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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project Smile - November

A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you're at home. - Author Unknown

Another month of reasons to smile!

1st - Last day of our Kindermusik class. This was our fourth session
2nd - I voted!
3rd - A glorious walk along our beautiful ocean with my beautiful friend, Jenn.
4th - A happy little traveler.
5th - Officially in escrow!
6th - Enjoyed a nice long lunch with a dear friend and Lucas turned 17 months!
7th - Celebrated my niece's golden birthday.
8th - I got to hold my girlfriend's newborn baby boy and remember back to when Lucas was so tiny.
9th - Took a peaceful walk along the beach and saw dolphins. A walk is always better with dolphins.
10th - Remembered my mother with love. She would have been 62 today.
11th - Finally got my hair cut and colored. It had been almost THREE months. So long, grays!
12th - Daydreaming about a brilliant future.
13th - Lucas found a mud puddle and he was happy as a clam to play in it.
14th - My best friend's birthday and
a fun day date with my husband complete with movie popcorn.
15th - Exercising my freedom of speech.
16th - Epic carrot cake.
17th - Dinner, wine and good conversation with a dear friend.
18th - Children that take three hour naps.
19th - Family.
20th - I threw a little shindig and brought some of the coolest bloggers together that I know: Kludgy Mom, Surfer Wife, Mommy of a Monster, The Little Hen House, Mommypants, Not Just Another Jen, A Beautiful Mess and Mamaondago
21st - A visit to the bookstore and train table.
22nd - Oprah's final Favorite Things episode.
23rd - Hiring a mover.
24th - Catching up on TiVo.
25th - Family, friends, good health, a little money in the bank and a clean kitchen.
26th - Sushi and pool with our neighbors.
27th - Dinner and a movie with my sister.
28th - Family picture in front of our new house.
29th - Story time and shaking our sillies out at the library
30th - Donating three huge bags of clothes and other household items to Goodwill. Purging feels so good!

I hope I wasn't the only one that found so many reasons to smile this month!


Alicia is the brain child behind this wonderful meme. Be sure to link up at her blog, A Beautiful Mess or check out other people's lists.


You can see my October reasons to smile here.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Ceramic Mugs

I started packing on Friday in an effort to burn off calories consumed on Thanksgiving and so that our impending move seems more real to me. I'm excited, I'm just in denial.

I started in the kitchen and quickly had five boxes full of linens, pots, pans, glassware, bake ware, wine and water glasses, water bottles and ceramic coffee mugs.

I don't drink coffee and Todd, who only drinks iced coffee, uses glass mugs. Why I keep carting these ceramic mugs around from address to address is beyond me. Some were gifts and others were souvenirs. When I remember, I'll use one for hot chocolate or chamomile tea, but otherwise they collect dust and every three years or so, get wrapped up in newspaper and moved to a new home, where they will once again sit on a top shelf and wait to be used.

With each move, I try to get rid of one. I am down to six.

There are two that I will never part with because my mother made them.

Ironically, she didn't drink coffee out of them either, but her favorite diet soda.

I don't remember my mother being a very creative person, but she did teach Kindergarten - third grade, so she knew how to do simple arts and crafts. She sewed a lot when I was really little and made me and my dolls matching clothes and I always had homemade Halloween costumes.

During the early years of her marriage to my father, she was really into painting ceramics à la Color Me Mine. It was the 70's after all.

Sadly, all I have are a few figurines and these two mugs.They're ugly, weren't made for the microwave and aren't dishwasher safe, but right there in the middle of my gung ho packing day, I had to stop and have a cup of hot chocolate in one of my mother's mugs.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Imagine

There is no denying the success of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting duo. Together, they wrote some of the most beautiful and breathtaking lyrics, but the simple and positive message of Lennon's Imagine gets me every time.

I grew up listening to The Beatles and it was sort of understood in my house that the favorite of the Fab Four was Paul, however, I have always been drawn to John. Particularly because of this song.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

The anniversary of John Lennon's death is December 9, 2010.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

My Son Has A Crush

My son likes Elmo, but LOVES Abby.

