Archives for posts with tag: family

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I can recall the day I decided to stop ordering drinks at restaurants. We were at a TGI Fridays, and we only ordered a few appetizers to share trying to keep costs down. Yet when the bill came, it was still super-expensive.

So I looked at the bill. $12 of it was soft drinks….sodas and my iced tea. TWELVE DOLLARS. For that amount of moolah one of us could’ve ordered a burger, and it was only for drinks.

So I turned to my girls and said, “Next time we eat out, let’s not order soda…we’ll just drink water.” And that’s just what we did.

And you know what? Nobody suffered without their Diet Coke, and although my usual beverage of unsweet tea with lemon would’ve been nice, water whet my whistle just fine. The best part? I really noticed the difference in the bill.

My husband is a professional soda drinker, and he’s the only one I have not been able to lure to the water side. He will still order a soda when we go out, but it’s okay. This way if one of the girls DO want to indulge in a sip of sugary sweetness, they just take a taste of Dad’s.

I figure I’ve saved myself at least $500 in the past few years by just cutting soft drinks from our lunch/dinner selections.

It’s an eating out strategy I am super proud of.

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20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

In response to the daily prompt word, which was Float

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Around 10 years ago, we were on our yearly family vacation in Palm Coast, Florida visiting my dad. Our beach of choice while we are down there is Flagler Beach, a) because it’s right down the road from his house, and b) because it’s just an awesome beach.

My girls were young, and were playing in the surf under the watchful eye of their dad, and I decided to swim out a little.

A little.

I was treading water and decided it was time to head back in. I start kicking and paddling, and realize I’m not really getting anywhere. Every time I point a toe down to feel the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, all I feel is ocean.

I looked at a dude on his surf board, who was only a few yards away. I thought to myself, “should I ask him for help?” At this point I was very jealous of his floatation device. He could sit there cool as a cucumber, while I was beginning to feel the warm seed of panic growing in my lower belly.

Was I caught in a riptide?

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And then I remembered my father, who always said if you can’t get back to shore, swim parallel to the beach and eventually you’ll be able to make you way in.

For the next 5-10 minutes I floated and swam, floated and swam parallel to the shore, but moving slightly toward the beach with each kick and stroke. And finally, I could touch bottom. I lumbered my way through the surf and onto the beach where I heaved an audible sigh of relief.

I was safe, and I did it on my own. I didn’t need to be rescued by either surfer dude or the lifeguard. I walked back to where we were sitting…I was a good 75 yards down the beach…and plopped into my chair, out of breath. I told my sister and nieces what had happened, but seeing that I was back safe & sound, they didn’t make much of it.

But it had frightened me. I doubt either of my girls would have been able to keep cool and figure their way out of it. Now, I repeatedly tell them the same advice my father gave me every single time we are at the beach, and I encourage them to bring a boogie board with them in the water just in case.

And I watch them very closely…from the beach.

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I don’t know what is wrong with me. I have zero Christmas spirit this year.

It might be because December was very busy for us this year. We had things to do every weekend from visiting family, one daughter’s birthday, and another daughter’s college graduation. The next thing I knew it was 10 days before Christmas and I didn’t even have my tree up.

Here’s what I did do.
I got a tree and put lights on it.
I put up lights on the house.

That’s it.

The tree has no decorations. I haven’t addressed a single Christmas card. I have started our family newsletter, but can’t seem to finish it. I didn’t set up our Christmas village…didn’t even take one box out of the closet. I didn’t set out any of my Christmas chachkis…The tin santas, the snowman on the sleigh, my wire reindeer, and the wooden santa with the little tiles that count down the days to Christmas are all still in their box up in my closet crawlspace.

As it got so late in December, I figured it was a waste to take them out only to have to put them back a week or so later. Same with the tree decorations. We don’t have a single ornament on the tree.

I had almost no time to shop. I did a fair share of it online, and one of my packages didn’t come at all even though I ordered it in November. Fucking low rent seller on Amazon. They’ll be getting a call from me on Monday.

Even wrapping presents today was a chore. I came to the realization as I huddled over my bed, struggling with cheap paper and a stubborn roll of scotch tape, that I hate wrapping.

