Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(43-35) A Gift Horse Tale

Today I looked a gift horse in the mouth and thoughtfully turned it away.  Now you have to know that with an opening line like that; this is going to be one of those rare cases where I have to be unexplicit; and I do apologize.  Since I need to be discreet, I can't tell you who the gift horse was or what it was offering; but suffice it to say, that as is typical of a gift horse; it presented something that we REALLY needed; but for the sake of sanity and morality we couldn't accept.  Vague, Vague, Vague; I know and I hate it.  I am typically The Queen of FULL DISCLOSURE.  No one has EVER accused me of being short on details and in fact; yes I know, sometimes I say much too much - but not this time.

So, why am I teasing you like this?  You know the answer to that.  (Say it with me,) "It's for the GREATER GOOD."  Even though I have to be unspecific; today was a turning point for me and even in generalities; this is a story that I want to share.

When it comes to a gift horse, it seems that the endowment always arrives at an opportune time and most often there is some question about the benefaction and whether or not to accept it.  Remember, this is a gift horse and NOT just a gift.    "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"  originated back in the day when horses were frequently given as gifts.  As you can tell a horse's age by looking in its mouth; the proverb encourages you not to do so, because it would be in poor taste; as it would seem that you were questioning the integrity of the gift giver.    Not looking a gift horse in the mouth connotes to me that you should just take what's being offered and not question it; but the truth is that there are consequences for our actions and sometimes all that glitters isn't gold.  I find that people often encourage you NOT to look a gift horse in the mouth; and to accept what's presented to you; but for those of us who believe in personal accountability, I think there are certain times when it would be remiss not to do so.  To quote Freud, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar ;" and I believe that's true; but then again; sometimes it's not.

So we've covered a proverb, an idiom and a quote; let's head up hill... The offer that we received today was very unexpected.  It came from someone that Luis and I have tried to distance our family from; and although most people would have jumped at this opportunity; it was one that could also have had serious repercussions for us.
When I first heard from the individual that I've been referring to; Luis was at work and I was caught off guard.  Things happened very quickly, and as gift horses can be; it was extremely persuasive, and very persistent.  I discussed the situation at great length with my devoted, friend Rachel K who is very familiar with this gift horse and the problems it has caused for me (in particular) in the past; and she was able to provide me with a great deal of clarity.  Rachel's advice and wise words were invaluable today and after we took EVERYTHING into consideration; Luis and I decided that it was best for us to keep our distance from this person and stay true to our beliefs.  Luis called the gift horse and declined the "gift" because sometimes there are very high costs for what a gift horse bestows and we were not willing to pay the price.

Now I know that this is probably the most confusing story that I've ever told, (and that's saying something;) and I assure you that I was not trying to be difficult, but to present a real life quandary in it's most basic terms.  You may have to read it again, OK, and again, before it truly makes sense to you; and I hope at some point it does; because it was a very important day for me.  I stood my ground and it was liberating.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Monday, August 30, 2010

(43-34) The Show I Shouldn't Have Missed...


In my August 24, 2010 blog, "Reality Check", I wrote about how reliant I am on my DVR.  Well, the thing about the DVR is, that it doesn't work UNLESS YOU PROGRAM IT.

In my March 4, 2009 "100 Random Things About Me" blog, #37 was "I've always loved award shows. But now, I keep it down to The Oscars, The Tonys,The Emmys and The Golden Globes; (oops, And SAG and Critics Choice.)"  So, what do my DVR and award shows have in common? You've probably guessed it.  I was unaware that the Emmys were on last night and hence I did not watch or DVR the broadcast; and I am very disappointed.  I've been able to find re-runs of the red carpet coverage, and of course there's the "Fashion Police;" however, thus far I have been unable to find a FULL broadcast of the actual show. Now certainly I have bigger fish to fry and this is NOT the end of the world, but while I was trying to locate the show online; I found the opening number from the broadcast and let me just say that if this number was any indication of what the rest of the show was like; BOY did I miss a doozie. In case you haven't seen it, I'm going to share the link with you now; and if you've never checked out any other link that I've posted; I promise you that you won't want to pass this one up. If you have seen it; by all means go ahead and watch it again. I've already watched it 3 times and it just gives me a BIG smile.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPkDFPmRSqU

Now I ask you, WHAT could be better than this??  I'd take Jimmy Fallon as a host, over Neil Patrick Harris any day; and I like Doogie; really I Doo!  You've got the cast of  "GLEE;"  and if you've read "The Bumpy Ride" before; then you KNOW that's one of my fave shows.  If you're new to my blog; I LOVE GLEE!!  The effervescent Betty White (who I just blogged about last week in "Hot and Huge,"
was prominently featured; as was Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Kate Gosselin and Randy Jackson - not a group you'd typically expect to see together. This skit was funny and innovative and in my opinion, "Born to Run" is one of the best Springsteen songs ever; so the entire number was just PERFECTION!!  I think this is going to be a VERY tough act to follow; but rest assured my DVR and I will be ready next time for whoever wants to try.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(43-33) Art Imitates Life

My Beautiful, friend Dawn celebrated her birthday this past Wednesday when she was in Las Vegas; and because she is so beloved, she was the recipient of 2 GORGEOUS floral arrangements.  Since Dawn couldn't take the flowers on the plane with her, she offered the flowers to me.  Well who could turn down such a generous offer?  We gratefully accepted the flowers and Luis MacGyvered a setup for the vases using our minivan seat belts; and the arrangements made it to our home unscathed. 

While we were away, my friend Lori sent me a text to let me know that our local radio station MIX 96.9 is having a kid's fridge art contest and the prize is $1000.  When I got home I told Lyndzi and she immediately got to work.  Lyndzi made several drawings last night; but today she decided to try something different.

I'm very thankful that Dawn shared her splendid flowers with me and that I can now share them with you.  I'm also extremely gratified that Dawn's lovely, flowers served as such an inspiration for Lyndzi; and that I'm able to display her work of art here for you as well as in the Mix 96.9 contest; in the 8-10 year old category.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Saturday, August 28, 2010

(43-32) Vegas


I really do LOVE Las Vegas; it's a veritable feast for the eyes.  From the magnificent hotels, to the bright, neon lights, to the people from all walks of life; it is spectacle to behold and such a FANTASTIC time.  And speaking of time, it's amazing how time seems to pass SO quickly while you're there.  Before we knew it the clock read 2am, but the hotels and the streets were as lively as if it was 7pm.  We hated to go to sleep, but we really were tired; so at 3 we decided to call it a night.
Although I knew that I would have an awesome time, having Luis to myself and visiting with our friends; I'll say it again, the trip exceeded my expectations.  Luis an I reconnected.  We laughed, and joked, and danced and sang.  And I feel so blessed that after 16 years, we STILL enjoy our time together as much as ever.  We never run out of things to talk about; in fact we talked about some things today that we've never discussed before and the time we shared was priceless.

Even though I missed my kids, it wasn't agonizing.  I was looking forward to seeing them; but I knew that they were in great hands; so, I would have to say that there is definitely something to be said for having some time alone with the one you love; no matter where you are.

