Thursday, September 30, 2010


Karate entered our lives unexpectedly. During our eldest son's Back-to-School Night for Kindergarten we sat through several speakers who were connected to the school district. Other than the principal all of the speakers were drab, lifeless orators who relied on notecards, made no connection with their audience, and bored us to tears. That was until a young man appeared late and was introduced as the last speaker of the night. With a sincere apology to the audience the man spoke eloquently, off the cuff, and with such charisma the whole of his audience listened with rapt attention. He spoke of being a Sensei in the Martial Art of Karate and having the tools needed to focus our children, make them better listeners, students, and children. The man told us if we wanted these things he could deliver them at the end of a one hour class he was offering the sign-up for that evening. Interested I tracked him down before the event ended.
I listened to this engaging young man, small in stature and physique, but commanding, confident, and serene amidst the chaos of Back-to-School Night. He had me sign my name and phone number on a clipboard and assured me I would be called about the class. When I inquired about his program costs he simply said this class I signed my son up for was free and he would not talk pricing until I experienced his complimentary class. I admired his "no sell" policy at this forum.
The day came for the free class and my son was immediately drawn in to the atmosphere created by Sensei. He learned how to sit and stand "like a Black Belt" so he could easily focus on the speaker (be it Sensei, his teacher, or Mom and Dad). He learned that listening was about keeping your mouth closed and your ears open. My son learned that being a first time listener would keep him out of trouble in life and make him a more successful person all around. And although a couple of Karate moves were lightly introduced, the class was more about tips to succeed than how to throw a proper punch. By the hour's end I had my credit card out to sign my son up for classes. My husband was also impressed and delighted that Martial Arts, something we both knew nothing about, was going to be a part of our son's life as he thought it was something I'd never agree. Perhaps too many viewings of Karate Kid (the original) left me anxious about the violence factor of Martial Arts, but what Sensei had proven to me in one hour's time was my first impressions had been inaccurate at best and deserved to be updated. We signed our son up and signed contracts. He started that late September week.
By January I was so pleased with my son's progress and the Dragon program he was a student, I signed on for a free class. We, as parents, were encouraged to make classes a part of our lives, too. Given the option of a free aerobics class or Karate class (both offered at the Dojo at the time) I sat like a deer in headlights with the decision until Sensei and I talked about the choice at hand. He told me if I wanted to change my body to take the aerobics class. If I wanted to change my life, with the body change being a bonus, to sign up for Karate. I did and by the end of January was enrolled as a Karate student myself. By June my husband had signed on and by the time our second son was 3 1/2, he was enrolled in the school as well.
Our eldest son is gangly, tall for his age, uncoordinated, and suffers from weak hand muscles that make things like turning a light switch on/off, printing, and opening water bottles difficult. He has suffered some teasing along the way from peers and never knew how to handle such attacks. Since enrolling in Karate he has learned to build his self-confidence, work to strengthen his hands through calisthenics and studying with weapons, and even employ non-violent ways to deal with bullying. He is able to focus in school, take on responsibilities at home, and utilize the lessons he learns at the Dojo throughout his daily life. From basics to complicated Katas (choreographed fight sequences learned as individuals), and from weaponry to learning Japanese, our son continues to thrive under the tutelage of Sensei.

Our youngest son, watching his big brother at the Dojo since he was one year old, couldn't wait to suit up and start taking classes. When he was able to begin last April he has proven to be a well-behaved, focused, and talented student, all before he turned four! He may prove to be the best Martial Artist in the entire family! Of course, we'll see if his little sister gives him a run for that title one day!
As adults my husband and I found a common bond in training. We encourage one another, help each other, and practice together. Because of the arrival of our third child I have put my training on hold but have earned my blue belt as of June 2010. My husband, showing true aptitude, commitment, and skill, has earned his brown belt, starting his path directly to black belt. A torn ACL left my husband needing surgery in August and in the middle of an intense recovery, but he is still training and awaiting the day his doctor gives him the "all clear" sign to step foot on the Dojo floor again. And as soon as I feel it time, I will resume my training. Because, as Sensei pointed out to me, Karate is a lifestyle, not a goal with a finish line. My family and I are on this journey for life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Art of the Kiss

The first instant of attraction, a first date, and then, finally, the first kiss.

The body stirs, the electricity swirls, and brain functions cease. There is no reason, no logic, nor any judgement, there is just the kiss.

And that kiss usually determines if there will be another kiss, another date, or a search for another altogether.

Invariably we all remember our first kiss, or at least the first kiss with the one we choose to be with currently.

Before there were children, mortgages, bills, work deadlines, and the mundanity of everyday life, there was the intensity of the emotions and passions for one another.

