Friday, May 27, 2011

Fly Me to the Moon, or International Space Station...

On Tuesday Colin and I went to our local library to see an actual ASTRONAUT!  How cool is that!  His name is Mike Foreman and he has been on two shuttle missions and walked in space.  He was stationed with the Cleveland branch of NASA and was on an outreach mission in our area.  We were his 99th presentation since he started his tour. 

He started his speech by telling us what it took to become an astronaut.  He first decided that was what he wanted to be when he was eight years old.  His dad told him to do some research to find out how to become one so he went to the logical source before the Internet, The World Book Encyclopedia.  He got appointed to the Naval Academy and then applied to become a test pilot.  He got selected as an alternate on his first try but was not called to attend.  They only start these classes every 6 months so he applied again and waited.  He did this seven times before he was selected and attended.  In the meantime he applied to NASA to join the Astronaut Training Program.  You can only apply every two years for that program and it took him eight tries until he was accepted.  He was 42 years old before he finally got his dream job of being an astronaut. 

There were a ton of school age kids there.  He did a fantastic job of showing them that if you persevere you can attain your goals and realize your dreams.  He could have given up at any time and stayed in any of the jobs that the Navy sent him to and led a wonderful life, but that is not what he wanted and he never settled.  I was so pumped up that I almost thought of going back to school to get a creative writing degree.  I then came to my senses and realized that I would lose my ever loving mind if I had to go back to school and be graded again.  I am loving to write for fun, but I don't want to do it under pressure. 

Mike was a really nice man.  I was amazed that he was so accessible and easy to talk to.     When I walked into the room, there he was.  He looked a little shy and was just standing there in his flight suit.  I walked up and introduced myself and we talked for a few minutes.  If he was not in his flight suit I would never have known that he was an astronaut.  Last summer when we were at the Kennedy Space Center we saw him on one of the displays.  They had his bio up and we were all excited that he grew up about 30 minutes from here. Who knew that a year later he would be at our library and I would get to share such a unique experience with Colin.  It was a very good night to be a mom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The End of an Era

I just watched the final Oprah show and can hardly see through my tears to write this.  I was 15 when her show started and I remember thinking it was her fault that Phil Donahue had been forced off the air.  She has come to feel like a friend that always knew just the right thing to say to speak directly through the TV screen and right to my heart. 

I took for granted that she would always be on there for me at 4:00 in the afternoon.  In fact, I have 20 episodes on my DVR that I need to watch.  I didn't like her book selections, but I loved that she loved to read.  I dreamed of being in the audience when she had her Favorite Things episodes, or even there at all. 

What I learned from her is that I have a light that is supposed to shine bright.  I matter, and being me is good enough.  With three older sisters I had a hard time finding my place in this world.  One of my sisters is beautiful, one is brilliant and driven, one would do anything for anyone at any time, and then there was me.  They are three really hard acts to follow, and it took me a long time to figure out  my place in this world, and I found it by realizing that by being the best me that I could was what I was supposed to do.  I opened myself up to being seen, heard and loved and have had an incredible life. 

So, my wish is to tell my family thank you for making me feel worthy and loved.  My wish is that I can pass that on to my boys, all three of them; Dave, Colin and Ryan.  I see you, I hear you, and you matter to me.  You are worthy of my love, respect and devotion, and I thank God every day that you are in my life.  You do not complete me, but you make my life better in every way. 

I wish to thank Oprah for opening my eyes so I could see what the world had to offer and to be grateful every day.  I wish she could know that by watching her show I am a better person.  I wish she could know that I saw her, heard her, and she matters to me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

State of the Blog Address

This is a big thank you to everyone that is reading my blog.  Yesterday we hit 2000 page views.  Admittedly, most of these are from my facebook friends, but I do have a new following in Germany.  (Hi Germany!)  I did think that I was having some international views in Spain but later realized that it was my friend Lynn on a business trip. 

All in all, it is going better than I expected.  I am having a lot of fun with it and it is already proving to serve as a reminder for things that have happened that I would have forgotten.  It has also let me express how I feel for those close to me.  I have made a deliberate decision not to show pictures of my kids.  You will just have to take my word for it that they are the cutest boys you will ever see besides your own.  (I know mine are cuter, but I would hate to put you in an awkward position of having to say it out loud.)

