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Monday, April 30, 2012

Trying Not to Be Sad: Lasts

As parents we always wait for the "firsts". The first tooth, the first word, the first steps...Those moments are to be celebrated and I do...loudly and usually via text to whomever I think would like to share in it with me. Along with the firsts, though, comes lasts. The first tooth marks the last of the "gummy smile". The first word marks the last time there will be silence (only bad when you realize they can say, "I don't like you!). The first steps mark the last of knowing where your kid is at all times. None of these are bad. I love that Gia can talk now. I remember when she was still taking a bottle after she turned 2 and everyone said, "It's fine." I worried about the bad habits she was going to form stemming from her mother not being strong enough to help her get rid of the bottle. She doesn't take the bottle anymore and I was sad to think about the last time I gave it to her. How she cuddled with me and looked up at me and the worry of how much milk she had that day was gone because I knew.

I know from having the older three how many lasts there are and how I was too busy to pay attention until one day, I woke up and realized, "I'll never do that again." I have the wisdom to know with Gia and I don't want to miss any of them. She had another last, two nights ago. She slept in the crib for the last time (I think). When I went to check on her, she was scrunched up so that her legs were sticking out the bars. She's a peanut but she was too big for her crib. She was also thrashing at nap time and bruising her arms in the midst of her fit over not wanting to be in bed. She wasn't overly excited about her new bed. She loved the princess blanket and her own "pico" (pillow) and went to bed easily and slept through the night. She woke up at 7:30 sitting on her bed crying for me. I'm a little bit dreading nap time today because I think she's going to keep getting up but I am ready. I knew it was eventually going to come. I just hope that two days ago wasn't her last nap.

She can't stay a baby forever as much as I would like to slow the whole growing up process down and it was time. The next step is the potty that she keeps asking about. I wonder if I'll be sad when I change my last diaper. Knowing me, I will be but I will jump for joy at not having to buy them anymore (a whole $20 to spend on something else!) and stand there cheering that she has conquered another milestone. She will definitely grow up but she'll always be my baby. Besides...there is always the binky and the blankie that I am sure she will be going to Kindergarten with. :)

So what about you? What was the last you most miss? Which last are you dreading?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Whole Hour and a Half

The email that has the ability to send an overwhelmed mom of four into a fit of happy tears and cause an outburst of a very "Elaine from Seinfeld" type of dance: Fields too wet to play. All games canceled.

I received two of those yesterday and didn't really cry but I did do the Elaine dance. A whole Saturday with no activities?! I can't remember when that happened last. I mean, we have had them but usually if the boys don't have anything it's because there is a coaches' meeting so Leo is gone. Not yesterday. He was home and guess what he did? He took all the kids out to breakfast so I could have an hour or so of peace. All of the kids! All sorts of ideas of how I wanted to spend the time came to mind. I wanted to shower (in peace). I wanted to do Zumba (and not worry about waking up Gia). I wanted to catch up on reading and commenting on the blogs I follow (I have to find a better way to manage this), I wanted to work on a post I am writing for another blog, I wanted to write a post for my blog, I wanted to catch up on American Idol, The Voice, Dance Moms Miami or Law and Order SVU and I wanted to catch up on some sleep. I know what you are thinking...I needed a lot more than an hour and a half to do all of that. Since I have been up late every night but one in the last week, I chose sleep (while watching Dance Moms). Of course, it went fast and when they got back, they felt the need to wake me up to tell me that Gia was an absolute angel (of course she was).

The rest of the day passed quietly (I did get a shower in) with the exception of a few fights I had to break up. Leo and I took advantage of Nico having to be home and went to Best Buy, Olive Garden and Barnes and Noble. An almost perfect night. I know as an Italian woman, I am not supposed to like Olive Garden as much as I do but with the closing of Ruby Tuesday's, it's becoming a fast favorite. They have a drink called the Venetian Sunset and an entree, Parmesan Crusted Tilapia that are so delicious that I practically chugged the drink and licked my plate clean. When we go out alone like that, I am reminded how much we need to do that every once in awhile to reconnect. I feel very blessed that we still enjoy each other's company. I said "almost perfect" because I really, really wanted to walk out of Best Buy with a new computer. I was close. At least I was able to convey to Leo the importance of me getting a new one. That counts for something (hopefully, it means I'll get the one I want).

Leo, if you are reading, thank you for listening (I guess you had no choice since I was yelling) and for giving me a little break.

So I am wondering, if you had an extra hour and a half of uninterrupted time, how would you have spent it?

This video cracks me up.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Facebook and Friending

I know that Facebook has been around for awhile now so this topic has probably already been discussed but I would love to hear your opinions.

When I first joined, I had a rule that I wouldn't be friends on Facebook with anyone I wouldn't want to be friends with in real life. It seemed like a simple rule but it's not really that easy. Take for example people that I was friendly with in high school but not really friends with. I didn't think twice about those requests at first but when I really thought about it, the only thing some of those people and I have in common is that we went to the same high school. On the other hand, some really good grown up friendships have formed that make me wish we were better friends in high school (D.W. and J.B.). Then there are the people that I have been friends with for years that I have never met in "real life" but I hold dear to my heart. They have helped me through some of the worst times in my life through online support groups. I am thankful to Facebook that we can easily keep in touch with each other. There are friends and neighbors that I am friends with on there and again, those were easy to accept. Sometimes it is the only way I get to actually talk to them with everyone being so busy these days. My favorite friend requests come with a message saying, "I love your blog and am having a hard time following it on your site so would you mind if I friended you?" That was before I had a Facebook page for the blog but I still appreciated those so much and always accepted. I drew the line with being friends with Nico or any of his friends because I didn't want them to have access to my blog (Nico's friends, really) and if I ever wanted to post anything like "These kids are driving me freaking crazy," I didn't want it to show up on Nico's wall.

Then there are other situations: ex-boyfriends, guys/girls you once dated, friends you had a falling out with, people that you were never friends with to begin with or relatives you don't get along with. Those are some sticky situations. For the first three, if you don't friend them, it looks like you are still hanging onto old feelings but if you do friend them, they have access to your life right now and maybe the past should stay in the past. it stranger not to accept? I wonder why some people (the ones I wasn't ever friends with) friend me to begin with. Some I knew who they were but didn't think they had any idea who I was. If I don't accept, I look like a jerk but what reason other than to bulk up their friend list would they have to want to be friends with me? As far as relatives go, thank God I don't have this issue because I genuinely like all of my relatives that are on Facebook but what if the ones I don't really like were on there and friended me? I can think of one very specific person that I would have a hard time giving access to my Facebook but how do you not accept? It's like inviting drama into what you would like to be a drama-free life.

Don't even get me started on kids and Facebook where the object is to have as many friends as possible. I can't tell you how many times I have asked Nico who someone was that he was friends with and he said, "I'm not sure. I think she's a friend of so and so." The worst example of people trying to friend me was when Leo's high school reunion was happening. I had about 25 requests from people that were trying to locate him. At the time my profile picture was of the two of us but was private. Friends of both of ours (after 23 years there are many of those), I accepted but if I didn't know them, I didn't. The one that I still can't believe was from a girl that he was friends with in high school. She sent a message that she missed seeing his face the last 20 years and please tell him she looked forward to seeing him at the reunion. I mean that is ballsy (I don't know if that is a real word). Looking up a guy through his wife. Perhaps a more even-tempered, less jealous wife would have friended her but I did not (admittedly, the double standard lives and breathes over here).

How do you decide who to friend? How do you decide who to accept friend requests from? Do you do the friending or do you wait to until someone friends you (I tend to do the waiting but not always)? I think it should be a rule that when you friend someone, you should have to send a message along with it like, "Hi, wish we knew each other better in high school or we used to talk on the support board." (I would for sure would accept those). It would be nice instead of getting a friend request, accepting and then never hearing from that person again other than seeing their statuses.

