Happy Birthday, Beena!

I was in labor for approximately seven hours. I was a little worried the whole time because my doctor had a reputation for being a “cutter.” The last thing I wanted was a C-Section. My mom told me I had nothing to worry about- these hips were MADE for having babies!

So at 4:37 p.m., with no drugs, minimal episiotomy and MUCHO pushing, a nine pound 21-1/2 inch BEENA was brought into this world. This kid had long hair and really long fingernails. I guess that’s what happens when you’re 10 days late. And I guess that’s why I had so much heartburn- the hair “tickled” me. Gotta love the old-wives tales…

So. Here we are 21 years later. And I’ve got something to say to my eldest daughter.

Beena
You were our Beanie Baby before they were even invented. When you were born, you scared the crap out of me- I was a new mom, inexperienced with babies of any kind. Thank goodness for your Grandma and Pop-pop. They helped us out caring for you and helped fix up your beautiful little room. The day after you were born (Halloween) the nurses in the hospital spiked your hair up so you looked like a little punk rocker. Nothing could have been furthest from the truth. You were a princess from Day One. No wonder you love Disney!

You always had a quick smile, one that would crinkle up your eyes. You were silly and carefree as a child. Until we took away your Binkie. Then we saw the devil in you. But it was okay- you were still adorable.

You went through so much. Your migraines, your medication, your braces, your expanders, your patches, your glasses. I don’t remember you ever breaking down and making too much of a fuss. You took it all pretty much in stride. Even the divorce- you seemed like you accepted being shuttled from one house (ours) to another (Grandma’s and Pop-Pop’s) to another (your dad’s.) You were my calm in my storm. With a great personality to match. Right? Right. Begub. Begub. Begub.

In school you always did well, and was always responsible. Do you remember me marching you around the house to your spelling words? Teachers never had one complaint about you and you were always willing to help out. You even followed in my footsteps and started teaching Sunday School at 16. Is that where you learned to love teaching and children?

You were my right hand at the party place. You were only 14, but you were running the business as if it were your own. The kids loved you. If it weren’t for you, there would be no dancing and games at the parties. I was front end, you were back end. I felt terrible being so disorganized- it put you at a disadvantage. I only hope my poor business sense didn’t rub off on you. You were truly amazing and I wanted nothing more than to leave that business to you.

Your relationship with Zombiegirl is amazing. I am truly blessed that you two get along so well. She looks up to you and takes in everything you say. Now that she is maturing, she has her own opinions, and her opinion of you is VERY high. She loves hanging with her big sis. And I love you for taking care of your little sis.

You’ve grown so much the last few years. You’ve matured and grown into a woman I am proud to call my daughter. Who else would get a tattoo with their mom? Mandee’s is lucky to have you. Adelphi is lucky to have you. John is lucky to have you. And we- your Dad, Kelsey and I are lucky to have you.

Happy Birthday, Kristina. I love you and am SO proud of you!

I Remember it Like it was Yesterday

I remember exactly what I was doing 21 years ago today. I was out on Maternity Leave from my first architectural job, patiently waiting for my first-born to show up. It’s about ten days late at this point. No matter, though. I’m busy. I have lots to do.

I was the Superintendent of Sunday School for my church, St. Barnabas Lutheran. I had no kids in Sunday School, but I had been a teacher since I was 16, so it was only natural that when the previous Super “retired” I would step in and take her place. I say “retired” because really, can one retire from a volunteer job? And if memory serves correctly, we kind of forced her out- she wasn’t really on the ball when it came to running the Sunday School. Big deal, you say? It’s once a week on Sunday, learning about Jesus. Yes, but it was a very large Sunday School and she wasn’t ordering the materials or doing any of the admin work required. So I usurped her and ended up doing fun stuff like holding a carnival.

