Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions and reflections

  Sometimes as the 2000's fly by me at the speed of light I stop and remember the whole wonder that growing up with the idea that it would be the year 2000 meant for this 20th century girl.  My sons are born in a different century then me !!!! It seemed so mystical so "totally crazy".  Of course for those apocalyptic types business boomed - after all the end of the world had to be coming right ? I love how they reappear a few years later explaining how their calculations were wrong but for a fee they can tell you the real end of world and sell you supplies to survive it.  I do not have that approach to anything - if it is true am pretty sure there is nothing I can do to stop it and let's face it this fashion conscious girl is not walking around with a tacky, overstuffed backpack full of survival gear for her and her kids "just in case".  I gave up packing like that going between my parents post divorce - the weekend bag to my Dad's went from an Olympic weight lifting event with "just in case" everything from a punk to a royal ball party outfits to a fairly decent size (leave some of the hairspray, 2nd blowdryer, banana clips - it was the late 80s hair required it's own luggage - at his house) reasonable bag.  

So here we are on the edge of 2013 - flying to 2014.  I have never been a big resolution person.  I realized the folly in my making them as I usually gave up smoking in my youth on that night only to wake up and try to salvage at least one from the pack I had so determinedly crushed in my resolution the night before.  I once gave up a man on New Year's because I realized that my feelings for him did not reside in my heart or my head but in shudders and shivers and his feelings for me resided no where.  I actually stuck to that one (shiver).  

Instead of resolutions that I may or may not keep or even remember I have recently started to do reflections on things that I may be missing in my actions or life.  Last year I realized how long it had been since I had painted - something I so love doing and yet it had fallen to the basement, brushes stiff, canvases well stored where I would look at them once in a while.  Now with the boys being older I dragged them all up to my sunroom and 2013 was the year I started to paint again. 

This year I am reflecting and there are a few things I would like to make sure that I focus on.  Things that may not mean much to anyone else but do to me.  There is the book that I always want to write, have notes all over the place for a new one, but never seem to get it together to do.  I know that for as easy as it is for me to write how I feel I am not always as comfortable eye to eye saying things, so they go unsaid too often (maybe 3-4 people besides my kids ever broke that in me).  There is also my new Nike fuelband which is making me reflect and resolve to walk a little more, do a little more  - overpriced placebo on my wrist is already working. 

In 2013 there were things that went right, events that hurt, but as with any year I took away from each experience the sense of how lucky I am overall to have the life I have even with the bumps (sometimes craters) in the road.  

Do you make resolutions ? Do you stick to them ? I wish you well with them but don't be too hard if they cannot always get done. 

Happy New Year - raise a toast, kiss with gusto and reflect on what you want for 2014 while storing away what 2013 meant to you!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

This is going to be short (maybe) and sweet because it is Christmas Eve and I LOOOOVVVE Christmas.  I liked it when I was a kid but as a mother of children I love it that much more. 

I am not one mired in traditions but I do like them - however, my husband who is not what one would call change agile loves traditions.  For me the writing of cards, the picking of gifts (which takes me a while because I do like to find something unique for those very close to me) and the decorating of the house are my staples.  

In our house though we also have a few Christmas Eve traditions that I have grown fond of and which I am told, with a smile and please, that I cannot deviate from.  We usually are running around looking to finish last minute errands and food shopping for Christmas Day, which we always host.  As the darkness falls, well maybe after the darkness falls since that is at like 430 PM or so around NY, we gather round and have some nice cheeses and crackers (my boys like Manchego, cheddar and Parmesan and we add 1 or 2 stinky cheeses for me and a fig jam on the side - already tasting it). Our meal is a sun-dried tomato cream sauce over fresh pasta with shrimp, garlic bread and a nice tricolor salad.  Dessert is had an hour later as we snuggle on the couch (one boy on each side of me) to drink Williams-Sonoma (yeah, yeah I know but I am ok with my snobbism) hot chocolate and have some chocolate chip cookies (I cheat and use Pillsbury most years) and watch Polar Express.  We leave some cookies for Santa with a note from each boy by the fireplace.  

In the morning the sound of boys rushing down stairs and back up to "wake us up", us have been up for some time waiting for them so they can tell us how Santa came.  The madness of the gift wrap flying and the sounds of excitement never fails to make me warm and cuddly all over.  Each son helps me give out gifts from under the tree. Our guinea pig Bob usually has given presents to them as well as getting some treat himself (each pet from our beta fish to our last guinea pig Jessie has always been pretty generous).  The boys love that the gifts are not only from us and their family as well as from Santa, Mrs. Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and host of other characters (and it is from different sources since each handwriting and pen color is different after all ..ehem yep).  

Me I love their excitement but I also admit I love those presents for me - the value of them is not in the price but in what was chosen (though would be lying if I ever said that the sight of that Tiffany blue box with a red ribbon does not especially please).   

We are fortunate and can give our children gifts and a home filled with love. I was going to be all PC, but who are we kidding it's not me, and say something profound about the need to not get gifts - let's be honest getting gifts is fun and my wish is that every child had something that made them smile when they opened it up on this day not that mine don't.  We remind the boys that they are deserving of a gift because of their actions throughout the year, a kindness or an achievement.  

Merry Christmas to you all and may your traditions bring you joy, may your gifts bring you laughter and may you share a moment where you tell the ones you love that they are the spirit of this holiday.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gifts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

I just saw a very interesting play version of a Christmas Carol -- cast of only 5 and really entertaining. Since it is really, really close to Christmas I thought a blog about either carols (yeah they may be a little cheesy but come on they still get us in the spirit -- unless you are in retail and listen to them on a loop for hours ... I have a few favorites and 2 even make this girl get chills) or gifts.  I consulted my blogging friend and she gave me a great idea to write about gifts that I loved, that I loved giving and the "unfortunate kind".  

