Saturday, April 27, 2013

Melissa Writes a Song

This beautiful, original song was written and performed for me on my birthday by my incredibly talented 15-year old daughter Melissa. I nearly flooded the house with my tears. Listen and you'll understand why!

Listen to the song here!

I have no idea how to write a song
Should it be this short, can it be that long
I wish all the words would come pouring out
but it's not that easy...

I don't even know where to start
Can I just say that you are my best friend
The one who's there for me when on one else is
Keeping me calm with your soothing voice
You make my problems seem not as big as they once were before
You are my hero disguised as someone helping me find my way in life
No words can say just how much I love you

We may sometimes fight but that's ok
Cause that's how teens and moms will act now a days
I know you always have my back

It seems like time moves way too fast
When we spend moments together I just want it to last

Can I just say that you are my best friend
The one who's there for me when on one else is
Keeping me calm with your soothing voice
You make my problems seem not as big as they once were before

You are my hero disguised as someone helping me find my way in life
No words can say just how much I love you

But when I go away in four year's time
I know you'll miss me

I really can't imagine a life without you
But hey don't you worry, it will be alright
Cause you'll be hiding in my dorm room at night

Can I just say that you are my best friend
The one who's there for me when on one else is
Keeping me calm with your soothing voice
You make my problems seem not as big as they once were before
You are my hero disguised as someone helping me find my way in life
No words can say just how much I love you

A collage of photos of my beautiful Melissa and me!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

I originally posted this in celebration of Valentine's Day 2012 - now as I prepare to celebrate 19 years of wedded bliss with the man of my dreams on April 23, it seemed only fitting to post it again.  Happy anniversary to my Bobby Bear!! I love you!

How I Met My Husband: The Bunny Suit

Earlier this evening I received a pleasantly surprising phone call from my brother Steven.  Seems my name had been drawn from a basket full of names of people who had helped support an organization called “Hearts for Autism” by entering a raffle drawing for an assortment of goodies.

When the call came, I had been sitting on the sofa in our family room, my hair pulled back in a most unflattering style, sweat pouring from my skin after a spin on the exercise bike.  I wore my classic green sweatpants purchased when dinosaurs walked the planet, and my torn and tattered Beatles Yellow Submarine t-shirt purchased during my pregnancy 15 years ago, a shirt I refuse to part with…for sentimental reasons. 

I turned to my husband Bob and proudly announced that I had just won a basket full of beauty products.  His immediate response, without skipping a beat:  “You don’t need a beauty basket.” 

And that is why I am still so crazy about this guy who came into my life two decades ago, thanks in part to my job at a day care center and my ability to look adorable in a bunny suit.

Ok, I’ll explain.

While in college as an education major, my sister Bev (who is now a successful kindergarten teacher) took a job at a local day care center to get some experience under her belt.  When the center needed some extra part-time help, she approached me with the offer.  Although the job wouldn’t help with my goal of becoming a journalist, I figured it provided a few extra bucks and the chance to cuddle with some adorable toddlers.  Little did I know that day care center would lead to my first position in the real world.

Following my graduation from Temple University with a degree in journalism and public relations, I began the arduous task of scanning the Sunday paper for relevant positions (again, this happened in the prehistoric era, career builder and monster were not even figments of anyone’s imagination yet) sending out resumes, and hoping for that phone call from a company, any company, expressing their interest. 

Surprisingly, my day care experience, not my writing skills, caught the attention of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).  They had a new fund raising program called a Hop-A-Thon, where children in day care centers asked people to donate a penny per hop to support “Jerry’s Kids”.  Since I had worked in a day care center, the MDA felt I’d be perfect for the job!

During my two year tenure at MDA, my supervisor introduced me to Bob Weinstein, a TV director with a local station in Philadelphia.  Bob had been tasked with directing the local portion of the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.  I’ll admit, I was smitten, but didn’t think the guy even knew my name.  (A true assumption, I learned years later)  Bob had eight years on me, and a teenage daughter!  What would he ever see in a younger woman like me?

