Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ringing in John's lucky number 14

You know that New Year's song..... the one that is played in all the cute RomComs with Tom Hanks and/ or Meg Ryan (or for you youngun's, Jennifer Lawrence and/ or Liam Hemsworth and the song is going to be penned by Taylor Swift)?  Auld Lang Syne!  Yeah, that one.  That song cracks me up.  Know why?  The song is taunting us to hurry up before THIS year ends to finish up all our business so that the new year can start fresh.

That's. Just. Dumb.

First off, for those of you with real grown up jobs- you've taken the last week or two off.  You were smart and didn't check the work e- mail and made damn sure that your assistant didn't forward any voicemails to you.  Hell, that employee went above and beyond by just checking your messages, summing them up in a tidy e- mail and marked the e- mail as urgent so that when you go back on the next business day, it's the first thing you see.  But if you are not so lucky to have someone awesome like that (ahem, like me), then you are going back in with a screaming client/ boss/ employee/ co-worker/ vendor on your e- mail/ voicemail.  From last year.

Second off, guess what.  No one suddenly develops a new personality at the stroke of midnight.  Actually, I think most of us drunks are more annoying at midnight.  Unless you're a nun, then you are just sleeping.  Unless you're a good Catholic nun.  Then you are at church praying for us drunkards at midnight.  Joking aside, we go in with the best intentions, but unless we are willing to REALLY look in the mirror, we are still the same.

BUT, we are stronger from the past year.  That might be the big change.  I know I'm definitely stronger, but I'm still annoying.  It's just part of my ADD.

Third, because people like the false hope that Auld Lang Syne presents us with, they actually end being more of a stressful person to be around (no matter what the capacity).  Some of you are in this big hurry to have all this "business" completed by December 31st, so that January 1st can be that fresh start!  With the new calendar up, that serene picture of SomeIslandNoOneHasEverHeardOf replacing December's picture of ReallyCuteAnneGeddesBabyInSantaDiapersUnderAPristineTree, you suddenly catch all the upcoming important dates.  Credit card payments due, mortgage/ rent due, you just got your bill in from AmEx detailing alllllllll those purchases made on Black Friday (you see now that those weren't really good deals, huh).  Once again, you guys, stop hurrying!  There is no magical stroke of midnight that changes everything (okay Cinderella?).  I have a friend who is stuck at her office today dealing with her clients' need to RUSH.  Seriously guys, most of those tax breaks aren't that big of a deal anyway.  Let the woman go home.

I've already kind of detailed what has gone on this past year.  It wasn't a very good one, but I know people who had it worse than me, so those blessings are counted and definitely passed along to those who need them.  I have no special business that I feel like has to be completed by today, except keeping whatever nasty cooties that John has at bay, or not... Actually, they can just hit.  The sooner I'm over with the bug, the better.  I learned that my method of job searching sucks and I need to get off my fat ass and actually get people face to face.  I learned that there are inspiring and awesome people around me.  I learned that my kids are rock stars.  I learned that I don't need to put up with anyone's shit, but also need to have some patience.

You want to know why else nothing magically changes at midnight?  Because you were so busy trying to accomplish all those BIG things to be done and over with, that you left behind the little things.  Your oil still needs changed.  The decorations still need put away.  The dog still needs walked, fed, thrown the tennis ball, and vaccinated.  Your pool still needs cleaned.  Your hair still needs cut.  Your spouse still needs a hug.  All those things that you were actually trying to hide, are still there.  Deal with them.  NOW.  Okay, at least write it down so that it doesn't come up and bite you in the ass when it's Valentine's Day and you are feeling the romantic pressure of setting that reservation up at the really cool rooftop restaurant overlooking the mountains/ ocean/ prairie land.  Or April 15th.

Oh, and something I really miss every year since we left Ohio?  The fun we had with our good friends playing beer pong, socializing, EATING, drinking and playing other games.  Then we would brave the icy roads of North Ridgeville to get home and sleep it off.  Ever since we got here, we have not built those kinds of relationships and I'm not sure why.  Maybe because we missed home, maybe because we felt out of place, maybe because we subconsciously didn't want to.

