Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Goodnight Irene

The Police Department

My friend's favorite bar
10 ft. of water in the basement

Usually a crowded intersection

Notice the submerged car

 While we were left unscathed, the town in northern NJ where I formally taught was hit hard by hurricane Irene.
I am speechless.

Monday, August 29, 2011


It's Monday.
Usually the start of the week, and often filled with dread.
However there are two things that have helped to make my Mondays that much better:
 1) A&E = Hoarders & Intervention
 2) The top ten lists, known as "Listicles" hosted by Stasha at the Good Life
This week's topic, courtesy of Saretta at Amid the Olive Trees : Ten Places You Love. Initially I was going to attempt to a bit of humor and write 10 places I love where kids aren't around, however, a lot of places I do love kids ARE around, and well behaved of course. Instead I let my mind wander and found the ten places that make my heart warm and fuzzy.

10 Places You Love

1. The couch
December 23 in the dark except the light of the Christmas tree.
The children are nestled all snug in their beds, their dreams filled to capacity with excitement of the holiday. While I lie on the couch, in the silence, (or perhaps laughing with Bry) with the flickering of the bulbs our only light.

2. The Philadelphia Zoo
The memories of my childhood flood back the minute our car pulls into the parking lot. I think this is the reason I love it so. The animals, the exhibits, and the wonder on my little ladies faces at the height of the giraffe, the slither of the snakes, the swimming ability of the polar bear, and thanks to some perfect timing, the poop of the sea turtles. A visit around Valentine's Day still comes up in conversation. "Mama, the turtles pooped! (insert maniacal 3 yr old laugh) The zoo keeper used the hose to clean up the POOP!" (more laugh). 

The Infamous Pooping Turtles

3. Check out Line of Wegman's Grocery
Once all the food and essentials are on the belt, and the bags are filled. A silent (okay, audible) cheer, as I successfully survived another week of shopping, hopefully with my children and my sanity in tact.

4. Moore's Beach, North Wildwood NJ
This is our refuge, our favorite location in the summer. This place may not be where all the beautiful people gather, thankfully, as my self-esteem gets a boost with every visit. It does have clean, soft sand, free parking, and easy access to water.

5.Our Seat at PPL park during a Philadelphia Union Game
While my heart bleeds Phillies red during the summer, and Eagles green during the winter, my absolutely favorite, hands down sporting event to attend, has been watching the Union play. My love for soccer evolved after being exposed to the English Primer League via Fox Soccer Channel, and once the MLS brought a team to Philly, I became an instant fan. While I may not be a Son of Ben, mainly due to usually having one or two young kids in tow, I am there screaming, cheering, and hollering during the entire 90 min.

6.Chick Fil A
I know, I know, I know.
One is probably thinking, of all the places in the world, Chick Fil A, is your favorite.
Let me explain. I have three very clear reasons why Chick is a favorite.
1. If we're at Chick Fil A, that means I'm not cooking! How can that not be a good thing?
2. Chick Fil A has pretty kick ass chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries (in the Pa suburbs of Philly only) and so usually my kids scarf them down. Which means, no haggling over finsihing dinner.
3. Their play area is usually clean, not super crowded, and has options for both girls.

7. St. Barths
Just look at the photos.

Enough Said.

 8. My Bed
After nearly five years of sleeping on a full bed, we finally sprung for the queen. I should note to the reader that Bry and I met in college, at 18 yrs old.  At a time we shared a single dorm bed, so a full was okay. Then we had kids, and a full wasn't okay. It was too small, and alas, we got the queen. A beautiful queen wooden bed on deep discount from Restoration Hardware and a perfectly firm mattress too. Lovely linens to match our blue bedroom, and our pillows complete the deal.
I only wish I had more time to lounge.

9. Philadelphia
There are scores of reasons why people may not like my favorite city. Our people can be brash, and loud. Our sports fans are notorious for being, how shall I say it nicely, rowdy? overly excited? Our town has a history of being a little dirty.
But it's not, we're not.
We're the city of freaking brotherly Love, damn it!
Our founding fathers (and mothers) considered Philly home, and their history, our history still permeates the city with every turn. Combine that with the arts, the dining, and the shopping, and I'm glad to call Philly my favorite.

10. Home
It took a while, but we finally found it, a home of our own. Sure, there are moments where we're kicking ourselves for having purchased an old house, but it's where we are meant to be.
Even without air conditioning,
Or with water flooding the basement,
Or a backyard that rivaled a jungle,
Home sweet home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All Grown Up

On September 10, my baby brother got married. In a beautiful ceremony Joey (he'll always be Joey to me) married the love of his life, Colleen.
Don't they look like they should be in a magazine?

Trying to navigate the logistics of a wedding with a two and half year old and seven and half month old is nearly impossible. I would have loved to have just kept the baby home, but she still refuses anything but the boob which means by default she has to be close by. With the older one, she was the flower girl so her presence was a necessity. The people who usually babysit- my mom, my dad, and my sister all had roles in the wedding, and I was a reader.
What to do? What to do? What to do?
The few weeks leading up to the wedding, I would wake up in the middle of the night and try to figure out the logistics. Do we rent a hotel room and hire my best friend's cousins to babysit the girls during the reception? Do we drive back and forth in the two hours between the ceremony and the reception to drop off the girls with my mother in law at our house? Do we have Bry drive home at bedtime- 9pm, with both girls and then I stay at the reception by myself?
We chose option one.
Was it the ideal choice?
I'm still not sure.
Maeve decided around 10 pm that she was not going to sleep in the hotel. She cried and screamed from 10ish on and off all night. The poor girls who were watching her called us at 10:25 asking us to come up. Thirty minutes later, she was asleep in my arms and our time at the reception was over. Mo, meanwhile, had crashed in the double bed from the sugar high of lollipops, gummy worms, and jellybeans which effectively worked to bribe her to behave in the church. Even with Maeve screaming a few feet away, Mo slept.

