stargazer lily

I’m someone who has a lot to say. Gasp. Shock. Awe. And usually I have no problem saying it. Until recently. Here, at the blog. If you sit next to me, say…anywhere, and we start up a conversation, I can talk and talk and talk. I’m sure most of my acquaintances quietly wish I would shut up. Everyone who lives in the country is too nice to say anything like that to my face. Now, the people who’ve known me most of my life just roll their eyes and make a face that says, “there she goes again.” I’m pretty good at reading facial expressions, so I take my cue and clamp my lips shut.

But here, I can’t seem to find a thing to write about. Maybe I’m premenopausal and what few brain cells I had left after having children have dried up. I don’t want to be premenopausal. That sounds old. Like someone’s mother. Hey, wait, I am someone’s mother. Ugh. This isn’t looking good. When you’re premenopausal that means you’re entering the second half of your life. Your youth is gone along with your estrogen and estrogen is supposed to keep us young. What’s going to do that for me now?

I can’t think of one thing that’s good about being premenopausal. Even the word is ugly. Why can’t women enter the stargazer lily stage? I love stargazer lilies. They’re my favorite flower. I think from now on I’ll refer to PM as Stargazer. I am officially entering the Stargazer stage of my life. There, that’s not as bad. Just as old, but not as bad.

I suppose not entering the Stargazer stage of life could be problematic. Like I might be dead and that would truly suck because I’m not a best selling author yet and I haven’t sang on stage in front of thousands of people wearing leather pants yet. I’ll need to accomplish the leather wearing pants thing soon before I’m over the Stargazer Lily stage and into the full blown bouquet of menopause and my backside spreads too wide to ever be seen in leather. Outside my house that is.

Have you ever seen that commercial for products to help women with Stargazer issues? The tag line is something like, “Have you had the 2nd talk?” My response, “No, thank you. I didn’t want to have the first talk and now you want me to talk about the part of body that’s malfunctioning because I’m old and the warranty is running out on my female usefulness?” I mean really. Sell me some flowers instead.

 

My YouTube Debut!

How can you say no to this face?

How can you say no to this face?

I never had a dog growing up. Well, I had one for about five minutes. My father brought home a white German shepherd puppy when I was about seven. My younger sister, she was four at the time, was deathly afraid of this white, puff-ball puppy. My parents had a decision to make. Keep the puppy or keep my sister. Now, that I’m thinking about it, my mother was probably the one who said keep my sister. My father might’ve wanted the dog, but that’s a blog post for another time.

Now that we have a puppy I had to learn what to do with him. (This goes to my OCD, controlling personality. Did I mention I’m Italian?) Our breeder recommended reading The Art of Raising a Puppy, by Monks of New Skete. Let me tell you what, all new parents of human babies should read this book too. In fact, any parent that isn’t sure how to discipline their child should read this book because children and puppies are the same. Don’t go getting your panties in an uproar because I’m comparing children to dogs. I’m speaking the truth. raising a puppy

In the book, the Monks talk about how important it is not to reward the puppy for whining. Let’ say you’re in the car and your puppy starts to whine because he doesn’t like going for a ride. If you pet him and tell him in a soothing voice it’s okay, what the dog really hears is “Keep whining. I get a lot of good rubs from that lady if I make this noise.” Do you know how many times I watched a parent give their child a cookie or soda to stop crying? They think it’s a distraction and let’s face it, no one wants to hear their child cry, but if you just told your kid he couldn’t get out of the stroller and he cries you can’t give him a cookie to make him be quiet. What does he hear? “If I cry then I get something I really like. I don’t remember why I was crying, but who cares? This lady keeps giving me sweets.” See? The same.

The book explains about dogs being pack animals and in that pack their is a hierarchy of who’s the alpha and who is the omega. The Monks say you must establish right away who’s the alpha in your pack once the puppy comes home.  That would be the humans, in case you weren’t sure. If the human doesn’t show the puppy who’s alpha then the puppy will naturally claim that role, it’s their instincts, and now your puppy will push you around. Again, same rule applies to children. Parents often forget who’s in charge. Parenting isn’t a democracy and if your child doesn’t know who’s in charge, then they will be. And that’s bad news, friends. You don’t want your teenager in jail because you didn’t establish who was in charge when you brought her home. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen that exact scenario happen.

I’m surprised no one has written a book about parenting and paralleled puppy training to it.  I guess in today’s society that would upset someone and no one is allowed to be upset so I apologize if I’ve upset you. But I’m not giving you any treats.

 

 

I enjoy house hunting. It became a hobby over the years since we bought three houses so far in our married life and I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying at least one more. I’ve always wanted to live in the South. I think I need to own a house and live down there at some point.

