I’m gonna get right to the point; Like my dad always does.
Here are the most important things I’ve learned so far from my dad. Things that he may not have known I was paying attention to. Things that have shaped the way I live my life, make friends, work, and parent my children.
1. Don’t roll your eyes at your parents. Or anyone. (Not a good one to start with as the slow eye roll is a signature move of mine).
2. Keep your elbows off the table and chew with your mouth closed.
3. Be grateful for what you have and don’t ask for a toy every single time we go to K-mart. If you don’t ask and patiently wait through the garden and hardware sections, you may get to pick out a Barbie outfit.
4.Pillow fights are what you can look forward to after daddy has a long day at the office and misses dinner.
5. Get good grades and listen to the teachers/nuns in school. Because I will believe the teachers/nuns and not you. (back when teachers could teach and parents could punish)
6. Stop crying. Slow down. And tell me what happened. I will still Love you no matter what. (insert same convo at ages 5, 16, 21, 33, and 40).
7. Stop listening to adults talk with adults if you are not an adult. GO PLAY.
8. Don’t yell at your mother; Especially after she: took you shopping, threw you a party, made your prom dress, licked all the wedding invitation envelopes etc…
9. Listen intently. Speak intelligently.
10. Follow instructions but don’t be afraid to ask why and how.
11. Work REALLY hard. That way you are able to play hard.
12. If your boyfriend and your friends at 17 years old happen to drop off at you at your parents doorstep after a party and ring the bell and run back to the car before your dad gets to the door…MAYBE you should have re-thought those Bacardi Breezers,
13. Never borrow money from a friend.
14. Be very cautious about going into business with a friend.
15. Never leave a job without having another one first.
16. If you want to have fun at a social gathering of any kind, do not talk about Politics or Religion.
17. You will probably marry someone very similar to your father. (I thank God I did, dad ;))
18. Family comes first at ALL TIMES. And sometimes your closest friends are just like family.
19. A few drinks on the porch with dad is sometimes more fun than a night out on the town.
20. The door is ALWAYS open for you. Just come home.
Can you tell that this is my season and that this marks the beginning (and end) of a brand new start… 13 weeks later and the arm is on the mend! So we will start this new beginning with a pictorial, if you will, because for many reasons I haven’t been able to settle in and write lately. School is almost out, sports are slowing down (never over), plans are being made for summer trips and we’ve been crashing a few pools. Oh, and I made the crazy, major, insane, and exciting decision to leave my Visual merchandising position of the last 14 years to stay home and build my husband’s business with him and be more a part of the kids growing up. That’s all. Not a whole lot going on.
(insert crazy eyed laugh here) More on all that later. for now…
I’m embarrassed to admit it but for being such a skincare/ cosmetics junkie, I’m just now jumping on the bandwagon for the amazing invention known as Birchbox. For those of you who may not know, Birchbox is this fantastic little curated box full of skincare and makeup treats that you receive in the mail once a month for $10. Stop right here you moms who are saying, that’s not something I need to spend extra $$ on lalalalalalalalala. HUSH.
PSA: Here’s why you need it. When was the last time you bought yourself something without feeling guilty? This my friends, is the perfect solution. You fill out a survey about yourself, your skin, your color preferences, and they put these mini sized luxury products in a box. The box is really pretty and always different and can be saved and reused. You don’t share this with anyone. It’s mail for YOU that’s not a bill or a letter from school asking for volunteers or money. It’s fun. And believe me you’ll forget you ordered it and will be all smiley and surprised when it shows up! Also $10 is equivalent to the 3 bags of Doritos that neither your kids or your couch, need… They get enough junk. Hell, they get Everything and Anything they want. So there’s your reason to subscribe. (Oh, and shout out to my beautiful and somewhat higher maintenance 30 year old friend without kids who insisted that I need this. ;))
Now, on to the fun stuff. I got my first box and it was filled with pretty little products. Enough to use 2-4 times and try something new. There is a pamphlet that describes each case product and its use and benefits. It’s pretty cool too because if you really like something, you can purchase the full size version on the website and there is almost always a coupon or special going on. Also, if you really want to get fancy, you can curate your own gift box for someone, buy special edition boxes, or add-onfull-sized options to your $10 box once in a while for a little extra $$. Most of the time, each month’s box is curated by a different designer, celebrity, blogger or lifestyle guru and they create a theme for the month based on their favorite products.
