Random Thoughts

NaBloPoMo January 2013- Day 3: What is your favourite way to recharge when you feel drained of energy?

Today is about recharging.   For me I can feel myself getting tired so I usually try to grab a nap or go to bed.

However, apparently it is not great to go to bed at 7pm.  Its impossible since the kids don’t go to bed until at least 8:30 and I know if I go to bed at 7pm, chances are I will be wide awake at 3am, and get into an insomnia/sleep deprivation cycle.

I adore naps.  Sadly, naps are verboten at work, but sometimes I get tempted into a closed door ‘webinar’, where I lock my door and may or may not listen too.  (Don’t rest your face on the keyboard.  The oils from your fingers will make you break out).Woman Sleeping on Computer Keyboard

If a nap is not forthcoming, I grab some caffeine.  Since I’m not a coffee drinker-its Coke Zero time.  However, I am trying to cut back on my processed and artificial sugar, so I only use that when I am really dragging.

caffeine mom

 

I can usually tell I am running low on energy because I get cranky.  Things that usually do not bother me, begin to really get on my nerves.

crabby mom

Sadly as the mom, grabbing that nap is not as easy as it was when I was three.  In fact, when I am sitting around doing absolutely nothing my husband and kids circle me and look at me like they can’t believe that I am just sitting there.   Thankfully though, I do not have that total energy drain too often.

If only recharging was this easy.recharge

 

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The Administravia of Adulthood

heard the word administravia on a job interview, and I am sure that this has been a popular term for years and I am hopelessly behind.  For those of you just as behind the times as me, administravia refers to annoying paperwork and forms that are a necessary evil as part of your work.

When I was in College, I did not have a lot of administravia, with the exception of homework. Twice a year I would fill out some paperwork, once a year do some taxes and fill out a financial aid form and occasionally attempt to balance my checkbook.  (Confession-I almost never did-Thankfully I kept enough track of things to almost never bounce a check.

Then Dave and I got married and we shared the paperwork responsibilities.  This was before the debit card and online banking was big so we wrote lots and lots of checks for everyday use and paying bills.

Now of course, if I write more than 3 checks in a month its a banner month, since not only can I set up for the bank to electronically pay the majority of my bills, I can set up Quicken to automatically record the payments.  In reality, with the exception of tax time, and open enrollment, we should really have a minimum of administravia in our lives.

Our move had lots of administravia with turning utilities on and off, and address changes and dealing with changing the cars over, but it was in a burst of work and we hopefully won’t have to go through it for a few years.

But we have children.  The administravia starts small, with some papers to get a birth certificate and a social security card.  Then if they go to daycare, there is some paperwork you fill out once a year to keep your information updated.

Then you have a second child, and they both hit school age.  Now it feels like we are constantly dealing with dittos, permission slips, multiple school registration forms, health forms, pick up and drop off forms.  There are fundraisers and school newsletters, school menus and other bits of paperwork that floats in and out of our house.

One year I saved all the catalogs I got between November 1st and Christmas.  It was 250.  I wonder if I saved every piece of paper sent home from school for a two month period, how much there would be.

What really amazes me is that with the internet and the prevalence of email, that I can’t receive all of this information electronically.  Why I can’t get a log on and password and fill out all of the paperwork online instead of trying to cram information into teeny tiny spaces.

However, since I have a few years before Dave and I have to deal with SAT sign ups and financial aid paperwork and college applications, I should probably enjoy the small administravia that I deal with now.

What about you?  Are you amazed by the amount of paperwork that you deal with?  Do you find that most of it is child and school related.  Does anyone have handwriting tiny and neat enough to fit in the little spots on the forms?

 

Sandy

I always said that I never got upset over two things:  Things I could control; and Things I could not control.  Obviously things I could control were things I could do something about, and with things I could not control, that meant of course I would not get upset about the things I could not control, because that was pointless, since I could not control it.

However those who know me know that I end up spending a lot of time trying to get things I can not control and change them into things I can control.  This means that the serenity prayer is wasted on me.

Then Sandy came.  I watched on TV as the storm raged, and spoke to my mom as she and my stepfather fled to the second floor of the house to escape the water.

I grew up in Oceanside, and that area seemed to be rather hard hit.

