Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The Award!

Every kid dreams of winning an Academy Award.  Or at least I did.  I had my acceptance speech already memorized for my moment in the sun.  I’d thank my family, my teachers, my cast mates, my producer, my director, my director’s mother, my director’s mother’s mailman’s brother’s uncle’s tailor’s, hair stylist. 

You get the picture.

But then something cruel happened to those childhood dreams.  I grew up.  I graduated high school and followed the path that led me away from the red carpet and pushed me towards that harsh world called “Reality”.  I earned a degree, then looked for a job.  I got married, then looked for a better paying job.  I had a daughter, then looked for an even better paying job.  All the while, I lived my life, with the prospect of winning the Academy Award, or any award for that matter, becoming a faded, distant memory as each day passed by. 

That is, until I started a blog.

I have always enjoyed writing, and have been fortunate to actually receive a salary for honing my craft.  Yet, still no statuette for me.  My award comes in the form of a paycheck, which provides the reason for me to keep doing what I do, day in and day out. 

That is, until I started a blog. 

My blog gives me exclusive access to write whatever I want to write.  My blog creates a “no editor” zone where the only person who had permission to change my words is… guessed it, me! 

I did not start a blog for financial reward, rather the emotional reward that comes with every compliment from a satisfied reader.  So on Sunday, when I logged onto my blog and saw a comment from fellow blogger Cindy Brown, I blinked in disbelief, read the comment out loud to my husband Bob, and felt myself swelling with pride.  Seems Cindy had nominated me for The Kreativ Blogger Award, a wonderful pay it forward program amongst bloggers that sends the simple yet rewarding message: “Your work is good and it is worth sharing with others!” Red carpet here I come!

Thank you Cindy Brown, author of an incredibly funny blog called Everyday Underwear -

As part of being nominated, I am instructed to share seven things about myself that my readers might find interesting.  So here goes:

1. My all time favorite movie is The Sound of Music.  I have seen it so many times I can probably recite all of the dialogue.  And the songs, don’t get me started on the songs… Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens bright copper….oh sorry, I’m getting carried away.  Time to move on.

2. I really enjoy the Harry Potter book series.  Alright, I admit it, enjoy is not a strong enough word, obsessed and fanatical are probably more appropriate.  I’m not sure why I have embraced all things Potter, although some reasons are obvious.  It’s a classic story of good versus evil, the story of love, friendship, and an underdog kicking some serious wizard butt.  However, it goes beyond that.  The brilliant writing of J.K. Rowling is why I have read the books countless times.  Just as my husband watches replays of hockey games to admire the athletes’ technique, I re-read Harry Potter to admire Ms. Rowling style.  Yes, I am obsessed, but I’m happy about it!

3. I hope that the United States of America will have a female president before I die.  Nuff said!

4. I am unable to keep a box of Quaker Oat Squares cereal in my house, it will be gone in 24 hours.

5. I grew up as the dreaded and tragic “Jan Brady” in my family.  Wedged between my older sister Bev and younger brother Steven.

6. My favorite band is The Beatles, and, at the age of 16, my friend Wendy and I once created a cassette tape full of well wishes for Paul McCartney, and actually stood in line at the post office and mailed it to him.  I truly believe to this day the old man behind the counter thought we were nuts….and we were.  I wonder if Sir Paul ever received our tape.  I’m sure it’s sitting in his house, prominently displayed among all of his many awards! 

And finally that brings us to number….

7. My family is my life, my world, my everything.  I have been so blessed to have a husband who loves me for who I am, accepts everything about me, and seriously doesn’t mind that I spend more time online than with him.  My inherited daughter Jessica, 16 when we met, made me an “instamom” and I’ll be forever grateful to her for her tolerance, patience, and welcoming arms.  After 18 years, she remains my beautiful love and joy!  And then there’s my 14-year old love of my life Melissa, who has made me the happiest, proudest mom in the world!  I’d jump in front of a train for her, but it won’t get her out of changing the kitty litter!!  Bob, Jessica, and Melissa, I love you!

The next part of this wonderful award is I get to pay it forward.  So now I, Lisa Weinstein, nominate the following bloggers for the Kreativ Blogger Award.  Check out their blogs, and enjoy!

1. The Betty and Boo Chronicles

2. Shenk it Up

3. My Dishwasher’s Possessed

4. A Wide Line

5. A Writer Weaves a Tale

6. Spilled Milkshake

7. Twelve Makes a Dozen

"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome. For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared. To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous". If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post. Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish. Check the page the make sure your comment appeared. You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Show Must Go On!
Yesterday afternoon at approximately 3 pm, I found myself frantically racing through the aisles of my local supermarket.  I flew past the bread aisle, the juice aisle, the laundry aisle, the baked goods aisle, the fresh produce aisle, until finally I had reached my destination… The Candy Aisle!