Also, I wonder if the Cleveland Browns camp even bothers playing that song at their holiday party.  Because seriously, they change staff more than I change my mind.  Those parties must be fun "hey, Haslam, remember when we fired Chud?" "Why yes, Banner, that was just yesterday!  Happy New Year, this will be our year!"  Ugh.  That's why they need to hire me as their Organizational Development/ Staff Development guru.  They suck.

Whether you will be at home tonight watching Ryan Seacrest's Rockin' New Year's Eve, out at the coolest place getting your drink on with friends, or being safe and having a house party..... I wish you all a healthy and happy 2014.  I know great things are coming.  And I'll be where God wants me to be- with my husband in a safe place (we'll probably be asleep thanks to his antibiotics and my tendency to crash by 8).  And because I'm not planning on shopping for a new outfit for any funerals, please use this service:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Conquering the Christmas spirit and my Facebook year in review

I used to say "I hate Christmas".  Pretty strong words from a Christian gal.  I would attempt to force myself into the spirit by decorating, baking, wrapping the gifts, blah blah blah.


Yet, every year I was still grumpy.  I was pissed that I couldn't buy John that boomin' new stereo system he wanted.  Or the kids the latest and greatest in toys, electronics, etc.  I was pissed that I can't bake the freaking kick- ass goodies that my mother-in-law and her sister do.  I was pissed that we didn't have a house where I could decorate like Clark Griswold.  I was pissed that we didn't attend Christmas Eve services at church because for the last two years I've worked at the Cheesecake, making other families' memories happen.  Then I would stay up till 1 or 2 in the morning to wrap the few gifts we got the kids.  I was just PISSED!  Pessimistic, sarcastic, depressing me.  

There was a shift this year.  2013 has been pretty rough for us.  I still don't have the proper job with my $30,000 Master's degree.  I'm still making $4.80/ hour + tips at a restaurant.  Then there were some family issues that went down (other than the proceeding sentences).  Zach was diagnosed with ADHD and the summer was spent trying to find the right medication for him and us trying to work on the behavior management.  I think the most exciting thing to happen to any of us was Adam's trip to New York for the MMUN.

We finally got Zach on the right type of medication, but the behaviors and family dynamics had to change.  So we decided that counseling was needed.  It started out as us going with him to work with a person to teach us how to parent a child with ADHD and for him understand what he needs to do as well.  Then it turned into John and I going for some separate counseling to better understand why we've made some of the parenting choices we've made.  Gotta tell you, this woman is amazing.  She's not a Ph.D and I'm not sure what her actual qualifications are other than the fact that she is just simply uh-may-zing.  She's made both of us dig down REAL deep.  She makes us think.  She makes us own. She makes us (really me) understand that I am pretty awesome and as soon as I let my wall down, I can let all the good in.  We started doing group counseling with other families for the ADHD.  However, getting through this with Zach is going be a long process because we've got to undo 10 years of crappy parenting.  Yay us!

For those of you who aren't sure what my career goals are, I'll explain it again.  I obtained my Master's in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology.  I want to go into Training and Organizational Development.  Because I lack actual, direct experience in this, I've been applying for entry- level HR positions.  Almost 300 jobs applied for and I think I've had two interviews this year.  

I had an opportunity to go back and work as a legal assistant.  Due to a really stupid move on my part, this fell through AND I lost a friend in the process.  YAY SARAH!  You go girl.......  Also, I was on the board of a professional organization in hopes of boosting my networking and job opportunities.  Pppppfffft, that was a joke.  Seriously.... a joke.  Then, it almost happened this month. I got a call for an interview.  The job was PERFECT.  They loved me.  I was so confident that I was going to be hired that I actually gave notice at CCF.  Then I got the call.  
"Oh, they really really loved you, but felt that the travel was going to be a problem"
"Um, what, no.  Call them back tell them it's not an issue"
"It's non- negotiable at this point, they wish they had something else for you"
Whatever, they knew I had kids and felt that up to 50% travel was going to wear me down.  So, they discriminated.

Oh, I also lost another friend for a very strange reason.  But I'm not going to go into that.  All I'm going to say is that if you unfriend me on Facebook and then want me to join Twitter so I can follow you and your shitty sales pitches for a company that is clearly like Amway and a cult..... yeah.