Edited to add: I should have let you all know: If I am friends with you on FB now, it is because I wanted to keep in touch with you. This post was prompted by requests I have gotten in the last month. I did a clean-up at the beginning of the year. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Me and My Hair Battle

I have thick hair. Really thick hair. When I was younger, I had the dreaded bowl haircut. I had a perm (didn't know I had naturally curly hair until I was older) and I had the Kristy McNichol mullet. In high school, I had the "body wave" and wore it long and feathered. By senior year, I started wearing it curly (figured out I had natural curl). Freshman year of college, I had an unfortunate habit of wearing a white bow in a ponytail on top of my head. Even as I write that, I am embarrassed. At what point did I look in the mirror and think that was a good look? Maybe my boyfriend at the time wanted to make sure no guy ever looked at me while I was away at college so he told me it was cute. I don't know but I've seen pictures and it was not a good look. Funny enough, that was when I met Leo...during the bow stage...and he has stuck around now for 23 years so maybe it was cuter than I remember. My college hair could put Snooki to shame with the height I had going. I have had perms since then to boost my sad sack of curls (one salon had to dust off their perm stuff in the year 2000), I have had shags and layers galore. I have had short hair (twice since the bowl haircut), medium hair and long hair (mostly this). I have had bangs (my forehead is about an inch wide so though I want bangs, I can't wear them) and hair that was all one length (and heavier than Hell). One thing is for sure...I am very indecisive with what I want to do with my hair and can never pull the trigger even when I settle on it. Evangeline Lily in Lost and Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City hair continues to escape me.

As I have gotten older and after I had Gia, my hair has completely changed. It will no longer do what it has done for the last five years. It is unruly. It is frizzy. It won't curl but it's not straight. Every morning I wake up and I swear it laughs at me. It says, "Ha! What do you think you are going to do with me today? You think that even with the 50 hair products you have to try and tame me, I'll behave? Think again. A ponytail? Ha! Nope! You can try but I guarantee that it will look like a nuclear mushroom cloud on top of your head." I start my day crabby because my hair mocks me. I know that when I got my hair cut the last time, my hair stylist did not give me this style but after a month, I now have a shag-mullet thing growing on my head and it is NOT a good look. And have I called my friend to get a haircut? No, I have not. Why? Because, no surprise, I don't know what I want to do with it. A part of me is curious to see what it will do if I just keep growing it out. After all, I didn't think a shag-mullet was possible and yet, here I am.

If I had a working scanner, I would give you the luxury of seeing me at every stage of these hairstyles (and what a laugh you would have) but like the curly hair that escapes me, so does working technology.

So maybe you can help, who has cute hair right now? Or share some of your bad hairstyles so I don't feel so challenged.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome to the Infirmary!

This might be a scattered post since I have kids hanging from each arm. If you live in this house, chances are you have something going on with you. Either you are sick, injured or have some ailment that needs to be surgically fixed.

This weekend at a baseball tournament, Nico strained his Achilles tendons in both of his ankles to the point where he couldn't walk. It's heart-wrenching to see your child have to crawl to the bathroom. He was also sick with a fever and headache.

Gia, my little monster, remember...was getting worse and had stopped eating. I took them both to the doctor and sure enough, they both have sinus infections and both were put on antibiotics. Nico has to be on Advil or another anti-inflammatory (can't be on a steroid because of CF, another reason to hate CF because he'd get instant relief if he could take one), I had to buy special inserts for his shoes and he was ordered to stay off of it because if he puts enough strain on them, they could tear and he'll need surgery. He was home from school for two days and the work he is going to have to do is a lot. I swear the only thing more stubborn than a two year old is an athletic 14 year old that wants to run in his track meet and play in his baseball games.

Isabella has to have her tonsils and adenoids out but that isn't until July. I scheduled that today. She is thrilled as you can imagine. How sad that there is only one week in the next three months where we could get it done. Not so much because of the doctor's schedule but because of ours!

Tommy's allergies are making him miserable.

I woke up with a sinus headache but keep repeating, "I will not get sick...I will not get sick..." How many of you want to bet that the minute I tell Leo that I have a headache, he'll start holding his throat or head saying, "Yeah, I don't feel good either. I think I might be getting sick"?

On a separate note, how do you like the new look? In the effort to really put myself out there, I wanted to not have our picture be so out there. I worked with a fabulous designer (Kimberly Muro Designs) so if you are thinking of giving your blog a new look, let me know and I'll give you her information. I can't stress enough how wonderful she is to work with. I had a million questions and she answered them all while being patient and sweet. I had a muddled vision in my head of what I wanted and she made it all come together in a way that I just love. Thanks so much, Kimberly!

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey

After thinking more about why I feel the way I do about the book 50 Shades of Grey, I kept asking myself: Why does everyone else love it so much? What am I missing? Then it hit me. It depresses me. I used the present tense because I am still bummed by it. I write romance novels. I want to publish the ones I have already written and can't seem to stop adding to or editing them and the ones I am writing for the first time. This book is flying off the shelves and there is no way in Hell, I could have ever known or written about the subject matter that is in this book. I felt a little defeated after I read it that this is what women are looking for. I know there is a huge market for erotic books and that it doesn't mean that no other books are going to sell but I kept imagining publishers getting my books and saying, "That's it?" Let's just say for those of you that have read the Grey books, mine are very "vanilla" in comparison. I just have to hope that I have the nerve to actually send them out and that there is still a market for "vanilla."

A friend of mine just called and told me that I am going to love this book because they are considering Taylor Kitsch for the role of Christian Grey. While I agree, he fits the gorgeous! I'll never be able to look at him the same. I think at this point it is just fans voicing who they want to see play him. I saw one website say Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart should play them but aren't and I say, "Yes! Go that route." It said somewhere that the author was inspired by Twilight (by the way, I had no idea she said that until I went looking for a website saying Taylor Kitsch might play Christian). I know I said I would see anything TK was in but I'd draw the line here. Then she said Chris Hemsworth was the other person being considered for it. Great...just great...I guess Channing Tatum will move up to number one and there is always Matt Dillon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

***This is not a book review. I don't go into many specifics or details. Just a few thoughts but if you are going to read it and are afraid I might say something to ruin it for you, you might want to skip this post.***

Have you ever been invited to a party that you had heard was going to be a blast? Everyone said it was the party to be at and then when you got there, after about an hour, you thought to yourself, I don't get it. Why does everyone want to be here? Maybe it is just me. That's how I feel about the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James and obviously it is just me because it is all friends, neighbors, talk shows and message boards are talking about. Maybe it is a case of the actual book (for me) not living up to all the talk. Maybe I haven't read a series of books that consumed all of my time since Twilight and got my hopes up high that this was the one and it fell short of what I wanted.

I enjoy a good romance novel and even on occasion a good smut book. This book hooked me from the beginning. I love a good love story, especially one where the woman is beautiful but doesn't know it and the guy is gorgeous and he is completely captivated by the woman. Christian Grey is gorgeous, rich and mysterious. Anastasia Steele is unsure, bumbling and he finds her beautiful. Their sexual chemistry is off the charts (it reminded me a little of Twilight). I was hooked and then...the book went into a direction that made me not like Christian very much and made me sad for Ana that she had to work so hard against who she was to make the relationship work (and in the complete opposite direction of Twilight). Don't misunderstand, she was enjoying the ride most of the time and a friend of mine said, "Read it with an open mind" and she was right. The problem was that I would forget that when I sat down to read it and found myself saying, "Okay, ew...not sure if I can handle that right now" and then I put it down. Maybe it is just that I don't have a submissive bone in my body so I don't get it.

Don't get me wrong, I am a little jealous of all the women that have been able to lose themselves in these books. If you can get past the "fifty shades of messed up", it is a thrilling love story. I just couldn't get past it.

Many people have said the second and third books are less intense and are an easier read but I don't think I am going to read on. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I have. Now I'm off to try and read The Hunger Games again. Wish me luck because I need to get a few things from 50 Shades of Grey out of my head and I could use a good escape.

I am open to any suggestions. :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Did It! Made the Jump Along With a Realization...

