return to blogging

I’ve decided that I’m going to make a splash back into blogging.  Some deeper stuff.  I’ve been to therapy, and I’ve spoken with friends, and yes, I have even written in a journal. None of which has “done the trick.” I’m assuming because the therapists, my friends, and yes, even the journal, can’t relate.  Or maybe I’m too stubborn to comprehend and act on the advice I’ve been given. I feel that if I put my thoughts and issues “out there”, maybe, somewhere, one person who’s had similar thoughts and issues can say “Hey, I’ve been there….it does take a while….but here is what helped for me.”

Upcoming topics—marriage, jobs, friends, kids, parents.  Sounds like a typical life, huh?


PJs vs. Workout Wear

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am somewhat of a traditionalist. I believe in PJs. As a young child, I wore my feetsies (love the feetsies), then the cotton kind with lacey trim. I went through my Tshirt-to-bed phase (which, I suppose, is technically NOT a PJ), and my silky Victoria Secret 2 piece cami-jammies and sleep camisoles. Over the past decade (or so), I have worn my fair-share of flannel sets and cotton 2piece tshirt and short sets.

But  now, as I’m seeing….blurred lines….if you will….over PJs and workout wear. I can probably blame my local Target, where the workout wear and PJs are right next to each other. Quite often I can’t figure out where one ends and the other begins.

My most recent Jammie-purchase is a 3/4 sleeve length pink top with a wide top, and a pair of gray, reach-the-knees, “sweatpants.” It is so wicked comfy. But when I put them on at night, I feel like I should be heading to the gym instead of bed. And forget when I wake up in the morning….I don’t want to change into “regular” clothes.

Upon further reflection, haven’t you as well noticed people wearing flannel “pajama pants” and “fuzzy ugg-like slippers” out in public…to go shopping, to school, to football games? And we wear the workout wear to bed. My neighbor is a workout fiend. She is *always* in workout wear. For the life of me, I can’t picture what she would wear to bed….because it’s probably very similar to what she wears during the day. Funny, huh?

Love and Happiness

Welcome 2013! It’s so good to finally meet you!

I had a very crappy 2012–I’m glad it’s behind me.  I dealt with broken bones, damaged relationships, and the death of my best friend. It was a very long year. Lots of different and complicated emotions to deal with.

A year ago, when I was dealing with some issues, I bought myself a pair of earrings with Chinese characters. The box said the characters represent the symbols for “Love and Happiness.” I wore those earrings the entire first week of 2012 to give me strength. I’ve noticed that I have been wearing these earrings as my “go-to” earrings throughout 2012 and going into 2013.



May everybody find strength in knowing that Love and Happiness is possible and attainable. Just believe.

Happy New Year


Little Guy had his first ever elementary school concert yesterday. He and his fellow first graders recited a poem about Friendship.  As I have had a pretty bumpy 6 (plus) months, and have relied on my friends to listen, bitch, comfort, counsel, hug, understand, and support me….I dedicate this post to my friends.



A friend is a person who wishes you well,

And keeps all the secrets that you like to tell.

Friends share their toys and their storybooks too,

Friends can be older or younger than you.

Friends can be real or made up in your mind,

But they’re always thoughtful and always kind.

Friends can live nearby or very, very far,

But your friends are your friends, wherever you are!
~Risa Jordan

The Return to Work Experience

Because I documented my desire to return to work as well as the details of my job search, I figured I should write about my Return to Work Experience.

Since December 12th, I have been working for a Social Service Agency who aids the Elder community.  My title is HR Administrative Assistant, but my duties are much more of a Recruiting Coordinator. I am happy to report that I was actually able to find an organization that would let me work from 9am-3pm.  For now, this is a temp assignment so it is offering me a “taste” of returning to work–to see how I like it, how I handle it, how it affects the family.

My first 10 days were mostly administrative Grunt-Work—filing, filing, and more filing.  I would have been tasked with data entry, but my supervisor was having problems getting me access into their HRIS systems.  I pretty much impressed/surprised them with the speed and efficiency of my filing skills.  ;>)

I then went away for 10 days for the Christmas holidays, so I consider my “First Day of Real Work” as January 3rd.  My supervisor had fixed the HRIS issue, so I now had the ability to go into the system and update evaluation dates, change of addresses, new job titles.  I was also given the responsibility of handling all the job postings and resume intake, as well as meeting with candidates, sending out offer letters, and much more.

