Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bill Cosby---Grandparents

bill cosby's take on grandparents. when our moms and dads become grandparents......they're just different with our kids than they were with us!

all that matters.

everybody can rest's true....this family has just celebrated another christmas with family.  after 3 tries since mid december, we have finally managed to get together!  before valentines day woohoo!  and grace was able to continue her birthday celebration with her grandparents!

it is a blessing to have grandparents.  they add so much to our lives and our kids' so many ways.  numero uno...they are the parents of the parents.  the kids get to see the love and respect shared between a parent and their grandparents.  if the kids are blessed even more, they witness a mutual respect between  their grandparents and the mom or dad who isn't the son or daughter.

wow. do we all hear stories.  some are heartbreaking. some so magical......of good times shared. the ones who lose out the most....when in-laws and out-laws and grandparents and kids and .....the whole circus......just don't play nicely's the kids! and the grandparents!  sad.  sad. sad.

who wins?  not the grandparents.  not the kids.  not the parents.  sometimes we hear of these kooky stories and lots of stories.  those stories make me sad. i love my husband and i love his family.  biff loves me and he loves my family. aahhhhhh! sweet!  one big happy family!

and we all have our kooky ways.  we all recognize that.  nobody's perfect.  we all know that.  i just feel like biff's parent's are pretty important in my life.....they are the reason he is who he is.  they play kind of a big role in his life.  i'm not married to them....they are not my parents.  but, wow!  i'm blessed to have people so sharing and supportive and loving in my life.  i'm blessed to have their lives be a part of our children's lives.

biff was so loving to my mom.  and wow!....she loved him so much.  she made him laugh....he made her laugh.......and the bad news is....they both laughed at my expense!  she had so much respect for him...she knew how happy he made me...she knew how much we love each other.  she really cared about biff.  she loved biff.

when biff asked my mom if he could marry me, she said, "if you think you can handle her!".....without missing a beat.  and 17 or so years later, he still says,"hah? if i think i can handle you?".....and we laugh.

biff's mom and dad  and my mom all played nicely together.   a regular mutual admiration society!   families respecting families.  not judging, just appreciating.  oh, it's true.  and the best part of all, biff and i came to this place knowing that neither one of us is perfect....  and neither one of our families could possibly be perfect. we know because we both represent the best of imperfections from both families. oh, and how boring that would be if we had no imperfections to share!  it would be like a patchwork quilt that's machine made...... rather than stitched bit by bit, by hand.....with different thread, different stitches and loving hands who put the time and effort and love into each bit of
                                                      of a handmade creation.  isn't that what we have to teach our children?    
                                                      everyone has flaws and imperfection to one person may be a delight on the next ......everyone wears there imperfections differently.  life is better when we can all "a.y.t.c.", as our dean of students in college reminded us...."adapt yourself to circumstances".....or roll with it and do the best with what we have.  everyone has to work it out the best way they no how....our kids are watching!

some husbands and wives do have a difficult time with relatives, i know, stuff happens and life happens and people live and think differently.  most of us can respect that without having to judge that....but stuff happens and life happens and people happen.  it's just too bad for the whole family if it severs the whole big ways or subtle ways.....the stress makes it unpleasant for all.....and the kids are the first to feel it.  the kids are the ones who have the most to teach us.

the one thing that i feel.....deep, deep that grandparents are a part of who our children are.  they certainly share the same gene pool. since biff and i have had children, we have always noticed how people on both sides of the family see a bit of their own family in the babies, as toddlers, as teens.....

of course.  we have always noticed the bits and pieces that each child has...from each family....that makes sense...especially since they are related.  sometimes, an in law will say,"no...this baby looks like MY father...just the spitting image of MY father!"  sure, that's possible but there might be just a teeny tiny miniscule tid bit like uncle whiffenpoof. especially because WE made the baby....i couldn't do it alone, could i? why do people act like that's a surprise.  it's a kid made from 2 people that come from 2 other people.  that's how it works.

i think it's beautiful to see the little bits of  family in each of our kids.  sometimes, we're not so sure that it's the best trait from either side!  and in our case, the biggest truth of all is that we have irish descent and german what matters most to both of us....not the hair, the eyes, the legs, the brains........oh dear lord, none of's that we have stubborn kids.  oh yes!  and guess what....stubborn comes from both sides of the family!  and stubborn comes from a long line of irish stubborn and a long line of german stubborn.  we just roll our eyes at each other when we see the rath of stubborn we incur.

thankfully, in our marriage, we try not to allow the stubborn in each other to get in the way of the US in US.  thankfully, in our marriage, we can look at each other and each other's families and not try to assign blame to one side or the other.  that's just not fair...especially from my point of view.  my side might be an easier target.  thank God that's our biggest challenge...deciding whose family is more bizarre.
actually, it seems that both sides of the family that are some very wonderful ways.  and we share that with our kids.  why should we hide the truth!  it's better to learn the truth now....while they're young!   no surprises later on. there are some benefits to be had when a kooky family is in your genes.  it's fun. and people love each other just cuz they're family.  we share in the joys and the sorrows.  we share in the hardships and the gravy trains.  it's all out in the open...honesty is the best policy. we care. for better or worse. we are family.

grandparents are what memories are made of.  grandparents love the children like no one else.  grandparents see their own children in their grandchildren.  who could love these kids who we love so much? our own parents.....

i have a lot of grandparent memories. my mom loved her own mom and my dad's mom.  that was great for me to be a part of that.  i never saw them have an uneasy moment together.  i feel like my mom showed me by your husband's family....that's where he came from.

