Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Love & Christmas

When David and I were first dating, I mean like the very first week of being inseparable, we were walking through Sag Harbor, on Long Island, strolling in and out of stores and galleries. Sag Harbor is like something out of a post card. A sweet little whaling town, with it's Main Street ending at the pier, overlooking the bay. Everything about it is charming, and romantic. It was early Fall, and our love was in full bloom. I still remember how beautiful I felt, and I swear I was just a teeny bit taller during that time. Everything was just a little bit crisper, and Davids eyes just dazzled each time mine met them. I was astounded how crazy I was about him. Just totally, and hopelessly in love. It was amazing.

One of the little shops we went into had everything from stationary to sweaters, pillows, and candy.  Each shelf held something more interesting, and adorable. One particular shelf had a few nesting dolls on them. Matryoshkas, are what they are properly called. Wooden dolls, made on a lathe, and beautifully hand painted. They are of decreasing size, placed one inside the other. The smallest innermost doll, the baby, is made from a single piece of wood.

I had always loved them. Everything about them, from the peasant dresses painted on them, and head scarfs, to the beautiful faces, and rosy cheeks adorning their sweet smiles have always charmed me. There was a giant set, consisting of many dolls, on the shelf. They were beautiful. And pricey. I quickly placed the "mama" doll back down on the shelf after eying the price. An identical, smaller set sat next to the larger, more ornate set. Equally beautiful, and half the cost. I traced the shelf with my finger, pausing to look at the baby. My favorite doll of the sets. So tiny, and precious. All encased in her "big sister" dolls. Protected, and shielded, encapsulated in the mama. She is the most precious.

David and I spent our first Christmas together, that December. We bought the smallest tree, and purchased our first set of decorations together. Plastic ornaments from Kmart. I recall thinking they should have been more ornate. Maybe glass. Something more important to mark our first holiday together. I knew in my heart there were to be many, but I certainly didn't want to scare David away by speaking of the future in those early days of our love. So plastic balls it was.

We decorated our tree, and I even tried to string popcorn, which I quickly learned was tedious, and filling, and abandoned it after realizing how much popcorn I would need to wrap the tree with. We didn't have a tree topper, so I cut a star out of cardboard, and wrapped it in aluminum foil. David placed it on top of our little tree, and we marveled at how adorable it was. We were so happy. So incredibly happy to have found one another.

Christmas Eve came, and I had purchased David an expensive shirt. It was blue gingham. It had starchy collars and cuffs. It was fitted, and very elegant. All things that David avoids. I thought the blue would be perfect with his eyes. I had an idea in my head how he "should" dress, as opposed to how he actually did. It was so not his style, and when I gave it to him, along with a beautiful sweater, that thankfully, he loved, he could not hide his dislike for the shirt. It wasn't him. It was something he never would have chosen for himself.

David handed me my gift. It was a small box. I thought that it most likely was perfume. I didn't really wear much perfume, and wondered what he might have thought smelled good, as I am pretty particular with those kinds of things. I unwrapped the box, and was met with tissue paper. I carefully pushed the crinkly paper aside, and was met with the smile of the nesting dolls from Sag Harbor. There was mama staring up at me, with her rosy cheeks, and floral dress. Her hair peeked out of her kerchief. Inside were the girls. One by one, I opened them, each matching the other, but just a little different as to have her own personality.

The last doll was the baby. The smallest and most protected of the set. She had the tiniest smile, and apron, all matching her big sisters. She was simply adorable.  I was in awe. David had remembered something that I admired months before. He saw me look at them, and he listened to me say how I had loved nesting dolls my whole life, and had always wanted a set. I remember him apologizing that they weren't the larger, more ornate set. I also remember thinking "Are you kidding???" They were perfect!! They were the most beautiful gift I had ever received. The thoughtfulness behind the gift astounded me. He loved me. I knew it right there and then. He loved me.

I have added many nesting dolls to my collection, through the years. There is the big blue set I opened one Mothers Day, in bed, half asleep, because my girls were too excited to give them to me. There is the yellow set that has so many dolls, and the baby is the size of the top of Molly's pinky finger. There is even a glass set with butterflies on them, and two Santa sets given to me many Decembers ago.

But my favorite one is the first. The gift that told me I was somebody, to someone else, and what I had to say was being heard. The set that was purchased out of wanting to please me, and make me happy. Because I was loved, and I loved in return. The shirt went back, and I learned never to try and dress David again, and a more appropriate David shirt was purchased. But those nesting dolls, symbolizing everything about love, and protecting our most loved little ones, still remains the most valuable to me.

My most precious baby.

Love a little bit more this Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday

Olivia is home sick today. She woke me up in the middle of the night with a 102.3 fever. She is lying on the couch, home for the day.

 I just put Charlotte on the bus. I hesitated sending her to school. I am overwhelmed by the events in Connecticut, on Friday. My mind keeps going back to the horror, and the unthinkable pain those families must be living through.

I reached out and stroked Olivia's sweaty head during the early morning. I had let her crawl in bed with me. Molly was grinding her teeth as she slept, and I put my ear to her head, and heard, and felt her teeth scraping together, and listened to her belly grumble.

I can't even imagine the unbearable pain those parents are going through. My heart is broken for them. I pray they may at least find peace while they sleep, because the waking hours must be torturous.

God help them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scenes from a long weekend

I haven't written in a bit. Things here have been busy, to say the least. Between working at night, household crap, and holiday prep, I wrote my weekly column last week, after reading, and becoming inspired by Rants from Mommylands' gift card exchange. I didn't publish it in this space, because I wanted to keep it at a local level, and the amount of people that have responded has been AWESOME!

So, after working both Friday and Saturday nights, running a 5K on Saturday, (OMG!!! more on that later) I have been busy here, at my keyboard, matching givers and givees, and it has been a long process, but really, I could do it all day, everyday. I wish I could spend my days helping others. It has been amazing, reading all of the emails, and the giving has been so inspiring. It is making me rethink so much as to what I want out of my life. I could get very used to putting people together in the name of giving. There are so many great people, all around us. This experience has been truly humbling. 

We did leave a little time to get a tree, decorate it, with colored lights this year, per the families request...so not my favorite, but the girls love it....and mail off wish lists to Santa. That has me stressed as always. Looks like I will be shopping days before Christmas, when David gets paid. Not stressful at all! *gulp*

So, here are a few moments from the weekend. 







 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE day

Today is the day.

 Today, a lawyer from Philadelphia is coming to our house to talk to us about our meeting tomorrow, with our mortgage company. It seemed like forever ago when all of this mess began. I remember the day that we went to the sheriffs office, and were served with our foreclosure papers. I was shaking, as I signed my name. We walked to the car in courthouse square. It was gray out, and very cold. We got into the car, and David was not speaking. He looked so incredibly stressed. Almost breakable, like if I said the wrong thing to him at that moment, he would have just been reduced to a pile of glass in the drivers seat. 

