Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And life goes on

From the moment they are born they take our breath away and we spend every minute protecting them. Through smiles of encouragement we facilitate their growth. We teach them how to talk, walk, and interact with others to be the best possible person they can be. We support all of their talents and endeavors from baseball to dancing, cheer them on when they soar and wipe their tears when they fall. Our hearts break when theirs do and burst at the smallest of fĂȘtes. They are our children and what feed our souls.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From my heart...to my first born son

For my first son!

To understand the man you are, you need to embrace the boy you were.

Since I was a little girl, my favorite Disney movie has and will always be Cinderella, so it is more than fitting that two of the lullabies I sang to my first beautiful baby boy came from that. You chose the third because you loved Lady and the Tramp and would ask us to sing La La Lu every night before bed along with a book, a story and prayers, anything to milk the time, earning the title the “milk man”.

The only thing in life I have ever wanted was to be loved and to be married with beautiful children and the dream that I wished came true. So this is for you my baby boy, my miracle that I was dreaming of!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Living in terror has become the norm...

Whirl A Style (Jumbo Medium, Black)

My first celebrity interview had me more excited after the fact than before. I was invited by a PR group to a promotional event to cover a new product and service: http://www.examiner.com/hair-care-in-long-island/marina-sirtis-promotes-whirl-a-style-herald-square-review (shameless plug) and had to choose one of four Duane Reade stores in the city to cover each with different celebrities. I chose the one with Marina Sirtis, not because of my love of all things Star Trek, on the contrary, I am not a Trekkie (I'm sure I will get banged for that one) and the only things I enjoy about the series are Captain Kirk jokes and William Shatner's roast on Comedy Central a few years back.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The bi-polar inebriated dragon lady

For me, it was about taking care of my family. When her insanity reared its crazy head, it was about proving something to myself. How much abuse can one person take, especially me, who old me would have told her to shove it the first sign of loony, but I needed to believe I had grown into a better person, so for four months I let Marion insult me, humiliate me, degrade me, belittle me and bark orders at me all for $10 an hour.

In this economy, with soaring fuel costs, the money wasn't much. I was lucky if I brought home $200 a week at times since she always changed my hours. Some week's tips were generous and other times it was scant. But with four sons, the peanuts I did make helped to feed them. I logged in somewhere between 18 to 22 hours a week, a part-time schedule that afforded me time to write, and be a mother. The salon was very near to my home, so travel time was nothing and in an emergency I could be home in seconds. It was also extremely bearable since she only worked with me on Saturdays, not at all on Wednesdays and for minutes on Thursdays and Fridays. My at home customers were starting to build again, but it wasn't enough to meet the same salary, therefore on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays I was working out of the house as well.

We all hate our bosses, or seriously dislike them. I've had a few whom I've remained friends with. I also know it is not easy being a boss, especially of a small business. When I owned my children's party place, I stressed intensely over this. On the one hand you are an owner and all needs to run properly for the business to be successful, thrive and make money. My business was one of my babies and I treated it as such, nurturing it and defending it at all costs. I've had wonderful employees and some not so much. Being a sensitive woman (lol), I often worried over whether or not they thought I was a fair employer. As the events at Abracadabra unfolded from day one, I started to question my ten years as a boss and thought I did something to deserve this treatment.

I believed that being a former business owner would make for an outstanding employee. I knew what to do, when to do it, and hate doing nothing. I was right, or at least I thought I was. Her clients always told me how lucky she was to have found me. I did her shampoos, cleaned her salon from top to bottom, and cleaned up after her. A few years back, in the middle of turmoil within my own business, I took a part time job on Thursdays and Fridays in a local hair salon that was associated with friends of mine. The owner was an opinionated Christian woman. Although, personally, she is not someone I would associate with, the salon was a haven of gossip and we may not have seen eye to eye at times, she was a good boss and helped me through a challenging time. Because of this, I would not take any clients with me when I did leave, even though some asked or called and even came to my store asking me to do their hair. It was during my time there that I had learned about Marion and how strange she was.

As I noted earlier, that salon was a henhouse of chickens cackling about someone, so I took what I heard with a grain of salt. Turns out these town criers were correct! Not only did they call the situation with my former business landlord, but also everything they mentioned about my new boss was on target. I remembered what I had heard, specifically how Marion accused my former boss and her employees of bringing roaches into her salon. I wasn't sure it was the same place, so to be certain, I asked my new boss on my first day and my interest piqued when she confirmed that yes, the crew of Shear Dimensions had rented space at Abracadabra while they waited for renovations to be completed after a fire destroyed their salon. I knew at once the old girls were right because Abracadabra was filthy and there was no way roaches were brought in, but however resided there in an ultimate roach heaven. It was a 30-year-old salon that looked like it still had the same decor from the 1980's. There was dust inches thick all over the black lacquer and glass shelves. The posters on the walls were of styles I had worn in the 80's and of guys dressed like men from Saturday Night Fever. The wood in the drawers and hampers were crumbling, rust and color clumped all over the slop sink, half smoked cigarettes were left under the desk, ashes on the floor, and a dirty toilet. That salon needed more than magic tricks, it needed a time machine bringing it into the new millennium. Even her clients’ hairdos were screaming: “hello, it’s 1986, I want my hair back!” My first impression on my first day was one of disgust; therefore, as any normal bug-a-phobe would do, I cleaned everything and dried it in a hot dryer to kill any of the cooties I may have brought home. From then on, I never brought my pocket book, but instead used a recycling food bag for my belongings. At the end of my first day, Marion gave me a key (totally bizarre-she didn't know me from a hole in the wall) and asked if I'd be ok being alone on my next workday. Sure, I was fine with it! It didn't bother me at all that a few years back a dead body was found in the dumpster behind her store!

My first Wednesday alone was slow and chock full of omens. I quickly discovered that she left the back door unlocked, a mistake I learned happened every Tuesday evening after she left. I told her the first time I noticed, however, couldn't be bothered after that because I knew she would keep doing it. Thankfully, my husband took me to work every day and on Wednesday mornings, he came in with me to make sure a homeless person or worse wasn't lying in the back. I cleaned her shelves and never got a thank you. As a matter of fact, I came in to a list of chores every Wednesday, which I completed, busy or not. I cleaned her mirrors (which had stains dripping down from the ceiling), sorted magazines, cleaned the stations and the sinks, folded the towels, straightened out the storage room, alphabetized her color catalog, filled shampoos, peroxides, changed barbicides, cleaned capes and always followed her around picking up her towels, caps, foils, cotton, hair, coffee cups and cleaning the color off of the chairs and floors that she dripped everywhere. While answering her phone, I met Maria, a client of the salon who called because Debbie, one of Marion's stylists had called her at home to follow her as she was planning on quitting. Maria asked if I would please give Marion the message, which I did and Debbie was immediately fired leaving me as her only employee. She does have a gentleman who only works on Sundays now, and was on medical leave at that time. Whenever Debbie's clients asked about her, Marion insisted I not tell them what really happened. I now know it is because countless girls have done that to her the past 20 years that she has owned the salon which was double the size because of the way Marion treats her employees and her clients.