I am a .com! I finally did it! Thanks to my readers that weighed in and the lovely bloggers at SITS Girls, I bought my domain! Nothing has really changed in that you can still find me by using the old address with "blogspot" in it but now you can also find me at:

All the important words of the title of the blog, which I have decided to keep! I have to admit now that the decision is made and it is done. I am so happy that people love the "tidbits" part. Even those that said to drop it, most said that they liked it but shorter was better and I agree and think that what I ended up with is a pretty good compromise.

It feels sooooo good to know that I have my own small piece of "real estate" on the web. (I totally stole that from someone over at the SITS site but can't remember who said it. If you are reading it, feel free to claim the credit.)

It feels good to be excited about something. I have a feeling that is why I had a bad "mommy" week. Feeling good about what I was doing in the hopes of fulfilling my dream of being a writer was clashing considerably with being a good mom. I have to strive to strike a balance and I completely missed the mark this week. Writing keeps me sane. It fills me up and it is something that I do for me. Being a mom makes me insane. It fills me up and is rewarding when it doesn't have me crying in the fetal position in a corner in my house  butting heads trying to get them to listen to me for the tenth time. I'm striving to be the best mom and best writer that I can be and it's frustrating that when one takes off, the other suffers. I don't believe for one second that we can have it all. We can try and we can pretend but something suffers. I recently started following a blog called The Dose of Reality and she talks about how the real "mommy wars" are with the ones keeping it real and the fakers. Check it out at You Want a Real Mommy War? It is a great read!

Speaking of keeping it real, I went to a baseball event last night where half the community was and this morning am wondering if I am more honest than I should be. It was refreshing to hear people say, "My week sucked in the parenting department this week, too" after we got past the small talk (which you all know I am incapable of). I have four kids that are sucking the money and lifeblood right out of us. I am not allowed to say that because it's not cool to admit that, right? I have no shame in saying that no, we are not poor by any means but we have one kid in braces, two that are in travel sports, one that wants to try everything (and dance and cheer are not cheap), one still in diapers, two cars that constantly need work (one that is about to die), a house that continues to need stuff and a grocery bill that keeps climbing in an economy that's not great. Why does it have to be a secret that there are some things that we are willing to spend money on and some that we are not? Why does everything have to be some pissing contest?

I'd love to know how your week was. Did you work hard on something and find success in it? Did you have a sucky parenting week? You can keep it real here with no judgement passed. Be sure to check out that link to The Dose of Reality!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A List to Help Leo

For those wondering or those that voted, I have decided to keep the blog name the same but have my url be shorter. I'm deciding between and Thanks so much for all your input!

Since Mother's Day is a month away and then my birthday soon after that and our anniversary following that, I thought I'd write a list to help Leo since last year was so miserably wrong. I have talked on here before about Leo and gift giving and if you want a laugh click here.

1. My blog from Google or my domain or however you say that.

2. Time with my sisters, Belle and my nieces.

3. A new computer. (Notice how I put that so it would stand out.)

4. A replacement for the ring I lost at the dumb baseball tournament last year.

5. A girls' weekend.

6. Time to myself.

7. Barnes and Noble gift certificate

8. A spa day with the works: massage and everything. If this could coincide with #2 even better. If he adds a clothing budget for me, I would be over the moon excited and the public will do a collective cheer at not having to see me in black sweats with a gray shirt for awhile.

9. Something that shows that he takes my writing seriously. (Okay, I know that is not fair because it is vague and Leo isn't very good with vague but I am not really sure what he could do and just thinking that he'd have to think about it and come up with something makes me feel good). There is a blog conference in October that is in cool would that be (however I still have 4 kids with one being 2 so the odds are not good)? #3 would coincide nicely with this one.

10. My wedding ring resized since after being pregnant with Gia, it hasn't fit and I have given up on ever losing weight in my fingers (that makes me a little sad).

11. A kitchen island (it escapes me every single holiday but I'll keep asking until I get it).

12. All of the Zumba DVDs. I am missing 3 from the set. While we are on the subject, Friday Night Lights: Season 4 (I hated it but it's the only one I don't have) and the movie Thor (yes, I am that shallow).

I recognize that some of these are expensive and since we have not recently come into money, but since I got a whole lotta nothing last year for my birthday and he went fishing on our anniversary, and he is going to Vegas and Alaska and I am going nowhere, I don't feel all that bad asking for this stuff.

I don't need all of these, however, there are 12 of them which divides nicely into 3 and there are 3 holidays...

What about you? Anything special that you want for Mother's Day or a birthday or an anniversary?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Please Have a Laugh at My Expense

This has been one long bad mommy week. It's been the kind of week that I pray will be lost forever when it is done and that no one will look back and remember how much this week has sucked.

I am at war with my children right now. I am not afraid to admit that the children I love with all of my heart are getting an "A" in testing the limits and mouthing off. Up until yesterday, I at least had sweet, sweet Gia but she turned into the devil yesterday. I swear right before my eyes, she might as well have spun her head around and projectile vomited pea soup. Every single moment of yesterday was a battle. Lucky me, I even had to take her to Target because we were out of water and Gatorade (Nico had a game) and I am back to Black Cherry Propel being my crack/cocaine and I was out. Of course I had to go to the one that is 20 minutes away because the one down the street doesn't have it, nor does the Dominick's, Ulta or Jewel that is down the street. Plus I had to get a few gifts. Well, I couldn't get half my list because my sweet baby girl turned into Linda Blair right there at Target. It is frustratingly obvious that she hates any work I do on the computer and doesn't care that her mommy wants to grow bigger with her blog. She refused to eat all day, hasn't napped in 3 days (which is usually when I work on the computer), has been up at the crack of dawn (again when I try and blog) all week. She was in bed by 6:30. She's not sick. She is just two.

I will only say with the other three that I am battling and so far I am winning.

I am sharing with you this story so that you can start your day with a laugh or if you are having one of those days, you can say, "Well, at least that didn't happen to me!"

We have new siding. Someone asked me if we won the lottery because of all the work we are doing to the outside of the house (this pains me to type when I know how much work I want done on the inside of the house). We did not win the lottery. The insurance is covering the siding and if I ever did come into a windfall of money, siding would probably be the last thing I'd spend it on. Everyone keeps asking me how I like it and to be honest, I have no opinion. I don't pay any attention to the color of houses and until it came down, I thought my house was gray. It was actually blue. It is now brown. They were supposed to be done in one day. That was the sales guy's big pitch for why we should go with them. I thought they were done in two but turns out it took three. Because I thought they were done and I hadn't been able to exercise in two days, I resumed my Zumba exercising in the kitchen. I have done it so many times now that I sort of know the moves so I was really getting into it when in my concentrated salsa dancing state, I heard the doorbell. Yep. It was two of the siding guys. They needed to put in the down spouts or something. I didn't really hear him. I was wanting to crawl into a hole. I did see him trying not to laugh while telling me.

That was bad, yes but not the most embarrassing moment. On day one, they came at 7:00am waking up the whole house. I didn't even have a bra on and literally just got out of bed. I raced to move our cars still half asleep. Everyone woke up, I got everyone to school and then I had to get ready to go to the hospital to see my sister. I raced to my bathroom. We have windows in our bathroom but they are so high up that no one could ever see in them (our bathroom is a few steps up from our bedroom) so I don't even give a second thought to getting ready in there. So there I am hurrying to get ready and I am putting deodorant on with just my underwear and no bra and I look up and what do I see? Yep...siding guy. At first he is facing to the side and not looking so I cover myself and think maybe he didn't see but nope. He looks in and smiles a smile that said, "Too late. I already saw." Mortified...

I don't know if I should be flattered or offended that on the second day, not every guy came back but the one that saw me naked did.

So fess up...make me feel better and tell me an embarrassing story of yours or tell me your are having a crappy mommy week, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Need Your Input

I am in the process of redesigning my blog and am so excited about it. Your opinions matter to me and I am thinking about the name. When I started this, it wasn't going to be public so I gave it some thought but not much. I wanted something with chaos because that is my life and I thought "tidbits" was cute. The only negative I can see is that it is long. On all of my other spaces (Twitter and Pinterest), my username is "queenofchaosmom".

