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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years and What Not....

So last year I have a slew of New Years Resolutions. I achieved some of my goals, while others, as my best friend would say are "a work in progress." I guess that is the way it goes.

So an overview of the goals that I did accomplish. I am very proud to say that I sit here debt free. Yep, the credit cards are paid off and most of them are GONE. What a huge monkey that was to get off my back!

While I didn't lose another twenty five pounds, I did manage to keep off the weight that I lost last year. I am happy to maintain and will continue to work on making healthier choices this year. I'm off to a bang up start - plain bagel with cream cheese. Can you hear the sarcasm? Oh well. Tomorrow is actually the first, right?

Some of my goals in retrospect seem lofty and well, from where I sit today still remain a work in progress. I don't do a gratitude walk, but I do reflect on those things that I am thankful for every night when I pray. I really do need to focus on being more thankful. Sometimes it is hard.

It was a difficult year. 2009 saw the end of my father's ongoing battle with Cancer - the last battle. Even though he lost the fight, he did it with grace, faith, and courage - in the end I know he won the war and is in a better place without Cancer now. All those things that I thought I was doing for him, I know now that I benefited so much more than he ever did. I hope that the things I did for him made his last days a little easier. I wish I could have seen him one more time, but I am happy to remember him as I do, instead of in a hospital bed.

I am glad to close the door on 2009. Bag it and tag it, put it on the shelf and move on. 2010 has to bring better things - for everyone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where Would I Be?




Someone asked me the other day where I would be if I weren't with my Robbie. Wow, I was so taken aback. To be honest, I had never even given it a thought, or if I had, the visions that I saw there were so horrific that I quickly mentally backed away and thanked my lucky stars that wasn't the case.
An angel brought him to me. I know that. Lucky stars guided my feet to where I would find him. My father said that everyone has many potential matches for their life partner and that no one has that one perfect fit. It is the one thing that he told me that I never believed. I know soul mates exist because I found mine.
The day we met, I knew he would change my life forever. Every happy memory or circumstance as an adult has him at the core of it. Every vision I have for my future revolves around an old man that looks striking like the man I married 11 years ago.

Where would I be without Robbie? Loveless,childless and desperate. My life was a dark, dark place. I like to think that I could have escaped it all, but since following the path that I believe was chosen for me - my life has been blessed. I am almost ridiculously lucky. I have a husband that I adore, two beautiful little girls, a beautiful home, everything my heart could possibly desire and so much more. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming. How did I get here? What did I ever do to deserve to be so lucky? The truth is, I just don't know, but one thing I do know is that I am happy to be here and I want to spend every day for the rest of my life making him happy that I am here too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Organ

What is it about Christmas Eve that brings on memories of Christmas's past? As I was driving down the road today, I was thinking about the Christmas's of my youth, when my family was still whole and I was oblivious to the fact that bad things really could (and would) happen to me.

My father used to tuck me up in bed at night and say my prayers with me. I can remember that I hated kneeling on the hard, cold floor to say my prayers before getting into bed and I can remember wondering why a loving God would want us to be so uncomfortable? Still, I enjoyed those quiet times with my Dad.

When I was about 10, I had a little, orange, toy organ. I would strike the keys and attempt to make music. On one such evening, I played my little organ for my father as he looked tolerantly on. When I was done, he asked me if I enjoyed playing. I told him that I did, even though I wasn't really very good. He looked at me thoughtfully and asked me if I would be willing to give up my little orange organ to a child that didn't have any toys at all. Even though I didn't really want to give it up, I thought how terrible I would feel if I didn't have any toys at all. So I reluctantly told him that I would be willing after all.

The next day, my little orange organ disappeared, and while I was sad, it made me happy to know that another little girl or boy would find joy in it and love it as much as I did. Days passed and then weeks. I thought about my organ, but less and less over time, and then came the busy bustle of the holiday season. I was soon caught up in the Jesse tree at school ( a favorite tradition ), cookie baking and all that Christmas brings. Finally, after what seemed like waiting forever, Christmas eve finally came! It was so hard to wait all day until the next morning to see if Santa Claus would really come.

My Grandmother was visiting us, and while she was there she slept in my room. I was moved into the spare twin bed in my older sisters room. I actually liked being in her room, she told the most wonderful stories when the humor was on her, so this was just fine by me! That night, I went to bed early, as I did every Christmas Eve. Late that night though, I was awakened by a very loud noise! Could it be Santa Claus?

Well, the answer was YES .... and no. I heard my Dad and his best friend Mo laughing and carrying on together as they always did. There was a lot of moving around and banging - as if they were carrying something very heavy into the house. They shared a few beers from my Dad's tap before Moe headed back out into the snow. Eventually, I went back to sleep dreaming sweet dreams of the next morning...

When I woke up, we went downstairs to open our Christmas presents, and there, in the corner of our living room was the most beautiful, full sized organ that I had ever seen. My parents told me that it was from Santa Claus and I never let them know that I heard Dad and Moe bringing the organ into the house. It didn't matter, because it meant so much more to me knowing that it was really a gift from my parents.

He got me lessons and I learned to play. He used to sit for hours and listen to me, even though, especially at first, I wasn't very good. I still have my organ. It sits in my own living room now, mainly quiet, but every now and again I play it and think of my Dad. I wish he was here and I could play it for him again....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Had a Dream Last Night....

When I was younger, I used to dream all the time - vivid, complex dreams that indicated which way I should go in my life. I worked out my troubles in my dreams, made decisions, and created casts of characters there for my as yet unrevealed fictional world. No that I am older, I don't dream the way that I used to. Now I dream of my past and the people I used to know.

Last night I had one of those dreams. I dreamed of a boy that I knew when I was 13 years old. Yes, I was 13 and he was 17 and puppy love doesn't begin to describe it. He lived in our apartment building - downstairs from our apartment. My parents had just gotten a divorce and I was about to get a new stepfather so my life was going through a tremendous upheaval when I first met Mike Simoni. I remember that day very clearly. I was baking cookies with a friend to take to some elderly people that were shut ins that we had adopted. My older sister Lisa - age 17 - was also visiting at the time. My friend, Michelle, and I were in the kitchen covered in flour when there was a knock at the door. I heard a voice ask, "if your daughter is here?" Of course my blonde haired, blue eyed sister went bounding to the door to see what boy was bothering her this time. He took one look at her and said, "No, your *other* daughter." I loved him before I ever laid eyes on him.

He was cocky and sure of himself as I am sure most 17 year old boys are. I had just finished reading The Outsiders and he was my Ponyboy incarnate. He taught me a lot of things in the few years that we knew one another, not the least of which is what it feels like to have a broken heart. When I think of him though, it is always fondly and I wonder where he is now, and I wish him well always. Sometimes when I dream of him, it's like we have bumped into one another at a coffee shop and we update one another about what is going on in our lives. At other times, the dreams are more like memories. Last night was a mixture of both. I remember him the way he was then, I even remember some of the cruelty we put each other through but in my heart, I will always be grateful to that boy for helping me grow up, for showing me what a relationship should and - should not- be. MJS, wherever you are, I still think of you and hope you found happiness. Somewhere deep inside, my 13 year old heart still remembers and from time to time.. thinks of you fondly.

I'm all grown up now - a real woman with little girls of my own. ( And no, I will never, never let them date a 17 year old boy when they are 13!) I have been married to my husband for almost 11 years, but all the boys along the way, the the heartbreaks big and small... they all brought me to this place.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Updated Reading List



I have always found Egytian history absolutely fascinating and I learned so much reading this book. For example, I had no idea that Nerfertiti, probably the most powerful queen of Egypt besides Cleopatra, was actually the step mother of Tutenkamen. Amazing. I also had no idea that Tut married his half sister and that, according to this author, it appeared to be a genuine love match. I'm not sure if I follow his premise and believe that Tut was murdered, but their definitely seemed to be many people and factors conspiring against Tut. It's ashame, I would have loved to see what he may have accomplished in the fullness of his life.



Even though this book is considered YA, I enjoyed reading it. I loved the premise behind Elsewhere and thought the authors vision was entirely unique. I especially loved the part where they talked about the need for all people to have a avocation - not an occupation. While the usual definition of that word is a hobby of some sort, this author suggests it as a life calling that one loves. I think that all of us are called to something, but not all of us truly ever learn what it is that we are called to do. I loved the ompleteness of the journey that the characters go through. My favorite character in the book? Lucy the Pug, of course!



Trite and boring. I wanted a labotomy by the time I was half way through, but since the book is so small, I pressed on. The end is touching but it just can't save the rest of the snoring...oops, I meant to say story. This one is definitely a snoozer.



I loved this book. It was great that it could be read slowly, a chapter at a time to allow for time to really think about the topics in every chapter. This is one that I will keep and reread, because I truly believe that an Attitude of Gratitude is absolutely critical to living a happy, healthy life.