Think back to a time when a greeting kiss was not merely a quick peck but a focused bond formed between the lips. All too often, after years of marriage or monogamy, the kiss gets the far backseat, the third row of the minivans of our lives. Everyone and everything else takes precedent and the act that connected us so strongly gets pushed down the to-do list because it is not as insistent as bosses, runny-nosed children, the president of the PTA, or the dog.

But kissing just might be the way to capture our former greatness and make our relationships sparkle like they once did. Kissing may remind us that we are the people we were attracted to in the beginning of the relationship, the very same sexy, adventurous, vital beings who longed to be near one another and share ourselves.

Although I've been with my husband for twenty-four years, since my freshmen year of high school, I had kissed a few boys in my past.

Kissing was exciting, interesting, fascinating, and not always neat. The boys who chose to kiss me had different techniques, but it wasn't until I met my husband that I found the ideal kisser for me.

For you see, kissing is subjective, but certain empirical facts have been discovered and I'm here to share them.

First it is important to note a kiss is a primitive dance, but one that should not be choreographed. A practiced kiss lacks spontaneity and feels lackluster.

A kiss should be searching but not probing, exploratory but not invasive.

Kisses should run the gamut from soft and sensual to passionate and throbbing. A marriage of lips and tongue, not all or nothing, should be the goal. That balance ought be struck to create ideal kissing.

A kiss should leave you tingly, yearning for more, and aching for the next kiss.

A kiss should warm your soul, make you feel gorgeous, and leave you temporarily paralyzed by the sheer chemistry involved.

Kisses should make you forget about the dinner burning on the stove, the garbage that needs to be taken out, the grocery list, the term paper, or the client that needs the callback.

Kissing should be a mini-vacation that offers complete serenity and a rush of raw emotion.

We should take a page from high school students and let our passions take the wheel occasionally.

Of course, being adults we have to keep our emotions in check, our priorities straight, and our passions caged through most of our day, but if we got back to the art of the kiss, we may just find the world, our world, is a much more tolerable place with wonderful moments to look forward!

Do you dare kiss and tell? Have a kissing story to share? Disagree with this blog or endorse it whole-heartedly? Can't believe I wrote about THIS?! Then step up and leave your comments below. I'd love to read what YOU think about kissing!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ah Hell, Halloween

A river of sweat is pouring down my back and it has nothing to do with the exercise I just did or the fact that my children gave me some kind of head cold (the little petri dishes), it has to do with the Halloween season approaching. In my home Halloween is a month-long celebration that entails decorations, pumpkin-picking, toasting seeds, and trick-or-treating with the kids as well as celebrating my husband's birthday which is actually on Halloween. All of these events do not strike fear in me or induce panic, I rather enjoy them and waited a lifetime to do these things with my children. What does affect me to the point of night terrors is what to dress up as this year. We've been invited to a Halloween costume party and I have no earthly idea what to wear!
This is a common refrain from my past. From the time I was a child I struggled with what to be for Halloween. My mother was not a creative mom when it came to crafts and costumes, so I was restricted to what the dime store offerings were or what I could piece together out of her closets. My costumes ranged from a store bought Wonder Woman costume (Lynda Carter was and is my ideal woman for looks and Wonder Woman/Diana Prince as a strong female role model) that was so ugly and uncomfortable that I'm not sure it ever got worn for trick--or-treating, to a homespun witch's costume wearing my mother's black velvet skirt, black velvet shawl lined in a hot pink satin, a witches hat, and a fireplace broom for my primary school hands to wrangle. One year I tried  to be my favorite doll, Barbie. My mother purchased a blond wig and I wore designer jeans and a little rabbit fur jacket. No, no one knew who I was. As I teen my boyfriend and I wore matching Tommy Hilfiger oxford cloth button down shirts to my husband's Halloween birthday open house and arrived as "the Bobbsey Twins". (Note: My husband and I were high school sweethearts for most of my high school career. He had a yearly Halloween Open House. I only was around for the last one as he was a senior and I was a freshmen. I attended that party with a boyfriend, but shortly thereafter my husband and I were together). Once again, most didn't get it. As an adult I've usually steered clear of costumes and opted for more seasonal attire, although there was a period when I tried to be a relic from the 1980s when I taught school in the later 1990s. I wore a great dress circa 1983 that was my mother's and was in my everyday wardrobe as it was a classic design, teased my hair, piled on my make-up and rhinestone jewelry and was fairly successful with the kids. That is until I wore the dress again toward the end of November that year and one of my fashion-forward students pointed out that I was in the same dress as my Halloween costume and that ended my coolness factor (in her eyes). I've tried a cape with my own wardrobe but could never commit to white face paint and vampire fangs. I've tried a witches hat with my normal mommy clothes but the hat kept flying off (too small?). My costume history is really a string of Halloween failures. Once, as a mom of one, I had my husband wear his tuxedo and stuff a mini digital camera that looked like a pen into his lapel and I wore a slinky black evening gown. My husband created a tattoo on my shoulder in black eyeliner that read "007" - he was James Bond and I was a Bond Girl. That was pretty good, but that dress is not for a mommy who will be with her 3 little ones. In recent years I did have luck at the local Wal*Mart and became a Queen one year and a Devil Woman in Red the next, but I'm not sure those costumes currently fit in the wake of  baby number 3 either. Normally my costume dilemma would be minor as it was only my children I was trying to entertain and impress, but this year is different. Some long lost friends from our high school days are hosting a Halloween costume party and our entire family was invited. The boys are deciding between Transformers' characters (the oldest loves bad guys and would go as Megatron, the youngest is all about Optimus Prime) and both being Batman. I, however, have no idea what costume to don to get in the spirit, be comfortable, look great, and give into the look completely. I'd love to do a pair of costumes so my husband and I would complement each other, but I have no clue which direction to go. Moreover, money is certainly an issue as we don't have any to spend for a one night engagement (although we'd wear it again on Halloween as well). And our daughter is also costume-less at this point! So, any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated as would your tails of Halloween Hell or happiness. We need solutions quickly so I implore to type your responses to help me out of my predicament. I would like this Halloween to be the one I did RIGHT! Of course, if I didn't (again) it would sure give me great fodder for another blog in the future!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Healing Power Of Touch

