Showing posts from 2011

Best Christmas Card...

"You are one of our 50"

That's all that H wrote on her holiday card to us. Otherwise it was similar to most of the other cards adorning our railing, and probably your home too. Pictures of their two-year-old son and themselves with a heart that reads "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from  H, T and M." (with their full names)

Many years ago we had a family stay with us for two weeks. We brought them EVERYWHERE. They didn't rent a car, so every time they left their house, I took them. I did all the shopping, most of the cooking and all of the planning for their 15 day vacation. When we saw them at Christmas, I commented on a clearly professionally taken picture of their two kids.

"Oh yes, that picture was taken by Fame (a company). Their Christmas cards were very expensive, and we only got 50, so we couldn't send you one."

The comment still gets my goat. But the night it happened, I went home and CRIED. I felt so unappreciated. How many of th…

A few hours of paradise

Spent a few hours with N at Camelback. After the whining that the ski boots don't fit etc, (If you've ever skied or taken a kid sledding, you know), we finally hit the slopes. Just Mom and her 11 year old son. He's my cuddling kid. More likely to cry, but more likely to show happiness and affection.

And on the slopes today, he was so proud of his speed. He was proud of (and a bit surprised by) his mom too.

I kept up! No matter how fast he went, I managed to stick with him!

It's also a metaphor. Soon his "speed" will beat me as he becomes more daring and I fall behind.

I'm holding on while it lasts. C has already transgressed to the point of no return. A teenager, like it or not, she's moved beyond my control (but still, hopefully, within my influence). If she wants to she can "outrun" me at any time.

I'm going to keep running, skiing and doing whatever I can to keep up. I guess I'm not ready to let my kids hit a double black diamond…

Six for me, and one for whom?

Lessons from breaking out in 2011: 
If I had to make a theme for 2011 it would have been stepping outside of my comfort zone. Last year I ran a 10K race in an hour flat, and I started a business in an industry about which I knew essentially nothing. I also ran for an election, which taught me lots of things. I met many interesting people, and I learned that some of the people who are in my life actually weren't there for me when I needed them most. (A good lesson, albeit a hard one, to learn). Others came out from nowhere and rocked my world.
In running a 10K I realized that its OK to do something for myself only. The confidence I gained from making it all 10 kilometers and not giving up (or breaking anything, although I needed a couple of weeks for my sore tendons to heal) was more than any life coach could teach me. 
Starting a new business (which began in 2011 but will go much farther in 2012) gives me the opportunity to take the lessons of the 10K and mold them in new directio…

A long walk is never bad with a good friend

It's the day after Christmas - Boxing Day - and it is very quiet at my in-laws' house. My son is out for the day with his little cousins. First they are going to a playland where he and the girls will bounce to their hearts' content. My sister-in-law invited me to go with her, but seflish me... I chose to go for a long walk with my old friend.

After they are done with the "hopping place" my brother-in-law is going to take them ice-skating. I wonder how my 11 year old son will take being shown up by his 7 year old niece. She plays hockey! (And does ballet - very well rounded, I'd say!) I decided that he'll do better without me there too.

My husband and daughter are sleeping the day away. T LOVES to sleep, especially during the day. C doesn't usually sleep all day, but she has been running a fever (it seems, I haven't actually taken her temperature) since Thursday. I have to wake them for dinner soon. It's break...

I just got back from a 90 minu…

Holiday thoughts

Merry Christmas to my family who are reading and happy-whatever-you-celebrate to everyone else.

As I write this I can smell Christmas vegetables slow-cooking in the kitchen and mixed with the smell of a beautiful fresh tree, Christmas sensations fill the senses. Christmas carols are in the background (Feliz Navidad, right now).

It's a time for generosity and memories. Let me share a few examples:

When I checked out a Wegmans a couple of days ago, the lady at the counter told me a story. A man bought four $100 Wegmans gift cards. He paid for them, then gave them to them to the check out lady and said that he wanted her to distribute them to four families, with kids, who seem to need the money. He paid cash and refused to give his name.