In the end, we saw the wedding ceremony, got a few pictures of the extended family together- my parents, my sister, the bride & groom, and my family, I enjoyed most of cocktail hour with a bay breeze (or two or three) in hand, watched the first dances, heard the speeches including the phone call from my brother's best man from Afghanistan where he is in the navy, and ate my dinner and cake. I think I may have even had a few dances on the dance floor.
When one sees it on paper, it can be assumed I hit all the important parts of the wedding.
I have a confession though, I am sad.
I feel like I missed out on the celebration.
When I got married, we had lots of candid pictures throughout the night. I remember looking back at them seeing my friends and family. I remember looking for certain people. Now, as I look at Joey's pictures, I see his friends, I see my dad dancing with my grandmom and great aunt, I see my sister and my cousins and a few family friends.
What's missing?
Everyone looks like they had a fabulous time, and the portions of the evening where I was there, it was great. I missed, however all those non-scripted parts of the party that people talk about when they reminisce about weddings. When I looked at the pictures from the end of the night, when the main lights were back on, and most of the guests had left, I feel sad because I'm not there. As my dad took a picture of my brother and my sister, I'm missing.
I feel like I should be there.
Growing up, it had always been the three of us: Jackie, Jeanna, and Joey. My mom has frame after frame, photo after photo, of the three of us. Pictures from swim meets, holidays, picnics, trips, graduations, and my wedding where it's Jackie, Jeanna, and Joey. I realize, we never got that shot that day.
Maybe I'm a little nostalgic now that I'm a mom myself, but when I saw the pictures and realized that was missing, I cried. I rationally know that taking care of my crying baby was and is more important then the dancing at a reception and getting in pictures, but I can't help how I feel.
I am happy for Joey and Colleen.
I am happy that my family has been blessed with another sister, my girls another aunt, my parents another daughter.
I'm happy the weather held up and they had a beautiful day.
I'm still joyous that Mo made it down the aisle without running or tearing off her dress or shoes.
I'm so thankful my dear husband agreed to push Maeve in the stroller around the perimeter of the church during the ceremony.
I'm also thankful Bry agreed to stay in the hotel room with our two crazy girls overnight knowing full well what a clusterf--k it could and ended up being.
I'm grateful the hair salon was effective in putting my sister's curly hair into the best up do I've seen on her.
Overall, the wedding was a huge success and one of the best looking affairs I've ever seen.
As I type this, I can't help but still be a bit sad, however, that I didn't get to celebrate the way I had wished and got that one picture to add to the Jackie, Jeanna, and Joey collection.

This Post was initally written in September of 2010.  With this week's topic "I Wanna Marry You" as the flicker of inspiration prompt, my mind immediately thought back to this night, to these feelings.

 I'd like you to write about a wedding. The wedding can be fictional or real; the only requirement? That a wedding appears at some point during your piece. Write about your own wedding. Write about a disaster wedding gone horribly wrong. Write about a bridezilla. There are many different directions you can take this prompt in, and I can't wait to read them all! Don't forget to come back here next Sunday to link up your wedding stories

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Things have started to unravel.
It was only a matter of time.
Almost like a thief slipping in an open window,
It changed
Until it no longer could hold up its responsibilities. 
As I deposited its contents in the garbage,
Salvaging what I could,
What was necessary,
Into the blue cooler,
The tears streamed down my face.

Damn Refrigerator!

Over $400, three days of  letting the fridge thaw then plugging it again, and a trip to the grocery store mid-week, our fridge is back in working order.
This bliss was short lived.
Not more then 72 hours later, our loss continued as our oven and cook top stopped working too. Another $400 and an additional wait for a part and visit left another hole in our wallet.

This week's theme is "Loss." Now, you can take this prompt in any number of different directions. If you'd like, you can keep things light-hearted still and write about losing your best pen, or you can write about the loss of a pet or loved one. The beauty of these one word prompts is that you can take them almost anywhere

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not Your Fault, But Mine

It's Thursday, time to get some inspiration from Mama Kat and her Pretty Much World"s Famous Writer's Workshop.
This week's prompt: Songversation. Take a current song that teens and tweens are listening to, share the lyrics, and offer a conversation that you might have with your child about the song.

Reading this week's selection of prompts, I realized how out of the loop I am in the pop music world. Grant it, I know who Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, & Justin Beiber are, I wouldn't be able to recognize any of their songs on the radio. (Okay, except for that Baby, Baby, Baby song from the Beibs. How can you not know that one?) I am a fan of Gaga, and Mo will hum the Bad Romance - tune mainly from hearing me do it.
My listening options in the car, the usual time for radio listening has been hijacked by two little girls. Thus we have a steady rotation of Laurie Berkner Band and CDs from music class.
If you have a child, I assume you know Laurie & her band. If not, let me entertain you for a moment.

