Sunday, December 13, 2015

Getting Tossed off the Cruise Ship

After nearly 22 years of wedded bliss I am happy to share that my husband Bob and I never bicker. All of our moments are filled with sunshine and roses and smiles and laughter.  We skip through the house, singing silly love songs, proclaiming our love for each other 24-hours a day.

Yeah, right.

The love is there, in fact it's always there.

But do we bicker?  Of course we bicker!

We bicker over the usual things that cause many a marital rift - money, chores, or his insistance on driving like a homicidal maniac every time he gets behind the wheel.

Yet in the end, the love is always there, and we tell each other so every time we part ways, whether it's leaving each day for work, or before hanging up the phone.

My Bob is kind and caring and affectionate. Whether he is giving me a much-needed hug, or soothing away my stress with a well-timed back massage, his touch is always sweet and gentle.

Except at night.

In the middle of the night to be exact.

I usually start my bedtime routine a bit earlier than my hubs, preferring to wind down by snuggling in bed, curled up with a good book. Bob, on the other hand, watches TV to lull him to sleep, which works quite well.  He typically conks out on the family room sofa, only to wake up in the wee hours of the morning, stumble up the stairs, and join me in bed.

Most nights I don't even wake up when he crawls under the covers, I just take comfort in knowing that in the morning I'll always find him there by my side.

Except for last night.

In the middle of the night to be exact.

Seems my darling husband had what one might describe as an unusual dream.

He worked on a cruise ship and had the strange assignment of throwing people overboard. In fact, his strange dream came with intricate details. He had to toss one respresentative from each of our country's 50 states off the luxury liner and into the sea. (Imagine the odds of a representative from each of the 50 states being on the same cruise ship. That must have been some dream.)

Unfortunately, seems like I was the chosen cruise ship passenger from New Jersey, or at least that's the only thing I can think of to explain my husband's behavior.

There's nothing quite like being in a deep, deep restful sleep when all of the sudden the fist of your betrothed hits you square in the jaw.

I have read articles about the body's reaction to being attacked. In that instant, the brain decides to either:

1. Fight


2. Flight

I could have chosen Option 2,  jumped out of bed and allowed him to throw the pillows overboard. (There are 4 pillows on the bed, he could've easily knocked off Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas.) But instead I chose Option 1, figuring if I didn't attempt to wake him up, who knows how many bruised body parts I'd have before he got down to tossing the rep from Wyoming off the ship.

My poor Bob, obviously unaware of his actions, awakened to find his wife beating the crap out of him and screaming, "What the hell is wrong with you!"

Of course, having no control over his dreams, he felt absolutely terrible for his actions and apologized more times than you can imagine.

Nevertheless, I think I'll encourage my love to simply stay on the sofa tonight.  Either that or I'll wear body armour to bed. Because you never know when that cruise ship will sail again.

If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mornings with Melissa

Each morning, My 18-year old daughter Melissa's iPhone alarm rings at 5:45 am.  As for me, I enjoy those last few moments of precious sleep until my clock radio shakes me awake a mere 15 minutes later.

As I stumble into the bathroom to embrace my routine, she's already downstairs eating breakfast.

Ocassionally, our fiesty feline will try to convince me that his favorite human (Melissa) neglected to serve his morning friskies.

"Did you feed the cat?" I croak, standing at the top of the stairs, barely concerned that this question has replaced the much more loving, "good morning sweetie" as the first words spoken to my teen at the break of day.

"Yeah," comes her barely coherent response.

Satisfied that the cat has simply feigned starvation, I ignore his plea for more food and force myself into the shower.  It is here that thoughts of the day ahead fill my mind.  Work deadlines, errands to run, appointments to make....all while washing and rinsing my hair.

It is when I am finally toweled and dried, standing in my robe, blowdryer in hand, that I actually see my teen for the first time each morning. She pops in and gives me a hug, yells goodbye to her still sleeping dad, and as the echoes of my "have a great day" wishes reverberate down the stairs, she closes the door behind her and gets in the car, ready to start another day of school.

Our mornings weren't always this devoid of emotion.

As a newborn, Melissa's days were met with diaper changes and bottle feedings followed by snuggling with mommy for her morning nap. Kisses and hugs were in full supply as I unwillingly got her ready for daycare a few months later and made the transition to working mom.

The toddler years involved picking out outfits and getting her dressed and combing her hair and squeezing her tight.  The elementary school years came with more independence, yet I still helped her
pick out her clothes, fed her breakfast, smoothered her with kisses, and watched as she climbed on the bus, waving goodbye as she started her day.

The middle school years found me hiding in the living room, a paranoid mother peeking out the window to make sure she safely boarded the bus.

Now she is in high school.

Senior year in high school.

And our morning interactions are nearly non-existent.

But we make up for it at night.

For it is bedtime when my daughter seeks me out, hunts me down, and tells me about her day. We talk about homework and teachers, tests and college applications,  friend drama and boy crushes, youth group meetings and school play auditions.

I realize that these days are fleeting, and the nearly non-existent interactions that provide the foundation for our days will be all but gone by this time next year, as she'll be getting ready each morning inside a dorm room instead of the bathroom down the hall.

But if my cherub needs to talk, to seek me out, to hunt me down, I will always be there....just a phone call away.

Melissa and me at her Junior Prom, March 2015

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Birthday Card

I walked towards the mailbox, tentative in my approach, a sealed and stamped birthday card in hand. If I dropped the card in the box, I ran the risk of an uncertain response. She might send me a polite, albeit, brief thank you text, or I could be on the receiving end of a nasty diatribe warning me never to contact her again.

But in all likelihood the response would be, quite frankly....nothing. She'd ignore my good wishes altogether.

Our friendship had lasted nearly four years when it came to an abrupt end last summer.  Thanks to Facebook, it's now easier than ever to cut emotional ties by simply clicking on the "unfriend" button.

And that's exactly what she did.

Trouble is, I never knew why.

I debated the pros and cons of calling, or texting, or sending a heart-felt email, but kept coming back to one final truth...she no longer wanted me as a friend.

So I moved on.

That is, until I stood at the mailbox, birthday card in hand.

I didn't tell my family or friends of my plans to acknowledge her birthday, not so much because I knew they'd tell me not to send the card.

But because I knew they'd be right.

Yet I wanted to try.

I wanted to send an olive branch of sorts in the hopes that perhaps, just perhaps it would serve as a catalyst for a conversation. Not to rekindle the friendship, but to learn why it had ended.

Two days passed after the card had been placed in the box, and as predicted, I heard nothing. Three days passed, then four, then five.  Still nothing.

I felt like a fool.

A fool who needed to confess to my husband Bob in the hopes he would share words of comfort.

And that's exactly what he did.

We were walking hand-in hand, enjoying nature's autumn splendor when I built up the courage to tell him.