Currently reading: Ayn Rand and the World She Made, The Christmas List and Under the Dome.
Up Next: Pirate Latitudes, The Horse That God Made, Bleak House.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do They Get It

This evening my husband and I were watching "Nights in Rodanthe". For anyone that has seen the movie or read the book, you know it is an amazing, heartfelt book about finding love and how love can save us.
I sat there with my husband, enthralled by the story while he seemed like he would rather be having a labotomy. His response to stories like this always makes me wonder whether it's him, or whether men ( most men anyway) just don't feel things like women do. It's frustrating.
I honestly feel like my husband and I have a love tht is unique and amazing - something that most people don't have. But at other times, I wonder if I feel that way about him and I think that he feels the same way about me and it's really just an illusion because he's just not capable of feeling the depth and breadth of what I feel. There must be some men who feel it, even if they can't articulate it. I mean some of the worlds greatest poets: Shelley, Byron, Browning... all men. Heck, even Nicholas Sparks ( who wrote Nights in Rodanthe is a man, though I must say he channels female better than anyone I have ever seen.)
There is a scene in Willow - you know, the sci-fi, fantasy movie Willow - where Mad Martigan says to Sorcha, " You are my sun, my moon, my star-lit sky. Without you, I dwell in darkness...." Every woman wants to be her mans sun, moon and star-lit sky. Every one of us. Occassionally it would be nice to have that vocally articulated. Not everyday, but occassionaly, yep, I could go for a healthy dose of Mad Mardigan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Thing I'm Grateful for Today? It's a No Brainer...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Warm Arms, Happy Hearts

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's weird because when I was young, I just didn't get it. I viewed it as a day where nothing really happened but dinner, it seemed sort of like a waste. It's hard for me to believe it now that I used to view things that way. At any rate,I understand it now. Maybe it is like that for everyone - something you only truly appreciate later.
I usually blog about the things that I am thankful for during the month of November. This month I'm off to a slow start thanks to the Swine flu, but better late than never.
After three very long years, my husband is finally on shore duty. I can't explain how wonderful that feels, but I know that many who read this blog are military wives, mothers, and members, so you all will understand. As a friend said to me today, "you always feel like you are on borrowed time." So true. Even now, I am faced with the knowledge that some time, some day, I will have to give up my husband again. I know we choose this life and I wouldn't have another, but it is still a sacrifice to watch him go.
This year, I am extremely grateful for the warm arms that surround me every night. He may have to work during the day, but every night, he's here at home with me and our children, where he belongs. It's wonderful to do all the things as a family that we want to. It's wonderful to do the simple things that most people take for granted, like having someone to share popcorn and cuddle with while watching tv, or just sharing the silence at night with. Even the soft, even sounds of his breath while he sleeps is something that I am so grateful for. If I can hear it, that means he's close... and I'm not lying in bed alone - imagining him next to me instead.
I never want to forget how grateful I am, how much I appreciate him. I love that man. I love the family we have made together and I never, never want to take him for granted. Warm arms around me certainly do make for two very happy hearts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Big Apple

New York is a strange city full of the complex contrasts found in all of humanity - the best and worst, the beautiful and ugly.... New York has it all. You always hear about how rude New Yorkers are. We certainly experienced that - from the man who literally crawled over me at the subway, to the fat youths who refused to give up seats on the subway to the elderly, rudeness appears to be a common fabric in the thread of every day New York life. And yet, there is kindness there too, all the more appreciated because it is often so unexpected. In the middle of a museum as we prepared to head back into the city, a security guard noticed us and with a smile, asked if there was anything he could do to help - anyway that he could make our visit to his city more enjoyable. What a breath of fresh air his kind concern was.
And speaking of fresh air, there isn't much of it in the downtown areas of the city. The air seems to have a dunk and desperate scent almost impossible to describe. Going down into the subway, leaving the sun and light, I felt the edges of the darkness grab on to my coat and the despair clawed at my skin and hair. I didn't want to go down there. And yet, there in the depths of the city, we found an ancient Japanese man playing music on an equally ancient Japanese instrument. His song was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. I have never heard music like that, and doubt that I ever will again. New York once again showed her dual personality to me.
The city is dirty and crowded, a place that I couldn't imagine spending more than one night. And yet, Uptown, by Central Park, the walkways are spacious, clear and pristine. The Park itself is a haven in the heart of the city. Looking at the golden tulip tress there, I could almost understand where JRR Tolkien could have gotten his inspiration for the forests of Lorien, it was that magical. I loved Central Park in the fall, it was simply breathtaking. I would like to see it in the other seasons as well.
The city is full of fashionistas and fashion victims, the hopeful and the homeless, the talented and the repressed. Any writer experiencing a block should go to the city because one is sure to experience the breath of humanity and human emotions there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recent Reads



My russian fascination continues - this time with a thrilling story about a thief, a deserter and some eggs. It's a gripping tale that will make you laugh, cry and see the true nature of war. I loved it from start to finish.

This one was a book club selection. I was hesitant at first, and though it isn't heavy lifting, it was definitely enjoyable and well worth the read. It's quick, probably only took me a day or two. I loved the interaction among the family members and the relationships in the book provided colorful fodder for discussion.



Another book club selection. I had never read Agatha Christie before, which seems strange even to me. This one was a real treat for Halloween, even if it was a little predictable toward the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Anne Rice is still the master storyteller. I read this one years ago during my vampire fascination and it was - by far- my favorite Anne Rice book. I loved it so much that I choose to revisit it for Halloween. I have always wanted to visit Egypt and have forever been fascinated with the Pharoahs so this one is just pure fun from start to finish.



For all my Sci-fi/fantasy fans out there - if you haven't read Sara Douglass you need to. She is a rarity in the genre - a truly original voice. Check her out, she is very prolific and all the books are good.

You can see that I have been reading for fun lately. You will also see more YA books going on my Have read list because I am now doing a discussion group with my daughters fifth grade class - (it's Amazing!!) Up next? Elsewhere, Tell Me Where It Hurts, The Murder of King Tut and more.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have to Show Up

I don't know if I mentioned this here yet, but I am the class mom for my 5th graders class again this year. I know, just call me "sucker". Still, I love being invovled with the school and most importantly the children. Even as they grow into preteens, they still like knowing that someone cares enough to show up.

So last week, I sent home a flyer asking for donations to make our Halloween party for the children special. I'm not asking for goodie bags or huge donations - simply some juice pouches, cookies, cupcakes, the usual for a class party. Obviously the party is next Friday and while the flyers have been out for over a week now, and the deadline for turning them in is rapidly approaching, I still only have three that have been returned. Three parents out of twenty have stepped forward to volunteer just a little of themselves to make their child's day a little better. Sort of sad, isn't it? I mean, I am certainly grateful for those three, but where the hell are the seventeen other parents? Does it really take such a huge time committment out of your day that you can't fill and return a form? Are people really so apathetic that they are simply satisfied to sit by and let others do all the heavy lifting? What message does this send to our children?

I feel so blessed that every Friday I get to spend an hour of my day with these amazing children. I know that not everyone has the same opportunities that I do. I know that people have to work and often can't be there even though they would like to be. But really, 20 napkins is too much to ask?

I wish these parents could see the faces of their children when I walk into that room every Friday. I wish they could see the way their faces light up, or the ways the girls will just come by and give me a hug. It's magic. All these children want is someone to show up, and let them know they care and that can happen in so many ways - volunteering, spending time with them doing their homework, donating items to the classroom and simply making time for them. They do still need that in their lives and the depth of their response to those that they know really care about them - breathtaking. I know I'm lucky, I just wish that a few more people would take just a few minutes to show up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Surely Not My Daughter

It reminds me of that 60's song..."She looks like an angel, walks like an angel, talks like an angel.... but I got wise.... She's the devil in disguise." Ok, so maybe not the devil per se but my little angel came home with some very unexpected news from First Grade.

As she sits herself down to the kitchen table for her afternoon snack today, she nonchalantly tells me that she needs to buy Mrs. Jeffrey some new crayons. Come again?? "Any why, pray tell, would you need to do that?" I calmly asked. "Oh, because I snapped some crayons in half today." HUH??? My sweet little angel that likes to wear twirly dresses and dance went on some sort of bender and snapped a bunch of crayons in half? What the heck is going on??

I asked, "Did you break the crayons by accident, pressing too hard while coloring".."Not exactly...." "Well, how exactly did you break them, or better yet, why??" "Ethan M. told me to." I don't think that anything could have made my blood boil more than the preceeding statement. After all, my daughter is desended from a long line of Irish bare-knuckled fist fighters. Snapping the crayons because someone had the audacity to tell her that her coloring sucked is something that I could at least understand if not condone, but this... Oh this was totally unacceptable.