On October 30th we were going to have the first Carnival! Since it would be the day before Halloween, all the kids were invited to wear their costumes and come and play games of chance and try for this ENORMOUS teddy bear we were raffling off. Kathy (my best friend at the time and Assistant Superintendent) and I made all the games- bean bag toss, fishing, knock ’em down- about 12 games in all. It was going to be held in the basement of the church. I spent all day today, 21 years ago, up on a ladder hanging streamers and crawling around on the floor placing tape for the games. Kathy realized we didn’t have tickets so we went shopping after dinner to Green Acres- Dennison’s- and bought tickets and some more prizes.

The basement looked awesome! It was colorful and happy. Our friends were going to run the booths. We had bought the prizes in a wholesale warehouse out in Babylon-stuffed animals, penny prizes, a whole bag of them. I really think this was start of my love of party planning- and I didn’t even have kids yet!

I was exhausted by the time we got home. It was really late. My feet hurt from carrying around that extra 25 pounds of baby weight. My back was sore. I didn’t mind though- I was 25 years old, in good shape and totally excited for the next day. I went to bed drained, but happy.

At around 3:00 am, I woke up with really bad back pains. They would come and go sporadically. They weren’t steady; if they were I would have suspected labor pains. But I didn’t think I was in labor- I had things to do!

By 8:00 am they started coming faster and harder. My then-husband called the doctor and it was suggested that I go to the hospital, which was in Syosset, about 45 minutes away. I called Kathy and broke the news to her that I wouldn’t be at the carnival and she would have to run it herself. Later I found out how annoyed she was.

To be continued tomorrow…

Zombiegirl in Zombieland

It’s no surprise to any of our friends that our daughter, affectionately named Zombiegirl, is a little bit of a freak. I owe all her freakiness to my husband, MR. He’s been spoon feeding her horror flicks since she was in Kindergarten. She loves zombies, vampires, aliens, blood, guts, gore, freakishly large creatures and all things Tim Burton. The Chiller channel and the SyFy channel are favorites in my house. According to her, she’s never been a “princess kind of girl.”

She’s a great kid. She does really well in school. She’s well liked by both boys and girls. Adults adore her. She cracks us up.

But she’s a freak.

Last year, she was Sweeney Todd for Halloween. The year before, she was a Punk-a-Zombith (her words.) Before that, she was a Pirate (yes, you’ve noticed the Johnny Depp theme, have you?) This year she’s going to be Coraline- yellow coat, yellow (somewhat) boots and blue hair. If you haven’t seen Coraline, make a point to. It’s an awesome, dark, fantastically animated movie.

So last weekend we took her to her second “R” rated movie- Zombieland. Now this kid LOVES Dawn of the Dead (new and old), Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, District 9, 28 Days Later and 30 Days of Night. We heard Zombieland was a comedy and not too gory. Gory enough, I was sure, for a 10-year-old but she’s not your ordinary 10-year-old…

The “R” rating was mostly for language and gore. I know she doesn’t drop the F-bomb herself and gets very indignant when someone around her does. But she’s not naive- she knows people use it and that movies are full of cursing so I didn’t have much of a problem with her hearing it. It’s the sexual innuendos that I try to shelter her from. And this movie didn’t seem to have much of that going on.

If you liked Shaun of the Dead, you’ll like Zombieland. If you didn’t see Shaun of the Dead, make a point to see that one, too.

Zombieland stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale), Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone (The House Bunny) and Abigail Breslin with a cameo by Bill Murray. It’s a fun, fast-paced movie without a lot of in-your-face-blood and guts. The parts I liked were the credits and the “Rules for Zombie Survival”. The credits seemed like part of the movie- for example- when a zombie ran through them, they crashed/broke/disintegrated. I like that kind detail in movies. The “Rules for Zombie Survival” showed up-literally- in the movies as they applied. Never, never forget #4- Doubletap!

The funniest part of the movie came not from the movie itself, but from Zombiegirl. When she saw Emma Stone, she turned to me and whispered, “Do you know who that is?” Who, I replied. “It’s NATALIE” she says, in a VERY deep voice. I knew EXACTLY who she was talking about since we had just seen The House Bunny and that’s how Anna Farris’ character remembers names! In those two words she let me know the movie and the character! And she did the voice perfectly.