and the relationship i have with biff's parents is never anything i would question......they are HIS parents...and that's that.  how disrespectful is it for me to not respect HIS parents....what does that say to him?  maybe i just learned from my mom or maybe biff's parents just make it easy.

i also think it's important for biff to have his some time with his mom and dad...just so they can have their son alone, themselves...once in awhile......just him.  time with him.  i'm just glad that he's shared them with me.  i'm just glad that his family welcomed me......with pecadilloes and all.

that is so important in so many ways.  just the history they are able to share matters. mostly though, i think that it's in the moments.....those little moments.  really, life's little moments are some of the most outstanding.  memories of moments with grandparents are special and so different from any other relationship.  they just their grandchildren....even the imperfections. 

grandparents help the kids see their lives in a bigger picture. generations....different styles...different ages...different strengths......they have  great stories to share....and really learn about their mom or dad as a daughter or son....appreciate the difference in age and learn from the grandparents....grandparents have a different perspective to share.

different perspectives are good for everyone.  how would i feel if i was biff's mom...or dad?  how would i feel if i were his sister....relationships are to be promoted.  it just seems to be win-win for all. everybody benefits.

i feel blessed that my kids had my mom in their lives until about a year and a half ago.  the relationship that grace and t.j. had with my mom was like no other in the world.  she shared so much with them.  even her arthritis...they saw her plow through life, determined and strong....not complaining....with a sense of humor...with great style....and donuts.....and ice cream....and waking up at our house...and waking up at gramma's.  to them, the fact that she lived in an apartment was exciting.  all of her nooks and crannies were there to explore.  she gave comfort and unconditional love.  her apartment building was filled with many friends and friendly faces.  until the time that grace and t.j. were about five and six, they used to ring the doorbell of my mom's 90 year old neighbor to go play hide and seek with them in the lobby.....and she always did!  with a twinkle in her eyes!  she nicknamed them "the darlings."

biff's parents share so much.  our kids have some very special family memories.  they have great appreciation for the many ways that the share their love.  they have traveled with their grandparents and shared family events at home and out of town.  memories.  dinners.  breakfasts. casual. dressed up.  hanging around. at the beach. at the lake. ice skating. hiking. swimming. talking.  listening.

i think kids and grandparents both benefit.  both gain more compassion and empathy and understanding of each other and the world in which  they live.  they can respect each other.  and, we all know, they have lots in common! i think the world would be a better place if more kids had more exposure to grandparents in everyday life and vice versa.

i feel bad for kids that get jipped of grandparents.  to me, it's like having a beautiful, colorful,patchwork quilt that has been passed down through the gets a big tear in the middle.....and it shreds a little more...and a little more.  it's still warm and cozy, it still has all of the loving, caring artwork and delicate sewing but that rip frays more and more.  unless, it's attended to.  unless, someone takes responsibility and helps to have the rip repaired.  at the center of the quilt, it's a very important piece.  it's not scraps.  it is the center.  the beginning.  it's how all of the other pieces connect.  and the connection, not always perfect, is all that matters.

**********************************************************************************biff's dad made that grandfather clock for he's making one for t.j........he made that beautiful box of blocks...we've had hours and hours of play with those blocks, made with love.  i'm grateful to have family where it's not about the gifts's not about the material's the biggest gift of all to share time and love.    and that's just my opinion....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I know."
-Chinese Proverb

"we're gonna need a bigger couch"

this is a pic of my mom with grace and t.j......young at heart and forever in my heart.....she's the one who gave me my nickname little mary mixup!  

the above link shows littlemarymixup, a cartoon from the 1920s.  i think it's funny that it appears after littlemarymixup blog on google.  a friendly follower mentioned this to me.  we were talking about my blog and how i got the name littlemarymixup.....really because that's the nickname my mom had for me....especially when those little mix ups occurred.

one thing, i know, my mom had to have a sense of humor to live with my dad, my brothers and i.  i'm grateful for that gift.  she may have realized she would need it to get through her "life with liz", as biff calls it.

i loved to go through my mom's jewelry box.  it was so sparkly and colorful and fun.  i loved the latch.  i loved the big mirror inside. i loved the loot.  that may be where i gained an appreciation for getting all dolled up, for no occasion .....just for my own pleasure.
i used to try on the jewelry....taking it on and off....posing with it all before a mirror.  i loved the glam!  i guess it may not have been such a good idea to wear alot of it down to polliwog pond.  my mom always said she'd love to dredge that pond out someday to see how much of her jewelry box landed in there!  she laughed.  now that kind of sense of humor could get you through alot!

i thought it was a name she made up.  now, i think she must have had this name from the cartoons of the days of childhood.  of course!  that was her era....she was born in 1924.  no wonder why she loved my mix ups.  or maybe, it's because of her that i learned to have a sense of humor about my life!  certainly, my life has been alot more fun sharing the stories for my whole life rather than pouting about them.this info. below is also from dan marksteins, toonopedia
… existence, in part at least, to the fact that cartoonist Robert Moore Brinkerhoff, in his mid-30s when he created her, had no little girls of his own. Invited in 1917 to create a comic for The New York World (the paper that later debuted Keeping up with the Joneses and Caspar Milquetoast), Brinkerhoff, a newspaper illustrator who had never before contemplated doing comics, surveyed the scene and found a niche that wasn't filled — and that would also provide a sort of daughter substitute for him. Little Mary Mixup is what he came up with. Before long, she was being distributed nationwide by United Feature Syndicate, whose best-known stars are Nancy, Li'l Abner and Charlie Brown.
now, i wonder if that's why i think in thought balloons.  my cartoon world that runs through my head in those awkward situations or mixups.  thankfully, i'm married to someone who has music playing in his head at all times.  wait!  don't call the white coats until i finish my story.

