Monday, November 18, 2013

I would catch a grenade for you...

{stream of consciousness}

I had big plans to wrote a post about all of the things I am thankful for. It's been a running theme this month on Facebook, and each day I have seen a steady stream of all the things the people I love are thankful for that day. Being lazy productive, I figured I would just lay out 31 things I am thankful for tonight. And there is, really, so, so much that I'm thankful for. My son. My fragile, healing little marriage. My sister, who I would die without. Coffee. Glory be to God, coffee.

Another thing I am thankful for is the internet. Yup. It speaks to my soul. I can find song lyrics, historical facts, Flyers schedules, and omigod what the hell was the name of the girl on that show {feverishly google}...oh. Tiffany Brissette. But I also find gems. I hear things that inspire me and move me and make me laugh and make me cry. One day, I found this (watch it, it's important):



And I figured out what the hell my problem is.

I'm the sensitive type. My mom always told me that, my teachers always told me that, our therapist tells me that. I take words that other people hear as just words and turn them around until it means so much more...in my head. Idle comments turn to insults, small actions (or small inaction) turn into huge ones, and- worst of all- my own insecurities turn into the way the world sees me, and I turn inside even more because I feel like I'm a disappointment or not worthy or some such shit. It's something I used to be able to smile off, but the older I get, the more difficult that becomes. I used to think it was everyone else, but it's totally me.

In her talk, Ash noted that "...we all have closets...all a closet is is a hard conversation." I thought I was good at having hard conversations, but in reality, I'm not. I'm not confrontational and not very eloquent and the few times I have tried to have a hard conversation, I have made a mess of it. I want to try and get a handle on all of my sensitivities but instead, they just become so many grenades in my hands.

This is where I almost lost my marriage to Pete. We spent so many years being each others sounding board, secret-tellers-to, and catchers of each others grenades. But then our secrets got out of hand and our sounding boards shut down and there we were. In the closet. This is where I have lost friendships, not with a bang, but with the quiet closing of a closet door because I didn't know how to have a hard conversation.

My closet is where I go because I can't face my shit. The closest I come to opening the doors is when I sit in this space to write. For some reason, this is where I can at least peek out of the closet, where I can sit down with my friends here who act as my pancake girl. But like Ash said, when we sit in the closet with our grenades in our hands, what eventfully happens? They blow up. I listened to this talk at least ten times, nodding and "hmm-humm"-ing and saying "Yes. Yes. That" because finally I heard, in normal, straightforward speak, someone articulate just what that looks like.

I want to work on this. I come out of the closet here, and I am able to do it when Pete and I see our marriage counselor (mainly because paying to go would be a damn waste if I wasn't willing to open the door). But on the whole, I don't know how to throw my grenade and say "I don't want to go out for girl's night because I can't face being the ugliest in the group" or "If I don't make a joke about {insert situation here} and, instead, tell you what I really feel, I might start crying and never stop". Instead of remembering that "hard is not relative, hard is hard", I think that I have no right to open up my hard because 1. it's dumb or 2. so many others have it harder.

I hope you were able to hear Ash speak and get something out of her talk, because I think she hit on a number of things, important things. She threw her grenades with such eloquence and grace and I was a bit in awe of her. I also hope you listened before you read this, since there's no way I can do it justice! But let's try to eat our pancakes and open our doors and throw our grenades.

Monday, October 28, 2013

If you're lost and alone or you're sinking like a stone, carry on...

{things on thursday}

Stuff on Saturday

The crap I'm writing about at 10:59pm on Sunday.

There we go.

The past few weeks have been full of nonsense. There have been so many times that I wanted to sit and write, but I either felt too stilted, too tired, or just plain didn't care. It hasn't been a stellar time lately, and it would be so easy to just sit down and pour out sentences filled with woe. I could work the whole "It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to" angle and let it all out.

But so much of it is just nonsense. Bickering with Pete as we try to get through this whole working-out-our-marriage thing. Trying to find an evenness in my baby, who has been so manic and disorganized lately. Just trying to live. The living is just so damn hard sometimes.

This past Friday, we lost a friend of mine to a rare form of leukemia. She gave it a long, hard fight but, in the end, her body just wore out. Dominica was a friend of mine, and she had a family around her that would have blocked a hurricane to keep her here. One of those family members, my dear friend Carmen, is one of my closest friends, someone who is a part of my own family. Her brother and her nephew Noah are left trying to pick up the pieces of a new life, one without their Dominica, and it's so fucking unfair that I can't find any words.

So, instead, I'll talk about this.

Back in February, Carmen's friend Jennifer was flying in from Florida for a visit. We had been hearing about her forever and were dying to meet her. We planned a girls night in Philly, but started to rethink it when we realized that Jen would need to fly in, get to Carmen's place in NJ, and get ready just to turn around and walk back out the door to go out. We didn't want to waste any potential hanging out time, so Marla and I hatched the brilliant idea to have a girl's night at her house. Her dining room has been newly painted and we hired a chef to cater the affair. We were staying in, but still going balls to the wall.

We settled on a "sparkle" theme, with all of us wearing a little bling. Marla and I had even glued crystals to wine glasses! Chef Mark started to cook and soon, women started to trickle in, laughing and noshing and talking loudly to be heard over all of the noshing and laughing. We sat down to the table to start our meal, but Dominica's seat was still empty. We were wondering if she was going to make it after all when there was a knock at the door. Dominica walked in and a huge cheer came up from the table- we were complete.

Empty chair? Where's Dom??
Dominica's arrival was the missing piece we needed to transform  a pleasant girls night into an evening of Epic Lady Nonsense that included wildly inappropriate discussions and a frigid dip into Marla's hot tub, where the water kept us warm as the steam droplets froze in our hair! And the dinner...oh, my. Chef Mark is a culinary genius and if he hadn't been showing us pictures of his children on his phone, I would have kidnapped him and made him cook for me forever.

I am not always a girls girl. I am awkward and easily intimidated and my low self-esteem makes it difficult for me to not feel like a loser in front of other women. Sad but true. But this night, among a mish-mosh of all different types of women, I felt right at home. There was a magic in the air and it wasn't just the copious amount of alcohol flowing about.