Since I am going to be switching over to WordPress most likely and buying my domain, I am wondering if I should switch it to "Queen of Chaos Mom".

What do you think? Tidbits From the Queen of Chaos or Queen of Chaos Mom? Please comment here, email me or leave a message on Facebook or private message me on Facebook. I really am torn and could use your help so please don't be shy.

For those on Facebook, I am going to try and do a poll (but I've never done one so the operative word being "try").

Thanks in advance for any opinions!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No Longer Blank Slates

As I sat and cuddled with my new nephew, a part of me felt a little sad. I will never again sit in a hospital bed cuddling my own newborn. I will never again have those moments where I am holding my new baby with all the hope of what his/her future holds. Yes, I still hope for what the future holds for my kids but they are no longer blank slates. There is no more wonder of  "What will they be like". I know what they are like: headstrong, stubborn, sweet, laid back, good at reading, not so good in math, high strung, competitive...the list goes on and on. When you hold a newborn in your arms, the possibilities are endless. No one looks at a newborn (or even a 2 year old) and says, "I can't wait until you are a selfish teenager that only thinks about yourself and your friends." I am sad that I am jaded with Gia. She does things and I think they are so flipping cute but I remember when I thought some of the things Nico, Belle and Tommy did that I thought were cute and then they got older and they weren't cute anymore or they did it in front of people and they made them feel stupid for it. I look at Gia and think, at what point will the hugs and kisses be replaced with screams of "You are so mean" and "I hate you"? I looked at Joey yesterday and thought about how it is hard to believe something so cuddly and adorable will someday cause Chrissy and Ricky to tear their hair out in frustration of the uphill battle to make them good people in a world where instant gratification and entitlement are holding strong.

You know the smell of a newborn's head? I am convinced it is the smell of hope. I wish I could bottle it up and sprinkle it on my four kids while they are sleeping (since that is the only time we aren't yelling at each other these days and not so much Gia as the older three).

I got permission to add a picture of Joey. See, I was right...cutest baby ever!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Welcome, Baby Joey!

Great news that is really not my news to share but I just can't help it. I am so excited to welcome the newest member of our family. Joseph Ernest Amelio, Chrissy and Ricky's newest baby, was born last night and he is the most beautiful baby (and yes, I do say that for every baby born in this family...I don't's true). Mom and baby (weighing in at 6 lbs, 12oz) are doing well.

My sister, Chrissy is a great mom and this baby is so lucky he gets to be her son. She's already proved how wonderful she is with her son Vinnie. She is a natural and surprises me all the time that my baby sister is as good as she is. We tease her about being neurotic or a worry wart but she loves her kids so fiercely that she actually resembles a mother bear with her cubs.

I got to spend some time with Chrissy, Ricky and Joey today and I want to thank them for letting me barge in for a little bit. I also want to thank my friend, JW for babysitting Gia so that I could go to support my sister and Ricky.

I love being an aunt. It's amazing to me that I didn't feel them move in my belly and I don't get to see them 24/7 but I love them like they are my own. I have known Joey less than a day and I hated leaving him because I already love him so much. I have the best nieces and nephews. I get all the fun stuff without the aggravation of actually parenting. I love the relationship I have with my niece that is older than Nico and my niece that is older than Belle and Tommy. I don't get to see my nephew too often because at every family party, he and Tommy scurry away to do whatever it is that they do. They are truly the best of friends. I love that Gina's youngest girls (the twins) love me and cuddle with me because they are super shy with everyone (well...outside of our family) and that they never complain while watching Gia for me. I love LeeAnna's two sons and Chrissy's two sons because we are raising them all together except that when they throw fits, I don't have to do anything but be thankful it's not Gia's turn. I get the smooches and all the loving without being the big meanie that makes them cry trying to teach them to be good kids.

All in all, this is one of those days when I can't stop smiling at the beauty of God's little miracles. Welcome to the family, Baby Joey! Get ready for a wild (loud) ride!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Confessions of a Modern Day June Cleaver

There. I said it. No more hiding. I am a modern day June Cleaver. If I am being honest, I am more of a cross between June Cleaver and Roseanne. Claire Huxtable, I am not. Carol Brady, nope. To be fair, if I had Alice, I could be Carol. I take comfort in that I am at least better at this parenthood/wife thing than Peg Bundy.

At one point, I was completely self-sufficient. I had a job. I had an apartment that I shared with a friend and I paid all of my own bills. I knew what I had and I knew what I could spend. Then...I got married and was perfectly happy to split things including the responsibility. We had a budget and for the most part, we stuck to it. I was still working and helping out financially. Then...we had kids. Leo took over the bills and since I was no longer working, the money. I was overwhelmed being a stay at home mom so I gladly let him take over in that area. I remember feeling a huge weight lifted. I took care of all things "kids" (doctor's appointments, school stuff, holiday stuff (Santa and Easter Bunny duty), cooking and cleaning...really anything that wasn't sports or money related, was my responsibility). He took care of the money, bills, cars and outside stuff. It worked for us. I had a general idea of things but even back then, I saw my brain shutting off when it came to money things. Then.all of the medical stuff happened. I couldn't wrap my brain around taking care of three kids, two that had CF and one that had a bladder thing so away went  the "having a general idea." This is not an easy thing to admit since I consider myself a smart person and not knowing this stuff makes me feel dumb. Give me a teen and I'll get him/her to talk but this stuff...escapes me. People talk about refinancing and 401Ks and house insurance premiums and I sit and nod thinking: this hurts my brain.

Did you ever see June work on taxes? Did you ever see her fight with the insurance company over a bill they won't pay? Did you ever see June answer her door to find siding guys there trying to offer to replace hers and hear her say, "Yes, I'd like that done." Did you ever see June talk to landscaping guys over how much it was going to cost to clean up their yard and put a patio in? Have you ever seen her go into an appliance store and purchase something big without having Ward with her and did you ever see her catch a mouse? No, you did not and you won't see me doing any of those things either. The unfortunate thing for Leo is that you also won't see me baking a pie and I don't have my own meatloaf recipe with my own secret ingredient. I won't wear an apron or pearls while cleaning a toilet either. To be honest, I am not that great at the things June Cleaver did do which is why I have a cleaning lady 2x's a month and why I am a little like Roseanne, too.

I tried to be better and know what goes on in that area but I suck. Leo and I make jokes that his ultimate revenge on me giving him a hard time all the time is that something is going to happen and I'll be left not having a clue of what is going on. I said joke but it's really not funny. Each year, I vow that we are going to sit down and he's going to to show me everything and we do but just like when I am trying to tell him EVERYTHING that I do that he would have to if I go back to work and his eyes glaze over and he starts sweating, so do I. My head hurts and I feel like I am going to get sick. Once, after an unfortunate bout of memory loss on Leo's part and a bill wasn't paid, I said I was taking over paying the bills. Leo thought that was a great idea and instead of really taking over, I became the secretary having to mail things that were due and drop things off. Still not knowing what was going on, that didn't fly with me so I told him to forget it and put everything on "auto-pay".

You know the articles in magazines like the ones Suze Orman writes? I break out in a sweat when I come across them because I know she is talking about me. It's not smart to be June Cleaver in 2012. I about I'll pay attention and help out with the money and running the house from a financial standpoint when Leo is willing to learn Gia's bedtime routine and take all the kids for their flu shots all while having to take Belle to dance and get dinner on the table. I'm sure he'd go for that.

So, tell me...who does the bills and taxes and is responsible for your family's financial well-being? Any other June Cleavers out there? Come out from hiding and let me know I am not the only one.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Heavy Heart

I was working on an assignment for the blog class I am taking when an email came through yesterday that stopped me cold in my tracks. News of a tragic accident in Wheaton this week came through on our baseball site. You can read the article from the Wheaton Patch here: Boy Dies After Baseball Accident.