So at the stroke of this keyboard first we will visit the ghost of gifts from the past.  Travelling back to a long time ago when I was about 7 and my parents were in Austria, immigration camp trying to get to the States, and I in Romania.  Needless to say that my gift list was really only to be with them, my mother was a mess about leaving me but at Christmas according to her and my father well she inconsolable.  However, they had jobs while there (you know those Austrians it's not all Hills are Alive all the time - productive people) so they sent gifts back to me.  Among them was Milka (a purple papered chocolate bar that was about 2 feet long) I savored every single square, still among my favorites when I am in Europe.  The other gifts from family were meager in a Communist country but they were there.  I did not love the chocolate enough to not miss my parents of course but I did love them for sending it to me.  We leave this place to my first few Christmases in the US.  My parents came with nothing, that is literal not metaphorical, to no one here but they did have a belief in opportunities. I remember a bicycle (a lovely, banana seat yellow one - this goes among the "unfortunate kind" -- why you ask ? well because I apparently cannot ride a bicycle, I crashed, tumbled on my own feet and to this do not even attempt the stationary ones at the gym - a PT person I met once told me it is not that uncommon and that now I would have gotten some therapy for it - therapy for a gift = unfortunate kind still).  My parents worked hard for the dolls, loved GI Joe, and the gifts and I had my parents. As we leave that happy scene I go to the land of  19 years -- there is me all happy and big haired with my boyfriend at the time and an ankle bracelet.  Now if you are not from a NYC borough this may not mean a thing. However, it was a BIG deal - you did not wear on ankle but on a chain around your neck, it had 2 "wings" of gold that your names and anniversary went on and in the middle there were little diamonds around a heart.  Thinking it is the 80s version of the "pin" that boys gave girls in the 50s.  That goes into gifts I loved - ok cause I loved the boy too.  Both are gone. 

Here we are in the present and gifts from my boys bought with their allowance money totally make the I LOVED IT best list.  They are well thought out and they take great pride in making sure they pick, pay and get them wrapped themselves. There is the Tiffany catalog that I leave little (ok not little big circles) around you know to help their father in his quest.  Christmas present is also about how much I love to buy presents for people.  I just love it.  I put a lot of thought into gifts, and yes I do some gift cards, but I like to see the person light up as they look up and see that somewhere, sometime during our conversations they mentioned something and here it is.  I like to shop in all sorts of stores and find unique gifts.  It is also a time where through my company and on my own I try and buy a few things for kids in need.  Their letters make me cry because they just want to smile and get a sparkly something in a life filled where basic needs are often not met.  That makes my BEST GIFTS EVER list - the joy from giving to others and seeing them get happiness.

Here you are last ghost - dressed to the nines and no gloomy, scary ghost for this girl.  It is the future and I was just flown in my car (cause yes I believe the movies) to my sons apartment.  There they are in college themselves now, grown and my babies at the same time.  Look at them they are sharing a place to save some money, they have nice girlfriends who appreciate the fashion forward funny and fun Mom the boys have (the perks of being the author is you get to make up the story) and they are enjoying their lives and their youth.  My gift a small box from Tiffany's which they chipped in to buy -- and whatever is in there makes me laugh and smile.  

I love gifts - giving and getting.  My worst gift ever still is a needlepoint purse with an farm picture that I would have had to needlepoint in myself (ummm it was not the gift per se that annoyed me it was the fact that really you must have never met me to buy me that or you found it while blinded by mysterious illness).  My best present ever - ones that meant something to me and said you actually know how much I like (insert thing here).  My favorite gift that I ever gave - the toys to the children in need and the thank you letters I received.  Christmas is a great time and gifts - come on who doesn't really want a gift.  So this season buy with love, buy because you want to show the person they are important enough for you to have thought through and found something that is special to them and enjoy the gifts that were well intention-ed for even a needlepoint bag brought you a smile and laugh.  

Oh and speaking of gifts if you can buy local as well big box store, buy brick and mortar and online, buy from those businesses you choose to support and not from those who you do not and buy from the heart.  If you need a 2 independent businesses there is always Hampton Paper Designs (those calendars are gifts that are much loved) and Nelly Rose Designs (hand-knitted and unique).  

Off to finish those last few things on my list --- sometimes naughty gets you an even bigger present with me.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Perspective ..

As the seasonal rush starts, or started, I thought this past week what I want to make sure is never off my list is Perspective, as in "The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance".

It is kind of easy to lose it but I am pretty determined not to.  This past week a terrible train derailment happened on my metro north line.  A train that I take at least 5 days a week.  A train on scenic route which allows me quiet time to read before and after work, to look out the window at the beautiful Hudson river, to chat with my fellow commuter train friends and to listen to music quietly (what a difference a lot of that is from my subway experience - which is more "exciting").  The train derailment is a huge tragedy where many people were severely hurt, people died, a train operator will forever be tortured for falling asleep for just that many minutes and many are just that much more likely to hold their breath as they go through that turn.  This derailment led to those of us who need this line to have to make alternate plans.  There were drives to other towns, parking lots full and more crowding.  It is easy to lose perspective when these things become part of a routine.  It is important that we do not.  It was inconvenient but PERSPECTIVE folks - we were not on that early Sunday train, we are able to walk a little further from a parking lot to a station still while some on that train will never walk again, we are able to plan with our loved ones while others lost theirs, we are alive enough to complain about the inconvenience. 

A young actor died in a car crash.  Tragic for any young person to go.  An 90+ man died in a place far from our shores.  I am not sure which one got more press.  Perspective - while the loss of a young life is more tragic than the loss of one who was able to enjoy many years on this earth the loss in this case of Nelson Mandela for me is the one that should have gotten more coverage.  The actor is sad and my sympathies are with his family and friends.  The death of Mandela gets my sympathies for us all along with his friends and families.  

I met a woman at the hair salon and in chatting with her realized she is that upper percent that even the 1% can seem less than wealthy too.  She was lovely and in speaking with her I was impressed by how money was what she had not who she was.  She spoke of values and of making sure that giving is a the best gift to teach children.  I never expect this level of folk to "give it all away" that is wrong and frankly ridiculous.  I do like to see that they use their money to help those in need.  She was one of the nicest and most real people I have met.  Perspective - the media and many want us to learn to judge one another but truth is unless you know the person you do not have that perspective. Perspective - you can be rich and be happy sharing. 

So as I start to enjoy the lovely decorations, start to check off gift lists I want to make sure that we all remember that we have much in the way of one another, that sharing a piece of my heart and love with someone is a gift I easily wrap in a hug, that the gifts I give make the people who get them smile and give them pleasure for knowing that I picked it just for them and most of all that I enjoy the moments of Christmas.  

That is my perspective and I am holding on to it ...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy 80th Birthday - Milestone celebration

This month my Dad would have had a milestone birthday.  He would have been 80 on December 9th.  It has been over 20 years since he died and yet on holidays or my children's milestones I still miss him.  This fact alone would have surprised me at one point in my life for ours was not a smooth relationship.

My Dad and I had what I have termed a great, wonderful love you Daddy relationship when I was small, a what and yes I know I know I will do nothing right relationship in my late teens, a I will judge you as you judge me Father early twenties and I miss you and thank you because I loved you Dad relationship since I made peace with that middle period.

I cannot believe that the man who loved a party more than anyone I know is not around to celebrate this milestone birthday.  Since he is not around I thought I would celebrate it publicly for him with a party in the virtual world of blogs.  

