Friday, December 31, 2010

(43-157) Ten For 10'

If I had to choose a word to represent MY 2010; without a doubt, it would have to be DISCOVERY.  This past year I have learned so much about myself, my family, my friends, and life in general.  Although I've frequently written about my discoveries on "The Bumpy Ride," since this is the end of the year; I would like to share TEN of my most important discoveries with you.

This year, I've discovered:
1.  Change is good.  Change can often be scary; but if things always stayed the same, they would never grow.
2.  You HAVE to be true to yourself.    Everyone has their own path, and you and only you, are responsible for yours.
3.  Age is just a number.  You're as young as you feel and you should never let your age stop you in any way.
4I am strong.  I have strength of character, and strength of mind. I am strong in my commitments and my values; and I am getting stronger every day.
5Family!  I have found cousins that I never really knew; and I am so ecstatic to have them in my life.
6.  I have made a difference. By reconnecting with some of the girls that I worked with when I was a Social worker; I now know that my efforts were appreciated; and meaningful.
7.  I have a lot left to do.  I have not nearly reached my potential, as a wife, a mom, a friend, a writer a person.
8Reciprocity is crucial.  Life is a two way street, and even though you may be accustomed to always being the person who does or gives; you also HAVE to let others do for you.
Karma!  It's the guiding force behind (say it with me,) "The greater good."

10. It's OK to ask for what you need.  I've never really been good at this.  And I know that just because you ask for something, doesn't mean that you're going to get it; but certainly if you don't ask; you're assured not to get it.  And so, once again, I'm going to ask for your help...

This post is number 157 of 366 and number 294 for all time.  Hard to believe; I KNOW.  And as we all know; I still have a long way to go, at least to get to July 29, 2011.  So with that being said; once again I would like to take a grassroots stab at increasing my readership; and this is where you come in.  If you enjoy "The Bumpy Ride," and believe that my messages and stories are those that others would enjoy or benefit from; PLEASE share me with a friend.  I'm ASKING that you tell at least two friends about "The Bumpy Ride," in the hopes that they will join me on a regular basis and tell two more friends, etc. etc.
Now sometimes, telling someone about something isn't enough; you have to show them, SO in keeping with my Ten for 10' theme, I'm going to provide the names and links for the ten posts that I think were my best of 2010.  Then you can just forward this blog onto your friends, with suggested reading built right on; OR, you can copy and past one of the posts into an email, so they can read me for themselves; PLEASE!!

Ten For 10': 
My Something Special  
A Gift Horse Tale
The Dirty Word
What A Mom's Gotta Do
Red - A Retrospective
The Protectors
What You Choose To Believe
A Blueprint for a B.F.F

There are so many ways for people to join "The Bumpy Ride." If they visit my blog itself; they can sign up to have "The Bumpy Ride" emailed to them each time there's a new post. If they're on Facebook, they can sign up on Networkedblogs, and follow me that way; or they can sign up through Google reader. Let us not forget, they can also show their support by joining The Bumpy Ride Fan Club, on Facebook. I'm starting to feel like a bit of a broken record; BUT, if I don't ask you; then you won't know that I need your help; and boy, do I NEED your help.

Well, that's it for me. I'm so pleased with how this year has gone. Even though it hasn't always been easy; it's ALWAYS been worth it.  I'm so excited to see what 2011 holds in store for us all.  I wish you love, peace and good health.
Till next year...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

(43-156) A Classic

Although I'm capable of being very assertive; in many situations, I'm extremely shy.  There are certain times when I speak my mind without reservation, and others when I have difficulty expressing my truth, for fear of offending someone.  For those of you who are familiar with the assertive, free speaker; you may be shocked to hear that there are two VERY different sides of me; while others of you may have experienced it first hand.

Well, on Christmas night when (SMF) David and Jenny were over, it was the second time in two days that I kinda beat around the bush about something because I thought that if I was direct, I might have insulted my friends.  It wasn't a big deal at all, as it was just about hamburgers, (stop laughing;) but nonetheless, it was awkward for me.  Ultimately, David told me that I could just say, "I don't like beer" (which is what I had trouble saying, the night before;) or "I don't like frozen hamburger patties;" and he had me repeat both of those sentences a number of times; before he asked "why don't you like beer?"

I explained that I actually used to like beer A LOT; but that the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of college, I worked (pretty much round the clock) at a bar that was on the beach in The Hamptons.  I was 19 /20 years old, and they allowed me to drink while I was working; (which was ALL THE TIME,) so it seemed like I had been drunk for the better part of that summer, and as a result, I kinda had my fill of drinking.

I elaborated, by saying; during the weekends I would work in the snack bar (of the club) selling breakfast.  After breakfast, I moved outside and worked, in my bathing suit, selling food that we barbecued.  I would go home, (to my "Little Princess" room in the attic that I mentioned in "Authors") take a shower and return to the club to cashier at the door.  After a number of weeks of working on the kitchen staff, I switched positions and started working for the woman who ran the gift shop.  She sold a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that; t-shirts, tank tops, jewelry, candy, breath mints, condoms etc.

I then told David; that I had a CLASSIC Paige story to tell him.  It's actually one of my all time faves; and so, of course, I have to share...  One night I was working in the gift shop and this dweeby (I know, not a nice thing to say but you get the picture) guy came up to the counter.   He asked for a pack of gum, and then kind of gestured towards something else in the display case, but I wasn't sure what he was interested in.  I said "Snickers?"  but he shook his head no and then again motioned towards another item.  Finally after a couple of guesses, I said in a surprised tone "condoms?"  And he let out a sigh of relief and shyly said "yes."  I asked him which kind he wanted, but he didn't know.  He asked me what was popular, but being knew to the gift shop, (and young;) I didn't know.  I suggested one and he said that he'd take it, as he clearly wanted me to quickly conclude our transaction.  And then, God help me; I honestly don't remember why I did it; but I said "would you like a bag or do you want to wear them out?"  The guy then looked at me with great annoyance,  grabbed his condoms, said "I hate you;" and walked away.
Oh my goodness; I don't know what possessed me to say such a thing, but I thought that it was hysterical; and to this day, I still do.
Till next time...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(43-155) The Care Package

Today was unusually, cold and rainy in Phoenix.  It was 52 degrees according to the Wii, and the kids and I decided that it was a stay in PJ's all day, kinda day. 

