turned the car around and I ran inside and saw that the glasses weren't on my shelf, so I came back out and said that they must be somewhere and no worries, they would turn up in some bag, at some point.

Greg shook his head at me in that, "oh, you are so disorganized and scattered," sort of way to which I smiled sweetly said, "shut up," and we went on our way. When we made it to our first stop that night (North Carolina I think it was) we were all getting ready for bed when I noticed Greg furiously looking for something. Being the concerned wife, I asked if he was missing anything and, as it turns out, Greg had forgotten his glasses back in Florida. I felt very bad for him and made sure not to say anything obnoxious. It's not my style. But that was one interesting story about packing, wasn't it?

So, we leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow and I have decided that in order to completely enjoy this trip I will have no expectations. This is not the same as having low expectations. Having low expectations is cynical and mean spirited, while having zero expectations ensures that no matter what happens on this trip, I can say at the end, well, it certainly exceeded all my expectations. I had to explain all of this expectation stuff to Greg the other night because even after knowing me for twenty one years, he still doesn't always understand my way of thinking.

Perhaps I will have a picture post when I get back. Everyone I've told that we're going to Blue Ridge, Georgia has told me how beautiful it is there ( and I wish they would stop because it's hurting my no expectations thing), so I may get some pictures of mountains and streams and pretty trees, but please don't get your hopes up.

Have a good week everyone! I've heard the weather here in Florida is going to continue to be gorgeous for the next several days. Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Foolishness and a little brilliance

So back in June I bought this cute pair of flip flops and two days after my purchase they ripped while I was wearing them. Lucky for me I was in the parking lot of Publix when it happened, so when I ran in to get my groceries I picked up some super glue to repair the shoes (because that's what normal people do when their shoes fall apart).

My only concern with the super glue was not how foolish it made my flip flops look ( trust me, some cob jobs can't be hidden), but how I would conceal the glue from my children. I was pretty sure that if Anthony was aware I purchased it he would find a way to glue his hand to his face (by accident, of course) and so I kept it hidden under lock and key, knowing that if it was ever revealed I bought it there would be a mad rush to find it. I can't really explain why this is the case, but it's my reality and I've come to terms with it. For four and half months I have been moving this super glue around from drawer to drawer, cabinet to cabinet, just to ensure it is never found and I'm proud to say I've been successful.

On Saturday afternoon I was getting ready to take my two oldest children somewhere and as I was putting on my pants, wouldn't you know, the button popped off. I know right now people are asking themselves if perhaps this may be a good time for me to contemplate heading over the Weight Watchers, but trust me when I say, the button falling off has less to do with my weight and more to do with the fact that these pants were bought for five dollars at a store that sells reject clothing.

Although popping a button may have been cause for alarm for some people, for me it was nothing more than a chance to get out my hidden supply of super glue and work my magic. I didn't feel like removing the pants entirely, so I carefully took the super glue, fastened the button to its proper place and waited a few seconds for it to stick. And it did. Problem solved. Pants were on, hair was done, kids were ready and we were off.

I was quite happy with this quick fix, until we arrived at our destination and I had to go to the bathroom and suddenly realized that I had super glued my pants shut. At first I thought it was funny, because it kind of is, but as I kept struggling to get the pants open I got sweaty and started panicking and had no idea what to do. I truly did have to go the bathroom and there seemed to be no hope in sight. I thought for sure I would have to make a run for my car and look for the knife that Greg keeps in there for me, and then I would have to shred my pants and how exactly would I explain this to people at church, which was where I happened to be at the time. But see, this is where going to church comes in handy. God shines his light on us church people, (and only us) and lo and behold, the pants came loose. I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing.

I had an epiphany as I was relaying what happened to a friend - and moms, you can thank me later. When my daughters reach that age where they have gentlemen callers, I'm bringing out the super glue and fastening the girls pants shut before they leave the house. It'll be like a chastity belt, but much less cumbersome. And yes, because I was kind enough to share my brilliant idea with you, I'm charging two bucks for this post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Adventures with various people who might be slightly dimwitted

Yesterday I called Anthony's insulin pump supplier to re-order some infusion sets and cartridges. The customer service rep snickered at me when I wondered aloud if any problems would arise due to our new insurance carrier. I asked her gently, (because I am always gentle) "did you just snicker at me?" Well, it turns out she wasn't snickering, she was merely stretching in her chair and it must have sounded like snickering. So anyway, even with all the snickering and lying going on, the phone call only took about five minutes.

This morning, around 7 AM, Greg called me on his way to work, telling me had gotten a message saying a problem had arisen with our new insurance company and the pump supplier wouldn't be shipping out the order. And then I spent the next three hours in a rotating series of calls between the pump supplier and the insurance company and medical device companies, trying to get someone to help me and reminding anyone who would listen that I had been snickered at the day before over expressing my thoughts that this very thing may happen.

On top of talking to the insurance people and the pump people and the medical device people, I was forced to make threatening faces and hand motions to my children all morning in an attempt to get them to start on their schoolwork. But they know they have me right where they want me when I'm on the phone trying to take care of anything related to Anthony's diabetes care. It was an exhausting morning.

Here's the basic gist of what happened. The pump supplier doesn't take our insurance, so our insurance company was requesting we get our supplies locally through a medical device distributor, except for that all of the companies they led me to didn't carry the supplies I needed.

I kept calling the insurance company back and we kept expanding our search out further and further, until finally I found a company in Orlando who said, "yes, we can help you." I excitedly said, "so, you have the supplies there in your warehouse?" And the woman said, "well, no, we don't have the supplies here, we call your insulin pump supplier and we tell them what you need and then they send it to you." And I said, "oh, so you do what I did yesterday morning, except for you charge the pump supplier for your time, whereas I was doing it for free, plus I got to hear someone snicker at me when I wondered aloud if I would have any problems with this whole thing." No, I didn't say that. But I thought it. And that's just as good, right?

But the best and most wonderful part of the day is that Anthony's pump supplies are still not ordered. When I called the distributor ( who isn't technically distributing anything more than a phone call) later in the day to make sure she had ordered the supplies she told me she hadn't, even though earlier in the day she told me she was marking this as "urgent." It did sound as though I had woken her up from her nap when I called her at 4 PM, so at least she was well rested and that made me feel better.

She made up a story about how she hadn't placed the order because she needed my doctor's phone number, which I had given her earlier in the morning, but I suppose maybe when she fell asleep at her desk it had rubbed off on her cheek or something. Hey, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I gave her the number again, and she said, "okay, I'll call your doctor right now and tell them I need proof of Anthony's diabetes and then as soon as I get that I'll send the order. But you may want to call your doctor , too , because sometimes they don't answer my requests right away." Oh, good thinking, I thought. Wow, this woman was on top of it!