So after years of wondering where to have this party the venue has been chosen.  It is a small Romanian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens.  Not the more "popular" Casa Romana but a smaller one.  This is chosen for the familiarity that it will have for a man who loved the United States with a passion and patriotism rarely seen, so much so that he tried to runaway to it when he was 9 to it (until he missed his Mom and went home), but whose soul still had that Romanian spirit.  The food will be familiar, there will be a band and he will of course own the latest iPhone loaded with playlists.  The food will not be diabetic friendly bring on the carbs and meats people this is a celebration.  There will be too many appetizers, too many entrees because a good Romanian party must have too many of these in order to ensure that every guest finds something to like.  The place will also have been chosen to fit my father's philosophy that you do not have an end time to a party - this baffled him with weddings in the States - after all how do you tell people go home when they are still raising a toast and dancing?  So this party will start at 7 pm, he will be told that it starts at 6 so he can be there by 7:30, and it will go on until the last person has left.

The music, oh many weeks will have been spent making playlists to play.  My Dad loved new electronics so I think the world of MP3s would have thrilled him.  Finding songs from his youth, in Romanian, in Italian, in Spanish, French and of blues and rock and roll.  Oh yes there will be Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, some big band and Elvis (def Elvis) along with any newer songs he may like from the radio (which he will call me and ask me the name of).  The party will have him dancing with every woman in the place and in a circle because this 80 year old Dad is the 40 year old energy Dad I remember.

He will tell jokes, some off color, and deliver them with his excellent sense of timing.  He will be proud of me (because by now he sees that though I did not become the doctor he told me to be I still did well) and tell other people about my wonderful sons (they have his sense of fun, music loving, humor and they are BOYS - a big plus for him) and whatever number wife will be there (the man liked the idea of marriage - what can I tell you) my Mom and her husband will be there too - an truce has long since been called between them and in the end she can still appreciate his sense of love of life since she does not have to live with him.

During the night there will be political arguments that trust me make John Bohner eating with Nancy Pelosi look like a Match.com date gone well.  There will be curses and insults and "what do you knows" thrown around - it will intimidate the husbands and wives who are not Romanian that we the children have married and brought to this party - and eventually there will be some wife who ends the nonsense with that way they have always done it.  There will be much shaking of the head at the "liberal" kids who "know nothing", have been "brainwashed" with their growing democratic ideas, who will see that this is how it all started with stupid, talk and BOOM the Iron Curtain - after all Democrats, shudder for this group they want government to take over... ahhhhhh!!!!!

There will be poker possibly as the party is winding down for those who know my father loved to play.  There will be more food and more music and the wine will be flowing - now it will not be any wine that Wine Spectator would even have heard of but it will be "spritz" - wine with seltzer and it will keep them from being too drunk and last much longer. Speaking of drinking there will be a toast, with crying and a memory, a mention of someone who has died and how much they would have liked to be there, a moment when they left Romania, a moment when they first became American, more crying almost every time someone raises their glass to drink.  We Romanians are big toast makers and emotional.

As the night is winding down he will have a piece of his favorite - Creme Caramel - and more toasts including many from him thanking all who came and all who have passed in his life.  Regardless of the number of guests he will have made each one feel as though they were special.  At the end the tables will be a mess and as waiters clean up, a few die hard friends will still be there -- there will be some very old Romanian music playing and it will make you cry, even if you do not speak the language (point of contention for some of these folks at how few of their grandchildren speak it "but what can you do we moved here so maybe it is for the best" said with a deep Romanian accent (do not imagine Bella Lugosi he was Hungarian accent different).

Thank you all for coming, for the gifts I am sure my Dad will love (especially the gag ones - he once sent a pair of dentures to a very vain friend who was turning 40 something, wrapped magnificently) and he will be content because he thrived in this setting.

Happy 80th Birthday Dad - how I wish I could have actually thrown you this party.  Happy Birthday and thank you for teaching me to love all these things so much too.  Happy Birthday and I miss you -- La Multi Ani !!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thank you Gracias Merci Multumesc Grazie Danke etc...

It is Thanksgiving week and this is the holiday that I just love because it reminds me to take stock and say thank you with words and gestures for all that I have.  This year there are a few events that made me really look around and be even more grateful.  Tonight we went to a wake.  One of my sons' baseball coaches, father of a little girl that goes to daycare with them, had a heart attack and died at the young age of 43.  I saw him at the school dance for our kids the night before it happened, we exchanged pleasantries and laughed at how much cooler our kids were at such a young age compared to our own childhood.  I will not pretend that we were friends, we were acquaintances.  I would not read the letter his daughter wrote him that hung in his casket for I would have broken down and been a mess in front of his wife and her and that would do no one any good.  He had coached and been very active in our youth town league.  It was a somber event and I cannot pretend to know how the family will fare, it will be hard and my thoughts are with them. 

My first thank you goes to this town.  This town with it's imperfections, with it's diverse population, with it's "I'm not suburban in the sprawl sense" attitude, with it's beautiful view of the majestic Hudson, old houses and problems never lets me down.  It is full of people who band together in good times, like the school dance, and with an outpouring that was overwhelming tonight at the funeral home.  The parents and kids of this town show they care for one another in so many ways when times are good but even more so when one of us needs to be held up, helped up or just held.  To the Facebook pages dedicated to be a resource for other parents and a soap box for all that we feel so strongly our children deserve from the world. 

My second goes to all the fluff that I do not need but am glad I can have.   I know that some of my socialist leaning friends so want me to say that I do not get any pleasure from material things but that is a lie and I would find a world where only my basic needs met incredibly sad. I wish the world all had their basic needs met and those few things that they do not need accessible.   I am glad to be able to have some fluff and sparkle. 

This year some people close to me had close calls with their health.  I am glad they were only close calls in the end but it was chilling to wait and see them deteriorate before they got better.  I am grateful for their presence in my life in so many ways and I have made it a conscious effort to not be too busy, or too confident that they know, to tell them more often that their place in my life is one of the things I am most grateful for. 

My sons are a gift, sometimes a loud annoying gift, sometimes a gift that is so challenging that I am ready to yell but a gift for being who they are and pushing me to be that much better a person.  They keep showing me how much love I can keep giving.  I am thankful for them and for their friends because they show me that the future has such promise. 

My friends, those that I just share Facebook time with, those that I share work time with, those that I share family moments with, those that I share Scandal and Homeland obsessions with and especially those that I share my soul with.  I know I tell you periodically but I cannot imagine my past, present or future without you in some form. Your ecards, posts, music and sharing of your lives (especially pics of kiddies or milestones) have often made me smile in times I needed a pick me up.  Those who have that special place in my life  -- I LOVE YOU, I know I tell you but really can you ever get too much love?

