The Coffee King and I all dressed up.

The Coffee King and I all dressed up.

We’re an interfaith family. That means the Coffee King and the Noodges are Jewish and I’m not. I’m trying to make the dog a Catholic, but he keeps eating the Communion wafers at the wrong time. Being Interfaith also means we’re knee deep in Hanukkah and with Christmas around the corner it always feels like we slide head first into the end of the year. Another year over, another year older and I have the lines on my face to prove it.

What is the meaning of this time of year? I know it’s not supposed to be about the rush through stores trying to pry the last Harry Potter Board Game out of the hands of some unsuspecting woman. (That actually happened to me. Well, the strange woman didn’t put her hands on me, but she was ready. She wanted that game and thought it was the last one on the shelf.) It’s more than wrapping presents in pretty paper, but my mother is the best wrapper I’ve ever seen. Between her cleaning skills and her wrapping skills she’s a tough act to follow, let me tell you. This time of year is more than baking cookies and pies even though I love to bake. I can’t wait to make my egg nog pound cake even if no one wants to eat it.

What does this time of year mean? Is it peace on earth and good will toward men? That’s one of my favorite meanings because it includes everyone. I love the idea of peace on earth. No more crazy people who strap bombs to their bodies or fly planes into buildings or shoot someone just because they’re mad or angry or confused. Every person filled with kindness and intentions of goodness toward others. No more, trying to be right instead of trying to be kind. No more fear and hatred. Yeah, that’s the kind of earth I’d like to live on.

Of course, I know this time of year is about the birth of Christ, but we’ve come a long way from that don’t you think? Trying to celebrate someone’s birthday for 2014 years is bound to morph into something else. I like buying gifts because I love to see the look on someone’s face when they open up something you tried hard to find for them, that special thing that says, “Hey, I saw this and thought you’d like it and giving it to you will bring you joy which brings me joy.” I watch too many Hallmark commercials, I know.

I’d say this time of year is about spending time with family, but most people don’t want to spend time with their family so that doesn’t count.

This time of year could be about saying thank you. “Thank you, for delivering my mail every day. Thank you for choosing to be in my life. Thank you for talking me off the ledge.”

Or maybe it’s about hope. Hope for a better year next year. Hope for peace on earth. Hope for that job, that special someone to arrive in your life, hope that your kids will stop driving you straight to the liquor store, hope for more readers, another chance to write a good book, hope for a new friend, and hope that people will stop showing you their crazy side. Hope that Santa does exist.

Whatever this time of year means I’m surrounded in red, green and gold. The air is filled with pine, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A fire pops and cracks under the mantle hung with stockings. Presents are in the closet waiting to be wrapped.

I’m thankful for you, my faithful reader, I hope your holidays are filled with blessings, joy, and… a few cookies.

Happy Holidays, Stacey

 

 

 

 

I recently read an article about 13 things you should stop saying to your child immediately, well, it’s not really an article, it was 13 photos of cute children under the age of 7 and a caption under each photo. I’m including the link to the web page here if you want to take a look. (It won’t take long.) I try to understand this new world we live in with the need for instant gratification and shorter attention spans, but come on, you mean to tell me people can’t sit through an entire article any longer? I think humans are smarter than we’re given credit for. But I digress. Back to the article, I mean, photos.

I know as a parent I’m always looking for better ways to handle any situation so when I saw this “article” I decided to pull up a seat and see what it was all about. Well, since I read it before I even sat down, I thought we’d have a little fun.

file0001034171256

Courtesy of Morguefile

1. “Here. I’ll do it.” When you’re trying to get out of the house in a hurry because your Mommy and Me Music Class starts in 10 minutes and you have to get there early to wipe all the snotty toys off with a Clorox wipe before Little Johnny gets his hands on them you just have to drop on the ground and tie his shoes for him. He’ll figure out how to do it before he goes off to college. Don’t worry.

2. “Don’t cry.” Listen, I’m a big crier. I cry at those Hallmark commercials so I totally get the whole go ahead and have yourself a good cry thing. But there are times when you need to tell your little darling to suck it up like when Susie from across the street tells your little girl she’s stupid. There’s no crying for that. Don’t give Susie that much power. Hold your chin up high and walk away. Save the tears for the Hallmark commercial.

file0002039550295

Courtesy of Morguefile

3. “Why can’t you be more like ___?” I think that fill in the blank would refer to a sibling. Yeah, I guess that’s a bad thing to say. I’ll give you that one.

file2501305995650

4. “Are you sure you want to eat that?” I say take it up a notch and say, “don’t eat that.” What if it fell on the floor or your little love bug comes into the kitchen and decides cheese doodles would make a nice appetizer before dinner? Why does everything have to be a choice? Who’s in charge here?

guinea pig

Courtesy of Morguefile

5. “Wait until your ____ gets home.” I love fill in the blanks. What if you tell them wait until your guinea pig gets home? Guinea pigs are fun. (as long as it’s not in my house. Just saying.)

