Wednesday, October 10, 2012

30 Days 50K Words

Last year I tried to NaNoBloMo and didn't make it very far in to the month before petering out.  This year, spurred on by a friend's great success, I am going to attempt the NaNoWriMo challenge.  

Do you have a great novel in you?

I don't expect to reach 50K, but applying free time to writing for 30 days (give or take, haha) instead of kibitzing around Google+ will be a more productive use of my time (I can only hope).  

Blog writing is short spurts of ideas.  Sprints, not marathons.  Eclectic ideas, single-serving reading.  To sit and attempt a novel is something completely different.  I have a vague idea for a story, now to plot it out and cut it into manageable chunks as to not have it be overwhelming.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happiness starts with what you see in the mirror

If you aren't happy with what you see in the mirror, you are the only one that can change it.  The outer shell is what too many people focus on and find fault with that, but forget to work on the inside.

When you look in the mirror, what is in the eyes, the heart, that stares back at you?

Can you honestly say that you are the best you, you can be?  Do you know what is bait?  Can you rise above it?  Do you know which cheek to turn, when turning the other cheek?

Up there, in the sky!

Space Shuttle Endeavor fly-over in Hayward California on Friday, September 21, 2012.  Took too long for my iPhone3GS to open the camera app, so this is all I got for a picture.

The ground shakes, you look up and see this enormous plane flying so close to the ground, you think you can touch it.  Next to it flies a fighter jet escort.  Once in a lifetime! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Laughing in the face of adversity

How you handle adversity says more about you than you realize.

There are millions of different sayings. 

“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” 

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” 

“True adversity brings out the best in people.” 

“Are you a man or a mouse?” 

I rant, I bitch and moan and I make jokes.  I find, or at least try to find, humor in most situations.  It isn’t due to irreverence to the seriousness of issues presented, it is a coping mechanism.  It is how I get through a tough day, week, month, or year. 

A long time ago, I learned that if you can’t laugh you have nothing.  Growing up in our house, humor was all around.  It was trial by flaming arrows of laughter, all aimed at you.  You learned to have a thick skin.  You either laughed at the joke being made at your expense or you cried. 

At the time it seemed mean to me.  Why in the world would my dad laugh at me and make jokes when, insert your childhood-teenage angst-filled moment here, happened?

Turns out, it taught us to find humor in all things, and what the little things actually were.  There was reverence for the real, the meaningful life situations, but for all others, laughter.  We didn’t need a book to learn about our “cheese”.   

So now, whether it is a little thing or a big thing, I laugh.  Life is too short to cry at things that don’t deserve my tears. 

It is better to die of side-splitting laughter, than to drown in a pool of one’s own tears.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'll be right back, I promise

I saw this picture on Facebook and laughed.  These days if a mother did that, well, can you say Division of Child and Family Services?

What parent hasn't had that thought run through their brain at least once (or 3,000 times)?  Even as a mother of an only child I can say with absolute certainty, I have and at least once a day.  That is usually when I have just carved out 10 whole minutes to myself, or so I thought.

You know the drill.  The image staring back at you in the mirror is a reminder to make that waxing appointment soon or you will have an official uni-brow.  The doctor said after your last physical 6 months ago to come back in a month for a follow-up.  Your best friend has started to think you lost her phone number as you haven't called her back the last 4 times she called.

You just need 5 minutes to yourself.

So, why is this not okay to do?  Yeah yeah, I know, they could wiggle the clothes-pins loose and they would fall to the ground.  And?  It only hurts for a moment, right?  

I have it, Mommy-Multitasking!  Fully clothed baths then hang them on the clothes line!  The clothes get dry and the kids stay clean for 5 whole minutes!  

<doorbell chime>  
<knocking sounds>
Me: Who is it?
Voice from other side of the door:  Ma'am it is the police.  Did you know there is a child hanging from your clothesline while singing the new Lady Gaga song?  Your neighbors would like to know if he knows any Madonna, they prefer the original?

I make jokes, heck, my son doesn't even like Lady Gaga!  

Okay, so really, who would it hurt to get a few minutes of sanity in an otherwise hectic day?  As long as I teach him how to carry a tune, even the neighbors won't mind.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Everything is a teaching moment when it comes to our kids

Last week when the story broke of the bullied school bus monitor, I was working from home.  While I made a post on Google+, I never posted here.  I have to be more diligent about cross posting.  

From June 21, 2012:
Image courtesy of

Everything is a teaching moment when it comes to our kids

I was lucky enough to be working from home this morning, so I was able to grab the kiddo so we could watch together.  An interesting discussion followed about the kinds of bullying they don't teach in school.  To say he was angry about how those kids treated a lady who could have been his grandmother, is putting it mildly.  