I have a few things coming up that I hope will be blog-worthy.  The Relay For Life is two weeks away and next Saturday is our Saturday Night Dinner Club.  Last time we did it was with a professional chef. (His name is Chef Bill and that is how he referred to himself.  It was hard for me not to giggle.)   I am kind of worried about it being at my house this time since I saw our collective skills, but how far wrong can you go with Mexican?  Besides, I have two fire extinguishers. 

After Relay I am going on a girls weekend with a couple of my friends to celebrate our turning 40.  That will surly have content.  What happens in Pennsylvania will not stay there.  I am happy that it will end with a mani-pedi, but there is talk of a paint-ball war. 

So here is to you, my readers, most of whom I know, and some who are lurking. If you are a lurker, that is fine, but drop me a note so I know you are out there.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for staying with me and I hope you will stick around for more of the ride.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Busy Day

Today I was busy from the second I got up until right now.  I know you are all interested in my fascinating life, so I will give you a rundown.

We started the day by going to my nephew Parker's 7th birthday party at a bowling alley.  First, why does seven sound so much older than six?  Anyway, there were nine boys and two girls.  Two lanes over there was a party of girls.  Our party involved wrestling and yelling and lots of pizza.  Their party was polite and relatively quiet, and did not involved chanting for cake.  In case anyone is wondering, this is why I do not have parties for my kids.  It is so far beyond my nerve capacity that there is no way on this green earth that it is going to happen.  Let this serve as notice that I give permission for my sisters to slap me if I should lose my mind enough to consider doing this.  Julie, on the other hand, who is a teacher of small children, does a wonderful job.  When my kids are older they will understand. 

From there I went to see Lauren get ready for prom.  She was stunning.  I am so proud of the woman that she is becoming, and her date is such a nice, hmm, what to call him.  He is too old to be called a boy, but not yet a man.  Lets call him a guy.  Sounds better than dude.  We went to one of her friend's houses to see about 12 to 15 couples (I lost count and they kept moving) get their pictures taken and for them to get into the limos.  She had the prettiest dress and was the most beautiful girl there, even if I am her aunt and a bit biased. 

From there we went to dinner with Ann and Bob and then to a movie.  I am not sure I can tell you the last movie that I saw that was not from Disney or Pixar.  It was so much fun to go out on a date and not even really talk about the kids.  We went to see Bridesmaids which was so funny my stomach hurts from laughing. 

This is really the first time that I have sat down to relax all day.  I am so glad that Judgement Day has come and gone and I am still here living my boring little life in Ohio.  It is a pretty good thing and I would hate to miss even a day of it. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Post About Nothing

Last night Dave was watching an old episode of Seinfeld (wait, aren't all of them old?) that was the one where they were pitching their show about nothing.  It was then that I realized that I should do that since I currently have nothing to write about.  We have hit that weird time of the year when we are so busy that it is killing me, but doing nothing noteworthy to post.  Here are some random things that are not worthy of a whole post but when put together might work.

1.  This morning while driving Ryan to school he asked me what was in the building at the end of my street.  I told him it was a nursing home so he asked me why all the nurses had to live together.  Kids say the funniest things in the car.  Once when Lauren was very little and Titanic was a huge hit, Lauren told Ann that she loved Vaseline Dion. 

2.  I took the kids to the dentist and they were both cavity free.  It would appear that Ryan will have to have orthodontic intervention before Colin.  They are 5.5 years apart.  

3.  If it does not stop raining I will have to start building an ark.  I'm not really kidding here. Luckily it looks like today might just be sunny.

4.  Last weekend we had a garage sale to raise money to fund our Relay For Life team.  It was the first garage sale I have participated in since before I was married.  Our 15th wedding anniversary is coming up in July.  Now I remember why.  Rude people were making rude comments about my memories.  We made $100.00 but there has to be a better way to make money and get rid of our stuff anonymously without having to use Craigslist which just might get me killed.  Thankfully our dear neighbors let us combine ours with theirs so I didn't have to endure it alone. 

5.   School is coming to a close and I am both looking forward to it and dreading it.  We have a pool pass this summer so at least I have something for the kids to do, but that is a really long three months. 

6.  The Indians have the best record in Baseball.  It is reminiscent of how they played in the strike shortened season which was the year they had the best chance to win the World Series.  It is a Cleveland team, so if something weird can screw it up, we will find a way. 