Later that day she gave one of the gift cards to a Dad who was buying very basic items. He CRIED when she gave him the gift card and explained that it came from an anonymous donor. She said that he could use the gift card for anything in the store. H…

Tuesday's plan

1) Do homework with N from 6:30am-9am (check)

2) Take Nicolas to School (very late....) (check)

3) Work (see separate to do list)

4) Call for HVAC quote

5) Have lunch or coffee or take a walk with MR (optional, but hopeful)

6) Return gift to Wegmans, get food and make dinner

7) Drive C to tumbling, then N to TKD

8) ATTEND BOE MEETING. It's the presentation of next year's budget and an update (let's hope) on the negotiations.

Be there or be unaware!


Update: Forgot some important must dos - must get winter coat for N. If his grandmother sees that he doesn't have one, I'll get coal in my stocking.

Must send a few cards more - I think I forgot a few people, and now have addresses that I didn't have last week.

Must call my niece to wish her a Happy Birthday

Must get flowers for a special someone who is having oral surgery today.  (From my daughter)


Hit library - make a plan - follow it....


(NB: I started this blog on Friday, but published it Saturday at 9am - not sure why it says Friday). 

I've spent some time thinking about yesterday's blog.

Rachel comments are spot on - and I've blogged about this very point before - we ALL need to support one another. Women are so harsh on one another. Whether it's directly or indirectly, we all have our own position from which we can help others.

Maybe I'm not building orphanages, toppling Mid-East dictatorships or joining the Peace Corps but we all have our own way to assist others.

I do serve others in my own way. I ran in a local election for an unpaid position on our school board. While I didn't win, I believed that as a BOE member I would have filled a deficiency of representatives who come from and focus on the "middle of the road kid", without an agenda of external backing. Later, I "paid it forward" by helping candidates with their political campaigns - because I believed in they w…

A woman in public service... and one who's not

Yesterday morning SDB and I took Diego for a walk through her neighborhood. It was a beautiful day. Except for the leafless trees, it felt much more like September than December. We spoke about the state of the schools, ourselves and the world. We talked about our kids - our hopes and our worries. And a little about ourselves. Not exactly serving others.

I came home, turned on Facebook and saw several posts about the Women in Public Service Colloquium. What do I do to mentor young women or serve the public? Yes, I'm on a few committees through the school district, and I chair a book fair here and there, and I donate knitted items very occasionally.  But true public service? Am I serving others outside my immediate family in a meaningful way? Not really. Do I inspire anyone? (Yesterday I met a saleswoman at Guess at Bridgewater Commons. She said she was studying industrial engineering at Rutgers - I told her to share that with my daughter and her friends the next time they come in…

Generosity of spirit?

I just read an interesting (and short) article, called Is Generosity Better than Sex?

As I read it I accusingly reflected about how my husband relates to me. Then I saw there was a self test. I thought the test would be "does your partner do thus and so?"  Turns out it questions the reader's behavior toward their loved one.

Today I re-read the article. I realized that I could reshape the contents to look at my other important relationships: with my children, my friends, my family. Yes, the kids get the majority of my time and resources, and perhaps even warmth, but do I give these things with a generous spirit? Do I demonstrate willingness over duty? Am I making them feel guilty for things that I see as my a mother's responsibility? (Much as my mother did to me - Italian guilt, she called it).

The article, which is also from the NYT Wellness blog, ends with a study of three-year-olds which discusses the effect by parental behavior. My kids are well past three. I hop…

Happiness is a warm puppy

I was going to blog today about something completely different. (The unions and the district are starting mediation according to Dick Bergeron's blog and the Patch. I was planning to juxtapose this to teachers who were volunteering their time, but making it a political statement. Suffice to say: if you are volunteering, you should be doing it solely because you want to.)

Instead of a rant, I am posting this (somewhat fuzzy) picture.

My husband made a fire, and Diego and I enjoying quiet time. I'm knitting a hat for N - a replacement hat that he loved, but has grown out of. I'm loving a quiet evening after another busy day.

I need to learn to shut everything down, and just sit for a little while every day. I wonder if I prioritize peaceful moments every day if I could better handle my chaotic life.