There have been times  when I have wondered if this is actually a 30 hour a week job.  Either it is not, or I am too quick and efficient, or they just haven’t given me the “meat” of the job yet.  I can’t say that I’m being “challenged” but I am feeling very productive. Luckily, over the past 2 weeks, I have been given more and more responsibility and autonomy. My supervisor and the HR Director are *very* pleased with the high level of detail and integrity I show in my work.  I am constantly being complimented, and have been asked to extend my assignment from March until the end of May.

How has my return to work effected our home life?

Well, for starters, I haven’t heard any squawking from the peanut gallery.

My morning routine with the boys is *exactly* the same.  Lily and I take the boys to the bus stop each morning, and she and I go on a quick walk.  Lily gets the raw deal, as her walks are quite short now, and she is home alone for 7 hours.  The boys now take the bus after school, instead of my picking them up.  When the boys come into the house, they grab a snack and start their homework. On occasion, I have to remind them that their “unwind” time was the 30 minute bus ride. And each night, I make a nice dinner for the family–sometimes it’s casual, sometimes I go all out–just like before I worked.

I have done a few 7pm grocery trips during the week, and I have done “full grocery runs” on either Saturday or Sunday.  It doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s definitely not the same as going to a nice, quiet, relatively-empty grocery store at 9am on a weekday.

What I have noticed, and perhaps this does bother me a little, is that since January, I have done a ton of errands on Saturdays or Sundays in between basketball games, church, or other commitments. When I mentioned this to Hubby, he hasn’t noticed. But I guess this is the reality of a working mom.

I have been able to keep up with housework.  Back in December, I called a couple of housecleaners. One did come for a meet-and-greet, and I played phone tag with the others. I try not to make phone-calls at work, so I say “I’ll call when the boys do their homework.” But I forget, and the next day I kick myself. But just like before I worked, I divide the household chores into different days, rather than cleaning the WHOLE HOUSE in one day/night. And it’s worked for me. But I am HAPPY TO SAY, I finally did another meet-and-greet with a house cleaner, which came recommended by 2 friends….and I really liked her….so she’ll start this week! (YAY!)

Where do I go from here?

Although I am capable of doing more than just administrative assistant work, I am happy that I decided to re-join the workforce in this capacity. I will admit that I very much underestimated the changes–laws, technology, procedures–in the last 10 years.  This has been a great refresher and tutorial all in one.  I know I’m not “manager” material (yet), but I’m looking forward to a bigger challenge.

The HR Director talked to me the other day about whether I would be interested in staying with the company on a “permanent” basis in a full-time role (the role/title/job description is still being ironed out).  As flattered as I was, I had to turn down her offer because I *really* don’t want to work 40 hours.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed filling 6 hours of my day with work I enjoy doing, being part of a team, being appreciated….but still able to come home, meet my boys at the bus, help them with their homework, and make a nice meal where we all sit together and share our stories of the day. I don’t want to give that up. I’m very fortunate to be in a position that I don’t have to work 40 hours (or more). And as I told hubby recently, By me returning to work, I am not breaking the family. If anything, I am enhancing the family because it shows my kids that “Yes, mommies are smart too. They can work.” I’m not deserting them for a job. I want to work while they are at school/work, as not to break the balance or the FAMILY WE CREATED.

I am fortunate to be working with 2 very lovely, dedicated ladies.  I plan on working at this agency through the end of May, or longer if they need me. Maybe they’ll change their mind and want to offer me a perm PT position? If not, that’s ok. I have thoroughly loved this experience, the “taste” of returning to work. And I will know what I enjoy doing, and can focus on that, and find something that “fits”.

Here’s to the future!

This Sucks. (or does it?)

Language. It’s an interesting thing.  After the kidlets drove away in the big yellow school bus this morning, my neighbor and I discussed language–and how some words have different meanings in different languages, and how some English words have different interpretations as well. This conversation is actually an on-going conversation about kids/language/school….and the word SUCKS.

Several weeks ago, T-man got into some major trouble at school. apparently, he said “this sucks” out-loud during computer class. The teacher heard him, took him out to the hallway, lectured him on using PROFANITY in her classroom, took him to the principal’s office for another lecture on profanity, and sent a note home for both Hubby and I to sign.

As with everything that goes on with our kids, we ask questions. I ask lots of questions–to get the entire story, as well as to see if the story changes. According to T, the comment was not directed at the teacher (she was standing in another part of the classroom) nor at the assignment.  His computer was very slow to boot up (or some other technical glitch was occurring), and he said at the computer “this sucks.”  I totally believed his story.

