“Other” Families

Family means different things to different people. For me, family is everything. I grew up in a traditional family of four in the small town of Clinton, New Jersey.  My dad worked and my mom stayed home until my brother and I were in school full-time. She then worked only during school hours, so I had the luxury of seeing my mom before I went to school and when I got home.  We went on one or two family vacations each year, (usually to Wildwood Crest) and spent a lot of quality time together playing all kinds of games – both board games and imaginary ones. It was an amazing time in my life.

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This Year for Lent…

I am giving up Facebook. I don’t post much on Facebook, but I scroll and “like” things.

A lot.  Too much.

Why? Because I am nosy.  Yep. I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  While Facebook and other social media can be great outlets to bring awareness to causes and see friends and families on vacations and other positive things, it can also bring out the worst in people.

Or maybe it’s just me.

As I scroll along my feed,  I have noticed that seeing certain people’s pictures or reading “news” articles tend to bring out my judgmental side.  I don’t want to be judgmental and wonder if I have become more judgmental since I started on Facebook. I’m thinking yes. Also, I  get very angry reading articles on the awful things people do to each other and do not want to see pictures of abused animals or children on my feed.  I know evil exists and that God will take care of them, but when I see abuse, especially of a child or animal, I wish HORRIBLE things on the abusers, which is also not very Godly. Shame on me.

Finally, a lot of gossip stems from Facebook posts.  I do not want to be a part of gossip anymore.  I feel that while I have gotten better about it, I still have some work to do.  Every now and again, I still get sucked into “Did you see what she posted on Facebook?” “Wow. What was she wearing?” “Why would she post THAT?”  Who the heck am I to think these things? Shame on me again.

Since Facebook definitely causes me to be un-Godly at times and takes my time away from doing something productive, I am giving it up for Lent, along with my traditional pleasure food – chocolate.  I am also pledging to read and reflect on scripture every day.  That way, maybe I will have the strength and guidance to be a better person – on and off social media. Who knows? Maybe I will not be on Facebook at all anymore after this experience.  Time will tell…

What are you giving up for Lent this year?  What do you hope to get out of it?

Same Color, Different Dress

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride” – was a phrase I heard and lived for many years.  After being in and attending over 20 weddings by the time I got married, I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted and what I did not want for my husband, myself, my girls, his guys and our guests.

I think our wedding was fabulous and I have never felt so much love from so many people in one room.  It was by far, the greatest day of my life, not only because I was marrying the man of my dreams who has exceeded every expectation I had for a spouse, but because all of the people I loved from my old friends and family to my new friends and family were all together.

I loved planning my wedding, but am certainly not a professional, but there are certain things that I think went extremely well.  Based on my many years as a wedding guest, bridesmaid, maid of honor and of course, bride, here are some thoughts:

1You and your husband should make the decisions.  While we greatly respected our parents’ opinions, what they wanted/suggested, was not always what we did. One of the issues we had early on when planning our wedding was deciding to invite children.  Many of our cousins and close friends had little ones and we had to decide whether or not we should invite them.  In the end, no kids under the age of 13 were in attendance other than our nieces and nephew who were in the wedding.  Our wedding, our choice. Done.

2. Choose a reception venue that lets you walk through their kitchen. I had never thought about this before, but the owner of Perona Farms, where we had our reception, invited us into the kitchen on a day when they were having a wedding.  In other words, it was cooking in action. It was not specially cleaned for our visit. The floors were not greasy, it was extremely clean and there were inspirational signs hanging above from the ceilings reminding the serves to smile and to treat their customers like they were family.   We were sold.

3. Let your bridesmaids choose the style of dress after you choose the color.   We’ve all been there as bridesmaids – feeling horrible uncomfortable in a dress that makes your butt look big or is totally not your style.  It makes for an uncomfortable day to say the least and it shows – in person and in all of the pictures you try and smile sweetly for.   I did not want that for my girls.  My girlfriends are incredible. They are from all different eras in my life and come from all different backgrounds.  My thought was – they are all different as people, so why couldn’t they be different as bridesmaids?  I chose a beautiful royal blue for my color and let the girls try on  different styles so they would be comfortable.  After all, I want them to have fun and feel good about themselves.  My only request was that their dresses were long and to the floor. The girls were very happy that they were able to choose the style and shape that fit their bodies. I also let them choose their shoes.  One of my girls does not ever wear heels and she was relieved when I told her that flats were fine, as long as they were silver.