Oh, hell yeah! There she is! 
We all laughed and talked and even yelled way past midnight and into the next morning. It seemed like it would go on forever, but eventually, we all lost steam and, one by one, left to go home. When I got to our apartment, Pete was still up. I shared my leftovers with him and talked his ear off about how fun our night was.

If I had thought that the evening would be impossible to ever recreate, it's even more clear now. That night, Dominica's cancer seemed to be at bay, taking a rest after it had kicked her ass around for a bit. But, Dom was an ass-kicker herself, so we all figured she was one her way to better health and a beautiful life with her love and her son. But, back to life being unfair again, it came back, and this time it was just too much.

Right now, everyone is doing the holding up thing. Making arrangements, making phone calls. Dominica comes from a huge, tight-knit family, and judging from the endless stream of comments, pictures, and videos on Facebook, documenting the life of this woman, she is so loved. Her husband and her little boy have so many hands to help lift them up and so many hearts to use while they patch up their own.

Life is just hard sometimes, for no good reason. We all have some sort of cross to bear, and nothing annoys me more than when people try to compare sadness. "My dog passing beats your terrible asthma attack" and such. Each persons sadness is their own, and it doesn't help anyone to get into a sadness pissing contest. Instead, strive to share your good, and in the midst of your own, send some prayers and good vibes to a family who is desperately missing someone tonight.

Dominica, you gave it one hell of a fight. Thank you for always being so good to my Carmen, for being so stinking funny, and for loving Carlo and creating such a little spitfire in Noah, who PJ adores. There will always be a place at the table for you.

Rest well.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I must be one of the wonders, God's own creation...

{stream of consciousness}

I feel like I should note that I have been trying to write this post for over a week now. I write, reflect, erase, shut the computer, come back, repeat. I have been trying to convey just how emotional, how special a quick moment was for me, and I keep missing the mark. So I am just going to write and not worry and just try to get this down on paper the screen.

A few Fridays ago, I saw the future. Kind of.

I had been having a rough week, so when my dear friend Michelle said she was free for coffee while PJ was at school, I jumped at the chance. A good chat with a great friend at our favorite hangout seemed like a recipe for a better mood. We sipped our coffee and talked about our babies and laughed over gossip and I felt my soul easing up a bit and my mood lifting.

When our coffee was done, we gathered up our things to leave. As we walked to the door, I saw a familiar face out of the corner of my eye, someone I could tell was tall even though she was sitting down, and I turned to see an acquaintance I knew through a family member.

Jennifer is one of those women who truly seems to do it all. She is tall, willowy, and lovely. She is brilliant, a professor at a local college. She has a handsome husband and gorgeous sons, and together they are outdoorsy, intelligent, and giving. I know, right? But we don't hate her. Jennifer is incredibly gracious and nice. I don't see her very often so this was a pleasant surprise.

As she sat with her oldest son, we did the usual life-update chat- this is what I've been up to, here's a picture of PJ, "He's so big!", etc. Her son was either just finishing up or had just finished his degree in film, and later that day had an interview for a coveted internship position at a local television production company. We talked about handshakes, about PJ, about his studies and his hopes for the future. When he got up to go to the counter, I turned to Jennifer.

"He's so self-assured...and tall!" Seriously. This is a tall family. I have to look straight up to speak with Jennifer when we are standing, and her son is even taller. Either way, it was time to go, and we walked out of the shop. I wished him well at his interview, promised to keep all of my fingers crossed, and got into my car, where I promptly burst into tears.

PJ is just about to turn four. I am, really, just starting my adventure of being the mother of a son with Autism. And in just four short years, everything I thought would be was rewritten. I find myself living day-to-day, and not able to see into the future. It's sometimes difficult to envision PJ in high school when we are struggling to put together his IEP, or deep-breathing our way through a tantrum. Life with my son is beautiful and amazing and brings every joy I imagined, but it's something we often take a few moments at a time. Maybe it's because I don't know too many young men in their late teens/early twenties. But suddenly, meeting Jennifer's son, I saw the potential for what PJ's future could be as a self-assured young man pursuing something that has meaning to him and makes him happy.

Why such a sudden, emotional feeling of what PJ's future could be like? It's because Jennifer's tall, bright, self-assured son also has Autism.

It's not so much that I have such specific goals for PJ in terms of what I want him to be when he grows up (a hockey player) and/or how well he will do at school (three-time valedictorian with a Ph. D in something awesome). Well, maybe I had  a few ideas, but one of the first lessons I had to face when PJ was diagnosed was the lesson that PJ's goals, the things that make him happy, and how he relates to others maybe different then what is considered "normal". But what struck me about Jennifer's son was how amazingly self-assured he seemed. He gave the impression that he is happy about who he is, and that's enough of a struggle for any young adult, much less one who might have had some challenges to face.

Oh, my lord. I am crying. Because that is the crux of that I am trying to get at. We can guide PJ through school, try to encourage him to be a good person, make sure that we fill his body with nutritious food to help him grow from the inside out. He may or may not be traditionally successful academically, he may or may not have a lot of friends. He may grow into an adult who lives on his own or he may live with us forever. He's still in clothing sizes that end in "T", so it's still too far out to even know which of those scenarios I think he will be capable of. I can hope that he has something that he has a passion for, and I can just hope that he will be happy, with who he is and what his world has to offer.

And Jennifer and I...we are miles apart in so many ways- in faith, in ambition, in sheer brain power, and in height. Are you getting that she's tall? Anyway...at some point, Jennifer had to have a young child who was just so clearly different. Possibly, most days were amazing but some days...some days were so damn hard, and a little confusing. Days where you just don't have any idea what you're doing and if you're doing it right. There are times when things get difficult and I have no idea if we'll all make it out unscathed. But I can look ahead and see Jennifer and her beautiful family, her grown-up, happy, confident, engaged son and know that it's possible to get there.

PJ's path doesn't have to be exactly the same. He may or may not complete high school, go to college, have a career choice in his sights. I hope he does, but it's okay if he doesn't. Whatever his journey is, I hope that I can guide him along in a way that lets him know that he is happy, loved, and confident in who he is.

It's a big challenge, but now I can say that I've seen it be done.

Monday, October 14, 2013

...and ain't this position familiar, darling?

{and then she spewed out a bunch of random crap...}

Morning. Trains. Sunlight. 
...We just got back from spending a weekend in the Poconos. Pete's parents own a little house in a very pretty mountain community, so earlier last week, when we realized that we had a three-day weekend looming ahead, we decided to make our way upward. 