I was at the table working, when  all of a sudden our doorbell rang; (and this doesn't happen often, especially if we're not expecting anyone.)  Lyndzi looked out the window and told me that we had a package.  My immediate thought was "My pink bra from Lane Bryant;" but much to my surprise, it was a BIG box, from Zabar's.

Now for those of you who aren't familiar with Zabar's; I'm turning to  Wikipedia, to provide you with a lil background.  "Zabar's is a specialty food store at 2245 Broadway and 80th Street, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. It is known for its selection of bagels, smoked fish, olives, and cheeses. Zabar's is frequently referenced in popular culture; it is mentioned in the 1998 film You've Got Mail, the 2009 TV series V and episodes of Will & Grace, Dream On, Mad About You, Sex and the City, The Nanny, Seinfeld, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, 30 Rock, and Castle."

With that being said; I was in utter shock, to be receiving a package from Zabar's; and I honestly had no idea who had sent it.  I opened the package, and found a note that read "SENDING YOU SOME MUCH NEEDED 'COMFORT FOODS' FROM NEW YORK.  KEEP UP THE GREAT BLOG.  MUCH LOVE RACHEL & PENNY."  And then I promptly cried because I was so moved by their thoughtfulness.  Oh my goodness!

Rachel, is the Rachel S that I wrote about in "A Note Of Gratitude;" and if you've had the opportunity to read it, then you may remember how touched I was by Rachel's words of encouragement and how thankful I was that she had called me the other day.  So, can you imagine how overwhelmed I was by the kindness and consideration that Rachel and her extraordinary, mother Penny had shown by sending me this gift?  I adore Rachel and Penny; and not because they sent me a care package in response to my "Comfort Food" blog; but because they CARE.

I've known this magnificent mother and daughter since I was 16 years old; and although I typically only saw them during the summer, at the Pine's, they were very dear to me.  I remember that Rachel (who's a few years younger than me;) ALWAYS had her head on her shoulders. She had a unique maturity and she never cared what anybody else was doing; she invariably did what was right for her. She loved her parents profoundly and their relationship was admirable. They all showed each other love, respect and devotion; and after talking to Penny today, I realized that she was one of my first "parent" role models.  Much like my mom, Penny always took the time to get to know Rachel's friends and whenever I saw her, she never failed to express her fondness and genuine interest in me. 
Rachel and Penny went out of their way to attend my Nana's funeral; and went even further out of their way to surprise me at my bridal shower.  We've all managed to keep in touch throughout the years, and my family had the pleasure of seeing Rachel and her sister just a few years ago when they came to Phoenix; but by no means do we talk, write or see each other regularly; which makes this gift even that much more surprising.

I started looking through my package, and I was just blown away.  These incredible women sent me 2 dozen bagels, a lb. of lox (smoked salmon,) plain cream cheese, scallion cream cheese, a lb. of coffee with an official Zabar's measuring spoon, and two different kinds of rugelach.  The package also contained an insulated Zabar's tote and of course; ice packs.  

I immediately called Rachel to thank her and I believe that I was still choked up, maybe even crying; as I left a message expressing my utmost gratitude.  I asked Rachel to please call me back so that I could thank her properly, and provide me with Penny's phone number; and within a matter of minutes, Penny had called me.

It was so comforting to hear Penny's voice; and after reading my description of this dynamic duo; it shouldn't surprise you to hear that after I thanked Penny for the wonderful care package; she said "You can believe me that it gave us more pleasure than you can imagine."  She went on to say that it was more of a pleasure to give to me than to receive.  And I KNOW exactly what she means.

Penny and I chatted for a while, and amongst other things, we talked about my kids.  I bragged (of course;) and told her how fantastic they are; and she told me  "You get out of them what you put into them;" and you know what?  She's absolutely right!  We talked a little bit more and Penny said "You're so fortunate that you have love all around you.  If you have love and your health; you're way ahead of the game;" and I couldn't agree more.  Penny is a sage woman who has always given great advice; and the fact that she still thinks so highly of me after all of these years; is just a testament to what a loving, compassionate woman she is; and surely the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, in the case of her daughters.

Although it was cold and rainy in Phoenix today, I was warmed by the unbelievable benevolence that I was shown.  I feel so fortunate to have these astonishing women in my life.   Rachel and Penny make me feel So VERY special and so cared for; and that in and of itself is a gift.  I think that I could write for hours and hours on the subject, and never fully convey the depths of my gratitude and my love.  I am blessed, I am blessed, I am truly BLESSED!
Till next time...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(43-154) Ten Words

As of today, I have been 43 for five months.  Boy, how time has flown.  I know that I say that in one way or another, A LOT; but in terms of this year (for me,) and my commitment to writing this blog daily; I truly can't believe that I'm five months in; and I am SO HAPPY to be able to say that, I'm FIVE MONTHS IN!  WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

The other day when I asked my kids to pick a topic out of Mari's "Memories & Thoughts" jar; they found one that I haven't been able to get off of my mind.  It was "Tell ten words that you love and ten words that you hate;"  and so, since without WORDS, I would have no blog; I think it's apropos that I take this challenge today. 

Lover of words that I am; it was actually difficult for me to pick JUST ten words; but I tried to choose those that mean a lot to me.   And because it seems that I often make things a lot more difficult for myself than is necessary; I won't include 2 words per list, that you have to know are automatic givens for me. On the Hate side, you won't see DEATH or DYING and on the Love side, I won't use FAMILY or LOVE; and since I always like to end on a positive note; I'll list the ten words that I hate first. 