So I said nothing. I began to read the legal paperwork that was in my lap. The paperwork that was ultimately telling me how much time we had to get out, and what would happen if we didn't. The paperwork that was telling me that our hard work, and the dream that we wanted for our family, was over. It was all coming to an end, and our future seemed so very bleak. I can still remember how depressing Main Street looked, as we drove in silence, and how it almost felt like it was going to snow. 

We drove to Olivia and Charlotte's school, for their Halloween parade. I tried to make small talk with the parents I knew. I recall listening to a woman speaking to me. Her lips were moving, but I didn't hear a word she said. I looked beyond her, and saw David, nuzzling Molly. She was dressed as a pea in a pod. She had the chubbiest cheeks you ever saw. She looked adorable. David was smiling, and kissing her, as he held her tightly. I thought I was going to scream. Like I wanted to run around like a mad woman, yelling at the top of my lungs. But I couldn't. So I listened to the woman talk, and nodded my head, and responded when it was appropriate, even though, inside, I was running and screaming. I was a mad woman.

The parade began, and all of the kids came out in their costumes. Olivia was dressed as a rock star, and Charlotte was a snow princess. I kept holding back tears, as they came around. I felt like we were on the verge of losing something, and disappointing our girls. I know that sounds silly, but it all seemed to be out of our control. Beyond what we could do. It all seemed out of reach.

But it wasn't. And that mad woman got to work.  I read, and re-read every thing I could. And what I found out was compared to a giant bank, I am but an ant. Yelling and screaming will get me nowhere. My shouts were inaudible, even though I knew what they were trying to do to my family wasn't right. But when an ant suddenly gets legal representation, stuff happens. 

So, today is the beginning of something. To right a wrong. To fight for what is ours. To tell the big bank that they just can't do what they want.

 They have to play by rules too. Just like us. 

Today is the day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving thanks.

Today is the day I write my column, and that day is always Wednesday. I am celebrating Thanksgiving today, as I am working tomorrow. I just popped a pie into the oven. My free turkey from Shop-Rite has been brining for two days. I have to wrestle that out of the lobster pot it has been submerged in, and prepare it to be roasted. Not looking forward to hoisting a 20 lb bird, bloated from marinating, onto my roasting rack, but looking forward to the eating it.

 I am going to make stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I have a pumpkin pie, per Charlotte's request, in addition to the apple, and even some whip cream on top. My family usually eats red cabbage along with our Thanksgiving dinner, but I plumb forgot it, and when I realized I had, I thought no one would miss it. And I could sure use not to have such awful heartburn from it, although, it is so good.

Brussels sprouts will be our vegetable, and I roast those in the oven. My girls adore sprouts, and they literally fight over the last one. I have a whole stalk of them, so I think I have enough. My Mom and Dad are here, and tonight, we will all celebrate. A day early, but a Thanksgiving, nonetheless.

By the time this is in the paper, dinners will be downed, wine will be slurped up. Gravy will congeal, and turkey sandwiches will be on the Friday night dinner menu. (Oooh how I love them. A little mayo, and cranberry sauce together, on top of some stuffing, and of course, some turkey....yum!)

 Christmas shopping will begin. The rush of this exhausting time of year. So much to do, and buy, and plan, and consume, in just a few short weeks. It leaves me lying in bed, stressed, just thinking about it. I am still feeling relief that we pulled it off last Christmas, and here we go again. It leaves my head spinning.

But my pie is in the oven. And my Mom is getting dressed. My girls are at Besecker's diner eating probably way too much bacon with my Dad, and David is at work. My house is quiet. Almost still, and as I write this, my coffee is warm, and delicious, and I am beginning to smell apples, and cinnamon.

 I have heat. I have a roof. I have healthy children,whom I adore most days, and love me back.  I have the love of a husband that still astounds me. I don't know how we will do Christmas, yet again. I don't even know how we will do most days. But we do them. And we have them.

 Together.

And for that, I give more thanks than I can express.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Job

The waitress gig....I like it. A lot. It is really something to get out of the house, and be around adults, and make a little cash. Not very much, mind you, but a little is better than none. 

And I forgot how good I can be at talking to people, about anything. 

And I really like hard work. 

Who would have thought. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday calm

Just picked up my free turkey from the grocery store. It is a 20 pound bird. That's a lot of turkey. And it was free. Love that.

We were going to spend Thanksgiving this week with my sister, but I am going to work. The girls were disappointed, but they have decided to go and help out at the church here while I am working, and set up and serve Thanksgiving dinner to people who have nowhere to go, and I am really proud of them. I will be home by evening, so we will spend it together. 

David has a tire that needs to be replaced. He has been filling it with air for the last few days, and now it's pumped up with fix a flat. I wonder how many miles you can ride with that pumped into the tire. We shall see, because a tire just ain't in the budget this week. 

He was up early before work this morning, banging around the house, and swearing. He was stressed, which in turn made me stressed. My car had to be towed the other day, so between the two of us, we are feeling a bit pressured. Some days I just wake up and feel it already. I feel the day will most certainly go down hill. Today, I woke up with that feeling, and I just am so sick of it. I just decided not to worry about it. What can I do?

It's Friday. Pretty soon, my quiet house will be bustling. I think I will just enjoy the silence here, as Molly naps. 

Happy Friday.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

walk way

I have a vivid memory of crawling out of bed, and tip toeing over to a small shoe box, that was on the floor of my bedroom, containing new shoes. The box was right under the nightlight in my bedroom. A Donald Duck nightlight, that bathed the entire room in an orange glow. I uncovered the box, and carefully pushed the tissue paper to the side, so not to crinkle it, and be discovered, and stared at my beautiful new shoes. I remember sniffing them. Ah...that new leather smell.

 They had a small little heel, as Mary Jane's do, and I wanted so badly to sleep in them. I could see Donald Duck's glowing face, in the reflection of the shiny patent leather. You could even see his blue ribbon, dangling from his little hat, in the toe of the shoe. They were just breathtaking. I couldn't wait to get them on my feet. 

Molly has a pair of red sparkly shoes, from when she was 2. She is 3 1/2 now, and still crams her little biscuit of a foot into them. The sparkles are mostly gone, and the toes are so scuffed. I have replaced those shoes with pink ones, and even gold ones with little bows on them, but somehow, she unearths those little red shoes, and refuses to give them up. Some days, I am screaming at her, demanding she take them off, and put on her sneakers, but I get it. I know what she feels like in those sparkly red shoes. To her, they are magical. I suppose that is why I am still letting her jam her little feet into them. 