The weekend was very relaxing- we took PJ to the pool, did some outlet shopping (Holy. Holiday. Shopping. Crowds. Never again.Plus, some of my clutch stores yielded an uncharacteristic lack of things for PJ), took walks and played on the back deck where PJ happily shoved crispy leaves through the gaps in the wood. On our second night there Pete and I watched the movie "42". I was a little nervous about letting Pete pick out another movie with a number in the title after the "Movie 43" mess I had to sit through, but this movie was very, very good. All in all, it was low-key and mellow, a change of scene my little family needed. It's still a little awkward and strained sometimes, this business of trying to put our marriage back together, but being a family is what we want, so we'll just hope that time can heal some of our cuts and scratches. 

...I am not a huge football fan, but right now, Eagles wins equal a free Dunkin' Donuts coffee the next day. Yup! FREEEEE!!! So, football gets a "meh" but free coffee because of football gets a big "HELL, YEAH!". Nothing like a cash-free way to feed the beast! 

...Last week, a bunch of chicks gathered for a great cause, to raise money for the Lupus Walk! Marla spearheaded a girl's night at a local paint-your-own-pottery place, with all of the sitting fees going towards her walk. She expected a handful of girls, but instead, over twenty people crowded into tables to paint coffee mugs, Halloween figures, plates, vases, etc. We let our creative juices flow while we noshed on snacks, sipped on wine and beer, and laughed our heads off! I trolled Pinterest for some creative ideas and came up with this: 




I can't wait to pick him up! 

FREEZE DANCE! 
...Cheer practice continues to go well for PJ! As he gets more time under his belt, his behavior and compliance continues to improve. He still needs quite a bit of guidance and prompting, but he's learning the routines, taking part in stretching exercises, and making friends. One of the older girls has a particular way with PJ, and she helps to guide him through practice with a sweetness and patience that blows me away. I know that Pete is still a little uncomfortable with the whole "cheer leading is for girls" thing, but on the whole, we are thrilled with what this experience has given PJ so far. 

Oh, and also? I know the stereotype is that cheer is for girls, but there are some fiiiiiiine looking men who are on the floor helping some of the other teams with the gymnastics aspect of the sport. I'm not sure who they are, but day-um. If he chooses to use them, I have a feeling this activity will help fine-tune PJ's future lady-schmoozing skills! 




...There is still time to win TWO VIP TICKETS to the 9th Annual Virtua Women's Health Symposium! If you haven't entered, you can click the link at the top of the page, below my blog logo (see it up there?) and use the promo code "breezylife" to enter! It sounds like an amazing day of learning, shopping, fun and fellowship with all kinds of women from all over southern New Jersey, plus OMIGOD GOLDIE HAWN!! I'll be there, along with my plus one, so don't let this chance pass ya by!! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Have I said too much? There's nothing more I can think of to say to you...

The other morning, over Nutella french toast, Pete and I had a conversation about my blog. Or, rather, the conflict that my blog presents. But more on that in a second.

Why do I have this blog? I am honestly not entirely sure. I have been "blogging" for a long time, before the term became popular. I had enjoyed writing my whole life, but never kept a diary- that is, until I realized that I could type much faster then I could write, allowing me to keep up with the flow of my thoughts with much more ease. Almost five years ago, I switched blog hosts and moved to this little space, and found a tiny little group of readers who somehow stumbled here. I've met some amazing women and made some real connections. People who have never laid eyes on me or my little family were among the first to reach out when I talked about PJ's diagnosis of Autism, of how hard it was to put him on the bus that first day of school. Who offered real words of support and love when I wrote about the problems in my marriage. Being willing to open up can be risky, but there were people listening when I thought there was nobody listening, and it made the risk worth taking.

So, back to my Nutella-fueled talk with Pete. He wondered how I reconciled my very private self, who doesn't like to talk about my problems with anyone or be discussed/gossiped, with the self who spills it all in words and paragraphs on her blog. The question annoyed me a bit in a "I JUST AM, OKAY??" kind of way. What the hell kind of a question was that? I write because I want to write and I talk to whomever I do or do not choose to. OH-KAAAAAA-AAAAAYYYY?

However, petulance aside, it was a valid question, and I thought about it when I wasn't near Pete anymore and it was safe to consider it was a valid question without losing face.

Why I write: I have always loved to write. I remember the look on the face of a teacher in the 6th grade who accused me of plagiarism. She asked me to show her the books I used for reference, and when it was clear that I had written the paper entirely on my own, she apologized, and I remember the look on her face to this day. I remember turning in a report in the eighth grade, and when the grades were returned, my teacher handing me mine back, saying "Brie, you are a hell of a writer". I never had enough self-esteem to try looking for validation or feedback as my skills developed. I didn't know I was good at this until someone told me. Am I great at it? Oh, hell, no. But, I'm okay.

So, I write. I have written about cloth diapers, Pinterest, breastfeeding, gay marriage. Tons of things that I have a vested interest in but doesn't let a reader in too far if you know how I feel about it. Then there are the things that let a reader very, very far in, and 99% of the time, those are things I wouldn't discuss face-to-face with someone if my life depended on it.

For one thing, this blog has some relative anonymity to it. Yes, I have met some wonderful people through this blog, I have been able to reach out and correct some wrongs through this blog, and those rewards are amazing. I also know that family members read my blog, which lets the people closest to me have a view of something that I might not share in person. But for the most part, most of the folks who stop by my blog are "lurkers"- they read, but don't let me know that they were here, and my blog isn't even close to being popular enough to draw the real crazies. So there's not always someone there to call me on my bullshit the way there would be if I spoke to someone face-to-face. I write, I spell-check, I close the computer, and there's nothing left to face unless I want to face it.

I don't always want to share, but I always want to write, and since I want to write, I share. There's no real way to reconcile it, and I have to remember that when I put something out there, it's not just out there in a don't-put-naked-pictures-out-into-the-interwebs-because-OMG!-the-pervs! kind of way. It's out there in every kind of way, and using my computer as a middle man doesn't really change it any more then if I stood outside and shouted it.

So after all of that babble, there's no answer. Maybe I'm not a very good writer, after all.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I'm every woman, it's all in me...

