Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Terre

It's funny how I have a whole store of memories linked to you, my childhood friend.

I remember swinging on the swings next to you in Michel's Park & agreeing out loud that we should stay 11 forever.
I remember you inviting me to your house for your birthday & your sister made you Baked Alaska, & you wanted me to try it. I never ever heard of Baked Alaska.
I remember sitting in an ambulance choking on steak & you told me later that you were on the Howitt baseball field & watched as it raced down the street with the sirens blaring unaware that it was me that they were taking to the hospital.
I remember looking at a picture of an old Dutch colonial house with you in your parents kitchen as we imagined that some day we would live next door to each other in houses like that.
I remember you convincing me I better start attending Mass every Sunday if I didn't want to go to Hell when I died. You went with me every Sunday that you could after that.
I remember singing next to you in church sitting behind a boy I had a bad crush on-your idea.
I can't remember if I was still trying to fix you up with him at the time. We were 16 (?)
I remember when you were falling in love with your husband you told me he wasn't like any other guy you ever met & how he read Thoreau...if I remember correctly, he read it aloud to you.
I remember going to visit you with my husband (the boy I had the crush on) & how when you left the room this wonderful man you were in love with made sure to thank us for coming to see you because it meant so much to you.
I remember when you asked me to be your maid of honor how happy I was because I knew I was competing with 8 sisters.
I remember going to visit you again but this time you had a little baby boy & you and I along with our husbands watched & laughed while Nate sat before us totally content in a milk stupor while Bob your cat banged on the window alerting you to let him in from the cold outside.
I remember one Christmas you & I upstairs at my parents house & we sat together as you nursed your beautiful Maddie.
I remember a lot more but I am getting too emotional & mostly I want to tell you on your birthday the same thing you wrote to me in my eighth grade yearbook:
"No man is an island. I am a part of every man I have met and every man that I have met is a part of me." -Thomas Merton
Man am I glad I've been spending so much time with you.

Yep, that is what you wrote to me at the end of eighth grade Terre. So here I am saying it right back at you. & Thanks for all the memories & being my friend all these years.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I love her.
She is our family dog. If I told you how my hubby greets her everyday when he gets home from work, you would smile-but I don't want to embarrass him, so I can't. & our son, when he gets home from school Priscilla & he are like long lost buddies who haven't seen each other in years. & when I get back from picking up my hub from the train which takes all of five minutes, Priscilla will run to greet him lovingly & longingly but then she will look for wherever I am wagging her stubby little tail (oh how I love her tail- especially when it's wagging) at me as if to say, "I missed you so much!" I always tell her that I was just here & she was with me all day, but that doesn't seem to matter to her.
I love her.
To be continued...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chaminade or St. Anthony's?

This is a tough decision, one that will ultimately be made from the heart by our beautiful boy. I suggested he pray about it & then wait for an answer-some guidance from God. The three of us got a good feeling from both schools.
In the meantime I thought it would be fun to conduct a poll on the subject. You can participate by voting on the side bar to the right of this post. Below is a list of what we thought were pros & cons for each school that may help you decide on your answer. Also, we would love to hear your ideas. Please click on the word comments at the bottom of this post to leave yours. This is a long read, so we want you to know how much we appreciate your time & vote.

Chaminade -enrollment: 1600 founded by the Marianist Bros. in 1930.


  • Excellent reputation
  • All boys school
  • Rigorous academic program
  • Qualified students have the opportunity to complete an entire college freshman year.
  • Required curriculum includes 4 years of religion, 4 years of foreign language & 3 years of fine arts.
  • 90% of students are in one or more student activities
  • Our student tour guide told me their day begins when their classes are over & everyone participates in after school activities.
  • The school loves dogs, 2 of which I met at their open house for accepted students yesterday. I heard there are a few more that live on the grounds as well & students help walk them.
  • They serve Edy's soft serve in the cafeteria.
  • Students have the opportunity to use the swimming pool to do laps after school.
  • 100% of of grads go on to colleges, universities & military academies.
  • Wonderful String Orchestra.


