September 19, 2011

He only had time for the paying fans :0(

     Friday nights for my son, like most seniors equals Football!! Being a part of the school's Film Department that means being there early to set up cameras and such.  So as you can imagine I was a bit surprised when he came in the door at 4:45 saying that he was headed right back out with friends to Academy Sports.  Emmit Smith was at the store signing autographs. 

     Patrick and his friends were psyched to get a picture with Emmitt and hopefully his signature.  After waiting in line they were told that not only was Emmitt not posing for any pictures but he would only be signing copies of his new book, which they could purchase for $20. 

    Emmitt Smith for those of you who don't know was a UFlorida Gator, Dallas Cowboy, and winner of Dancing with the Stars.  After his football days he became a successful business enterpreneur in Dallas, TX and now he can add author to the list of his accomplishments.  With all of that being said I think it isn't presumptuous of me to say ~ the man is quite rich.

    When did "loving the fans" turn into "if you really love me show me the money"?  I abhore the paparazzi and believe that celebrities, athletes and such are entitled to their privacy.  However when those same people are out in public with the purpose of interacting with their fans how cheesy is it that they'll only smile for money?  The last thing my son and his two friends were intending to do was each spend $20 on Emmitt's new book and I guarantee you they won't be doing so anytime in the near future.

     I sometimes think when celebrities get to a certain point they truly forget where they came from.  Years ago the MLS Spring Training was held here in Florida.  We went down one weekend to see watch them train.  It was just like going to your kids' soccer game.  We set up chairs on the sidelines.  Chased after balls that went awry.  The players gladly posed for pictures whenever asked.  We had so much fun with the guys from L.A.  Galaxy invited our family to come back for another practice.  They even included our kids into their practice as I watched over their cell phones.  Weeks later they sent us a package filled with funs items.  Oh the players on that team wound up going to the world cup~ you might recognize the names Landon Donovan and Tim Howard.  My point is those guys were sincerely happy to interact with their fans. 

     Maybe celebrities like Emmitt Smith simply get to the point where they really don't need anymore fans like my son and his teenage friends when they have enough older fans who have deeper pockets. 

On a side note: not that it made a difference but my son was wearing his NJROTC PT uniform at the time. 

September 16, 2011

10 year plan? I don't know what I am doing tomorrow

I have been saying that in 10 years I am moving to England.  Well I guess I have said that once too many times to Maureen, my stress therapist, as she announced this week that it is time to start planning it or I have to stop talking about it ~ well isn't that money well spent!

   Seriously I am not a plan the future type of gal.  Heck the most advance planning I do are meals for two weeks, though I am an early Christmas shopper.  I know some people who plan vacations a year in advance, so not me.  Even when we visited England and France last year I made all the arrangements in the 2 months before we left.  This whole concept of planning what it will take to move to London and what I'll do when I am there NOW just feels as weird as putting on a wet bathing suit~ blech.

     Part of the idea is to start to remove the "fantasy" of what living in England brings with it.  Me, fantasy surely she must be mistaken.  Whatever would lead her to believe that I have any fantasy life at all?  Ok maybe my pronouncing myself royalty was a bit fantastical but can you blame me for that one? I don’t think so.

     So once a month I have to actually make some sort of progress on this plan.  Again am I actually paying for this taskmaster?  Here's where you get to come in ~ you didn't actually think I was going to do this on my own with a glorious group of readers such as yourself at my beck and call  assistance did you?  What's the point of being royalty if I can't pass my drudgeries share my new experiences with you?

Task number one: Where do I actually want to live? 
 Right now I am more into ruling places out rather than pin-pointing the exact whereabouts. Choosing the exact place will happen as the date is more pressing.

I know that I don't want to live:
  • In London~ too expensive
  • In Scotland ~ too North
  • More than 2 hours by train from London
  • somewhere that doesn't have a rail station
  • In an overwhelmingly ex-pat community ~ kind of defeats the purpose a bit
  • In Ireland ~ it’s not England pretty simple
  • In an overwhelmingly Muslim community (see church need below)
Things I am unsure about:
  • Do I want to live by the water
  • If I do live close to water should it be east coast or west coast
  • how small a community I want to live in
  • Wales an option
Things I do know I want:
  • An active Anglican Church in community
  • Community welcoming to Americans
  • Must have good bus/rail access
  • A reasonable cost of living
  • A small rental apt in a home not apartment building

My plan is to find myself a wall map of England and put it up on the back of my bedroom door.  When I discover a place I don't want to live in I'll cross it off on the map so I’ll slowly start narrowing things down.
I think that's enough pre-planning for this week don't you agree? 