Warnings now shot at me from every direction. My friend and client refused to go to the shop and give her a dime of her money. She despised the way Marion treated her old stylist who also left. "Her MO" as Sima put it "was to humiliate anyone in front of the clients she felt jealous of once they began to get busy with "her clients" and therefore sabotage her own business." Another friend relayed similar information to me about another stylist who left her. Now Marion is breathing down my neck for my clients to come to her salon with a comment of "You really don't have any following do you?" Some came, but the worse she treated me the more reluctant I was to give her any of my money. Any clients of "hers" that I did, she would always question me like a teenage girl who liked a boy who didn't like her back. She left the salon without toilet paper or paper towels, washed her personal effects with the towels and left bottles of Heineken under the bathroom sink.

I saw an online review while searching her address to give to clients that was basically bull regarding selling hair, but the comment of how the owner treated them penetrated as now I began witnessing her yelling at old women or when a sweet hard of hearing woman tried to whisper to me how she hated her. This woman had to take out her hearing aid for me to do her hair, and she told me she wouldn't be able to hear me. While I was putting on her color, according to Marion's specifications, I was yelled at across the salon to hurry up. She then came over and said "you need to talk to the clients, they like that". First of all you dumb ass, my client is deaf and since you insisted she wanted you to do her hair (which she didn't) and you "gave" her to me, if you knew her at all you would've known this, and secondly, I am 43! I think I'm aware that client's like to converse, you fool. This type of bi-polar behavior was evident every Saturday I worked with her. She often yelled at me, interfered with what I was working on, offered her two cents or more, checked my work and would tell me how and what to do with their hair all in front of the clients. I learned to ignore her, to which was met with, "are you listening to me?, can you hear me?" After laughing to myself, I played stupid, "oh, sorry, had my head in the clouds or , didn't get much sleep last night" all while I imagined smacking her upside her dumb blonde head.

Wednesdays at work was a day of solace, until one Wednesday when I walked in to an open door and saw her shampooing my first client. She barked at me, "hurry up and unpack, you're late!" I looked at my phone and it was 11:01 AM. I replied, "oh sorry" then looked at her clock which is five minutes fast and said I start at 11, I am one minute late." I got stuck at the train that is right in front of her store and if she looked up she would have seen that. From that day on, I would stress to make sure I arrived  at least fifteen minutes early every work day. A few Wednesdays after that, again she made a surprise appearance and when I greeted her with a friendly, "good morning, what brings you in on your day off", she growled, "MONEY!" I had to leave five minutes late every day because her clock was fast and was tense every morning leaving to make sure I wasn't later than fifteen minutes early.

Three months in, my husband was now telling me to quit. I couldn't until I was sure he had a job lined up or I had seen strides within my writing. As fate would have it, the planets aligned last week and all fell into place at once. I received my first writing paycheck and was now receiving free products, and invitations to press outings. At the same time I was assigned to cover the royal wedding, http://www.examiner.com/hair-care-in-long-island/princess-kate-s-royal-wedding-style. The day before I prepped and researched. I worked at the salon the night before on a friend and her daughter who have learning disabilities and on state assistance. At home, I charge her pennies, but needed to up the price slightly at the salon, but still gave her a discount. I basically charged her for her hi-lights and gave her the cut and blow, my service for free. I didn't think Marion would have an issue with it since I still charged her a slightly higher price for the highlights. I could have done her hair at home, pocketed the money and got paid for sitting at her shop doing nothing. After I cleaned up, so much so, that her daughter commented, "Deirdre, why are you cleaning so much?" and began helping me.

The next morning I awoke at 4:00 AM along with the rest of the east coast to watch the wedding, however, I was working, typing writing, and creating slideshows. I published at 8:00 AM, took the kiddies to school at 8:15 AM, walked with my husband, came home and edited the article again, sent it out to social networks and tried to sleep because I had to work from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, and I am a cranky camper on a few hours of sleep. Just as I was dozing my cell phone rings blaring "Like a G6" in my ear. I look and it's my boss, so I reluctantly answer. "Did you do hi-lights last night?" she accused in her sardonic of tones. "What, no" was my answer still in a dreamy exhausted stupor, "why?" "Because there was foil in the garbage and bleach on the sink and caps all over", she bellowed. I said goodbye, wiped my eyes and was stunned. That place was spotless, but she searched the garbage and the foils were underneath old magazines I had thrown out. I was floored. I would have told her I did them, but she was so awful and accusatory, I didn't want to tell her anything except go to hell, so I called her back to apologize. When she answered she yelled at me, "YOUR NUMBER COMES UP PRIVATE", I apologized for being groggy and explained why I was asleep to which she replied, "SO, I GOT UP THAT EARLY TOO" and now I couldn't tell her the truth, so I made up a ridiculous story about how my friend's daughter is in beauty school and she tried to do foils, but messed it up and she came in with them in her hair. She didn't see a mess, she saw I was in until 7:30 and went rummaging through the garbage. I was wounded. Maybe other girls screwed her over, stole from her or took her clients, but I worked my ass off, never got a thank you and was treated terribly consistently. I have a difficult time lying, but she didn't deserve the truth.

I went in a few hours later, arrived fifteen minutes early because I knew I had a 3:00 customer to a days worth of hair piled at my station. I tidied up her mess to prepare for my first appointment. I ignored her snide comments, especially the ones about me sleeping, although I did respond one time that I wasn't enjoying the wedding, I was covering it.

Saturday morning I checked my page views on my royal wedding coverage and was astounded. I reached record clicks and said to my husband, "I have the confidence today to face whatever she brings".  My first client was someone who needed her color fixed. It happens, but Marion compounded the circumstances that led to me screwing this one’s hair up When I first did this woman's hair, on a Wednesday, without the glaring eye and mouth of my boss, it came out stunning. She came back for her touch up on a Saturday, so between my nerves of Marion yelling at me to move it along, and the woman's unwillingness to sit still, not touch her hair of foils led to a feathering effect of the darker color along some of the blonde hair pieces. I had no problem fixing it, but had to watch carefully as to not over process her already over processed hair. My next appointment was Maria and her husband who was late. After Marion TOLD me how to do her hair, she then yelled at me again to "SHUT UP and HURRY UP, Maria's husband was next". Maria's husband wasn't even there yet, and she had now gotten her tentacles in my "hair fix" and was blowing it out. I stopped and finally yelled back, "DO YOU WANT ME TO HURRY IT UP OR DO A GOOD JOB AND DO ALL THE THINGS YOU JUST TOLD ME TO DO! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!" Now it's on bitch and I am done. Maria looks up at me and tells me not to worry, her husband isn't there yet and how every time she calls for an appointment, she prays that I am still working there. She then tells me how Marion likes me and I'm the longest employee she has ever had.