My mother for being who she is and letting me, mostly but not always because after all she is my mother and an Eastern European opinionated one at that, be myself.  For her amazing strength when her husband got sick and to him for being the "spare" grandfather my boys just treasure.  My other Spanish mother I miss you lots and lots but you are always in my heart. My husband because he is such a great father and because after all of these bazillion of years together still tries to convince me that somehow he is younger than me (he is not) and makes me laugh.  

I am grateful for this blog and for anyone who reads it, and this year for my great blog guest writers who added such great perspectives and shared with so many what I knew - these women ROCK.  

I was saddened today by the loss of such a young person but if we learn anything from that is that we need to love what we have, be thankful for who we are and say thank you and tell those who we care about that they are important to us.  Enjoy every moment and do not waste much of your time wondering what you could have done - just do it.  

Happy Thanksgiving to all and take a moment to reflect on what you are especially thankful for this year. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tales from the Mother 'Hood - Part 2 - the Mom Political Advocates

These 2 friends are the driving force for their kids and communities in a more political way - they are strong, opinionated and most of all incredibly devoted to creating spaces for their and all children that will help them grow into the magnificent future we all need.

I loved being a full-time mom. I believe it was those fulfilling years of intense parenting that made me ready to kiss my youngest good-bye at the bus stop without a hint of nostalgia as he entered full-day kindergarten this fall. The job of Ossining Village Trustee is not intended to be full-time. But there is so much to do, and I love it, so it takes as much of my life as I allow. (A tricky balance.) My least flexible commitments are in the evenings. I attempt to be home at least two nights during the week, but that’s often not possible. My husband’s job is prone to running late, so my kids are frequently tucked into bed by one of the many OHS students that comprise my ever-growing list of sitters.
Still, the boys say they like that I’m a village trustee. They get to attend tons of exciting events in our community. Their biggest complaint is that mama talks to grown-ups everywhere we go in Ossining. I’m not the first mother of young children to serve as village trustee, but I am the only woman on the board currently. When I have meetings and the boys aren’t in school, I often tuck them away under a conference table with a portable DVD player, headphones and snacks.
My sons are ages 5 and 6 now. I wonder if they’ll still like that I’m a trustee once they are able to read Facebook posts and become aware of the sometimes harsh critiques I get from community members. We’ll see. In our home we never shy away from frank and challenging discussions. We talk a lot about striving to live our values. The biggest lesson I hope they gain from observing me in local elected office is that we all have a role to play in making our community better.
Victoria VictoriaGearity.com

I am not writer, English was my worst subject at school. I do like reading, books, blogs that I find interesting, and historical things. So when asked if I would write on being an activist mom, I said yes right away because it gave me a reason to sit down and challenge myself to do something that I was never really good at.
When it was time to register our son for kindergarten, I realized that my house is zoned for a school that is not really that great. Growing up in the neighborhood, I never heard good things about this school. The zone line was right in front of our house so if I lived across the street, I would’ve been zoned for a better school. This for me was a problem. When discussing the issue with a good friend of mine who is a Vice Principal in a great school he said he would put his kids in private school because he was done dealing with the DOE (Department of Education), I didn’t understand what he meant at that time and he didn’t really go into it so I left it at that. It wasn’t until my son was registered in the system with a DOE number that I finally understood what he meant.
I consider myself a person who fights for what I believe in and for what is fair. I don’t fight just to fight. I don’t think that I would call myself an activist but when I realized that the Department of Education will change anything that they have in writing and anything that they have told you, at the drop of a hat, well that is when I get involved and I don’t stop until what I think is wrong is righted.
As a working mom, it is really hard for me to do anything aside from going to work, taking my son to his activities, play dates, birthday parties and housework. I don’t have parents or any support system really to help me out. So anything that goes beyond my weekly routine is so much more than what I could handle. I realized however, that when it comes to promises made to me about my son’s future, I have the time, the energy and whatever else it takes to make sure that those promises are kept. I am not going to go into details about what those promises were, however, I can tell you that for about eight months the parents at District 30 where signing petitions, rallying, and sending written letters to the mayor, the commissioner of education and any other political figure that we could get our hands on to make sure that our children’s future was the future that we were promised in writing by the Department of Education. Every time we thought that we had won a battle, the Department of Education would throw us a curveball and we would have to start the fight all over again.
I was exhausted. I felt guilty for the so many evenings that I was out at CEC (Community Education Council) meetings, Town Hall meetings, PEP (Panel for Education Policy) meetings, and rallies for our cause. It had become at least one meeting a week. Then there were the school meetings in the morning (so I was always late for work) and the meetings after school. That’s not to mention the events that I missed, like Chinese New Year Lunch at 1pm at the school or the school trips, where I would get a call from another mom in my son’s class telling me that my son was crying because I was not there. All this and I am not even part of the PTA. It all became emotionally and physically draining but if I wasn’t going to fight for my son’s promised future, I realized that our elected officials were not going to do it and they had a financial gain (Bloomberg investing in Charter Schools) not to keep their promises. In the end, the parents were able to have the Department of Education keep their PUBLISHED promises to the students that were already in the school system but they changed policies for new incoming students. I am hoping that these policies will remain in place until my son gets to high school as promised.
I am glad that I only have one child and I don’t have to worry about what new policies the Department of Education will put in place for future students, but if promises are not kept in the coming years for my son, you can bet that I will be out there again standing up for the future of my child as promised.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tales from the Mother 'Hood - Part 1 Luck and the Overachiever

So I picked 2 friends that I consider in all the good ways overachievers - they do everything and then add a layer to it and still succeed.  I did not tell them that before I asked them to provide a guest blog I just asked them to tell me how they manage to do it all.  They both mention luck - to me luck is a bit what you make of it - and these 2 women make the most of it and those of us who know them are the lucky ones for having them in our lives.

I am a mom, a wife, I work full time in advertising, I volunteer for school organizations and events, and I am a triathlete who recently completed a 1/2 ironman. Some might call me an "overachiever".
Those who know me well, know that I have a rather high opinion of myself and relish all the crazy shit I listed above. A few months ago, if someone had asked me to write a paragraph about how I manage to "do it all", I probably would have talked about time-management, white boarding, my strict hour by hour planning, and goal setting (which are all things I do on a regular basis). However, recently, some events in my life have made me realize that the REAL way I am truly able to do all the things I listed above.. IS LUCK.
I am lucky. Here's how.
1. I grew up with money and an education and went to college. This lead me to be able to get the kind of job where I make good money, set my own hours and no one is telling me when I can and cant do the other things on my to do list.
2. I am in good health. Not because I eat right. Not because I exercise. Just because I am lucky to not have had anything that bad happen to me. Yet.
3. I have a support system. This just happened. I didn't build my support system, or even ask for it. It was just there. In the form of a great husband, amazing kids, a mother and father that are still alive and active, and other family members and friends who I am close with. They are there for me... for the most part. Whether I want them to be or not.
4. I am not the full time caretaker right now of my parents/grandparents/or other elder person. This may change at some point. But for now, I get to be a selfish jerk and spend all my spare time on myself.
I can name numerous other ways that dumb luck is responsible for the way I am. And frankly, I am annoyed by overachievers like me attributing their overachievements to how "amazing" they are. Frankly, our "amazingness" is just a different kind of crazy. We are mostly lucky. If not for that luck, we just wouldn't have the luxury of being an overachiever.

