Carry on Tuesday, All you need is love

Sad boy

Sad boy (Photo credit: jodiwilldare)

Dear Mama,

It was hard leaving you and Papa when Roger started his new job in Connecticut. You were so kind to have us live with you but it wasn’t fair to you. Believe me, we miss you too and living back in Georgia.

My first impression was not a real good one. People are very different here. They are so loud and everyone is in a rush and in the beginning driving here scared me, those fast cars, horns always honking. Mama, don’t tell Daddy but I used to hide in the bathroom, every night, turn on the shower and cry my aching heart out. No one even welcomed us here, there is no Welcome Wagon like home, no cakes or pies or dinners brought over. People seem cold and unfriendly but I ‘ll get used to it, it’s just their way, I suppose.

We do love our own sweet neighborhood which is wonderful. The summer was great. Kids on their bikes, playing in the streets, moms looking out for each others kids. Once school started everything changed. I guess this town is split in two and I never knew that one side has a lot of money and the other side, like us, well, we don’t. Seems like a lot of kids in Jason and Jeremy’s classes lived in mansions. The houses some of these kids lived in we used to watch on that television show “Dallas.”  Mansions so big like you see on t.v .some with electric fences, some driveways so long you can’t see the houses, some with great big pools or baseball fields in the back. I swear.

Mama, have you ever heard of a live-in nanny? I sure hadn’t. I guess the rich people who live in the mansions have them. The parents get up early in the morning and take a train to work in the City and they stay late into the night. The nannies feed, bathe and put the kids to bed.  Some moms work, others don’t but they still have full-time nannies.  I’ve heard the moms and some dads too go to the gym, or play tennis and go to lunch with each other.  In our neighborhood, we just stay off to ourselves doing regular things: grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. We get our kids on to the orange school bus and we are there to help them off, they get a snack, do homework and then they can play. I had never heard it any other way before.

This pains me to tell you but one day Jason’s new friend came over for the first time. Jason had a new play date with a child from his class the other day, the child came home with him on the bus. Jason was looking forward to this all week-long. I heard them laughing and whispering and going up the stairs to Jason’s room. Then it got quiet. Apparently, the first thing that wretched child said to my son was: “this is worse than I ever imagined it could be.”  My precious boy ran over to me, his face crushed and repeated what the boy said. I told him calmly that it didn’t matter one bit what the boy said, it wasn’t important and was just plain silly, wasn’t it? I got them started on a fun project with rocket ships and special brownies for a snack and they forgot about the room. Lord, as I am standing here, I wanted to cry but of course I couldn’t.

That night when Roger came home Jason told the rest of the family what happened with his”mean” friend.” Mama, It was hear-breaking to see. The boy had behaved poorly and he was rude. This boy’s family had lots of money and did live in a mansion, with a fancy pool but the mom and dad worked really hard all day and night. They had a nanny and a babysitter so the kids didn’t even see their parents very much. The older brother had already  been in trouble with the police. That family didn’t have a mom who stayed home and went to their Open Houses at school or their baseball games; their dad didn’t come home at six pm so that the family could have dinner together.We were all eating my vanilla cake with chocolate frosting AND vanilla ice cream. They couldn’t talk about their days or play games every night at dinner like we did.  We were the ones who were lucky. Money, cars, houses, pools are nice to have if you want them but they are not important.  “It’s not the size of the house that matters; but the amount of love inside that truly counts.” We are truly blessed.

Love, Hope

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It’s Really Not About The Turkey

Folk Family, ca. 1940-1941

Folk Family, ca. 1940-1941 (Photo credit: americanartmuseum)

It’s Thanksgiving Eve’s Eve, if that is a holiday. It’s 11:30 pm and my husband and I are waiting for our two, college aged children to come home from their respective colleges, together. We like that they are traveling in one car; we like that they are getting along. For someone, with Fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I am usually in my sleep shirt as early as seven pm (okay, you got me, sometimes at 4pm) but I wait, dressed, until 12:30 am so I can greet them. There are a lot of things I can’t do for them, but this I can and I’m proud.