I have deemed 2016 as the most unmerry of Christmases ever.

This may have a lot to do with my dad dying and a giant dangerous Cheeto as president elect. It seems life has little meaning.

At least I have good health coverage.

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My family and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in a small hotel room in Hampton, Virginia. Hubby had a week-long stint driving the Zamboni for Disney on Ice, and rather than make him spend the holiday alone, we decided to spend it with him.

I’m not a big fan of staying in hotels. I’m an early riser and my family is not which can be troublesome in a small hotel room. I don’t like not having all my stuff, and I don’t like living out of a suitcase. Plus, I never get to watch what I want on the TV.

But our biggest struggle was where to eat on Thanksgiving. Most restaurants were closed. Their were places offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but were also super expensive…like $40 per person.

Nuh-uh.

We were contemplating one restaurant with food that cost around $15 each, when we discovered that Golden Corral was open until 4 pm. $15 for all you can eat (which is half the point of Thanksgiving dinner) or $15 for one plate of food.

We opted for all you can eat. It’s not Thanksgiving unless you need to undo the top button of your pants, right? Besides, there was a certain white-trash allure to eating at a Golden Corral.

What an experience it was.  The place was absolutely mobbed. Line out the door, and a cashier who complained the whole time she was filling our water glasses and taking our money.

The food? It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either. Kind of like Thanksgiving at home when I cook.

Ha ha.

What struck me as odd were the throngs of families, who, rather than gather at someone’s house to eat, decided to pay $15 a person to sit and eat at a Golden Corral. I mean some of these tables had 15 people at them – that’s a chunk of change.

In any case, it was a pretty hum-drum holiday…one that I don’t want to repeat next year if possible. The one good thing about it was, I had my family around me. My two girls and my Zamboni driving husband.

That’s really all that mattered.

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Today I came back from my lunchtime walk to see several instant message alerts from my daughter in high school.

It seems that during her World History class, a boy who sits near her pulled her chair out from under her when she went to sit down. She was hurt and humiliated in front of her whole class. And me? I was furious.

I don’t understand why stuff like this happens. How a human being can think that it is ever a good idea to make another person look foolish when they have done nothing to you. Even that douchebag Trump waits until you criticize him before he throws you under the pussy grabbing bus.

Do you know the last time I pulled a chair out from under somebody? I was around 7 years old, and I did it to my babysitter to get a laugh out of my older siblings. The next day my parents tore me a new one, saying how I could have hurt her badly. I still remember that today, and I’ve never even contemplated pulling that stunt since.

I was a child then, but this kid? He should know better.

She spent that period crying, and trying not to show it. She texted me that she wanted to turn around and smack him, that she was really tempted to do it. I told her to think of what Michelle Obama said…”when they go low, you go high.”

She answered, “LOL true” and took the high road.

That’s MY daughter. A girl who is always friendly to others, who calls out bullies and who tries to be a good role model and top student. And what did she get in return? Some fuckwad who has no manners that thought he would brighten his day by humiliating my child.

I called the school to report it. See, it happened in front of a substitute and I didn’t want this little dickhead to think he got one over on her. Plus, my husband ranted to the assistant principal when he picked her up from school. He’ll get written up for it, and I’m fine with that. I didn’t expect him to get expelled or anything.

I just hope the school lets his parents know. I hope this “write up” goes home. Because mom & dad need to know that their little angel has shit on his halo. And they need to teach him how to respect people that have done absolutely nothing to him.

And my kid? She knows we’ve got her back. Big time.

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I’m going to have a different kind of Thanksgiving this year.

Hubby will be driving the Zamboni for Disney on Ice in Hampton VA that whole week, so we are spending our Thanksgiving at a hotel. That means, for the first time in my life, I will eat Thanksgiving dinner out.

I’m not sure what that will be like. Sure it’ll be nice to not have to cook all day. It’ll be nice to not have to do 2 or 3 loads of dishes either. What I’m not looking forward to is the traffic. Whether I decide to travel the night before Thanksgiving or the morning of, I think I’m in for some serious bumper to bumper action.