Being the southern New Jersey girl that I am, Virtua Hospital has always been a mainstay for us. My husband got his first (and only) job as an RN with Virtua, so they feed and clothe us, essentially! My son was brought into the world at a Virtua Hospital and had surgery at a Virtua Hospital as well. My first mammogram was done at Virtua, and all of those were done with care and professionalism. Personally, Virtua has been a very important player in the health and well-being of my little family.

Outside of the walls of our home, Virtua plays a part in the health and well-being of the entire southern New Jersey community. Through community outreach, social media outlets, and wellness centers throughout the area, Virtua reaches out to make sure that local folks have every opportunity to be healthy, happy, and cared for medically.

The Virtua Women initiative promotes health, fitness, sexual health and wellness by helping women "be well, get well, and stay well". Offering Personal Health Navigation, classes and events, and fitness and spa services, Virtua Woman is the total package for women's health in southern New Jersey. After browsing the spa services, I have spent the better part of the evening hounding Pete about his employee discount!

This year, on November 2nd, 2013, Virtua will host the 9th Annual Women's Health Symposium at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Past keynote speakers have been the divine Bette Midler, Dr. Oz, Rachel Ray, and Geena Davis. This year, Virtua will up the star power even more as the effervescent Goldie Hawn heads up the keynote address. As a career woman and mother, she will bring an outstanding perspective to the theme, Live Healthy Ever After. And, okay, she was totally my hero when I discovered Laugh In reruns on Nick at Night!

Also speaking this year is John Gray, Ph. D, author of the New York Times Best Seller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Dr. Gray has penned 17 books and is considered an expert on communication and relationships. Beyond the two stellar keynote speakers, the Symposium will host breakout sessions on topics such as "The Price of Beauty", "Live Mindfully", and "Bust Embarrassing GYN Myths". Attendees will also enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch, boutique shopping, and free health and wellness assessments!

Let's face it, ladies. You want to go. And, I have the best news ever! You can win a chance to go! And not just regular tickets to the event, but you can win TWO VIP tickets that include all of the Symposium events, plus preferred seating for the keynote addresses and a photo opportunity with Goldie Hawn! It would be the perfect Girls Day with a good friend, and winning two tickets will get you there!

BRIE! HOW DO I WIN?????

Let me tell you! Just go to the VirtuaWoman Facebook page by clicking HERE!HERE!HERE!
and fill out the form. 

IMPORTANT!!! Please be sure to use the Promo Code "breezylife" when you fill out the form! 

When you enter, I get a chance to win, too! Then we can all attend together and talk about how cool we are after we meet Goldie! After you enter, take a look at the event schedule and let me know what sessions you would choose to attend by leaving a comment below. I am looking forward to the "Live Mindfully" session in particular!

Good luck friends!!

Disclosure: {...a breezy life} is partnering with Virtua Woman to help promote the 9th Annual Virtua Women's Healthy Symposium. I am being provided with tickets to the event in exchange for sharing information about this upcoming event, including promotion of the VIP ticket giveaway. That said, all of the opinions are my own, in all truthfulness as I am exceedingly grateful to Virtua for 1. paying my husband for his services as an RN so we can eat and 2. being the place where I delivered my son. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tried to swim and stay afloat...

{...things on thursday}

...Today wasn't a stellar day for me. I found myself lacking in patience and overflowing with...I don't even know. Bitchiness, I guess. I was quick-tempered with PJ, short with Pete, and petulant during our marriage counseling session today. It's disappointing to feel like you are behaving in a way that is not becoming of who you are deep down- does that make sense? I want so badly to be able to rise above things that are, really, so small in the grand scheme of things but today? Epic fail.

...A fun part of the week? Volunteering at the book fair at PJ's school. I loved seeing PJ's reaction when he saw me in the library (*double take* *big, slow smile* "Hi, Mommy!!!!") and shopping for books with him and his classmates. I loved helping the older kids decide on titles and guiding the smaller kids through creating a wish list. I remember being so, so sad when PJ started school, but I had no idea just how much fun it would be to have a school-age child. Also, this doesn't have anything to do with books, but, not realizing that a little girl had started in his classroom just that day, I asked PJ who she was. He looked at her, tipped his head in thought, and said "Girl"?

Can't argue with that.

...I am hankering to do something girly, like get a pedicure or go back to pole dance classes. Yes, I realize those are two very different types of activities, but you get my drift. Either way, it's all kind of a pipe dream right now as I have little time and am trying to be frugal, but it's something on my mind.

...Finally, this video:




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

...summer's beginning to give up her fight.

It's officially fall, and I am so happy about it! It's outside coffee, Ugg boots, sleep-under-the-blankets-but-keep-the-windows-open, red leaf weather. Fall is my favorite.

My little family kicked off the first day of fall with a family outing to a farm about an hour away from us in Howell, NJ. The day was a perfect one- in the high 60's with white, fluffy clouds dotting the sky. The drive was gorgeous and we arrived at Horse Sense Farm ready to ride horses and run around!

Look at that smile! 
We recently started taking parts in outings arranged for children with Autism and their families. Often, our group is the only one at the facility in question, which allows the kids to play in an environment that meets their sensory needs (quiet, low-stim, not crowded, etc.) and avoid stares from people who might not understand why one of our children is crying/humming/flapping/etc. Joining this group has been such a blessing. We have met some wonderful families and PJ has had the opportunity to make friends with some stinkin' awesome kids!

Pulling up to the farm, we saw our friends walking the grounds, petting goats, swinging on swings, and riding horses. Pete and I weren't sure how PJ would take the horses- he has certainly never been that close to an animal that large. We got in line and let him watch his buddies put on helmets, saddle up, and be led around the farm. After initially balking at the helmet ("Nooooooooo helmet, Mommy!") we were able to talk him into the required headgear and helped him into the saddle and onto the back of a lovely horse named Nala.

No fear from my Dude! He grabbed the reigns and rode with a huge smile, leaning in to stroke Nala's mane ("Nice to horse!"). PJ was just full of joy, loving every second of his ride and I just could not get over him! I felt a little teary watching him sit in the saddle, seeming so confident and assured. One of the staff led our boy around as he beamed from the saddle.