Maria leaves, looks fabulous and the dragon lady seems to be quieting down and trying to be civil. I now am doing my next client who is a hi-light that I recommended come back to have it done. She has a few gray hairs among gorgeous, natural ginger colored hair and I feel a high lift honey blonde would look stunning. But, I have to ask the drunk, and as she runs her fingers through her hair insists I use bleach. This appointment had enough time blocked for the color, but the cut and blow was written over a prom trial that I blocked an hour for. When the young girl for the trial first came to me, she was in Marion's column, but the mother asked if I could do it. Marion didn't like that. When the teen's mother then called for the trial, Marion thought she wanted her again...awkward! The mother said up-do on the phone and the girl wanted long curls, but didn't bring a picture, even though I asked her to, so we had a little miscommunication happening, but it was a friendly and funny banter as we were trying to figure out how to do her hair. That is why we do trial appointments. Now Marion is twitching and asking me, "oh, you're doing the whole head?" I am ignoring her now, so she saunters over, runs her fingers through the curls I'm creating and begins to tell me again what to do and I stopped, and said, "you better walk away right now". She said, "I better go in my corner now" and I quit, told her to shove the job up her ass, finished my hi-lights after the poor woman just had surgery and was now waiting in pain, told her I wanted to do a different color, packed up my bags and waited for my pay.

Now she is waving the money in my face and is telling me off. I took it because I just wanted to get paid and didn't want to get arrested. I was handed my money, walked out and turned right back around to let this bitch have it. As I was blasting her a new asshole, she threatened to call the police and I told her to go ahead, she has so many violations, OSHA will shut her down in seconds and she'll get closed in a heartbeat and arrested for selling, illegal, knock-off designer bags. She backed down and I walked out, frustrated that I let her get to me, relieved to be done with her and excited to be heading to my son's recital shortly.

The End? Not really! Monday, my husband got a job offer and I have been busy writing and working on my own clients. Although I ripped her up pretty good at the end, those of you who know me well know how hard it was for me to take that and not to lash out or even worse, strike out.

This is what makes me happy:
DIGITTRADE LS138-17 Designer Notebook Sleeve 17.3" Laptop Bag Green Neoprene Soft Carry Case up to 17.3 Inch Anti Shock System

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Bucket List

I don't really have one; a bucket list that is. Maybe I'm too young in the grand scheme of things to think about it or maybe I'm just really content. I don't know, but lately it has been brought up quite a bit and the concept has me curious.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Corn anyone?

Around four years ago, my entire home was in a neighbor war with the people who live to the left of us. I never planned on giving any credence to the matter here; however, it is relevant to the story as it totally altered my behavior one glorious summer day.

The nicest and most peaceful part of my home is my deck that was built eleven years back even though it is five feet from people who have tried to destroy me. During warmer spring and autumn months and all summer long every meal is shared on my beautiful patio. The children play, we work and my husband and I share romantic summer eves on it as well. It truly is an oasis surrounded by beautiful oak trees amidst the hustle and noise of Sunrise Highway and the LIRR.

During the melee that pursued with them, the family next door added to the negative energy by installing video cameras equipped with sound pointing right at my deck and pool. My busy schedule started to peak at this time as well with our business at full speed and in transition and three older boys involved in every activity as well as a blooming toddler. After a busy workday, it was time for a peaceful dinner in my paradise. I was extremely frazzled this day and longed to sip a glass of wine while we ate outside.

Because the cameras panned immediately on our eating area, I tried so hard to be calm after this particularly harrowing day. I cooked a basic hot dog meal complete with fries and corn and alean cuisine for me. I settled the boys outside after they helped setting up the table and left the oldest in charge while I began bringing out the food. I was extremely uncomfortable with the cameras on me and tried to quiet the boys down in the most calming of tones when all I wanted to do was SCREAM. They had a long day as well and when four boys get hungry, let's just say it isn't pretty.

My deck had to be built according to "code" because if you live in the Incorporated Village of Valley Stream, you need a permit for everything, including passing gas. It needed to be a certain amount of feet away from the property line and a particular height, which meant for us that we needed to add three steps from the side door to the deck. It is a short trek from the door through the dining room to the kitchen, but I was rushing around anyway to feed my bears and get to the much-needed glass of vino. Hot dogs were on the table in their buns, one cut up for Sean who ate my dinner anyway and only the corn was left to serve. Since we were eating outside, flies love to descend upon the food and the two youngest ones hate them, which added to my haste as I need to chase them away or they won't eat. I scurried back up the steps, grabbed the pot of corn and spoon, ran back out, served my little kings their corn and margarine and hurried back up the steps to get my gourmet TV dinner when I lost my footing and the front of my foot hit the bottom step which propelled me forward into the doorway face first into the dining room with my feet dangling off the deck steps out of the doorway, buttery corn all over the floor and walls leading up to the kitchen.

All that was running through my mind was, "shit, that's gonna end up on Youtube" until I heard nothing. No laughter was heard from the rug-rats waiting outside, it was eerily quiet. I got up, brushed the corn from my hair, wiped the grease off my shirt, turned around and walked back outside to see four boys beet red looking like their little heads were going to explode if they didn't bust out laughing, They waited to make sure I was ok and NOT ANGRY and that was it, as soon as they saw me smile; guffaws flew from their lips and tears ran from their eyes from their hysterics.

It is still their favorite story to tell of the mom who thinks she's all that fall flat on her face.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I don't do vomit

My fourth son and baby, Sean, never liked school. Now in Kindergarten, he faced each day of nursery and pre-k with some type of tearful emotion. Inevitably, he would be fine after we dropped him off and full of joy when we would pick him up. It didn’t help during pre-kindergarten that he missed many, many days of school to a persistent cough which to our surprise and dismay turned out to be whooping cough, even though he did receive his inoculations. It came as no surprise that Kindergarten wasn’t met with favorably either, although, we hoped for the best since he would be attending the same school as his big brother Jason.