"How did I get this lucky?" This is the question I ask my kids all the time. Even after ten years I am in awe daily that I am the mother of two beautiful boys. I often tell my youngest son, Jackson, 6 that I sure got lucky on February 2, 2007.  I tell him on that day I called the baby store asked to speak to the Manager and said, “Do you have a beautiful baby boy with blond hair, big brown eyes, long eyelashes, and a million dollar smile”? The manger said “Yes” so I said, “Please hold him, I will be right there!“

Children change your life in an unimaginable way. Mine are no exception. They are the inspiration for everything I do, including what I consider my third child, Hampton Paper Designs. The inspiration for my paper company began in 2007 after a trip to a local stationery store to find calling cards for my son, Jackson.  I couldn’t find what I was looking for – simple, classic and stylish cards that were charming yet uncluttered.  So with an idea to create what I was looking for, on a whim, I launched my own stationery line.  Like many things I do, once I get an idea in my head I am off and running.  My mind doesn’t require a lot of planning, most days I run on ambition alone.  

My passion and the creation of so many products in my line is a result of planning birthday parties for my boys.  When planning a birthday party, I always start with the goodie bag and its contents, it’s my favorite part.  From there, I create a theme, have images design to support my theme and then I start planning away!  Most parties I start planning months in advance. My line enabled me to run the theme throughout the party from invitations, to stickers for the goodie bags to the thank you notes.

I am often asked how I juggle work and being a mom. Truth be told, some days I am not 100% sure I do! I try to incorporate my children in my work when possible. What I have found through the delicate work life balance (did I mention I have another full time job?!!)  and some of the daily challenges it creates is that  my children take away many valuable life lessons from seeing me run and manage my own business. My son Jackson will often inquire how many orders I received. He will ask if he can participate in my work. “Yes, of course” I always say. I find a little “project” for him that makes him feel included. I know it’s not about the project but his desire to be with me. I am never too busy to accommodate his request. (I know these moments are precious and limited and one day he will be out with his friends). Sometimes he will just turn on the TV in my studio and a watch a football game and will take on the role of the commentator telling me all about the plays and strategy. I relish in those moments. My older son Thomas will tell me how he wants to run his own business one day. Yes, my heart soars. 

Since my children inspire me daily I attempt to do the same with them. I outline my goals for the day and ask them to do the same. I encourage them to  “Make it Happen”.  If you are in my neighborhood when my kids are leaving to get the bus, you may hear me yelling to them “Are you a ‘Maker” Today?” and they will respond with both delight and utter embarrassment, “Yes, Mama, We are Makers Today!”
Once last comment, since you are wondering the answer is yes. When they get of the bus, they say “Mama did you make it happen today? “ I reply “yes” and ask them the same question.
Kristin Mika
Hampton Paper Designs

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

That's what friends are for

One of the things that has helped me grow as a woman and as a mother is my friendships with other mothers.  Women who represent the amazing breadth of power, intelligence and humor that make this long, crazy trip through parenthood that much better.  Thank you all for being the friends I value, the women I hope my boys grow up to marry and befriend, and the driving force behind the generation of kids that is sure to make the future that much better  for having been your children.  If imitation is the highest form of flattery well than Kris feel super flattered - I totally took the idea of a guest blog from your kind offer to let me do one on yours.  It was not easy narrowing down the women I asked to contribute, this could on for months with all the friends I have and of course then I would have to extend to the men I know who we cannot forget are the kinds of Dads most of us would build if we could, or the different types of families we are lucky enough to know.

I chose among my friends based on the women I knew had or have blogs too (some active, some not).  That was the sole criteria for picking only them.  Thank you ahead of time for taking the time out of what will seem to the readers and to me extraordinary lives. So next week you will get 2 blogs because what they wrote was so inspiring that I refused to edit them too much, ok I did it a little but we all know that I am comfortable with my control freak side, so it went from 1 to 2 blogs. 

Dori - my neighbor, my Sunday dinner buddy, and most of all my amazing friend and partner in parenting.  I cannot imagine life in this town without her and her family in ours - they are our adopted "cousins".  She does so much and is always ready to do more.  I have a ton of memories of times she has helped me pick up and take care of my kids, gave me advice, made me laugh, organized some great Mom's Nights Out, but mostly I often think of a trip we took when our kids first started school.  We thought we could take 4 young children to Target and corral them long enough to buy school supplies -- that worked for about a minute and then one of us was chasing (they were 6 years old and under) and yelling "Get here now -- now where did (insert name) just go?" and the other was getting school supplies off lists and wondering why we thought we could do this.  Supplies were gotten, children were herded and that may be the memory that explains our friendship- it's fun and we do well together even when it's not easy. 

Kris - If I was a girl in high school, and a mean one, I should not like her.  She is incredibly good looking, she looks like she and her family and her house are out of the pages of a magazine.  She has a full time job and a full time business, and 2 young boys and a husband.  She is elegant and she is that snack mom - you know the one, where she is not handing out snacks into cupped hands but has them nicely organized in baggies (with stickers - yes with stickers) for each child.  I mean really ewww - but I cannot say enough how much I do like her actually.  In all of that she is a good friend, super funny, witty, and overall just one of the nicest people I have ever met.  We can chat tv, music, and our fondness for memories of Jones Beach (and we both ♥ Dan Hill without shame).  I cannot dislike her, no one who meets her could, because she is just incredible and  you appreciate her. 

Elli - my bestest friendest who is braver than I hope to be.  She is a power house and as a friend well if you could design a best friend sister then I would have made her.  We have grown up together and through too many memories to list here she has always been there for me.  She is my rock, my logic, my what the hell do you think you were doing, and my biggest supporter.  I remember when she had her son and I knew that he was about to be mothered with a dedication that only she can bring.  As an only child my family is my chosen friends.  She has pushed me to like myself and to trust my own instincts so that I am a better mother for it too.   As I navigated job choices, living choices,  choices of men, bad choices in men and motherhood she has never been too busy in a very busy life to make sure that I have someone to run them by and remind me that even those choices that were not ideal were a good idea at the time and I can take something from them.