Then I wonder, should we try to find traditional fare that day, or should we just eat whatever…steak, burgers, Chinese? I guess it all depends on what’s open. I’d rather not get stuck at a Golden Corral or a Cracker Barrel, because to be blunt – the food pretty much sucks. But I also don’t want to pay $35 bucks per person either. So we shall see.

I mean, why should I care…it’s just a meal, right?

But Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me – it’s family, and food, and wine, and laughter and a feeling of home. I don’t know if I’ll feel that at all this year, spending it at a hotel.

It should be an interesting weekend.

We are spending Thanksgiving evening viewing the annual Holiday Lights at the Beach. Seems they gussy up the Virginia Beach boardwalk with zillions of lights and displays, and you drive your car down the boardwalk and soak it all in.

Perhaps it will give me ideas for my Christmas decorations…a thing hubby and I argue over every year. He likes it simple…I’d rather go all out.

One bonus about this weekend? I already know what I’m making for Christmas dinner. Turkey with all the trimmings. For sure.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.28.15 AMOn Monday, June 27th I got the call that I had been dreading for years…My father had died. He was 92, and died in his own bed with my sister and his wife by his side, which isn’t a bad way to go. It was just his time.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to my dad, so I might just ramble on for a while and see where it leads me.

Pop was a morning man. I think this is where I get my love o’ the dawn from. Growing up, sleeping late on weekends was not an option. Before the smell of breakfast could reach your nostrils, dad was yelling up the stairs to “get the hell out of bed.”

Dad the Breakfast Cook. My father liked to cook breakfast every weekend. Anything from French toast, which I liked, to Liver and Onions, which I didn’t like, would be served up on our blue formica kitchen table. My favorite breakfast was Nana’s pancakes…Slovak crepes called palacinki. They are my daughters’ favorites to this day.

Dad was an adventurer at heart. While my mom was good for back to school clothes, or that pair of shoes you really wanted, she rarely let you walk on the wild side. But not when you were with dad…every tree was climbable, every rock was there for you to scramble up on, and every path was worth hiking down.

Dad liked to go visiting. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but Monday nights were his banking nights. He’d take us to his bank in Cliffside Park, and then we’d go visiting the various aunts, cousins and family friends who lived in the area. My father had no siblings, but he managed to make a huge family network for us made up of fairly distant relatives who felt like next of kin to us.

Dad in New York City. Many a Friday night my father carted all four of us kids into New York City. My brother and sister attended Slovak School, and my brother had accordion lessons as well. The lights and smells and sounds of New York in the 70’s is something that will always be with me. We usually ended up eating a dirty water dog from a NYC cart or a sack of White Castles in North Bergen.

Dad in front of the TV. My father had a bad back, so TV viewing was done on the floor laying flat on his back with head propped up against the couch.  He would do calisthenics and isometrics while watching “The Waltons,” or “Masterpiece Theater.” One of us kids would always make him a cup of Sanka, and bring him a piece of whatever Entenmann’s  cake mom had bought at the Co-op.

Dad on a Rant. Some weekends could be lethal at home when my dad was in a mood. Rooms had to be cleaned, the yard had to be raked, the garage needed cleaning out…you name it. I won’t even go into the lectures my poor mom got about all the food we had in the house that my mom wasn’t using – mainly because it was really far back in our ginormous kitchen cabinets.

Dad on Martha’s Vineyard. Dad was at his best up there…away from the pressures of work, and enjoying the place he loved. Mornings were for fishing (and catching a whole lot of nothing), afternoons were for the beach, and evenings were for dinner and a walk around town.

Dad behind the wheel. I’ll admit, driving with my dad could be a drag. He never got lost, but you had to listen to what he wanted to on the radio. That meant a whole lot of Bob Grant, and financial shows. I sent up a silent prayer when the Walkman was invented, and another when we could actually afford to buy me one.

Dad the Storyteller. Dad was always good for a story about his colorful life. Like how he used to get chased by the grumpy old man at the Palisades Amusement Park pool for digging holes in the sand…and then later in life, he became the grumpy old man as it was his job to fill in the holes the kids dug. Or how he and his friends would swing on a rope out over the Palisades, praying the rope wouldn’t break. And the one about him having to out-run some ruffians in his souped up car out in California. My dad had adventures, yes sir.