Those first sights, those first hugs are amazing but fleeting. My daughter’s friend came over to talk and my son left right away to go to the diner to meet up with his friends from college. His friends from college, you ask? I asked the same thing. “Yes” he replied, grinning widely, “I really don’t know why either, it just happened but I’m looking forward to it.” With our usual admonishment to “wake us up when you get home”( we are old-fashioned) he said “Wow, it’s going to be really hard to remember that.” We replied “Try.”

This morning, as I sipped my strong coffee in bed, deeply inhaling the fragrant aroma like a bouquet of flowers, I heard my daughter’s door open, (we have a very small house and she is right across our door) earlier than I thought. She walked in and sat on the bed and started talking about college and I was so incredibly happy. If that wasn’t enough to fill my heart up to near capacity, ten minutes later I heard familiar loud thumps coming up the stairs. It was that moment, when her older brother walked in, made himself comfortable on the bed and started joining in on the conversation that I was so grateful for my life.

I’ve realized with time, that it’s these special moments that make a life worthwhile. If only I had a better memory to remember them; I confess I seem to remember bad things easier, traumatic things, than the glorious moments I had this morning. At least I can look back here and visualize them.
After we talked for about fifteen minutes, my daughter decided she was hungry and I taught her how to make her favorite breakfast meal. While part of her wanted me to make it, at 18, I thought it best for her to do it herself with my help. So there was a little shell (okay a lot) in the eggs but I taught her how to take it out, so the avocado was not perfect, we worked around it, the flame was too high, she lowered it, I told her to ask her brother if he might want some, she did and he said “yes, please.” It’s all a matter of growing up, and if my children still want to come up and talk with me, I’ve done my job well.

(Easy) Scrambled Eggs with Cheese and Avocado (for 2)

Crack 4 eggs in a bowl (remove shell if there is any, and don’t worry if there is-it happens to all of us)
Add a bit of milk (we don’t measure here, just a sip or two from the carton, any milk or cream will do nicely)

Prepare a frying pan with butter or cooking spray, enough to coat the bottom of the pan

Separately, slice the cheese (ANY kind) she used mozzarella and added it to the eggs

Pre-heat the pan and when it is warm, add the cheese and egg mixture

Prepare avocado (use 1/2 or whole depending on taste) slicing it. (I’m assuming you know to peel it and  throw away the pit?)

Do NOT put avocado in frying pan until the eggs and cheese are nearly done.

Once the egg and cheese mixture is almost done, add the avocado, stir gently and serve.

ENJOY!

Carry On Tuesday: Dear Students

CIMG2148.JPG

CIMG2148.JPG (Photo credit: afcool83)

Announcement To All Incoming Freshmen.

Welcome to your first year of college. I’m sorry I can’t meet with you in person but this speech has been taped because I am no longer able to leave the President’s house due to my physical limitations.

The President and I want you to have a lot of fun and to work hard and learn many different things. Learn about the things you want to study, and about different people who you will meet from all over the country. We want you to learn about life. Life can be scary and painful sometimes. I hope this never happens to you but unfortunately it may hit you way down the road at some unexpected point.  When you are young you don’t notice those things, because you feel invincible. You should. Enjoy that special time while it lasts because before you know it, you will become a grown-up and it is really not much fun at all. You get older, you have illnesses, physical disabilities that you never thought of when you were in college. That’s good. Enjoy your time here because life, later on, gets more complicated.

I know you won’t listen to me, you are laughing at such a silly old woman, trying to tell a bunch of freshmen to enjoy their youth. I know. I don’t expect you to believe me because I wouldn’t have believed me either and that’s a good thing. Have fun, be safe but enjoy these next four years of absolute joy. Sure, you may squabble with your roommate or be upset over your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend but this will pass, with time. Also, believe it or not, you will learn from all your experiences, good and bad. These years will shape your future life. Don’t waste them.