"What if Ethan M. told you to cut off your hair with scissors, would you do that?"
"Mom, don't be silly...." Well how is one thing silly and the other isn't, I ask you???
So, the end result is that my little princess will have to give up three weeks worth of ice cream money to pay for the new crayons, in addition to a hand written apology that she will deliver tomorrow while also giving a heartfelt in person apology. I told her that this was unacceptable, and I explained why. After all, my husband and I work hard to teach our children right from wrong and the Ethan M's of the world aren't going to stand in our way!

On a serious note, Ethan M. can hardly be held responsible because, while he may have planted the seed, it was my tiny little dancer that did the crayon snapping.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

Today is my birthday and it certainly isn't the same without you. I miss my first thing in the morning phone call and your off key voice singing happy birthday. I wonder who will be the first to call this year.

It's been over a month that you have been gone and I miss you everyday. You used to tell me that a girl's dad was the only man that she can trust, and I miss having you to rely on. I guess I never realized just how much I did. When I called you everyday, I used to tell myself that was for you but in reality, now I know that it was as much for myself as it was for you. I love and miss you so much.

I know that you are in a better place now - a world where Cancer can never touch you, and for that, I am so grateful. I look forward to the day that I will see you again. Did I tell you that I started a Relay for Life team here in New London? I'm sick of the people that I love having Cancer. First it took Grandma, then Pop-pop, then Uncle John and now you... It's just too much. And now, the doctor's have found a "suspicious growth" on Bill's kidney. Just in the same area where we first discovered your Cancer. Too many good people have died and I have decided to do something about it. I know that would make you proud, you were always so proactive and did so much to help others.

I was thinking about the time that I was in the hospital when I was a little girl the other day. Remember the twin boys with the webbed hands? I remember that their parents never came to visit them, but you bought them both a baseball mitt to wear when their operation was over. It's funny the things that I had buried in my subconscious somewhere but now I remember and see so clearly.

I am so thankful for all the years we had together. I wish I would have told you that I loved you more, but I hope you always knew. You are, and will forever be, my hero. I wish you were here with me today..... I love you Dad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's Three More Feet - You've Got to be Kidding Me!

I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past two days. I'm having some girlfriends over tonight ( so excited!) and I wanted the house to look beautiful. I love it when it's really clean, but sometimes it just seems like it's impossible to maintain.

I have two little girls ages 10 and 6 and a husband. Everyone in my family, myself included sometimes, seems to have it "stays where it lays" mentality. Shoes on the floor, backpacks and jackets, socks... just stuff everywhere. So, I have promised to make more of an effort to maintain our beautiful home and I am hoping that my whole family will support me in this endevour. I am sure it will be an effort to retrain everyone though. I guess maybe I just have to make it more of a priority and sort of "get on" people when they don't do the things that they should. Still, being a harpy gets old and just once, it would be really nice if people in my family did the right thing without asking.

I asked my husband to take up a pile of his laundry and put it away. A few minutes later, I climbed the stairs, heavy carpet cleaner in my hand only to open my bedroom door and literally find his stuff thrown on the floor where he left it. Really? You couldn't take two extra steps to get it to the bed? Or better yet just friggin put it away like I asked? Is that really so hard???? So here I am venting about it. I did mention it to him - I even ut the stuff on his bed so that he would have to clean it off before he gets in. Probably I will find it on the again later today. Grrrr...... Sometimes it gets old being the Harpy and older still when it's necessary.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm in Love.... with Rhett Butler

I just finished rereading Gone with the Wind and can I just say that I love Rhett? My Dad always called me Scarlett, a comparison that I often found unattractive, but now that I am older I think I understand. Scarlett is the one who kept her family together, she worked hard to save Tara - she sacrificed everything including her own happiness. Sometimes she was selfish and heartless but in the end, she always did what she believed was right.
The final scene between Scarlett and Rhett is just heart rending...."Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." You know deep down that Rhett still loves Scarlett, that he will always love Scarlett. I guess he just couldn't handle the pain of thinking she didn't love him anymore. Do you think that in any potential relationship that there is always a "deal breaker"? That one thing that makes you walk away when you would rather not? I always wondered what happened after that. Knowing Scarlett, I am sure that she got her man in the end, at least I hope so.

I have been reading like crazy lately and I realized that I hadn't updated my blog. So here is a brief review:
The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville - queen to Edward the 4th and mother to the infamous "Princes in the Tower". I have to say that while I have found Gregory's other historical fictions dubious on occassion - I loved this one. Gregory's portrayal of Edward was so heartfelt and absolutely believeable. I think she nailed it. Best of all, she doesn't follow the cast of usual suspects in the case of her missing boys but entertains all possibilities. I am looking forward to the next installment.

The History of Love - by Nicole Krauss. This has to be one of the most original stories that I have ever read. It was captivating and comes at the reader from so many different angles and perspectives. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and was captivated by how different it was.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I loved the historical references of people and places in this one. It is set in Ipswich/ Salem so that was very interesting. At times I felt lost and confused by the writers style, but still found the story to be enjoyable.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. This story was riveting. It is about a little girl - who can not speak and her best friend - both of whom disappear. THere are so many different themes in this book - the repurcussions of our actions, destiny and true love, karma, what defines who we are, and more. It was a quick read with much fodder for thought.

Up next: Elsewhere, Tell Me Where it Hurts and I am still working on The Brothers Karamozov.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Been There, Done That, Got the T-shirt.... A Rant of Sorts

So most of you know that I love my husband. I adore him really. He is my soulmate and my twin flame. But sometimes, just sometimes, all the pistons aren't firing. You know how it is when you get comfortable in life? Maybe things aren't how you would *really* want them to be, but hey, they're close enough and you are satisfied? Well, sometimes that it is the way I feel. Both my husband and I feel satisfied with parts of our lives and well, somewhat less than satisfied in others. Herein lies the problem though - they aren't the same things.

My husband hates his job. He busts his ass everyday to provide for me and our children. I see it, I appreciate it. As a result, he is often tired when he gets home and most nights we wind up sitting in front of the tv ( which is alright) and then going to bed - usually with me wide awake and he sound asleep within minutes. At times it gets to be frustrating.

I am almost 39 years old and yet I feel like I am living the life of a much older woman. At times I don't feel appreciated as a woman. A mother? Yes. A friend? You bet. Hell, even a housekeeper and occasional laundress? Well, good enough. But as a woman? Not quite. Not really.

I was out this morning with friends. We went to get coffee. I put my makeup on, did my hair all nice and straight, the way my husband usually likes it ( when he notices). I could feel the appreciative stares of other men. It makes me feel good that they notice the effort that I took with my appearance. I'm not the girl I was when I was 18, or even 25. I get it. But I do try. I do brush my hair every day, try to make it look pretty, do my makeup, wear nice clothes that flatter my shape.... But to be honest, I can't remember the last time my husband looked at me with that gleam of appreciation in his eye, or told me that I looked beautiful. Sometimes I feel guilty for enjoying the looks and smiles of other men, even though it would never, ever in a million years go anywhere beyond that.

You know, they say that vanilla is the finest of the flavors - but it isn't always. Sometimes mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, and even strawberry are also nice. Ok, so that is me speaking in code but the fact is, after 13 years together, our sex life is a little bland. He knows what I like, I know what he likes, and sometimes it feels as if there is nothing new to try or experience in that aspect of our lives together. It feels routine. Ugh. Isn't that a terrible word? In my minds eye, I am a wanton sex goddess, but in my husband's eyes? I'm a almost 40 year old housewife.

Seriously, anyone reading this... all thoughts are appreciated on what you do to keep your love life fresh and interesting. I'm getting depesperate.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life Goes On...

In the wake of traumatic events, it is so true that life goes on. It does because it must. My father has passed, but I am still here, my children, and my husband are still here, and I continue with the mundune and not so mundane activities that compromise our lives.

I realize that my children are looking to me, watching to see how I handle this tragedy in our lives. If I am ok, then they are ok. If I loose my balance or wallow in sadness, then they too are lost. Here are some things that I know: death is a part of life. Everyone dies sometime, and I for one would not want to live forever. I believe that there is another place - I hope a better place. I believe that some existence continues, just in another form that I can't currently understand. I want my children to see death - whether it be a beloved grandparent or a childhood pet - as part of life, natural and while not to be sought, also not to be feared.

And so... life goes on. The children had their orientations at school the other day, and they are both eagerly preparing for next week when they will join their friends for the first day of school. It was wonderful to meet the teachers, both of whom I liked very much. I am happy to be able to volunteer in the children's classrooms, I look forward to that every year.

It was funny, while we were there 3 of my oldest daughters previous teachers and the principal all commented on how well she did on the Connecticut State Mastery Test, otherwise known as CMT. Last year, in spite of "the Incident", my oldest daughter managed to score across the board in the 97th percentile. We are very proud of her. Needless to say, this year I am looking forward to getting her results and seeing her progress. Her new teacher says that he is going to be very busy making sure she doesn't get bored. Did I mention that I really like that man? My Dad would have been so proud to hear how well that Sporty is doing in school, and he would have loved how excited my little Posh is to start her first day of First Grade!