Yes, it's like crunchy, folky, kiddie music that has the effect of crack on my kids.
I am not exageratting here.
As soon as Mo is secured in her carseat she says, "My music".
In her head, I figure it's more like "I need it. Give me the Berkner bitch. I need my fix!"
Even 19 month old Maeve attempts to sing along.
Don't get me wrong, I've read the crap that links music and the arts to success later in academics,and I believe it. However, there's only so much of it I can take.
Those moments when the girls fall alseep, it's my turn!
Radio 104.5 cannot be clicked on quick enough.
Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Death Cab...I could go on. How I love a good band!
There are moments, however, where my two loves collide. Mo will wake up, thumb in her mouth, silently listening along to Mumford & Sons Little Lion Man singing about "really fucking it up this time".
So what do I do?
Why at this stage, I don't talk about fuck being a bad word, she's three. If I continually repeat the word, she'll start saying it.
I can't do that.
I change it.
I'm usually against censorship. I believe whole heartedly in the freedom of speech, however in terms of a three year old, fuck is not cool. Neither is "Sex being on fire" (kings of Leon), or "caressing me down" (old school Sublime) or "rape me" (Nirvana).
I don't need to have that kid in preschool.

 As we watch and sing along, I make sure my voice is exceptionally loud saying "messed up" while they sing "fucked up".
I hear her singing Little Lion Man (the PG version) to her reflection in the mirror, and I am safe...for now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A little shakey shakey

"It's time to go to sleep. I love you Mo" I said while closing the door. 
Down the stairs I galloped, nap time had arrived which meant it was "me time". Eagerly, I look forward to the hour or two of peace and quiet. While I love my two little ladies, their time napping gives me the opportunity to recharge. It's time for me to eat, use the bathroom uninterrupted, and watch what I want on the television.
I sashayed into the kitchen. My hand reaching for my nearly empty glass of water. Opening the fridge, I found the raspberry lemonade. Refilling the glass, I then returned the bottle to the shelf and closed the door. Walking into the living room, I approached the arm chair. Placing my drink on the side table, I picked up the remote. I eased into the chair, allowing my weight to shift as I sat back. My feet stretched out on the ottoman as I clicked on the television.
Flipping through the channels, my fingers found the "up" button.
Soap Opera,
Soap Opera,
Soap Opera,
Spanish Speaking Soap Opera.
I continued up the channels and nothing appealed to me.
I remembered I had missed an episode of the The Big C. Eagerly I clicked On Demand and within a minute, the opening credits began. Forwarding ahead to the start of the show, I became immersed in the world of Cathy, her family and her cancer. Witty dialogue and fabulous acting, make this one of the few shows on my must watch list this summer.
Initially I thought it was Mo.
God what is she doing up there? 
I thought I told her to go to sleep, not kick the wall. 
However, the rumble was too loud and the movement to great.
I jumped off the chair, attempting to pause Cathy, as the rumble continued.
Oh my God!
The dryer exploded!
I frantically raced up the stairs.
Opening Mo's door, she rolled over.
Obviously woken from slumber, she rubbed her eyes and said, "What you doing mama?"
"Nothing baby. Go back to sleep" I replied closing her door.
My stomach dropped as thoughts of a basement catastrophe filled my mind.
Down the stairs, and into the kitchen I went. My hands beginning to shake as I came to the basement door. Reaching out, my hand rested on it.
Thank God.
Slowly, I opened it. Descending down two stairs, I heard the dryer's familiar tune.
It had not exploded.
As I returned to the comfort of the living room and my favorite chair, I noticed my racing heart. My hands continued to shake as I assessed the situation.
Could it be a plane crash?
It's not the dryer. 
Oh my God, it couldn't be an earthquake, could it?
I grabbed my cell phone, immediately thinking of my friend in town, D.
Did ur house just shake? I typed.
Pressing send, I watched, and waited.
Waited and waited for it to go through.
The ring of the house phone shifted my focus as "Bry Work" lit up on the base.
"Are you okay? Are the girls okay?" he started. "I tried calling four times, and I just got through!"
"I'm fine. We're fine. Do you know what happened?" I asked.
It was in the next few minutes we discovered that in fact, it was an earthquake. A few hundred miles away the epicenter, the middle of Virginia, had in fact reached us in the greater Philadelphia area.
Over the course of a half hour, I fielded phone calls from my mom, mother in law, and messages from my brother ensuring our safety. We exchanged stories of where we were while "IT" happened and our disbelief spanned across our respective homes.
Hanging up the house phone, I reached for the lemonade glass. Taking a sip, I could finally feel myself calming down. My heart rate had returned to normal and my hands had stopped shaking. The chime of my cell phone indicated I had another text message. It was D. Apparently due to the influx of cell phone calls, it had taken nearly ten minutes for my text to be sent.
Like me, she too was in disbelief.
I typed a quick message back, clicked send, and grabbed the remote yet again.
The weather man obviously was flying by the seat of his pants, as he discussed the causes and statistics related to earthquakes.
Not more then ten minutes of watching, I remembered Cathy. The episode was still waiting for me and the girls were still napping upstairs.
Regardless of earthquake, nap time was still in effect!
Back to the Big C, I happily returned.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yin Yang

It's Monday, so time to link up with Stasha over at The Good Life and her famous listicle. This weeks topic, a stretch for me, "Yin Yang". Let the wheels start turning, and turning, and turning.... and I got it!
They say opposites attract, and that can be said for Bry & I.
So today, I dedicate this list to us.
Bry's truly the yin to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, the salt to my pepper.

