November 29, 2011

I Don't Wan't to Hear IT!!

     Everyone has their pet peeves.  Some make sense only to the holder.  MY pet peeve of course should make sense to all and I don't understand why anyone would disagree.  
     Just to prove to you how much sense my pet peeve makes I present the following facts:
1.     I have a degree in Music Performance
2.    Every year I buy a brand new Christmas CD
3.     I don't believe the season is complete without attending a Christmas Concert
4.     I equally love both secular and religious music
So what is this pet peeve that truly drives me absolutely insane?


     It seems the kids have barely sorted through their bags of Halloween candy that we are not being inundated with various versions of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".   Thank heavens there aren't but a few Thanksgiving songs as they'd get hardly any air time at all.
    I really have to wonder if merchants truly believe that by simply playing Christmas music we are going to start shopping for our holiday gifts more aggressively than we have in the past.  Most people fall into two categories when it comes to holiday shopping.  You either buy along the way or you leave it all to the last minute.  My husband and I are complete opposites on this one.  I start buying for Christmas as soon as I am through with birthdays.  I'll admit it was much much easier when the kids were smaller and their choices were considerably limited.  No, that's not true it was easier because they didn't express opinions and were happy with everything under the colorful paper ~ including the box itself.  But I digress.
     The rule in my royal domain is no Christmas music may be played until December 1st.  I also enjoy Christmas music until New Year's Day, the true end of the holiday season not December 26th.  My husband, once again polar opposite on this point, found a station on November 1st that has played non-stop Christmas music.  He is allowed to play that station in his car and the garage only.  
     Come on let's be real, aren't you getting a bit tired already of hearing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" or "Winter Wonderland"?  Do you really need to hear Alvin and the Chipmunks sing about hula-hoops for 8 straight weeks?  When I discovered that our cable/satellite providers offered a holiday music channel November 1st I blocked it.

Simply put:
·       not in my house
·        not in my car
·        not on my iPod!
until December 1st

   Now you have to agree that MY pet peeve makes total sense and should be embraced by all!

 Here are some of my favorite and possibly unknown versions of Christmas Songs that will be played lovingly and loudly in a few short days.... enjoy

Gonna Eat for Christmas (they did change the words for thanksgiving)
O Holy Night  (from the new Christmas CD I'm buying this year)

November 28, 2011

How far would you go?

  •     We all have our priorities.  We know what we want and what we will do for it.  If our child needs a kidney we're the first to be tested.  As newlyweds scrimping for that first down payment on a starter house may opt for hamburger instead of steak.  Choosing to drive a 10 year old car instead of a new one so our kids can be in private school.  These are priorities and their sacrifices make sense.
    In a different note how many of us camped overnight for concert tickets (before ticket master LOL)?  Took an afternoon nap so we could attend the midnight premiere of a certain movie?  The sacrifices we made for each of those events became part of the memory and probably enhanced it as well.
         We had to drop my laptop off at Best Buy this Monday.  Much to my surprise outside the store there were two tents set up.  I really didn't pay attention and thought maybe they were getting into camping gear ~ oh can I be clueless.  Imagine my surprise when the Store Manager informed us that in fact those tents belonged to people who were camping out for the Black Friday Specials.  They had arrived early Sunday morning and had their tents set up before the store even opened!!
         Now before I entertain you with my glorious banter on the subject I have be honest and come clean on this subject.  Just about two months ago a new Buffalo Wild Wings opened up in town.  We had one for years that we loved, it closed quite unexpectedly so the boys were extremely excited when they learned the franchise was returning.  Then IT was posted.  The first 100 customers would receive free wings for a year!!  The store was opening on a Monday morning and Patrick convinced Michael to take work off so the two of them could sit out the night before.  I have to tell you what an incredible time that night was.  The boys arrived around 6pm and by 8pm the parking lot resembled a tailgating party. There were groups who had tents and were playing games.  The restaurant hosted contests.  They allowed the brave folks who spent the night to hang out on their porch and they even had the TV's turned on; a couple of groups had brought gaming systems and plugged them into the TVs. To be fair to those who were spending the night BWW had a system, with no determined frequency they would walk around and pass out sticker, thus avoiding a mad rush to the door.  You can imagine the disappointment when people were showing up at 7am sitting outside the front door only to discover that they were not going to qualify for the free wings.  At 9:30 they started organizing the 500+ people by the number of stickers they had collected.  There was no "I need a sticker for Tom he's not here right now", you had to be there to get your own sticker every time they were passed out.  When the doors finally opened in order to win the wings you had to have 13 stickers, Buffalo's gave out 125 coupon books. For the next year we have 2 coupon books that entitle us to a total of 12 free wings each and every week.  When the boys present their coupons they make sure the waitress knows they earned those wings!!
         Did Patrick miss a day of school, yes!  Did Michael use a Vacation Day, yes!  If they had to do it again would they~ most definitely.  It turned into a fun family time with Meg and I delivering food and moral support over the 16 hours they were there.  16 hours not 120 hours.
        I understand that Black Friday Deals are pretty great.  But what material object is actually worth 5 days of living in a tent on a sidewalk?  How do you explain to your family why you're not at Thanksgiving Dinner?  "I'm sorry we won't be at dinner this year Granny but we really want to buy our family that flat screen TV. Please save us some stuffing and drop it by Best Buy when you get a chance."  How many people do you foresee climbing out of that tent Friday?

