Piglet and Me

Piglet and me. Happy together.

So, recently we took a family vacation to Disney. Did you know the average family saves for five years to take a trip to Disney? “The happiest place on earth.” That’s their slogan. I beg to differ. I saw a lot of unhappy people. None that worked there because if that happened the Mouse would have your head, but lots of unhappy visitors. I’d think if it took five years to get there you’d try and make the most of it, no? Maybe no.

Because I’m a writer or because I’m a little nuts, I like to people watch. I can get some good stuff for my stories by watching people and because I don’t do roller coaster type rides, or the tea cups because I’ll puke, I’m so much fun in an amusement park, ask my sister Kiki, I have plenty of time to sit and watch people go by while my family members brave the FastPass lines for the rides. I saw some interesting stuff.

Let’s start with it’s almost ten o’clock at night, we’re in Magic Kingdom and the place is still bursting at the seams with “guests”. A man pushes an empty stroller at a brisk pace. Was he racing to the next ride before the park closes? Looking for a prime spot to watch the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle? Determined to get his money’s worth since it took him five years of over-time putting up with his good for nothing boss, being under-appreciated at his dead-end job and his wife nagging the heck out of him to take her and their baby on a trip to Disney some time this decade? Where is the wife, you say? Racing behind him. Holding her baby in one arm, a blanket thrown over her shoulder while she tries to attach the baby to her breast so she can breastfeed while power-walking. I’m might write fiction, but I’m not making this up. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wanted to offer her a seat.

She didn’t look so happy, this lady attempting to keep up with her husband. Pardon, my old-fashioned assumption he was the husband. I’ve been accused lately of having deep rooted gender messages. Who am I to say the man she was chasing was her husband at all? Maybe they weren’t even together. Maybe she and her baby were stalking him. Hey, maybe that wasn’t even her baby. Maybe she was running because she had scooped up the baby from the thousands of strollers parked around Disney and they only thing she could do to quiet the kid down was attempt to feed the poor thing because a woman breastfeeding while power-walking isn’t a strange sight in the least. See how the mind of a writer works? Sick, I know.

I met a seven-year old girl wearing more make-up than I own. I was relieved to find out, after having a conversation with her and her mother, she was headed to a cheering competition. The little girl was very happy holding onto her American Girl doll and telling me all about her. The mom, well, she was frustrated over the bow required to be in her daughter’s hair and probably a multitude of other things, but I was busy listening to the young lady.

I also met a woman while standing in line for ice cream. Did you know calories don’t count on vacation? This woman I met was from Indiana and had never been to Disney before. She wasn’t jumping up and down at her good fortune. She was hot in the sun, and didn’t want to stand in the long line for an ice cream cone for her daughter who I found out wasn’t the smartest of her four children. Her words. Not mine.

Nope, not the happiest place on earth.

But for us? Well, we had breakfast with Piglet, Tigger, and Pooh. Can’t beat that. We saw Noodge 1 march in a parade down Main Street in Magic Kingdom. How my mother’s heart swelled. The Coffee King and I bought a caramel apple in Germany and watched the fireworks in Epcot. I spent an entire morning with Noodge 2 in Universal Studios where she met up with a Minion from Despicable Me. We saw a free concert, ate too much, walked a lot in the beautiful Florida sun, laughed, went on rides (them more than me), and made memories. You bet Disney is the happiest place on earth.

 

Unfortunately, I can only handle rides of this speed.

Unfortunately, I can only handle rides of this speed.

Passover 2015

I don’t like people telling me what to do. Often times, I’ll do the opposite just to prove a point. Probably not one of my better features, but hey, we can’t all be perfect. Since we’re an Interfaith family we like to make up the rules on how to observe our faiths as we go along. The Coffee King doesn’t like to be told what to do either. We’re a good match.

One of the things I’m most proud of is our Unorthodox Passover. That simply means, I serve whatever suits me, usually the catered Passover meal from Wegmans and whatever appetizers and desserts I want. You bet I’m making chocolate cake with flour. No offense, to my Jewish friends out there, but your food is plain old yukky and I say that with love. But who really eats gefilte fish? Have you seen that stuff? When our guests ask what to bring, I say, “whatever you want. No rules.” You bet I was extremely grateful when someone brought cannolis.