1. Patience and the Opposite
Patience has always been a virtue I have been blessed with, while Bry...well...not his strong suit. I hesitate to use the word "impatient" as that is often characterized with making rash decisions that can be problematic. That is defintely NOT Bry. Instead, I'll say that he is good at getting things done in quick and timely manner, hence the opposite of patient.

2. Worry and Calm
I am the worrier. I will lose sleep as countless scenarios bombard my mind, causing me to toss and turn. As emotions over take me, my stomach will churn and I will be a mess. Not him. Someway, somehow, he is able to remain calm in virtually all situations. Sleep will be sound, and usually morning will bring him some ephipany or resolution, leaving my worry for naught.

3. Sweet and Salty
Give me ice cream, chocolate, cakes. My sweet tooth can be my Achilles heel while he can easily pass over dessert. (I know, crazy, right?) Instead, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, potato chips, french fries- the saltier the better.

4. Early Bird and Night Owl
I never really categorized myself as one or the other until I started dating Bry. I have no real problem waking early, for work or now for children. He is the opposite, up late, and sleep later. While I hassle him that he fakes not hearing the girls in the morning, I honestly realize it's more then that: He's still in REM sleep! Someday, I'll get to sleep a little more.

5. Loud and Soft
I come from a long line of loud people. Our voices boom and project in a room. It was quite appropriate for my time as a teacher. None of my students could ever use the excuse that they couldn't hear what I was saying. Bry, however, finds my volume to be too loud, since he is more reserved. His voice rarely is louder then those he converses.

6. Good Cop and Bad Cop
Like many couples, these roles can be interchanged depending on the scenario, the kid, and the mood of either or both of us.

7. Frugal and Big Spender
I have a difficult time spending money, especially on myself. I rarely purchase items (except food) at full price, and have been known to stalk websites and stores, waiting for prices to be slashed. I get a high from a great sale. (For example, the winter coat I just scored for Mo from Lands End for $13!!) Bry is of the mentality that if you like something, you buy it. Period. He attributes this to a time where he put off buying a baseball card he longed for, only to discover it had been sold when he had gone back to purchase it. If he likes it, he buys it, he does however make sure he has the funds to do so.

8. Optimist and Pessimist
My glass is eternally half-full. I believe there is good in most people, and that things will usually work out. Karma means something to me, and in my heart, I think that what I put out into the universe will come back to me.
Meanwhile, that glass...
Well Bry's in on the floor,
Shattered into a million little pieces,
with water everywhere.
Enough said.

9. Lost and Spatially Gifted
I have a confession: I have a great deal of difficulty reading a map.
There, I said it. I suck at directions. While I slowly am getting better, I still get lost a decent bit.
Unlike Bry, who may have a photographic memory in terms of directionality. He will look a map, and within minutes have a variety of routes planned. I am both grateful for this gift as it has come in handy many times, and equally jealous.

10. Pool and Ocean
It's water, one swims in it, but we both have different opinions of which is better. Having basically spent the entirety of my adolescence in a swimming pool as a competitive swimmer, a pool is where I feel the most comfortable. Swimming laps, as I follow the black line or jumping of the diving board. The smell of chlorine permeating every pore. It's what I know. Bry grew up at the beach. Every.Single.Day. of summer from the time he was a baby until he starting his first job, the sand was beneath his toes. The rhythm of the waves his song, while the smell of salt water, his perfume. (Again, I'm jealous!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

To School

Three years and five months,
She has been by my side.
Together we have navigated the world,
Under my watchful eye,
Safe and secure
Buckled in
Carseat, Stroller, Cart.
Always no more then an arms length away.
With her I learned so much,
Every day, an education.
Milestones reached in my presence:
Rolling, Sitting, Crawling, Walking, Running.
Smiling, Babbling, Talking, Conversing.
A perfect little person.

I knew this time would come.
But never did I think, so quickly.

Worry overcomes me,
As my own insecurities emerge.
Will she be respectful?
Will she make friends?
Will she have fun?
Have I done enough to prepare her? 

Will I be okay?
What will I miss?
What will I miss?
What will I miss?
I don't want to miss a thing...and I will.

To school for the first time.
We both have some learning to do.

Since most of us have been going back to school (one way or another) the last couple of weeks, I'd like for this week's Dare to Share link up theme to be: Back to School. Share your fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about the time of year that kids dread and parents count down to! You can link to old posts or new.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Days Like This...

Mama said they'll be days like this.

Days when...
There's enough water in the basement to fill a swimming pool
After record amounts of rainfall in a twenty-four hour span.

Days when...
Runny noses appear to bombard every turn
Boogie wipes and old burp clothes, in steady rotation.

Days when...
Being the only healthy body in the house,
Patience is tested again and again.

Days when...
Sleep fleeting as exhaustion sets in,
Wake up calls at two and four am.

Days when...
Cuddles and dream filled slumber is replaced
Restless toddler tossing and turning, turning and tossing.

Days when...
The thought of anything else going wrong
Seems to be a cruel joke.

Days when...
Cold orange juice is replaced with room temperature beverages,
As the refrigerator stops.

Days when...
Four hundred dollars and a phone call later,
Discovering the fix won't work for another few days.

Days when...
The realization that there is no refrigerator sets in,
No milk, no juice, no way.