I have a few pairs of shoes from my days in the fashion industry. An old pair of Christian Louboutin's, and even a few pairs of Gucci's. One pair of gold Jimmy Choo's that defy gravity. I try, like Molly, to jam my post three baby foot into them, and can't believe I have gone up a full size and a half. How did I even walk in them? My girls love wearing them, and I cannot help but chuckle seeing them teeter up and down the hall in shoes I used to wear from a life that seems like ancient history. 

I just purchased some black sneakers the other day, for my new part time job, waiting tables, at Mullallys Clubhouse Cafe, at the Glen Brook Golf Club. If you haven't been there, by the way, GO! The place is a little gem! I have never waited tables in my life, and at the ripe old age of 41, I am adding this to my resume. The shoes are really comfortable. They were ten dollars, as I wouldn't spend a penny more for them.

 Not exactly shoes I would crawl out of bed to gaze at. But they serve their purpose. It makes me smile to myself, when I think about the life I thought I was going to have, and the one I got. The path that I thought my Gucci shoes were skipping down changed. It has veered a little, and some days, it surprises me. But you make plans, and life happens, and your plans go out the window. For me, that has been a very good thing.

I love my new waitress shoes. And I love the sparkly ones that accompany me on this trail. 

They are both magical.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

slipping

Car trouble. I can't take the stress some days. My car is not only making some crazy creaky noise, but the transmission seems to be slipping. I put the car in gear, and it doesn't go anywhere, and then suddenly, jerks into gear. This is the last thing we need. The absolute last. I can't afford a car repair, let alone a car. If something happens to my car, were screwed. 

I have no gas in the car as well, so I will be home all day today. Lots to do around here, and plenty of time to stress about the car. 

The good news is that I will be waiting tables on the weekends. This is something I have never done before. I am nervous. But extra cash around here would be so awesome. 

Especially with an impending car repair. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bounce back

I just don't bounce back like I used to. Back in the day, staying up past 1 a.m. was not a problem. I even got up early the next day, showered and looked fluffy for work, and was good to go after a cappuccino. Not so much today. I realize that when this is in the paper, it will be Friday. But today is Wednesday, and boy oh boy do I have an election hangover. I watched it all, and held on to see President Obama speak, after watching Mitt Romney give a way classy concession speech, only to wake up at around 4:30 or so, to an incredibly loud infomercial. I hope by Friday, this exhaustion will have left my body. 

I voted for Obama. I am very happy that he won. I also understand all those who are not happy today, because if Obama had lost, I would be not just tired today. I would have been terribly sad. 

There is so much division in our country. Some days, just explaining things to my girls when they question me, leaves me scrambling to find the words. I am, at times, rendered speechless. Who can marry who, gender inequality, equal choice for women, health care issues, money...my kids have big ears, and this house of ours, is tiny. They hear David and I discuss issues that we are both passionate about. They are at the age where they want in on every conversation. We keep it light, and tell them minimal facts. Of course our opinion will come into the conversation, but I want my girls to believe what they want. I will steer them to be good, productive citizens. I will not tell them what to believe. 

Charlotte came home from school yesterday, with election day work sheets. One of them had information about both Obama and Romney, such as date of birth, political party, etc. Charlotte had scribbled out Romney's face. I chuckled to myself, and thought, wow, they have really been paying attention around here. Later, at dinner, Olivia was telling us how a classmate had been making fun of Obama at school, and that his parents said he was stupid. Olivia seemed shocked. I said to her that being President, or even running for President, requires lots of school, and incredible intelligence. I explained to the girls how very smart both candidates are, and how both of the candidates ultimately want what is best for America. 

So today, I am tired. And I am very happy that my President will be around for another four years. But I understand the disappointment and even anger that many have that Mr. Romney did not win. But I truly hope that, as I explained to my girls at dinner, we can all come together for the good of us all. That obstruction will cease, and now the real work can begin. My family and I are way better off than we were four years ago. Four years ago, I watched Obama win, and we had nothing. David had been laid off. We were feeding our kids with food stamps. Four years later, sure, we are struggling. Some weeks, really really struggling, but we are still standing, and we are getting somewhere. 

My hope is for this country. My hope is that we can cross these great divides between us all, and let it all really get better. We might be Democrats, or Republicans, or whatever party, or no party at all.

 But we are all Americans. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday

I just got back from the bus stop. The girls are gone. Off to school. We had all of last week together, due to Sandy. I am still trying to get over it. Lot's of not so proud moments. I hate how incredibly impatient I am, and how short my fuse is. I was really mean quite a few times. I seriously could not listen to them a second longer. Fighting, boredom, it all got to us.

When we could see our breath in the house, we left. My parents paid for a hotel room for us for the night. Getting the girls settled in a warm bed as they drifted off to sleep to the television was nice. I just felt bad that it was my parents who were able to provide the relief for us, and not us.

I was trapped in the house all last week, with no cable, Internet, and my wireless was spotty at best. I really had no idea what the extent of the storm damage was and seeing all of the photos these last few days has just been horrifying. We watched a movie with the girls last night, under comfy blankets in a warm house, and it didn't escape me how very blessed we were and are. I couldn't imagine the suffering people are experiencing right now. Homes and possessions gone. Lives lost. It is gut wrenching to think about. It makes me realize how Mother Nature always wins, and how very tiny we are.

Each time I turn a light on to enter a room, or turn the heat up because the girls feel chilly, or have the luxury of a hot shower, and a warm meal, the randomness of it all hasn't escaped me. If anything, it makes me that much more aware of the fragility of life, and family, and friends.

Molly burrowed so deep into me during the storm. She had herself deep under the blankets, in bed, balled up and curled into me. Each time the wind would gust, she tensed up, and tried to get further into me. I stroked her tiny soft feet, and her teeny tiny toes, and smelled her hair. I listened to the girls snore on the floor beneath me, all crammed into Olivia's bedroom, the most insulated, interior room of our house. I was so scared. And so were they. And trying not to show my own fear became a real challenge.

But we were spared. I watched them hop on the bus this morning, and thought that losing electricity for a few days was winning the randomness lottery.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The good, the bad, and the very ugly.

