Yesterday, I returned home from a week long family vacation at the Jersey Shore.  The weather was touch-and-go, but it was great to spend time with all of my nieces and nephews as well as my gaggle of in-laws.  As I have said before, I try not to talk too much about my family on this blog.  It feels like this is my space, not theirs, and I should respect their privacy.  But, this past week I was so moved by one of my nieces I really wanted to share it with all of you.  K, who is 4 was born with spina bifida.  Here are five things I learned from her this week.

1) The things you can accomplish when you set your mind to it are astounding.  Strangers will watch you in awe and wonder where you found your determination.

2) Failure is a stepping stone to success.  You will tread on many falls, mistakes and attempts before you reach victory.

3) There is nothing wrong with being 4 seconds slower, when you are 5 seconds smarter.

4) We are only as different as we believe ourselves to be.

5) When the perseverance becomes tiring, when the failures seem unduly greater than the successes, when you are tired of being smart and different…it is more than ok to cry and take a nap.  Things always seem better after a nap.

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How to make a perfect evening, in five steps. 

1) Start with 2 people who may live together but due to work and social obligations and at times sheer exhaustion, spend far less time together than they should.

2) Bring to a beautiful evening with a warm setting sun and a cool ocean breeze.

3) Add a walk along the docks and delicious meal at a fabulous local restaurant. 

4) Stir in easy laughter and fluid conversation.

5) Allow to simmer for 5 hours or until you drift off to sleep in bed together. 

Recipe keeps forever with attention and care.

Five things I really, really miss about my home state of NY. 

1) It is the kind of place where state senators have secret meetings to change allegiance from one party to another and STILL claim that they are a member of the party they just screwed over.

2) It is the kind of place where once the senators have changed the power structure of the senate the now minority group grinds everything to a halt to try to prevent what has already happened from happening.

3) It is the kind of place where the senators do a political version of taking their ball and going home and literally, yes literally, lock the door and refuse to work until they get their way.

4) It is the kind of place where someone stands in front of news camera’s dangling a key to the state legislature but does not use it.

5) It is the kind of place where all of this is considered perfectly normal, business as usual and really, just another day at the office.  Or, standing out on the lawn refusing to go to the office. 

*If you want to hear actual facts about this story, you can listen here

Letter to my neighbor

June 8, 2009

Dear Neighbor, 

I just wanted to take a moment and mention the following five things.

1) It is not completely unreasonable for the people in the immediate vicinity to want to get some sleep on a Sunday evening.

2) Spending time in your back yard swearing like a sailor, trying to sing songs you don’t know the words to and screaming at the top of your inebriated lungs do not help the rest of us fall  or remain asleep.

3) Responding with threats, assertions that you are the only civilized person on the street and saying that it is America when politely asked to quiet down or move the party inside do not help either. 

4) Taunting, hollering and daring the people around you to call the police might not be the best plan for helping your case. 

5) I hope you spend the morning vomiting up your indiscretions and suffering with a headache that makes your re-think your religion.

Sincerely, Your Neighbor

Almost within reach

June 3, 2009

As some of you know, D and I purchased a house a few months ago and have been fixing it up little by little.  We are hoping to move in some time next month and are starting to look at what new furniture we will need.  I had hatched a moderately evil plan to take my grandmothers dinning room set but as she told my mother last week, she is not dead yet, and that plan failed miserably.  Appalled by the prices of decent looking dinning sets I started to look on Craig’s list and other places to find a table we could live with until we could afford the table we wanted.  Then, yesterday, at approximately 3pm est, I hit the craigs list jack pot.  In  the pages of hideousness and crap, nestled between an Ikea coffee table and a used mattress* there is was… a Design Within Reach 6 person dining room table for $200.  The moments that followed were a little hazy but I am pretty sure the discovery was followed by the following five things.

1) Freak.  Assume that my eyes have failed me and there is no WAY the DWR in the description really  means it is from Design Within Reach.

2) E-mail D to see what he thinks.  Sit at wait for his response with all the calm and patience of a Labrador puppy.  Receive confirmation that D loves the table.  Become obsessed with hearing back from the owner to see if table is still available.

3) Continue to act like a Labrador puppy.  Check my e-mail 18 times in the next 10 minutes to see if he has responded.   Hear that the table is still available and do a victory dance at my desk. 

4) Do not even try to keep my cards close to my chest. Confess to the owner that I really want that table and am happy to come by in 2.5 hours to get it. 

5) Realize that there is no way the table is going to fit in or on my car under any circumstances.  Call D freaking out.  Develop a strategy to borrow an SUV from anyone who will lend it to us.  Make a plan to go get the table after work the next day.  Spend the next 12 hrs obsessing over the table. 

We are planning on getting it today after work.  Is it way too much to ask for it to still be there and to be as sturdy and heavy as I have hoped?  I am serious about that table. 

* Who buys a used mattress?  I am all about vintage and recycling and being green but there are just some things in this world you want new.  A mattress has got to be one of them.

Lets play ball…

June 1, 2009

Last week D and I visited our good friend B&C in Chicago.  Among the many awesome activities they planned for us (whirly ball anyone) we went to watch a Cubs game at Wrigly.  Here were five highlights.

1) Our seats.  Yup, we sat here: (and this photo was taken with a crappy iphone camera)

photo[1]

2) Our neighbors.  When you sit 8 rows behind home plate you get to meet a lot of interesting people.  That guy in the tan hat and jacket was just one of the many scouts* at the game keeping stats and measuring fast balls with one of those guns you see in movies like Major League.**

3) Our entertainment.  Strait from ESPN, and courtesy of YouTube, here is Mr. T throwing out the first pitch and singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

4) Our favorite good Samaritan.  There was this adorable little kid with his dad a row in front of us who must have spent the first 5 innings begging for an enormous bag of cotton candy.  By the 7th inning stretch his dad relented and he got it.  Five bites into the bag the kid realizes that much sugar may in fact kill him, so he decides to share.  He opens his bag and walks up and down the row asking perfect strangers if they want any.  His kindness and general awesomeness was rewarded my Mr. T who happily signed his glove and took lots of pictures.

5) Our dinner:  beer and popcorn and peanuts and ice cream and beer.  Life just does not get any better. 

*I was shocked to see how friendly and cool the scouts were.  After they got their first few readings they pretty much passed around the gun and let their whole row give it a try.  How cool is that?

** I happen to think Major League was a good move.  Judge away.