From the time babies are born they crave human touch. A mother's cuddled embrace as she nurses/feeds her child, a father's secure hold of his infant, a grandparent's seasoned crook of the arm to nestle the child are all yearned for by the baby as a method of soothing and a source of survival. And as adults we find touching our babies lovingly, in a nurturing way, is a pleasure and instinctual. As the babies grow to toddlers and they require less constant hands-on treatment, they still seek out Mom and Dad's confident hugs and helpful holds. A school-aged child needs touch in an encouraging way, to let them know that they are maneuvering through childhood in the correct direction and that, even though they are not the irresistible baby they started as, they are still beautiful beings worthy of praise and attention. Even a teen who is separating him/herself from the nest is hoping for that touch to connect them to what they will soon be leaving, accomplished, perhaps, by a sideways, arm-around-the-shoulder hug or a gentle tousle of the hair. By the time adulthood sets in, touch usually takes a sexual path more often than not. And although a healthy and active sex life is extremely important in adult relationships, human touch in a non-sexual manner is still vastly important.
Human contact is all too frequently missing from relationships today. With cyber-friendships, texting, and Skype, people are touching less and less. High stress levels, depression, and apathy seem to be prevalent in this modern world. Days are filled with endless hours of work, chores, childcare, and time in front of the computer/television. There seems to be an element missing that would soften the world - touch. A pat on the back for a job well done, a helping hand to assist, a warm embrace at the end of a day, would all do a lot to restore good feelings. Many turn to pets to fulfill their need for touch and studies show that petting dogs or cats can lower blood pressure and induce good, stress-free feelings. But human touch is still vital to human relationships and happiness. Touch shows a lowering of inhibitions and a higher level of trust.
Recently my husband underwent surgery to replace a torn ACL. The first 48 hours went relatively smoothly in his recovery. At one point days into his recovery, in the middle of the night, my husband felt enormous pain, could not get comfortable, and was more than an hour away from his next dose of pain medication. As his soft moans of agony filled the darkened room, I quickly went into action. Although his pain was in his right leg, I took his left arm and began massaging it. I worked tirelessly to work the hand and muscles to produce a relief to trump the pain he was feeling. Eventually the moans of pain drifted away and were replaced by soft restful snores. He slept peacefully until it was time to re-medicate.
Not too long ago I used a gift certificate to a spa my girlfriends chipped in to give me. It was a luxury to be sure! I had the usual manicure/pedicure and still had a few dollars left so I also stayed for a neck and shoulder massage. The fifteen minutes spent with the massage therapist were the most rejuvenating! I could feel my stress levels falling, my mood elevating, and my body actually healing. Tension, stress, aches, and pains were replaced by a feeling of relaxed bliss. I would surely revisit this place if the opportunity presented itself, but, let's face it, in this economy luxuries of this nature are few and far between.
What is the ideal luxury for me is much more simple. Aside from the loving kisses and embraces of my wonderful three children, it is the touch of my husband that satisfies me. On the couch, after a long day of being needed by those three little rascals, my husband places a pillow by his lap. I lay my head down and he diligently, lovingly pets my head. Sometimes he rubs my back or offers me a massage. These gestures are the human contact that make life a much nicer place.
Are you getting enough of the healing power of touch? If not, why not request it?! Lead by example and the rest will follow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Music Blog