While I was cleaning up, a taxing job and one I’m learning to break into two parts: half immediately, and half the next morning, not something I would’ve been capable of ten years ago, I’m starting to break my own rules, I thought about the importance of gatherings like Passover. Holidays are a time to come together with the people you care about and want to spend time with. It doesn’t matter if you’re related to them by blood and sometimes it’s better if  you aren’t. Holidays are about making memories, about sharing good times and good food. (Which of course, is next to impossible at Passover and why I mess up the menu with things like sushi.)

I had soap suds up to my elbows scrubbing the turkey roasting pan, dirty wine glasses on the counter leaving stains in the Corian, and crumbs from the Matzah covering my floor, but I thought about how lucky we are to have people around us who want to spend time with us. It’s important to mess up your house once in awhile for that.

I’m going to try and have friends over more often this year and worry less about how messy the house is. I’m not going to care about how many hours I vacuumed when I get to the end of my road and I’m looking back. Okay, I might care, but I’ll make time for the things that matter. Like serving shrimp at Passover dinner and only because you told me I couldn’t.

What does spending time with loved ones mean to you?

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

The wait is over! Welcome To Skull Mountain, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series, is available for pre-order for your Kindle. All you have to do is click HERE and I’ll take  you to the place for sign-up. Or just go to Amazon and type my name in the search bar. Publication date for Kindle and print is June 9th.

And if you’re in the area, stop by and say hi. I’ll be appearing at these places:

April 25 Children’s Authors Day, Hillsborough Public Library, Hillsborough, NJ 1-4 pm  Reading at 2pm.

MAY

2 & 3 Vine To Wine Spring Festival, Old York Cellars, Ringoes, NJ 12 – 5 pm
11 Washington Twp Public Library, Long Valley, NJ 7 pm. Author’s Panel: The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
21 Moorestown Public Library, Moorestown, NJ, 7-9pm Author’s Panel: You Finished Your Novel, Now What?

 

Now, if you're a Disney princess I get the blue hair thing.

Now, if you’re a Disney princess I get the blue hair thing.

The other day, Noodge 2 asks if she can dye her hair blue. “Blue?” I say. “Yes,” she replies. “You mean, streaks of blue in your hair?” I’ve seen this look. “No, totally blue.”

My knee jerk response is, “You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to allow you to dye your hair blue.” But I didn’t say that. What I did say was, “You can’t dye your hair blue. I’ll think about the streaks but not your whole head.”

Which was met with a series of unpleasant sounds. Part of me is worried how will the world view her with blue hair? I know of a woman in the writing world who dyes her cropped mop blue. Some people may think this is cool and trendy and edgy. To me, she looks like an Easter egg. And I’ve often wondered if she’s exhausted at the end of each day trying so hard. See? I look at this person with eyes filled with judgement. I don’t think she’s cool or hip. Am I forcing my opinions on my daughter’s head?egg_blueTrad

Maybe it’s not a big deal that she dyes her head blue. Maybe other people will look at her and admire her independence and her fearlessness. Maybe I’m just afraid for her and we shouldn’t let fear drive our choices. Not ever.

But, as a professional speaker for the past twenty-some years, I know we make judgments of others in the first 30 seconds we see them. Thirty seconds!! What are you going to think of when a thirteen year-old girl shows up with blue hair? You’re going to think her parents checked out. That’s what. So, maybe my fears are actually about my inability to be a good parent.

I will say, I do believe this philosophy wholeheartedly: Do whatever you want to yourself, when you’re an adult. Ink yourself up, pierce the heck out of your face, dye your hair the rainbow, but don’t think for one second others aren’t reacting to that image. Why do you think Ted Bundy was so successful? Because he was an educated white male in a suit and those poor women never saw him coming. Now, if he had made his face look a pin cushion and tattoos all around his head and his pants hanging to his knees I bet some of those women would’ve ran in the other direction. And I’m sorry if I just offended all of you who look that way, but if I’ve got nothing to go on, but the image you place in front of me how do I make a decision if I only have seconds to make a life saving choice? Not that I’m talking about life saving choices with the Noodge. I was referring to the Ted Bundy scenario.