I grabbed boxes of Hershey Bars, Reeses Pieces, Star Burst Fruit Chews, Swedish Fish, Gummy Bears, Nerds, Runts, Milk Duds, and Junior Mints.  I rammed my cart into the checkout line, silently begging the elderly woman in front of me to quickly write out her check, paid for my items, ran to my car, opened the door, and threw my goodie into the front seat.  Then I turned out of the parking lot, and onto the road, praying for green signals to light the way as I came closer and closer to my destination.

Finally I arrived as the first act of the Medford, New Jersey Panther Player’s production of Annie neared its final number.  Along with a myriad of moms, we threw the candy on the concession stand tables, just in time for the throngs of hungry theatergoers to lay down their dough. 

Run out of candy during intermission?  Not on our watch!

Concession salesperson and frantic shopper are just two of the titles adopted by the dozens of moms and dads who helped turn ordinary middle school students into extraordinary Broadway bound actors. For the past five month we became advertising sales executives, graphic artists, chaperones, set builders, makeup artists, and costume designers.  We juggled work schedules to arrange rehearsal car pools, purchased stage shoes, make up, black tanks, tights, hair brushes and bobby pins;  returned said tights, and purchased tights again in a different size, all while coordinating band concerts, soccer practice, and play dates for actors’ siblings and tending to, oh yeah, our actual paid jobs.

Why do we do it?  Why does a parent do anything for his or her child?  Love.

At most, we hope to someday see our offspring’s name in lights on The Great White Way.  At best, we hope they make friends, learn new skills, gain confidence, enhance their self esteem, and most of all, have fun!

At times the long rehearsal hours certainly didn’t seem like fun to our kids.  Laden with homework, they juggled singing and dancing with mandatory studying, and still, they kept up their grades.  They suffered from sore throats and sore feet, yet, in the end, as they stood on stage, staring into the faces of a sold out crowd, the smiles on their faces and the twinkle in their eyes told the world that they’d do it all again for this glorious moment in the sun!

Annie marked the second opportunity for my 14-year old daughter Melissa to share the spotlight with her fellow cast mates.  The first came during a local summer drama camp production of The Music Man, where, as part of the ensemble she played a teen in an Iowa town.  Although the role came with limited stage time, she carefully studied the techniques of the older, more seasoned student actors, and the experience wet her appetite for more.

This time, cast in the adult ensemble as one of Daddy Warbucks’ dozens of servants, Melissa appeared in four musical numbers, standing in the front row, dazzling with a beautiful smile and singing her heart out.

As I sat in the audience on opening night, watching in awe at my daughter’s debut, a tiny lump of emotion formed in my throat and made its way up to the corner of my eyes.  While adjectives aplenty can be used to describe my feelings at that moment, the one word that immediately comes to mind is pride.  A gigantic, enormous sense of pride for her determination, dedication, and spirited ambition to keep acting, keep singing, and harness her incredible talent for all to see!

Next year, as high school beckons, I have no doubt she’ll audition once again for another school production.  As for me, I’ll join my fellow stage parents in driving, shopping, cutting, pasting, painting, building, designing, and creating.  For behind every great actor is a great mom and dad, doing whatever they can, because, as the old adage goes, the show must go on!
"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 10 Foot Chipmunk

In February of 2002, my husband Bob and I, desperately seeking an escape from the winter doldrums, found ourselves boarding a plane with our then four year old daughter Melissa in tow, destined for “The Happiest Place on Earth”.  Judging by the look of wonder that filled my offspring’s eyes, I’d say Disney delivered on its promise to create a magical vacation memory!

By our last night there, however, the early mornings, extensive walking, and hot Florida sun had taken its toll.   Exhausted, Bob discovered a low-key evening activity at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.  As we gathered under the stars eating freshly made s’mores and waiting for a movie to start, Disney’s resident chipmunks Chip and Dale entertained the kids.  Still too young to realize that real people in costumes brought these magical mammals to life, Melissa ran after those cheerful chipmunks, begging them for hugs and kisses, and posing for photographs. 

Little did we know that several years later, we would be running for our lives when confronted with a REAL, LIVE, chipmunk.

Seems that "Chip", (or maybe it was Dale, they look so much alike), got tired of living amongst the throngs of theme park tourists and hopped a plane for New Jersey, bound for The Weinstein Household!