Don't you want to kiss her?
After our first ride, we ventured into the barn to visit with some of the animals. We met sweet little Daisy, a three-legged goat the owners of Horse Sense took in. She is still there, as I refrained from trying to put her in my purse and bring her home. Have I ever told you about the thing I have for goats? They are so cute!

Anyway.

Animals had the freedom to mill around, dodging running children and parents running after said children. A fat, black pig named Maxwell ambled by the adults chatting. There were kids drawing with chalk in the driveway, playing relay race games through the grass, and swinging on the obligatory farm tire swing in the gorgeous afternoon sun. The farm was, clearly, seeing more foot traffic then it was used to, and yet it seemed like all of these kids could live there. The activity and fun was effortless on this first day of fall.

After another ride on Nala, we headed to a welcoming circle of chairs to have a snack and enjoy the weather. Two seats were carved from tree stumps, one with the initials of the couple who owns the farm scratched into the backrest. It was a revolving door of sorts, with parents rotating in and out of chairs as we alternately sat down to rest and jumped up to chose wayward kiddos. One of the owners sat down to join us, giving us a little bit of insight into a lifestyle that sees you checking on the animals in the barn after a formal event and feeding goats in the evenings finery. He watched our kids with a smile on his face, happy to offer such joy just by opening his gate.

Chalking in the sun.
The day was a perfect one, the kind that you file away in your heart, or blog about so you can have a tangible reminder, even if you wouldn't forget it, anyway. After our fractured summer, our trip to Horse Sense was the only way, really, to start this new season.














{...some more pictures from our day at Horse Sense} 

Handsome helmeted horse rider! 

Hanging by the stall of his horse friend! 

Perfect day...

The tree chair with the owners initials carved in it...

That's Delilah. I know, right? 
...and that's Maxwell. I seriously chased him down to give him a hug. 

Big hugs for Nala! 
Sweetness.
Ride 'em, PJ! So proud of my brave Dude! 

Swinging on the tire swing...
 
PJ, Mommy, and what seems to be some sort of
boogie situation happening in his nose.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm worse at what I do best...

{...things on thursday}

...I didn't really have any plans to blog tonight. The Eagles game is on and our friend Adam is here to watch it. But, it turns out that football is boring. So, here I am.

...This has been, thus far, the busiest September that I can remember. We have had one activity or another every weekend and enough to do during the week that my coffee consumption has gone up exponentially. If that's even possible. Today, PJ's school had "Friendship Day" activities in the afternoon and even though PJ is a morning pre-K kid, he was invited back to participate. The kids went from activity to activity as a class, and all of the games focused on teamwork and friendship. It was so cute and funny and another example of why we love PJ's school so much.

...I got a haircut and my eyebrows waxed and I feel like a new woman. So new, in fact, that I am considering growing out my natural hair color, which I haven't seen fully since I was twelve. I'm sure I'll chicken out, but for now, the idea of healthy, untouched hair is enticing.

It's blurry because I used the flash
in a dark room. 
...The other night, Pete and I headed to bed. We have to walk through PJ's bedroom to get into ours, and noticed that PJ wasn't in his bed. But, he wasn't on the floor, either (his usual spot to fall asleep). We opened our bedroom door to find him sleeping soundly, tucked into our bed. Nerd.

...The pants that fit PJ just fine last week, when it started to get chilly, are suddenly too short for him this week. What the hell? I was faced with having no clothes that fit my son until I remembered that we had the mother lode of hand-me-downs from Pete's cousin Jen's boys. Jen with the save- otherwise, it was off to the outlets for me this weekend. PJ still needs a few things, but now a shopping trip for clothes isn't quite as emergent. Also? Why the hell does he keep growing?

...Pete has been back home for about a week. It's still all very strange and stilted...but it's good to have my little family under the same roof again. It will be even better when our apartment isn't in complete and total disarray as Pete moved his stuff back in. In the meantime, we continue to see a therapist and do the work we need to do and try to remember that even when it's hard, it's worth it.

...To wrap things up, I'll just say something that I have said before, but remains true: My sister is a bad ass.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand...

Who has two thumbs and is going to learn to do a herky???


This guy!!!

Actually, I don't know if he'll learn to do a herky. But, either way, PJ has joined the South Jersey Storm Twisters, a cheer leading team for children with special needs! 

My very funny, fun editor at South Jersey Mom, Mary Beth, has a gorgeous daughter who has been with the Storm Twisters for years. I came across a post on Facebook about them and asked about age limits. The coach, Shannon, told me that they start at four, so with PJ being a little shy of that, I thanked her and said "maybe next year". A few minutes later, I got an email, inviting me to come to the open house they would be holding. We could check things out and if it seemed like it would be a good fit for PJ, she would take him on. 

God love Shannon. 

We took PJ to the open house, a practice for anyone who was interested in possibly joining the team. PJ had a difficult time settling down, preferring instead to race around the room. I tried to reign him in, but Shannon let him go, figuring he'd settle down when he was ready. After a bit, he grew tired of roaming and joined the group. 

There are a few other boys, but the majority of the cheerers were girls and they were all loving the cute blond kiddo who joined their ranks. Sweet older students with varying challenges came over to give PJ hugs and kisses, hold his hand, and offer him guidance. It was, pretty much, the cutest thing ever. The kids moved from station to station, learning different cheer skills. When PJ got to the tumbling area, he promptly fell in love, and his mama and dad decided to give this a go. 

The first "official" Storm Twister practice was this past Friday. This time, PJ had already faced a full day of school before practice, so he was a little tired and unfocused. Still, his coaches (from whom he received one-on-one support, as many of the other members do as they are provided with support via volunteers) helped to keep PJ focused on the activity, giving him breaks when he needed them. And by breaks, I mean time to roll around on the floor. Whatever. They handled him beautifully, and for that I am extremely thankful. One of his coaches is a special ed teacher and certified in ABA therapy! 

Booyah. 


So, the question comes up- Why cheerleading? 

There were a number of factors that brought us here. One was the little boy who I saw on the Facebook post for the Storm Twisters, cheering with a huge smile on his face and his hands in the air. Yes, cheerleading is mainly dominated by women, but I see plenty of dudes throwing cute, skinny chicks into the air on college football fields. I wasn't personally worried about this being a "girl" activity, but even if I was, it's not. It's for everyone. 