Days when...
Dinnertime routine is replaced,
Last minute trip to grandparents house for refuge.

Days when...
In the midst of the hectic and craziness,
Moments emerge.
Moments that remind me
It isn't so bad.

Driving to my parents house last night, my mind was wandering, as grocery lists, play date plans, and memories of the past few days floated around. Into sunset we drove, my focus on the drive, when Mo pointed out the sky.
"Look Mama, It's red! The sky, it's red!" she squealed, her delight infectious.
Looking up, shades of pink and red faded into purples and blues.
Before us, a simply breathtaking sky.
A sky I likely would not have noticed had my three year old not pointed it out.
"It's so pretty!" she continued. "Why the sky red?"
As I explained sunset, I could feel myself relax and savor the moment.
Her wonder, her amazement as she continued to describe the sky was exactly what I had needed.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Top Ten: I miss...
1. My BODY
It's true, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Two kiddos, two c-sections, in less then two years and a lack of exercising have made me less then happy with my body. However, it's nothing a little spanx can't help.
There's something magical about witnessing a child learn to read. Their eyes glimmer, their smile widens, as that "a-ha" moment comes, and the satisfaction in the pit of my belly, knowing it was me.
I did that.
I miss that.
Once upon a time, I was in a pool close to twenty-four hours a week. Back and forth, following the black line, on a trip to no where. The perfume of chlorine permeated every crevice, which no amount of soap, perfume, or lotion could remove. Still, every time the smell of chlorine (or even bleach) meets my nose, I'm suddenly transported back.
Growing up, my family would host a picnic every Labor Day weekend. Over 100 people, friends, family, extended family, neighbors, would pile into our backyard, covered dish or dessert in hand, for eight hours. We'd borrow our neighbors picnic tables and others would bring their own lawn chairs. My dad on the grill with a beer in hand or behind the horseshoes while my mom rarely rested, finding another serving spoon, or making another container of lemonade. Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, many would make the yearly pilgrimage.
Once a year, complete chaos, but so much fun.

Some morning, I will be able to pull the sheets back up under my neck and roll over, returning back to slumber. Now, it's just a dream. If I want more sleep, I need to go to bed early and pray no one wakes up.

Not one spent in my pajamas, on the computer with a bowl of ice cream, instead dressed to the nines, in make up, at a place with no high chairs, nursing a Cosmo or a tanquery and tonic, while waiting for first course, at 10 pm.
Towels, swim diapers, pails, shovels, sunscreen, chair, baby on hip, weaving the umbrella laced beach searching for a spot to unpack with a clear sight line to the water.
"No! Don't eat the sand!"
"No! Stay close!"
"No! Don't run into the water without mama!"
"Seriously, don't eat the sand!"
 Give me a book, a towel, three to four hours, and get the f--k out of my way!
That's what I miss.
I am thankful for Laurie Berkner Band and the CD's from music class, however I miss Dave (Grohl), Eddie (Vedder), Dave (Matthews), and Bono.

9. MY HOMETOWN (in retrospect)
Having grown up in the same town as many generations before, I had connections. My friends would joke I was related to everyone, and it truly seemed that way. Familiar faces were abound, at the local stores, church, YMCA. I always knew someone.

There are so many faces I have lost over the years. Some to death, some to distance, and others just to age and to "life happening". Occasionally, a face will enter my mind, perhaps a moment that brings a smile to my face, or a memory brought on from an action in the present, and their loss becomes clear.

Super duper Monday is back!
These Listicles are the best thing since sliced bread. Forget bread, best thing since cake, chocolate one too! You all warm my heart, with both content and the effort you put into them. Nothing makes me happier then seeing how much you visit each other’s posts, not just the linked ones, but throughout the week. You all rock and rule!I kept thinking about all the things and people and occasions I miss and thought of so many. But when the time came to sit down and write them I struggled. Which I will take as a great sign. Life is good, when there is not much missing in it…

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another year older....wiser?

The Talking Heads have a song called Once in a Lifetime and these lyrics have been spinning around my head the past few day.
It has just hit me.
I am officially in my thirties.
I am a thirty something suburban housewife
And mother!

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask did I get here?

Seriously, how did I get here?
I wonder when I became this grown-up who asks for gift certificates to Target and Lowes for her birthday?  Where are the nights out?
Where are the dinners?
The drinks?
The vacations?
When did I become a grown-up?

And you may ask yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?

"Life goes by quickly" my mother would lament.
I never really understood this until recently, as my mind holds tight to many memories.
The first day of high school, those jitters in my stomach still seem so fresh.
The khaki halter dress sticking to my sunburned back under my white graduation robe that date in June.
Piling into my parents minivan, heading to college. I remember walking into my first dorm room, staring at the photos of my soon to be roommate.
Meeting Bry for the first (technically second) time in the lobby of those dorms.
Parties, formals, trips to the bar.
Swim meets, Student teaching assignments, walks through the campus,
Bathing suits, warm ups, and acceptable teaching attire.
The black gown and piece of paper.
It seems like yesterday.
So vivid.
So clear.
So real.
But it was not.
It was 19 years since those first butterfiles the night before freshmen year of  high school.
15 years since that first ride through the campus gate.

When did I get old?
I don't feel that old.
I don't feel like I've changed that much since my time in college, (grant it my body looks a whole helluva lot different)

Can someone tell me when I became a grown-up?

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My god!...what have I done?