Ten words that I HATE:
1.   Cancer
2.   Suffering
3.   Can't
4.   Diet
5.   Failure
6.   Obese
7.   Cruelty
8.   Bills
9.   Bully
10. Misery

Ten words that I LOVE:
1.   Vacation
2.   Hugs
3.   Whimsical
4.   Peace
5.   Devotion
6.   Imagination
7.   Free
8.   Create
9.   Eclectic
10. Courageous

Whew!  Just hearing these words can make me make me happy or sad; and I think that this is a great reminder that one single word can be very, very powerful. One word can make some one's day or break their heart; so I hope that you'll remember that and choose your words wisely and carefully.
Till next time...

Monday, December 27, 2010

(43-153) A Note Of Gratitude

Today I received a most unexpected phone call; and it gave me a VERY big smile.  My old friend, Rachel S; called me from New York and without any provocation from me (NO, really;) she totally boosted my confidence.  I've known Rachel since my Pines days; and she has always been a voice of reason, counsel and support.  From time to time I'll get an email from Rachel, regarding something that I've written; and I'm always so flattered to know that she's reading and enjoying "The Bumpy Ride."

Amongst other things; Rachel told me that she always hears my voice in her head, as she's reading my posts; but she felt the need to hear my voice live; so she gave me a call; and I was truly, delighted.  I thanked Rachel for continuing to read my blog, and for encouraging me.  We discussed how difficult it is for me to write the blog on a daily basis; and how I often struggle, to find something entertaining or motivational to share.  I expressed my gratitude for her interest AND I want to publicly do the same for a few others as well.

To my friend Joni; I try my best to email you regularly to thank you for commenting on my blog; but I want everyone (well, the five people besides you, who read this;) to know how much it means to me, that you always leave me a comment; after you've read a post.  Now with that being said, I'm not inferring that I want every one (all five people,) to leave a comment, every time; I'm just thanking YOU for doing so.  It means so much to me.  And for those of you who've read Joni's comments; rest assured that her questions don't go unanswered; I just typically email her privately.

To my kindred spirit, Dawn; I cannot express how grateful I am for all of the thumbs up that you've given me on Facebook; and for all of your wonderful, heartfelt, thought provoking comments.  I admire and respect you so much; so the fact that you enjoy my blog, is a big (say it with me) "Huge," compliment.

To my amazing, Mari; Although you don't write your comments publicly; your emails, texts and phone calls are ALWAYS so appreciated.  I know that I've thanked you for your marvelous, "Memories and thoughts" jar on numerous occasions; but on behalf of my other five readers; I want to thank you again for the jar's contribution to "The Bumpy Ride."

Now surely I jest, when I say that I have five readers, plus whomever I was writing about.  I KNOW that I have a few more than that; and although I can't thank everyone who drops by "The Bumpy Ride," tonight I'd like to thank Julie, Judy, Cheryl, Shannon, Jenifer, Russell, Bobbi and Michele Q, (my sister of my heart;) for letting me know that they're keeping up with me regularly.

I know that you all are really busy; and the fact that you make the time to read my blog, just validates my effort and makes my day.  I'm gonna keep plugging away; and hope that I hit more often than I miss; and if you get in the mood to drop me a line some time and let me know how I'm doing, then I would be ever so obliged.  In the meantime, I found this quote by Karen Ravn, and I posted it as my Facebook status tonight because I think that it represents my current philosophy perfectly...
"Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be."
Till next time...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

(43-152) They Did It Again...

Today was another, absolutely, amazing day.  The weather was glorious; and since Luis had the day off, we were able to spend the day together and we got an extraordinary amount of errands done.  I wouldn't want to bore you by naming all of the stores that we visited, but I am So impressed with all that we accomplished; I feel compelled to share (OK, boast.)
We started at Old Navy, (though we made no purchases there today.)  We then went to Kohl's, where Nicky got a new pair of Adidas sneakers, ON SALE; and I used the last of a birthday gift card on 2 marvelous, necklaces.  We went to Ross, hoping to find a scrapbook for Lyndzi's drawings, but there were none to be had.; so we walked up to Payless, to get new school shoes for Kelsie.  I was psyched when I found a pair of shoes, on sale for $7, and ecstatic when I was informed at the register that the shoes had been marked down to $3.  The girls also got a 6 pack of slendiferous, neon socks for just $6.99.  Our next stop was Super Target, where we bought 2 stash cubes / ottomans that were on sale for $15 each.  Nicky used gift card money to buy a Club Penguin air hockey game that he's been looking for and Lyndzi used some of her gift card money for a Yoshi figurine.  The fam sat in the car as I ran into Lane Bryant; since they were having a buy 2 bras get 2 free sale; and this was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up.  Next stop, Super Wal-Mart, because they had been advertising Mario All-Stars and the kids wanted to buy it with their gift card.  Unfortunately the store was out of them, so we moved on to our next destination; Fry's.  We did some grocery shopping; (rather quickly I think;) and we were finally ready to head back home; after we stopped at our brand new Dunkin Donuts for some free Iced coffee; and a doughnut for each of the kids.  Not bad for five hours; I think.  We were out and about, we made some really good purchases; but most of all; we were together.

Luis and I cooked dinner; and once we'd finished eating;  the girls and I had to go to a different Target than the one we'd been to earlier;  because Luis had realized that the 2 stash box / ottomans that we'd purchased, were not the same.  Since I knew that an exchange was inevitable, it was something that I needed to take care of right away (that's just how I am;) and so as much as I didn't want to go back out; to Target we went.  While we went to Target, Luis and Nicky went to the .99 Store, because Nicky needed C batteries for his air hockey game.

Once I was finally back home; I called my friend Dawn, because we'd been playing phone tag for a number of days and I knew that she would be available this evening because she was snowed in.  Just a few minutes into our conversation, Lyndzi came to me to tell me that Kelsie had scratched Nicky's new game and he was very upset.  I called a teary eyed kelsie over and she explained, as always that she "didn't mean to."  But nonetheless, she had.  I told her that she and Nicky were going to have to figure out how to solve this.  I told her that if Nicky was upset with her, than she needed to speak to him about the situation.  Dawnie could hear my conversation with the girls and she told me that she thought I had handled the situation well.  I explained that if i would have gotten involved and solved the problem for them; they would never learn how to solve a problem for themselves; and I thought that this was something that they could handle on their own; and Dawnie wholeheartedly agreed.