I want to get back to Christmas.  We had a blast two weekends ago visiting my brother-in-law in San Diego.  I've never stayed downtown and we spent the whole weekend walking around.  Do you know how freaking peaceful and calming it is there?  Here.....

I didn't do any decorating this year.  Our storage situation is really strange and we actually couldn't get to the decorations.  I figured that I just didn't care this year, I couldn't handle forcing myself into the spirit.  The kids were going to be disappointed and I'm surprised that John didn't put up more of a fight because he LOVES Christmas.  But I think he knew and just understood.  Then we had a serious discussion about our finances and not purchasing gifts.  Thanksgiving had been so perfect with just the four of us and keeping it minimal and that was how I wanted Christmas to be.  Every year we stretch ourselves so thin with buying gifts for the kids and then paying bills.  I was noticing a change in the customers' Christmas spirit at work too.  Usually at least one guest per night will tip above and beyond and it wasn't so much that I was expecting that this year, but what I wasn't expecting were the ANGRY people.  The people who came in and tipped $3 on $60.  The people who were just downright rude.  This actually made it easier for me to tell John NO GIFTS THIS YEAR!  I was tired of the kids expecting stuff.  I was tired of our last minute trips the few days before Christmas to purchase stuff.  I was tired of staying up till 1 or 2 a.m. wrapping crap.  Hey, we didn't even watch Christmas movies this year or played music.  I was tired of us needing stuff that we don't buy and then using Christmas as an excuse to buy a bunch of crap.

I did some baking.  I spent Christmas Eve bawling because I was thinking of all the people who mean so much to me.  I texted my best friend from college whom I rarely talk to anymore and per my counselor's instructions, I needed to reconnect with her.  Then another friend had posted a Facebook status where she was feeling inadequate, etc.  This person needed to hear the impact she has had on not just me, but everyone we work with.  So I called her and we bawled together.  Then I talked to my other best friend and something was said that really hurt my feelings, but I know it wasn't intentional.  So, I have to discuss that with her.

  Wanna know what our tree was?  A rosemary plant.  Yep, we went to Sprouts and bought this little plant that smelled like pine and I stuck a few candy canes on it.  We broke down and bought the boys a few things and put those gifts around the plant on the dining room table.  We spent Christmas Day with TBS and it's 24 hour run of A Christmas Story on.  The boys played on their iPad/ iTouch with the Roblox gift cards we got them and we laid in bed all day.  Then I cried some more because I'm so happy and thankful.  Finally, the true meaning of Christmas is upon me.  I wasn't upset that we couldn't do all those things.  I wasn't upset that we weren't with family.  I wasn't upset that we only got three Christmas cards in the mail (does anyone do those anymore?).  I didn't focus on our mounting bills.  I focused on us and what we have.  I've been humbled.

2014 will be our year.  For anyone who had it rough in 2013.... 2014 will kick its ass.  I promise.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time for an overhaul.... major overhaul

I haven't blogged in awhile.  I thought it had been over a year because when I tried to find the blog, Google suggested it had been deleted.  Well crap, there were a few of my writings that I really loved and felt worthy of an award.  Oooh, that's a good idea!  The Blogger Awards!  Someone get on that, cuz I'm really funny.  Oh wait, where were we?  That's right!  Anyway, I found a post I wrote back in December and remembered that I had problems sharing it on Facebook, became frustrated and just gave up.

But as I was talking to a friend at a baseball game about job hunting woes, she mentioned that an acquaintance of hers began blogging and gained some recognition that way.  Karen mentioned that with my humor and writing style that I should give it a shot.  I had started something on Wordpress, but grew bored with my own self- loathing and if I tried to find the blog now I would not remember the login information.  Sigh.

So when I logged into my Lemonhead blog, I remembered all my prior writings of depressing/ woe-is-me/ boohoo/ waaawaaa and you know what?  I deleted them.  I kept the few posts that were fun and positive to read.  And that is what this is going to be about.  I decided that I'm tired of being in my own head.  My brain psyches me out and I have myself believing things that just are not true.  Factor in the whole job fiasco right now and I'm just downright miserable.  But then I took a look at patterns from the past couple of years versus the prior several years.  Patterns that seemed to always evolve while certain behaviors were at play and life events were happening.  I reminded myself that God (and life, for my atheist/ agnostic friends) was testing me, to see if I could truly handle the wonderful blessings in my life that have been granted.  And the perfect test happened a few weeks ago at work.