He took me in his arms and held me tight. "Lisa," he said, as he looked in my eyes, "you have the biggest heart of anyone I know."

We lingered for a moment, while I took solace in his warm embrace.

Sometimes I need Bob to remind me that having a big heart is not such a bad thing. Yes, it means opening myself to hurt at times, but it also means opening myself to the love of a husband who has stood by my side since we said "I do", to my beautiful daughters Jessica and Melissa, my grandson Miles, my extended family, and to the incredible women in my life who took the reins of friendship decades earlier and will never, ever let go.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get a response to the birthday card, but as I stood in my husband's arms I realized, it no longer mattered.

I have more than enough love to fill my big heart.  And that's all I need.

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Game Night

In the early 1980s, a new type of board game landed in neighborhood toy stores across the country. A game where mindless bits of meaningless data burried deep in the recesses of your brain suddenly became the key to earning the title of smartest player in the room.

A game where the correct answer to a question earned you a "doo dad" which fit snugly into a circular token which looked very much like a pie. Fill in your pie with all 6 multi-colored "doo dads" and you held bragging rights forever, or at least until your opponents begged you to play again.

I am talking, of course, about the Trivial Pursuit craze of the mid-80s, when shoppers across the nation gobbled up an estimated 20 million copies of the game, giving them the chance to demonstrate that they knew exactly who lived at 221B  Baker Street in London (if you answered Sherlock Holmes, give yourself a brown "doo dad"). 

My college friends and I, circa 1985, jumped right onto the Trivial Pursuit bandwagon.  A typical Saturday night would find at least eight of us squeezed around my parent's kitchen table, munching on chips while desperately trying to out-wit each other in this tried and true trivia show down.

Thirty years later, I no longer remember who claimed the title of the smartest in the room...but memories of the resounding laughter that filled my parent's kitchen during those innocent Saturday nights has stayed with me through the intervening years.

While I can't pinpoint an exact reason why our weekend Trivial Pursuit challenges came to an end, I can blame a likely  You see, we graduated college, found jobs, planned weddings, and all too soon, our days were filled with soccer games and dance recitals, and PTA meetings, and last minute trips to the store to buy poster board for the science project due the next day.

We attempted to find those few fleeting moments to connect by phone or social media...and sometimes we even managed to get together for a rare Saturday lunch.  But our weekend Trivial Pursuit parties had become a part of our treasured past...never to happen again.

That is, until last weekend.

Since our college days we have collectively survived first marriages and second marriages, toddlers and teens, new jobs and lay offs, health scares, and money woes.  But there we sat, munching on chips, sitting comfortably around my friend's kitchen table, teamed up with our spouses, roaring with laughter, and once again reaching into the deepest bowels of our brains to remember which two actors starred in Gone With the Wind. (If you answered Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh give yourself a pink "doo dad".

I left my friend's house that night with a feeling of love and warmth that I had so desperately missed....but had never really gone away.

While my husband Bob and I didn't earn enough "doo dads" to fill our pie, I'm confident that the winner won't hold onto their bragging rights for long.  Because now that, 30 years later, we have resurrected game night, I can't wait for a re-match so I can try to fill my pie with "doo dads".....

and fill my heart with the love and laughter of good friends once again.

 If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Christmas on the Starship Enterprise

There have been an onslaught of Facebook posts of late expressing outrage that the management of a number of shopping malls across the country opted to have jolly St. Nick grant children's wishes using a backdrop that looks more like the deck of the Starship Enterprise than Santa's workshop on the North Pole.

Many have claimed that the mall management removed the traditional Christmas scene in an effort to avoid offending anyone. While I am not sure if this is, indeed, the true reason (I have yet to read anything from the mall management that claims this as fact) I would like to share my views.

I am Jewish. I am Liberal. I am not offended by Christmas.

I am not offended by Christmas trees. I am not offended by Christmas lights. I am not offended by Christmas movies, Christmas TV specials, Christmas books, or Christmas songs. I am not offended by Christmas cookies, or Christmas candy, or Christmas pie  (my waistline protests....but not me). I am not offended by Christmas displays at the mall. And I am certainly not offended by Christmas sales at the mall. I am not offended by Christmas parades, Christmas concerts, and my quaint New Jersey town's annual Christmas-themed Dickens festival.

I am not offended by Christmas stockings, Christmas ornaments, Christmas sweaters, Christmas pajamas, or the cute Christmas saying on my bottle of diet coke. I am not offended by red cups, or cups with snowflakes, or blue cups, or purple cups with pink polka dots. I am not offended by Christmas cards, or Christmas Carolers, or those cute stuffed Christmas reindeer toys you find in your local Hallmark store. I am not offended that my doctor's office, dry cleaner, hair salon, gas station, pharmacy, and supermarket boast festive red and green Christmas decorations.

I am not offended if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy New Year. I am not offended by the countless acts of kindness displayed by non-profits, churches, synagogues, businesses, and civic organization who donate toys, food, and funds to ensure those less fortunate have a joyful Christmas.

What I am is grateful that I live in a country where I will not be arrested or persecuted because I choose to put an electric Menorah in my window for eight days each December.

So please, please everyone, there is no war Christmas or any other holiday for that matter. Relax and enjoy the peace and good will of the season.

Although I do have one, teensy weensy request....can we please wait until we've digested our turkey and cranberry sauce before we start celebrating Christmas?

My daughter Melissa and me in front of the beautiful Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center
 New York City, December, 2001

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Melissa's Elementary School Papers

In my laundry room, nestled among the detergent, fabric softener, ironing board, and the endless pile of soiled clothes, lived three huge plastic tubs.  Inside these tubs were the precious memories created by my sweet little cherub Melissa when she entered the "big girl" world of elementary school.

After first grade, I discovered that three huge tubs were not nearly large enough to host the precious memories of 2nd grade and I purchased more.  Tubs number 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and so on had their permanent resting place in my bedroom, a storage room, my husband Bob's home office, and in the bowels of our gararge.

Notice the use of the past tense in the above sentence. Yes, that's right. They had their permanent resting place throughout nearly every nook and cranny of my house, that is, until last weekend.

You see, now that my cherub is a high school senior and filling out college applications, I decided that I probably didn't need all of the precious memories I saved over the years. I knew that someday I would have to tackle all of those tubs.  But oh, it would be so hard!  How could I get rid of those precious memories? How could I throw away all of the evidence of my baby's hard work from 1st through 5th grade?

It would be an emotional challenge, but I rolled up my shirt sleeves, sat cross legged on the floor, and kept a box of tissues by my side in the event that looking through her old papers became too much for my emotions to handle.

Let's just suffice it to say that I really did need those tissues, but not for reasons you'd expect. The Puffs got plenty of use as dust from the first tub immediately found a new home... in my nose.

As I sneezed my way through math home work and spelling tests and history projects and letters from the teacher, one and only one thought ran through my mind.


