Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who Knew?

When I was first invited to a “Cookie Exchange” during the holiday season I was curious and it sounded like a great idea. Little did I know the event would leave me traumatized? Who knew there were rules? Just “google” Cookie Exchange rules if you do not believe me. The first rule said “pick your theme and set your ground rules”. Rules like how many cookies to bake, no store bought items, bring an ornament to exchange etc.

Baking has not always come easy to me. I fancy myself a cook, “a little of this, a little of that” so following a recipe exactly is a challenge. Six dozen cookies were the requirement. It took me forever, Fred even stepped in to help me. Finally, cookies wrapped, I ventured out.

The first thing that signaled I was way out of my realm was the hostess face when she saw my cookies on a paper plate. She put them on the festive table where others had little bags with ribbons, or colorful boxes. Their recipes were tiny scrolls on green or red paper. Some were typed on little holiday cards. Mine were hand written on an index card OOPs.

Another rule broken, sorry, no one told me to bring a large container to take home my goodies so the hostess had to give me a brown bag. It was all just too much and on the ride home I vowed no more exchanges ever.

But I have decided to break that vow. This year I will host a no rule cookie exchange.
Bring whatever and however many cookies you want. I do not care if they are last year’s girl-scout cookies. Your choice if you want to share the recipe. No fancy plates, boxes or ribbons required. Let’s just live, laugh and love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wooooooo Who!!!!!!

It is the little things that make you happy. These past two months I have been disabled with the use of only one hand. I did not know how many things that you need both hands; things like getting dressed, driving, lifting a pot of water, curling your hair, shaving under your arms, putting on deodorant and typing.

Today, I am typing with both hands. Yea. It is the first time I have written my blog since September. My hand injury really messed me up. This week I was given back some of my life but the single biggest monumental gift was it is Ok to drive.

I swear it was the exact same feeling I had the day I got my driver’s license and my dad took me to pick up my 1969 Cougar. You remember the day you got your drivers license and you were FREE... that feeling. Woooo who!!!!!

Driving to work with my car that was loaded with crap like trees, ornaments, and Christmas marionettes was like riding with the radio blasting and windows down in the 60's. It was easy to figure out my dismay these past months was a control issue. Waiting on a driver or leaving school before I was ready to go home was out of my control. Not driving was the first domino in my pity party.

After only two days I can see a light at the end of this tunnel. When I am at home I am allowed to take off the splint, this is why I can finally type. Evaluating and learning from this injury and my experience has been life giving. God tells us to slow down or else. I have learned to do on line banking, bill paying, and purchase items on line out of necessity. I have come to appreciate every little thing from brushing my teeth to shaving under my arms.

I no longer have the luxury of talking on phone on my trip home because I need my right hand for driving. I miss this but know it is imperative I am extra careful on the road.

There is much to be thankful for like my trip to see my grand kids and the fact I saw Jaime’s new baby Parker before I fell. My grandson calls me “Grammystein” after Frankenstein because of my long scar on my wrist. The name might even stick as he got a kick out of my new name all weekend.

But the real hero is Fred. He has taken me to doctors, dressed me, washed my clothes, cooked, shopped and listened to me whine and moan. He is going to take a trip north without me this weekend. He deserves the quiet sans Laurie.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Daughter


It is a beautiful gift to be able to be here with you on your birthday. It triggers so many happy memories watching you parent your little ones. It seems like only yesterday when you were smiling back at me while you were eating a bowl of noodles. Your Shirley Temple curls in two little pony-tails and your uneven bangs from where you put gum in your hair and tried to cut it out with your friend John.

Is this the little girl who rode her tricycle up and down the sidewalk stark naked every day?

Is this the little girl who in her Wonder Woman Underoos went sailing off the couch trying to fly and landed smack on the end of the coffee table only to receive ten stitches on her little cheek. You had a major shiner that year for your Easter pictures.

Is this the little girl who had tea parties with her imaginary friends and an entire conversation? I used to love to watch you ask a question and then jump up from the chair, run over to the other side of the table sit down and answer the question.

Is this the little girl who gave 100% and tried so hard to be more than Annie’s little sister?

Is this the little girl who found her own in high school and starred in the H.S. musical? You honed your musical talents and went on to become a drum corps performer able to perform solos in front of stadiums of 40,000 people. You would take daddy and my breath away.

As a young married woman you blossomed. You are assertive, gentle, loving, caring and successful in your business career. As a working mother, you amaze us. Juggling day care, pumping your breasts, hectic schedules and still running your house making gourmet meals and entertaining friends. Although, I did chuckle when you spent an hour cleaning up the house yesterday before the cleaning lady got there. LOL.

Your dad and I are so proud of all you have accomplished in life. You are determined, a goal setter. You make me feel good about myself too because I must have done something right because you are so special. You have climbed mountains.
We love you.

Happy Birthday Jaime.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Plant People

At first glance you might think that this blog is reference to the Invasion of Body Snatchers or Aliens. Wrong. This week I found this wonderful little Chinese Proverb.

If your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.

This reference is really what life is all about. Relationship building. Our children, our grandchildren are the vessels of hope for the future. If we instill the value that the most important things in life are not things then there is hope.

Whenever there is a real crisis like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes people come forward and do the right thing. These are people who had parents, teachers or loved ones that saw and taught the value of people.

It doesn’t matter what religion you follow, all of the major religions of the world instill and call their followers to Love One Another or reach out to the poor by giving of their substance.

So this back to school season when the kids come home and ask for extra school supplies for a drive at school, or a few canned goods for the Thanksgiving Drive or a sponsor for a Relay for Life race...remember the proverb or even the biblical expression “ You reap what you sow” and know that you are “planting people”.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All I have to do is dream.....

Do you still dream?? I am not talking about the disjointed thoughts and wanderings from the last few days nor the nightmares that wake you up in a sweat. I am talking about the thoughts and want and hope for your future.