Such a fun trip, deserves it's own soundtrack; and so I'm going to share some of the songs that will forever remind me of this trip. 
"I Like It" - Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9_n8jakvWU
"Club Can't Handle Me" - Flo Rida & David Guetta
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgM3r8xKfGE
"Everlasting Love" - Carl Carlton
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uozA4PQwYl0
"Right Round" - Flo Rida
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFrjp4IPXSY

"I Like it" just so happens to be both mine and Luis' new fave song, and Luis put it on the CD that he's made for our trip.  I've always loved "Everlasting Love" and it made it onto this list because our cocktail waiter who doubled as a singer butchered this song while we were playing video poker, and although it was a bad rendition; it was memorable.  Yes, I know 2 Flo Rida songs; "Club Can't Handle Me" is another song from Luis' Vegas road trip CD; and "Right Round" reminds us of "The Hangover;" and since we were going to Vegas we reminisced quite about about this movie.  On our way there I even asked Luis if he wanted to steal a cop car and Mike Tyson's tiger and he said he was TOTALLY up for it.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Friday, August 27, 2010

(43-31) FIRSTS

I'd say "Guess where I am," but I think it's farely safe to say that you've already figured that out.  The BIG news about me being in Las Vegas, is that Luis and I are here WITHOUT our kids and this is the FIRST time that we've ever gone away overnight without them.  Talk about making changes.  Thanks to our AMAZING friend Tina, Luis and I left for Vegas after dropping the kids at school this morning and within 5 hours we arrived at the Rio.  Now we're only going to be here for one night; but we've been having a FANTASTIC time.
We came to Vegas because my friends Dawn and Michael were going to be here for a few days (they live in Connecticut;) and I REALLY wanted to meet Dawn in person.  OK, that probably sounded peculiar; so let me explain.

My senior year of high school, I became friends with Michael, who was a friend of a friend; and went to a different high school then I did.  Michael and I lost touch during college but reconnected on Facebook and in 2009 when I was starting up my Oscar pool for the year, Michael mentioned that he thought that his wife might be interested in participating.  I sent her a friend request, and the rest has been history.  Dawnie and I hit it off famously and found that we had an extraordinary amount in common.  Dawn is an absolute delight and she has become a very good friend of mine.  Dawn is someone that I've come to count on for love, support and advice; and truth be told I actually talk to her a lot more often that I talk to Michael; although I adore him as well.  Dawn is intelligent, and funny, forthright, and insightful; and she doesn't just tell you what you want to hear; which I truly respect.  Now ironically enough, Dawn's family lives in Arizona, but she hasn't been there to visit since we've become friends; so when she asked me to meet her in Vegas, I JUMPED at the chance.  With only 5 hours between us, there was no way that I could have her be in such close proximity and NOT meet her.
Asking Luis if he wanted to go to Vegas was like asking Imelda Marcos if she wanted a pair of shoes.  He was totally on board for a little getaway, and we had planned to bring the kids, but since Vegas isn't a pet friendly town (unless your Paris Hilton,) we were going to have to find someone to watch Hershey.
Coincidental as it is Michelle M is also in Vegas now too, so we couldn't ask her to watch Hersh; but thankfully I remembered that Tina had volunteered to watch Hershey, the last time that we were thinking about coming to Las Vegas; so I thought, "well MAYBE Tina could watch Hershey AND the kids;" and sure enough when I asked her, she said "DEFINITELY." 

I knew that the kids would be happy to stay with Tina because she has always been so kind to them.  Tina makes sure that she comes to at least one of each of their soccer games a season, and at least one swim meet.  If you are fortunate enough to have Tina for a friend, she doesn't just befriend you; but your whole family; and everyone is all the better for it.  Tina has away of making everyone feel important, loved and special.  She is an exemplary mom and has perfected the art of being a good friend.  This morning I texted Tina and I said that I didn't know how to thank her enough for watching the kids; and that I just might have to express my thanks in my blog.  Tina replied that she didn't think she made great blog material; but I told her to leave that to me, and the truth is that I could sing her praises all day (and night,) but alas, Vegas awaits. 
Meeting Dawn and seeing Michael again has exceeded my expectations.  The four of us have been having the BEST time; and it is so hard to believe that most of us are just meeting for the first time.
I'll have to tell you more about my trip tomorrow; because we only have a little over 12 hours left and there's a lot more fun to be had.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING


Thursday, August 26, 2010

(43-30) Kudos to Kelsie

In additon to wanting to share our love and our lives; one of the reasons that Luis and I wanted to have children, was so that we could bring people into this world who would go forth and contribute positively.  People who would be kind and compassionate, reliable and responsible, trustworthy and hard working.  Individuals who would try to make the world a better place.  And although I believe that our children are well on their way to becoming these kinds of people; today I heard a story about my youngest; Kelsie, that assured me that  we are on the right track.

Kelsie is in first grade and she came home from school on Tuesday and told me that something disgusting had happened in class.  I was intrigued, as this isn't something that I usually hear and I asked her to tell me all about it.  Kelsie explained that someone had pooped in class instead of going to the bathroom.  Of course I asked if the person had done it in front of the class; and Kelsie said "I don't think so."  I definitely needed more details at this point; so I asked her to tell me exactly what happened.  Kelsie explained that there was poop next to this one girl's desk and under her chair.  Repulsed as I was, I needed to press on with  my questioning;  but before I could utter another word, Kelsie said "And guess who found the poop?"  Oh dear lord, I knew what was coming next; and as soon as I asked "WHO?"  She said exactly what I knew she'd say; "ME!"  OK, Gross! Gross! Gross!  I asked Kelsie what she did when she found it and she said "I told the teacher."  I asked what the teacher did, and she said "Called the janitor."  POOR janitor!  I love our janitor, God bless her!!  I asked what happened to the student and Kels explained that the teacher had spoken to her in private.

So today I went to volunteer in Kelsie's class again; or at least that's what I told her.  The truth of the matter is that I knew that Kelsie was getting the Student of the Month award and I wanted to be at the assembly for her; but she's so darn sharp that I knew if she saw me AT the assembly, she'd figure out that she was student of the month; so instead I just said that I was volunteering in her class.  I was / am VERY proud of kelsie for being Student of the month. She has demonstrated that she knows when it's time to play and she knows when it's time to buckle down and do work.  I'm told that she is very well behaved and a great role model. Now what mom wouldn't be ecstatic to receive these compliments about their child?  But even better than that, was the story that her teacher told me about the poop incident.
Her teacher said, "I felt so bad that Kelsie had to be the one to find the poop; but she handled the situation so compassionately."  She said "Kelsie was very discreet when she told me what happened and she didn't make a big deal about it, so ultimately none of the other kids in the class had any idea what was going on and the pooper was not embarrassed." (Well she didn't say pooper...)  My chest swelled with pride and my heart smiled as the teacher told me this story; and I grew a new appreciation for the person that kelsie is becoming.  Many other children would have handled this situation so very differently; and I think Kelsie demonstrated maturity and compassion that we sometimes don't even see in adults.  I think it's safe to say that Luis and I are doing something VERY right.  Get ready world!!
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

(43-29) Fruits

Tonight I was in need of a topic; so I drew from Mari's "Memories and Thoughts" jar; and the piece of paper that I chose read, "What is your favorite fruit and what is your least favorite fruit?"  Remember, I said I "CHOSE" this piece of paper.   I just thought I'd keep it nice and simple this evening.