This post was intially written on September 3, 2009, exactly one day after I turned thirty-one. When I read this weeks "Dare to Share" link, immediately my mind came back here. I have updated and reworked some sections.
It’s that time again! Another Dare to Share Linkup! This week’s theme is music. We’d like you to share a post, new or old, that focuses on music in some way. You can post a poem, fiction, memory, or essay. Dare to Share is anything goes link up…as long as you stick to theme.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Her red hair lies perfectly braided down her back. Her green eyes intensely focus.
Her wide smile showcases a row of straight white teeth, while her perfect posture keeps her head balanced on her shoulders.
In need of a washing, her white shirt carries various stray stains and markings.
The collar and cuff links are stiff, as her buttons remain closed. A brown belt keeps her dark rinsed jeans on her hips, as black and white cow printed chaps overlap the front.
Her brown boots show little wear, even though she has worn them for some time.

Since meeting her best friend, she has always remained at her side.
The two have made car rides, sleepovers, and play dates. Never too far away.

Her legs have danced on table tops and jumped on beds.
In her ears, wishes and plans for play have been whispered.
Her arms have been pulled, and hugged tightly.

Not born into our family, she is an integral part.
Without her, a missing piece, an absence, a longing.
On occasion, she disappears.
Promises of better behavior.
Her return brings hugs, smiles, and return of play.

Who is she?

Why, she's Jessie! The best freaking doll on the planet and currently the only motivation to keep Mo on the straight and narrow. Jessie is virtually attached to her hip, a real best friend. And when she's naughty, Jessie somehow knows and disappears indefinitely.
The cries, the pleas, the promises all flow quickly as she attempts to negotiate the return of her dear friend.
Her return, simply magic.

Picking Jessie up off the floor while Mo napped today, I felt the need to acknowledge her importance. Naughty behavior at the park earlier, consequently lead to Jessie missing from nap time.

However, walking down the stairs, wiping the sleep from her eyes, I hear the gasp.
"Jessie!" She squeals, "you're back!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


As I peruse others blogs, I often allow myself to imagine the lives behind the photos and words I see.
In my mind these families are eternally happy:
 frolicking in the waves at the beach
 playing family games of catch on the lawn
 preparing organic dinners from scratch nightly
 dressing up for no apparent reason
 parenting immacuately clean and well behaved children
 tiding up well-styled and maintained homes
 all with a smile on their face.

I find myself overwhelmed (and frankly envious).
Of course, in my mind I know that these blog posts are only vignettes, mere snapshots of moments, not the daily grind that most follow. However, instead of celebrating these successes, I admit, I see my own shortcomings.
I feel a bit of failure with each children's art project we never complete, chicken dinnner I never cook, and homemade pillow that I couldn't sew.  With a click of a button, it's more of the same.
Perhaps I need a better hobby?
Or to learn how to sew or craft?
Cooking in a house without air conditioning is a crapshoot at best.
Maybe I just need to let it go.
So what if it's chicken nuggets for dinner (again)?
Who cares if my living room looks more like a college frat house then a PotteryBarn catalogue?
My physical appearance
I think that is something I can spend a little more time on, though I do not think I will be partaking in the what I wear posts that are popular elsewhere.
It is what it is until it's not.
I think the best thing for me to do to get over this hump, is to write.
I may not be too good in the kitchen or craft room, however I'm slowly finding my voice here:
wearing my pajamas, while my kids dance around the room, eating cereal bars.
And that's okay by me.
(At least until I start blog hopping again!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kicking and Screaming

Do you know what is special about Friday, September 23?
It's the first day of fall.

Which means....
SUMMER is still here!!

Bathing Suits, Flip Flops, Shorts

Burgers on the grill, lemonade, popsicles,

Ocean waves, salty air, warm shoulders in the sun,

Running, Kicking, Jumping through the grass

I love those Summer Days!

Join Shell and I (and some other friends) as we enjoy our Summer Show off at her blog, Things I Can't Say.
 Link up your Summer Fun for a chance to win prizes from Ubisoft.

Monday, August 8, 2011


In case you haven't realized it, I seem to partaking in quite a few writing prompts lately. Most have been heavy; posts that make me think. The ones that leave me scratching my head a bit, or needing a stiff drink. The Good Life offered a new prompt, and if you know anything about me, it's a winner: FOOD!

So Bill from Smells like Borscht suggested for us to do list of ten dedicated to food. Anything to do with food.

Favorite Foods:
Dining out edition

1. Mushroom Risotto
La Gaiac Restaurant, Le Toiny Hotel, St. Barth's
I still dream of this creamy dish. Chewing was optional, as it melted in my mouth.  Our first night in paradise, this was the appetizer I had and now, six years later, it's still one of my most favorite meals, ever.

2. Pisces Aphrodite
Pisces Restuarant, Key West, FL
The smell of this appetizer was heavenly, and the fragerance lingered for the entire meal. Wine, butter, puffed pastry, and shellfish, heaven.  

3. Aranci Cakes with vodka sauce
Whether an appetizer or an entree, Bry and I would decide in the car whose turn it was to get these risotto cakes. The vodka sauce held the perfect balance of tomato and cheese, complimenting the fried cake stuffed with mozarella swimmingly.

