Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Gretchen at the Happiness Project asks Do You Ever Find it Hard to Do Something you KNOW You Should do?

Hell yeah. I can make a long list of things I know I should do, and which would increase my happiness, and yet I don't do them.

Today I'll just talk about sleep. So I've been seeing a new counselor. At the first visit she told me that I need to go to bed at 11, and for the most part, I have. And I do function so much better on a good night's sleep. Last night I stayed up. I forget when I went to bed, 12:30 or 1 a.m.

Today was horrid! I had such a tough time dealing with the normal kid stuff (you know, getting ready for school, getting ready for bed). And while my mind is currently reeling from a zillion things I could do, I know I need to go to bed now, in order to have a good day tomorrow.

So with that, good night.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Musical Nostalgia

  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor-- dancing in the living room with my sister and parents; my parents took hustle lessons in the 70's
  • Glass Houses, 52nd St, and the Stranger by Billy Joel-- cleaning our apartment in Starrett City, Brooklyn
  • Mysterious Ways, U2-- in a hotel in Athens with friends, watching the video for the first time
  • Too Shy, Kajagoogoo--our living room in Staten Island
  • Bring on the Night, Sting--freshman dorm at NYU

Friday, November 17, 2006

Culture Shock

Last night my feed-reader had a post from Jspot written by a woman who'd just moved from San Francisco to Ohio. Her comments are very familiar to me, as I moved from NYC to the Panhandle of Florida nearly 14 years ago.

I was born in Brooklyn, and lived in one borough of NYC or another until I was 22. That December my then-fiance (now husband) and I moved to Florida. Wow, what a trip that was. Sure, some things about the move were novel and exciting, like the delightful December weather. But for the most part, it was all culture shock, all the time.

  1. I was the first Jewish person many folks believed they'd met. Not that this was the first piece of info I divulged, but when I did share this, that's what I heard.
  2. The closest synagogue was 90 miles away, in Dothan, AL.
  3. People are mad for FSU. It was, and is, so strange to live somewhere that college sports are bigger than pro sports.
  4. Service workers are freakishly polite and smiley, as if they've been trained at Disney World.

Despite being here 14 years, there are some things I am still learning to adjust to. I've been practicing smiling at folks at the grocery store or the mall. People make eye contact with strangers here, and I'm just not used to that! I've also been working on being a more considerate driver; you know, letting someone in a gas station out into the line of traffic. Whenever I see someone do that in my rearview mirror I realize I should have let the driver in.

We live in a really small town in central Florida now. I actually prefer it to the time we spent in the greater Orlando area. Some things I love about small town living:

  1. No traffic.
  2. My kids' great public school.
  3. Knowing lots of folks from my kids' school. Even though I find it hard to get acquainted with new people, especially if I perceive that they are very different from me, I know a good deal of folks from the school, and enjoy waving or saying hi around town.
  4. Knowing my FedEx and UPS guys so well that they wave when they see my car around town.
I still miss NY like crazy. But when I think about the possibility of moving out of Florida I have a hard time imagining it. I'm not a big fan of our summer weather (or the threat of hurricanes), but right now we're entering the perfect weather time of year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

So Hard

Why is it so hard to love ourselves? So hard to accept the good in yourself that others see in you?

I'm seeing a new therapist right now. She's so unlike any therapist I've had before. On the one hand I'm so tired, feel like I've worked so hard at this before, how can another round end any differently? And yet when I leave my appointment I feel so peaceful, and so full of hope that I am the person that she sees inside me--and so full of belief that I can become that person with her help.

She's offered me empathy on some things I didn't even think I needed empathy for. And today she gave me an incredible compliment. I'm not sure I can believe it, and yet I'd like to so badly.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I happened to be looking for something in my Firefox history the other day. I noticed that almost every website I've looked at in the past month has been a blog.

