A real world room.

A real world room.

Just about every day I spend a little time on Facebook. I enjoy keeping up with my friends from all my walks of life. I mean, where else can you talk to people from high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day thirty years ago? But seriously, I do like seeing accomplishments, babies being born, weddings, job promotions, and vacations. From the bottom of my heart, I want everyone to be happy, healthy, and at peace with themselves.

But let me ask you something….would anyone really post how disappointed they are in their children? Or the rejection letter to a college? A bad hair day? Social media is not the real world. We live in the real world with bad hair days, circles under our eyes, disappointments, and children who work on our last nerve. And don’t pretend you don’t have moments where you need the time out. Because you do. We all do. We’re human. We’re not actors on a reality series. Or are we? Maybe that’s what social media is for all of us. Our own version of reality television highlighting only the high points in our lives.

Sure, some people post about an illness or the lost of a love one, but I haven’t seen anyone post this, “I’m so mad at my kid right now I’ve packed up everything they own and threw it on the front lawn.” Or “my kid didn’t work hard enough in high school, he didn’t try hard enough, he got bad grades, didn’t join any groups, bombed the SATs, never made a school team and every college he applied to rejected him. Now he lives in a cardboard box under a bridge. I’m so proud of him.”

Social media puts a lot of pressure on us to be our best, look our best, raise the best kids, and on and on. It’s kind of like high school all over again. I don’t know about you, but high school once was enough for me. I don’t need the extra pressure. I’ve got enough pressure just trying to fit in a workout.

Because in my world, nothing is perfect no matter how hard I try. I can never stay on top of the laundry, some days I have to choose between a shower and writing. You don’t want to see a picture of me on that day or a picture of Noodge 2’s room on any given day. You don’t want a to hear a video of me yelling about the dishes in the sink or the mess that accumulates at the bottom of the steps. That’s not the way to keep friends.

Maybe it’s better our less than perfect sides stay off social media. It might be too much of downer to see pictures of divorce papers signed or traffic tickets. No one needs to know about our failures as parents. There’s something to be said about our reality tv lives.

I think I’ll make a cup of tea, grab a cannoli and change the channel.

Coming in April:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Thank you, TOIS, for allowing me to inspire young minds, year after year.

Thank you, TOIS, for allowing me to inspire young minds, year after year.

Ever since I was seven, I wanted to be an author. I loved the magic of books and their stories and the way an an author can take your hand and say, “follow me for awhile. I have something to tell you.” And you go willingly. I wanted more than anything to create those magical stories myself. I’ve always written something, whether it was in my journal through my teen years, my first novel at the age of twelve, screenplays in college, or tariffs for a phone company. But now I’m an author of books with readers of my own and when I take the time to enjoy my accomplishments, I’m sort of proud of myself. “I did it,” I say.

One of the things I love about being an author is going into schools and speaking to the students about creative writing because my other passions are speaking to groups (we all know I talk a lot) and inspiring others to follow their dreams to be a writer too.

Recently, I spoke to 65 sixth graders. It was a total blast. I taught them something about writing, they got the chance to create a story, and they shared it with the group. I was humbled when one group of students asked me to read their stories out loud for them. It’s not easy to share your stories and much harder to have someone else’s eyes upon the rawness of a first draft.

Writing is magic. It’s not only the place of other worlds, but the place where dreams live.

Write.

Dream.

Live.

Magic.

 

Coming in April:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

Courtesy of Morguefile

Courtesy of Morguefile

What pressure the month of February has. It might be the shortest month, but it has all the responsibilities every other month has: bills still need to be paid on time, grocery shopping needs to be done, there’s the Superbowl, several presidents’ birthdays, which means more white sales in February than any other time and did you know that February 10th is the day most couples break up? Of course, we can’t forget the biggest event of the month – Valentine’s Day.  It’s probably the next most important gift giving holiday after Christmas. Hence, why February 10th is probably a very popular time to end that rocky relationship.

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery  and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.”

Like I said, a lot of pressure. It’s no wonder in our modern day world every jewelry store uses this time of year to convince couples their love won’t be complete without a clear, nearly colorless, rock either dangling from a neck or sitting high on the third finger of the lady’s left hand.

I, many, many years ago, was no different. Let me set the stage. My hair was its natural color and my skin as flawless as porcelain. I was young and in love. The Coffee King and I had been in a committed, long-distance relationship for three years. We wanted the same things from life. We knew there was no one else and Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching.

Sometimes being young also means being clueless. One evening, The Coffee King said to me, “There’s something I want to get you for Valentine’s Day, but I want you with me when I pick it out.”

My heart beat skipped to quarter notes. Of course, I would go with him.

He said something about me not having this gift idea of his.

He said he didn’t know my size. Ring size, certainly? Though I didn’t ask.

I arrived at his house in a new outfit with my nails freshly done. I couldn’t wait to see what this Valentine’s Day gift might be. “I have a picture of it,” he said.

My hands shook as I took the catalog from him. This was it, he was going to ask. We would spend the rest of our lives together professing our love for each other. Would it be a round cut? Or maybe marquis? How big would it be? Not that the size mattered. Absolutely, not.