Anyway, back to Zombieland…great plot, awesome one-liners (“When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go…were the fatties” and “You just can’t trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.”) actors that play off of each other, and the quest for a Twinkie…you can’t go wrong for a fun-filled time at the movies.

And don’t forget Rule #31- Check the back seat

It’s time to nut up or shut up.

We Have a Winner!

At first I was disappointed in the amount of comments I received on the blog. But then I realized that I gained a few new readers, and got a lot of positive feedback on my posts. That made this all worth it!

Yesterday I had a retail therapy session. I took advantage of PC Richard’s Anniversary Sale- they’ve been in business for 100 years, and they’re offering 100 weeks interest free credit. Since I’ve been saving for my SLR camera, I finally bought it, along with a new freezer, flat screen TV and DVD player for our bedroom. Cheered me up IMMENSELY!

So tonight, after we carved our pumpkins and I wrapped the nephew’s birthday present, I counted up all the comments added the blog links and Facebook shout-outs wrote them out and dropped them all into Halloween bag. MR was kind enough to pick the winner, and it’s…


KRISTA!

Krista, my southern belle, you really worked for that gift certificate! Thanks for commenting and reading and all your kind words. I TRULY wish I could hand deliver your choice of the gift certificate (I’d fly down there TOMORROW if I could…) Let me know which store you want, and the certificate will be on it’s way!

This was fun- it kept me occupied during the bumpy ride this weekend.

Thanks to all of you who participated. Roe- if you would have told me you didn’t know how comment, I would have taught you how on time! lol!

Love you all!

It Was A Very Odd Day…

Don’t forget to comment and earn a chance to win $100 gift certificate!

I wanted to post this yesterday but I was mentally exhausted. Physically, too, since I was up really early in the morning. I zoned out watching The Next Iron Chef America and couldn’t muster enough energy to tell you about my day.

I had a knot in my stomach all morning getting ready to go to church. I was a little nervous going back to the church I grew up in since I haven’t been there for eight years. I left a few friends and a few un-friends behind. I was a little nervous seeing Dad- how he’s going to react to all this- it is his 50th Anniversary, after all. I was a little nervous at how the family and I would react letting mom go…

Church was fine- nothing changed. Mrs. Daniellson got me all choked up when she came over and gave me a big hug. She was the sweet lady who made Zombiegirl’s beautiful baby blanket 10 years ago. Laura hasn’t changed- still talking up a storm. Everyone asked how old the girls were, and some asked where Obdurate Daughter was. Instead of going into detail, MR told everyone she was a Buddist, and doesn’t attend Lutheran churches anymore.

We didn’t stay for the coffee hour afterwards. Dad’s not much for socializing. We went back to his house to wait for Pastor Baum. A few sips of coffee, Pastor’s here, we’re ready to go.

Okay. Let’s do this.

We walked over to the park which is basically across the street. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was out, the bay was a sparkling blue. We went down to the water’s edge- standing on a little ridge of sand. Ducks swam by quacking, but stopped when we approached.

Pastor read from Psalms, then after we let the plane from Kennedy airport fly overhead, we said the Lord’s Prayer. The ducks joined in quacking louder as we prayed. Pastor took the urn from Dad, and flung the ashes out over the water. Some landed in the water, some landed on the sand. The water, which had been calm, washed over the little ridge twice to take the rest of the ashes out to sea. We had to step back so the waves wouldn’t wash over our feet. Once all the ashes were gone, the waves stopped. We all commented on that.

It was sadly beautiful and very touching. Mom would have loved it.

After thanking Pastor, we went to the diner for brunch. Subdued and quiet (amid the diner’s constant chatter) we had our omelettes (shrimp cocktail for Z-girl) and we went back to Dad’s. I think he held up pretty well. It helped that it was a nice day So we have tomorrow to get through and the closure is complete.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. It was the first one you were apart in 50 years.

An Even Better Most Awesomest Giveaway

Okay, people, I know you’re out there. I know you’re reading. I know you’re downloading pictures of our tattoos. So why don’t you comment? Don’t you like the giveaway? No? SERRV.org not your style?