funny enough, my mom also told me that all of my pictures (she called them "artwork" about love unconditionally... "ART" ...she really believed in me!  perhaps, a bit unrealistically....i mean, i'm creative...i'm an artist, i'm not an artiste')..... all of my"artwork" always had a sunshine in the "work"......i always have had a bit of an optimistic outlook....that is, when i'm not behaving like chicken little for my little childrearing foibles and perceived foibles. "uh oh!" i'm always saying,"what if"..."i should have made them...."

i seem to think that my whole world, this family that i live with, has ups and downs or mistakes or failures  because of me....something i have done or said along the way.  oh, that's healthy!  i try to be the best mom in the world.. i really do!  and i recognize that it is an impossible wor anyone to do the job just right...just perfectly.  oh, i have a sense of humor about it!  thankfully!  but for a brief and horrible moment, the is thought process, or unthoughtful process is that i think i am almighty and powerful in our world....not for the good.  for the bad....if something goes wrong, it must because i haven't taught the kids or i have done something to have created the situation.  o.k. that's healthy thinking.

opposite of someone egotistical? or is it?  to think that the good or great the kids have or biff? it's great i'm so happy for their individual achievements.  but if something goes off track for anyone under this roof....even a dog..... i somehow cans twist and turn any little thing to have been because of me.  imagine the power i have.  just one little person in this's mine all mine!  the good is theirs...the bad, oh, it must be something i've done.   hmmmmmm.  can anyone say therapy?  maybe they should just wheel in a nice comfy couch right now.  i'd better make room because if it is my fault, we're all gonna need one...a great big couch! i'm thinking of jaws  "we're gonna need a bigger boat."
only i'm thinking, "we're gonna need a bigger couch!"

Why Try To Change Me Now? '59 (Frank Sinatra)

how cool is life. a very special person posted this for's frank singing ...... it's perfect for littlemarymixup! a mellow frank meets littlemarymixup......also of's the year i was born. wait...don't start counting on your fingers now. i'm proud of every little age line i have....and i hoope i grow up to be like lots of great people in my life.....with a way youngeer sprit than their age. i like it that way and that's the way i'll have it! don't judge the age thing....if you're lucky you'll get to be this age too! i say that enthusiastically! pretty feisty at this age, huh?

Crazy Heart Movie Trailer

for two hours!

after school today, grace asked to have some friends over before the basketball game.  i said yes....they could bake some cupcakes.  it was becoming code for facebook.  they would come at five o'clock.  then i would take them to the game.  at the time, i considered going with the family, knowing they would each go off with their friends. that idea changed when the phone rang.

t.j. was off to a friend's house.  i stopped in to talk to max's mom.  she was happy to have t.j. for dinner...she was having her book club in for dinner, they had been reading a book about india........her husband was bringing take-out ordred from and indian restaurant!  t.j. smiled and enthusiastically told max's mom that he liked indian food.

wow! i thought...what a good kid.  just last week, i had been to an indian restaurant for a friends was the birthday girl's choice.  i told the kids about the menu.  they both feigned a near death experience.  frustrated by their antics, i left the room, ready for more living life in the pasta aisle.

not to rain on my own parade....i'dlike to get back to that moment.....that joyful moment.....when i looked at the cute boy of mine....13 1/2 ......maybe taller than me....still sweet and loving....except for when he can't stand me or may vocabulary.

he loves me or should i say he tolerates me as a teen.  or maybe, because he tolerates me one smidge more than his sister, i take that as effusive show of loving.  i'll take any morsel that they toss me at this moment in time.  t.j. just does not...DOES my vocabulary.....i say things like:
i have to write my blog.
hot dog is a hot diggety dog.
sneakers are sneaks.
computer thingy.
woolly wool for his hair when it's not buzzed.
surfer dude hair, when it's summer  blonde and curly.
so much more!  i can't think of them...i'll have to pop them in as they pop into my day.  belive me, i could fill a page.  oh, and don't even think of me singing.....or telling them when a song was really big in my life.  when i go back in time....telling him a story from college or my 20s, he just goes all dazed and bleary eyed....he humors me for a moment....but truly, just a moment.
he also has been the one to tell me that i don't dicipline the dogs properly.  he also says that i'm not assertive enough with the dogs.

just last week, i was painting the vanity that i had mosaic-ed....a great project.....i had on's january, i know.....but, since i'm running low on clothes to drip paint on, i thought it was rather clever of me to wear shorts.....i mean, the paint would come off my legs.....eventually....after 20 or thirty showers.  no, really.  it was water based. i was o.k. he walked in the door from school, and before his backpack hit the floor, he said,"ya wanna put some clothes on mom?"....go figure.  you'd think he'd be used to me after 13 1/2 years.

so there was my boy, polite as ever....i know he has been's just such a treat to see him perform in front of others, because i am not always graced with such politeness used so willingly!  there was my boy smiling about indian food.  there was my boy, with another mother, just so happy to hear someone think of the of any advance.  no wonder why his face lit up!

on my way home, i drove through our little village and realized both kids would be out.  our kids are moving into a new teen nice for nice to be that age....isn't life good.

as i sat at a red light, in front of our little movie theatre, i thought,"hey! how nice for nice to be this age.....isn't life good.............................biff and i can have a date!"

i love a date. any date....a booksore date....a beach date...a walk with the dogs date.....a starbucks date.....a bike riding date...... a dinner date......goodness, a deli date.......a movie date.......