When I was a little girl because my parents were never home and our family life was polar opposite of Beaver Cleaver I would dream of marrying someone who worked nine to five and was available to be with his family on weekends. This dream was fulfilled for many years when Fred worked as a sales engineer. Our girls had their dad every night at the dinner table for discussions and attention.

Another dream was I wanted to be there for my children. Blessed again I was a stay at home mom the first ten years of marriage. When I did work it was nights while the girls slept and their daddy babysat.

Later, my dream was to get a teaching degree. This too came true and my career gave me the opportunity to be there for Annie & Jaime. Summers were gifts and many treasured memories were made as we had many adventures traveling. I often packed up the car the day after school let out.

Recently, I was in a rut mentally and it came to me that I had stopped dreaming. I had just given up because of time constraints, finances and life changes. This doldrums dynamics can throw you in a funk and magnifies the whole situation. When I made this realization, I stopped short and decided to do a U-turn and start dreaming again.

Posting pictures on my refrigerator of material things helped me set goals to actually purchase a few things for our home. I started to say when we go on our vacation or next year when we do this or that. I am buying lottery tickets again and then taking a few minutes to think of what I will do when I win. I close my eyes and visualize my grand-kids running in the airport to greet me. I picture Fred and me walking through the streets of Rome or sitting watching our grand-children play sports or in band concerts and dance recitals.

Dreaming is free. It costs nothing and it can be the tonic you need to get back on track. Write down five dreams and put them on your fridge then go buy a lottery ticket.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baptism by Fire

A baptism of fire was a soldier's first experience of shooting. Any unpleasant experience undergone, usually where it is also a learning experience; is a baptism of fire.

When I think of this idiom it reminds me of the time I bought Annie a new car. I was so proud that I went through the whole process at the car dealer’s by myself and bought the car. I forgot that I did not know how to drive a stick shift to get it home. It was a deal in my book because it cost $1200 less than the automatic. I told the dealer I will buy it today but you have to get me home with the car. So they loaded it on a flatbed tractor-trailer and off we went. When we arrived they blasted the horn and Annie came out to see her new car. When I explained why I could not drive it home, she realized that if she wanted to drive her car she would have to learn how to drive a stick. She did just that.

Parenthood is a perfect example of baptism of fire. Back in the day, we just learned by our mistakes. We muddled our way through pregnancy, breast-feeding, weight gain, discipline, and co-op nursery schools. Who knew what we did had a dates??? We just got together with other moms for our sanity and it worked. I would not trade some of my memories or early friendships for anything. We clipped coupons, shared books, tips, joys and sorrow. Now they call them book clubs or coffee klatches. We parented by fire. Did we make mistakes, you betcha? That is why we have to put our two cents in regarding our grand children. We mean well but just don’t want our children to do some of the same stupid things we tried.

There are many times in our life when we have new experiences it is just this, a baptism of fire. My very first teaching job was as an interim substitute for a very popular teacher who was going to be out on maternity leave. The day I started just happened to be the field day event where the classes compete against each other in relays and races. I went in dressed in sweats, headband and two cheerleading pom-poms to meet my new class. It was truly a learning experience. We won the entire event and that set the pace for a perfect transition for that fifth grade class.

Each time we had major moves for Fred’s job changes we were thrown into an entirely new and different experience and we have survived it all.

What is the point? It is really very simple God knows what He is doing. We can do anything if we just trust in Him. After all isn’t His first and very important sacrament called Baptism?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Demand

Thirty years ago, “On Demand” was how I described my parenting style as a nursing mom; baby cries = pick up baby. Now it has a whole new meaning and I love it. I can fast forward through a commercial or see an entire season of a show in a weekend. Anything where I can have total control gets an A+ in my book.

Every day I look through the menu “On Demand” and see what shows I can get caught up on or just find out what all the fuss is about. I got hooked last year and found “ Royal Pains” and “Drop Dead Diva”. That is when I became absorbed in“Mad Men” too. (As an aside, Don Draper gets my vote for the next James Bond)

During the school year I do not have any time for leisure TV. Bedtimes are early just because of sheer exhaustion after a commute, cooking dinner, grading papers etc. But summer, that’s vacation mode ... staying up late, sleeping in, projects, and “On Demand”. There are so many movies that are chick flicks or just not Fred’s style. I can clean out all the kitchen drawers or go through a stack of ironing and watch episode after episode of design shows and home improvement segments.

When friends come over with their children I don’t need to pull out the babysitting videos, I just zap to channel 1. Modern day’s version of on demand parenting is a lot easier and no saggy boobs as an after affect.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Refrigerator Pic

Many years ago I was reading some article or self help book (who knows? ) that said you have to visualize something to make it happen. That was the start of a crazy habit. Whenever I wanted something I could not afford I would rip the picture out of a magazine and put in on the refrigerator.

I think I did not want to anger the Visualization gods as I made sure I only had one dream picture at a time posted. In the last 13 years I had a picture of a dog, porch, a PT Cruiser, laminate floors, wood floors, an HHR, granite tops in my kitchen, a shore vacation picture and other wants not needs. Amazingly, all came to fruition.

I opted to not put a picture of a thinner me. I was too afraid I would jinx myself. But this last round of medication and lack of exercise has really packed the pounds on this 4”11” frame. My new shorter haircut makes me look & feel like Petunia Pig.
It is time to look for that realistic photo that would match my 59 years. I don’t want to lose the required 40 pounds to meet the Weight Watcher goal but 15 pounds would be nice. Diet starts today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traveling with Mom

“Where is my pocketbook?”
“Right here mom.”

“Where are the tissues?”
“Right here mom.”

“Mom, step up”

“Mom, step down.”

“No, mom it is not time for your pills.”

“No mom, no one came in and shook you.”

“I didn’t sleep all night.”

"Annie needs to put clothes on Ellerie."

“Where is my cane?”

“No mom, wrong car.”

“I changed my mind, I don’t want that.”

“Mom, that is the soap dispenser, not the hand dryer.”

“I didn’t sleep, it felt like Alaska.”

“Is it time for my pills?”

“Where is my pocketbook?”
“Right here mom.”