Dad the Healthnut. My dad was a bonafide health nut. He was always sneaking wheat germ and flax seed into our pancakes and oatmeal. When my mom boiled vegetables, he drank the water she cooked them in from a coffee cup because that’s where all the vitamins were. He took crazy vitamin pills like shark cartilage, and bee pollen way before it was hip and trendy. I am certain it is why he lived to be 92.

Dad the Helper. My father helped quite a few people over the course of his lifetime. He took my Aunt Carol, my mom’s sister, out of a mental facility to come live with us when he saw that she was never going to thrive there. She became a vital member of our family, and I cherished her presence growing up.

He was also a one-man Czechoslovakian UN.  My father sponsored my cousin Stello to come live with us for a year, where he worked in New York and was able to send money home to his family. He also sponsored my cousin Gitka, who came and stayed with us for a month and saw all the sights of the East Coast in the good old USA. He sponsored quite a few relatives to come and see the US – many of whom became citizens.

I also remember a couple who moved here from Czechoslovakia …Darinka and Louis, with their young son Renee. My father helped them get accustomed to the States, and we had them over our house many times for dinner – he let them know they had a friend nearby as they made their way in a new country.

I also recall him having the young son of a family friend stay with us over the summer. They lived in upstate New York, where there was little to do besides get high and get in trouble. This son was going down that wrong path, so he came to live with us for a few months. I had to take him to my volleyball matches, and listen to The Fixx.

I’m really going to miss him. I’ll miss breakfast at his house in Florida, sitting around the table as he yelled at CSPAN, while I did the crossword puzzle. I’ll miss his far left arguments, and his refusal to believe anything the right has to say. I’ll miss seeing him on the ferry to the Vineyard, big giant sunglasses and what was left of his hair whipping in the wind.

The world is a little dimmer without you here dad, that’s for sure. But know that you left some damn fine humans behind in your wake, and for that we are grateful.

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2016 has been a year of new jobs for me.

I left my job of almost three years at a high-end real estate office, to take a job as the designer for a local newspaper. I had grown to hate my job at the real estate office. It was a constant merry-go-round of bullshit work that was totally uncreative. And if something creative did come around, I was too tired and uninspired to give it much attention. But it was a job, and I had no choice but to just soldier through it each week.

So when I got the job at the local paper, I was elated…it was close to my home, and I could pretty much set my own hours…freedom at last! I loved the flexibility and the creativity. What I didn’t love was the pay. I was told it was a 30 hour a week job; I was only working 32 at the real estate office, so I figured the pay cut wouldn’t be too drastic.

Problem was, I could get the job done in 15 hours a week. I’m not sure how the previous designer could milk double the time out of the job, but my time sheet for a two week span was usually only 32 hours or so—only half of what I was expecting. This was not a good realization.

But one day I just happened to look on Craigslist in the art/media/design section, and there, I saw an advertisement for a designer at my old office. The one I was fired from back in 2012. I had applied for this job previously, but was muscled out by someone younger and hipper. Well, the problem is, the young, hip designers work there for a few years and move onto bigger and brighter futures.

So, I emailed the publisher and said, “how about hiring a seasoned pro who will remain loyal to you?” And a few days later, I had the job – the job that comes with benefits and dental.

But now, I had to tell my adorable little local paper that I was leaving…a mere six weeks after I had started. But what could I do? I cannot pass up benefits for my family, and in the long run, they understood.

 

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My new totally cool location.

The result? I started back at C-ville Weekly on August 1st and I am monumentally happy. The workspace is cool, and located on the Downtown Mall, just about the coolest place in all of Charlottesville. I can walk out the door anytime I need a break, and pick up a salad or an iced tea. I am not chained to my desk, and the work is creative and fun.

I truly feel like I have come full circle. I know when I worked there in the past I had lots of complaints. But, the management is new, and I know what it’s like to try to find a job with benefits at my age. I am so grateful to have been given another chance, and I’ll work my hardest to make sure I don’t disappoint them.