So I'm turning off the computer and returning to my moment of silence. No TV on. Not even music. Just Diego and me. He is panting from the heat, but unable to tear himself a…

It's OVER!

I've had some hard times - my mother's funeral tops the list. Moving abroad, then moving back the to US again multiple times, missing everything and everyone I love(d) is also up there. There have been other sources of stress: Lawsuits in which I was a witness and had to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but..." only to hear another witness lie straight to the judge's face. I've been on a plane that had a bomb threat. I've had friends and family suffer through, and then die, of cancer. My husband was run over by a truck - and my son had to jump out of it to save himself. Our dog was hit by a car. I've done things that angered my mother for months. I was drunk in front of my grandmother in 198-something and once in front of my kids. I've had heartbreak, and more heartbreak and even more heartbreak. I kissed many a frog before I found a Prince... and even life with Prince Charming sometimes evokes a tear or two. I've gone months with…

competitive edge?

My son hasn't played a team sport for a long time, so when he said he wanted to play basketball I did some homework. The seemingly least tough-competition within basketball was supposed to be the PTO-run program at his school.

But as soon as I saw the PTO league I realized it was hardly the "low competitive environment."  In theory, of course it was. There is one practice and one game per week and everything is run at the school. Its only students at our school and usually PTO-run activities welcome everyone, at any level.

I'm skeptical.... Next week the coaches (mostly Dads and one Mom) will have a coaches' meeting for a "Draft" where they pick their teams.

Not at all the "least competitive environment" I was imagining.

One of N's friends chose this league because N was playing and they could do it together. She did the program last year and liked the coach. He was balanced and fair. A good chance that he'd be a match for N too. So we…

Advent Expectations?

It's the first Sunday in Advent. Always a huge motivator for me to get "stuff" ready. The weather was beautiful here this weekend- sixty and sunny - so I continued with yesterday's yard work. T cut up trees that had fallen in the woods for firewood. C & N helped a little, by my teenage daughter (C) made it very clear: she doesn't want to help us at all!

In a little while I'll pick up around the living room/kitchen/family room and bring in some Christmas cheer. I really LOVE Christmas decorations. I love the colors, the smells the anticipation and the family-focus. I love the return of this yearly tradition.

And I want my daughter to help me decorate so we can bring in the spirit of Christmas together (N needs to prioritize checking that his homework is done).

Why is love such a complicated emotion? I'm frustrated by her apathy, and proud of her achievements at the same time. I want to give her everything and five minutes later I feel like she has too…

Shopping in Style

(Written Saturday, posted Sunday)

Yesterday (Black Friday) I was in my hometown in Western New York State. My daughter and I spent the Black Friday morning checking out the deals at various chains and non-chains. We found bought a few tings. She found 2 pairs of jeans from Pac Sun and a sweatshirt at Victoria Secret (she had several gift cards from her recent birthday). I bought some silk blend yarn from Wooly Minded, but would have bought more at a large chain had the line not been about 50 people long.  We also stopped at The Crossings outlets at the border of PA and New Jersey. We actually spent twice as much time maneuvering parking than actually shopping. The huge crowds helped us to decide that after striking out at a few stores we called it a day. (I did buy a few $7 necklaces at Chicos).

Today is Small Business Saturday. I wish that there were as many small businesses to support as large chains. If a pollster called here and asked me about my opinions versus my habits, I'…

Just Checking

This year my husband made my life inestimably easier: he bought all gifts for adult family members last summer! No hints, but I'm grateful to be under no obligation to buy as I go enter stores playing "Rudolph".  Yesterday I bought the final gifts for our nieces/nephews. Shopping for everyone but our own two kids is DONE. Check!

With a cheer competition in Florida upcoming, this is a huge relief! I've even bought all the gifts for the advent calendar, planned it out and so all I have to do is wrap and number.... Almost check...

Except for some fish that I need to get tonight or tomorrow morning, I'm set for Thanksgiving too. Almost check...

We have opted out of the cheer fundraising, so I'm not spending this week soliciting for sponsors. Check...