I later found out I was wrong about that, but I simply can't go on. I'm too tired. But look whose snickering now pump supply lady. Turns out I was right to worry. Feels pretty good to be right, even if it means I didn't actually get those supplies Anthony needs to stay healthy. But really, why obsess over a silly thing like that?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A very short thing about ten year old boys

If the following scenarios involved an adult male, the humor in them would most definitely be lost, but coming from a ten year old, it's just plain funny.

- Only a ten year old boy can sit in a doctor's office, excrete gas (loudly) several times and have someone, let alone the proper and polite nutritionist, find it highly amusing and "cute" (her word, not mine).

- And only a ten year old boy can say, in complete seriousness and sincerity, "mom, this candle smells just like apple pie. It actually smells like an apple pie just farted in my face. It's awesome!"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Random, oh so random

So many things to say and so little time to do it, so here goes a long random thoughts post.

- School is in full swing. I'm learning! Me, learning - so exciting. I haven't learned anything new and exciting in years, probably decades. (And yes, it took a huge amount of effort to keep myself that dumb.) Among other things, the girls are doing an ancient history/lit. study for the year, so I broke out my old Norton Anthology and took out a couple of history books from the library and now I have to stay up late at night and read and take notes and try and remember information so I can pass my vast knowledge onto my daughters. I'm exhausted and thinking about demanding a raise. Teaching high school is much different than teaching middle school, but I must say, I'm loving it. Oh, the girls...yes, they're loving it too.

- Anthony is a different child now that he's homeschooling - more relaxed, happier. More than one person has commented to me that Anthony is indeed calmer, so it's not just me with my mom blinders on. I prayed for a long time about him and homeschooling and at some point I decided that whatever was best for him would manifest itself in some way and whatever way that was I would be able to accept it. And then Greg told me he wanted Anthony home for school. Of course, when I finally got what I wanted for so long I began to panic and doubt if this was the right thing. I spent a large part (by which I mean all) of the summer having a mid-life crisis/nervous breakdown and then school began and I realized we are doing the best thing ever for Anthony. I couldn't be happier, but check back in a few weeks because I'm sure by that point I'll be thrown into the depths of despair. It's who I am.

- Some of life's disappointments are almost too hard to bare and this summer I got a full dose of that reality. Whatever I thought the new M&M pretzel candies were going to offer me, I was sadly mistaken when I had my first taste of one back in July and suddenly came face to face with what can only be described as the biggest letdown of my life.

- Speaking of disappointment, I went shopping for some new skirts that past week. I worked hard to try on clothes while not looking in the mirror, but was only mildly successful in my attempts. I kept accidentally catching glimpses of myself. Does anyone enjoy looking in the mirror? If you say yes you really do risk coming across as completely vain and full of yourself. Please, just be disgusted with yourself. It's the right thing to do. It's what God would want for you. He doesn't like vanity.

- Greg and I are taking the kids on an actual family vacation in November. We're not really vacation type people. We're day trip kind of people. I like the day trip. First of all, I am an old fart and like being in my own bed at night and secondly, I get grossed out over everything, so being away is never that fun for me and I make sure it's not fun for anyone else, so we hardly ever go away for extended periods. I'm the kind of person who goes to a hotel and takes all of my clothes out of my bag and lays them down on the bed before I get on it, so that my body doesn't have to touch other people's filth, but then I realize all of those same clothes are going to have to be worn by me the next day and I get hyper and crabby and I lay in the bed with my flip flops on and don't move. As charming as this sounds, my husband doesn't find it even slightly interesting anymore. Anyway, this time it's going to be different. We're going to a nice cabin up on the Georgia, Tenn. border and the place looks more than do-able. It's quite nice. I will have fun!

- I will have fun, but I will also be overtaken by the romantic notion that life in the Blue Ridge Mountains is so quaint and peaceful and perfect and maybe we should just move there. I have prepared Greg for this and he said he knows and is completely okay with the knowledge that I will hound him for several weeks about moving.

- Have a fun weekend all!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

school at home

Oh my. I started this post last Friday night. Then I quit. Then I started it again on Saturday and quit. And on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and quit, quit, quit. This can mean only one thing to my readers. You are in for one boring post because if I, the writer, cannot maintain an interest in what I am saying, how in the helk will you? (Helk is the way my sister and me write hell when we are sending emails back and forth. It's one of those typos that ended up sticking.) Anyway, this started out as an end of the summer post and now is turning into a beginning of school post. Enjoy and prepare to be dazzled!

Summer is coming to a close. I brought the kids and a couple of their friends to the beach on Friday for a last hurray. Many pictures were taken but of course none of them will go on this blog because I like to keep things here as boring and visually unappetizing as I possible and also, I'm a little lazy. But trust me, we did go. It was relaxing and beautiful and the water temperature was perfect (and so were the rip currents. Seriously, who doesn't love getting pummeled by waves and gagging on salt water. I'm not kidding. You try doing it without laughing your butt off. It's impossible). Of course I didn't want to leave and come home because being home means thinking about school and chores and the end of summer vacation and then I just get the dry heaves. I'm not afraid to admit that I really only like the side of life that provides for relaxation and entertainment.

Since I've become the person in charge of educating my children, I hang onto summer for as long as I can. We live in a state that has 80 degree heat well into November, sometimes even December, and I've often thought about making our summer vacation last for eight months of the year, but I'm always afraid one of my kids will rat me out. They've somehow turned into responsible people who like learning. A couple of weeks ago they began happily inquiring about school starting back up, and lately my empty threats of printing out math work if they didn't find something productive to do have been met with, "oh, cool! Math work!"

(So here we are, several days after I originally started writing this carp ( another typo that stuck) and school has begun, which is good because now I have something to write about. )

This is our first year home schooling Anthony. (Will someone please tell me if it is homeschooling or home schooling. Public schooling is two words, so why would homeschooling be one word. I never understood this, but I was an English major so really, why would this be easy for me to figure out?) I was worried about bringing Anthony home for school ( see how I got around that), but I can declare after only three days of doing this - TOTAL SUCCESS! Okay, I may be jumping the gun and setting myself up for disaster, but things seem to be going well. Anthony is much more relaxed about participating in school. He's gotten up everyday and requested work and appears to be enjoying himself.

