Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I know I'm a Mum

I adore Mama Kat.....I think I secretly want to be Mama Kat.....I may start to stalk Mama Kat......she's funny, she's talented, she's fearless....I pale in comparison to her.......

Her writing workshop has snapped me out of my "I'm not writing anymore!" funk....thanks Mama Kat!!! I heart you!!!!

So without further ado, I give you prompt #1 as inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop....

You know you're a mother when...
You can't remember the last time you ate a "hot" meal
You can't find your wallet but when your child asks you where her little baby tiger (which is smaller than my wallet and not as important) she was playing with last week is, you know just where she left it
You find the empty silly putty egg but don't get upset
You find the silly putty a week later stuck to a blanket on the couch in the basement and still don't get upset
You find more silly putty stuck to your back which was stuck to the chair but you still don't get upset
You replace said silly putty with more
You find rocks and acorns and little toy figurines in your dryer

You know you're a mother when.....
You arrive at work only to discover that you have spit up/boogers/milk/your child's breakfast somewhere on your shirt/pants/hair and or purse
You find random bits of food, toys, stickers and crayons in your purse, pockets, desk drawer and sometimes your hair...stickers in your hair.....how does that happen?
You listen to the soundtrack from Yo Gabba Gabba when you are without your child...as a matter of fact, you are at work...and singing along.....and have your co-workers singing the songs as well
You rock out to Yo Gabba Gabba in the car...with the windows down...on purpose

You know you're a mother when...
Bodily functions and fluids no longer freak you out/gross you out/phase you at all
In a crises situation, you are the calmest person in the room....but after the fact, you lose your shit
You don't think twice about wiping away boogers from a child's nose with your sleeve...even if the child is not your own
You hear a child cry out and like a St Bernard, you seek out and save said child...even if that child is not yours
You walk into a room and automatically scan for potential hazards...like plates teetering on the edge of a counter, a tray of cheese with a knife on a coffee table, a brick hearth, or potential weapons

You know you're a mother when....
You wear a macaroni necklace as if its the Hope Diamond
Your most prized possession is a seashell found on the beach and decorated with stickers for you
You hang her artwork on your walls as if they were original Monets
You treasure every moment you have with her, but look forward to time alone with your husband
You think she is the smartest wittiest kid in the world...second only to yourself when you were that age
You think she is the most beautiful child in the world...even though she is covered in green paint, has dirty knees, sand in her shoes and boogers running down her face
You watch her while she sleeps and want nothing more to stay and snuggle with her despite the laundry that needs to be done, the floor that needs to be washed, the toys that need to be picked up and the bathrooms that need to be cleaned

You know you're a mother when...
You dread the day she leaves home....and she's only 2
You worry about the other kids in the third grade liking her....and she's only 2
You worry about her being picked on or being the picker on....and she's only 2
You worry about her passing chemistry and algebra...and she's only 2
You hope she gets into the college she really wants to go to.,..and she's only 2
You worry about losing weight for her wedding....and she's only 2
You worry about her moving away from you once she's married ..and she's only 2
You worry about her having to take care of you when you're old and gray and know that she will...but she's only 2

You know you're a mother when that little person looks at you and says Mama, I love you! and your heart melts and tears fill your eyes as you hug her with all your might and she giggles into your neck and you hope this feeling never ends

You know you're a mother when that little person looks at you and says Mama, you make me so happy! and that feels better than anything ever has and you hope this feeling never ends

You know you're a mother when that little person looks at you and smiles....and says not a word but somehow, you are complete......and as happy and blessed as you will ever be ...and you know this feeling will never end

Maria the Mum

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

He wrote back!

A couple weeks ago, Lucy wrote a letter to Santa. Well, this morning, when we awoke and went searching for Peter (her Elf on a Shelf), we discovered that he returned from the North Pole with something from Santa.....it seemed Santa had written back to Lucy!!!!

Lucy climbed up into her chair and we pulled out of the envelope a two page handwritten letter from Santa himself! It read like this:

Lucy,

What a nice surprise to receive your letter! And I’m so glad I got to see you on the Polar Express…I understand you really enjoyed your hot chocolate. Are you taking good care of your bell?

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been talking to Peter and he tells me you’ve been a pretty good girl. Growing up is hard and I know that sometimes you forget to use your words….and sometimes, it is hard to do what Mummy and Daddy ask but we’re very pleased that you are trying so hard. Your Mum and Dad are very proud of you as well; I hope you never forget how much they love you and what joy you bring to their lives. 
Now, about your letter……I understand you would like some animals for Christmas…..I believe you asked for a tiger and a lion? Hmm, a tiger and a lion. It’s been a long time since a little girl has asked me for those things…..

I love that you love animals so much. I myself am quite fond of polar bears though Mrs Claus keeps telling me I can’t bring anymore to the North Pole to live with us as they are getting too big for the house! But I ask her where else will they go? They like the snow and the cold and that’s what we have here in the North Pole!
So…..a tiger for Lucy and a lion for Baby Jesus….. We’ll have to see what Santa can do….I may have to work some magic.

Lucy, I hope all your wishes and dreams come true. In the meantime, mind your manners, love your Mum and Dad as they love you and don’t forget to Believe!
God Bless you Lucy Ellen Sykes and Merry Christmas

Love Santa

She couldn't even believe it! A handwritten letter from Santa delivered by Peter.....all she could do was grin.....and then demand to be let out of her chair....with a kick of her donkey legs and a whine...and then a yell.....oh well, it was beautiful for the moment it lasted.....
Maria the Mum

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Santa

As inspired by Mama Kat: Write an open letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know I'm a bit late in getting this to you but I hope you will honor my requests

I don't want diamonds or jewels
I don't want a new car, a new house or even new clothes
I don't fancy anything gold or silver or platinum

Instead, here is what I want for Christmas:

I want Lucy to always believe...in you, in me, in her Dad and in Faith, Hope and Love
I want Lucy to know I am proud of her
I want Lucy to have as much joy in her life as she has brought to mine
I want Lucy to know that at the end of the day, no matter what, her Mum and Dad will always be there for her
I want Lucy to know that everything her Dad and I do, we do for her.
I want Lucy to grow up knowing we will not always give her what she wants but we will always make sure she has what she needs
I want Lucy to know that what she needs more than anything is our love - and she has more of it today than she did yesterday but not as much as she'll have tomorrow
And lastly, I want Lucy to know that her dreams will always come true even if only in her heart

I know that's a pretty long list Santa but I have just a couple more things:

I want Sean to know I love and appreciate him more than I sometimes remember to say
I want Sean to know that I am proud of him
I want Sean to know that I support him - no matter what I may sometimes think, do or say, he will forever and always have my support
I want Sean to know he makes me happy - and I am eternally grateful for that

And finally Santa, my last request is not for me, but for you:

I want you to know Santa that I will always appreciate the happiness you have brought into my life....you have made me happy for as long as I can remember

We may not speak throughout the year and for a couple years, we may have lost touch but you have always come back to see me no matter where I am...and now you are there for Lucy....what better gift could I ask for?

