50 Years and Counting

Well, obviously, my four kids, their 3 spouses and their respective 9 children are counting! In honor of our 50th wedding anniversary, our children got together and surprised us with a week of celebration and togetherness at the Jersey Shore for the 18 of us. Overall, our ages range from 2 years to 71 years, so the beach was a perfect place to get together because we could all be kids again. Our 4 children rented two houses situated next door to each other which worked out really well (unless you made coffee in your kitchen and the cream was next door, or a Manhattan with the vermouth next door, or coleslaw with the celery next door).
Since our family, like many others, has spread out geographically over the years, some of us had a longer ride than others. The Chicago family spent about 30 hours on the road. The North Carolina family we won’t even talk about, because they had just moved there from CT and made two trips back and forth for the move, then drove to Jersey and back for the get-together. We drove about 5 hours each way and the PA group probably put 5 or 6 hours on their car. We won’t even mention the cost of the gasoline at more than $4.00 per gallon.
In addition, we (Dad and I) are well aware of the sacrifices everyone made to pull this off. For all, it was a financial stress considering a new college student, a couple of closed-for-the-week family businesses, a job with no vacation pay, and a big out of state move . The grandchildren sacrificed also – they had school, camps, sports, summer jobs and time with friends that needed to be rearranged and shuffled to accommodate the schedule. Thank you one and all for wanting to be there enough to change plans and give up things that were important to you.
For me, it was a very special time to bring the family together for a happy occasion. When we are so far apart in miles, we talk often, but hugs with out of town families are few and words cannot say how much I miss them. Interaction among everyone at once and cousins getting to know each other a little better just don’t happen often enough. Kids need to know how much their extended family loves them and cares about their lives, loves, education, books, sports, ad infinitum. They also need to know who the jokesters are, who takes the best photos, who’s the best cook, who can assist them in making some money on the side, who the musician is, who the writer is, and on and on. I hope these memories will last a lifetime – especially when we look back at everyone’s photos to jog the mind. Of course, they also learned that everyone can give advice. They may not need it now, but will learn that they have a resource when they need it.
I am so pleased with how our family turned out. I see 9 grandchildren, intelligent, poised, and most of them teens starting to feel more at home in their adult bodies. I also saw love in many places and especially enjoyed watching the two “boys” having fun together even though they are 15 and 2. I can see a 15 year old becoming a loving and caring Dad some day. The kids played each others’ sports and somehow managed to relate to each other even though they rarely get to spend time together. Sibling rivalry seemed to disappear (almost) for a few days of fun in the sun and all the grandkids found things to do together – swimming, boogie boarding, biking, cards, movies, water park, miniature golf, puzzles, Quiddler, Quibbs, etc. The adults did the same – coffee on the deck in the a.m. (whenever you felt like getting up); drinks in the evening, planning meals, cooking meals, eating seafood, and trying to keep the dishes from two houses separated (a really big chore). Of course, our sons’ favorite pass time is mercilessly teasing their Dad who manages to take the bait. We also took turns watching the kids at the ocean, making drinks, etc. If you felt like walking, you walked. If you felt like biking, you did. If you wanted to nap – that was ok too. Shopping was on the agenda too, especially when the kids found a candy shop in town. They needed to stock up every day, and the parents didn’t get too bent out of shape that they were eating candy. (Actually, it was a lot less expensive than crabs, clams and other seafood that they chowed down on!) I, luckily, was the designated nap person to get the 2 year-old down in the afternoon. Three Little Pigs and Three Bears later, we were both sound asleep.
We had some flat tires on bikes, some scraped knees, some bike mishaps for the kids riding into town, some ocean wipeouts, a pulled hamstring (me, of course), a crab bite, on so on. Nothing unexpected happened as a result of putting that many people together for a week. Disagreements were few and not unanticipated. I believe a kindred spirit exists in our family. Even though we are all very different, we are still the same. I hold a sincere appreciation for my daughters-in-law and my son-in-law for putting up with us as individuals and as a group. The eye-rolls were at a minimum and no one lost their sense of humor (at least, not in front of me).
Tom and Ann, thanks for all the planning, arrangements and organization. Teresa, thanks for helping in more ways than you want to talk about. John, thanks for giving up a weeks’ pay, driving 30 hours, and getting your car fixed so you could make it. Bill and Ingrid, thanks for being there in spite of moving out of state, and driving hours and hours and hours to be with us and leaving your new place in disarray to be there. Dick, thanks for taking fabulous pictures. This helps the memories last forever. Grandkids, thanks for giving up work hours, sports, driving forever, rearranging camp schedules and anything else you needed to do.
To my husband of 50 years – can you believe what our love for each other has brought forth? We are certainly blessed with a beautiful, caring family. Is there anything more satisfying in this life? I can’t think of a thing… except maybe a perfect vacation with all of us together to celebrate our love. Thank you all.