Once that point was made, we turned it toward teachers and how he and his classmates speak to their teachers.  Well, what do you know, suddenly we were hanging our head, saying we had to do a better job in being respectful ALL the time when dealing with teachers and teacher's aides.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dear Dad

Dad, when you died 25 years ago, I thought it was the worst day of my life.  For a few years, it was.  Then I realized that while your life ended, mine needed to continue down a better path.

Since you left, you missed a lot, and while I like to believe you can look down and share in our big events, I should catch you up anyway.  

I met a guy.  You would have liked him.  Then you would have beaten the crap out of him, but then you would have liked him again.  You weren't there to approve, so I had to rely on the Ruthie seal of approval.  She liked him and I am sure she told you all about him when she got there.  Your brother stood in your place the day I got married.  You absence was noticed by everyone, and we all cried a bit harder because of it.

We bought our first house, and started doing all the holidays at our house.  It was too depressing to do them at your house without the patriarch to lead us, so I told Mommy that she had done them for all those years and it was my turn now.  She either bought it, or understood and acquiesced, she is sly that way.

Hey dad, we had a baby.  He looks just like I did in my baby pictures.  Mommy & Derek were there at the hospital to welcome the new arrival.  You were missed, but good old Uncle Derek made sure to get the baby his first football for his bassinet.  While we didn't give him your English name, when we all stood in the Temple, it was your name that was spoken in Hebrew.  Mazel Tov, you are a Zayde!

In time we moved away, and moved away again.  We are in California of all places now, and while it hasn't fallen in to the ocean yet, it may any day now.  You would appreciate the relaxed, laid back atmosphere.  There have been many times I have looked around over the years, and been sad you could not experience it with us.  

What I realize now is that you are.  There is a part of you that lives on in me.  I take no crap and can smell b.s. a mile away, due to the lessons you taught.  I can appreciate a good joke from the sense of humor you passed down.  My love of football and baseball and hockey and basketball come from the many hours watching and/or playing them with you.  I love politics and good debate because you got us involved in local campaigns when we were young.  I can throw sarcasm as far as the eye can see thanks to running the daily gauntlet in our house, known as family discussion time.

I am so many things, but most of all, I am my father's daughter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Habit or Habitual - Day 2

Yesterday was day 2 of not smoking.  

I found the morning routine was getting a bit easier, but only when armed with the celery sticks and water.  Seeing how they aren't the worst things in the world to be using as a crutch, I am going with it.

The extra bitchy comes and goes, depending on the accompanying external stress.  I can feel when it is coming on, and have learned to just breathe through it.  

I kept away from the computer on Day 1.  I didn't want to make things harder than they had to be.  For me, I find that sitting down to the computer to let off some steam playing games, is a smoking trigger.  So I didn't do it.

Day 2 I took the plunge.  I went in to a hangout.  It was like a Jimmy Buffet song.  I had smokers to my left, and smokers to my right.

We had fun with it, I had people blow smoke at me and pretended to sniff & savor.  Truth is, I made the jokes, but after the initial "hey they are smoking and I can't" thought, the feeling went away.

The rest of the night was uneventful as I just kept busy and didn't think about it.

If they aren't here, I won't smoke, simple as.  I am not going to die because I can't have one, I couldn't say that a month ago, I can now.  A journey of a thousand miles is made up of millions of steps.  Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have supportive friends and family.

Two steps down, millions more to go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Habit or Habitual?

Yesterday was Day 1.  First day with no nicotine.  Well, that isn't quite right, it was the first day I didn't put more nicotine in to my system.

The Chantix pills make some people nuts-O crazy.  That is what had my doctor most worried about putting me on the pills.  I told him, "doc, you can't make crazy, worse.  I'll be fine."

HA!  They need to put a HUGE label on the box about the nauseousness!   The reason you don't smoke isn't because you don't crave one, it is because it is hard to light a cigarette when your head is in the toilet bowl!

Flick, flick...why won't this damn thing light?!?!?!

I kid.  When the 7th night came, I smoked my last one and went up to bed.  No matter how much that first day got to me, I didn't light one up, didn't have one, didn't try and mooch one, didn't go to the corner store and buy any.

This despite the database having one of its usual snafus and leaving unpaid duplicates all throughout my data. This despite the fact that one of the managers took the day off and left his department in the hands of a trainee only 3 weeks in to the job and still not up to speed.  This despite the fact that they had left the paperwork from last week and utter disaster for me to find on a bright and cheery Monday morning.