I have learned some things in the last few days since Sandy blew into town. Things about myself. Some things have surprised me. Some things, not so much. They are the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I will begin with the good. The good thing is that we are all OK, and our home is intact. My cars did not get crushed by the numerous dead trees on my property, so that is a very good thing. We always have candles, and now we have even more. My Coleman stove is a blessing, and I am glad my friend made me buy it years ago, when it was on clearance. (Thanks Geralyn!) I am finally reading the Wally Lamb book I have been too busy to break into, boy is it good! 
Not having a lot of money normally and buying groceries on a need to eat basis has come in handy. I usually have a lack of protein in my freezer, so this has made the whole lack of power non stressful, IN THAT AREA. Raman is plentiful, and there is a plethora of things you can do with it. 
Not having to vacuum, or do laundry has freed up a ton of time. I mean a TON! I am in awe at how much of my life is wasted doing those things, and I have silently vowed to myself that if I ever come into money, I will have cleaning lady. 
Losing power in the Fall has also been a relief with the whole heat thing. Yeah, it's chilly, but it reminds me of my childhood home, which was always freezing, and we always wore shoes and socks, and sweaters. I had forgotten how cold the tip of my nose can get. 
The bad. Notice I did not mention togetherness time with my girls in the good list. I love them, I really really do, but WOW! I had no idea Olivia enjoys singing sentences in an Ethel Merman, show tune, warble. Unreal! And Charlotte seems to be a natural drummer. She does it non stop with things that I had no idea could double for drumsticks, on any and all surfaces. Again, WOW! Molly does not enjoy not having her little shows to watch, and asks for them constantly. I know she is only 3, but the concept of electricity, and what runs on it is not sinking in. Even a little. I wish I was the kind of Mom who enjoyed board games, but I don't. My patience is hanging on by a ragged little finger nail. The girls want to play outside, but it is cold and damp, and I have no ability to get them warm when they come back in, or properly bathe them, so in the house we have been. Charlotte bawled her eyes out upon hearing trick or treating was cancelled, and said it was going to take forever for Saturday to come because the power being out has made the days so much longer. She ain't kidding. Dawn to dusk seems to be a doubly long day. 
I have yelled, bribed, and almost been brought to tears this week. I never realized how truly wonderful electricity is. How very lucky we are to have it. It has reminded me of being in my early twenties. I broke my arm in a car accident. My right arm, and I am a righty. I had two interns put my cast on. They had not done it before, and what I was left with was an arm covered in plaster from my finger tips, to my shoulder. They rendered my hand useless, and it wasn't even injured! It was a long, hot smelly Summer. I gazed at others using their arms, not even realizing just how lucky they were. How casually they lifted things, and opened doors, and scratched their heads. I was jealous of them, and silently cursed their luck. Kind of like how I curse the sounds of generators humming on my street. Giving homes bits of beautiful voltage. Did they not know how lucky they were? And do they know how insane it is out here, beyond their yard??
The ugly. I didn't have an ugly until I got to where I am typing these words. It is the corner table, right beside the play place at McDonald's. 
WOW!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Possibilities

If I could stand in the kitchen all day, chopping, and sauteing vegetables in a pot, I would be content. This is why I love to cook. It is the part that makes me want to try new recipes, and continue to make over, and over, my old faithfuls. I love having my hands on the ingredients, and seeing the transformation. The smells, and the browning of onions, and garlic. I love pouring wine into a pan, and scraping up the bits on the bottom, and making few ingredients turn into something magical. And adding the salt and pepper with my fingers is just delightful.

I have never been into soups. Never ordered them out. Never made them for the girls. Olivia used to see Campbell commercials, and a few years ago, the jingle was sung by a woman with a deep voice, soothingly singing "possibilities". She thought that was what soup was called. We would be in the supermarket, and she would ask for possibilities for lunch.  That just cracked me up, and I would buy the condensed soup for her, and she loved eating it for lunch. She would slurp up every sodium laden spoonful, and beg for more. 

The last few weeks, I have felt heavy. Not physically, although I always do, but heavy in my heart, and in my mind. I feel like I have lots going on, and nowhere to go with it. Things in my life, and relationships, are not quite right. Not really where I would like them to be, and I am fearful they never will be. And money...always money. I have been drawn to my heavy Le Creuset pot. Soup. That is what has been on my mind, when all other things seem to just run in a circle in my head, and go no where, I have been making soup. 

 Two weeks ago, I made a minestrone. It was delicious. I chopped, and chopped, and sweat the vegetables, and simmered the stock. I even squished up the tomato's and threw a few more green beans in, and what I was left with was delicious. I ate it all week for lunch with a little bread, and some parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on top. It got better with each day. 

Last week was a pureed cannelini bean soup that was so creamy and delicious. It got it's creaminess from the beans and nothing else. I put kale into it at the final stage, and ladled it into a bowl. Toasted garlic chips that I had made in a small pan were sprinkled on top, and a teeny drizzle of olive oil. It was divine, and fed me until Thursday.

There is a storm coming. Today was spent gathering camping supplies, ice, batteries. Our lanterns are ready, and we have bags of candles. On the stove, simmering, is my pot of vegetable stock. I chopped carrots, and celery, onions and garlic. Fresh thyme and parsley, along with a parsnip, and scallion are bubbling away. Later, I will use it to make a potato leek soup. I know it will keep for a few days. No dairy in it. I can even put it into containers. I hope this storm moves out quickly, and without damage. I am worried, and stressed. So I will cook. And sweat it out that way.

Yesterday, I got a letter from a reader of my newspaper column. It made me cry. I would like to share some of it....

"I have read your articles since you began and have found them to be most interesting. I have also observed a great deal of growth of wisdom and understanding on your part of the situation you and your family are in. All situations are life lessons, and you are an excellent student.

I am a 75 year old retired math teacher who experienced a childhood much the same as your daughters are experiencing now. Mom was a magician in the kitchen-made soup out of everything! We had carrot soup, string bean soup, Lima bean soup, tomato soup with pasta, potato soup, everything in the pot soup, and so on. She canned fruits and veggies for soups and desserts in the winter. She made pickles and kraut in a crock in the basement. I had a peanut butter sandwich and a container of milk for school for lunch everyday for six years. Helping her, and watching her handle difficult times, prepared me for dealing with adversity later when I became a single parent of four daughters"......

Wow. I literally teared up, and was amazed at the timing of this beautiful note. A stranger sharing a part of her life with me. Suddenly, I recalled my Mom's chicken soup, made from the roaster she made for dinner, and all the leftovers thrown into it. I could almost taste the delicious rye bread she would make, to go along with her famous fish soup, made with whatever veggies she had on hand, and a block of frozen fish she would take out of the freezer, that was shaped like a rectangle. And I remember the little Faber-ware pot on the stove that she would make potato soup out of, and ate that soup all week for her lunch. I used to think she adored potato soup. Now I think that was all she had for herself, saving other things for us to eat. 

My pot of soup will hopefully make it through this week. I will keep my fingers crossed that we don't lose power for too long. The thought of my refrigerator filled with food spoiling makes me tense. We can't replace it. But we will have no choice but to weather the storm.

 And from the storms weathered by women before me, we will do just fine. 