Crying

Courtesy of Morguefile

6. “You’re fine.” Sometimes they are and that’s exactly what they need to hear otherwise they learn to cry over everything including mean old Susie on the playground and Hallmark commercials.

7. “I promise.” You don’t want your little darling to have trust issues so you’re never to say that. I suppose you should also forgo the whole Santa Claus and Easter Bunny thing too since you’re lying. What’s worse: lying or breaking a promise?

8. “Your ___ is an idiot.” What if the blank is? Just saying.

file3931306523539

Courtesy of Morguefile

9. “There’s no reason to be scared.” Are we walking down a dark, deserted street in Detroit at 2 am? Or are we going to bed in our home with Mommy and Daddy just down the hall?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Courtesy of Morguefile

10. “I hate you too.” Yeah, that’s a bad one. Worse than #3. Don’t say it to your kid. But you have to be told this? Come on.

11. “Because I said so.” Ma, you reading this? What have I been saying all these years?

12. “I hope you have kids just like you.” And that’s a bad thing?

13. “Shut up.” I’m not saying a thing.

The article/photo shoot only had 13 things to stop saying. I thought I’d add one of my own.

14. “I’m not sharing my cannolis with you and if you ask again I’m going to sell you to the gypsies.” It’s an Italian thing.

Need I say more? Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Need I say more? Photo courtesy of Morguefile

I’d like to thank you, faithful reader, in advance, for indulging me. Our relationship thus far has had an understanding; when you sit down and share your very busy time with me, hopefully with your cup of coffee and a cannoli, I promise to poke fun for a few laughs we all need and hopefully share a little insight so you walk away carrying a new nugget of thought you might not have had before. I’m not holding my end of the bargain today. No jokes. No poking fun. Just me, sharing my feelings about motherhood. I still hope you walk away with a new thought. Hopefully, you don’t just walk away.

A boy and his dog.

A boy and his dog.

Dear Noodge 1,

I know you’re unhappy with me and Dad right now. We’ve squashed your first chance to really be independent of us and fly to your marching band trip with your friends. I know you’re not focusing on the fact you’re still going on the trip, still rooming with your band mates, participating in all the fun activities, and not glued to my hip for six days. The part where you miss the flight down and back has your full attention and my answer to your “why” question doesn’t satisfy your need to know because my answer isn’t tangible. Sit with me a while and maybe you’ll understand.

From the moment you arrived in the world staring at me with those huge, brown, eyes and long, dark eyelashes I was in awe of you. Still am, actually, but you were this little person relying on me to keep you safe, healthy, and happy. Instantly, I took my job very seriously. It wasn’t hard really, you were the only person ever I fell in love with at first sight. Love at first sight is called motherhood and it happened again when your sister was born.

I read to you at night until you could read yourself, I held your hands to help you walk until you could take steps on your own. I made sure to catch you when you jumped down flights of steps, even when I was across the room, because jumping was way more fun than walking, for you. I ran with you while you learned to ride a bike just to keep you from falling and scraping a knee and I sat up with you all night when you didn’t feel well. I did it all without hesitation because I love you. Three simple words that have enough strength to hold up a universe, but you can’t know how strong that sentence is until you say it as a parent.

I knew there would be times I’d have to let you explore the world on your own and I knew you’d have no problem heading out to see what the world offered. When you were three and starting preschool, you waved good-bye and walked away like you’d been doing it for years. But for me, it was the first time I let my child out of my sight and it felt like someone had squeezed my heart with a metal vice, but I had to let you go. That’s part of my job too. The part I don’t like.

Our time together is short, for me at least, and whizzing by at break-neck speed. The day will arrive when you leave to lead the life you were meant to lead. The life Dad and I have worked so hard for you to have. The life I want you to have. But I don’t want you to go. Not yet, anyway. I’m not ready to send that little boy off into the world alone. Who will hold his hand when he crosses the street? Who will wait for him to make sure he arrives safely? But you’re not that little boy anymore. You’re becoming a young man right before my eyes; a young man I am extremely proud of with a good head on his shoulders and kindness in his heart. My job here is almost done and I know I will miss you to the moon and back when real life takes you by the hand.