Although I left MDA to move onto greener pastures, I stayed in touch with my former boss.  So it did not come as a total surprise when she called me one day, but the favor she asked threw me for a loop.  A local day care center had won the distinction of raising the most money through the Hop-A-Thon program and had earned an appearance on a local children’s show called “Captain Noah”.  My former boss asked, or should I say, begged me to join the children on the show, dressed in a bunny suit!

I immediately jumped at the opportunity, only because of the slim chance that I might run into Bob while at the TV station.  At this stage in my life, I had been on and off with the same guy for four years, a relationship that had become one of convenience rather than emotion.  Like most women my age, I longed for a long-term relationship that would lead to marriage, children, the house with the white picket fence….you get the picture.

I walked into the TV station lobby not really sure if Bob would even show any sign of recognition.  However, unbeknownst to me, my former boss had told Bob about my crush.  Sure enough, he came through the lobby as I waited to go in, and fortunately, I had not yet donned my bunny suit.  He hugged me and said how great it was too see me.  My hopes were raised a tiny bit…now if only I could get through this performance without my Bob seeing me in a bunny suit.

I joined the toddlers in the studio, floppy ears and all, for the taping of the show.  When the director called it a wrap, I retreated out the door, longing to get back to the dressing room and out of my getup as soon as possible, lest Bob see me in fully bunny regalia.  I had barely walked two feet when another door opened and into the hall walked, you guessed it….Bob Weinstein!  Words to describe how I felt at that moment include, “mortified” “embarrassed” “horrified” and did I mention, “mortified”?

Since that fateful day, I’ve been blessed with my beautiful inherited daughter, Jessica, and my 14-year old love of my life, Melissa.  We’ve been through six different homes, job losses, health scares, and now, a steady phase of stability.   Recently I learned that, when Bob saw me in the bunny suit, he thought I was adorable and sexy.  Over two decades later, as I sit here in my well worn sweat pants and tattered t-shirt, he still thinks I’m adorable and sexy.  Bob, for all that you are, and for all you have given me, I love you!  

My husband Bob and me during a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth - happy 19th anniversary sweet heart, you are the love of my life

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Defining Love

During our courtship, I often asked my husband Bob, if he thought I was pretty.  The answer I longed to hear came from years of crushes on unrequited loves, and years of longing for the perfect man to see beyond my self-described imperfections and sweep me off my feet.

However, when I posed this question to Bob, I did not get the answer I longed to hear, but a response that took years to fully understand.

"I don't think you're pretty Lisa, I think you're beautiful."

Is there a difference?


And this weekend I tried to explain that difference to my 15-year old daughter Melissa as she struggled through an English class assignment to write an essay on the nearly impossible task of defining love.

I looked at this child and grappled to find the perfect way to put into words why "beautiful" is a world apart from "pretty", and why "beautiful" comes so much closer to love.

When Bob and I began dating, the obvious physical attraction certainly played a role in our destiny.  Yet the more we spent time together, the more our connection evolved based on shared interests, laughter, tears, and mutual respect.  We both grew to so deeply enjoy the person we had chosen to date, and eventually marry.

Whenever a fancy occasion such as a wedding requires me to squeeze into a new dress, painstakingly cake on make-up, and spend hours curling my hair, he always thinks the finished product is "pretty", but still...he thinks I'm "beautiful".

Is there a difference?


Whenever I am sick, and spend hours in bed, surrounded by tissues to nurse my Rudolph-red nose, clad in a t-shirt and sweat pants, and too tired to roll over let alone take a shower, he may not think I'm "pretty", but still... he thinks I'm "beautiful".

Whenever we argue, and yes, we sometimes do, he may be angry or frustrated, he may think I'm stubborn and overly sensitive, but still... he thinks I'm "beautiful".

Now, as I attempt to explain that concept to my daughter, I also try to help her understand that the deep, deep love that earns the title of "beautiful" exists not only between couples.  It is the love a father has the first time he holds his newborn son, the love that is shared among siblings, or the special bond of love between best friends.

In my case, it is the desperate love I have for this wonderful, special, incredible, child who I am so proud to call my own.