I know that the Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Baby Jesus
And I know Christmas marks the birth of Baby Jesus...it is all about Baby Jesus becoming a part of our lives....and us becoming a part of His.....and I love that Jesus is a part of my life - but I love you too Santa! I love what you bring to the Christmas season!

I love that you can make little kids smile with a crinkle of your nose and a wink of your eye
I love the sound of your sleigh bells and the clomping of the reindeer's hooves
I love that kids believe in you so fiercely that they take time to write you letters and clamor to sit upon your lap
I love that you dare to wear a big red velvet coat trimmed with white fur and somehow, you pull it off!
I love that you embrace your "curves" and work hard to keep your belly just like a bowl full of jelly so we know its really you
I love that the mere mention of your name makes kids giggle and laugh and jump up and down giddy with anticipation

Just as Jesus is Christmas, so are you......for what is Christmas without my belief in Jesus and you?

So my last wish Santa is that you know how much I believe in you...
And how much Lucy believes in you......
And that you will promise to come back year after year...........
And I promise to look for you year after year........and leave you a plate full of snickerdoodles, Swedish butter cookies and a handful of M&Ms.

Thanks again for all the love and joy

Merry Christmas and Godspeed Santa -

Love
Maria the Mum

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I OK Mama

When Lucy first moved into her bed, we put a gate up at her door - more to keep her from stumbling down the stairs in a sleepy stupor than to keep her in her room. About a month or so ago, I was putting Lucy to bed and went to put the gate in place. She was sitting in her bed, surrounded by Plex, Muno, Brobee, Foofa, Toodee and at least two puppy dogs and Wilbur the whale when she says to me in her most demure tone:

Mama....please don't put the gate up....it make me cry (it has never once made Lucy cry)
What do you mean honey? What do you mean the gate makes you cry?
The gate makes me sad Mama......please don't put it up...it make Lucy sad.......
She tilts her head to the side and hugs Wilbur to her chest...
.....please Mama???
OK Lucy, no gate, I don't want you to be sad....but you have to stay in your bed okay?
Okay Mama!

And to her credit, that night, she did stay in her bed....and she did for the next few nights....then she started to sneak into our room...
Sometimes she comes to our room at 1 in the morning, sometimes at 4 in the morning and sometimes she never comes in - but we have never put the gate back up.....

So a couple weeks ago, Lucy was sick. She had a terrible cough and was full of mucus. We hate it when she gets these deep wet coughs; there's nothing we can really do for her and, we have that kid who when she cries or coughs really hard (while sick), she throws up.

I had been up with her for three nights so on this particular evening, when she went down as early as she did, I too went to bed early. Sean retreated downstairs to do some work and I fell asleep almost the moment my head hit the pillow.

Around 10pm, I sort of remember hearing Lucy start to cough and then cry out. Then I heard a whole bunch of commotion...coughing, crying, Sean calling out, running up the stairs....... but I still had not moved...I think I thought I was dreaming.

All of a sudden, I hear Lucy wailing really loudly and my eyes open to see Lucy standing next to me crying.
Tears are running down her face and her whole body is heaving with sobs.
Her nose is running right into her open mouth and she is just wailing to save her life.
Before I can shake off the cobwebs, Lucy vaults into a coughing fit which makes her cry harder....
..................and then next thing I know, she leans over me in the bed and throws up on my face.......

And then informs me

I OK Mama. I snuggle with you?

Maria the Mum

Ghosts, Turkeys, Santa and Baby Jesus

Not sure where I have been the last few weeks - we've been terribly busy at work and are in a constant state of rush once we get home. Sean has been working EVERY night on a new side project and who knows what the hell I'm wandering around doing....laundry, lunches, clean up, a bit of office work...

Our weekends seem to go in slow motion and by Sunday, we wonder where the weekend went and why we did not get anything done.

Truthfully, we need a vacation. We've not taken a proper vacation this year and I think it will do us a world of good....so we're trying to hang on until the week of Christmas...we both have that week off and I am looking forward to it more than you know

Halloween came and went - and we had a blast.
We made ghosts and pumpkins and hung them from the ceiling in the kitchen and living room.
The ghosts and pumpkins were decorated with stickers, glitter, buttons and pom poms......all carefully and lovingly placed by Lucy.

We carved pumpkins and again, Lucy's favorite part was cleaning out the pumpkin guts.....and teasing (read terrorizing) her Dad with them because Sean HATES pumpkin guts....pumpkin guts gross him out as much as throw up grosses him out...actually, he deals better with throw up than he does with pumpkin guts.....

Lucy and I then proceeded to have a food fight with said pumpkin guts....
By the time we were done, we were both covered in stringy orange goo and pumpkin seeds...and so was the table, the chairs, the floor, the walls....there were even a couple splashes on the ceiling.
It took me 20 minutes to get it all out of Lucy's hair but her screeches of laughter and joy were totally worth it


Sean busted out a pumpkin with Lighting McQueen on it for Lucy and she was ever so impressed - told everyone who stopped by and admired it that it was "My pumpkin...Daddy made it for ME (emphasized with a tilt of her head, eyes upward to the sky and her thumb pointed to her chest)"

Lucy was an elephant for Halloween.....I told everyone she was a Republican but very few people got that joke....

The weekend after Halloween, we did our Thanksgiving decorations. We decided to leave the pumpkins up we had made for Halloween and made some turkeys and leaves to go with them. We put stickers on some of the turkeys and glued feathers on others and hung up the leaves and turkeys from the ceiling with the pumpkins.

Cousins De and Brad came for breakfast that Sunday and Brady decided he would flip on the ceiling fan thinking it would be cool to see the turkeys blowing in the breeze...and it would have been except one of the turkeys was pretty close to the fan and it end up ripping the turkey off the ceiling and sending it across the room. Poor Brad looked like he was going to pass out - Lucy just yelled out:

Oh! My turkey! My turkey!