"that's it!  we'll go to a movie"  let me call biff.  yup!  he was happy to go to a too.  life is good.

picked up pony tailed teens.....lots of laughter, whispers, singing, tory telling and giggling......we dropped them off and watched them all run, pony tails swinging, into the sports building.
bye bye!

and we're off! weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  we're off!  imagine...they are teens...they can't wait to have a little independence.  they can't wait to be out of earshot of us.....they can't wait to be free!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  we were free...for 2 hours!

without the cupcakes!

the birthday girl woke up this morning, a school day, to her snuggie and new camera.....and other is good.  the week goes on!  grace's birthday certainly has been fun for all of us. after school. she asked our neighbors to come over for cupcakes with the 4  year old she babysits and his little baby brother, 15 months old.  grace also had 2 friends make cupcakes.  everyone came for cupcakes.

the cake mix that i bought was whipped up the moment i said that the oven had been repaired.  that was monday.  rick, my appliance repairman had been here.  he knew that i needed that oven to bake a birthday cake or cupcakes!  even rick knew the birthday reverence we had at our house.

rick and i go way back...our relationship began with a glitch in the washing machine.  he came to save was no big deal to was just unfortunate that i got tossed under the dryer!  luckily, the washing machine trouble only took one quick visit.  that's when he told us that the load had been too full and some little doo hickety broke off.  oops? who might have overfilled the washer?

rick had won biff over when he praised biff for his wonderful self control involving the washing machine.  rick was delighted that biff had not touched the washing machine in order to look into the problem.  rick had no idea how lucky he was.  biff has been taking things, any thing, apart since he recieved a pocket watch at age 9.  he loved the pocket watch so much that he had to take it apart to see what made it work. wow!

i should be thankful that biff is handy like that. actually, biff himself  comes in handy.  i know i've mentioned how great he is with the christmas tree....he cuts the tree down on the coldest and dampest or snowiest nights, puts it on the car, ties it on, drives us all home and carries it to the house and puts it in the stand!  and he's happy and proud to get the job done.  this is not something that i was familiar with.

  and it stays up.....that was worth marrying him just for that.  he knows i say this.  he also knows i was scarred living in a family with more charlie brown christmas stories than shoul be legal.  many a tear of mine has been shed over a christmas tree.....i wanted to live in a hallmark commercial but instead i felt like our family trees always had a glitch.  sorry, i digress.

biff and rick had a wonderful relationship from the first date/ my expense.  they had fun discussing my laundry issues.  my mom didn't spend much time teaching me  laundry techniques....i've learned the hard way. i had to learn it on the streets.   i've learned alot from friends.

when grace was born, my friend karen told me all about stain stick.  she had her baby just months before.  my friend susan had a great cleaning knack and she taught me about chlorox and when to use it.  by the time i had 2 babies, the laundry seemed to multiply.  most likely, grace wearing different clothes every hour based on her need for fancy dress up or bathing suits to coordinate with her snow suits had something to do with quantity.  at some point, i pleaded with my friend cathy....."please tell me what you do to get all of the laundry folded and how do you get stuff so clean?" .....and that was she gave me the laundry tip of my life.  "tide with bleach," she said. "and i buy all white socks...just white!"  and i wondered how my life had grown so complicated.  for one thing, i knew that the end of the "socks of the month" was near.

so, i have learned alot over the years. any morsel of a suggestion?  i'll take it. just put your info. into the comments.  it's never too late.  of course, a little laundry insecurity hasn't been all bad....biff was great about helping me.  especially, in our first apartment....our cute little mary tyler moore apartment on the 3rd floor of a victorian house....3 floors up....stairs.....with laundry in the basement.....3 floors down plus stairs to  the basement......then up, up, up, up!  as wonderful as our little tree house was, i called our basement "the dungeon."  it was a bit dark and dingy.....and to me a bit scary.  he made some major hauls to "the dungeon."

now, here's the thing.....rick actually installed the new oven piece.  the one that was supposed to be white.  after many attempts to get the white.........finding out that they no longer made longer had any white in stock, i am happy to that we are the proud yet quirky of a newly installed black panel........that's on a white oven....after months of using it as an island, a bookshelf and a plant stand........the piece we settled with is black.......there was no choice.  it looks fabulous!  keep in mind, our standards aren't that high.

so biff, rick and i live happily ever after until....our white refrigerator has an issue....and by then, they probably won't even sell the plain old fashioned white.....the whole world will be stainless....with no magnets on refrigerators.....anywhere in the universe.....but our kitchy kitchen.

when rick left the house that day....we had tears in our eyes!  we had been together, living through this anguish together.....we lived through 2 ovens together....we!  it was over.
we thought it was over....until the dogs barked.....rick was back at the door within minutes!  he couldn't bare to be away!  he was back! ..............he left his toolbox he was so filled with emotion. 

so, on that big celebrate....grace made cupcakes after school .......2 days before her birthday!  we had all of that time with no was time for a celebration.  t.j., grace and i had cupcakes!