So readers of this royal court: Any and all inputs are gloriously welcome.  Ta-ta for now.

September 13, 2011

Finding Beauty in Broken Pieces

I was recently given the opportunity to write my first book review:

     Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective.   A stained glass window is made up of broken pieces of glass.  Each piece needs to be smoothed and cut to fit into the artist’s planned design.  Once complete the finished product is most beautiful when filled with radiant sunshine. 
     Patsy Clairmont uses this imagery along with life experiences to show how each of us have within our hearts a beautiful masterpiece of color and shadow.  Each chapter of her book focuses on a different perspective of a how our hearts were broken in the first place.  Whether your brokenness is  due to personal relationships, tragedies or just the wear and tear of everyday life those pieces of your heart each contribute a beautiful and glorious color to your mosaic. 
Patsy ends each chapter with an Art Gallery.  Here you’ll find recommendations for paintings, museums, music and books to further explore the beauty of the creation of mosaics and how they apply to a stained glass perspective.
                Prior to reading this book I have never actually heard of Patsy Clairmont, which surprised many of my friends.  Patsy is known for her humorous approach to Christian life, this book does not fall into that category.  In the first few chapters you feel as if you are going to be taken on a journey with a dear friend.  Sharing deep emotions and how she’s overcome much of that hurt with her faith you are drawn to walk beside her.  By sharing these stories she enables the reader to find solace in the simple thought you are not alone.  

I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for my opinion.   

September 12, 2011

It is 6:45 I am driving what more do you want??

  Science has proven that you are either a night owl or an early bird.  Well I didn't need any documentation from studies in Europe to tell me that.  Plain and simple ~ I am a Night Owl!   I figured this out in college when I had door duty till 2am didn't bother me in the least.  Classes at 8:30AM ~~ those weren't pretty days at all.  8AM Open Vocal Lessons; let's just say the Royal Opera was never going to snatch me up.

     Fast forward 19 years. School mornings in our royal abode were never really the interactivities you often seen on TV.  I made sure all were up dressed, fed and off to the bus and that was about it.  Our mornings weren’t anything special but they worked and then it happened:  Em gets accepted into a Performing Arts high school, not across town but in another county. Translation: I have to get up and drive EVERY BLESSED Morning.  Now thank fully she could catch a bus at the "closest" high-school, a mere 40 minutes away w/morning traffic.  Em is like me in so many ways.... one being she's a night owl also.  We got into a routine down to the minute.  I got up 10 minutes before we leave throw on sweats, put hair in bun, take care of stuff.  We barely grunt to each other out the door. Once in the car the radio is turned to NPR. Em reclines her seat and goes to sleep.  40 minutes later wake her up when we arrive," love you have a great day" and she was off (to sleep on bus for the 35 minute ride to school).  When I got home I made sure other kids were off to school and back to bed I went.  Two years later Patrick also gets accepted to the art school.  First day or so he's chatty then realizes heck I can sleep... so there's 3 of us with this routine.  AKA quiet car mode.
   So if you're counting I followed that routine for the better part of 4 year, until Emily graduated.  At that time Patrick transferred back to his home school so he could participate in ROTC which surprisingly Arts schools don't support.  WOO HOOO my driving days are over, the bus stop is not even a 60 second walk to the corner. I just dodged two more years of driving at 6:45 in the morning!
  THEN not to miss out on the opportunity that her older siblings had Miss Meg decides to not attend her local high school with Patrick.  Oh No she wants to go the High School across the county for their TV Production and Pre-School academies.  So once again I am headed out the door at 6:45.
     Do you ever wonder if sometimes your kids aren't yours?  That they are so opposite that maybe the hospital made a mistake?  There are times I have to admit I look at Meg and say "who are you and where are your parents?"  She's up with the sun and happy in the morning ~EW!!  Ok yes I know she's mine but all I can think is when they delivered her emergency C-Section at 4pounds that all those tests and days in the NICU somehow messed up her internal clock. I know I can't prove it but that's the fact jack.
   The first two days of Meg High School I was in Alabama taking Em back to college so Dad who normally leaves for work @ 5am drives her.  Heck for him it was sleeping in, a treat if you think about it.  Seems they just had a glorious time talking about the day ahead and whatever.  Day three arrives and now Mom drives.  I have my 645 car routine and completely forget she's a newbie.  First thing she does is change the radio to some rock-my-car blow-my-ears-out station.  Then after I turn that off she starts talking.  Not yes, no, or grunt comments but questions that require multiple words to answer.  Does she not recognize who is behind the wheel?  Day four is a repeat and already I'm thinking maybe I should transfer back to her home school as the stress might be too much for her. I know, I know what you're thinking... smart move sane the sanity.   Thank heavens there were only four days that first week.
    Monday rolls around for the start of the new week.  Meg hops in the car puts on the radio and I stop the car; then in the most loving supportive tone that I can muster at 645 I looked at her and said ~ Sweetheart I am so glad you're going to XX High School.  We are going to have time in the car every morning for the next four years.  That time is going to be quiet time.  You can rest back, review notes for the day, heck you can even text your friends.  But what it isn't going to be is Mommy Chat Time.  She looked at me and said ~thank god I didn't want to be rude just sleeping on the way to school and with that she reclined her seat. 
!!! YEAH she is my child after all!      