So Melissa, as you go through life, you need not compare yourself to anyone, nor impose any self-described imperfections  Embrace all that you are, and all that you are destined to be.  And please know that I love you, because you are "beautiful."

Me with my "beautiful" family, Melissa and Bob

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Girlfriends Reunion

I walked into the crowded Sunday morning scene and made my way through the throngs of brunch-goers until I found them. There they stood, Fern, Jackie, and Linda, waiting patiently at the front of the line.

Amid hugs and laughter, we complimented each other's clothes, shoes, nails, handbags, and of course, the most important!

"I got blonde highlights!" I exclaimed, much to their approval.  "I can't believe it took so long, now I'll never go back, since it does such a great job covering up the grey!"

They all nodded in empathy and reluctant understanding.

It had been six months since our last gathering, and despite our best efforts to close that gap of time between visits, life just gets in the way.

Our bonds of friendship formed during those first, few uncertain weeks of our freshman year at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  Eager to put my awkward high school days behind me, I embraced college life with a vengeance and couldn't wait to make new friends.

I spotted Fern on campus almost immediately.  As young girls who lived within walking distance of one another, we had witnessed the closeness of our elementary school friendship fade as we chose different high schools...and different paths.  Perhaps fate put us both at the same lunch truck during our early days at Temple.  We reconnected....and never looked back!

Next came Linny.  I didn't know when I walked into the crowded lunch room of the student activities center that a life-long friend awaited me among the sea of unfamiliar faces.  She sat at a table with a girl I knew from high school, who also happened to be the only person I knew in the jam-packed room.  Not wanting to suffer the indignity of (gasp) eating alone, I walked over to her table and timidly said hi. I received a warm welcome from my high school friend, who introduced me to the rest of the bunch.  Linny and I chatted like old friends, and when we decided to exchange phone numbers, we both pulled a small phone book with the same exact cover design out of our bulging book bags!  We knew, right then and there, we had connected...and we never looked back!

(*Note to my younger readers: back in the day of the dinosaur, we actually had to hand write phone numbers onto the pages of a book, instead of using the "will not be invented for another 25 years" smart phone)

Jackie and I solidified our friendship sitting in a booth at a local diner in the waning hours following a frat party.  Introduced by a mutual friend who shared the meal with us, our unabated laughter echoed of the walls of the nearly empty establishment.  "She's one of us!" Jackie proclaimed to our mutual friend. And with that, we connected....and we never looked back.

The priorities of our college years seem almost laughable now.
-weekend plans
-lunch and gas money
-did I mention boys?


The intervening years since college have been at times, exceedingly kind, and at times, full of challenges.

Graduation parties gave way to first jobs, second jobs, third jobs, and lost jobs.  We sent wedding announcements and birth announcements. We rented apartments and purchased first homes.  We moved away and moved back home again.   We have laughed together, cried together, discussed, and debated.  We have let months go by without contact, then picked up where we left if time had no boundaries.  We watched our babies grow up and our parents grow old, and sadly...said goodbye to some of them who left us forever.

Now as we sat together, sipping coffee and eating omelettes, the conversation ranged from raging hormones to overactive bladders to everything in between. We complained about our teens, and bragged about our teens, and shared pictures of our teens.  We wondered where the time went and why we were getting invitations to join AARP, all the while struggling to see the menu without our reading glasses.

We begged the waiter to ignore the line out the door and let us stay laugh support each other enjoy being with each other longer.....for just a few precious moments longer.  For we knew, all too soon, goodbye would come, we'd return to our worlds, and this brunch would become nothing more than a memory, although a good one at that.

We reluctantly paid the bill and lingered outside, braving the slight chill in the early spring air in our attempt to extend the visit just a wee bit longer.  Finally, as we hugged each other one last time, we promised to not let another six months go by without getting together again.

Then we each got into our cars, tucked our memories safely away, and returned to the routine of our lives.

Fern, Jackie, Linda, and me ...not wanting to say goodbye!

If you like my stories, please feel free to tell me in the comments section below.