I still can't shake the sadness I feel from this happening. This boy woke up, probably excited to have a game that night and someone said, like they always say, at every baseball game, "Go warm up so and so" and he does and that's it. In the next instant, so many lives shattered. His 12 years old...over. His parents, probably going through the motions of the day thinking of all they had to do, maybe excited, maybe aggravated that they had to go to a game that night but never dreaming they'd never see their son again. The kid who was pitching...will never be the same. His teammates will never be the same as they watched as their friend slipped away. The kids from the other baseball team, watching in shock as the tragedy unfolded, will never be the same. The rest of the community left with the knowledge that every moment is precious and that life is fragile and in an instant, it can be taken away and everything you know to be true, is not.

Baseball..."America's favorite pastime"...not the place where kids die. Every one of us that has a child in baseball read the article and thought the same thing, "It could have been my kid." Either as the pitcher, the catcher or the teammate. Coaches read it and felt sick because they've said, "Go warm up so and so" and never given it another thought. Even if you don't have a kid that plays baseball, if you have kids, you think of the devastation of losing one of them. Even if you don't have kids, you feel sick at how at 12 years old, no one's life should be over. Nico is a catcher. How many times has he warmed up a pitcher without the right gear on? I don't even know the answer to that because I don't pay attention. I don't pay attention because though in the back of my mind, I'm afraid he might suffer an injury, I NEVER think he might die. Nico is also a pitcher. Does the kid who is warming him up wear the right gear? Again, I don't know and because I can't say for sure that they do, my heart stopped and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as this tragedy hit so close to home.

Please say a prayer for this boy's family and everyone affected by this tragedy and as we all head out to today's baseball festivities, hug your kids a little tighter and remind them to be safe.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Reasons why I'm frustrated:

1. Nico's birthday was a complete bust. He had a baseball game and these days, it's hit or miss whether he is happy to be there or wanting to be somewhere else. He doesn't like the position he has always played anymore and getting hit in a place that no boy should ever get hit while playing there isn't helping. Watching your son cry from pain and frustration on a bench in cold weather, on his birthday is never fun. Moms that have kids in sports, I am sure you can relate. He also had a nice hit but got called out at 2nd base. Good times.

2. Nico's iPhone broke from water damage (I'll spare you the stupidity of that one) about six months ago. He is using my old phone (LG Shine for those of you that know phones) and it has not been working. I'll send him a text saying, "I'm out here" when I am picking him up somewhere and he gets it a half hour later. Sometimes it won't let him call out. Sometimes it won't receive calls in. What in the world did we do before we had phones because it is driving me crazy that he doesn't have one that works all the time? After Leo and I argued, he took Nico to the Apple store where it will cost Nico $150 to fix it. Leo's mom told Nico that she is giving him $200 so he wants to spend it on the phone. Leo doesn't want him to because in November, he'll get a free one. So many angry people last night and perhaps it isn't a good idea to give a 14 year old $200.

3. I cannot stand the cleaning service that I use and since they are the cheapest around, I feel stuck with them. She was supposed to come yesterday at 9:00. She was still not here at 10. I took Gia to Barnes and Noble. At 11:00, on my way to Target to see the phone girl, she still wasn't there. Phone girl wasn't there either. She wasn't going to be in until 1:00. I did some shopping (a lot of shopping, thanks T.O. for talking me out of about $100 worth of stuff) and fed Gia lunch. I found out at 1:00 that she wasn't going to be in until 2:00. I took Gia home only to find that the cleaning lady just started. I put Gia back in the car and went back to Target to talk to phone girl. She was there, she couldn't fix Nico's phone and Gia fell asleep first in the car and then on my lap while the cleaning lady finished. She unplugged my TV, too which is a big no no in this house (4 other plugs and she picks that one) because it takes forever for it to boot back up and shows don't record that are supposed to. I know I am lucky to have a cleaning lady so I should just shut up but the whole thing stresses me out to the point that I dread her coming. Not enough to not have one but close.

4. It is near impossible to eat right during baseball and track season and when you have a cleaning lady. I was doing so well (lost 2.5lbs) and then Jake's and Twizzlers and being out of the house all day happened and it was hot chocolate for breakfast and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for lunch.

5. Exercise hurts when you have 40 year old bones and muscles that have pretty much done not much else but chase kids and watch reality TV for the last 14 years. I love Zumba but my body is screaming, "NO!"

6. Each time it gets warm outside, Gia gets sick. No fever but miserable with allergy symptoms.

7. I want to lock myself into a room and write all day. I have a gazillion ideas that I want to get down on paper and I haven't had a single moment to.

8. I gave up my night out so that Leo could take Nico and since it didn't work out, he was a typical teen and was miserable to everyone he came in contact with...including me.

9. I woke up to Nico poking my arm at 6:30 this morning telling me he needed clothes for 50's day. I'm not sure what year he thinks I was born in but I don't own any clothes from twenty years before I was born.

10. THIS FREAKING COMPUTER!!!! It keeps freezing and stupid automatic updates keep restarting my computer every time I walk away causing me to lose what I am working on. It is so slow that it has taken me 3 hours to type this post.

I'm not even sure what to do to get out of the bad mood that all of this frustration has caused.

What do you do to get out of a bad mood when you are frustrated?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy 14th Birthday, Nico!

Happy Birthday to my first born! He's the one that made me a mom and I'll forever have a special place in my heart for him. He surprises me every single day with his will to fight all that he is up against. He continues to amaze me with his kindness and his drive to be the best that he can be. I love him so much that my heart sometimes feels like it could explode and I thank God that I get to be his mom. As we are in the midst of the teen years, I am going to remember to tell myself this. :) Enjoy last year's tribute to him: Happy Birthday, Nico!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Cameron Girls

Growing up, we were lumped as a unit: "The Cameron Girls". There are five of us within a 7 year age span. My dad was a principal of the school that fed into the high school where I went so being a "Cameron Girl" held more meaning than just living in our house. Everyone knew our family in most of Glendale Heights and then my dad coached in Glen Ellyn and and in West Chicago. On Easter we were all talking about what it was like to grow up in our house and I wondered if it was just in our house that we did these things or if others did them as well. I'm guessing it is a mixture. In any case, I was lucky to be one of the Cameron Girls and in such good company that I thought of this post.

You might be a "Cameron Girl" if:

1. Anything over 5'3 inches is considered tall. LeeAnna is the tallest Cameron Girl and she is 5'3. Gina and I are both 5'2. Chrissy is a little under 5'1 and Nikki won't tell anyone exactly how tall she is but we know she's somewhere under 5'.

2. At least once a day growing up you heard, "Where's Darleeeeene?" We always thought it was funny that my dad didn't ask, "Where's Mom?" and instead asked us with her name and even funnier that he never knew where she was if she wasn't standing right in front of him.

3. You used to say, "I call calling. I call saving. I call this place is saved" every time you got up from watching TV to do something and wanted to go back and sit in the same spot. With five of us, the good spots to watch TV were something to hold onto because there weren't many.

4. Your big family night out was at Golden Bear or Jake's Pizza.

5. You let your children do their homework on a Sunday night because growing up you had to do yours on Friday nights and hated it (even though you loved it on Sundays when you could relax).

6. You know what the words KeeKee and watery means. When I was little, my dad used to tickle under my chin and I'd say, "KeeKee, KeeKee." Growing up we'd say, "KeeKee my back or KeeKee my arm" and it meant just rub your back or your arm lightly. Many of the Cameron Girls' kids have fallen asleep by KeeKeeing their backs and it is a word that has stuck from one generation to the next. Watery is a word that I think Gina and her friends came up with but it means slaphappy. You feel all loopy and giggly and everything makes you laugh and you think you are the most hysterical person ever. Some of the best memories come from times we were watery.

7. Your only family vacations were in Wisconsin: The Dells and Lake Geneva and they were the best ever!

8. You have gone to get your mom to take her to TJ Maxx's or Target's because she won't drive outside the perimeter of her work, Stratford's, 7'11, Jewel's and Caputo's (because every store has to have an "s" on the end whether it does or not, though I am not sure if she still does that...might have just been my aunt and my Nana).