I'm not going to lie. He's still Anthony, which means he has created a touch of chaos to our once quiet days. He made jello on Monday and before it had totally set he dumped it on a big plate. He did this so that it could maintain as much of its jigglyness and still be somewhat molded. Then he put it back in the fridge until he could decide what to do with it. I mentioned maybe he could just eat it, as I think that's what people do with jello, but he said no, jello could be used for so much more than eating. I had no idea!

He kept taking it out of the fridge so that he could walk around with his plate if jiggly jello wowing everyone in his path. Except for not everyone was as fascinated as he was. Like me. I was not at all fascinated. Instead I was nervous. Anthony and a plate of jiggly jello couldn't possibly end well. When I pointed this out to him he said, "mom, I'm not a baby. I can walk around with this and nothing is going to happen." Except for as he was saying that the jello slid off the plate and plopped onto my kitchen floor where it splattered into every corner and then he ran out of the room.

The terrific thing was that I only had two sheets of Bounty left and I figured if I could pick up this mess with two sheets of Bounty I could finally justify my insistence on purchasing these expensive paper towels. Greg has tried, with no success, to get me to buy cheaper paper towels, but he isn't usually the one picking up poop and pee and vomit and jello, so he has no idea the power of the Bounty paper towel. And guess what? Two Bounty paper towels did the trick in this case. (Hey Bounty people - are you catching this? If you are you can fore go the dollar it's costing you to read my post and just send me a year's worth of paper towels.)

Other than the jello incident, it's been a calm week with Anthony. He spent some time talking to Maggie about Greek mythology, wherein he told her, "Now Maggie, the Greeks believed in MANY gods, but we only believe in ONE god. Okay, so don't get messed up. Don't go around telling people you believe in lots of gods, because you don't. We're CATHOLIC Maggie. Can you say that. Say your Catholic and you only believe in one God. Say it. Say it, Maggie, say you're Catholic and you only believe in one god." This went on until Maggie started crying and I had to end the Greek mythology vs. Roman Catholic theology session, but it was cute and it made me smile, which is never a bad thing when you're homeschooling your kids. As a matter of fact, it's half the battle.

I must end this now. I have things to do and children to teach and I'm sure there's a mess somewhere with Anthony's name on it. A mess only Bounty can pick up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What I've been up to

My summer has been filled with big, exciting, life altering changes. Here's the biggest one (and get ready, because it's huge!) - I started doing laundry at the laundromat. We had a weekend away back at the beginning of July and when we arrived home we realized it was going to take three days to catch up on the laundry situation (and any chore that requires using the word situation to decribe it has gotten out of control). I kindly offered to take the clothes to the laundromat, so as to get it done in the quickest possible way.

I came home an hour and a half later with five loads of clean, folded laundry. Then I walked around like a drill sergeant telling everyone that if they didn't put their clothes away immediately it was all going in the garbage. My children know this threat is not to be taken lightly. I've found that tossing things in the garbage is about the easiest way there is to keep a clean house. Sure, you throw things away you end up needing later on and then you go out for coffee with a friend only to have your husband call asking about the whereabouts of those things. You panic a little and decide maybe it's not the best way to keep a clean house, but then the mess piles up again and you think, no, it truly is easier dealing with an inquiring husband than it is picking up the mess and putting things back where they belong. So anyway, the kids listened to my threats and I went and took a nap because after doing five loads of laundry I deserved a snooze.

At some point the next day I happened to walk by the washing machine and noticed that the most horrifying thing had occurred. There was more laundry. The pile of clothes that had completely disappeared the day before seemed to have grown in the middle of the night while we were all asleep. It never, ever stops growing. There almost isn't a point to doing laundry as it just piles up immediately and reminds you daily how useless certain chores are.

I was coming close to despair over the whole situation (which is not hard for me to do as I come close to despair over just about everything. It's a gift.) when I suddenly began thinking about how nice and quiet and relaxing it was at the laundromat. While I was there I managed to finish a book I was reading, drink an ice cold diet coke from the store next door, call a friend, listen to my ipod and read highly out of date magazines (we're talking 2003) and also some rather dubious ones. On top of it being relaxing and entertaining, there was the very practical matter of getting five loads of laundry done in ninety minutes. So now it was obvious that the solution to my problem was to just start taking my laundry to the laundromat.

I go twice a week, no more, no less. Every Tuesday and every Friday. The rest of the week I don't even think about the laundry. And Greg doesn't either. If something is dirty and it isn't laundry day, guess what? Too bad for you. It really is a treat for me and has provided me with a kind of freedom I've come to cherish. And as much as Greg has tried to reassure me over the years that he doesn't mind doing laundry, I think he loves never having to think about it now.

Will it last? Probably not. I get sick of everything. People, places and things that I once adored and loved, and swore I would never get sick of, always end up on my list of, "never be bothered with this person, place or thing again."Oh, I kid. I hardly ever do that with people, but the places and things one I do all the time. So this time next year I will probably be repulsed by the site of the laundromat, but for now it works and I'm enjoying it. Plus, it provides me with three full hours of child-free down time a week, because no matter how many times I've asked the kids if they want to join me, no one ever takes me up on the offer.

Now onto other matters, sort of. The laundry thing is costing me many quarters a week, so I'm thinking about getting a part time job, but I do have rules. It can't be at night or during the day and it has to pay at least 20 bucks an hour and involve no physical labor and nothing that would strain my mental faculties, as I teach my children and I need to save my brain cells for them.

After I started thinking about it I realized I've set my sights high in the employment department, so I came up with another way to make money. I'm going to start charging people a dollar a post for reading this here blog. We're going on the honor system. If you just read this post you owe me a dollar. I know hundreds and hundreds of people( possibly thousands) are reading this blog and I am so excited that very soon I will be rich. On top of using my money to fund my laundromat excurions I will be using the rest to feed the hungry and promote world peace, so you see, you really can feel good knowing this is going for a worthy cause. I'm doing God's work and in essence, by giving me your money, you will be doing God's work. None of the money will be used to fund my raw cookie dough or Chuckles addiction.

Thank you for your time today. I hope it was worth your dollar. At the very least, I hope it was worth a comment - those are free.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quickly - so I don't forget

I walked out of my bedroom to find a rather large chunk of dark hair on the living room floor. Maggie was standing close by with a pair of scissors - and her hair looked slightly changed. Some would say it had a madwoman look to it.

Me- Maggie, did you cut your own hair?

Maggie - No.

Me - I'm going to ask you again. Did you cut your own hair?

Maggie - Yes, Mama.

