Sunday, September 30, 2018

Watching Parks and Rec with Melissa

My daughter Melissa and I visited the dysfunctional, loveable, and quite hilarious inhabitants of the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana nearly every night this past summer. I am talking, of course, about the sitcom Parks and Recreation. The brainchild of actress Amy Poehler, the show pokes fun at the hypocrisy of politics by looking through the satirical lens of the employees of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department.

Although I had plenty of opportunities to watch the show during it's original run from 2009 to 2015, for some reason I never made the time.

Until the summer of 2018.

It started in May when Melissa returned home after completing her sophomore year of college in Washington, DC, located about three hours from our southern New Jersey home. She had been following the show on Netflix, and now begged her parents to join in on her new obsession.

My husband Bob objected. After all, watching a 20 minute sitcom would pull him away from his favorite pasttime: monitoring cable TV news. However, relentless objections and begging from his wife and daughter became too much for him to bear. He consented to allow us to watch one episode on his big screen TV.

Just one!

So we watched. And to my utter astonishment, I laughed, and laughed, and hungered for more.

But Bob would have no parts of it. He would not allow these mundane interuptions in his TV viewing schedule. Amid our protests he stomped up the stairs, only to return to the living room an hour later with an expression that rang of smug satisfaction.

Seems that Bob, in an effort to keep his family far, far away from his big screen TV, had been tinkering away in our bedroom where he sucessfully installed Netflix on our much smaller TV.

The result?

Melissa and I (along with the cat) could now snuggle on my comfy bed and watch Parks and Rec to our heart's content. And  watch and watch and watch we did. All throughout the summer, during those evening where plans with friends didn't occupy my cherub's time. We grabbed a snack and climbed the stairs, ready to binge three or four episodes of my new favorite show.

But the best part came when we'd had enough for one night, and I turned the TV to off. Melissa could have retreated to her own room, to her own bed, to get lost in a midst of texts with her own friends.

But she didn't.

She stayed in my bed. With me. To talk.

Indeed, throughout her young life, those precious moments that preceded sleep were always set aside for mother/daughter bonding. From reading stories to my pre-school pal, to battling the knots in my fifth grader's long hair, to solving the challenges of teenager angst, I treasured the closeness of our bedtime routine....a closeness I knew would come to an end.

Now, bedtime for me comes no later than 10 pm, while she is wide awake, some 200 miles away, spending time with her boyfriend, or her sorority, or on one of the mandatory homework projects that put a dent in her college fun.

Some nights before I turn off the light, I'll text her a heart, just to let her know she's in my thoughts. I usually don't have to wait too long to hear the familiar ping on my phone, indicating  her heart in return, letting me know I'm in her thoughts too.

It's not much, but it's enough. At least until winter break when we'll once again snuggle in my bed, turn on Parks and Recreation, and pick up where we left off.

Bedtime with Melissa has always been mommy/daughter time, until she went away to school. 



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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Anniversary to My Best Friend

We sat at a small table for two, unceremoniously wedged in the corner of a fancy steakhouse located inside of the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

Bob had argued with the hostess, demanding a table near a window, although I didn't quite know why. After all, the spectacular view of ocean waves crashing against the wind-swept white sand beach could only be left to the imagination, for nothing could permeate the darkness of this cold, January evening.

The appetizers arrived without incident, as did our main meal. We passed the time making small talk, as our server dutifully brought out each course with a smile... diet coke, salad, chicken, steak, a bouquet of balloons....

Wait? What? A bouquet of balloons?

I looked at her, a puzzled expression on my face.

"Oh," she said, stumbling on her words. "We sometimes like to give balloons to nice couples like you."

My attention turned to Bob. "Are you planning something?" I asked, trying to keep the accusatory tone out of my voice.

His reaction to my question took me by surprise.

Angry.

He seemed genuinely angry.

"I told you Lisa, you are impossible to surprise, it's going to happen on Valentine's Day, so stop asking!" he demanded.

Taken aback by his harsh tone, I didn't pursue the topic, and instead tried to gear the conversation back to mundane small talk.

We finished our meal without further interruption, however, before the server came back to take our dessert order, Bob stood up, an awkward smile on his face. Then, to my utter astonishment, to quote Taylor Swift, he knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring.