To this day, if we mention Cousin Brad, Lucy says Cousin Brad who broke my turkey?

Thanksgiving was a quiet affair. We worked Wednesday and I had to work Friday. So for the first time ever, we had a Sykes Family Thanksgiving...just the three of us. We got up, made turkey cupcakes (we frosted chocolate cupcakes, piped on a head, used Mike and Ike's for the tail, white and black gel and chocolate chips for the eyes and candy corn for the beak....looked awesome).
We watched the Macy’s Day Parade (Lucy loved it but was annoyed with the number of commercials), and the Dog Show. We made dinner, ate dinner, played outside, took a drive...forgot to eat dessert and ended the day watching Charlie Brown's Halloween special.

We're now gearing up for Christmas.

Lucy begins each morning by flying down over the stairs to find her Elf on a Shelf she lovingly named Peter. And as soon as she finds him, she yells and points:

There's Peter! Peter's back! He went to see Santa! In the North Pole!

She'll ask Peter how his trip was, how Santa is, when did he get back...Peter never answers...not that we can hear anyway
 
We went up to Rockport a couple weekends ago and watched Santa arrive by boat at Motif Number One. Lucy could not even believe she was standing so close to Santa - and when they made eye contact and he waved at her, the smile on her face was worth more than I'll ever be able to put into words.

This past weekend, we ventured up to Portland and went for a ride to the North Pole on the Polar Express. Lucy could not have been more excited -  the week preceding our adventure, she told anyone and everyone she was going on the Polar Express to see Santa.

We did see Santa and to Lucy's credit, she totally kept her cool....she did not freak out and cry or go all Buddy the Elf on us. Instead, she eyed Santa the way one would eye a celebrity standing in line behind them at the grocery store...sort of did a double take and gave a slight nod to acknowledge Yeah, I know who you are, what about it.....

However, when she was handed her bell (which is part of the story) she totally dorked out!

A bell! A bell! I got a bell!

We drove home with the bell in her clutches, she went to sleep that night with the bell in her clutches...she woke us up Sunday morning with the bell in her clutches....

We have made the rounds in the neighborhood showing people her bell....she was gagging to take it to school but we convinced her that would not be such a great idea as we did not want it to get lost.....but we had to take a picture of her holding said bell so she could show Ali and Rika!

Lucy also wrote her letter to Santa (and by that I mean of course she dictated it to me)

It read like this:

Dear Santa

My name is Lucy Ellen Sykes...did you already know my name?

I was wondering if you could bring me some animals for Christmas.

I just want a tiger. I love tigers 'cause tigers is orange and orange is my color.

Could you also bring a lion for Baby Jesus? It his birthday and he likes lions.

We're having cake for Baby Jesus, chocolate cake......you want some Santa?

Thanks Santa, have a good trip, be careful!

I love you
Lucy

PS thanks for Peter!

She is totally into the Santa thing but also totally gets its Baby Jesus’ birthday and she has been quite sweet about it. We've planned a party for Baby J on Christmas Eve: cake, balloons and maybe, Lucy says, he'll get a lion like Lucy asked.....!!!!

I’m sure he will Lucy, I'm sure he will............

Maria the Mum

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

He's a Keeper

Sean walked in the door about 15 minutes ago.
Lucy met him at the door and asked sweetly

Daddy, will you help me find my lipstick and Silly Putty?
Of course I will honey...

So for 13 minutes, Sean has been looking under the couch, under the chairs,, under cushions, in shoes, in the toys bins but has not been able to find either item

Lucy, in the meantime, was called to the table for dinner by me.
As she was chomping her dinner, Sean announced he was headed upstairs to look for the missing toy items

Where Daddy going? Lucy asked as she caught sight of him heading up the stairs
He's going up to look for your lipstick and Silly Putty
Oh...
He's a good Daddy isn't he? I asked Lucy

Yeah Mama....I'll keep him.....I don't need a new Daddy....


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 18, 2011

Red White and Blue, Take II

I was told that this blog from yesterday did not post properly....some could see it, some could not...so I'm posting again just because I love it - and my husband -  and I want everyone to know how much he loves me
______________________________________________________________________________

As prompted by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop, Prompt #3: Married? Tell us the story of how the question was popped
____________________________________________________________________________

I love being an American

I love America

I love Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross and George Washington

I love apple pie, hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and baseball

I love the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence

I love Fort Knox, the White House and the Library of Congress

I love my freedom of choice and my right to vote

I love the Flag and I have no problem pledging Allegiance

I love the Boston Pops, the Rockettes and Vaudeville

I love sparklers and fireworks

And I love the 4th of July

The 4th of July is by far my most favorite holiday

I look forward to it every year: the overt and yes exaggerated patriotism (though mine is year round), the red, white and blue bunting, the block parties, the patriotic music, the re-enactments, the fireworks……I love the 4th of July

We spend our 4th of July in Boston: we start at Government Center where the flag is raised; a military band and chorus perform and then follow the Parade to the Old Granary Burying Ground where wreaths are laid on the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. We proceed to the Old State House where the Declaration of Independence is read from the balcony. Patriotic songs are sung, flags are waved, and children's faces are painted. We walk down to Faneuil Hall where bands play, re-enactors perform and if you're lucky, you'll see the Tea Party in full swing. We watch the USS Constitution turn around in the Harbor and hear the 21 gun salute. We watch the Tall Ships and see more re-enactments. We go to the North End and visit the Church and Paul Revere's old stomping grounds. We take in as much as we possibly can until we're tired and hot and head home for a rest…..only to go back out at dusk to perch ourselves in a field and watch fireworks. And when we get home, we're always in time to watch the Boston Pops on TV as they perform their Fourth of July Concert on the Esplanade with the Fireworks Spectacular in the background

I love the 4th of July

And Sean loves me so it only stands to reason he chose the 4th of July to propose…..

July 4th, 2006:
After a full day in Boston, we stopped at home for an hour lounge and then headed out the door to the fireworks in North Reading. As much as I love fireworks and the 4th of July, I am not up for the craziness on the Esplanade so a local firework display works just fine for us. As we're getting ready to walk out the door, Sean announces he needs a snack to take with him – I'm at the door sort of tapping my foot as (I think) we're running late and I want to hurry up and get there.

Come on I prod, let's get going!

He stops at the snack bowl on the side board and chooses a box of Cracker Jacks.

