Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

   Yikes!   What a whirlwind!  We've had a busy two days, and I forgot to write my blog when I got back home last night.  I called my folks in Florida, and then called it a night.  We started our celebration this year on  Christmas Eve with my family.   We met in the afternoon for appetizers, and began to prep the dinner. We attend an early Church sevice together, then have our feast.  Next, we do gifts,  coffee and dessert before we're done.  All of this takes about eight hours, and there's even  some Patriots football thrown in for good measure. 
  Christmas day is spent with my husbands relatives.  Talk about eat, drink and be merry, we made the rounds!!  Dinner at one house, and dessert at another, and a Celtics game in the mix!  I love that we get to see almost everyone from both sides of our families.  The last place we gathered, there were ten kids under ten years old,  three dogs, and parents to match them all!!  I sat back, and took it all in...and just tried to hear a little bit of all the different conversations.  We look forward  to seeing the cousins from out of state,  and to see how much the kids have grown since we all got together last!!  We've been married for 35yrs, and a lot of these kids have grown up right before my eyes.  The "little cousins are now in their thirties, with kids in elementary school.  I comment about time flying, as we determine that something happening more than ten years ago, seems like just yesterday.
  I know that I'm lucky to live close enough to celebrate holidays together, and probably luckier that we all get along well enough to hang out for a whole day. 
You know the commercial...cost of gifts $$$, cost of gas and grocieries to make it all happen $$, the sound of twenty-five of my closest relatives laughing and having fun...priceless.....
All the blessings of this Holiday season.....Happy New Year.....Enjoy the week everyone..and the beat goes on....the beat goes on....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Hat Christmas Party

   I belong to the Red Hat Society, which is an organization for women over fifty years of age.   A California woman wrote a poem about getting to an age when she could stop worrying about what other people thought.  She mentions wearing colors she liked, even though they may not match.  That was something she would never do when her children were young, as it would totally embarrass them.  The poem talks about wearing her  red hat with her favorite purple dress whether others stared or not.  Years later there are thousands of chapters throughout the world.  We do always wear our red hats and a purple outfit, which means we ususally stick out in a crowd!  Our ages range from thirty ( a princess in waiting) to eighty plus!
   Each group has  it's own rules, and ours are simple.  We try to avoid discussing health, husbands and kids while we are out.  This means we focus on ourselves, current events, and just having fun.  We met at a restaurant in early December for our Christmas lunch.  We laugh and act silly because we don't have to worry about getting dirty looks from anyone.  My husband is grateful that I get to do chick stuff, and he doesn't have to suffer through it.  As always, we tack a little onto the cost of each event in order to support our charities throughout the year.  This year we raffled off a bunch of items, with all proceeds going to help others.  I wound up with a red hat ornament, and we all went home with a poinsettia plant. 
   The best benefit is the frienships that are made.  Many of us get together between events, which keeps the retired gals busy and involved.  If someone is lonely, they pick up the phone.  I think that anything that counteracts isolation is a really good thing.  I plan on staying active, and hope as I age,  I'm described as a "spunky old lady!!"   According to my folks, sixty is the new forty, and I'll let you know when I get there!!!   May we all be blessed with good friends... as always take what you like and leave the rest.....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Deck the Halls

 Our tree is up and the house is decorated.  I love the way it looks this year, but it always seems a little overwhelming before I get started.  All the cartons of snow globes, and totes of ornaments get dragged up from the basement, and stacked in the living room.  We are not hosting this year, so I've decided to only put out my favorite things.  I put on some Christmas music, and dig into the first box.   Before long, I find my special ornament that I've had for 50 years.  It's a Hummel, and I  received it as a gift when I was seven years old.  I get a little emotional because it occurs to me my tree tells the story of my life.  I hang the ornament that we got the year we were married.  Many have the years engraved, or photos, or places where we vacationed.  I have paper ornaments that Matt made for us in elementary school, as well as delicate crystal and porcelain ones.  I look for an angel or a figure that fills in a space perfectly.  My eyes tear up several times when I see ornaments that remind me of my mom, and others who have passed.  I work on my gratitude list, as I reflect on the good memories that my ornaments represent.  I sing along with the caroles that I know,  dance with the music, and finish in a couple of hours.  My heart is full of mixed emotions. 
  Over the next few days, I rearrange ornaments until I'm satisfied. It always about this time, that I start to wonder if next year's tree could possibly be as beautiful.  I smile and decide to just enjoy this year, and not worry about next year.  I also refuse to think about putting it all away in a few short weeks, because I know that my routine will be the same.  I'll put on some Christmas music for the last time this season,  and carefully pack things away.  Most likely, I'll sing,  shed a few tears, thank God for my blessings, and began to set my goals for the new year.  And the beat goes on...the beat goes on....have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Letters to Santa and our Yankee Swap

    Letters to Santa were always a big deal in our house.  We got the sales papers from the toy stores, and the sporting goods stores, and the electronic stores and looked for the best gift ideas.  Since we exchanged gifts with all the immediate relatives, we needed to provide a long list of hints.  I was always nervous about last minute additions to Matt's list which was kept on the refrigerator.  A friend of mine who had older kids,  told me to calm down and just try to enjoy it all.   She reminded me that Santa would bring what Santa would bring, and kids should be allowed to add to their lists until they went upstairs to bed on Christmas Eve.  It didn't matter that things like computers, and printers and cell phones were added at the last minute.  As a mom,  I loved to see my kid's eyes pop out of his head  when he got the gift he had wanted the most.  As he got older,  the quantity of gifts were smaller, because the gifts were bigger and more expensive.  I grew up one of four kids, and we could barely get into the living room on Christmas day.  I always liked having lots of stuff under the tree, so that was a big adjustment for me.
   My siblings and our families celebrate Christmas Eve together, and we total fifteen people before we add friends and cousins.  When the kids were younger, the room was filled with gifts, and that would make me happy!  Today, all kids in college or younger get gifts from everyone.   The rest of us participate in a Yankee Swap.  It makes life easy for the twenty somethings who don't know until the last minute if they can stay for dinner and gifts.  Everyone who brings a gift, goes home with a gift.  We determine a reasonable amount, and then all stick within that price range.   We each buy an item that we would like for ourselves, which means  there are the correct number of gifts for guys and gals.  We draw numbers, and then go in order.  Our game allows us to open a gift and swap with someone else who must take your item.  The higher your number, the more options are available.  Number one gets to go back and swap from all the gifts.  Side deals tend to happen after the game,  while we are having dessert.  After all, you may not be able to get on a plane with a shop vac! 
  Consider a Yankee Swap this year.  It cuts down on shopping, and you can even decide to swap yard sale items that cost nothing.  Be prepared, because it doe take some time, but it's a lot of fun when the right person winds up with the wrong gift....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on......