Me- Don't ever cut your hair again or I'll take Fuzzy(her beloved blanket) away for a long, long time and don't lie when I ask you something. I'm glad you fessed up, but you shouldn't have said no the first time. Do you understand me?

Maggie - Yes, Mama. And I accept your apology.

Hum. That didn't go as planned.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Can you feel the love?

Kate is home from camp. I got a phone call yesterday at 11:30 am asking when I was going to pick her up to which I responded, "oh, I'll be there around 9ish tomorrow morning, right before Mass. Is that okay?" Whoever I was speaking to kindly pointed out that, "um, well, camp actually is over today and the girls were meant to be picked up on Saturday morning, not Sunday, but it's okay, get here when you can."

The one minute it took to grab Maggie, get her dressed and throw her into the van was quite exciting. I never knew how many lively words spouses could fit into sixty seconds when they are each desperately trying to shove off the blame on the other for being the irresponsible parent who overlooked the camp pick up time and day. It was fun. He he, ho ho, ha ha, oh marriage is just always so sweet and lovely.

A few weeks ago we were sitting in church and a couple was called up to the alter for a renewal of their vows. They had been married for fifty years and Father Blase pointed out how happy and in love they still were and I thought to myself, this really isn't inspirational. What we need is two people who at times don't like each other much, yet in spite of it, they stick it out. So I raised my hand and asked if Greg and I could come up there instead.

Relax. I kid. I kid because it's fun and also because it happens to be a little true. Greg and I love each other, but honestly, after eighteen years of marriage we don't always approach one another with grace and kindness, especially in moments of stress and confusion. Some people blow sunshine up your behind and tell you they never get upset with their spouse, to which I can only respond that if marriage was always easy there would be no need to counter every positive marital vow with a negative one. It's a nice little reminder when you're standing on the altar completely in love that you aren't always going to feel this happy, things aren't always going to be this good.

If nothing else, the sometimes irritating aspects of marriage do provide me with quick blog fodder and thank goodness, because honestly I think I have officially run out of things to write about. So thank you Greg, thank you for being such a jerk yesterday. If not for you, I would have had nothing to write about today.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of camp and heat and sweat

Kate left for "nun" camp last night. We call it that because it happens to be run by a religious order of Sisters, but every time I say it I feel odd and want to clarify that Kate is not going away to become a nun. Or maybe she is. I really can't say. It certainly wouldn't be something I would discourage. Last time the girls went to this camp Jane came home and told me the Sisters were the most calm, peaceful, happy people she had ever met, so I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if one of them wanted to follow that path. You know what I was disappointed with? Jane not including me on her list of most calm, peaceful, happy people she's ever met.

Jane is in a different age group this year and so she leaves for her camp next Sunday morning. Kate won't be back home until that afternoon so they'll be away from each other for two whole weeks. This prompted them to stay up until the wee hours of the morning talking endlessly about who knows what. At some point, Jane passed out and Kate continued on, talking louder and louder in the hopes of waking Jane up. This is a nightly occurrence with Kate. She refuses to stop talking until either Jane (or me) yells for her to please stop.

Now here is where I must digress from all this talk of sleeping habits, and nun camp, and Kate being away and mention a little something about Florida heat. Some people who don't live here make fun of our extremely hot weather and talk about how unbearable it must be to live through such insufferable temperatures. Usually these people are from colder areas and making fun of our weather makes them feel better about their own. I know because I used to be one of those people. Now that I live here I make fun of the New England winters. Isn't this what life is all about anyway - mocking everything that is different from our own current experience? If you've thought of a better way to get through life, please share.

I used to believe the Florida heat caused people to dropped like flies on a regular basis. Then we moved here and I realized that, unless you're a meteorologist, weather isn't something you think about too much, other than to remember to bring a sweater with you when you go out because every church, store, library, and any other public place you happen to visit keeps the air conditioning set at frigid temperatures. This is all done to ensure that no one ever sweats, because sweating is gross and makes people smell bad, and how would we end up falling in love and having babies if we were all grossing each other out. The air conditioning is set like that to ensure the world goes on and we should be grateful and never complain about it.

Occasionally, though, we are forced to reckon with Mother Nature and her heat. Yesterday was one of those days. Kate's camp is in the forest and I suppose in order to keep things as quaint and lovely as possible this particular place is not equipped with air conditioning. This is a foolish idea.

After being there for a short time people began to sweat, and stink, and get red in the face. It wasn't pretty. I ran and hid in Greg's air conditioned truck, until Jane came and told me I was acting like a child. I reminded her that I get body odor and didn't think it was nice to inflict that on the others, but at some point I was forced to get out of the truck and be of service. That's what we're called to do as good Catholics, and trust me when I tell you I am one of the best out there. At the very least I like for others to think I am, so I sweetly asked around about making myself useful and decided to just accept the fact that no matter how much I begged God to make me stop sweating, it wasn't going to happen, not even for a good Catholic like myself.

After everyone was properly drenched and done helping the sisters set up, it was time for Mass, which was held in the hall - the hall with no air conditioning because like I said, this camp doesn't have it. People looked weak and tired, but happy, because it's nearly impossible to not be happy in Mass, even for someone like myself who spends quite a bit of her life being angry about something or other.

Mass started, the sisters sang and the priest gave an amazing homily(which I later learned none of my kids heard because they were busy wondering when the black dots they were seeing would disappear). And then it was time to give one another the sign of peace. I turned to Kate and she looked glassy and not at all excited about being there, which annoyed me, so I said, "excuse me Kate, I'm peacing you, please look happy," but she just passed out, literally. Thankfully Greg and I were there to catch her.

I'm happy to report it was nothing more serious than her getting hot and having low blood sugar. She sat for a while and ate something and promised me she would drink plenty of water and eat even if she wasn't hungry. The sisters reassured me they would look after the girls and keep them hydrated, but how can a mother not worry? I barely slept last night thinking about Kate and her cute little face and her constant, "I'm fine, don't worry about me," refrain we hear all the time, but I'm sure she is okay, since no news is good news, right?

Despite the heat and the sweat and the passing out it was a lovely day. And we filled our weekly quota for suffering. It's good to get that in at the beginning of the week.

Have a good week - and keep cool. Trust me when I say, no one wants to see you sweat.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Boy - What's herpes?

Mother - What? How did you hear about herpes?

Boy - There was an ad on TV about herpes medicine. What's herpes?

Mother - A disease.

Boy - What kind of disease?

Mother - I don't know.

Boy - Do you really not know or are you just saying that because you don't feel like telling me.