So I'm going to go at this backwards; big surprise; right?
My LEAST favorite fruit would have to be Strawberries (and the gasps abound.)  Yes I know; they're gorgeous, they're succulent and you'd be hard pressed to find a fruit that looks more appetizing than a strawberry; but the reason that it's my least favorite, is because I'm allergic to them.  Strawberries make me break out in hives and therefore I avoid them at all costs.  OK, so maybe that's cheating a little bit.  I hate strawberries because I can't eat strawberries; so being the Queen of FAIRNESS; I'll tell you my REAL least favorite fruit; and that would be Papaya.
Papaya - YUCK!  Even the name almost makes me gag.  (SORRY Papaya lovers.)  If you're not familiar with Papaya, you're lucky!  No, just kidding.  Papaya is a tropical fruit and sadly it masquerades itself as a mango on the outside; but inside there is a noxious smelling fruit that is just down right offensive.  Simply look at that picture; it just looks WRONG; a lovely melon colored fruit with all those disgusting black seeds. Blah!  I don't think that I could take a bite of Papaya if you paid me; so I think it's safe to say that it is DEFINITELY my least favorite.

Saved the best for last I did.  You know me, I always like to end on a positive note.  And with that being said; my FAVORITE fruit (are you on the edge of your seat yet;) is PINEAPPLE!  I just felt like the Chairmen on "Iron Chef" revealing the secret ingredient...  OHH Pineapple!  What a yummy treat.  When they're ripe and you can actually smell the sweetness emanating from their prickly hide, there is NOTHING better.  I relish the thought of a juicy bite of Pineapple.  Now in many ways Pineapple can be both a blessing and a curse.  First of all, in the fruit department I can't think of another that requires as much work to actually get to the delicious piece of fruit.  Strawberry, nope you just rinse it off and eat it.  Pineapple = work (if you buy it whole.)   Secondly, Pineapple can sometimes give you a little canker sore on your mouth; but isn't that human nature; we often want something that we know may cause us pain; right ladies??  Who knew I was going to get all psychological about fruit?  But I digress...
When I was pondering the question of my favorite fruit, for a moment I considered saying mango, but then when I thought about it, I realized that one of the things I like best about Mango is that you can taste other fruits in it; especially PINEAPPLE!  A bite of pineapple and I'm on vacation.  And Pineapple Upside Down Cake, need I say more?   So there you have it; Pineapple is my favorite fruit and I'm sticking to it.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

(43-28) Reality Check

As promised in my August 22 post "Hot & Huge," I'm coming right back atchya with the second part of my TV tutorial.  I've already covered the scripted shows that I've been watching, so now it's time for a reality check.  Fan of the written word that I am; I feel slightly guilty admitting that I watch far more reality TV than scripted TV but I suppose in all fairness that there are more reality programs on in the summer than new scripted programs. 
While thinking about the reality shows that I am currently watching, I realized that I can break them down to 2 categories; 1.  Shows about food and 2.  Shows about New Jersey.  I could just as well say that the 2 categories are 1.  Shows that I love and 2.  Shows that I love to hate or hate that I love.  I know, I know, if you hate it; why watch it - I'm right there with you but it's like a car wreck, you just can't look away.  As much as it repulses you, there's something compelling about it; and that's exactly how I feel about "Jersey Shore," "Jerseylicious," and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."  Oh where do I begin?  First and foremost, let me say that I don't advocate that you watch any of these Jersey shows; and yet I can't stop myself.  "Jersey Shore" and "Jerseylicious" are guilty pleasures indeed.  I watch these shows thinking that the majority of these people look like such morons; they're petty and small and superficial and those are their good qualities.  Maybe I watch because their stupidity makes me laugh and because their lifestyle is SO different from what I've become accustomed to in Arizona; and yet parts of it are like a slice of home.  Now, if you haven't heard of or seen either of these shows, don't be alarmed.  "Jersey Shore" is in its second season on MTV and it's basically like the "Real World" but with an entire cast of  20 something Guido's and Guidettes.  I first started watching this show during a marathon last summer, and OK I got hooked.
"Jerseylicious" is on E;  it's about a hair salon in New Jersey and for the most part their isn't anything wrong with this show, EXCEPT for the most obnoxious, self-centered, conceited, hairstylist EVER - Tracy!   Tracy is dating the ex-boyfriend of makeup artist Olivia and she is bound and detemined to make Olivia's life a living hell.  Tracy is mean and annoying and I can't wait for someone to put her in her place.
Lastly, I've been dancing around it in a couple of blogs now, so it's time for me to discuss my discord with "The Real Housewives of New jersey."  I was a fan of this show last year; but in the same type of way that I enjoy my other Jersey shows; it's just a barrel of unexpected surprises.  Now last season the housewives proved themselves to be a little over the top and this season they've gone right over the top and off the deep end; ESPECIALLY Theresa Giudice.  Last season Theresa looked like a kind hearted ditz who thought money grew on trees.  This season she continued to flaunt her expensive tastes despite the fact that her husband has filed for bankruptcy.  I for one don't understand how if you've filed for bankruptcy you throw a christening for a baby that's equivalent to a big, east coast wedding.  How you go on a trip to Italy and a cruise while you're there and take not only your family of 6 but all 4 in-laws as well.  Now OK, I'm not naive; maybe just maybe Bravo (their network) paid for these things, but if that's the case; I sure would like them to say so.  I could go on and on and on with my criticism of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey;" sans redhead Caroline Manzo of course; but instead I choose to focus on the positive; so let's move on to FOOD!

At the top of my list of food shows STILL, is "Top Chef."  Top Chef is on Bravo,  and in case you haven't seen it yet, I would venture to say that it is the BEST cooking competition show out there.   Also, if you haven't already heard, Top Chef - Just Desserts will begin on September 15 -  what a treat; sign me up!
I've DVR'd but have yet to watch "Master Chef," (on FOX) but I sure plan to.  I enjoyed "The Next Food Network Star," and Aarti WAS my choice to win.  I just watched her first show "Aarti Party" the other day and I found her to be delightful.  I personally have never been a fan of Indian cuisine, but she put an Indian twist on sloppy joes and made some ice cream pops and I was already to give them a try; so I'll stay tuned.
I've also DVR'd but have yet to watch "The Great Food Truck Race," (The Food Network) but I have high expectations of this one.  It looks like "The Amazing Race" but with a huge food component.  I've watched Cupcake Wars; (Food Network)  and even though it's not the best of the food shows, it's still entertaining.  Of course I LOVE Triple D -  "Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives,"  and I never miss an episode of  "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" (both on The Food Network.)  Food glorious food; see what did I tell you; I love everything about it.  I don't just like to eat it; I take pleasure in  watching people cook it, I adore hearing people talk about it AND I've been learning a lot about how to prepare it and where to go get it.