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tis the Season

    This Holiday season,  shopping days have names like "Black Friday",  "Small Business Saturday", and "Cyber Monday".   We were talking recently about the impact that the slower economy might have on the small businesses in our town.  I heard some suggestions about how to support local businesses as we exchange gifts with family and friends this year.  If we try to shop on Main Street, we can help our local economy. It may take more time and planning than the gift card display at the grocery store, but we may be able to help save the business of one of our neighbors.  I'm all for simple solutions, and  I'll share a few of my favorites.  I know that there are many occupations that wish they were busier.  Give a gift certificate for some house cleaning.  Hire a handyman to do some work for an elderly relative.  Purchase a certificate for a manicure or pedicure from a local beauty salon.  Go to the craft fairs, and find one-of-a-kind type gifts that have definitely been made in America.  Buy yarn and knitting supplies from a smaller downtown shop.  Buy a gift certificate from a local restaurant.  Give a movie night with a couple of tickets and snacks.  Buy two tickets to a play from the local theater group, give one away as a gift, and make it a fun night out together.  Build a gift basket from a specialty store.  A cooking lesson or a craft class may be a great gift for someone you would like to see get out more.
   I could never think of any good gift ideas for myself.  A few years ago, I began asking for something that I would be able to use up.  I love nice smelling candles, and bath and body products.  I get the chance to think about  the person who gave me the gift, as I use the item throughout the year.  Another time I asked for two tickets to anything.  It's great to look forward to a night out when everyone is getting cabin fever after the Holidays have passed.
   Hopefully these hints will help you to think of great ideas for your circle of family and friends.  As always, take what you like, and leave the rest...and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

   Happy Thankgiving!  This week let's work on an "attitude of gratitude."  Let's try to focus less on the negatives and more on the positives.   While in line at the grocery store or the drive through, make a gratitude list.  It will make waiting easier, and may help ease the tension.  Try to come up with five things each day that make you grateful.  Good health, family, friends are three pretty easy ones.  Don't love your job?  Spin it that at least you have a job you can complain about.  Hopefully,  by the time Thursday arrives you will be in a good place, and really get to enjoy the Holiday.  Ask everyone at the dinner table to state something they are grateful for.  Try to enjoy yourself!
    Life isn't perfect.  If your problems consume your thoughts, then try to offset  every problem on your list with one good thing in your life.  Try to make a conscious effort to focus on a positive viewpoint.  Here are a  couple of my favorite ways to spin my situation to a more positive light.  "I'm grateful I got in this line, because now I get to work on my list."  "If I get stuck at this red light, I can finish my list."  I know it sounds crazy, but it helps me.  I think it's a lot better than beating myself up for choosing the wrong line.
    Think about those who have health and financial issues, and keep them in your thoughts.  Say a quick prayer for our servicemen and women who will not get home this year. 
     Have a good week everyone.....gobble.....gobble....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Oldest and the Youngest Celebrate November Birthdays

   My Dad turned 84yrs young 11-11-11!!  Of course, I phoned him at 11:11am to wish him a Happy Birthday.  I was lucky to catch them home.  He said they were headed out for the day, but would end up going out to dinner.  It was after 10pm when I caught up to them next.  He said twenty-one friends had met at a local restaurant.  It's hard to believe that my folks have been retired and living in Florida for twenty years.  Though we all miss them, we know that they have been able to stay active because of the beautiful weather.   I cannot wait for their twelve day Thanksgiving visit, which will take them to children in three New England states.  It will be fun to get together again and celebrate with four generations.  It's a day to enjoy traditions and favorite family recipes. 
  Yesterday, I went to a birthday party for one of my youngest relatives.  My cousin's son turned one year old November 12th.  He got a nice collection of trucks that all light up and make noises, and had his first piece of birthday cake.  It was  beautiful and messy and fun all at the same time!  Anyone with a 12-12-12 birthday should start planning now for next year.  It's once in a lifetime!!
   My take away is to enjoy each day, and not take things for granted.  I am fortunate to have both old and young relatives who are healthy enough to celebrate their birthdays.  I plan to make a couple of "top eleven" lists for my Dad.  There are four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren for a total of eleven. I'll list the best eleven silly songs and lame jokes that we heard often around our dinner table.  I'm going to try and get the one who originated each joke to tell it again.  Hopefully it will help us remember and laugh about the good old days. I know that we are all thankful to have another holiday together. 
 Here are some other suggestions.   Go around the table and ask everyone to say something that each one is thankful for.  Ask everyone to tell their favorite Thanksgiving memory, or their favorite food.  Most of our memories are about disaster dishes or burnt food.  It seems that we remember some of the misses much  more than the perfect dinners.  It gets a lot of laughs, as long as we don't pick on the extra sensitive cooks.  As always, take what you like and leave the rest. 
Have a good week everyone...and the beat goes on...the beat goes on

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

 Spring ahead and Fall back. That's the way we remember how to change the clocks.   Last night we turned the clocks back one hour.  Daylight Savings Time was implemented years ago in order to help the farmers get one extra hour of  daylight.  Many of us use it today, as a reminder to change the batteries in our smoke detectors twice a year. 
  I remember using it with Matt to clean out his toy box.  We called it "getting ready for Santa".  I told him that we needed to make room for new toys.  It was a good way to take inventory, throw away broken toys, and give away those in good condition.  It also gave us an opportunity to talk about the wish list for the upcoming holidays.  I got a pretty good idea of what he still played with, as well as what he might need to add to his collections.  There is nothing worse than getting a toy you already have.  It's also a waste to buy toys that will be too young for them now.  Once we did the toys, we moved on to stuff like books, clothes, snow boarding equipment, boots and ice skates.  It was great to have a list when aunts and uncles asked for a practical gift idea. 
  In the spring, we did the same routine, and called it getting ready for his birthday.  Spring cleaning always seems like a lot of work.  I decided to spin it, and make it fun. Somehow, making room for new stuff always got more cooperation.  It was a win-win.  I felt like I had a handle on each year's favorite items, and we passed things on while they were still popular.  I believe that favorite things get to stay around longer, and we have boxes of treasures that will stay packed for now. 
  This fall, I will go through closets, and storage shelves in the basement.  I don't know how things collect, but I do know I feel better when things are organized.  My system is easy, and puts things in three catagories.  I will either give it away, throw it away, or put it away.  It's always good to have some ideas for things to do on rainy weekends.   The beat goes on.... and the beat goes on.....

Sunday, October 30, 2011


  Wow!  What a trick !!  New England was hit with a northeaster last night.  Hundreds of thousands are without power (trick), and many schools are closed tomorrow (treat), October 31st!  My neighborhood was without power for twenty-three hours. Downed tree limbs and branches are everywhere.  The previous record for October snowfall in New Hampshire was under two inches. Most of us got close to a foot of snow, but the town with the jackpot got 31inches !!  Folks were saying "Merry Halloween" and singing "I'm dreaming of a White Halloween".  Temperature will reach 50 degrees tomorrow, but many communities will postpone trick or treating until the cleanup is finished.  I expect to see snowmen with carved pumpkins for heads on lawns everywhere.
  When you live in New England, you know the drill.  Have battery operated lights and radios, candles, and down comforters on hand for storms.  Last night, there was so much snow that it looked like daylight.  I decided that I would sit up and wait for the lights to come back on, so I could reset the clocks, then shut everything off and go to bed.  I could hear tree limbs breaking and falling from the heavy wet snow.  This was no joke.  That reminded me of some of my favorite Halloween jokes.  Try them with your kids this week.  I hope they make you smile, and give you some ideas for more!