Cherleading may not, strictly, be a "girl" activity, but what it is is social, vocal, and athletic. Those are the three main factors that led us to trying this out. At the open house, three little girls at three different times asked PJ his name, and all three times, unprompted, he smiled and said "My name is PJ!". PJ has the chance to make friends in a new type of setting, and with such a welcoming group, it was hard to consider saying no. 

Cheer is also, of course, vocal. As PJ works on linking his ever-growing vocabulary together to form sentences, we welcome any chance possible to help him develop this skill. Cheer provides a simple, repetitive outlet for trying out new words and vocalizations. Not only will PJ learn his cheers, but he has a group of teammates to follow the example of (another reason I am kind of thankful that there are so many girls, truth be told. You know chicks love to talk.). 

Of course, cheer is a sport, and I am happy for the opportunity for PJ to continue to develop his fine and gross motor skills. Jumping, clapping, balancing, and tumbling will be a great outlet, not only for his ridiculous boundless energy, but to help fine-tune some of the places he is lacking in motor skills. 

Now, I'll confess. I really just wanted to see PJ in an outfit like this: 


There. Now you know. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's time for a few small repairs, she said...

It's late.
I should be in bed but the call of my blog
 was strong.
Which is weird because I don't feel very moved to write.
I think this fall-like weather has broken my brain, but in a good way.
It's chilly in here and I like it.
The trees are tinged in red and I just can't think of anything except
  the fireworks that are to follow.
It has been busy 'round these parts, with lots of hubbub bubbing about.
Jewish holidays, the first full week of school, PJ starting a new sport,
  and Pete moving back home.
That last bit of news is a little more precarious bearing in mind that
  I let Pete choose a movie for us to watch tonight and he chose Movie 43.
We may need more therapy then I thought.
All jokes aside, it all is very precarious.
It's all a bit of walking on eggshells as we try to cast our
  very fractured marriage.
It's a bit like a first date, if you beat each other up before you left for dinner.
Hard to know how to react, when to react, how to feel and when to feel it.
Our version seems to be a combination of kindness, tension, and a few off-color jokes,
   while we love on PJ as hard as we can to make up for the giant fuck-ups we are as parents.
Anyway.
There will be stories to tell and things to learn and stuff to repair.
A bunch of firsts while we try to fix all of our lasts.
It's all still very precarious,
 but it's a new chapter.

Bring it on.

{a few pictures from our weekend...}


Best. Picture. Ever. 


PJ's new best friend is Gordie. Gordie usually hates other humans. 

PJ at his first practice with the Storm Twisters! More on this to come!! 

There's a place on the way home from Marla's that never fails for gorgeous pictures. Exhibit A. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let the words fall out...

{things on thursday}

...Yesterday was our first "Back to School Night" at PJ's school! PJ started in November last year, so this has been our first real, September-y start to the school year. We are very blessed that PJ goes to such a good school and has staff that love and support him so much. There are a lot of exciting things happening at his school this year and even though he is young, we are so excited that he will be a part of it!

...I am just heartbroken for the people of Seaside Heights tonight. After the devastation of last year, watching it all, literally, go up in flames...I just can't imagine. Thanking God that nobody has been seriously hurt and just keeping all of the people and business owners in my heart.

...PJ has been doing an amazing job thus far getting back into his routine for school. I have been working on returning to lessons at home, too, and he has been doing beautifully! At the start of the summer, PJ had zero interest in trying to color or use a writing instrument. He got a fun, dry-erase book from his Nan and has been happily tracing letters, numbers, and shapes! The way he holds a writing instrument needs a lot of work, but just to see him doing this is a huge step! I am so proud of my serious little dude!







...Ahhhh! I just realized tomorrow is Friday the 13th!!

...Last night was the season finale of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and I am truly sorry to see it leave my TV repertoire for the year! Everyone makes fun of my HBB addiction, but I have honestly come to love that little redneck family! I would rather PJ watch a family that honestly loves each other, knows the value of money, can be creative and make much with little, and can laugh and be happy. The reality alternative is the Kardashians, or the Real Housewives. Hell, no. Err'body better redneckognize! At any rate, it ended with Mama and Sugar Bear having a camouflage-themed commitment ceremony that actually made me cry!

..Don't forget to enter to WIN two tickets to the 9th Annual Virtua Women's Health Symposium, being held on Saturday, November 2nd at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The keynote speakers this year are John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and Goldie Hawn, who, seriously? Squeeee! I was obsessed with her when I was little after I discovered Laugh In re-runs on Nick at Nite! My celeb-fan geek levels are at an all time high here! You can enter until September 18th, so
  CLICK CLICK CLICK HERE to enter!

Pssssst. Stay tuned for a chance to win VIP tickets to the Women's Health Symposium! 
You will get a photo op with Goldie Hawn! Squeeeee!!! 



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just a little bit...

Editors Note: As predicted by Steph, Indian summer IS here and it's ruining my life. Er, not ruining, but it's making me haz a sad. I am so ready for crispy fall weather. 

School is officially in full swing, with PJ having his first full morning session today. He has been like the Tasmanian Devil after school much like he was when he started school last year. Last night, he was next to me on the couch and just could. not. sit. still. He bounced and rolled and twirled and wiggled and when he wasn't doing that, he was running all over the apartment. It's all par for the course- even friends with "neuro-typical" children have experienced the after school crazies. His penchant for motion coincides with his new-found love of letter sounds, so a conversation the other day went like this:

PJ: (bouncing on the couch)

Me: PJ, no bouncing on the couch! You can bounce on your trampoline!

PJ: (jumps from the arm of the couch, to the couch cushions, and then to the floor)

Me: PJ! Dude! You are going to be the death of me!

PJ: D is for death! 

Me: (sigh)

And so it goes. I don't feel as desperate as I did when he started school last year because this time, I know that the crazies will come to an end. Plus, today happened to be a great day, with PJ sitting down to do exercises with little protesting. He aced his sight words, did an amazing job with matching like items, put number tiles in order, and to my great surprise and delight, did this: 


PJ rarely has the patience to attend to writing so this was a huge surprise for me! Although not entirely, as I just spoke with his teacher about adding this goal to his IEP, so of course he would bust out with calligraphy! Nerd. Either way, I have something that I didn't have when he started school last year- hindsight. It's difficult, but not nearly as hard as it was and now I have the advantage of knowing it gets better. My best Dude only gets better. Word. 