I am getting back to the everyday things - doctors appointments, dog walks, girlfriends, occassionally hating the Navy(not really...), and taking care of the house. Life truly does go on. I realize that I have to make the most of my life, the way my father did. We all have to make every day count, because none of us know how many days we have. Sometimes I really do think that it is the small, every day activities that really comprise our lives and make a differenct in the lives of others. That's the best way that I can honor my dad, by being a good mother, a good daughter and a good friend. I hope that I can live up to that.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Worst is Over?


My father was laid to rest yesterday. The ceremony was touching and beautiful - a real tribut to the man he was and the life that he lived. I was amazed - and yet not really so- at the number of people that came out to pay tribute and remember a great man.
Yesterday I had to read my father's eulogy - a conglomeration of words that could never possibly begin to describe who he was and what he meant to me. I did my best and most importantly, I kept my promise and I didn't cry. I held it together, at least while I was talking.
My dad's cousin, Johnnie Leckie was there, in traditional dress with his bagpipes ready. Their sweet and sad strains pierced right through my heart. I wasn't prepared for that. It was comforting to commemorate my father's life at the Church where I had so many times attended with my father as a child. I sat in stunned silence while my cousin, Tim, read the beautiful readings that he selected. ( Even though he doesn't usually "read" at his Church- that's an inside joke) I was amazed that a man who appeared as cold as Father Murphy usually does, could pull together a homily that talked about how my father inspired so many and like an eagle, only wanted to soar to God. My father would have liked that.
Finally, when the mass was over, it was my turn to speak. I felt my knees shake, I had to walk by my father's casket - which was so difficult - and then it seemed like an eternity all the way up to the pulpit. Thankfully I had printed out my eulogy, otherwise I never would have remembered everything I wanted to say let alone formulate a coherent sentence without a reference.
I don't remember the eulogy now, I only remember reaching out to touch my father's casket as I returned to my seat. It was the first time that I had done so. His pallbearers were comprised of friends and family who solemnly and with care completed their duty. I watched my father's casket go into the hearse and then, we were off to the cemetery.
My husband and I had fought all week to make sure that my father recieved full military honors. We finally got word on Thursday afternoon that the Air Force was coming from Andrews Air Force base to do the honors. When we pulled up, they were there waiting for my father. They gently lifted him out of the hearse and the honor guard carefully carried him into the chapel for the final words to be said over his body before being laid to rest. I watched them fold and snap the flag, making each crease crisp with pride. My father would have liked that.
When they were done folding, the captain of the honor guard held the folded flag until the Priest was done. Then came the moment that I both longed for and dreaded - the presentation of the Flag. I wanted the flag with all my heart - I already have plans to mount it along with my father's medals from his time in the service and his picture, but at the same time, I would much rather have my father than this flag to remember him by.
The sergeant handed me the flag and said some kind words about the President, the United States Air Force and a grateful nation. He placed the flag in my arms and I felt it's weight for the first time. He stepped back and gave my father his final salute. I will never forget that.
The airmen also coordinated a fly over. I didn't get to see the planes, but I could hear them - I remember saying to my husband, "They're coming." I saw the reflection in the memorial wall. It was an amazing and beautiful tribute for a man who had done so much and served his country so loyally.
They say the worst is over. I've eulogized my dad, and he's been laid to rest. Yet today, I feel the enormity of his absence more than ever. Today when I got home to Connecticut after the long drive, I only had one call to make. I will never share my good news ( in quite the same way) ever again. I wouldn't say that the worst is over. I would say that I will miss my father every day for the rest of my life, and that is just beginning.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In Memorial

When my father was 18, in training for the Army Aircorps, he was told that as a pilot, he wouldn't live to see 21. We always used to laugh together when I said that it was a good thing he had a contingency plan. My father lead a full and amazing life, and most importantly, he lived it on his own terms - always, but that doesn't surprise anyone who knew him.
My Dad was born on a cold day in December in 1923 to Leona and James Beadling. His Grandmother claimed that he was the ugliest baby she had ever seen. My dad used to laugh and say, "You know it had to be bad if even your Grandmother said you were ugly. Grandmother's think all babies are beautiful." During the height of the depression, my father went to live with his Grandparents, his Aunt Stella and his Uncle Roy. He loved them very much and they raised him as their own son. They taught him the qualities that I believe most characterize his life: determination, loyalty and patriotism.
Most of my father's favorite memories about his childhood revolved around his favorite sport - football. My father was the Captain and quarterback of his highschool team. Long before that though, he tells stories about always wanting to play with the older boys, challenging himself to play harder and better. Those boys used to tell him that he couldn't play, he was too small and he would get hurt, to which he would indignantly respond, " I won't get hurt! Let me play!" When he was in the 8th grade, he wanted to go to football training camp with the older highschool players. He asked the coach and was told that he could attend but that he couldn't stay with the other players. He got permission from his Grandparents to camp out - on his own for the week of training. He cooked his own food over a camp fire and stayed by himself in a tent every night for a week just so he could attend that football camp. He was always very proud of that. He earned the respect of everyone there, including a local business owner who came out and cooked him eggs for breakfast on the last day of practice.
On December 7th, 1941, my father was at a friend's house playing cards after Church when President Roosevelt came on the radio and announced the attack on Pearl Habor. The next day, my father went into the city with his friends to join the Marines. Because he was only 17, he needed one of his parents to sign a consent form. His mother refused to sign.
My father asked if he joined the Army Aircorps whether she would give her permission , and realizing that his birthday was just weeks away, my Grandmother reluctantly relented. My father walked into the city to take the required entrance exam for the Aircorps. Of over 100 boys there that day, only 30 passed the physical and went on to take the written test. My father told me that it was a grueling ordeal but he resolved to do his best and answer each and every question. At the end of the day, the recruiter administrating the assessment, called out three names, one of which was my father's. My dad said that he looked at the other two boys there and in his heart he feared he was about to hear some sad story about how they didn't make it, but since he walked all the way there he resolved to stay and hear what the recruiter had to say. Those three boys were the only three to pass the entire evaluation that day, and so my father proudly entered into the Army Aircorps.
He fought in two wars - both World War II and Korea. He served as instructor pilot in P40s and P51s during World War II and then bravely returned to battle during the Korean War as Squadron Commander of over 50 extremely dangerous night missions in F84s and F86s in suppport of the Marines on the ground. After Korea, my father told me that he knew that hell was not full of flames they way most of the stories say, but that the worst levels of hell were cold, like the Chosin Resevoir. My father never forgot the Marines, his comrades in arms, or the lessons that they taught him. One of his favorite phrases was "Proper planning prevents piss poor performance" - a remnant of his time in the military.
My father loved the military and he deeply loved the country that he served, but most of you know that he didn't really have the personality for taking orders - so he went into the Reserves to continue fly fighters and serve his country, while at the same time going to work in the Airline industry.
While in the Guard, my father flew the F102. He loved to fly jets - especially with his friends George and Joe. They spent their time together at Mach one with their hair on fire, which is the way they liked it. The three of them were always together. One night my Dad was late coming home from the Guard. My mother got a call from his friend Joe - long after she had gone to bed - saying that my Dad had an accident, "He ran into me!" Joe quipped, and that's just how the three of them were.
During this time my father also worked for Allegheny Airlines - then US Airways - and did so until the age 60 - mandatory retirement. He enjoyed his time working there and also serving as a Union representative for the Airline Pilots Association. He made many, wonderful, lifelong friends, some of whom are here with us today. After his retirement, my father continued working for US Airways as a trainer in their simulator, assisting other pilots in becoming the best that they could be, encouraging them to constantly improve and hone thier skills in an airplane.

My father was probably the most loyal person that I have ever met. He always used to tell me that "friend" was one of the most overused words in the english language. In his opinion, if someone was your friend - really your friend- then they could call you in the middle of the night and expect to have you help them, in any way that was required. My father was that kind of friend, as many here can attest.

He was a very passionate person- he loved deeply, held grudges, felt things intensely - you just had to get him into a political discussion to know these things about him. He was an idealist who believed that a man's word and his honor were everything. My father was a man of integrity - he did what he said and said what he did. He was a man of deep and abiding faith and he lived that faith every day. He lived his life on his own terms and that is really all any of us can ask. I know I speak for my sisters when I say - he is our father, he will forever be our hero.

Friday, August 7, 2009

He's Waiting

Two days ago my father was admitted into the hospital. He's battle with Cancer has taken a serious turn, and he has developed deep tissue thrombosis, which is often the result of chemotherapy and inactivity - in other words, he has a rather large blood clot in his leg. The doctor sent him to the hospital and while he was there, he had another attack of extreme pain, in addition to a bloody bowel movement.