I remember thinking, in between taps of my foot trying to get him to hurry up, I love that he likes Cracker Jacks, such an American snack…..and I love him for embracing my favorite holiday as he has and indulging me in all we do on the 4th of July…..

Why is this a big deal you ask? Why is she pointing out he likes Cracker Jacks and what is the big deal about him going to see firework? Well, for those not aware, Sean is English….as in from England not of English descent. As in he has an accent, calls an elevator a lift, says pasta and basil weirdly, says Cheers instead of thank you or good bye sometimes, sings God Save the Queen instead of God Bless America, has tea in the afternoon and calls soccer football and football daft…and he uses words like daft…..and wanker

So he snatches up his box of Cracker Jacks and we head to North Reading. At this point, I am bouncing around in the car like a kid…I LOVE fireworks. I had been borderline cranky earlier in the day because it was so damn hot but I snapped out of it – now I was just punchy…..and I could not wait to see fireworks and if I was lucky, there would be cotton candy…..

We park at the High School and take the bus down to the Park where they show the fireworks with our camp chairs in tow. We set up our chairs and wandered through the little fairground…..I can't remember if I got cotton candy but I do remember getting a fan and a red white and blue lei from a local politician. We made our way back to our chairs and Sean hooked the lei around the arm of my chair for me.

Sean announced he was hungry and opened up his Crack Jacks. I saw him toss a couple pieces in his mouth and I wondered aloud when the fireworks were going to start.

I can't get my prize out he says to me

What?

My prize, I can't get my prize out, can you get it for me? he extends the box over to me

Are you kidding me? I ask. Really honey, you want the prize?

Can you just help me? he asks shaking the box at me



I reach in to move a few pieces of popcorn and realize it's all soggy and gross. I throw the pieces to the ground and inform Sean the Cracker Jacks are no good…

They're soggy Sean, just throw them out…I'm not sure why they're like that but you should just throw them out.

But I want the prize….

Seriously Sean…the Crack Jacks are all soggy and sticky and gross. I don't want to put my hand in there….

I was really looking forward to the prize….

We have another box at home; you can just get the prize out of that one. I scan the field looking for a trash can

CAN YOU JUST GET ME THE PRIZE MARIA?!?!?!

Alright!

I start fishing around in the box again and finally see the prize in a clear plastic pouch at the bottom of the box. At first glance, I think it's a keychain. In my head I think he's not going to want some silly key chain; he was probably hoping for a tattoo or one of those little hologram things.

I tell him it's a crappy prize and he won't want it

Well can I see it? he asks.

With a sigh, I shake the soggy nasty popcorn aside and reach in and pull out the bag with the prize in it

Funny I think to myself, where is the red and white wrapper? This just looks like a plastic baggy

Here honey, I say without really looking at it, it's a ring

What kind of ring?

I don't know I say trying to hand it to him, just some ring……I'm actually borderline annoyed he won't take the stupid prize he made me fish around for me and now my fingers are all sticky...

What kind of ring?

He's not relenting so I finally look at the ring and start to describe it to him…

It's just a plastic ring with a blue….I stop talking and look a little more closely at the ring and realize it's the sapphire ring I saw months ago in a store in Newburyport. I don't remember if I tried the ring on when we saw it….I just remember looking at it and commenting on how much I liked it. It was a light blue single stone sapphire ring in its original setting…and the original setting had this engraving on it, looked like wheat, indicative of rings from the turn of the century to the Depression Era.

I look at Sean with my mouth open but no words come out. He's sitting in his chair looking at me with this goofy grin

I remember hearing him say A ring?

I nod

Do you know what kind of ring it is?

I still can't speak

Maria, it's THE ring, it's your ring…..it's the ring you wanted……marry me?

At that moment, the fireworks start to go off…..swear to God…..and I smiled and nodded and stared at the ring……

Sean may or may not have kissed me, and I may or may not have kissed him.....but at some point, either Sean or I slipped the ring on my finger and Sean had his hand over mine….every few minutes, I looked at my hand to make sure there was in fact a ring on it……and 20 minutes later, I looked at Sean and said

Did I say yes yet?

He smiled, nodded and said we're getting married

I may or may not have raised my arms above my head and shouted I'm Engaged!

I may or may not have cried

I may or may not have said yes

But I did make the best decision I could have made…..

And that red, white and blue lei is still looped on the arm of my camp chair…..

*sigh*

I love the 4th of July

Maria the Mum

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wonder of Wonder

There are Seven Original Wonders of the World:
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus


There are Seven Natural Wonders of the World:
Aurora Borealis
Grand Canyon
Paricutin
Victoria Falls
Great Barrier Reef
Mount Everest
Harbor of Rio de Janeiro

Then there are Seven New Wonders of the World:
Chichen Itza
Christ the Redeemer
The Colosseum
The Great Wall of China
Machu Picchu
Petra
The Taj Mahal

And Seven New Wonders of Nature:
The Amazon Rainforest and River
Halong Bay
IguaƧu Falls
Jeju Island
Komodo Island
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Table Mountain

Now of course anyone could argue any of these lists and there are least another dozens lists out there for the seven wonders of the world: Modern, Ancient, North America, South America, Voted on, Not Voted on, Natural, Man Made…..whatever. The point is, there are lots of lists of Seven Wonders, so, as inspired by Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop Prompt #1:
List your life’s Seven Wonders. Describe the most amazing 7 things you’ve seen with your own two eyes.

My Seven Wonders:

1.       At my brother’s wedding, my wedding and my youngest sister’s wedding, I saw all seven of us siblings, our respective families and our parents together…..in one place…at the same time. Do you know how hard it is to get seven brothers and sisters, their families and your parents all in one place at one time?!?! Harder than one might realize! But when we do, well, it certainly is a wonder….

2.       I lived in Illinois for a number of years in the ‘90s. The company I worked for was based in the Chicago area but at some point, I transferred to an Office in central Illinois, in the middle of nowhere. Our office building was located on an old Air Force base. We were right next to an old air field and it turns out, our building was a weather station....it even had weather tower at the top that we could go up in and have lunch or meetings. One day, we were up there for one reason or another (truthfully, we were probably goofing off) and we witnessed a tornado touching down…..un.be.liev.a.ble…..scary, terrifying, breathtaking, beautiful and mesmerizing and WONDERful all at the same time.