We must have been out when "Chip" showed up on our doorstep, so I guess he figured we wouldn't mind if he just let himself in.  

Later that evening, while Melissa took her shower, I climbed up the stairs and headed down the hall to our bedroom, where Bob was getting ready for bed.  Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, something small, brown, and furry raced out from under my bed and ran into the bathroom.

So naturally, Bob and I greeted our old buddy "Chip" with open arms.  Demonstrating the calm demeanor that comes with being a responsible adult, we invited "Chip" for coffee and dessert, while we reminisced about old times in Disney.

Alright, so I exaggerated a bit.  If you ask Melissa to tell the story, she'll explain that she had to jump out of the shower and quickly throw a towel around her to find out why blood curdling screams were being emitted from her mother, who had locked herself in the spare bedroom, and why her father now stood precariously on top of the bed to escape the danger.  (Because we all know  that chipmunks can't climb onto beds, right?)

Eventually, I opened the door to the spare bedroom, and Bob tentatively placed his feet on solid ground.  Melissa put on her pajamas, and the three of us reluctantly decided that, unless we wanted live in a hotel for the rest of our lives, we'd better find "Chip".  

We peeked into the bathroom only to shriek once again in terror as "Chip" raced past us, a giant creature standing at least 10 feet tall (and we're sticking with that story).

Screaming, we followed "Chip" down the hall and watched him run for the safety of the spare bedroom.  Once we knew that our guest was inside, I slammed the door.  So we'd never use our spare bedroom again, I could live with that.

Not sure who to call at 9:00 at night, we dialed our local police station, because I'm sure they had nothing better to do.  (Who cares about drunk drivers, fights, and robberies, tonight we get to chase chipmunks!)

Then we combed through the yellow pages looking for a business that dealt in animal removal.  A frantic phone call, and a half hour later, a man named Ed, and his nine year old son, Ed Jr., showed up to save the day.

We huddled together down the hall as Ed and Ed slowly opened the door to the spare bedroom, walked inside, and closed the door behind them.  As we waited, we wondered if this must be some kind of weird "take your kid to work day" ritual for Ed Jr.

Finally, Ed and Ed emerged from the darkness, carrying "Chip" now safely tucked inside a paper bag.  Ed assured us that "Chip" would be taken to "the wild" to join his New Jersey based cousins.  

A half hour after our evening excitement had subsided, the door bell rang.  Perhaps "Chip" had forgotten something, I thought while opening the door.  There stood two police officers, dutifully responding to our cries for help.  Bob and I apologized profusely, assuring them the danger had, indeed, passed.

Every now and then we see "Chip" "Dale" and their cousins scampering about outside, along with a host of squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional beaver who wanders aimlessly around our yard.  During these sightings we happily watch these cuddly critters, content with the knowledge that thick walls and windows separate our world from their's.  
Because we all know what happens when a critter gets inside The Weinstein turns into a savage monster, standing 10 feet tall!

And I'm sticking to that story!
"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Melissa vs. The Leprechaun 
March.  It's a month devoid of any major holiday.  We're not quite sure if winter is coming or going, and we count the days until we can trade in our down jackets for t-shirts and shorts.  Just as we think the boredom of March will drive us insane, along comes a built in excuse to wear green, make merry, and try as hard as we can to catch a sneaky little leprechaun.  Yes, I am talking about 
St. Patrick's Day!

For my 14-year old daughter Melissa, St. Patrick's Day marks the anniversary of her "terrifying" encounter with a leprechaun.  Step back in time with me, if you will, to March 17, 2007.  As her appropriately named third grade teacher Miss Green (I am not kidding) read stories about these fabled, feisty Irish fairies, Melissa and her friend Sarah became determined to actually catch one of these mischievous munchkins.  Even though leprechauns have outwitted generations of trap-setting Irishmen, two  nine year old girls were convinced that they, and they alone, would succeed!

So, the girls spent hours developing a comprehensive trap-setting plan.  Step one involved one girl sleeping over the other's house on St. Patrick's Day eve, for surely that would be the best day for a leprechaun to be caught in the act.  Our house became the designated leprechaun lure, with Melissa's bedroom setting the stage for the over-the-top trap!

As Sarah and Melissa approached the task at hand, they decided the best way to trap a leprechaun would be to turn the bedroom into a resort and spa for little green men.  Steaming hot water helped to transform a soup bowl into a soothing leprechaun hot tub.  Construction paper and green crayons invited the leprechaun to express his creativity, while green confetti and Lucky Charms cereal set the celebratory mood.  Barbie dolls were dressed in their Sunday best as they sat ready and waiting for the leprechaun to invite them to play, and of course, gold coins aplenty (the chocolate version) were strategically placed in a bowl in the middle of the floor.  