Listen, I have a friend who grew his hair past his shoulders, pierced his eyebrows and his lip and God knows what else. Wore army jackets hanging to his knees. He got pulled over a lot for traffic infractions. Was he getting picked on? Probably. Is he a bad guy? Far from it. He’s a sweetheart we’ve been friends since we were five, but his image said, trouble. Noodge 1 has long, wild hair and it’s fine for a 14 year-old boy, but if he truly follows a path into the field of law he’ll have to cut that hair because no law firm is going to hire him looking the way he does. Right now, he fits the roll of rocker and when he’s behind his drum set even I think he looks cool, but the real world is another story.

So, am I being an unreasonable, out of touch mother who won’t let her daughter dye her hair blue? Should I look at this as there are so many other things she could be into, what’s the big deal? She can always dye it back. And I haven’t even brought up the cost involved which I will not contribute to. And what about the upkeep? I mean, what in the world will she look like when her roots start growing in?

Or should I just take a deep breath and relax? Who cares what other people think of you. You’re still the same person on the inside regardless of the color of your hair.

What does your hair say about you, but what does this dilemma say about me?

staceywilk:

 

 

Here’s a blast from the past. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Stacey Wilk:

Italian Flag Growing up in an Italian house my perspective on life was very one sided. My Pop-Pop, my favorite person in the whole world (no offense to my other family members that I love dearly), used to sit down with me and tell me in his heavy Italian accent, (though I never heard it) everything ever invented or discovered in this world was done so by an Italian. I believed him because if Pop-Pop said it, it had to be right.

Our meals were always Italian food. Stuffed peppers, pasta with beans (said in Italian is more appetizing. I just can’t spell it.), macaroni three times a week, and at noon on Sundays. Pop-Pop would sit at the head of the table with his gallon of wine on the floor beside him. The bottle took up too much room on the table and hey, what else do you do with wine…

View original 207 more words

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I was talking to a mom the other day. A mom, younger than I am with children just getting the feel of the ground beneath their feet. In other words, a six year-old and a four year-old. Oh, how I remember those days.

She sent her son to a private kindergarten where everyone was taught to hug and be nice. That’s a pretty easy lesson for five year-olds. They still hold onto an innocence that the world is the way their adults tell them it will be. But this mother was concerned that kind of lollipop thinking wouldn’t translate into public school so she had him repeat kindergarten in her town. You know, get him ready for big league thinking. Hmmm….I thought. Kindergarten isn’t the problem.

As parents, we make so many decisions in the name of love. And when our oldest is only six the big scary world of public education looks more like a fire breathing dragon with fangs to its knees than what it really is. We can’t fathom the problems our children will be facing at the middle school or high school level because we aren’t there yet. We think kindergarten problems are the end of the world and we want to protect our children from them.

Looking back on the days when my Noodges were younger I see how simple their issues were. I could still manage their problems and their reactions to them. Reverse psychology was my best friend. You don’t want to wear your coat outside, little four year-old, okay, but don’t complain to me when you’re cold. Jacket on. Done deal. Not so easy now. Little Suzie was mean to you on the playground? I have a solution for that. And my child stared on with wide eyes and head nodding ready to handle the brat on the playground the next day. Now if I give advice on how to handle Suzie who on Monday wants to be your best friend, but on Tuesday decides she’s ditching you for the field hockey team, ignoring you in the hallway when you say hello and sending pictures she took of you to her boyfriend even after she swore she had deleted them, gets a response like: “I can’t say that!”

And what business does a seventh grade girl have with a boyfriend? That only leads to the fourteen year old freshman who ends up pregnant. Yes, Noodge 1 has three of those girls in his grade. How about that? And that mom I spoke with is worried about five year-olds not playing nice?