Why I Love to Work at Home

Thanks for the Meme, Treece. Fastforward another 25 or 30 years and you have me! I’m a grandmother/mom who retired in 2000 after being a “stay at home mom” who began working “seriously” when her oldest started college. Before that, I had options to work when I felt like it, and do whatever pleased me at the time as long as I could arrange to be home for my 4 kids.
After re-entering the workforce fulltime at 41 and working to age 62, and now being retired for 7 years, I find that I am thrilled to have something to do every day without having to march to someone else’s drummer. I get up when I feel like it, have coffee and read the newspaper with my other half, go to my office with my second cup, and start my work. Who cares if it’s snowing, raining, hot or cold? Who cares about traffic jams? I can get the job done right here.
Working at home gives me an opportunity to spend valuable time with my husband who works with me, and our daughter, Treece, with whom we work. I can use the skills that I have developed over the years to free my daughter from the mundane tasks and allow her to be more creative in developing her business. I am an organized, productive, contributing person and I can still have a life, which is very hard when you work in the corporate world. I can go on vacation when I feel like it, take a day off if I want to and do my job at any time of the day. I’m at an age where keeping busy and mentally active is a good thing. The best part is that I am appreciated for what I do – and the boss calls me Mom.

Password Hell

I need to have a password and I need it right away. My computer’s blank face is staring out me as if I am really a moron. I must come up with something new and difficult that no one else will be able to figure out or be able to connect with me. Simple things like hobbies, grandkids names, kids names, all are off limits. The bad guys can figure that out. I should not use the same password for all of my accounts. It must have 10 letters and numbers. It can’t be my social security number, since everyone already has that. It can’t be my birthday or my anniversary because everyone knows those, right? It can’t be my last name, even though most people can’t spell or pronounce it. I need to keep track of my passwords in a place no one will ever be able to find. (That would be inside my brain – no one can ever find that, even me!) I have a minimum of 50 passwords, and the hard drive on my brain is getting very full. Every time I create a new password for an account that I share with my other half, he goes crazy. Why can’t I just use one password for everything?? Granted, that would make HIS life easier, but it would not do much for our computer’s security and happiness. These things seem to take on a life of their own. Forget about changing a password every 30 days! Maybe I could rotate them? Every account needs a password – healthcare, insurance, ebay, blogs, emails, banking, weight loss forums, online shopping,  and on and on and on. I would love to password protect my email to make it difficult for all of those spammers out there. Now, THAT’S a password I’d spend some time on. How come the people that send out ED emails manage to elude recognition when I try to block them from my computer? They place obscure writings inside little boxes so you can’t get rid of them. Couldn’t they just ping my account to find out that I am female. Maybe I could use random dictionary words or biblical phrases that have nothing to do with my name, address, phone number, relatives, etc. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying. In addition, you not only need to remember a password, you also need to remember an ICON! Computers are supposed to make life easier – not get us overloaded with obscure things to remember. My granddaughters were kidding around about installing a new “chip” in my brain because it’s getting a little harder for me to remember all the things I need to remember. Not a bad idea kids! Hope you’ve started on it. It’s probably the only safe place to put a password, anyway.

