Monday, December 29, 2008

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Fold 'Em

I enjoy gambling. Seriously.

Give me a slot machine or a blackjack table and some "extra" money and I'm having fun.

I do not enjoy losing when I gamble.

I think I've found a way to win even when I lose.

I have this friend and we bet on football games. Regularly.

Every Sunday. He won't bet against the Giants, I won't bet against the Eagles.

The winner each week wins some form of alcohol- beer, wine, Bailey's- and usually some other equally pleasing item or action.

I'm not gonna lie, I've acquired a pretty fair amount of alcohol during this season.

The past week or so the terms have changed. With the passing of our friend and co-worker the terms of the bet took on a new meaning and it's something I'd really like to share.

I cannot take the credit for this idea but I will absolutely carry it on.

Each week the loser has to donate $10 to a charity of the winner's choosing. It's completely win-win for all involved.

We add in bet sweeteners. Things like a drink at happy hour or a batch of chocolate chip cookies. But the real value is found in that donation.

The real value comes from the fact that each week a charity of one of our choices will receive a donation because we decided to make a friendly wager on a game.

This week the Eagles beat the Cowboys. No. Wait. I'm sorry. This week the Eagles trounced the Cowboys and then, while they were down, stepped on their face masks and smashed them into the turf.

Yeah, the Eagles won. And now they are in the playoffs.

This week the Alzheimer's Association of America also won. That was my charitable choice. That horrendous disease slowly killed my grandfather. We are so close to ending this disease. I firmly believe that. We are so close to preventing this disease. We are moments away from it and any penny that can be thrown their way helps!

This week, because it's the season of giving and our friend and co-worker passed away a week ago today, the American Heart Association also won. Donations were made in honor of our co-worker and in honor of my friend's nephew who both died way too early of heart related problems.

I really enjoy gambling. I don't do it often, especially in a casino setting. I really hate losing- at anything. In this case, when the terms are as charitable as they have become, I don't mind losing so much because I know that someone, somewhere, is winning.

Tonight, in the spirit of giving and with the upcoming playoffs I am encouraging each of you to place your own bets and learn to love gambling in the way I have.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Moments of Mess

Christmas day has passed and it was wonderful.

It went fast.

I feel like we just put out tree up and that was weeks ago!

Today is the first day that I am home for a full day and not running off to a family party or some place else.

At some point in these past 5 days my house was clean. At some point in the last two days my house was cleaned, again.

Today, my house is not clean.

Today, my house is a mess of new furniture and Diego trains and Mickey Clubhouse. It is a mess of dolls and strollers and play-doh. It is a mess of Christmas presents and Christmas joy.

I hate the mess. I loved sitting on the couch last night and looking around at everything nice and neat- except the furniture mess since we're still putting that together! I loved seeing the toys neatly arranged around the tree and looking at my floor and being able to see a clear path to my kitchen and dining room.

Now, I sit on the couch and I watch my son play a new Wii game from the comfort of his sister's new Dora chair and I watch my daughter wander aimlessly through the sea of toys looking for just the right one to entertain her and also piss off her brother at the same time.

And I love it.

Yes, I'd love for all of this to be put away. I'd love to have already gone through all of our old toys and given them away- which is the plan for this week. I'd love to have my new dining room set completely together and our hutch filled. I'd love to have the floor vacuumed and the living room and kitchen looking neat.

I don't think it's realistic. Or maybe it is and I'm just not ready or willing to do it right now. I'm tired. Christmas and a co-worker's death all in the same week can take a lot of out of a person. Maybe it all comes back to that.

Is cleaning the mess really all that important? My kids are loving playing with all their new toys. I'm enjoying getting to watch them do it and help them. Isn't that how it's supposed to be? Isn't it supposed to be about enjoying this time? Loving these moments and worrying about the mess later?

It is.

It is about enjoying the laughter. Enjoying the smiles. Enjoying the sharing and the sometimes not sharing.

The mess will get taken care of- it has to. The furniture will be complete. Everything will get done. Right now it's about the mess. Right now it's about the fun. It's about enjoying and remembering that these moments are not going to always be and when we have them we have to seize them.

Sometimes the messy moments are the best.