Here’s what I think we do: we take our grown-up, over-thought feelings and emotions, and transpose them onto our little darlings’ situations. We create problems where there are none. We think because we feel worry or concern that they will too. I remember being so upset when Noodge 2 wasn’t invited to a birthday party in the first or second grade. How dare that mother leave my child out when she had been invited to Noodge’s party? Who did she think she was? I ranted and raved to my friends only to find out, she was invited. I felt foolish. I had taken my own insecurities and dirtied the whole situation with them assuming she’d left out my child. It never crossed Noodge 2’s mind she might not be invited. I’m glad I held my tongue.

I wish I had said to this young, kindergarten mom that another year in kindergarten isn’t going to harden her kid to the ways of the world. The other kids in class are the least of your worries at this age. He’s going to adapt and be just fine. It’s your hang-up that has him repeating kindergarten.

My point here? Don’t sweat the small stuff. That old, tired out cliche still has enough life in it to be heard. What you think is a big deal, isn’t. Not the other kids, not the schools, not the grades, not the sports. It’s us. Plain and simple. We need to leave our hang-ups at the door.

 

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Hard to believe my desk looks like this on a regular basis. I blame it on the creative side of my brain knocking out the more sensible, organized side. The bitch.

Have you ever wondered how a writer spends her day? She must be sitting at her computer with hands flying over the keys. Her characters jump around in her head to be heard. The whole world outside of her office stays at bay until she pushes herself out of her imagination ready and energized to face the real world.

Now this is what an average day looks like for me. Let’s take today:

  • Delayed opening at school because it won’t stop snowing. (I hate the winter. You will never hear me complain about the dog days of summer, but these days filled with blinding white snow and temperatures that freeze your blood in its veins, I complain about all the time.) The morning is two hours behind even before the alarm goes off.
  • Forgot to pack up my donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters and they were arriving by 7 am so right after feeding the dog, I packed up four garbage bags of clothing, small appliances, and books.
  • After delivering two Noodges to their respective bus stops at the respective times, neither of them the same, slapped on some face paint and went next door to talk to the neighbors about feeding their cat. Needed the face paint not to scare the neighbors and hadn’t had time for any caffeine to shock the look of exhaustion out of my eyes because I forgot to mention the load of laundry I also did before the school buses arrived.
  • Have you noticed I haven’t written one word yet?
  • Received the instructions from the neighbor on how to care for their spoiled rotten cat while they are away, hopefully going some place that never sees snow, and what should have taken fifteen minutes took an hour.
  • Where I am interrupted by several calls from Noodge 1 and the Coffee King. Noodge is sick. Go and pick him up at school.
  • Again, no writing. No, characters jumping out of my head and onto the page. The outside world has parked itself front and center blocking my path like the pile of ice at the end of my driveway the town saw fit to dump there after we shoveled ourselves out.
  • By now, I have to eat lunch because I eat every three hours to keep my sugar level from crashing and you don’t want to be around me when that happens. Trust me.
  • Two more phone calls from the Coffee King.
  • And finally, after checking emails that have piled up from yesterday, I sit before my computer to craft another story, to find a way to meet more readers, to build this business of writing that calls to me like a mental illness.

A writer’s life isn’t glamorous unless of course, you’re Stephen King. I’m certain the outside world stays far away from him until he surfaces for fear of being eaten alive. There are days where the words just don’t come. My characters will do anything but talk to me and I find myself staring at a blank screen hoping that a remnant of an idea will find its way out.  There are constant interruptions especially because I have two Noodges, a big, furry, puppy who wants to play all day long and sheds enough hair on a daily basis to make a king size comforter, a husband and a home.

I choose to allow those interruptions to weave their way in sometimes. How much longer will I be needed by Noodge 1 when he isn’t feeling well? His adulthood is in sight, it might still be in the distance, but I can see it’s ugly little head coming right at me. If I can’t stop and enjoy a conversation with my neighbors, whose door will I knock on when I lock myself out of the house without my cell?

Oh, but I long for uninterrupted writing time too. It’s a constant juggle. One I take on gladly. Now, I have to go make a cup of tea to warm my hands by, put on another pair of socks because I lost the feeling in my toes hours ago, and then, maybe then, I’ll craft the beginnings of my newest book.

 

Don’t forget, coming this spring, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series