  • All boys school
  • School is located in a congested neighborhood
  • large class sizes
  • I get the impression that many boys are pressured to go there once they are accepted.
St Anthony's -enrollment 2400 founded on the Franciscan principle, "Capture the heart and the mind will follow"-since 1933. Religious community: Franciscan Brothers Community in Brooklyn.


  • Ian's math & science teachers believe this is the school for him
  • Excellent academic reputation
  • Obvious school spirit
  • Co-ed
  • Required curriculum includes 4 years of Theology, 3 years of foreign language, 1 year of art, music or drama.
  • 75% is considered a passing grade, & an 80% is required to obtain a letter of recommendation to any college or university.
  • Located in a quiet area of LI
  • S.A.L.T. Saint Anthony's leadership team is a group of students that among other good works help freshman acclimate to H.S. life.
  • Their music program tours Europe & the U.S. performing for various Cathedrals & Basilicas. This year their Orchestra is performing for the Pope during their winter break.
  • The students I met with were confident, friendly & well spoken.
  • Students are accepted to fine colleges & universities, many with scholarships, Two of which were recently accepted to the prestigious & very difficult to get into Cooper Union -Engineering.
  • I also noted that several of their students went to excellent art colleges indicating their student body consists of artistic personalities.
  • Offers Honors and advanced placement programs to qualified students. These classes are smaller classes with about 15 students-a definite plus.


  • Co-ed school (though Ian I think, would like this)
  • large class sizes
  • large student body-800 more than Chaminade

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Home Improvement

click on photo for a detailed view of the stalactites

I don't know if you can tell by this photograph, but this is the last part of what I was scraping off of our bathroom ceiling. It's that stalactite sort of paint that you spackle on & it's supposed to cover up all the imperfections in the sheetrock that have been scarred & cracked over the last 40 years.
Ever since the rather large FIOS guy was wandering around our attic installing our fiber optics last Fall, I noticed some of this beautiful paint starting to pull away from our ceiling. In fact, right where the paint was pulling away, there was a sort of impression that looked like the same size & shape as a rather large shoe that nobody wears in this house- if you know what I mean, wink-wink. So, since then, I've been thinking about how easy it would be to just continue to peel off all of the paint & then I could re-spackle & sand & finish off the ceiling with a nice clean white paint... Yeah, right.
That's just how it always works around here when it comes to redoing anything in this old house-easy peasy.
Actually it did start off quite easy enough. I did feel some huge satisfaction when I began to peel away sizable pieces of paint without much effort. Only that was very short lived after several hours of knuckle scraping when I started wondering why I graduated college with a huge debt to pay off- for what, so I could be doing this? Why did I even go to college to begin with, I thought as I was well into the seventh hour of scraping & only about a quarter of the way into completing the entire ceiling. What did I even learn while I was there -except for maybe delusions of grandeur -that I would again be so bold as to think any project started in this house would be like a cake walk?
OK, whatever-It's over now, I did finish scraping & if you decide to stick around & check in now & again I will share with you the complete mini-renovation of our darling little bathroom.
Oh, & did I mention that as quaint & charming as our bath is, almost every child that uses it feels compelled to pull the shower curtain open upon entering so as to check & see what's lurking behind it? I laugh every time I am upstairs as I witness the sound of the metal curtain rings rapidly sliding across the metal bar as he or she anxiously waits to see if all is clear.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Photo taken by Ian
When I first started running at the beginning of last October it took me 12.5 minutes to run 1 mile. I actually ran 1.6 miles in 20 minutes & I remember feeling like I was running uphill the entire time. Though it was a mighty challenge for me I wanted to do it because if you have been reading my past posts I was looking for some of those magical endorphins. I found it amazing that within my first 10 minutes I experienced a shift in my attitude and I was sweating. I like to sweat, but unless it's hot outside I usually don't while I exercise-at least, not a lot. I could be riding my bike outside on my favorite trail traveling 15-20 miles per hour & I barely break a sweat. So this is good news that I was sweating. Dr Oz the informative DR that appears on Oprah regularly, suggests we sweat at least 3 times per week. It makes me feel like I am taking care of myself properly when I follow DR Oz's suggestions.