“There are two mens' room and no womens' room”
“Turn your head mom, you will see the W-O.”

“I lost my dollars for church.”

After twenty minutes selecting meal, every time my meal was delivered: “Oh, they had that, I would have ordered that.”

Last but not least, how is it that a person who you have to remind to change clothes, take a bath, wash hair will NOT sit down on toilet seat in a public restroom and has the wear-with-all to swipe hotel towels?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacation blogs

Vacation and grandchildren give you a string of blog topics. I didn't want to waste any time during vacation so I have decided to reflect back on a few memorable moments.

Ten hours a day in a crowded car with the hot sun beating in.... decided to blog and reflect. No computer so I guess scrap paper will do.

A little over two weeks ago my angst was trying to find my husband who was MIA the day I started to pack the car. Why oh why do men procrastinate to do things they want to do? For example, Fred waited in line hours in the AAA office to get maps and trip tickets, a tradition I thought we would forgo this year. After all, I had the I phone with a GPS. He returned to the house with a bag filled with tour books of every state we would be driving through. (passing through not stopping) There was one odd size very big book and I inquired: “What’s that?”

Like a kid with a proud report card, Fred said: “That is a book that tells every dog friendly motel in the U.S. and it only costs $10.00.”

Are you kidding me? Flash forward to the trip home. We pack the car again and venture out with leftover food, beer, wine, souvenirs, extra clothes the grandkids left behind. We had to say goodbye to two beach chairs. They had served us well. I thought we were going to have to put my mother on a chair on the roof like “Chevy Chase did in the movie Vacation.” Off we went on the next leg of trip to Pennsylvania and a family reunion.

But the kicker is this. Remember the trip ticket? Fred decided he didn’t want to go the AAA route. He wanted to go HIS way. He thought his way would be faster. After many years, the landscape of the area did not look the same and he missed a turn, we lost an hour’s drive. My cell phone was dead with all the “R U????” texts from our children who left a few hours ahead of us. It was extremely frustrating.

Fred also waited until the last minute and could not get us a reservation so we had to invade his sister’s house and really put her out. Oh well at least we know they were pet friendly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Moments to Remember"

Why do Grandparents just go goofy over the grandkids? This is an easy one to figure out for me. When they turn their sweet heads a certain way and look up into your eyes it is a blast from the past. It is like for one brief precious moment you get your little one back.

My grandkids are unique in their own way but wow do they possess some of the traits we loved. The precocious spirit of Jaime, Annie’s competitive nature and her sensitive side are just a few memories triggered these past two days; also, their ability to make us LAUGH.

Like last night, we were riding in the car and it was obvious there was a dead skunk in the immediate vicinity. Ellerie who is just two said, “ That was Grammy’s stinker”. It triggered the memory of a time when Jaime had a poopie diaper and I asker her what was that smell? She replied: “ That’s ollution mom”. Since we lived in the city of Cleveland and it was the 70’s I knew she meant pollution and I laughed and laughed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Pack or Not to Pack

Maybe it is because of a negative memory trigger that I start to pack for vacations early. The first little upset I had as a young married lady was over a packing incident. We were going to my in-laws for a visit and when we arrived Fred opened the suitcase and said, “Where are my clothes”? It never occurred to me that I was supposed to pack HIS clothes. Trust me his father and brothers never let him forget the story.

Anyway, he has packed his side of the suitcase for almost 39 years now. I say I set the standard long ago. Fred is a procrastinator for everything, house projects, tests, paper work such as taxes, Christmas shopping and of course packing. So at present, his side of the suitcase sits empty and I have my lists ready and waiting. You know the kind with the little boxes next to the item waiting to check off done. I know it will all get done. Fred seems to love packing the car; it is like an Olympic challenge.

When we were a younger couple the challenge packing the car was always baby stuff, toys, crayons, books and most important the crib mattress for the kids to sleep on (before mandatory car seats, yes they survived) and suitcases etc. We were like the bumbling dozen clowns piling in a Volkswagen or phone booth except our car was a Rambler Pacer.

As the girls grew older we had to remember game-boards, curling irons, journals, cameras, electric rollers, hair dryers, tapes, tape players, magazines, musical instruments, suitcases into a beloved Chevy Astro Van. That van was perfect but for the fact it had no air in the back (a whole other blog)

We have an HHR now and the challenge is far worse. With mom we are no longer a two suitcase empty nest couple. We have mom’s suitcase, our suitcases, our dog’s collapsed cage, two beach chairs, pillows, blankets, sheets, towels, hibachi grill, computers, and the bag of beach toys for grandkids, dog toys, game-boards, I pods, I phones, battery chargers, cameras, Disney DVD’s, coolers, snacks, breathing machines, blood pressure machine, glucose test kit, mom’s box meds, Fred’s meds, my meds, medical records for all including the dog. Listing them all makes you want to break into a vacation version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” “and a bed for their little dog too.” It is exhausting to say the least. But the trials and struggles of packing remind me of the name of my blog. Love Endures All Things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Can I Vent?

Now that summer vacation is here, can I vent?

What is the message a parent sends to their child when at the end of the year they give a very nice gift to the teacher whose class their child earned an “A”? Notice I said “earned” teachers do not give grades. It happens every year, there are times when I am the recipient, and there are times I am not. It is so wrong. They often include a little note that requires you “read between the lines” it may as well say: "Ms. So & So is a bitch... make sure you show her your gift."

Times are tough and if you spent on each teacher it can be costly. Why can’t parents teach the value of a thank you? Some of the treasures I keep are the heartfelt notes telling me about an animated dinner conversation where their child gave the family a history lesson on the Persian Wars or What if Spain's Armada was victorious?

I have come to the conclusion everything that is wrong with our profession comes down to one thing RESPECT or lack of respect in some cases.