Many days since September he would say he didn’t feel well and would pay the school nurse frequent visits. He would complain to me in the morning or not eat his lunch, but eventually as time wore on, he has gradually gotten better, only clinging slightly to my leg. Talks from his loving teacher and calls from the nurse are commonplace regarding Sean and his “stomach ache”. (Sound familiar mom?) After a busy weekend and a lot of rushing this morning, I wasn’t surprised when I heard him utter on the way out of the house this morning, “my stomach hurts”. I pooh-poohed it as nerves since it was raining, we couldn’t walk and my husband was late getting back to us with the car. As Frank pulled up, Sean complained when I nudged him toward the car. But, they all arrived on time and yet another week of school began.

I was off from work today, and Frank had another morning appointment, so we planned on spending the afternoon “together”.  He left for his appointment and I finished my morning workout. To save money, I started my own waxing. I was doing laundry and planned on jumping right in the shower after I finished torturing my self. Since I had a quiet house alone and wanted to expedite the laundering, I undressed before the skin ripping began. I was half way done when the phone rang…it was the elementary school and on the line was the school nurse, “Hi Mrs. Haggerty, my friend Sean came to see me again today.” “Ugh!” rang out in my head. She began by discussing one never knows if he is really sick, then onto how he ran around like a maniac in gym and sometimes when he gets upset, he will visit her office which is across the hall from his brother where she will take him to say hi and it makes him feel better. But, today, Jason wasn’t in his class so she wanted to inform me and get my thoughts. I continued the brutality that laid below while I told her the events of the morning, but then realized my neighbors who we are always with and whom we carpool had the dreaded stomach bug run rampant through their home this weekend. No sooner did I pull the muslin then my son walked back in her office. She put him on the phone and I could barely hear him. I was trying to figure out if he was sick or sad and then he was gone, the phone made a sound as if it fell and the next thing I hear is the nurse back on the phone, “HE JUST THREW UP ALL OVER ME!” My husband has the car, I’m covered in wax in a very inconvenient place, it’s raining and I have no dirty clothes to put on. “Ok”, I replied, “let me find an umbrella and I will walk there, I don’t have a car.” “NO”, she yelled “CALL A CAB IF YOU HAVE TO!” I hung up the phone, looked at myself and almost peed myself laughing so hard. I grabbed pajama pants, put on my husband’s shirt (thank God he’s a slob and doesn’t put his clothes away), called my neighbor, borrowed his car, and ran up to school all sticky.

When I arrived in the nurse’s office, she was in the bathroom changing and Lisa, the Janitor, was cleaning up my son’s mess. Sean was waiting for me, my poor baby, looking terrible. As I changed his clothes, he vomited again in the bucket while I gagged. I’m terrible with vomit. My dear husband handles it much better than me. After ten thousand apologies I took my sick baby home and he has gotten sick three more times. Now he is gassing us and laughing. I can’t breathe and he thinks it’s hysterical. I guess he’s getting better. OH, and yeh, I finally finished my wax.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lunch with friends

Everyone has at least one friend from childhood or their teen years that left a lasting impression and helped to form whom they grow to be. It's the supportive friend with the shoulder you cried on. The one who built your self-confidence, not destroyed it. The one you talked to on the phone for hours until you fell asleep with the phone in your ear. The one who, unfortunately, remembered EVERYTHING. The one whose defense you ran to and the one who always ran to your side. The one that God took way too early. The one who was your maid of honor then became your first-born's godmother. The ones with unending laughs, good times and times that should never be repeated. The ones who were inseparable. Some girls find it very early on while others had to wade through the bullies and jealousy to find their perfect fit. I was lucky enough to find five in my early teens.

Some of us are fortunate enough to keep those friendships tight throughout our adult lives and sometimes life just gets in the way. Unfortunately hurtful words may be spoken, and then pride and anger take over those feelings of love and friendship. Sometimes death intervenes and pulls the brakes on everything. The six abruptly dwindled to five after a tragic loss of the glue to us all. The five split into an uneven half after hurtful words were uttered in anger. I never realized how poignant the 80's anthem from The Breakfast Club was to my life until we made plans to finally see one another again.

Eighteen years later as four of the five us sat in the diner for lunch, my eyes welled with tears at the apology I wanted to blurt out. I refrained because my words are clearer on paper or cyberspace than the slur from my emotional lips. I refrained because I didn't want to be a bumbling crybaby, but wanted to enjoy every new second with my lost friends. I didn't want to sour a happy reunion. I tried to hold my tears and turned them into laughter. I am so sorry for the painful things I said eighteen years ago. I said them in anger and frustration when I should have just communicated my thoughts. Then I lashed out. Now I discuss. It has taken many trials and tribulations to grow into me.

There was no denying a few awkward moments to begin with, but very fast it felt as comfortable as old times. It was bittersweet to hear of all the things I had missed and that they had shared. But, at the same time I was so eager to hear about their families and so happy they had each other. I had Deb all those years, who was noticeably missing because she had a family engagement. I was so tempted to wait for her to be able to join us as my crutch, but decided I am a big girl and I can do this, I don't need a crutch. When I talked to my Deb the next day, the half that stayed with me, she stated that she would have needed me as her crutch. I just love her so much and I will always be there for her.

Hours passed and it was time to head home.  I could've talked all day. It was amazing to have that time to reminisce about the crazy kids we were and how everyone's family has grown and developed. There is still so many years to catch up on and I hope we find the time to do it again; next time with Debbie. There was a point in our lives where we were all tied to each other's hips. Over the years many, many people asked about us, because where there was one, another would walk in. Now I am able to answer positively, without hesitation that they are still as beautiful as ever and doing very well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's not as easy as it looks

It's not as easy as it looks. Any parent who juggles work etc. feels like throwing in the towel sometimes. I know I may look like Wonder Woman (sans the giant tetas, gorgeous looks, utility belt, lasso and invisible car), but newsflash: I am NOT! Actually there are days I want to scream (oh...I do), sleep (never) and just walk away and let someone else run the show. Instead, I gaze at the surrounding ten loving eyes, drink a glass of Little Penguin Cabernet and forge forward to meet another day.

From my mid-thirties on I have spoken with many woman whom need to take anti-anxiety medication to survive a day of work, kids and family life. And some of them have two children or less. Imagine life for three or more and then some. It's not as easy as it looks. I've often heard parents of two or more kids say the third puts you over the edge because they are now outnumbered; therefore, what's one more. Imagine how single parents fair?

I'm one of the lucky ones who manage my days and nights without medication or sleep aids. I've even decided for the third year in a row to give up buying wine and having a daily glass with dinner or at night for Lent. That decision is more about vanity and dropping an unwanted winter pooch before the summer comes around and humiliates me. That is not as easy as it looks. I've repeatedly heard comments about my weight, some pleasant and some downright nasty and mean. I need to watch everything I ingest and have to exercise regularly because of a chronic stomach condition I have, which, when it flares up, I get hospitalized. I prefer prevention, especially since we don't have health insurance.