Yesterday while squeezing a quick run in before going out for the evening, ( I had to mention that because once in a while I really love going out at night) I ran 3.2 miles in 33 minutes. That means it took me 10.31 minutes to run 1 mile! That also means I have shaved 2.2 minutes off of my running time. Don't get me wrong-it's not as if getting faster is my goal. Mainly I am just trying to run-something I find fairly difficult to do. I kind of assumed this would take place as I continued running over a period of time. It has & I'm glad because this means I can cover more distance in a shorter amount of time providing me with a more intense workout. I remember one of my running mentors explaining to me to start out slowly & gradually increase my workouts by time first, that I shouldn't worry about speed. Doing this I believe is what prevented me from getting injured. At least I didn't get injured by way of shin splints or other running side effects. It would be dishonest of me if I neglected to mention that I did take a nasty spill that literally sent me airborne for what seemed like an eternity causing a trucker to stop & wait for me to land so he could ask me if I was alright. As I was flying through the air I wondered exactly how I would be hurt in the end. Finally when I rolled to a stop, my only injury turned out to be a dessert plate sized purple bruise on my upper thigh. I didn't enjoy getting hurt, but it did make me feel young again.
Lastly, I am sure losing the 10.8 pounds definitely helped increase my speed. After all, I couldn't imagine running while carrying a ten pound weight.
Jesse puts into words why I actually am starting to like running now. I think after I read this I realized how running inspires me.
I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. ~Jesse Owens

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thank you Jesus!

Today is one of those days when everything is so abundantly overflowing with good news. I just want to revel in it. Today is the last day of my Dad's radiation treatments. He had a rough Autumn with illness & a leg injury that took him out of work. Right before Christmas he just wasn't physically up to par.Thankfully, considering the possible side effects of Prostate cancer he has had little. He needs to continue to take care of himself but he is going to be OK.
I just got my mammogram results back & they are fine. If any of you are women reading this, PLEASE get your mammos if you are not up to date. We owe it to ourselves, our families & every woman that has had to battle breast cancer. The earlier a problem is detected the better. Knowledge is power.

On a lighter note our man/boy, beautiful boy, just found out he was accepted to all three Catholic high schools he applied too, one of which says he is a candidate for their honors program. Please pray for him, he has a lot of thinking to do. He is also in the process of applying to 3 other schools, so that adds more decision making to the mix.

& lastly but definitely not leastly, my beloved parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today. My parents have pretty much been through it all & have come out of it very much ALIVE! & though it hasn't been an easy ride for them, they stuck it out & they stuck together. When I think of all the blessings in my life, among them is what my parents have given me over the years, like encouraging me to be who I really am- which is probably what I am most grateful to them for. What child doesn't want their parents to accept them as they are? I often think of them every time my husband & I encourage our son to be himself.

Thanks for that Mom & Dad

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

This is one of my all time favorite reference books. It is written by Christiane Northrup, M.D. It has just been newly updated & revised in paperback.
Open this book at any page & you will be sure to find some valuable piece of information about how to take care of yourself as a woman. What I love about this book is that Dr. Northrup holistically addresses the mind body connection when it comes to women's emotional issues & their physical health. As you read this book you will find multiple resources & tools that you can use to empower yourself by taking positive steps in healing your body, mind & spirit.