I went on to enjoy my conversation with Dawn and shortly thereafter, Kelsie reappeared.  She informed me that Nicky had told her that since she had scratched his game seven times; she was not allowed to play the game for seven days.  I said "that sounds fair; "  and I asked if she thought that it was fair.  And she agreed.

In case I haven't mentioned it in like the past five minutes; I am SO incredibly proud of my kids!  I think that Nicky was wise and just, in determining Kelsie's punishment; and I think that the fact that Kelsie believes this as well, speaks volumes about both of them.

Sometimes kids will surprise you with how much they are capable of;  but in order for them and you, to see how adept they are; we have to offer them opportunities to show us what they can do.  Had they really not been able to resolve this on their own, of course I would have stepped in to help; but I think that they handled the situation beautifully and they all feel very successful, which is extremely important for them, in developing self confidence and knowing that they CAN solve problems.

As a mom, it was my privilege to see what proficient problem solvers they're becoming.  No one raised their voices, or their hands and they were able to peacefully reconcile the matter.  What can I say; they did it again... and I knew that they could!
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING               

Saturday, December 25, 2010

(43-151) Merry Christmas 2010!

This Christmas will be one that I won't quickly forget.  First off, it is the Christmas of my 43rd year; and I can say with all certainty, that I KNOW, it won't be my last.  Second, this Christmas eve marks the night that we discovered that Nicky is allergic to shrimp.  Talk about guilt.  We were invited to the home of Jenny and (SMF) David's, friend Lisa, for Christmas eve.  Jenny told me that Lisa would be making Tamales and she was going to make a seafood stuffed shells dish.  Jenny asked me to bring appetizers; so Luis made his world class, Guacamole and I brought some Hummus, Crab and roasted artichoke spread and garlic & herb cheese, accompanied by sesame bread sticks, pita chips and Naan.  We didn't eat dinner until about 930 or so; and there weren't that many things that Nicky and Kelsie would eat.  I had encouraged them both to try Jenny's shells; and Nicky took a bite and said that he liked it.  I asked if he wanted more and he said yes.  I served him another shell and after about two bites, he told me that his mouth was itching.  He wasn't interested in eating anymore, and he seemed quite concerned about how he was feeling.  We went into the bathroom so that I could get a good look at him, and his lips had started to swell and he was getting a red rash around his mouth; which soon spread to his cheeks and neck.  I immediately asked Jenny for some Benadryl.  I gave Nicky four meltaways, and watched him very closely.  We decided that it was best to go home; so we thanked our hosts, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and bid them a good night.

All the way home I felt incredibly guilty about Nicky's allergic reaction to the shrimp.  I KNOW that there was no way that I could have known that this would happen; but because I had urged him to try the dish; I felt like it was my fault.  Nicky (kindhearted soul that he is,) assured me that it wasn't my fault and swore that he was starting to feel better; and by the time we arrived home, the swelling had gone down and the redness was gone.  My guilt; however, remained well into Christmas day.

I started receiving texts at 6am this morning; but thankfully I managed to get back to sleep.  I slept in until 9, then made my way downstairs to turn the tree on and put up a pot of coffee.  My family slept in till just after ten.  Crazy, huh?  WHAT kids sleep that late on Christmas morning?  Well, I guess tired ones who took four Benadryl meltaways do; and thankfully, the girls did as well.  I greeted my clan, and we made our way downstairs to open presents.  Although the presents were few in number, everyone got exactly what they'd wanted.  AND, I must say that everyone's stockings rocked. 

Growing up I always had a Christmas tree; and we had stockings as well, but I suppose for appearances only; because it wasn't until I lived with my friend Big V, after college that I learned how delightful a filled stocking could be.  I LOVE finding things for everyone's stockings and so this year, I told the kids that they would each be given $2 so that they could buy something to put in my stocking.  I explained that it would be a good opportunity for them to have to be thoughtful, gift givers and it would be a great way for them to  experience shopping. I told them that they didn't have to buy anything for Luis' stocking, because I would; and I have to say that Luis and the kids did a fantastic job.  I received a Reese's peanut butter cup, a mini bag of coffee, sugar free mints, 2 different sets of ribbon for scrapbooking, slim Jims (YES, I said Slim Jims) and a $25 Starbucks gift certificate.  I'm so proud of my family; they truly rose to the occasion.

Going along with the theme of keeping our Christmas simple; we had planned to go to Lake Pleasant in the afternoon with Jenny, David and family; but yesterday, when trying to buy some wood for a campfire, we had heard that there was a no burn restriction for our county.  It turned out that we wouldn't be able to make a campfire at the lake; which meant that we'd be unable to remain there in the evening, because it would be too cold without a fire.  We altered our plans slightly and went out to the lake for a couple of hours.  It was a beautiful day to be at the lake.  It was peaceful, quite and a perfect way to enjoy the day.  The kids threw stones into the lake and enjoyed the outdoors; and Luis and I chatted with David and Jenny as we took in the scenery.  We came back to our house and grilled, as we'd planned to do at the lake; and the kids were even able to have their Smores.

I'm always so amazed at how quickly Christmas passes; after all of the time and planning that has gone into it. In some ways, I wish that we could go through Christmas in slow motion; but this is real life so we don't have that option. Instead, we just have to enjoy the moments that we can; capture as many on film as possible AND commit them to memory, as I have today.
I hope that you were all able to enjoy EVERY moment of your celebration; as I did mine.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING      

Friday, December 24, 2010

(43-150) Peace, Love & Harmony

If I had to pick one word to describe how I'm feeling today; it would be "BLISSFUL."  And what I like best about the fact that I feel this way; is that absolutely, nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.  I got to sleep in a little more than usual this morning; which was a  lovely way to start my day; but once I was up, Luis and I had to GO, GO, GO!  We still had a ton of shopping to do; which is kinda unusual considering that our kids are only getting one gift each; plus their gift from Santa, and a few stocking stuffers.  But we also had food shopping to do, and I had my blog to write; so we had no time to waste.