The Mourning Paper – E-style

This week, our Hartford Courant came with a special insert announcing its new “electronic edition.” My first reaction was “ho hum” because I do, on occasion, refer to the online edition for special articles that I wish to forward to my progeny – such as the psychologist, John Rosemund. The People’s Pharmacy column has proven it advantages many times. (Advice is always more welcome coming from a pro than it is from Mom even if it’s the same.) I love the Flavor articles, and especially the cartoons! OMG, the cartoons! I hope they’re going to include the comics – they’re the first thing I read every day of the week. For years, my refrigerator had Funky Winkerbean hanging on the door. Now, my very favorite (since I have 5 teenage grandkids) is Zits. Jim Shea always leaves me laughing and copies consistently go to my son, who also writes a humor column. Ah, and all those yellowed pages in my photo albums of poetry, humor, cartoons and just plain stuff – are these now things of the past?
I said to my hubby as we sat reading our morning paper that if at some point we got too infirm to make it up our long, steep, driveway, the electronic edition would be fantastic. Then I became mortified as I contemplated all the ramifications of an electronic newspaper. We sit together each morning reading our favorite sections – we talk about them, compare thoughts on the articles, recommend pages to each other, and chide each other by passing the comics around and discussing the UConn men’s and women’s basketball news and we compare political philosophies. Would we would need to go into our own home offices with our morning coffees and email each other? Or, worse – would we stop communicating? The newspaper is one of our most sharing moments of the day – then we each go about our business until lunchtime – sometimes even dinnertime without crossing each other’s paths.
Years ago, as a young woman working in NYC and commuting from Long Island by subway and train, it was an art to learn how to fold a newspaper so you wouldn’t infringe on someone else’s space in cramped quarters. My father and I worked the jumble puzzles together on our way to work. If you didn’t have time to buy your paper, you’d read over someone’s shoulder or across the aisle or wait for somebody to finish his paper and walk away from it. Now if you want to do a crossword puzzle will you need to run to your computer to print it out? Are we converting to laptops and ipods for the news?
I notice lately that the television newcasters seem to just hint at a story, then refer you to their websites. After working all day, do you really want to hook up with your computer just to see “what’s new”? When I was a working person (now retired) I was happy to leave my computer alone for the evening and pursue other things. We constantly remind our younger generation to read more and spend less time on the computer. Obviously, we’re not paying attention to our own words. Are we saving trees and gasoline? Probably. But, sometimes, progress just isn’t!

DDD Report

Today’s blog is not for the eyes of my son-in-law – it’s been outlawed at his house. I would not recommend it for anyone under 60 years of age, so kids, this one’s not for you. It’s the Disease, Death and Dying news of the day. Seems like once you get to be a certain age it’s a common thing. I remember my Mom and and my mother-in-law on a regular basis would give me the updates. “Remember Ruth? She used to live next door to us when you were 3? Well, she died yesterday.” “Did you hear about Harriet? She’s got cancer.” “Poor Mary! Her husband dropped dead of a heart attack.” I called my daughter one day to tell her that Pavorati had cancer, and my son-in-law went nuts on me. “Don’t tell me that stuff – I don’t want to hear it!” Sadly, it’s something we all will face as we age. News of friends in the hospital, ill, or failing, become very common. I lost my best friend when she and I were both 41 years old. That’s a shock that lasts a long time. I lost a niece at 23 years old and there are no words for that. A friend went into the hospital for an appendectomy, and 2 weeks later was discharged after a multitude of mishaps. It all goes with the territory called life. As the years go by, the DDD report grows longer every day. We try to change the subject and talk about anything else – even politics if we have to!  After all, death, taxes and politics never change!