I work at The Cheesecake Factory (no, Penny does not work there).  It's been stressful simply because prostituting your personality for survival money can become daunting and if you know me, then you know that biting my tongue and holding sarcasm inward is like asking Perez Hilton to keep a secret.  But regardless, that are other things that bug me and John kindly reminded me that no matter where I am, something is going to bug me.  Point stated.  It's also because I'm holding this stupid Master's degree in my hands and haven't found the opportunity to use it yet.  So, when an incident happened a few weeks ago at work I was just.... done.  I had already talked to a manager regarding some other things and on this particular night that same manager was beginning to cop an attitude.  If they only knew.....  And ever since that night there is a co- worker who has REALLY been a bitch.  I decided it's another test.  How am I going to handle the bitch and her little cronies?  I'm not.

I thought of all those people in my past life that I had begun to have a problem with and how I handled it.  I tried whining my way into their life.  I wanted so badly to be their buddy.  I needed their approval. I have nothing in common with this person!  I had nothing in common with those other people!  There is just a certain type of personality that I am not meant to be friends with and I have no patience for their shenanigans in my space.  And when I find a job, this person won't matter anymore.

So, I have to make a change.  I am making a change.  Also, I'm tired of women with more kids than me having a better body.  Time to shape up.  Hey, JUSTINE!  What happened to our 7 a.m. workouts?

Monday, December 10, 2012


My kids are superheroes.  

As Halloween has come and gone and the Iron Man 3 trailer was released, I am reminded of the Batman, Iron Man, and Spiderman costumes.  I remember the Superman, Spiderman and Incredibles pajamas.  I cannot count the hours spent watching The Avengers, Spiderman 1, 2, 3  and The Amazing Spiderman, Batman (mostly the Dark Knight series because we have not shown them the Michael Keaton/ Val Kilmer/ George Clooney versions), The Hulk, Iron Man 1 & 2, and everything else.  Does Thor count too?  

I think of what I was like as a child: a little girl whose favorite color was pink.  So much so, that I had painted my bedroom walls pink.  I dressed as a princess every year for Halloween- Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.  The girly- girl daughter of a tomboy, you wouldn't catch me attempting to play softball or touch football.  I was never interested in Wonder Woman or SuperGirl (although She- Ra held my interest).  I wanted to wear dresses and socks with lace.  Now I'm a woman who sits at baseball games and comes home covered in dirt.  I would rather wear sneakers and jeans than a dress.  And even though my T.V. preferences are practically chosen for me, what with two boys and a husband (Toddlers and Tiaras, eat your tutus out), I can live vicariously through the girls on Sex & The City given the occasion that I catch reruns on the Style Network.

But back to those mini Superheroes.  It's impossible to think of them otherwise.  They have saved lives with their presence and being.  They are rescuers- of tiny beetles and other helpless insects.  They are philanthropists in that they try to lead by example and always help us out financially (no really, Zach cutting his own hair because he didn't want us to spend money was pretty charitable......).  They become angry and mean, but often tame it.  They are strong in mind, spirit and body.  Their constant energy leaves them able to leap and bound where they are needed.

Their bravery is enviable.  Even though at times they have to fight the evil of temporary enemies (who knew boys had drama?), the optimism that is shown through and through would be the characteristic/ superpower of attempted thievery.  In a world where so many children are consumed by the latest gadget and parents who tailor to their every whim, mine have found a way to only want one possession: family.  Their mom and dad are everything to them and I feel as though they would stop anything and anyone who tried to stand in the way of them being with us.  

At the end of the day, it's the warm cuddles, bear hugs and slobbery kisses.  In the early morning, it's the bright eyes, big smiles and sometimes grumpy demeanor.  I am sure that someday my kids will find their Lois Lane, Vicki Vale, Pepper Potts or Mary Jane Watson.  But for now, I get to be the leading lady.  I will not allow a tragedy in their lives to determine who they become (okay, fine I don't have control of everything). And much like our atypical caped/ masked crusaders, I certainly hope that my children's choices for life- long love will not be hampered by the need to save the world or a demanding career.

