Thursday, December 31, 2009

See Ya 2009! Bring on the New Year!

On the eve of a new year many of us look back on the previous year and are either glad it is over or remark that it was a "good year". I'm fairly certain the only recent years that stand out in my life as being traumatic are the years I miscarried and we opened our first Subway restaurant (in retrospect I think I may have miscarried due to hovering on the edge of a nervous breakdown), the following year when my Pop died and then the year we closed the cafe (which we are still feeling the financial hit from three years later). In between all that heartbreak, good stuff happened, but I think it was the year we closed the cafe that sucked a lot of the "dream" out of The Husband and me. Thankfully, I am feeling a bit of the weight starting to come off and while we aren't exactly sure where we are headed, we are trying to be patient and go where God is leading!

This year had its share of drama at our house. GAS suddenly, with no explanation left at the beginning of the summer to move back with my mom. She didn't come to say good-bye; she just sent my mom and a friend to come and get her things and when I spoke to her she said this was just the way she wanted it and nobody did anything wrong. My heart was broken and rejected because I somehow felt made out to be the "bad guy". I thought we had given her a pretty good life here. But, love being what it is means not necessarily passing on the heartbreak to the one who caused it (especially when she is 87), so I let it all go and tried my best to be forgiving towards her and my mom (despite the injustice of it all and my desire to get to the bottom of why she really did it). In a family where guilt is a predominant emotion, both given and received in large quantities, it was best to lick my wounds in private and move on. And, I feel like God has showered me with His peace in the process.

This past year was also our first year with a full-fledged teenager. And, while I would like to share some of the details with you I will respect #1 and my relationship and try best to summarize it. Of course, having one teenager does not make me an expert but I've found with her (and, with working with the youth group) you can't push and you can't talk down to them to get what you want out of them. On the other hand, I've told her I can't be her friend, I've got to be her mom! We have had fun together, but we have also had a lot of good honest conversations, especially after butting heads over something. I try my hardest to explain that the root of 90% of my decisions is based in the word of God and not me being randomly "unfair". The other 10% is based on scheduling conflicts!

So, I'm saying good-bye to 2009 with a hopeful heart. Not because it is just a new year, but because I have felt the leading of the Lord and His wonderful presence in my life. No bells and whistles. It's more like a deep down knowing that He will lead me whether it is January 1, 2010 or September 25, 2018 or any other day for that matter.

Happy New Year, friends!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2009 Top Ten

Since the new year is approaching I figured I needed some kind of top ten list for 2009, but, "Top Ten" what? So, here it goes. Ten of my favorite things from 2009 in no particular order except number 4 (just kidding!).

10. Disney World, snorkeling and most of our Florida vacation when we were not trapped in our van for hours at a time. We hope that 2010 holds a new adventure somewhere we have never been that does not require large quantities of driving.

9. Cake Boss. The only show I record and watch marathons of. It was thrilling to go there and see it up close!

8. Being published in a local magazine. It has inspired me to write more.

7. My 39th birthday. Because from here on out I don't want to be in my forties. I will enter them kicking and screaming. Chocolate covered strawberries may help a little bit, but I'm just not ready to be forty.

6. Soccer. Indoor and outdoor. Travel and intramural. If I had time (and, athletic ability), I'd play, too! And, actually I enjoyed watching the girls play softball and cheer, too.

5. Wii tennis. I have surpassed The Husband as reigning tennis champion in the house. In fact, I really adore the Wii because it is the only video gaming system I can win anything. And, I play a lot!

4. The deck by the pool. The Husband finished building a deck around the pool and made it so much more conducive for entertaining. Despite it not being a very hot summer, he and I spent a lot of time out there drinking coffee enjoying the view and watching the kiddos swim.

3. PTO. We had a great year and exceeded our fundraising goal by almost $10,000. I will finish my presidential term in June and while part of me will miss it, the other part of me feels free to do other things I've put on the back burner for the last two years. I've had the privilege to volunteer with and get to know a lot of other parents and teachers throughout the last year. Our school rocks!

2. My job. It's been great working with the people I work with and the flexibility of my schedule will have me there for years to come. Unless of course I ever take the writing thing seriously and do that instead. Or, launch my talk show. Or, open a bagel shop.....

1. My family. It has been a whirlwind of a year. The Husband is so tolerant of our overstuffed schedule. The girls are growing up and trying new things. The teenage years prove to be a balancing act of letting go and keeping close. And, because we have been so busy it leaves us with little energy/time to just hang out with friends. We plan to improve on that in 2010! Along with those 25 pounds I need to resolve to lose!