He enjoys watching her on Sesame Street, pointing her out in books, looking for her whenever we are out and about and toddles around saying Abby, Abby, Abby all the time. It truly is one of the cutest things ever.

He almost jumped right out of his skin when he saw her on the Sesame Street float during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

My sister recently got Lucas his very own Abby doll and the two have been inseparable ever since.

Seeing as my son has such a crush, I thought I should do a little background check on little Miss A.

According to Muppet Wikia, Abby Cadabby is a three-year-old fairy-in-training and made her debut in the first episode of Sesame Street's 37th season.

Her name is a play on the magic word Abracadabra.

Abby's magical powers are limited to popping in and out of thin air, floating when she's happy, and turning things into pumpkins.

Although familiar with the world of fairy tales, Abby is astounded by such basic learning skills as drawing letters or counting, prompting her catchphrase "That's so magic!"

She frequently uses her wand cell phone to call her mommy. When she's asked to return home, she says that she's "gotta poof."

I gotta respect anyone that can turn things into pumpkins, but personally, I think it's her bright pink color and adorable freckles. I don't think I have to worry too much. I mean, really how far can a relationship with a Muppet go?

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Wise men count their blessings; fools their problems. - Author Unknown

Last year, my husband and I took 5 1/2 month old Lucas to Italy (you can read about our trip here) and had a fantastic time, but this year I'm happy to be home spending the holiday with family.

Today, we started our day with a local 5 mile Turkey Trot, which I highly recommend to anyone is planning to eat and drink all day, like we did. It was only Leah and I that crossed the finished line, because poor Lucas woke up with a cold and since it was 50 degrees out at 7 AM, after mile 1, he and Daddy waited for us in a cozy and warm coffee shop. The rest of the day, Leah and I played Scrabble, cared for Lucas, wiped his runny nose, watched his favorite programs on TV, tried to get a good holiday card photo of him and stayed out of Todd's way as he cooked the turkey, made twice-baked potatoes and green beans.

Our feast was served at 4 PM and it was button on your pants popping delicious!

This year, like most, I was in charge of the pies and there were three, as usual: pecan (Leah's favorite), pumpkin (Todd's favorite) and chocolate (mine!). And yes, there is a piece missing from one of the pies... someone just couldn't wait until tonight.

Looking back at my Thanksgiving post last year (you can read it here), there isn't much that I'd change or add to my list of things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. I have been blessed beyond belief! With only a few minor edits:

  • The 35 years I had with my parents.
  • A supportive, loving, patient and understanding husband, who also happens to be an incredible father and amazing cook. He's also very generous; I found him preparing a full plate of food for a homeless man hanging out in our alleyway tonight.
  • A happy, healthy, smart, adorable, fun toddler who teaches me something new everyday and fills my life with joy.
  • A sister who has the capacity to listen, forgive and love unconditionally.
  • Being able to stay at home and raise my son.
  • Friends and family near and far, old and new, especially my mommy friends; I don't know where I'd be without any them.
  • Living in Southern California where there is sunshine 360 days a year.
  • This blog, which has proven to be one of the very best things I have ever done for myself.
  • Extra long foot massages, pajamas, Cabernet Sauvignon, babysitters that are available at the last minute, TiVo and sleep!
  • The ability to travel to far away places, have exciting adventures, meet new people and then return safely home.
I hope however you are spending the holiday, you find as many things to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This post is for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - Prompt #2: Share a photo of what Thanksgiving looks like in your neck of the woods.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Loss

We lose hair, weight, sleep, contact, keys, sunglasses, luggage, races, games, arguments, jobs, money, homes, our place in line, our way, our will power, our balance, our sanity, our minds, our cool, our nerve, our courage, our voice, our faith, ourselves, people we love and people that never will be.

Sometimes our losses are little and will soon be discovered exactly where we left them or they become life lessons to learn and grow from. They become a part of who we are.

Other times they are almost too great to bear and leave us asking why and endless other questions.

I would like to think that a really big devastating loss means that a really big wonderful win is just around the corner.