It is not just the parents lack of respect either. I was at the mailboxes at school when a veteran teacher pulled out a paper with next year’s assignment. In one fell swoop she found out she is teaching another grade level, on another team and her room was changing. I have seen it happen over and over again. Administrators look at scores, and then move teachers around like they are playing checkers. Often the teachers with the best scores or strongest discipline get screwed because “someone” thinks they can fix anything. The first time I was selected Teacher of the Year twenty some years ago, the next year I was teaching the “At risk” students that we lovingly referred to as “sweat-hogs” or “rocket scientists” in those days.

When a teacher is not happy with their subject, grade level, team then they do the minimum. They no longer come in early or leave late. Extra work planning field trips, extra hours putting together shows... why should they? Work is not fun anymore. The morale can make or break a school.

Thank God for the new blood, the untainted who carry on and put together our shows, our luncheons, our bridal and baby showers. We love you. We remember who you are, we used to be you.

Pity Party

“Pity Party”
This week I posted a short blog saying I was closing down my page only to have two faithful followers chastise me for having a pity party. My daughters Annie and Jaime are adamant that I need to continue because I love to write.

Secretly, they know if I rage on about trivial mundane things it might save them from the ranting later in the day when we speak on our daily phone call. So Ok, I shall plod forward and continue.

Or maybe, it was the Gag Award I won at school, “Most Likely to Write for Saturday Night Live”.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time to Admit Defeat

Summer is almost here and I will have some welcome free time. I plan to take a few days and print out all of my blogs and then shut down my blog page. I love to write but when I “googled” when is it time to quit... it was evident I need to shut down.

I suppose if something gets in my crawl I can write a note on my facebook page. My blog served a good purpose, it was therapy for me as I faced some challenges at this time of my life. But a good blog entertains and evokes thinking and written response. I still need therapy, but it may be time to just pay a good psychologist.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Black & White

If I were writing a pilot for a new TV show it would be about two people who struggle with the way they do things differently. I would call the program If I say Black, you say White. It has always been apparent that Fred and I are different. We are the exact opposite. If we got to an unmarked fork in the road, he would go one way and I would go the other.

This would lend itself to endless episodes. One specific would be driving and navigating and trying to get to a specific destination. Even with a GPS, my right brain would click on the map and Fred would click on the linear written directions. If I say make right by the green house, he would ask for the direction north, south etc. We absolutely drive our own way.

A true-life episode around the holidays would be about simple decisions like Christmas shopping. I would want the shopping done before Thanksgiving, Fred would wait until Christmas Eve and then the stores would all be closed so there would be no gifts.

Women often get accused of taking too long to get ready in the morning because of primping. This is not who I am. I throw on a top and pants, pair of matching converse and run a comb through my hair. Fred, however, has every hair in place and not a wrinkle in sight. He looks like it is Sunday every day, even in his scrubs. He is very handsome.

We pack differently, fold or hang the clothes differently, arrange cans in cupboard our own way, file our papers with our own systems. God knows Fred can’t figure my system out.

I like the dark meat; Fred likes white meat. He likes spicy; I like mild, I like thin spaghetti; he likes fat. He likes mustard; I like mayo. It goes on and on and on.

There would be episodes about how to cook a pot roast, how to make a sandwich, how to cut the crusts off bread. There would be an episode on how to make coffee, chocolate shake, fry an egg, butter toast and pay the bills. There would be a “to be continued” cliffhanger about the toilet paper roll and the way to put it on the holder.

But the bottom line is even though I take risks and Fred likes to think things through, we are like Ying and Yang, Salt & Pepper, Jack Sprat and his wife, we fit. We laugh and we love and we respect that all of our differences are the reasons we fell in love with one another 40 years ago.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Enough Already

Today I am angry. For about the tenth time I got a nasty request from “Hearst Magazine” that I am delinquent and my information will be turned over to a collection agency. The invoice said I ordered the magazine and said bill me later. I never ordered the magazine. The first three notices I sent back saying I never ordered it. I have to laugh because the last bill said “we have reached the point where we will have to terminate your account”. Finally, they get it I thought. But alas, no another nasty invoice has arrived. It is only $10.00 but if I pay,it will happen again in six months. I resent when they take up my energy and time on a trivial fight and I wonder how many millions they make each year on people who pay the money to be done with them. My hope is they spend more the $10.97 on paperwork and mailing.

A few years back, I opened a Discover bill and there was about $100 worth of magazines ordered. I had a tough time figuring it out but finally did. I had accumulated miles on a Sky Mile account and selected free magazines with my points. Apparently because I use my card to purchase airline tickets they had my Discover number and the small print said “ 6 months free” and then automatically bill Discover. I will say “Discover” took off the charge.

But the worst was “Blue Mountain” e cards. Fred set up the account years back when it was free. It took me forever to get them to stop taking my money. Lessons I learned are to check your bills carefully and always read the very, very small print.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Love Lucy

Today I spent a good deal of time watching “I Love Lucy” reruns. No matter how many times I have seen them they bring a wonderful happy feeling. It is like looking at an old photo album and remembering good times. Every generation thinks “Lucy” belongs to them. I was a teenager when I realized some of the shows I adored were filmed before I was conceived. In fact, the episode when she had “Little Ricky” was filmed the year I was born 1951.

We are kindred spirits. I related to her with uncanny spirit. After I was married and a stay at home mom trying to juggle parenthood and my relationship with Fred I channeled her even more. So much so that Fred’s endearing name for me was “Lucy”. Many of my antics are referred to as “Lucy episodes”.

I think it was her ability to think out of the box or take a risk. Our first homes were fixer uppers so it wasn’t unusual for me to try to paint, build things, plant things that sometimes got me into situations where I had to be rescued like the time I took apart our toilet and Fred came home to a hole in floor.

Once, I saw a sale on king size mattresses at a hotel. We had a family bed and four of us were scrunched in a queen. So even though I had no idea how I would get it home I bought it. I drove a Pacer at the time, yes that’s right an American Motors Pacer but that’s a whole other story. I tied the mattress on the top and then held the rope through the window driving home. The rope kept it balanced. When I arrived home the neighbors came out of their houses shaking their head. For days Fred would say “I can’t believe you drove it home.”