My obsession right now is craft blogs. I love making things, and I'm so inspired by seeing what other people are making. While perusing who knows how many sites, I came across these great felted sweater bags: Wee Wonderfuls, Whipup.net, Knitty, and Craftzine. I remembered that I have a felted sweater in my fabric stash, and stopped by a thrift store today to pickup two more sweaters to felt. The new ones are drying in my garage, and I'm hoping to piece a bag together in the next few days.

I didn't come across any colorful striped sweaters as I'd hoped, but I think I can put together two cute bags with what I found. Not too many wool sweaters at the store I stopped at, afterall, this is Florida.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I missed posting last night. I was going to, but my son was sick in the afternoon, and napped. Then he couldn't get to sleep. I lay down with him to get him to stay in bed and be still and...I fell asleep. When my husband came to get me it was already 12:30. I thought of posting then, but knew that sleep was more important.

My first thought this morning was to just give up all together. But I didn't try NaBloPoMo for the prizes, I started to get myself writing on a regular basis. So I'm going to keep going. I've still got a list of things I'd like to write about, and it has been good fun to write on a daily basis.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogging for Books: Summer of Hurricanes

Up until August 13, 2004 I had a fairly smug attitude about hurricanes. We've lived in Florida since 1992. The first few years we lived in the Panhandle, and the few storms that came our way were tropical storm strength, and didn't seem so bad. Now we live virtually in the center of Florida, and never imagined that a storm could come so far inland and still be a hurricane.

As Hurricane Charley approached I figured that we'd get some wind and some rain, and then life would go on as usual. I shared this attitude with my new-to-Florida sister-in-law on August 13th. We were supposed to host a first birthday party for her daughter at my home.

My sil and her family, as well as my il's, came to our house that Thursday as scheduled. In addition to the planned party, they live in Southwest Florida, and wanted to get out of dodge before Charley arrived. Central Florida seemed like a good place to go. Friday morning we made a quick trip to the mall before it shut down early in advance of the storm.

After we got home, the wind was picking up and it rained a bit. We finished moving some of our outside things into the garage and went along with our day. I was still feeling confident that this would be no big deal. We watched the news and the Weather Channel. The storm was hitting Lee County, but they couldn't really tell us about how the storm affected the region just yet.

We idled away the afternoon, had dinner, and waited for the storm to come. The wind and rain picked up; the adults tried to keep an even demeanor for the sake of the four kids with us. At about 6:00 the power started flickering. By 6:10 it was off for good. And by 6:15 my smug attitude was wiped away as well.

I don't recall much of Charley as the grown-ups were busy distracting the kids with flashlights. Around 10:00 pm it seemed that the storm had passed, so we took a look outside. It was very dark so it was tough to see even to the end of our driveway. There were trees down, that much we could see. We managed to dissuade my father-in-law from trying to drive back to the motel they had a room at and sleep at our house instead.

The next morning we were able to explore more. There was no damage to our house, thankfully, and one of our cars narrowly missed being hit by a tree. Everything was just a mess though—leaves everywhere, downed trees and power poles. Our phones were out and the electricity as well. Using the gas grill and our camp stove we were still able to have a typical weekend breakfast of eggs. Fortunately in the first day or so after the hurricane the air was not thick with dampness.

I was able to reach my mother via cellphone if I stood in the middle of the street. I learned that the storm was still a hurricane when the eye passed through our town. I also learned that a nursing home in town evacuated its residents after the storm ripped the roof off of their building!

The next day we were running out of ice to keep things cold. We took a drive, and learned that they were giving out ice and water at City Hall. I was impressed that they could get assistance like this set up so quickly. I was discouraged and upset to see the condition of our town—it is just shocking to see the place that you live torn to shreds like this.

Before a week had gone by our power was back on. I spent some time at a friend’s home before that because she had power, a pool, and two kids the same ages as mine. Our phone was still out of order (and wouldn’t go back on for nearly a month after Charley). Gasoline was hard to come by in town; nearly all of the stations had extensive damage that would need to be repaired before they could open again. More houses had blue tarps on the roofs than did not.