When you get old, like I am now, the world feels like a dangerous place. You question every symptom you have, every threat of terror, every nuance. The good thing is, you just don’t care that much anymore about what other people think. Surround yourself with good friends and try to appreciate your family, those that love you best and will always love you.

There will be some hard times ahead, I know you can’t picture that but it may happen in the future. Know this, when you have somebody who loves you, someone you can count on, it makes life, a whole lot easier.

Enjoy your time here, welcome to your first year of college. Be safe, be happy, have fun.

Thank you.

ICD Jewelery Store – Meant To Be

This is a true story about how things sometimes work out the way they should. Oprah used to talk about that a lot.  Synchronicity, things happening because they are “meant to be.” Yesterday, I wrote a blog called “Saying Goodbye To Oprah” today I experienced what she has always talked about.

1) I had a new Doctor’s appointment and when I asked the new Doctor if she was ever in touch with the Doctor who had retired she said “in fact, I’m seeing him tonight.”  I asked her to please tell him about an article I wrote about the loss of my dear friend “Loving Dawn” that was published in a local magazine. She said she would but as I was about to leave I remembered I had copies in my trunk that I had just picked up from the editor the day before. I ran down and got the magazine, happy to show them.  No coincidence there.

2) I stopped by the florist to order my son’s girlfriend’s corsage, continued on to the library and decided to go to a shoe store.

3) I parked my car, (having no sense of direction whatsoever) where I thought the shoe store was. I couldn’t find it. It turned out that I parked in front of a store called ICD Jewelery. When I saw the name I remembered my son saying that he bought his girlfriend’s birthday present there. The door was held open and I decided to walk in and browse. In the past I had always assumed that it was just high-end stuff but it isn’t. It’s a wonderful combination of completely affordable jewelery AND beautiful expensive, sparkling pieces.

4) I  looked around keeping my daughter’s upcoming 17th birthday in mind, I even saw the lovely bracelet my son had bought. There were beautiful pieces in EVERY price range. After chatting with a nice woman named Sarah I softly said:  ” You are doing this store a disservice, you really should advertise more.” She smiled and said “can I repeat that?” I said “I guess so.” She called the owner over, an absolutely stunning and  beautiful woman (she should be a model) named Varda Singer and asked me to repeat my comment. I did, I asked where they advertised because I had no idea that this store sold things in all price ranges. I am the type of person that should live with focus groups. I try every new product, I can predict if something will work or not, I know “star” quality before others. If I really liked this store my friends would too. If I didn’t know about this store they probably didn’t either.

5) The owner, Varda, said “she pays so much in advertising in publications it’s sometimes not worth it.”  After talking with her about the jewelery, both high-end and inexpensive, she fell silent. She looked at me, took a gorgeous pink beaded bracelet off the display, handed it to me and said, “word of mouth: this is how I like to get people to the store.” Before I knew it she took the price tag off and presented the bracelet to me as a present.”If people like it and ask where you got it, you tell them.”  No one had ever given me a present like that and I was shocked.  I said “No, no, no, no… ” but she insisted and put it on my arm.

6) All she knew was that I was a mom window shopping for her daughter. She had no idea I wrote a blog.  We laughed and talked some more and out of the blue she threw in a Hebrew word that I recognized immediately.  The word “Beshert” it’s meaning:  “meant to be” or “destiny.”

7) I told them I wanted to blog about this experience (I am not a paid employee nor am I a sponsor or a PR agent and I am not getting any kind of kickback!)  I asked Varda if we could tie this special day in with my blog. If people read this blog and wanted to go to the store, perhaps they could get a $5 dollar discount? She thought about it, shook her head and said with a smile said:”please tell people that if they just drop by the store and mention your blog, they will get a free “bracelet” too.”