This Thanksgiving eve, with hope in my heart, I pray our wins always outweigh our losses.

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. ~ Author Unknown

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You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...
  • You open your purse one day and find rocks! Actual rocks.
  • A child's book with sounds will make noise out of the blue on it's own, repeatedly scaring the crap out of you until you finally throw it away.
  • There will come a day when you will have to reevaluate every single relationship that you have in your life and eliminate or redefine the ones that don't make sense anymore or offer you something positive all in the name of motherhood.
  • You have waited for your toddler to switch from formula to regular milk for almost 18 months and now that the day has come and he didn't fight it, you're a little sad because it means your baby is no longer a baby.
  • You are driven your craziest just moments before Daddy, the babysitter or relief of any sort shows up to save the day (and your sanity).
  • You realize that the holiday season now has a whole new meaning because this little person is a part of it.

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A Boy & His Graham Cracker




This post is for Wordless Wednesdays and if you want to link up or see some really beautiful photographs, visit Alicia at A Beautiful Mess.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I've Arrived!

I received my first THREE negative comments over the weekend and feel compelled to share a note with someone who likes to call themselves "Anonymous":

Dear Anonymous,

I may not know you're name, but I do know where you live and that you spent over 10 hours on my blog on Saturday. Thank you so much for visiting, but 10 hours? I didn't think what I had to say was all that interesting and I can't help but wonder what responsibilities you neglected while you were leaving nasty comments on my blog.You are a repeat visitor too.

I really appreciate your insight and well thought out responses [insert eye roll here] to my posts, Green With Envy regarding my jealousy towards my sister for going to a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show and Ebony & Ivory, also about my sister, our relationship and 11 year age gap.

I have never moderated my comments before they are posted and have never deleted one that I didn't agree with. Oh, I take that back, I did delete Leah's on Ebony & Ivory, but featured it yesterday in it's entirety.

I always try to answer specific questions or provide further clarification when asked, either in the form of a personal e-mail to the commenter, an update post on the topic or in my own comment for all to read. Hard to do that when I don't who you are, so I'm doing it this way.... your very own post! :)

Anonymous, please don't judge me or insult me on my own blog, but if you must don't cowardly stand behind "Anonymous". It's really unbecoming. If you're going to be negative, you should have the balls to use your name.

That is all. Thanks, again for visiting! I really do feel like I've arrived now.

xoxo

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey, I Know That Girl!

Please visit my sister's blog, LA 'n' LA for her story on how she ended up at Oprah's Favorite Things Part 2 show.
One of Leah's friends posted this photo, a freeze frame of her on the show that aired today. She looks pretty in pink, doesn't she?

I am so jealous but very excited for Leah!!

"It's not about the stuff. It's about hope. It's knowing that something really magical and joyful and wonderful can happen to you when you least expect it." - Oprah Winfrey

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A Heart Of Gold

Once again, I'm humbled by and grateful for the blogging world and appreciate all of the comments to my Ebony & Ivory post discussing my relationship with my younger sister, Leah. I especially appreciate those siding with her. It's always good to get a new perspective.

Besides my parents, I have never known anyone else that had much younger sibling(s) or felt the burden and responsibility for them the way I have. Anyone that knows me well, knows that my relationship with my sister has always been a difficult one for me.

I believe that I worry about Leah more than sisters that are closer in age do because we are parent-less and that pressure and responsibility has only grown greater over the last three years. I am in NO WAY trying to be a replacement for our mother and father, but I feel as though it is my job to support, protect and advise her more than ever. What is annoying is when she doesn't take my advice or has to hear it from someone else or dismisses me entirely by essentially saying that it's her life and she can do whatever she wants.

She's 100% right.

She's 26. It is her life, but it's still hard to witness. As her older sister, much like a mother would, I want to prevent her from hurting herself and it's hard to stand by and let her grow up without trying to remove all the things that could cause her any harm.