Thank heavens for my DVR; it's probably the most used piece of equipment in my houseright now.  I know from the sound of my two TV posts it must seem that I spend a lot of time watching TV, but the truth is that I DVR the shows that I've mentioned, but there are a lot of days; (especially now that I'm writing ever day) that I don't even turn the TV on.  When I do find the time; the food shows are programs that I watch with my kids; and the Jersey shows are programs that I watch with my husband; and in these difficult times, I think that we can all use some distractions from our own reality.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Monday, August 23, 2010

(43-27) Red - A Retrospective


If you've read "The Bumpy Ride" before, or if you know me; then you KNOW that I have an EXTRAORDINARY husband.   The cause for my praise today is Luis' willingness to color my hair for me.  That's right; I said "color my hair."  I can't remember exactly when this favor started; but I do know that it's been several years, because I can recall him being ever so patient as he had to apply 2 boxes of color to my long hair.  Now that my hair is short it's much quicker and easier; and he swears to me that he really doesn't mind.  I know, Whatta Man!  And I sure am lucky to have him. So last night Luis gave me a long, overdue dye job.  I actually hadn't colored my hair since we were in Puerto Vallarta in May; and with a red color, that's just a sin because they fade SO QUICKLY.  Once my hair was dry and I looked in the mirror; I thought the same thing that I think every time; "WELCOME BACK!"  Whenever my hair is freshly done I always think I look so much more like myself.  And it's odd because as the color is fading, you recognize that, but until you actually color it and then see the difference; you don't realize how bad it had gotten.
I've been altering the color of my hair in one way or another, since my senior year of high school.  Whether it was  a cotton candy pink stripe, an eggplant wash, a Henna rinse or a dye in any shade of auburn or red; I've tried it.  To the best of my knowledge, my Mom's natural hair color was a dark brown, like mine; although I never saw it.  She was a redhead from the time I was born until she passed and it suited her well.  As I've written before, my Mom was vivacious, sassy, sexy and classy and her red hair and the attitude that came along with it, certainly made her stand out; which may be why I wanted to be a redhead.  It's not that I try to emulate my Mom, but I definitely admired her character and her personality and though I'll never be her; I think that I was meant to be a redhead as well.
There's just something about redheads; they're passionate, determined and unique; whether they were born red or chose to be and this is the way it's been since the beginning of time...
Case in point; Wilma Flintstone.  We all KNOW that she's the one who wore the pants in that family; even though Fred was bigger and louder; it was Wilma who called the shots in the cave. 
Following in Wilma's tiny footsteps was her daughter; the ever perky, Pebbles, who exuded control over Bam Bam EXACTLY as Wilma had done with Fred.
Redheads  made a real impression on me when I was growing up.  I just adored Maureen O'Hara; who played the refined and feisty Mom in the only REAL version of "The Parent Trap." Then of course there was my heroine; the quintessential redhead (even though we watched her in black and white - Now THAT's a RED HEAD!) No name necessary I think; and another comedic red haired genius; none other than Carol Burnett.

The 70's had it's share of strong and fabulous redheads... Although she hasn't been a redhead for many moons now; when The DIVINE Ms. M (Bette Midler for you youngins;) first burst onto the sassy scene she was INDEED a red head and her bawdy brilliance taught me a lot about being a SMART woman. Flo (Polly Holliday) from Alice; and don't tell me that there wasn't anyone who didn't want to "Kiss her grits." And of course there was the head of the best detective agency in town; Daphne from "Scooby Doo."
Now there is no way on earth that I can mention / picture,  EVERY redhead that has graced us with her presence, charmed us with her smile, made us laugh till we pee or sob uncontrollably;  but I will pay tribute to those who have touched me and to those who I believe embody what being a REDHEAD  is all about...
Under the category of Class and Sass; we've got the original Fergie (The Duchess of York,) Gerri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) and  Jessica Rabbit.
While mentioning Jessica, I should also mention the sultry redhead responsible for her speaking voice; Kathleen Turner.
Redheads who made / make me laugh, or cry or laugh until I cry; Madeline Kahn, Debra Messing, Kathy Griffin and Peg Bundy (Katey Sagal); just to name a few. Susan Sarandon who was  marvelous in everything from
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," to "White Palace," with guess who? James Spader; not to mention "Stepmom" and "Deadman Walking" (which I never saw because it's not my kind of movie; but I know she won the Oscar for it, so I figured I'd better mention it.) Cynthia Nixon, who although she is not the funniest or the most beautiful of the "Sex And the City" gals;  there are moments where she is breathtaking and the gang would not be the same without her. Old fave, Molly Ringwald (I don't think I really need to give a reason to anyone whose lived through the 80's;) and new fave Amy Adams (have you seen "Enchanted"
or "Julie & Julia"?)
If we're talking music, there are vibrant, redheads in ALL genres;
Cyndi Lauper, Annie Lennox, Reba McEntire, Wynonna and Ariel (Yes, "The Little Mermaid.")

There are 2 feisty redheads that are regularly seen on TV and neither is an actress.  Both are no nonsense and straight talking.  And even though I really can't stand either of their shows; I have to give credit to Joy Behar  "The View" and Caroline Manzo "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."  Both of these ladies tell it like it is and they don't pull any punches; even if it makes others uncomfortable.  I like when people know who they are and these women are Redheads through and through.

This last woman may not always have been a redhead; but at the time that she fought one of the toughest battles of our lifetime; her hair was crimson red. I'm talking about none other than Judy Garland as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."
Red haired Dorothy battled the Wicked Witch of the West and her ingenuity led her to Victory.  Go RED!
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Sunday, August 22, 2010

(43-26) HOT & HUGE

I'm done mourning the departure of "Ugly Betty," I'm anxiously awaiting the return of "GLEE," and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I'm still holding out for a revival of "Boston Legal."  Ahh James Spader; I mean "Boston Legal."   I could even write the episode:  Alan Shore (James Spader) has to go up against  guest star attorney Robert Downey Jr.  I think I've mentioned this fantasy before; but seriously, how GOOD with this be.  No two men who are better equipped to deliver the quick witted, sharp tongued monologues that we have come to love from both of these fantastic actors; and I for one feel cheated that we never got the pleasure of seeing such an episode; but I digress.  In the absence of the 3 shows that I've just mentioned;  I've had to find some substitutes.
I think it's best to divide the shows that I've been watching into 2 different categories; Scripted TV and Reality TV.  Tonight I'm going to write about the scripted TV shows that I've been enjoying and sometime later this week, we'll take a "Reality Check;" cause hey, I've got nothing but time baby. 