A close friend and former employee whom I left unemployed when I closed my business recently began online classes to begin a career in medical billing. She asked me for some tips on how I juggle everything I do. I said, oh great, we will get together for coffee and chat. It's been about three weeks and I haven't contacted her for coffee-SORRY JEN! I will soon, I promise. Although, I did speak to her before about coloring her hair, we never made a date. It's just not as easy as it looks.

I'd love to hear from working moms who have more than two children and hear their secrets. Sorry to the two and under crowd, I am not diminishing your efforts or anything that you do. It is double everything the more kids you have. I work 18 to 22 hours out of my house in a hair salon with another 20 to 25 hours a week spent writing, blogging, and building my website: http://www.asktheprostylist.com/. The rest of the time I am in the car driving my four boys to and from school at various location and different times, to religion at two separate times, dance five times a week up to four times a day, voice lessons, band rehearsals at two other schools, NYSSMA, performances, concerts, tutoring (they tutor) competitions, play practices, church, doctors, orthodontists, dentists and ophthalmologists and once in a while a friend's house. So when I repeatedly get asked to do something that I simply cannot, I do tend to bark loudly. Oh, by the way, I have one car; a five passenger Ford Focus. I do carpool with two other people and have had lovely women help me out in a pinch. But honestly, adding third parties never works out in my favor. I just don't have the time, so yeh, it's definitely not as easy as it looks.

Don't get me wrong! Even though I run them everywhere, I love how involved they are. I love that they don't hang out and get into trouble. I love that they are all brilliant, A+ students in advanced, challenge and AP classes. I love that my oldest just got accepted into NYU. I'm in awe at the talent every one of them exudes. I love how charming and empathetic they are to anyone in need. I love the work ethic that these kids have which is better than many adults I know. And I take 100% credit for it all! That's right: 100% for giving them the tools and esteem to do what they do, the rest is all their hard work and talent. So, on my not so good days, my days when my amazing kids are making my husband stutter and me scream, I go to bed thanking GOD everyday for another day with them and asking for the strength to go on tomorrow. My prayer and my boys make it look as easy as it does.

So, how do I make it look so easy? I don't think I do. What's my secret? I don't have one. At times I feel content and at ease and at others I feel like a ticking time bomb. I think at 43, I just finally grew up and take responsibility for me. I've learned to say NO. If it doesn't fit into my life, I feel comfortable saying no now. It is my empowerment. All too often, women feel this incredible need to satisfy everyone and let ourselves go. I enjoy my weekly Zumba class. It is my time. My son needed to get picked up in the middle of my class. I got him, but took him back with me until I finished. Oh, how he was pissed. Especially since I wouldn't drop him home for him to "work out"! But, my class was closer for me than taking him home and it was my time! I would've made him walk but he had a trombone and he wasn't in a nice part of town. Earlier that day I got quite angry at a friend who incessantly asked me to go to a Mardi Gras party that I had zero time to stop for. She went so far as to follow my child and whisper repeatedly in his ear to make me take them. Sorry, but I can't be in four places at once and actually, I am not sorry. NO is NO! Saying no isn't as easy as it sounds.

I make time for me with an hour of daily exercise. Happy endorphins make for happy mamas. My husband and I fit in a weekly date and other activities, which time needs to be allotted for and which is ridiculously not as easy as it looks.

For the past seventeen years my wonderful husband and I have juggled schedules and owned our own business to raise our children. Once in a while someone reaches out a hand to help, but we are the only caregivers. My oldest has been tremendous since he can now drive and help baby-sit along with the 13 year old is now chipping in with sitting duties. All my babies have chores assigned to them and things seem to be flowing nicely. (Except for the insane gas prices-that needs to change ASAP!) I am very blessed. Blessed beyond words! Below is a video of how I definitely make it look so easy. Every week, including tonight, one of my boys are in some type of show and I get to witness first hand all of their efforts and mine. This skit was written and directed by my oldest and stars my second oldest with three talented young ladies who happen to be dear friends as well. It is a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Italian.

Even though I started writing this last week, this morning brought devastating news from Japan. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people in the Pacific.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just being bitchy

I'm tired and in the mood to rant. I just got home from work and let a no-neck woman get under my fingernails. I wanted to write an article for the examiner about hair during fashion week...yada yada yada, but haven't blogged in a while and I need to make myself laugh even if no one else does.

These past two weeks have been insane and I am finally coming down from an "Oh my God my freaking kids are amazing high". Now I need to feel amazing. Don't get me wrong, nothing makes me happier than when my children do well, because I know, and my husband will always give me the credit, that it is all because of me. But for the past twenty something years my life has been lived for my husband, my children and "our" business. Now it is my turn.

So back to no-neck, who also has a 70's fro: I am at the salon listening to her voice and feeling a familiarity. I get her name and when she informs me of her occupation, the light bulb goes on. I know her from the years I ran "our" business. (That'll be another blog someday.) I never personally saw her, we only spoke on the phone, but I remember that she always kind of irked me a little because she always had a woman hard on for my husband. I don't know why I let it bother me. It would take three of me to equal her and she is at least fifteen years my senior. I clearly am aware that my husband would never find her attractive, however I am starting to feel some angst towards her.

I inform her of who I am and she immediately begins to rave about how effin wonderful my husband is.  My DH stops by for some money (that's right, I'm wearing the pants today) and I tell him of the client I am currently waxing. When he brings me coffee shortly after (yes, he is sweet) he stops in to say hello and strikes up a conversation with Mighty Joe Young. (OMG, I am going to Hell!) After he leaves, she goes on and on and on and on and on about how young he looks and he doesn't age and how awesome he was as a DJ. I don't answer her because I don't really want to hear it. Now she is pushing for a response and asks when did I meet him, was he always a disc jockey and I briefly and curtly answer because my insecurity and jealousy is flooding me with anxiety.

I felt angry towards my husband. Even though he was taking care of our children, driving them everywhere, picking me up from work, shopping for dinner and cooking it, I wanted to scream at him. So I write and in writing I am in the middle of self-discovery. Maybe I'm not as funny as I wanted, but it's cathartic nonetheless. I don't dislike this woman, even though she was a tad over bearing. I disliked the fact that for ten years, I listened to those comments incessantly as I toiled to make "our" business successful for sometimes up to 80 hours a week, while my husband would go out, do the gig and get all of the credit. It hurt and it didn't help that I am already low on the self-esteem scale. It still hurts when I hear it, but now I've learned to ignore it (or try to). 