Monday, December 28, 2009

If You Aren't Into Cake Boss, This Will Be the Most Boring Post You Will Ever Read

The Husband and I decided to be spontaneous on Sunday morning. We loaded up the kids into the van and didn't tell them where we were going! Two and half hours later we pulled up in front of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. This is home to Cake Boss on TLC. And, we are all really, really big fans of the show!

The girls were so excited, in fact #3 was a little freaked out when she realized where we were at! It was easy to find since there were crowds out on the sidewalk. If you ever decide to visit, try it on a weekday! We found some off street parking nearby and headed towards the bakery after a quick lunch down the street at Johnny Rockets.

When we walked up to the door we were "greeted" by a serious-faced Louie ("greeted" in the sense that he is the only person allowed to open and close the door). He gave us a number and we pushed ourselves inside, coincidentally following the show's producer. For a moment I thought maybe we were at a Jonas Brother concert. It was wall-to-wall people and I panicked when I realized that I could not even see what was in the bakery cases. And, when I did catch a glimpse of some cookies, cakes and pastries there was not a price to be seen. It was like being in one of those expensive French restaurants where there are no prices on the menus and no one would dare ask how much something cost. I prepared to spend anywhere between $10-$100 for the dessert we were about to order. And, then I saw her. One of Buddy's sisters at the cash register. The girls say it was Mary, but her hair looked way different and I'm pretty sure it was Lisa. I couldn't stare for a long time because I was trying to form an actual order in my mind for when our number was called. I just kept looking around...we had a great view of the famous stairwell where Danny and Cousin Anthony dropped the cake. And, really it just looked so bakery-ish. So. Cool. I felt like we were on a TV set. I guess we were!

After only about 5-6 minutes a young girl called our number and I ordered our baked goods with as much confidence as if I was a regular there. A chocolate brownie for #3, a giant chocolate covered strawberry for #1, a cannoli for #2 and another one for The Husband and I to share and then, because it looked like it was pure Cake Boss heaven, a mini white chocolate mousse cake with chocolate ganache and a white chocolate molded snowman on top....shaved chocolate along the base. While we were waiting for our order to be boxed up, I got closer to the counter and out pops Grace, Buddy's other sister (the one who wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner, Joey's wife). Then, the girl taking our order said the only brownies they had contained nuts but she could check in the back for plain ones. I graciously said a chocolate cupcake would be just fine (I didn't want to be a pain, although there was a rumor floating around that Buddy was coming down and I was tempted to stall!) Eventually, Grace rang up our order as I watched all the Carlo's Bakery boxes stack up. The lady in front of me spent $71. Another person next to me spend $36 and when Grace totaled my order it was $15.80! I almost apologized for not spending more.

I was handed my glossy Carol's Bakery bag and you would have thought I had a designer handbag in there. I proudly carried my bag outside and smiled sympathetically at the people lined up on the street. Oh, they just didn't know what sights they would behold upon entering the famed establishment. Pictures of Buddy all over the walls with cakes, employees coming downstairs with smaller, but definitely "Cake Boss" looking cakes. It was almost too much to take in at once, especially your first time. It was surreal.

In the end, the oH mY wORD family gives Carlo's Bakery 10 thumbs up and we can't wait to go back. Everything we ordered was delicious! #2 was funny because she found something green in her cannoli. After realizing it was some kind of candied fruit, I told her maybe she got lucky and it was one of Buddy's boogies! She didn't eat much after that because she kept picking out the "gross green things". That's okay...more yummy cannoli for me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can Someone Please Explain How It Is December 22nd?

I know the fall layout on the blog can be confusing, but I seriously feel like we were just carving up that Thanksgiving turkey a few days ago. I was doing so well....mailed cards out early, decorated, shopped, baked, shipped, and still managed to clothe and feed my family. Yet, here I sit with a to-do list that will take about 5-7 business days to complete and something has to get scratched off the list.

For instance, the homemade eggnog I was going to try and make for my dad, despite never really drinking the stuff myself. I'm trying to think of different things since we have so little money to spend this Christmas (budget, people, budget....must stick to the budget, my family must want to stuff me in a closet by now from hearing me chant that hourly through the last 6 months) I decided to go for the "awwww, isn't she sweet/creative/out of her mind" factor. Like the free dinner at our house certificate along with an autographed copy of The Mailman DVD that we used as a white elephant gift for a friend's party. And, like allowing each of the girls to invite 6-18 buddies over to have a little Christmasy cookie decorating fun (that can count as one of their gifts, right?). And, let's not forget another white elephant gift: the clever "Instant Yard Sale Kit" complete with price stickers and all the junk you need to do your very own yard sale. Patent pending in the U.S.. No one will ever invite us to another Christmas party again after that little surprise!