4 Skip the bouquet and garter toss, especially if most of the crowd is older.  I will never forget my ex-sister-in-law telling me of a wedding she and my brother attended where a heavier, unattractive girl caught the bouquet and the DJ had to practically beg the single guys to come out and catch the garter.  I felt awful for her and I was not even there!  Once I heard that, it was out. No way someone was going to feel badly at my wedding.

5. Enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. My husband and I truly love and enjoy our family and friends and wanted to spend as much time as we could with them on our wedding day. We skipped the traditional cocktail hour with the bridal party and enjoyed it with our guests.  This also made it more comfortable for the dates of those in the bridal party who might not have known many other guests. We did get introduced before dinner which worked out great.

6.  Get the traditional dances out of the way first.   Right after you are announced, go right into the first dance and the dances with the father and mother.  It’s less painful for the guests and the dancing later on does not need to be interrupted.

7.  Play slow music when dinner is served.  There is nothing worse than when guests are asked to be seated for dinner and a great dance tune from the 80s gets played.  I am not going to lie, I have gotten right up from the table to go out and bust a move, much to the dismay of the waiters and waitresses who are trying to serve the food.  Make sure the DJ/band holds the best dance songs before or after the food is served.

8.  Dance! My husband and I enjoyed our wedding to the fullest. We were out dancing with everyone and did not go to the tables until towards the end of the night. Enjoy the party.  Dance to the songs you so meticulously chose! It’s your day!

9.  Step back a moment and take it all in.  This was a piece of advice given to me by several people before I got married and I am glad I took it! Take a minute and stop everything to look around at the people in the room. It is so amazing to see your guests smiling, laughing, dancing, drinking and enjoying themselves.  To know that they were all there for us made my heart swell.

10.  Know that something, inevitably, will not go as planned.  My florist forgot to put the three while calla lilies in my bouquet, there was a major screw up at my hairdresser and cocktail hour had to be held inside since the heat lamps were not working. Even the DJ played a song we specifically asked him not to play. Guess what?  Our day was still perfect for us and all of those little things were just that – little things.  They did not take away from or ruin our day by any means.  Do not let them ruin yours!

 

Go Past David Bowie and Make a Right

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Like so many, I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David Bowie.  He was an icon in music and his unique sound and look was unforgettable.

I always liked his music, but honestly, I was not a fanatic.  I loved his “Dancing in the Streets” duet with Mick Jagger and thought he was kind of cute in that video so I started reading more about him (there was no internet back then!) When I saw his looks from the 70s, I was slightly taken aback.  I didn’t realize he was quite so… colorful in his early career.  I decided to block those images out and focus on how he looked in the 80’s. Even now, when I think of David Bowie, I think of him with short blond hair and a long trench coat on his long and lanky body.  That was sort of what he looked like when I saw him in New York City about 15 years ago.

My girlfriends and I were dining at our favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy happily munching on some crusty Italian bread dipped in olive oil waiting for our Gnocchi Sorrentino when suddenly, my friend Theresa whispered loudly, “Oh my God! It’s David Bowie!” Our eyes widened and suddenly, the food was the last thing on our minds.  We attempted to nonchalantly turn around to see this legend in the flesh without looking too obvious.  Sure enough, there he was. Dressed in white pants and a white flowy shirt that was unbuttoned almost to his naval. He was carrying some shopping bags and appeared to be dining alone.  He looked just like he did in the “Dancing in the Streets” video – tall and slim with short blond hair- with a just a few more wrinkles than he had in the video that was, by then, almost 20 years old.  But he was still totally COOL.

My friends and I did not want to bother him and appear to be tourists (even though we were), so we took another look at him and then went back to our endless conversations about dating, teaching, traveling and all of the other things that single girls talk about. We also talked about celebrities walking around in public and how they must feel comfortable in New York since so many of them live there. We had seen several celebrities before, as has anyone who has spent any amount of time in New York City, can likely attest to.   I remember thinking of Elvis Presley. He could not go anywhere in public without being mobbed by fans, which led to him being quite reclusive in his later years.  We could not imagine living like that. It was pretty nice to see a star as huge as David Bowie shopping and eating lunch in the city, just like a regular person.