But whatever. TREATS FOR ME. For $10.
Hopefully I’ve sold you on getting a little happy box in the mail each month. Whatever it takes, ladies. We’re all in this together. xo friends! http://www.birchbox.comDo It.
I love to celebrate. Holidays, birthdays, vacation days, weddings, communions, retirements, going away parties, or any other party whatever the reason. I love to plan, party, and re-hash. I love to do it for others as much as I love to celebrate something for myself.
But as Beverly D’Angelo so lovingly said to Chevy Chase in The 1989 Classic, Christmas Vacation “Clark, you set standards that no family activity can ever live up to.”I do. I expect a lot. out of myself and others. It’s a very charming character flaw. Shut up. You know who you are, rolling your eyes right now. (mostly family members)
So, it won’t be surprising that sometimes when I’m looking forward to something so much, it’s fate that some sort of shit hits the fan. I’m going to re-cap an example. Mother’s day weekend. No sporting events From 8pm Friday until 3:30 pm Sunday. Beach bound family of 4. Now, I have not left my small town except for some chauffeured shopping excursions since my arm breaking incident 9 weeks ago. It was time.
I fully realize that most people have real problems so please, before you read on, do not think I am complaining or ungrateful AT ALL for my healthy and otherwise happy family, extended family and friends BUT… I just wanted 36 hours of family fun. No hiccups. Right? Wrong.
Saturday started out pretty great. My husband went fishing early am and the kids and I headed to the beach (in the fog. I’m a diehard. It was over 65 degrees and THAT my friends, in the state of NJ in May = beach day). But wait! My beach is closed due to a road block. So kids and I hustle over to the next block. I gotta say, when you have a regular beach street (again an NJ shore thing I think, hence the expression “my beach”), you feel weird going to a different one; even if it’s a block away. I know, First World problems..
No worries, we had a great time…On 23rd street. AND the kids are now, after 10 years….CARRYING THEIR STUFF!!!!
I even started my next book as promised… Gatsby. Again. I will never tire of Gatsby. If you pretended to read it in high school, I encourage you to actually read it now. Fascinating story of the division of classes, the grandeur and excess of the roaring 20’s and sweet and fleeting, lost love. Also, now that I’ve seen the Baz Luhrmann version, I can’t stop picturing Leo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Toby Mcguire as Nick Caroway. Amaze.
So anyway, Daddy caught a huge fish on the boat while we were at the beach and there were already plans in the works for a cookout at the marina later in the evening. So we walked back to the house with plans to clean up, and wait for daddy. The first stop would be the boardwalk to make the kids happy and then to the marina.
Next up…. plans are derailed by a flooding toilet. Short story, there is a clogged up drain pipe somewhere under the house. It was only brought on by the fact that we took showers. MY dumb luck. Boardwalk plans, Cancelled. Spent the next few hours calling plumbers that couldn’t make it out. I’m getting agitated because I know what’s next: Wait the rest of the day to get this thing fixed and forget the fun. Kids are now patiently watching Jesse and playing Minecraft (thank God for Disney and iPad apps) Turns out the problem is bigger than expected and we need to go home because we can’t use the water, toilets etc…The point to the story is this:
There’s this switch in me. The one when the plans get de-railed. I freak out a little (it’s a combo of my slight OCD and the “but it wasn’t supposed to go this way and now how am I gonna fix it and still make it fun because I’m responsible for planning and having all the fun” gene.) Bring on the frustrated tears and the UGHHHH. All I wanted to do was get away. Now I have 40 pounds of dirty wet towels to lug home and wash and the kids are pissed because no boardwalk and I’m pissed because of the last 2 1/2 months. Daddy is the only level-headed one who goes with the flow. I’m trying to get better with sudden change. That’s what this whole broken arm drama was about right? The truth is it’s hard to let go of the “Griswold syndrome” and if you have it, you know what I’m talking about. I think most moms do to a degree.