If you have the time she will also be on Oprah January 17th, 2008. Check her out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another 1.8 lbs. lost last Saturday,

bringing my total loss to 10.6 pounds in 9 weeks. So I am losing a little over a pound a week. I am approximately 1 pound away from 3 years ago when I went to WW for the first & last time & lost 23 pounds. Fortunately I never gained all of the 23 pounds back. But I don't like to talk about this too much for fear I'll jinx myself. I won't lose another pound for the next three weeks.
I feel I must risk that though for the sake of my dear readers who may have any real interest in the true story of how exactly I am losing weight. Obviously I am going to Weight Watchers once a week, which is a first step. Though I have to say it is only a first step in terms of reaching out for help. Two days before I started WW was when I really began this journey, that was when I saw my DR after not wanting too- after putting it off for almost 2 months. I was scared to go. I knew I hadn't lost the weight we talked about. In fact I gained at least three pounds. So in effect, fear & courage was probably my greatest motivator. After seeing the DR & realizing my blood pressure wasn't high enough to medicate at 140/85, I felt like I had a second chance to make things right. I also didn't want to feel so scared & powerless again. It's not that I think I can control outcomes-I don't. Though I do believe I can control my actions. I can make better choices. I can consciously do the next right thing. I can stop doing the same old thing expecting different results.
When I first started this blog, my first post was all about not wanting to go back to WW. I felt like it didn't work for me in the end. I felt like I had hit a plateau & I just wasn't losing anymore, so why spend the money? What really happened was I just made a decision that I really can't explain. As frustrated as I was during that time, I can put my past experience with WW to good use now. Three things come to mind. First, I refuse to adopt the merde attitude I had during my last months in WW. At times I find myself thinking, what was with that? I mean I am just about a pound away from that original 23 lost & how could I just not be grateful? Why didn't I just up the ante back then, do more exercise, switch my foods around, go to more meetings-whatever. But we all know woulda, shoulda, coulda doesn't help things. Besides, what about today? That is all any of us really have.
So secondly, that is what I am doing now, concentrating on the day at hand, being present, living as a conscious human, listening to my higher power & my angels whispering me direction-that voice in my head that says what the right thing is to do & then actually doing it. Sometimes I get afraid that I won't be able to complete my weight loss & actually lose all of the weight I need to lose. So far, the minute those thoughts enter my mind I stop myself from thinking them. I just do not want to go there anymore.
Thirdly, attending WW meetings helps me tremendously. Instead of focusing on how WW didn't work in the past I decided to take my husbands suggestion & concentrate on how WW could help me now. One thing I decided to do was to try a new leader. My last leader was OK but I thought a different one might make a difference. This means I have to drive 4 miles to my meeting rather than just walk around the corner, but it is so worth it. I now have a great motivating leader. She walks the talk, she is very funny & I have noticed that she talks about behaviour even more than food. She isn't afraid to get the group to share their feelings & show us how to change our thinking. I get a lot of support & encouragement hearing my leaders & other peoples stories about the positive changes they are making in their lives.
"We heal through loving connection. Every time we're hurt or feel like we can't go on, it's someone reaching out and connecting that makes the difference. And love-no matter how it's offered or when it comes-can build a bridge to something better." -Oprah.
I happened to read this last weekend & though Oprah's article was on an entirely different subject, it made me think of how when I ask for help it is given & how that helping hand really does act like a bridge enabling me to cross over whatever challenge, great or small I may be facing at the time. In my case I am healing the part of me that needs to take care of myself.

Lord, thank you for giving me the help I need to carry me through my life.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"A lot of people are singing about how screwed up the world is, and I don't think everybody wants to hear about that all the time."-Mariah Carey