I looked down.

And saw….

snow boots.

The Coffee King is very practical. I had never owned snow boots before and this fact was something he could not comprehend. He wanted me to be warm and dry. He wanted me to be safe on icy surfaces. That kind of caring is true love. Something I wouldn’t trade for all the diamonds in the world.

Eventually, we did get engaged. That is a story for another time. One that The Coffee King loves telling. And when we got married I wore the snow boots.

NOT.

 

 

Coming in April:

WelcometoSkullMntHRcover

photo (62)

Recently, Noodge 2 made her Bat Mitzvah. Her parents are encouraged to write a little speech to her and deliver it that day. Since I have a blog post to my son I must include one for my daughter. I can’t be accused of playing favorites. Once again, faithful reader, I ask you indulge me. I am eternally grateful.

The doctors told us Noodge 2 was going to be a boy. I spent most of my pregnancy planning a life with two boys in it, but when a girl arrived my plans turned on their heads. What was life going to be like with a little girl? Would I worry more about her? Will she need to be protected from the bad things that happen in the world more so than her brother? What if someone picks on her? Will she be able to stand up for herself? Are big brothers supposed to chaperone their little sister’s dates? Yes, it’s a double standard, but I’m an Italian mother, worrying is what we do. Only, I don’t have to worry extra about her.

I knew by the time she was six months old she had the determination to do anything she put her mind to. I can’t share the story of how I knew this, she’d kill me, so you’ll have to trust me. I also knew determination would take her far and possibly make motherhood a bit of a challenge, but I wouldn’t want her any other way.

The Noodge isn’t afraid to speak her mind, which I love about her, so I don’t have to worry about her sticking up for herself. She’s smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong so I don’t have to send in any extra protection from the scary things that go on in the world because I know she’ll make the right choices when faced with tough decisions.

Unfortunately, for her, I still think older brothers should chaperone their little sisters dates. Sorry, Italian mother. No one’s perfect.

Noodge worked very hard to stand before you today and become a Bat Mitzvah. And like when she was an infant I watched, throughout this journey, in awe of her resolve to learn Hebrew and all that was asked of her to accomplish this important goal.  This is the same quality that drives her to do well in school and to follow her dreams of being a professional singer. The Noodge will accomplish whatever goals she wants to because she has the gifts to take her there.

She is kind and caring. She stands up for what’s right, and she’s fiercely independent. Also a quality that can make motherhood a challenge, but she makes me proud of her and every day I see her and say, “that’s my girl.”

I’m so thankful those doctors were wrong. I can’t imagine my life without her. I love you, Noodge. Every minute of every day. Now and forever.

 

This is me and Kiki after the Bat Mitzvah. We have the same taste in clothes and often pick similar outfits and then show up at the same place wearing them. It's weird, but we like it.

This is me and Kiki after the Bat Mitzvah. We have the same taste in clothes and often pick similar outfits and then show up at the same place wearing them. It’s weird, but we like it. Our dresses for the party, though both black, were different. I think.

 

Have you ever planned a party? I’m talking a good size one with at least fifty people in a location other than your house? It’s okay if you haven’t and honestly way saner. Only crazy people plan those kinds of parties. Even crazier people used to pay me to plan parties. Yup, I was a party planner in the pre-Noodge days.

We recently held a party to celebrate Noodge 2 becoming a Bat Mitzvah. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Bar for boys Bat for girls) but after watching how much work the Noodges each put into preparing for their own day they deserved a party. Trust me. A Confirmation has got nothing on a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. No offense.

The day before the Bat Mitzvah was a day filled with last-minute plans. I had to attempt to clean the house because our families would be over that afternoon and the next day I expected twenty-five of our closest friends to hang out between the Bat Mitzvah service and the party. I might not have had time to rearrange my cabinets, but you know I had to wipe down the toilets.

After cleaning, I dropped Noodge 2 at the synagogue for her final run through only to find out we made mistakes in assigning Jewish family members prayers to read. The rabbi asked me who I wanted to take out and leave in. Me!!! To which I replied, “I have to call the Coffee King.” Like I know who can read what and when. My job involves balloons, favors, DJs, the photographer, and coordinating Noodge’s theme throughout. Jewish stuff goes to him.

A very well-meaning woman who worked in the synagogue office asked me for the names of the people who would lift the Torah, dress the Torah and say some blessings over bread and wine. Only she asked me using the Hebrew words. My reply? “You have to speak to me in English.” It’s not a secret I’m not Jewish.

This well-meaning woman strongly suggested I label everything in the synagogue kitchen for the Friday night Oneg and the Saturday Kiddush. Those are the meals after the services we had to host. This lovely lady actually handed me a sheet of labels she had made that read, “Wilk Friday” and “Wilk Saturday.” She wanted me to leave directions for the kitchen staff as well. My thoughts were, doesn’t the staff know what do do? This wasn’t the first Bat Mitzvah ever. There is only one Bar or Bat Mitzvah happening at a time. You don’t share your day. Whose soda was it going to be besides ours? I suppose she was trying to be helpful.