Under the category of Scripted TV, there were 2 new shows this summer that I just couldn't get enough of; "Hot In Cleveland" and "Huge."
In case you haven't heard of "Hot In Cleveland," it's on TV Land and stars Valerie Bertinelli (Melanie), Jane Leeves (Joy), Wendie Malick (Victoria) and Betty White as (Elka).  This show has been a laugh out loud delight from the premier through the finale.  The premise is that 3 friends (Melanie, Joy and Victoria) were on a plane from LA to Paris and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Cleveland.  The ladies went to a local bar and found that they were "HOT in Cleveland," while in LA they were not and so they decided to stay a while.  Valerie's character Melanie is the "Nice girl."  It's like she's playing a grown up version of Barbara Cooper, the character that she played on "One Day At A Time;" but hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Valerie's perfect and believable in these kinda roles and her  giddyness is refreshing.  Valerie decides to rent a house and the house just happens to come with its own caretaker, Elka.  Jane's character Joy delivers some great one liners and I just find her accent so enthralling that I probably wouldn't care what she was saying as long as SHE was saying it; but the writing really is THAT good, so she's just knocking them out of the ball park.  Wendi plays a soap actress who's show was recently cancelled after she spent 27 years on it.  I find it amusing that Wendie Malick always seems to play a washed up something or other; a has been model on "Just Shoot me," and now an unemployed soap actress, and yet Wendie Malick is not a name that quickly rolls of people's tongues.  Do you know what I mean?  I think that if you showed 10 people a picture of her and asked them what her real name was; most of them probably wouldn't know, and yet she's always playing the has been; and with the same affectation.  I think it's safe to say that Wendie Malick pretty much always plays the same character, it's just that the characters have different careers.  Nonetheless I will say that I think Wendie Malick has to be one of the BEST physical comediennes out there.  The physical comedy that she's done this season have been some of the very best moments of the show (especially the episode with Huey Lewis;)  so I say BRAVA Wendie Malick, thanks for the laughter!!  Have I saved the best for last; you betcha!!   What do I really need to say other than the role of Elka was one that Ms. White was born to play and I don't think that there's another actress out there who could bring to the role what Ms. White does; except maybe Estelle Getty.  So maybe Betty is channelling a bit of her old friend Getty while playing this role and if so, I say AMEN!   What is it about a wise cracking, foul mouthed octogenarian that is so hilarious?  Now of course this is not a cable show, so Betty isn't really foul mouthed but the innuendo is just delicious.  Betty White alone is fantastic but the 4 ladies togther are nothing short of slendiferous.
If you haven't seen "Hot In Cleveland" yet; you have no idea what you're missing, (well maybe now you do;) so run don't walk and catch up on this show today.  I'd be REALLY surprised if you didn't enjoy it. 

The other scripted show that I've been watching is "Huge" which is on ABC Family and stars Nikki Blonsky, who played Tracy in the movie version of "Hairspray;" and Hayley Hasselhoff (daughter The Hoff.)  "Huge" is a drama that takes place at a weight loss camp and my girls and I love to watch it together.  Since I am the Queen of HONESTY, I'll say that there are quite a few characters on this show that are NOT likable, Blonsky's character of Will, being one of them; but then on the other side of the scale, there are some of the most endearing characters that I've ever encountered.  Although "Huge" is scripted, watching it seems like watching a page out of real life and I think THAT is a true testament of a good show.    It's honest and believable and lovely.  Even though my daughters are only 6 and 8, "Huge" has provoked several  conversations about empathy and self image and I don't think it's ever too early to have those conversations.  The season finale of Huge is going to be on Monday night, and I know that my girl's and I will miss it when it's on hiatus and will gladly welcome it back.

I've always admitted that my taste in TV shows and movies is very simple.  I like to laugh and I like to watch things that make me feel good and that's exactly what both of these shows do for me.  You may have to search a little bit to find them, but I think that you'll be happy you did.  If you check them out, let me know what you think.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Saturday, August 21, 2010

(43-25) Paige vs.The Machine

Of all of the things that I'm NOT the Queen of; TECHNOLOGY is very high on the list.   Under the heading of TECHNOLOGY, I include, computers, the Internet, websites, and machinery.  I fully admit that my understanding of these things is extremely limited; which is sad considering that I'm a somewhat intelligent woman; and yet; it is what is.  Luis is often dismayed by my lack of knowledge in these areas; and I think that it's fair to say that all 3 kids have surpassed me with theirs.

All of my kids are very fortunate this year; because they all have FANTASTIC teachers; two of whom, happen to be friends of mine.  Lyndzi is in my friend Lori's class and Kelsie has my friend Shannon.  So yesterday I volunteered in Kelsie's class and Shannon asked me to go and make some copies.   Shannon handed me 4 double sided worksheets and explained that she needed me to make 3 sets of 25 copies of each.  Does that already sound as confusing to you as it did to me?  She also handed me a workbook and a pile of cardstock and asked me to make 3 copies of as many pages as possible.  OK, I won't lie I felt overwhelmed just by the instructions and considering I have a very poor Poker face, it could not have been a secret.  Shannon assured me that it wasn't a complicated endeavor and I actually reminded her that I am NOT The Queen of TECHNOLOGY, so the task sounded daunting; but nonetheless, I was certainly going to give it a try.  Shannon told me that if I needed to I could ask the secretaries for help.

I walked into the room where the copy machines were and there stood two behemoth machines like I had NEVER seen before.  The machines had  SEPARATE computer screens and three drawers for paper, not to mention that copies came out from both ends.  Seeing the photocopy machine reminded me of "The WOPR" in the 1983 Matthew Broderick movie, "War Games;"  it was just THAT intimidating.  I approached the copier, I looked it over CAREFULLY; and I TRIED to make some sense out of it; but it was just beyond me.  I knew that there was no way I was going to figure out the double sided job on my own and the secretaries were both on their lunch break, so I tried to add the cardstock and attempt the workbook copies, but alas, I was clueless.
I decided to go back to the classroom and admit my defeat, because I knew that Shannon had a break coming up and she could then go back to the copy room with me and show me what to do.  Shannon seemed surprised to see me return so soon, but she did very well containing her laughter. A few minutes later, we went back to the copy room together and Shannon explained that I had to manually make individual copies of each page, then put the papers one on top of the other, face up and feed them through the machine.  I was supposed to program some button that I can't remember the name of now (but I'll know it when I see it again,) and then set it for 25 copies.  Once the 25 copies spit out, I was to feed the copies in again to make another 25, then another; and then clear the machine and start the manual copying process over again for the second worksheet etc.  I managed to make all of the copies and TALK to Shannon at the same time; but there was DEFINITELY no way in hell that I would have ever been able to figure this out on my own.  Shannon had to go back to class before I'd finished the job, but she said that she felt confident that I could handle it on my own.  Of course as soon as she left, the machine advised me of a problem that hadn't occurred while she was there; but ultimately I got through it.  I didn't make the cardstock copies, but only because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take the pages out of the book or not; and I thought it best to go back and ask.  Shannon seemed amused by my hesitance, explained that I could have made the copies without removing the pages (so I was glad that I hadn't removed them) and then she excused me from completing the rest of the copying.  Shannon asked if I could come back regularly to assist with reading groups and I happily agreed; as copying doesn't seem to be my forte and as we all know, I'm A LOT better with the written word.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Friday, August 20, 2010