I get it. No problem.

I’ll up the ante.

Comment on ANY of my blog postings and you can win your CHOICE of $100 gift certificates. I’m still standing by SERRV.org, but I’m also going to add $100 gift certificate to the store on my favorites list, BranchHome.Com, or $100 gift certificate to Walmart. There. That should please EVERYONE!

Check out the rules HERE.

I’m not looking for traffic to my blog. I don’t have advertising, (although my Hubby does, and would appreciate you clicking on them so he can stay home a little while longer…) so I’m not looking to make $40,000 a month in clicks. I just wanted to celebrate the fact that I did something more than 100 times, and I’ve been blogging my heart out for over a year. So comment. I really don’t mind handing over a gift certificate to my one true reader. I love her and her wife, and they really deserve it. Just wanted to make it interesting…

Back to the Earth

Pssst. Wake up. I can’t sleep. It’s 4:00 in the morning, I’ve been tossing and turning for an hour. It’s fruitless to stay in bed, so here I am. Watching “Milk’ with Sean Penn and telling you about the strange, sad day I have ahead of me.

I’m letting go of my mother today.

We’re scattering some of Mom’s ashes into the Bay today.

We’re celebrating what would have been Mom and Dad’s golden Anniversary today.

I’m going back to my roots today.

My mom passed away eight months ago from synovial sarcoma. She suffered for two years with debilitating tumors in her neck and face. Surgery and radiation didn’t slow this cancer down- it caught up with her, wasted her away and killed her.

At the end, she couldn’t talk, so she would write notes to Dad. I would go over and she’d have notes waiting for me. One of these notes was her last wish for her funeral- she wanted to be cremated so no one could see what she looked like, then she wanted her ashes scattered into Jamaica Bay. She wanted her final resting place to be the place where she grew up. Where she lived as a young bride. Where she raised her children. Where she died.

Her wake was lovely. Her ashes were in a pretty blue urn, surrounded by yellow roses from Dad. We had a picture of her next to the urn, and a Star Trek pin pinned to the vestment covering the stand the urn was on. Picture boards of her and Dad on their trip across country in the “Marshmallow” and to Hawaii were standing next to the flowers from her family and friends. Bowls over her favorite candy- Jelly Beans- were set up around the room.

The funeral home had never done anything like this before. Usually the body is cremated after the wake in a coffin that costs close to $1,000. My Nana Frances was cremated before the funeral, and Mom liked that idea. I plan to follow in their footsteps. It was so tastefully done. No badly made up bodies for the masses to gawk at. No coffin to purchase. I know a dozen people who don’t go up to the body at a funeral. Face it, it’s uncomfortable! I want to go one further and not even involve a funeral home. I’d like a memorial service at my church then a party. Not that I have anything against funeral homes and morticians. I just think they take advantage of the bereaved. People think they have no other options except to mourn the recently deceased for three days and nights at a funeral home stuffed with flowers that are thrown away after the funeral. Don’t buy me flowers. Buy a 6-pack of beer, drink up and remember my life!

Mom changed her mind in a note a few days later. She said she wanted some of her ashes let go into the bay and the rest interred into the niche they purchased next to my brother in Pinelawn Cemetary. So on Tuesday, we’re putting the rest of Mom to rest behind a pink marble wall next to her son she said good-bye to 20 years ago.

I gonna need my hankie.

Dad’s been keeping the ashes at home. He mentioned a few months ago that he wanted to scatter the ashes soon. I knew their 50th Anniversary was coming up, so I suggested we do it on that day. He’s going to be sad anyway- we should celebrate and do something special. So today, we’re all going to St. Barnabas for the service this morning, then we’re meeting Pastor Baum at the beach in Charles Park. Mom had asked Beena if she would read a specific poem, but we’re saving that for Tuesday. We’ll say a prayer, then set Mom free. I was planning on throwing them a huge 50’s dance for their Anniversary. Instead we’ll go out for a quiet lunch. And prepare for another sad, strange day.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19