I won't regale you with the list of shops that we visited; but suffice it to say, there were many; and I was impressed with how good spirited my fellow shoppers and retailers, appeared to be.  I think that it's fair to say that I typically try to be a friendly person; even if it's just to smile at a stranger when our eyes meet;  and I must have exchanged a smile with someone while in Sam's Club, which caused me to be struck with a profound awareness that people (for the most part,) seem to respond well to a smile.  The simple gesture of a smile, can mean so much and it's not something that I usually think about; I just do.
During the holiday season, we seem to encounter two kinds of people ~ those who want to wish you peace on earth and bestow good will towards men; and others who are crabby and resentful; and hate all that surrounds the holidays because they have to deal with the crowds and the parking and the traffic etc.  I find it ironic that people can have such attitudes while they are out shopping for what is supposed to be a loving, thoughtful, joyous time; but yet, this idea alludes them. They are not scrooges (or I imagine that they wouldn't be out shopping;) but they do exhibit the bah-hum-BUG; and to me, these are the people who are in need of our smiles the most. I rarely find that if you smile at someone that they will scowl or ignore you; in fact, maybe showing a little kindness to a stranger is all that they need to brighten their day.  It can be a lonely world out there; and you NEVER know what someone else's situation or circumstances are; so I say, risk it, SMILE!

The stores were all crowded; each and EVERY one of them.  People were rushing around, filling their carts, waiting on lines and, for the most part; it seemed to me that most people were in the holiday spirit.

So why am I blissful?  I don't know.  Maybe it's the fact that I think that Luis and I, AND Santa; got the perfect gifts for our kids.  Or perhaps it was the comfort of shopping with my beloved; instead of going out on my own, as I've been doing.  It could be the smiles that I've exchanged with many today, or the season's greetings or my clean house.  It could be the realization that life is GOOD; even if it's not perfect; and that Peace, Love and Harmony feel GREAT.  BUT, on the subject of harmony, I want to say this...

The other day I was once again looking for quotes for my Facebook status and I found one that really made an impression on me; although I didn't choose to use it at the time.  It was a quote by journalist / editor, Doug Floyd; “You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.”  How brilliant is that?  I think that it is VERY important to remember that if we were all the same;  had the same beliefs, and practices; we could never achieve HARMONY.  We need diversity, and varied contributions in order to truly have harmony.
At this time, and for always; I wish you and yours, PEACE,LOVE & HARMONY!
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                           

Thursday, December 23, 2010

(43-149) Comfort Food

It's been a while since I've pulled a post topic from Mari's "Memories and Thoughts" jar; so I decided to let my kids pick my subject for today.  The only criteria that I gave the kids was, that I wanted the post to be something lighthearted.  I didn't want to write about something complex, or something sad, and I think they did a great job finding something that fit the bill, when they chose "What are some of your comfort foods?"

As soon as I heard the topic, "comfort food," I immediately conjured up the image of a bagel with lox, cream cheese, purple onion and tomato.  Oh my gosh; my mouth is watering.  Ironically enough, I discussed this very same meal with both (SMF) David and my cousin Jackie, JUST THIS WEEK; so something tells me, this sandwich is in my near future.

Sometimes comfort foods are those that bring us back to a certain place and time; and for me, many of my comfort foods are those that I remember my mom making.  Others are dishes that just make your mouth happy and put a smile on your face.  Kind of an A-HA moment, but with food.

I find it interesting that even though my mom was an amazing cook; it's not EVERY dish that she made that I would put on my comfort food list.  For example, I learned how to make baked ziti, Chicken Parmigiana, and Eggplant Parmigiana, from watching my mom; and even though I love all of those dishes; I wouldn't refer to them as my comfort foods. 

For someone who loves food, I don't think my comfort food list is very long.  At the very top of it, of course is that bagel that I wrote about earlier.  And then in no particular order, I'd have to include: Stuffed cabbage, brisket, potato latkes, kasha Varnishkes (roasted  buckwheat groats  w/ farfalle pasta and sauteed onions,) whitefish salad, rugallah, cappuccino (or any coffee really;) and cannoli.  And now that the list is in print, I can clearly see that ALL of these foods are dishes that are Jewish style foods (with the exception of cappuccino / coffee and cannoli; but most Jews that I know, LOVE Italian food;) so I suppose that my original theory is correct.  The foods that comfort us, bring us back to a certain place and time.
There is one food and one food only that I can think of to add to my comfort food list.  It's a food that had nothing at all to do with my mom.  It's not a food that I ever ate with her; nor anybody else that would give me a happy memory.  It's just a food that is such yummy goodness, that whenever I am feeling out of sorts, thinking about eating it always picks me up; and that's celery.  NO, of course not.  I'm totally kidding.  It's a food that I've mentioned before in "Swee treats,"  (drum roll please...)  Cracker Barrel's, Macaroni and Cheese.  YUM! 

Truth be told, I rarely eat any of the foods that I've mentioned; for a number of reasons.  First of all, most of them aren't readily available to me and secondly, I really try NOT to turn to food for comfort.  Since I love to talk about, write about, watch shows about; and of course EAT, food; it hasn't been difficult to imagine what I would like to eat if I was looking for something soothing; and yet I've found that even just the IDEA of these foods or thinking about these foods, has been very comforting to me.
Till next time...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

(43-148) My Smart Shopper

In case I haven't mentioned it in like the past five minutes; I have the BEST, most GENEROUS friends EVER!!!!!!!!!  Truly, generosity of spirit is more than enough for me; but I am very blessed to have friends who are magnanimous with gifts as well.  December brings EVERYONE increased expenses; so it means more than I can say, when my friends send birthday gifts to my daughters or holiday gifts to my children; when I know that they have their own responsibilities to tend to.