To any mother who is about to send their child off to elementary school, I offer these words of wisdom.  If you are thinking of saving every single piece of paper your baby brings home, I caution you, I urge you, I beg you....DON'T DO IT!

Why, you ask? Because 11 years later you'll be sitting cross legged on the floor, staring at dust-filled bins of old papers, thinking to yourself, "Why did I save all of this crap!"

I suppose I had visions of someday sitting together with an adult Melissa, lovingly sharing these precious memories of her childhood.

Yeah.  Not going to happen.

Devoid of the emotional obstacles I thought would stand in my way, I systemically placed all evidence of my baby's hard work from 1st through 5th grade in the recycling bin.

Now before you accuse me of being a heartless mother, I will tell you that some items were spared. Birthday cards, Mother's and Father's Day projects, a cute little story about the day we adopted our cat, and a tale of her visit to a local farm with her Brownie Troop.

All told, I whittled 10 huge tubs down to 2.

Now I'll have room to save every single piece of paper she brings home from college next year!

Melissa's first grade tale about a field trip to Paws Farm with her Brownie Troop!

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Confessions of a Naïve Step-Mom

Following our nuptials in April of 1994, my husband Bob and I had planned a spectacular 10-day honeymoon in Hawaii.  The only challenge: who would stay with my newly inherited step-daughter Jessica? 

At 18, and only 10 years my junior, Jessica certainly had the maturity and responsibility to stay on her own for a day or two.   However, we both felt 10 days just seemed too long to leave her alone.  Fortunately, my mother-in-law agreed to come in from her home on New York’s Long Island and keep her oldest granddaughter company.  The only caveat, a prior commitment meant she had to return home a day before Bob and I flew back into Philadelphia.  Jessica would be by herself for 24 hours, how bad could that be?

The answer to that question would come a few years later.

While giving our living room bookshelf a much overdo dusting, I came across Jessica’s high school year book.  I put down my sponge, settled on the couch and started flipping through the pages, smiling at images of Jessica and her friends.  It seemed nearly every blank space had been filled in by fellow seniors wishing her well.  Most of the messages were the fairly standard, “Good luck in college”  “Have a great summer”, and “I’ll miss you.”  However, one tiny note scrawled in the corner of the page caught my eye.  

Dear Jessica,
     I will never forget your, “My Parents are on Their Honeymoon” toga party!

We left her alone for one day.  ONE DAY!

Seems I had entered into the mother-daughter relationship with the proverbial “rose colored glasses”.  After my first few dates with Bob, I imagined Jessica and me becoming the best of friends.  “She’ll be the Maid of Honor at our wedding,” I told my friend Fern, who naturally assumed I had become quite delusional.   “Lisa,” she said, bringing me back to reality, “you haven’t even met her yet!”

The truth of the matter is, Jessica did take her place as Maid of Honor on our wedding day, but the journey to that wonderful occasion did not include the bonding that I had imagined.

The first inkling that shattered my skewed view of life as a step-mom came not long after Bob and I got engaged and I had officially moved in.  One Saturday afternoon when I found myself home alone, I noticed that Jessica had left her normally shut tight bedroom door slightly ajar.  I tiptoed into the room, which played host to my step-daughter’s incredible creativity.   Every inch of the four walls were covered with magazine posters of handsome young actors and the latest guitar strumming rock bands, hand crafted paintings, sappy poems, photos with friends demonstrating the silliest of poses, and drawings of the moon and the stars that glowed florescent when one turned off the light.

Impressed, I later told her how much I liked her bedroom.  Apparently, Jessica did not appreciate the compliment.   The next day, a photo of a vicious Doberman pinscher guard dog appeared on a sign taped to her bedroom door, with the following threatening message:  KEEP OUT, THIS MEANS YOU! 

Oh, can you feel the love?!

Poor Bob, forced to play tug of war with the two women in his life.  Jessica privately complained to Bob about me, and I, in turn, kept him at full attention with my rants about her.   Fortunately, my husband had the wisdom to know that the two women he loved would be able to work it out.  And in the end….through the angry tears and shouting matches, we grew to love each other, and work it out we did!

Over years later, Jessica is a Washington D.C.-based union lobbyist fighting for the rights of working individuals.  I have watched her evolve into a beautiful, poised, and professional young woman who constantly demonstrates a fierce love for her family and an unwavering commitment to her work. 

My adorable grandson Miles!
She and her husband Brian recently welcomed their first baby (and our first grandchild) Miles. 

Today, we laugh about our early years together and my foray into the world of becoming an instant parent to a teenage girl. 

However, those early years with Jessica did help me prepare for the wonderful, daily teen drama and angst brought to me courtesy of my own teenager, the love of my life Melissa.

Today, the posters, poems, and pictures now adorn Melissa’s bedroom walls, as she is well on her way to following in the footsteps of the big sister she adores.  As for me, if she ends up anything like Jessica, I know she’ll be perfect!  Two beautiful daughters, what more could a mother want!  

My beautiful daughter Jessica and me!

*This post originally appeared in February, 2012. It has been modified slightly from the original version.

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Melt Down in the Produce Section!

There are many interesting things to be found in your local supermarket produce section.  You've got your cucumbers, your squash, your broccoli, your asparagus.  Then there's your strawberries, your blueberries, your lettuce, your 14 varieties of apples, and your crying 18-year old teenage girl.



Yes, that's right.

Take a trip to your local supermarket during Labor Day weekend and you too will see this strange phenomenon.

She'll be standing right there, a granny smith apple in hand.

The crying teenage girl.

Whatever could have moved this poor dear to tears?  Perhaps the apples were bruised.  A tragedy, yes, but hardly worth such an emotional response.

Perhaps she wanted to purchase six granny smith apples, but her mother would only allow her to place five in the cart.  Yes, that certainly would have led to a tantrum, but hardly worth a tantrum of epic proportions.

Perhaps the girl wanted to purchase the apples as a snack to take to school.



Did you say school?


That's it!  That's it!

The poor dear suffered an emotional breakdown, right there in your friendly neighborhood produce section, because she truly could not accept that after two glorious months, she had to go back to school! Back for her last year of school!

Yes, that's right!  Senior year.  Something that should have made the teenage girl quite happy.

Our heroine (we'll call her Melissa) woke up that morning full of promise.  She would get organized for school! She would get prepared for school!  She would gather her books, pick out her clothes, plan her meals for school!

She would spend the entire day doing nothing but getting ready for school!

That is, until her horrible mother (Lisa) and her equally terrible father (Lisa's husband Bob) forced her at gun point merely suggested she accompany them to ShopRite so she could pick out her lunch for the first week back at school

The supermarket trip was doomed from the start.

"I don't want to go," she wailed!  "I have too many things to do!"

"I don't know what you want to eat," said Bob. "Come with us and you can pick out your own stuff. You can get anything you want."

"Fine!" she retorted.