Yes, they are superheroes through and through.  They continue to learn life lessons and they have taught lessons to everyone who comes in contact with them.  Every Christmas, I am given the same gift over and over: my two little protectors.  I don't have to shine a bat signal or scream in despair.  Their own little Spidey senses tingle with suspicion when a hug is needed.  They know just when to break out into Superhero Gangnam Style dance at just the right time.  And they definitely bring joy to those around them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smuddy from another.... wait, what's a Smuddy?

No one is safe from my mad blogging skills. Not even my best friend Julie, although I do not talk about her much. She is my best kept secret, the ying to my yang and a true treasure. Maybe that's why I also call her Jules. Julie and I met in 1994, our freshman year of college at good ole' Garden City Community College, taking one of those stupid required Frosh classes that no one can escape.

It was an accidental friendship, one that just occurred. Julie's gorgeous, big blue eyes, long brown hair and skinny frame matched my small, green eyes, blondish hair and skinny frame. She had grown up in Garden City her whole life as the middle child of three siblings (a younger brother and an older sister). Julie is the smart, sensible one- resembling her mom in all aspects of beauty, grace and intelligence and possessing both parents' business sense. And if you know me at all, well then, no further explanation is needed.

Julie loved performing on stage with her flair for the dramatic while maintaining a steady ground. This while I did not perform on stage, but rather as a cheerleader with my drama queen tendencies. Julie was (and is) a natural leader, holding an assistant manager position at the local theater while I grudgingly worked as a waitress.

Julie's upper- middle class family was a sharp contrast to my..... not so middle class upbringing. The good Catholic girl who held firm to her morals and beliefs while my loose, Christian (by choice) life was already tainted. Julie dated, but was never promiscuous. I had one boyfriend, always loyal, no matter how horrible the relationship.

I don't remember how it started, but I remember Jeremy, the guy she pined for since high school (and what a jerk he was). Julie had a party one weekend while her parents were away. The night ended not that great and I was quick to clean up so that when she awoke, there was no added stress. Let's just say lots of alcohol, some puking, a broken key in the doorknob and her parents' bedroom incurring some small damages. What does this have to do with Jeremy? Julie wanted him to come over and there was some issue with another girl and Julie got into a spat on the phone with the girl.

Me taking care of her sealed the deal for our friendship. We were inseparable. We made trips to McDonald's, wearing the plastic bibs and ordering food in high- pitched, stupid voices. We previewed moves before they were open to the public, sitting in the exact center of the theater, because that was where Julie liked to sit. Julie had driven a sweet, 1965 Corvair through high school and then her dad sold it after a family member passed away and left behind a 1970- something Monte Carlo... the color? A goldish- brown. Julie was NOT happy, but it had something to do with gas and insurance. We signed up for an 8 a.m. College Algebra class and on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Julie would pick me up for school and we would go through the drive- through of Mickey D's and order two medium Cokes and two apple pies each. Yummy. Julie got The Rachel cut and sported it well, as only Julie could. I was jealous. I mean, hello, who didn't want The Rachel.

There was the Halloween where I dressed up as Genie and Julie did my hair and makeup, walking around campus with me as I granted wishes. There was the New Year's Eve where we ended up catching up right before midnight to open a bottle of champagne together. There was the youth group club we belonged to in which we signed up to deliver flowers and balloons on Valentine's Day for the local grocery store. During that time, we saw a woman wearing an ill- fitting and looking dress (moo- moo?) with sunflowers all over it. This began our Suuuuunflooooweeeerrrr conversation and our nickname for each other. This began years and years of sending each other things in the mail, from books to pictures to cards, to one another with sunflowers. There was the day we were cleaning out her bedroom and found the Smud. Spackled Smud. Smud from Nickelodeon.

The infamous Smud nickname came to be. No one ever knew what the hell we were talking about. Sunflower, Smud...... and oh dear lord if there is not an organization in San Francisco named Smud and we shall become employed there. There was the year that the Newman Club had to decide which one of us would represent them for homecoming queen candidate. She won, but not after we choked each other out, slammed one another against the door... all in good fun people! I ended up being nominated for another organization. Ultimately, Julie was a finalist and represented quite beautifully. Our fun together was had that night when we sang the National Anthem before the start of the basketball game. That same year was spent going on a mission trip and skiing during Spring Break. We spent the first few days on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. Here we helped to repair the small community and participated in some traditions.