I do not regret the post, but I wish that I had included a few very positive things about my sister; Leah has a heart of gold. She always has. She is warm and funny and does a lot of good. She is an excellent aunt to my son and a loyal friend to many. She is comfortable around strangers and can to talk to anyone about just about anything. She is struggling to find a job in a difficult industry and making ends meet in the process.

All I was trying to convey is MY need to rid myself of the self-induced pressure, stress and anxiety I feel as her older sister.

I have so many different roles right now and this is one that begs to be reexamined. For me and for Leah.

As you can imagine, shortly after I published the post, the proverbial shit hit the fan and even though I sent Leah the piece hours beforehand, she elected to wait until it was up on the site before commenting.

You can see that I immediately removed her response (the first time I have ever deleted a comment), but would like to share it with you now for what it's worth:

As her sister, I feel it's necessary for me to address this personally. I know that a lot of Tonya's followers don't know me so I think it's important for me to speak up.

First of all, thanks Tonya for airing our dirty laundry. But I guess, free speech on this blog is more important than family and having a private talk with me.

Secondly, I'm sorry I've made you feel burnt out-this is exactly what a sister wants to hear from her big sister. I've never asked you to take on a parent role. But then again, isn't that what sisters do for each other? They protect, they love, they defend, they care for, they advise, they do whatever is needed. This is sisterhood. I'm there for you and never ever would tell you that I was burnt out from it all. Yes, we are two very different people but I wouldn't want it any other way. You are you and I am me. I think our gap in ages make us who we are. I see it differently than you. I don't see our age differences as "detrimental" as you say.

I promise you that mom and dad would have never wanted you to take their place as my parents. I had two amazing parents that believe it or not, are still parenting from wherever they are now. I don't need a third parent.

As for who I am and what you are portraying me on here, you make me sound a like a drug dealing, promiscuous partier who you need to save on a daily basis. Well, that's just not me at all. I'm a 26 year old trying to find my place in the music industry in Los Angeles. It's proving to be extremely difficult and I certainly could use all the support and encouragement I can get. But this is what I want and I don't regret pursuing this.

I am a college graduate who happened to move in with a Pin-Up who needed help with her non-profit that helps hospitalized Veterans around the country. I fell in love with this project so I help her. Is this so bad?

I ran a half-marathon for AIDS, I've walked for breast cancer. Is this so bad? I went on three job interviews last week. Is this so bad? I watch my spending and even keep a detailed budget. I babysit/nanny 3-4 times a week to make some money and help families in need. Is this so bad? I have good people around me that also don't do drugs or drink excessively. They are responsible, college educated, professionals. What about my life do you find so upsetting? What is there to be burnt out about?

I know you worry as my big sister. I get it. But you have to stop worrying so much. I don't call you at 2 am, I think that was twice in college. Aren't sisters supposed to text to say they landed safely, reply to numerous questions about growing up and other life lessons. What is wrong with all of this? I don't get it. Is talking about all this with me really all that bad? If so, please let me know and we can talk about movies and the weather.

I don't know... clearly I don't get it. Honestly, I never actually thought we were all that different in the first place-not in the major ways anyway.

Since the post, Leah and I have had what I am sure will be the first of a series of conversations about improving our relationship. We are both hopeful. I have also promised her that I will never write about our relationship here again.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spreading Good Cheer

I recently discovered boxed signs made by Primitives by Kathy* and I'm loving them!

They range from $4.00 - $56.00 and come in a variety of sizes.

The sayings are short, sweet, to the point and would adorn any wall in your home or office perfectly with words of inspiration, good cheer and Happy Thoughts.

These are definitely on my Christmas give list this year, but really would make great gifts all year long.

Here are some of my favorites:


Be sure to peruse the Web site, as there are lots of other gift ideas.

*This post was no way endorsed by Primitives by Kathy, I just like their products and wanted to share!