The concert at the TillesCenter for the Performing Arts was awesome! It is good to know that there are masses of young people devoting themselves to something so uplifting & enriching like music. Not only are they themselves becoming all the better for it but they are touching other peoples lives in a positive way in the process. What a wonderful thing.
Before the orchestra played, the Vice President of my son's division commented on how cooperative & respectful all of the young musicians were during this last week of rehearsals. There is something about music that is truly magical in so many ways. I don't have any idea how many of these young participants will go on to become musicians. It does seem to me though, that the experience of committing oneself to a discipline transfers over to so many other areas of one's life. Ian's music teacher told me that all of her friends that continued to play music-despite all the practices, are glad that they did. While her friends that stopped playing are sorry they didn't continue. Having to practice an instrument everyday is a big commitment. For Ian, he strives to do that. This works for him because if he misses a day, it's just one day. By learning & practicing & getting better at something, it teaches him that he can do that with other things as well. This has been a great tool for me as a parent. Over the years when Ian has faced other challenges I can always reassure him with, "It's just like the violin, all you have to do is practice." I think of how that alone contributes to a persons self esteem. Also, getting up in front of a large room full of your peers & playing a solo-I believe that nurtures courage. Then there is the simple act of sharing something of yourself that is beautiful, & by doing so you bring happiness to those around you.

I remember when my childhood friend started her children in Suzuki violin lessons, she would have them bring their violins to NY when they came to visit family & friends so we could hear them play. Truthfully -at the time, I had no idea what I was listening too. However, I could see what a wholesome experience it was for not only her young children, but also for myself & the other listeners around me. When my friend suggested my son take these same type of violin lessons, looking back on it, I am so very glad I was open to her suggestion.
Thank you dear friend.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it,..."-Shakespeare

So for the past three nights 700 children chosen from all over Nassau County assembled together to rehearse for tonight's concert at The Tilles Center.The program includes a band, a chorus, a jazz band, and an orchestra. Every child had to rehearse after school from 4PM to 8PM for three consecutive nights.
The first night I dropped my son off I watched him play in an orchestra for the first time. Most of this large group of children never met, much less played together before & they already sounded good. Last night I arrived early hoping to get a glimpse of how far they progressed. One word-Amazing! The lump that formed in my throat was quite big, the tears of happiness had to be kept at bay. They sounded so beautiful. The guest conductor was very enthusiastic with them. He was completely into it all. What is it about music that just makes you feel so uplifted?
When the kids were finished rehearsing, the conductor told them it was an honor to be there with them. Then he went around to all the children telling them "Good job, good job.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


January 9th marked the one year anniversary of my brother-in-laws death. It says something about a man when his mother, with all of his siblings & their partners gather together & spend the day remembering him. The love of his life brought roses & each of us threw them into the ocean where he swam. She brought us white balloons & we all wrote messages on them telling him how much we miss him & love him. My husband wrote simple words describing special memories that only they shared as children. I wrote how lucky I was to have him for a brother-in-law. I wrote for my son how much he wished he was there to be with everyone & how much he loves him. Then we released the white balloons & watched as they disappeared from view into the vivid blue sky knowing Paul would catch & read every one of them up in Heaven.

His love shouted to the sky,"...see how special you are!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."-Charles Dickens

The decorations are all nearly down & I find myself missing Christmas.
Luckily the Catholic Church doesn't start celebrating till after Jesus is born so we still had the pleasure of singing Christmas Carols last Sunday. Singing is my favorite part of mass. I have a deep voice & don't really sing all that well- but I always stand next to my son who sings like an angel & instinctively knows how to compensate for how I sound. He makes me feel like I'm in a choir. I feel a tremendous amount of PEACE when I listen to his beautiful voice as I sing along beside him.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tony Melendez

The Epiphany of the Lord

"If we open our hearts to God's grace we become the modern stars to lead those to Bethlehem..."

This is part of what was said yesterday in the homily at church. Have you ever heard the true story about the guy who played the guitar with his feet because he had no arms? His name is Tony Melendez. Pope John Paul was so inspired by his playing, he walked over to him & kissed him on his face. He called him the gift of hope.

Check out the video of him. If you listen to his beautiful song, afterwards you get to see the Pope & Tony & how moved Tony was when he was kissed by the Pope, our modern day Holy man. can I be a modern star? I am sure there is something I can do.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

"A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Confucius

Not one pound

Not two pounds

Nor three

or even four.

Not five pounds

or six pounds

or seven pounds

but 8 pounds & more!