(43-24) ExposureQuest

Exposure, Exposure, Exposure; that's what's on my mind today.  I don't just want to write; I want to be READ and so in accordance with my mission this year; I need to get myself a lot more EXPOSURE.  Interestingly enough, I'm a pretty good sales person; but the one thing that I don't seem to be able to sell, is myself.  It's not for lack of confidence, for although I am not exuding it; I really do believe in myself; or I couldn't do this at all.  Instead my downfall is my lack of knowledge.  Marketing is not my thing, not because I can't; just because I truly don't know where to start.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm still not that internet savvy and I get really frustrated when trying to do research; so all in all I'm not a lot of help to myself in the gettin this done department.
I've signed up for the Creative Connection email, I've tried Networked Blogs, and I've just joined Mommy Blogs; but I definitely need some tutorials on how to navigate these sites so that I can make the most out of them.  Hopefully these ventures will help me to increase my readership and further my career; but I KNOW it's going to take A LOT more than that.  So, I'm going to do something that I RARELY do and ask for your help.  Asking for help is NOT easy for me; but I'm THAT determined to change my path and fulfill my destiny.  So here goes... Anyone can help me in my ExposureQuest; so PLEASE, if you enjoy reading "The Bumpy Ride," recommend me to a friend, (or six...)  Let me know if you know a person or website that you think may be helpful, or hook a sistah up; if by chance you know someone in the know who might be able to help me with visibility.  If YOU believe in me and have some time and you want to help me market myself I'd be thrilled to hear from you; just leave me a comment or send me an email at AsktheQOE@gmail.com.  And if none of these things apply; then please just know how thankful I am that YOU read "The Bumpy Ride;" and that you like it.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Thursday, August 19, 2010

(43-23) Ask Hershey

Over the summer Nicky had mentioned that he thought he might like to be a Student Council representative and when he came home from school yesterday he told me that they were going to be having elections on Thursday.  Nicky said that he'd have to give a speech which he was nervous about, but that he wanted to try.  I assured him that he was going to do great and told him how proud I was of him.

Nicky wrote his speech and set out to memorize it; (because he thought he had to.)  I thought that he was doing a fantastic job considering how little time he had; but he was getting very frustrated.  Nicky considered giving up.  He told me that he was doing this for both of us and that he was going to run because he wanted to make me proud.  I swore that I couldn't be any more proud of him than I already am and explained that he didn't have to do Student council for me, because I had already done it for myself and that if he WAS going to participate in Student Council it had to be because it was important to him and because he wanted to try and make a difference.

Through all of our talk about Student Council I had a flashback to junior high.  I had decided to run for Student Council Secretary and I remember sitting in my room cutting out little circles of paper because the kids always "made" little buttons to give out and they would stick them on with a pin.  Well Richie Howell saw what I was doing and he couldn't believe his eyes.  Even though I said this was the norm, and it was what everyone did; he didn't want me to make them.  A few nights later he came home from work and handed me a box; and inside I found professionally printed buttons about the size of an English Muffin.  I'm sure that I liked the buttons at first, but I remember feeling terribly embarrassed to give them out.  Like Nicky I had been very shy; but somehow I mustered up the courage to give my speech in the auditorium and ultimately, BIG, professional, buttons and all; I LOST.  This wasn't the end of my Student Government aspirations though; because, in college I was Secretary of the SGA (Student Government Association) for a year and a half and my senior year I was President; and I won without (say it with me) "BIG, professional, buttons."  But my dad was already long gone and he would never know this.  A few years after I graduated from college, a friend from work had introduced me to her brother in-law and his wife.  It turned out that the wife had gone to junior high with me, and one time when we were both at my friend's house, she actually brought my stupid button over to show me and I felt mortified all over again.

I hadn't thought about those buttons for at least 20 years UNTIL last night; and as I tried to help Nicky through his struggle, the one thing that I knew for sure was that this was going to have to be HIS decision.  I told Nicky that quitters never win, and that I didn't want him to give into his fear; but that he was going to have to make this decison for himself.  I suggested that since he didn't know for sure that the speech had to be memorized; he could hold off on deciding until he got to school and if memorization WASN'T necessary; he could give the speech and if it WAS necessary then he could decline.  He thought about it for a while and said "I just can't make up my mind."  With that, Hershey had jumped up onto my lap and proceeded to lay down.  I said "Well, let's ask Hershey.  Hershey, what do you think, should Nicky run for student Council?"  And I SWEAR to you, Hershey nodded twice!!  Both Nicky and I saw it; and we could not believe it.  It was clear as day; and we just laughed and laughed.  I mean I knew that Hershey was a fashion dog; rescuing me from wearing those red sandals like she did a few months ago.  And the other night when I just couldn't get a blog going, she came over and diverted my attention, SO much so that I shut down my laptop and took a break for a while; so now I guess she's my editor too.  But to ANSWER Nicky's question like she did; NOW she's just making me look like a raving loon; but WE know what we saw...
Lyndzi and Kelsie had heard us laughing and so they came to see what all the commotion was about.  We told them about Hershey the answer dog and they started asking her questions as if she was a magic 8 ball; but as luck would have it, she didn't answer them.

Nicky decided to take Hershey's advice and today he gave his speech along with 9 other students.  When I picked him up he told me that each class was going to have 2 reps and that he tied for third place; and that he was happy with that.  I told him that I was INCREDIBLY proud of him; but not for coming in third - for NOT giving up.  I asked if giving the speech was as bad as he'd imagined and he said no and I was relieved.  It really is awful how fear can lead us to talk ourselves out of doing things that are important to us.  Just think what might have happened if we hadn't Asked Hershey...
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(43-22) The BEST Thing I Ever Cooked

In case I haven't made it clear by my shameful plea for comments, I would LOVE to hear from you; and so I'm gonna take a bite off the Food Network  and include a new feature called "The BEST Thing I Ever Ate."  Being as fond of food as I am; there's no way that this could be a one time deal; and since I have 344 days to go; I figured - WHY NOT!!
In my June 21, 2009 post "A Lil Bit about Arizona" I wrote of my affinity for food; and if you haven't read that post, but you've seen my picture; I'll bet this comes as no surprise.  I don't really consider myself a foodie JUST because I like everything there is about food - because to me a true foodie is  adventurous and my taste buds are not; BUT I like what I like and I like it a lot.

Being The Queen of INDECISION, I've held off with presenting my "BEST Thing I Ever Ate" segment, because I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to break it down.  On the food Network show (in case you haven't seen it;) they do a different category on each episode, like The Best thing I ever ate FRUIT or the Best thing I ever ate CHEESY etc; And I just haven't decided where I want to go with this - big surprise...  Anyway, in trying to do my research (YES, research;) I asked my kids "What's the BEST thing you've ever eaten?"  AND much to my surprise, all 3 of them said "Anything that you make."  Woohoo, are they brown nosers or what??  But the sweet thing is; they actually meant it!   I thought about what they had said and I realized that I probably would have given the same answer, because my mom was an AMAZING cook.  Sadly when my mom passed away, she took her recipes with her.  Since I was only 19 when she died, we hadn't spent a lot of time in the kitchen together; so any dish that I make that reminds me of her is based on recollection and not fact.

Even though we all KNOW that I'm not going anywhere any time soon; I thought I'd share my Eggplant Parmigiana recipe; since I made it tonight.  MY recipe is based on my memory of my mom's eggplant; and I'm proud to say that it's my signature dish.  (I just had a flashback of Julia Roberts as Shelby in "Steel Magnolia's" saying "Pink is my signature color;" but I digress.) Even people who think that they don't like eggplant - like mine;. And if you can get through this labor intensive meal; I'm sure that you're going to love it as well. 