Mother - You don't really need to know what herpes is right now in your life.

Boy - I'll just ask the girls.

Mother - No you won't. Herpes is a disease you get from having sex with the wrong people.

Boy - You can get diseases from having sex?

Mother - Yeah, but only if you have sex before you're married and don't ever forget that.

Wise older sister - Well, what if you get married to someone who had pre-marital sex, but you didn't know it when you got married and they had herpes, then you can get it, too, right? How will I know if I can trust someone when they tell me they haven't had pre-marital sex?

Mother - Are you kidding me? Are you going to start this now? Can you leave the room because you're of no help at all.

Boy - Why would you have sex before you're married?

Mother - Well, YOU wouldn't have sex before your married so it really doesn't matter and we can stop talking about this.

Boy - Well, what happens to you when you get herpes.

Mother - Stuff.

Boy - What stuff?

Mother - Gross stuff.

Boy - Like what.

Mother - Well, since you won't give up talking about this - your penis falls off.

Boy - (Makes gasping sound indicating how horrible he thinks that is) If a guy's penis falls off does that mean a girl's vagina would fall off if she got it?

Mother - (excuses herself so she can go say a quick prayer asking God if perhaps she has not handled this in the best way and also, she has to laugh a little because she was not expecting that last question.)

Mother - (returns to room.) Okay, I made up the thing about your penis falling off.

Boy - Oh, good because that was really scary.

Mother - Scary enough to make you never want to engage in premarital sex.

Boy - Yes!

Mother - Then maybe that is what happens to you. I can't say for sure.

Boy - Are you just saying that to scare me?

Mother - Yes, and also I'm a horrible mother who can't handle these conversations anymore so you need to start asking your father all of this stuff otherwise I'm going to start drinking and never come out of my bedroom.

When you tell your children there is nothing that they can't come to you about, that they should only ask you and your husband certain things, they will take you seriously, especially if you have a pattern of actually engaging them in lively conversation. The tricky part is that at first the conversations are simple and sweet and you don't mind answering questions and concerns truthfully, but over time the questions become complicated and annoying and you will be left coming up with answers that are based on lies meant to make your kids scared to leave the house, because if your kids are scared to leave the house then you never have to worry about them getting into trouble and as a parent that is all you want. You want your kids to be safe forever and to never get hurt and to never have to face the world's problems.

But then you go look in the mirror and you realize that actually, it may be you who the kids need to be shielded from. You'll throw your hands up in the air and ask God why exactly he saw fit to give you four children. You'll also realize that TV is evil and this whole conversation most likely never would have happened if you didn't have a TV to begin with, at which point you decide the TV is off limits for quite some time. You may even consider telling your son that not only does herpes make your penis fall off, but so does watching Spongebob Squarepants.

note: In the interest of honesty I must admit something. I posted this this afternoon and took it down a few hours later, fearing I looked like an awful parent and that some people who don't knwo me well would misunderstand and possibly judge the interaction that takes place between me and my children. Then I realized that I was being judgemental in assuming that other people would be judgemental when reading this - or even care about it enough to form an opinion, or even that anyone would be reading this to begin with. I need to remember I am just not that important. To Deb and mom and dad...the thoughts of you guys never seeing this post made me a little sad, so here it is again. And thanks Terri!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Many thoughts on many things

I can't seem to post much anymore, so here are a bunch of thoughts all scrunched up together.

I quit facebook last weekend. Someone told me my page is still up, but the person who told me that is not all together with it, so I think she may be mistaken. I quit I because I found myself wasting at least twenty minutes a day looking at what other people were up to and twenty minutes of my life adds up to a lot. I'm a mom and a wife and a friend and a sister and a neighbor and many other things. I have important tasks to tend to and I just don't think I need to be reading what other people, most of whom I never even see or talk to, have to say about all manner of things. (Ironically this is exactly what I hope people will do whenever I write a blog post - waste twenty minutes of their day coming on here to see what I have to say about all manner of things.)

For me (and only me - this isn't a sweeping condemnation of facebook) it became mindless and not entirely purposeful. I wouldn't even realize how long I was looking at things. It's like picking my lips. I cannot tell you how many times I've senselessly picked away until I'm in utter pain and left to scour my house in search of one of the hundreds of chap sticks strewn all over the place. Usually I end up finding a tube under the bed and it's all scooped out so I have to get some sort of utensil and dig out any last remnants. The whole scene is slightly unattractive. Greg usually comes in the room and pulls out a ridiculously large lip balm he found at some drugstore. The sheer size of it makes him think of me, not because he thinks I'm large, but because he knows how much I pick my lips and how I'm always looking for my "lip stuff." All that to say, facebook was as useful to me as picking my lips. I don't have time to do both, so the facebook went.

Greg brought home an elliptical trainer a month or two ago. It's just like the ones from the gyms. At first I thought it was foolish to have this gigantic thing in our already overflowing garage, but I got on and realized I love it. It's a good change of pace when I either can't do the bike or need a break from it. Alas, a new problem has now entered my life. I do the elliptical for an hour and end up hungry so I go inside and eat... and eat and eat. And then I feel bad so I go out and do the elliptical for a while longer. I'm doing the elliptical so I can eat and I'm eating because I know I'll just go out and do the elliptical.

The observant person who has been reading my blog for any length of time will realize I have an issue with self control. Sane people would just do the workout and then NOT go inside and engage in gluttony. In my defense, this machine produces a hunger in me the likes of which I have never felt. According to the workout summary I deplete over 600 calories while on it. Now I know this is not accurate so no need to leave comments to that affect, but truly it is a hard workout. No matter how you slice it though, I have a discipline problem, but not nearly as bad as I used to, which brings me to my next thought.

I love going to confession. Some people who don't understand this sacrament think it's just an excuse for people to go out and sin because they know they can go tell a priest everything and all is forgiven. That's a crude understanding of course. The truth is, the more consistently you go to confession, the less likely you are to even want to engage in sinful behavior. Of course you still will, but you'll find yourself doing less of the most spiritually harmful things and when you do engage in them, you'll recognize the old sick patterns immediately. Regularly confessing your sins to another human being can't help but make you aware of how you are living.

It's no coincidence that over the past two years I have completely lost all desire to go and spend money I don't have. I don't get a rush going into Target. I spend days thinking over whether or not I really need something or whether I want it. I wear the same clothes over and over again. I haven't purchased a single decorative lampshade or pillow since spring of 2009. Spending money no longer gives me a sick high. I'm more content than I ever was two years ago when I was in the midst of living a destructive lie that included hiding outrageously high credit card receipts from my husband. The major difference in my life between now and then is that I make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a pretty regular basis. I could never have changed without the graces I receive after leaving the confessional. I think I just got preachy, but I kind of don't care.

