Monday, December 17, 2012

Real heroes

The events of December 14th are still pretty raw for most of us.  20 children shot dead in their classrooms.  No rhyme or reason.  Just a mentally ill man with access to firearms.  

On Sunday, our pastor urged us to be the community that tells the Sandy Hook community that we grieve with them.  Here is the letter I intend to send:

Dear Staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School,

No words can provide the comfort in the unspeakable and horrific tragedy that  you experienced on December 14th.  As a teacher and a mom, my heart breaks for your staff, your parents, your community.  I keep asking "Why?"  I know that I am not alone.  The entire country is asking that same question. 

I know that I cannot say anything that will make this all better.  But I wanted you to know that there are communities out there who are grieving with you, who are watching and thanking God for the heroes who risked and gave their lives to save the children who could be saved:

Your principal, Dawn Hochsprung.
Your school psychologist Mary Sherlach
Victoria Soto
The special education teacher, Anne Marie Murphy
Lauren Rousseau
Rachel D'Avino

And those heroes who survived. 

As a teacher, I wonder if I could have been that brave, if I could've risked my life to save the life of a child.  We teachers vow to do what's best for kids.  We vow to guide and teach and help.  Yet, your teachers and staff did so much more, beyond training, beyond anything that they had ever anticipated or prepared for.  

I want you to know that your community has touched other communities.  As I struggle to make sense of it for myself and my own children and my students, I want you to know that you all are in our thoughts and prayers.   God bless you all.

Stephanie Calabria
MD teacher and mother

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heaven and Hell

There's a Willie Nelson song that goes, "Well, some days it's Heaven and some days it's Hell and some days I just don't know..." 
Sing it, Willie!

Well, today I pretty much knew.  It was Hell. 
That's gotta hurt.

But the good thing about life (and country songs) is that there just might be a 2nd verse, or at very least a refrain. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Smells Like Teen Spirit...Well, Teen Stench Anyways

The teens have been smelling bad lately...I mean, like PU.  Ick.

No, they haven't given up showering.  They have both joined high school sports teams.  Yes, both are involved in winter sports. 
The oldest is my wrestler.  He's been part of the team since freshman year.  This year, as a senior, he was named by his coach in the local paper as "key returner."  But his "key" return was nearly sidetracked this week by the worst of the worst for wrestlers....RINGWORM~
Who knew those little buggers could be so cute?

Yes, I know.  Ick!  Gross!  Blech!  A gross addition to the already gross smell that enters my car every time I pick him up.  But the ringworm has been taken care of, and he will have his first match tomorrow.  I am super pumped. 

My daughter is running indoor track this year.  And you know what?  She suddenly stinks too.  And she gets in the same car. 
Could someone get me a nice nose plug for Christmas?  Please???

So, for the next 3 months, I will run my children from practice, to matches and meets, and generally put up with the smell.  And you know what?  I'm ok with that because it makes them happy, and they make me proud.  So what if I have no sense of smell by the end of winter sports season?  Nose hairs grow back, don't they?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfully Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving time is here again.  Not that you would know from all the CHRISTMAS commercials blitzing up the television airwaves, flyers, and mailings.  Shit, Black Friday actually starts on THANKSGIVING THURSDAY this year.  It makes me wanna say to the marketing people who think of these things:

Obligatory cute kitten meme! 

But Thanksgiving deserves its own kudos.  I have so much for which to be thankful.  It's sometimes hard to see it in the dark times, but I do.  And I HATE it that the holiday doesn't always get the respect it deserves.  I have a friend who has posted since Halloween ended "Respect the turkey."  There are plenty of memes out there that support her point of view.
Yeah, like that...

And you know what?  She's right.  So I am thankful that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that tomorrow I will run a 3.1 mile race, then gorge my gut with turkey that I don't even have to cook (my mother-in-law takes that task on).  I am thankful for the opportunity to spend quality time with my family. 

I am just thankful...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And then I told my teenagers that their father was a "stallion" in bed

I'm going to quit driving my kids places.  True story from last night's 10 minute drive with the teens to drop them off at their activities:

18 Year Old Son:  Mom, can I have sex since I'm 18 now and technically an adult?

Me:  You can have sex now that you're 18 but you probably shouldn't.  I don't want any grandchildren.