7.  I quit my yoga lessons.  I decided that Yoga is not for me.  I am still looking for an outlet for my anxiety so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to enlighten me.  The funny thing was that I could never do the tree pose where you stand on one foot.  My instructor told me it was because I do not have a balanced life. Ironically, last night Colin had a project where he had to see how long each member of our family could stand on one leg.  I assumed the tree pose and held it for 2 full minutes.  If my ankle wasn't killing me I could have done it longer.  Guess I am balanced now that I gave up Yoga. 

8.  Finally, we endured the final band concert of the year.  Certainly, 5th grade band concerts must qualify as one of the circles of Hell.  Not necessarily because of he music because they really have come so far, but because we are required to sit on the hard wooden bleachers in a HOT, smelly, stuffy gym.  I also had Ryan whining the whole time that he was bored, had to go to the bathroom, and laying across me adding at least 10 degrees to the temperature.   I texted Tricia and told her that I would beg her to take him the next time.  I wouldn't have to beg her, she would take him any time, but I was desperate for relief.  Also, the fifth graders played first, then they had the 8th grade jazz band preform.  Did I mention that while I can appreciate that Jazz music is a wonderful music genre, I really hate it.  It makes me want to crawl out of my skin.  After that, the 6th graders went.  It lasted FOREVER.  The band boosters all across American could really clean up if they could secure a liquor license for these events. 

That about covers it.  I will let you know if nothing else happens. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

As the World Turns

This post is dedicated to all new moms.  Your baby is amazing and beautiful.  All babies are worthy of stopping to try to get him to smile.  You are indeed a very lucky woman.  While you may think his every move is grounds for a break-in to primetime television to report on the wonderment that is your child, I assure you, only your world revolves around him.  Don't be embarrassed, all new mothers fall into this trap.  How can you not, your baby has changed every aspect of your life and is a fascinating bundle of joy.   

I say this because I encountered one of these moms while at the hotel when we were visiting my sister.  After we had dinner on Saturday night we all headed back to the hotel to let the kids work out some of their energy in the pool.  We had eight kids and there were three more from another family in a very small pool.  They were having a great time jumping in and out.  Dave and I were sitting there watching because Ryan was the youngest and is not a swimmer. 

After we were there for about 45 minutes a woman comes with a 6 month old baby and asks us if we can not splash the baby because she didn't want to scare him.  We did talk to our kids and asked them if they would please leave the baby alone and try not to get him wet.  They agreed and went about their business.  Instead of this woman staying in one area of the pool, she kept walking around, right by all the kids, and complaining when she got splashed. 

Ordinarily I am a people pleaser.  I am all about making sure that everyone is comfortable and making sure that nothing I am doing is adversely affecting others around me.  This, however, went over the line.  I ignored the nasty looks this woman was throwing to me.  I ignored her loud talking to her husband about how the splashing was scaring the baby.  I half-heartedly asked the kids to move away, which I am sure they could not hear over the caterwauling they were PLAYING IN THE WET WATER!

I am sure one day when this woman's baby is about 10 and she finds herself in the same position I am, she will look back on that day and realize how insane she was to think that I could get 11 kids to evacuate a pool so she could take her baby in a body of water, AND NOT GET WET. 

Then again, maybe not. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stories for the Ages

All families have stories that are repeated at family gatherings that cause everyone to break into a fit of laughter.  In our house it would be the man that hit our car when we were on vacation as we were all eating cereal.  Did I tell you that the entire lot was empty except for our car and the lot covered several acres?  With Dave's family it would be when he was in first grade and walked home from school by himself, across two of the busiest streets in Cleveland,  because he did not want to stay after school with the other kids in his class who were being punished for being too loud.  His dad had always told him that if he got into trouble at school he would get into double when he got home.  He caused that teacher to retire early. 

A few weeks ago we added a story to the group.  All of us had traveled to my sister's house for my niece's First Communion.  Saturday was the Kentucky Derby and my dad decided to give all the kids a number of a horse by pulling them out of a hat.  They each got one number except for Colin who got the slip that had the 12 horses least likely to win.  He tried to trade once he found out why his slip was different, but we do not raise suckers in our family so nobody would take the deal.

My nephew, Andrew, had drawn Mucho Macho Man and was strutting around like a preening peacock at having a favored horse with a name to match his personal attitude.  This would be the attitude that can only be held by an almost 14 year old boy that has the world by the tail and life is good.  He was giving everyone the business because there was no way that the rest of the horses could hold a candle to his superior steed. I should point out that Andrew calls me after every post to tell me that my work does not have enough excitement to hold his attention.  He was my first follower and has me on his Ipod Touch.  I am sure he is the only 14 year old boy that does. 