All three of my kids were fortunate to receive a couple of gift cards as well as some money, from our very altruistic friends.  As always, I encouraged them to think carefully about what they might buy.  Luis had to go to Target this past Sunday night, and the kids wanted to go along. They all brought their money with them, but Lyndzi was the only one who bought anything. Lyndzi spent $5 on a Luigi (from Mario Bros) key chain; as she'd bought Mario the last time that she had money.  Then last night, we went to the Disney store, because I needed to buy a gift card; and Lyndzi found a comic strip Mickey, plush toy that she wanted to  purchase.  Lyndzi is a big fan, OK you got me, I couldn't resist, (say it with me) yes, "HUGE," fan of vintage Mickey; and the plush was only $12.50, so we both agreed that this would be money well spent. Then later that night Lyndzi was looking at the Michaels flyer and she found an art set with markers,colored pencils,crayons,oil pastels,paint,a paint brush,a pad of paper and a pencil sharpener,for only $3.69; my smart shopper.  Lyndzi asked me if she could buy it; and I told her that I would take her to Michaels when I was done working on Wednesday. 
Lyndzi asked me multiple times today if I was still going to take her to Michaels; because she was SO excited about buying the art set.  I assured her that we would go as soon as I was done working; and then I made her a couple of propositions.  FIRST, I reminded her of the time that I had asked her to draw a picture for "The Bumpy Ride," and she wasn't able to do ("What A Mom's Gotta Do...")  Lyndzi did remember and so I suggested that once she purchased the art set, she could draw me a picture for me to use in today's post; and Lyndzi LOVED that idea.  My next proposition was that she come up with her own character, and draw me some pictures to go along with my "A Blueprint For A B.F.F" post; so that together we could try and get it made into an article of some sort, or a children's book; and Lyndzi was delighted that I'd asked her.

As soon as I finished work, we promptly went to Michael's and Lyndzi found the only set that the store had left.  As soon as we got home, Lyndzi got right to work; and this was her finished product...
Mario & Luigi race to save Princess Peach
In case I haven't mentioned it in like the past five minutes; I am SO incredibly proud of my children; and when it comes to spending money, I have to say that they are all incredibly responsible and conscientious. I don't think that I could have made better choices for Lyndzi, than she had made for herself; and as a parent, that is really gratifying. 
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING   

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

(43-147) Life Is Short

I learned all too young; that life is short. And truth be told; even if you lived to be 100; I don't know that you'd ever believe that you'd been here long enough. But when someone young passes away, it's always a reminder that life is short, and you should never take anything for granted.
Of course this has been the theme of my blog since I began the 43 series; but try as I may, I'm not perfect; (that's right, I admit it;) and even though I'm trying to savor every moment, make the most of each day and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me; I am frequently derailed by the human, petty concerns that fill our daily lives.

Well, today I found out that a girl that I'd worked with a few years ago, had just passed away and she was only 24. I can't say that Christy and I were friends, but she was friends with the daughter-in-law of my co-worker, and so I would ask about her from time to time, because I knew that she'd been ill. This poor, young woman had always had a difficult life.  Her mother had been a drug abuser, and Christy paid the price for it in more ways than one.  As a teen she'd had her spleen removed, and this made her very susceptible to illness, so she was sick often. She was delighted to become pregnant, but if memory serves, it was the birth of her daughter that proved too much for her heart; and so she spent the better part of her daughter's first year, in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant. She had the transplant and but her health continued to fail. She was just 24 years old; and she passed away; and I'm very saddened by her departure.

Christy's passing has really put things into perspective for me. So, I'm re-dedicating myself to my mission to value every minute, and every day; with the understanding that if my mind is focusing on negative thoughts; then I am wasting precious time.

If you knew the day that you were going to leave this world; I don't think that any of us would chose to spend that day being angry, or resentful, disappointed, or frustrated.  I would imagine that you would want to be surrounded by positivity and LOVE. And so, since we NEVER know which day may be our last, I have to remember that those negative emotions have no place in my life. Think about it. It's not typically easy to be happy, ALL THE TIME and always see the silver lining; but, it is what you deserve.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                              

Monday, December 20, 2010

(43-146) Proof Of KARMA

This afternoon, Kelsie and I went to Fry's Marketplace to do some grocery shopping.  I knew that I had other errands to run (YES, MORE;) so I wanted to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.  Kelsie eyed a short line and while we waited to approach the register, I took out my Fry's card and my credit card; so I'd be ready to go.  I'm not sure what it was that reminded me that I'd forgotten something; but I told Kelsie that I needed to grab a couple of candles, so we got off of the line.

Kelsie and I headed towards the candles, and along the way, I picked up a 10 pack of hangers for $1.25 (since they had the little hooks on them that I like; and I haven't found those easily lately.)  I put the 2 candles in my cart, and went over to the shampoo aisle because apparently when I thought I bought hair conditioner last night; I had actually gotten shampoo.  I decided to pass on the conditioner, because they only had a small bottle for more than I had even paid for the larger bottle.  AND THEN; all of a sudden, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach; because I realized that my credit card was gone.

I had it in my hand as I walked away from the check out line; and now, it wasn't in my hand, nor my pocket, or my wallet, or my purse.  I looked in the general area where we had just been; but I didn't see it anywhere.  I tried not to panic, because I knew that wouldn't help resolve the situation.  I told myself that I could report the card as missing and dispute any charges that might have been made; but nonetheless, I went up to the customer service counter to see if anyone had turned it in.

My card was not turned in, so I went back to the check out line where I had last seen my card and I carefully looked through my purse; but the card could not be found.  I enlisted the aid of a clerk who was straightening up in the area; but nothing turned up.  I decided to retrace my steps just one more time; so Kelsie and I started walking back towards the hangers, and looked to make sure that I hadn't laid the card down when I picked the hangers up.  But no card.  We checked by the candle display and Kelsie looked in the box; but no card.  With that we walked over to the shampoo aisle, where I was sure it was not; since I hadn't picked anything up there; and there, lying on the floor, strip side up was my credit card.  Woosh!  What a sigh of relief for me!!  