9. You wore and Italian jacket with your first name on the back because your last name wasn't Italian.

10. You know what "5 olives" means. On Sunday dinners, there were 8 grandchildren at my Nana's and no matter how many cans of black olives she put in the salad, there was never enough and someone would always eat more than their share so at one point, the rule was "no more than 5 olives". Pretty sad that when I went to college, I'd buy myself a can and eat the whole thing myself just because I could.

11. You know what "catalog kids" are. I think I talked about this before. My sisters and I would look through the Sears catalog and pick out kids that would be our pretend kids and we'd cut out things we'd have in our pretend house. Even back then that's how badly I wanted to be a wife and mother. Personally, I had the best dressed catalog kids and a fantastic design sense...didn't really translate to real life, though since real money is involved.

12. You've woken up to your dad making a trumpeting sound. It didn't matter if it was a school day or a weekend, at 7:00 am, we'd wake up to the most annoying sound of "Do do do do doot do!" (Probably didn't do that one justice in writing.)

13. You don't know how to parallel park and driving on the highway is considered brave.

14. Some of your favorite meals are "Hot Dog Casserole", "Chicken and Cauliflower", and "Nana's Casserole". It was the biggest deal in the world when we'd get a call that "we have stuffed artichokes, fried dough or homemade soup" and only on holidays did we get the most awesome homemade raviolis.

15. All but one of you had a member of "The Outsiders" cast as your boyfriend when you played "Teenagers". (Matt Dillon was mine.)

16. Brady Brides was one of your all time favorite TV shows.

17. You still refer to your parents as "Mommy and Daddy" but only with each other. Never to their face because that would be weird.

18. You are in your 30's and still referred to as "the little ones" (Nikki, LeeAnna and Chrissy).

19. You know what the "bald game" was at church and church was bearable because you knew at any given time, you'd end up with your whole body shaking trying not to laugh at one of the sisters (usually Nikki).

20. You can honestly say that the rest of the Cameron Girls are your very best friends and that you'd be lost without them. 

So which ones are "Cameron Girl" things and which ones did you do as well?

Edited to add that the picture was taken in 2007 and I was pregnant. We need to take some new pics!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bullying Part 4: The Second Story and an Overview

I said I wanted to share two stories and the second one is Nico's. When Nico was in 2nd grade someone was bullying him at recess. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up listening to him tell me what was going on and the mother bear in me wanted to march right over to the kid and give him a piece of my mind. I kept thinking, what can I do to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen to him? I tried to remember everything my parents said to make me feel better. I asked if he wanted me to talk to the boy's mom and he said no. Even at that young of an age, he knew that if I did, the bully might get madder. I told him that people bully because they get away with it and that if he stood up for himself, they'd leave him alone. He looked at me like it was a crazy idea to stand up to a 5th grader. It was my good luck that a few days after Nico told me, I ran into the bully and his mom at Target. A thought struck me (besides the one to go up to him and tell him to leave my kid the hell alone).  I asked them both if they had ever dealt with bullies. The mom looked at her son and asked him and he said, "no." I said, "Oh, ok. I heard there was some bullying happening at recess and wondered if you guys heard anything." The kid looked at me with a white face and huge eyes and I knew that he got the message: If you think no one knows what you are doing, you're wrong. I know. A few days after that, Nico came home from school excited. "I did it! I did it! The bully took my hat and I went up to him and grabbed it back and said, 'Don't take my hat! Leave me alone!' Then he said, 'Sorry' and asked me if I wanted to play basketball. You were right!" It was one of the times I breathed a sigh of relief that something I said worked.

Since then, bullying is a constant topic of conversation in this house. It's not enough to not just bully someone. It would be best if kids stuck up for other kids but I know going up against bullies is a hard thing to do. I tell my kids that if they can, to do that but if they are afraid, at the very least, befriend the kids that are getting picked on. They need support and just being their friend might make them feel a little better. There is strength in numbers and maybe if the mean kids see that the kids that are getting picked on had friends, they would leave them alone. I tell my kids to tell an adult so that their parents can be notified but you'd be surprised at how many parents don't want to hear that it is happening to their kid (the victim) or make excuses for why their kid behaves the way they do (the bully). I told Nico if he ever saw someone being bullied and was afraid to step in, to go tell a teacher. He did and then the bully got in trouble and was even meaner so he said he didn't want to do that again. Schools are trying to make it better but their hands are tied if kids don't come forward and kids are still afraid of the consequences of coming forward. It's just not an easy thing because even if you know right from wrong, doing the right thing sometimes has crappy consequences.

This is a subject that strikes a chord with everyone. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that has never dealt with bullying, either with themselves or with their kids. Those of us that have kids, we raise them and we protect them and make sure that they stay safe and know that they are loved and accepted for who they are. Before they go to school, they make us laugh with their antics and little personalities that we think are adorable. Then they go to school and what we think is cute and this little ray of sunshine, some kid who is unhappy or uncomfortable with themselves, tells our kid that they are weird or dumb or slow or not good at something that they are really trying hard to be good at. It's heartbreaking and the only thing we can do is keep trying to build them up and believe for them until they are strong enough to believe in themselves.

Bullying has a way of having a trickle down effect. When you are made fun of or criticized, it's hard not to get angry and snap at the closest thing around you. You feel out of control having someone push you around so you find something to push. It's a human reaction. I think about that and wonder, did I make anyone feel the way those girls made me feel? It makes me sick to think that I might have. I hope that I went the other way and was nice to people even if I wasn't friends with them. In high school, I was friends with a lot of different people from different "crowds" but I was so busy being "in love" that I don't remember dealing with bullies or even seeing any bullying other than what the guys I was dating did with their friends or teammates (they insisted it was all in good fun but I hated watching them give each other a hard time). I know it went on because it always does and I wonder, if I did see it, would I have done something about it? I know that depends on the situation but I'd like to think I would have.

I have been getting a lot of feedback about this and I love that I am and that I have given some of you out there a voice but am sad that so many people have dealt with it. So I ask you readers, what more can we do to make sure we are teaching our kids right from wrong about this issue? How do we equip them to know what to do if it is happening to them or around them and are we talking about it enough at home?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Since my hair is full of dye with only five more minutes of needing it to sit on my head left, cookies and brownies still have yet to be made and I have to straighten my hair all before 10:30 before church, I am going to leave a link to my "Easter" post from last year. The sentiments are still the same with me missing my Grams so enjoy. Click here.

See...I am capable of a short post even if it is just to link you to a longer post. :)

Have a Blessed Easter, my friends. I hope everyone is doing something that next year will be a wonderful memory. On this day, I will be thankful that I have a great family to share it with and I will remember that because of this holiday, no matter how much I screw up, I will always be forgiven. And on this roller coaster of life, I am so thankful for that. I don't know how I'd get through the chaos without my faith.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bullying: Part 3-What Was I Thinking?

Right away, I knew I made the wrong decision. I loved my best friend but she had a much easier time transitioning to the new school. She had a magnetic personality which the other kids were drawn to. I think she welcomed the changes and was bound and determined for it to work. I hated wearing the uniform. I was a straight A student but I was lost from the start. The teacher kept referring to "last year" and since I wasn't there, I had no idea what she was talking about. I must have had issues with the Catholic religion even back then because I remember not liking that part of it. The classes were small and there was a tight bond among the students because they had known each other since they were little so I was an outsider and I missed my other friends. There were more tears over not fitting in anywhere and knowing it was too late to change it. I was so lost that even going back to the school with the bullies seemed more tolerable. My mom, bless her heart, saw how bad it was and said, "You could always go back to the other school." I didn't even think it was an option. We talked to my dad and he agreed that I could go back. Even now, I think about that and wonder if I would have been as understanding and supportive as they were. To go through the pain in the butt of pulling out of the one school and registering for the Catholic school only to pull out of the Catholic school to reregister at the middle school really does show how they would have done anything to make sure their kids were okay.