Such as the Smoke.

Yes, the Smoke. Sort of like a sweat lodge, or sauna. Normally the members would sit naked together while sweating out the demons in a small teepee. Julie and I being the only girls, we opted to buy a couple of towels from Kmart and wear those. Of course, we ran through the Kmart with various towels wrapped around our clothes, arms flailing and crazy voices protruding our mouths. We had a picture taken of us after the Smoke, white towels filthy and skin red as lobsters. We smoked peyote and even watched Joe's Apartment with the group. We left to Colorado to go skiing, where Julie mastered snowboarding while I just continued up to the black diamond trails with the guys. We spent time soaking in the jacuzzi at our hotel and yukking it up with the other members of the group.

I think that last year of school at Garden, before we went our separate ways, was the most eventful. This was the year her parents separated after 25 years of marriage. Julie and I had spent many, many afternoons cuddled up together on the couch in the Green Room of the theater department and people would often walk in on us, stop and stare in a stumped manner, only to turn and walk away. This was where I consoled her as she cried over this crappy decision they had made. She and I participated in a production together, where she played "bartender", wearing her cute little hot pants and black vest with white shirt and black tie. We bought matching bikinis, hers a metallic blue and mine a metallic purple and we were spotted playing put- put in our swimsuits and shorts. On graduation day, her graduation, Julie took meticulous measures to perfectly construct a sunflower on her cap. That was Julie, everything she did was well thought out and perfect.

But that was the last year we were together. 1997. I would be moving to Phoenix with John. Julie was applying to airlines to be a flight attendant, wanting to travel the world. I was not done with school and would continue with my bachelor's degree when he and I settled in wherever. Julie and I said our goodbyes the night before and at noon that day, as John and I headed west out of Kansas, I broke down in tears because I already missed her. I would later find out that she started crying at the same time. Julie went to work for Delta and later United. The scariest day of my life was September 11, 2001. John had picked me up from work, but I was on his cell phone trying to reach her, unable to do so. When I found out that there was a United flight which had gone down in Pennyslvania, I was horrified. I would later be contacted by her and advised that they had just taken off from Atlanta when everything occurred and were immediately grounded.

Julie had visited me when we moved to Ohio. Her goal: Cedar Point. We spent an evening riding roller coasters, demon drops and water rides. We gorged ourselves on alcohol, Wendy's and bar food. We played pool, we laughed, we lounged. Julie was there for my baby shower, sitting by my side as I opened gifts. We talked for hours on end on the phone. No conversation was shorter than 4 hours. Julie was now living in Denver, after leaving Delta and Portland. Here, she was reunited with someone she knew from high school. She made me promise that no proposal would be given to her on a "holiday" such as Christmas or Valentine's. Brett and Julie were engaged on Valentine's Day 2002. The wedding was set for July 2003, only being pushed up to November of 2002 to ensure Brett's grandfather could make the wedding. I was pregnant with Zach, but would not miss out on this day to stand up with my best friend. And of course, who would have wanted to miss out on me reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee" to them and dancing to our song with Julie- Wind Beneath My Wings? I would not have missed Julie sticking her tongue to the ice sculpture at the end of the night, leaving the ballroom with her yelling "I'm thtuck! I'm thtuck!"

Julie no longer works for the airlines. After the attacks and her marriage, Brett and Julie moved back to Kansas to pursue bachelor's degrees- Brett's second and Julie's first. They have been married for nine years now. The purpose of this long, hilarious story of ours is my gift (sort of) to her upon completion of her Master's degree and graduation from Kansas State University on December 9th. She worked so long and hard for this, originally intending on going to PA school, but instead going for a Public Health degree. They just moved to Kansas City to finally begin the life they have been working toward for the last six or seven years.

Julie is a person who spends a lot of time thoroughly planning what she wants. And I mean right down to the last detail. Julie sticks to her convictions and beliefs. She is well educated on topics and most people think her to be a snob, but she's not. Julie is well rounded with enjoying hobbies such as golf, ballets, symphonies and has put her entire being into her marriage. When the time comes for her to have children, she will be one of the best moms I know and won't do so until she has her house. And a dog. Julie will never drive a minivan, but will drive an SUV, like an Escalade. Julie is classy with tastes running modern, but classic. Her styles will never die out and she never does anything conventional, but often traditional. You won't find her on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, refusing to give in to living a "social network life". Julie listens to country or classic rock. She is not like me with my Eminem, Buckcherry and Kid Rock. But given the chance, you would most definitely find us at a Keith Urban or Tom Petty concert.