Son:  Well, if I'm gonna have sex and get some girl pregnant, it better be worth it.

Me: (remaining calm because we've had this conversation before) I think it's probably worth it.  Otherwise, people wouldn't have sex if they didn't want babies.  Not that I want either of you to have sex until you're ready.

15 Year Old Daughter:  Well, now that you've made it seems so interesting....

Me:  I'd think that it would already be interesting.  (to son) Maybe you should talk to your friends who are having sex and ask them these questions.

Son:  None of them are having sex.

Me:  (sarcastically) What's happened to kids today?  In my day, we were doing it like monkeys.

Son:  So you had sex when you were a teenager.

Me:  I didn't say me.

Daughter:  But you said "we."

Son:  And you dated Dad in high school.  (to his sister).  Mom and Dad did it.

Me:  I didn't say that.  

Son:  Do you and Dad have still do it?

Me:  That's really none of your business.  You're a little too interested in my sex life.

Son:  Well, you said it was worth it.

Me:  What do you want me to tell you--that your father is a stallion in bed?

Daughter:  Who thinks puppies are cute?  I think puppies are cute.  What about you guys?  Do you think puppies are cute?

The conversation only went downhill from there.  I think their father needs to take them to their activities.  He says the conversations are not NEARLY as uncomfortable.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where Are You?

My Facebook page has exploded with a very important debate--no, not the upcoming election (although it's exploded with that).  The "bandwagon" status of posting what all the things for which you're grateful in the month of November.  People have jumped on or completely blasted those who have decided to jump on.  And I am just aghast at how ugly this has become.

Those of you who read my blog know that several months ago, I read a book that said that gratitude was one of the biggest ways in life to get what you want.  One of the exercises that the book recommended was writing 10 things per day for which I was grateful and WHY I was grateful for them.  And I did...every day.  Since July, I have only missed 2 days.  So, when the November "month of thanks" statuses started, I have to admit, I was a bandwagon jumper.  What's one more thing?  Sometimes it's something from my gratitude journal and that's ok.

Here's the thing.  The end of November is traditionally the start of a several month long battle with depression for me.  It's darker, it's colder, and there are a lot of bad and sad memories associated with  those cold winter months.  It starts on November 30th with my mother's birthday (she passed when I was 12), moves to 18 days later on December 17th with the anniversary of her death, then we have the hustle and bustle and craziness of Christmas, followed by the anniversary of my father's death on January 18th.  February gives a reprieve, only to have my dad's birthday in March.  Some years I deal just fine with it; some years, not so fine.  But finding the good in my life helps.  It is where I am.  It's what I need to do.

At the same time, I realize that other people are where they are.  I can imagine that for some, the month long reading of Mary Sunshine posts can be grating.  I've read some that make me go "Ugh!" and I'm on the bandwagon!  And that is where some people are.

Then, there are those who have raged against the hypocrisy of the whole thing.  Why is November the only month to be grateful?  Again, I agree.  Some people will use this month as a launching pad to be grateful every day of their lives.  Others will begin griping as soon as midnight December 1st happens, IF they make it through the month.  Some are already grateful everyday and don't feel the need to bother their Facebook friends with it.  Some are so knee-deep in whatever demons they have that they cannot find the good (or there may not be good). 

My point is, we are all in different places in our lives.  I know where I am.  I know what I have to do and don't have to do.  I am also aware that others are in a different place, and I respect that.  I just hope that friendships are not destroyed because we can't meet people where they are because that would certainly be a shame. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adulthood, Responsibilities, and Alice Cooper

So, last Saturday, I became the parent of an adult.  No, I didn't go adopt some poor underprivileged 35 year old from the seedy side of town (Tony never lets me have any fun).  My son turned 18. 

Isn't he a good-lookin' thing?  Takes after his mama!

Now, I know you're thinking, "How can this be?   She's so young, so full of life.  She can't be much more than 18 herself!" 

No really, you ARE thinking that, RIGHT???

But no, I am the parent of an 18 year old, and I didn't really have him at the age of 6.   And if you're thinking this is shocking, imagine how I feel.

It seems like just yesterday that I was holding this tiny little baby with tufts of black hair in my arms.  Boy, was I scared.  I mean, I could've DROPPED that on the floor...which wasn't clean...because I'm a horrible housekeeper and always was.  Where did that last 18 years go?    It sure went by fast.