But all I wanted to do was put my tablecloths out because I had to pick Noodge 1 at school, stop at the seamstress to retrieve Noodge 2’s dress for the party and wash the car. The dumb car was covered in so much salt we were going to make our dressy clothes dirty getting in and out. I had to wash it. It ended up snowing Saturday morning so there went the wash, but who knew?

Right before I left the synagogue Friday afternoon, tables now covered, kitchen appropriately labeled, another well-meaning woman looked at me and said, “You look tired.”

WHAT????!!!!!  I had pictures in three hours.

Now I was determined to muster up the energy to finish my last minute plans and actually catch my breath before we had to change into those dressy clothes and go back to the synagogue. I wouldn’t have puffy, sunken eyes for the pictures. Oh, how I miss my twenty-five year old skin. The skin I have now doesn’t bounce back the same way, in fact it doesn’t bounce at all. It just hangs. And apparently gives away how tired I am. Stinker.

Back at the house, I declared fifteen minutes of rest to my family then slapped on extra repair eye cream and more eye shadow than Mary Kay.

I hoped I didn’t look like a ragged mess in those pictures. I kept hearing in my head, “you look tired.” Noodge 2 was beautiful, of course. Noodge 1 was handsome in his suit. A nice change from the zip-up hoodie. I always love the Coffee King in a suit. My sister Kiki and her clan, all looking spiffy, arrived for pictures and to be a part of this special event. The Coffee King’s family was there too. All my last-minute planning made a wonderful memory for my girl. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Tired eyes and all.

 

 

Professorhinkle frosty the snowmanDo you remember the animated 1969 Christmas show, Frosty The Snowman? I love that one. Professor Hinkle was the magician who chased Frosty for his magical hat. In the end, Santa Claus shows up and tells Professor Hinkle he’s on the naughty list and he better get his act together before Christmas Eve otherwise the mean magician is getting coal. Professor Hinkle, in his relief to still please Santa lists all the things he needs to do in time. Then follows up with, “busy, busy, busy” before he runs off.

That’s the kind of week I’m having.

Noodge 2 is making her Bat Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah means “Daughter to the commandments,” and it signifies that a Jewish, young lady has reached the age of religious majority. A Bat Mitzvah is entitled to all the rights and privileges of religious adulthood and of course, to all its obligations and responsibilities.  In other words, it’s a big deal for her and especially for her Italian Catholic mother. I have a party to plan.

This is the week of last minute details. I’ve made my lists and checked them twice. I’m off and running with my goals in sight. And when we arrive at our final moment, hugging good-bye to our guests, thanking them for sharing in her special day, I’ll need a nap. For a month.

In the mean time, I wish you all health, joy and happy reading. Preferably, one of my books. Wink, wink.

See you next week.

Get ready. It's coming in April 2015.

Get ready. It’s coming in April 2015.

 

Photo courtesy of morguefile

Photo courtesy of morguefile

I hate when the school nurse calls. Almost nothing good comes from a call that starts, “Hello, Mrs. Wilk, this is the nurse from school.”

Right before Christmas I received one of these calls. The nurse informed me Noodge 1 was hurt in gym class. She kept talking, but the only words I caught after were, call your doctor and emergency room. It didn’t matter what was hurt or how, I just had to get to the school as fast as my Dodge Durango could take me. Thank God, for V8 engines.

Now, let me explain, I laugh when I’m nervous. I’m pretty sure I got a speeding ticket the very first time I was pulled over, a hundred years ago, because I laughed while the police officer was talking to me. He probably thought I was an obnoxious teenager, but I was really scared to death.

When the receptionist at the school said the nurse would bring Noodge 1 to me instead of me going down to the nurse’s office, I turned away because the effervescence of laughter was making its way out my mouth and over my lips. I clamped my teeth shut and repeated the mantra, “don’t laugh.” How bad was he? I should have paid better attention on the phone. And honestly, it would have been terrible if Noodge 1 thought I was laughing at him and his injuries.

I’m not a patient person. I don’t like to wait for anything so imagine how hard it was to wait for the Noodge to be brought to me. The nurse didn’t take long, it just felt long. If I couldn’t laugh, I’d pace. Doesn’t look any crazier than laughing. Really. Trust me.

You know what I’m going to say next, don’t  you? I stared down the long, school hallway, red lockers lining each side, and willed that nurse to show up. A door opened into the hallway, and a short woman with dark hair, backed out a child, wait for it now, in a wheelchair into the hall. My next thoughts: “Don’t pass out.”

I really am good under pressure, and if you want to read about how I handled Noodge 2’s trip to the ER you can here, but I can’t stand the sight of blood or anything remotely resembling an injury. I hated high school biology for a reason. Noodge 1 was coming to me in a wheel chair. I couldn’t laugh or pass out. That wasn’t going to be easy.

But I have to tell you. Mothers can rally. We pull up our boot straps and tighten our belts. Our children need us. Passing out is for the weak. I plastered a smile on my face, swallowed the laughter, made my legs hold me up, and drove my kid to the walk-in place with an x-ray machine and avoided the ten hour wait in the ER. I didn’t face plant, vomit or crack-up. I can handle a call from the school nurse any day of the week. Piece of cake.

Yeah, right.