What's the ghosts favorite dessert ?  Ice scream !!
The ghosts favorite ice cream is 'cookies and scream' !
The ghosts favorite cereal is scream of wheat !
The ghosts favorite game show is Squeal of Fortune !
The ghosts favorite magazine is Good Housecreeping !
The ghosts favorite fruit is booberry !
   Have a good week everyone....the beat goes on....and the beat goes on...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Festival

   Yesterday a bunch of us drove an hour to our local Pumpkin Festival.  Shuttle buses took us from a parking lot to the downtown area.  Racks of carved pumpkins lined the main street, which were lit at dusk. The town was hoping to win another record for the total number of pumpkins.  It was a beautiful day to walk around and support the event.  Organizations had set up booths for food and crafts,  and we enjoyed soup, snacks and desserts.  There were babies in strollers, other folks in wheel chairs, young and old walking with their pets.  We used the trash barrels, and walked in an orderly fashion.  It's a college town,  and some fraternities had volunteered to clean up.  
  On the ride home, we commented on how wonderful it was to be part of such a positive day.  Today, so much of the news focuses on the negatives.  We hesitate to go to huge events, because we are concerned  for our safety.  I'm glad I went, and I'm pleased that we all had a good time.  It was the perfect opportunity to recharge my batteries, and to restore my faith in neighbors and strangers alike. 
  My take away is to not be afraid to enjoy life.  Find things to do that don't cost a lot, but are a lot of fun. 
We've all seen the  commercial that lists the price of  parking, food, and souvenirs, but having a fun day is priceless.   I encourage you all to find inexpensive way to make good memories ..
This is my experience, so take what you like and leave the rest......and the beat goes on....the beat goes on...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Magic Monster Spray

  I recently had a conversation with a mom whose young son was having nightmares.   I don't know if every kid goes through it, but I remember when Matt did.  He was afraid to go to sleep, and he would sometimes wake up in tears.  At the time, I was lucky to have a circle of friends who allowed me to agonize over every issue.  One of the mom's remembered hearing of an easy solution, and I couldn't wait to try it.  I put some water in a spray bottle and called it Magic Monster Spray.  I told him that this spray would keep away monsters, and any bad dreams. We would spray his room before we read our bedtime story, and then again just before lights out.  Because it was only water, we could spray walls,  furniture and fabrics without damage.  The most obvious place was under the bed.  We sprayed  behind the curtains in case they tried to come in the windows. We sprayed in the closet because it is always dark and a really good hiding place,  We always sprayed the toy chest to give special powers to Matt's favorite toys and stuffed animals to help keep them away.  We sprayed the pillow to keep scary thoughts away.  All that mattered was getting him to relax and get ready to sleep, and it worked!  If he woke up from a dream, we did it all again.  I really don't remember how long it took, but it's magical to work with your kid, and to solve a problem together.   It seemed unlikely that in a few short years he would beg us to watch scary movies.  The Goonies was one of our favorite movies, and we watched it many times.  It's always on this time of year, and I recommend it.  It's about a bunch of ten year olds who ride their bikes in search of a pirate treasure.  There are some scary scenes so watch it first and make sure it's appropriate for your family.  I'm sharing this now because Halloween can bring back nightmares for some kids.
   I'm not an expert, but I hope this helps give some ideas for a very common issue.  Take what you like and leave the rest....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on......

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Columbus Day Weekend

   October is one of my favorite months in New England.  The sun shines without humidity, and we call it  sweater weather.  The foliage colors are vibrant, and leaf peepers plan a day trip to experience it all.   Red, orange and yellow leaves are everywhere.  Soon we'll be raking them up, but we don't have to worry about that now.   This weekend we observe Columbus Day.  It's fun to have a long weekend, but it should have more meaning than that.  Let's face it, if it wasn't for Columbus, most of us wouldn't live here.  One year, Matt had a school project that had kids draw their family tree.  He was asked to list  three generations, and their nationality.  We had fun with it, and talked about it while we took our foliage ride.  It turned into one of those teachable moments. We knew where our grandparents and great-grandparents were born, and when we got home, we found those countries on our globe.  Matt learned that he was French, Irish, German, English and Italian.  He heard that his great-great grandparents had their names changed as they arrived at Ellis Island.  The person checking them in either couldn't spell the name, or couldn't understand the language barrier.  He was excited because he had lots of branches on his family tree.  Kids are naturally curious about where they came from, and this discussion helps answer some questions.  Geneology is popular now, and the internet helps us trace our heritage.   We can find relatives who became famous for doing good things, and relatives who were famous for doing the wrong things.  I'm thankful that our ancestors came to America looking for a better life.  It couldn't have been easy, but they persevered, because they probably couldn't go back.  Our country is called the melting pot of the world for good reason.  Let's take some time to reflect on where we came from, and how we got here.
This is my experience, so take what you like and leave the rest.....and the beat goes on...the beat goes on...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life works better with a plan

   I've always been a list person.  I love to cross items off as I accomplish them.  One of my first jobs out of college was a planner, and I often said that I had been a planner before I ever got that job.  I come by it honestly, because my folks were the same way.  As soon as we began to discuss anything that was to happen in the future, Dad would say "Let's start a list."  Whether it was the Holidays coming up,  next year's vacation, or one of our weddings, the process was the same.  Things to do now, things to do in the next few weeks or months, and then the final things that would need to be done.  There's a saying about having a plan, even if you don't stick to it.  Take life one step at a time.
   As  parents, we may want to jump in and solve every problem.  Before blurting out a  list,  try to say "I know you have a plan, what is it?"   If they don't have a plan,  help them sort out the issue.  It takes time to make a list of pros and cons, but it's a good way to get a glimpse of  how they process a situation.   I tried to say things like "I like the way you thought this through" and "I like the way your mind works".  We all  need problem solving skills for sports, classes, jobs, and life. 
   I remember going through the college application process.  Students were encouraged to apply to three types of colleges.  Reach schools are harder to get into,  realistic schools are a good possibility,  and safety net schools offer the best chance for acceptance.  I recently heard Matt use these same terms as he considers all the options for a major decision.   I smile because I know he really doesn't need me, but it does feel good to be asked to listen as he runs through each scenario.  Of course, he decides to reach for the option that will challenge him, instead of settling for the easiest one.  I like the way his mind works.  Soon there will be lots to do...we'll have to start a list.
   As always, take what you like and leave the rest.....have a good week everyone...and the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A question parents should ask often

   Years ago I heard comedian Bill Cosby talk about playing with his grandchildren.  Apparently his son was shocked, because he grew up thinking Bill hated kids!  I suppose if we are doing our jobs as parents, our kids often wonder how much we like them.  I decided to try and change that.  I wanted my kid to know that I would always love him, even if I didn't like his attitude or behavior at a given moment.  I began to ask Matt "Are you feeling the love, son?" whenever something good happened.  When I started asking, Matt looked at me like I had two heads.  By the time I had asked him about ten times, he started to shrug, and kind of nod in agreement.  I wanted him to acknowledge how many times we happily helped him.
   Let's face it.  The early teenage years are a struggle.  Kids desperately need us to help with cash, rides, and many different favors, almost as much as they want us to be invisible.  As parents,  sometimes we feel the list is endless, so  I think we should use it to our advantage.  When my kid asked if I could drive a carload of kids to meet the schoolbus at dawn, then pick them up that same night at midnight from the ski trip.  I said ''yes".  Hey, if it made life easy, all the guys could sleep at our house both nights.  I know the kids and parents were grateful, and everyone said thanks.  I wanted my son to understand that we did stuff like that because we cared about him.  I thought it would always be obvious, and I was wrong.  Before we had a difficult or serious conversation, I'd say a quick prayer.  "Let him feel the love that I have for him".  It really works!
  I believe that when kids feel loved, they take our criticism better.  Life gets easier when kids realize that their parents like them, even though we may be angry at a particular moment.  Kids remember getting yelled at and grounded for a long time.  I think we can balance that off by having them acknowlege  the many positive things that happen.
   This is one of my personal experiences so take what you like and leave the rest.  Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mum's the Word