Every Halloween, I channeled Lucy when making Halloween costumes. My Annie does this too. Once I helped Fred dress red hot as a woman. He sat at the bar for an hour while I tended bar and men were trying to pick him up. Sooooooo funny. He also was Frankenstein to my mad scientist. He was always like the kid who was coming along on an adventure. Annie & Jaime remember how I embarrassed them when I dressed as “Buckbo” for Annie's Halloween birthday party. Another fond memory is when I blew up the grill. I didn't know you should not turn the gas on, close the lid and then light it up. I singed my eyebrows and all of the hair on my arms. My hair stuck out and I look like a real "Buckbo" (Buckwheat & Rambo ala Eddie Murphy)

I have had really bad hair mishaps, banking woes, furniture surprises, battles with skunks, squirrels, birds, bees and more. The worst was when I knocked down a wall; Fred took a week to recover from this one. I also have a tendency to bring home large bargain furniture finds that require his painting and refinishing expertise, often from the trash.

Fred and I live by the rule Love is a Decision. I just make sure that Fred has to make many decisions to love me to keep him on his toes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Countdown Begins

Each year standardized tests are earlier and earlier. Sadly, as soon as the students take the test, they check out... literally. Teachers, club advisors, school guidance all have mandates with little time left to do everything so the school calendar is overloaded with a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing.

Consequently, we have money being collected for Field trips, Relay for Life, Cystic Fibrosis, Pennies for Who knows what? There are Field Trips; Take Your Kid to Work Day, Everglade Slogging, Museum Day, Talent Show rehearsals, Fifth grade articulation, Band Spring concerts, Micro Day, Spring Bling and the list goes on and on and on... I am exhausted thinking about everything.

My frustration lies in the fact that while reading, science, math may have a break after the FCAT, social studies does not. In sixth grade we are mandated to teach from Paleolithic Man to World War II in the same amount of time that we used to teach up to Renaissance. We have Black History, Women in History, Florida History, Hispanic History, Holocaust Awareness all infused within our curriculum. To make matters worse we have shorter class periods than the rest of the county; yet we have to cover the same amount of material.

How does this play out? Simply put, the kids suffer. The only way a teacher can keep the pace is to assign reading pages for homework or more written work. Parents complain we are too tough on our students; kids need a life.

Lyons Creek needs to look at the Micro Society component. It is not working the way it was conceptualized. Our postal system, banking, courts, and police ... nothing is working. It actually was the best the first year when the kids used computers to order from micro stores and goods were delivered. It is time to throw in the towel. If we don’t operate real world then we need to void out of the program. As much as I love my puppets, I am throwing in the towel for a six period day and five more minutes per class, thirty plus minutes per week.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking Back

Every now and then something triggers memories and I obsess over them. This time it was probably a television show showing a “near death experience”.

My father had a heart attack in November 1975. He was in the hospital and he had another attack one day while I was visiting at the hospital. The scene was like something from a TV episode from a Grey’s Anatomy or ER. Nurses shuffled me out the door and I held my breath and banged the wall in the hall and sobbed uncontrollably.

Our family kept vigil the next three days when finally the doctors thought dad was out of the woods. His total time in the hospital was two weeks.

It was Sunday December 7th. Dad and I were alone visiting and he told me about the day in the hospital when he flat lined and they put the paddles on him. He said he was looking down and he saw all of the nurses and the doctor. He saw me crying in the hall. He described me pounding the wall and sobbing. He described a peaceful light and going towards it. He said it was wonderful and he did not want to leave the light. (Keep in mind this was 1975 before all the television and books on “near death experience”) He was almost crying and said. “Why did I come back, I need to know the reason, what could it be”.

We were interrupted when Annie came into see him. She had her little Black baby doll Lulu. Daddy said, “Feed your baby Annie”. Annie jumped up on the rocking chair, pulled up her shirt and nursed her doll. He always got such a kick out of that. It is a picture that is painted in my mind, Annie and her Gigi.

Then Daddy said, “I want you to go back to school. I cannot work any more; maybe I can be strong enough to watch the baby. You have to go back to school”.

I kissed Dad goodbye and made him promise to lie down after he ate his dinner.

He died that evening; he went in after dinner, laid his head back and had another attack.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind why daddy came back from the light. It was to deliver the message that changed my life. Each time I wanted to give up when I finally did return to school with two babies, two jobs and no money I thought of daddy and his last words to me.

I love teaching even with all of the bureaucracy and crap. I am a teacher, I make a difference. Thanks, daddy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Days Gone By

Days Gone By

I am thankful this year I got to see the grandbabies in February. That visit has to last me until June.

Once my girls married and left home and were living up north, Spring Break became a routine. I was in my car, driving north the Friday school let out. If I went to Ohio, then I did Mother’s Day in NJ or vice versa. There were Easter Egg hunts, birthday parties, dance recitals, dinners out, yard sales, shopping sprees and playgrounds. Fred would fly up after a week to drive back home with me.

Later, when we got our little dog, he would make the trip too. I guess we did this for about 8 years. A couple years ago, circumstances changed for us and the trips are not possible now.

Now Spring Break is home in Florida, filled with doctor appointments for Fred, Mom and myself. Dental check ups, eye appointments, procedures, blood work etc. all are crammed into a little over a week. I liked the old routine much better than this new one.

In June, I will be in that car driving north and headed for the Jersey shore. The thought of vacation sustains me at this time of the year. When I go to the doctors, I picture the kids on the beach or playing at dusk and I swear my blood pressure goes down ten points.

I had to have an anesthetic for my procedures this week and when they knocked me out it was the BEST part of my vacation. I could be a drug addict, no sweat. I love that knock out juice.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Blind-side: to catch unaware

Watched the movie twice already and the messages are powerful. There are times in our life when we are blindsided by an event or happening. I can relate. That is how I felt when mom came for a visit, had her stroke and we became her caretakers.

Sandra Bullock did a great job portraying a woman who in my terms “walked the walk”.  Her family reached out to a young man who had no one and made him a genuine member of their family. It had a real fairy tale ending.