Victoria - is my neighbor.  She and I both found a love of politics as our common ground and from there our sense of friendship and community has cemented it.  We do not always agree and sometimes find ourselves far apart on the political spectrum but we have such common goals that we respectfully listen and learn from one another.  I wish more politics were done this way - with common goals of improving the planet, the town, the area all for our children and their playmates.  We never forget that our jobs as mothers drives our decisions and discussions about policies.  She is in public office in our town and I have to say that she has something no other politician has, my good friend Kim just got elected to the Town also so she will join this rank, my trust.  My trust that her goals are not for glory but for good.  

These are the women who I asked to guest blog next week.  I have started reading what they sent me and I am sure that you will agree with me on how special they all are.  I asked them to do this because as part of Thanksgiving I want to take a moment to thank all of them along with all the other mothers, and Dads, that are part of my life.  I asked them because they inspire me and I was hoping that they inspire whoever reads this.  I hope that you will be motivated by them or recognize yourself in these women, or maybe you know them or someone like them and takes a moment to be thankful for that too. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movie soundtracks - memories set to music

 My good friend Kris recently sparked a great discussion with what seemed like a simple question - What are your top 10 favorite movies?  If you are a movie lover like me, fond memories of movies my Dad and I went to when I was a young girl as well as movies that I saw with friends, snuck into because I was not allowed to see them (American Gigolo comes to mind since I was like in 7th grade and pretty sure I did not know what gigolo was), or scary movies that my father didn't forbid but mom warned against nightmares (When a Stranger Calls still gives me the creeps), movies that defined my teenage years (Last American Virgin, Porky's, Grease and all the John Hughes movies Sixteen Candles 'cause I still heart Jake Ryan, Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club top of the list), and of course that movies I started to appreciate as an adult.  There that is why I could not answer her question easily - I did it but knew I left so much off.  I have the same problem with books and my lists have been known to change as I get older.  

It did get me thinking though because as memorable as those movies were there are movies whose soundtracks I played until the record scratched (Google it younger people) or the tape had to be rewound with a pencil (Google again).  The music as important and listened to over and over.  I saw Grease at least 50 times if not more and in the end I could always watch it one more time - however, I played some of the songs at least 200 times since the record first came out.  

In no particular order here are my top 15 (cause really I could not count any of these out and there are many that did not make it but should have) soundtracks - I know as soon as I finish I will want to add to it or remember one that I should have put on there but this is not an exact science.  Movies and music let the memories flow -- what's your top list (1-15)

1) Grease 
2) Purple Rain
3) Dirty Dancing
4) Saturday Night Fever
5) Forrest Gump
6) Pulp Fiction
7) Pretty in Pink
8) Trainspotting (didn't even like the movie but so much alternative music is still hard to find)
9) Goodfellas
10) American Graffiti
11) Boogie Nights
12) West Side Story
13) Singles
14) Rock and Roll High School
15) Pretty Woman

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Halloween Tale

  I am a big fan of outdoor walking, running type of exercise.  I don't dislike the treadmill when it is very cold, do not like tracks (the idea of walking in a circle over and over is so boring to me) but overall I prefer the outdoor walk.  In our town it is a bit of a challenge, there are hills, and I do not mean little hills I mean we think we are the San Fran of the East hills.  My walks around my neighborhood range from 3 - 6 miles depending on the day and many a time I try and get my sons to go with me.  Now if you do not have children in the age range of 7 - 9 you may think - what's the big deal, exercise is good for them.  Yeah... well my children who learned to walk in cities and who can deal have to be coaxed into the 3 mile walk and only the older one will attempt the 6 mile one.  I know the hills.. the pant like old ladies at the Bingo hall circa 1975 but then they get a groove.  In order to make these walks less of "really? how much longer? that hill? seriously Mom?" chanting I made a deal with them 1) they can bring music to listen to 2) they can ask for a story and I will try and make one on the fly.

This week with the beautiful leaves changing colors and the houses decorated for Halloween as I convinced them to go walking with me Sunday morning at 930 (they rolled their eyes too so you can) they opted for a story.  Now the story has to be somewhat original or a continuation of one I started with them before.  It usually has to star them and some of their friends as needed.

This week's blog is about our Halloween story.  If you like it feel free to change the names to those of your children.  Nothing makes them forget the walk, lights up their faces than to hear they are the main characters, they as children are going to rescue someone, they are the STARS....Happy Halloween to you and your little ghouls - holiday that is a big favorite in our house.

Once upon a time a village was settled on the Hudson River.  This was a long, long time ago and there were not many houses.  In Ossining Village there was a sense of community but lately it had been very sad - you see children had been disappearing.  The parents took to locking up the houses and not letting the young ones walk by themselves, but still from several full school houses now there were only 2 left and they were not full.  One day as the father went to hunt for dinner the mother asked her two young sons to go with her to look for fruits for the pie she was hoping to make.

Young Master Max and younger Master Cole set out with their mother.  She carried with her a small knife for cutting the berries and a basket.  The day was beautiful, the leaves decorating the forest with oranges, reds and yellows like someone had come by and painted it.  They walked these 3 singing songs and laughing.  Along the way they passed their neighbor Mistress Samantha and her lovely daughter Stella who were in their yard beating carpets - "good day" they called "good day to you as well where are you going?" young Stella called.  They told her and waved goodbye.  A bit further they walked by Master David's house, he was the town drawer, he made posters for the shops for many in town did not read and cartoons for the newspaper.  His young beautiful daughter Olivia waved to the threesome and on their way they went.

Since they were busy looking for berries and laughing with one another they did not notice that the forest seem to close behind them, the road disappearing.  They started to get a little cold and noticed the bright, sunny day had faded to a grey, overcast sky.  Mother decided that maybe they should get back but when she turned in back of her the road they had been on was gone, no longer the beautiful colors but empty branches. She did not want to show her fear to her sons but they noticed too "Momma what happened to the road ?" the youngest asked.  "Don't fret I think we must have taken a wrong turn, let's keep walking". Onward the threesome walked and suddenly before them appeared in the distance a huge castle.  A castle unlike any dwelling in their town.  A castle like there was in stories of the towns they had left behind in their native land before they came to the colonies.

They approached it slowly and out of the corner of their eyes Master Max saw a sign written on a piece of wood DO NOT ENTER DANGER ... he was proud for he could read but he was scared of what he saw.  They huddled closer to their Mom who told them it was probably just a way to keep out strangers, though in her heart she was not so sure.  They looked up in time to see the door slightly ajar (here you have to insert a creaking noise) and she said "Nonsense scare let's go see if they can help us".  As they walked toward the castle they thought they hear a chorus of voices saying softly "Keeepp out" but when they looked there was no one there.