As the girls put the finishing touches on the trap, morality began to set it.  They thought it might be a bit mean to trap the little guy, but still, they didn't want their hard work to go to waste.  They decided that, if the leprechaun came, they would not capture him but simply observe him at play while feigning sleep.

With all of the wheels in motion, the only task that remained was to climb into bed and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And while they waited, excitement turned to trepidation, trepidation turned to fear, then fear turned to terror.  What if the leprechaun became evil?   Would he attack them?  Were they safe?  What had they done!?

In the meantime, the "leprechaun" waited and waited and waited for the girls to fall asleep so "he" could sneak in undetected and check into the resort and spa.  The "leprechaun", who in reality stood 5' 5" tall, had long brown hair, and answered to the name of "mom", tiptoed ever so slowly into Melissa's room, while the leprechaun's husband Bob stood watch in the hall.  The girls moved ever so slightly, perhaps sensing a presence in the room.  I froze, waiting until both girls were silent and still.  Then I tipped over the water, tossed the barbies around, stole most of the gold coins, and used the green crayon to write a note of thanks for the fun, signed by, who else....the leprechaun!

In the morning, the girls woke up and were absolutely astounded by the site!  The leprechaun had come and played in the bedroom and made a mess and left them a note, AND THEY SLEPT RIGHT THROUGH IT!  

As for the leprechaun, instead of placing his newly found gold in the pot at the end of the rainbow, the coins found a nice hiding place at the bottom of Bob's sock drawer, never to be discovered by our innocent offspring......or so we thought.

About a year later, I asked Melissa to help me with the laundry.  I folded socks, while she put them away in her drawer, my drawer, and.....uh oh.....Bob's drawer.

"Mom, why are there gold coins in Daddy's sock drawer?" came her accusatory questioning.

Danger, danger!  Think fast!  Think fast!

"Well, the leprechaun must have put them there to hide them from you."

"Oh, ok."

I heaved a sign of relief.  She bought it!  I couldn't believe it, and, so I learned, neither did she.

A few days later as we struggled through the nightly ritual brushing of her long, knot infested hair, she asked the question I had been dreading.  

"Mom, are you really the leprechaun?"

"What?  No, of course not!"

"Really Mom, it's ok, you can tell me the truth, I won't be mad."

"Seriously sweety, I am not the leprechaun."

"Really Mom, I won't be mad, I promise."

So on and on this conversation went until finally I decided she had become old enough so know the truth.

"Alright sweety, you're right.  It was me.  I was really the leprechaun, it was me who snuck into your room in the middle of the night and messed up your room," I admitted.

Pause.  Pause.


So much for Melissa's promise of not getting mad.  While trying to explain my motivation (love), I also came clean about the tooth fairy and Santa Clause.  Being Jewish, the latter didn't bother me quite so much, but I made her promise not to spill the beans to her friends who still believed in St. Nick.  Even though her mom had spoiled the fun, Melissa's friends still deserved to enjoy a few more moments of childhood innocence.

The irony rocked my world.  Here, in trying to bring life to my baby girl's imagination, I donned an alter ego, only to lose her trust once my secret was revealed.  If I could, I would become the leprechaun every year.  Even traveling to her house on St. Patrick's Day when she is married with kids of her own.  I want her to relish in those childhood fantasies where no one questions the existence of little green men, and flying fairies really do exchange teeth for treasure.  For all too soon, reality takes hold and childhood evolves into a "not as much fun" grown up world.

This year, as St. Patrick's Day approached, Sarah called Melissa and invited her to sleep over on March 17.  Seems the girls want to relive the past, treasure the memory, and just maybe, reenact their terrifying showdown with the leprechaun.  Perhaps they're not quite so ready to grow up after all!
"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Break In

Several years ago, a crime wave shattered our picture perfect suburban New Jersey community.  Well, ok, perhaps the term “crime wave” is a bit of an exaggeration when referring to a rash of car break ins.  Nonetheless, the local headlines screamed the news, and cops warned everyone to hide their valuables and lock their doors.  Teenage kids were suspected, but had yet to be caught in the act.

We felt fairly safe in our townhome development, with the most excitement coming from our elderly next door neighbor who chose to sunbathe in a suit which barely covered his privates.  Believe me, when your neighbor is pushing 65, you don’t want to see any inkling of his privates.