My fairy tale ending would be that my mom would wake up and be happy to live in Sunny Florida. She would be happy to have a nice room, three cooked meals and people who take care of her and love her. But then I would really be blind-sided.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It is in the "Genes"

Making family connections is really life giving. It is so important for so many reasons. One of the reasons I feel so disconnected from my own brothers and sister is the fact that we have no new memories. When you get together you spend a lot of wasted time going over and over things from your childhood when you should be making new memories.

Opportunities to reconnect come when someone in the family makes the effort to plan a family reunion. My dad used to do this. When he died, we lost an entire side of the family. We grew up just 25 minutes away from all of our cousins and we still never saw them until Ukrainian Christmas, Ukrainian Easter or a wedding and a funeral.

This past week my first cousin flew here to visit my mother. I adored her when she was little and still do. She had a busy life as a child because she was an entertainer. My one big memory was when I was in HS I stayed at her house two weeks because my parents were away. She was only in 5th grade. Those were the past memories. We had not spent any time together since 1975. The last time I saw her was when my dad died.

But in a few short days, we were able to catch up, to reconnect. We made lots of new memories crammed in a few days. I lost my keys at least three times; she rummaged through her purse on several occasions looking for stuff. We laughed over and over as we realized we had so many things in common. She has a GPS and it was like the blind leading the blind trying to figure how to get it to work in Florida.

Even our health concerns were similar; she has problems with her throat me with my cough, and our super high familial cholesterol. Her mother lives with her out in Las Vegas and we could giggle about the challenges we face.

I sent her home to tell her husband and children a message. I told her to tell them, “ I found out I am not a crazy person, it is all in my genes”. We have decided that all of our craziness is just who we are.

This summer I plan on getting together with many of my cousins whom I have not seen since childhood and some who I never met. I know the experience will be the same and I cannot wait.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Can’t Get Silk Out of a Sow’s Ear

Every year at spring test time, this phrase pops in my head. It is because they (bureaucracy) put so much pressure on teachers to bring up test scores.

In some countries the children have aptitude tests and they are guided through middle and high school on the track that suits them. We can’t all be rocket scientist. If the student would be better suited as a mechanic or whatever they are encouraged to be the best they can be and sent to specific schools for each track.

I know this is America and everyone has access to an education and the possibility to go to a university, but really should every student in high school be expected to pass Algebra or for that matter the over 200 Special Education children that may attend a school make progress on an FCAT test or else the teacher’s fail.

We are talking about children who often have IQ’s well below 70 with physical and mental problems that make it a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone get on a bus with many middle school kids who can be downright abusive at times.

We should celebrate each day a special child survives a day at a public school. What an astronomical step these children take, facing the real world challenges navigating through a system where not everyone is kind.  They DO make progress each and everyday they come to school, it is just not percentage points on a test data sheet. The teachers are a success every day just by the fact each child wants to come to their classroom.

The test scores are reflected in what is referred to as AYP or adequate yearly progress along with everyone else. If your school does not make AYP then it won’t be long before they are tagged “F” or Title 1, Title 2 or "Superintendents" school.

Our school (where I currently work) services more special education students ( over 200) then a whole county center. I applaud our teachers. I admire their smiles and determination and willingness to hang in there each day.  I especially cheer the extra curriculum teachers like P.E, Music, and Art who have the students mainstreamed in overcrowded classroom. They all have such patience. Most important, I applaud the special education students.

But here is the kicker for you. I don’t believe in mainstreaming. I believe it does the kids so much more harm being exposed to jeers and tears of the already tough middle school years.

I speak from experience. My nephew went to a special school until he was 22 years old. He was safe, had friends, school functions, proms, field trips and the like. My sister had a break each day when his bus picked him up early to take him on a long drive to a private school. He had the same bus driver for almost twenty years. I am thankful my sister fought the system and won. Public tax dollars had to pay for his private education and transportation. His tuition, transportation etc was cheaper than setting up an appropriate class to meet his needs and paying teacher's salary back in the 1970's. Now laws have changed and every school system must accommodate with special needs so they don't have to fork out for private school. The private institution however was Robert's family, his home away from home, his safe place.

Later, My nephew transitioned into a group home environment where he lives today. He is 46 years old. Yes, he lives on SSI government money but he does work with the others from his group home cleaning office buildings. He saves up his money and goes on vacations each year and did not become a burden to his parents. I often think of him when I walk down our halls. He could have never survived here. At least he didn’t have to worry about taking a test every spring.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Games and the Martin Family

It was probably because Fred was poor and we did not go out much. We loved to play games, board games, and word games, trivia. When I married into the Martin’s, I fit right in with all of the crazy people. Fred’s mother aka Deedle was the absolute worse. She was cut throat. Annie & Jaime were just little kids and damn it, she would not let them win at “Candyland” or “Critter in the Candy”.

We would go to PA for a weekend and it was a "Trivia" marathon back in the 70’s. Fred was the king of “Boggle”. No one liked to play with him. He was so distracting because he would tee hee like the dog Precious in the cartoon. Every time he would snicker we knew he found a seven-letter word on the board.

Every family vacation you could count on card games or board games for family hysterics. Once we played the game “Pit” at Twenty Pines and kept getting in trouble by the adults we were making too much noise.
When our girls were older and dating, this was one way we sized up the boyfriends. How well could they handle the pressure of playing games in our house?   
Now with our grandchildren, it is the electronic game “Wii” or “American Idol.” I totally suck at these and I get very frustrated but judging from the laughter when I try to do them, still building memories. I enjoy watching the kids interact with each other and their parents. I would give a million if Fred’s mom were still around to see how she would play Wii or sing a Karaoke tune on the Idol game.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It is hard to believe but some people have been wondering where my blog has been. My grandchildren were in town last week and I was not about to lose one second of time. Our visits are so far in between. Of course I should not forget, grand kids mean I also get to see both of our girls at the same time. What a simple joy.