The doctors don't know where the blood is coming from, they are trying to find out. My mother always says that medicine isn't a science and she is so right about that. It always seems like doctors are scurrying around trying to rule out what could be wrong with us to finally discover what "is". With competing doctors - i.e. a surgeon, a cardiologist, a cancer doctor and a GI specialist - also comes differing perspectives on prognosis. One doctor yesterday told my family that my father's death was imminent - hours or days at best - the rest disagreed. I've come to the conclusion that none of them really know.

Here is what I know: my father is getting tired. There is only so much that an 86 year old body can handle. He's in pain, and he's feeling stretched and thin. In short, I beleive that he knows the end of his life is near and that he is ready for what comes next.

I know who is waiting for my father. I've seen him once in a dream, as I was on the cusp of marrying my husband and becoming a mother for the first time. He was waiting for me in much the same type of place that he is waiting for my father now - it looked like a hospital. He was young, though not as young as he should have been - and so very handsome. He always had such kind eyes, or so I have been told. He smiled when I saw him and seemed surprised that I didn't know him. My heart recognized him though, it was my brother, Jamie, the one who died when he was three, long before it was ever possible that we could meet. He smiled and told me that my life was going in the right direction. I felt such peace after that. I wanted to tell my father that I know my brother is waiting for him too. It's been such a long time, and for all these years my father has carried a terrible burden of guilt. It's time to lay that down, along with the pain and the cancer, and go to the next place.

I guess that is what faith is all about - the blind leap - moving from this plane of existence to the next without really knowing for sure what you will find when you get there. I know that my father's faith will carrying him to a much better place... one where there is no pain, and no more cancer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reading Frenzy.

While I was at my Dad's, I didn't have much to do other than cook for him and take him to his various doctor's appointments. He actually sleeps quite a bit, and without the children there, I actually got some really good reading time in. Here's a run down of what I have been up to lately:



I was so excited about this one! I love the time period of the Salem Witch Trials and the idea of a book about a progressive woman during those times was so appealing. The storyline had so much potential, but I found the story itself to be sadly disappointing. The plot twists were predictable and the shifting between time periods was choppy. I hate being disappointed.



Happily my next selection was a real joy to read. This book was very original in that it is told entirely in the context of letters written among the various characters. The heroine was real, funny, and thoroughly likable. The side story of Elizabeth is every bit as engrossing as the main story - maybe even more so. I can't recommend this one highly enough. It's amazing!



"I Am Charlotte Simmons" by Tom Wolfe. I picked this one up because I had been wanting to read something by Wolfe for awhile. It's hard to believe that I have never read "The Bonfire of the Vanities" or even seen the movie "The Right Stuff" let alone read it. Wolfe's style as the silent observer is appealing - he misses nothing, not even the inner turmoils that the individuals try so hard to hide. "I Am Charlotte Simmons" is a unique and somewhat desperate view into college life in the 2000s. . I found it to be sadly truthful and eye opening.




Picoult does it again. Finding Faith is the story of a little girl, Faith, who after a traumatic incident in her life, starts having conversations and seeing an invisible friend who those around her later come to believe is God. Picoult always finds the most controversial and thought provoking topics to write about and this is one of her best.



Beautifully written and heart- breakingly honest and tragic, this is one book that I will never forget. I was wrapped up in his life before I was hit by the horror of it all. I think it is very heroic of Goolrick to share his story in the hopes that others may be saved.




This one was a real guilty pleasure. I loved every minute of it! If you like historical fiction, do yourself a favor and pick this one up - today!



This is a very different book - a mystery that I never saw coming. It certainly wasn't predictable. It was like Big Love - but in a book. If you enjoy the HBO series, this is a great book. I loved the incorporation of real historical figures and events in telling this story. I learned so much about the Mormon faith, the differences between Mormons and "Firsts" and the history of celestial marriage. Well worth the read.

I just finished re-reading Gone with the Wind. I have to say that through it all, I coudln't believe how foolish Scarlett was. I find myself helplessly in love with Rhett who was strong and vulnerable, sure yet desperate. If you have never read Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell's story is simply.... breathtaking.

Up Next? Crime and Punishment,Elsewhere and more....

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's Been a While

Well, I am here at my mom's and computer access is sporadic at best. As some of you know, I have been here helping taking care of my Dad who is dealing with his second round of Cancer. It hasn't been easy.
Dad and I went to see his oncologist on Wednesday. He was supposed to have his second chemo treatment then, but the doctor withheld it. Dad's white blood cells were only 25% of normal, not nearly enough to endure another bout. It seems like chemotherapy is a lot like fighting heartworm in a dog - you poison the dog to kill the smaller organism, hoping you kill the worm before you kill the dog. Looking at my Dad on some days, I really wonder who is winning the fight.
I spend a quarter of my time with my mom and the girls. It's refreshing to get away for a few days but, at the same time, I also feel guilty. After all, when does my Dad ever escape the fight?
I don't know what to wish for. Of course, I would love to have a magic wand that I could wave and cure cancer for every single person on the planet, unfortunately, I don't. I sometimes wonder if it's selfish to hope that the chemo prolongs my Dad's battle, when I see him in so much pain. Other days, he looks like his old self and you wouldn't even know he is sick. I guess I just have to roll with the punches, just like he does.
I do miss home....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Playlist

What's the playlist of your life? I guess my playlist starts when I was about 13. I have always loved music, but that is when I remember my own taste really emerging and relating to songs based on their words and meaning. All the songs here represent some part of my life and I usually relate more to the meanings rather than just the sound alone....

Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel
Vacation by the Go-gos Dedicated to Stevie, my forever Summer Sister
Sweet Little Sister by Skid Row
Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy

Fallen Angel by Poison
Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions
Midnight Blue by Lou Gramm
Angel by Aerosmith
I Remember You by Skid Row
The Old Apartment by the Bare Naked Ladies

Seeing Things by the Black Crowes
What it Takes by Aerosmith
Sometimes She Cries by Warrant
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Love Song by Tesla
Say Goodbye by Dave Matthews Band

Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover by Sophie B. Hawkins
I Don't Wanna Come Down by Bush
Head Over Feet by Alanis Morrisette
Any Way You Want It by Foreigner
When You Say Nothing At All by Allison Krauss


Sweet Child O Mine by Guns and Roses
Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel
Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Poundcake by Van Halen
Far Away by Nickelback
The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy
Two Hearts by Chris Isaak
God Only Knows by the Beach Boys
At Last by by Joan Osbourne

These are the songs of my life. Sure, there are many more, after all, every person with any meaning in my life has a song. This list does provide an overall sampling of the best themes and thoughts that have made up my life to this point. If you really know me, you can probably see the different phases that my life has had just through the music. What is the play list of your life? What are the special songs that represent the people you love?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reminders

I always prided myself on having a wonderful memory. As I child, I could remember even minute events, in detail, for days or longer after they happened. I seldom forgot a name or an important date. As I have aged though, that has changed a little. I guess my memory isn't what it used to be because there are very simple lessons in life - lessons that we have all been taught - that I occassionally need reminders about.

I just finished reading The Alchemist. It's a simple book full of very simple ideas. The ideas are so simple that sometimes in the rush of every day life, they are often forgotten. Ideas like listening to your heart are those principles that we all should live by every day, but in the midst of living lives of quiet desperation, we get caught up in the whirl and business at hand. Sometimes my heart is screaming so loudly for my attention and I just push it's voice to the side with a firm, "not now."

The Alchemist is about bravery, hope and the rewards that wait for us all when we just listen to our heart. It's about the idea that we all have a purpose in life - a greater Purpose that God put us here on this Earth to achieve. I am opening my heart to finding my purpose. I am reminded by the story to look for the lightposts that God places along our path to light our way. I'm going to silence my life and listen for that tiny voice because I know that if I trust it, my life's purpose will be fulfilled.

So today, I'm grateful for simple stories and timely reminders.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Accountability

Today, I am thankful for goals. I realized that I hadn't been upholding those that I set here at the beginning of the year, so I am taking today to rectify that.

I am still going to the gym, though at times not as regularly as I would like. THe chocolate intake has been on the increase, I suppose because of the current stress load. Still, I need to nip that in the bud or I will be back in the size 18 jeans in no time. NEVER AGAIN. Yesterday I bought size 14 shorts and I want to go smaller, not the other direction.

I think I usually do a pretty good job in telling my family how I feel about them. Lately, being on such an emotional rollercoaster has been very hard on me, but also very hard on them. Cancer doesn't just affect the person who is sick, but everyone in the family.

My relationship with my MIL is at not quite an all time low, but almost. Patience has gone out the window and I'm tired at times of making excuses for her. I have blogged about this on numerous occassions, so there is no need to further expound here. I guess what I need to do is try to remember that her condition may not excuse her behaviour, but it does sometimes explain it. It's still a hard pill to swallow no matter how you look at it.