But I hope that he has a few years of fun left before he's saddled with the drudgery that most of us adults face:  bills, family responsibilities. You know--pay your bills, go to work, raise your children, die.
Ok, maybe not.   After all, he's 18, and he don't know what he wants.
Right, Alice?

But I know what I want for him.  A good life.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paperwork & Nostalgia

Here's a quote from the late Frank Zappa that has really been fitting my life in the last week and a half: 

"It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia."
Yeah, THAT Frank Zappa...father of Moon Unit and Dweezil...rock god....visionary...dead.

I have said before that the months of September through June are a whirlwind of running and working and craziness that exhaust me.  Love my job...really...but every year, there is more paperwork...more and more forms to fill out in triplicate...more tree killin'.  

This year has been no exception.  When I started in special education years ago, IEPs (that's Individualized Education Plans for you lay folks) were like 8 pages long...half the time, that INCLUDED the signature page.  Nowadays, the IEP is around 23 pages long...and that's not even considered one of the complicated ones.  Yep, that's 15 extra pages of legal mumbo jumbo, filler, and jargon. And let's not start on all the extra forms that need to be filled out.  Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork...It seems to have taken over my life.

Send in a rescue squad!!!

But let's not forget the 2nd part of Zappa's quote...nostalgia.  With all this paperwork, nostalgia for summertime has also run rampant in my head.  I miss the carefree days of 2 weeks ago.  I miss my youth when I didn't have anything to do but go to school and worry whether the boy I liked liked me back.  I miss the days of being the supported, not the supporter.  It can be quite a stressful feeling to want to go back. 

Because who WOULDN'T wanna go back to high school 80s hair and clothes???

 So, bring on the fire and ice.  I'm not afraid.  Because I've faced paperwork and nostalgia and lived to tell about it.  But something tells me, Mr. Zappa may have a point...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back To School...

There's a Staples commercial that has been on around this time every year for the last few years.  Perhaps you've seen it.  A father skipping playfully through the store to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" while his melancholy kiddos follow sadly behind and the voice-over announces happily, "They're going back [to school]..."  Yeah this one:

Sadly, not every parent is excited about the beginning of a new school year.  Say if you're a, like might not be quite as excited.  You might even want to cry into your Froot Loops when you roll out of bed at 9 or 10 am for the last time for 10 months. 
Yeah, like this...

Tomorrow, I will be back to work again.  Now let me just say, I'm grateful to have "work" to go back to.  Many people do not have a job right now.  And I really do love what I do.  I didn't JUST become a teacher for the 2 and a half month vacation.  I really, REALLY love being a teacher. 
No, I really, really do love it!!!

But I know that with the start of school comes the start of the 10 month mayhem that I call my life.  Every year, it gets busier and more jam-packed.  Every year, it gets more exhausting (probably because I'm getting old and crotchety).  So, I take a deeeeeeep breath and head to the starting line again. 
On your mark, get set...

But lest you think me ungrateful for the summer I've had, here are my top 10 picks (not in any order) of the things that made my summer blessed:

1.  I am grateful for the time spent with my children.  We spent a quality summer together.
2.  I am grateful that I was able to have quality time with the ball & chain when he was able to take off work (especially Date Night at the wine bar).
3.  I am grateful that I got to go to King's Dominion TWICE in one summer.
4.  I am grateful that I was able to spend some great quality time with 3 great gals in North Carolina.
 5.  I am grateful for the family reunion with my cousins, aunts, and uncles in New Jersey.
6.  I am grateful for an entire summer spent at the pool soaking up that Vitamin D and socializing with friends.
7.  I am grateful for beautiful weather throughout the summer.
8.  I am grateful for sleeping in on many days.
9.  I am grateful for chasing chickens and goats at a farm with good friends (and food that was soooo yummy!).
10.  I am grateful for summer evenings at the carnivals

So, goodbye, Summer 2012.  I will miss you terribly.  But it's going to be a terrific school year, and I will look forward to your sibling, Summer 2013. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Breathing Room

Last weekend, I went on a girls' weekend with 2 friends to visit a 3rd friend in Ashville, North Carolina. 