so, sure enough on grace's real birthday, wednesday......grace wanted the world in to have birthday cupcakes.  something we've done forever.....inviting all of the kids who live nearby!  only.....wait.....alot of families have moved away....nothing personal, i hope.  so, rather than immediately after the bus, we would have some friends in after four o'clock.

t.j. tolerated this well, considering the mix has fewer boys these days... fewer kids we have to improvise by  importing friends.....and for the birthday girl, it was her friends.

and what do girls do when they get together?  laugh, giggle and share.......facebook time together.  oh, have times changed!  so, fun times were had for all in front of a computer screen.  laughter emanated through the house.  no cupcake essence wafting through this home!  just peals of laughter.

the cupcakes couldn't be made without the mix.  we had no mix!  the cake mix had been used up.  so had the icing....on the oven celebration.  what's a mom to do?

this is when i'm at my best thinking moment!  elli was expected to stop by.  just then, grace asked me to call her mom.  i called her cell to check in.  hallelujah!  they were in the car.....on there way to stop and shop....they would be here after a quick stop!  that was a wonderful moment.  i if they would buy some cake mix and icing for me!  for the birthday girl!
not every mom would be comfortable asking this of another mom.....especially one that has very high cooking in a chef!   i'm pretty honest about my domestic dilemmas and this is no surprise to elli's mom.  she came through for me....she delivered elli and the cake mix.  they came to the door and happily gave the yellow cake mix and pink icing to grace, as her gift!  it had been on was a happy moment for us all!

we talked. the girls laughed. we talked some more.  the girls laughed all day.   t.j. had male bonding with the boys on x-box.  life was good.  elli's mom and i talked so long that the little boys from down the street arrived with heir mom and dad.  they had just eaten dinner!  they had big smiles and gifts for our little lady.  babies in the house!  weeeeeeee!

wait, we promised them cupcakes.....we hadn't made the cupcakes.  i asked grace and the girls to mix up the batter and get them started.  it's just one of those things that grace does when friends come over....make something.....cookies.....cakes.....lemonade stands.....always something to keep us jumping.  only today, she put it off.  facebook was the leader of the world.....nothing could break them away.

so, elli's mom left when she realized the time.  elli remained.....with grace and kate......and t.j. playing x-box.....and the 2 little boys and their mom and dad.  that's when biff got home.  what fun we all had.  only, no cupcakes.

it's a sad day for me when i have broken a promise to a 4 year old.  little jack woke up that morning talking about caroline's birthday.  he told his mom that he wasn't going to school......because it was grace's birthday!  he must have known my family history with birthdays.  he waited for the right time to come for cupcakes.....he even brought grace a present!

it was bait and switch.  the time flew by while we all shared some stories.......they had to was his bedtime....with no possibility of a cupcake in sight....the girls were still at the computer.  we had to send jack off with cookies and milk.  he was happy..... but it was no cupcake.  now, we'll have to have a day with make up cupcakes.

with the kitchen finally quiet, the girls came out to the kitchen to make the cupcakes.  as the cupcakes baked, kate's dad came to the door to pick her up.  he came in the kitchen to chat while she got ready.....i mean, she had to be torn away from the facebook fun.  we stood and talked for awhile.  we laughed about the oven and the kitchen.  he owned a kitchen business!  we almost had a new kitchen by the time he left.  although, i just wouldn't be able to part with that oven....not yet!

well, no cupcakes for kate.  she was whisked away into the night with no cupcake...the reason she had been celebrate with the birthday girl.  then, it was time for us to drive elli home.  you guessed it.  no cupcake....and they bought the mix!

so, we all had a great day.....birthdays are even if we had to wait for the cupcakes!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

polliwog pond

it seems like yesterday.   it was on a thursday night.  i was at our favorite ice skating rink....not skating.  just watching.  never much fun for me to  just watch ice skaters.....i was watching biff and claire, our niece.... i wanted to be on the ice!

i do love to see the different characters at a rink.....after all, biff was one of those characters!  he was 'the guy that worked at brooks brothers".  there were others...plenty of others...lots and lots of characters.  we only knew them by their names....the ones we made up.  strangers of a club....strangers who liked to skate....characters.  we were too.

our rink, where biff and i met, is on long island's gold coast.  it's the north shore of long island.   manhasset, at one time,  was a quiet bedroom community.  families connected by schools, churches, neighborhoods, commuters and clubs.(

christopher morley park was built in the mid 60's, i think.  for me, it was futuristic with an ice rink, some swimming pools, a golf course and was was bigger than polliwog!

polliwog pond was the ice skate place....for our friends and neighbors.  it was up the street for some, down the hill for all, through the woods for others, and around the block for most. playing...jumping.....sledding.....all kids.  at the same time, quiet and peaceful. fun. plain, old fashioned fun.  there were always kids to be found.  i don't remember parents ever being at polliwog. there was always something to do.  we were outside.  we walked there.....we knew everyone.  it's where we grew up. where else would we be?

manhasset.  that's was home.  it was a town with a local 5&10cent store........ regional grocery stores that employed local high school kids to stock their shelves..... gather grocery carts........check out shoppers who knew them by name, as well as the names of the rest of the family....... locally owned restaurants with local kids busing tables and waiting  tables........small town soda shops......hometown sports stores with local team logos on owned clothing stores......families lived in the town for generations.....families knew families. that was our manhasset. 
manhasset has evolved.  long island has evolved.  the world has evolved. good, better, best....bad, worse, worst....good,bad....bad, good....who knows.  it all depends on your perspective.  some see the world as the haves and have nots. some see the world as then and now.  i just see my way.  and that's how i like it!  i don't mean that i'm narrow minded.  i just feel best when i go through life my way.  i'll explain....