I will say that I typically like to make this dish in the winter, when it's colder; but hey, when eggplants are only 88 cents each, eggplant parm is good summertime eatin too.  Now depending on how much you want to make and how much work you're ready to endure; THAT will determine how many eggplants you'll need.  (Pretty vague I know - sorry)  I would classify this picture as large eggplants, by the way; and tonight I used 4 small eggplants and I was able to yield one large baking dish and 1 medium baking dish; each with 3 layers of eggplant;  because hey, if you're going to go to this trouble, you might as well have leftovers.   

In addition to the eggplant you will need eggs, milk, seasoned bread crumbs (I like Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs or 4-C if you're on the East coast;) Mozzarella cheese (and I would say that it's worth the extra calories to use the whole milk mozzarella because it makes the dish THAT MUCH better; but if you REALLY don't want to use whole milk mozzarella then the part skim mozzarella won't kill you.)  Lastly, you'll need sauce.  (I like to use Ragu sauteed onion and garlic to save myself a few steps.  In the past I've made homemade sauce and used other brands as well; so it really is your own personal preference on this one.)

I always peel my eggplant because I find the skin to be bitter; but if you don't mind the skin, don't make yourself any extra work.  Slice the eggplant into thin rounds (usually a little thinner than what's shown in the picture above;) and then get to breading.  Crack some eggs into a dish (how many eggs will depend on how many eggplants you have; so start with 2 and add more as you need them.)  Add a dash of milk to the eggs and scramble them up.  Put your bread crumbs in a separate dish and one by one coat the eggplant slices in your egg & milk mixture and then in your bread crumbs.  Make sure that the eggplant is well coated all around and then set the eggplant aside until all of your slices are breaded.  Now it's time to fry (YES, fry!)  I use canola oil, but I add a bit of olive oil as well.  I don't fry solely in olive oil because I don't want my eggplant to taste like olives.  Capisce?  I heat 2 pans of oil at once and when the oil is heated up enough to fry (just a couple of minutes) I add my eggplant slices but do not crowd them.  If you've cut the eggplant thin enough, it shouldn't take them long to get to a golden brown color and once they do; turn them over and give them the opportunity to get just as gorgeous on their other side.  Once they are evenly cooked, remove from the pan to a plate that has several pieces of paper towel so that the excess oil can drain off.  When you are about half way through frying your eggplant stash, preheat your oven to 375.  Once all of the eggplant slices are mouth watering done, take some sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your baking dish (I suggest using a rectangle shape.)  Now we're going to layer.  Take your eggplant slices and lay them in a single layer in the baking dish, cover with sauce (but don't soak them,) then add some sliced mozzarella.  I like each piece of eggplant to have A piece of cheese on it, but it doesn't have to be wall to wall cheese.  Add a drop of sauce to each piece of cheese and you're ready to add your next layer of eggplant.  Once again; if you've cut your eggplant thin enough; you should be able to fit 3 full layers in your pan.  If the eggplant is a little thicker then you will get 2 layers.  On your top layer, cover a little more generously with sauce and cheese, but don't make it a cheese blanket.; and add some dollops of sauce over the cheese.  You'll bake this work of art for about 20 minutes.  For me it's not really about time; I just keep my eye on it until the cheese is bubbling and begging to be removed from the oven.  Trust me; you'll know when it's done.  Remove your pan(s) from the oven and let them cool down just a bit before serving. I usually serve the eggplant with some kind of pasta.
So there you have it, a great Italian classic from a nice Jewish girl.  Ironically enough a lot of the dishes that I make well are Italian, and even though no one in my family was italian, that's what I recall my mom making and REALLY enjoying.

So let's recap; on the table I have the offer for The BEST thing I ever ate segment; and as I said, this has been designed to get you involved; so PLEASE leave your comments and let me know what one of the best things YOU'VE ever eaten was and then I will respond in kind.  OR if you have a better suggestion for how this segment should work, leave me a comment, or send me an email at ASKtheQOE@gmail.com and then we can get writing about one of my favorite topics; FOOD!

Now don't be intimidated by all of the times that I've mentioned the work involved in making this delicious eggplant parmigiana, because I PROMISE you that the end product will be well worth it and here's my guarantee...If you're not FULLY satisfied with your eggplant and you don't think that it's one of the BEST things YOU'VE ever eaten; you can come over and give mine a try.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

(43-21) There's Something About Mari

I strongly believe that sometimes the universe just gives you what you need.  My friend Mari and her family had been in California for the summer and last week she told me that she had a birthday gift for me.  I assured her that her friendship was the only gift that I needed but she wouldn't hear that.  We'd made plans to get together a couple of times, and unfortunately we had to keep re-scheduling; but today we were finally able to meet; and it was well worth the wait.

Each of my friends is very special and important to me; but as we all know; "there's something about Mari..."  Mari and I met a few years ago through a mutual friend; and though I would see her at a crop from time to time; we didn't really start to build our own friendship until a few months ago.  Mari is like a breath of fresh air to me.  She is always very positive and cheery, she is an attentive and caring listener, she is helpful and kind, and one of the most involved and effective Mom's that I know.  Mari is always put together from head to toe.  Even if she's wearing jeans and a t-shirt, she's always coordinated, admirably well accessorized and she always looks fresh faced.  What can I say, it just feels good to be around her.  As if  all of this wasn't enough;  I have to say that I know a lot of scrapbookers and I mean no offense or disrespect to any of them; but I think that Mari is the BEST scrapbooker that I know.  Every time that  I see one of her layouts I never cease to be impressed.  She is remarkably creative and  I aspire to have my layouts look as good and thorough and polished as Mari's.   So at the risk of sounding like an enamored stalker; let  me add; Mari is a pleasure and just to be in her presence lifts my spirits.

So today Mari and I met at Starbucks.  We had a lot to catch up on and new ideas to discuss; and then of course there was the birthday gift that Mari insisted on giving me.  Let's start with the card... the card itself really would have been enough.  It was absolutely gorgeous; and so I feel the need to share it.  Sheer perfection.

In addition to the card, Mari bestowed me with a writing journal and a block of paper with a matching pen; that all coordinated with the piece de resistance; a
a "memories and thoughts," jar, that she'd decorated and filled with at least 400 writing prompts; for when I need inspiration or a blog idea.  Mari said that her gift was meant to encourage me to keep writing because she knows that it's my dream; and I was just  blown away.  I was / am so so touched and flattered by the thought and effort that Mari put into these gifts.  Could the "memories and thoughts" jar be more timely?  It's EXACTLY what I've needed.
I really can't thank Mari enough for her extraordinary gifts, (especially her friendship;)  and I hope that this post amply conveys my respect, appreciation and gratitude for all that she is and all that she does.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Monday, August 16, 2010

(43-20) What A Mom's Gotta Do...

During my big thank you talk with my kids yesterday, I compared how I feel when I'm writing to how Lyndzi feels when she's drawing.  I think that I MAY have mentioned before that my Lyndzi is an absolutely BRILLIANT artist; and yes, I know that most moms think that their kids are great at one thing or another; but trust me when I tell you, my girl's got TALENT!!  Lyndzi is a multi-faceted artist - not only can she draw; she also sculpts and paints.  Lyndzi pays exceptional attention to detail and her vision is way beyond her years.   She's won prizes for her artwork and been featured in our school district art show; and at the tender age of 8 she PRIDES herself on being an artist.