 As a mom, I've tried to learn from my mistakes.  I recognized early on that I would never be 'that perfect mom', and so my goal was to be 'a good enough mom'.  That took a lot of pressure off me, and I'm convinced that a relaxed mom makes better decisions.  Along the way, I found that the quicker I was to respond to a situation, the more likely I would be appologizing later for over-reacting.  I had to admit that my knee jerk reactions got me in a lot of trouble.  My solution was simple, although it took years to embrace it.  I found that if I took a few minutes, my better judgement would kick in.  I finally decided that I did not have to say the first thing that popped into my mind.  As a matter of fact, over the years I stopped feeling pressure to say any one of the first ten things that jumped across my mind.  We all know that counting to ten really helps diffuse many arguments.  As I counted to ten, I let my thoughts race.  My family has said that they can watch as I reject idea after idea. I'm told that I close my eyes, make a face like I just tasted something awful, and shake my head.  A picture can tell a thousand words!
  Today I can say things like "let me think about this", or "I don't know,  but I'll get some advice".  It was a huge relief to know that I didn't have to have all the answers.  I didn't have to solve everything in a few minutes.  My old plan would be that if  there was something on my mind, I wanted it resolved during a TV commercial.  I was shocked when a friend shared that it sometimes took her a month to approach a "sticky situation" with her family.  What a concept!  That's when I started to believe that less could be more.
  I no longer have to spend time figuring out ways to smooth over a hasty comment.  I can shrug and say "sorry, I don't have the answer".    Now I can simply ask "what do you think"?  Of course, the next step is to actually listen, and not react.  This was the most difficult for me, but as usual the idea with the most benefits.  I no longer spend three days making up for two minutes of bad behavior.  It's amazing how much calmer things were at home when I stopped 'biting heads off ', and 'jumping down everyone's throat'.  Now if I  just work on my facial expressions, my thoughts can be my own!
  These are my experiences, so take what you like and leave the rest...have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th - the Tenth Anniversary

 I remember 9-11-2001 vividly.  I turned on my TV expecting to see one of the morning shows.  I saw smoke coming from one of the towers, and then watched  as the second plane flew into the second tower in real time.  I was horrified because I knew that this was no accident.  I sat glued to the TV trying to make sense of it all.  We spent the day contactacting family and friends.  Over the next few weeks, everyone sang the anthem at sports events, and shouted "U-S-A ,  U-S-A !"  We were all Americans, and that was enough to connect us.  We donated to victims and their families through telethons, and concerts.
 Today I watched the ceremonies from New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA. The name of each victim was read, which reminded me of just how many innocent people gave their life .   I was struck with the number of foundations and other good things that came out of that terrible day.  Children spoke of their determination to make a deceased parent proud.  Parents will make sure their fallen angels are not forgotten.  Today, I believe that we observed a spiritual day.  The fountains, and memorials are beautiful, and yet the work will continue for years.  Many other states have built memorials to honor  neighbors lost from their communities. 
  Ten years later,  I still wake up and say "Thanks for today, I'm going to enjoy my day."  Through the years, I've  tried to focus on a solution, and not just my problem.  During difficult times,  I've prayed that my family would feel the love that I have in my heart for them, even when we disagree on things.  I've decided that life is too short to hold a grudge.  I give myself two bad days a year, whether I need them or not.  Today, I say things like "If I live to be 200,  my life will be too short to waste any more time on this stuff."  It's a healthy, more positive way to live, and I choose life!
  As always, these are my thoughts, so take what you like and leave the rest.
 Have a good week everyone... and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Labor Day Weekend

  It's hard to believe that this summer is ending.  In just a couple of days, our focus will change from summer fun,  to back to school, and a new routine.  As usual, I think the eight weeks between the 4th of July and Labor Day seemed to fly by.  I enjoyed myself this summer, because it contained the right mix of  company and cookouts, and some relaxation.  The last few weeks have been bittersweet.  As the nights cooled down, so did the pool water.  As much fun as it is to get ready for school and fall sports, it means that life will soon be getting more serious.  Baseball fans are agonizing over every pitch, and football fans are gearing up for the new season.  In New England, we love to support our teams, which  means that we may be  in for some long sleepless nights. 
  Sports always seemed to give us an opportunity to connect with our son.  I always thought that Matt talked more when we were sitting side by side, than when we talked face to face.  In the car, or in the TV room, sports gave us something to chat about.  We had some of our best conversations on the long ride home after a game, or preparing snacks to watch a game at home.  At first, I clipped coupons or skimmed a magazine, but by the time the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, I was a real fan.  Matt was happy to give me some insights, and teach me the terms and buzz words.  We were superstitious.  I bought the same ice cream, and other snacks.  We never had ice cream until our time took the lead.  It was silly and it was fun.  I made my tea in my "lucky cup".  We all had our routines, and we never deviated, lest we be the reason the team missed the playoffs.  We were in it together, and it helped us bond.  I knew I was lucky and I planned to enjoy it.  I still call my dad in Florida when good stuff happens in important games!
  The message is to find something that connects you and your kids, and have fun with it!  I know grandmothers who are reading Harry Potter with their grandkids.  They have something to talk about on the phone, or skype or facebook.  They have found a way to be close, even though they live far apart.
  As always, take what you like, and leave the rest.  Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

  There's an old saying in New England, "If you're not happy with the weather, just wait a few days!"  It's hard to believe that in the last two weeks we've had an earthquake, and a hurricane.  Temperatures changed thirty degrees in either direction overnight.  One day the humidity was stifling, and the next we were looking for sweatshirts!  Hurricane Irene was not as bad as it could have been, and we know that we were lucky.  Most of us did as we were told.  We prepared for the worst, then hoped for the best.  We were OK.
We lost power for a few hours, due to fallen trees.  Flooding is the concern now.  Today the clean-up begins.  Some schools were cancelled on what would have been the first day. 
   I remember preparing for storms when Matt was young.  We filled the bathtub with water.  We gathered the flashlights and candles.  We dug out the board games and playing cards.  We were preparing for an adventure.  We played Monopoly marathons, and multiple Scrabble matches.  We finished our games even after the lights came back on!  We try to make the most of the situation.
  I hope you all weathered Irene, and escaped with minimal damage.   Let's hope we can enjoy the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 
   Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We are Family

  My nephew got married yesterday.  They make a wonderful couple, and seem perfectly matched!  My folks flew in last Tuesday, and Matt arrived Wednesday.  It's been a whirlwind visit! My thinking is that since we are all eating, we should try to eat together.  Ever try hosting three separate dinners in five days for twelve to fifteen of your closest relatives??  It's always a challenge because of work schedules, golf tee times, last minute shopping trips, plus a few more unpredictable wrinkles.  After 28yrs of hosting, I have it down to a science.  I have a master list of all  menu's. I check off each item once it was purchased, then checked it again when the dish was prepared.  Some bread, fruit and vegetables cannot be bought in advance, so I needed to add a daily trip to the grocery store.  Totally different meals were planned each day, so we wouldn't serve the same thing twice. Fridge and freezer space is always a concern, so care must be taken to not have too many leftovers.  Of course, leftovers are required for lunch and snacks, which makes things interesting, to say the least.  Things will be less hectic this week, as everyone heads back home midweek.  I hate to see them all go home, because it's always seems like such a long time between visits.
  The wedding was beautiful, and the reception was held at a local country club.  We always have a lot of fun when we get together, and we are thankful that everyone was healthy enough to make the trip.  We celebrated with all ages from great grandbabies not quite one year, to grandparents in their eighties. The whole family was on the dance floor together, acting silly and having fun!  Just like the commercial says.....weddings can be really expensive, but having four generations together for another happy occasion is priceless. 
Have a good week everyone.....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