My friend had to go to the bathroom and got up to leave the table.  When she returned, I decided to go, and asked her where it was.  Her reply was “Go past David Bowie and make a right down the stairs.” We all started cracking up rather loudly and I got up and started to walk towards him. I didn’t want to be obnoxious but felt like I HAD to say something to him.  But what do you say to DAVID BOWIE?????  I took a deep breath and just as I was about to pass him, I smiled and said, “I don’t mean to bother you, but want you to know I am a big fan.” He looked up, flashed that huge boyish smile and thanked me.  As I walked down the steps to the bathroom, I felt all giddy inside. I talked to David Bowie!

As my friends and I were leaving, we glanced at Bowie, who was now about to also exit the restaurant. People were on their way in and he held the door for them as they entered.  The people looked up and thanked him and then realized just WHO was holding the door for them.  Their eyes widened and they began saying, “Oh man!  David Bowie!  Thank you!” He nodded and slowly walked out the door back onto the street, blending in with the crowd.  He had no body guards, no security guards. It was just him.  Enjoying a day of shopping and lunch in a city he loved. I wonder if he knew how much that city, or rather the people in it, loved him.

Rest in peace, Mr. Bowie.  You gave the world music that will play forever and you gave a few single girls a memory that will always make us smile.

 

A Real Adult?

I think I have actually turned into a real adult. It’s true.

On Saturday night, my husband’s friend invited us to go hear him play in his newly formed punk band.  We always try to support our friends, so we decided to go.  Plus, we were curious as to what a 40+ punk band would sound like. As the day went on, I began to feel a sense of dread.  The band was going on at 9:30 and I realized that 9:30 is normally about a half hour before I go to bed.  How the heck was I going to go out to a bar at that time?  Then, I wanted to slap myself. What was I? Old?  How could that thought even enter my head???

As the time grew nearer, I tried to talk myself into how great it would be to go out and hear a band, maybe do a little dancing and have a few drinks.  Yeah! Just like old times! I then went into our room to get dressed and there, at the foot of the bed, were my very comfortable, soft, and warm pajamas.  It was almost as if they were calling to pick them up and put them on and forgo the bar and head straight for the bed.  I  fought the urge to put them on and quickly threw them into the drawer so they were out of my site. They would not win!!

After that little temptation, I went to apply my make up in the bathroom.  As I looked in the mirror (trying to  ignore the ever increasingly deep lines forming between my eyebrows), I felt a yawn coming on.  And then, with one eye adorned with my Ivy Green eyeliner, I yawned.  And my eyes got teary, as they do when you yawn.  I quickly blinked as fast as I could to prevent the eyeliner from running. What was going on? A few years ago, 9:30 would have been EARLY to go out and here I am wanting to put my pajamas on and yawning while I am putting my make up on! This is a disgrace!

And then I realized that I just might be a real adult.  Yes, I’m 40, but never really considered myself to be an actual grown up.  It’s true. After all, I still dance around the house, sing off-key (the only way I know how) and do silly things with or without kids around. Suddenly, my mind began racing at things I have heard myself say over the past few hours/weeks/months which have me learning towards this “real adult” theory brewing. They are as follows:

1.  ” The band goes on at 9:30? That’s almost my bedtime!”

2.   “No, I am wearing a sweater to the bar.  It’s cold out!”

3.   “How can that kid only be wearing a sweatshirt when it’s this cold out!”

4.   “The music today stinks.”

5.  “When I was a kid…(add whatever you used to hear your parents say here)”

6.  “How will that eyebrow piercing look when she’s 55?”

7.   “What time is The Late Show on?  That’s way too late for me.”

8.  “Wow, I remember that song like it was yesterday.” – (listening to a song from my high school years on the “classic rock” station)

9.  “Tell that kid to turn his music down!”

10.  “No, I can’t eat that. It will give me indigestion.”

It’s pretty scary, I will admit, but I am not totally convinced that I am a real adult.   I am still holding onto the fact that I did go out, I did have a drink, I sort of danced (it’s kind of tough to dance to punk unless you are moshing) and we stayed out all night.  Til the next day in fact. Well, technically it was the next day.   Okay, who am I kidding? We were home and in bed by 12:30, but when you think about it,  we were out all night.