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Friday, November 19, 2010

17 Months

We are just weeks away from the year and a half mark and Lucas is growing and changing and learning everyday. Here's what he has been up to this month:
  • Asks for help when he needs it most of the time.
  • Says "thank you" most of the time. We are working on "please".
  • Grabs our hands and says "hand" when he wants to take us somewhere, but isn't always quite sure where.
  • Climbs on everything.
  • Loves to practice using keys, utensils and hair brushes.
  • Has officially given up his morning nap and fairly consistently sleeps from 1:00 - 3:00.
  • Has major separation anxiety upon one or both of us leaving, but it soon subsides, or so we've been told.
  • Has become leery of the dark.
  • Still prefers the bottle over a sippy cup, but will drink juice and water from time to time.
  • Has started drinking cow's milk!! Yay, no more stinky formula.
  • Enjoys throwing toys when he's grown tired of them and dumping his food on the floor when he's done eating. Good times.
  • Loves being a passenger on Daddy's bike ride.
  • Is learning family members names.
  • Has learned how to pull his pull toys.



    We are so lucky to have this little boy in our lives.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ebony & Ivory

We learn to live, we learn to give each other what we need to survive together alive. - Paul McCartney

I'm burned out.

Firstborn, middle born, last born, only child, or twin.


How two people that come from the exact same parents can be so completely opposite of one another is baffling to me.

In my sister and my case, I blame our age difference.

For as long as I could remember, I wished for a little sister and then when I turned 11, my wish came true.
And before you ask, my sister was completely planned; the 11 year age difference and everything. My mother even had her IUD removed in order to conceive her. TMI?

My parents were no strangers to age gaps; there were 13 years between my father and his eldest brother and eight between him and his middle brother. There were six years between my mother and her brother.

Whenever my parents were asked why they waited so long to have another child, the response was that they wanted to be more financially stable. Fair enough, I suppose. I didn't care, I finally had what I had always wanted.

I remember every detail of the day my sister was born. It was magical and hectic and so exciting. Up until the birth of my own son, it was one of the best days of my life and nothing can compare to being old enough to witness the joy and pride in my parents over the new addition to our family. It was written all over their faces for the nine months leading up to Leah's arrival and it was understood that our household would never be the same.

As I was entering high school, she was starting kindergarten.

As I graduated from college, she was struggling with her math homework.

As I was going through a divorce, she was buying a prom dress.

As I was busy building a career, she was trying to figure out what her major would be in college.

As I was a newlywed for a second time and she had just graduated from college, we both lost our parents.

As I was preparing to have a baby, she was trying to start her career.

It's sad to think that our lives will never catch up to each other and while we may experience some of the same things years a part, it was only with the deaths of our parents that they were derailed at the exact same time. Only we know what it feels like to go through something like that. Our memories of our parents are different in some ways, but our love and loss is shared.

While Leah was in college, our parents still lived and worked overseas so I became, for lack of a better term, her surrogate mother. This is not a role that I have ever been completely suited for nor enjoy all that much.

Never the less, I answered the phone in the early morning hours, waited for the texts they said she landed safely, replied to the numerous questions about growing up, life after living under your parents roof and members of the opposite sex and
offered advice, whether solicited or not over money management, career opportunities and portraying a positive, wholesome image. I did this through her four years of college and still do it now.

I'm tired of being the older sister.

I have my own child now.

I'm burned out.

Over the years we have shared many laughs and good times. We've gotten more than a little pissed off at one another, especially lately.

We are true sisters and I love Leah with all my heart.

After 26 years later, while I can't imagine my life without my sister in it, I honestly believe that the 11 years between us has been detrimental and I can't help but wonder how our relationship would be different, better even if we were closer in age.

My sister and I are in need of a long, heart-to-heart, an open, honest, most likely with raised voices, possibly four letter words and maybe even some tears conversation. I'm dreading it, but it's overdue.


I feel a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility.

I want to redefine my role.

I'm burned out.


This post is for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - Prompt #1: Why are your burned out?

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...
  • You don't care how many wipes you go through, as long as your fingers don't have to touch anything nasty.
  • You rock out to nursery rhymes and don't think anything of it.
  • If there is a pile of dog poop or a mud puddle at the park, your child will find it, step it and maybe even pick it up and bring it to you (that's for you, Jenn M.).
  • One day your tot will love something (food, song, book, toy, activity) and the next day wants nothing to do with it.
  • It's not even 9:00 in the morning and your house is a wreck.
  • It's all fun and games until someone gets peanut butter in their hair and usually it's mom!
  • There is nothing sweeter than a unsolicited hug.