A few weeks later I found myself parked outside of Wal-Mart crying. We’d been watching the weather for a few days, and we were beginning to prepare for Hurricane Frances. I was completely on edge, watching the news every night, waiting and wondering if this storm would come here too. And now here I was, outside the store preparing to buy more storm supplies. The store was a madhouse—folks taking canned goods off the shelves as fast as the folks working there could put them up. I still had to try to fill up my car’s tank, too.

We didn’t want to remain in town for a second storm, so we drove to my in-law’s home on Sanibel. The storm was approaching from the east coast, and they have hurricane shutters to boot. Their power flickered, but never went off. With the shutters down we couldn’t hear much of the storm, and it was nice to feel so sheltered in their home.

In the next few weeks, we watched the Weather Channel religiously. Hurricane Jeanne took a loop-de-loop through the Caribbean. It seemed like the storm was trying to torture us. With nearly half the gas stations in town still closed, getting gas continued to be a challenge. Huge displays of batteries, flashlights, and canned goods were at the front of all the local grocery stores. When we drove around town our two year old commented about the mess made by the ‘big wind’ (that’s how we described hurricanes to her). Our five year old caught us watching the Weather Channel and asked in a worried voice “is that one coming here too?” We were all on edge, and while we were thankful that there is advance notice of approaching hurricanes, we were terribly tired of anticipating the storm.

Finally Jeanne put us out of our misery by making landfall. During Charley I was occupied by keeping the children distracted. We missed experiencing the worst of Frances by traveling to southwest Florida. Jeanne, though, Jeanne was scary. The storm hit in the pitch black of 5 am. I woke up to find my husband and son walking around the house with a flashlight. The howling winds woke them up. I lay down with my son for a few moments, and found myself having to work at keeping calm while chatting with him. I was shaking. The wind sounded so loud, so intense. There were odd creaks that made you wonder if the roof was going to have a gaping hole at any time. My husband came back to bed, and I went to sleep with our daughter. As I lay there listening to the storm, I willed myself back asleep. I was still shaking, and I wished that we were all sleeping together.

Last year we watched the horror of Katrina on TV. There are a few more weeks of hurricane season 2006 left and we are grateful that there haven’t been any major storms in Florida this year. I don’t see any more blue tarps around town, but things are not completely back to pre-Charley conditions. One gas station remains closed. The nursing home just reopened, after two years of extensive reconstruction. A local Italian restaurant only opened up about a year and a half after the storm. And people are wondering why recovery in New Orleans isn’t further along? I know that we are lucky that our home sustained no damage in 2004, but my stomach can’t help but get tied up in knots when I recall how we spent the weeks of August and September that year.

--November 2006 Blogging for Books entry

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sibling Love

I sent an online friend of mine a link to some Halloween photos of my kids. She commented that they looked very sweet together. I was happy that soemone who didn't know them in person could see that, even if just through a few posed Halloween pictures.

Sure, they have scuffles. There are tears, usually due to someone hitting a flailing body part while they wrestle or run around the house. Until someone gets hurt (and someone always does), the wrestling is accompanied by laughter. They just have a great time together.

Personally I prefer their quiet play, but then again I never enjoyed being physical with my sister as a kid either. But in their quiet play I get to enjoy their great imaginations working in tandem. The'll devise elaborate scenarios with the animals or dolls or Playmobil figures. Eavesdropping on this type of play gives me such a wonderful feeling inside.

Another time that their love for one another shines through is in the morning. My son will often give his sister tender hugs when she first wakes up, and call her sweet little names. He has a great look on his face when he talks to her like this.

My daughter is very sensitive to others' emotions, and will try to comfort her big brother when he's upset. She is also quick to ask me to get him something if I'm buying her a little treat at the store, and she often initiates sharing a snack or something good to eat with her brother. Sometimes I catch her looking at him with such great love and admiration.