What is the song you go to when you want a pick me up? When you are dragging, frustrated, depressed, bored, blah, getting psyched to go out, or simply need some music to elevate your mood, what do you reach for on your iPod, cd collection, or cassette tape? Do you prefer a classic rock band anthem? A kickass country tune? Some high octane sugary sweet bubblegum pop? Do you require smooth jazz to get you movin'? Do you belt out a showtune, dance to some disco, or headbang to some thrash band mix-up like you're in a mosh pit? Are you conducting a great classical piece, blasting a favorite Christmas song, or immersed in a sultry R&B number? Whatever the song or songs, list the one or ones that get your heart pumping, your lips and hips moving, and your pulse racing because you just LOVE the piece(s). There is no limit, just jump on your keyboard and respond to create a list of YOUR favorite(s).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reunion Part I

To tell this story I need to give a short background on my educational past. I was born and raised in Montville, New Jersey and attended school there from Day 1 through the freshmen year of high school (when and where I met my husband who was a senior at the time). After my freshmen year my parents picked up stakes and moved to Mendham, New Jersey, a very nice place but NOT my home town. After the first year in Mendham I decided  I wanted out of high school early, enrolled in junior year of English in summer school and returned to my third year of high school as a senior. I graduated at 16 as a junior/senior. I felt like I never had a Class or a School to call my own.
Fast forward twenty years later and my 20th High School Reunion at Mendham came...and went. I gave birth to my third child days before the reunion occurred. I was not passionate about attending anyway as, although I had made friends at Mendham, most of them were from the class I should have graduated. And now, a year later, I found out that my original class from Montville, the people who I grew up with in my formative years, are holding their 20th High School Reunion. Having not graduated with the class I looked on as an interested observer until a few days ago when a woman from that class contacted me and asked me if I'd like to attend. I made some inquiries and now I am attending!
For twenty years I thought I would never be a part of the hoopla surrounding reunions. But now, with this windfall bestowed upon me, I will be reconnecting with the people who had the most effects on me in my early years. My best friend from Nursery School through fourth grade will be attending. Kate (then Katy) was the prettiest little girl with big blue eyes, long blond pigtails she wore with yarn ribbon to match each and every outfit, and the smartest girl in the town (if not the universe!). My best friend from sixth grade, Becky, will be there, a dark goddess from a foreign land (she's Indian) who had impossibly long, silky straight dark hair, a keen sense of humor and big brains to boot! I will see friends who all took a part in framing my ideas on how to be friends, what is beautiful, funny, and acceptable. We have plans, several of us, to meet before the reunion to introduce each other to our children! And these women from my past all froze as 14/15 year old girls in my mind's eye! Now we get to reveal ourselves to one another and catch up on a mini-lifetime of events. All this would not have been possible without Facebook. So, as I prepare to meet the shadows of my past face to face, I raise a glass of thanks and cheers to Facebook and my many friends I will soon be reunited.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The REAL Real Housewife of New Jersey

Reality television is here to stay. I don't like most of it, I prefer scripted shows with professional writers offering up first-rate stories and intelligent, funny, witty, or compelling dialogue. The reality stars I've seen are boring, narcissistic, bumbling goofballs. Their reality, in the horribly edited way we've witnessed it, is insulting to America's collective intelligence, yet America keeps watching. My favorite reality shows actually offer up some real reality:  from the History Channel, American Pickers and Pawn Stars. And although these shows do have a following (thank goodness), it is the Bravo Channel's line up of "Housewives" series that really brings the viewers. I've tried to watch these shows as a lot of my peers enjoy them immensely. I can see why they are so popular. Seemingly attractive women who wear designer clothes, despise their spouses, parade their spoiled, obnoxious children, and whine and complain endlessly when they are not embroiled in some kind of WWE grudge match with one of the other "contestants"...I mean "housewife". It is escapism in it's highest form for regular housewives/moms. Our lives may be mundane, but at least we don't live like that! The shows are train wrecks we know we shouldn't watch, candy that will rot our brains, but still people tune in each week to see these "real life dramas" unfold. I tried to watch, I really did. I just simply had to stop, however, when those shows left the Left coast and came East. I drew the line when the Housewives series came to my own home state and offered up these 'characters' as reality stars.
I do not pretend that my way of life is the only way to do the jobs I hold, wife and mother. I do, however, know a lot of people in my line of work. We are as different as the snowflakes that fall in New Jersey winters, but none of the women I know carry on like these so-called housewives. Most of us shop at Wal*Mart, Target, and TJ Maxx, not at The Mall at Short Hills. Most of us wear Mommy clothes (jeans, sweats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, most of which are covered in baby drool, spit up, puke, or poop or a combination of these things). Most of us try to shower each and every morning, but with a newborn baby, sick child (or more) who kept us up all night and appointments to make during the day (doctor's office, dry cleaning, grocery store), we are not always awarded such luxury. Most of us would love a designer bag (or several), but we cling to the free diaper bag the hospital gave us when we took home our baby, even if that baby is seven years old now! The New Jersey Housewives I know are not bitches, do not want to scratch their social circles' collective eyes out, and value the friendships they've made. They care for their children, volunteer in the community, populate MOMS Clubs, Cub Scout Packs and Brownie Troops, PTAs, work hard at home and many at jobs outside the home, and still feel guilty that they are not doing enough. These women are the heroes who live in my communities and countless communities around the country. They are the pillars of our society who keep the world turning for America. Yet these typical lives are not glamorous nor fascinating. The public wants fantasy in their reality television. I get that. I just know that we should leave the television world to the professionals - I'd watch Glee, Grey's Anatomy, or the Big Bang Theory any day and twice on Sunday because those shows are pure escapism written by true talents. As for The Real Housewives of New Jersey (or any other state/city/region for that matter), I have the starring role in  my life. I think that's enough reality for one day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