I’m tempted when I see a real estate sign decorated with balloons on a Sunday afternoon to stop and tour the house, but I don’t because it isn’t fair to the agent or the home owners. I’m not buying at the moment, why get their hopes up when someone knocks on the door?

But I have to get my fix somewhere so I watch HGTV. It’s my go-to channel. Home shows are my kind of reality television. Yeah, I know, not cool, but what do you want from a middle-aged mother of two?

My favorite part of every show is the big reveal. The home owners return to find their house has been transformed into a show palace. Everything has a place and everything is in place. There’s even fruit on the counter nestled in a large, pretty bowl. Does anyone in real life actually do that?

In fact, does anyone’s house ever look like they do on HGTV? Mine certainly doesn’t, though I wish it did. There’s no large bowl of fruit on my center island because, I don’t want to take up the room and fruit goes bad after a

This room is clearly in the "before" state.

This room is clearly in the “before” state.

while. I can’t leave it there forever. Sometimes the fruit even gets eaten. Which technically would be a good thing, but not when you’re trying to go for a look. You know what I’m saying?

While I’m watching those shows and we see the homeowners in their “before” house I think, are they going to keep that new house clean and neat? If we paid them a surprise visit would they have mail on their counter like I do? Would their shoes really be tucked neatly into the entry bench by the back door? Okay, sometimes our shoes are. I’m OCD, remember?

And what about the little home office the fancy designer tucks under a stair case? What’s that going to look like in a week? You should see my desk. I strive to keep my entire house neat, except for my desk. It’s the true reflection of the creative side of my brain. I have piles everywhere, notes on top of those piles, the printer, books on the craft of writing, and a small spot left for my laptop. It’s no wonder I take myself to the kitchen or outside to work. That mess is way too distracting to the anal side of my brain.

I’m starting to talk myself right off my HGTV fix. It’s not reality television. It’s nothing but fantasy and adventure. Hey, wait, I write that kind of stuff. I can’t walk away just yet. Nope, I’ll make a cup of tea, clear a spot in the kitchen, and stay a little while longer.

 

I wasn’t sure I could get this post out this week. Life in our household turned upside down. We have a new edition. A German shepherd puppy.

His name should be Noodge 3.

His name should be Noodge 3.

 

Noodge 2 has been asking for a dog for a very long time. Hubby has also wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. Noodge 1 was on the fence at first and me, well, I like the idea of a dog. I wasn’t sure about the work. Because I have nothing to do ever so I figured, what the heck.

Why a German shepherd, you may ask. They’re loyal, smart, great with kids, and protective. I wanted the companionship when I went for a power walk along the country roads. Serial killers and bears hang out in the woods. I need to play it safe. And at night I want something to growl when an intruder approaches so I can press the panic button on the alarm panel.

It’s a long road to get to that protective dog stage. Right now he’s a cute fur ball who isn’t in love with his crate. He’s missing his brothers and sisters. Can’t say I blame him. You wouldn’t find me going to live with strangers willingly. Not without a concealed weapon. All he has is a bandana and the ability to pee.

We successfully survived the first day and night. Well, the puppy did. When I looked in the mirror after spending the night sleeping on an air mattress in the mud room next to his crate, I screamed. Who was that gaunt woman with hollow eyes staring back at me? I was pretty sure I didn’t play with a Ouija board the day before.

I hear all our hard work will be worth it. (That’s what they say about raising kids too and I’m still debating that one.) I’ll have to keep you posted on that conclusion.

But next time I ask for something I’ll try for round, clear, sparkly, and large. Just saying.

 

 

This is one of my favorite photos of Noodge 2 and her dad at Yankee Stadium.

This is one of my favorite photos of Noodge 2 and her dad at Yankee Stadium.

I was recently approached by Fanatics.com (you can check out their website by clicking on the link. They’re a leading retailer of anything sports related…you can find everything from signed memorabilia to MLB hats) to be a part of their “Family Fanatics” campaign and write about a time my family shared a bonding moment at a sporting event. I’m all for family bonding. I’m Italian.

This exercise got me thinking. Yes, I know. That’s when trouble starts. Which event would I pick? The time we all went to a Phillies baseball game? Or the years of sitting at Noodge 1′s Little League games while Hubby coached or Noodge 2′s basketball games. Hubby coached those too. Each of those events allowed us to spend time together and bond. Well, if you ask Noodge 2 she’s going to say sitting at Little League games bonded nothing except her teeth to a churro. Just saying.