The credit cards? I'm really trying. Sometimes it is so hard to live on the budget that I literally feel like I am choking. Then, when the money comes it is such a relief that I get the urge to go out and spend. That is what I must control and learn to temper my desires. This month, I was successful in living within my budget. I'm very proud of that.

My reading goals -
The Brothers Karamozov by dostoevsky

The Castle by Kafka

Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence - COMPLETE see review in either April or March.

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by McCullers - in process

The French Lieutenants Woman by Fowles - COMPLETED

On the Road by Kerouac

From Here to Eternity by Jones - up next.

The Postman Always Rings Twice by Cain

Atonement by McEwan

Terrorist by Updike - COMPLETED see review posted in February.

My goal is these titles plus 82 more. So far this year I have also read: Mercy by Jodi Picoult, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner (thumbs down!), Autobiography of a Stray - sorry, can't remember the author, A Lion Among Men by Gregory MacGuire -LOVED IT, Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn - AMAZING, Child 44 By Tim Rob Smith ( I think) great book!, Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, and Another Mother's Life by Rowan Coleman which was light fare but still worth reading.... That leaves me with 74 more to go.

I am currently working on The Alchemist, Summer Sisters, and The Poe Shadow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Experiment in Gratitude


I have lost my way. I usually have a pretty sunny outlook on life, but lately I find myself floundering. It's difficult to even write because all my stories end the same way. In an effort to shock my system out of it's current emotional paralysis, I am going to do a gratitude experiemnt.
Usually every November I pick one thing a day that I am thankful for. I realize now that it doesn't have to be the month of Thanksgiving to have a grateful heart. I know that when I appreciate my loved ones and all the good things in my life that I am a happier person.
I usually spend my nights as I go to sleep thanking God for all the wonders that he has bestowed. Lately I haven't had much to say to Him. I am either too tired, too lost or just don't know where to start. So here is my experiment. I am starting here. For the next thirty days, I am going to blog about something that I am thankful for. Doesn't sound too hard, right? Here's the hitch though - it can't be the usual, "I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for my home" type of stuff. It has to be those small things that you really have to look for in life in order to be truly grateful for them.

Today I am thankful for dovelings. I don't know if that is what baby doves are called, but it is what we call them here in our house. Two years ago, a female dove was hurt nearby. She came, with her mate, to live in our flower garden. She spent the summer here resting and every day he would come with food and watched over her. She was hurt and could not fly. The spent the summer with us, much to the delight of both my children. As the weather got cooler, we wondered what would happen to them. Then, one day, she finally spread her wings and flew away. It was sad and wonderful all at the same time. Sad because we would miss our friends, but happy because, like all birds we knew that they would be happier in warmer climes than wintering here in CT.

As the harsh winter passed and spring came again, we were overjoyed to note that our friends had returned, and this time, something even more wonderful was about to happen. This time, the female had built a NEST. We knew it wouldn't be long before she became a Momma Dove and welcomed new little ones into the world. They say that it's a lucky thing to have doves - that it's a sign of happiness and contentment. Either way, I know that watching her, seeing her babies ( two years running now) and hearing her coo make me feel both happy and content.

I am thankful that she felt so safe and at ease here with us that she choose our yard and our home as a place to raise her own family. I watch for her babies with a vigilence second only to Momma Dove herself. The children know in spring that they can not play in the front flower beds and of course, our puppy is kept well in hand lest he accidentally harm one of the babies. I hope that Momma Dove and her mate will return with their children for many years to come.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seperate Lives

This weekend was a four day weekend and what a mixed bag. My husband was sick so most of the weekend was a wash. That said, I always enjoy spending time with my girls. We had a great time at the Memorial Day Parade ( their Brownie troop marched in the Parade) and today at the beach. The only downside to the beach was that all of us got a little too much sun. I need to get better about reapplying the sunscreen.

My husband was sick all weekend. Really sick, until today. He missed the Memorial Day parade - again this year - because he wasn't up to it. I actually told him he shouldn't come because he was so sick. On the one hand I was glad that he listened to some sense and rested, but on the other hand it sucked having him home and still not having him there. Today was Memorial Day and he had a "mandatory fun" event with the guys from his boat. Needless to say, since the children and I were not government issued to him with his sea bag, I don't feel compeled to attend so-called "mandatory" events. Still that just means that the children and I were off doing our thing and he was off doing his. Seperate lives - that's what it feels like sometimes.

I'm going to close my eyes, go to sleep and look forward to a better day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Russian Fascination

It's odd, but lately I have had a fascination - in books - with all things Russian. I have never been particularly interested in Russian literature. I guess it is because it was a topic with which I couldn't particularly relate. Then, I fell in love....
First with Ayn Rand when I read the Fountainhead about six years ago. It took me awhile, but I worked my way through Atlas Shrugged. After that, I devoured everything of hers I could find, Anthem, The Romantic Manifesto and We the Living. This last title was about the post revolution Soviet Union and I found it to be absolutely riveting.
My mom recommended Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn since I was so interested in Russia. ( I absolutely can not stomache Tolstoy....) So, I started reading Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn. It seemed to fit due to my Dad's recent diagnosis. Even though the subject matter was difficult, the characters were so real. I felt that I knew each one of them. Even those that had committed the most heinous acts - like informing on their neighbors after the fall of the czar - were characters that I could relate to in some way. I am excited to have added the Gulag Archipeligo to my to be read list.
I had no idea that Solzhenitsyn was actually a war hero who served 8 years in a Russian Gulag for writing a letter to a friend that had the audacity to quesiton the decisions that Stalin was making. Solzhenitsyn loved his country, but he didn't like what was happening.
Maybe that is why my Russian fascination is so timely. Maybe that is why after all these years I can finally relate. I see all these things going on in my own country that I dont' really approve of or agree with. Perhaps that is what makes these characters and the struggles they face so real for me.
I am currently reading Child 44, and though the author is not- to my knowledge - Russian, the subject matter is post revolution Russia. It is a fascinating story of a man who works for the military arm of the KGB and his struggle to do the right thing in the face of almost insurmountable personal turmoil. The author just released a new book - The Silent Speech - which has just been added to my endless to be read list.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life Lessons from a 5 Year Old

The best thing about a blog is that the author has the ability to vent about their lives, predominantly to people who really don't know them. As I have gone through my entries here, I realize that I have been doing a lot of venting. Most likely I have been doing a lot of venting to my friends in real life as well and honestly, most of it is completely unwarranted. Aside from my father's illness, I truly lead a charmed life. I have a husband who loves me and who I adore. We have two beautiful children together and 13 years of happy memories that we have built our family on. We have a beautiful home. I don't really have a lot of negative things to deal with in my life and yet, sometimes I feel engulfed by it. Then I realized that sometimes ,instead of letting my light shine outward, I open the windows and let the darkness creep in. Instead of thanking God for all the blessings that he has heaped upon my life - none of which I deserve - I curse the light and question Him on the difficulties I do face.
I'm tired of the dark and I don't want to let the negativity into my life anymore. I want to be the one who would rather dance in the rain than drown in my own sunshine, and I want to surround myself with others who feel the same.
Today, I was lucky enough to volunteer in Posh's classroom. Let me tell you, we underestimate our children. They do their best - every day. They love and support their friends - always, and they always remember what is important. On those days where they don't do their best or get angry with a friend, they don't let it get them down. The don't wallow in their own self doubt or pity. They simply get up, dust themselves off and try again. Even when you're five, life is too short for negativity. Yes, we could all learn a lot from our children. My five year old loves truly, deeply, and sincerely - in spite of all my flaws, in spite of everything. It's both humbling and refreshing.
I want to love like that. I want those kinds of friendships. I want that effervescence in my life. And my best realization lately? I *can* have all those things because it all begins with me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Straighten Up and Fly Right

My husband's mother is a complete failure when it comes to being a grandmother - at least to my children. There. I've said it. That's the truth of the matter, there is just no way to sugar coat that, is there?

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest daughter celebrated her 10th birthday. Double digits, it's definitely a milestone in her life. My MIL called me and asked if I could pick up a gift for Kaylee. No problem. I know that money is an issue for her, so I gladly said that I would. My MIL didn't have a phone on Kaylee's birthday ( though she did have one the very next day...) so no phone call is excusable - sort of. But no card? You're kidding me right? She couldn't pick up a card, after all, she sent my husband a totally meaningless one just a week before. It's infuriating because this isn't an isolated incident.

The fact of the matter is that my children have not talked to their grandmother since Christmas. Not because we haven't tried. She is essentially a stranger in their lives. When she DOES talk to them, the conversation revolves around a duck that lives in her yard and my nephew, who is basically the center of her universe.

It's disgusting and unacceptable. I finally called her on her abominable behavior. I'm tired of people - my husband most of all- making excuses for the unexcusable. She sucks as a grandmother. I told her that at the minimum a card would have been nice. Her response? Well, she actually called and talked to her grandchildren. A positive step and one that I applaud. To bad that I completely lack faith for the idea that this is more than an isolated incident. My children have essentially one grandmother. Not because their grandparent is dead, but because she is simply too caught up in her own life to notice or care. I am NEVER going to be like her when I ahve grandchildren.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day and all it brings....