My daughter just put Dora in time out- I can't imagine why or where she would have gotten that from!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heavy Hearts and Heads

We lost a teacher at work yesterday.

He was a gym teacher and a coach.

It was sudden and tragic.

It happened in school, after hours, while he was alone.

It was an unbelievably sad day today.

We spent the day talking with the kids and praying. We celebrated a mass in this teacher's honor. We did all we could to keep the kids together and calm. We did all we could to keep ourselves together, as well.

I spent a good amount of time with a number of girls that I used to teach and currently teach. They were upset- as they should have been. Devastated. They were working through their emotions. Their tears brought on my own tears. They opened themselves up to me and shared their emotions and feelings and hurts. They trusted me and for that I am honored.

My shoulders were soaked with tears. My heart heavy with sadness and hurting for my lost co-worker and for those of us left behind and for the pain of each of our students.

I am a firm believer that those who pass from this Earth go somewhere exponentially better than what we have here. I believe in heaven. I believe in God. I believe that things happen for a reason and we may not always know or understand that reason but there always is one.

Death sucks. Big time.

It sucks for those of us left behind. It sucks for those of us who mourn and cry and deal with our loss. It sucks.

I firmly believe that our loved ones that pass are in heaven finding joy greater than anything we can experience here. While we cry and mourn and sit in sadness, they are enjoying all of those things and people that they loved here on Earth.

Death sucks for those of us left behind. I said those words over and over again today.

One of my former students put her head on my shoulder and released her pain and sadness. She cried. I cried. It was silent except for tears. Her head heavy on my shoulder.

I wanted more than anything to take her pain away. I wanted more than anything to tell her that tomorrow she will wake up and this will all have been a horrible dream.

I couldn't.

It's hard. It has to be. It get easier. But right now, it's hard and sad and it just plain sucks.

I put my daughter to bed a few minutes ago. I hugged her a bit tighter tonight. I sat in the rocker in her room, as we do every night, and she put her head on my shoulder. On the same shoulder that had accepted so many tears earlier in the day.

Her head was heavy. Heavy with sleep and love.

All I could think of was the day that her head became heavy with sadness and tears. I ached to be able to make sure that she never experienced what the kids did today at my school. I ached to be able to assure her that her heart and mind would never be full of sadness and anger.

It's impossible. The pain has to come . It has to be hard. It sucks but it has to be that way sometimes.

I try to remember that without the sadness we may not be able to realize how wonderful the happiness is.

I try to remember that sometimes it's the sadness that lets us know we're alive and human.

I try to remember that sometimes it's just going to suck and those are the times that we must lean on each other, no matter how heavy our hearts or heads may be.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tossing the Time Away

In the midst of falling snow and the smell of fresh cookies I did something that I have been putting off for quite some time.

I threw away all of the baby bottles in my home.

My daughter has not used a bottle since she was roughly 10 or 11 months old. The bottles have been sitting in our kitchen cabinet since the weeks before she was born. I had no problem ridding myself of the nipples for said bottles but I could not bring myself to toss the bottles.

Until today.

I don't know why. I'm not really sure what compelled me to hurl each and every single one of them into the empty garbage can. I just know that when I was done- a mere 20 seconds after I began- I wanted to cry and I had to hold myself back from diving into my garbage can to dig the bottles back out.

I piled more garbage on top them to make sure that I did not fish them out. I baked more cookies. I took my kids out in the snow (THAT was an experience!!). I talked to friends on the phone and online. I straightened up a bit. I did all that I could to keep myself away from the garbage can.

I did not have to throw them away. I could have put them in a box and put them away until the next baby comes along. I could have tried to donate them. I could have just left them.

Something made me throw them away. And then immediately question it.

What if we have a third baby? What if I just jinxed myself and I end up pregnant? ( SO NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!) What if someone else really needed them?

And the other side.

Why didn't I do it sooner? What was I waiting for? We may not have another baby. People don't want used bottles, even if they were just to hold the liners. Why was it such a big deal?

I don't think it had anything to do with a third baby. I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that any time I see a newborn or a picture of one my ovaries actually skip a beat.