It wasn’t as bad as usual, the bombardment of what I refer to, as “mom abuse” was minimal. The girls tell me things like how I shouldn’t try to text after “50”. Texting is just not for me. That is why I had the major mess up these past months when I thought LOL meant lots of love. I found out the most current use is Laughing Out Loud. No big deal you say, well it is if you tell your sister you are thinking of her after you find out she broke both legs and then put lol .... Or you find out someone you care about lost her job after 20 years and you say you are in my thoughts lol but the worst was when I wrote a note to a priest and thanked him for his priesthood lol. Annie & Jaime went through a list of other text acronyms and when to use them or not to use them.

But with the “eye rolling” and gentle nudges are the things that really say we love you mom. They tell me I deserve to get my hair done, or nail, toes etc. They encourage me to exercise. Being with Annie & Jaime is a ten, they make me feel like mom. Every now and then they ask for my in put on things and I wonder just a bit if they are patronizing me. I enjoy the reflections of the past. It is funny how we all have a different take on certain memories too even though we were all there at the same time.

Sometimes, I look at my grandkids and they will turn their head a certain way, laugh a certain way, smile and it warms my heart because it zaps me back to days gone by when I was a stay at home mom battling blizzards, scrapping off ice, car pooling, chauffeuring, chaperoning field trips and loving every blessed minute of it all.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine Memories

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to reflect on the past. My first memory is of catholic school. We had to tape a paper lunch bag to our desk and then a few students at a time delivered their cards. You sat there with your heart pounding and you were praying that you would get at least one. It was awful. Thank God when our generation grew up we made sure our children gave every kid a card.

In high school, I had a boyfriend who cheated on me every Valentine’s Day. He would actually go to both of his girlfriend’s houses. Once he came over late with a hickey on his neck. He told me his friend put a vacuum hose up to his neck fooling around.... and I BELIEVED HIM. I was pathetic.

Later, in college it became a warm amazing memory. Fred asked me to marry him just six weeks after we started to date steadily. He left for the army two months later and did not return until the night before we got married. It is a miracle we have made it all these years. We really did not know one another. Our courtship was through the U.S. mail. He never missed one day. He wrote me daily for six months.
I feel in love with him like a mail order bride.

What is your favorite memory?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Here We Come Mickey

There is just something about Disney. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I did not go on a trip south with my dad one year and go to Disney when it first opened. It is a vivid memory, the animation in his eyes when he showed us the home movies he took of Disney’s main street. Once I went there, I became the animated member of our clan.

Many years later, our first family trip was with two very small children. Jaime was still in a stroller and I remember her crying over and over because there were no rides for her. Disney since has fixed that and they have an entire area for little ones. Each new park fixed the mistakes of the previous one. Now long lines have mist sprits you when it is hot. They have fast passes to help with the wait. There are air-conditioned spirals that go on forever but at least it is cool.

Once we moved to Florida, Disney became a wonderful familiar place much like our feelings when we would go on the NJ boardwalks; so much so, we became irate and upset the year they covered Cinderella’s castle like a birthday cake in order to renovate. My family just did not want to hear it.

So many memories.... Each time the girl's favorite aunt came to town, she would treat them to a five star hotel and the parks. I have taken several field trips some as the chaperone parent, some as a teacher. I vividly remember Jaime's first roller coaster ride with her fifth grade class. The day before Annie left for college we did a mother-daughter thing at Epcot, a treasured memory logged in my mother's archive.

Now I look forward to a new adventure a sequel to Martin memories of sorts. Both daughters, all four grandbabies oh my. I feel like it is the week before Christmas. Unlike our tent camping experiences of 25 years ago, we will be in style in the Stanek’ s camper ala microwave, shower, kitchen and air.

I am actually dreaming of the different attractions and seeing the reactions of the grandkids roll in my mind like film with a laugh track. It will give me enough fodder for a hundred blogs I am sure.

We used to refer to a lengthy visit at Disney as MMS (Mickey Mouse Syndrome) I am ready with my yellow poncho. Here I come Mickey.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Adrienne

Happy Birthday to a treasured friend who happens to be a Jewish Mom to all... even me and I am 8 years older than her. Adrienne is a no bones about it person. She has a heart of gold and is the first one to tell it like it is for your own good. If she thinks you have thrown her under a bus she lets you know it but like any good mother, forgives. We often agree to disagree.

I have been blessed to call her team mate for the past nine years. I too have the proud mom moments as I take some credit for early mentoring. She is not afraid to try new things and she often likes to mix it up with her lessons so she is not bored and stays fresh teaching. Her classroom is a student centered environment and the children's work displayed shows student ownership.

Her immediate family comes first, no ifs, ands, secretaries or buts. God help you if you do not put her calls through to her room, you are messing with a Mother Lion and her cubs.

Adrienne, I love you and cherish your friendship. Thank you for my monthly therapy session. You are special to me.



Monday, February 1, 2010

Test Prep

Today, on my morning commute I was behind a creeper. I immediately thought maybe it was an elderly snowbird crawling along.  Recently, I seem to be prejudice against older folks. To my surprise and amazement, when I passed the vehicle I could not believe my eyes. The driver was READING. It looked like he was studying for a test.

Now I have seen people on cell phones, with earphones, shaving and reading maps but this was different. We were not in a traffic jam. The traffic was flowing ...moving except for the middle lane where the offender was driving along. What could be so important that you risk your life and the lives of other people? Back in the day, I would have honked and made a face but in South Florida someone might pull a gun out and shoot you.

Sadly, you will probably fail your test because anyone as stupid as you could not pass. I am sure you waited until the last minute to study and procrastinated and now you are cramming. A very bad habit, that I am sure started back in the sixth grade.

Friday, January 22, 2010


There is such a weird feeling after you put away your holiday decorations. I think it has something to do with texture. You know how the home improvement shows are always talking about texture. Once the trees, wreaths and Poinsettias are gone, the house looks naked. I mean stripped. It is no wonder people get depression or winter blues.