Upon arrival at the supermarket, Melissa grabbed a cart and promptly disappeared from view.

In the meantime, Bob and Lisa calmly purused the aisles, putting various necessities in their cart. After several minutes, they decided that perhaps it would be prudent to try and find their daughter.

And find her they did. In the cereal aisle.

"There's nothing for me to eat for breakfast," she whined.

"How about oatmeal, I thought you loved oatmeal," Lisa suggested.

"Ug, I can't stand oatmeal anymore," came her response.

"How about granola bars?" asked Bob.

"I don't like any of them and they are all so bad for you," came her response.

"How about bagels," said Lisa

"I am sick of bagels!" proclaimed our heroine.

And so on it went.  Apparantly this football field sized supermarket did not carry one item that would suit Melissa's taste buds.

"How about fruit, you love fruit," suggested Lisa, refusing to give up their quest for satisfactory food.

"Noooo, I don't want fruit, it always goes bad and then we end up wasting money!" came Melissa's battle cry.

Nevertheless, Lisa marched her offspring off to the produce section while Bob took a detour to the men's room.

Taking advantage of her husband's momentary absence, Lisa decided to have a mother-daughter chat with her cherub, right there in the middle of the produce section.

"Melis, you are normally so happy, but you've been really negative ever since we got here," she said with kindness.  "What's going on sweetie."

"I don't know mom," Melissa confessed.  "I'm really worried about school.  I mean, I have to wake up early and pick out my clothes, and I have to figure out something that I can make quickly for breakfast and what if I get tons of homework, how am I going to handle it and still keep my part-time job at the senior center!?"

And then the tears began to flow.

Right there in the middle of the produce section.

And Lisa did what any mother would do when witness to her child's pain.  She threw her arms around Melissa and whispered words of comfort and held her tight.

Right there in the middle of the produce section.

By the time Bob returned from his detour, Lisa thought she saw the hint of a smile on her daughter's face.  In fact, Melissa even agreed to re-evaluate her harsh judgement of the cereal aisle, and actually found a new brand of oatmeal that made it into the cart.

She had survived the produce section melt down.

A few days later as morning dawned on senior year, Melissa consented to allow her mother to take the final "first day of school" photo. Then, without fanfare, she got into her car and drove off to school...leaving her childhood (and her mother) behind.

But Lisa didn't get sad, and Lisa didn't cry. Because Lisa knew, deep down, that whenever her baby needed to cry, and whereever her baby needed to cry, a hug from her mom would make everything ok.

Melissa's first day of senior year! The last "first day of school" photo. Sob!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Daughters and Grandsons

My grandson Miles lay in my arms, eyes shut tight, lost in a world of newborn dreams. With the free hand that didn't play host to a snoozing baby, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, reading post after post from parents painfully parting ways with their college-bound teens.

As I looked down at the two-week old miracle so content in my arms, my heart ached for so many of my friends who had driven home that day from universities across the country without their "babies" in the backseat of the car.  At that moment, a worn out cliche came to mind ....they really do grow up in the blink of an eye.

My grandson's mommy, Jessica, the daughter who entered my life as a teen when I said "I do" to her dad (my husband Bob), has embarked on that remarkable journey called motherhood, a journey I began on July 1, 1997 when I held my firstborn (and Jessica's baby sister) Melissa in my arms.

On that miraculous day when I looked at my baby girl for the very first time, I simply didn't know.

I didn't know about playdates and preschool and dollies and Disney Princesses.

I didn't know that I'd cherish pushing my cherub on the playground swings and reading her books each night before bed.

I didn't know about tricycles and trips to the beach and Thanksgiving visits to grandma and grandpa.

I didn't know that she'd break out in scary hives when her fever topped 100 degrees, or that her annual appointments with the pediatrician would be followed by ice cream to soothe her tears.

I didn't know about countless hours watching her play in the tub with naked barbie dolls, or countless hours spent untangling her long brown hair while she snuggled in my lap.

I didn't know I'd be shedding tears as she boarded the bus for first grade, or that the tears would still flow as the bus whisked her off to high school.

I didn't know she'd take up the flute in 5th grade or that she'd start playing guitar soon after.  I didn't know she'd have a singing voice like an angel and that chorus concerts and school shows would become an intricate part of her world.

I didn't know she'd be elected as president of her youth group, or how beautiful she would look at her junior prom.  I didn't know that my baby would drive a car, hold down a job, and start filling out college applications the summer before her senior year.

Yes, next year at this time, the mother posting those tearful college farewell photos will be me.  

All of those years ago when I held Melissa for the very first time, I didn't know that my heart would succumb to such powerful love....and that there would come a time when I would have to say goodbye.   

I simply didn't know.

Today, I look at my grandson, Miles, with quite a different perspective.

Because now I do know.

I know that his mommy Jessica and his daddy Brian will mark every milestone in their young son's life with all of the fascination and wonder that all new parents deserve.

They don't know now, but so soon will learn that their unbelievably happiness at earning the title of parents will only grow stronger as Miles enters each phase of his life.  

Because the span of 18 years that today seems like forever will indeed the blink of an eye.

My daughter "Aunt Melissa" with her newborn baby nephew Miles!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Husband and His Many Many Wives

For the past two summers my 18-year old daughter Melissa spent a week with her family in Raleigh, NC.  During each visit, Melissa's Aunt Stacy, Uncle Gregg, and cousins Amanda and Nick simply spoiled her rotten.

This summer we wanted to return the favor and welcomed my niece Amanda to New Jersey. Melissa and Amanda are close in age, yet the miles between them make in-person visits a rare treat. That's why we wanted to be sure we treated Amanda to a week full of (what we hoped would be) tons of fun.

For her first day we scheduled a visit to the beach, however an unusual chill in the usually hot and humid July air forced us to activate Plan B, a visit to "The Art of the Brick" at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Science Museum.

Now, you may love legos. You may hate legos. You may be indifferent to legos.  But no matter how you feel about this toy that has entertained children for generations, you must go to "The Art of the Brick".  The exhibit features lego sculptures unlike anything I have ever seen!

My husband Bob initially resisted the activation of Plan B.

"What do I want to see a bunch of legos for?" came his predictable protest.

However, Melissa and Amanda, who were excited to go into Philadelphia for the exhibit, (a short, 30 minute drive) convinced him to join us for the fun.

Once inside, Bob immediately realized how wrong he had been! He snapped photo after photo of the jaw dropping lego sculptures, which included a replica of the Mona Lisa, a giant dinosaur, and the Liberty Bell.

Every few minutes, Bob, proud of his ability to capture such unique snapshots of these remarkable sculptures, enthusiastically showed me the many photos he had taken using his iPhone.

At one point during the exhibit I curiously watched him from the other side of the room as he showed his photos to a woman I did not recognize.

"He's so proud of his pictures he's now showing them to strangers," I chuckled to myself.