3.       My house clean (bathrooms, windows, baseboards, floors, mirrors), fresh linen on all the beds, ALL the laundry washed, folded, ironed AND put away. The bookshelves neat, the pictures that sat on the sideboard for months finally hung on the walls, all Lucy’s toys in one spot and no crayon on the chairs, walls or floor……ok, I have not technically seen this wonder…that is none of these things have happened all at the same time…ok, technically, some of these things have never happened but, I do see this wonder in my mind’s eye a lot….like every time I walk through the front door of the house…..I wonder if it will ever happen…..

4.       We went to England last year and took a tour of the boarding school Sean attended. While we were there, we walked from one end of the campus to another. We visited the administrative building, a couple dorms and class rooms. We went to the Chapel, the Theater, and the Arts Building. We saw more things than I can remember…..but two things on that tour stuck out to me and in my world, were wonders: the original charter of the School and the Founder’s Stone…and both were over 500 years old…..amazing to see in person…..

5.       I grew up in Maine and though I left at a young age and never returned to live, I have a great appreciation for the beauty of Maine: Schoodic Point, Cadillac Mountain, Falling Rock, Chimney Pond, The Allagash, even Phillips Lake takes my breath away. There’s Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and even a blueberry bush in Machias holds a certain amount of beauty to me. Maine has mountains, rocky shore lines, sandy shore lines, lakes, ponds and streams. Maine has blueberries and potatoes, lobsters and moose, deer and loons, whoopie pies and Dysart’s and a big ass statue of Paul Bunyan…Maine: It’s Worth a Visit, Worth a Lifetime…its Where America’s Day Begins and The Way Life Should Be…There’s More to Maine and its Open for Business so my fifth wonder, It Must be Maine

6.       My parents….still married after 7 kids and 44 years of marriage. Still married after the deaths of both sets of (grand) parents, 2 brothers and who knows how many family pets. Still married after good times, bad times, and some tying times. Still married after they both retired and took a cruise together……I’m not trying to be cheeky here…I’m being serious. When I was  growing up, specifically when I got to college and started meeting more people from different walks of life,  and even as an adult, I was one of the few kids whose parents were still together…and had always been together…..and that my friends is a modern day wonder

7.       2004, the World Series won by the Boston Red Sox…….need I say more?
Maria the Mum

Red White and Blue

As prompted by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop, Prompt #3: Married? Tell us the story of how the question was popped
____________________________________________________________________________

I love being an American

I love America

I love Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross and George Washington

I love apple pie, hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and baseball

I love the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence

I love Fort Knox, the White House and the Library of Congress

I love my freedom of choice and my right to vote

I love the Flag and I have no problem pledging Allegiance

I love the Boston Pops, the Rockettes and Vaudeville

I love sparklers and fireworks

And I love the 4th of July

The 4th of July is by far my most favorite holiday

I look forward to it every year: the overt and yes exaggerated patriotism (though mine is year round), the red, white and blue bunting, the block parties, the patriotic music, the re-enactments, the fireworks……I love the 4th of July

We spend our 4th of July in Boston: we start at Government Center where the flag is raised; a military band and chorus perform and then follow the Parade to the Old Granary Burying Ground where wreaths are laid on the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. We proceed to the Old State House where the Declaration of Independence is read from the balcony. Patriotic songs are sung, flags are waved, and children's faces are painted. We walk down to Faneuil Hall where bands play, re-enactors perform and if you're lucky, you'll see the Tea Party in full swing. We watch the USS Constitution turn around in the Harbor and hear the 21 gun salute. We watch the Tall Ships and see more re-enactments. We go to the North End and visit the Church and Paul Revere's old stomping grounds. We take in as much as we possibly can until we're tired and hot and head home for a rest…..only to go back out at dusk to perch ourselves in a field and watch fireworks. And when we get home, we're always in time to watch the Boston Pops on TV as they perform their Fourth of July Concert on the Esplanade with the Fireworks Spectacular in the background

I love the 4th of July

And Sean loves me so it only stands to reason he chose the 4th of July to propose…..

July 4th, 2006:
After a full day in Boston, we stopped at home for an hour lounge and then headed out the door to the fireworks in North Reading. As much as I love fireworks and the 4th of July, I am not up for the craziness on the Esplanade so a local firework display works just fine for us. As we're getting ready to walk out the door, Sean announces he needs a snack to take with him – I'm at the door sort of tapping my foot as (I think) we're running late and I want to hurry up and get there.

Come on I prod, let's get going!

He stops at the snack bowl on the side board and chooses a box of Cracker Jacks.

I remember thinking, in between taps of my foot trying to get him to hurry up, I love that he likes Cracker Jacks, such an American snack…..and I love him for embracing my favorite holiday as he has and indulging me in all we do on the 4th of July…..

Why is this a big deal you ask? Why is she pointing out he likes Cracker Jacks and what is the big deal about him going to see firework? Well, for those not aware, Sean is English….as in from England not of English descent. As in he has an accent, calls an elevator a lift, says pasta and basil weirdly, says Cheers instead of thank you or good bye sometimes, sings God Save the Queen instead of God Bless America, has tea in the afternoon and calls soccer football and football daft…and he uses words like daft…..and wanker

So he snatches up his box of Cracker Jacks and we head to North Reading. At this point, I am bouncing around in the car like a kid…I LOVE fireworks. I had been borderline cranky earlier in the day because it was so damn hot but I snapped out of it – now I was just punchy…..and I could not wait to see fireworks and if I was lucky, there would be cotton candy…..

We park at the High School and take the bus down to the Park where they show the fireworks with our camp chairs in tow. We set up our chairs and wandered through the little fairground…..I can't remember if I got cotton candy but I do remember getting a fan and a red white and blue lei from a local politician. We made our way back to our chairs and Sean hooked the lei around the arm of my chair for me.

Sean announced he was hungry and opened up his Crack Jacks. I saw him toss a couple pieces in his mouth and I wondered aloud when the fireworks were going to start.

I can't get my prize out he says to me

What?

My prize, I can't get my prize out, can you get it for me? he extends the box over to me

Are you kidding me? I ask. Really honey, you want the prize?

Can you just help me? he asks shaking the box at me

I take the box from him and sort of peer in trying to catch a glimpse of the infamous red and white striped prize package we all know so well.

I reach in to move a few pieces of popcorn and realize it's all soggy and gross. I throw the pieces to the ground and inform Sean the Cracker Jacks are no good…

They're soggy Sean, just throw them out…I'm not sure why they're like that but you should just throw them out.

But I want the prize….

Seriously Sean…the Crack Jacks are all soggy and sticky and gross. I don't want to put my hand in there….

I was really looking forward to the prize….