I know it will be harried - and stressful, but with these things checked off the list, I'm ready to enjoy Thanksgiving. And that's a great start to an otherwise overwhelming time of year. Ready to Enjoy Than…

Weekend Update

Some of you read this blog for local education/politics, some for the knitting, but my most faithful daily readers, are still family, so let me send them an update.

It was a very busy weekend at Casa L.

On Friday morning I went to Nicolas' school where I heard David Wiesner speak. He grew up in Bridgewater and explained how he gets his inspiration, and how he creates his very detailed books. There is certainly MUCH more than work in each picture than a small child will grasp. He was trained at RISD and his influences include Salvator Dali. There are few benefits to volunteering in the schools, but being in the loop about speakers like this is one of the best. I immediately came home and bought one of his books for my nieces, and today I bought three for my nephew.

Friday evening was a blurrrr... First C had her final day of Cheer try-outs for the Middle School team. Apparently there were lots of talent. But later that night we learned that C earned a coveted spot on the "A te…

It's a....

Powerschool is a new tool in BRRSD this year. It's an online grade book that allows parents (and students) to be hyper-vigilant. Like most cyber-things, Powerschool increases access to information until it's TMI. But like many online sources, it's hard to interpret the information. (Have you ever tried to look something up on MedMD? You read the horrible side-effects, but don't really know if you're prone to them, or how realistic they are. Powerschool is similar - you see a 5/10 on a quiz and think "OMG my kid failed a test! She's flunking 8th grade!")  It's hard to judge weights - a homework should be less important than a test, but maybe a particular homework is more important than the others? Powerschool is straight forward and confusing at the same time. Also, there are no comments - is my participating, chatty, distracted? Nothing like a good old-fashioned phone call to a teacher to get the real info!

But, in general I really like Powerschoo…

Viennese advice

Last night I put on my PJs as the pasta boiled at 5:45 pm and was in bed by 8 pm. My body says I need more rest.  I'm relieved that I stayed out of this contest. Just reading the Patch article raises my blood pressure!

JB would have been perfect. She is well-versed in the issues, has an amazing background and is fair. Since opinions were split (as per the Patch), they could have delayed voting until the two missing members heard the taped interview. Did one side cave to pressure from the BOE President? Hope I misunderstood.

Knit three, purl one. Breathe in, breathe out..... "Where's the fire, what's the hurry about? You better cool it off before you burn it out. You've got so much to do, but only so many hours in a day."  
(Thanks, MCM - I've been hearing this song in my mind all week).

Update: This is the Courier's blogger's take on last night.

Swap on a Budget

Those of you who know me in person know I like to do things for others. But I also like others to do things for me. When my friend Pam told me about "Swap on a Budget" from the Ravelry knitting/crochet site I thought it was a terrible idea for me. I already have at least 10 projects that I've started and not finished for various people, and knitting for a stranger is a bit daunting. What if they knit better than I do? They will see all of my mistakes in a way that non-knitters don't! The big secret (that I'm really not *that* good) will be revealed.

But I've been looking at this opportunity ALL WRONG. It not about giving something imperfect to be criticized by the recipient because the recipient is also a knitter, it will be appreciated more. A fellow knitter knows what goes into creating these gifts.

The best part of this swap is it's $20 maximum. I'll use "stash yarn" to knit with (no new investment there) and buy something on the person&…

Fourteen and counting

My daughter is fourteen today. She confidently headed out for school today with pin-straight hair, a black guess birthday shirt and optimism that she would make the cheer squad at the Middle School. (Try-outs start after school). She looked like everything I wanted to be at her age: organized, pretty, popular, smart and happy.

Each day I lose her a little more. She was handed to me as a helpless infant, and every year she grows more independent.

This weekend I was given a taste of the challenges C will face as a teenager as girls her age push boundaries. She passed the first test. Tonight she will go to dinner with a couple of her friends - another test. Can they eat like ladies and not get kicked out of a local restaurant? On Saturday she will host her first teenaged co-ed party. Another test. My heart's in palpitations while a hundred "what ifs" pre-occupy my mind.