I'll end with this quote which I found amusing and has nothing to do with anything...I am not sure where it came from, but it made me smile. Whoever said it was referring to David Sedaris and his writing (have I ever mentioned I love him) - "Easy listening for the self satisfied liberal."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This post is vulgar, but sometimes so is life and I refuse to edit.

After spending a few relaxing nights away camping, we came home to find a big pile of dog poop in Anthony's room. I suppose I need to be honest; it was several piles of dog poop (of the loose variety). The bonus was that Anthony's room was already strewn with papers and pencils and Legos and clothes, the result of me telling him for the past three months that I wasn't going to pick up his mess and then him sweetly telling me back that it didn't bother him at all to live in a state of utter chaos, and then me saying fine with me, I couldn't care less how messy it gets in there, but then really going into my room and screaming into a pillow.

You would think seeing his toys covered in dog excrement would upset him, but I think he was secretly thinking how well this worked out for him since now I had no choice but to pick up his room. There's something quite humbling and completely insane about a grown woman crawling around on her knees with a breathing mask on, cleaning up after a dog, a creature that I'm pretty sure was never meant to live in-doors in the first place.

Thankfully I've been a mom for nearly fifteen years, so I'm well acquainted with crap in all its forms, both human and non, and no job is too tough for me. I've had so much experience in all of this that I made up a little diddy a while back that helps me get through the whole process of picking up the kinds of things that would have been better left in a toilet or dumpster, rather than on floors and walls and underwear. Admittedly, the song is heavy on the words piss and shit and it goes something like this...Piss and shit, piss and shit, I'm gonna clean me some piss and shit, piss and shit in the morning! The word morning can be changed to evening, depending on what time of day it is. I just repeat it over and over in my mind until I start laughing, which only takes a couple of seconds.

Of course my intention on Sunday morning was to get home from camping, take a shower and get myself to Mass. I kept looking at the clock in Greg's truck thinking about the spectacular time we were making. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. As I was telling Jane all of this while she watched me pick up Buster's poop (and really, is there anything better than having someone watch you pick up dog poop while you nearly gag to the point of puking, all the while the person repeating to you, "I wonder when he did it, I wonder how long it's been there for, do you think it's been there long mommy?") she said to me, "That's okay mommy, God knew you had good intentions of getting to church today. He won't be mad." To which I could only smile and say thanks. As a mother I've learned to find God wherever I have to, including on my hands and knees picking up dog do do while listening to me sweet daughter reassure me things are just fine with me and my maker.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I ended up having a spectacular day, despite its beginnings.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

lunch conversation

Jane - Did you know a survey showed 97 percent of people in Florida think Casey Anthony is guilty.

Me - No, I didn't know that.

Kate - (yelling from the other room) Yeah, the other 3 percent weren't present for the survey.

Me - hahahahahaha ( that's not really what I sound like when I laugh my ass off, but you get the idea)

Pretty funny kid.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend thoughts

I love my husband and kids. I suspected this for some time but it was confirmed while I was away and felt myself missing and thinking about them quite a bit. I even missed them after getting numerous calls referencing things like the cable account, i pod chargers and inquiries about why exactly I had to go away in the first place.

I'm done going away by myself for a few years. I got it out of my system and have no desire to be a thousand miles away from Greg or the kids for a long time. At first this revelation caused me to feel shame because I figured it made me some kind of loser who is too attached to her role as wife and mother, but then I realized that I am just like any other professional who goes away and thinks about work obsessively. Those kinds of people are mostly venerated and thought of as being ambitious and hard working type A people who make the world go round, but I'm here to tell you something you probably already know - it's mothers who make the world go round so if you happen to be one, find a way to make the people in your life venerate you instead of those idiotic type A fools. Going away for fours day helps this process along.

Having said all that, I had a terrific time both at the wedding, and hanging out with my sister and her family. There was much laughter going on all weekend and that's never to be missed if it can be helped. I would have felt awful if I skipped out due to my intense fear of flying, which by the way was not at all eased for one second while I was on the plane, but more on that later. The wedding was beautiful and fun. The highlight was dancing while screaming/singing along to Bruce with my siblings. The low light was the much too small piece of delicious wedding cake we were served. I almost laughed when I saw it sitting there on my plate. It was as thin as a piece of American cheese. I'm convinced the caterers were trying to steal the cake. They approached my brother's wife after they had served everyone and asked her if she would like to bring home two big pieces and she said no, she would like to bring home the entire rest of the cake. So I don't really need to know anything else about this person my brother has married. She appreciates cake and that really is the most important thing there is to know about someone.

Now about the plane. Two friends gave me books to read to keep me calm on the trip. I thought this was a good idea and was excited about reading both of them. I took out the first one shortly after takeoff and after ten pages I realized I had not technically read any of the book. I was turning pages mindlessly. It's like when you realize you've arrived at your destination and you have no idea how it happened. I put the book down and decided to try and calm down and go back to it later, but I never calmed down. I stared out the window and realized that if we crashed I was dead meat. There was no chance of survival. I looked at all the little plots of land and felt envious of the people below who lived there and were safely on the ground. At that point I should have shut my shade and tried to sleep but I must have been getting some sick pleasure out of being so morbid because I just kept looking out the window and shaking my leg. Then I looked around the plane and wondered if I should tell everyone else about the dead meat thing. It seems that there are people on planes who are completely at ease and not at all worried about this and I don't like other people being calm while I'm not. I decided not to say anything though. I was reassured when the plane landed but only until I remembered I would be getting on a plane to go back home.

My sister brought me to the airport on Sunday morning and asked if I was glad I had come and I told her I wouldn't be able to answer that question until I was back in Orlando. If the plane crashed I would most definitely not be happy I went. But here I am in one piece sitting at the computer so yes, I'm glad I went. The only thing I'm mad about is that I would have had even more fun if I hadn't wasted time all weekend worrying about whether I would make it back home. I also would have had more fun if I got a bigger piece of cake.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Me - Why do all the pictures keep falling off the walls?

Him - Maybe because you're hanging them with packing tape?

Me - What else would I hang them with?

Him - Nails.

Me - Seriously?