just as manhasset has evolved..... with glamorous boutiques where we once bought bubble gum and  gadgets, coloring books and turtles, ice cream and keds......some of us branched out from polliwog to christopher morley, a county park....with identification and proof of residence was needed.  we stepped a bit outside of our neighborhood.  we had to be driven....too far too walk..a public rink had a much traffic on the roads.... far too many strangers....not as much local.

we bought turtles where now there's a tiffany & co., we bought coloring books where there's a burberry, we bought gadgets where there's a gucci,  we bought keds where there's a brooks brothers., we bought ice cream where there's a william & sonoma.

i shop there now, if i have to. it's hard to get parking space.  all of the cars are foreign.  the people come from all over. i don't see anyone from town. biff calls it generica.  it's just evolved....into generica.

it was 15 years ago tonight, that i stood watching biff ice skate, where we met 18 years ago.....he skated with my niece....i waited for them....i waited for our baby....that was due anytime.  i was tired and i wanted to be skating.  i left them.....skating. oreos were needed....for the baby, of course!  i stopped at the big grocery store for oreos.  i plodded through laura ashley.....dreaming about my baby to be.

christopher morley was a small skating community in a big world. there was biff, the guy i thought worked at brooks brothers.  there was the skate dancing couple who seemed so in love.  there was an attendant who was lonely. there was the manager who talked about his winter house...somewhere else.  there were lots of "rink rats", the little regulars who teased the instructors.  there was the skating family....we dreamed we'd have our own "rink rats" someday.

that someday was soon.  our baby was letting us know.... she was born the next night. 

while baking cupcakes for grace's birthday today, i heard the reporter on the t.v. say, "live, in manhasset."  there was a big blue and gold "manhasset" sign in the backround.....and the pizza parlor, our favorite.....where the guys knows us by name...

he talked with a "local", noting the  benefits of living in this north shore location.... just a train ride from manhattan.  he waxed poetic of the "americana shopping center".....he compared the fine stores to those of rodeo drive and madison avenue in new york. that was not the manhasset that mattered to me. that's not where i grew up.

life changes, people change, things change and places change.  that's o.k.  i just can't give in.  i can give in to change.  you know what "they" say?  "they" say, "the only thing constant is change."
it's true.  i can't change that.  i can only change the way i deal with it.  and that's the start of doing it my way. 

one of the greatest gifts that i know is having a sense of community.  anywhere.  another saying,"it's not what ya know, it's who ya know."....and that's very true for me.....oh, no...not in the whole social climbing world. it's not where we lived, it's the way we lived....that's the way we wanted to bring up our children. living in a big world with a small town feel. i just feel like the theme song cheers...

that was my manhasset...that small town. that's the way i like to live.  that's the way biff likes to live.  that's the way we try to show our kids, by example.  it seems so silly to even think of teaching that.  i take that for granted.  it's the way i grew up...and the way i learned to live.  even in new york city, i got to know tony, our pizza man.  we knew maria, our corner bodega.  we knew gus at our diner.  we made it home.  we made it our small town.

some may take that manhasset living for granted. some may think those days are long gone. even though the stores have changed and  some of the people have changed......for many families who have remained, manhasset is still in's still home. they make it that way. 

even in our evolved world.  today, so many families are living scattered around the globe......corporate moves.....divorce....more 2 income families out of necessity, not as many moms home during the day, not as many families at home.......activities....activities....schedules....time.

and my way, to deal with the urban sprawl of our world, is to look at people.  i like to talk to people who help me, even in a big store.  i like to stay local.  i love to shop.  i like to know where i'm shopping.  i like to be greeted and return the friendly hello.  i like to call people by name.  i like to say thank you.  even in the grossest chain giant, i like to say hello to their "greeters".  now we have "greeters."

the first time i took our kids to a walmart, they waved hello and talked to "stanley", the greeter....he was an older gentleman at the door.  our little kids called that walmart "the stanley store."   they thought that it was his store. he added a personal touch.  he recognized us whenever we walked through the door.  and we acknowledged him.  i like that small town feeling.

no agenda. nothing to prove. i like the way i grew up.  i'm not pining for yesteryear, i'm loving today. i'm making "my way." and that's how we want our kids growing up. we want them to be aware of what a big world we live in....our hope for them is that they grow up feeling like they have a big part to play in this world...i hope we lead by example. 

hey, who ever would have guessed, i have a blog.  i get to write words on an itty bitty keyboard by pushing buttons, the words show up on the screen immediately and *POOF* with one click, my words spring out into the world.  now, that's cool. even that helps me to feel connected.

whoever would have thunk it possible?  especially, in the days of keds sneakers and lemonade stands and ice skating at polliwog pond?