Inside it was warm and cozy with a fire crackling but they could not see anyone around, except for small shadows that seem to appear but as soon as you looked POOF they were gone.  They saw a table with delicious food and young Max said "Momma remember Hansel and Gretel ? Maybe the food is a trap?" but Cole said "I am hungry trap or no trap I am eating".  They followed him and ate and soon felt sleepy.  As they walked away from the table suddenly they heard thuds, heavy thuds and a drag against the stone floor. They looked but no one was on the stairs.  As they walked back toward the fire they saw a small book.  Momma picked it up and it there was a tale of an evil lord who hunted children and made them his slaves, working night and day to make him candy.  The book said never to say the words Candy Man (ok I stole that line from a horror movie kill me we were walking and this was on the fly) three times for he shall appear.  Not wanting her young sons to remain scared Momma said "this is nothing but a silly story Candyman, candy man candy man" just as she finished the thuds and scrape came faster.  They looked toward the stairs and where there was nothing before there stood a man with rotted teeth, a peg leg, swollen belly, red eyes "You called me now you will join the others".  His breath was foul and suddenly there were all the Village children, clothes in tatters, looking tired.  Suddenly Mother remembered what children do best - they hide and seek.  So she took her sons aside and whispered to them "Max you take your sling shot for you are the best shot in town and gather the boys, have them use what they have and hide and when I say No you won't they should shoot forks and knives and whatever they find at him".  "Cole you take the girls and lead them have them take their sewing lines and their sewing scissors and when the boys attack you charge and tie him up".  Out loud she said "My boys we have been fooled and for this we must pay -- now go".  So the boys left their mother with the monstrous man who was not sure what to do with her.  The children scattered and Mother tried to bargain with the man to let them go.

Suddenly she said "Let them go" and he said "NOOOOO!!!" his foul breath covering her, but she stood firm and she said "You can't have them - NO you won't" suddenly from every corner shots of forks, apples, stones rained upon him until he fell down, from other corners ran the girls with their yarn and tied him up.  When they righted him in a chair Mother approached him "why would you do such a thing ?" and with this he started to cry.  He told a tale of being a mean, bullying, selfish lad.  A lad who stole the last bit of food from a poor old woman who he did not know was a witch.  A witch who put a spell on him that forever he would only eat the candy he so craved until his teeth rotted, his foot fell off from the sugar disease and his skin would like it had been cast upon rough rocks.  For this he needed children to keep making the candy that he couldn't stop wanting though he knew it was destroying him.  Mother took pity on him.  She thought he had learned his lesson.  She knew the witch and with the children she led him to her where he apologized as she lifted the spell.

Young Master Max and Young Master Cole had saved the Village and for this on that very day for all eternity the children dress like the monster and witches and go from house to ask for candy.

The boys loved this story - it helped us through most of our 3 miles.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN and remember too much candy ...well you know what happens.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When I was a Fearless Girl

In what could only be described as a New York moment last week I walked by someone I had not seen since I was 20.  After getting a flu shot, total anomaly for me,  I found myself with no subway back to Grand Central. As the weather has been amazing, comfortable flats on thought I would do something that I just love,  walk the 30 blocks.  I love walking in the city, it's never dull. I get energy from it.  However, Lexington Ave around Bloomies gets bit to crowded for me so around 62 Street I decide to cut to Park.

Listening to my music, feeling great, enjoying every moment and of course seeing everything without missing a beat I walk by a man and a woman talking. I did a double take at the same time he did, he let out a loud "Holy ahhhh" in much higher pitch than I did.  It was a friend, one of the first friends I made when I started Hunter College. The year was 1985 and I worked in the Registrar's office, for $3.25 a hour as public colleges paid minimum wage.   I worked crazy hours during registration, added bonuses were I worked for and with some incredibly cool people and I never got closed out of a class. I grew up in New York but at the age of 18 I knew no openly gay people.  I grew up where gay was often used loosely to describe anything from being sort of dorky to bullying behavior inflicted by boys on those boys who were something less than "macho". Lesbians ...yeah believe we thought only nuns were and maybe the gym teacher. I roll my own eyes but that's the way it was in my neighborhood in Queens.

So imagine my first week, middle of the city, only place I wanted to go to school if I wasn't going to be allowed to go far away (that's another blog) and I meet the self proclaimed 2 gay Jerrys. They were not shy about who they were, they were out and proud.  This was Hunter, great school, liberal and leaning more left than the Tower of Pisa. They had a Gay and Lesbian office in plain sight.  The 2 Jerrys adopted me, they took me to places in the Village, they taught me to drink tequila and I believe they were responsible for wardrobe evolution and much better make up, as well as some forays into platinum blonde via Astor Place hair cutters.

About December the taller Jerry began getting a lot of colds.  Each one seemed to last longer than the last.  We had no insurance and student health referred him to the free clinic at St Vincent's since he was an employee and not a student. You used to have to be full time for like a year to get insurance back then, or maybe longer. We were good friends and they swore I was the only straight girl they would ever date, white kind lies I needed. They gave me advice on men, on some risqué things and we smoked and had a great time. Then taller Jerry got pneumonia so back we went with him to St Vincent's. I am not sure if I noticed then but there were a lot of men with pneumonia in that clinic. We had started to hear about AIDS in the news but it was not even AIDS yet, some weird virus, some protests, had nothing to do with us. The 2 Jerry's were older than me, they worked full time at the school in different departments. As they both got insurance taller Jerry started losing weight. We thought cancer, begged him to stop smoking, saw a doctor with him instead of at the clinic. He told us in the back of Be Bop cafe that he had the virus. We didn't know what that meant. We knew what it was doing to him. About 2 months later he was in a ward where you had to wear full cover to see him, people were afraid of him, his family well let's say they  acted terribly and most of all we were afraid for him. We visited and he grew thinner, he came home and he went back in. The other Jerry and I never talked to others, there was fear of contagious people,there was fear.  We got tested because he made us, 2 weeks of my life where no matter how safe you though you were you sweated until you got the results. There were no cocktails then, this was a deadly disease, this is a deadly disease Magic Johnson is not the norm and even he takes a lot of meds.

I learned from taller Jerry how to be fearless. I learned how to love life because he did and never let it get him to give up hope. He made jokes that maybe he would find his musical talent, he as a terrible singer, when he went blind - the next  Ray Charles. He didn't let me grieve for him while he was alive and told me that he loved and loved a lot. I learned to be unafraid of having big emotions.  He gave me strength when he had none in his body and tons in souls, to stand up for the rights of people and to grow in so many ways. When he died not many came, his mother sent money but his family didn't come, people were afraid, the other Jerry and I were in pain from the loss.