What happened, you ask? Well, after my tantrum and quickly packing up the stuff we just unpacked 12 hours before, plus the wet towels, we headed over to the marina and ate the striped bass that my husband caught. We saw all the old friends that we missed at the wedding we were not able to attend in Key West (because of my damned arm) and MADE THE BEST OF IT. Like I’ve been told to do over and over again this 40th year of my life. It somehow worked. I’m easily swayed by a good party, and red wine. here’s a peek..
Unfortunately we had to go home that evening. We took the kids for ice cream, they fell asleep and we unloaded the car back home. Mother’s day was a bit less eventful than I had planned but it still included a delicious breakfast and dinner NOT made by me. Bonus: I didn’t do the dishes. I did however do 3 loads of wash on Sunday and I’m not gonna lie I was still a little aggravated about the cancelled plans and the highlight of the day being soccer. AGAIN. See below. But I really think It’s stupid to pretend you’re not upset about something because sooner or later its gonna come out anyway and you might as well get it over with even if it IS Mother’s Day and all. Right? I’m right.
But, truth be told, Saturday morning and Saturday night were amazing and fun and spent with my family of four. The kids quickly got over whatever they missed out on (kids are good like that). Lesson learned. Get better at accepting the unplanned crap. Don’t set such high expectations for holidays. They are, after all, just like any other day in the end. BUT, it’s ok to be disappointed. We’re all human and I can’t stand fakers.
P.S. I am in love with greeting cards by Emily Mcdowell. If you haven’t been on her website or seen these like EVERYWHERE, crawl out from under that rock and log on.
They say the perfect thing for every occasion under the sun and are irreverently and comically honest. LOVE. Humor is what gets us through the most annoying, and sometimes the most heartbreaking situations. She has something for every occasion has recently come out with “Empathy” cards. I like these two best so far: enough said. Happy Belated Mothers Day friends! xo
I’m still home. being home and out of commission has not been all negative. Some positives include:
Making Easter pies on a Tuesday afternoon , getting my son on and off the school bus each day and being a part of the homework process, spending a lot more time with my husband and learning a bit more about his business, (and also learning how to stay out of each others way..), spending a significant amount of time with my mom who is a modern-day cross between Florence Nightingale and Florence Henderson; (we can learn a lot from the baby boomers about caring and generosity and humor and dancing…more to come in a future post). But, I have really gotten to spend a huge amount of quality time with my 4-year-old daughter.
This was something I DID in fact get to do when my son was 4 because luckily I was on maternity leave for an entire summer. And since miss “Eloise” was #2, I most certainly treated it like a 12 week vacation. After given the ok to drive on day 10 after my c-section, you bet your ass I had that Saturn Vue with a sun roof packed to the top with 2 kids, a dog and all the things we needed to stay at the jersey shore for 3 months. Heaven.
This time around I was not super prepared to spend this much time (hurt and immobilized) with my 4-year-old “pinky dinky do”. She is everything you’d expect a younger sis of a 9-year-old brother who plays 15 sports all year round:
Fun, feisty, chatty, scrappy, strong, a little bit girly, and very much her own person.
I’m a girl. And totally a girly girl in most ways, But I always thought I was better at being a boy’s mom. No nonsense, get dirty, not a lot of chatter, straight to the point, those boys are. I love ’em. Ry-guy was a “leave me alone in the dirt for 4 hours and then maybe I’ll come over and give you a hug” kinda kid. So I had a lot of “me” time in between and didn’t have to answer any life-altering questions. Because even though I’m a social butterfly.. I REALLY LIKE QUIET TIME.
Sweet 4-year-old girls are quite different, especially if vying for the attention because older bro gets most of it. Oiy vey, the constant questions AND the long narrative dissertations about what she is going to do next.
But oh how enchanting and charming she is with her facial expressions and sideways glances when she catches you watching her play dolls or schoolhouse or store or basketball (and basketball with the dolls).
She gets right in the middle of things and has no fear. She has learned to ride a bike, swim and hit a baseball much faster and with more vigor than her older brother. Her eyes are enormous and smile so teethy. Her hair.
Her HAIR.. Has the most f-ing perfect Carmel highlights. They would most likely cost upwards of $200 (not including cut).