My dad brought me to register for the middle school and I remember him being very encouraging saying things like, "Oh, look how big the gym is" and "You even get your own locker." I know he was trying to ease my nerves and finally he said, "If anyone tries to push you around, it's because something is wrong with them. Feel bad for them but it's okay to push back because no one should ever push you around. Show them that you'll stand up for yourself and they'll leave you alone." I put up with the endless questions about where I was and was it really because of the bullies that I went to the other school. I told everyone that my mom wanted me to go to Catholic school and my dad didn't so I tried it, didn't like it and ended up back at the middle school. For a week, I walked around waiting for the bullying to start. I think 7th grade was the last time someone could describe me as shy. I made some new friends and remember it not being as bad as I thought it was going to be. I still had my friends that I was sad to leave and they welcomed me back with open arms. I was still terrified to see the older girl but got to a place where if she wanted to fight me, I'd fight her and I'd do the best I could (I grew my nails long so I could pull hair and scratch with the best of them). That was easy to think and to say but actually feeling it and living it was very different. I remember when I finally did see the older bully, a week after I got there, she scowled at me and my first reaction was to look the other way in fear but something came over me and I scowled back at her. That was it. A scowl. She looked at me shocked but she left me alone. No fight. No tears. No big climax to the end of the bullying. Just a flipping scowl. Maybe she was tired of being the bully as much as I was tired of being bullied. That was the last time I had to deal with anyone bullying me.

One thing I regret was that I loved cheerleading and I didn't try out. I didn't try out for volleyball either. I was so afraid to do anything that would put me in the front and center of people that I gave up things I loved. I didn't want to give the bullies anything more to hate me for. I did end up playing volleyball in 8th grade and high school and cheered in high school but it took a whole year and then some for me to get over the whole experience. I let a group of girls have so much power over me that I changed schools and tried to be different than what felt right for me. I almost let them win.

Monday's Post: Bullying: Part 4, The second story and an overview.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bullying: Part 2-Feeling Like it Would Never End

After the fight, I enjoyed the "don't mess with her because she is tough enough to kick someone's ***" whispers and stares. The reprieve from the mean girls was short-lived. The ones in my grade left me alone but I think took pleasure in telling me that one of the older mean girls sent them a message to give me, "If she doesn't like my brother, she's dead next year when she comes here." This girl was big and she was mean, mean, mean. I remember being afraid of her when she went to my school and was relieved when she went to the middle school thinking that finally she'd leave me alone. Nope. The thing is, her brother was cute and nice and I liked him enough but the minute someone forces you to do something, the appeal is gone. On a side note, at the end of 5th grade, the boy that I thought was the love of my life moved away. He had been my "boyfriend" since second grade (not that there is such a thing) and if he had stayed around and we ever dated for real, it would have been the cutest story ever about how we used to sit together at lunch, share our lunches and then sit on top of the dome at recess. Anyway, my point in telling you this, besides helping you understand that I was boy crazy even as a second grader (which isn't entirely true since I only liked one boy) was that I really didn't like anyone in 6th grade because he was gone. The brother of the bully asked me out, I went out with him, she left me alone, we broke up and the messages came back about how much she hated me and was going to "kill" me when I got to middle school. The thing was that I don't remember her brother and me hating each other and it wasn't like I broke his heart or anything. I think we both decided we just wanted to be friends so I didn't get why she hated me so much.

So even though I fought the bully and proved that I'd fight back, the bullies still found a way to make my life miserable. I might have been able to fight the girls in my grade and come out okay but there was no way I'd be able to fight the older girl. I spent that year crying every night, along with one of my best friends who was also being bullied for other reasons. We hated school and used to talk about moving away. I had other friends but they didn't do much in the sticking up department probably because they were afraid of being bullied themselves. It was every man for themselves. I remember the day that my best friend told me that she wasn't going to put up with it anymore. She was going to go to the Catholic school in the area. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated at losing the friend that stuck by me through everything and a little jealous that she was going to get away from those people making us miserable. I didn't want to go to that school but the thought of losing my friend and being miserable for what felt like forever, made me think it might be a good idea. The more I thought of it, the better it sounded.

I talked to my parents who, I have to say, couldn't have been more supportive. Looking back, it must have been difficult for them to deal with the situation because...they said I could go to the other school! I was shocked and thrilled. It wasn't until I had kids that I realized what huge sacrifices my parents had to make in order for me to go to a private school. I was finally going to be rid of the bullies and I vowed I wasn't going to do anything that would bring attention to myself. I wasn't going to cheer or play any sports or any instruments or whatever it was that kids in Catholic schools did. I remember being sad that I was leaving my other friends but starting over felt so good. The question was...would it last?

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bullying: Part 1

There has been a lot of talk over the controversial movie called Bully. One reviewer asked, "Is it too much? Why didn't the filmmakers step in and help the boy? Did the kids act out because they knew the cameras were there?" Whatever the case might be, it has brought to light a topic that was once called a "rite of passage" or "something everyone deals with at some time". It's not an easy topic and one that even though people think awareness will help stop it, we still have kids open firing at schools and killing themselves over it. I don't have a good answer on how to stop it. I just know that with raising four kids, it is a topic that is never far from my mind. With so much going on in the news about bullying, I wanted to share two stories. These by no means can compare with some of the bullying that goes on these days but they are true and why this topic hits a nerve with me.

"If you don't like my brother, you're dead!"

"If you like so and so, I'm going to kick your ass!"

"You're the worst cheerleader on the whole squad. I don't even know why you made it."

"You think you're so smart because you got an A on the test, well, you're not."

These were just some of the things I heard during 5th and 6th grade. Our school went all the way up to sixth grade before going to middle school. Looking back, they aren't the worst things to be told but at the time when you pair them up with pushing, following and being laughed at, it was awful. There were a bunch of girls, two that were a year older than me and three that were the same grade that were mean. They were the bullies of the school and everyone knew they could make someone's life miserable if they wanted to and for whatever reason, my best friend, G and I were the ones they hated. Funny enough, two of them hated me because of boys (in 5th grade!) and the other three hated me because I made cheerleading and they didn't. I remember one incident clearly. We had to do dioramas for an animal project in 5th grade that were going to be displayed in the library. I did a turtle and I used clay to mold a turtle. I remember working really hard on it with my Papa and my mom. A few of the girls thought it would be a good idea to destroy it. I think the girls got in trouble but that just made them hate me more. What goes on in someone's mind to think it is okay to ruin something that doesn't belong to them?

I remember crying a lot during those two years and not knowing who I could trust. Once at recess, girls I thought were my really good friends tried to lure me behind the slide where the other girls were waiting. It was a yucky time and finally in 6th grade my parents told me to fight her. To make sure she threw the first punch but hit her back. I was nervous going to school but it felt good when the girls went up to me and said, "At recess you're dead" and I responded with, "Fine. See you at recess."

We went to the back of the school and I was more afraid of getting into trouble than getting beat up. My younger sister, Nikki was there making sure no teachers saw (and is proof that I acutally won that fight). I remember telling the girl, "I am not going to hit you unless you hit me first." She punched me in the arm and then it was on. We fought for about 15 minutes with hair pulling and scratching from both of us and about 2 years of rage from her making my life miserable coming out with me finally pushing her up against a wall and I swear to God, she said, "Okay, do you want to just be friends?" I said fine though I never had any intentions of being friends with someone so mean. I just wanted to go our separate ways. It ended and I thought the bullying was over and it was from her and the three other girls. What started out a really bad time ended with me standing up for myself and showing them that I could fight back. If only that had really been the end of it...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Welcome to the Three Ring Circus!

I took the first step in growing my blog and making it bigger and better last night. It was scary (not because the class was scary...because it was a step in putting myself out there) and I thought my computer was going to freeze at any moment but it went well and I was able to stay online. I've threatened Leo again with the "tomorrow is my night out so guess where I am going and what I am going to buy?"