So be patient with me. I am slower to let you go than you want me to be, but I will catch up to you. Just not today and not for this trip. This trip is another chance to know you arrived safely, another chance to make sure you look both ways before you cross the street, another chance to stand there and watch you walk away before you walk away for good.

I love you, Noodge, every second of every day, always and forever. But I promise you this, should you some day become a father, you will call me and say you finally understand why I didn’t let you get on that plane without me. You’ll know why I had to chaperone all your class trips, and why I waited and watched you walk home from the bus stop every day. You’ll understand why one of my greatest joys is to watch you sleep and you’ll understand why I wrote this letter. Until then, you’ll have to trust me and why my decision is the best one for both of us.

 

He tasted better than he looked.

He tasted better than he looked.

I host Thanksgiving every year and this year was no different. I love having my family come over. We watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade together and sister Kiki and I prepare most of the dinner. Except, I have to make the turkey because he usually  needs to get in the oven before anyone arrives. It shouldn’t surprise you that touching an uncooked turkey sceeves me out. I hate sticking my hand inside that bird and pulling out those disgusting things wrapped in paper. I mean, come on, the turkey wasn’t born with paper in it’s orifice. Why wrap up its giblets and stick them back just so I have to pull it out? And all that red blood. Yuk. It occurred to me while preparing this year’s turkey, I should be thankful for grocery stores. Imagine if we had to hunt the turkey, defeather it, behead it, clean it and then cook it? If all that stuff was left up to me no one would have eaten. Ever. And what about ovens? I bet the pilgrims didn’t pull open a door and stick the turkey in a preheated oven from Whirlpool. Did they build a fire in the back of their log cabin and stick the bird on a skewer? Thank God for grocery stores. That’s all I’m saying.

My aunt and uncle went to Italy in the 1980s to visit the village where our family is from. It’s insulting if you don’t let my family cook for you. No big surprise there. My relatives, in their primitive village, didn’t have ovens in their homes in the 1980s. They cooked over a grate in the floor and they sat on the floor to do it. Can you imagine? I am thankful I was born in 19 – well, in 20th century America instead of any time in the past 100 years in southern Italy.

My Italian relatives didn’t have screens on their windows either. They didn’t care if the bugs came in or the cows. You could be sitting down to dinner, on the floor next to the grate I’m assuming, it probably doubled as the heating vent, and ole Bessy the cow would come sauntering in the door without a screen on it and she’d saddle right up to the cooking vent and drop in her seasoning of chewed up grass.

When my great-grandmother came to America in the 1930s to join her husband, bringing my teenage grandfather with her, she took all the screens off the windows of their home. Someone said to her, “if you take the screens down the flies will come in.” Her response: “If they come in, they have a way to get out.” How do you argue with that logic? After some time in America my great-grandmother begged her husband to return her to her village in Italy. Once she got home she decided she wanted to return to America. She must’ve missed the screens and the oven. Probably the grocery store too. Just saying.

2013_11_11_7384-1morgue

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

It’s that time of year again. The time to food shop for all the relatives coming to your house to eat. And you don’t even have to be Italian for this holiday which is lucky for you because Italians eat around every occasion. We even make up occasions so we can feed you. Just ask my mother.

I was in the grocery store the other day getting all stocked up on Prosciutto, cheese already cut into little cute cubes so I don’t have to do it, chocolate cake because what’s a holiday without chocolate, and of course the turkey, that no one will really eat because we all like the side dishes better, but the Coffee King looks good holding a carving knife so why stop a good thing?

I loaded up my shopping cart to resemble a volcano about to erupt and dragged the cart into the check out line. I’ll be honest here for a second. I always check to see who the cashier is. I’ve shopped at the same food store for three years now. I’m getting to know who works the registers and who packs a mean bag. In other words, if I don’t like the way you bag I don’t stand in your line. Got it?

So many registers were open and I was tired of pushing and shoving my massive load around so I only checked the first few registers I passed and then settled on an older woman with curly hair not much taller than the belt. I figured that could me in a few years so why not stop? Her name was Mary. Hey, like my mother’s and they were the same size. I wonder if Mary the cashier was Italian too? I should’ve asked. Well, hang on a second, if she was Italian she wasn’t from my group because Mary was a terrible bagger.