Therefore, I must conclude that I am not totally a real adult.  But I’m getting there.  Slowly but surely…MAKE IT STOP!!

For the Girls…

Today, I am thinking of all the wonderful women I have in my life from my mother and mother-in-law to my aunts, nieces, cousins and friends.  While I am not an expert on life or have a degree in philosophy, I do have some tips that I hope will make their day a little brighter. I am very blessed to have such strong and amazing females around me.  Taking the words of Martina McBride…”This one’s for the girls.”

Ladies,

1.  Don’t settle for ANYTHING or ANYONE.

2.  Do what makes you happy.

3.  Believe in yourself and you will be successful.

4.  Love yourself and your body just the way it is.  Do not compare yourself to the altered images of models in magazines and on TV.  They are altered. You are real!

5.  Cry. When you need to and when you want to.  It is not a sign of weakness.

6.  Take time for yourself, especially those of you who are mothers with careers.  I admire working moms more than any other group of people.  You are my heroes!

7.  Find something to smile about each and every day.  Hopefully, you won’t have to look too far!

8.  Do not waste your time with a person who puts you down – be it a boyfriend, friend, relative or husband.  People treat you the way you LET them treat you.  If a person is always negative or makes you feel badly about yourself, end that relationship and move on.  You deserve better!

9.  Enjoy the company of other women.  When a bunch of women get together, there is always laughter, smiles and great times!  GIRL POWER!

10.  Ask for help when you need it.  Women today are expected to do it all from being mothers and wives to having successful careers and running a household. When you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. It’s OKAY!!

 

 

 

No, We Are Not Having Kids

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Gasp! What????

Society has been accepting of many things in recent years – women in combat, gays in the military, same-sex marriages, adopting children from other countries – yet the decision for couples not to have children is still something that causes people to visibly crinkle up their faces in disbelief. How could you not want to be a parent? Why wouldn’t you want children?  Don’t you want to be a mother/father? Don’t you want feel life inside of you? Don’t you want a little one to call you “mommy/daddy?” Don’t you want someone to carry on your legacy?

The answer to these questions (for me) is NO.

I knew I did not want children when I was in my 20s.  While I adored spending time and playing with my little cousins, niece and nephew, motherhood was  not something I wanted for my future.   When my friends got married and started having children,  I was truly happy for them, but could not relate to their yearning to be a parent.  As a teacher, I saw the best and the worst of parents.  I saw some people who were meant to be parents – they devoted their lives to their children, knew that they were the parent and not their child’s friend, and truly loved being mothers and fathers.  And then, I saw those who should have taken classes on how to be a parent before they brought children into the world.

When my husband and I were dating and things started getting serious, I knew I had to tell him that I did not want children.  Each time he would bring up  a future together, I would get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I loved this man more than anyone in the world and wanted to be with him forever. I lost many hours of sleep wondering how he would react when I told him I did not want children. What if he really wanted kids? Would my feelings change if we got married? I didn’t think so and I knew I had to tell him…and soon.  One night, we were driving to our favorite sushi restaurant when I took a deep breath and let it out. To my relief,  he felt the same way.  He said that if he ever got married, it would be to build a life with his wife and that if kids came, that would be fine, but not something he was planning on or needed for him to be happy.  Phew! I knew everything between us would be okay.

It’s a shame that others are not “okay” with our decision.  I still get people who question why we are not having children. I now stare at them in wonderment as they stare at me. I wonder why they think it is any of their business and instead of making excuses or jokes, I simply say, “We don’t want to.”  I will no longer give a string of reasons or make jokes because I no longer feel I have to justify why we made this decision.  When friends and family announce they are pregnant, I never ask why they are having kids, so why do people ask why we are not?  I think the worst experience I had was one of my husband’s co-workers said that that there was something “wrong” with a woman who did not want to be a mother (meaning me). That really hurt my feelings.  Even though I knew there was nothing wrong with me, I still felt a sting in my heart.

People need to realize that parenting is not for everyone. Some of us are perfectly happy being wives, daughters, friends and aunts. We are fulfilled and joyful and content. So, the next time you think that there is something wrong with a couple that does not want children, know that are doing what is right for them. And their future.