When we closed "my" part of the business and downsized tremendously due to the economy, I was devastated. For months I couldn't get a job and fought off a mild depression. I am now grateful for the experience of owning a business and having it as successful as it was, even if I didn't get all of the credit, my husband gave me what I needed, but most importantly, I knew in my heart the truth. I am writing and finally working in a salon. I am exercising and enjoying my life and not always feeling like everyday is being lived for someone else (except for the carpooling-need to fix that). My kids have been given more responsibilities and chipping in to help out. A little wine and a little whine every now and then add to a much happier ME.

Now that I have vented, I am going to eat some fabulous chicken cutlets and garlic carrots, have a glass of red and start to write an examiner article. Check out my latest article http://www.examiner.com/hair-care-in-long-island/lynbrook-dancers-take-home-first-place-trophy on one of my amazing and talented boys. Ciao!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life of a Jet fan

Many years ago, 25 to be exact, I was a Met fan. (I just whispered that, because it is a secret.)  It was my graduation year from Sewanhaka High School and the Mets were on fire. So was I! I turned 18 and my confidence peaked. It was the first time I had ever felt comfortable in my own skin. For a senior class trip we went to a Mets game and my interest piqued. I was born into a family of Met and Jet fans. I remember in my preteens someone taking me to a Yankee game and thinking this IS THE TEAM. Bucky Dent was the Yankee pin up player, but somehow the negative aura of Met-ness in my home squashed those feelings.

Shortly after that field trip, I was asked on a double date to another game. It was a beautiful day. We sat in the picnic area in the outfield and I was ecstatic to be so close to Darryl Strawberry. (Who would have thought he'd make an appearance in my hometown bar on New Year's Eve later that year. Eventually, we found out why he did, but we were awestruck just the same. Even my new boyfriend, soon to be husband, a crazy Yankee fan, was a little excited.) The day of the double date began a whirlwind for me. The cameraman panned on me so much that the next day, at the beach, a strange, but adorable little boy came up to me and asked me for an autograph. I befriended the security guards and police officers and basically had free reign of seats. I personally met many Mets that year, as did my friends. It culminated with them winning the 1986 World Series that year. I listened to every game at work or in the car and of course watched them on television. One would be convinced I was a die-hard! But then, I died hard for the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and I was never the same.

January 1, 1987. Darryl Strawberry with my husband Frank and unknown females

Towards the end of that year, the day after my nineteenth birthday to be exact, I met and fell in love with my husband. He was the deejay in the local bar in my town, the same one, which two weeks later Mr. Strawberry ventured into. He drove me home that night and all we did was talk. We talked for hours and of course the majority of the conversation was about baseball. He was fascinated by how much I actually knew of the sport. I was so impressed at how much of a gentleman he was, that when I walked in my door at the wee hours of the morning, I informed my mother that I just met the man I was destined to marry.

Two and a half years later we were married and that is when the brain washing began. I do believe he used to whisper in my ear in my sleep, "Yankees are the best team in baseball, Mets suck, Yankees are the best team, Mets suck!" Oh, he'd mask his undertaking by buying me Met paraphernalia such as hats and Christmas ornaments (which I still have), but whatever happened it worked, for my fanaticism went straight to the Yankees.

As is mostly the norm in New York, if you are a Met fan, you are a Jet fan (like minded losers) and if you are a Yankee fan, you are a Giant fan (winners unite). But, that is not always the case, for I remained a crazy Jet fan, and my husband is still a Giant fan. Although, we will root for each other’s team to win, as long as they are not playing each other. We are not haters the way the Yankee fans hate the Mets when it comes to football. Which brings me to this past weekend of utter dismay.

New York Jet fans, like Met fans are used to disappointment. We haven't won or been in a Super Bowl since January 12, 1969: Super Bowl III! I don't remember it, I was only 13 months old, but I have heard the story told many times. Both are young teams in the grand scheme of things. But, the Jets in my mind have a magic that keeps the fans enthralled. And their colors are much nicer. I finally bought myself a new Jets jersey with Sanchez's number on it because my old Chrebet one turned an ill-colored blue. I had a renewed confidence in them since Rex Ryan took over gang green and stirred within them a fiery passion over these past two years. We BELIEVED they could do it and still believe for next year. They are frustrating to watch, especially when the Patriots trounced them and the subsequent loss to Miami was devastating. But, they revitalized, made it to the playoffs in a wild card spot, beat the favored Colts, and paid back those nasty Patriots to my tear filled eyes. I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I painted my nails green, wore my Jersey to church and prayed hard. Waiting for the AFC Championship game to start on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 6:30 at night was painful. I baked oatmeal cookies to kill the time. I fully felt they were going to win, until the first few drives showed how poorly our defense was reacting and then an overwhelming sadness took over. My boys even responded that I was taking this loss out on them. Maybe they were right. I reasoned that I needed that win because I needed a little good news in my life. But as Father Robert, priest at my church who presided over mass that day so notably pointed out during his homily, just because we wear the jersey, doesn't mean we are the player.

My mood picked up as the week went on and snowfall once again covered New York. Sportscasters predicted the Jets would win it next year. I finally am employed making a salary. Chad Ochocinco is changing his name back to Johnson. Quote of the day from Craig Carton during his show on WFAN, Boomer and Carton this morning (January 26, 2011): "Ochocinco is finally getting his Johnson back". I shook my bon-bon and laughed it off during my Zumba class last night. I will be rooting for Green Bay and those cheese heads to kill Pittsburgh during Super Bowl XLV.  But most of all I am surrounded by my talented boys, whom I adore and get to watch dance everyday and I get to relive another football season with the Jets in about seven months!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Obviously, he was hungry

I have been sitting at this computer all day  thinking, writing, thinking, reading, eating, thinking, drinking, writing, on Facebook and nothing...! No thoughts; blank! I wrote two drafts to my blog and a draft for The Examiner and deleted them.

My head is wandering and wondering, wallowing in self pity. Thoughts about not being hired; where are my callbacks; etc. are filling my brain. How are we going to pay our mortgage, bills, food, dance, and costumes and buy a bed (we haven't slept in one for almost two years)? My husband, who never gets sick, is searching for employment as well, trying to earn a dollar here or there and is now feeling under the weather.  A call from the elementary school sends Jason, my ten-year-old home sick. Television noise isn't helping. He rolls off the coach onto the floor in his sleep. OK, he really is not feeling well. (So bad when we doubt our kids) Another phone call from the high school enters me into slight panic mode, but it is Frankie, the oldest, using the school phone to ask if his cell came today. REALLY?!?!

Needless to say, it isn't the best of days or moods, but I am trying to regain myself when the phone rings once more. It is the elementary school for the second time. My baby, Sean's, Kindergarten teacher, Miss Grosso is on the phone, who, by the way, booked FM Entertainment for her wedding! She heard rave reviews on LIWeddings.com! Party Planet was my baby for ten years and is now closed which adds somewhat to my anxiety.