    ***Well due to some clueless error on my part this glorious rant didn't get posted last week as I had planned. So here are some updates on the "success" of Black Friday:
    At Various Wal-marts:
    • 20 people (including children ~ who brings their kids!!!) were pepper sprayed so a woman could gain an advantage getting a discounted X-Box
    • fights broke out leading to arrests over discounted cell phones
    • various locations reported people fighting off would be robbers after making their purchases
    • police had to use a stun gun to break up a fight over video games
    • more proud Wal-mart stories
         While other stores reported similar problems this is the most heartbreaking:
    While shopping at a Target store in West Virginia a 61 year old man collapsed and witnesses report that other shoppers not only ignored the fallen man but stepped over him as well! According the the article posted by Huffington Post there were witnesses who actually said "  While granted there is absolutely no legal obligation that requires you to sacrifice the discounted TV you were hoping to but there certainly is a moral one.  The victim’s wife did report that nurses shopping did come to his husband's aid ~ thank heaven for these dedicated few.  Despite attempts the man later died at the hospital.
        On the flip side the abuse exhausted employees endure is beyond belief.  Is it any wonder an exhausted Target employee lost control of her car crashed into a canal and nearly drowned.

    How far are we willing to go as a nation?

November 20, 2011

Transforming Mourning into Memorializing

     This is hard to admit but for the past 9 years the six weeks from November 18th to December 31st I have lived under a very heavy cloud.  I function well and get through the holidays but it is an incredible battle.  Now let me assure you:  Thanksgiving is always on the table, Christmas cards get sent, the tree is decorated, gifts are wrapped and carols are sung.  There is laughing and smiling along the way but most nights I go to bed heartbroken.

November 16, 2011

What do you keep?

      It is amazing the stuff we all keep don't you think?  Currently we are in the process of emptying our attic so we can lay down a floor.  We have been bringing down boxes that haven't been opened since they were stored up there when we bought the house in 1998.  There is going to be a huge "attic" sale at our house next Saturday.  But it did get me to thinking about what we have kept and why.
     A few years ago there was a series on one of the home improvement channels that tackled people's home that were overfilled with stuff.  I am not talking about hoarder, that's in a category all its own.  The show was called Clean Hose and Neicy Nash was the host.  There are a couple of shows like this at the time but this was my favorite.  The teams would go into the home and empty EVERYTHING out into the yard.  The family then had to divide their belongings into three piles: Keep, Sell, and Trash.  The moaning and groaning that went into that process was what made viewers watch week and after week.  The attachment the owners had to belongings was something to behold.  With the help of decorators/counselors eventually the patients’ guests’ would realize that their happiness wasn't tied to their belongings.  The more heart wrenching moments on the show occurred when the guests had to decide on things that belonged to family members since gone.  How many items did it take for them to hold onto their memories?
    We had to learn this lesson the hard way ourselves.  Back in 2002/2003 both Michael and I lost our Dads within 6 months of each other. We lived in Florida while both of our mothers still lived on Long Island.  As I have mentioned before we are the "black sheep" of the family.  This came into play as we left both funerals with nothing of our fathers to take home with us. I’llk be honest that was really hard to handle for a long time.  My Dad and I had collected Toby Jugs. We were most proud that we had found King Henry VIII and his Queens.  There were jugs from my kids as well.  While I know that these are things he would have wanted me and my family to have it just didn't happen.  (He foolishly died without a will).  Michael's Mom passed away a couple of years later, again no will.  She had lived with his sister for quite a while and it was up to her to decide how the "memories" would be divided.  When a box finally arrived for Michael inside was primarily ALL of the pictures we had ever sent of our kids, costume jewelry pieces (not the nice ones we had bought her over the years), and a few token items.  Like I said we had to learn the hard way that our memories aren't connected to things.  
     As we are emptying the attic we've come to realize that we have pretty much passed this concept onto our kids.  Emily was into American Girl so we have those dolls.  Patrick didn't have much up there; a box of his back braces and one giant floor turtle.  MaryEllen has most of her "keeps" in her closet. We don't have a lot of baby items anymore.  We do have a ton of books and puzzles~ have to keep something for those "someday grandbabies".  But really there isn't very much else that's new from our family up there. 
     So what in heavens was in those boxes we've been toting around?  Items that we thought were so important we had to keep so their memories would remain alive.  We found a box of winery glasses from our honeymoon, a thirty plus piece collection of Precious Moments figurines, as well as our high school long coats (which was a big thing in the 80's). There was a box of stuff from college which contained my wall calendars and school newspapers.  What's funny about that one is the box touched my heart more than its contents as it was addressed by my Dad and seeing his handwriting felt like a hug from the past. 
    Now the one item strictly off limits to this whole conversation is the box that holds my wedding gown.  While I don't believe either of my girls will ever wear it I do have plans for it.  The lace will be used to add layers to each baby's Christening gown.  The fabric will be used to make Bride's Bags.  That box will be moved with me forever. 
     As I look around my house I realize that we don't have many things the kids are going to be fighting over when the time comes to divide up the loot.  What I hope I have done is create memories that are more cherished than a piece of china.  I used to think how nice it would be to have a piece of furniture from generations passed to pass onto my kids.  Now I think that less is more and in the long run less to pass on will mean less hurt feelings and arguments when my estate (HAH) is eventually divided.