BTW we have wonderful chats at 2:45 in the afternoon when I pick her up :0)

September 7, 2011

When did I move to Lake Wobegan?

    Garrison Keillor in 1985 created the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.  On his radio program  A Prairie Home Companion he will tell you that in his fictional hometown "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average".  Last time I checked I still lived in Florida.

      There is actually something called the Lake Wobegon effect (nope you can't make these things up) and I believe there are a lot more people struggling with this syndrome that are willing to admit or even aware of it. Doesn't it seem everyone today has kids that are just incredibly outstanding?  They're either skipping grades, the star player on the team, incredibly artistically talented or curing cancer. Or for the younger set they were potty trained at 6 weeks and speaking fluent French at 15 months.   Seriously just listen to a group of women chatting at Starbucks. 

      I have never been a big fan of the Christmas Newsletter.  Let's call it what it really is... "Look at how absolutely incredible our family is; don't you wish you were this good" press release.  Now I am not expecting anyone to announce that Johnny broke the school record for detention or Amber's been kicked out of Church choir for making out with half of the boys.  HOWEVER what happened to reality?    When did being average become so inferior???  “We had a wonderful year as a family” I guess is too boring for newsletters.

   I continue to make the same mistake: I run into a Mom I haven't seen in a while and ask how little so and so doing.  Last time we saw Timmy he in 4th grade, a bit of a handful not really a sports phenomenon.  Well NOW after 4 years and $1,000's spent on personal trainers he is going to be the next Pele!!!  Or little Irene who couldn't carry a tune if you put it in a bag, now studies privately with Ms. Star and is going to be the next Jackie Evancho, she's just a couple of years behind.  (Reality note: my daughter's on an Opera Scholarship and she wishes she was Jackie Evancho)  Here's the thing: If I only heard this once I might be impressed but when comments like this become the norm you just have to wonder.  And also why is it these parents rarely ask after my kids!
        Years ago our elementary school actually had to cancel award ceremonies.  You see the parents had turned it into a competition.  NO kidding.  In third grade Em had received the Most Improved award one quarter; I'll admit I was surprised as she was an A/B student.  The looks of pity that I received from several Moms; the "Oh we're so glad she's doing better" look.  When I asked the teacher how she earned the award she replied that Em had worked so hard on her handwriting she wanted to acknowledge it.  Hang on it gets better...
    Around Em's 5th grade it became "the thing" to present your child with a gift as they proceeded across the stage accepting their award.  Moms and Dads were flocking to the stage with balloons and flowers as they child received their A Honor Roll award.  This then became a competition amongst the parent.  By the end of the year the students were receiving stuffies,  huge bouquets and other non-sense.  Never mind that this cut into the time of the child who was walking behind them. More than once I couldn't get Em's picture b/c Danielle's Mom was giving her daughter a carnival sized bear.  That was the last year of award ceremonies.