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall evening

I am unsure when Charlotte, my 7 year old, went from thinking I was the bees knees, to thinking she knows way more than I do. It has been a slow progression. One that, most days, it seems I was unaware of, but suddenly has become quite apparent. Blue eyes so painfully gorgeous are now rolled in my direction, constantly.

I had visions of being "that mom" when I was a kid. The cool, laid back mom, that all of my friends liked. The mom that was a friend more that a parent. The mom who said yes, provided junk food, and let you go outside without a jacket. I was determined to be that mom.

And then I became a mom. I quickly realized that never would I be my kids friend. They would have a ton of them. I choose to be mom. Maybe, one day when they are older, and have gotten through all of the hurdles they have laid out before them, and have families of their own, we will become friends. Until that time, I will be mom, and do my best to guide them into being successful, happy, productive people. I will not be the cool mom that their friends like, because I remember that mom. She let us smoke in her house when we were teenagers. She looked the other way of who was coming in and out of her house. I loved that mom! Hence..I will never be her.

Even when the girls are begging, they are required to wear proper outerwear. I recall wearing an awful hat on my head as a child. It was shaped like a marshmallow. And it was made out of faux fur. Two giant pom poms hung from ribbons that tied it below my chin. Awful, awful, awful. My mom made me put that thing on as soon as the first leaf turned orange. I felt like the royal guards, outside of Buckingham Palace. It was that tall.

OK, maybe I wouldn't victimize my girls to that extent, but my point is, hats, gloves, coats, are a must. I have done this for years now, as the weather changes, as most responsible parents do. Olivia never really argues. A few huffs and puffs, but she relents. Always. Charlotte however...holy moly. I have to hand it to her. She is stubborn and will stand her ground until it gets to the point of tears, and punishment. She will never take the easy way, and just put the stuff on, and be done with it. She will choose the route of protest. Last night, she wound up in bed at 7:15, howling and weeping away, all because she refused to listen to me. When she heard her sisters were watching repeats of Full House, it took a turn for the worse.

I looked at her in the eyes this morning, as we waited quietly for her bus. I said the same words to her, as I do most mornings. She can't explain why she fights with me. She feels remorseful, always, but she said that she thinks that sometimes, I am wrong, and she is right, and she just won't believe otherwise.

Seven. She is seven. And I suppose, I just don't want to break her of that. Fearlessly standing her ground, despite not getting what she wants, just to prove her point. Taking her punishment, but believing she is right. And really, yesterday after school wasn't all that cold. My insisting on the coat may have been overkill. A sweatshirt might have sufficed.

Maybe meeting halfway is something to be explored.

Thursday, October 18, 2012



The most painful words I have ever read. God bless this family.


www.superty.org



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inventory

Pasta was on sale at Shoprite the other day. .88 cents a box. I picked up a few boxes, and when I mentioned the price to David, he went back and bought 8 more. My cabinets are crammed with vermicelli, and rigatoni. My mudroom has about a bushel and a half worth of tomatos that I canned into sauce over the summer, from all the tomatoes we got from Josie Porter Farm. I have gallons of the stuff.

I have some flour, and a dozen eggs. Sugar, and rice. Coffee was on sale too, so I have two cans of that. Rice, and beans, onions, scallions. A few bags of potatoes, and a ton of green beans. Oatmeal and Cheerios, and I think there is a package of frozen bagels somewhere in the freezer, next to the chicken, and pork chops. I also have ground turkey, and sausage.

There are radishes and leeks in the fridge as well, and some corn on the cob. I only have one banana left, and a lonely apple. There is a half gallon of orange juice, and a little under half a gallon of milk.

We are on one of the last few rolls of toilet paper...something we go through at lightning speed in this house, so I am making sure when it is quiet in the house,I need to check on Molly immediately. She can normally be found unspooling it in the bathroom. Normally I rip off what she has unraveled all over the floor, and throw out, but yesterday, I wound it back up. We need every last sheet.

It is Wednesday. I have half a tank of gas, and I will have to make that last until Friday. Next Friday, that is. And the above grocery inventory is it until then as well. School lunches and snacks will get tricky next week, but I have peanut butter. The bread could pose a problem. And my kids will not be happy if I send them to school with radishes. Sure, they like them, but a lunch of them just wouldn't cut it, so I will have to get really creative. I am also out of plastic wrap, and snack bags. Actually, I am out of snacks so it doesn't matter that I have no bags to place them in.

I hate when we run out of stuff before we run out of week. It makes me stressed beyond belief. I hate that I won't be able to give the girls a piece of fruit with their breakfast, but I suppose our problems could be way worse. There will be complaints over the lack of things the kids like and want. They will have to just accept not having choices for the next week or so. I know they will. They have no other option.

Things don't usually get this stretched. We are just having a rougher than normal month. But we have enough, and for that, I am grateful. Reading about people, right here in our own community though, living under a bridge makes me shudder. No one should be living under a bridge. No one should be sleeping outside, and worrying about the weather getting colder. The line at the Wesleyan Church every week for the food pantry wraps around the building. Charlotte got excited last week when she saw it, and said "what is going on the church?" thinking people were lined up for something spectacular.

My heart sunk as I looked. And a feeling of selfishness came over me. I have pork chops, and a package of chicken, I thought. Yeah, my girls will not be happy with pasta and sauce for a few nights in a row. And there is only so much you can do with celery. But we have it. And we have heat and blankets, and soap and warm water. We have a home. And everyone will be fed...albeit one bizarre meal after another, concocted solely from ingredients on hand...but we will eat.

Those people shouldn't be living under a bridge. The cold weather is here. What can we do, as a community for them? You might not think you have enough...but I bet if you took an inventory of all the things you do have, not just in your kitchen,  you would see you have more than you need.

We can do better than this.

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday the 16th


When I first started writing here, in this space, I did it because I had no where to go with all the stuff in my head. Too much stress, and pressure needed a place to go, so I could attempt to be a good mom, despite feeling like I wanted to check myself into a psych ward.

I wondered if it would ever be read. And slowly, it began to happen. There were mixed feelings. I liked that it was being read, but it made me feel more vulnerable. And really, at first, I thought, I should just delete the whole thing.

Now that I have readers, here, where I live, and friends, and family, I feel like I don't spill my guts like I used to. Like I avoid the one thing that gave me calm, and a place to put it all. Instead of venting like I used to, I feel guarded, and that I can't put it out there anymore. Like too many people I know are reading my diary.

I say all of this, because there are so many things that I want to say here, but I worry that I just can't put it here, because I fear what people will think or do. The truth is I have such an unbelievable amount of stress going through my head right now, and I have no one to talk to about it, and no where to put it.

My writing used to be an escape. Now, it just adds to the pressure in my head.

I hate having no where to go with this.