We've been married for close to eighteen years and Greg still believes that at some point I'll start doing things the right way. It's nice to live with someone so hopeful. It's probably the reason I married him. I must have sensed he'd never give up on me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A very long tale of riding

I've been riding my bike again lately. Riding it obsessively, because that's just what I do. If I like something I get obsessed and can't think of much else except what it is I am obsessed with. It happened with veggie burgers, TCBY, Lays baked chips, green tea, white tea, chai tea, coffee, espresso, hummus, Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, David Sedaris. The list goes on and as you can see it mostly all has to do with food, beverages, musicians and hilarious writers. Trust me, there are much worse things to be obsessed with than the previous list.

Riding a bike is the one thing in my life that I mastered on the first try. I think this is the reason I like it so much. I was five years old and spotted a bike on our front dirt. I can't call it a front lawn as we were the sort of children who played hard and didn't allow grass to grow. Anyway, I saw the bike and noticed that no one was around, and because I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of anyone else I figured I would take the opportunity to get on and see what happened. I rode all the way over to my Nana's apartment without falling. It was completely exhilarating and I was hooked. And then I was mad that there were no witnesses.

I grew up in an age where parents were smart enough to not sign their children up for any activity that wasn't close enough to walk or ride our bikes to and so those were just about the only ways I knew to get myself around. When I was in high school I managed to become friends with people who had cars and this was quite helpful, but still, I loved riding my bike.

When I got my first job that paid over eight bucks an hour I saved up and bought myself an expensive Trek mountain bike. I rode all over the place, mostly on deserted country roads that were definitely not the kinds of places a twenty one year old girl should be riding alone. This made my mom nervous which I think was the reason I did it. And yes, I am sure I will be paid back in kind by my own children.

I dreamed about going cross country on my Trek. Like most of my dreams, I had no real plan and sort of just hoped this would happen on its own and when it didn't I forgot about it and went about my life. I got married, moved a lot, had children and the only bike I rode for a while was a stationary bike that I loved for the sole reason that riding it everyday for an hour helped me lose every bit of the weight I gained when I had gotten pregnant.

It wasn't the same though and when we moved to Burlington I started riding outside again - that is until I took an awful spill and almost landed head first directly into a tree. I was shaken and for quite some time I didn't ride and when I did, it was only with Greg and the kids.

Once we moved here, a place where the weather is almost always nice enough to ride outside, I got back into it and remembered how much I loved it. The problem of course is that because I am somewhat obsessive I am not happy enough to just ride for an hour. I have to ride for ninety minutes which leads to two hours which leads to two and a half hours which leads to a very sore arse and bizarre tan lines.

At the very least, all of my obsessive riding has taught me some important things and I will share them with you now. Bring enough water or risk hallucinating, wear sun block or risk getting an awful burn, turn around after an hour because if you don't you will just want to keep going and chances are you have people waiting for you at home who love you and may even miss you if you don't come back (unless you were in a really bad mood when you departed and in that case, stay out as long as possible). When your butt gets sore, you are better off just sitting through it because if you stand up and then sit back down on your bike seat it will hurt approximately one hundred times more than it originally did.

Another thing I learned. Lake County is gorgeous. There are hundreds of bikes routes to ride and you will be unable to stay in a foul mood if you happened to have been in one when you left, not that I would know anything about foul moods as I am mostly a sunshiny type person. Truthfully, whatever I am feeling when I leave for my rides I couldn't really tell you because by the time I get home I am completely exhausted in the best possible way. And every time I go out I am convinced at some point in that ride that during this lifetime I will make my way across the country on my bike. That's what riding does for me. It make me crazy and delusional and happy and completely thankful to be alive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two decades worth

Sometimes high school friends "friend" me on facebook and ask what I've been up to for the past 20 years, so I've come up with a form letter to let everyone in on the excitement that has been my life over the past two decades.

Dear so and so,

It's so good to hear from you. Due to my laziness, the chances of me sending you a friend request were slim to none, so thank you for taking the initiative.

As far as what I have been up to for the last twenty years, well, I will try to distill everything down to the nitty gritty, truly important stuff.

After graduating from high school in 1987, I went onto to college, graduating from Suny Albany in the winter of '92, with a degree in the "liberal arts." It was well worth it; I am still liberal and artistic. I'll save you the trouble of doing the math and just tell you that yes, it took me longer than four years to graduate. I was busy doing important and productive things during that time, things not related to my studies, hence the delay.

I met my husband (although he wasn't my husband when I met him) in the summer of '90 and married him in the summer of '93. His name is Greg and he grew up in Buffalo, NY. I can't really describe him to you, as it wouldn't do him justice, suffice it to say that he has a twisted sense of humor, talks minimally, and doesn't care what anyone but me thinks of him. Sometimes this fact makes me nervous, but most of the time I find it refreshing. Oh, and he does laundry on a regular basis, and adores me and our children, so I bagged me a good one.

Greg and I spent the first years of our marriage moving around to various places like Rochester, NY, West Kill NY, North Carolina and Vermont. There was also a short stint in Maine that I prefer not to think about.

In the fall of 2001 we decided we should take the three children that we now had (two girls, one boy) and move closer to extended family, so we moved back to Albany, NY, where we remained for about four years, until we decided that we should move again, this time to someplace warm and brimming with job possibilities for my husband - he works in construction as a project manager. He's pretty bossy so he has done quite well in this position.

Anyway, in the fall of 2005 we packed up and moved to central Florida, knowing that the state was bursting with building projects and Greg would never be out of a job, and so far he hasn't been, although things got dicey last year, but I think we're okay for now. I don't worry too much about this stuff.

At first I hated central Florida, as it was the exact opposite of everything I had ever known. I especially hated the palm trees. They seemed so empty and soulless and I spent many hours wondering if we had made a huge mistake moving to a place where the only trees were ones that provided no shade, but then we found this great little town called Mount Dora, Florida, located in beautiful Lake County, and I decided I didn't hate it all. There were huge oak trees with Spanish moss dripping off of them, and lakes, and hills, and friendly people and my kids said it reminded them of their Fisher Price village, so we decided to buy a house and settled in.

Right around this time I had another baby. She was a total surprise. At first I was annoyed that I was pregnant because I was a perfect size 6 and I didn't want to get fat, as I am stay at home mom and dreaded becoming the stereotypical, dumpy mom, but the second Maggie was born I told everyone to pretend I had never said some of the things I did while I was pregnant. I certainly didn't want her to get a complex and think that keeping my figure was more important to me than bringing a new life into the world. As it turns out, she is doted on like no other child has been and will probably go on to do something incredible and amazing, like curing diabetes. But even if she doesn't I won't care. None of us can imagine life without her. She's pretty great.