Finally, it all made sense. The desire to sit at the best table, the server's gift of balloons (which nearly ruined the surprise) and Bob's feigned anger. I was officially engaged to be married!

Fast forward 25 years.

It was a typical Monday evening and I had just come home after another dreaded workout at the gym. I sat on one end of the sofa, my computer on my lap. Bob sat at the other end, consuming his nightly dose of cable news. I felt tired. I felt sweaty. I felt hot. Yes, I felt oh so post-menopausal hot.

In an effort to get relief, I put my long, matted hair in a messy ponytail, sitting lopsided on top of my head. Bob turned his attention away from the TV to look at me. "You are so cute," he said.

That's right. He thought I looked cute.

He thought his sweaty, post-workout, ponytail-clad wife looked cute.

And that is one of the many reasons why, after all these years, I am still so in love with this man.

When I think back to our engagement in Atlantic City, I could barely see beyond that moment in time. The man I loved wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Nothing else mattered.

Did I realize that my walk down the aisle would signal the start of something much more significant than a night of dinner and dancing followed by a honeymoon in Hawaii? Did I realize how much my world would become intertwined with his, and the joys, challenges, and obstacles we would face together?

No. I couldn't possibly have known where life's journey would take us. But I did know that I was going to marry the man who loved me no matter how terrible I looked, the man who made me laugh no matter how silly the joke, the man who had become my best friend.

Since that night in Atlantic City, we have packed and unpacked our belongings seven times, as each of us took turns following a job to a new location. We saved enough to purchase the single family home of our dreams, and finally downsized to an empty-nester town home. We have held hands during health scares, mourned the death of loved ones, and survived job losses and financial challenges.

We have savored our vacations, taking delight in each other's love whether we're strolling on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore or crossing Abbey Road in London, England. We have seen concerts and ball games, movies, and broadway shows. And yet, we are just as comfortable with a quiet night at home, on opposite sides of the sofa, or cuddled in each other's arms.

We started our journey, just the two of us, with that fateful night in Atlantic City, and 25 years later, after marrying off the oldest, welcoming a grandson, and sending the youngest off to college, it's just the two of us again.

And he still makes me laugh.

And he still loves me no matter how terrible I look.

And as we celebrate our wedding anniversary, he is still, more than ever, my darling, my love, my man of steel.....

My very best friend.


Bob and me during our anniversary weekend getaway to Ocean City, Maryland

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Summer Clothes Shopping

It happens in April, same time each year.  I stare in confusion at my closet, searching in vain for the cute sun dresses, tank tops, skirts, capri jeans, and shorts that filled the racks last summer.

Did my clothes get sucked into a some kind of mysterious black hole? Do my clothes now exist within some kind of alien dimension, stuck inside the space-time contiuum?

Possibly, because that's the only explanation I can fathom as I face the onslaught of the warm summer months with absolutely nothing to wear.

That's right. Nothing!

Fortunately, there is a remedy to this tragic situation. In stores and shopping malls across the region, brand new summer clothes beckon, promising to get me through until September... if I just take the time to try them on.

Easier said than done.

Trying on clothes can lead to one of two scenarios:

1. Lisa finds a wonderful array of attractive designs that fit perfectly and flatter her figure.
2. Lisa concludes that she should become a part of the hippopotamus exhibit at the local zoo.

Scenario #1 = Happy Lisa
Senario #2 = Well....you get the picture

But wait, finding the perfect fit is only part of the problem. You slip into the dressing room and struggle to zip and button a potential work dress that looked spectacular on the store mannequin. You sneak a peek in the mirror, expecting to be shipped off to the zoo, only to find that, miraculously, it actually fits.

The dress actually fits!

You turns this way and that, examining your figure from all possible angles. Indeed, the front, the back, and the sides all fall into place. You actually look...dare I say....thin.

But wait.

You examine the front again. What's that beige color poking through the pink and purple flowers?

EGADS! It's your bra! The darn dress that fits perfectly has one major flaw. You can see right through to your undergarments!

"You have to wear a tank top underneath," explains my 20-year old daughter Melissa. "That's the style."

Well perhaps the see-through style is all the rage with the 20-year old set, but for menopausal women like me who are dealing with a steady body temperature roughly equivalent to that of molten hot lava, wearing unnecessary layers underneath something that only Superman should be able to see through is simply not practical.

So now I have to find fashions that not only fit, but are made of a material thick enough to hide what I'm wearing underneath.