Sometimes, in my retirement, I feel guilty that I am not volunteering somewhere for some charity or organization that could use my expertise. When our four children were growing up, my husband and I were constant volunteers in the children’s school, music and sports activities. We did field trip chaperoning, built stage sets, spent endless hours making costumes, and mentoring kids backstage during rehearsals, baked endless cookies and cupcakes, and sold raffles. I have thought about mentoring, foster kids, teaching computer skills to others, soup kitchens and on and on. However, I realized recently that I am still doing these things in a different way.
My grandchildren could ask me to do anything, and I would be there for them. They enrich my life, charm and amuse me, and sometimes, I lose sleep at night worrying about them even though I know they are in very good hands. I especially enjoy mentoring at homework time (although one granddaughter (14) insists that I am tutoring). As long as the questions are not about math with x in the equation, I’m good. Those go to Grandpa or Mom. My grand-daughter’s self-confidence and grades have improved which is just as much a source of pride for me as it is for her. In addition, we get to spend some wonderful time together discussing science, her career goals, drinking tea, baking, and watching American Idol if time allows. It is a one-on-one time for us and I hope she will look back on this someday as a special time. I also love to go to her choral concerts and her volleyball games. I could be doing this with a stranger’s child, but I feel fulfilled and accomplished by being with my own grandkids.
One of our grandsons spent quite a bit of time here before he started school. His mom worked one day a week and he stayed with me. Now that he is older (almost 9) and in school and playing sports, those times are a lot fewer, but just as special. He would sleep over and wake me at 6 a.m. His little face would be nose to nose with mine and he would say “Memes, so what project are we doing today?” I finally made a rule that he could not wake me until 8 a.m. (I usually never made it until then, but at least I didn’t have to come up with a project – usually a superhero costume – until after breakfast.) He came up with some winners – superheroes I never heard of. I would have to call his Dad or go online to get a glimpse of these characters so I could replicate them out of cloth. We’ve made a photo collage of some of the creations, and I can’t believe how young he was at the time, and how he managed to wrap me around his little fingers. His big brown eyes would fill with tears during his goodbyes, and my heart broke every time. One-on-ones are so special. Invariably, his cousins would come over to spend time with him which he dearly loved, and still does. My closets are still full of “project stuff” which I am loath to toss because he now has a younger brother, and the kids are always looking for a “project.” We were able to enroll him in basketball “camp” and in MLS soccer camp for a couple of summers which meant he had to stay with us a week at a time. I also spent many hours with him at our neighbor’s pool where he learned how to swim. He loved the water enough to almost conquer his fear of dogs. He had to get through the gauntlet to make it to the pool, but he knew once he hit the water, the dogs would not bother him.
My mom was not a crafty person – with 5 kids she didn’t have time, anyway. My Great-Aunt Madeline introduced me to crafty things. I didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time with her, but remember two projects in particular. We went to Jones Beach one day – my first time there. After collecting pails of shells, we went back to her house. She pulled out a can of silver paint and some brushes. Voila – my first crafting project. Later one she taught me to make artificial flowers from crepe paper and gave me a supply of paper and wire to bring home. I never did much with crafting after that, but learned to sew to the point of teaching sewing, and delving into other areas of crafts a little here and there. Now I’m constantly keeping my eyes open for kids’ projects or projects for my senior lady friends to do.
The other day, I reminded my 15 year old granddaughter about her early piano playing days. At about the age of 2 or 3 she would come to my house, sit at the piano and place a music book on the stand. She would call me into the room to “turn pages” for her. She would play a little random melody, sing, then look at me and nod her head to tell me it was time to turn the page (which of course I did willingly because it was so adorable). She and her sister would come to my house for their lessons until the teacher broke her elbow and was unable to teach any more. By then, the girls had gone on to other instruments – the flute, clarinet, and voice, and soccer. Again, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to mentor, spend time and develop close relationships with these girls.
One of the kids first introductions to classical music was the “William Tell Overture.” The arrangement starts out with cows “mooing” then goes into the fabulous “giddyap” music. We developed a dance to the beat of the music where they would gallop in place for part of the music and when the beat got faster, they would gallop around the room. There was a lot of giggling going on, and some great exercise as well. We all still laugh about it, and they want to teach the younger ones how to do the “moos” as they call it. Some great memories there.

Dumber than Dumb

One of the most incredulous things I have seen in a long time happened yesterday at a pit stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was amused and befuddled by a 30-something woman on crutches, wearing 4 inch stiletto heels (on both feet). It seemed rather silly to me, and I tried to place myself in her shoes (painfully) to figure out if there were any way on this earth that I would (or could) do that. I’d appreciate some help here. If you can come up with a logical explanation, please share. I must be missing something. Stilettos are ancient history to me, and I’d much prefer the stigma of a walker to killing myself on crutches. Trying to do both at the same time would be something of a circus act for most women.

Happy Birthday Baby

Two years ago, Jordan (Heir Jordan) came into this world a product of a miserable 9 month, worrisome pregnancy complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum. (I know they all are worrisome, but believe me when I tell you, this was not something you just put up with.) Our son and daughter-in-law waited 6 years to make the difficult decision to have another child, hoping it would not be a repeat performance. I called my daughter-in-law one morning 2 years, 8 1/2 months ago to say “hello.” When she answered the phone, I knew from her voice that something was not right. Fearful that someone was seriously ill, or had died, I asked “What’s wrong?” “Oh, Mom,” she groaned, “I’m pregnant!” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. It was obvious that from the time the seed was planted that it was happening again. The poor girl spent 8 months and 1 week in agony – vomiting constantly, taking drugs that would kill an elephant, and lying in a dark room (when she wasn’t rushing to the ER) while the world went on around her, and spitting in a red plastic cup. As of this day, the sight of a red plastic cup makes her gag. We do not keep them in the house, EVER! As scary as a premature birth can be, we were so relieved that the baby came 3 weeks early and prayed that he would be a healthy little guy.
Now, as they say, “to the rest of the story:” The hour after Jordan was born, his momma was asking for trays of food. The dietician commented after looking at her menu and seeing everything checked off: “She’s a hungry one, isn’t she?” Well, if you hadn’t had anything to eat in 9 months, you’d be hungry too. Amazingly, things returned to normal as soon as that child was born.
He is a beautiful combination of Jamaican and Polish, German, Irish (and god knows what else). His eyes are bluer than blue. His hair is curly. He doesn’t say much yet, but can read all his letters, numbers, and knows his body parts and his shapes. We thank God every day that he watched over this baby and his family. He is our 9th grandchild, probably our last grandchild, and we are blessed.

