Saturday, March 26, 2011

Vacations: A small vent

I know it's petty and I should be thankful for what I've got but a pal just booked a trip to London for just her and her husband. No kids.

I would LOVE to get away with Mike for more than one night but my mother and sister won't take them for more than an overnight.  We've tried take a weekend away going away to Disney but they said it was too far and they would be too nervous.

So the furthest we can go is Atlantic City.

I would love to take the kids to Europe but the airfare is insane for 4 people and we cannot afford it.

I am thankful that we get any time away at all. I know moms who have never had a night away from their children.

I guess I'm just bitter because when I was younger (starting at age 5 and my sister was 3) my parents would put us on a plane, unaccompanied and we would fly to Fort Laurderdale Florida. Every Christmas & Spring Break. My parents went all over the world while we were away.  My mother who hates to travel, got to travel all over the place thanks to my grandparents and I who love to travel can't get two nights in a row off.

This summer I'm going to talk to my mother and see how she reacts to my suggestion that we drop the kids off in the Berkshires for a week with her and Mike and I get to go and do something.  As I'm typing this, I'm cracking up because I know, that even with them being in camp from 9-4 each day she will say no.

She loves my kids but they cramp her style.

My dad who just came back from a month overseas was telling me all about it. I told him I wished we could travel and go to Europe. He said,
"You can! Go and do it!"
"I can't, we can't afford the airfare for 4 of us"
"So just you and Mike go"
"What? Leave the kids with mom? You think she would go for that?"
He started to laugh and said
"You're right. You can travel when they are in college"


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011


Patrick had a rough morning at drop off. Some kids in another class made it clear by pointing and making loud comments that they don't like Pats.

Pats reaction was to hover around them and wander close to them. I called him over because I knew what he was doing. I tried to tell him that in life people aren't always going to like you and aren't even going to try to get to know you. Those people are called time wasters and we want nothing to do with them. We only want to surround ourselves with good, kind people who love us and understand who we are and what we are about.

His response was that he wanted to know why they didn't like him.

I told him it didn't matter and that he needed to ignore them. To chase them was futile and useless.

I said these things knowing that they didn't make any sense and they were not really being heard because at that moment, his whole being was consumed with finding out why they didn't like him, and the desperate desire to win their friendship and show them he's a good guy.

I know this because I was him. I remember that manic desperation to win the hearts of your adversaries. At that moment it doesn't matter if you have a zillion friends. All you care about is why anyone would hate you or speak badly of you or try to hurt you.

You do stupid shit when you are in this mindset and you only come off appearing weak and pathetic which gives these fools more fodder to mock you with. The harder you try, the more screwy the whole thing gets.

Pats is a good kid with a huge heart and a kind gentle nature. He truly wants everyone to be harmonious and friends. It confuses him when he comes up against someone who is cruel or a pack of fools who don't feel the way he does.

Of course this whole 10 minute exchange between the boys and he and I ripped my heart right the hell out of my chest and I had to suppress my rage and my reaction to fly over to these boys eyes glowing, talons sharpened, shrieking like a harpy as I ripped out their eyes. 

After fighting this very battle myself I finally realized that I can twist myself in a pretzel to try to get these fools to see what a good person I am and what a good fun friend I would be if they would only give me a chance or I can focus on the folks who already know that.   It took me lots of heartache, lots of long talks with my parents, lots of tears shed and ultimately changing schools three times for me to figure out that I yam what I yam and not everyone is going to like that.

My parents knew that the whole ripping the eyes of my adversaries thing was not going to solve the problem so they (as hard as it was) didn't do it.

I will try to follow in their footsteps and not do it either but attempt to focus on Pats and building his self esteem and teaching him to focus on the good and shut out the negative.

I will however, not allow these morons to openly mock my son in front of me. If they do it again on Monday I'll be over there in a flash having a conversation with the boys and their parents. I'll try not to do the whole insane over protective shreiky mom thing but will remain calm but firm.

It's just so hard when it hits so close to home. It's so painful to watch my son go through even just a flicker of what I suffered through myself.

I can only comfort myself with the knowlage that I came out on the other side a strong, self confident, self assured, kind, gentle woman. 
I also need to remind myself that this was one single moment and perhaps an isolated incident.

Pats did wander off with his best pal and seemed okay but he and I will discuss it after school again.

As I was gathering my thoughts and trying to get my heart to beat right and shake that moment off I turned to see one of my favorite gals in Pats class leaning on the wall. She and I are pals. Every morning she comes over to me to wait for her teacher to arrive.