For me I have trouble remembering where I relocated my accessories. Next year I am going to write down where I put them. One year, it was six months before I found some of them. I had put them in a Christmas box I emptied out and then it was packed away as holiday decorations. For the longest time I thought I must have sold them at one of my desperate yard sales.

For weeks after I put away everything, I keep finding things. I look up and see a little elf or ornament. I am sure that is how the author of the “Elf on the Shelf” got the idea. She was probably sitting on the toilet in July and looked up and saw a Christmas decoration she left on the shelf. Why didn’t I think of that? She has made a lot of money on that children’s story. It is a new classic.

One good thing is even though you haven’t really cleaned, the sheer emptiness of your rooms makes it look like you have. It is a great fake out. Today, I skipped the mopping and just walked around the house looking for texture. I ended up bringing in a couple plants from outdoors, throwing a blanket over the couch and picked my dog up and put him on the couch...Yep, looks like texture to me. Mopping can wait.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Game I Play in My Head

The first time I learned about the word oxymoron in an English class it just stuck. It seems like my life has been filled with examples. It has always been fun to recognize them. We see many in the course of a day. Back in the day when I taught language arts it was one of the lessons I enjoyed until one day when a student said something to me and I said, now that’s an oxymoron. The next day, I was called in to hear that a parent complained because her son said I called him a moron. (I digress)

There are times we are reminded when we are frustrated like standing in an “express line” forever in the store or when you are at a “stop and go” gas station and a message pops up to go inside and then you wait in line for the receipt.

This week facebook has people posting a bunch of retro photos. I started going through some old photos and said oh no, not that one I was just a “little pregnant” there. No one is a little pregnant or “slightly overweight” for that matter. How does one get the tag “pretty ugly”?

The grocery isles are the worst. Who thought of Chocolate ‘Nilla wafers?
There is “designer beer”, “diet ice cream”, “jumbo shrimp”.

Clothing we wear offer food for thought, like “dress jeans” or “loose tights”. You get invited to a gathering and the dress is “dressy casual”. The first time I heard this term I thought someone was messing with me.

Today I heard two more in a conversation with friends. One friend said he liked “planned spontaneity” and the other said their life was “organized chaos”.

Me, I hope to be a “mildy psychotic”, “young sixty” next year, maybe be “half naked” drinking a “dry martini” on a beach somewhere playing my “moron” game.

This blog idea hit me today when I saw the big new wall on the turnpike. It now blocks the view of Florida’s magnificent herons and ibis wildlife I used to see on my morning drive. But wait, what’s that I see, they have engraved pictures of wildlife on the walls. I wonder if that is an oxymoron????????

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Straight to Heaven or Hell

There are some inventions and new ideas that are heaven sent. I thought of this as Florida has a cold snap this week and my HHR has a “butt” warmer. This seat warmer is like a cozy blanket on a cold night. LOVE it.

Facebook is another “gift”. Connecting with lost family, friends, co-workers can be a real relationship builder. In our generation we were on the phone constantly tying up lines. Now the kids hooked up via I phone or laptops.

There is a gadget that separates coffee filters I use daily that I love. However, this invention makes me just a little angry because I swear I invented it when I used to wait tables. I used a baby food jar with putty on the bottom to pick up the filters, which is not too different from my gadget.

Thank you to the Egyptians for make up and hair-dye now that I am starting to look my age.

I love white out pens. I use them for a lot of different things besides mistakes, like signing your name on a black art paper, covering chip marks on white walls, writing on rocks, sneakers, ceramic mugs.

But the other side of the coin we have the inventions that drive you up a wall.

My neighbor has wind chimes on her porch and I cannot sleep at night with my windows open.

Safety tops for prescriptions are a real pain. I can’t believe how difficult they are for and adult to open. It is no secret kids CAN get them open faster.

The toilet that saves water. Hello??????? Admit it, it takes two flushes for the early morning ritual so are we really saving any water? I don’t think it keeps the toilet as clean, so I flush more and clean it more. UGH!

The single worst invention of the millennium is the BRA that guy should not pass go and go straight to hell.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Short Analysis

Last night, I had a weird dream. Ellerie my grandbaby had a poopy diaper and some poop made its way to the floor. Then Ethan, my grandson accidently sat in it. He promptly ran over to me and gave me a hug and then I had poop all over me while Abbie screamed in background. It is so easy to analyze this dream it is ridiculous.

There are three possibilities. At first I thought, it means I am full of sh-t (which my husband Fred and daughters attest to daily) Then I thought that it might mean Sh-t is everywhere which could have been a thought planted in my subconscious as I walked through our garage earlier in the day. But the obvious reason of course is Sh-t just happens.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thanks for the Memories

Taking whirlwind trips have been part of our life for years. We have lived away from our hometowns most of our married lives. Now that our girls have grown and are living in different states the holiday road trips continue. Things have changed though but somehow oddly remain the same.

No more AAA trip tickets we have a GPS on the phone. (Thank God, because we all know real men don’t ask for directions) Baby food in coolers… replaced by dog food. Pampers replaced by depends for mom mom. No bags of car toys but doggie toys and rosary beads.  We still pack the stocking stuffers but alas perfumes, jewelry and the like were replaced with corn pads, muscle rub and pill containers. Now that can be a downer.

Our don’t forget check lists forgo things like curlers, cameras, electric razors but now include phones, computers, chargers, I pods, Fred’s pills, my mom’s pills and my meds. Also, the emergency medication lists in case anyone takes a trip to ER. The dog’s license and shot information is important in case Cappy needs to go to a vet; he is also a senior now. Oh I almost forgot, I pack the “Bed Buddy” warmer and use microwaves at gas station marts to heat it up. Fred used to be the only Bed Buddy I needed when we were young.

My reading magazines like Country Living, Country Home were replaced by self help books to help me analyze who I am, how I got this way and if there is any hope for me.

All in all, I would do it over again, dreaded packing, brave snow, sleet rain and the like to see the smiling faces of the people I love.
The Stones: Paul, Annie, Abbie, Ethan, Ellerie
The Staneks: James, Jaime and Luke.
Thanks for the Memories