Fun facts about Julie and I: My birthday is April 10, her mom's is April 12. Julie's birthday is June 24, my mom's is June 26th.

We were both married in November, a year apart. Both of our wedding days were unseasonably warm, sunny and NO SNOW considering where we lived.

We will have completed a Master's degree six months apart. We both attended KSU, although mine was only for a semester :) Both our schools' (college) colors are purple and white.

We made a pact to travel to Greece when we turned 30. I think we may have to wait until we are 40.

Favorite shows: Friends, Grey's Anatomy

We once made a will for each other in a drunken stupor, sitting at Denny's smoking cigarettes. The waitress was our signed witness.

I have no idea what her favorite color is.

Her favorite flower is the Calla Lily. Mine is the tulip.

The last time we saw each other was at her wedding in 2002. That's 9 years ago. That's too long. Lord help the city stuck with us reuniting.

We both have maiden names that were always mispronounced, despite the spellings being very easy. Duh.

I love her very much, she is like a sister to me. Even though she has her own sister. She understands me and never judges. Yes, we've had a couple fights, but dammit, who hasn't?

She refused to call me on my birthday because she was upset about something happening in her life and didn't want to ruin my day. HELLO! Call me anytime you goof!

She is the most beautiful person I know.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Friday night lights in the Marchese home means baseball. Now, for all my die hard football friends out there, don't get offended or defensive. Yes, I stole the title which was originally meant for the familiar sounds and smells of our high school football team rushing the field. The boys of Fall who play their hearts out for the chance to go on to that coveted State division spot. But my boys are the boys of Spring. Pardon my bias for baseball, but it's what I married into and had planned all along for my kids.

Little league in Arizona is no different than anywhere else. From the little peanuts in T-Ball to the young men in "major leagues", all in their uniforms carrying their bat bags. It doesn't matter what their age is, those boys (and sometimes the occasional girl) step up to that home plate and bang the bat, practicing their menacing stare at the pitcher. Boof boof! Boof Boof! The red dirt flies up in clouds of dust, the sun sets over the mountains or across the field. The pitcher stares back looking at the catcher, raises his arms up, brings one knee up.... WOOSH! That white ball goes hurdling at the batter, he swings..... will he make contact?

CRACK! "FOUL BALL!" the umpire cries out as all heads swing upward to watch where that ball is going to go ready to yell "watch out, ball!" to anyone standing nearby not observing the game. Boof boof! Boof boof! The batter bangs the bat against the plate again, stares are exchanged, WOOSH! CRACK! The bat is eagerly thrown to the wayside as the batter takes off for first base wanting to slide so badly, but knowing he can't on first base. For some reason, that's what the kids at this age love to do.... slide. They will even do it coming up to home plate regardless if that ball is all the way out in right field.

I sat up in the score box last Friday night with John and a mom from the other team. We were doing the pitch count, she was doing the score book. We sat there and laughed together, helping one another keep stats, reminding the other that we were not allowed to "coach" from the sidelines as we were accustomed to doing in the Farm league. Nope, the Minor leagues are big business and us nervous, worried moms are not even allowed to go into the dugouts to console our children who are crying because they struck out or got hit by the ball. She turned to us and commented how she would not want to be anywhere else in the world right then other than where she was: in her home city watching her son play baseball on a Friday night. I had said the same thing to John the night before, that it was like the perfect night watching Zach play ball and sitting next to John on the bleachers cheering while Adam ran around with his friends. The other mom even commented how baseball families are always the nicest families, no matter what team they are rooting for and that is true.

Adam crouches down as catcher in front of us. I'm terrified that Carson is going to pitch that ball right into Adam's head, but that's what the catcher's gear is for. Adam doesn't let that ball get past him. The batter from the other team steps up to the plate, then I worry that the bat is going to make contact with Adam's catcher's helmet. I say a silent prayer to God to let this kid be okay as he's already been hit in the mouth by a ball that night. We watch the batter swing and hit the ball down the center. He runs to first as our boys scramble to get that ball to the base. The mom next to me is furiously watching all these plays making sure she's checking everything off and counting how many runs come in as only five runs are allowed per inning. I'm keeping track of the pitch counts to make sure that no one pitcher gets up to 65. Coach Sean swings by after each inning to see if we have the same number of counts.