C is for Comrades

  The fifth and final topic in the series addresses comrades or friends.  Years ago when our son Matt was in his early teens, I read an article in our Sunday paper.  It gave ideas on how to deal with teenagers and the 5C's, cooperation, curfews, cash, cars, and comrades.  We decided to try them, and believe that we had a lot of success.  The premise is that when teens feel empowered, have a good set of tools, and earn rewards for good decisions, they will grow up to be productive members of society.  Teens would not want to jeopardize their perks by making bad decisions.
   Matt is still good friends with many of the kids from grade school.  We liked having kids around, and had a pull-out couch and extra mattress in his bedroom for sleepovers. In high school, there were kids from other junior highs.  He made new friends through sports.  We asked him to not hang around with kids who would get him into trouble.   All of his friends were planning on college, and were focused on getting good grades.  Athletes needed to maintain a passing grade in order to play sports.  We could back off because his coaches played the heavies.  We were lucky.  Matt never looked for trouble.
   By this time, Matt knew that his good decisions had earned him priviledges. He was working towards no longer having a curfew.  He had a car,  he played sports, and he worked a part time job.  We were confident that he would not be willing to give these up.  We were beginning to see the benefits of working on the 5C's.
I know he avoided parties that he knew might be trouble.  He said it just wouldn't be worth it. 
  Our son was making the right choices, and it made our job as parents easier.  My husband told Matt to "throw us under the bus" if he ever got in a sticky situation.  He was to say that his parents were terrible, and he just couldn't get into trouble.  We know things happen fast, and things can get out of hand quickly.  We went over the "what if'" scenarios,  just as we had when he was younger. 
  We survived it all because we had a plan and we stuck to it.  As always, no idea is one size fits all, so take what you like and leave the rest.   Have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cars and the Rules of the Road

   The fourth topic in my 5C's series is cars.  Years ago, I found an article in my Sunday paper which outlined tips for parents who were dealing with preteens and teenagers.  We implemented all five of them with truly positive results.  We've already discussed our family's experience with cooperation, curfew, and cash. 
    Matt got his license on his 16th birthday.  In our state, kids can drive at 15 1/2.  We started out practicing in parking lots on the weekends.  Before long, I was the co-pilot while Matt was driving  to school and from school.  I was happy that Matt was forced to drive in winter weather, and we both knew he was ready for his driving test in July.  Even at sixteen, my son was able to set goals, then get a plan to see it through .  He had saved enough money by early spring to pay his half of  Driver's Ed.  He had already calculated what class he would need , in order to be finished before his birthday.  Because of his success with the other C's (cooperation, curfew and cash), Matt was self directed and solutions oriented. 
     Matt's godparents gave him their thirteen year old Cutlass.  It had high miles, but cool tee tops, and it was in pretty good shape.  He was thrilled to have his own wheels!  We got an estimate of all repairs, and Matt was able to get  the work done by asking for cash for his birthday gifts. 
     One important issue still had to be addressed.  Car insurance for teenage boys is expensive.  We learned that our insurance companies gives a "good student discount".  Matt could earn this by making honor roll, and it could be extended each renewal, by maintaing his average.   We told him that our first priority was that he be a good student.   If Matt could make the honor roll, then we would pay the balance.  By now, we knew our son well enough to know he would take advantage of this.  At the time, we did not know how much  honor roll grades would help him earn a college scholarship.
      As I've said each time before, we never expected to get added benefits.  We just wanted to capitalize on a discount.  Of course, by now our son was handling his college courses, playing high school sports, and working part time.  He was a good student who kept his curfew.  He was considerate, and a great role model to his younger cousins.  He could be as proud of himself, as we were of him. 
     I hope these suggestions work as well for you.  Since every situation is different, please take what you like, and leave the rest.....have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on......the beat goes on........

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Teenagers and Cash

  Cash is the third topic in my series which examines the relationship that teens develop with  Cooperation; Curfew; Cash; Cars; and Comrades. 
  Years ago, I found an article in my Sunday newspaper which discussed these issues, and I used them  successfully with my son Matt. The premise was that parents can talk till we are "blue in the face", but we can teach a lot more through experience.  Kids may even learn more from their failures.
  The idea was to teach money management before teenagers got to college.  That way, if the kids got into trouble, they would be still living at home.   Parents could get involved and get them back on track before they moved thousands of miles away.  The article described horror stories of parents sending college kids money for an entire month, and finding out the kids blew it all the first weekend.
  At fifteen, Matt was getting an allowance of $25.00 each week( fifteen dollars for chores, and ten dollars towards school lunches).  It was also time to start thinking about Drivers Ed, and a summer job, and so we decided to set him up with a checking account.  Our bank was offering "totally free checking", which meant that there would be no monthly charges in exchange for no interest.  The account also had a debit card, which was issued in my name because Matt was not eighteen.  All of this seemed low risk to us, because this happened at a time when the bank "ate your card" should you become overdrawn.
  The plan was simple.  I was paid through automatic deposit, and I set up a $100.00 deposit to Matt's account on the 15th of each month.  The summer installments would be used for back to school clothes. We knew Matt handled his allowance reponsibly, but we had no idea how this would play out.  At the end of the first year, Matt had a $900.00 balance.  He said he was saving it for a stereo system for the car he planned to get after he got his license.  One day, someone asked Matt how many checks he bounced.  He said none, and his balance had never gone below five hundred dollars!
  The first thing that Matt did was give two friends a one dollar check because they did not believe him.  At the mall, Matt went to the ATM, and then paid cash for items.  I could also give him a note which authorized him to use the debit card because it was in my name.  Matt asked if he could still take lunches some days, which was fine with us.  We didn't realize that he would spend more when he viewed his allowance  as "my parents money".
   As with the exercises with coupons for cooperation and the curfew, this experience also turned out better than we had hoped.  The best thing was that we all learned that Matt would be able to handle his own finances at college.  He couldn't understand how his friends could get into money trouble and blow money on "stupid stuff".  The article stated that as the kids accomplished each challenge, parents would see them start to ''grow up right before our eyes".   He had a plan and he knew he would be rewarded if he stuck with it!
  I hope you try this with the same success.  Nothing is one size fits all, so take what you like, and leave the rest.......and the beat goes on.... the beat goes on.......have a good week everyone....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dealing with Curfews

  This is the second installment of my five part series dealing with the 5C's : cooperation; curfews; cars; cash; and comrades.  I read an article years ago, and used tips from it with a lot of success.  I hope it gives you some ideas for your family.