I will REPEAT THAT: Mention that you read this blog and get a free bracelet. Stop by there, look around, you won’t be disappointed.  They are located in the town of Chappaqua, NY, 75 South Greeley Avenue. You can reach them at 914-238-3646 or at ICDJLTD@aol.com. or visit:  http://www.icdjewelry.com/

Thank you again, Varda, for my pink bracelet.

My free gift from ICD Jewelery in Chappaqua, NY

Coffee vs. Tea

19-century porcelain tea- and coffee-cups styl...

Image via Wikipedia

Coffee And Tea

Mmmmm. In the morning, when I first wake up, I look forward to very strong coffee that either my husband makes or that I make. We generally use about 3 scoops for a large mug and it is aromatic and strong. It is not for the weak or instant coffee drinker. Generally, I mix Cafe Bustelo (espresso) with some sort of flavored coffee to balance the taste. I’ve had coffee from the grocery store, like Hazelnut Creme or Vanilla Creme mixed with Starbucks (as a treat) or espresso.

I have favorite mugs as well, mostly thin-lipped, some classic like a Starbucks mug, some entertaining like a cow mug or a yellow mug with a thumb holder or a bull mug my husband bought me in Malaga that has a top to keep the coffee hot. If there ever is a morning that I don’t feel like a cup of very strong coffee, I am sick. Very sick. When I am sick, with a sore throat or a bad cold, I drink tea with honey and lemon. However, for a stomach virus I drink tea with milk and sugar only. In the fall and winter, when my daughter comes home from school, we drink a cup of tea together. My favorite tea-cup is one from my friend Sarah, a petite, red and white flowery design that belonged to her grandmother. I feel honored that she gave me that cup with a box of English tea she loves and now, that I love. I drink that tea every afternoon; sometimes my daughter keeps me company and she drinks green tea. I love those times together.

For me, it isn’t a matter of coffee or tea, it’s both, for different reasons, different times and different lessons to learn. I gather my thoughts with one cup and yet another one calms me down, and of course, in the early morning, strong coffee, a hearty roast, kick starts and welcomes me to start the new day.

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I’m Thankful For…. Chronic Babe Carnival

Waves crashing at Sal, Cabo Verde

Image by aldask via Flickr

In this blistering cold weather, I am thankful for a peek of bright yellow from the sun coming through the budding trees. When I am sitting on an, old, worn bench in the front yard and see the little purple flowers around the edge of the brown grass I am thankful for that too. What I am thinking about this very moment is how to be thankful when you have heard news that makes you unhappy, in other words, when life throws you a curve ball or two.  I think those are the times, like now, that might mean the most because it is test and a challenge and I need to teach the lessons to myself all over again. Learning from unexpected challenges….learning the hard way in the real world.

I wished for my mom to feel better and with deep gratitude, she is slowly feeling better. The spark is back in her voice for the most part and she plans to go back to her yoga class every week where she is surrounded by loving class-mates who have kissed her soft cheek after months of her absence.  I am thirty years younger than she is but with Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I cannot do yoga. Yes, I have tried it and couldn’t manage it. I did take Pilates for senior citizens and special needs people but because of my lack of balance, I couldn’t keep up. What was humiliating and embarrassing at the time, is funny now. I am grateful my sense of humor returned.

Tonight, I heard that my husband will have to spend six weeks in Buffalo on a new project. This came out of the blue and he starts immediately. It shocked us both, and within one minute we also heard from our son that he did not get into one of the colleges he applied to. I had to think hard and glean the gratitude of these two events. When my husband said he had “bad news” I thought his (new) job had been eliminated. The fact that he wasn’t let go and still has a job after two years of unemployment is a good thing. I need to wrap my head around the location change. Even though it’s not the end of the world, it’s hard to be a mom of two demanding teenagers when you have chronic pain issues. That my son got rejected from one of the schools he applied to, could very well be a humbling experience for him and a good life lesson. Life speaks to us that way, in gentle tones and whispers unless we ignore them and then we are hit with hard, crashing blasts of turmoil and angst. The decision might not have gone the way you hoped, now stop and think how some things are not meant to be, and that “things happen for a reason.”