November 3, 2011

Superman, Hercules, Dr. King and Patrick?

   When you ask people about heroes you truly get an array of answers.  Many people will respond with those who are personal heroes such as Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King or Helen Keller.  Other answers could tend to be more civic minded such as members of our armed forces, police and fire fighters.  Depending upon what is popular at the box office you many also hear such characters as Superman, Captain American and X-Men.  A final group of answers may include those Greek Heroes we all had to learn about such as Hercules, Achilles and Theseus.  Well my son Patrick recently tried to gain hero status all on his own.
     Now mind you Patrick is almost 18.  This means, for those of you not fortunate enough to have parented a teenage boy that his way is the only true way and basically he believes he’s indestructible.  As I'm writing this I have to tell you that just two nights ago we signed his early enlistment papers into the USMC Reserves. While I am super proud after you finish reading about his "moment of heroic glory" as he calls it you'll understand why my stomach is still a bit tense with his choice. 
     This summer we learned that Patrick does well in a crisis situation.  He was in a car accident with Emily and her best friend.  While the girls were flipping out Patrick took control, called parents and 911, and then tended to the girls.  It wasn't until the adults arrived on the scene did the reality of how close they had come to being seriously injured even hit him.  As a parent it is comforting to know that your child will rise to the occasion. HOWEVER......
     Patrick came bursting (literally bursting) through the door announcing "Wait until you hear what I did at school today you're going to be so proud!”  I'm thinking he scored 100 on a test, was selected for an award, things like that.  This was sooo important he wanted us to sit down at the table so he could share his exciting news.
As told by Patrick:
     Today I was almost a hero.  We were getting ready to start 6th period and all of a sudden I heard someone scream not like you hear on TV but a real I'm getting stabbed scream.  We all ran to the door as the screaming continued.  I saw a couple of teachers run through the hall and the first thing I thought was "there's a shooter I have to take him down".  I went running out of the classroom to find the shooter.  I knew I could take him down if I could find him.  The other classrooms had their doors closed so I kept running.  What actually happened is a girl somehow twisted her knee in such a way the bone broke the skin.  Aren't you proud that I was going to take care of the situation? I was going to be a hero!
     The first words out of his Dad’s mouth were you dumb ass!!! What are you trying to get yourself killed?
My first words were "where was the teacher that let you run out of a classroom?  Followed by are you crazy? You could have been killed!