My daughter did not take kindly to the changes being brought about to her young life. Yesterday, after a routine morning and the second of two naps, she woke up in a funky mood! To grab my attention she howled from her crib. I attended to her immediately amidst the flurry of guiding third grade homework, entertaining a four year old, and trying to prepare dinner. Once paroled from her crib my daughter found nothing right with her world. My attentions were not able to be solely on her, but as the youngest of three children you'd think she'd be getting used to that! Throughout the homework hour, the dinner preparation, and the dinner hour (which in our home is more like 4 1/2 minutes), my daughter cried, yelped, and made some other sounds I didn't know human babies could make! I tried all of the usual tricks:  diaper change, snacks, having four year old brother playing with her, and, yes dear readers, even the forbidden tv! NOTHING would placate this little girl. When at last her bedtime was approaching after hours of misery a wondrous thing occurred; her perspective changed.
That perspective change came in the form of her evening bath. Just starting the water produced an instant mood elevator. She patiently (as patient as an 11 month old can muster being) allowed me to disrobe her and plop her in the tub. The second her little body hit the bath her eyes lit up, her cries ceased, and a happiness overtook her that a parent wishes he/she could bottle and utilize for when those inopportune moments arise when the baby freaks out (gynecologist's visit, library time, Wednesday, etc.).
But water has that effect on most of us. When we've had a particularly trying, hard day, we might take a hot shower or a long soak in a bubble bath. When the children are sweltering and plum worn during an oppressive summer day, doesn't the kiddie pool or sprinkler do the trick to revitalize them? When I'm feeling frazzled myself, I long to see the sunlight glisten on the Lake (Hopatcong, Bear Pond) near my home. On vacation I enjoy the breathtaking magnitude and solace the ocean offers and revel in the rejuvenating qualities it provides. Even soaking one's feet after a long day is therapeutic. And, a cool glass of water quenches thirst and uplifts one's mood more than soda, juice, or liquor.
Water is the element that soothes, calms, cleans, relaxes, and placates. It can become violent (storms, my children's baths when they splash and get the floor soaked), but water returns to that hypnotic, serene body that attracts and seduces us. From infancy forward water is the life force we need to perpetuate. Mood elevator, life sustainer, muse, water changes our perspective. On behalf of my daughter and me, thank you, water.