We have another box at home; you can just get the prize out of that one. I scan the field looking for a trash can

CAN YOU JUST GET ME THE PRIZE MARIA?!?!?!

Alright!

I start fishing around in the box again and finally see the prize in a clear plastic pouch at the bottom of the box. At first glance, I think it's a keychain. In my head I think he's not going to want some silly key chain; he was probably hoping for a tattoo or one of those little hologram things.

I tell him it's a crappy prize and he won't want it

Well can I see it? he asks.

With a sigh, I shake the soggy nasty popcorn aside and reach in and pull out the bag with the prize in it

Funny I think to myself, where is the red and white wrapper? This just looks like a plastic baggy

Here honey, I say without really looking at it, it's a ring

What kind of ring?

I don't know I say trying to hand it to him, just some ring……I'm actually boredline annoyed he won't take teh stupid prize he made me fish around for me and now my fingers are all sticky...

What kind of ring?

He's not relenting so I finally look at the ring and start to describe it to him…

It's just a plastic ring with a blue….I stop talking and look a little more closely at the ring and realize it's the sapphire ring I saw months ago in a store in Newburyport. I don't remember if I tried the ring on when we saw it….I just remember looking at it and commenting on how much I liked it. It was a light blue single stone sapphire ring in its original setting…and the original setting had this engraving on it, looked like wheat, indicative of rings from the turn of the century to the Depression Era.

I look at Sean with my mouth open but no words come out. He's sitting in his chair looking at me with this goofy grin

I remember hearing him say A ring?

I nod

Do you know what kind of ring it is?

I still can't speak

Maria, it's THE ring, it's your ring…..it's the ring you wanted……marry me?

At that moment, the fireworks start to go off…..swear to God…..and I smiled and nodded and stared at the ring……

Sean may or may not have kissed me, and I may or may not have kissed him.....but at some point, either Sean or I slipped the ring on my finger and Sean had his hand over mine….every few minutes, I looked at my hand to make sure there was in fact a ring on it……and 20 minutes later, I looked at Sean and said

Did I say yes yet?

He smiled, nodded and said we're getting married

I may or may not have raised my arms above my head and shouted I'm Engaged!

I may or may not have cried

I may or may not have said yes

But I did make the best decision I could have made…..

And that red, white and blue lei is still looped on the arm of my camp chair…..

*sigh*

I love the 4th of July

Maria the Mum

My heart was all a flutter

Lucy has not been sleeping well for a few days so suffice to say, we are a bit sleep deprived. Add that to how busy work has been for both of us, the rising cost of heating oil (we just filled our tank last week) and the everyday stresses of life (Sean's commute, my battle with the scale, Lucy's need to push every single button both her parents have) and it's safe to say that I'm a bit close to the edge.

Tuesday was a particularly stressful day at work. By 3, my brain was fried and I actually said out loud now would be a great time for Day Care to call me and tell me I have to come get Lucy...anything to get me out of here. I said it in jest...but 20 minutes later, Day Care called me

Lucy was fine, no fever but they wanted me to be aware she had been a bit off all day, did not eat lunch and spent most of her nap coughing. So I told Jackie I'd finish up what I was doing and head over early to get her.

Now what I was doing was re-doing something someone had already done - it took him days to do it and I had about 2 hours to pull it all together...from scratch...I was midway through when Jackie called and my boss called 30 minutes after that wanting to know where I was with it - 30 more minutes I said, I'm almost there. He wanted to know if there were a lot of mistakes; was the first number really that far off?? I snorted, he grunted, I told him he'd have it in his email within 30, 45 minutes tops.

I hit send less than 40 minutes later, flew out the door with a hard copy in my hand and dialed my boss's number before I was even in the car. We were on the phone for the 12 minutes it took me to get to Day Care and by the time I hung up, I was in a tizzy.....just because I can't believe some of the shenanigans we have to deal with....and the fact that I had to re-do something that was started 3 weeks ago...and I did it in 2 hours...

I was still a bit nerved up from rushing through it...and then started thinking of what I needed to do when I got home (Lucy settled, run to the grocery store as Sean was having a work colleague over for dinner Wednesday, make lunches, clean up the house a bit and try to get a load of laundry in....) and got myself all flustered inside. But I took a deep breath, retrieved Lucy (who was fine) and we sang songs all the way home.

When we pulled into the Circle when Lucy announced she wanted to see Pat. We were home early and it had been a few days since we had seen Pat so we wandered next door and had a 20 minute visit

Lucy played with the puppies while I chatted with Pat and her boyfriend Tom.....who Lucy insists on calling Thomas...makes me laugh when she says Hi Thomas! or asks Pat Where's Thomas? She sound sounds so prim and proper....watching a 2.5 year old address a 60+ man as Thomas when everyone around him calls him Tom is totally worth the price of admission

As the visit wore on, Lucy got a bit more defiant and wound up so when it was time to head home, Lucy was in full blown I'm not doing what you say mode. She proceeded to have a 15 minute temper tantrum complete with shrieking, tears, pushing me away, throwing herself on the floor and clinging to Pat's leg. I finally pried her off Pat, thanked them for their hospitality, wrestled Lucy next door into our house and deposited said screaming daughter on the floor in the living room.

I got her dinner ready while she worked out her issues...which she did so my screaming, shrieking and crying at an even louder level than when we were next door. After 7.5 minutes of ignoring her, she stopped. By then, dinner was on the table, Sean was home and I was cleaning up the kitchen. Sean coaxed Lucy to the table, wrote up my grocery list and I was on my way.

Before I left, I went into the pantry to get the shopping bags. As I bent over, I felt this fluttering motion in my chest...did not really think anything of it...I felt it again when I went to get in the car and adjust my scarf thinking that maybe one of the little tassels on the end was just brushing my skin...but it wasn't

By the time I got to the grocery store, I felt the flutter like 3 or 4 more times.....I chalked it up to stress, too much coffee and having not eaten dinner yet. But by aisle 3, I was starting to think something worse was happening to me: my chest was all fluttery, my head was throbbing, I was light headed and my vision started to play tricks on me....like I started seeing bright lights and possibly an angel...some large form floating above me in any case.....

By aisle 5, I was ready to call Sean or start yelling 911 when this phone conversation popped into my head that I had with my mother me years ago while I was living in Illinois.......