People who are quitting smoking should not be left to their own devices around heavy equipment.  I contemplated welding his drawers shut as a thank you, but stopped short when I realized his desk was made of wood.  I contemplated playing keyboard character shuffle, but thought better of it, I hate to hear men whine.

I kid a lot, but I made it through that first day armed with bottles of water & iced tea, lots of fresh veggies to gnaw on, packs of gum to crackle and pop, and oodles of patience.  Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stuff My Son Says

Out of the mouths of babes.  How can the young be so much smarter than their years?  I know that I do know the answer to that, and it is usually the result of having to endure what they should not have to at an early age.

We were out, doing our usual errands and chatting away in the car.  He asks, "Mom, do you want to hear a saying I made up?"  How do I not want to hear this?  "Of course I do", I answer.  With that, he utters the phrase above, "Those who insult, are weak themselves." 

We talk about what he means by this, and he tells me had figured out that bullies and mean people are just mean to make people stop looking at them.  He goes on and gives me examples of bullying statements and how to counter act them with one liners to end it right then and there.  

It is my fervent hope he doesn't have to put this in to practice any time soon.  I fear for him, that entering Junior High School next year, will have more than its fair share of pitfalls.   

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adventures in Parenting - The Shots

How many adults does it take to give an immunization?

I love my son, unconditionally.   He has irrational fears that are part of his condition and as a mother it is heartbreaking.  Spiders, clowns, insects with wings, and getting shots.  When it is time to get shots, we have to plan, for weeks.

Today was our yearly physicals and we knew that there were going to be shots today.  So we have been planning.  They say plan your work and work your plan.  That works when dealing rationally.

For a month we have been talking about how we needed to get shots to be prepared for 7th grade.  Breakfast table talk this morning was about manning-up.  I picked him up from school today and the talk in the car on the way over was in preparation and repeating our manning-up mantra.

Preparation is for fools.

My appointment is over, I go in to his exam room, and he is already shaking in his paper shorts.  As the exam wears on he is vibrating.  I leave the room for the personal part of the exam.  I barge back in when he starts screaming.   The doctor mentioned the shots.

As an hour woefully passed, I tried the soft touch, the mean mommy, the reasoning parent, the I’m going to call your father threats, all to no avail.  At points he was so loud and wailed so badly, other doctors and nurses came in, worried I was abusing a child in their building.

In the end, it took me and a very large, strong nurse to hold him down in my lap, while our nurse gave him three shots in his arm.  Once done, he was calm, stopped crying, and picked up his things to leave as if nothing happened.

I’m sorry Mrs. Friedrich, we really don’t know why you have severe G.E.R.D. issues.   No, we can’t up your medication any higher.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Do you see what you think you see?

This one contains no hidden meanings.  If you see one word vs. another it doesn't mean you are left brain/right brain, it doesn't mean you have a tumor, it doesn't mean you aren't of a genius i.q.  We all see things differently.  

Sometimes, all it takes is another person for us to appreciate what was once hidden from our view.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Life Is A Stage

It is not an easy subject, our own mortality.  

Those who know me, know I have a best friend who lives back in Jersey.  We have been friends since we were in the 6th grade.  We have lived in each others's lives for almost as long as we can remember.  Neither of us were blessed with sisters, which God rectified by giving us each other.  

We have walked a long path together.  Teenage trials and tribulations, growing in to womanhood, finding our soul mates, finding ourselves, marriages, the birth of children, separations, divorces, the death of her parents, the death of my dad, my scare with cancer, my moving away, and then moving away again.

Although  our boys are 6 years apart, they are friends.  They are both exceptional needs, so both the boys and she & I have followed similar paths.

We can not talk for months and pick right back up where we left off, it is what sisters do.  So when my cell phone rang tonight and I saw it was her, it was no surprise.  

Last we had talked, she was going for another series of test.  She has been battling something unknown for the better part of 3 years now.  It started as annoyances, grew to agitation, and now finally doctors are paying attention.  

It may be too late.

We won't know more until after the next series of tests this Friday, and then the inevitable nail-biting week long wait until results are determined.  What is for sure is it is incurable.  What is not known is the stage.  

Stage is a funny word.  It has so many meanings.  Stage is a place where the spotlight is lit and mere mortals can transport you to far off worlds.  Take you back in time, tell you a story for a little while, and then leave you feeling better than before they started.

If only stage meant that now.  Now, it is a means to determine the end of mortality.  

She is by no means taking this lightly, nor is she resolved that it is the end.

Her parting words before hanging up were, "What are you sad for?  I'm not going anywhere, I've got kids to live for.  'm going to fight this and if it means getting a transplant, then that is what I will do."