I have learned that unlike boys, 4-year-old girls listen more intensely and remember every last detail of what happened yesterday, last week, last month. Even if they weren’t supposed to be listening. And in the same respect; she never shuts up.
She frequently stops me during the course of the day to hug me or tell me she loves me so much and to the moon and all the planets.
She also thinks I’m pretty. Even when I’m not.
I’m terrified that in 8-9 short years she will hate me and all my opinions.
I will continue to get along with her until we don’t for a while and like me and my mom I’m sure we’ll find our way back to one another. We are very much the same.
I’m very grateful that I got to spend some of year 4 with my spunky monkey just a like I did with my first. They say all things happen for a reason. They always do.
I’ve been reading. A lot lately. Not so much writing. I’ve been in a little idea rut. Mainly because I’ve been wearing sweatpants and wearing a storm trooper plastic arm brace. I digress.
Apart from my normal daily reading: articles, blogs, blips, posts; I’ve been Reading. Books. With paper pages. I’ve been wearing my glasses. I’ve been feet up head down, laughing and crying and learning new things and they are not on the internet. This is unusual for me because really, what mother of two very active children, working or not, has time to read unless:
1. You are on the beach (with one eye on the kids of course) 2. You are using public transportation to commute to work or 3. You are on disability and have a lot of time to yourself mid-day. No one will let you vacuum and online shopping has become dangerous? I fall into #3. So I’ll share my findings so far.
First easing into reading again by keeping it light. A funny, cheeky but very informative book called “How to Be a Parisian Wherever You Are; Love, Style and Bad Habits” by a bunch of French women friends (see pic)
I love books like this as they are a fast read and usually contain some fun and useful information with chapters such as:
Something about those French women, they have all the answers. And it looks nice stacked with all my fashion and style coffee table books in my room.
Next I chose to follow up on a book I read last summer (on the beach, which is reader category #1 from above) “if I stay” by Gayle Forman which was about a girl who is in a car crash with her family who are all instantly killed and she is in a coma and looking down on life going on around her and deciding whether to snap out of it or not. (I think they may have made it into a movie last summer).
The sequel is “where she went” … possible spoiler alert.. It tells the tale of what happens after. Loved these. They were full of heart, some family drama and in general very well written. Come to find out they’re totally categorized under young adult. Oh well. I’m young at heart I guess. They were sweet.
Side note: as an “occasional book reader” I tend towards the lighter end when it comes to fiction. Not really drawn to the dark stuff. There’s too many sicko stories on tv and in the news (I refuse to watch the local news. Ever. Downer. AND they never get the weather right.) That’s just me though. To each his own right?
What I really enjoy and always have is reading about the lives of real people. Artists, Actors, Writers, Musicians, Designers etc. I love to read a good memoir and know what makes people tick and why they love what they do and how they got there etc.
That brings me to Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please” and I just gotta say this once. She is my famous twin sister. It’s scary how much we think alike. I hopes he finds this charming and not creepy if she ever happens to read my ity bitty blog.
What I appreciate the most is her honesty about being a working mom, a comedic writer, someone who is passionate about her passion but not snobby about it, and her general gratitude and reminiscence about her time growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and her family life.
I like her writing style too and have learned a lot about how I want to evolve as a writer just by reading her book. I’ve also remembered that I really love to read non fiction. Particularly auto-biographies. People stories.
So it may not surprise you that next up is Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants”. (I’m a little behind the eight-ball on my nytimes #1’s because again, what freaking mother has the time to read unless you fall into one of the categories I’ve listed above)?
Also on my short wish list are the following autobiographies by women:
The Woman I Wanted to Be: Diane Von Furstenburg; DV: Dianna Vreeland; Grace, a Memior: Grace Coddington; #Girlboss: Sophia Amoruso; I remember Nothing: Nora Ephron; I Love Lucy: Lucille Ball
After that I’m thinking I may revisit a classic like Gatsby to you know, take it up a notch and to remember why it’s truly the only book I read cover to cover in highschool and have been obsessed with all things “Gatsby-esque” ever since. Hamlet came in second as I did read half before getting the cliff notes and finally watching Strange Brew. (Loosely based on hamlet and hilarious).
I like my new/old hobby and am going to try and continue as best I can when I re-enter the real world, or at least at the beach. Whatcha all reading these days?