So……we didn’t expect the “crime wave” to hit our safe haven, but hit it did.  Sure enough, despite my husband Bob’s paranoia, we did, indeed, forget to lock the car door one night.  The next morning as I prepared to take my usual drive to work, I immediately noticed things were not right.  CDs were tossed all over the place, the contents of the glove compartment were scattered, McDonald’s happy meal boxes covered the back seat floor. (Oh wait, those were already there).

Frightened, I ran into the house calling for Bob, who jumped to the rescue and bolted outside to assess the damage.  Frantic, he began to search through his scattered CD collection, trying to determine what, if anything, had been taken.

“Where’s my Chicago’s Greatest Hits CD?” he yelled.  “THEY STOLE MY CHICAGO CD!”

Yes, I can just imagine the conversation that took place among the teen gang before they embarked on their hair raising crime spree.

Teen one: “Yo, dude, I got the scoop on a really good score.”
Teen two: “Yeah, where?”
Teen one: “It’s the Weinstein car.  The job’s goin down tonight”
Teen two: “I gotta get me some a dat action.  What’s in it for me?”
Teen one: “You’ll get your chance man, but I get to listen to it first”
Teen two: “Yo, no way man, ya know how rare those Chicago CDs are?”
Teen one: “Look dude, I call the shots, you want in, then I listen to it first!”

Thankfully, a thorough search of the car revealed nothing had been stolen, and yes, we even found Chicago’s Greatest Hits, safe and unscathed.  I guess the teen gang regretted their choice of vehicle since, after treating our possessions so carelessly, they concluded that nothing worthwhile existed in this “old fogey” car.

Alas, Bob is not the only member of the Weinstein household to become irrational following a real, or perceived break in.

Not long after we survived the near tragic loss of Chicago’s Greatest Hits, I arrived home one evening, only to find the lights not responding when I flipped on the switch.  I tested other outlets and sure enough, we had lost power.  With Bob working late that night, fear gripped my heart.  Trying to stay calm for my then five year old Melissa’s sake, I called him at his office.

“Go into the basement and check the fuse box,” he instructed.

“I don’t want to go downstairs,” came my frightened reply.  “What if there’s a man hiding down there waiting to attack me?”

It seemed logical to me.  A man snuck into my house and secretly turned off all of the power to lure me into the basement so that he could pounce.

“Lisa,” said Bob in comical exasperation.  “If someone wanted to attack you, why would they bother to take the trouble of turning off the power and hiding in the basement?”

I had no logical response to his line of questioning, I only knew that I felt truly terrified.

I put my brave face on and told Melissa to play in the living room while I scoured the kitchen junk drawer for the flashlight, praying the batteries still worked.  The dim light provided a tiny measure of comfort as I slowly descended the stairs, the beating of my heart surely giving away my strategic position.

I reached the basement and slowly made my way through the maze of dolls, board games, jump ropes, and Lincoln logs until I reached the door to the utility closet.  Waiting for me beyond that door was only the fuse box, I told myself, but still, there could be something more.  The man could be hiding in there, patiently waiting for his prey.  What would happen if I opened the door?  What horrors awaited me?!

I pointed my flashlight, grabbed the door knob and slowly turned the handle.  I had to be brave for my daughter.  I had to fight the evil that lurked inside.

Slowly, slowly, the door creaked open, I peeked inside, and discovered, to my horror……… 

a regular old fuse box.

I flipped a few switches on the fuse box and behold, the power miraculously returned to our home.  Feeling somewhat sheepish, I called Bob to inform him all was well.

So from that point on, we always lock the door to the car and the house, for you never know when an evil criminal will want to hide inside a utility closet waiting for his prey while listening to, what else……….. Chicago’s Greatest Hilts!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bringing Home the Kitty Cat