This has been a month filled with promise, of rebuilding, and of Dumb Things. We're just about halfway through and even though it's going to be in the 90's tomorrow (WTF????), the season is changing. I'm hoping that theme will follow through to my fractured little family so we can all try to heal and be together again. After such a strange summer I sometimes wonder if that's possible, but here's hoping. 

For now, it's time to turn on the air conditioning in the bedroom (WTF???) and go to bed. Goodnight, friends! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Somebody told me this is the place...

There is the most delicious breeze coming through my window right now. I know that Indian summer is going to come along at some point and kill my fall buzz, but for now, I am drinking it in.

That said, I was thankful for a small piece of September summer today. On a whim, Pete and I packed PJ into the car and headed to the beach. The day was perfect- warm sun, lovely breeze, and big waves. It was the Beach Day Trifecta and we soaked it in as we played in the sand, jumped the waves, and ate snacks under our beach umbrella. PJ danced in the waves and held our hands a little tighter after a bigger wave knocked him over. He dug his fingers in the sand and flung handfuls of it back into the ocean. It it truly PJ's favorite place in earth- ever since we first put his toes in the water, the beach has been his heaven. It was a quick trip, just a few hours, but it was a perfect little farewell to PJ's beloved ocean.


PJ's first week of school was a success. His class is very small right now, only four children total. A few of his buddies from last year aged into a different class, so as of right now it's a cozy little group. PJ seems to be getting off to a good start, and is excited about school. Yesterday, he ran around to the front of the porch, and when I caught up with him, he was sitting on the front step.

"What are you doing, Buddy?"

"It's time to go to school!"

he's always a blur! 
Sorry, Dude. That place is closed on Saturdays. Still, good to know he's excited about it! I am eager to talk with his teacher and social worker about some goals we would like to see added to his IEP. PJ is so, so smart and I want to make sure he is able to meet his capabilities in the best way possible. So far, we've been lucky to receive a lot of support from PJ's school staff.

Right now, the breeze is still coming in through the window and I have 25 more squats to do (Squat Challenge. So, so dumb.). I have sand to wash out of my hair and a bed to crawl in to after.

Sometimes, life's not so bad.




{************}

Oh! I almost forgot! You can enter to WIN two tickets to the 9th Annual Virtua Women's Health Sympposium! It's a perfect day out for you and a friend! You'll be hearing more about this event right here, so enter to win so we can go together! Just CLICK HERE for a great article and to enter, and hang around for more chances to win! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This is the way we go to school...

{things on thursday}

Handsome. Guy. 
...Yesterday was the first day of school! PJ had to be coaxed out of bed, but once he knew he was on his way to school, all systems were go. He actually started to jump up and down as the bus pulled up! I had thought I would be fine, but as PJ got on the bus I was surprised at the sudden and strong wave of emotion I felt. I spent the rest of the morning sniffling into my coffee and wondering how his day was going. The summer blew by so fast, but I am excited to see PJ grow this school year, and fill that little blond head with ALL OF THE KNOWLEDGE!


...Last night PJ and I celebrated Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) with the Oldest/Bestest and her family at her house. It was a relaxed night, proven by the fact that Randi let me slice the cheese for the cheese plate. Really, she should know better, but I managed to cut out a plateful of little squares that everyone consumed happily. Our friend Stacy was also there and it was almost like a Girls Night as the three of us prepped dinner and chatted while the kids played in the playroom. We filled our bellies with delicious food and chatted about our favorite TV shows (Honey Boo Boo and The Daily Show were crowd favorites), parenting, work, and how good the food was. It was the perfect way to welcome the New Year, with people you have known and loved forever.


...Rosh Hashanah made me think a bit about the Dumb Things Challenge for this month, and how perfect the timing was to coincide with the Jewish New Year. I stopped at Target on the way to Randi's to get the turkey gravy she requested, and walked by the cute new clothes, Someecard magnets, and soft infinity scarves. Walking by all of that Target goodness? So dumb. But, I stuck to the Spending Freeze. Squats? Did 'em. Crunches? F-worded my way through them. My resolutions are Jewish this year, and I love it!

...In "Sometimes You Need A Coffee Just To Make Your Coffee" News, this morning I tried to put flour in my coffee cup. I like to add my Coffee Enhancers first, then have the Keurig pour the coffee in next. This morning, after I heard that familiar spitting sound, indicating that my coffee was brewed, I entered the kitchen and opened the fridge, as if the Keurig somehow placed it there to take the edge off the heat. Then I stood there for a FULL FIVE SECONDS wondering why I didn't see my coffee. I wish I was kidding, but it's a true story.

...and finally, Marla and I just watched The Canyons, the Lindsey Lohan movie with the porn star dude. It will take a very long time to recover. If someone asks if you want to watch it...just...don't. Don't.

...more First Day of School awesomeness:







Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pushing the pin, I know, I know...

I am not an ambitious housekeeper. In fact, I am not much of a housekeeper at all. My home is one where often, laundry, dishes, and nonsense pile up. I do my best cleaning about twenty minutes before I am expecting company.

What I am is an Expert of the Internets. I can Google without fear and find a celebrity birthday, movie quote, historical fact, and health cures for anything that ails you. Then came Facebook, then Twitter, and I fell a little more in love with the Internets. Then, just when I thought that the Internets had given me every gift possible, it came, like a beacon of wonderful:

Pinterest.

Thanks to Pinterest, I am able to find clothing, recipe, craft, and home decor ideas at the click of a button. I can furnish my future fantasy home with amazing porch swings, choose cool-dude clothes for PJ, and plan all of the vacations I will take when I win the lottery. It is, essentially, a time-waster, but it has also been a catalyst for many successful meals, crafts, and wardrobe choices.

(click on the pictures to visit the original site of the Pin)

{chicken enchilada pasta}

Chicken Enchilada Pasta...So flavorful and filling. A new family favorite!This was my very first stab at something I found on Pinterest and it was a total home run! If you could somehow eat and hug an enchilada, this is what that would be like. It was a bowl of yummy, spicy heaven, and if you have a family that loves pasta and Mexican food, make this. Seriously. DO IT. The yummy is astounding. It is easy to make, and you don't have to be specific to the recipe- I didn't have the spices it called for, but I had a packet of taco seasoning, and it worked like a charm. Now that back-to-school is here and it will be getting cooler, this will make it's way back to our table!!