I let go of the last piece of my daughter's babyhood. Well, ok not really, but kind of. Those bottles made me think of those early days. They reminded me of how far we've both come. They made me smile each time I opened the cabinet and sometimes they even made me a little misty.

Next week we're potty training the girl. It's time. I would love to be able to start the new year with two kids out of diapers. After that the crib will go. She's been speaking in full sentences and is growing at an incredible rate. The months have flown by and yet at points seemed to go so slowly.

She has gone from my teeny tiny preemie to a toddler and before I know it, a little girl. Today, I threw away her bottles and I felt like I was throwing away a little piece of myself and her. I guess the reality is that I wasn't throwing away a piece of either one of us, just making room for the new stuff to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's A Wonderful Life

Sandi over at A Widow for One Year has been talking about her least favorite movies and some of her favorite things. I'm going to take a cue from her and talk about my favorite movie.

Growing up my mother loved the movie It's a Wonderful Life. And I mean seriously loved it. Like watched it whenever it was on. Would talk about it. It was the ultimate for her.

For me, I'm not sure whether I disliked it because she liked it so much and I couldn't possibly like anything my parents liked or if I disliked it because I just didn't get it. Either way, I couldn't stand the movie. I would watch it but more often than not I would pout my way through it.

I can wholeheartedly say that is no longer the case. It's a Wonderful Life is probably my favorite movie of all time. I could watch it constantly. It never, ever, gets old for me. It's a staple at Christmastime. It's a staple when I'm feeling down and like everything is going wrong. It's a staple when I need something to watch and there is nothing else.

It just is the movie for me.

I'm showing it to all of my classes this year. I think it works in very well with the theme that I'm running through my classroom this year, which is based on the Last Lecture. I think they go hand in hand and I want my students to start grasping the concept of being a good person and living a life of kindness and selflessness. Plus, it's a total bonus that I get to watch it 4 times a day- at least!!

There are so many points in the film where there are lessons to be learned and little gems to pick up but my favorite part is the end. It's those moments when every single person steps up to help out George Bailey. It's in that final moment when George reads the quote from Clarence that gets me. It's that quote that had held the most meaning for me as of late.

"No man is a failure that has friends."

It's not about how many friends or who they are. It's not about how much money they have or what kind of Christmas gift they give you. It's about them being there. It's about them caring about you.

It's about you caring for them. It's about you being there for them. It's about the fact that all of the money and fame and things can disappear but in the end it is the friendships that are still there that matter the most.

There are times in our lives when certain friendships mean more than others. There are times when friendships end, never to begin again. There are times when they fall to the wayside only to be resurrected when a need for help or companionship or simple friendship arises.

There are the friendships that are stronger now than they ever were. There are the friendships that are new and fresh and still in those learning stages. There are the friendships that span a lifetime and are deeper than the deepest abyss.

It does not matter if there is only one friend or 10 friends- they are what make us rich.

I would love to hit the lottery. I would have loved to hit that big Mega jackpot last week. I did not. But the friendships that have been cultivated and that are just beginning and are older than my time- those are the things that make me rich.

The people that have been there when it was needed and when it wasn't- those are the people that make me wealthy.

The friendships are yet to be found and those that exist forever in my heart and mind are what keep me from falling.

"No man is a failure that has friends."

I am a wonderful success because of those I call my friends. And I am eternally grateful for the Wonderful Life that I have been given and get to live each day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ending the Cycle

So, I hit a deer the other day.

This is my third. But it's my first time actually hitting one.

The previous two times the deer ran into my car. Seriously.

The first time I was in high school in my dad's MASSIVE Volvo and the deer ran into the passenger side and then over the hood. It was surreal. The damage wasn't horrendous. The deer lived. I drove around the gas station pumps three times because I couldn't remember which side the tank was on and I was completely freaked out. Finally the attendant had to stop me and talk me "down".

The second time was about two years ago. I was pregnant with the girl and I was on my way to work with the boy in the car. Deer came bounding out of the woods in the early dawn and slammed right into the front passenger side of my van. Then the cop who showed up decided to try and be funny and asked my son if Santa and the Reindeer were coming early this year! WTH?!?!?