What followed for the next 30 minutes was one of the most frustratingly entertaining conversations I think I've ever had.  Patrick couldn't understand why our first reaction wasn't that of pride.  We couldn't understand why he thought he could take down someone with a gun.  He went on to explain that he felt he had to step up and take control of the situation.  We explained that's what the other adults~ teachers are there for.  He asked did we want him to be a wuss and not help out.  No, we replied instead of running out to danger you could have made sure your class was following the danger protocol that you have practiced since Columbine and taken the lead that way.  That job was the teacher's he insisted plus they had a sub that was 80 years old and didn't know what to do.  You should be proud of me I could have been a hero.
     This is where the entertainment begins.  Mind you Patrick had spent the rest of the afternoon playing this in his head and had clearly thought the whole thing out.  Did I mention he's almost 18 and therefore pretty egocentric?  He actually went on to share with us how he saw the situation unfolding:
     Once I found the shooter I was going to distract him then tackle him down.  I'd remove his weapon just in case he has someone else working with him I could protect myself and others.  Once this was all done I'd be declared the hero of my high school.  They'd have a parade.  I'd probably receive scholarships and get to meet people like the Governor and maybe the President.  Of course I would be on the news.  They might even have a statue of me outside the school.
     Feeling it my duty to rain on his parade I pointed out that chances are if there was a shooter things would probably end up quite differently than he had imagined.  First off, I asked, what makes you think you are bullet proof? I also wondered what they were learning in NJROTC that made him think he knew how to take a shooter down!  He assured me that he "just knew" he'd be able to get to the guy.  No matter how hard we tried to get him to understand we didn't want him running in front of bullets he couldn't see things that way.  Once he finally conceded that ok maybe just maybe things could turn out bad that would have been ok because he was sacrificing himself for his fellow classmates (yes we lifted our feet b/c you know what was flowing LOL). This possibility brought further realizations of glory.  He now knew not only would all of the above honors happen (outside of meeting people because he might be dead) but even more.  Oh the ego... 
     He wants to be buried in his NJROTC uniform w/a soccer ball.  He told us where he wants the service to be held, though he thinks a mega church or something along those lines would be required.  Should someone consider immortalizing him in song like Michael W Smith did for Cassie Bernall after Colombine he wants his song to be Rap.  He named his Pall Bearers and who he would like to speak at his service.  What amazed me most is how quickly he came up with all of this oh to have the mind of a teenager again. 
     Patrick has retold this story to his sisters and others with his glory, of course, increasing with each recitation.  I laugh harder every time.  He truly believes, despite the derogatory names he’s been called each time, that his champion Miss Jane will stand behind his decision to try to be a hero.
            Sincerely I am incredibly proud of Patrick and how brave he is.  They say people either have a fight or flight response and quite obviously Patrick’s wired with a fight response.  Do I want my son running in front of bullets ~ no of course not.  If I’m truthful I’ve not had the most restful sleep since we signed his enlistment papers.  I am slightly comforted in the fact that he can’t enlist until his braces come off and at last checkhe still had at least another year.  We were told years ago that with his personality Patrick would either wind up leading a gang or as an officer in the military.  So I guess I’m lucky he’s chosen this path.

But why does this song keep playing in my head… Billy don't be a hero

November 1, 2011

Why Blog?

     It seems that everyone and their brother has a blog today. But why?  I know that sounds arrogant as I sit here writing and hoping many are going to read these words.  However I believe it is a valid statement just the same ~ why are people blogging?
     When I started blogging back in February it was a way for my voice to be heard.  Well actually if I'm honest I actually backed  my way into blogging.  I started posting notes on facebook when my voice was failing me.  I was so frustrated with all that was going on around and to me that I needed some sort of release.  At that time my intended audience was friends, close friends.  Even when I moved the notes into this "official" blog format my audience remained friends.  It was at the encouragement of different therapists to make my blog public in the hopes that other stroke victims and their families would find common ground and hopefully comfort in my shared experiences.  Now 8 months later, and after almost a 4 week hiatus, I continue to blog simply and honestly because my stroke recovery is still the elephant in the room.  I need this blog to continue to be my voice through this journey.
   OK that's why I am blogging, but I still wonder why so many have blogs.  Actually that's not my complete question.  Not only do I wonder why so many blog but why do they think their blog is something "strangers" will be drawn to. 
     In some ways I am jealous of this medium and the impact it has for families.  We lived in Virginia when we started having children; all of our extended family lived in New York.  A blog would have been an incredible way for us to update everyone on the daily fun and growth of our children.  What an incredible opportunity that would have been for Pop-Pop et AL who missed those milestones.  With that being said I don't think I would have ever made those pictures public.  Nor would I have thought that strangers would have wanted to subscribe to my daily life of diapers, nursing and general motherhood.
     At the end of 2010, according to Royal Pingdom there were over 152 million blogs on the Internet.  According to Digital Mom Blog this time last year nearly 4 million American Moms had blogs. Interestingly I couldn't find statistics on how many Dads had blogs though I'd like to highly recommend these two blogs: The Real Matt Daddy and Chopper Pappa.  Sometimes an opposite view point is quite interesting and entertaining.
    The next major category of blogs are the coupon/giveaway blogs. Within this category you can find a blog dedicated to your region and the sales offered.  If you're into giveaways then these are you.  Most have twitter accounts attached to their blogs alerting you of the recent prizes available. 
    My favorite group of blogs are those wordsmiths that simply make me smile and laugh out loud.  They are modern day Erma Bombecks or even what I think Phyllis Diller would have done if blogging was around in her day.  Extremely popular is The Bloggess she has a number of blogs she writes.  You need to find her post about Beyonce, no not the singer rather the 5 foot metal chicken she bought who now has its' own facebook page. Warning she is a bit blue and drops Fbombs like my teenage son drops his clothes.  My other current favorite smile maker is Caffeinated OC Mommy.  She has a bit of a lipstick obsession and a great way with stories.
    Not too long ago a my friend Louise at Girl Left Behind wrote a great post about why she blogs and that's what I'd like to leave you with today,
Why I Started Blogging

PS should you visit any of the blogs mentioned today please tell them that I sent you :0)