The race got under way and Elaine's horse, Shackleford, took the early lead and held on to it for quite a while.  The room was crazy with everyone cheering and it was impossible to hear the television.  Colin was just trying to figure out what horses were his and only knew them by number.  When we turned the volume up as far as it would go, the only name we kept hearing was Mucho Macho Man.  Not being seasoned horse racing watchers we thought he had won for a few seconds before we found out that Animal Kingdom had won.  Andrew started to jump up and down and run around the room in a way that was reminiscent of Brandi Chastain's reaction when the American Women won the 1999 World Cup championship, minus the ripping off of his shirt.  I was sure he was going to get his hand taken off by the ceiling fan. 

After we found out that Animal Kingdom was the true winner of the race, we were trying to figure out who had that horse.   Colin looked at his sheet and compared it several times to the number of the horse and found out that he was, indeed, the winner.  You can understand the confusion because this was the sheet with his numbers: 

Andrew was really cool about losing and us kidding him mercilessly for the rest of the day. While he can dish it out with the best of them, he can take it like a man.  I was so thrilled for Colin because the winner took all for the prize which was $20.00.    The winnings never made it home as we had to stop at Barnes & Noble to get the new Rick Riordan book for the ride home.  With that being said, Dave and I were the true winners because it was mercifully quite for the ride home.  As he was reading, Ryan was passed out cold for almost two hours.  By all accounts, It was a very good weekend

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Power Struggle

Sometimes I think I need the Supernanny to come to my house.  Ryan breached the line in the sand so far that it was no longer in sight.  Our morning routine is the worst part of my day.  I take 75% of the responsibiliy as I should get most of this stuff organized the night before.  I get out of bed and it starts the mad dash to pack lunches, get the kids to get dressed, Colin to eat breakfast and walk him to the bus stop. 

That brings me to a different question, but we will get back to the morning routine in a few minutes.  We live in a nice neighborhood in a nice city in Ohio.  Colin is 11 years old and he has to walk four houses down the street and one around the corner to get on the bus and there are usually three to four other kids at the bus stop.  Is he old enough to do this on his own?  At what age is he old enough to wait by himself.  I should tell you that he does not like to be by himself, the other kids are all girls, and he never rode the bus before this year. 

Okay, back to the original issue.  Once I get back from the bus stop, I expect Ryan to be dressed so all he has to do is brush his teeth.  He has never been a breakfast eater and this has saved me a bunch of time in the morning, but this week he has decided that he would like to eat a bowl of cereal.  I am thrilled that he wants to eat as breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this takes an extra five to ten minutes that I had not scheduled.  To make a very long story short, Ryan threw a temper tantrum of epic proportions.  I told him when he got home he would be sent to his room for the entire evening.

Have I mentioned that Ryan is a drama king?  When we got home he did go right to his room.  That lead me to believe he knew what he did was wrong and he agreed that he deserved the punishment.  He was allowed to eat dinner with us and then had to go right to bed.  For the rest of the evening I heard him back there saying things to the effect that he was so sorry and that he would never do it again.    This went on for about 45 minutes when I heard him say "you are breaking me to pieces."  It is a good thing that I am immune to him or otherwise I am sure he would have been  released from his torture. 

I hate that they just won't accept the fact that they need to listen to me.  I hate that I have to always be yelling at him, but I also hate that my house is being run by a 5 year old and things have to stop. 

I will keep you posted as to who wins this battle.  I am afraid that it might not be me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Showers Bring Some Good Things

It has been raining in Ohio for two months.  Before that it snowed for what seems like eternity.  I have been lamenting our weather fate for the last month or two.  It seems like is impossible to avoid it.  Besides the royal wedding and the death of OBL, it seems the weather is the only thing that people talk about. 

This morning as Colin was putting his winter coat on yet again I was thinking about if it has ever been this cold and wet before in the second week of May and then I suddenly remembered the year Dave and I got married.  That year we really wanted to get out and get the flowers planted and spruce up the yard because we were inviting all of our family over to my parent's house between the wedding and reception.  My mom really wanted to get a picture of everyone on the deck.  My in-laws were trying to get a new driveway poured because they were going to have people to their house the day after the wedding.  We got married over the July 4th weekend so in theory this should not have been an issue. 