I saw the footage of destroyed homes and people sobbing amongst the ruins of what was once their lives.  I tried to explain to the kids what was happening.  And most of all, I wanted to DO SOMETHING.  ANYTHING.  I donated money to the Red Cross and LI Cares, but I desperately wanted to fill the minivan with supplies and drive up.

However, the threat of being grounded, (and the gas shortage) stopped me, and instead I bagged up items around the house, including my prodigious collection of sample sized toiletries and sent them to a local bar that was taking donations.  But still I feel helpless and impotent, as I am sure many of my friends who grew up in Oceanside and moved away did.

The news media does not seem to be covering the aftermath of the storm as much now that Presidential Elections and Petraeus’ extracurricular use of his penis seems to dominate the news.  But thanks to Facebook, I can see that my hometown still has large portions of its residents without heat and power.

The storm is bringing out the best in people.  I see the Facebook Pages devoted to donating, and stories of electric workers from across the country and average citizens digging deep and coming in with supplies and money.  I see Long Island, now Strong Island gathering together to rebuild.

Then I see the worst.  I see people criticizing celebrities who gave for not giving enough.  I hear stories of mismanagement at LIPA that curl your toes.  And even though Chris Christie is not my favorite person, I hate seeing him ridiculed and thrown under the bus for putting the people of the state that he was elected to govern above party politics.   When part of your state has been destroyed, some things no longer matter.

I also hear about scams happening with people offering to help people make claims or arrange for repair work, but just take what is left of the money these people have and run.

I also still try to control things.  I keep on reminding my family that they are welcome to come here at any time, as if they would forget.  I keep on asking them if they need anything.  Heck, I still try to plan Thanksgiving, December Birthdays and Christmas, because Thanksgiving is next week and I tend to go on autopilot this year.

Yet even though I start working on my Christmas list, Sandy is not far from my mind.  I think about the children of the hard hit areas and wonder what their Christmas will be like, and wonder what can be done.

I then also think of the other disasters.  Past hurricanes, the Tornado in Joplin, and think that I simply donated some money to the Red Cross and went about my day, never giving those people a second thought.

But now, its on my mind.  And even when I don’t want to have the hurricane on my mind, its still there, brought to the forefront by my inquisitive daughter.  Her questions, “Why did the hurricane happen?  What happened to peoples pets?  How did the water get in the house?  Could it happen to our house?  Could it happen again?  Did Grandma Fran lose all her shoes?”  brings it back.  However, I am eternally grateful that I get the easy questions that can be answered in generalities and do not have to answer the tougher questions that my NY & NJ peers have to answer.

So the best I can do, the best any of us can do is to donate what we can, and help out where we can.

The bigger questions of preventing more damage caused by extreme weather looms, but it’s not my question to answer, because I cannot wrap my head around the enormity of this storm and its causes.

So my Long Island friends, stay strong, and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why My Mom Should Have A Cooking Blog….And Yours Should Too!

My grandma Mary (so was my grandma Rose) was a wonderful cook, and while she made a wonderful Sunday gravy  (pasta sauce) and a tender pork roast, her most memorable dish was the Antipasto tray that she would do for family parties.  For those not Italian, a family party could be counted as any time you had more than eight related people in a room at one time, which could me a weekly event.

Anyway, I remember that  she would always save some olives for me to put on the tips of my fingers and then eat them of, after watching them glisten on my fingertips, like fake nails.  She would also have salami, tuna packed in olive oil, tomatoes, provolone cheese and…..  I can’t remember.  No one really can remember everything that was in the dish.  We also apparently never took a picture of the dish, and my grandmother passed away without telling us.

My mother is a fabulous cook.  Actually, all of the women in my family are fabulous cooks, and most of the men were not too bad either.  I remember my dad made awesome baked ziti.    I led such a sheltered existence that I didn’t realize that everyone did not know how to cook, until my parents took us to the house of one of their friends and we were served spaghetti with a sauce that tasted like ketchup and american cheese melted on the pasta. (Its been a few decades since I was served that and I still shudder at the memory)

But back to my mother.  Night after night she would put wonderful meals on the table.  In addition to pastas and sauce she would serve breaded fish fillets, chicken, pork chops in applesauce gravy,  homemade chicken soup, pot roast, sloppy joes in pita pockets and a hundred other tasty meals, that she would conjure up quickly each night.