We spent the weekend drinking, talking, drinking some more, laughing, singing, drinking, ziplining, and drinking...oh, and we drank a little, too. 

A Grrrlz Weekend favorite
I have gone away from my family a couple of times in the 20 years I've been married.  I find that it gives me some breathing room.  I'm not unhappy in my life, nor do I want out of my situation.  In the spirit of recent posts, let me just state right now that I feel blessed to have such a wonderful, loving husband and 3 awesome children (remind me I said they're awesome when they've worked on a nerve or 2). 
Yeah, that nerve...

It's just that every now and then, I need a break.  Not a long one.  But a break.  Breathing room.  Time to be me--not Mom or wife or teacher or taxi driver.  Time when I can visit new places and try new things...all on my own. 
This year's "new thing" to try--Navitat Canopy Adventures.  Not me in this pic but I did this zipline. 

I had an awesome time.  I bonded with some great gals, and I pushed myself on a zipline.  And I came back--better mother, wife, and person for it.  And THAT is yet another blessing to count.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Still Rocking The Gratitude

I kinda imagined Joey saying that last part.

So it has been 2 weeks since I resolved to write my blessings and have gratitude for EVERYTHING I could possibly think of.  How am I doing? 

I would like to say:

Gratitude has been surprisingly easy.  I think I was already a thankful person--my life has had some lows that I wouldn't wish on anyone else, but I always seem to find my way out of the funk that follows and move into a better state of mind.

Pretty much from the first day I started keeping track of my blessings, I began to have "good luck."  Things seem to work out better these days.  Maybe it's just a happy attitude.  I am definitely happier.  I am definitely not always happy.  Negativity can wear me down and I fall into that same pattern of bitchin' and complainin'. 

But the good news is, I'm becoming more aware of when this is happening, and on at least a couple of occasions, I was able to find positivity in the negative and bring myself out of a potential ungrateful feeling.


It all goes down to whatcha momma taught you.  Say, "thank you."  It costs nothing, and it  makes you focus on good. 
She'd probably also tell you to wear clean underwear...just in case you're in a car accident, but I digress...

I hope that I can remember this as summer winds down, and I head back to work.  Oh, and...


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attitude Is Everything

A few friends of mine posted the following sign on Facebook this morning, but I can't get it to copy into this blog, so I'll just give you the gist:
karma cleanse
*  be grateful
*  act with love
*  check your motives
*  watch your attitude
*  forgive
(it had cute little emoticons on it and everything--this is irritating!)

It really fits with my mindset lately.  The hardest bit of advice for me to follow has been the gratitude.   I think somewhere in the last year, I have been on a roller coaster ride that keeps dipping into the negative.  I am not sure that I have been grateful on a regular basis.  Or at least, I have let myself dwell in the things I don't have rather than the blessings I've been given. 

I am one of those people who see-saws between Pollyanna and Negative Nelly.  When I'm up, there is nothing that I can't do.  I can be Queen of the Universe. 
See?  The Queen.  Doncha fuhgit it!

When I'm down, I'm really down.  The whole world caves in. 
Kinda like this but without the call to my homeowner's insurance.

But I am seeing more and more that there are so many things in my life for which to to be grateful.  I am currently reading this book that suggests that I write down 10 blessings in my life every day for 28 days.  But the book says don't just write down the blessings, write WHY I am grateful for them.  The blessings I can rattle off easily.  On the 2nd day, I actually was an overachiever and wrote TWENTY blessings. 

I'm gonna put this on my refrigerator

But it's the WHY part that's hard, or maybe just the verbalizing the why.  Why is it a blessing that I have been married to the same man for 20 years?  (ok, that's an easy one)  Why is my job a blessing?  My house?   The air I breathe?    It's forced me to think about why I am thankful for the very good things in my life.  But that in turn has made me even more grateful for those things. 

And it's also hard to come up with 10 new things each day.  I sometimes repeat.  I sometimes have trite, odd blessings and reasons (yesterday, I wrote that I was grateful for the rain because I could sit around and be lazy all day).  But I've noticed that I FEEL happier. 

Of course, I'm only on Day 3 of doing this.  I know that there will be days where I don't feel it or where things beyond my control put me in a negative mood.  But I need to find the blessing in what I can learn from the bad things and remember to glance at the Serenity Prayer that sits above my refrigerator. 
This is actually a tattoo.   I'm not sure I'd have the patience or pain tolerance to sit through a tattoo any more.