She phoned me to tell me about how at work that day she thought she was having heart attack. Apparently, she was having short, sharp jabs of pain in her chest all morning and then, when she was leaning over her drafting table working, the pain went from being a sharp jab to a constant dull pain.....she decided to go into the ladies room and just take a breather, maybe throw some cold water on her face. As she pulled the bathroom door open with her left hand, the pain was searing! She splashed some water on her face and as she reached for a paper towel, felt the sharp pain again. At this point, she was convinced she was having a heart attack and for whatever reason, as she tells the story, she looked down into her shirt expecting to see her heart exploding out of her chest as that's how intense the pain was.......

Instead, she saw the wire from her under wire bra had torn through the material and was jabbing her in the chest......
So every time she reached for something, the wire was jabbing her thus causing a sharp pain.
Then, when she was motionless over a drawing she was reviewing, the wire was simply pushing against her chest causing a constant dull pain.
No heart attack, just a wardrobe malfunction.

So by aisle 5, like I said I was a mess: fluttering chest, woozy, light headed, seeing bright lights and some form floating above me....so I did what my mother did, I looked down my shirt expecting to see my heart exploding out of my chest.............................

Instead, a moth the size of a pigeon flew out from my cleavage, up behind my glasses and landed on my head.....

At that exact moment, some lady walked by me, saw me waving my arms like a lunatic, stops in front of me and says

You have bug or something on your head

Then continues on her way

I stand there speechless trying to process what just happened....

So the fluttering was a moth living in my bra
The woozy light headiness was clearly psychological
So what about the bright lights and the form I saw floating above me?

At that moment, I see a couple Market Basket employees trying to position a big inflatable turkey on the end cap of the aisle I'm in.....and every time they moved the turkey, the light was blocked then unblocked
And the form I thought was an angel was clearly the turkey.......

Maria the Mum

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lucy in Pictures

Not far from our house, 2 miles up Route 38 to be exact and then a right onto 62, is a really great Park that we are big fans of....there are 4 things that make this a kick ass park and one of Lucy's favorite places to go:

1. Really cool playground equipment including a dragon slide and swings that go really high!
2.There is a pond where we can watch the ducks and geese and look for whales (we have yet to see a whale but sometimes we see frogs)
3. It is next door to the Public Safety Building and if the front garage doors are open, the firemen have no problem with you coming in and wandering around - very cool for a little girl who LOVES fire engines, fire hydrants and ambulances....added bonus: if your kid gets hurt, you can just yell 911 and someone will come running
4. There is a Gazebo that doubles as Lucy's Clubhouse - it's invitation only

Back in August, the Parent Group from Lucy's Day Care (which I love so much I wish it were my Day Care....like I wish I could go there....as a student....not even as a teacher....) sponsored an Ice Cream Social at the Park so we wandered up and met Kevin, Lori and Caiti

Lori was snapping pictures and like Sean, has an uncanny ability to take some gorgeous photos.....she sent me some a week or so ago and below are my two new favorites...the second one may be my all time favorite, it is quintessential Lucy...the first one is right before she burst out in her full body bout of laughter...oh how I adore her!

Thank you Lori for capturing my daughter in the essence of her being......







Maria the Mum

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

One of Lucy's favorite books is Where the Wild Things Are. As with many of her favorite books, she has memorized and can recite certain passage from this story

On the way home Friday, Lucy and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple necessities (read frozen pizza) We stopped at Stop and Shop just down the street from the house and though it is not out usual market choice, it's close to home and easy to get in and out of.

As we made our way through the store to the frozen food aisle, Lucy was jabbering away much to the amusement of the two women who were in front of us and the man who walked into the store with us from the parking lot:

Mama!!! Maybe we'll see some animals! Lucy declared with such pure joy, hope and honesty  in her voice it made my heart melt...and it made the people around us grin.....she was holding my hand and sort of hopping/jumping as we walked along

Maybe Lucy, I responded. What kind of animals do you think we might see in the grocery store?

Without hesitating or thinking she blurts out loudly Maybe a lion and a tiger!

Maybe I say with a hint of chuckle......I also hear one of the women giggle  and the man laughs aloud. The third woman murmurs with a smile I hope not!

Lucy continues on: Yeah Mama! Maybe a lion and a tiger!!!! Yeah Mama! I love lions and tigers!

What should we do if we see a lion and tiger? I ask, What should we say?

At this point, we've come to a stand still and the other three adults have also stopped and are pretending to look for frozen entrees but really, the four of us were watching Lucy

Lucy jumps to a stop and says at the top of her little voice and with her arms above her head:

I will say BE STILL!!! she lowers her arms so her hands are in front of her and she is sort of waving them at the "lion and tiger"
She drops to just above a whisper and crouches ever so slightly and continues on...

And then I will tame them with a magic trick!!!!!! (she sort of waves her hands about and raises her voice as she says this)
I will look into their eyes and not even blink or make googly eyes! (googly eyes in Lucy's world is when she winks at someone)

At this point, one of the woman is literally shaking with laughter...I'm trying to look all engrossed in what she is saying, the second woman is just staring with a grin on her face and the man looks confused and amused at the same time.

Lucy, unaware of her audience continues on her narrative.....with great authority, and kicking one leg in the air karate chop style while waving her arms she YELLS:

And then I will tell them LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!!!!!!
And they will dance with me!!!! at which point she does a quick two step and then jumps to a stop.

I am mesmerized, one of the woman has disappeared down the next aisle and can be heard laughing, the other woman smiles and says to no one in particular Just what I'd do if I came across a lion and tiger in Stop and Shop...

And the man looks at me and says

For the first time in my life, I want kids......

Maria the Mum

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Prompt

Mama Kat’s writing prompts came out Monday….and I have not written a word.

I have not written a word since last week. Not because nothing good has happened…because I have no interest in doing much of anything….because work (my job) is sucking my will to live……..I’m not kidding about this. It is literally sucking my will to live….and I think the more I work, the dumber I get……
Right now, I live for 5pm…..because I know by 5:20, I’ll have Lucy in my arms….because by 5:25, she’ll be in the car jibber jabbing all the way home about Rika and Ali and Jackie and Logan and Caiti and Molly…and by 5:30, the stink of the day is gone and I remember why I do what I do…for Lucy….and for Sean…so we have what we need…and we want what we have….