Once I was married and cooking dinner, I asked her what cookbook she got her recipes from.  She looked at me, sniffed and said, “Recipes are for people who don’t know how to cook.”  And for her this is true.  She is an intuitive cook, using a recipe as a starting point for proportions perhaps, but usually went off on her own.

And this is wonderful, until you want to re-create that wonderful dish at home.  And she is a very generous and willing to give cooking advice.  However, when you ask her for the recipes, she starts with “Get a bunch of chicken cutlets, and the chicken broth in the can”  and you are sitting there thinking, ‘How many is a bunch, what sized can?  Low Sodium broth?  Will the world end if I use the stuff in the box?

And I find that after years of watching my mom cook has led me to be an intuitive cook.  I have cook books and recipes pinned and recipe cards, but unless I am baking, I very, very rarely make the recipe as it is written.  Sometimes its because I get distracted while cooking and I leave something out, but usually its because as I am tasting and smelling as I go, I adjust things.  Including recreating my favorite recipes of my mom’s even though they never taste exactly the same.

However, my love for intuitive cooking makes it difficult for people who like my cooking and want my recipes. I am happy to share, but when I started to discuss the process, I find that I give guidelines as opposed to specifics.   So, I now record the recipes on the blog and force myself to measure and time things.   I am hoping my kids appreciate this later on.

For me, a lot of my family memories are tied up with food.  I remember wonderful meals growing up.  And the funny thing, that even though a lot of popular Italian foods contain the same basic ingredients, I can’t pick up an Italian cookbook and recreate my family’s sauce.  Heck, my mom and her sister don’t even make the same sauce.

Now that I am getting older, I want to have those recipes to make for my children, and hopefully my grandchildren (way in the future) and have stories to tell them about my cousins, aunts, uncles and assorted relatives.  My mom’s bout with cancer 5 years ago, and the fact that several of my aunts on my father’s side are hitting their 80’s remind me that my time to collect these recipes/memories are slipping away.

Which is why my mom needs a blog.  This way her recipes are there for me and my brother, and the other people who love her food.

If you are reading this and it sounds familiar to you, then perhaps your mom should have a cooking blog too.

One thing I do have, and I am eternally grateful for is a video of my mom, aunt, daughter, cousin and brother all making Cavatelli.  My mom is the one in the purple apron.

It Gets Better…..But….

Logging into my email the other day, among the Linked-In Board notifications and job search related emails was a request from a member of my graduating class who wanted me to follow her on Schoolfeed.

This surprised me.  We were not friends.  We were not even friendly.

In fact she had made 7th grade a living hell for me. She was a Queen Bee, and I sadly was not even a Wannabe.  Slightly chubby, with my bad haircut, thick glasses and complete lack of knowledge for trendy fashions for 12-year-old girls, I might as well have had a bullseye on my back.  However, it was usually a kick me sign.

I was a friendly girl, and really naive and this was used against me.  I had my home ec projects mocked, and was pushed off the stool in art class.  I was shoved into lockers, tripped, pushed,  and my backpack was tossed into dumpsters.

Now she never laid a french manicured finger on me.  She did not have to.  She had her friends and the people who wanted to either curry favor or more likely, avoid being her next target do her dirty work for her.

Sometimes I was lucky and she and her friends would ignore me.  And more often I was not.  This girl would explain to me in detail how I was a loser, I was ugly, my friends were losers and that my social standing was so off the chart, that I wasn’t even on the chart.

The worst was when the time they pretended to be nice to me, and grateful for the friendship and the break in the teasing, I returned the friendship, only to have the things I told them used against me.

And this went on for a whole year.  I thought I would get a reprieve, after one of my friends told her mother how I was invited to a slumber party for a friend of mine and how my friend blindfolded me and the girl and her friends fed me dog food.  And then the following Monday in English class, she had written about it in her journal and read it aloud to the class.