Thank God I don't have a webcam on this computer. It was a flipping circus over here. I had to pick Nico up from track practice at 4:15 (yes, my son that doesn't like to run is doing track. Thanks, Mr. Basketball Coach and Leo), take all of the kids to the dentist, get him ready for his 5:30 baseball game (really that just means I asked the hygienist to give him the fastest cleaning possible and then texted Leo several times to hurry up and come get him). I didn't get home until almost 6. Why does being at the dentist bring out the worst in my kids? I put dinner in with the hopes of feeding the kids before I sat down for the webinar at 7. I was hoping Belle and Tommy could keep Gia busy while I listened. Belle, bless her heart sensed I was nervous about the whole thing and has been supportive and extra helpful. She tried but Gia and Tommy were not on the same page.

What actually happened was that I signed on late and listened while serving the kids dinner, dealing with the landscapers that of course finished right when I was in the middle of listening and then arguing with Tommy about why he couldn't go play basketball. Gia took out every single utensil out and now I have no idea where any of my forks and spoons are. I'll tell you something though...nothing scares a mom more than seeing her two year old come at her with a knife. So many scenarios went through my mind in the 5 seconds she had it in her hand. After that she went around the house yelling, "NO SHARPIES! MOMMY SAYS, 'NO SHARPIES!'"

I took a lot away from last night's session with the two main things being, I need to work on design and post length so I'll start with that and not go into depth on why the dentist visit was so bad (Let me just say, Legos, crying, a dirty diaper, 2 cavities and several requests for Dairy Queen).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Girls and Friendships

Growing up with four sisters, I wanted all boys. I had enough girl drama to last me a lifetime. I honestly do not know how my parents did it with five of us. The primping and the singing and the dancing and the fighting and the crying and the hormones, my God, the hormones. I only have two and I am pulling my hair out and one of them doesn't even speak clearly yet.

I had no idea how much I wanted a little girl until they told me I was having one. I wanted Nico to have a brother because I was so close to my sisters and I wanted that for him and I really, really loved raising a boy. Nico would throw a fit from time to time but always bounced back fairly quickly and I don't think he ever rolled his eyes at me. He was really stubborn but so am I so he learned quickly that he could dig his heels in about something but I was still going to win. When they told me I was pregnant with a little girl, I was over the moon. I couldn't wait to pink everything up. I couldn't wait to buy Barbies and dolls and dresses and fix her hair. I could not wait! I had images of Mother/Daughter teas and shopping for clothes together. When I found out Gia was a girl, I was so happy because I wanted Belle to have a sister. Again, I had images of my girls and me going to the spa and doing fun girly things together. So far, not a lot of fun stuff and a lot more huffing and puffing, and yelling than I had thought.

I love my daughters with all of my heart and for the most part, Belle is happy and has a bunch of friends from different parts of her life (dance, school, cheer, neighborhood and Nico's friends' siblings) but that doesn't mean that there aren't rough days. This might be harsh and totally generalizing but girls are mean. I don't mean that my girls are mean, though one minute Belle loves me and wants to cuddle and the next she is rolling her eyes, stomping her feet and yelling that I don't understand anything. I mean that in general, girls are mean. I won't ever say, "Not my child" because although she has had nights where she has cried to me about how rough it is, we really don't know what goes on when we are not around. I have seen kids be as sweet as pie to their parents and turn around and be nasty to kids (when I was teaching, not any of Belle's friends) so though we can think, "Oh, my kid would never be mean to another kid", we really don't know that for sure. I do know that a kid is not mean just because she doesn't like or doesn't want to be with my daughter. That's not what I am talking about and I am not just talking about 4th grade though it seems to start then. I am talking about girls feeling the need to be in everyone's business, making more out of things than need be, talking behind each other's backs, trying to sway other girls from not liking someone or fighting over each other. Just all around nastiness. It's been my experience that with boys, they just grow apart or all of a sudden stop playing or hanging together. Boys seem to not have a specific reason for anything other than convenience and things in common.

It seems that school, these days, is survival of the fittest. Make a friend and hope that they will have your back and that every Saturday is spent playing with that friend and again, this is just my experience, but kids these days can't have just one friend. They have to have 3 or 4 and where there are 3 or 4, there is conflict. I'm sure I am doing my children no favors by not letting them play with their friends during the week but I just can't do it. I revolve my schedule around them all weekend. I don't want to do it during the week when there is homework, practice, dinner and the "witching hour" with Gia. All for what? So that they can have two hours with a friend. I do feel bad when someone calls and I say no because Belle cries that "Great, now she is never going to call me again and she's going to call so and so and they are going to be best friends and I'm always going to be left out because when she calls me, the answer is always no." So, do I trade what little sanity I have left in order to make sure that Belle's friends keep calling her or do I stand my ground and hope that they will like her in spite of her family's chaos? Again the difference between boys and girls: Tommy gives me just as hard of a time about not being able to be with friends during the week but it's never for the reason that they won't want to be friends with him anymore.

While on the subject, why is it so hard to teach them or rather for them to learn how to be a good friend? Personally, I think it's because most girls are ruled by their emotions. Logic flies out the window when your feelings are hurt. Sometimes the hardest lesson to teach them is which friends are good enough friends to fight to keep the friendship and which ones aren't so it's best to walk away. As adults how many of us have been in the situation where a friend has hurt us over and over again but we couldn't let go or we found out that a friend we had really isn't a friend at all? If we have a hard time dealing with those feelings as adults, how can we expect kids to know how to deal with them?

Why is it so hard for girls to just be nice to everyone (well boys, too but this post isn't about them)?

I tried to edit this but uploading from my phone, I'm still a little clueless. Of course Tommy had to get in the pic.

Proof that we do go outside.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Things I Wish Someone Told Me

Now that I am in my 40's, I sometimes look back and wish I knew then what I know now. Would it have changed much? Probably not but if only someone had been around to tell me...

1. When you get married. You don't just marry the man, you marry the family.

2. People only have control or power over you if you allow them to. You can't control how they treat you or how they act. You can only control how you react to them.

3. That while being a teenager and wishing to get older, it would mean that some people would no longer be here with us (I was 18 when my Papa died, 21 when my Nana died and 23 when Leo's dad died). For example, if I knew that when I turned 21, my Nana wouldn't be here anymore, would I have wished so hard to get there?

4. That when boys are your best friends, at some point, you won't be able to hang out or talk as much because they will get married and things change. By the way, the double standard about this lives and breathes over here over that subject. I am very lucky to be married to a man like Leo who going into this relationship knew I had more guy friends than girlfriends. Less drama that way. :)

5. That you don't have to spend every penny you make the minute you make it. Figures that the only time I live in the moment is when it comes to spending money.

6. All the places you want to travel to, go before you have kids. Once they are here, they are here forever (obviously I knew this but in terms of doing things you won't be able to after the kids are here, I don't think it really sunk in).

7. It doesn't matter whether you follow all the rules of life or how nice you are to others, no one is immune to bad things happening and that's a shame. I think life should work in the way that if you are a good person, bad things won't happen to you. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place?

8. That I married someone that hates new things.

9. When looking for a house, don't just settle because if your husband hates new things, chances are you'll be in that house forever.

10. What life would be like once we entered the travel baseball world and how just when I thought I had seen enough baseball games to last a lifetime, the younger one enters it so instead of 50 games, I'll have to watch 100 games. Okay, maybe I'm might be more like 80 games because that is SO much better (sarcasm oozing from the keyboard).

11. How exhausting it is to clean up after 4 children and a husband. When I played house when I was little and dreamed of being a wife and mother, that was never a part of it.

12. That once you are married and have kids, you'll be cooking, cleaning and doing laundry FOREVER.

13. To ride the waves of happiness for as long as you can because inevitably something will happen that you'll have to muddle through until the next wave of happiness comes.

14. Enjoy your body before you have kids because the work it will take to get it back to the way it was sucks.

15. The moments that I thought were such a big deal (letting Nico walk home from school, go to a boy/girl party, sleep at a friends) were nothing compared to the things that are coming.

16. Not to get sick or need anything medical at all otherwise be prepared to be in insurance Hell FOREVER! What the insurance companies try and get away with is a travesty. It doesn't matter if you follow all the rules, they still try and find a way not to pay. I know...I am lucky to have insurance...I'm just afraid to get sick and have to try and use it.

There is more but that's enough for now.