With this challenge in mind, I set out this morning for the local mall, determined to avoid joining my hippo friends by day's end. Thanks to my perseverance, I arrived back home several hours later, my wallet considerably lighter, but my mood considerably brighter.

In the closet my new clothes will go where they will safely survive until September, when I search in vain for the cozy sweaters and jeans that filled the racks last winter, and come to the conclusion that I have nothing to wear.

That's right. Nothing!

Fortunately, there is a remedy to this tragic situation....and here we go again.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Weekend Visit Home from College

We sat on the hard, wire frame benches inside the Greyhound bus terminal, stifling our yawns, and absentmindedly listening to a cable news program that nobody in their right mind watches so early on a Sunday morning.

My husband Bob's habit of arriving early for everything meant that we had a half an hour to wait.

A half an hour of extra time with my daughter Melissa, who would soon board the bus that would take her back to her college, located three hours from our suburban New Jersey home.

I could have used the time to have one last, meaningfull talk about life and love. I could have used the time to hold her tight, squeezing out enough hugs to last the six weeks until her sophomore year ended, and I'd see her again.

But alas, there was no need.

The weekend visit home had been a good one. Despite the mounds of assignments and projects and sorority commitments that filled her obsessively organized to-do list, Melissa came home because she knew that her presence at our Passover seder meant the world to me. Especially this year, the first Passover with an empty seat where my mother should have been.

During the all-too-short time leading up to Saturday night's holiday celebration, Melissa managed to squeeze in a long, bed-time talk with mom, a Food Network marathon with dad, brunch with friends, and even reluctant time spent on homework.

Although she seemed so comfortable at home, especially with our kitty cat cuddled by her side, something didn't seem quite right. Not so much with her, but with me. I experienced an emotion that took me by surprise.

I felt selfish.

Selfish for wanting the weekend to never end.

Selfish for wanting to block her path to the bus.

Selfish for wanting her to come home this summer, and every summer for the remainder of her college tenure, instead of exploring internship opportunities in cities much too far from southern New Jersey.

Selfish for wanting her to put aside plans to spend part of her senior year studying abroad.

Selfish for wanting her to return to our little townhouse after graduation, even though a job, a relationship, or (egads) both, may take her into unknown territory, hundreds of miles away from her mother's loving arms.

Selfish for wanting her to live her life under my protective shadow, instead of following her own path to happiness.

For as much as I love having her around, I know, for right now, school is where she needs to be. More important,  I know, for right now, school is where she wants to be.

Bob and I watched as the bus pulled into the station, and Melissa joined the handful of passengers preparing to board. We gave her a quick hug goodbye, and quietly walked back to the car.

The bus was taking her back to her life of projects and parties and sorority commitments and friends.

Back to where she belonged.

Meanwhile, Bob and I put on our empty-nester hats, and went back home to take a nap.

Back to where we belonged.

Melissa and Bob waiting at the Greyhound bus terminal.


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Sunday, March 11, 2018

As St. Patrick's Day approaches, I thought it only fitting to repeat one of my favorite posts!

Melissa vs. The Leprechaun 

For my 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.  When the aptly-named third grade teacher Miss Green (I am not kidding) read stories about these fabled, feisty Irish fairies to her young charges, 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!

Melissa and Sarah spent hours developing a comprehensive trap-setting plan.  Step one involved a St. Patrick's Day eve sleepover, 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 "little green man" resort and spa.  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, they started having second thoughts about their devious plan.  Suddenly, it seemed like trapping the little guy would not be a very nice thing to do. But still, they didn't want their hard work to go to waste.  That's when Melissa and Sarah crafted a new plan. If the leprechaun came, he would not have to worry about being duped by two nine-year old girls. Instead, the girls would simply observe him at play while they pretended to be asleep.

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", slowly tiptoed into Melissa's room. The girls moved ever so slightly, perhaps sensing a presence.  Mom froze, waiting until both girls were silent and still.  Then mom 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.

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 THE ENTIRE THING!

As for the leprechaun (AKA - Mom) instead of placing the newly found "gold" in the pot at the end of the rainbow, she stuffed the coins were into the bottom of a sock drawer, never to be seen again...or so she thought.
~ ~ ~

About a year later, I asked Melissa to help me with the laundry.  I folded the socks, while she put them away.

