September 2008

I read a piece of writing today by my new friend Anne Moss. It told of her experience at the 2007 Philadelphia 3-Day, a hugely successful fundraiser/awareness program for the fight against breast cancer. It encompasses a 60 mile walk over the course of three days. Anne was one of hundreds who completed the walk that year; she even surpassed her fundraising goal.

Anne is a survivor herself. After reading the 8-page saga of her 3-day adventure, I became deeply humbled and moved. My daily nuisances became trivial, seemingly unworthy of any pain. Sometimes it takes the hap encounter of an individual like Anne, to help me stay grounded and to help me realize what’s truly important in life. Here’s a little excerpt from her writing:

My first thought after finishing was, ‘I can’t believe I just did all that, and I feel GREAT!’ There was definitely a surreal quality to the moment. I had packed flip flops to change into…However, my feet and legs felt fine, and I don’t want to take off my sneakers. I think I probably did not want the moment and the feeling to end. (Anne Moss)

Here is a link to the official site of Breast Cancer 3-Day and please read more of what my friend Anne has to say about her experience and support her as she prepares for this year’s Philadelphia3-Day!

Anne, you are an inspiration. Your strength and endurance…your writing…it is a real life story of why all of us should never give up.

Long pass to the outside. My son is there to take the pass. Not offsides. He runs. Sees teammate head to goal. My son makes a quick pass to teammate. Teammate scores. Hands up in the air. Goal three. Player on opposing team not happy. Runs to goal scorer and takes a swing. Misses. Screams from angry fans on the sideline. As teams face off again, player on opposing team kicks our teammate with cleats. Continuously. More screams on the sideline, “Hey! Hey!”. Finally, the player is taken off the field.

This scene took place at my son’s U8 (that’s under eight years old) soccer game last Saturday morning. The young boy sulked on the sideline as his coach talked to him. His mom was screaming bloody murder just a few lawn chairs away from us.

It is hard for players on non-competitive soccer leagues to play without wanting to win. You put a bunch of boys (or girls) on a field and all they want to do is score. Every boy out on the field is keeping track of the score even though it isn’t encouraged on a recreational league. There’s nothing wrong with a little competitive spirit on a rec league but team work and good sportsmanship is stressed at all times. That goes for both players AND parents. I’ve been through years playing “soccer mom” and I have seen many moments when parents and kids lost control. As a matter of fact, I believe more parents have lost it than the youngsters. I’ll admit my husband and I can get loud with our cheering, and at times, I may advise my son to, “Hustle!”, “Run!”, or “Get the ball!”. But we’ve learned to keep our lame coaching to ourselves and stuck with the tried and true, “Good job, boys!” or “Go white!” or “Nice try!” approach. When I asked my son if he minds our cheering, he first lets us know that he usually doesn’t hear us anyway, then he tells us that he wouldn’t mind us cheering him on as long as we don’t tell him what to do. So far so good. Out on the field I can tell that he does appreciate our attention and occasionally flashes us his endearing hey mom, hey dad smile.

There’s nothing like seeing your child kick one in the goal and then celebrate with his teammates with a flurry of high fives. But let’s mind our manners parents and players. Parents, let the coaches do the coaching. Let’s all act with decency around the kids, keeping the verbal abuse and negative reinforcement as far away from the game and as far away from your child as possible, because if any of one of them is swinging punches out on the field, it’s probably because of you.

A quick congrats to our family, and you know who you are, for all the great news we’ve received recently. New baby, new engagement, new house, new job. Good luck, best wishes and cheers!

Stay tuned for a regularly scheduled post. 🙂

After months of deliberation, my husband and I decided to pull the plug on a huge chunk of cable channels. Everything beyond channel 20 disappeared yesterday just moments after I called Comcast and demanded a downgrade to Basic cable. They tried everything to keep us on our triple play plan, offering us promotion after promotion. I finally told them enough with the deals, we just want less tv.

We still have our ipods, internet, aim, email, video games and cell phones. Isn’t that enough? I hear it now — the groans of tv withdrawal. The lifeline to Miley, Carly and Bikini Bottom cutoff at the jugular. Here’s a little synopsis of our life without 200+ channels of tv.

Day Two on Basic Cable: Children sitting in family room early Sunday morning watching the only cartoon available, a Spanish dubbed Jimmy Neutron. Husband and I look on from kitchen enjoying every minute of it.

Later that day: Children take advantage of the great outdoors, without being told to do so. Skateboards, bikes, scooters… ahh…and children…cruising down the hill.

Loving the great outdoors

Outdoors at the frog pond.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett

Author: Judi Barrett

Illustrator: Ron Barrett

Publisher: Aladdin

An awesomely, imaginative story with hilariously detailed illustrations. It will never fail to entertain you or your child. With mustard clouds hanging nearby, how could it? I loved this one when I was a kid.

Here’s a little taste:

There was a storm of pancakes one morning and a downpour of maple syrup that nearly flooded the town. A huge pancake covered the school. No one could get it off because of its weight, so they had to close the school.

If I Built a Car

by Chris Van Dusen

by Chris Van Dusen

Author and Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Publisher: Penguin Group

We’ve all dreamed up the fanciest automobile, right? Well, this book captivates the minds of all readers as they read about Jack’s super cool dream car. From top to bottom, inside and out, his car has it all. It’s written in rhyme and illustrated with style.