My mom tried to help.  My parents offered to take me out and buy me the right clothes and get me the right haircut, but I knew that a pair of Guess Jeans from Lonny’s and a Bennetton rugby were not going to save me, (and I couldn’t imagine spending so much money on a pair of jeans) so I bought a Sweet Valley High Book and desperately imagined myself as a Wakefield Twin, even though I knew that I was really Enid Rollins, just without the substance abuse issue.

I don’t blame my teachers for not stopping things,  since the kids were good at hiding their tracks, and  there was not the hypersensitivity about bullying that there is now.

I just told my parents I was fine, and went about my business and never, ever complained. I knew that however bad they treated me, it would be worse if I said another word.  I immersed myself in drama club and stayed in my room, listened to records and read.

And now I am mostly grateful that the internet and Social Media did not exist back then.  I hate to think what cruelty and technology would have produced.

However 7th grade ended, and I was never in a class with that girl again.  Once I got to 8th grade, tormenting me seemed to have lost its fun, and I was left alone to hanging out with my friends at Hot Skates and listening to Madonna and Duran Duran.

I went through High School, and though I was never elected Class President or Homecoming Queen, I had a great time in the drama club, plenty of good friends to hang out with at lunch and on the weekends and usually had a boyfriend.  I went to college, met a wonderful man who after 20 years, two kids and more than one failed attempt at Weight Watchers, still grabs my ass every time it goes past him,  got a master’s degree and even achieved a decent level of success in my field.

I have friends and family who love me, and by any objective standard, I have a pretty good life.

It did get better and it does get better, but does it ever get better enough that you really, truly forget?

Yet when I see that name, I am transported back to the sad 12-year-old who couldn’t understand why people were so mean to her, when she never did anything mean to anyone else.

Her follow request sits unanswered in my mailbox, and while we had been friends on Facebook, I unfriended her, since I did not want to see her name on my wall. This might have been partially due to the fact that she did not end up as a lonely, bitter person with a miserable life, as I had been told by several well-meaning adults.

I debated writing this, because really what could come of it.  If I told her how mean she was to me, what was she going to do?  Apologize for something that happened nearly 30 years ago that she probably has no memory of?  Possibly tell me the compelling reasons she had for her cruelty?

Which also leads me to wonder, did she know what she was doing was wrong?  Did her parents know what kind of things she did?  Did they care?  So many questions, I do and don’t want the answers to.

To be honest, I’m still actually  kind of embarrassed that she still has any kind of power or influence over me.

I can her saying, “Poor widdle Maryrose, with her hurt feelings from things that happened back when Madonna was still relevant.”

After all, what happens in our middle school years is something we are supposed to get over.   I mean, we were kids and being cruel was just something we outgrew like neon socks and spiral perms.

I should just tell myself what I tell my son, when he complains about teasing, which is; “Sometimes people are just assholes and there is nothing you can do about it.  Just ignore them as best you can, and eventually they will move on.”

And that is what I should do.  I should just delete the request.  Or I could block her, but I feel that I have given her enough attention already.

Although I know she has children in or close to middle school, and I can’t help but wonder if the little bees did not fly far from the hive, and I should tell her how her actions affected me, so if her children are treating others the way she treated me, she might understand better what they are doing.

Or perhaps, she wouldn’t care.

Either way I have probably given the matter way more thought than it deserved, until I saw a post from a middle school friend of mine on Facebook complaining how people who made her life miserable are trying to friend her, and she wants nothing to do with them, and I remember that I was not alone then and I am not alone now.

So, to my fellow dorkarinas who spend their Friday nights in Middle School devouring Anne of Green Gables, what do you do now when a former tormenter tries to friend you.  Do you:

A. Friend them back, but feel kind of bad about doing it?

B. Ignore them

C. Block them

D. Block them, but tell them why 1st

E. Friend them, but only if they have miserable lives

A Real Christian

In addition to yesterday being the anniversary of 9/11, it was also the one year anniversary of the death of my Stepfather-in-Law, Walter C. Righter.   Maybe I’m a big geek, but I think it’s cool to have a relative who has a Wikipedia page.

Walter was an Episcopal bishop and when my Mother-in-Law 1st told us that she was in love with a retired Bishop that was more than 20 years her senior, Dave and I were a little nervous at 1st, thinking he would be a stuffy, stodgy, boring old man, who would be horrified by his non-churchgoing step children who occasionally dropped the F-Bomb.