Now, at this point in my story I should remind you that Bob and I have been married for 21 years. I will also remind you that I am caucasian, about 5' 5" and have long brown hair.

The woman who had politely consented to look at Bob's pictures was African American, about 5' 2", and had short, curly brown hair. The only similarity between this woman and me? We were both wearing a shirt that had a similar pattern.

Yet my Bob, my husband of 21 years, thought this woman was me!

When I walked over to join them, Bob gulped in surprise. Somewhat embarrassed he exclaimed to the woman, "Oh my god I thought you were my wife!"

The woman looked at me.  I looked at her.

Then, with a wink she said, "Yeah, because you and I look so much alike!"

Laughter ensued, but the kicker is, it was not the first time that day that Bob had mistaken someone else for me!

Earlier that afternoon we had taken Amanda for lunch at Philadelpha's famous Reading Terminal Market.  After our delicious corned beef sandwiches, we made our way through the crowd to a bakery which sold home-made chocolate  chip, butterscotch, and peanut butter cookies.

After Bob purchased the best baked goods ever, we continued to peruse the many stores inside the market.  That's when my husband of 21 years reached into his bag of cookies, broke off a piece, and offered it to....A TOTAL STRANGER!

Yes, that's right, he thought she was me.

This time, the mistaken "wife" and I had the same skin and hair color, yet she was a good two to three inches taller than me.


Fortunately, since that fateful day in Philly, Bob has not mistaken anyone else for his wife. But just in case, I'll be wearing a brand new shirt, every time we go out!

If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Melissa Turns 18

It's 11pm and I am snuggled under my cozy down comforter, drifting slowly and surely off into the welcome arms of slumber.  Suddenly from down the hall, I hear a small voice calling out to me.  In that blink of a moment, I pretend not to hear it, wanting instead to enjoy my warm covers and drift off to sleep.

Alas, I hear the voice again, a bit louder now...a bit harder to ignore.

"Mom, can you tuck me in!"

This request from my teenage daughter Melissa elicits mixed emotions. The day has been trying, and I long for sleep. However, I pull myself out of bed and walk down the hall for one very simple daughter wants me to tuck her in.

That's right. Melissa wants me to tuck her in. Something that rarely happens these days.

I walk into her room and find her lying in bed, troubled, and having a hard time getting to sleep. We talk for what seems like hours....about friends, family, school, boys, work, her youth group, becoming a high school senior, and heading off to college in one year's time.  I share my own experiences, empathize with her wide-ranging emotions, and in the process, hopefully impart some insightful words of wisdom.

Bedtime has held that special place as "mommy time" ever since Melissa came into my life.  The bonding began in infancy, when our evening routine included a bath, a bottle, and a book.  As a toddler, she sat on my lap while I read "Good Night Moon". As an extra special treat, I let her take the book into the crib with her...a source of comfort and, perhaps, a reminder of me.

As my baby's world expanded, night time remained mommy time.  There were countless hours playing in the tub with naked Barbie dolls and Disney princesses.  And of course, the night time routine would not be complete without mommy reading one book, or two, or even three or four.

As she entered grade school, we started on chapter books....and my cherub usually convinced me to read much more than the promised one chapter a night.

All too soon, Melissa developed the skills to read on her own, but that didn't stop me from spending time by her side before I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.

Oh how I treasured tucking her in.

And now that my "baby" has turned 18... I still do.

Yes, that sweet little infant is now 18.

She is on the cusp of one of life's fantastic journies...about to start her senior year in high school and schedule college tours. Thanks to her independent spirit, she simply can't wait to graduate, move into a dorm, and experience all of the wonder of life away from home.

Away from me.

Don't get me wrong.  I am so thrilled that my shy little girl has grown up into such a strong, passionate, beautiful, and independent young woman.....I just didn't expect it to happen so soon.

In the coming months, she'll celebrate a season of "lasts".

The "last" first day of school.
The "last" chorus concert.
The "last" school show.
The "last" last day of school.

Yes, she will celebrate... but I will mourn.  Because for 18 years my daughter has been my world, and I'm not quite sure I know how to let her go.

But I will find a way.

For this is Melissa's time.

Time to shine!

Time to explore!

Time to break free!

And I know, wherever life's journey may take her, mommy is always going to be there to tuck her in.

All she has to do is call!

To the left is my baby enjoying the carousel at a neighborhood fair. To the right is that same "baby" enjoying the carousel at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum during the Prom!

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Father's Day Tribute to My Man of Steel

(This post originally ran on Father's Day, 2013....on this Father's Day, June 21, 2015 - it bears repeating! It has been slightly modified from the original)

As my husband Bob, teenage daughter Melissa, and I walked out of the movie theater after viewing yet another incarnation of the tale of Superman, there was one solid aspect of the film that Melissa and I agreed was not up for debate.  The bottom line...........Superman is just downright HOT!

Muscular, sizzling, sexy HOT!

As my daughter and I engaged in an in-depth discussion of Superman's adorable attributes, my  hubby glanced over at us and declared, "Oh just cool it you two!"

I looked at him and smiled, taking his hand in mine.

"Not to worry sweetie," I said.  "You'll always be my man of steel."

And honestly, I meant every single word.

No, I'll admit, Bob is not faster than a speeding bullet.

No, I'll admit, Bob can't leap tall buildings in a single bound.

And no, I'll admit, Bob can't slip into a phone booth, don a cape, and fly from New York to Paris and back again in under 10 seconds.

But what Bob can do is be the most amazing husband and father in the world, and that makes him my Superman!

When I met Bob over two decades ago, he had been wearing the "daddy" hat for nearly 16 years, having raised his daughter Jessica on his own.

Today, Jessica, a union executive, lives in Virginia with her husband Brian. They are happily planning for the arrival of their first baby, due in August! Throughout her teen years, wild college days, and the uncertainty of young adulthood, Bob remained the rock in my step-daughter's life.  He imparted on her the value of hard work, commitment, and standing up for herself, as well as a deep appreciation of love and family.

Bob and Jessica (who is 7 months pregnant)
Since I first entered Bob and Jessica's world, I have been in awe of their relationship. Their emotional connection has never wavered, despite the miles that separate them. She has always been able to trust him, to confide in him, to seek guidance from him, and to share with him. As he prepares for his new role as Grandpa and to witness his "baby" become a mother, his love for her remains so fierce.......he'll never let her go!

As Jessica evolved from a toddler to a young adult, Bob rarely entertained the notion of having another.  Being a single parent came with a myriad of challenges, something Bob didn't look forward to living through a second time.

That is...........until I came along.

I offered no negotiations on this topic.  Our life together had to include children.