Here’s a little snippet:

Now step right this way to the back of the car And note the red button marked INSTANT SNACK BAR. Say you were hungry and wanted a treat: Just press it, and instantly good things to eat…

Okay, so I’ll do my best to give somewhat of a background on this. If you want details then take a look at this or this.  If you’ve watched Inside the Actor’s Studio before, than you know the half of it. But there is a little history to it.

James Lipton, the host of the popular Inside the Actor’s Studio tv show, delivers his version of the Proust Questionnaire at the end of his interviews. A sampling of his questions include: what is your favorite word, what is your least favorite word, what is your favorite noise, what is a profession you wouldn’t want to do, and others totalling ten questions (ring a bell yet?). The famous French writer, Marcel Proust, answered an early version way back in the nineteenth century, hence the name the Proust Questionnaire. Apparently, it was a popular game back in the day.  Lipton got the idea from, Bernard Pivot, host of the French tv show Apostrophes. Pivot was in the habit of asking his guests his version of the questionnaire at the end of his show.

Stay tuned as I pose yet another twisted version of the Proust Questionaire to close family and friends. I plan on delivering the answers to you in volumes. One post, one volume, one victim. I’ll probably post twice a month or so. As soon as I get those ten questions figured out and extracted the answers from one of the lucky interviewees, I’ll post it. And if this attempt falls apart i.e. I lose interest, my victims lose interest, you were never interested I’ll be sure to let you know, in a This Was Lame post. So here I go, I think. 🙂

His ties, some of them

Just a few of his ties

It was his destiny. I figure. That’s what he tells me, my parents always made sure I was dressed properly, nicely. I guess I am supposed to accept that as a valid excuse. Why take away a man’s innate desire to dress himself well? Would I really want to exchange that for a pair of baggy sweats and a stained wife beater? Take a look at his wardrobe and you’ll see an explosion of style. A male fashionista he is. We’ve even invested in a second wardrobe. He is careful in handling and storing his collection: sweet smelling satchels to ward off the moth demon, handsome wooden hangers that lovingly hug his dress shirts and garment bags to store his most valuable suits. His fashionability doesn’t stop there. He has more shoes than me and the kids combined. His motto has been, if your clothes look damn good, you gotta have the shoes to match.

The shoe lineup

The lineup

My closet and shoe collection pales in comparison, unworthy of a picture. Although I do get the shoe bug once in awhile, my wardrobe is pretty simple and minimal. I have a few favorites that I tend to wear over and over again like the perfect pair of jeans or the easy on easy off pair of flats. I am picky about where I shop. It is a rare occasion when I can find a pair of pants or jeans of adequate length. 33in. Regulars are too short and Longs can be too damn long. There is only one place that satisfies this requirement, besides having the best clothes and the most unbelievable sale section ever AND if I could define my sense of style it would be this place, one word, Anthropologie. Yeah, I had to put that in there. I recommend it to all my family and friends especially when they’re into looking a little feminine, classic but in a super stylish, modern way. And the Sale room…did I mention the sale room already??

I must say this. My husband and I are bargain hunters. It may sound like my husband is stretching things a bit, but we never buy anything that isn’t marked down. With a little finesse, my husband manages to get some prices dropped down even more. If you shop around and know where to look, you can find some pretty great deals on really nice stuff. Even with shoes, my husband manages to make them last. He is meticulous about polishing them and when the leather soles get worn he makes a trip to the shoemaker to have them resoled for a few bucks. Sometimes that’s all they need. He’s even picked up a few pairs at second hand shops, had them resoled and voila a new pair of designer shoes at a fraction of the price.

The shirts

The shirts

My husband knows when to tame his urge to splurge. It is not so much how often he shops but what he shops for. He’s all about quality. And if he can find something good at a decent price he has no qualms about buying it. But you know the problem with that, right? So the both of us are in no way shape or form spendaholics. Like most families, we’ve got a budget to stick to. So he’s tamed his impulsive buying habit, enough to make us both feeling goodie inside. Doesn’t it feel great to walk out of a store and not purchase anything?

Now, if I can get him to kick the morning Starbucks routine…

Hello crab!

Hello crab!

The dining room table was well prepared for this feast. The cozy breakfast nook was no place for the debauchery that unfolded this Labor Day weekend. Mother laid out the disposable tablecloth as I stockpiled the heavy duty napkins, pre-moistened for added cleaning power. Sister took inventory of all necessary supplies i.e. nutcrackers, picks, vinegar dip, and rice. Even my youngest made sure all drinks were at hand within reasonable grasp. The towering bushel of crabs, haphazardly packed in a white cardboard box, was beautifully seasoned and placed as the one and only centerpiece, rightfully so. Extra chairs were set in place to accommodate all. Even my husband who didn’t plan on eating any, partook in the jovial camaraderie associated with crab eating, and ate one or two of his own. Do you eat as you go, or do you accumulate like me. In other words, I like to shell as many crabs as I can, piling high on my plate a mountain of crab meat then rewarding myself with spoonfuls of crab and rice. Yummy.

Box o' crabs

Box o' crabs

This crab fest is a once a year event for us. So we make sure we enjoy it. It was the perfect way to close the summer season at mom’s house. There was other food to enjoy as well: potato salad, roast beef, baked ziti, fries, chicken tenders (the kid must have), chocolate cream pie, watermelon, and jersey sweet corn.

Thanks mom and dad for making your home a constant source of fun and food for all of us and, as always, making this summer something to remember.