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Example

My oldest daughter Olivia wanted to participate in a program at her school, called Girls on the Run. From what I understood of it at the time, was that it is an after school running program twice a week. I was all for it, but when I heard that the registration fee was more than we could swing, I got that familiar pang in my gut, knowing I was going to have to tell her we couldn't afford it. That is a regular occurrence around here, and mind you, my girls handle it very gracefully. Too gracefully sometimes. It doesn't make me feel any better though, when an afternoon activity has to be scrapped because it simply isn't in the budget.

I then was informed that if I volunteered, my daughter would not have to pay the registration fee for her to be involved. This would require me to be a coach. OK....that is extremely funny on so many levels, and for people who know me, they get it, and I am not at all offended by the chuckles. But for those of you who don't, let's just say that inserting the title "Coach" before my name still makes me almost spit out my drink.

 I have never been athletic. I attempted, mind you. Numerous times. I found some success with field hockey, and tennis. Actually, I adored tennis. I was good at singles. That was probably my peak, as far as sports. In Physical Education, I was the girl loathing volleyball. Even today, when I hear the word "rotate", I cringe! And my feeble attempt at track was heartbreaking in hindsight. I hated to run. HATED IT! I recall going around the track in the winter, being barked at by a coach shouting into a bull horn, and being utterly shocked at how cold the air was that I was breathing into places in my lungs that I never knew air went to. It felt like I had inhaled a thumbtack. Utterly painful, and my track season turned out to be very short lived.

I have done lots of things that I am proud of in my life, and as far as being a good example for my daughters, most days, I think I am doing OK. I achieved my childhood dream of working in the fashion industry and living on my own, in the greatest city in the world, NYC. I traveled, and really had quite a time of it, before I made the choice that I was ready for motherhood, and all it entailed, at the ripe old advanced maternal age of 33. I have morphed into a painter, and photographer, and surprisingly enough, writing has become a passion. I encourage my girls to never stop dreaming or becoming what they want. That even if you decide on what you want, and you get there, there is no ceiling. You can keep going, and try something else. Keep setting, and achieving goals.

My only doubt, as far as living by example, was my lack of enthusiasm for the physical arts. This had never really bothered me when they were really small, but as they have gotten older, I began to see that I was not quite up to snuff in that category. My "do as I say, not as I do" approach was not cutting it. "Go out and play, be active"! I would scream from the couch, or in front of my computer. "No you may not have anything to eat after dinner", as I remove the bag of popcorn from the microwave.

 I suddenly have begun to realize, it is time to put my money where my mouth is. Now, twice a week, I find myself running along with the girls, that I am coaching. OK...walking quickly most days, but I am trying. And Girls on the Run is so much more than running, which really surprised me. It is teaching girls that they are beautiful on the inside, and to never doubt that. That despite what others might tell them, they can accomplish anything. Even if it's one more lap around the field.

 Talk about setting goals... I have to run a 5K in a few months! Inhaling cold air and all!! The best part is my running mate will be my daughter, and a group of girls that I just adore, and have taught me, that I too must not forget that I can still accomplish anything. I have many dreams left to fulfill.

Living by example is a lot of work. Kids looking at you, to set the tone...some days, I want to run and hide. I don't want my harshest critics to see me following a different set of rules. And I really want them to know how vital it is to  never stop dreaming, or becoming what you want. And if you decide what you want, when get there, is great, but there is still more to do, know that there is no limit. You can keep going. Keep setting and achieving those goals.

It's never too late.

 Thumbtack in the lungs and all.

For more information, go to www.girlsontherun.org
Scholarships are available.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday morning

It seems that I have bitten off a lot this school year. Not too much, mind you, just more than usual. I find myself having less time, to do what I love, which is write, and paint, and edit my photos. Even finding the time to take photos is something I try and set as a goal for myself everyday, but it hasn't happened in the last week or two.

We are stretched to the max this week. Friday, which is payday, seems like a lifetime away. I am out of most everything. I can make one more dinner containing a protein between now and then, but there looks like we will be having a lot of pasta in the next few days, and lunches are out for me and David. They are reserved for the kids. I could stand to miss a few meals. Believe me. And so could David.

Our garbage didn't get picked up yesterday because we have a $37.00 balance. Can you believe that! I was so annoyed. David looked like he was going to have a stroke. It just never ends some months. Our garbage account is suspended until we pay the balance, and of course, to "unsuspend" it, you know what that means. A fee. A fee for someone to strike a key on a keyboard. I costs you so much more money to be broke. Believe me. Someone is out there getting rich off fees that we have been paying for the last few years trying to play catch up from the month before. Sometimes, I could cry. I feel like we are never going to get out of this hamster wheel. Most days though, it makes me laugh.

My problems are tiny compared to so many. They are minute. They mean nothing. And really, I will forget about them by next month. Because the garbage will be picked up. And we will have food in the fridge by weeks end. And there will be other bills to worry about. And more late fees to pay. And by the time David gets his pay, we will be in the negative before it even gets deposited.

This life we lead some days just makes me shake my head, and smile.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Character

Last week, I had a chance to meet with a group of ladies who refer to themselves simply as "the Group". There is no catchy name, but a lack therof, hence the name they refer to themselves as.

 One of the members contacted me, wanting to help out my neighbor, who I had written about here in this space, just a few weeks ago. He has had a heart pump implanted into his own heart. An artificial way, to keep his own failing heart going, until a human heart can be matched for him. He is a veteran, and he and his wife are just trying to keep a roof over their heads, and  two other generations, who happen to live with them. "The Group", along with many people, right here in our own community, reached out, with not just kind words, but into their own wallets, to assist this family. The outpouring was really beautiful, and to say that the family is thankful, would be an understatement.

"The Group" really interested me. Their sole purpose is to help out someone, locally, and they do so anonymously. They don't want their names involved, at all. They want to simply assist  someone in need here in our community, without the recipient ever knowing. Help without thanks. It seemed so pure, I thought. So selfless. And really, it is.

Since meeting with these ladies, I have thought a lot about what I can do. Most days, I feel I can do only for the people here with me. My girls, and my husband. We live hand to mouth, and most weeks, I am just happy that my groceries stretch to the next paycheck. David and I sometimes talk about all of the people we would help if we "had the money". All the family we would take care of. The charities we would love to donate to. But it always seems to be so large scale. Like it should take lots of money to lend someone a hand. And really, it doesn't.

A gift card for groceries for a family is huge. Take it from one who has been the recipient of one. It is amazing! Small little things that alone seem like a pebble in the ocean, but combined, become so much more. "The Group" takes money from it's members, that would otherwise be spent on lunches out, or other activities, and pools it's other resources, and asks for donations, all in the name of helping. They simply passed me a sealed envelope which I hand delivered to my neighbors, and that was that.