Three years into our marriage, as I stared at the positive symbol on the over-the-counter pregnancy test, I unabashedly rejoiced, while Bob greeted the news with fear in his heart. Nine months later, when our bundle of joy arrived in all of her glory, Bob took this miracle into his arms and gave me an "over-the-top, ecstatic, jubilant, euphoric" smile that I had only witnessed one time before - on our wedding day.  As soon as he scooped his newborn into his loving, big, strong, daddy embrace, our baby daughter Melissa became one with his heart and his fear simply melted away!

Bob and Melissa after her high school
production of Les Mis
As we guided Melissa through each phase of her young life, I became the over-protective parent, while Bob challenged her to spread her wings.  She learned to ride a bike thanks to his willingness to trust her and let her go (and by ordering me into the house).  She spent hours cuddling next to him on the couch, watching cooking shows or concerts.  As Melissa entered the preteen years, he dusted off his old guitar, placed it in her gifted hands, and never looked back. Today, music has become an incredible bond between them...drawing them together with a shared passion for learning, exploring, and creatively growing together both as musicians, and as father and daughter.

This Father's Day, along with a family lunch, home made cookies, and greeting cards from the two girls who have brought such joy to his life, Bob received an unexpected gift from two teenage boys. Their card held this simple yet heartfelt message

"You have been a father figure to us.  You rock!!!"

Celebrating Chris's graduation!
 The teenage sons of my dear friend Angelica, we felt that Chris and Brandon  needed some extra love, support, and attention in their lives.  "The boys", as we affectionately call them, have spent countless hours at our home, bonding with Bob through their shared love of Zombie movies and Superheroes.  He helped teach Chris to drive, celebrated Brandon's confirmation last year, and Chris's graduation from high school last week.

I did not believe that the simple act of spending time together, asking about their lives, showing interest, and sharing our hearts could truly have such an impact...but it did.

So, to my Bob, my Man of Steel, my Prince, my Night in Shining Armor....thank you for your compassion, your patience, your strength, and your love.  You are a fabulous, loving father to Jessica and Melissa. You are a caring, fun, strong father figure to Chris and Brandon, and.........


Happy Father's Day Bob!  
I love you!

Super Dad Bob with our daughters Melissa and Jessica

Bob with Brandon and Chris (and Spiderman!)

I love getting feedback! If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Apology

I stood there, frozen, with a basketball in my hands as I listened to the daring taunts of my preteen peers.

"Throw it Lisa"

"Throw it Lisa"

"Throw it Lisa"

The target? The garage door of the Smith House (not their real name).  My peers had been bombarding that garage door all day in a successful attempt to annoy the Smith family. For reasons I'll never know, they decided that I should have a turn, and handed the ball to me, a shy, gawky 11-year old who most certainly knew right from wrong.

If I threw the ball I would betray all the good my parents had instilled....if I didn't throw the ball I knew that my preteen peers would find a new

Be bullied or become a bully?

Those were my choices.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith had three sons, ages 4, 7, and 10.  To this day, I'll never quite understand why the Smith family was so disliked by every kid on my street.

Those poor Smith boys were teased.

Relentlessly teased.

Most of the time the assaults were verbal, although on occasion the oldest Smith boy bore the physical brunt of one or more of the brutish boys on the block.

On that fateful summer day, the kids had decided that pounding the Smith's garage door with a basketball would be a great way to while away an afternoon.  Each time the ball hit the garage door, Mr. Smith screamed out the window for them to stop, giving those kids even more incentive to take turns throwing the ball with all of their might.

Then they handed the ball to me.

Be bullied or become a bully?

Much to my overwhelming regret I chose to become a bully.  I threw the ball, which hit the garage door with a sickening bang.

An uneasy silence followed.

We waited for Mr. Smith's familiar scream out the window.  But no scream came.

Suddenly.....the unthinkable happened.

Mr. Smith came storming outside as a group of petrified preteens scattered in every direction!

No sooner had I run into the safety of my house, a knock came at the door.


Even though at least a dozen kids had thrown a basketball at his garage door that day, Mr. Smith chose to speak to my mother.  I suppose he thought of me as a good girl.  A shy, gawky 11-year old good girl who wouldn't succumb that easily to peer pressure.  He expected bad behavior from the other kids...but surely not from me.

I don't remember my mother's punishment that day, nor after all this time does it really matter. I just know that nearly 40 years later, the memory still haunts me.

Shortly after that incident, a "For Sale" sign went up on the Smith's front lawn. I heard that they moved to protect their kids. They found a neighborhood where their sons could grown up without being bullied.

For years I longed to apologize to the Smith boys for the small role I had played in forcing them to move. But I soon learned that saying sorry isn't always the best way to go after I received a very strange apology from a woman I barely knew.

Her guilt-ridden words came via Facebook messenger.  She wanted to apologize for something mean she had said to me during our senior year of high school, way back in 1983.

I had no recollection of the incident. What's more, I had no recollection of this woman. I didn't remember her name, nor did I show any glimmer of recognition when I viewed photos on her Facebook page.

I wondered why, after all of these years, she had reached out to me. If she somehow thought her apology would make me feel better after being the target of a hurtful diatribe spoken decades earlier, she failed miserably. Why on Earth would I want to be reminded of something hurtful that had long been forgotten?

Perhaps she wanted to assauge her own guilt, rather than ease her victim's pain.

That's when I realized that my reason for wanting to apologize to the Smith boys was completely selfish. I too, wanted to assauge my own guilt, rather than ease their pain.

I reconnected with one of the Smith boys not too long ago.  I appreciated his warm greeting even though he barely remembered anything about me.  He had been blessed with a beautiful wife and children, and most important, he seemed quite happy.

I could have apologized for throwing the basketball against his garage back in 1976.....but why bring up something that had probably long been forgotten.

So I didn't apologize.

There was no longer any need.

Me, circa 1976 - during my gawky preteen days

To learn more about preventing, stopping, and responding to bullying, visit

If you like my stories please let me know in the comments section below!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Mother's Day Video

My small family reluctantly stumbled out of bed much too early than should be allowed for a Saturday morning.  After listening to our alarm clock force us awake at 6 am every morning of the work week, my husband Bob and I longed to take advantage of the weekend break and cuddle for just a few minutes longer under the cozy, warm covers.

But alas, t'was not meant to be.

Dozens and dozens of teenagers were waiting for my 17- year old daughter Melissa's arrival at their youth group weekend retreat located at an overnight camp roughly an hour and a half away....and mom and dad could not disappoint.

We ran through the house, grabbed our coffee and keys, and gently encouraged Melissa to get it in gear, lest her friends dare start the fun without her.  Before walking out the door Melissa pointed to a sealed envelope sitting suspiciously on top on her computer keyboard.

"You are not to open this until tomorrow morning!" she commanded.

"Ok," I replied with a shrug.

"I'm serious," she said. "You can't open it until Mother's Day. Promise me you won't open it until Mother's Day."

"Ok, ok, I promise, now let's go!"