     Another aspect of the Lake Wobegon syndrome is the "my child didn't do anything wrong" world view. Have you ever called a mom to discuss bad behavior only to have the conversation turn into how un-above average your child is?  One day Meg comes home in tears from her best friend's house down the street.  Elizabeth, who was much bigger than Meg, wouldn't let her use the bathroom and proceeded to keep her locked in the bedroom until the inevitable happened.  Of course I knew Elizabeth's Mom would not want her acting that way so I call.  Instead of "I'm sorry I'll talk to her, I'll have her apologize" Elizabeth's Mom went on to express her sympathy for Meg.  "Elizabeth you see knows how to wait and hold it as long as necessary.  When we go on road trips and she announces her restroom need we tell her when the next scheduled stop is and she's just fine."  She's so sorry Meg doesn't have that ability (Lake Wobegon effect)
     When did being average become so inferior? ??  Guess what the only way someone can truly be above average is to actually have a group that is average and with rare exception that’s where most of us fall.  I am here to tell you my kids rock.  They each have a gift unique onto to their own.  Am I proud of them... you betcha.  When you ask how they're doing you get it straight.  Why elaborate their achievement~ doesn’t that downplay what they've actually achieved.  By the way when my kids cure cancer you'll know it.

September 6, 2011

Are you not aware you are in public?

  I don't understand people's behavior at times.  Do they think that they are walking around in a special bubble and others can't see or hear them?  Last I checked the "Cone of Silence" from Get Smart has not been proven to work or is it being marketed.

     Sunday we spent the day at the Zoo.  First off convincing two teenagers, 17 and 14, that they want to get up early and spend the day at the Zoo with their parents deserves a moment of respect~~thank you.  OK, moving right along.  Our day was great with some fun moments and planking opportunities.  Zoos are of course great attractions for families with young children.  We absolutely loved tagging behind the little girl who was excited when she kept seeing pictures of an elephant; wish we were near when she actually saw the three at our zoo.  Then there was the first grader who was acting like a tour guide.  You also have to love how children can meet and in an instant devise a game that has the bird behind bars chasing them.  AND THEN.....
     Oh the things we overheard.
1.      I carried you for 9 months then another 18 because you were a late walker if you think I'm carrying you around this zoo you're crazy  ~Mom to a preschooler
2.      Put the cup up so the bird can eat stop being a baby ~ Dad to a preschooler inside the bird aviary
3.      If that snake bites you come and tell us cause it’s poisonous ~Mom educating child on North Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake
4.      If you fall in I am not coming after you ~Mom to child hanging over edge of the moat wall surrounding the Lemur habitat
5.      Why can’t you smile for the picture ~ Mom pleading to uncooperative child holding up line at photo op in front of Merry-Go-Round
Here is what I really really really wanted to say
1.      Bet you wish you had spent the $5 on the stroller rental now huh
2.      Sir actually he is still a baby and some fears are fine---as I head out of there cause those birds freak me out
3.      So if a non-poisonous snake bites him you don't care?
4.      Maybe if you taught your child NOT to lean on the edge you wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.  Never mind showing the love!!
5.      Mam you’ve just spent 5 minutes yelling at your kid to smile do you really think pleading with him is going to make it happen?  Get over the picture already!! BTW she did get him to smile (tiny giggle) then he closed his eyes real tight.
Those were some of the non-cone of silence highlights.  Parents whenever you take your young children anywhere do not have grand expectations of seeing the whole park.  Remember this is Florida and it is so warm after 12noon that even most of the animals are napping!! I do think it is outrageous what it costs to visit the Zoo.  As a family of 4 our tickets including the Sting Ray Bay were $56 and that doesn’t include paying to feed the Giraffes or the Lorikeets.  I understand wanting to get the most out of your day… just remember they’re kids.  Oh and that other people can hear you.

Finally two words about Zoo Rules….. FOLLOW THEM!!

Zoo rules... No Animals allowed.  Pretty simple, let's face it there's enough animals inside the zoo already they don't want or need yours adding to the mix.  This poor puppy isn't even in a dog carrier, it just looks so uncomfortable  :0(   You have to wonder what it was thinking.....Oh to live in cages like that!!  Better yet what do you think the other animals were thinking when they saw him..... Where's the rest of him or I thought living in this fake habitat was bad!!    By the way when we saw these people it was close to 2pm and easily close to 95 degrees.