As far as the details of our lives right now, I homeschool my fourteen and twelve year old daughters, but my son, who is ten, goes to public school. My kids are funny and cute and love to read and were once described as "little spark plugs." That's really all you need to know about them.

I spend most of my days reading, painting my walls over and over again, moving furniture around, walking around our town and enjoying the beautiful weather (unless it dips below 50 degrees and then I refuse to go outside.) And of course I have met some wonderful friends. In fact, I think the friends I have met here may be some of the nicest people on the planet.

I guess my life keeps me busy because I fall into bed every night completely exhausted. And yes, I know it all sounds so simple and quaint, but when I was a little girl I had no aspirations to lead a glamorous life filled with wealth and fame; I only wanted to grow up to be a mom and wife, so I guess you could call me a success story.

I hope this fills you in on some of the finer points of my life. Please let me know what you have been up to for the past twenty years.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


One of my greatest joys as a child was visiting my grandparent's house. It was not a house filled with many rules. The only ones in place mostly had to do with food. We couldn't freely dip into my grandfather's beloved Twinkies, hot dogs, or liver worst; permission must first be sought. The other rule was that we definitely were not allowed to touch the thermostat, although we didn't know about that rule until my Uncle John, the youngest of my dad's eleven siblings, dared to touch the heat one day and chaos ensued.

I guess my grandfather was highly attuned to temperature settings and sensed that something was amiss. He went and checked the thermostat and when his suspicions were confirmed he started carrying on in a manner that was somewhat amusing. My grandfather wasn't prone to speaking, let alone yelling, and he wasn't even prone to moving out of his chair, so to see him running through the hall, flailing his arms and opening his mouth to scream was too much for my ten year old self to comprehend. My siblings and I ran upstairs, caught between nervous laughter and my Uncle John, who was trying quickly to remove himself from the scene.

At some point the crisis was diffused and we went back to doing things like making prank phone calls. My grandparent's house was a hotbed of prank phone call making. I think the fact that my grandfather was always reading and my grandmother was always working on puzzles meant we could get away with this for several minutes at a time without anyone becoming suspicious. When we were home in our tiny apartment, with a mother who had an uncanny knack for overhearing everything, we never even bothered trying.

My children started asking me questions about my grandparents yesterday, which started me down this path of reminiscing. One of my happiest memories is something I think about quite a bit, specifically every year when October rolls around.

The particulars are fuzzy, but it was fall, I was probably not more than ten or eleven and there was a baseball game on t.v. It was an important game, probably a play-off series, and the Yankees, who my brothers loved, and some other team, maybe the Red Sox, who my brothers hated, were playing. It may not have been the Red Sox, but my disdain for them makes telling this story more enjoyable.

Honestly, it doesn't matter that much who was playing. What matters is that my grandfather, who never watched sports, who never engaged anyone in conversation, who never got excited over anything other than people screwing with thermostat settings, started watching the game. The game grew more interesting and my grandfather moved up to the edge of his chair, which was quite shocking, and then he got excited and started pointing and wiggling his fingers at the t.v. and yelling out "WHAMMY!" whenever the pitcher threw the ball, and just like magic, each time he yelled that, a strike was called.

At first I think we may have thought he was losing his mind. A man doesn't go from never speaking to yelling out whammy without people thinking something is wrong, but the more he did it, the more we screamed and encouraged him to keep going and he did, right on through to the end of the game, which the Yankees won. Even now, as a forty one year old woman who should know better, I believe the reason the Yankees won that game was due solely to my grandfather's special powers.

If not for that small incident many years ago I may simply remember my grandfather as someone who never wore anything other than a black suit(I think he even wore it while he was sleeping) and someone who was obsessed with the air temperature of the house. I guess that's not a horrible way to remember someone, but telling my kids those things wouldn't have captured their attention the way the baseball story did. (Although a man who never,ever wears anything but a black suit, even on the weekends, even on vacation, even in the heat of muggy summers, is suddenly becoming more interesting for me to think about.)

update - After I wrote this my dad emailed me and let me know it was the Kansas City Royals, not the Red Sox, who the Yankees beat. I knew either my brothers or my dad would remember this seemingly minor detail -minor only to women. Julie, I hope this makes you feel a little better.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


In light of my previous post, in which I admitted I busied myself last year by getting into a fight with a fourteen year old girl, and leaving and then returning to the scene of a fender bender, it appears I may be ripe for some resolutions, but I'm not going to go that route because history has shown that resolutions don't work. Plus, to resolve to do something sounds difficult and implies a certain amount of hard work is involved. Instead I am going to have some New Year's hopes. The word hope is much sweeter sounding than resolve. If you hope for something you merely have to sit back and wait for it to happen and it will.

Here are some of my New Year's hopes. I hope to get back into shape. I hope to become more organized. I hope to think before speaking. I hope to keep my house clean on a regular basis. I hope to not lay in the sun, something I can barely resist doing when the weather turns warm, even though I know it is giving me wrinkles and moles and my doctor told me to stop doing it. I hope to take my contacts out every night before going to bed, and to remove my makeup at that time. I hope to stop speaking in excessively loud tones to my children, although that one went out the window already when one of my kids lolly gagged while getting ready this morning.

I do have some deeper hopes, but I feel weird putting them on here because they involve my faith and I find it increasingly more difficult to talk about my faith. I want to guard it with everything I have. I don't know what I am guarding it from - probably from neighbors who are trying to convince me my faith is not true. Nothing drives me further into my faith than when people do this, so I guess I am thankful for the recent annoyance. I'm pretty quiet about my beliefs and expect people to behave in kind. I'm surprised when that doesn't happen.

I hope to send a letter to David Sedaris begging him to come to central Florida for a speaking engagement. I guess our area is not deemed worthy of his presence, but I think I may be able to woo him with some of my lofty praise. I'm pretty charming when needed. Last week I was at the store and a friend who I haven't spoken to in some time was behind me at the deli. I'm not quite sure what happened to the friendship - most likely a lack of effort on my part. Things kind of just fizzled out and I could tell when I saw her that she was going to look down or pretend to get a phone call so as to avoid any discomfort, but I turned around and said " HI So and So, ( I called her by her name as I find this helps people feel better), how have you been?" And all was well again, due to my dazzling and irresistible personality. Right now you should be envisioning me smiling (with sparklingly teeth, of course) and the "ding" sound should be going off in your head. Please hope along with me that David Sedaris will come here.

I hope more people will leave comments on here. It makes writing more fun knowing people are reading. Terri and Julie, you are much appreciated!