"Mom, why are there gold coins in Daddy's sock drawer?"

Uh oh.

Danger!  Danger!  Think fast!  Think fast!

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

"Oh, ok. That makes sense."

I heaved a sign of relief.  My naive little daughter actually believed me!

Or so I thought.

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

"Mom, are you really the leprechaun?"

Uh oh.

"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."

"Alright sweety, you're right.  It was me," came my guilty admission.  "I was really the leprechaun, it was me who snuck into your room in the middle of the night."

Pause.

Pause.

"YOU TRICKED ME!  YOU LIED TO ME!   WAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

So much for Melissa's promise of not getting mad.

Oh well.  Since I had already blown my cover, I decided to also come clean about the tooth fairy and Santa Clause.  Being Jewish, the latter didn't bother her quite so much, but I made her promise not to spill the beans to her friends who still believed in St. Nick.  Even though I had spoiled the fun, Melissa's friends still deserved to enjoy a few more moments of childhood innocence.

In trying to bring to life to my baby girl's imagination, I had 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 when she is married with kids of her own.  I want her to relish in those childhood fantasies where the existence of little green men is never questioned, and fairies really do exchange teeth for treasure.  For all too soon, reality takes hold and childhood evolves into a grown up world, devoid of fantasy and wonder.

~ ~ ~

This year as St. Patrick's Day approaches, Melissa and Sarah, now college sophomores - albeit in different states - are both home for spring break. They plan to spend quality time together, and I'm sure they'll flash back to that day, so many years ago, when two 9-year old girls truly believed they had a visit from a Leprechaun!

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If you are from Israel, please email me at prleebee@gmail.com to tell me how you heard about my blog.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Proposal to Reduce the Number of Deaths and Injuries from Mass Casualty Incidents


It's the same cycle.

1. Innocent people die in a mass casualty incident.
2. Politicians send their thoughts and prayers.
3. The news media shows horrific video from the scene of the crime.
4. People express their outrage through social media posts.
5. Advocates for common sense gun control and advocates for gun rights get into
heated debate.
6. A couple weeks go by, people go back to their routine.
7. No action is taken.
8. All too soon, it happens again, and the cycle is repeated.

In the meantime, nothing is done to stop the senseless injury and death of countless innocent people.

I repeat. NOTHING IS DONE!

Through my proposal, I hope to change apathy into action by recommending we finally do something about the epidemic of mass casualty incidents in the United States. And, my recommendations do not call for a ban against guns.

Discover common ground
The first proposed step is to bring people on both sides of the gun debate together who have one thing in common, none of them want to see innocent people die from a gunshot wound.


1. Implement a Mass Casualty Incident Task Force made up of the following:

  • Federal, state, and local legislators representing republicans, democrats, and independents
  • Gun rights advocates, including those who sell guns
  • Advocates for commone sense gun control
  • Law enforcement officials at the federal, state, and local level
  • Mental health professionals
  • Physicians and nurses specializing in emergency medicine
  • First responders
  • Educators
  • Domestic violence prevention experts
  • IT professionals
  • Marketing professionals
  • Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies
2. Commision a non-partisan, objective study of mass casualty incidents 
    over the past 10 years, identifying common themes, including:

  • Demographics of the offenders and victims (age, gender, race, religion, etc)
  • Type of weapons used (guns, knives, bomb, vehicle)
  • Location of the incident (school, business, mall, park, concert, movie theater, church)
  • Past history of violence and/or criminal activity among the offenders
  • Warning signs, such as threats made against family members, neighbors, or employers; social media posts; or stock piling of weapons
  • Motive for the offense, such as anger at a romantic partner, a former employer, or school; hatred against a specific demographic; or terrorism
3. Commission a non-partisan, objective study to determine if there is a correlation between the incidence of injury and death due to gunshot wounds and state laws on gun purchases.

4. Create a task force of law enforcement professionals at the local, state, and federal level to implement strategies to deal with illegal gun trafficking.

5. Create a toll-free, anonymous hotline to encourage people to report potential threats of violence. Similar to the "If you see something say something" campaign. For example, if someone hears a friend, neighbor, or coworker talk about shooting someone or blowng up a building, take it seriously and anonymously report it. Or, if someone receives personal threats to their safety from someone they know, take it seriously and report it.