He wasn’t.  He was witty (although he told the worst puns), and loved a good joke.  My grandmother also loved him, and he was very good about her feeling up his muscles and hitting on  him.  (If you had ever met my grandma, you would understand)

He was a gentleman, with old-fashioned manners, that I wish were not old-fashioned.  He was generous and truly kind and patient.

(Yeah he could be stubborn some times, and he moved verrrrrry slowly in the morning, but it was just part of Walter)

One thing I loved about Walter, that while he was a religious man, he never preached to us, or pushed us to be more church going or lectured.   I did learn a lot about religion from Walter.  When Nancy and Walter were 1st married they built a home in New Hampshire that needed some work.  Dave would happily do the work and it was my job to keep Walter from helping with the work. This was accomplished by me asking Walter a detailed question to distract him from Dave’s efforts.

The weekend Dave built the deck and porch I started with the innocent question about why the Episcopal Church did not have 1st Holy Communion like Catholics do, and finished with asking to explain the difference between being Catholic and Episcopal.  Let’s just say that Dave got the deck and porch built with no “assistance” from Walter.

He believed that Jesus loved us all, and lived by that example.  He never had a fish tattoo or wore a t-shirt with biblical quotes on it.  He just lived his life in the service of God.

He believed in equality for everyone.  He believed that your gender or color or who you loved did not exclude you from God’s love or serving as a member of the clergy. Even when he was tried for heresy by his church, he did not stop loving his church or stop believing in equality.

Walter believed in long stories, bad puns and opportunities for everyone.  He believed that bacon was a sign that God loved us, and that broccoli was the work of Satan.

This came out after his passing, but I know he would have loved this:

He said the homily at our wedding and baptized both of our children, even if he pouted about not being allowed to wear Mickey Mouse ears with his Vestments.

And as he neared the end of his life, I know he was appalled at this bastardization of the religion and lord he spent his life serving.

Using God to exclude people and commit violence against them and deny them their rights was not what his Christianity was about.   Christianity was not a weapon to him, it was a tool to show that with the love of God, all things were possible.   He hated seeing how the Bible was twisted to justify hate and injustice.

It is him and his version of Christianity and the spirituality of some of my clergy friends on Facebook that keeps me from abandoning organized religion altogether.   When I think of Walter, I am reminded that the hateful things I see and hear in God’s name is not what God is really about.

I had shared this quote with him before he passed.  I know it gave him a chuckle

 

 

 

9/11/12

Today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11, otherwise known as the day I avoid the television, because I am still working on my lifetime goal of never again seeing the footage of the planes hitting the towers, the planes crashing in NY and PA again and the resulting destruction

However, its a pointless endeavor because around this time of year I can see the footage every time I close my eyes.

I was lucky.  One of my classmates died, who was a firefighter, but I have  friends who lost siblings, spouses and other loved ones.

I remember being in the waiting area of an emergency room when the planes hit, because I had taken an employee who had been in a car accident on the way to work to the ER, and trying to explain to a group of non New Yorkers just how big the towers are (were).

I remember getting sent home from work early and doing a massive food shop, because some how, surrounding myself with boxes of Kraft Mac N Cheese was going to make this better.

I remember the frantic phone calls, trying to track down my brother and friends who worked in the city.

I remember holding my son, who was a little over a year and wondering what kind of crazy world he was going to be a part of.

But being a bright side person, I try to think of 9/11 as a day when ordinary people did extraordinary things.  People often wonder if the circumstance arose if they would do the right thing.  The people who died that day were able to answer that question in the best way possible.

I also try to remember September 12th.  It was a day when everyone was a little kinder and a little less rushed.  It was a day when the whole world was a New Yorker.  Everyone hugged their loved ones closer and seemed a little more patient.

It was a time when the Yankees went to Fenway for a game and no one yelled “Yankees Suck”

However, it seemed that we lost those feelings such a short time after 9/11 as the even became politicized

Even now, we all try to grab that 9/12 spirit as the anniversary approaches, but the spirit tends to pass with the day, as people use the day for political gain.

My goal for the 11th anniversary of 9/11- Try to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice by keeping the 9/12 spirit alive.