4. Paella a la Valenciana 
(preferably with a multitude of pitchers of sangria)
Sevilla Restaurant, New York, NY
Once upon a time, we lived but a train ride away from New York City. Many a Friday or Saturday evening, we waited balancing glasses of red sangria in hand out the door onto the sidewalk. Often we'd pass on the middle tables, instead waiting for one we liked. Always, ordering the Paella a la Valenciana and never having a disappointing meal. Lobster, chicken, chorizo, clams, mussels, and lots of saffron infused rice. 
 Sigh, some day we will make it back.

5. Chips on Fish
SeaBlue Restaurant, Borgata Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, NJ
When we dine out, usually I order fish. Upon discovering a fish coated in thin sliced potato, I had to try and I was not disappointed. A new way to do fish and chips.

6. Blackened Catfish Filet
410 Bank Street, Cape May, NJ
Bananas, Tomatoes, and Catfish together sound like a strange combination. Surprise! Try phenomenal!  With a menu filled with fabulous dishes, of wish I've had most, I still look forward to the catfish.

7. Crab Fries with Cheese Sauce
Not everything requires utensils, or even a table for that matter. At a baseball game, with a cold beer, the salty, spicy seasonings on the french fries made only tastier as it's dipped into a cheese sauce.
Eating with your fingers never is better.

8. Fluffernutter Sundae
Duffer's Restaurant, Wildwood, NJ
There may or may not be a rumor circulating that I have eaten this entire sundae even after finishing a sandwich and fries prior. But seriously, peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter sauce, marshmallows, peanuts, homemade whipped cream, and a part of pizelle, would you leave any remaining?
 I think not.

9. Cheese plate,... no short rib flat bread, ...wait, the mushrooms,
Forget it, the entire menu!!!
Amada, Philadelphia, Pa
There is a reason Jose Garces is an Iron Chef. His restaurant of authentic Spanish tapas has no bad plates. Having done the tasting menu, on two different occasions and also had the experience of dining with a large party, we have tried just about everything.  It's all delicious. Cheese pairings with honey and nutella, flatbreads with chorizo, shrimp, and white beans, lamb meatballs with shaved cheese, my mouth is watering.
The sangria isn't too bad either.

10. Pork Roll, Egg, & Cheese
Bagel Chateau, Westfield NJ
Imagine starting the day with eggs, cheese, and pork roll smothered in ketchup between an everything bagel. Whether it is consumed to combat the ill effects of a little too much drinking the night before or to satisfy the hunger post-work out, I can think of no more perfect breakfast, preferably with a side of chocolate milk.

That's my list. I can only imagine that as soon as I press "post" more favorites will circulate my brain, however at this moment, these are my top ten in no particular order. Being a mom to two little ones, my dining out options now mainly consist of the diner or Chick Fil A, however, every so often, I dust off the grown up clothes and together Bry and I head out to dinner free of sippy cups and chicken nuggets. 

Thanks to Jen at Runnermom for introducing me to The Good Life's Monday Listicles!

Friday, August 5, 2011


I pull off near the zoo. The cars and trucks line up, creating usual traffic on this exit. Looking back into the rear view mirror, their heads bob to the music.
"I love Laurie" Mo yells. "It's the Goldfish, Mama, you're favorite".
Our newly purchased The Best of Laurie Berkner Band CD has been on steady rotation in our car for the past two weeks. The guitar strums as her voice continues to stream through the speakers,
"Let's go swimming, Let's go swimming, Hey Let's go swimming" she sings.
My foot releases the gas, as we creep forward.
My mind wanders.
I can't believe the gym didn't call me back. I really need to get the girls in swim lessons ASAP. Should I call again.
"Let's go swimming, at the bottom of the ocean".
Hitting the break again, we wait.
"Are we almost there?" Mo asks.
"Almost," I respond, as we move up, making it to the stop sign.
Cars zip past this intersection, as I wait for an opening. Carefully I inch forward, and pull out into the right hand lane. I pull the turn signal down, indicating our intention of turning right. In front of me, two cars sit, their flashers blinking the same.
"Why she standing there, mama?" Mo asks.
"Huh?" my response muffled as I look to check her sister. Safely secured in her car seat, I ask Mo, "What are you talking about?"
"That girl" she ask, "over there on the sidewalk. What she doing? Why she have water bottle in her hand? She thirsty?"
Standing at the corner, I see the girl.
No older then eight.
She stands immediately at the corner.
Her black hair plaited in rows, wearing brown flip flops, white tank top and pink shorts.
In each hand she holds a bottle, water in the left, orange Gatorade in the right.
Her face carries a purpose.
Like a tightrope, she balances her weight on the curb. Walking along, she bends her head. Her face meets each driver. She says nothing, but her eyes glimmer.
She gestures to her bottles, as the driver nods no. She offers a small smile and takes a few steps.
"She's selling drinks" I tell Mo. "She's making sure everyone has water or juice since it's hot".
I turn to the sidewalk and see an older woman. Perhaps her mother, I assume. Bending over two large coolers, she adjusts the ice. Picking up and replacing water bottles, in that moment she pays no mind to the girl.
Their roles are clear.
One foot crosses over the other, as she continues to balance on the curb as she comes closer. Her face peers in through the passenger window as my face meets her gaze. I nod no.
I want to pull her into the car with me.
I want to take her to the park with my girls.
I want her to play, run, laugh, and act the way I expect a child to act on a warm summer day.
I wish I had a few dollars to hand to her.
But in this moment, my wallet is empty.
I can offer her nothing but an apologetic nod.
The small smile comes across momentarily as she walks away.