It was that easy. It should be that easy.  Compassion, and empathy should be the only option rather than looking away when you see someone in distress, thinking you can't help. Wouldn't it be a wonderful if we all extended a hand, a hand to help, instead of turning our backs, despite our own circumstances? Wouldn't it be great to help out the struggling family that you see everyday, with the help of others combined, and do so without saying a word?

"Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking".

 -J.C. Watts

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 years

I knew David was different when he called me, shortly after we met, and asked if he could make me dinner. He picked me up, and brought me to his place, and I could see the effort he made. There was an appetizer, and wine. Flowers. And a pasta dinner, with a salad. He even attempted to bake focaccia, which really floored me. No one had ever cooked me dinner, let alone baked for me. Something had failed in the baking process, and I could see he seemed a little nervous by it, but I ate it, and loved it. I loved it all. I loved talking to him, and laughing with him. I loved hearing about his whole life, past imperfections and all, and was eager to share my own tales. I loved how I felt with him. I loved how good it all was.

Ten years ago, today, we got married. It rained so incredibly hard the day before the wedding. I had gone to bed listening to it come down, and accepted the fact that it wouldn't be sunny on our wedding day. I was perfectly OK with that. In fact, I didn't even care. I was just really excited to get to the church, and marry my best friend, and get this whole thing called our life together, started. As I walked our dog that morning, a cool breeze blew, and I looked up to the sky to see the gray clouds blow away, revealing a vibrant blue sky. I smiled, and I remember thinking that the sunny day was just a bonus. What was about to happen that afternoon was already joyful to me. The sun was an unexpected perk.

Life literally went into fast forward from that day. On our one year anniversary, we sat here, in our newly purchased home, in our newly adopted state, with a very new baby girl in a bassinet in our bedroom, and marveled how year one had gone. And it didn't stop. One baby girl, became a big sister, two times, and ten years gone, just as quickly as those gray rain clouds blew out of sight on our wedding day, have presented so many blue skies here. So much abundant sunshine. And most definitely, our fair share of dark, stormy days.

 Some days have been down right scary. Like the day we lost baby number two. And the day David came home with a six pack of beer, a final paycheck, and tears in his eyes, standing at the front door, telling me he got laid off. That very moment was life changing. I wanted to run, and hide. I wanted to pound on his chest, and scream. But I recall, like it was yesterday, having a split second of clarity and hearing a voice in my head tell me to just hug him. Just hug him, and tell him that we are gonna be OK. Even though I didn't believe it, I whispered those words in his ear, and held him tight.

We were OK. We are OK. Yes, getting served by the sheriff with foreclosure papers was not a great day. But right after we left the court house that afternoon, we went to Olivia's Halloween parade at her school. We watched the kids circle the building in their costumes. We held hands, without speaking.  I remember thinking how scared I was at all of the uncertainty. All the stress of trying to be parents, and provide just the bare necessities to these amazing beings overwhelmed me, in that moment.

 But we are here. Together. 10 years strong.

And getting stronger, everyday.

Our future is as blindingly bright as the sun. I love you David.

 Happy Aniversary.

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ty





Please pray for this family. Or send them good, healing thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about this family, and hoping for a miracle for them.

www.superty.org






 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Point of reference

Apparently, Mitt Romney believes that the median household income in this country is between $200,000 and $250,000. He also believes that 47% of Americans are lazy.

A few things come to mind when I read both of those things. Now first off, this is what he said. This is not the "liberal media" taking anything out of context. This is straight from the horses mouth. (pun intended)

When I saw the amount  he believes represents the median income of people across this country, I chuckled to myself, and thought that he truly has no idea what is going on in America. He really hasn't a clue how hard people work, and what they are actually bringing home to show for that hard work.

 Which leads me to believe that his comment about 47% of Americans being lazy, and expecting the government to support them really makes sense to him. He has no point of reference for what the average American family lives on, makes due with, stretches to pay their bills with, and feed their kids, put clothes on them, gas in the car, heat coming out of the vents, water running from the faucets, and lights on. He simply hasn't a clue.

I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. There was one black family in my own Levitt subdivision. My childhood was happy, and we had enough. Everyone treated me well, and I was never held back from any opportunity. I grew up thinking that I could be whatever I wanted. The sky was the limit. I didn't know prejudice. I never experienced it. Except, if someones bike went missing on my street. Everyone blamed the black family. They secretly mumbled that the oldest son was most likely the thief.

Every job interview I ever went on, I got. Doors have never been closed to me. I thought this was how it was for everybody, but friends that I have now, friends that are not white, tell me differently. I listen to them tell me how people utter hideous names under their breath to them. I have heard how they know going into a job interview, they will not be called back. That surprised me because I had no point of reference. None. And it made me sad. For them, and for any and everybody who has to live like that.

Maybe Mr. Romney can't even fathom keeping a family of five fed, clothed, and protected from the elements on under $50,000. Or under $40,000. Or under $30,000. Maybe he thinks that hard work equals better pay. Maybe he thinks everybody gets to go to college. That you can just "borrow" money and start a business. Maybe he knows nothing of the vicious cycle of low pay=late bills=bad credit=paying more than you have to for things=go back to start. Maybe, he doesn't have the ability to empathise, and see outside of his own point of reference.

 Maybe, like all those people in my Levitt subdivision, he might have thought that the black family's son stole the bike. He must. He has lumped all of us in as" lazy". Most people I know don't make $250,000 a year. And I don't know anyone who is lazy, or feels entitled. Not one person. I see people working very hard for what they have. I don't see anyone looking for a free ride.

By the way, the bike thief turned out to be the Irish kid up the block.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ty Louis Campbell - our little fighter: Our aching hearts





Ty Louis Campbell - our little fighter: Our aching hearts





100,000

When I first started writing here, in this space, no one knew about it, but me. I was filled with anxiety, and constant stress. I felt scared daily. I feared the future, and things seemed doomed for my family, just when I felt like we were just getting started.

I even wrote one day, "will anyone even read this". One day, someone replied. They were in Germany. And it blew my mind, that my little rantings were being read, and words of encouragement were given to me, by someone I will never lay eyes on. The humanity floored me. It made me feel suddenly, that what I wrote was not just disappearing after I spewed it out into some loud mish mosh of words and sounds all jammed into wires, and signals above my head.

Someone got it. And listened. And told me they heard me.

My posts have evolved, and changed day to day, week to week. Some days I feel like it is all some self indulgent time suck that I am escaping to. Some days I feel desperate, and angry. Still others, I feel incredibly humbled for the life I have been given, and the people in it. I have never felt more love, and have never given more love in return. It makes my head want to pop some days, and it can be a bit overwhelming, but what I do know, is like my writing, this life is ever changing, and the only thing I can count on, is that it won't be the same next week, next month, and next year.