I immediately thanked God, and instead of attributing my luck to a Christmas miracle; I told Kelsie that I thought that I had found the card because of Karma.  I told her that you get back what you put out in this world and since I'm always trying to work towards, (say it with me;) "The GREATER GOOD," this time I was benefiting from my contribution.  I also told Kelsie that we may have been fortunate because of all of the things that Luis finds and returns; when possible. Either which way, I do believe that it was proof of karma.

If someone asked you to describe "The Bumpy Ride," it would be my fervent hope, that (amongst other things;) you would mention it's focus on the "GREATER GOOD;" and suggested means to achieve it. Being a big (say it with me) "HUGE" proponent of working towards "The greater good;" I am a total believer in karma; and today I got myself a wonderful helping of it.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING                                                 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

(43-145) Popo's Fiesta Del Sol

Over the summer my friend Kailene had mentioned Popo's restaurant to me.  It's not on our side of town; but something that she thought was worth going out of your way for.  I heard of the restaurant a second time, from my friend Brooke; who was of the same opinion; and thought that it was well worth the drive.  Well although I never acted on the recommendation; I never forgot it.  So imagine my surprise when I was driving down 59th avenue last week and there I saw Popo's Fiesta Del Sol, where Garcia's used to be.  I excitedly told Luis that I'd heard good things about Popo's and that we had to make plans to go there, SOON.
The kids got out of school at 11 this past Friday, and since Luis and I had a number of errands to run and a house to clean, I told him that I didn't want to cook dinner that night; and I suggested that we go to Popo's.  I texted Kailene and asked what she usually ate at Popo's and what their prices were like; but when I didn't hear back from her after awhile, I looked them up online.  I found a menu (which you can check out through the link I provided; now that I'm Queen of PROVIDING LINKS,) but the menu didn't include prices.  We decided to take our chances, since the food was supposed to be so good; and we headed out to Popo's.

The parking lot was packed when we arrived, so the kids and I went in while Luis parked.  We were told that there would be a 20-25 minute wait; and we sat down and perused the menu.  I had read some reviews online, and in additon to the advisement that on Tuesdays and Saturdays they offer .99 Margaritas; they raved about everything from the queso dips, to the tamales,  the carne asada, the fajitas; and even the rice; so I had a feeling that I couldn't go wrong with anything that I'd choose.  As we were waiting for our table, in walked my friend Kailene.  I told her that I'd texted her about Popo's earlier and she explained that she'd been having a lot of problems with her phone.  She told me that they'd come out for her husband's birthday, and I asked what she usually orders.  Kailene recommended the Machaca (shredded beef) enchiladas with rice and beans; and said that no one in her family had ever had anything that they didn't enjoy.

I had to excuse myself from Kailene as our table was ready.  We were immediately brought warm chips and salsa.  Lyndzi ordered a quesadilla from the kid's menu, because she also wanted rice and beans.  Nicky had the appetizer size Quesadilla, which was enough for a dinner for one person.  Kelsie had the kid's chicken strips with rice instead of french fries and the portion was very generous.  Not so much so on Lyndzi's quesadilla, ironically enough.  Luis had a steak fajita burrito with a side of beans; and I had the VERY dietetic, chimichanga with guacamole and jalapeno cream cheese.  I DIDN'T eat the whole thing though; so there's that; AND, it was well worth EVERY calorie that I didn't need.

Before we got up from the table, we all agreed that we would definitely go back to Popo's again; and Luis and I added it to our list of lunch date restaurants.  And then tonight when we were trying to decide what to do for dinner (in between, YES, more errands;) Luis asked if we could go back to Popo's.  YUP; it was just THAT YUMMY!!! 

What more need I say?  I would highly recommend Popo's and I would love to hear from you if you give it a try.  If you're not in the Phoenix area, but plan to visit; I would definitely add it to your list of restaurants to check out.
Till next time...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

(43-144) Lyndzi's 9th Birthday

I can't believe that Lyndzi turned 9 today.  You'd think that I'd be used to the wacky, ageing thing, since I have a son who's 11 1/2; but I'm not.  It's just unbelievable how quickly the time goes and it's so interesting to see the changes in how the kids relate to their friends. 

Since the girls agreed to go out to dinner last Saturday night, on Kelsie's birthday; tonight was the night that they were going to have friends over.  I told each of the girls that they could invite 3 friends.  Kelsie invited 3 girls from her class but no one had RSVP'd.  I saw one of the mom's on campus one day, (a couple of weeks ago) and I asked if her daughter was going to be able to come over for Kelsie's birthday.  The mom told me that her anniversary was around that time; and she asked if the invitation was just for a play date.  When I explained that it was actually for Kelsie's birthday, the mom said that her daughter could definitely come.  Well, on Thursday I went on campus in the morning because Nicky had too much to carry and he needed some help.  As we were waiting for the morning bell; Kelsie buried her head in my stomach and told me that her friend was not going to be able to come over.  The friend's sister explained that her mom had decided to go out to dinner that night instead.  Kelsie grew increasingly distressed and wouldn't remove her head from my stomach.  The sister asked if she was OK, but I explained that she was sad.  I told her that no one else had RSVP'd, and now two days before the get together Kelsie has no friends coming over.

I was very upset for Kelsie, and I tired to think of a way to make the situation better for her; so I emailed the moms of her two pre-school buddies, to see if by any chance they were free; but they weren't.  I picked Kelsie up from school and she seemed to be fine; until we were safely inside our house and she asked what to do about her party.  I suggested that she call her friend Natalia, and let her know that she didn't need to bring a present;  because Natalia had told her that the reason that she couldn't come was because she didn't have a present.  Natalia accepted Keslie's offer and I confirmed with her dad; but then I had to laugh, because in order to insure that there were no mishaps with Natalia coming over; Kelsie asked me to pick her up, and I HAPPILY agreed.

Lyndzi had two friends over; even though the mom of the third friend had confirmed with me on Wednesday; after asking if she could send her 10 year old daughter as well.  I gladly, agreed BUT on Friday the friend informed Lyndzi that her dad was not willing to bring her; so she wasn't going to be able to attend.  And just like I didn't put my two sense in regarding Kelsie's let down; I'm not going to say what I really think about this situation either; because if you know me; then you already know.