6. Respond to these reports by monitoring the potential offender's actions; obtaining a warrant to search the offenders home, vehicle, emails, and social media posts; and alerting the offender's family, friends, and coworkers.

7. Create a public safety campaign to promote the hotline using TV, radio, print, and social media.

8. Implement and enforce laws that make it a felony to threaten someone with violence.

9. Develop training tools to teach people how to respond if they are involved in a mass casualty incident. (hide, flight, or flee)

10. Develop a gun safety curriculum to be used in high schools and colleges to teach students how to safely handle a gun.

11. Conduct a non-partisan, objective study of the current crimnal background check system in place to prevent certain people from purchasing a weapon. Is the system outdated? Does it provide accurate data? Are there system breakdowns due to computer or human error?

12. Work with the military to ensure all offenses committed by members of the military are included in the national background check database.

13. Enact a federal law preventing those who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. (Federal law already prevents them from purchasing a gun, if they are convicted of domestic violence they should be forced to surrender guns they already own.)

14. Work with domestic violence prevention and mental health professionals to identify warning sign behaviors that could lead someone to cause a mass casualty incident.

15. Implement a public safety campaign to educate people about these warning signs.

16. Work with law enforcement, mental health professionals, and legislators to determine a way to monitor and/or prevent gun purchases made by those who are in mental health treatment due to threats of harm against themselves or others.

17. Require social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to monitor social media posts of their users and report posts that contain threats against others.

18. Allow law enforcements officials to obtain a warrant to search a potential offender's home based on threats made on social media.

19. Educate first responders and emergency room physicians and nurses on responding to a mass casualty incident.

20. Determine the feasibility and effectiveness of specific ideas by gathering data from smaller pilot studies conducted at the state and local level (instead of rejecting ideas out of fear, emotion, or intuition)



All ideas are appreciated. Please share your feedback in the comments section below, and please feel free to share this post with others who want to save innocent lives.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When Your Husband Attempts Vehicular Homicide

My home state of New Jersey is known for its famous seashore, as well as dozens of historic villages that boast tree-lined main streets and small town charm. While state residents flock to the beach during the summer months, it is the autumn season where these quaint small towns come to life. Such was the case when my husband Bob and I took my parents to the northern New Jersey town of Chester, with our two-year old daughter Melissa (now 20) in tow.

We enjoyed a sun-drenched October day exploring Chester's quaint business district, and after a delicious lunch topped off with the requisite scoop of ice cream, we were ready to head back home. Bob took his rightful place behind the wheel, while my father accompanied him in the front passenger seat. I placed our purchases in the trunk, secured Melissa in her car seat, then wedged myself into the middle of the back seat to make room for my mother.

That's when Bob tried to get away with vehicular homicide.

Allow me to explain. As my poor mother attempted to get into the car, Bob attempted to drive away. Seems that he had incorrectly assumed that all members of his cargo were safely seated and secured. Alas, t'was not the case, as Bob soon found out, thanks to the combined ear piercing screams of my mother, father, and me.

He slammed his foot on the brake, and my mother, although a bit shaken, safely climbed into the back seat. As we went on our way, he sheepishly promised to never, ever attempt vehicular homicide again. A promise he kept for 18 years.

Until last month.

Bob, Melissa, and I were heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, enroute home after a pleasant afternoon with my sister-in-law Kristie and niece Kaeli. As is typically the case with the Weinsteins, we needed to "take care of business" -  so Bob dutifully made a pit stop at one of the Turnpike's crowded rest stops. Only problem, we were held hostage by bone chilling, single digit cold and wind that had gripped the state, and most of the country for that matter, for days.

Bob parked as close as possible, we wrapped ourselves in hats, scarves, and gloves, then braved the elements so we could complete our quest. After we had "taken care of business", my sweet husband wanted to spare his wife and daughter the weather's fury by offering to pull the car up to the front door for us.

Before getting in, Melissa and I decided to switch seats. For the remainder of the journey, she'd take the front passenger side, while I'd settle into the back.

As promised, Bob faithfully positioned our chariot within a stone's throw of where we stood. Melissa jumped into the front as I opened the door to get into the back. But before sitting down, I had to over come one small problem. You see, because of some long-standing medical issues, I use a seat cushion during long car drives. But to my horror, my precious seat cushion still remained in the front.