When Matt was fourteen, we asked him if he would like be able to NOT have any curfew by the time he was eighteen.  Of course, he jumped at the chance.  It was simple.  We would start out with a curfew of 9pm.  If Matt did not break curfew in six months, we would extend it by 30 minutes, and he could stay out until 9:30.  If he broke his curfew, then we would take those 30 minutes back.  Each six months awarded him another thirty minutes.  It was easy because he wasn't driving, and we usually drove one way to movies and other events.  We only asked that if he could not get home by his curfew, he called and let us know before that time.   We knew before he left the house if a movie was getting out late, or Matt would get a ride home when the game ended.  Matt was learning to be considerate, and he was being rewarded for good behavior.
  By the time Matt was driving, we were comfortable that he knew the routine, and would follow the rules.  We told him that under no circumstances should he ever drive 100 miles and hour to get home on time.  All he had to do was call and let us know what was happening ( getting something to eat or driving kids home), and give us an idea as to when he would be home.  Obviously, we would know pretty quickly if he was ignoring the rules.  As a seventeen year old, Matt realized that at 18, he really wouldn't need a curfew as he would be in college.  I can tell you that he never stayed out all night unless he called, and most of the time he was home by 12:30.  By that time, he had been playing by the rules for so long, there was no reason to screw things up.  We trusted him, and he had earned this privilege by making good decisions for four years. 
   At the time, we did not realize that we were getting many benefits from this exercise.  I believe that kids like to feel empowered.  Matt was earning our trust, and he was not willing to give it back, by doing something  stupid.  We were getting a considerate teenager, who we could see making good decisions.  Once our son wanted to act responsibly, our job was so much easier. 
   This is my experience.  I'm not an expert, so take what you like and leave the rest......have a good week everyone....I'll tackle another one of the C's next time.....gotta run.....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coupons for Cooperation

  Many years ago I found an article in the magazine insert of my Sunday paper.  I couldn't wait to use it with Matt, and I believe it contained some of my most used parenting tips.  I'll share one of the five each week.  I hope these might help you all as you get ready for the next school year.
The topics dealt with Cooperation;  Cars;  Cash;  Curfew; and Comrades.

 The ideas behind cooperation were simple.  No matter how badly our kids behave, we get them what they need.  If our child is playing a sport, we make sure they have the proper equipment .  The article suggested getting kids to earn the very things we would eventually give them anyway.  Here are some of my examples.

   As an eight year old, Matt could not be bothered doing the spelling assignments.  The teacher wanted one from a list of four done Monday through Thursday, and be ready for the test on Friday.  Matt was a good student and thought it a waste of time.  I asked him if he would like to earn a new baseball glove in time to try out the following month, just by doing his schoolwork.  I had his attention. I told him that he would be able to earn 'coupons  for cooperation'.   I set up a chart using a calendar, with the last block as a coupon.  Matt got a checkmark for each homework assignment that he did without an argument.  We checked the sales papers for the cost of the glove.  He was earning checkmarks easily.  I wanted to keep this going as long as I could.  We told him that if he earned enough points, he could even earn a batting glove!!  It was a win-win.  Assignments got done without a battle, and he got to pick out a glove that we would have gotten him anyway.  The next time, I made it more difficult to earn the prize, and he continued to work for them.
   We used it as an incentive when we were planning our trip to Disney.  Matt earned  money for the trip, and we had easier morning and bedtime routines.  We also decided that we would match every dollar that he accumulated for the trip.  That way he wasn't spending it as fast as he made it.  Our thinking was that Matt would use this money for souveniers because it had already been included as part of our budget.
   The last time I used my 'coupons for cooperation' was when Matt was a senior in high school.  He and a few friends were going on a ski trip during Winter vacation, at the end of the month.    His dad and I decided how much money we would give him for spending money.  I asked  Matt if he would be interested in earning some spending money for his trip, and he said he'd give it a try.  (Money we would have given him anyway).  My coupons were done on the computer, and they would be easy to accomplish. 
 He could earn money for joining us for dinner ( something he never had time to do).  I had five separate meals and he cashed in on all of them.
He could earn money for a smile (hey, I said they'd be easy).   Matt earned it during a basketball game.  He scored a basket , then turned to me and gave me a beautiful smile.  One of the Mom's I was sitting with commented.  I told her about the coupons,  She laughed and said her son was so stressed about college, she'd be willing to pay him for a smile!   If you have ever had a child waiting to hear about college acceptance, I know you can relate!!!
One of the coupons said to 'give Mom a compliment'.  One morning as Matt was leaving for school, he said "Bye Ma, and might I say you look marvelous" !!  Then he turned and check the coupon that was on the refrigerator.  We laughed, because I was still in my pyjamas! I loved it!!!  We were having more fun than we had in a long time!!  It was a win-win in my opinion.
I hope these made you smile, and perhaps give you some ideas as you set up the routines for school next fall.  Just take what you like and leave the rest.....have a good week everyone....
I'll tackle the second installment next time....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Circle of Kindness

I was recently the recipient of a 'random act of kindness'.  I was in line at the drive through waiting to get an iced coffee, and when I got to the pick up window, I was told that my coffee was free !  Apparently, the person in the car ahead of me,  had told the window to apply their change to my bill.  It made my day !  I decided right there that I would try to pass it on.  Since then, I've been able to do a couple of nice things.  I was in the grocery store, and a young man was counting his cash and coins, while checking the prices of sugar.  I got the impression that he was picking the sugar up for someone who was doing some baking.  He was in a hoody, and reminded me of my own son.  I asked him if he needed some money, and he said he was seventy cents short.  I handed him a dollar.  As he tried to give me some change, I told him to keep it , just in case it was a few cents more at the register.  He looked me in the eye, smiled, and said thanks.  I had helped someone out, and it felt pretty good !
 Last week I was picking up dinner to take home.  I had a coupon for buy a meal , and get one free.  Our dinners came with soft drinks that we would not use.  I turned to the customer behind me, and asked if she would like them.  She said yes, and thanked me over and over !  I know it was really no big deal, but sometimes it doesn't take much !  I drove home smiling.
The last time I was in the grocery store, the express lane was closed.  I was carrying a basket and I only had two things .  The lady who got to the  line in front of me, turned and told me to go next.  I thanked her, and said I would pass it on.  We were both smiling , and the cashier and bagger were too!  Tag...I'm it !!  Now I have to find a way to return the favor...If anything like this happens to you ...remember to pass it on....
This was my experience, so take what you like, and leave the rest....have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Birthday America !!!! Happy Birthday to You !!

  This weekend we get to enjoy 4th of July celebrations !!  It's one of the best weekends of the summer !  With a long weekend, there's time for cookouts, parades, pool parties, baseball games and fireworks !  Hope you all have a ball !  Whether you watch the fireworks on TV , attend a community event, or have a neighborhood block party, I hope they are spectacular !!  We always watch the Boston Pops from home, because we want to hang out in the pool and backyard as long as possible.  I love to sing along with the crowd, even if I am in my living room. 
  This year I've decided to think about some "birthday gifts" I can give my country.  There are many things that I can do , that take more of my time and thought,  than money.
I can recycle as much as possible. I can donate items in good condition and keep them out of the landfill.
I can check the labels, and choose to buy grocery products made in America, even if they cost a little more.
I can vote, and expect our elected officials to behave with common sense and civility.
I can email any politician that I think promotes fear and hate, and tell them that the sensible center will hold them accountable.
I can work on my gratitude list, and acknowledge the good things in my life.
I can live by the "golden rule" and treat others the way I'd like to be treated.
I can display a flag at our house, and sing the national anthem when we attend a sporting event.
  Have fun making your own list.  If we all do a little, we can make a big difference.  With all her scars and warts, America is still the greatest country on the planet.  I am proud and thankful to be an American. 
  These are my opinions, so take what you like and leave the rest......have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer is here....Let's enjoy it safely