     It is 5:00 in the morning on a cold winter's Sunday, and I am snuggled  deep down under the warm, cozy covers.  Suddenly, I sense a "presence" at the foot of my bed.  I snuggle down deeper, trying to put it out of my mind,  fully aware of the horror that is coming.  Alas, my strategy does not work, for suddenly I hear the sound I have been dreading, the sound that is warning me to throw off my comfy covers, the sound that is demanding me to jump to attention that very moment!  The sound I hear is a very loud, bone chilling......"Meow!".
     Barely conscious, I attempt to bring the numbers on the clock into focus.  There is still a full hour to go before my famished feline is scheduled for his morning feast.  At this point, I know I have two options:
     1. Ignore him, which will result in more meowing, jumping on the bed, scratching on the door, running, licking, knocking things over, etc.
     2. Feed him.
     Lisa - 0    Cat - 1
     Surprisingly, before I met my husband Bob, I never imagined I'd become a cat owner.  My first foray into the world of feline fanaticism came at the age of 16, when, during a sleep over at a friend's house, her kitty decided to pounce on my private parts in the middle of the night, permanently putting a dent on any future plans to join a feline fan club.  Or so I thought.
     Fast forward 10 years.
     During my courtship with Bob, he unwittingly became a pet owner, thanks to the stealth actions of my then 16-year old, soon to be inherited daughter Jessica.  While Bob busied himself on his computer in the spare bedroom, Jessica lugged a box of litter up the stairs and into her bedroom.   "Oh nothing," came her innocent reply to his probing, "What are you doing?" questions.
     Then she quietly brought up the litter box, food, toys, and finally, a tiny black and white, six week old ball of fur, cradled in her arms.  Thanks to his coloring, she dubbed him "Yin Yang" after the symbol of the same name.
     The first time I saw the little fella I was smitten, and even Bob had to agree that, even though Jessica had snuck him into the house right under his nose, our new pet could stay.  And stay he did, for 13 years.
     Yin Yang, or Yinny as we lovingly called him, became my best bud when Jessica went away to college.  With his favorite human gone, he needed a new neck to snuggle under throughout the night, and he decided to choose mine.  During this time I also discovered a severe allergic reaction to cats.  No matter, over-the-counter meds would take care of new kitty wasn't going anywhere.
     Thanks to Yin Yang, I had become a member of the unofficial cat lovers fan club, made up of my girlfriends.  Newly married and as yet, childless, we spent hours describing the most recent antics of our loveable kitty cats.  "Guess what Yo Yo did?"  "Guess what Milkshake did?" "Guess what Stinky did?"  "Guess what Simon did?"
     When Bob's new job forced me to leave those friends and the  familiarity of our home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to a strange new world in Queens, New York, Yin Yang stayed right by my side.  Bob's hours kept him at work until 11 pm most nights, leaving me alone and desperately missing my friends and family.  Yin Yang burrowed into my neck during those lonely nights, keeping me grounded and helping me adjust.
     After 18 months, we moved to a beautiful suburb in central New Jersey.  Yinny soon found a sunny window ledge in his new home and settled right in.  That is....until "she" came along.
     By "she", I am referring to my now 14-year old daughter Melissa.  
     My mother worried the cat would climb into the crib and smother the baby, but I instinctively knew my loyal pet would recognize Melissa as friend, not foe.  In reality, he barely paid her any mind, but he demonstrated his anger towards me in the form of jealousy.  No longer could I allow my kitty to cuddle with me all night when an infant demanded my attention every two hours.  Yinny responded by becoming more aggressive, following me all over, chasing me, and biting. 
     What's more, as children entered the lives of my friends, talk of cat accomplishments now gave way to babies' milestones.  Our cats still mattered, but they admittedly, now took a back seat.
     Eventually, Yin Yang mellowed and became used to no longer sleeping in my bed, while I witnessed a marked improvement in my allergies!  As Melissa grew, the cat became a part of her life, a permanent fixture in her environment.  When Jessica considered bringing Yinny with her to her new apartment in New York City (he was, after all, her cat) Melissa responded by emphatically stating, in no uncertain terms, "Yin Yang is my cat!"  
     So that settled that!   Yinny stayed with us!
     A few years later, we moved  yet again so I could be closer to a new job.  We happily settled into a New Jersey suburb just outside of Philadelphia, but this time, Yinny, now a senior kitty, had trouble adjusting.  We noticed, much to Bob's chagrin, that the poor thing often could not make it to his litter box, and began marking his territory all over the house.  Within a year's time, he had lost half his body weight, and I had spent far too many hours scrubbing the carpet in the spots where he couldn't keep food down.  
     Diagnosed with failing kidneys, we knew the best thing to do for our beloved cat would be to sadly say goodbye.  To ease the pain for all of us, we immediately drove to the nearest animal shelter where we soon found ourselves surrounded by felines of every age, shape, size and color.
     Melissa spotted a mommy cat lying comfortably in the cage next to seven of her precious babies, who were piled on top of one another.  One of the little guys, buried under his brothers and sisters, had markings that were eerily similar to our Yinny.  Melissa hold been holding a grey kitten when I handed the little black and white fellow to her.  The shelter had dubbed him "Aden", and the name stuck, although he also answers to "Fuzzy Wuzzy", or the simpler version of the nick name, "Fuzz".
     Melissa is Aden's favorite human, and he shows his love by licking her face, following her all over the house, and curling up with her at night.  As for me, I have become nothing but a source of food for the little guy.  Even if Bob and Melissa are home, he waits until I walk in the door to beg for dinner.  
     This month, we celebrated the 6th anniversary of Aden's arrival in our home, although it certainly feels like he has been a part of the family forever.  A bit calmer than his predecessor, and much more timid, Aden has wormed his way into our hearts.  
     Today, my friends have also moved onto their second, and in some cases, third cats.  While our kids still take center stage, they are now teenagers who are more likely to die of embarrassment than snuggle with their mothers.  So we revert back to our faithful felines who are more than happy to lie in our laps, purring happily while we chat on the phone.
     "Hey, guess what Aden did?"


Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Pregnancy Test

My husband Bob loves going food shopping; however, it is a task that I simply do not enjoy.  While I approach the supermarket as a necessary evil and strive to get in and out as fast as possible, Bob thinks of it as an adventure, savoring every moment, scanning every item, in every aisle, and taking hours upon hours to perform the seemingly simple job of buying groceries for a family of three.

Although he takes his weekend excursion to restock the fridge quite seriously, there is one product he will never attempt to purchase.  A product he avoids at all costs, a product that confuses, befuddles, and downright scares him.  Yes ladies, I am referring to…….feminine protection!

It is no good trying to explain to Bob how to purchase these products for me.  There are too many shapes, sizes, brands, designs, absorbency levels, etc.  I will gladly take the short trek to the neighborhood drug store once a month to purchase them myself.  A few months ago, however, after proactively ensuring I had a decent supply, I realized that my “monthly friend” seemed to be a bit tardy. 

Ok, no big deal, I thought.  I’m getting older, tardiness is to be expected. 

After two weeks passed I began to suspect that my “monthly friend” had, perhaps, lost its way. 

After three weeks I thought about launching a search party. 

After five weeks I prepared to offer a large reward for the safe return of my “monthly friend”. 

After six weeks I began to truly worry that my “monthly friend” would not resurface for another nine months.

Sigh.  It was time to tell Bob.

My husband and I approached this development with mixed reactions.   From a financial perspective, how would another mouth to feed affect our college savings for our 14-year old daughter Melissa, as well as retirement plans for us?  From an age perspective, we calculated that Bob would be 74 when this child graduated from high school.  From a Melissa perspective, was she ready to welcome a sibling after having her parents to herself for all these years.  From a “been there done that” perspective, were we ready to start again with diapers and day care?  Also, in addition to Melissa, Bob had singlehandedly raised his daughter Jessica.  He’d already “been there done that” twice and was not sure if three times would be a charm.  Finally, from a health perspective, I have recently developed a medical condition called uterine prolapse, a problem that could seriously impact my body’s ability to carry a baby to term.  This was the perspective that worried me most.

Six weeks melded into seven and still no sign of my “monthly friend”.  I made a promise to go to the drug store and buy “The Test”, but something held me back.  After going over all of the reasons again why this news had thrown us into a panic, another perspective started to surface….the happiness perspective.  I started to imagine cradling a new bundle of joy.  I started to wander into our spare bedroom and picture where I would put the crib.  I started thinking of boy names and girl names, and that maybe, just maybe, at the age of 46, god wanted to give me another gift.

My first gift came after 12 months of trying.  I realize it sounds quite cliché when I admit I knew instantly, even before “The Test” provided affirmative confirmation.  Something just felt different, like no other feeling that had engulfed my body ever in my lifetime.  This feeling soon went beyond mere exhaustion.   I felt as if someone had replaced my bones with lead.  During the first five weeks I slept for 20 hours straight and still, severe exhaustion persisted.  

When I finally regained a small measure of energy, I developed an inability to hold down any type of food or liquid.  My obstetrician diagnosed the condition as hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, only, it lasts all day, and well beyond the typical 12 weeks.  Forced to go on disability, I spent the early months of my pregnancy confined to the couch with an IV inserted in my veins to ensure my body, and the baby, received enough nourishment to thrive.

My doctor experimented with alternative therapies and a combination of drugs, and finally, after five long months, I started to experience some relief. 

A few months later, the love of my life entered the world, health as could be, and oblivious to the havoc she had wrecked on her mommy's body.  As the years flew by and Bob and I celebrated each milestone in Melissa's young life, I contemplated having another.  However, I could not imagine being pregnant while juggling my full time public relations job, caring for my active daughter, and dealing with another bout of IV therapy.  My doctor said I might not have the same experience the second time around, but I didn't want to take the chance.  

Fourteen years later I stood poised to yet again take, "The Test", to learn if Bob and I were destined for another.  Unsure of what I wanted to answer to be, I reluctantly glanced at the stick, which told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not with child....I was just getting old.