She begins by addressing herself and telling me Sean is fine, but wants to inform me of something that happened at lunch. "Does he like the pizza lunch?" she asks. I reply no, but now I start to question that because Jason hates it and he has a big influence over Sean. A few weeks ago, I sent him to school with a sandwich because he didn't want the hot lunch on the menu that day. They usually only like the pizza dippers. For some reason, the lunch aids couldn't find his lunchbox and gave him the hot lunch. Later they found his lunch, but sent me a bill of which I questioned: "I sent him with lunch that day. Why am I being charged for someone else not doing her job?" (I do love the dirty looks I get when I walk in that school.) Naturally, I thought the same mistake occurred today, however, Miss Grosso continued, "the child he was sitting next to had hot lunch, and had to go to the nurse. When he returned, his food was gone".  I know what is coming and burst out laughing, "Sean ate his lunch?" Thankfully, she has a sense of humor and was laughing as well. He denied it at first, but she got him to fess up. Apparently, he ate his own sandwich too!

Of course, I offered to pay for the other child's lunch since they had to give him a new one. My next question was: "Why did the child go to the nurse?" I was afraid he had some illness that would spread through my house like wildfire. Miss Grosso told me that he banged his finger. I can't help but wonder if my little gavone banged it for him so he could eat his food. Sean just came home from school with a smencil he purchased with the dollar I sent him to school with to buy ice cream at lunch. When I asked him why he didn't get the ice cream, he replied: "I wasn't hungry!" LMAO

Thanks for the blog and the pick me up Seanie Peppers! I just love my baby. My children are my world and I will do all I can for them to live their dreams. Below, one of my boys, Michael, at dance rehearsal:

Friday, January 14, 2011

You can't make this stuff up

I am ultra observant. I enjoy life, and find humor in everything I see. It helps when times are tough. No one can make me laugh like me. My favorite quote from my teenage years: “I’m such a pissa!” I am a magnet for the bizarre. Crazy follows me everywhere.

We are selling off bits and pieces of our closed business in garage sales and on Craigslist.org. Both have brought some funny stories. However, Craigslist.org takes the cake. I’m waiting in the car with two of my sons, oldest and number three, for the second oldest to arrive at his school from rehearsal for All County via school bus. The two boys with me are over excited because the awaited snowfall is beginning and the oldest is checking his Blackberry for Facebook.com updates on school closings. I am trying to keep their joviality to a minimum because we are heading to a wake whenever this bus decides to drop off my son. As we are sitting in the parking lot of the high school, Like a G-6 starts jamming on my phone. (Yes, I am immature). I answer it to a nice young man stating, “Hi, I am calling regarding the air hockey table you have for sale on Craigslist.” I hesitated briefly because the number came up as private and the only private numbers I know are my husband and my home. “Yes”, I reply, “How are you? How may I help you?” “I’m fine, thanks”, whacko began “Can you tell me a little about the table, is it in good shape? Does it have any deep scratches?” I answered, “Yes, it is in good shape. It was barely used at my kids’ party place. It was only taken out for parties that requested it, which wasn’t too often.”  “Oh, OK, great! Can I make you an offer?” he asked. Oh, shit! Here it comes, rings in my head. “What did you have in mind?” came out instead. He says, “I would like to offer you a snapper turtle.” Surprised, I said, “Umm, WHAT?” “A snapper turtle” he said again. “A snapper turtle” I puzzled to two boys dying of laughter in the car. I start to cut short his nonsense with “Listen, the ad says legitimate offers only…” “It is legitimate” he interrupted, “I will even throw in three garden snakes”. Click, the bus arrived.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shovel the sidewalk please

The Village of Valley Stream on Long Island doesn’t care about its residents. For the past twelve years I have navigated the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Forest Avenue very cautiously while walking my children to the Brooklyn Avenue School. When there is snow on the ground it becomes life threatening. Living only five blocks away, it doesn’t pay to drive them. There is no parking anyway, especially when there is snow. For some odd reason, when the village plows in front of the school, they leave snow mounds up to four feet high and eight feet long. There is not enough room for parents to pull up and drop off the children. If a car does get close enough to the curb, sight is limited and children are walking behind moving vehicles.  The principal of the school, Dr. Comis, stands outside every morning helping the children out of the car. Just recently, one of the PTA co-presidents, Cathy Grupp was helping him while a car began to move with a child walking behind it. Mrs. Grupp got frustrated and began yelling at the moving car, however, in fairness, he couldn’t see with the giant snow mound in his way.  The mother who let the child out was just as responsible for not getting out to help her child and for letting the child out on the driver side of the car. All of this could have been prevented if the snow mounds were not there.

The corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Forest Avenue has always been dangerous. I have been told that many years ago it was a drag strip. A stop sign was eventually put in front of my house, but no one ever abides by it. I was able to petition for a Children at Play sign over ten years ago, but again, drivers ignore it. The rear of Dunkin Donuts faces this intersection and the opening of the drive through has only increased the danger.  Cars race down the block to beat the light at Sunrise Highway and even some of the teachers of the school have been seen speeding down my block. The treacherous route to school becomes an obstacle course with all of the dog feces left on the walkway. The stream of Valley Stream runs right through this area between South Brush Drive and Brookside Drive. This area of sidewalk is owned and maintained either by the Village of Valley Stream, Town of Hempstead or Nassau County. No one knows for sure. Or at least when people complain about the sidewalk and it not getting cleared of snow or cleaned of dog feces, the runaround game begins. So for twelve years, I have maneuvered over ice and snow, broken three strollers or walk in the street at this dangerous intersection with small children.

Above: between S. Brush Dr. and Brookside Dr. Below: intersection where kids need to walk in street!

Many mothers have called the village and no change. Two storms in three weeks and the area is still not shoveled.  The next block isn’t any better. 78 Brooklyn Avenue is a multi-family home on a corner and that sidewalk never gets shoveled. I bet the village will issue them a summons, but not get one of their workers to shovel the sidewalk between S. Brush and Brookside. The next block is Holy Trinity Church and Nursery School (where three of my boys went). They have a one-person path cleared, with icy patches everywhere and this is the block leading to the elementary school and the nursery school.

I just don’t get it. The taxes to live in this village are ridiculous. What are we paying for? I see village employees all over, sitting around chatting with coffee in their hands, ogling every woman that walks by. It is nice to see my tax money at work. My husband and children shovel my sidewalk meticulously. It looks like they sprayed it with Summer Wheeze. The Village of Valley Stream and the rest of the non-shovelers should be ashamed!