This time, it was Bambi. Or so my husband and co-workers like to think. I saw the first deer bound across the road. I should have stopped. I know better. I've lived in NJ too long not to know how deer operate- where there's 1, there's 92 more! I didn't stop.

I didn't see the next deer until it was too late. I swerved, or tried to, and got it's head.

Yeah, I know. It's head.

I now have a dent that matches the exact shape of a deer's head on my bumper on the passenger side. I don't know if the deer lived or died. I kept driving. It ran off.

I was pissed. At myself. At the situation. At all of it. Just pissed.

This isn't really about the deer. It really isn't about the incident. It's about what the incident made me think of.

Deer #2 came right at the beginning of my bad luck, sort of. I had already been diagnosed with my medical problems when that second deer ran into my van that morning. I had already gone through the first round of radiation but I was still waiting on finding out about any possible physical abnormalities with my unborn daughter.

For me, Deer #2 is like a marker. It's when I remember things really starting to go downhill. Or at least it's what I associate with all of that.

When Bambi ran into my car the other morning, or rather when I ran into Bambi, after my anger subsided, after I blew off steam with my husband on the phone and my friends at work, I began to think. I began to think that maybe this was the beginning of the "bad" again.

I began to feel that dread. I tried not to let seep in too much. And actually as soon as I started feeling it I said something to a good friend of mine. I told him that I was worried this was beginning all over again. That this was kicking it all off. Things were going so well and now, this deer was bringing me down again.

His words?

"You've completed the cycle. It's done now. You've come full circle. You started with a deer busting up your car- which you no longer have- and now you're ending with a deer busting up your car. That's it. You. Are. Done."

I couldn't get there on my own. I was wrapped in the negative. I was engulfed in the two years ago and the journey that has since occurred. And I was scared. I could not do all of that again. I would not.

He brought me back to what I've been trying to live- the positive.

Then he made jokes about deer all day and hung pictures of Bambi on my classroom door and on my desk. While another friend informed me that hitting a deer is supposed to bring immense good luck. I tend not to believe him but he assured me that within a week I would experience incredible luck and have something happen that is beyond wonderful.

We shall see. I am grateful for them.

I am deathly afraid of deer. I will not get out of my car if there is one on my lawn when I pull in at night or during the day. I do not think they are beautiful. I think they are everywhere and I find them annoying. And I am completely and totally afraid of them. I won't go into why, but just know I am completely serious in this.

They scare the living shit out of me.

That deer hitting my car drew up every fear that I have had. That deer made me angry and sad and worried and scared. That deer dented my car and tried to take away something that I have work so very hard to get to- my positive, more happy self.

And I almost let it.

Stupid deer.

I hit a deer the other day and I almost let it ruin my day and dictate how my life was going to go from here on out.

I hit a deer the other day and I immediately assumed the universe was out to get me and my life was beginning a downward slope.

I hit a deer the other day and I was reminded that I need to find the positive in everything that happens.

I hit a deer the other day and ended the cycle for good. Positive from here on out, no question.

Stupid deer, I may be afraid of you but I won't let you crush me.

Just my bumper.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rambling Randoms

I'm in the mood for some randoms......


I've decided that the supermarket just brings out the crazy in people. Or maybe it's just me. I stopped at a supermarket last night on my way home from practice and it was one that I don't normally frequent so I figured I was "safe". I walk into the produce department and there is woman with three containers of Strawberries open in front of her and she is picking the best berries from each container and putting them into one.

This struck me as odd. And wrong. Maybe it was me.


My entire house is decorated for Christmas except for the outside and our banister on our steps. I just cannot muster enough energy to get those last two things done. It's eating at me.


I found out two weeks ago that a co-worker of mine allowed students to bad mouth during class. My new nickname is "Beast From the East". I have no idea why. At least it replaces the ever popular Satan that the kids took to calling me.


I did an hour of Yoga yesterday followed by some erging and now I am in unbelievable pain. I just keep telling myself it's good pain. And then I cry. Or lay on the floor in one of my co-worker's offices.


I have something that I've wanted to say to someone for awhile but I can't say it because it would ruin our friendship but if it's true then it could help them. It's eating me.


My kids are getting a ride on Dinosaur for Christmas from my sister and it's going to take all of my will power NOT to get on it and ride it.