I have a great relationship with my sister. We faught a lot as kids; we came together as a unit when our parents were acting strangely (the prelude to their divorce). It's possible my kids will go through a fighting stage, but for right now I'm enjoying the sibling love.

Friday, November 10, 2006

50 years

We're throwing a 50th anniversary party for my in-laws tomorrow. I baked a cake today- didn't quite come out as it did in my vision! Shocking! Luckily my second sister-in-law arrived at her sister's home and helped us do some corrective surgery on it. It looks good now, and I know it will taste good. I'm looking forward to seeing the look on my in-laws faces tomorrow night! They have no idea that we are planning this surprise for them. Many of their old friends are coming, including the best man from their wedding, whom they haven't seen in ages.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My Miracle Drug

I bought my first U2 album when I was 14. I'd heard and liked their music on the radio prior to that purchase; I've been listening to their music for more than 22 years. I know that I can't put into words how much their music means to me.
In good times and in bad, their songs are my companions.

From a recent interview, Bono:

"Intimacy is a great word. A lot of people are listening to music through earphones [these days] and you know, you're whispering into people's ears. It is a very intimate relationship and I think the place where it flowers is, of course, at these shows. You realise that people are not screaming their lungs out for you - I've kind of known this - they're screaming for themselves. And they're screaming for the moments they attach to those songs, the lives. Our songs tend to be with people at either the best of times or worst of times. When things are going normally, I'm not sure people listen to our band very much ," he said, laughing again."Those songs, they open up a series of memories for people - and big ones." click for complete article (Bolding mine)

During good times, their songs are anthems of celebration, anthems of life. When I'm having a rough patch, their songs are like prayers. Edges's soaring guitars lift me up, Bono's words embrace me, and Larry and Adam's rhythms give me the beat to follow.

I love all kinds of music, by all kinds of bands, but U2 is the band that I know I can rely on at all times. They join me in celebration, and sustain me when I need help. They are my miracle drug.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Carnival of Children's Literature

Anne-Marie at Readable Feast is hosting A Carnival of Children's Literature. The theme is "what are you thankful for in children's literature."
  • I'm thankful for the copy of Harriet the Spy my grandfather gave me in a small brown paper bag.
  • I'm thankful for Mo Willems, the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and the Bus Driver.
  • I'm thankful for Olivia, Lily, and all of the other spunky little girls in picture books.
  • I'm thankful for Charlotte's Web, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, A Wrinkle in Time, and Harry Potter.
Most of all though, I'm thankful that, no matter what parenting mistakes I've made, my children love to read and to be read to. They love books, they love the library, and sharing books with them makes my heart swell to bursting.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Running out of time

There are only 15 minutes left in Tuesday, and I haven't posted yet today. I posted early (for me) yesterday, and I think I got cocky. Oh, I have plenty of time to post today. No problem. I'll get to it. In my defense I started two or three drafts today, but they aren't quite ready to share.

So I'll thank The Zero Boss for turning me on to NaBloPoMo and then call it a night. I'm making time to write every day, and jotting down new ideas as well. Thank you Jay Allen- thanks for making me laugh every day, and thanks for helping me decide to start blogging. And perhaps most important of all, thanks for introducing me to Google Reader!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Big emotions

For a long time I've said that my dd, almost 5, has big emotions. She's so unlike me in a number of ways that I've sometimes wondered where she came from. Just recently I was specifically pondering the origin of the big emotions. And then it hit me. Well, duh, nyjlm. You. Have. Big. Emotions.

No, I don't roll around on the floor or try to kick people. But I definitely have big emotions too; they just come out differently.

A few days after I realized this I was telling my Dad a story about the kids 'shopping' from a Scholastic flyer. DD finally settled on a book about a dog which comes with a paw print mood necklace. I chuckled and said, "boy, that oughta be interesting on her. har har har." And Dad says, "Nyjlm, that's pretty funny coming from you! Your emotions drove your mother and I nuts!"