It was, in fact, a huge issue.  It snowed in May.  It took two months for us to have enough dry days in a row for the driveway to be finished, a mere 4 days before the wedding.  The flowers got planted in the middle of June.  I wish I could say it was a hot mess, but instead it was a cold and rainy mess. 

That summer I married Dave in a lovely ceremony on a perfect July day.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was a beautiful start to the rest of our lives.  My hope is that this cold, wet spring will also lead to more beautiful things.  In every life there will be a monsoon or two, but eventually the sun will come out, and it will do it here, too. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Karma Part II

A day has passed since the announcement that the USA killed Osama Bin Laden, and now that I have had some time to really process what happened, I feel a little sick.  Do I think that he was an evil man who deserved to have the wrath of God strike him down?  Hell yes.  That is just the problem.  It was not the wrath of God that got him, it was the wrath of the United States. 

Our country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that everyone should be viewed as Innocent until proven guilty.  In this case, Bin Laden not only confessed that he was behind the plan, but flaunted it in our faces.  There is not even a shadow of doubt that he was guilty.  For that I think he needed to be punished.  For the families that were ripped apart in such a horrific way, he needed to be punished.  For all of the security measures taken to avoid such a thing from happening again, he needs to be punished.  I am not even saying that the punishment does not fit the crime, for I certainly think that it does. 

What I guess that I am feeling but having a hard time saying is that I think that we, as a nation, are better than this.  I think celebrating the victory seems hollow.  Martin Luther King Jr. said "“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
We are fools if we think that there will not be some retribution for this.  Now we are in waiting mode to see when the other shoe will drop.  There is no way that we can guarantee safety in this age of terrorism, but what I wish we could do is all take a step back and cool off before decisions are made that will have lasting and tragic consequences felt around the world.  I wish we could be the light and set an example of peace for the world.  I hope that now that we have avenged the horrific act of this sick man we can now give peace a chance. 

I am still proud to be an American.  Please God, bless the USA. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Karma in Action

Ten years ago I was sitting at my desk trying to complete a quote when my boss came out of his office to tell us a plane crashed into the World Trade Center.  My immediate reaction was to hop on the internet, but it had crashed due to everyone else doing the same thing.  My second reaction was to call Ann, who was at home at the time, to get her to turn on the TV and tell me what was happening.  As I was talking to her she told me the second tower was hit.  It was surreal.  For the first time in my life I did not feel completely safe in my own country. As unbelievable as it sounds we went back to work.  I did finish that quote and was in a meeting for the development of our new website when it was announced that the Pentagon was hit.  Dave called me to tell me that a plane had turned over Cleveland and was heading back to Washington.  It was not until that plane crashed in Pennsylvania not far from one of my co-worker's brother's house that they finally told us to go home. 

When I got home my neighbors were outside talking about the tragedy.  One of them had a son working in Washington and they had not heard from him yet.  He was on the 10 mile trek back to his house as he could not catch a cab and the metro system had been shut down.  The cell phone towers were overloaded and it was impossible for him to call. 

My horror was small compared to so many that were at ground zero or lost loved ones.  I remember one woman calling in to Peter Jennings asking if anyone had heard about anything about Cantor Fitzgerald and later finding out that everyone who worked there died.   I cried along with Peter when he finally heard from his children to know that they were safe. There was 24 hour news coverage for days on end on every channel.   It brought new meaning to the words tragedy and unbelievable. 

Never in my life have I been truly happy that someone died.  Last night was the exception.  If ever there was someone that deserved to have Karma pay him back with death, it was Osama bin Laden.  That man was the definition of Evil and hatred in the same league with Adolf Hitler.  What kind of man is sick enough to come up with a plan to hijack planes and run them into the tallest office buildings in the world in a time of relative peace.  How could he have called himself a Muslim when the religion is all about peace?  (It is kind of interesting to note that Hitler also died on May 1st.)

America is the land of the free.  We welcome people from all walks of life to come and live whatever life you can carve for yourself.  We took care of bin Laden's sister when she had cancer.  When there is a disaster anywhere in the world, we are always one of the first countries to offer aid.  I know we are not perfect by any means, but we are not bad people.  Let it not be confused, we will seek justice when we are wronged.  There was no cost or time limit for us to seek retribution on the man that was the mastermind for the worst attack on American soil.  Let it be known that you can run, but you can not hide from the long arms of American Justice.  President George W. Bush said it all when he said, ""The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."

Today I am proud to be an American.  God Bless the USA.