When Lyndzi was 5, I wanted to collaborate with her on a children's book.  I had her do a couple of drawings but we never seemed to get it off the ground.  Since we were talking about our artistic passions yesterday, I proposed that Lyndzi might draw some pictures for me to use on my blog from time to time.  Lyndzi really liked this idea; and though I thought that I had made it clear that I didn't know EXACTLY what I was going to have her draw or when; apparently I was mistaken.  When Lyndzi got home from school, she told me that she had told her teacher that she was going to draw some pictures for my blog today and she was VERY excited.  Not wanting to let her down; I explained that I wasn't sure what I was going to blog about today, so I asked her to draw me a picture of me with a crown on my head; since I am The Queen of EVERYTHING.

When I got home from running some errands; Lyndzi presented me with her picture, and although it was quite good; it wasn't what I had asked her for.  Lyndzi was visibly upset and I tried to comfort her; but she needed some time.  She continued to draw until dinner and when we were done eating, she asked if she could talk to me in private.  Lyndzi shared that she had REALLY wanted to draw a picture for my blog and that she was sad that I wasn't going to use any of the drawings that she'd done earlier.  Lyndzi spoke openly and with a maturity that surprised me; so I wanted to address her disappointment with the same amount of honesty and sensitivity that she displayed.  I told Lyndzi that now that I'm writing my blog everyday I'm never really sure what I'm going to write about unless I have some crazy story to tell; so it made it difficult for me to ask for drawings ahead of time.  I explained that she had misunderstood my request and that even though I REALLY want us to work together SOMETIME; I wasn't sure exactly when we would.  Lyndzi's eyes filled with tears and I felt terrible; so even though I'm a writer, first and foremost I'm a mom - so I decided to put my other blog ideas aside for today, in order so that I could incorporate Lyndzi's picture into my post.
I told Lyndzi that she could draw whatever she wanted; but she just put far too much pressure on herself and she was unable to create anything that either of us felt I should use.  The situation worsened as bed time approached and she hadn't completed a drawing for me.  Lyndzi (who is not typically a crier) cried for the second time tonight and her sobs were heartbreaking.  Lyndzi was upset because she thought that her teacher was expecting to see her picture on my blog, and because I had spent my evening writing a blog about her and her art and I now had no art to share.  She knew that it had gotten too late to do another drawing and that the entire situation had turned into something uncomfortable and unpleasant.  And then she uttered the words that I've more or less been saying to myself for days; "I didn't know that something that was fun could be this hard."   The difference is that I'm 43 and she's 8; and I can take the pressure because I chose it; and IT'S WHAT I WANT; so for now I'm going to do what any good mom would do and tell you how much I LOVE my daughter and how I don't regret writing this post about her fantastic art while I have nothing to back up my claim.  Oh trust me; Lyndzi's artwork WILL appear on future blogs when it's the art that she produces from her heart and her soul and it's bursting off the page.  In the meantime we'll just chalk this one up to a typical day in the life.  To a mom doing what a mom's gotta do...
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Sunday, August 15, 2010

(43-19) My Path


Sunday is typically errand day for me. I balance my check book, go to a super market or two and do whatever else needs to be done. As Nicky's 11 and capable of staying home alone for a while, he doesn't often accompany me on my Sunday errands anymore; but today he joined us and I had the pleasure of the company of all 3 of my kids. Since I had a captive audience, I took the opportunity to thank them for their patience and understanding about the time that I'm allotting to write my blog. I told the kids that it was important for me to write EVERY day this year and I apologized for having to put off some of the things that they wanted to do, so that I could write.  I told my kids that this was the year that I was going to pursue my dream and that I had a very positive feeling that things were going to change for the better for us.

We talked about KNOWING what it is that you're supposed to do for a career and I explained that I believed that writing was what I was MEANT TO DO even though I've done other things up till now.  I told them that I had written from the time that I was a very young girl and somehow or other I got sidetracked.  I remember being in 4th grade and having to write a story like "Why the zebra has stripes;" and I chose to write "Why people are prejudiced;"  (interesting choice for a 9 year old but what can I say, I guess I was always ahead of my time.)  I actually got called to the Principal's office about my essay, but it turned out that it was for praise and not punishment.  During 5th grade I did a lot of creative writing - I would make my own books and write stories for extra credit; just because I liked to.  I always did well In English class, but no teacher or guidance counselor ever encouraged me to become a writer.  When it came time for me to look into college's, one of the schools that I applied to was Bard College.  Bard appealed to me because at the time they didn't put a lot of emphasis on your SAT scores and neither had I.  Instead, they mandated that you had to have a special talent to get in; and so I said that mine was writing.  I suppose there must have been some truth to my claim because I did get accepted; but once I visited the campus, I didn't think it was the right place for me; so I chose to go to Long island University - Southampton to major in Pre-law.
No one was ever going to be a lawyer more than I was; until I wasn't - and during my Sophomore year of college I decided to change my major.  Since my favorite professor taught English and those were the classes that I enjoyed the most, I did consider becoming an English major; but ultimately I decided to take the easy way out and I became a Sociology major because all of my credits would transfer over and I would be able to graduate on time.  I've regretted that decision for many years; and if I could have a do-over; that is most definitely something that I would have changed; but alas I don't want to dwell in regret. I told my kids that not everyone takes the same path to get to their destination and although I may have taken a longer route; it's never to late to pursue your dreams. Maybe all of the experiences that I've had up until now will contribute to me being a different kind of writer than I would have been under other circumstances;
so I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. 
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(43-18) We're All In This TOGETHER

Today was a day of EXTREMELY mixed emotions.  I laughed several times, when I wasn't on the verge of tears.  I had a knot in the pit of my stomache (which actually took residence about a week ago;) but then I felt the kindess of strangers and the comfort of familiarity and the knot would dissipate.  Vague, I know; which must seem unusual coming from the Queen of OVER EXPLAINING; but details at this time are actually unimportant. 

Today Michelle M and I had a garage sale.  It wasn't one of my FULL ON garage sales; but one that I was helping her with and OK, of course I couldn't resist the opportunity to sell a few of my things along the way.  It was an enlightening day because our conversations ran the gamut from the economy and foreclosure to child rearing, to Disneyland and Las Vegas to careers, friendships and relationships to my utter disgust and annoyance with the NOT REAL "Real Housewives of New Jersey;" and that was just the first half hour.  Nah, just kidding; those conversations took place over the course of 8 hours and I know for sure that we, (or at least I) could have sat and talked for at least 8 hours more.
Michelle and I were engrossed in our conversations in between sales and I have to say that I was touched and impressed by so many of the people that we encountered today.  There was something different in the air and it wasn't just the unusual humidity.  People were open today; people shared their stories with strangers and offered comfort and reassurance to each other and we all commiserated and it felt GOOD.  People exposed their private information for an opportunity to feel connected and it seemed that the housing epidemic was uniting people in a way that we haven't been before.  Now again, I know that I'm writing in a lot of generalities but this time it was truly the actions that were important and NOT all of the details.  It was a sign that people were reaching out to each other, people wanted to be sympathetic and empathetic because after all WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
Till next time...
Queen of EVERYTHING