Today is Mother's Day. To all my friends reading this, I hope you have a wonderful day with your families, children and loved ones! Remember, in the words of Willian Makepeace Thackeray, "Mother is the name for God on the hearts and lips of little children".

My youngest made me a necklace made out of clay. It's beautiful. I can see all the work that she did forming the beads with her tiny little hands. My oldest made me a beautiful book mark - so I can better enjoy my favorite past time. I am proud of their homemade cards and gifts. I couldn't have asked for more.

My husbnad woke up this morning early and made pancakes for the children. He would have made them for me too, but pancakes with butter and syrup don't exactly work into my diet. Oh well. I'm not much of a breakfast person in any case. Even my dog was cooperating this morning with no ticks found after his morning walk. ( Yes, he does get treated, but some people around here don't take care of their yards and hence the whole tick debacle. Trust me, it is another post all by itself.)

Robbie and I went to see Star Trek yesterday and he even took me to lunch at one of my favorite places - KOTO Japanese Steakhouse - so I was very excited. I was looking forward to the event all week - possibly longer. While I enjoyed the day, it was somehow less than imagined. Probably because my husband was so far away.

His mother almost always has a negative impact in some form or another. I know he loves her very much, and he should, that's his mom. I just hate when he talks to her because the result is never a good one. Hopefully, she will be having a better day today and she will enjoy talking to her grandchildren and having them wish her a happy MOther's Day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emotional Overload

Lately ever little thing seems to have my emotions on edge - they are just so raw. For example, yesterday, my youngest brought a book home from school for us to read together. The title was "Little Lamb" which seemed inocuous enough. Page one - "Little Lambs mother died". Seriously? It goes on to talk about how little lamb goes after all the other animals in the farmyard looking for a "mother". Finally, a little boy takes pity on little lambs sorrowful cries of "MAAAAA, MAAAAA" and agrees to be his "mother".

My five year old daughter was greatly relieved that little lamb got a new "mother". She then asked if I died, if she would get a new mother? I told her that no one gets another mother. Each of us - every person on the planet - we only have one. We may havve other individuals in our lives who are mother figures but they are not our mother. Certainly they can love us and care for us like a mother would, but no one can replace your real mother.

Skip ahead to last night. My husband and I decide to watch a movie together - something to take my mind off all the things going on in my life. He picks the movie - "Dan in Real Life". It looked like a really cute romantic comedy - until you discover that Dan is a widower and this is all about him falling in love after the death of the "love of his life, his soul mate" less than 4 years before.

Don't get me wrong, 4 years is an awfully long time to be alone, especially when a person is still young and vital. I get it. I know individuals who have been widowed. I don't understand the concept of finding another soul mate. I believe that every person only gets one. Sure you may find another person that you love, in a different way, but if you are lucky enough to find a soul mate - it only happens once. At least that is my opinion - the way that I view love.

I guess I find all this about death about replacing a loved one who has died so disturbing because of the situation that my dad is facing. He is on week 3 of his radiation now, and it has been so difficult for him. He has been so very brave and today, he admitted that he is afraid. I told him that no one lives forever, that what is important is that we live and die on our own terms, but in reality, what do I really know? I'm just a young girl next to him and I don't really know what I am talking about. I'm as afraid to die as the next person.

I don't know what the future will bring. The only things that I know that are certain in this life though? Death and taxes - neither of them very pleasant.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video Thought for the Day.


For any of you that haven't seen "The Bucket List", you definitely should. This song says it all today... Actually, I think this song says it all every day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Disarray

I hate it when I feel life spiraling out of control. But honestly, when doesn't that happen? Even though I am OCD to the extreme, even I realize that control is just an illusion. Still, it is an illusion that I cling to.
Right now everything feels unorganized, starting with the laundry that I need to put away and spiralling all the way through my life and ending with my weak attempts to make plans for the summer. Everything in my life is on hiatus right now.
So far, my husband and I think we are staying where we are, but until he actually reports to his new job, anything can happen. At first, it looked like we were getting out of this hell hole that he calls a job a little early, only to find out that we are leaving at exactly the time we were told that we were. Ugh. I just want my husband off the boat and I surely don't want him going on sea trials with it. All of that is totally out of my control though.
I don't know what is going on with my father's illness. He is now halfway through his radiation treatments, and so far so good. Still, one of his legs is swollen and I am unsure if they are going to allow him to have any further, follow on treatment. I don't know what impact further treatment will have on his health and lifespan. One of my sisters was supposed to spend the last two weeekends there, but neither happened. I'm not really sure what is going on or when they will visit as planned. Both of my sisters kind of fly by the seat of their pants and that makes me absolutely crazy!!!!!
I am trying to plan a trip over the summer to take the children to visit my mom while I go and care for my Dad. My one sister works as an airline captain actually and she is also a full time single mom, so her life is crazy. The other doesn't work but she is just going, going, going all the time. Neither one seem to really understand the constrictions put on my life by my husband's crazy job. For example, I can't just get a babysitter to help and then leave my children here with him. I don't know what is going to happen from one day to the next at his job and things only appear to be getting worse. He is so stressed out and morale there seems, from the bottom up, to be at an all time low - just one more reason I can't wait to get off the boat. ( There was a time I never thought I would say that... Strange how things change)
My youngest has her ballet recital coming up this month. That means three days a week rehearsals, dress rehearsals, picture night, etc... It's wonderful but it also adds a lot of stress during an already stressful time. I guess I just better hang on because it looks like life is going to be like living on the edge of a black hole for a while.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coming Full Circle


I am a Facebook fanatic, but this post really isn't about that. This post is about the last 10 years of my life and how coincidences happen, reunions occur, often in the most unlikely of places. Two days ago, a dear friend from my past found me on Facebook. In recent years, due to many moves and other factors, we had become little more than yearly Christmas cards to one another. Now, thanks to Facebook, we can once again be apart of one another's lives, no matter where we live. Isn't technology wonderful?

If you have an account on Facebook, you know that it often suggests other friends for you. People you may know. Yesterday I received a friend invite from a friend that I hadn't talked to in probably just under 10 years. Weird.

Today, in one hour and 36 minutes, my oldest child will be 10 years old. Here's where the unlikely coincidences come in:

Ten years ago yesterday, my husband and I went to the movies with some friends. Dan and Lisa. Like us, they were newly weds, but unlike us, not about to become parents for the first time. As we sat in the movie theatre, I was huge and uncomfortable. We saw a horrible movie - I don't even remember the name. The funniest thing I remember about that night is that I sat in between Robert ( my husband) and Dan. At some point the baby moved, which at that point meant that my ENTIRE stomach shifted. Dan was understandably more than a little freaked out by the whole event. After all, it did look more than a little like I had an alien inside of me.

Robbie and I went home that night. It was late, but even so, I couldn't get to bed. He put the finishing touches on the nursery. We were expecting the baby to arrive in four days, so we were trying to be on top of things. Finally, around 1 am, we went to bed only to be awakened 2 hours later when I thought I had pee'd the bed. I realized the wetness wasn't urine, so then I paniced and thought it was blood. It was clear - not blood. My water broke.

I called the doctor very nonchalant. My water broke, my contractions are 5 minutes apart, do you want me to wait a little longer to come in? The doctor said NO! Come in.... So we got up, got dressed, putzed around the kitchen, I even forced my husband to stop at the 7/11 for maxipads. No one tells you that you will need them and what the hell? I hadn't needed them in 9 months!

At any rate, three hours and twenty one minutes later our beautiful little girl was born. I can't believe that she is 10. Where oh where did the time go and why does it have to pass so quickly??

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slacking

Lately I have really been struggling to focus on my goals. My vacation and even the time leading up to it, really have been lacking in purpose. I have been having trouble making it to the gym - even though I want to go and certainly know how important it is for me personally. I hate struggling and I hate when it feels like life is getting in the way.
This week for example, the children are home from School and that makes going to the gym almost impossible. I have to wait for my husband to get home from work, and lately that has been getting later and later. Last Thursday he wasn't home until almost 11 pm and he left at before 6 am. ( I think that the Government is definitely getting their monies worth out of the Navy...) At any rate, with those kind of hours, it is hard to find time to squeeze in the gym.
I would really love to get a Wii fit so that on the days that I can't make it to the gym I can still get a more comprehensive workout and get feedback on my performance. I am walking everyday - several times a day usually. Still, it just isn't enough.
My goal? Beginning next Sunday, really refocus on my health. Track what I eat. Go to the gym at least four times next week. I am going to get serious, make the time and STOP making excuses. Until then, I remained.... frustrated.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beware the Thought Police!