The certainty of that used to terrify me. My girls growing out of shoes, and casting aside baby dolls for bikes. All stages of their lives, but ones that I thought were going to last a bit longer. It is all bittersweet, and makes me melancholy some days. Still others, I feel excitement knowing the best days of my life are yet to come.

"Will anyone read this", I asked. And they did. I noticed this morning that my page views here on this blog have hit the 100,000 mark. That astounded me. Who I was just a few short years ago is someone I no longer am. Stressed, and worried still. But this space here that I slunk away too so many years ago to get all the noise out of my head, has lead to some unlikely friendships, and strangers touching my life. It has made me transform as a mom, and wife, and woman. It has given me a purpose, a passion, and funny enough, a job. It has given me strength that I didn't know I had, and allowed me to realize potential in myself that I assumed went out the window the moment I became a Mom.

I like to write. And I am not very good at it. But I thank you for visiting me here at this space, and sharing your own really personal stories with me. I don't know what I will write about tomorrow. I never do. But I know someone is reading it, and for that, I am grateful

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lessons

You think I would have learned my lesson after almost 10 years of this parenting thing.

One crucial part of parenting that we all learn, ever so painfully, is that if you say something is going to happen, and it doesn't, for reasons of sickness, or change of plans, or an act of God, there is HELL to pay.

I recall the day, like it was yesterday, that we told Olivia we were going to visit my parents for the weekend. I had held it over her head for a week, guaranteeing me divine behavior every time I whipped out the idle threat..."If you don't stop, we aren't going to Nanny and Papa's house!" numerous times a day. I dangled that weekend in front of her like a carrot. It worked like a charm. Except, that Friday morning, David called, as I was packing, and said that his whole office had not gotten paid. We had to wait until Monday. We were broke. We wouldn't be making the trip.

 Let's just say, that what ensued in the hours after was painful. My screaming toddler, out of control, FOR HOURS!! I learned, in that nano-second, that until we are physically pulling into the driveway of our destination, never again will I say where we are going, and what we are doing. EVER!

Olivia is older now. 9 years old. She gets the whole concept of disappointment. Sometimes, plans change. In a flash. Someone who was supposed to sleepover can't come because she is home throwing up. The planned picnic has to be cancelled due to torrential rain. A concept we all learn, yet still have a hard time with. Disappointment stinks, but it is part of life.

Olivia wants to play the violin. She expressed an interest in it, and this is the first year she can do so at her school. I was hoping cello, as it seems way more romantic, but violin it is. All summer, every two weeks, on pay day, we have been telling her that this is the weekend we are going to rent her the violin. It is over $100.00. What I didn't figure into the cost is the music stand, the sheet music, the binder, and the shoulder rest. The cost was more than we could handle most weeks, and the summer seemed endless, with just as many paychecks stretched out before us. After bills were paid, and groceries bought, the violin was pushed to the following paycheck. And so the summer went.

But here we are, today being the first day that students must have their instrument at school, and Olivia doesn't have hers. We will be getting it all for her this weekend, as it is a pay week. But I hated seeing the look of disappointment on her face. And I hated knowing that she will be sitting in a class full of kids, for her first lesson, and she will be unprepared. Mr. Flatley, the strings teacher at her school assured me she wouldn't be the only one, and it was OK, but I felt that pang of disappointment, deep down in my gut. That feeling of always being a day late, and a dollar short, and having to scramble around to provide an extra that my kid, my hard working, smart kid, should have.

The sting of disappointment never lessens.

Monday, September 10, 2012

not much of anything to say..




Took these photos on Friday. I swear, the butterfly seemed to be posing. It was great.



Saturday night, I took these, by candlelight. Just David and I. Girls in bed.

Fall is really here. This is the kind of sleeping weather that I dream about.

I hope you all had a nice weekend.

I sure did.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have a heart

My neighbor, right up the block from me, was diagnosed with end stage heart failure. He is 46. He lives with his wife, and his daughter, and her children, all cramped into a three bedroom house. They lack privacy, and struggle financially, but they do what they need to do to keep the lights on, and the kids fed. All of them. They are a close, loving family. I feel lucky to know them all. When I found out that Andre was as sick as he is, I felt terrible.

Andre is a Veteran of the United States Army. He has served this country on two separate occasions. Before he became as ill, he was an Art teacher in the New York public school system. His own works adorn the walls of his home. To say the man is talented would be an understatement.

Due to his progressive condition, he was forced to stop work a few years ago. His wife works at Giant, our local grocery store here, and cleans vacation rentals. She hustles. Between caring for him, and struggling to watch her grandchildren while her daughter works nights, and make ends meet on very limited funds, they are barely holding it together. No complaints from them, mind you. They just do what they do, and are some of the warmest, most kind people, my family has ever met. Real. They are the real deal.

Andres' condition recently had deteriorated so much, that his heart was working at 10%. He is currently listed for heart transplantation with UNOS, the national listing agency for organ transplant. Sadly, the list for donor hearts far exceeds the supply and it is impossible to predict how long the waiting time will be. Because of this, he is currently in Richmond, Virginia, at McGuire VA Medical Center, where he has been implanted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) or artificial heart pump, to support his failing heart during the waiting period. Thankfully, he received help from the VA, as he had no health insurance, and if he had not served our country, he would most likely not be here presently.

His wife was required to be down there for not only the procedure, but his long extensive stay there. Not just for support mind you. She must become completely trained in the care of the LVAD as well as emergency procedures. There are few, if any, trained medical providers or EMS personnel familiar with this device, so availability of his caregiver is of the utmost importance.

They have been down in Virgina for over two months now.  Andre has had a few setbacks, requiring him to be put back in Intensive Care. Think about that. All those weeks with no pay coming in from a job at a supermarket, and cleaning jobs. Think about how very little they have been stretching, without complaint, and making it work, but just barely being able to do so. Now think about losing those much needed paychecks. My own family as well as most everyone I know, live paycheck to paycheck. My old college dorm mate just told me the other day, that by the time her paycheck gets deposited into her bank account, they are already in the red because it is all spent on bills. Now picture no paycheck, as you are fighting to get well.

Things are getting really tough for some really amazing neighbors of mine. And I know they are suffering in silence. And I just can't tolerate that. Especially when this man has served his country, and inspired countless students with his limitless talent. He is 46, and that is really young. He has a whole life he hasn't lived yet, and the last thing he needs to be worrying about right now is will he lose his home, or will the lights stay on, and the water continue to run for his grandchildren . His family is really burdened financially right now.

 If there is anything, anyone can do for them, please email me at erinderosa@aol.com and if you aren't an organ donor currently, think about becoming one.

A heart is a terrible thing to waste.