Monday, September 20, 2010


As a parent I have found that few things get me into action faster than the sound of crying. Whether intense and desperate, whiny and insistent, or plainly bloodcurdling, the cries of my children run up my spine and force me to the situation at hand.
This reaction, I would imagine, is true for most parents. We are hard-wired to react in just this way to insure the survival of our young. If our children are in danger their cries alert us to that and allow us to rescue them. If our children are hungry they use their cries for the same effect, to be fed. Even older children's tears are a flag that something is wrong and we need to step in to offer assistance, a strong shoulder, or support of some kind.
But having raised two other children I know that not all cries should be answered. Some cries are simply habits that manipulate a parent to respond. At some point the cries need to be ignored (as long as the child is not sick or in danger). A baby who has all of its needs met and is old enough to do so, should be sleeping through the night. I know this. My two sons were trained at the "right time" to sleep through the night and my husband and I utilized the "crying out" method. Although this method is it's own kind of torture, it is only tortuous to the parents. Sure the children cry like they are never going to stop, but they do stop, and sleep. And when these children awaken at a decent hour they are well rested, happy, and have no earthly idea they put you through such an ordeal!
So when I was questioned by my loving husband and father of my 3 children why our youngest child was still demanding a middle-of-the-night feeding at 11 + months old, I had no answer. Calorically she did not need to awaken. She rarely ate much and she would go right back down to sleep. I had even employed the crying out method earlier in her infancy to terrific effect, but for some reason when a cry came after that time, I rushed to her side and nursed her. I used excuses like not wanting to wake the rest of the house, she didn't eat well the night before, and the weak she just needs me. But the truth is, I needed to be needed. This baby is most likely the last baby we'll have. That's a decision we made together and we are very at peace. But that doesn't change the fact that it is hard to adjust to the idea that my role as a mother of a baby is ending...forever. Although still very young and dependent, the early stages of babyhood are completely behind me. I now have a toddler who can maneuver around her world on foot. A child who sits at a high chair, eats table food, and is able to understand if not yet communicate through words. Her cries now are a higher form of communication: I'm hungry is plaintive, I'm sporting a dirty diaper is a rather disgusted cry, and the whiny cry belies her tiredness. But the little cries that come out in the overnight are endangered species. Other than an occasional illness that will keep my little girl from sleep, she is ready and able to go the distance and sleep all night. 
We resolved last night that when the cries came I would stay strong and stay clear. With the first cry I went to her, settled her down, told her I loved her, and explained that I would not be coming back and that it was night time so she should go to sleep. Babies don't reason. I left. She cried. I curled up in fetal position in my bed. My husband reached out a supportive and comforting hand to me. She cried on and off for an hour or so, but nothing too bad. She is long past ready to give up the overnight if last night is proof positive. 
So now I start a new stage of parenting, the one where I regain my sleep to restore some brain function. Because although the nighttime cries are ceasing for the most part, the daytime cries still come from all of the children. And, hey, they come from me, too! And for that I am proud. Teaching my children to sleep through the night is a wonderful gift I have given them. But I also want to express to them that crying is a very healthy way to deal with life's hardships and joys. That crying, not as an only coping mechanism, but as a release of stress to clear one's mind to move into action, is a great tool to have as one is moving through life. That being in touch with your emotions and feeling to that depth is a positive not a weakness. So as I listen to a silent baby monitor that indicates my little girl is sleeping peacefully, I cry for the end of an era and I rejoice for the start of a new chapter. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Music Blog

Friday Music Blogs are completely interactive. For the blog to be successful I need all of you to respond with your favorite song, artist, and/or album that fits the genre. Each week the topic changes. I've had great response from this blog at I still post a topic there so you should check it out if you like this idea. The topic here will be different so stay with me!

Today's focus is on the song(s) you just can't get out of your head. The song may be tortuous, bubblegum pop, awesome classic rock with heavy guitar licks, or some tremendous piece of classical music. A country tune may be the song floating in your mind or a smooth piece of Jazz. Whatever the rift going through your head, share it below and stick it in someone else's brain! Remember, this works best with full member participation. Please sign up to follow so you can leave your comments below! Happy Friday everyone and thank you for making my first week so incredible!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Communication is key to the relationships we hold.

Being able to discuss our needs, wants, and desires with those we hold intimately is crucial to forming loving, trusting, fulfilling bonds. We are coached by television therapists, magazine articles, and our sensitive friends that talking is the way to reveal ourselves to another.

As a writer I am supposed to be a master of the written word. It is an easy assignment when I need to write a letter, ask someone a favor, or even announce my undying love to someone via the typed/hand-written print.

But for some reason, as well as I write, I am unable to verbally communicate as effectively.

Since childhood, along with my writing prowess, I was known as a sympathetic ear, a great listener. Friends and even strangers, especially strangers, would sit down next to me and share their most intimate secrets in short spans of time.

Admittedly I am a very direct person shooting penetrating queries at my partner in conversation and simply allowing him/her to respond without interruption.

Listening is actually an art.

Many of us hear just fine, but to really listen we have to focus on what another is trying to tell us. We cannot make a mental list for the grocery store, queue up our next response and blurt it out before the person is done speaking, or drift off to LaLa Land because we have lost interest.

Listening requires complete abandon to the words being uttered. Eyes, ears, brain all need to be directed solely to the speaker. Eye contact, a vital part of listening, has all but vanished from our culture.

As our modern technical world has to deal less and less with human contact, when meetings do occur most people are wildly uncomfortable with the intimacy of looking into one another's eyes.

But that is how to focus in on the speaker and really absorb what is being told to you!

So, I am blessed with a the gift to listen and it has served me well. I have gained numerous friendships and enjoyed appreciative encounters simply because I can effectively listen as people unload the problem, insecurity, or enthusiasm they do not want to contain.

Then how do I succeed in that area so well and fail terribly in my own personal communication?

Since childhood I have been ineffectively communicating my own needs, desires, and wants.