But this party isn't about me. I'm becoming obsolete as she steps farther and farther into life&#…

A.T. and Me

Yesterday I drove my Dad to my sister's house in Pennsylvania. The entire ride to Scranton Dad explained World War II military artillery history - mostly regarding the German attack aircraft and the British defense strategies over London during various stages. I kept asking about things like "how did women make meals with rations" or "when we were so paralyzed (after 9/11) how did the Londoners deal with years of imminent bombing?" He's answer briefly but somehow return to things like how German casualties grew to over 10% resulting in Germans reduced nighttime bombing in London. I have to admit that today I didn't retain much of his detailed knowledge.

Brain-fried from driving in rain, and trying to keep up with his three-hour long history lesson, I made a pit stop at the Crossings Outlets on my way home. After window shopping at Coach, I hit Ann Taylor's outlet. I love their clothes. Tasteful, plain, they have some of my favorite reds, mixed with…

Election Day 2011

It's Election Day.

Remember to VOTE! 

Vote for Jim Ventantonio

Tomorrow is Election Day. Finally Bridgewater will be rid of Mrs. Flannery. Her replacement should be the most qualified candidate, Jim Ventantonio.

When I ran for the Board of Ed I was overwhelmed by the support of friends and strangers. My team really stuck by me, and hundreds of people put my signs up in their yards. People still come up to me and say they voted for me. Since April I planned to pay-the-support-forward, so when a friend called me and asked me if I were willing to meet Jim, I was happy to. And I'm very glad I did. Helping Jim (behind the scenes) with his campaign has been very rewarding. I find him inspiring, and really hope that he will win.

Jim has spent a lifetime in public service. He started his career in the military, where he spent time in Taiwan as a JAG officer, and then went into poverty Law. On his website ( you can read a synopsis of his many forms of service and experience.

A fiscal conservative, he is very active in the busin…

Knit four, pearl four

My Mom was a generous gift giver. The last 10 years or so her Christmas gift giving was rather predictable: cashmere sweaters. The soft, but warm, non-itchy sweaters warmed me in more ways than one. I still have a black turtleneck, a red crew neck and a cream sleeveless crew, all in various stages of disrepair after too much "love". "It's not the age, it's the mileage".  Mine are well-used.

If she were here, I think my Mom would approve of my current project. I'm knitting my Dad a cashmere cap.

Four years ago I knit him a thick cashmere-alpaca blend. I remembered how I sat at my son's frustrating soccer games. They were frustrating because the coach only played him (he was in 2nd grade, and this was rec) under five minutes per game! I still have to bite my tongue when I see the coach at school or the pool. I took my anger out on the needles, and knitting him a hat in about a week.

Yesterday was a beautiful Saturday, and I knit as I watched the girl…

A teachable moment?

Just a friendly reminder to a certain teacher, and any others to whom this applies, the BRRSD Board of Ed have very simple, but easy-to-follow guidelines about conduct towards kids.

The Board believes that a safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards. Since students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers are required to demonstrate appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment, intimidation or bullying. Harassment, intimidation or bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, is conduct that disrupts both a student's ability to learn and a school's ability to educate its students in a safe environment. Therefore, the school district will not tolerate acts of harassment, intimidation or bullying.*
If you are taunting my kid in public, asking him in front of his classmates if he "likes getting zeros", YES, Mom …

New Start

Maybe it's the coffee kicking in. Maybe it's the weather forecast: Sun and 60s F. Maybe it's my husband entering the kitchen in a cheery mood, and eating his Special K. And maybe it's that both kids are back in school...

but I'm feeling very optimistic this morning. Can you feel it too?

Although I had a setback in my business the other day, I'm looking forward to trying again. To that end after hitting "publish", I'm going to get dressed and hit the pavement. It may be a recession, and people may still be skeptical about purchasing unnecessary items (if only I were in the generator business!), but I still believe that hard work pays off!

I am also going to have a knitting-lunch (like a working lunch, but with yarn and needles) with my talented friend, Pam. She knits fast, knits with bold colors and isn't afraid to rip up something that isn't working to try again.

Tonight is the Bridgewater Mayoral Debate at the Municipal Building. I'm …