We’re constantly (does it really have to be THAT constant?) challenged in ways which we do not expect. Riding the waves, both rough and smooth is part of the process and I am grateful I have learned to do that. I am also grateful that I know myself well enough to know that I need a good 24 hours to process ANY change. After that, things are easier to take and understand. It doesn’t help me from not getting shocked but it does give me a reasonable time frame to get myself together and plan accordingly.

I am also thankful for my family, of course, and my friends. I am equally happy that I can let my feelings, good or bad, out on this computer and learn to process things on my own. I have books to read, music to listen to and ultimately, little control over what happens in the future. With years of trial and tribulation and of experience, I have learned that there are many rough waves in the world to ride out. I just need 24 hours to remember how to do it. For that knowledge alone, I am exceedingly grateful.

If I Were a Teacher

Each One Teach One (Oneida album)

Image via Wikipedia

Life 101

 

I have always and I mean always, wanted to teach a course called Life 101. Originally I thought it would be good for college age students but now that I am older, I know it could be taught in any and every grade. Imagine a class where you would not be judged and you felt free enough to ask questions that you think about. Imagine having conversations, free of fear and tension. Questions you didn’t know whom to ask….you don’t need a Ph.d to teach this class, just be a loving soul with good intentions, be sensitive to others and intuitive. Keep an open mind and help students help the world and each other. Life experience required. I am submitting my resume…NOW!

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My Favorite Forms of Creative Expression

AgroBalt Vinjete

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There are many ways I express my creativity even though I am the worst “arts and crafts” person around. When my daughter was little and in the girl scouts I would ruminate for hours on what craft I could and would do to entertain the girls. I write (as you would expect!) and I also take photographs. There have been many times I have made collages out of some of the photographs I have taken and pictures ripped from magazines. I use quotes, poetry, even things that have broken, cemented on to the poster board of the day. I find that it really showcases how I am feeling at that particular time. I never plan it out, I just collect a lot of things and put it together the way I want. There is no wrong or right way. I have missed making a collage, thanks for the impetus; I’ll start a new one very soon.

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Hey Ba, I Think It’s Now

a bird nest

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I’m beginning to think that”these days may just BE the good old days” and I want to stop and appreciate them as much as I can. I want to  savor my children’s laughter, energy, and yes, even fighting. I want to enjoy family dinners served with a sauté of sarcasm and lumpy cheese sauce with laughter. I’m not saying that things are great but they are definitely good enough and  that’s just fine. My husband is still unemployed and our kids are just about to skip from home to college and I will be living in my own new reality, as an “empty-nester” which is both incredibly sad and exciting.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend Barbara and I would alternate saying “Laur, when is it gonna get better?”or “Hey Ba, when is it going to get better?” I don’t even remember now what was so bad back then. We asked each other this as we were selecting French pastries from a small patisserie: the fruit tart or the chocolate mousse? Two Libra girls in an enchanting bakery meant only one thing: both. Now, thirty years later, back then seemed like it WAS better but it was just different. “Youth” is wasted on the young” my mother used to mutter. We laughed and knew she didn’t know what she was talking about. We have all said the exact, same thing to our children as they look back at us and roll their eyes. How can we expect them to understand what no other generation ever did before?

Rereading the book Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg is helping to keep me in the present. It’s a book about a woman dying of cancer and her loving friends. It makes you stop and think about your life. For me, these are the good old times. Are we silly enough to think that things will get easier as we get older? They don’t. I prescribe reading Ms. Berg’s book surrounded by tissues and as Oprah would say “a-ha” moments.