Most of all, I need to remember that attitude is everything. It defines who you are, so if you have a good one, life will be much happier. 

"Don't worry.  Be happy."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deja Vu

Yesterday, the kids had their annual doctor's appointments.  For the most part, visits to the doctor are pretty stress-free, the occasional fear that there will be shot (mostly from the 17 year old), a few uncomfortable moments when the doctor has to look at private parts.  But yesterday, we had something brand new. 

Body image issues.  

It seems that the daughter put on some weight.  I won't say how much, but it was enough to set her over the edge.  See, apparently, the Wii Fit (see my post from yesterday) was NOT just being maniacal and causing trouble.  No, apparently, sonny boy lied when he said Wii Fit had weighed him 15 pounds heavier, so the weight that my daughter fretted about throughout the day was actually correct by the doctor's scale as well.  And THAT was a problem.  
I hate you!  I hate you!  I hate you!

I have often said that my daughter is way more level-headed than I was as a teen.  She is not super boy-crazy.  She is confident in herself.  She has good judgment.  I guess I got cocky.  I guess I figured she was immune to those nagging and often paralyzing blows to self-confidence that plagued my teenagehood.

I guess I was wrong.

One stupid number on a scale ruined her entire day.  She refused to eat.  She went to bed at 8.  She told me that she is "unlikable" and that she didn't need this kind of stress (I believe the stress of watching what she eats).  I tried to be supportive.  I tried to tell her that if her clothes didn't fit differently, she was probably fine.  I tried to tell her that she was still well within the range of healthy.  It didn't matter.

It hadn't mattered with me either.

So, my fear is that she will end up like me...on an endless barrage of diets and exercise regimes...constantly feeling bad about what I eat and what I look like.  I have tried not to show that dark side to her.  I have not overtly complained about my weight or the way I look.  But maybe I sent nonverbal signals.  Maybe I modeled something I didn't intend.  Or maybe she's fallen into the all-too-typical teen girl angst of poor self-image like so many of her friends.  I know of at least 1 who is always on a diet.

So how do I teach her to love herself?  How do I make her see that a number on a scale doesn't define who you are when I often find myself thinking that it does?  It's deja vu all over again, and it's a roller coaster ride I really wish she could skip.  

Here we go again

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear Wii Fit,

Today I had to talk my daughter down from a ledge because YOU said that she had gained 15 pounds.  You are incorrect, Wii Fit.  You weighed my son 15 pounds heavier earlier this week.  You might have caused an eating disorder; at very least, you caused a half an hour of tears from a girl who hasn't really worried about her weight until now.  I am making my very angriest face.

You  suck!!! 

A Disgruntled Mother Who Struggles With Her Own Body Image and Refuses to Get On Your Defective A$$

The cause of teen girl angst this morning

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sizzle Sizzle

This summer has to be the hottest in years.  Maybe not, but after weeks of temperatures in the 90s and 100s (!), I'm ready for some cool breezes. 

I have to admit, I prefer warmer weather to cooler.  I LOVED that we had a mild winter.  I'm what you'd call a "Winter Hater" (ok, so I might call me that).  I would rather be anyplace tropical than deal with one tenth of an inch of snow. 

But this is ridiculous.  My body has produced so much sweat that I think that I am going to apply for lake resort status for my belly button.  Even the pool is like bath water, and THAT'S not refreshing. 

Makes Texas look downright cool, don't it, Mr. Ex-President?

If we do not get some relief soon, I may even actually (GASP!) wish for autumn!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Life Well Lived

I had the unfortunate task of attending the viewing today of my aunt's father.  He was 95 years old, had been ill recently, and had lost his wife in December.  Yet, here was a man who had lived a full, full life--so full, his obituary was nearly a page long and the people attending his viewing were just the first of many more to come.  He was a father of 8 children (!!!!), a devoted grandfather, a pillar of the community.  His obit read like a resume, listing deed after deed.  The funeral home had pictures on a tv screen attesting to a family man who clearly was admired and loved.   To have half that life would have been amazing. 