As Mother's Day dawned the next morning, I realized with a twinge of sadness that the people who meant the most to me, the people who had made me a mother, were not there.

Melissa would come home later that day, happy and exhausted from her weekend retreat.

Bob had kissed me goodbye an hour earlier as he put on his "music producer" hat and headed to a studio to put the finishing touches on five beautiful, original songs that Melissa wrote and recorded. He too, would be home later that day.

I knew a call would come soon enough from my step-daughter Jessica and her husband Brian, whose love spanned the three hour distance between us.

Yet, at that moment, in the wee morning hours, my family seemed like worlds away.

I was a mother, alone, on Mother's Day.

Fortuately, I still had the envelope. The suspicious envelope that sat on top of the computer keyboard, waiting to be opened.

I pulled out a greeting card which contained the following instructions, hand written by my daughter.

Step 1: Go to my lap top
Step 2: Open it
Step 3: Located in the middle of the screen is an icon that says "Mother's Day Best Day" Click on it
Step 4: Watch and cry

She should have included "Step 5 - Get Tissues".

The video featured Melissa playing guitar and, with a voice like an angel, performing a cover of  "The Best Day", a heartfelt song written by Taylor Swift as a poignant tribute to her mother.

As my baby girl sang, a photo montage transformed the computer screen into a visual history of my cherub's life journey with mom by her side.

Melissa playing in the snow, bundled so tightly she could barely see.

Melissa dressed as Tigger, experiencing Halloween for the first time.

Melissa and mom splashing in the pool.

Daddy and big sister Jessica.

Birthdays and holidays.

A high school awards ceremony.

The Junior Prom.

My tears came without warning.

Uncontrollable tears.

Tears for a young lady whose childhood seemed to have slipped through my fingers...despite my monumental efforts to never let go.

Tears for a sweet baby who has evolved before my very eyes into this incredible person who is now in high school, who drives a car, who writes her own music, who volunteers as president of her youth group, who works a part-time job, who spends hours laughing with her friends.

Tears for a beautiful young woman who has less and less time ......for me.

Next year, she will graduate high school and continue on her life journey alone, with mom no longer by her side.

Yet, the time and love she put into the video told me one very important thing.

I still matter.

And I know I always will.


Click the link below to watch Melissa's Mother's Day Video.

If you like my stories please tell me in the commets section below.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

*Bathing Suit Shopping
(A great way to build self-esteem)

Walk into your neighborhood book store and head on over to the self-help section.  Once there, you'll be sure to find rows upon rows of well written words of advise from self-proclaimed doctors, psychologists, and get well gurus who will gladly fill your head with pages of wondrous wisdom designed to lead you on the path to endless joy and self-fulfillment.

However, I have a faster way to get  you thinking about how wonderful you are.

Go bathing suit shopping.


In every department store in the world, sales reps should change the signage from "bathing suit" department  to "self-help" department.  For once there, you'll hear women crying, screaming, pounding their heads on the walls, all in an effort to "let it all out" and follow that glorious path of self-improvement!

It had been quite some time since I took this self-improvement journey.  However, during a recent visit to  our local swim club, I looked down at the bathing suit fit snugly on my body and noticed a (gasp) tear in the fabric.  Hoping my fellow pool mates would not see the 10 foot long  quarter inch rip across my stomach, I hurriedly threw a t-shirt over my head and hid my suit from public view  for the remainder of the day.

Of course, after discovering this wardrobe malfunction, I realized I could no longer don this particular piece of swim wear, leaving me with only one bathing suit left in my closet.  I could opt to wear this same suit over and over, however, my pool mates would most certainly notice.

Pool mate one:  "Can you believe Lisa is wearing that bathing suit again?"
Pool mate two: "I know, she wore it last weekend, can you believe it?"
Pool mate one:  "She probably didn't even wash it."
Pool mate two: "Well at least she's not wearing that horrible suit with the 10 inch tear."

With no other choice left to me, I set out to procure a new bathing suit, and to build some self-esteem along the way.

So off I traveled to the department store and proceeded to the "self-improvement" section. I suppose many women had already visited this part of the store for enlightenment, since the majority of the suits were marked at 60 percent off.  Woo hoo!  I felt better already.

Although the self-improvement section had slim pickings, I managed to find a handful in my size (whale).  Carrying suits of yellow, orange, black, and blue, I made my way into the dressing room.  The distinct sounds of sobs told me I had come to the right place.  I smiled to myself, knowing that so many other women were coming here to feel better.

I secured the dressing room door and wrestled with bathing suit number one, which immediately transformed me into a hippopotamus.  Although the "zoo animal" look certainly was chic, I decided to keep searching.

A sizzling, multi-colored number beckoned to me, and I happily struggled to get my various body parts through and under and around and over the multiple twists and straps.  I glanced in the mirror, only to see a reflection of a well endowed woman who revealed much more of her "endowment" than anyone but her husband should ever see, if you know what I mean.  I could feel the lump start to form in the back of my throat.  Oh boy, my self-esteem monitor was really started to rise!!

Next came a black beauty which promised to turn each woman who dared squeeze through the straps into a runway model.  I put one leg in, then the other, and up I pulled.  Yes, I could certainly see myself walking down the runway in this little baby....if I had been modeling MATERNITY CLOTHES.

The lump in my throat grew in size as I wiped a tear off my puffy cheek.  I was not afraid to let my emotions flow freely and fully embrace this self-improvement stuff!

One more to try on, a conservative blue and white bland bathing suit which sat alone on the rack, marked at 80 percent off, and praying that someone, anyone, would take it for a spin.  This time, the suit slid on quite easily, and my "endowment" fit nice and snug and secure in all of the right places.  I turned to look in the mirror and there, staring back at me grandmother.  Perhaps the suit was a bit too conservative.

With tears flowing freely, I took all of the bathing suits and threw them on the floor of the dressing room, feeling much, much to good about myself to properly return them to their hangers.

I walked out of the department store empty handed, but with a healthy dose of renewed self-esteem.

I can't wait to go suit shopping again!!!

Me at about age 5...the last time I felt comfortable in a bathing suit!

(*This post originally ran in May, 2012 - and I still "enjoy" bathing suit shopping just as much!)

If you like my stories please let me know by leaving a comment below!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The College Visit

I graduated from Temple University's School of Communications and Theater with a journalism degree in hand, ready to conquer the "real" world and leave my carefree college days behind.

I could barely imagine nearly three decades would pass before I returned to the school, located two miles north of Philadelphia's thriving center city.

A school that held so many memories.

Good memories.

Awesome memories.

Memories that came back, in all of their vivid glory, when I set foot on the campus on a recent Friday, my daughter Melissa, a high school junior, by my side.

Melissa came to this college tour somewhat unsure of what to expect. The product of a suburban upbringing, she originally dismissed the idea of a large urban campus like Temple, thinking that a small rural or suburban college would suit her just fine.  However, when I learned she wanted to emulate her mom and study public relations and communications, I strongly suggested she at least visit my alma mater.