There are some tasks that are non-negotiable. Baking a birthday cake for Jesus. Making a gingerbread house (Lord, help me). Wrapping the kid's presents. Doing more laundry. Christmas Eve service. Fried cheese.

So with a few more gifts to finish and assemble (one worthy of in my humble opinion) I wonder if I will ever spend a December 23rd not running around with a glazed, panicked, don't talk to me unless the house is on fire, look on my face. I guess tomorrow will tell....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things I Should Be Doing Right Now....

....but, it is so much more fun to blog about them instead of actually doing them! Here is my to do list I am not doing:

1. Update my autumn blog template to something generic that does not need to be re-configured as the seasons change. Or, we can all pretend I'm really prepared and on the ball for September. Changing my template ranks right up there with the visit to the dentist, which is exactly why I only want to change layouts twice a year. And, when the HTMLNOPXYZ codes don't work, that ranks up there with the yearly check-up at the OB/GYN.

2. Fill out a permission slip for #1's winter concert. When did they start making school paperwork feel like I'm filling out an application for a second mortgage? I thought I gave them permission to do whatever they wanted with my child when I filled out enough paper to kill a redwood the first night of school. Please list 34th emergency contact's name, phone number, dog's name and favorite flavor of ice cream: ______________.

3. Create a flyer for our PTO Talent Show. I don't have Publisher on my new computer and the old computer will randomly give me the "blue death screen" and cut out without ever acting like it knew what I was doing, so I'm weighing my options. It's like Clint Eastwood staring me down asking "Do you feel lucky?" and I don't, so I'm choosing procrastination.

4. Laundry. Yes, and you all should be doing yours, too.

5. Ummm...sleeping? Yes, I most definitely should be sleeping. So, good night!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I May End Up A One Hit Wonder

Now that the excitement of having my first story published has died down (as in I don't keep opening up the magazine 42 times a day and staring at it, then going to the website and looking at it), I started thinking it just may be one of those things that was a fluke.

I think I may be a One Hit Wonder in the writing world! There are several factors that have led me to this theory.

1. They edited it. Not terribly, but they still took out relevant information to the story and "polished" it up a bit. One part that was specifically chopped was a comment I made about going to work (the thing I actually get paid to do, unlike my acting career). They left out the part that said "unlike my acting career" which sort of leads the reader to believe that I am complaining about the lack of compensation being a mom brings in. And, I LOVE the chaos called motherhood. Love it. The reward far outweighs the stress! So, apparently, I don't like being "edited" very much. And, I freaking LOVE being a MOM!! Okay?

2. I have no idea what I'll ever write about again. People are already asking what the "next story" will be about. I don't think I'm going to have many days like the day that provided the inspiration for that story...part of me sort of hopes not (and, as sick as it sounds, part of me hopes I do have more days like that). So, I'm just sort of hanging out and seeing where we go from here. The last thing I ever want to do is try too hard....except that I did sign up to donate blood for my first time on December 11th thinking it would make a good blog post and, well, you know it could save someone's life and all.....

3. I have no time. Squeaking out 2-3 blog posts a week means giving up that load of laundry that needs to be folded, or the dishes that need to be washed or that time that could be wasted on ebay or facebook. And, need I mention that we are in the beginning of our Advent season, which was off to a fine start until my lame lesson tonight that should have been called "Mommy Did Not Prepare Tonight's Lesson So Let's Try To Follow Along While She Wings It". Not one of my shining moments, but gosh darn it, at least we read a scripture verse or two even if there was no common theme between them. A story of a lady taking her last breath somehow ended with talking about the yokes on oxen and how Jesus takes our heavy "yokes" and gives us His lighter one. The only thing my kids will ever remember from tonight is that a "yoke" is not a "yolk". So, that scripture in Matthew makes a whole lot more sense to them now that they aren't trying to figure out what eggs have to do with anything.

So, I guess for now I'm happy with my 7 regular followers and occasional wacko that ends up reading my blog. As cool as it is to see my name and story and picture in print, I'm just not striving to do it on a regular basis. However, the possibility exists that one day I'll write an Advent devotion on death and egg yolks...but until then, you'll just have to catch me here on the blogosphere.