    We have an inground pool at our house, and I was lucky to be able to work from home until Matt went to third grade.  That made me one of the most popular mom's in the neighborhood.  Our pool is fenced separately within the back yard and padlocked, which meant that no one could fall in accidentally.  Matt had friends with older and younger siblings, so we always had a range of ages, but everyone had to be tall enough to stand in the shallow end.   I loved having kids around, but I am not a strong swimmer, and so I appointed a different junior lifeguard each day.  Even though the kids were not allowed in the pool area without me, I gave my assistant several duties.  It was the junior lifeguard's job to make sure no one ran in the pool area, and to make sure the kids who couldn't swim well stayed in the shallow end with me.  I was the one sitting on the steps making waves.  We were also the ones who decided what games we got to play.  Before the kids could jump off the diving board, they had to earn it.  They could solve a grade- appropriate mutiplication table, or tell a joke, or name their dive.  Sometimes, everyone had to do a pencil dive, trying to make the smallest splash.  Other times they did a cannonball and tried to make the biggest splash.  We used the diving board as the stage.  It was a fun and safe way to kill several hours on a hot summer day.  I saw the little kids gain confidence, and become better swimmers.   Of couse, we had swimming races, volleyball ,  nerf basketball, and marco polo games.   Matt was having fun with his friends.  I provided towels , sunscreen and bandaids,  as well as snacks like freeze pops, cold drinks and cookies. I bought a couple of kids joke books.  I got to see how the kids behaved when they forgot I was around, and it was great to see them help each other.  My rule was that we could stay out as long as it was fun.  If the kids couldn't get along, then it was time to go  home.  We left the pool area each day, the same way we found it.  Clear and simple.
   I hope this gives some good ideas.  Remember, I'm not a professional, so take what you like and leave the rest.   So long for now....have a good week everyone....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads

  I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to my Dad, my husband,  and all the other dads today.  My dad loved to tell stories, and he was really good at it.  Whether it was bedtime stories, or stories around the campfire, my siblings and I loved them.  Dad would start telling a story at bedtime one night, and continue it over sereral nights.  All  of us  would  hop up onto my parents bed.  After the story,  Dad would carry  us back to our own bed.  As he picked each of us up, he asked which character from the story we wanted to be.  Because there were four of us, there were always at least four kids in our story.  The next night,  Dad would ask us to review what happened  the previous night, then he'd just continue from there.  Many times, he'd ask us what we wanted to happen next.  We got to name the pets, and the street where the family lived. We decided the nicknames for the characters.  Today we'd call it improv, but to us, it was just bedtime.
  Today, my Dad is 83yrs young, and he is still an avid reader.  His local library calls him when any book from the best seller's list hits their shelves.  His favorites are based on actual events.
 I believe that this is where I got my ideas for my Matt and Muggzy stories, as well as so many of my silly songs.  Thanks for the memories Dad.  I'll dedicate my next book to long for now...have a good week everyone...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pugs and Kisses

Sorry I'm late posting this week, my system was down yesterday...

I recently got a card  with a pug puppy on the front, and inside it said "Im sending you pugs and kisses!"
Of course, it made my day!!  Most of us can withstand the bigger issues, but it's usually the small stuff that gets to us.  I'll keep this card handy, and use it to boost my spirits.  I have a saying "I only allow myself two bad days a year, whether I need them or not !!"  Obviously, it's easier said than done....

I wanted to ask for ideas.  What kinds of things would you like to see in the blog?? 

 I can share my experience as a mom, however, I'm not an expert.  Please take what you like and leave the rest.   Have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Motivate kids with a Love Sandwich

A friend of mine was asking about some tips to help motivate her teenagers.  I always had luck with my "love sandwich."  Start out with something positive, then put the issue on the table, and follow up with another positive statement. Make sure it is age appropriate.   Here are some of my favorites:

"By the time you get to college, I want you to be able to take care of yourself. I need you to do more things for yourself ( like learn how to use the washing machine; learn to cook; and learn to run the dishwasher). I wouldn't be doing my job as a mom , if I didn't teach you how to put me out of  my job as a mom by the time you are 18."   Many college kids don't have these basic skills by the time they leave for school.
 All of this evolved naturally, as we got to the teenage years.   If the uniform for tomorrow's game didn't get to the laundry room, then I showed Matt how to do it himself. 
 When Matt had an early game,  he started the water for the pasta, and I cooked it as soon as I got home.  Lot's of great stuff got discussed when we worked side by side.  .
  If he needed a thermos for tomorrow's practice, then we started the dishwasher before we went to bed.

"I know you are not out stealing cars, but you need to keep your room clean.  I wouldn't be doing my job as a mom, if I didn't make sure you know how to do this."   Any time I could get Matt to laugh, it was easier to get cooperation.

"You are so special that we cannot let you slack off in school.  Dad and I can't screw this up, so we have to find a way to help you.  What do you need us to do to help you get back on track??"

It's much easier to motivate a kid who is self directed.  Once they see the benefit,  they want to do things for themselves.  So long for now....have a good week everyone......

Sunday, May 29, 2011

God Bless America

  This weekend the country will observe Memorial Day.  It's more than parades, family cookouts, and trips to the cemetary.  All of us probably know of a friend or family member who has served in the military.  We are lucky enough to live in a country where we can hate war, and still support our troops and their families.
   We get to go to a cookout and enjoy ourselves, even if half the crowd disagrees with our political opinions.  I like to say "it won't be the last time that two very intelligent people totally disagree on an issue."  This weekend let's all sing the national anthem at sporting events, even if we are watching on TV.  Light a candle to remember our relatives who have passed. 
  We can keep the memory of loved ones alive by telling a story about them.  Have everyone go around and tell something about relatives no longer with us.  Being serious and respectful, does not have to mean sad.  Every time we have done this, we end up laughing, and feeling more connected as a family.  Isn't that what it's all about??
  Have a good week long for now

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twinkle , Twinkle, Little Star

I wish I had a better  voice, because I love to sing.  I sang lullabys to baby Matt when he wouldn't go to sleep.  When I got tired of singing the same verses over and over, I made up new words that would fit with the tune.
It came in handy many times.  I taught 4yr old Matt his address and phone number to the "twinkle twinkle little star" tune.  When 8yr old Matt had a hard time with his spelling words ( i before e, except after c), I told him that if he could remember rap songs, he could spell any word.  We rapped the spelling list, and he got 100% on the test! 
When he played baskeball in elementary school, kids would cheer "clap your hands...stamp your feet".  I cheered the words " wash your hands....brush your teeth" as I marched him to the bathroom after eating a messy meal.
We went to Disney when Matt was 12 and he got to bring his best friend since third grade.  At one point, Matt was apologizing for my annoying behavior.  The other boy said that I was a lot like his mom, I just sang more....hey I took it as a compliment !!
I can hardly wait till I have grandchildren, and they ask me..."why does he have to sing so much?" I heard Matt singing to his puppy more than once.  You know the saying....the apples don't fall too far from the tree.....hmmm.....that reminds me of a song......."we are family".....
so long for now.....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Good Enough Moms can enjoy life