At this point in my story I should remind you of the bone chilling cold and wind. I should also remind you of the crowds that decided to stop at the rest stop at the exact same time, crowds that were now in their cars, impatiently lined up behind my hubby, waiting for him to drive away.

In his desire to get us out of this predicament as soon as possible, Bob grabbed my cushion and threw it to me. Only problem.....he threw it to the other side of the back seat.

Now imagine if you will, the following scene.

The car door remained open. I still had both feet on the ground as I leaned over to reach across the back seat for my cushion. In the meantime, those impatient drivers began maneuvering their way around our car.

That's when Bob attempted to drive away.

Yes, that's right. While I had half my body in, and half my body out of the car, that's when Bob attempted to drive away.

Seems that he had, once again, incorrectly assumed that all members of his cargo were safely seated and secured.

In the next fraction of a second, I mentally gauged my options:
1. Say nothing, and allow the vehicle's forward momentum to force me to tumble onto the hard asphault of the rest stop parking lot, where I would, undoubtedly, be run over by one or all of the impatient drivers lined up behind us.
2. Dive head first into the car.
3. Scream for Bob to stop as if my life depended on it - because it did!

I chose option 3.

The sound that erupted from my mouth could be heard across the parking lot, into surrounding counties, and throughout the state of New Jersey. Heck, my gutteral scream for mercy could be heard by the astronaunts orbiting the Earth on the international space station.

Fortunately, I chose the correct option. Bob stopped the car, saving me from my perceived horrible fate. As we continued on our journey, my "sympathetic" husband and daughter struggled to repress their laughter....as I struggled to repress my sobs.

Gradually, my tears gave way to uncontrollable giggles, as I had to admit that I might have over-reacted just a wee bit.

In the meantime, my husband sheepishly promised, once more,  to never, ever attempt vehicular homicide again.

We'll see how long he keeps his promise this time.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Watching Movies with Melissa

I snuggled in my warm bed, my daughter Melissa by my side, as layer upon layer of blankets kept the cold at bay. We turned our focus to the TV, where images of Austria's glorious mountains came slowly into view, and a young Julie Andrews sang out those lyrics made famous in the 5 plus decades since its first airing.

"The hills are alive, with the sound of music".

My husband Bob, given the choice of watching football or the Von Trapp Family's frolicks  for the 574th time, shockingly chose the ball game. But that was fine for my daughter and me! We were comfy, we were cozy, we were singing along.

Life was good.

It would be the first of many movies we would enjoy together during her all too short winter break. The fall semester of her sophomore year at American University had ended, the spring  semester would start soon enough. But during her break, as New Jersey (and most of the country) was caught in the grip of unprecedented cold, we stayed home, snuggled, and turned on the tube.

Most of the movies we had seen before.

Many many times before.

Yet watching them with Melissa felt like welcoming in old friends.

Some, like Frozen were Disney classics, while others, like Will Ferrell's Elf, were a holiday tradition. Some, like Pitch Perfect, I enjoyed for the first time. While others, like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I have watched every time it airs, since it feeds my obsession with the boy wizard.

Watching movies with my girl seemed the perfect way to end what I describe as a year of count downs. You see, throughout 2017, I spent the months, weeks, days, and hours counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours until I would see her again.

It began in January with counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours until Melissa came home for spring break.

Next came the count down until my birthday in April when we visited Washington, DC to see Melissa, our daughter Jessica, son-in-law Brian, and grandson Miles.

Then I started the count down until spring semester ended in May.

Then came summer, and the count downs came to a welcome halt.

But time sure didn't.

Those warm, humid evenings taking neighborhood walks with my girl soon gave way to our new normal with Melissa back in her college dorm.

And the count downs started again.

Count downs until our October visit.

Count downs until Thanksgiving.

Count downs until the end of the fall semester.

Then my baby came home....and the count downs once again, came to a welcome halt.

But once again, time sure didn't.

I don't want to count down the five days until we pack up the car with what will seem like all of her worldly possessions.

I don't want to count down the five days until we leave her at her college dorm.

I don't want to count down the five days until we return to our new normal. Where Bob watches sports and I cuddle in my bed watching movies.  Without my girl.

But nevertheless, here I go again. Two months, one week, 23 hours until spring break.....when the count downs come to a welcome stop, once again.

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PS - if you live in Israel, please email me at prleebee@gmail.com and tell me how you heard about my blog.