Nonetheless, I'd like to win the lottery….I want to win the lottery. Not so I can stay home and eat bon bons….just so we can pay off the house, pay off any debt we may have, put away money for Lucy’s future (and by future, I do not mean set her up for the rest of her life. I mean enough money for her college education….she has to earn her keep just like Sean and I did) and I can drop to part time……that’s all I want to do is work part time…and I don’t even care where I work (ideally, I’d like to become a substitute teacher or the lunch lady)
I wouldn’t take a fancy trip, buy a new car (I love my Corolla) or have plastic surgery (though I would consider lipo for my arms)….I just want to be able to be there to send Lucy off to school in the morning and to meet her at the bus stop when she comes home. I want to be able to go to her school plays, her school concerts and all her games she may play in. I want to be able to stay home when she is sick and not feel guilty about it. I want to have a hot meal on the table when Sean gets home from work (because if we win the lottery, he still wants to work…he’s got this creative side that needs to be kept busy…) I want to have the laundry folded the same day I take it out of the dryer….and I’d like to take it out of the dryer the same day I put it in…….and I wouldn’t mind a bon bon or two.

I wonder……….if I won the lottery, would I appreciate my life as much as I do right now?

Would I still relish the time spent collecting rocks, hunting for acorns, painting, coloring, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk?
Would I still love combing through the piles of books for the perfect story?
Would watching the same movie 7 times in a row still amuse me?
Would I still look forward to the 20 minutes after bath and before bed when we sing and dance in Lucy’s room?
Would I still savor the quiet time Sean and I have in the evening after Lucy has gone to bed, we’ve made lunches, cleaned up the messes and maybe (but probably not) folded the laundry?
Would I still look forward to our weekends….our trips to the park, the zoo, the farm, Target, or the bookstore…?
Would I still want to go feed the ducks at the pond, go to Pet Smart to visit the puppy dogs or just take a drive to see what we see?
Would we still turn the back yard into a water park and have picnics on the floor in front of the TV eating out of a pizza box?
Yes, I think so…….no matter what, I will appreciate the life I have because I’ve been blessed and I’ve known love and joy...and it just gets better as time goes on.

I have a husband and a daughter, a job and a house
I have food on my table, gas in my car and clothes on my back
I have unconditional love....I get it even if the laundry is not folded, dinner is cold and I sing off key……OK I may be pushing it with the singing thing….I’m really bad at singing
I got to have a baby…I got to create a life…I got to hold a little newborn in my arms and realize that she is mine to keep and love forever…and hopefully she’ll keep and love me forever too

I got to walk down the aisle to take the hand of someone who loves me in spite of my faults and flaws because in his eyes, my good stuff cancels out the bad stuff….and in my eyes, I could not imagine life without him..and in front of God, our families and our friends, he said so….and so did I…in front of God, we declared our vows….

I’ve known love and bliss….I’m a Mum and a Wife
I’ve been blessed….I’m a Mum….and a Wife……

And that, my friends, answers prompt #1 from Mama Kat: 1.) Did you create a list of 22 things you’ve done in your life last week? This week, choose one item from your list and elaborate! We want the story.
(See my list here)

Maria the Mum

Thursday, October 27, 2011

22 Things I've Done

Last week, I told you about 22 things I’ve never done as inspired by Mama Kat’s writing prompt. This week, she’s asking me to share 22 things I have done……

At the age of the 39, I have….

1.       Known bliss and joy…..thank you Lucy Ellen and Sean

2.       Been blessed….thank you Sean, Lucy and God

3.       Seen the Red Sox win the World Series…..twice…..sometimes, I’ll be driving in my car and think Holy Shit! We won the World Series…and I’m referring to 2004 which still hasn’t quite sunk in….2007 hasn’t even hit me yet me yet

4.       Been an extra in a movie…Major League II…it was being filmed at Camden Yards…free hot dogs and beer…..we were in college so anything free appealed to our senses….I’ve also met Tommy Lasorda (bar in St Louis) and Bill Murray (Wrigley Field)…I love baseball

5.       Met Billy Joel’s Band…my brother tried to pick up the totally hot back-up singer but ended up spilling his drink on her…and we had our 15 year old sister in a bar with us

6.       Been to a Versailles…I was also terribly hung over and threw up while there….and not in the bathroom

7.       Been lost and found…seriously…I was like 5 or 6 and my parent took all us kids t o Quincy Market in Boston for lunch and then the plan was we would walk over to the Aquarium…somehow, I got left behind in Quincy Market

8.       Seen the Moors of England….and they are as dark and haunting as one would think

9.       Eaten rabbit….and loved it….as a matter of fact, that rabbit pie may have been the best meal I had while in England…I still think about it…I love food

10.   Celebrated Thanksgiving with the English….twice…..the first time, was a few years ago. There were some folks over from England working in Sean’s office and we had them all around for Thanksgiving dinner…I was the only American.....10 Brits and me....The second time was last year....we were in England for Thanksgiving and my fantastic in-laws (mother, father, sister and brother) all planned a special Thanksgiving dinner for me

11.   Seen the Mona Lisa in person….I did not throw up in the Louvre but Jen and I did get lost

12.   Voted….I vote in pretty much every election; even the local elections. It’s my civic duty, right and privilege…plus, I figure a lot of people made some huge sacrifices just so I could vote….it would be disrespectful to them to not vote…so Rock the Vote People!!!!!!

13.   Protested….technically, it was not a  protest so much as it was a rally…..it was the semester in college I decided I wanted to be a liberal…not even sure what I was rallying for but I did inhale and felt nothing

14.   Helped my parents celebrate 40 years of marriage…..next year will be 45

15.   Had a quarter life crises…turning 25 was really hard for me…so for like a year I lived life like a rock star…how I did not end up behind bars or worse is beyond me…but man it was fun!

16.   Lost 70 pounds…ok, so I gained some back but I lost 70lbs

17.   Stood up for my oldest brother and youngest sister in their weddings….and then my brother made me an Aunt 3 times over and I look forward to my youngest sister doing the same thing

18.   Graduated from college…in 4 years, with honors and actually use my degree…to an extent

19.   Known love and loss, triumph and defeat…and they all have made me the person I am today

20.   Connected myself to Kevin Bacon in less than six degrees: Michelle (1), a family friend, married Akiva (2) who was a producer for Mr and Mrs Smith starring Brad Pitt (3) who was in Sleepers with (hello!!) Kevin Bacon

21.   Been a good friend, a shitty friend, a good sister, a shitty sister, a good daughter, a shitty daughter…..huh, I just used shitty 3 times in a sentence, never done that before either

22.   Changed…..I’m 39 and I’ve changed….sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much….and I hope that as I grow older and wiser, I keep changing so I can be  better….not just for you but also for me

Maria the Mum