The other Jerry and I drifted apart somewhat after that. Maybe we just had too much hurt when we were together.   I changed jobs and we became acquaintances. Yet on this street, 26 years later there was nothing between us besides laughter, memories, comfort and friendship. He asked me if I was still the fearless girl who yelled at a cop for making an AIDS joke. I am not but I remember her. I still stand up for beliefs but I am more reserved.  Hunter was a great place for an education both academic and for a life with meaning and ideals.

We parted and I cannot remember when I felt so good..once again taller Jerry, gone for 26 years gave me a gift, the memory of what he meant to my life and what life I learned to live from him.

He loved Elton ..." Your candle blew out long before your legend ever did" I love you Jerry

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fitz or Jake

    I am an avid fan of the show Scandal.  I know it's not Homeland, House of Cards or the Newsroom but it is politics and sexy and fun. 

The best part of course, well if you have seen it the acting is the best part because you actually start to believe you know these people in the characters they portray because they make you forget they don't really exist.  I mean he is the best looking president and has none of those grey hair and worry lines each actual president gets about 5 min after taking office. I am sure there are sneaky things in DC but this is it on meth and then some. 

The best part for my friends and I though is the Olivia dilemma...she is in love with a married man. Not just any married man but one that cannot leave his wife because he is president.  One that has the best lines and quivering looks. One who she can't keep from kissing even as she tells  him he has to earn her!! They can't be together and yet we all watch for their moments. We may feel for his wife, maybe even admire her tough and take no prisoners ambition a little but well Fitz can't be hers.  

Last season they introduced a character named Jake. Now it's Scandal and he has flaws and even dubious loyalties but he is sexy and good to Olivia and most of all he is single. So the dilemma is Fitz or Jake. In logic land it's a no brainer. In reality with wars, murders, government shutdowns and a host of other issues it's silly time to spend any moments on this.  Yet for those of us who watch anything fiction the diversion is needed because sometimes we all need an hour fluff to recharge in a world that demands our constant vigilance. It would be nice to worry less about world matters because they always get resolved by end of hour.  

So Fitz or Jake, yes the uber moral will say Fitz isn't an option whatever.  Fitz or Jake - the one that's the "one " or the one that should be the "one"?  Maybe the fun in watching is having that choice. Maybe it's the thought that we all deserved to be "earned".  Mostly it's the fun we need in a world that so often in the media seems to have lost it. 

Fitz or Jake...who do you choose ?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10 pm then and 10 pm now

 I have always thought of myself as a nocturnal person.  As a young child I remember pushing my mother with weepy eyes and pleading to extend my bedtime because I was "not tired" but of course I was because the next morning there was also "5 more minutes please" discussions.  I did not see the beauty of morning, of early wake ups and as I got older if I wanted to see a sunrise well then I took as that wanting to stay up all night to see it before like all good vampires slinking into my bed for a good daytime sleep.

That was then - then when 10 o'clock was a curfew to come to home but not a bedtime.  Then when 10 pm became the time to get ready or start going out to places that did not become lively before midnight.  Back then; when 10 am was something not to be seen on many a weekend as I slept through them.  I remember going to Amsterdam as a teenager and the thing I loved the most (that I will share in a public space) is the night life - the weird daytime lull that change to a night lit up (to light up) and more lively than many cities where at any time.  I loved Spain for it's mid-day siesta and it's late night suppers and even later night dancing.  

That magic hour of 10 pm did not become more than a passing thought even as I reached my thirties.  I still went to bed around midnight only now that pesky little thing called a job that actually required brain power and my attention did ingrain a need in me to wake up earlier - snooze buttons were worn down.  I was still not a morning person.  However, I am not a grumpy person, one may even say am a slightly up beat hyper person (ok not may say have said sometimes with love and sometimes without).  I do relish quiet in the morning.  I loved living by myself and turning on the news, doing my routine without ever having to say a word.  I do not want to discuss much before 8 am and even then kept it to "yes alternate side of the street parking is in effect today" topics.  

That was 10 pm then.  Then when it was a beginning to go to places first on weekends, then starting the Wed- Sunday weekends to vacations every night adventures that meant 10 pm was for awake time.  That was when the ozone was destroyed in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and various other places by excessive Aqua Net sprays to keep hair well into the night at sizes that required own zip codes.  The 10 pm of eyeliner and little skirts.  The 10 am of jobs where you got that weird chill that your body sent you, sometimes with some slight stomach queasiness, because you had not slept since ohh say all night.  Those are memories that are all good for me - even the "at the time not so good but now good for a laugh" times. 

Then I had a child and this mysterious 10 pm became a whole different hour.  It became the time when he was a baby where I had a few minutes to try and watch tv while I slowly drifted off by 11 as I had to wake up several times during the night for feedings, cryings, singing of 80s songs as lullabies (subconcious was what I remembered about the middle of the night). My son slept like a baby to Oh L'Amour and a host of pop and new wave music (see at the 10 pm where I first heard it was not yet called alternative music).

As first child finally, somewhat (ok he slept with us but he slept so stop judging and yes he moved to his own bed .. at first to make room for the brother that took over and then because they both moved to their own beds) slept and so we were lulled into having a 2nd child - because we forgot that we would not have been up at 10 pm thinking or talking 2nd child if 1st child was still having his way.  The 2nd child slept better but still woke up here and there.  I started to have to wake up earlier and make schedules for the nanny, get outfits ready do laundry that since their birth seems to grow at alarming rates regardless of how often I do it.  I would look longingly at the clock hoping that it was slightly past 10 pm closer to 11 so that I could feel ok to go to sleep and not see myself for the older person, 'cause they do this, that fell asleep before 11. I mean once you start sleeping before 11 pm is the early bird special far behind? ???

These days I am past that - I set the dvr for those 10 pm shows I want to watch because even if I make it to I won't make it through them.  I am up 530 am to enjoy that quiet time in the morning, without questions asked of me and questions I need to ask of them.  I am enjoying a morning cup of coffee after a Facebook check in without anyone standing over me asking when they can have a turn on the laptop and listen to some music to start my day.  That has not changed, it may be earlier but it has remained what I enjoy doing since I can remember, starting the morning with music.  That 10 pm hour is a vastly different hour again with my own children trying to push past it on weekends, without little skirts and too much eyeliner, and with me looking with affection at the bed as I know I often am out by that hour or close to it.  I have entered the time when I wake up in the middle of the night, and wander around, annoyed that I am not asleep unlike my youth when I would have been planning my next stop.  

That 10 pm hour is a good marker for me for all the fun times I have had and for the great moments I need to be rested for as my sons grow up.  I remember when I was a kid there was a public service announcement that said "it's 10 pm do you know where your children are?" -- yes I do and  that no longer seems like a crazy question.