I can speak to command a classroom, a large gymnasium filled with hundreds of competition cheerleaders and their families, lead and recite the Pledge of Allegiance loudly and proudly at a Pack Meeting, and run my household with 3 dependent children, but I can scarcely communicate my needs well to those I hold most dear.

I seemed to have been absent the day "effective communication with one's spouse" was being taught.

All of the gifts that allow me to be a fantastic listener disappear the minute my husband and I begin talking. I lose focus, talk over him, and sometimes even mentally wander away. I am incapable, at times, to organize my thoughts coherently and can rarely figure out what I really want to say/do when we connect.

And during an argument, forget it! I am worthless! My inadequacies as a communicator hit an all-time low! I simply do not understand why I live this dichotomy.

My husband is a staunch supporter of my writing, and, quite frankly, ME! He is reading this blog so I am not telling tales.

We are, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, tied together forever.

Our communication needs working on, and to that fact he would agree.

But what we also have going for us is that no matter how sucky our fights can be, how frustrating our arguments get, or how scatterbrained I am, we do always end up talking.

But my husband is right, if I would have just opened my mouth and stated my position BEFORE the fight, listened to him with all of my attention, and focused on him like I do countless others, we wouldn't get into so many pickles!

It is a character flaw for me. And I do know better. Countless times a day I instruct people to work on their communication skills. What I need to be doing is working on them myself!

Are you the master communicator in your life or do you resist interaction?

Are you the taciturn one or do you talk everything out?

Have you developed excellent listening skills or are you not really present in the conversations you engage?

Communication sets apart from most other species - it is the reason humans have built civilizations, mastered technology, and explored the far reaches.

But, as important, vital as communication is, most of us need a refresher course on how to be proficient at it.

I think it's worth the time to learn. How about you?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Change has been the topic on my mind for days. On my other blogging site,, a NASCAR fan site, I wrote about change last weekend, but more applicable to changes on the site. But change, like death and taxes, is a constant. Change happens whether we want it to or not.
Change takes us out of our comfort zone, excites us, terrifies us, and gets the adrenaline pumping. And although many of us complain that we want change (new job, better house, sometimes even a different spouse) when we are presented with the opportunities that lead to change many simply resist or let the opportunities pass by. We fear the unknown. The status quo, although we may believe is stifling us, is so much safer and more comfortable than change must be. Of course, like it or not, change occurs and eventually the change becomes the norm.
In my world of late change is happening at warp speed. As the seasons change I see the relentless march of time. My children, now 8, 4, and 11 months, have grown leaps and bounds hitting milestones galore. I attended the 8 year old's Back to School night for 3rd grade. We were told that 3rd grade is a very tough year and brings with it a lot of change. From cursive writing to multiplication tables and from note-taking to taking more responsibility as a student, my first born has now entered the educational path that will take him away from my home and off to college one day. My 4 year old is in his second year of Nursery School. Unlike last year's toddler program, this year prepares him for Kindergarten. He will begin learning to print the alphabet, spell his name, learn his home address and phone number, and, most importantly, how to be away from me for longer periods of time to prepare him for the public school day. This baby, not even toilet trained at this time last year, is reveling in his 'big boy' status. He boasts of his character underwear (Batman, Lightning McQueen, Buzz Lightyear), is proud of his  job as a student, "I go to school like Matthew", and is eschewing the naps he still desperately needs but he sees tying him to infancy. Lastly, my 11 month old is whizzing through her first year of life. If you have more than one child you will agree that the younger child(ren) hit milestones faster, stronger, and better than the first born. This little girl rolled, sat up, ate, and walked far earlier and more graceful than her two older brothers. She has little time for cuddling or sleep for that matter! Her pace of change gives me whiplash!
Change is not only happening to my children. In my life change is happening all around. My husband and my relationship continues to evolve, gets tested by the chaotic pace of life that defines raising 3 kids together, and stands up to the stresses that this economy, our past histories, our coping mechanisms, and twenty-four years together can bring. We met as teenagers (I was 14 he 17). Now married nearly 18 years, the changes require us to grow. We learned early on, if one is growing and the other isn't, then one of us may get left behind. So we continue to fight tooth and nail to keep our relationship top priority, a Herculean task with those kids in our home!
My role in my own live has changed as well. I went from being a well paid teacher who saw hundreds of faces each day and affecting thousands of lives to being a stay-at-home mom. This change was the best of my life! My best day teaching, and there were many of them, does not hold a candle to my worst day as a parent (puke, poop, melt-downs). There is no way to explain to a non-parent, but, if you are a parent you know what I mean. Now I have more time to think of "what's next?". The blogging fulfills a lifetime desire to write. From my earliest memories, when I put pencil to paper, I have been crafting stories, compelled to communicate through the written word. Writing's import in my life has not changed, the technique to get it out in the world has. I have other interests that I am anxious to explore as well. I know all too well that my mommy days, the day-to-day job, will be over all too quickly. Change is lurking around every corner. My job is to be ready for it, embrace it, keep an open mind to it, and prepare my children for it.
How is change impacting your life?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy New Year!