I signed the note for the teacher, but I also sent her an email.  I wrote:

 I do not consider “this sucks” to be profanity.  I used the phrase as a kid, I use it as an adult, Hubby uses the phrase….even my proper mother says “this sucks” when something displeases her.  Maybe it was inappropriate–T-man could definitely have used better word choices, such as ” this stinks”, “bummer,” “my computer isn’t working”….or better yet, not said anything at all. But I disagree that it was profanity.  As a matter of fact, T-man (during the tongue-lashing he received) didn’t know what the word “profanity” meant!  However, I do know that my boys do know “profane” or “swear” words–and they definitely do know better than to use any of them in front of adults.

The day that this transpired, I posted the question of “Do you consider “this sucks” to be profanity?” on FB.  It started a very informative, lively, and frank discussion. I received 22 comments from friends–and they ranged from a few “Yes, that is not allowed to be said in my house” to “At least he didn’t drop the F-bomb”  to “You should hear how High School kids talk” to “No, that is part of everyday language.”

Sadly, in today’s society, so many “swear” words are being used so non-chalantly. Have you watched TV lately? I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the word “Bitch” on TV…..during daytime or primetime.  Also, someone told me that “this sucks” is a common term on iCarly  (just shows you how much I pay attention).  But I did catch a Tide commercial the other day—a parent of triplets were folding clothes. At the end of the commercial, the mom (obviously tired of doing laundry) says “this sucks.”

But now let’s talk about another use of the word “sucks.”  What prompted my neighbor to re-visit the discussion on the word today was that a boy in her daughter’s 4th grade class told her (J-the daughter) to “suck this.”  And recently, I heard one of my boys say “suck me” as well.  Do these kids even know what they are saying? IMO, this is profane use of the word “suck.”  Interesting how “this sucks” doesn’t bother me, but “suck this” or “suck me” does bother me.  How do I explain to my kids why one is OK and the other isn’t? Why can they say “I”m going to take a poo”, but it irks me when they say “I’m going to take a crap”?  M-man has actually caught on to my modified-F-word.  Instead of dropping the F-bomb, I say “fudge.” And now M-man does too. But of course, I know what his intent is (because I see him catching himself before he drops an F-bomb in front of his mom).

Language…..what interesting dilemmas it poses for us parents.


A terrible, terrible accident happened on Monday.

I’m not even sure whether to type this out.

I can hear my hubby (should he read this) “WHY did you write about this????!!!!???”

Guilt. Hope I feel better if I get it off my chest. Therapy. Talking it over with [virtual] friends. I don’t know why……

I hit a dog with my car.

It was a total, complete, unavoidable accident.

It happened while I was driving Little Guy to school. Yes, he was in the car with me. And it happened in front of tennis courts where a bunch of middle schoolers were having gym class.  And they all witnessed it.

I knew of the dog. I would pass the house every day–3 or 4 times a day, depending on the Mom Taxi scenario.  He was a big yellow lab that would be sitting or laying down in his owner’s yard or garden. He always looked content and happy, either watching the kids or the cars. Or maybe he was surveying and enjoying his kingdom (Aspen does that, and get much pleasure out of it). Each day I would look to see if the dog was outside enjoying the day. Seeing him out there would put a smile on my face. I always assumed he was a well-trained lazy old dog who just enjoyed sitting/being in his yard. I’m guessing now that he was always on a long leash.

On Monday morning, he was not on a leash.  For whatever reason, he decided to leave his kingdom and bolt out onto the street. I didn’t see him because he was running on the other side of the yellow forsythia bushes. By the time I did see him, there was no time or opportunity to swerve out of the way. And although I was only driving 20-25 mph, he was too close to have the car stop in time.

I pulled over and just cried. And cried and cried. I didn’t know what to do, and I had to consider Little Guy who was in the car with me. After what seemed like 10 minutes, I gathered the courage to get out of the car. Two other cars had pulled over to take care of the dog and notify the owner.  When I emerged from the car, an older lady came over to see if I was OK. She was the dog’s owner. I noticed a Scottish accent as she tried to comfort me. She took responsibility for not having the dog on his leash. I tried to explain to her that there was nothing I could do. I would *never* hit or hurt a dog or any animal. I explained that I have 2 dogs of my own, and that her dog reminded me of Aspen. I even pointed to my license plate that has a dog reference. 