I get the feeling her mom might not be the very best or most attentive mom  so I've sort of attempted to take her under my wing and let her know that she's super cool, even if it's just for 5 mintues each morning.  She had told me she was going to get beads put in her hair last night so when I saw her I made a big fuss about how beautiful she looked and how her hair was so pretty.

She started to cry which was NOT the reaction I was aiming for. I squatted down and asked what was wrong and she said "Nobody likes me. I don't have any friends."

My first thought was that they must have pumped some weird anti self esteem vapors into the gym that morning. My next thought was that I'd just finished reading an article about how important same sex adults who are not parents are in the growth and developement of a child and how one comment, good or bad has the ability to shape a child at this age for the rest of their lives.

I squatted down and told her "Listen to me. You are a beautiful rock star. You are phenomial and amazing. You are strong and kind. You are cooler than Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Anyone who doesn't see that is a fool and you don't need to waste time with them. Promise me you won't ever forget that."

She threw her arms around me and gave me the tighest hug. We wiped away her tears and I walked her over to where her class was.

I'm flattered she's attached herself to me and will contiune to sing her praises as I will to Patrick and Brian and any other kid who comes my way who needs a little extra love. 

I'll tell ya, I keep thinking these kids have it easy but I don't think I would want to turn back time and be little again. It's not that easy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The little things

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Not that you would know it to look at me, but I'm really not a gal who like flash. I'm not a big fan of "stuff" and the saying "He who dies with the most toys wins" is foreign and absurd to me.

I think I've always been this way but it was truly cemented when I saw how horrible and bitter the estate battle got after Chrissy died. Her parents went to war over her stuff and spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lawyers. All over physical possessions which I know in life made her happy but she could have done without.  To see them attack each other over and over was jarring especially since I know both these people to be level headed and extremely bright.

A long time ago, Mike and I decided that we didn't want "stuff" we weren't going to spend our money on material things but we wanted to do things, go places, have experiences.

That is exactly what we've done. Our apartment has almost no furniture, what we do have are hand me downs, I don't go for designer clothing or accessories and most of our shopping is done on EBAY.

We do however take 4 trips to Disney each year, we go to Hershey for Halloween, the kids and I go to the Berkshires, Mike and I take as many overnights as we can. I always have my camera and I'm always taking pictures wherever we go.

For me, it's always been the smaller quiet gestures. The simple, unfussy gifts that make me most happy.

When Mike and I were dating early on, somewhere I'd mentioned that I LOVE Swedish fish.  Months later he came to me bearing a bag of Swedish fish telling me he knew I loved them.
I was blown away. That he had remembered a throw away comment made in a long forgotten conversation about a favorite candy meant more to me than if he had presented me with a diamond ring.
It meant he went out of his way to find something that would make me happy. That in itself is an amazing gift.

For my birthday, a friend got me this wonderful flouncy apron with skulls all over it. It's very girly till you get a closer look. She said she saw it and immediately thought of me.
Another very good pal got me a gluten free pastry cookbook. She said she thought of the Lion with my attempts to do as much of a gluten free diet for him as possible and my love of baking. She had remembered conversations we had had, saw something and it made her think of me.

Chrissy & I were forever doing that for each other. We would often buy very small items that made of think of the other at random times. It was our small way of saying "I love you and I'm thinking about you"

Mike went to DC this past week and he fell in love with the city. He sent me some photos from his phone:

These were places, things, moments that made him think of me. Places he wanted to share with me. Enough to take a picture to bring home to me.

He came home with a bottle of blue glitter glow in the dark nail polish for me. He saw it and thought of me.

That means more to me, knowing that in his busy day he took the time to think of me, that he saw something that reminded him of me.

You can keep your furs and diamonds and name brands. Give me the small powerful gestures. The personalized moments and things.  Those are the things that make me most happy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

30 Rock

Sunday February 27th, 2011 I climbed 66 flights of stairs. That's 1,215 individual stairs.  It was an amazing experience and I'm so honored to have been a part of it.

Thanks to Patrick getting up at 3:30 I got a much earlier start to my day than I'd wanted to but it worked out well beacuse all of the trains were running on Sunday schedules which means they are more infrequent than during the week.

I packed a small bag knowing I would have to check it along with my coat. I had a bottle of water, my wallet, my cel phone and my camera.

I arrived at Rockefeller Center at about 8:00 and stood on 5th Avenue staring at this very very tall building I was going to be attempting to master in half an hour.  As I walked, I gave myself a pep talk and promised myself that whatever happened, even if we didn't finish we were going to try our hardest.

Headed downstairs to the concourse to register and check my bag. I now had a dilemmia on my hands. They said no earphones and no cameras were to be allowed in the stairwell but I wanted to try to sneak both in.  Music is super important to me and often pushes me forward when I have no gas left in the tank. My IPhone is also my IPod and  holds all my music.  Did I take that in with me? On the other hand, I love taking photos and documeting an event like this is so important so I can remember the small details after it's all over.