We know I’m slightly OCD and I like my things lined up neatly in a row, so I put my groceries on the belt grouped by category. Freezer stuff together, non-food items together, bread together. Follow me? Good. I do this because it makes putting the groceries away easier and it keeps the ice cream from turning to cold soup in July. Most cashiers understand this. Some even compliment  me on it which means they have the same disorder I do. Not our friend Mary.

Mary put the carrots with the crackers. What? Carrots go with the other fruits and vegetables. Didn’t she notice where on the belt they were? The carrots can’t stay cold next to a box of Wheat Thins. And she put the meat with the milk. Now I know my Jewish readers are cringing right about now. Meat should be in a separate bag in case it bleeds on the other groceries. No one wants to be bled on. Trust me. She put the box of garbage bags with the bread. Do I really have to explain this?

Typically, I rearrange the bags when people like Mary drop items into the plastic all whilly nilly, but I controlled myself. It’s Thanksgiving. Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe it was her first day on the job or maybe she hates her job and was taking it on my dinner rolls. Either way, it didn’t matter.

What matters is I’m able to load up my cart with all the things my family wants to eat like mushrooms shoved into the stuffing or mashed potatoes and gravy and buy it for them. What matters is the Coffee King gets to carve our turkey again. What matters are my Noodges. I pushed my cart through the parking lot and to my car hoping Mary has a nice Thanksgiving even if she can’t bag groceries.

And I’m wishing all of you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving too. Just beware of Mary.

 

 

 

photo (44)

The Coffee King and I were out to dinner the other night with friends. A cute, little hole in the wall, where the owner takes your order and brings your food. The menu? Italian, of course. Talking over baked ravioli smothered with mozzarella cheese you can stretch and twirl around your fork, my friend Lisa and I were discussing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I told her, “I’ve always wanted to go to that. It’s on my bucket list.” We’re going next year.

Do you want to see the world? Learn another language? Play an instrument? Write a book, perhaps?

My list is long and strange at times. I want to sing in front of thousands of people while wearing leather pants. I’ve always wanted to be a rock star, but I can’t sing and I don’t play an instrument and at my age, no one wants to see me on stage if they couldn’t benefit from watching me in my twenties.

On my list is take singing lessons and learn to play the drums, piano and violin. It might not be too late to go on tour. Heck, if the Van Halen brothers can still do it pushing 60 why can’t I? Who cares if they didn’t see me in my twenties. I’m still cute. Just older. (I can talk myself in and out of anything. I think it’s a disorder.)

I want to learn to speak Italian fluently and not the dialect from the village of my crazy family. Though, how can’t you love a word like “Zingada?” You’re not getting that in any Italian text book, let me tell you.

I always wanted a dog. Check. photo 1 (7)

Graduate school. Check.

Publish a book. Double Check.

Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series

FOF007_Wilkes_KataTartaroo_F_LR

Be a best selling author. No check, but I’m not out of the game yet, though I do need the help of others on this one.

One of the things on my list was learn to drive a stick shift. I bought a car with manual transmission in 1997. That forced me to get good at it because now my car and the Coffee King’s car were both sticks. I felt like the cool kid in the cool club. And my heart swells a little with pride when someone slides into the passenger seat next to me for the first time and says, “you can drive a stick?” Yup, I’m that cool. I sold that stick shift in 2001. Noodge 1 was 8  months old and my car was too small for all his stuff. Plus Noodge 2 showed up about a year after. Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children. But the Coffee King holds true to himself. His car today is a stick so I can still be cool from time to time.

I like checking things off my list too. Feels like I’m accomplishing something. My life is fuller, my mind broader, anything is possible.

So tell me, faithful reader, what’s on your list?

Two Sides of a Coin

Posted: November 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

staceywilk:

Beach picture of the boys

 

 

We have a visitor today at the blog. Let’s get out the cannolis. Jennifer is a picture book writer, educator, and a terrific mom. She blogs from the heart. Thanks, Jennifer for sharing with us.

Originally posted on Red Said What?:

Beach picture of the boys

Bubbe and The Skootch are two sides of a coin.

Bubbe, now a smidge under nine was the two year old who got off the classroom rug at dismissal only after he knew the other children had a place to go and the little guy who sat in the corner and covered his ears at birthday parties.  He is the child who relishes in engineering golf courses and marble runs out of anything he can get his hands on and the boy who recently told me after I advised him to push back as needed, “Mom, I’m not that kind of kid.”

Four year old Skootch, on the other hand, is a one speed, rock and roll, let me smell you ninja machine.  He is the kid who proudly wakes his parents at two in the morning to show us the late night grape juice he poured for himself, the…

View original 492 more words