Not to sound morbid, but that is what I would hope for my own viewing.  I want to make that impact on people, to have people say good things about who I was, to be a person that people will miss.  The downside would be that I won't be physically around to see it, but that's not the point.  I don't need to know that I made the impact; I just need to make that impact.  It is my hope that I will. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I don't mean to brag but in 24 hours, my summer vacation will have officially begun.  Ok, so I know that I have to go in on Monday to tear down the classroom and I volunteered to do a 3 day "focus" group the next week, but summer is here, my friends.  

I'm gonna dive right in...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today marks 20 years of marriage for the ball & chain and me.  20 years.  2 decades.  2x10 years.  4x5 years.  A looooooong time.  I consider myself lucky.  With over half of marriages today ending in divorce, most within the first 5 years, 20 is an amazing feat.  It means we've survived the 7 year itch (and the 14 year one too!).  We've gotten through those first awkward years of getting to know one another from...ahem...bathroom habits to what NOT to cook for him.  We've gone through better and worse and (hopefully) worst.  We are looking forward to going through best. 

Here we are May 30, 1992.  So young.  So full of hope.  Tony looks like he wants to run. And yes, I took this photo with my iPhone because I was too technologically impaired to scan it.

So how have we done that?  I really can't tell you.  Certainly, we fit the old adage of "opposites attract."  He's quiet; I'm chatty.  He'd like to stay home; I'd rather go out.  He likes Moe; I'm into 80's hair bands.   In fact, this past weekend, my friend remarked over caramel vodka and Godiva shooters, that if she didn't know us and we put him in a line-up, she'd NEVER pick him out as my husband. 
He could be the one 2nd from the left.  Nope, that's Joe Pesci.  They have the same scowl.

I often wonder if it was dumb luck or hard work that has made the difference.  It certainly doesn't FEEL like work.  I mean, I find myself looking back and wondering where 20 years have gone.  I guess time really does fly when you're having fun. 
See how fast it's flying???

I guess if I had advice to give to young people (ok, watch it, I AM still a spring chicken!!!), it would be this:  communicate, communicate, communicate.  I know it sounds incredibly dumb, but I can tell that man almost anything.  I can tell him if I've flirted with the waiter at a bar.  I can tell him if I'm sad.  I can tell him if I'm happy.  I can tell him about my explosive diarrhea (ok, I usually don't share THAT sort of stuff).  But we talk.  I LOVE talking to him.  When we were first newlyweds, we used to talk about our future--where we would be in 20 years.  3 kids, 2 houses, and umpteen jobs later, we still talk about our future...mostly how the hell we're paying for the kids' college, which is looming dangerously close. 

I'd also say that laughter is the best medicine for stressful times.  We laugh a lot.  Most people who meet my husband don't know what a funny guy he is.  But he's funny and fun.   I giggle a lot when I'm with him (and not just in bed!)  If you can laugh your way through it, it will get better.

Finally, I would say that the thing I have the most trouble with but the thing that we do pretty well is letting go of ego stuff.  Who cares if he got to go to Foxborough to see the Ravens play the Patriots while I stayed home?  Who cares if I got to go visit a friend in Florida while he stayed home with the kids?  When you start playing tit for tat, it leads to resentment, and that's no laughing matter.

So, 20 years has gone by.  I will say that this man is my soulmate, the love of my life, and my friend.  My hope for all of you is that you have that too or find it.  It makes for a great little life. I leave you with the song that he sings every anniversary:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Let Me Pencil You In...

It's that time of year again--springtime--mostly April and May--when the entire world turns crazy and my calendar is full of writing and events.  This will go on until mid-June.
I wish MY May calendar was as clear as this one!!!

Tomorrow is my youngest child's 10th birthday.  Have I planned a big party for such a momentous occasion?  Have I painstakingly filled out birthday invitations or even gotten his presents?  Can I get a "heck no, Joe!"???  Truth is, we will spend his birthday tomorrow running from work/school to a pack meeting (his), a Venturing Crew meeting (my daughter's), and Wrestling Open Mats (the surly older brother's) with maybe a small chance to partake of the cake that I am currently baking.   His party won't happen until June at this point. 