At the last second I opted for the camera and left my phone in my bag. It turned out to be the right decision.
I grabbed a bottle of water and plopped down to wait for my start time to be called.

I watched folks walk by me, all hot and sweaty with medals around their necks. Would I be able to finish and get a medal of my own?  (Everyone who finishes gets one) I honestly wasn't sure. I hadn't done too much in the way of training for this climb. I'd promised myself I'd climb more stairs to train but it really never happened.

Then of course there was the fact that everything I'd read said that this climb was equivalent of a 5k race and if you could run a 5k, you could do this climb.

Great, except...I'm not a runner. Truth be told,  I'm in lousy cardio shape. Give me weights, give me strength training and I'll knock it out of the park pushing myself really hard. Cardio? Icky. I have no stamina or endurance for it and it's one of the things that frustrates me. 

Because of that, I honestly wasn't sure if I'd be able to see this event through to the end.
I promised myself I was going to try my hardest.  I checked my heart rate monitor and discovered it wasn't working. Fan-freakin-tastic. Well then, I'd have to go on "feel" alone. I would have to really listen to my body today and pay attention to the little things it told me.

Then it was 8:30 and time for my wave to line up to head up to the 3rd floor where we were starting from.
Off we went and we were climbing up what seemed to me to be VERY steep stairs! After the first flight I found myself thinking "I have to do 65 more of these?!" but I kept going not rushing it.

At about the 5th floor I had to rest to catch my breath and there on that landing was a woman wearing an orange shirt. That identified her as an MS patient.  We both got back to the climb at the same time and fell into step with each other. We climbed and joked about finding the elevator and encouraged each other. My battle cry for the day was "WE GOT THIS! WE ARE SUPER STRONG!"

She and I didn't rush, we took our time and all of a sudden we were at the 23rd floor at the first rest stop! We grabbed water and she took a bathroom break. I decided to wait for her. She needed to rest a little longer and when she was ready we started to climb again.

We talked to other folks who caught up to us and some passed us, others stayed with us for a while and then passed us, more than a few were taking the stairs 2 at a time and lots were even running.

We got into a groove and didn't have to stop at that many landings for breaks. We kept going, slow and steady and all of a sudden we were at the 43rd floor and the second rest stop!

Here there were EMTs on the landing and when we went into the rest area we found a row of folks getting oxygen and being tended to by the medical staff.  It was about then that I realized just how strong I actually am.

These folks were serious athletes, most were lean with runners legs.  I'm a short, fat stay at home mom who made it to the 43rd floor without illness or injury.  That's rather cool I think.

Patti (my climbing partner) and I rested for a few and I decided to play cheerleader to those around me and reminded them how close to the top we were. We really were almost there and more than half of the climb was behind us.

We started to climb and I noticed a woman with a sash on the landing. She was some sort of beauty queen and I had to get a picture with her. 

Then we got back on track and got moving again. We whooped and hollered and told each other and everyone around us that we could do it! We were all almost there and doing such an amazing job.

Then all of a sudden we turned a corner and there it was. The last flight, sunlight and a cheering crowd!

I couldn't do anything but smile and wipe away the tears. I  had done it. I had climbed over 1,000 steps. I'd made it from the basement to the observation deck of Rockefeller Center. ME.  Victory!

My time was a little over 41 minutes which was fine as I wasn't going for time.

My new pal Patti and I hugged each other and agreed neither of us could have done it without the other.

I'm so honored that I got to experience this event with someone like Patti. A woman who lives with MS each day and yet does not let it define her or hold her back.  She was a complete inspiration to me.

The climb was not easy but it was a whole lot of fun and I'm so glad I did it. I took my time, took plenty of breaks, but never at any point did I feel like I wasn't going to be able to finish. I never felt like my tank was empty or that I had to really dig deep to finish.

I owe much of that to my climbing pals and all the great folks who kept my mind busy talking and encouraging each other all the way to the top.  I never got a chance to doubt that I would finish.

It was an amazing experience and I don't think I'll ever look at that building the same way again!

 I have got to be completely off my rocker. Why did I sign up for this?!

 Gulp! That's a really REALLY tall building!
 The heart rate monitor that picks the one day I really needed it, to not work.
 That's my start time! In the chute waiting to go up!

 At the first rest stop which was the 28th floor.

 Second rest stop on the 43rd floor

 This is the lovely Patti & I at the top. I had so much fun walking with her and was so inspired by her!

I did it! I made it to the top! I will never look at this building the same again.