Bob and I felt a wisp of sadness of what might have been, as well as an overwhelming sense of relief.  Although another would have been welcome with open arms, we have two beautiful daughters who have filled our lives with such joy.  What more could we ask for?

I guess we passed the test.

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

They say that opposites attract, and when it comes to my husband Bob and me, that old adage certainly rings true.  He loves to watch zombie movies, while I seek out romantic comedies.  He enjoys the independence of working from home, while I thrive on human interaction.  His first stop in the book store is the History or Biography section, while I’m content to read Harry Potter for the millionth time.  He is a horrible driver, while I am….well, let’s just say I think my skills behind the wheel are perfectly fine.  Bob begs to differ.

Bob considers himself a “good”, bad driver, while referring to me as a “bad”, good driver.  I follow the rules at all times.  He decides when and where rules might apply.  I think he’s too aggressive, he things I’m too cautious.  It doesn’t matter if we are driving to the corner store or halfway across the country, Bob refuses to sit in the passenger seat when I am behind the wheel unless he is bleeding from every orifice or has slipped into a coma.  That’s why I found it incredibly surprising when, on the way home from a family visit in northern New York, Bob pulled over and actually asked me to drive.

I settled comfortably into the seat, readjusted the mirrors, and we continued happily down the New York State Thruway.  My 14-year old daughter Melissa sat curled under a blanket in the back, her IPod placed securely on her lap, earphones blocking out her parents mindless chatter.  Bob watched the road for a few minutes, cautiously making sure that his decision to relinquish the wheel would not result in an untimely death for all three of us.   Eventually, he succumbed to exhaustion and drifted off to sleep.


I would have gladly steered the car all the way through New York, onto the New Jersey turnpike and into our welcoming driveway, had my bladder not had other plans.  So after about two hours, I turned off the highway into a rest stop, found a place to park, and shut off the engine.

Bob’s snores began to cease as he sensed that the car had come to a stop.  He sat up and prepared to exit when I noticed that the strap from my pocketbook, which I had carelessly tossed onto the passenger seat floor, had somehow wrapped itself around his ankle.

In the magic of movies, emotional, dramatic moments are played out in slow motion so the viewer understands the full dramatic impact of the unfolding scene.  As Bob got out of the car, special effects were not necessary as I watched, in mind numbing slow motion, as my husband, unaware of the strap that anchored him to the car, attempted to exit, but instead fell tragically to the ground.

Melissa, who had exited the car on the driver’s side, did not bear witness to the accident.  I called out to her, struggling to get my seat belt off so I could jump out and rescue my husband.  “Melissa, daddy fell!” I screamed, with panic in my voice.

I imagined him lying broken on the ground, bleeding, crying out for help.  I imagined my family spending the rest of the day, and perhaps more, in the local emergency room.  I imagined the absolute, very, very worst…..and in the few seconds it took to break free from the seat belt and run around to the other side of the car, I imagined living the rest of my life without him.   Devastation, panic, horror, and unbridled fear all gripped my heart as I realized just how much I loved this man. 

I approached the other side of the car, only to find that a stranger had reached my husband first, an older woman who had kindly extended her hand to help him to his feet.  He assured me all was well, no bumps, bruises, or broken bones.  Perhaps a bit of damage to his ego, but thankfully, nothing more.  He brushed himself off and together, the three of us walked into the rest stop, while Melissa shook her head in embarrassment, convinced that her parents overreacted at the stupidest things.

We took care of business and wearily made our way back to the car.  Suddenly, Bob reached for his shirt pocket, where he always keeps his phone.  It was gone.

We deduced the phone must have escaped the confines of the shirt pocket when he fell, and a search of the grounds immediately ensued.  The three of us combed the parking lot on hands and knees to no avail.  The phone, the expensive phone, complete with internet access, email contacts, and a host of apps, had seemingly disappeared.  Although disappointed, we took stock of the situation.  Bob had survived unscathed from a scary fall.  His health was all the mattered, the phone could be replaced.

As we admitted defeat, I glanced at the vehicle parked behind us.  There, positioned in the center of the windshield, sat a phone, which, upon closer examination, proved indeed, to belong to Bob.  Seems a stranger had discovered the phone on the ground and placed it on the windshield, assuming it had been returned to its rightful owner.

We climbed back into the car and resumed our journey, with Bob taking his rightful spot behind his wheel, and the phone taking its rightful spot in his pocket.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome.  For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared.  To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous".  If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post.  Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish.  Check the page the make sure your comment appeared.   You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.