Payback is a bitch.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Twilight Zone

There comes a time in discussions with my husband, very often when we are under pressure or on the verge of a major blowup, when I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. I hear the words he's saying, but they make no reasonable sense. I think he hears my words, but what happens to them once they enter his brain I couldn't tell you. Sometimes it happens when I've been particularly careful with my words, to ensure that I'm clearly portraying my needs--and yet I'm still misunderstood.

We're kind of having one of those nights tonight. As the man sings, So love is hard And love is tough.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


So the other night I was carded buying some beer. This also happened about a month ago. I'm 36. There is no way that I look less than 21, but I am more than happy to show them my license.

Feeling 36 is something else though--I do not feel 36, I feel like I'm 21, and still in college. And yet when I open my eyes here I am: a wife, a mother of two, a homeowner, a car owner. How did this happen? How can it be that I'm in charge of a seven year old boy and an almost five year old girl? Has there been some mistake?

Friday, November 03, 2006

So. Many. Thoughts

My mind is just swimming with ideas for posting- it has just paralyzed me today. I've been on the verge of starting to write and then more ideas have come flooding. I'm trying to jot them down so that I'll have a list to refer to on days when I'm stumped. I always do have ideas for articles and things in my head, my problem is that I don't take the time to write them down. So I'm glad to have NaBloPoMo to give me some discipline in that direction.

So, today I'll write about bread and bread making. And creativity. I baked some lovely bread yesterday. I wasn't sure it was going to come together, it was very sticky, very loose. I poured it out on my counter with a bunch more flour and it started to take shape. I was still a bit skeptical; the dough was nothing like the challah I've been baking lately. Yet it rose beautifully; I divided it and put it in pans. When it was ready the whole family got together for the warm bread and melting butter (well, melting Smart Balance). It was delicious! It was a really wonderful bread, I only hope I can come close to duplicating it.

I did not learn bread making from my mother (I don't think she's ever used yeast at all), and my first attempts at challah were just awful; nothing like the soft yellowy goodness of my childhood. I decided to try again after my children were born. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I can do it. It is delicious, and actually resembles challah! *gasp*

I love when the dough transforms. The moment the raw goods transform into bread dough- just miraculous. The soft, baby's bottom feel of the dough. Watching it rise, and turn into bread in the oven. I love turning 'nothing' into 'something.' I was thinking about this recently and realized that this is true of many of the activities that make me feel the best- baking, sewing, scrapbooking, and even writing.

In addition to creating something from nothing, I think these creative acts make me feel good because they are also acts of love.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Trying to win the Internal Mommy War

Yesterday I read this post from Dad in Progress: Daddy Wars. The post ends
So, I think the war is definitely on, but it's a private and personal war that today's dads fight. And for good cause: to be better dads, to be more involved and to be happier.

I think this is a war all parents face, not just dads (of course moms have the media created mommy wars to obscure this). I tend to get bogged down in what I haven't done, how I'm failing, all the things I've done wrong, without fully appreciating all of the good or great things I've accomplished with my children.

I try to take the time to appreciate the good moments in our family. When I fill my reserves with thoughts of the good, the difficult spots are easier to get through. And those good feelings make it easier to win that internal battle which my mind wages against itself on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ready, set, jump

originally uploaded by nyjlm.
So I've been meaning to try blogging for a while now. Finally jumping in. Not sure why NaBloPoMo is pushing me over the edge, but it is.

So here I am at 11:28 pm, fumbling and bumbling to find something to say. Today was not my best day, but I can say that it is ending better than it started. I was carded at the liquor store (I'm 36!), and I've been watching some sitcom reruns w/hubby and having some good laughs.

I need more laughter in my life. I've been finding a lot of laughs in other folks' blogs, and you can find some of those funny posts on my Google Reader link over there to the right >>>>>>