The university has changed, grown, evolved with the times.  In my day, if a student ordered a "Grande Espresso Macchiato" from the campus cafeteria, she would get nothing but a confused stare in return. Today, students can order their macchiato at 3:00 in the morning if they want, thanks to the 24-hour Starbucks that provides much-needed caffeine to co-eds cramming for finals.

But improvements in the coffee offerings are just the beginning.  In my day, (the paleolithic era) students wrote their term papers using an electric typewriter. Today, the campus boasts a sophisticated tech center with hundreds of MACs and PCs, new restaurants, a hotel, and the completely renovated and barely recognizable student center where I whiled away so many hours of my college experience.

Yet, some things still remained the same. The famous hut selling piping hot soft pretzels to ravenous students, the open spaces, the trees, the park benches where, as an incoming freshman, I sat quietly observing the new world around me, relishing in the joy of knowing it was ok, on a campus of 25,000 students, to simply be alone.

It had been a cathartic contrast to high school, where it was defintely not ok to be alone.

In my high school, students were unfairly labeled by their peers as   "the popular kids"  "the geeks"  "the jocks", or "the druggies."   But then, there were the students like me. The lonely, awkward kids who failed to fit into any of these categories.  The kids who didn't draw attention...who failed to be noticed. The kids who were loners.

Loners who were unfairly labeled as losers.

College changed all that.

I entered Temple University and embraced my individuality, my solitude, my willingness to sit alone on a park bench where nobody judged me.  It was a feeling unlike any I had experienced in my young life.

I felt liberated.

I felt free.

Happily, the solitude I so willingly embraced did not last for long. A group of friends entered my new college world. Friends who became inseparable during my tenure at Temple.  A group of wonderful people who never put a label on me, who only loved me for me....and 28 years later, still do!

The soft echoes of those carefree days full of friendship and laughter followed me as Melissa and I joined the guided campus tour. We visited the tech center and the School of Media and Communications, the dorms and the dining halls (Melissa's favorite!).  We learned about the curriculum, the wide range of course offerings, the extra curricular activities, internships opportunities, and dozens of ways to get involved, make new friends, and gain valuable experience in preparation for the "real" world.

In my daughter I could sense that familiar longing to break free from the confines and conformity of high school and embrace this new world far beyond the comfort of our quiet suburban neighborhood.

As I looked at Melissa, her face full of wonder, the memories of my college days began to quietly fade away.

For this day, this wonderful moment in time, belonged to Melissa's future, not to her mother's past.

And whether she chooses Temple, or finds another school that's the perfect match, if she's anything like her mom...I know she'll do just fine!

Melissa and me, during a tour of Temple University, enjoying a "famous" soft pretzel

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Junior Dinner Dance

Ah, the Junior Prom. (Or as my daughter Melissa's school calls it -  the Junior Dinner Dance.)

That exciting right of passage where teenage girls - in true Disney Princess style - glow in their floor length gowns as their tuxedo-clad Prince Charmings (AKA - teenage boys) escort them to "The Ball"!

Months and months in the planning, the day of the Junior Dinner Dance (JDD) had finally arrived! We woke up full of excitement, looked out the window and were greeted by the beauty of the first day of spring.




It can't be!

A chance of flurries, they said.

It will probably change to rain, they said.

Nothing to worry about, they said.

There's no way this will turn into a major storm, dump six inches of heavy white stuff on the Philadelphia area, cause power outages, and nearly cancel the prom.

But wait, I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

Melissa and her friend Gabby were scheduled to begin the "Princess Transformation Process" at our house at 1 pm.  First hair, then make up, then gowns, then shoes, then off to their friend Lena's where nine couples (and 18 sets of parents) were planning to gather for the obligatory pre-prom pictures.

However, nine couples and 18 sets of parents had not counted on winter extending its fury into the first day of spring.

How were the "Princesses" going to walk in their gowns and  "Glass Slippers" when the scene outside our window looked more like Siberia than suburban New Jersey?

I proposed a solution. The girls would complete their hair and make up at our house, wear jeans and snow boots to walk to the car, then put on their gowns upon arrival at Lena's.

Crisis averted.

In the morning, Lena's mom sent out a frantic email to all of the parents, begging them to bring golf umbrellas to cover our "Princesses" - lest even one snowflake fall onto their hairspray-infused heads.

I ran to the drug store, parted with $25, and ran out with an umbrella large enough to cover the population of Rhode Island.

By the time I arrived home, everything in sight had disappear under a thick blanket of the forecasted  "light flurries", including the path that the "Princesses" would need to walk from the front door to the car.

I grabbed a shovel and set to work.

Crisis averted.

In the meantime, the two "princesses-to-be" were surrounded by curling irons, combs, brushes, bobby pins, hair spray, blush, eye shadow, foundation, lipstick, and my curious cat who stuck his nose into everything, much to the girls' chagrin.

Fearing that the ten minute drive to Lena's might take much longer due to the storm, I hurried the girls along, hoping they could achieve perfection 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

But the storm has one more trick up its sleeve.

The thick snow was wrecking havoc on our township's power lines.

The lights throughout the house ominously blinked on and off, on and off, and on again.

Melissa and Gabby grabbed their curling irons.

On and off and on again....

Melissa and Gabby created one more curl.

On and off and on again....

Melissa and Gabby unplugged their curling irons.

On and off and....darkness!

But it didn't matter. Electricity was no longer needed.  These two Princesses had, indeed, achieved perfection!

At Lena's, a professional photographer captured the beauty of each Prince and Princess as the proud parents snapped away with their iPhones. Suddenly, every mom and dad heard the familiar tone alerting them to an incoming text - from none other than the principal of the high school.

The JDD had been postponed from 7 to 8 pm, explained Mr. Principal. However, if road conditions did not improve, he would seriously consider cancelling.

Eighteen teenagers and their parents let out a collective groan.

Then we waited, and waited, and waited.

An hour later, Mr. Principal texted again. The snow had turned to rain, roads were getting better, and my "Cinderella" would finally get to go to the ball.

Crisis averted.

Or so we thought.

Eighteen sets of parents had all agreed to share the cost of two limos to provide round trip transportation for the kids.... limos that should have been parked outside of Lena's home.

So we waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally, the driver turned onto the street, blaming the storm for his delay.

One by one, each Prince and Princess, a golf umbrella in hand, cautiously made their way through the slush and snow and climbed into the limo.

Crisis averted?  No. Not yet.

Eighteen sets of parents watched with baited breath as the limo driver tried again and again to back out of the steep, snow-covered driveway.

Finally, he made it onto the street.  Eighteen Prince and Princesses were off for the time of their lives, while eighteen sets of parents breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Crisis averted!

My daughter Melissa (far left) and her friends pose for the official Junior Prom photos.