Ah – Time for the Stupid Bowl (Duh, Super Bowl)

I have never been a football fan – really loved to go shopping at the empty mall instead, and let the guys have their fun. Somehow the sounds of bodies smashing, necks twisting and knees crunching do not appeal to my ideas of relaxation. I can’t imagine actually doing that for a living, or having a husband or son out on the field getting pummeled. Besides, how much fun is it to be chastised for walking in front of the TV during a crucial play, or for asking a stupid question (Is is almost over? What time should I plan dinner?) ? Also, I’ve never quite figured out (or tried figure out) what a “down” is. I know what a touchdown is, but always wondered if there are extra points for the best dancing over the goal line. My only attraction to Super Bowl is the great commercials, and I was actually assigned the task of counting them at one game to keep me busy and out of trouble (120). I have found the half-time shows to be a big bore – lots of hype and not much good entertainment. Give me a Northwestern University Marching Band half-time and I’ll cheer til I’m hoarse. Years ago, broadcasters actually showed the college marching bands on television at half-time and my other half would call me in to watch. Incidentally, these kids train just as many hours and just as hard as the athletes. They now pan away from the bands to rehash the game instead, (just in case you left for a few seconds to use the bathroom). I don’t even watch half-time any more. They could save a lot of money on commentators’ salaries if they just showed the bands. The guys at home are all out in kitchen filling up their salsa and chip bowls, but I digress.
Now that I’m retired, I think Super Bowl could be a really nice family day. Have the kids and the grandkids over, put out some junk food, play some board games with the kids and let the guys pig out in front of the game. Is this going to happen? NO. Why? Because the powers that be (the bottom line guys, I’m sure) decided years ago to play the game at 6 p.m. on a SUNDAY night. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken with feels that this is a ridiculous time to have a Super Bowl. Guys need to get up early on Monday to go to work, kids need to go do homework and get ready for school, etc., etc. Isn’t it possible to start the brouhaha earlier in the day, or heaven forbid – play on Saturday? If they started at 3 a.m. they may be able to get in all the pre-game stuff and 300 commercials. By the time the actual game begins, everyone is ready to pack it in for the day. I just don’t get it. Guess that’s why I’m not a football fan. However, this year I will sit and watch the game with my husband. Why? Because if I don’t, no one else can – for all the reasons listed above. No one should have to watch the big game by themselves. I’ll make the sacrifice this year. They say it’s going to be a great game.

The Family Plot

No, it’s not at the cemetery. It’s an actual undercover plot I’ve stumbled upon that has been coordinated and planned by my four children. For our upcoming special anniversary, our children planned a get-together for the entire family (4 children, 3 spouses and 9 grandchildren) at the shore, sharing two lovely homes next-door to each other. They presented the idea to us at Christmastime. Now, I’ve discovered what the real plan is. One of the grandchildren ‘slipped’ and mentioned that in order for us to go on this wonderful trip that we would still need to be married to each other. (We were kind of hassling each other at the time, as married people are capable of doing.) So, the plot is that the kids don’t really want us to be there. Here’s the plan: My granddaughters have an internet business called pre-wrap.com. Things have been pretty busy for their Mom and Dad who also each have their own businesses. They asked us to pick up some of the shipping and packing chores part time. Therein lies the sinister plot! They all know pretty well what happens when Grandma and Grandpa work together at the computer and when doing projects. They figure that between now and June, we won’t be married to each other any more, and we won’t be able to go with them to the shore! Aha! We’ll show them that we can do it!! Any couple that can hang wallpaper together and not kill each other stands a pretty good chance of making it.