Now, while we still have our two children home, at least for a few more months I am relishing my time with them. I want to freeze these days like photographs on our mantel. My son, my first born, a Senior, is always running out the door, his black and orange sneakers barely trailing him. He has about four and a half months before he leaves home  for the summer to be a Counselor at the camp he attended for many years. Camp is my son’s other home; it is a magical place that helped shape him as a person. My first-born,  has the same temperament as I do; we understand each other with a casual glance. He’s waiting to hear from colleges in the near future. As much as I try to spend time in the present, I miss him already.

My daughter, a Junior in High School came home from “College Night”  and sounded like a newly opened bottle of soda; her enthusiasm and excitement was contagious.  “I want to go to college tomorrow, Mom” she chirped.  I will have a whole year with just her where she doesn’t have to share the limelight with her older brother. I am not even ready to think about what life will be like when she goes off to college. This beautiful young woman will always be my baby.

I would like the world to stand still so I can try and burn memories in my heart. My nine year old dog is sleeping at the foot of my bed. The children laugh, fight, shout and antagonize each other yet their love for each other is incredibly obvious. I know my husband will find a job eventually and I just want to hold on to this feeling of our family; for as long as I possibly can. Here is my life lesson: cherish each moment; it’s as simple as that.

Love And Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Image by Premshree Pillai via Flickr

When I was a little girl, I remember throwing pennies up in the air so that other little kids would find them and be happy. This was not something my mom or dad taught me; it was something I just did. My parents didn’t mind; I think they were mildly amused. Eventually, I worked up to throwing nickels and dimes and imagining excited, delighted children got even sweeter. The first time I threw a quarter my mother put her hands on her hips, stamped her foot and said “are you crazy, that’s a lot of money!”  and it really was way back then.  I went back to pennies, nickels, dimes and, of course, an occasional quarter, when she wasn’t looking. It was something that always felt right to me and defined me as a person.  I never lost that quality, I just didn’t have a name for it.

Years later, when “Random Acts of Kindness” became popular because of Oprah I had a name for what I have always done. I now paid tolls on bridges for the cars behind me, I paid for a cup of Starbucks coffee for the next person in line.  I sent a little boy a gift certificate to Toys R Us after his mom died signed by “a friendly neighbor.” When I heard that one of my on-line friends truly loved a certain book, I arranged for a brand new, shiny hardcover book to be autographed with her name, by the author, who happened to be a family friend. Imagining that book on its trip from the post office to her house kept me excited the entire week.

When my son was about four years old we visited my parents who lived out-of-town. I remember one bright and early morning my son, whom we dubbed ” the farmer,” woke up at 5:30am. Everyone else was fast asleep so I decided to take him out for breakfast, just me and my buddy on a date at a local diner. We ate blueberry pancakes with sweet, brown maple syrup and drank bright orange juice from small, plastic glasses.

In the booth in front of us there was an elderly woman looking cranky and mad and according to my son, “really mean.” We could hear her grousing and complaining often, first to herself and later on to the waitress. I told him that maybe the lady behind us, the “really mean lady” was not mean at all. Perhaps she was ill or lonely or very sad to be sitting by herself on an early Sunday morning. I asked my son if he wanted to play a new game; what four-year old would say no to a game?!   I told him about a happy, surprise game that involved doing nice things for others that we could do together.

After we finished our meal we went over to the waitress and we paid our bill. Winking at my son and looking at his big, warm brown, excited eyes, I asked the waitress to please add the lonely lady’s meal and a tip for herself to our bill.  I remember the waitress looked astonished and pointed to the woman and said “for HER?” We nodded yes, my little boy’s face beaming. My son and I giggled as we left the diner quickly. We couldn’t let the “lady” know who paid for her surprise meal.  Our stomachs were happy, our hearts full and our faces were warm and radiant in the early morning sun. We raced down the steps, sharing a delicious secret, our hands still sticky and sweet, clasped firmly and lovingly, together.