I want to be able to tell Mo that this girl will be fine, but honestly I don't know.

The light turns green. The girl takes a few steps back from the curb, returning to the solace of coolers and the older woman.
My eyes stay transfixed, waiting.
A horn blows, and I press on the gas, watching the girl as I turn away.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Snapshots

Maeve's first ride
Obviously Mo's excitement couldn't be contained
The Dune Buggies got a warm reception

Ready for a train ride

Sanitation Dept. anyone?

This picture never better be re-enacted in real life
There's no way I want either kid with a cycle between her legs.
No Freaking way!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The weight of the day was felt in every inch of my body. I fought back the tears as I looked up to the clock.
Three Twelve.
I still had eighteen minutes until I was free.
As I walked back to my desk, I browsed my surroundings. Colorful and bright, I had made the classroom an inviting place, but at that moment I wanted out.
I wanted to run,
to throw open the doors,
offering my resignation as I ran by,
escaping the complete and utter chaos that was my class.
This was not the job I had imagined.
My naivete in full bloom.  Promised a class of language and learning disabled kindergartners, instead multiple social and emotional impairments met my novice self.  Resources were lacking, and being a new teacher I had yet to understand the need to advocate for myself.
Instead I wallowed in silence.
I brought it all home, but candy coated it for my family and friends.
Through gritted teeth I'd say "It's not so bad" or "I know it will get better", knowing the opposite.
I dreaded each day, but each morning arrived one of the first in the building.
I dreaded not being there, for fear of what would happen in my absence.
It was too much.
I dropped my head onto the desk, and wrapped my arms around. In this little cocoon, I hid my tears. It was only October. The thought of eight more months made me nauseous. How could I do this, I wondered?
I heard the knock on the open door.
Lifting my head, I saw Chris, a fantastic occupational therapist assigned to the majority of my students.
"Can I come in? I need to talk about a few programs." she asked.
Wiping the tears from my face, I faked a smile and shrugged an okay.
The next thirty minutes programs were never addressed, instead the flood gates opened and I confessed all my misgivings.
The fears and struggles I had been embarrassed to share, the frustrations, the irritations, the sadness. There she sat, listening as the tears returned.
Emotionally spent, I looked to her and she said what I needed to hear:
As we walked out together that day, I realized I would be okay and maybe even happy in the class, eventually.

That was nearly nine years ago and I still consider Chris one of the finest unofficial mentors I have every had. She saved me, honestly, from changing fields.
Thank you Chris!

This week you were asked to write about a mentor, someone who guided or inspired you. How did your mentor impact your life?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Jackie, circa 2021

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to my 16 year old self and now, I'm at it again. This time, I'm writing to myself ten years into the future.

Dearest Jackie,
  As I write this, it is a month and day from your thirty-third birthday, and life is good. I can only assume that Moira and Maeve have continued to keep you on your toes, I figure you spend a lot of your time chauffeuring them around. When you think back longingly to their time as at three and eighteen months, remember the temper tantrums, teething hell, and the time-outs, the multiple time-outs. That should help to balance the probable talking back and slamming doors that the thirteenth year often brings. Knowing that half of her DNA is Bryan's, Mo is probably quite the DIVA! I only pray that Maeve has remained the happy go lucky spirit she was as a toddler.

 Since I know we like lists, I'll continue on that path as I assess our future.

1. Make time for Bryan
While he is quick to put the needs of the girls ahead of him, he deserves to know how much he is appreciated. Don't feel guilty hiring a babysitter or dropping the girls off with the grandparents or aunts/uncles so that you two can spend some much needed time together alone. You have a history, a story worth telling and retelling, share it with the girls. (Most of it anyway!)

2. Don't stop writing!
You are much too hard on yourself, and I know there have been moments where you have contemplated retiring the blog, but please don't do it. Having this record of who you were at this time in your life can only be something to relish in the future. More so, I hope as you read this you are appalled at your writing style and have since adopted a better form.

3. Take care of yourself
Eat better, learn to cook healthier, and actually get your butt back into the pool. Perhaps, even overcome that fear of open water swimming? Remember it's not only for you, but also it serves as a good model for the girls.

4. Family Time
At the end of the day, it's all about family. Make time not only for our little family but for all the extended members and those friends that are virtually family. Think back to being a kid and those picnics with all the cousins, aunts, uncles, our family deserves those memories too! Plus, you know how much you love to throw parties!

5. Travel
It's a big world, and I hope you see more of it. Regardless of how insane it sounds, get out to Taiwan and see Casey and his family and then make a little trip to Tahiti. Win, win, right?

6. Self-Confidence
While I mentioned this to my 16 year old self, I pray that self-confidence has flourished over the past ten years. It would be worthwhile to be comfortable in your skin, and not waste time worrying. With this, I can assume your wardrobe has evolved appropriately and stylishly? 

My wish a month and a day away from your forty-third birthday is that you enjoy the ride!
You deserve any and all happiness as you have put time and energy into your little old family. You love hard and true, and dedicate a tremendous amount of time into making those you love happy. In turn, you deserve happiness in whatever form it may come.


Remember when we linked up a few weeks ago with A Letter to You? Well, this week we'd like to you to revisit writing a letter to yourself, but this time you'll be writing a letter to the future you, the you of ten years down the road. Where do you see yourself in the future? What accomplishments do you hope to make? What would you tell the present you? Write it all down and then join us next Sunday to link up and see what the future holds.