We woke Lyndzi up at 615 this morning with a loud rendition of "Happy Birthday."  We then went to Nicky's soccer game, Kelsie's 1st of her double-header, Lyndzi's game, and Kelsie's 2nd game of her double header.  Good games; all 4!

As soon as we got home from soccer; I made the Ice cream cake, and went to Jo-Ann for some additional supplies that were going to be needed for tonight's craft. I picked Natalia up at 445 and by 530 the rest of the guests had arrived.  We let each of the girls make their own pizza, with dough that we'd bought at Trader Joes; we each made 2 Shabby Blossoms, and they had ice cream cake.  Then before I knew it; the evening was over.

Despite the difficulties in confirming with their friends; I think the girls had a wonderful time celebrating their birthdays for the past week.  I'm so sorry that the girls had to be let down; however, I know from experience that each disappointment helps you appreciate all that you have.
Till next time...

Friday, December 17, 2010

(43-143) Tree Trimming 101

Busy, Busy, Busy!! Yes, I know YOU KNOW.  BUT, I'm proud to say that in order to alleviate me from some of the many things that I still have yet to do; I'm taking a big, (say it with me,) "HUGE," leap of faith; and I'm letting my kids decorate our Christmas tree.   Now this may be no big deal to some of you; but for me, being the OK, I'll say it, control freak, that I tend to be; being as anal as I'm prone to being with things of this nature; allowing the kids to decorate the tree is a tremendous accomplishment for me.

I conducted a brief tree trimming 101 with the kids, while we were on our way back from dinner; and I think that they have a good understanding of what I expect.  Not to sound like the Navidad Nazi; but I do come from a long line (OK, one good solid generation) of tree decorating divas.  When I was growing up, our trees were nothing short of perfection; and despite the fact that we have a MUCH smaller tree than what I had as a kid; I always take great pride in having a splendid, spectacle.

I'm sitting in our family room typing my blog; while the kids are decorating the tree.  They asked if they could watch "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town;" because they are absolutely in love with it now; and they're singing "Put one foot in front of the other;" as they happily (and carefully) adorn our tree.

Kelsie took a break for a moment and asked if she could give me the present that she bought for me at the school, Santa shop; because it's something that we should put on the tree; so I said sure.  I opened her gift and found a BEAUTIFUL glass angel ornament.  Kelsie explained that she chose this ornament because I'm her angel.  Aww, either she's the best brown noser ever; or I'm one LUCKY mama.  (I'll go with I'm one LUCKY mama.)

The finished product :)
From where I'm sitting, the tree is looking lovely.  I have really high hopes that the kids are going to do me proud; as they do with EVERYTHING that they try; and you know what; even if they don't do it exactly like I would have; that's OK, as long as they are happy with it, that's really all that matters.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING              

Thursday, December 16, 2010

(43-142) I KNOW My ABBA...

For the past twelve plus years; I've worked for a technology company that builds travel sales websites.  My job of course, has NOTHING to do with technology; since it is something that I have very little understanding of.  Instead, I work in the accounting department (which is something that I never would have expected to hear myself saying 20 years ago; but nonetheless, it's true;) collections to be exact.  I'm telling you this so that you'll understand that even though my company builds the websites; they are also involved in sales and they are constantly trying to find ways to increase our business.
As a great deal of our sales are derived from various group events; our company owners decided to venture out into the world of class reunion
Now, when our CEO comes up with an idea, he totally immerses himself in it; so I suppose that I shouldn't have been surprised when a couple of weeks ago we were inundated with deliveries of DJ equipment.  My boss was very proud of his new purchases and explained that he wanted to be able to supply DJ services as a part of his class reunion coordination package.  He told me that he and a number of other employees were going to learn how to use the equipment so that they could DJ the jobs themselves.  I told him that it was Luis' dream to be a DJ, and he immediately invited him on board. 

Luis went to their first meeting, where they started checking out the equipment; and my boss said that they would each be given an opportunity to take the equipment home.  Well, the equipment continues to arrive, regularly; and last week, we received some Disco lights (for lack of a better name for it.)  I saw the little light demonstration and suggested that they purchase a bubble machine as well.

Today I went to my office and my boss asked me if I'd seen the lights.  I said "yes," but he decided that I deserved another viewing and with that, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to run" was all keyed up and the lights began to move.  My boss left the music on, and I have to say; he'd done a pretty good job.  He had a diverse mix, and each tune transitioned well to the next.  My boss left the office; and he kept the music and lights going.  I took the liberty of turning a light back on, because it was so dark in the office that my solar calculator couldn't display any numbers.   I was dancing at my desk; and MUCH to my delight, I heard the intro for "Dancing Queen."  You may remember that #8 of my "100 Random Things About Me," was "ABBA music makes me happy!!"  And the truth is, that most people who KNOW me, know this.  My other boss made sure to comment to me that it was Abba since he had banned me from playing them in the office a number of years ago.  I listened to the song, and as my boss walked by and said to me, "Now that's ABBA," and I said "No it's not."  He questioned me and I told him that the other boss had gotten the wrong version.  He didn't get Abba; he got a recording from "Mamma Mia."  My boss shrugged because he couldn't tell a difference.  I told him that I was so sure; that I would bet him money (which is something that I NEVER say.)  Of course he didn't take me up on my bet; which is too bad for me, because upon my other bosses return to the office, I informed him that he didn't have the Abba version of "Dancing Queen," but the show version etc. etc and he said "You're right."

Do I know my ABBA or what?  With the popularity of the film and show versions of "Mamma Mia," ABBA music is still alive and well; and although I enjoy all versions (well, except maybe Meryl Streep's,) the real deal is my favorite.  So tonight, I'm going to share my top 5 ABBA tunes, because I think that we all need to bring out our inner dancing Queen from time to time.
Till next time...

I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
Mamma Mia
Dancing Queen