Normally, I write out Christmas cards and then slip pictures of my kids inside and send them out to everyone. This year I think I may have to break down and do the picture card. I just don't have the time to write out all the cards. And I think I'm taking the kids' pictures myself rather than shelling out the cash for professional shots. I'd rather use that money for bills or food or gifts.


I think there is something living in my husband's car. I refuse to drive it. I kind of miss it. It's like my little escape from minivan madness!


I set my oven on fire this weekend. With turkey grease. This was not the first time. It won't be last. Everyone got a good laugh out of it.


My daughter got her first haircut the other day. I took pictures during the haircut. I took pictures before the haircut. I did not take any pictures AFTER the haircut! D'OH! Take my word for it, it looks really cute. REALLY CUTE.


I went to my high school reunion on Friday night. It was interesting. It was also fun. It was nice to see everyone and catch up. It was funny to see drunk girls say all the inappropriate things that we never could say in high school.
Quote of the night came from my carpool partner and friend: "E= MC F*&K You!"


I have NO IDEA what to get my husband for Christmas. Usually, I can come up with something fun and creative. This year? I got nothing.

Suggestions welcome.


My husband's friend is one of my FB friends. He reports all of my status updates to my husband. Then my husband comes home and asks me these weird questions because 9 times out of 10 his friend gets the status COMPLETELY wrong. I find it annoyingly funny.


We've been using a Religious Advent Calendar with the kids since Advent is about preparing for the birth of Jesus and not about little chocolate morsels. Once of the first days of Advent the Scripture quote of the day talked about the Virgin. I had to re word the quote because I had no idea how exactly I would explain the concept of a Virgin to my three year old.


I feel like I have so much more random crap to share but I'm sure you're bored at this point so I'll leave you with this (one of my former students told me about it and I have not stopped laughing at it!!):

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finding My Niche

Niche- A place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.

It took me close to 5 years but I finally found something that I love, in a place where I love it, with people I love.

I found my job niche. For the time being.

I have been studying hard to become a counselor and I still want to be but the road of ahead of me is quite long. This does not mean that all the work and effort is for nothing. I am not giving up. I am continuing on the same path with the same voracity. It's just that now I have this other thing, this other part of my life that finally makes sense. That finally fits me.

"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful." This was the quote of the week on a Church bulletin board by me.

It sums things up perfectly.

Life is not perfect. Pieces fit together nicely sometimes but often I've had to shove them in and make them fit where maybe they weren't supposed to. The puzzle is not nearly complete and all of the pieces are still not in the right spot but they are getting there.

A friend of mine has a puzzle hanging in her kitchen and the bottom rows of pieces are missing. I must have asked her a million times why the pieces aren't there and she always gives me the same answer, "The puzzle wouldn't fit in the frame if I left them in and I really wanted to hang it on the wall so I took them out."

Isn't that kind of how life is?

The puzzle pieces don't always fit but we want show it off and live it to it's fullest so we do it without all of the pieces.

Today I began my coaching job. I'm coaching a group of young women rowers. I am not the technical coach. Meaning I am not the one teaching the mechanics of rowing. We have an Olympic coach doing that! I'm doing more of the training, academic advising, and personal coaching.

It's been a day. I left my house at 5:45 this morning and got home around 7pm tonight....this will be par for the course. I love it.

I hate that I'm away from the house and my kids and my husband so much but these young women want to be there. They want to learn to row. They want to grow and compete and win. They want to become stronger versions of themselves.

They want to find their niche. For the time being.

I was worried that this team wasn't for me. That this job wasn't for me. I was worried that I wouldn't mesh well with the other coach.

We compliment each other.

I have found another spot that I can call my niche.

I have been searching and seeking and grasping for pieces of where I belonged outside of myself and once I stopped looking so hard and so crazy, I found them.

It's like the lost pieces of jewelry, of which I have two (shhhh, don't tell my husband!), they are always in the last place you think to look.

I finally stopped looking and just started thinking and doing and being and I found.

*Little bit of Brain Vomit for your day. I only slept 2.5 hours last night.*

**That last part was not the brain vomit. The post is the brain vomit in case you missed that!**

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