At that point, I realized I had to take Little Guy to school—also because my other two were at home and needed to get to the bus stop. I asked for her name, the dog’s name, and offered to return later.

At the school, I talked to Little Guy’s teacher about the accident. She told me that she would talk with him, and offer “free hugs” throughout the day.

I returned home–managed to get T&M off to the bus stop in time, as well as deflect any questions as to why I was late returning from Little Guy’s drop off and why I was crying.

I cried all morning. 

I took Aspen and Lily for a walk, but had no joy in it. I tried to play ball with Lily, but I couldn’t get into it. I felt so guilty.

I made scones for the dog’s owner and bought some flowers to take over. The owner (husband) was very appreciative that I had cared enough to return.

Yesterday was a better day. I didn’t cry, but I had a very heavy heart. 

I had trouble driving my car–totally psychological. So hubby and I have switched cars for a couple of days. Each time I drive by the accident scene, I try to recreate the events to see if I could have seen the dog sooner. I still look for the dog in the yard.

I really can’t believe that this happened to me. Why me? I keep asking why my Guardian Angel (who is also a huge animal lover) didn’t prevent the accidnt. My answer is that the dog ran out so fast that not even she could have prevented it. But I have asked her to take care of him up in Heaven. In the meantime, I’m coping. Better. And I keep giving my dogs extra love.

Servingware Dilemma

Is that a word? Not sure.


For a pretty long while now I’ve been wanting to expand (improve?) my selection of servingware…..platters, bowls, casserole dishes, snacky-type bowls….both for “everyday” and for “entertaining.”

All my current servingware I’ve had since hubby and I got together 15 years ago–either things we bought when we moved out on our own or wedding/shower gifts. They are either out-dated or I’m bored with them. I have 2 glass/crystal round crudite platters. I have an entire purple iris Corning Ware set. And then Hubby’s cranberry-colored glass Pyrex bakeware (which I actually use quite often).

 I would like to replace these with some more useful and sophisticated pieces.

What’s the problem? you ask.

I don’t know what I want. I’m terrible at coordinating. Part of me thinks that plain white is boring. But on the other hand, it’s very versitile–will go with any/everything, and will make the food “pop.”  I tend to lean towards “Tuscan” style or Polish stoneware. But both of those styles can be very colorful, and I’m afraid of the mis-matching of pieces.

Last week, as I was flipping through the channels, and I landed on QVC, and they had this set of serving/cookware….I think there was 11 or so pieces….1 big casserole dish, 2 loaf pans, 4 “snack” bowls (squares, really, for nuts, olives, etc), a flat platter that can be used as a lid, and some lids and baskets too. I was so HESITANT to buy it, because I wasn’t sure of the quality. Then I said “what the hell–I can always return it.”

Well, the set is in the house. And I’ve used the casserole dish as a serving plate (I did not use it to bake with), and I am still on the fence on whether to keep the set.

I like the colors. I like the size and number of the pieces. But I just don’t feel like their durable for the long-hal. Maybe they are, I don’t know. And I’m disappointed in the painting.  Each piece is “individually hand-painted.”  Yes, I can see that on the “flowers.” I like the “free-form” of that design. But then there are parts that look like someone had a stamp and stamped them crooked or over-layed, and it doesn’t look right. I’m being picky, I know.

Do I keep them? Do I send them back? Do I hold out for some Le Crueset pieces (as Christmas gifts)? Do I keep looking for something that will make me 100% happy (or even 90%)?

A Perfect Weekend

Wow–weekends in New England and with the Thomas Family really don’t get much better than this.

The weather for the whole weekend was forcasted to be gorgeous—sunny and warm–temps in the 70-80s.

On Friday we decided to take advantage of the lovely day by heading up to Gloucester, MA to Stage Fort Park—to rock climb, run around, put our feet in the water–and then to dinner. Being along the coast, we expected cooler temps and/or a sea breeze! Hell No! It was warm and no breeze. The water was so still–like glass. We got to watch a baseball game with “the best seats in the house” (atop a big rock boulder). The kids (who originally did not want to go to Gloucester) didn’t want to leave, but hubby was hungry.  We had dinner at a local hangout, The Causeway–OMG–the food was really good and fresh and plentiful.  Our leftovers fed all 5 of us for lunch on Sunday. It definitely satisfied our cravings for yummy fish-n-chips!!!