Our boys are up to bat. We watch a scary play in which the other team throws a ball from second to third and the ball hits the third basemen square in the throat. No one is rushing out to the field to check on him and I want to jump up myself and run to him. What the hell are these people thinking? Finally I yell out that someone needs to get out there. The coach finally sidles out and checks him out, ushering him back to the dugout. It's been quite a night already as we had four kids not show up and thought we would have to forfeit. They've had two injuries now. It's freezing as we sit up in the box with our coats on shivering. Where are those 80 degree nights we are so accustomed to? The wind starts to kick up when the umpire sweeps the dirt off the plate and we cough as it enters our sinus passages.

Spectators ask us for the score. Adam's team is leading 10- 6. Dogs are observing the white ball being thrown around everywhere, wagging their tails wishing they could go after it. Siblings are at the snack bar asking for nachos and parents are happily cheering on their children. The other mom leans over to me and states that she has to pee. I start to laugh, understanding how she feels. Cameron is on the steps behind me talking to John. I see Zach on the bleachers surrounded by two other boys as he plays a game on his DS. WOOSH! Another pitch is thrown.... CRACK! The ball goes way out in left field as players round the bases, bringing the other team's score up to 9. "Hey ump! Was that call safe for that player or is he out?" the other mom asks as we have observed the third base coach confer with the other coaches when a player left the base too early for home.

Finally, the game has ended. They are only allotted two hours for these games and our team was leading in score anyway. The teams have quick meetings before all those boys make mad dashes for the snack bar to get their treats. Adam comes out of the line holding an icee and a lemonade. He's so proud of himself, knowing he did a good job. Our goodbyes are called out to the other families we know from both teams.

So, there you have it..... we don't have cheerleaders in cute little uniforms jumping around and doing fun dances. We don't have a band belting out Gary Glitter's "HEY!" or even the line for the players to run through as they leave the locker room for the field. But we have peanuts, the seventh inning stretch, players spitting from the pitcher's mound (that's for you Jay!) and adorable little sluggers across Scottsdale and the U.S. who long to be like A- Rod or Randy Johnson.

And I would not trade my Friday Night Lights or the other three or four nights of the week for anything.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arizona sky

Growing up in Washington, you don't realize how gorgeous the mountains can be. When you end up moving to Kansas where there are no mountains, you don't realize what you are missing. When you grow up, figure out your brain is intact and move to Phoenix, Arizona to nestle yourself into several little mountains (I live at the base of the McDowell Mountains)........ a solid love and appreciation for the scenery blossoms. But not just the scenery- the clouds that curl themselves into the ridges, the clouds that settle at the peaks, the clouds that build up like big fluffy pillows overstuffed with feathers waiting and wanting to be unleashed.....

It's the clouds.

At least for me it is. My love for the clouds and the sky began in August of 2007. I had come home from work and the sky was lit orange, pink, purple and red, the clouds building over the mountains, ready to bring us our monsoon, ready to release the rage of tears they hold, ready to lash out at the heat. I stood on the balcony outside my bedroom with my Sony camcorder in hand (it was the only means of digital camera I had at the time, mad kudos to my husband for buying me a wonderful digital camera a year later for Christmas). I watched the cloud race toward me, spouting the lightning flashes within, warning me that it held more power in it's gray and pink fluffiness than I could ever fathom.

I'm addicted.

It is during this time of year- monsoon season which lasts from June through about September- that I am the weird person running around my complex, trying to find the best spot to stand and get the shot, trying to get that shot of the sun's rays streaming through that dark gray cloud with the yellow, pink and orange hues shining in the distance. Me and my little Sony cybershot. I play with the ISO settings, the meter mode, the white balance...... all so I can create the dramatic effect of these masses of beauty and whisp.

I would someday like to take all these pictures and create calendars. Or artwork. I would need to take some photography classes and obtain a killer camera. The real mysteries lie higher up in the mountains and in the canyons.