I love my sister.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Word Clouds and You

You, are all important to me!  

Although I may not say it often, and even if I forget to post frequently, know that I do appreciate the friendships, the laughter, and the support.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Adventure on the Short Bus

A while back I wrote about the adventures we experienced when the regular morning driver had to take a leave of absence and they couldn't seem to back fill the spot without making the kids miss the first hour of school.

Today's adventure was with the new morning driver.  I don't think we will be seeing him much longer.  It takes a special kind of patience to work with kids with extra-ordinary needs.  He doesn't have it, or at least, enough of it.

At 12:10 today I get a phone call from kiddo's school therapist.  During today's scheduled session he related a story to her about this morning's bus ride in to school and he has told her the story.  He wants to speak to me directly, because he has been upset all morning, has had trouble concentrating, and no one has listened to the story. 

Seems that an altercation erupted between his seat-mate and the younger girl sitting behind them.  She was hitting the other boy with a Barbie, a piece fell in to his lap, he retaliated by throwing the broken piece to the back of the bus and she whacked him with her hand.  It was at this point the bus driver finally noticed.

This may have been the bus driver's first time handling something like this, who knows.  In any case, he took sides instead of diffusing and allowing teachers to settle when they arrived at school.  

My son, not one to see an injustice be done, chimes in with his observations on what the girl did.  At this point the bus driver made a critical error in judgement.  

He turned to my son and said, "shut up, I'm not talking to you!"  I'll take "Can I have my pink slip now?" for 200, Alex.

The driver proceeds to keep arguing with the other boy.  My son chimes in again.  Driver tells him to butt out and why was he still talking?  The other boy answers, "well, you told him to shut up and that was wrong!"

Did I mention this is all going on while he is still driving down the street, not pulled over to the side of the road?  

Driver turns to the other kid and says, "I'm the bus driver, I can do anything I want!" Game, set, match.

Therapist gets back on the phone, says she is on it, will question the driver when he returns for afternoon pick-up, but that a classroom aide has offered to drive both boys home today until we can get all the facts.  We agree to have the aide drive him home and we will speak again once she gets more information.

She calls me back to relate his side of the story, which to his credit, matches the boys' story.  

I wish I could call the bus company just one time for a good reason.  Today wasn't it.  

I get a call back from the supervisor after he gets all the facts and has a meeting with the driver.  We agree everyone is human and makes mistakes.  Driver will be giving the whole bus an apology, has reprimand in file, and there are no third strikes in their system.

Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes, but no one talks to my son that way.   A lesson we teach in our house, and reinforce all the time is that we all have a right to be mad, but we don't have a right to be angry.  We all have a right to respect, and that we all have a responsibility for our actions and our words.  If he has to abide by them, so does the driver.

I don't think the driver realizes he has to face me tomorrow morning.  I promise not to say one word.  There is no need for words when you possess the look.

Life As A Silly Parent

I love being silly, cutting up, and just letting loose.  This is especially true when the kiddo is in the same kind of mood.  A most endearing quality is that he has inherited my quirky sense of what is funny.  We enjoy watching old Marx Brothers movies together and Three Stooges episodes.  Anything that will make us have the kinds of giggles that turn in to belly laughs.

Tonight, little man and I had errands to run and while in the car, from the backseat I hear "excuzzzze meeeee, who ahrrre you please?", in the worst French accent imaginable.

One glance in the rear view mirror and I can see the silly has started and I better catch-up quickly.

I try my best Russian accent, aka Boris and Natasha mashed up in to one person.  "Vy, hello dere.  I deed not zee you zitting dere."

We proceed to converse in our horrible broken accents, barely understanding each other for a few blocks, until I am informed that my Russian is starting to sound like French and he is "the onlyeee Freunch per-sonne in za carrre."

So, I break out my Brooklyn.

"Zo, jus who do uze tink you iz, huh?  Who let uze into my cah?  You ain't Americunn, where you from anywayze?"

"Me, oh well my par-ents are from Frannnce and ze brought me heeeere when I was young-er, so I am an Americannnnne."

"Yeah, well I don't know no body who talks like dat from America.  You must be one of dem French Fries!"

We are giggling and mimicking bad accents all over the East Bay.  I am throwing my best Brooklyn/Jersey at him, and he is trying his best to keep up the French accent.  He makes false bravado threats in the French kid voice about how he is "ze best American who speaks ze Freunch he knows."

"Oh yeah!   Up ya nose wit a rubba hose!"

I was lucky to keep the car on the road with the guffaws coming from both the front seat and the back seat.  He had no clue what it meant, but it was enough of a vivid statement, that his mental picture put him into fits of laughter.