Forget about being a perfect mom....many days I agonized over every decision, and still felt like I was doing a lousy job.  One day, someone told me to work on being a "good enough mom".  Wow, talk about a light bulb moment!!  It took all the pressure off trying to always come up with the perfect solution.  I could say stuff like "I don't have all the answers".  I could say " Don't rush me....I'm making mistakes as fast as I can" while I was laughing about something that probably wasn't funny!!  I could try a new routine, and know if we didn't like it, we'd try something else.  I realized that many great ideas wouldn't work in our family...and that would be OK.
Today , I get up and say "Thanks for today....I'm going to enjoy my day"!!  That doesn't mean life isn't hectic, it just means I try to keep in in perspective.  Some days I couldn't plan things to be more stressful.  I get up and start the new day with a clean slate.  I do my best not to make things worse by over reacting.  It's easier said than done.  Having a positive attitude is a full time job!!  Have a good week everyone !!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Favorite Mother's Day Memories

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the Moms today.  I always tried to enjoy my Mother's Day. The best ones were low key.  Things always went better , when I'd  'go with the flow'.
 I think back to Matt as he got ready to start school.  I asked him as a first grader to "work hard and  be respectful".  It was easy as a little guy, and harder as a teenager. He always made me proud.
I think of all my Mother's Days , and how they evolved through the years.  When he was young ( 6-10 yrs) , Matt wanted to help make breakfast for me.  We would get a couple of movies, usually one that had lots of stuff getting blown up for the guys, and one that was a chick flick.  I never had to cook, or even fill my own coffee cup.  I'm drinking from my Mother's Day mug today, as I've done for the last fifteen years.  As a teenager, Matt wouldn't watch my movie, so Dad began the tradition of my guys washing my car, while I had an hour to myself. 
I remember the year first year that Matt refused to go out to eat with us.  "Come on", I pleaded, "you are the kid who made me the mother I am today"!  Matt burst out laughing, so I know I shocked him...and he came along.  I knew if I could make him laugh, and say "You are one weird woman, Ma" ,  things would be OK.
The Mother's Day before he got his license, I said we'd go look at used cars, and so we all spent the day together.  Senior year, I asked him to celebrate with us, because he might not get home while in college.   A couple of years ago, Matt was home for Mother's Day weekend. He got tickets to a Red Sox game.  The seats were fantastic, and I had a ball.  Little did we know, he would move across the country before the next Mother's Day. He's already called today, and he never forgets me.  I still wish he lived closer.
Today I get cards with a handwritten 'Roses are Red' poems.  I smile because I always write notes to Matt that start the same way.  I think of the countless times I was able to say "Thank God I have you for my son".
Roses are Red ; Violets are Blue ; I have lots of great memories ; and it's all because of YOU!!
Enjoy your week long for now....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Additions to the site

Hope you all like the additions to the blog!  It's a work in progress, and it will evolve over time!
My thanks and appreciation for bringing it all to life!!  Look for an update this long for now

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

My favorite part about Easter was the Hunt for Easter Goodies.  Matt was never that big on candy, and he seemed to collect all the eggs more quickly each year.  So, as soon as  Matt could read, he received a note near his Easter basket.  It was an index card telling him to go out to the mailbox for a gift and another clue.  Each time he would collect a small gift, such as baseball cards; a new cap with his favorite team's logo; something he would need for spring sports; school supplies.  Every year one of the cards would always send him to me.  He would have to wish me a Happy Easter, give me a "smooch", and collect another clue.  He loved it !!!  It took almost an hour to find clues/gifts, running through the house and outside.  I got my Easter Hug, and Matt got things he liked better than candy.  I call that a win-win!!! So long for now.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baby steps

This week things are improving with the marketing strategy.  I have a magnet that will go on my car door and a decal that goes in the back window!!! They are a match to the business cards, and I am very happy with the way it turned out.  I've heard that just doing something each week will keep the dream alive and the goal in sight.  At this point I need to put the finishing touches on the manuscript, work on a letter to the editor, and submit a copy to a publisher.  It's easier said than done.  I want it to be perfect!  I remember wanting to be a perfect mom, until someone told me that would probably never happen.  They suggested I give up trying to be perfect, and decide to be good enough !!  That took a lot of pressure off me as a parent, and I will use that same advice now.  If I wait for things to be perfect, I'll  freeze in my tracks. So my next step is to keep moving long for now.......

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Kid makes me speechless...again

I attended my 40th high school reunion, and it was fabulous!!  We went to a small private school, and our class consisted of 27 girls. Eighteen of us got together for a night of non-stop laughs!!  It's amazing that we could immediately recognize classmates that we hadn't seen in years .  People told me I hadn't changed "a bit"....which was music to my ears!!!  I guess we are a lot more critical about ourselves. 
I handed out my new business cards with the hope that a friend , of a friend , of a friend might be able to help.  We are already planning out 45th  reunion !!!  I wonder how many story books I'll have published by then ???? 

One of my favorite "Matt stories" happened when he was about 4yrs old.  One morning Matt asked for brownies for breakfast.  I told him that we didn't eat brownies for breakfast" and so he immediately  replied "then I want lunch"!!
That wasn't the first time I was speechless in dealing with my toddler.  I had always said that I wanted a kid healthy enough to give me a run for my money, and my son did exactly that.  Be careful what you wish for...cause you may get it !!   My mom always said she hoped I got  child just like me .....Hmmmm

So long for now and have a good week.....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We crawl, then we walk , then we run

This week has two exciting things happening. 
My business cards with Matt and Muggzy on them, should be in this week!  I feel like I'm finally getting serious about my book!!
 I'm also going to my 40th High School reunion this weekend!  Yes, I graduated high school in 1971.  It will be great to reconnect with my classmates, and begin to network with old friends.  I can't wait to see where life has taken us !   I'll let you know if we start using words like groovy or far out  for old time sake!!
Look for an update next Sunday!  So long for now.....

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Journey Begins

After years of procrastinating, I decided to write down some of the stories of my son Matt's childhood. My Matt and Muggzy series begins the day our new puppy comes home!  Matt was almost 6 years old.  Muggzy,  the cutest pug ever,  weighed about six pounds!  The little boy and the little dog became inseparable. Our family's love affair with Muggzy lasted more than fifteen years.  He saw Matt go off to school every year from first grade to college. My stories will recount these early years.  I envision parents grinning and kids giggling as they read the books together.  I hope it is a fun way to reconnect at bedtime and end each day on a happy note.   Come and follow my journey as I try to find a publisher, so kids can enjoy  my silly stories about the lighthearted way we handled life. 
Let me know what you would like to see in the blog.  While I'm not an expert, I can share my experiences as a parent.  Today Matt is in his twenties, and he thrived in spite of us.  I knew I could never be a perfect mom, so I strived to be good enough.  Remember that I'm not a professional.   Please take what you like and leave the rest. 

A bit of my background information.
Ten years ago, I left my job after 20 years in high tech marketing, to start my own business. It has given me time to give back to others.  Since 2006, I have been reading 3 mornings a week, to a young woman with disabilities.  I believe that reading aloud  reminded me of how much I loved it.  I wrote a couple of short stories as gifts for Matt, and he challenged me to pursue the steps to get published.  Since writing a book has been on my list of things to do, before we called them bucket lists,  I decided to step outside my comfort zone, and try to make it happen.  Perhaps I can inspire some of you to try things that you have been putting off.  It's scary and exciting, and I promise to keep you posted !!!
I plan to update the blog each week on Sundays, which will include news about getting published. 
I may do a been there, done that section  with a simple solution to one of  the issues I faced as a mom.
I hope blog members chime in, and we let things develop naturally.  So long for now.....