No, I haven't lost my mind or my calendar, I realize it is mid-September. My whole life has revolved around the school calendar. As a student, then a teacher, and now the mother of school-aged children, the month of September has heralded a new year. And, with many who make resolutions at the end of December when that other new year is lurking around the corner, I typically make resolutions before the school year begins in earnest.
This year was no exception. With three children in the home, a husband recovering from ACL surgery, and multiple roles I play, I decided this was the year to take control of the things I felt were spiraling out of control. And, like a lot of new year resolutions, weight loss was at the top of my list. I am not a skinny little thing nor will I ever be. My body has produced three large beautiful babies, fed those babies, carries those babies even now, and does a lot of hard core chores. But my weight has crept up and with "40" on the horizon in a couple of years I thought it was time to nip the creeping weight in the butt. So I "strap on" my elliptical machine every morning by 4:30a EST for a 30 minute workout session. And the best thing about daily exercise is the emotional weight I seem to be losing. Frustration is ebbing, self esteem is rising, and production is going up as well. My well-being in general is taking a turn for the better by simply putting my SELF as a priority. As women, primary care givers, we tend to push ourselves to the bottom of the priority list. Our husbands, children, neighbors, pets, extended family members, and strangers from the PTA rate higher than we do because we refuse to say "NO" once in a while. I'm all too guilty for putting myself low on my list. And that's crazy! As the airlines tell us when we fly with them, in the event of an emergency, put YOUR oxygen mask on first BEFORE you help your child(ren). And if we aren't taking care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? I have no excuse for putting myself last on the list, my husband is extraordinarily supportive of respecting my position in the family as number one next to him (not behind). We are a team and for the team to function at full capacity ALL members must be nourished, strong, and, relatively speaking, sane! For many of you this may seem like the most common of common sense, but for me it has taken thirty-eight years and three children to see the logic.
I am still in the early stages of my lifestyle change, but it is about changing my lifestyle, not dieting or deadlines. I just want to be healthier, commit to daily exercise, and make me a priority in my life. I want and need to continue this positive path and feel this forum will keep me on the "straight and narrow". This blog is NOT a diary of my struggles with weight loss, but it is public enough to remind me that I am not alone. Your taciturn support should be the encouragement I need when my resolve starts to ebb.
So Happy New Year to all of my friends! We are going to have a great year together. I look forward to exploring so many topics with you and implore you to leave your comments. For me the highlight of blogging versus writing is the immediate feedback blogging offers. I enjoy the exchange of ideas, the camaraderie, and the knowledge that I"m not out here alone.
Until next time, all my best to you. Make this YOUR year, too!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Calling All Friends!

This is a great day.  I can tell already. By starting a blog at this site I have opened the door to huge possibilities. I am a writer. I love to share my experiences, strengths, hopes, and mishaps. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher, a student, a den leader, and myriad other things in one person. I am Me. And I hope you take some time to get to know me. I am not new to blogging. I have been blogging for over 3 years and have nearly 500 blogs posted online. I am so excited to be at this location to expose myself to an even broader group of people. Change is good. Change is inevitable. I am welcoming change in hopes of finding a new online home.

My moniker was given to me by my husband. We are a racing family. My husband races a vintage 1960 English Daimler Dart SP250 in the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA). We have raced from Lime Rock, Connecticut to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Pocono International Raceway to Watkins Glen International. It is a terrific group that celebrates the classic cars as they race and not driver accomplishment. The VSCCA offers no purse, trophy, or points. The goal is for the men and women in the Club to race safely, have fun, and show their audience the glory of these beautiful old cars. My husband's car number in the VSCCA is 187. He is known as Racer 187 and he gave me the name Chief 187 because I am his Crew Chief.

As with most Americans in recent years the economy has hit hard. We are currently on the second season of suspended racing because we simply cannot afford it at present. Regardless, we still love racing, are NASCAR fans, and watch some Indy and F1 racing as well. I keep my name Chief because, like most moms I know, we are the Crew Chiefs of our families.

Are you the one who makes appointments at doctor's offices, schools, and sets up play-dates? Do you grocery shop, help with homework, and do laundry? Do you organize family meals, vacations, and holiday plans? Do you multi-task all day everyday with no days off?  Whether you are the mom, the dad, or all rolled into one, I bet you can identify with the many hats we wear. You are the Crew Chief of your family like I am the one of mine. So I invite you to join me as I chronicle the observations I've made and ask you to leave comments with your perspective. I enjoy the camaraderie of this type of forum and anxiously await widening my friend base.