Beware the Thought Police!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Up Pops the Devil

In my last post, I mentioned my Dad's dance with the "BIG C" - Cancer. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my sister ( almost as good as an e-mail from my sister in law, but not quite) It was succinct and deathly to the point. "Dad's Cancer has returned. I'm calling the doctor now."

That's it then. My 85 year old father's cancer has returned. The tumor is in his pelvis, going down his leg and the son of a bitch is aggressive. The doctor says that the tumor is inoperable. He also said that my father is too old for another round of chemotherapy - though this still seems up for debate. In the meantime, the chosen course of action is to radiate the tumor in an attempt to shrink it and relieve some of my Dad's pain.

Now I know why my Dad, who walked 4 miles a day up until a year ago, doesn't have the smoke to make it to his own mailbox. Now I know why he is losing weight and doesn't want to it. The Big C is eating him from the inside out.

I hate Cancer. Almost everyone that I have loved and lost in my life has had a fatal turn. My Grandmother was first. I was eight. She was 62 - way too young to die. She had bone cancer and she fought it as long as she could. She died on Easter 31 years ago. My grandfather died from the Big C a few short years later. Then, when I was 21, my uncle had it. In the face of all places.
My uncle was young and so good looking. His laugh was infectious and he was quite literally larger than life. Then the Big C took his eye and half of his face. It made my fun loving uncle a monster.

Cancer - it is my greatest fear - and it is the monster that my Dad is fighting what I fear will be the last battle of his life against. If you pray, please add him to your prayers - not for a speedy recovery because I'm too much of a realist to ask for that - but rather for an ease to his pain and for his peace of mind. If you don't pray - positive thoughts are also greatly appreciated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Doing What I've Got to Do

As I write this, I am sitting on my mom's computer somewhere in PA. It was 10 hours in the car yesterday for my two little girls, our dog and myself. It wasn't terrible because the children and Seamus were so well behaved, but it wasn't exactly what I would call a joy ride either.
We are here because my father's health, and in conjunction with that his ability to care for himself, is failing. He doesn't know that I am here predominantly to see him. It would bother him to think so. He has always said, "When you hurt a man's pride, you hurt him where he lives." That is my dad to a "T". So I told him that I am here so that the children can visit with their grandmother and suddenly, his whole attitude about my visit changes. It's wonderful that I am coming to see him now that I'm nto coming to see "him". If that makes any sense?
My father is a retired Air Force pilot and what I like to think of as the human equivalent of a Sherman tank. He is absolutely unstoppable. That is what I used to think, until 4 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. It was an extremely aggressive type 4 Cancer - not something to mess around with. My dad sought treatment. The doctors had to take out his kidney. Fortunately, the tumor was almost completely contained in the kidney and after a round of chemo, my dad was declared to be in remission, where he has remained ever since. We were very lucky. However the short dance with the big C brought my father's mortality - and my own - to the forefront and since then, I know we are all living on borrowed time.
I guess it was inevitable because at the end of the day, we all finally face the truth.
My father says that he wants me to help him around his yard - raking and such. I'm happy to do it, but realistically there are so many more important things to be done. The BIG reason I am here? To cook for him. He really doesn't feed himself very well and he has been losing weight. I am planning on making pot roast ( one of his faves) baked spaghetti, beef stew, cornbread, pork chops with apples, and I'm not really sure what else. I hope to do a lot of cooking while I am there. I shudder to think what may be waiting for me in his refrigerator. Wish me luck...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Does...

I was talking to a friend the other day about a document that we had received via e-mail. We both enjoy a love of movies and share a favorite - The Princess Bride. It's a great movie if you haven't seen it, very funny and full of moral truths. At any rate, in the movie one of the characters, Vizzini, goes around saying "Inconcievable!" all the time and as the movie goes on, it becomes clear that however smart Vizzini may think that he is, he clearly has no idea what the word "inconcievable" actually means. It's good stuff.
As I was reading the above mentioned document the other day, a similiar thing happened with the words "integrity", "trust" and "responsibility". In my book integrity means the adherence to moral standards and ethical principles. "Trust" is the reliance on a person's integrity, ability, and strength of character to make the right decisions and "responsibility" is a particular burden placed upon one who is ultimately in charge or the responsible party.

Does this scenario sound like ANY of the above mentioned principles are being met? Imagine a group of married men, drinking such that they are no longer in control of themselves. Same married me go to a bar with naked women where the leader of said group buys lap dances for the other men - in spite of thier protests - whether they are married or not. Does any of this sound like responsiblity, trust or integrity as defined above were in any way invovled?

If a person has integrity, it isn't something that you have sometimes. When a person is a LEADER, this burden isn't something that they wear when it suits them - they wear it all the time. And trust? It isn't something that can be dictated - it has to be earned. None of the above mentioned behaviors do anything to earn trust. In fact, the above mentioned behaviors undermine trust - that trust that a navy wife places in her husband's commanding officers to make the right decisions, especially when lives are ont the line. It also undermines, in some cases, the trust she has in her husband thereby possibly damaging her family and, more importantly in the eyes of the Navy, affecting the ability of the sailor to do his job.

Integrity, Responsibility, and Trust - they are more than just words and those who would use these words should learn what they mean and strive to live by them.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Truth at Last

Several months ago I had a falling out with a "friend" that I had a relationship with for some years. I thought that we were close. I thought that our friendship could weather disagreements and differences of opinion. I was wrong.
For the longest time, I acted like her words and actions didn't bother me. I was so busy I allowed my work to distract me from what I was feeling which was disappointment, betrayal, and anger. I held these emotions in for months. I never really aired them to anyone, other than to her - my sister, my "friend".
It all started with a poorly worded post in a social networking site that I administered. The bruhaha and the subsequent fallout escalated and escalated until there was no room left for friendship.
How can a person possibly have any type of relationship with someone who leaves no room for any opinion but her own? How can one have any type of relationship with a woman who used fake "identities" on said social networking site to personally attack and malign them? How is it possible to turn the other cheek, look beyond the betrayal and try to understand another point of view? Well, the answer is I have forgiven, I do try to understand her bitterness and anger, but there is simply no room for any type of friendship left. Sad, isn't it?
This was a woman that I spent several hours with on the phone every week. This was a woman who, if she called me in the middle of the night for help, she could expect to get it. This was a woman I respected and trusted and now, this is a woman that I have no contact with whatsoever.
The things that she said about me were not only hurtful, they were LIES. Flat out lies. After everything that is the one thing that I just couldn't get beyond.
It still makes me sad, the loss of this friend. I think about her and wonder how she is, but deep down, I realize that no relationship can exist without trust and frankly, after everything, I could never trust her again.

This brings me to my current situation. I left said social networking site, in no small part due to the poison and the lies. I joined another site - Facebook - and I love it there. For the most part, I am friends with people that I genuinely care about - people who I want to keep track of and be a part of their lives. There is one individual there though whose friendship I accepted and now I regret. She was party to the events described above and though she did not actively participate in the lying and maligning of my character, she appeared to be cheering on the sidelines during the worst of it.

I want a fresh start. I do care about this second woman, but I'm unsure whether I am capable of offering her true friendship based on all the hurt and betrayal that I still feel. Any words of advice?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part....

Here we are on the cusp of yet another monumental decision and potential change for our family. We are on the verge of yet another move. You would think after 10 years that some things would become old hat, but each time a decision needs to be made, they all seem more important than the last. This time there could certainly be lasting implications for the whole family - this time we are facing a move that could mean not just leaving our home, but also our country... at least for a little while.
The move could potentially take the Schultz family over the pond - to somewhere that I have always wanted to go - LONDON! It certainly would be a big change, but when I think of the cultural exposure for the children it just sends shivers down my spine. London could be used as a launching pad for us to see, ideally all those things in Europe that we would wish to. I mean, we could go to Paris, Berlin, Greece! Need I say more? Plus, the fact that I am a HUGE history buff doesn't hurt the longing to go there either.
So what you ask is the problem? Well, we are an American family. I have always raised my children to be proud to be American. The sad fact is that there are many people throughout the world who simply do not like us. I worry for some of the things that my children will be "taught" about their country. I will miss seeing the most beautiful flag in the world just driving down the street. And that is just for starters...
I have never lived more than a couple of hours by car from my mother. This time we would have an entire ocean seperating us! My father is 85 years old and his health is now in a rapid decline. I worry that saying goodbye could be for the last time. I worry that something could happen and I wouldn't be able to get back. That is a very real concern for me. Then there is my husband's family - his mother is in dire straights. Moving over to London would make his assistance with her more problematic, not that it is ever really good simply because of his job and schedule, but being an ocean away certainly wouldn't help.
His sister is full up - I don't know how she bears up with all the stress she has on her plate. I don't know how much more she can handle and frankly, I'm not sure that it's really fair to her that she has to. ( Although this point can certainly be debated)
It's exciting this potential move.... and scary. I don't know what the future will bring. I just know that whatever comes, the five of us will face it - together.