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Seeing Red

Typically I only share the very best side of Lucas; the cute adorable side.

Don't be fooled, this boy has a range of emotions and in his short 17 months, we have seen him go from happy-go-lucky to pissed off in nothing flat.


Every now and then, I happen to have a camera close by so I can capture this other, more colorful side of my son:

This post is for Wordless Wednesdays and if you want to link up or see some really beautiful photographs, visit Alicia at A Beautiful Mess.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Looking For A Silver Lining

The holiday decorations are up in stores, our mailbox has been littered with catalogs for weeks and there is no escaping the toy commercials on television.

It can only mean one thing: It's officially the holiday season!

Again.

Ugh.

On top of all the preparations that go into Christmas: finding, wrapping and delivering the perfect gifts, capturing a suitable holiday photo for the yearly greeting card, addressing, stamping and mailing the cards, digging out the decorations, streaming the lights, selecting and trimming the tree, attending the gatherings and displaying and maintaining a sense of good will and cheer to all, we are moving!

We are on Day 12 of escrow and provided everything continues to go smoothly, we need to be out of our house the week of Christmas. Gulp. Happy holidays to us! Can you say "bad timing"?

Rather than freak out about about all the tasks at hand, I'm going to look at the bright side:

  • We're no strangers to moving. Since I graduated from college, I have moved 10 times and my husband, three.
  • Moving = purging and if not now, then when?
  • We don't have to decorate our house for the holiday.
  • It will be wonderful to start the New Year and a new chapter with a new address.
  • Our holiday card can double as a "we've moved" notification.
  • This could be the year I solely use gift bags without guilt instead of painstakingly wrap our presents.
  • Lucas will enjoy playing in and with packing boxes, also known as cute photo ops. Too bad we can't put him to work.
  • We have an excuse not to attend or more importantly host any holiday parties.
  • Our gifts to each other can be items we need/want for our new home.
Any other silver lining aspects of moving during the holiday season?

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This is my 400th post!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Green With Envy

I'm dying.

My sister is on her way to Chicago to be an audience member on the Oprah Winfrey Show!!

Her roommate, Gina contacted the show and submitted a piece on the person she most admires and was selected to be on the show. I'm not sure if she'll actually be on the show, but she was invited to be in the audience because it's a topic that Oprah is covering on Tuesday, November 16.

Gina's inspiration is her grandfather Lou, a World War II Army Veteran and the reason behind her Pin-Ups For Vets calendar project. The nostalgic 1940's pin-up style calendars feature Gina and are sold to raise money for hospitalized Veterans, personally hand delivered by Gina to VA hospitals across the country and also sent overseas to our deployed troops.

Pin-Ups For Vets is a noble and worthwhile cause and Gina is fantastic at what she does.

Since moving to Los Angeles in January, my unemployed sister has been able to help Gina with her plight and because Gina's dear grandfather has passed away, she generously invited Leah to accompany her to Chi-town.

Now you know why I'm dying!

What I wouldn't give to be in Oprah's audience... especially this year, her last season of the show. And, for the record, I'm also a bit miffed that Leah doesn't even like Oprah. You read that right and I know what you're thinking, "Who doesn't like Oprah?!?!". Nobody!

I have been a HUGE fan for 25 years and Leah has always given me @#$% for worshiping her, recording her show daily and subscribing to her magazine.

I've never been to a Oprah Winfrey Show taping, but have had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Winfrey speak twice and saw her every year at BookExpo when I worked for a book publisher.

So there!

While I may be a green-eyed monster, I do sincerely hope Gina's project is featured on the show.

Have fun, girls. Oh, and if this turns out to be the "Favorite Things" episode, in which O shares (gives) products with her audience that she feels are noteworthy or that would make a great holiday gift, I fully expect first dibs on any and all swag you bring home. I would love an iPad. I'm just sayin'. :)

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