My Way

i see the world my way! that's how i like it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday - The Beatles

happy birthday to you!

birthday olympics!

tuesday...up early and out to a meeting.  i left both dogs at home.  i just needed to be out on my own with no other responsibilities.  crazy as that sounds, i wanted to be alone with no needs to meet except my own.  that's not to say that everything i did this morning was just for me.  there was also some run around for the kids and some shopping forthe family.  i also had our birthday girl to think of.  and i'm still thinking of her birthday and what we'll have out for her before school we want to give her the camera before school so that she can enjoy it all day.  that's pretty much the most important thing in her life right now. not school, her camera... which is a key component of her social life.  i also have to buy a balloon or two....for the morning festivities. that's not to say that everything i did this morning was just for me.  there was also some run around for the kids and some shopping forthe family.  i also had our birthday girl to think of.  and i'm still thinking of her birthday and what we'll have out for her before schoolwe want to give her the camera before school so that she can enjoy it all day.  that's pretty much the most important thing in her life right now. not school, her camera... which is a key component of her social life.  i also have to buy a balloon or two....for the morning festivities.

let me explain.  i'm the one that created the tradition of the morning birthday festivities.  you see, i come from a long line of big birthday bashes.  i'm not sure how far back they go, but the crazy celebrations continue into our next generation of balloon blowers and horn tooters.  it's not the actual celebration that's's the length of the celebration that makes these birthdays outstanding.

my grandfather always said, "it's a good birthday if it lasts all week."  advice our family has taken to heart.  birthday notes include his sentiments and thanks to long distance relatives, we've had birthdays last a month.

my birthday, in august, seemed to fall on vacation time in vacation celebrations were especially memorable. we've had birthday cakes, cupcakes, pancakes and muffins, donuts with candles, sparklers and streamers.....on the beach, in a boat or backyard barbeque....with family and friends to share the big day. it's no wonder this tradition travels on!

my mom is responsible for the birthday donut. grace and t.j. continue her legacy.....plain old fashioned donuts and a candle start the day off right.  on t.j.'s fourth birthday, we were camping with friends....on an island....only accessible by boat.  as we approached our launch, i panicked.  we had to turn around.  we had to buy donuts!....for the morning kick off.

with donuts stashed in the large canvas tote, we were off! we were happy campers!  prepared like boy scouts, for our  barbeque, s'mores, sparklers and fireworks, we set up our campsite.  we kept our food out of coolers....we pitched our tents.......four tents, one for each family.....our friends lent us their old tent since they had just upgraded. whispers, giggles and flashlights eminated from those tents.  and then, quiet.
until the middle of the night....i woke up....groggy but aware of a presence...puzzled, i peered about...and as my eyes focused...i saw  a small stuffed animal alongside appeared to be was a..... it was a skunk.....hmmmm.....a what?.......a SKUNK.

with t.j. to my left, biff and grace to my right, i could WAS a SKUNK!  not the greatest girl scout, i jabbed my boyscout, biff.  he was jolted to consciousness.  i motioned to t.j., sleeping in his sleeping bag, looking like he was wearing a black and white davey crocket hat.....we whispered to each other in fear of a spray....biff grabbed a flashlight and pointed toward the skunk.

he was poised by the large canvas bag...he was....eating DONUTS.  the birthday donuts!

it seems there was a little problem. during our dash to the boat, i stashed our donuts in the large canvas bag.....they never made it to the cooler...where we had the food locked up tight.  instead, they remained in the the tent!
while biff flashed the light on the grass near the skunk, we both held our breath and our tongues.  we remained frozen.....until biff led the skunk out through the RIP in the zipper.  always remember this.....keep the birthday donuts out of reach......never borrow a hand me down tent....don't ever tell a skunk where the donuts are stored. 

thankfully, our birthday boy never knew of the prowler....until box of donuts remained untouched......we sang happy birthday to our four year old!   and that's just a snippet of our birthday lore.

excuse me please.  it's time to wrap some little gifts....decorate the kitchen with streamers and balloons........ and leave a little surprise by grace's bed.  the donuts are hidden....with the candles....and a few balloons at the mailbox....and go to sleep.

let the games begin!  it's the birthday olympics!

monday on tuesday!

i had a great time sitting down today to write. i love how i have an idea as i start to write and as i continue writing, the next words come....and then i'm sure where i'm going with my story....maybe you're not too sure...but i have an idea of what i want to write. i love how that happens!

this, however moved monday into tuesday as i went with my camera to take real pics of photo albums from yesteryear to coordinate with my that's where i found myself going beyond a few photos....i stopped to enjoy them....then, i uploaded them and placed them with my story...i like them to be properly situated....and that's how monday turned into tuesday.....even with the mamas and the papas song, i have managed to lose a day on the day that i specifically called monday. and now monday is on tuesday! did you understand that? i'm not sure that i did. but since i'm me and i always have been me, i'm used to this!

Monday, January 25, 2010

monday, monday!

what a day. rainy, windy mild....where is this weather coming from. it is very strange. i went out to walk the dogs and found myself being blown down the road while being pelted with hard raindrops...imagine 2 golden retrievers who were just as happy to go home as they were to go for a work in the woods...the streams are filled to the brim. i have on my big rain boots and windbreaker with hood pulled tight....and still soaked.

i came back in the house and fed the dogs their breakfast. while they chomped away at their chunky kibble and slurped their water, i slowly puttered about making my own starbucks italian roast. warm again, i sat down on the couch for a quiet moment to enjoy my monday morning and gather my thoughts and get some last minute to do lists settled.

this is a big week at our house. i have a daughter who is within days of fifteen years old. she has very specific hopes for her birthday. she has told us what birthday gift she really wants....she has told us that this year she would like to have a sleepover with an intimate group of about 15 girls......she has told us that she really craves the official snuggee of the infamous snuggee commercial..a cult phenomenon. she would like her snuggee to be zebra striped or pink. i'm on it.