It’s time. Time to free those feet and legs from the control top opaque black tights. Not to mention time for a few spray tan sessions and a pedicure. But, all in due time. I THINK its safe to say we’re past the frost mornings. Dear God, let’s hope so.
Anyway, the minute I had to cancel the two getaways we had planned for the spring due to this dumb broken arm, was the minute I started to medicate with some online shopping. Shoes were the first priority. Duh. Because, when you are shopping to feel better about anything at all, new shoes will always fit. Shoes do the trick. And you can’t just buy one pair. The purchase usually is in multiples. Don’t pretend you don’t do this either. I’m not buying it.
I’m staying away from my heels for a while because of being slightly off-balance, the fact that I’m not working for a bit and the fact that the flat sandal craze this year is sooooo delightfully tempting.
Here’s what I came up with…notice a trend? (I’ll give you a hint… metallic)
I want to pair them with this Forever 21 Skirt that I have a minor obsession with; mostly because of the fantastic scuba material and it holds the cutest shape. (I know…It’s time to stop going in there but, I couldn’t resist and I don’t care).
Easter has always been a big deal in my family. It was always that one holiday that out “chaos-ed” every other holiday. Where family traveled from near and far to stay in my nana’s small 100-year-old house in an old italian mining town in upstate Pennsylvania to celebrate, cook, eat, visit older relatives, visit the dead ones too…at the cemetery (yes this was an activity), eat some more, and leave on Easter Sunday afternoon exhausted and with a dose of heartburn.
As the oldest grandchild I spent 34 Easters there. The ones spent with my cousins were the most memorable. We would spend our days running around to the playground, corner store and at elderly aunt’s houses, and spend the nights staying up too late and carving our names into the attic ceiling. As we grew up the only thing that really changed was the alcohol intake and some fierce games of scrabble.
After having meatballs and easter pies for breakfast, Church was the big outing on Sunday. Sometimes I even went on Saturday night to hear my nana and her sisters sing at the vigil mass. I could always pick out her harmonies in that choir loft…She lived till 97 years old and even in the end, legally blind and a failing heart, she managed to get the pies done and thank goodness she passed it down to her kids..because near and far all four of them still do the pies, and the meatballs and still makes a big deal out of Easter, no matter who is there for the gathering.
My mom, aunt and I gathered at my sister-in-law’s house yesterday to get the pies done. Since I’m still a one-armed wonder and get scolded by a family member or medical professional every time I do something other than sit and take pictures, I did just that. (iPhone pics only since I only have the use of one arm, so I apologize for the pic quality..) I documented our old but new tradition, with some of nana’s great grandkids on hand to join in the fun and add to the chaos.
A pictorial follows and no you don’t get the recipes. All Italians have their own secret ingredients when it comes to these things and far be it from me to give them away. ps I don’t even have them yet.
Of course there’s more than one type of pie. duh. “We” also made spinach bread and rice pie (with the raisons) too…
Of course there was time for a toast using some of nana’s vintage glasses. chin chin!
and there was plenty of dough left for the girls to make some apple turnovers! I was never this focused at 4.
dying eggs and some crafts were next. a tradition that carries on from the late 70’s with us grandkids…some years were more successful than others and some (like in the late 90’s) were accompanied by a lot of vino, making for some crazy eggs. but here’s a peak at this generation’s:
These days we spend Easter Sunday at my aunt’s house with a lot of the same family members as well as some new ones and a lot more little ones. Yes, It’s different but the same. The same energy level, the same menu, the same jokes, the same chaos. It’s a nice beginning to the next generation’s childhood memories.
I wrote this email to my cousins about a year after nana passed to say happy Easter and that I always think of them on that day. It never fails that in some way, whether by phone, text, or in person we all connect still every easter.
“Happy Easter cousins! It’s obviously not the same as it used to be…I was thinking of taking the kids to the mall after baseball practice tomorrow to see the Easter bunny but we don’t have a Boscovs who’s first floor is full of strong smelling hyacinth and lots of old lady’s searching for the perfect Easter tablecloth..so it won’t feel the same.
I would watch Saturday night live tomorrow night but it’s not as fun if it’s not huddled in sleeping bags and afghans on a 70-year-old carpet.