A perfect shovel job!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ahhhhh, Christmas Memories!

     Growing up, Christmas was always very special for me, as I'm sure it is for many. As the fourth child born with three older brothers and one younger, six days before Christmas, my mother always made me feel like her precious Christmas gift. (Especially, since she was told she couldn't carry a female fetus to term.) My maternal grandparents treated me in kind. Although they adored my brothers and subsequent all male cousins, I was the only girl born of that generation and they treated me like a princess. My brothers would say spoiled brat, but many years of trying to understand them has led me to realize they will never understand me. I remember or maybe I just remember pictures of huge celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My mother has two sisters, but my grandfather had six brothers and my grandmother was one of eight. I remember music, singing, games and laughter. I adored my Christmas tree with the disco-lighted star on top, colored lights, gold boa-like garland and the beautiful manger that sat underneath and played Silent Night. It was all very 1970's topped off with the white velvet couches and red velvet chairs wrapped in plastic. I remember my dear mother dressing me up, curling my hair and basically torturing me. (Probably why I became a hairdresser.) Most of all, I remember being the brunt of my charming brothers' and their significant others' jokes; priceless! Those memories prepared me for wanting to create beautiful ones for my own children as well.
     My husband and I wanted to build our own traditions unique to our new family and diverse backgrounds. Each year we added something new: from our first, small, real Douglas Fir just like the one from A Charlie Brown Christmas, to the 10 foot tree we recently drove home on our Ford Focus.  On and off for the past 20 years, we have driven to the mountains to cut down our tree at Battenfeld Tree Farm: http://www.christmastreefarm.us/.  We discovered the first year, on the road to the farm, a quaint eatery. It was reminiscent of a 1950's diner and the aroma of egg creams, milkshakes and burgers filled the air. It knocked me right back to when I was a little girl and the coffee shop my father used to take me to. We immediately fell in love and returned every year, until it was GONE. A few times it was abandoned or it had turned into a Mexican Restaurant, so, we ate in the town of Red Hook at local diners or other little cafes, but they didn't hold the same charm. Two years ago things were looking up as our favorite little luncheonette was reopened as Another Fork in the Road. We were so excited. We eagerly sat down and opened the menu and were confused; gourmet eggs and gourmet grilled cheese? Did we take a wrong turn and somehow ended up in Soho? All we wanted were burgers, eggs and pancakes. Why would someone make gourmet grits? Really? This past Christmas, on our yearly jaunt, the same place was still there, so, we decided to give it another try. Maybe last year they had to work out the kinks, or maybe we are just gluttons for punishment. Same menu, ughhh, but let's be safe and order basic pancakes, a burger and grilled cheese. I had the grilled cheese, but it was French (?). It was served to me and was garnished with this chunky, orange colored sauce. It must have been French for vomit- grilled cheese. I was starving at this point and wiped away the unsightly mess and ate the sandwich. It only left a slightly sour aftertaste in my throat. My poor son Michael ordered the big stack. After he devoured the top pancake, he started on the second and came to an abrupt halt because it was gooey batter. OK, so not as bad as puke, I continued eating, but had to stop because I couldn't even look at my husband's burger which was just raw chopped meat in the middle. A few dry heaves later, we complained to the waitress, (we never complain, because I am always afraid what they would do) and she took $4.00 off the tab. Thanks toots, I'll send you the doctor's bill.
     At the tree farm, my husband declares he wants the biggest tree he can find. We searched all over and found it-all ten feet of it. We shot our traditional photos. The kids ran amok howling their tribal chants, falling only a few times down the mountain as their father screamed bloody hell. When my husband began to saw, I noticed a loose animal about 100 yards away. I saw people slowly walking away from it, not alarmed, just not approaching it. What was it? It looked like a wild boar. It started towards us and I could make out it was a Rottweiler. I love dogs, but my husband does not and fears them slightly. He was busy chopping, so I did what any mother would do: I gathered my children and locked them in the car. I don't want my children to be hurt by a stray dog. Now I see Frank is picking up the pace (he must see the dog is really close), so I need to help him, but I am hysterically laughing and my kids are now beating each other in the back seat. I rummage through the car for a weapon and grab the snow brush--ooh scary. I head toward my poor husband, then I think, he has a saw he's OK. As I am returning to rescue him, the dog walks right up, sniffs around and moves on. The dog is friendly, but my husband is quickly dragging that tree back as fast as he can while trying really hard not to appear frightened. He was so frazzled he forgot to hand in the coupon for money off. The men who helped him bale it had a good laugh at the sight of him tying this tremendous tree to my car.  It really was the most beautiful tree we ever had, but we looked like the Griswold's from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation driving it home.  We even sang Christmas Carols there and back. The only thing missing was the attack squirrel.
     We would have brought the minivan, however, last year it barely reached 40 MPH on the hills and we didn't think it would make it this year. It broke down this past Christmas Eve heading down to Egg Harbor City, but that is another Christmas Memory to be continued! All beautiful memories that I will cherish forever!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Friend, My Hero!

     I watch you from afar, although you may not notice. I am overwhelmed with emotion for you, yet absent of pity. When I see you, I want to burst into tears, for somehow I can sense all of your pain, but I remain steadfast, because you need my strength. Your shoulders carry the burden of looming death, but they are the strongest I have ever seen. Your heart is breaking, yet full of compassion for all who need it. Your eyes are weary, but still see those who need you. This is my homage to you, for you are an inspiration to me!
     I know your words are locked in your throat when I say I love you. I can see it in your eyes and feel it in your embrace. Being emotional doesn't equal weakness. It is a sign of amazing strength to let your tears flow freely.  You offer your home, your wallet, your service, your devotion and your friendship while never asking for anything in return. Patience is the virtue that you have mastered. You may not see it at times, especially with your own children, but those of us who are watching do. I am envious; because I know it is something I aspire to.
     Opening your home like this is the most unselfish act I think I have ever been fortunate enough to witness. It is not going unnoticed. Not that you are doing it for any other reason except you need to and want to and feel no other alternatives are available. This loving and beautiful memory will be taken with him to the gates of heaven where his weary body will be ill no more! Although it has to be difficult for your entire family, your children are learning from the best possible person-YOU-how to be truly altruistic and you are admired for it.
     Unfortunately, it will be over soon. I don't write that lightly as it is as difficult to utter, as I am sure to live. Your house will go back to the way it was. Your families will go about life as usual. You will have your beautiful memories he brought to you and your children. But, you will have made such a dent in the universe with this tremendous act of kindness. An act I needed to write about because you are such an amazing woman and I have to honor you. I am so happy to be your neighbor, blessed to be your friend and fortunate to have you in MY life! I love you!