I'm saying goodbye to 8.8 pounds of first quality sweet cream butter baby!
So after 3 weeks of just maintaining my weight loss, I have finally lost some more poundage! 3 whole pounds to be exact, bringing my total weight loss to 8.8lbs. in a period of 8 weeks.

At my WW meeting this morning my leader asked us what we could do to help ourselves. A lot of the people there were talking about just not having the time they needed to devote themselves to sticking to the program. She told the oxygen story about being on a plane & how it was crucial to put the mask on yourself before helping your child. I shared with the group how awhile back someone suggested to me not to do anything for anyone that they can do for themselves. I believe most women are in the habit of doing for others & it really is a good thing in many ways-it only gets bad for me when it is at the expense of myself. The cool thing about not overdoing for others is that it teaches them to do for themselves, freeing up time for me, empowering them & probably most importantly giving myself some love. If I love myself I think I am showing God how much I appreciate my life.

Thank you God for helping me grow in love.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Letting Go

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

That last line is the hardest for me. I mean sometimes it is so obvious what I can control & what I can't. Yet I guess the most important thing is the first line. If I have serenity it is easier to accept things. Then what about the courage? I heard someone say once that courage is about being afraid of doing something scary but doing it anyway.
Shortly after saying this prayer this morning-I try to remember to pray this every morning no matter how I feel-something told me (I seriously think it was my angel whispering in my ear again) to go and read the daily page in The Language of Letting Go. What a great page for me to read today- thank you my dear angel.
Here is part of it;

In recovery, we learn that self-care leads us on the path to God's will and plan for our life. Self-care never leads away from our highest good; it leads toward it.
Learn to nurture that voice inside. We can trust ourselves. We can take care of ourselves. We are wiser than we think. Our guide is within, ever-present. Listen to, trust, and nurture that guide.

Today I will affirm that I am a gift to myself and the Universe. I will remember that nurturing self-care delivers that gift in its highest form.

Thank you too Melody Beattie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Word

Last year before the new year started I was reading a blog about picking a word to use as a daily symbol or as a mantra for the new year. I picked the word strength. I thought about having a strong mind, a strong body, a strong spiritual life. The idea of picking a word to keep in mind appealed to me. I thought I could use it as a touchstone. I remember the blog suggesting you pick a word with qualities that are appealing to you- the idea was that whatever you focus your energies on is usually what you bring into your life. I have consciously thought about this type of thinking in many different areas of my life over the years. I've noticed when I am filling my mind up with the trivial, I tend to have a trivial existence. If I look for inspiration in everything & everyone around me I experience serenity.

I wish I could say how I decided on the word strength-I wish I wrote about it at the time. When I think of the events that transpired in my life last year I can't help but feel that I was divinely inspired. Do you know the part in the bible where it says, "Ask & you shall receive..."? Looking back I believe God sent me an angel that whispered in my ear the exact word I needed in my life to help me through every part of all that took place. I don't believe I picked the word myself. How could I possibly know the very thing I would need?
I thought about my "word" everyday. Most days I felt like I didn't have any strength. That was OK though because that was the first step in finding out how I could get it. With absolute certainty I know I never found strength alone either. I often found the strength I needed by reaching out & asking for help. More often than not the simple act of asking God, "Please take this away from me." was all I needed to do. Sometimes I had to do that a few times an hour-but it always helped.

Mostly though, I started to realize it was important to ask those around me for help in getting the strength I needed. I found that people respond generously when you ask them to share of themselves. I also began to realize that if they didn't help me find my strength it was because for whatever reason, they couldn't & that only meant that I needed to find another source, & I always did. Sometimes it was another person, a nice long run, a beautiful stormy sky or a moving song. Looking back again I feel that if I didn't have the word strength as my touchstone I'm not sure I would know that was what I needed much less begin to think about how to find it.

I feel stronger for picking the word strength. I am grateful for the strength I was given so freely by everyone & everything around me. Thank you God.

This year I choose PEACE.