the gift that she wants is a new digital camera. she has had her own for about 2 years, a gift form a photo loving aunt. grace has worn that camera out. they just don't make things the way they used to! she has been in a desperate state without being able to depend on the service of her well worn camera. she has taken good care of it.

i can relate. grace loves to take pictures, she has a very artistic eye and she has loved every minute of having her own camera, especially in this digital age of photos with friends on facebook and in her computer. i think at her age, i was just as thrilled with each picture that i took.

taking pictures today is very different for our kids. we took pictures only if we thought to buy film and had to carefully choose what pictures to take.....we had to think that we would not use up our film.....just as the most memorable kodak moment occurred! i know. i had a photography addiction. a serious one.

i bought my film in rolls of 36. i had to buy a lithium battery for my very advanced minolta camera. i had to have batteries available at all times for the additional flash attachment. i loved the allowed me to take pictures that were close up and candid and with and incredibly professional look. i loved the process. buy the film, check the battery, click carefully or randomly, knowing that the end of the film would eventually come.

i had to think ahead. it was not even a thought to go to a wedding or event with less than 12 rolls of film...ya never know...and i never wanted to be held back from the creative kodak moment. i felt loyal to kodak. that's the film that i started with.

i started with a camera that i bought on cape cod, on my 11th birthday with my own birthday money. i still remember that momentous purchase. it was at a chain store called zayres. i bought the camera and a cartridge of film for $11.77, a princely sum. i was quite proud. i took my own pictures for the remainder of our family vacation. shortly after that purchase, i became the keeper of the camera and carried that camera at all occasions.

i took the pictures and removed the cartridge. i filled out a mail order form for development. it was for mystic color labs. i don't even know if they exist in this day and age. it was a very exciting fill out the enclose the film cartridge/s.....a check, written by my mom or by me when i was in college.....lick the envelope.....pop it into the mailbox. the best feeling was at that moment that i heard the thud when it landed at the bottom of the mailbox. that was when the anticipation began.....waiting, waiting, counting the days....until a fat stuffed mystic pre-addressed envelope mad it back to me at my home address.

that was when the real fun and surprises began. opening, looking quickly through the pile to judge each photograph and the individual/s in the photo. then, after disposing of any out of focus, blurry prints, blinking subjects, it was finally time to share with others...a select few. one of my other favorite moments was inserting each prized picture into the photo album.

i loved to create the album. long scrapbooking came into my world, i made my own collages on the pages of my photo album. some were with maps and airline tickets and hotel room service door tags, menus, napkins and appropriate words cut out of magazines to describe our trip. of course, with photos. i took so much time working on the layout, sortingbefore the photos, writing names and places and dates on the backs and placing them carefully on the album pages. i loved putting on the finishing touches. then it was time....i loved this part most of all....sharing the photo albums with everyone who had been on the trip....then, sharing the album with everyone else.
    our children know nothing about this old school technology. they can barely remember film. i remember 35mm film in 12, 24 and 36 rolls. i remember 127 cartridges, i think. i remember 110 cartridges. i remember the high tech polaroid insta-camera. i remember getting my minolta camera as a gift almost 20 years ago...a hundred years, in techno-time.

    that camera went to weddings, christenings, family birthdays,vacations, beach days, new babys, annual christmas photos for friends' families, my favorite wedding of all...biff and i....our new babies, birthday babies and the whole new world that opened up with our babies.

    and then, we went digital. after years of jumping out of the car to buy film just before the event, life changed. in some ways, life was simplified. but are the photographs we take today taken for granted.

    our children can see their pictures appear on the screen of their digital cameras within seconds. they can push a button and delete the photo before anyone even blinks. the camera is smaller than palm size and flatter than a television remote. they can take an itty bitty chip out of their camera, put it in their own computer and upload pictures onto the computer. within minutes,they are able to have the pictures downloaded to their own facebook page. and they become the days greatest headlines to share with 999 friends. they are posted in a neatly organized with album cover and name.

    they post the photos with "tags", their friends' names. the photos have captions. these photos are out there for the world to enjoy....all within minutes...of whatever random event that takes place. there are pictures of shoes, eyeballs, snow days, beach days, birthdays, cats, girls, boys, girls and boys, toes, trees, cars, dogs, books, lockers, sports events and non-events. everything is newsworthy and share-worthy. once the pics are posted, all of the comments begin. met with approval, dislikes, screeches and oohs and ahhhs. within minutes.

    and to think of the time i spent waiting day after day at my mailbox. i have memories of our friends, in college, sitting at the cafeteria table, ecstatic to see someone arrive with their self addressed mailer envelope filled with pictures that may have covered the last month of events....and usually, the pictures were of events back then. cameras then were for occasions, mostly!

    i had pictures returning weekly. it was a thrill! we spent time flipping one by one gasping or singing out names while others hovered, waiting to get a glimpse.....we showed them back in the dorm or sitting out on the steps to the cafeteria. receiving those pictures was just as much an event as the event it self!

    just since my first baby was born, we've gone digital! her two year old camera is semi-outdated. in two years, cameras have already advanced. zoom, pixels, chips, shutter speed, colors, size, baby is living in a whole new age!

    she will get her camera, no real surprise. whe will get a sleep over....15 way, maybe 5....i just bought the snuggee, the official snuggee! no random snuggee for my baby. it seems like minutes ago that my bay girl was all swaddled on the way home from the hospital, on a sunny but freezing superbowl sunday....

    and here i sit....making some last minute birthday plans....on a balmy, rainy, windy monday morning.

    ahhhh.....monday, monday.