So to end on an up beat... as that is what we should start the week on....some fun pictures from yesterday

September 4, 2011

One of those S Curve days

   ( S-Cure:  traces the cyclical movement upwards and downwards in a graph. So named for its shape as the letter "s" Relates to growth and decline in the natural increase.  ~~ One of Meg's AP Human Geography Vocabulary Words~ Always trying to educate you dear ones LB)

Do you ever feel like your life is a replay of a Three Stooges movie? Welcome to my Friday.  I can't say it was a horrible day as after over a week of headache/migraines I finally kicked them.  And then I went to Publix.

     The first Friday of every month my kids have an incredibly long day.  After going to school all day they head to a different mega-church in our area for the monthly Youth Quake Live show.  While they are served Pizza for dinner before the show it is only two slices and they don't get those until 6pm.  So I make sure they have a sub or something like that on the way.  That means a trip to Publix.  So I got Meg from school and we headed to Publix.  Everything went fine, even found some great BOGO deals for the weekend.  Then I had to check out. 

     I felt like I was following a Three Stooges script verbatim.  We had gotten a fountain drink with our sub and enjoyed it around the store.  It was in the seat of our cart as we were loading our groceries onto the belt.  I guarantee I couldn't repeat what happened next if I tried.  Somehow by simply taking out the sub, also in the cart seat, I managed to rip the lid off the drink which then performed a 180* flip and land bottom side up exactly where it was first situated.  Amazingly I didn't spill a drop of soda on ANY of my groceries or me!!  Pretty impressive don't you think.

   Once we got the floor cleaned up and my groceries all bagged I reached into my purse to pay only to discover that my wallet was missing; I left it in my computer bag the previous evening.  That's ok Publix takes checks and once you are in the system they don't need your driver's license... oops that policy's been changed.  So here I am with a medium sized grocery order that includes ice cream and the subs for the kids' dinner unable to pay.  Did I mention I was shopping at the store by Meg's school and not my house!! 
** If you were keeping track that's three strikes and in less than 5minutes :0(  The poor check-out girls who has been so sweet to this point suggested that they would store my groceries in the back until I could return later with payment~sure I have time for that TODAY.  Thank fully the store manager (who cleaned up my mess) took pity on me and said I could call her from home with my license information.

  My day ended on a glorious high-note!  I received my first pot-belly historical collectible that I won on eBay.  AND as if I planned it as further proof for Thursday's post A Peek Into My Royal Roots... it arrived via Royal Mail.

My first Royal Pot Belly

September 1, 2011

A peek into my Royal Roots

    In case you haven't heard I am royal... obviously since I am Lady Bren.  It isn't as if I woke up one and declared myself royalty... well actually that is what I did but don't tell anyone.  It wasn't until my stroke that I truly embraced my royalty completely.  Notice though I haven't claimed to be a Queen or Grand Duchess just a simple Lady, the wife of a Knight, though to be modern I have decided to keep my own name.

    I am proud to say that I am a second generation American.  My Grandfather (that's what we called him) came over from England around 1910.  He actually snuck in through Canada so I won't find him in any immigration registrar.  The story goes that he wouldn't become an American citizen just in case the two countries ever went to war.  You have to kind of love that tenacity I guess.  My grandfather was a composer and wound up being a Captain in the Salvation Army.  While my childhood memories are very limited I fondly remember Fish and Chips with vinegar,  Real Tea Parties, Beef and Kidney Pies and his bragging on English Strawberries.  Hanging in the basement where I grew up is a framed piece of glass with a quote "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire".  It is the only thing from my Dad that's still left I hope to someday own. 

     In 1977 my Dad, a Pan Am employee, received 4 First Class tickets and we went to London.  This was back when air travel was still a luxury and you dressed as such.  We had never flown anywhere before and I thought that every time you flew you ate dinner upstairs with roses and chocolates.  For one week we explored castles, museums and the streets of London.  I came home an official anglophile.  Thank heavens we were regulars at the Library so the research department didn't mind getting me all the books I could devour on the subject.

     Queen Elizabeth I is truly my hero.  After her is another great woman, Queen Victoria.  They are two of the people I choose for the 5 people I would invite for dinner.

     My bookshelf is full of books both fiction and non-fiction.  Margaret Howard and Philippa Gregory are among my favorite authors.  So you can imagine my delight when today I received an email from my dear friend Amy Bruno at Passages to the Past that I had won one of her many glorious historical fiction giveaways!!  So I am going to be checking my mailbox with baited breath for my copy of In a Treacherous Court