{re-purpose jars}


glue plastic animals to jar lids and paint
I collected jars for a few weeks for this one- my version had jars of varying sizes, but went with a dinosaur theme instead of "mixed" animals. I got plastic dino figures from the dollar store and after some hot glue action, spray painted them. Now I have a cute set of jars in my kitchen filled with all of PJ's art supplies. It looks so cute and keeps things neat and organized, which in and of itself is a huge feat for me!




{30 Day Squat Challenge}


30 day squat challenge | 30 Day Squat, Push-up, and Crunch Challenge! Who's with me ...Oh, my God. This. This is one of my Dumb Things, but, as dumb as it was...it totally worked. By the end of the month I could knock out 60 squats at a time and there were significant changes in my booty, thighs and abdomen. It was dumb, it was torture, and it was kind of genius because it worked. I am doing it again this month along with another 30 Day Challenge.




{graham cracker trains}


Polar Express Movie Day featuring crafts, activities, and a cute graham cracker train snack!
PJ's third birthday had a Thomas theme (natch) and I was looking for a simple activity that would completely ruin my sisters carpets would be simple for the younger children and still entertain the older ones. I saw this idea for a Polar Express party and just switched it to Thomas. Worked like a charm. The kids seemed to have a great time creating yummy train cookies using the crackers, icing, whipped cream and candy that I had laid out on a table.

There have, of course, been a few Pinterest fails, and a handful of other success stories. Not to mention all of the hours spent pinning things with abandon while dreaming of a Martha Stewart life. All of that said, finding Pinterest has inspired the more creative side of homemaking for me, and for that it is invaluable!

Monday, September 2, 2013

All the small things...

I now declare...

September is the Month of 

Doing All of the Dumb Things!! 

(the reason I chose that Blink 182 line is because I keep singing "...all the dumb things. Obvi.)

I was having a Facebook chat about the 30 Day Squat Challenge I had taken on through the month of August. A friend had asked about it and I said "It's dumb." Which it is. Squatting??? Who does that? But, dumb as it was, it worked. I am feeling more toned and fit in my thighs and abdomen than I have in a very long while. So, as dumb as it was, and it was dumb, it was a dumb thing that was worth the while.

The conversation went along, and two of my favorite girls chimed in- my sister Marla and my blog friend Steph (you can find links to their amazing blogs under the "Blogs I Adore" tab). Mar and Steph are doing a spending freeze for the month of September (which I am also taking part in, even if it is just from my own side of my shared financial situation). Sounds dumb, right? But is it enough dumb?



And there it is- all at once, the best and worst idea ever. Why NOT do a few dumb things in September? I know everyone saves their resolutions for New Years, but September is kind of a re-birth month, too. It's back to school, the start of a new season. It's the BEST month to try to turn some things around. So, I say to everyone:

LET'S DO ALL THE DUMB THINGS!! 

The work being done on my marriage aside, there are a number of things I could work on. Spending is another one, and despite the fact that I am once again contributing to our income, I need to make sure that when I go to Target, I avoid all of those extra things that "fall" into my cart by "accident". The squat challenge? I'm doing it again, because that first 30 days ended up being worth my while. I am adding a 30 Day Crunch Challenge and 30 Day Arm Workout to the mix, too. If it was poor before, my separation has bludgeoned what was left of my self-esteem. Seeing my body tighten and look better helps bandage the wounds. Despite my bravado, I can't fix all the dumb things in one month. I can, however, work on a few, kick their ass, then work on a few more next month. 

There it is in back and white. A few goals and a timeline to get them done. It all really seems so. damn. dumb. Exercise? Dumb. Budgeting? Soooooooooooo dumb. Dumb, but good. Good for my body, wallet, self-esteem, family. I might fail...but I am thinking I won't. It's on

What about you, friends? Can I entice you to do something dumb this month? Read more books? Watch less television? Switch to organic foods? There has to be something, some small change you can do so when the leaves start to turn red, gold and orange, there will be a change in you, too. Leave me a comment and tell me what dumb thing you are going to do this month, so we can all encourage each other and cheer each other on. I promise, I will be your BIGGEST cheerleader, and follow your examples!

Let's do all the dumb things!!!!!! 


Friday, August 30, 2013

I've got something to say, you know, but nothing comes...



{just like Things on Thursday, but on Friday...}

...(obligatory grumbling about how summer is just days from being over)

...I actually made it through thirty days of an exercise challenge. Quit laughing. Seriously. I did. I completed the 30 Day Squat Challenge and even though it was among the stupidest commitments I have ever made, it really did make a huge difference in the ass area. For the better. It felt like my ass might fall off some days, but I did it, I'm proud of it, and- hold on to your hats, folks- I'm doing it again. Along with a crunch challenge. Now that one might kill me.

...I am watching What Not to Wear right now, and it's reminding me that I am in desperate need of a hair cut and color. I have an amazing hair stylist that seems to always know exactly what to do, but ever since PJ was born I find myself seeking her services once a year, tops. It's not a good look for me, as I can't be trusted to make myself look presentable all on my own. So now that I am back to work, I need to get back to the salon. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to leave it!

...I have a major crush on this dress:

Infrared Lace Dress - Red, Party, Sheath / Shift, One Shoulder, Short, Solid, Variation, Lace, Girls Night Out, Top Rated

Like, a serious, "No, I don't want a donut, thank you" crush on this dress. It's so pretty. You can click on the link to Mod Cloth if you'd like to purchase it. We just can't be seen together.

...PJ can count to thirty because he is a goddamn genius. Obviously. Except for the fact that he calls thirty "thirty-zero". It makes sense even if it's not correct, though, so he's still a genius. He has also taken to congratulating himself for a task well done by loudly exclaiming "ASTONISHING!" It is so cute and funny and I love that kid even when he drives me crazy.

...I am, again, trying to get my blogging legs back under me. I find that when I writeandwriteandwrite the better content I produce, so this bits-and-pieces phase, hopefully, won't last too long. In the meantime, you can visit my blog on Facebook now! Woo hoo! Just click here to leave a message, "like" my page, and just stalk. Whatever floats your boat, friends!