Something that does bond our family is the shared enjoyment of the New York Yankees. Like many young boys growing up in New Jersey, Hubby has always loved the Yankees. He can recite stats to you and knows everything about their history. Let’s face it, whether you like the Yankees or not, you have to admit their history is the most amazing. In our house, their is no choice. You must like the Yankees. (If I didn’t know he was Jewish with that attitude I’d swear he was one of my paisans.)  He’s such a fan we’re naming our new puppy Munson after the legendary catcher and team captain Thurman Munson. (See, I know some history now too.)

Allow me to introduce to you - Munson Wilk

Allow me to introduce to you – Munson

But here’s what’s great. We’ve been going to Yankee games together for years. First, when it was just the two of us (I love “Old Timers Day”) then, years later, when the kids were big enough they started going. Hubby takes them, one at a time, to a game every year and I think that’s awesome. Each Noodge gets to spend an entire day with Dad at Yankee stadium. Those are going to be times they will look back on and remember. They will think of baseball and summer and the Yankees with a warm glow well into their golden years. They will tell stories to their grandchildren about the days their Dad took them to watch Derrick Jeter hit one out of the park. You can’t put a price on stuff like that.

I’m not left out either. If there’s a game still available, Hubby takes me and I get to go on a date with my husband. Can’t think of a better way to spend the day then with my best friend, eating hot dogs, and watching baseball.

So, my faithful reader, do you have any family bonding moments at sporting events? I’d love to hear about it. Play ball!

 

 

 

 

 

hall_lmad

I’m not an expert when it comes to parenting. I don’t have fancy letters at the end of my name. I just have two Noodges. One almost 14 and the other 12. What I do have is almost 14 years experience at this job, but the job changes every day. Just when I think I’ve got the Noodges figured out they go and change on me and I have to start learning all over again. But here’s something I know to be true: If you want children who are well behaved you have to set boundaries. Right from the beginning.

I read an article recently, that I was going to give you the link to, (but I thought ah, don’t waste your time,) that read in so many words we should reason with our young children. I think they were referring to the toddler to early elementary ages since the examples in the article use a child playing with trains. Here’s what I say to that: either the author was on crack or he doesn’t have any children. The example went something like this, Mom: “Sweetie pie, in five minutes you have to stop playing with your trains and clean up. Deal?” And they shake on it. Yeah, okay. Five minutes later: “Sweetie pie, five minutes are up. You need to clean up your amazing trains now.” Child: “Sure, Mommy.” And the trains get cleaned up. This isn’t a game show. There’s no deal. Monty Hall isn’t in your living room.

In an ideal world filled with lollipops and chocolate rivers, the above scenario will happen. In the real world? It’s a little different. My first suggestion would be to make sure the child can tell time before you go making deals about five minutes.

But let’s get to the point. Set boundaries. And those boundaries start in infancy. Yes. Infancy. Early on my Noodges had a bed time. And I stuck to it like an OCD dictator. (Okay, it wasn’t that bad.) But the truth? We stuck with that routine every night. They ate dinner, had a bath, a little play time, up to read a book and by 6:30 or 7 they went to sleep. Yes, my kids went to bed that early until Noodge 1 started kindergarten. I was a stay at home mother with two kids who didn’t nap. By 7 pm we were all ready for a little separation. My kids never argued with me about bed time. They still don’t. Bed time is bed time. And when they were younger it was non-negotiable. No deals. Monty Hall never lived in my house. Now, bed time can be discussed and reasoned over because they are older.

Obviously, the boundaries changed as they grew, but my Noodges know where the line is. They might walk right up to that line and put their big toe on it, but they don’t cross it. And if they do they’d better be ready for the consequences. My Noodges know there is a consequence for their actions. You know how I know? Both Noodges have said to me on different occasions, “If I did that (fill in the blank for that), or spoke that way to you, you’d kill me.” Now, don’t go running off and calling the authorities on me. I would never hurt my children, but they don’t know that. Hey, I’m Italian. We parent with a wooden spoon. It’s the first gift you get at the Italian Baby Shower.

All joking aside, parenting isn’t a democracy. You can’t reason with a three year-old. Kids don’t get a say about the rules because if they do then my friend, you just picked door number three and there’s nothing good behind it.  You want to give them a warning, go ahead, have at it. But kids, especially little ones, live in the moment. They don’t understand five minutes from now. Heck, even a 14 year-old boy has a hard time with “you have ten minutes to get off that video game” when he’s in the middle of a battle that will save the world from total annihilation. Forget trying to get your three year-old Sweetie Pie to put his trains away in five minutes when he can’t even tell time.

Tell your kids to clean up now. Make them do it. Stick to your guns. No deals. Trust me and you’ll be the big winner of your own parenting game show.