At the dinner table we explained where the phrase originated, but by then it had lost its shine.

Ya hadda be dere ta unnnastand

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pretty in Pink

My favorite rose bush bloomed. 

One of the things I was going to miss when we moved from Virginia to California was tending to my rose bushes. Luckily, the new house has 4 rose bushes. Two have dusty purple blooms, one has an orange-y red bloom (nicknamed the firecracker rose) and the last has hot pink ones. 

I am all about the bright pink roses. There is something so vibrant and fun about them. They have always been my favorite rose, and I have used pictures of them, in some variant, as an online avatar for many years. I always think ofSteel Magnolias and the Shelby character. "Pink is mah signature color."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lost & Found

The really close friends I have, I made in childhood, the closest of which, I met in 6th grade.  Funny when you think of things like that, as my son is now in 6th grade, and I know he won’t have those same kinds of close friends.

This particular friend and I got into all sorts of mischief growing up.  Nothing criminal, just the kinds of things that get you grounded.  Sometimes I got caught and grounded, sometimes it was her turn, and sometimes we would screw up so badly that we were both grounded at the same time. 

We were in high school, probably senior year if my memory serves me well enough.  There was a guy she on-again, off-again dated during high school.  Her parents did not approve of him, and when she saw him, whether I was with her or not, they thought she was with me.  I was the forbidden relationship beard.

This particular night, I was with her, playing able-bodied assistant as the other gal on a double-date.  As the evening wore on, the guys had said they needed to check something out, but didn’t say what town we were going to.  So we drove. 

These guys were dumb, but not quite as dumb as they looked.  At some point they finally decide to fess up that we are lost.   This point comes as we realize that I am late for curfew.    I do not break curfew.  If you knew my dad, you would understand that statement.

That being said, I grew up in a house where communication was key.  My parents brought us up to be independent, but with the knowledge that if we need them, just ask.  They were always supportive that way.  Go out and make your own mistakes, but never hesitate to ask for help when needed.

We see a sign that says we are in Butler, but this does not help as we all proclaim, “Where the hell is Butler?”   So a freaking out chick in the backseat finally overtakes the testosterone and they stop at a Burger King on the highway so I can call home.  Thankfully, my Mom picks up and tell her what has been going on and that we are lost.  She asks me where I am, which I reply “somewhere called Butler in a Burger King off the highway.”  God bless her soul, she knows exactly where I am. 

From the telephone receiver I hear, “Turn around, see that highway in front of you?  It is Route 23.  Get back in the car; make a left on to the highway.  Take that to Route 46 east, and take that to the Parkway South.  Get your butt home as soon as you can, your Dad is asleep, doesn’t know you aren’t home yet and if you are lucky it can stay that way!”

Guys come out of men’s room, we all pile in to the car and off we go.  We follow my Mom’s directions and get home in no time.  I arrive to still sleeping Dad, and keep the skin on my butt as a reward. 

My friend, well, the whole ride she was saying “don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble it will be fine. “ She gets home, and gets grounded.

To this day, we still say, “Where the hell is Butler?”

21 Suggestions For Success

I found this on the internet years ago, and it still rings true.


1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.

2. Work at something you enjoy and that’s worthy of your time and talent.

3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.

5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.

6. Be generous.

7. Have a grateful heart.

8. Persistence . . . persistence . . . persistence.

9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.

10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.

11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.

12. Commit yourself to quality.

13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

14. Be loyal.

15. Be honest.

16. Be a self-starter.

17. Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.

18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every aspect of your life.

19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.

20. Take good care of those you love.

21. Don't do anything that wouldn't make your Mom proud.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Stumbled

Picture ref:   

I stumbled, and fell.
When I got up and looked around,
there was no one in sight.
I thought I saw you in the distance,
but it was only your shadow,
walking into the night.
I have felt this feeling before, I thought.
Time has not erased what some happiness bought.
Fleeting glimpses of what could have been.
If only I remembered, what I know now, what I knew then.
So now, in the still, the quiet, the alone,
I have found what was lost, my heart, my soul.
Little pieces of them scattered, tattered and torn,
Some looking brand new, some showing signs of being worn.
With pail in hand, I walk through the field,
picking up the pieces, old and new, til my task is through.
Longest of walks, loves labor lost in hand,
back to regain a sense of who I am.
For as a woman, strong, true and proud,
the hardest task is yet to unfold,
to regain the sense of one’s own soul,
to find what was lost a long time ago.
To know who we are, what we think, where we go.
The journey is long, prepared well as we are,
From this step, I go, quite unsure but aware,
That once was lost, will be found, should I be willing to share.