Then, there's my anniversary--another big deal, since it is our Two Decade Anniversary.  20 years is a long time to be sharing and planning a calendar with someone.  The 20th anniversary was traditionally the China anniversary, although the modern symbol is platinum.  Food for thought, but hubby and I JUST barely will squeeze in an overnight at a nearby inn in something called the "Sleigh Room" (sounds kinky) and maybe will enjoy some down time.  Besides, we still have our china from when we got married, and I'm not much for fancy dinner parties...who could be with MY schedule???
"Ah, Stephanie, you throw such lov-el-ee pahties."

Hey, at least it's better than our 10 year anniversary.  We had to celebrate early because I was very VERY preggers with the 10 year old whose birthday is tomorrow.  The 10 year is supposed to be the Diamond Anniversary, but we made it the Star Wars Anniversary because we saw Episode II in the theaters and ate at the Olive Garden until I thought I'd pop. 
The 10 Year Anniversary:  The Star Wars Anniversary--they look just like Tony & I, right?

I just hate feeling like I have to pencil in the fun things in my life.  What happened to the days when I was bored to tears?  I sure do miss those sometimes.  Not really...but I am a little envious of people who can drop everything and do something fun at the spur of the moment...without having to refer to a calendar to make sure that fun doesn't conflict with something already scheduled.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shake, Rattler, Roll

Last weekend, my daughter and I went camping in Thurmont to count rattlesnakes.  Yep, you heard me right.  We INTENTIONALLY sought out rattlesnakes...on purpose...INTENTIONAL...really.  

Yep, countin' these things.
I have to admit--people look at me weirdly when I tell them that I really don't mind snakes.
  And these rattlers really were pretty chilled out.  Well, most of the time.  As long as we didn't get too close, I didn't even see most of the 10 that we saw even glance our way.  Some of them rattled, making a nice little rhythm that we could've danced to, but most of them really were fairly docile.  The rattlesnake biologist who was with our group said that timber rattlers (the kind in Thurmont) are really pretty calm and rarely bite...unless of course you step on them.  And even if you are bitten, most of the bites are "dry bites," meaning that they don't inject their venom into you.  Comforting thought.

Hey, Indiana, this wouldn't have happened if you were counting timber RATTLESNAKES.

No, I was not one bit afraid of our friends under the rocks.  I was more afraid of CLIMBING said rocks.  I'm not a big "heights" person.  I can fly in airplanes.  I can take escalators.  But if you get me on a rocky cliff where I might fall to my certain death, I am a bundle of nerves.  Oh , our group leader tried to comfort me with, "Most injuries are just broken ankles."


So I was extremely...extremely, careful, and went slowly on said rocks.  As a result, I only got to see 6 of the 10 snakes.  However, BECAUSE I was so careful, I actually FOUND one of them myself!!!  No, I didn't fall on it.  So, slow and steady DID win the race...or at least found a venomous rattlesnake.

Overall, it was an awesome and awe-inspiring experience.  The purpose of the trip was to document the early emergence of the snakes, since we had an early spring.  Climate change at its best--snakes out earlier than expected.  But we found other types of snakes and saw a lot of frogs and other signs of nature.  Reminds me that this world isn't just ours alone, and we have some pretty cool creatures out there.  Plus, I was able to bond some with my daughter, and that is well worth the dangers of snakebites and rolling off the rock cliff.
See?  We're smiling!  The snake...not so much!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Sometimes, I just get so completely overwhelmed that I feel like I'm drowning in life's responsibilities.  I've felt like this the past few weeks.  I'm low on self-esteem and energy levels, while life is high on responsibility and obligations.  I'm trying to keep afloat but every second I feel like I'm going to go under and all the things I need to do, should do, or could do will pull me under.  It's not a good feeling. 

Good thing I learned how to swim.  Now, someone out there throw me a life jacket!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wonder Woman

Weeks like the last few have pretty much been made for women of better caliber than I.  I feel like I am in need of superhuman speed, agility, and organizational skills in order to keep up with the demands of my life.  Lacrosse practices/games, kids on job interviews, my own job, guitar lessons, tree plantings, impromptu shopping trips...I don't think there has been a day in the last 2 weeks where I was able to stay home really.  I really think it might be in need of an invisible jet and some bullet-proof bracelets to survive the next few weeks until school's out.

I know, I know.  I need to pull up my big-gal panties and get a grip.  But really, I'd love to go back to the days of my Wonder Woman least then, I THOUGHT I was a superheroine.