I will try to fry up some garlic and peppers so my house can come close to smelling like nana’s and maybe we can pick up some pony beers just for old times sake.
I will look at the picture that Janine sketched for all of us of nana’s kitchen many times this weekend to conjure up the memories….”
Way to greet year 40 right? I had so many plans and things I was looking forward to doing and working on the next couple of months before the summer; trips, house projects, exercise regimens; the list goes on. I’m a planner remember?
I’ve been forced to put all of that aside for a moment in time and sit. And heal, so that I can do all these things in the same way that I’m accustomed to. Talk about 180 degree shift. My usual hair on fire schedule went to: “I can’t even wash my own hair”.
So I’m going to listen and do what I’m told because I WILL go back to my “normal” but this may have been a sign to bring my “normal” and all the expectations and standards I have for my life down a notch or two from super-human to well, maybe Wonder Woman’s first cousin once removed.
I’ll share some of the things I’ve been able to do to keep my mind going and spirits up. First and foremost the family, friends and neighbors that have been dropping in to feed, decorate, clean, deal with the kids schedules and just sit with me are enough to pull me out of any funk I may have been falling towards. Also, My other half is on nightingale duty as well and can now do a pretty perfect pony tail on both me and my little Eloise. I haven’t asked him to apply my mascara yet though…
The house is full of cheery flowers, balloons and cards
I have been trying to get dressed everyday (And yes unfortunately, under these circumstances leggings ARE pants); as well as keep a really good skin care routine. I’ve been barefaced but making sure I moisturize and cleanse (see earlier posts) as well as do a little concealing and highlighting for all the drop in visitors so I don’t look like the walking dead..Plus, I can’t help it; products make me happy:
I’m eating healthy and staying hydrated..and keeping up with all the “stuff” that feeds my creative soul
I’ve also learned about this cool app that prints your Instagram photos into hard bound book,including captions, dates and location. It’s called Chatbooks http://www.chatbooks.com $6 (shipping included) gets you a 60 page book and they can put you on a schedule too so that they automatically send one to you every time you have 60 more pics! There are also options to make custom books as well. Pretty cool huh?
Lastly, I’m going to make more of an effort to practice what I preach around the house:
So stay tuned…more to come from the home front. Wish me luck. In the words of Ferris Bueller….
Some winter traditions; because the roads still look like this:
But at least we don’t live in Boston. A few states away is close enough.
So, The annual Philadelphia Flower Show. A winter tradition for more than a decade for many reasons.
First of all, flowers mean spring is coming. An enormous convention center wing full of the most beautiful and fresh flowers is sure to lift one’s winter blues, no? Yep. Second, it’s an uber inspirational outing if one is at all visually inclined, loves to decorate, loves to arrange flowers or landscape or just generally loves to see the art and beauty in nature. The showmanship is unreal. Some of these exhibits surely take a ton of money and months to complete.
Every year, the participants keep out doing each other in grandeur and style. I highly recommend. Also, there is the opportunity to spend a ridiculous amount of money that you don’t have on cut flowers, small plants and herbs and some super crafty things that you may not see anywhere else. (All this at a price, because like Disney…you’re already there, and you need it NOW). Here are a few snaps. Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone because of course my camera battery was dead and the charger has disappeared. It’s probably in the basement amongst the Barbie dream house decor being used as a vehicle of some sort, but I digress…
What I did with my “purchases”…
Time to switch to another winter “tradition”. I like to call this Mrs’ V’s Peanut Pasta. So, back in college, specifically freshman year, my girlfriends and I would occasionally escape campus and travel to each other’s homes (which were relatively close by/ only an hour at the most). The moms would always have a meal and an empty washing machine for us to use. Mrs. V used to make this pasta dish that, to this day is one of my faves and possibly one of the simplest but most flavorful weeknight meals you can make for a family (without peanut allergy’s obviously). Follow along. It’s so simple you may miss something.
Ok, so Mrs. V used scallions and sometimes chicken but you can really throw any veggie in and even switch to shrimp as well.
There you have it. March 3rd and it’s coming in like a lion. Still winter. Keep those traditions going, it’s what gets us through the “inside” months. It only gets warmer from here.