The restaurant is BYOB, with a liquor store CONVENIENTLY located next door. Hubby and I shared a bottle of wine, and on the way home, the VP played DJ–paid the kidlets $1 if they named the artist correctly. We were head-banging to Guns-N-Roses in the Minivan….it was an awesome end to a great evening.

Saturday consisted mainly of sports.

Little Guy had his soccer game…and the whole family attended. The Little-Beckham-to-be scored 2 goals within the first minute of the game!!!  In total he scored 6 of the team’s 8 goals. Another spectacular performance by Little Guy! We couldn’t be prouder.

In the afternoon, T&M had their 1st baseball game of the season. They are in the top 3 players of their team. Last year’s experience and some maturity is paying off. T-man loves to play catcher. Hubby seems to think it goes back to his “costume-wearing” days. That he loves the Uniform (ie. costume) and he gets to “play the role” of catcher. Regardless, he’s pretty good at it.  M-man was great at defense. He helped out the less-experienced team mates and almost had a double-play (from MY view it was a double play, but the “umps” gave the hitter a break at 1st base).

On the way home, we picked up some steak tips and a lovely bottle of red wine and had a fantastic dinner.

Sunday was supposed to be the “honey-do list” day.  Well, we had to re-think that with temps forcasted to be in the high 80s.  Really, in New England on May 2nd…..with temps near 90…do home projects!! Nah….they can wait ’til NEXT weekend.

We did go to church…and actually spoke with the Pastor about becoming “official” member of the church. I mean, hey, we’ve been going for over a year, donate time and money to various projects/fundraisers, and we genuinely enjoy going–the sermons are very positive and uplifiting and as hubby says, the sermons challenge you on “how can I be a better person.” We also like the feeling of “community” at this church.

When we got home, we bathed the dogs…who really needed it. Lily is a shedding-fiend. And because she is a short-haired dog, the fur doesn’t come off when brushed. But it has no trouble falling off EVERYWHERE else. Scott found that bathing her helps a lot of the fur come off. And the DOG hates baths. Hates water….it’s the “cat” in her.  She trembles like a leaf. I joked that we could make a martini on her…shaken, not stirred!

Next up, was Aspen….who LOVES baths.  Unfortunately, we’ve been neglectful. It’s been a year since her last bath. But there’s a reason for that….her groomers keep closing shop. And then she had a re-emergence of a skin condition, where we didn’t think it would be smart to bathe her, in case the hair came out in chunks.  Ohh, she loved her bath. She’s not a girly-girl unless it comes to being cleaned, brushed and trimmed. Because of the high heat and being miserable in it, she let me trim up a lot of her fur…and she looks oh-so-pretty now.

Then, we ditched the “to-do” list, backed some pails and shovels and headed back to Gloucester to my favorite beach, Wingaersheek for some sun and sand.  Oh, the boys had so much fun digging and building in the sand. Goodness, my 3 boys LOVE to build sand-castles. Then we went rock-climbing, looking for tidal pools. M-man took a brave leap into the water–REFRESHING, he said. We continued walking along the beach and stumbled upon a “private” (I use that term loosely) section where boaters anchor and come on shore. There was a mini-party going on. Hubby thought it might be a nice to go there with our boat (oooh, I like that idea!)

We didn’t stay much longer at the beach, because Hubby had one project for the day that he didn’t want to ignore.  We  headed out and stopped for ice cream on the way home. Then at home, Hubby started slow-grilling ribs….Oh, how he was craving slow-grilled ribs! I made some corn bread, baked beans, corn on the cob, a pitcher of lemonade….and on the deck we ate.

Seriously, the weekend could not have been any better. Perfection!

Not so sweet

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves as VP (file under Job Responsibility: what goes into my kids mouths) is the use of artificial sweeteners in food/drinks. Actually, let’s go one step further….packaging that “tricks” people into believing the product is “sugar free” (or ‘good for you’) without disclosing that artifical sweeteners have been included.

While living in England, it surprised me how many products advertised being “SUGAR FREE” (I think this is to reduce the “guilt” for all the candy/chocolate being fed to the kids). One popular product is called “Squash” (and NO there was no vegatable squash added!!). This is a “juice concentrate” (I’m only using this as a descriptive method) where you add a little to a pitcher, and then fill it with water and stir. ALL the bottles were listed as “Sugar Free.” But if you actually read the ingredients, ASPARTAME is listed right at the top. (Aspartame is also sold under the names of Nutrasweet and Equal). Apartame is an artificial sweetener. If you’ve ever had a diet coke and tasted a weird “after-taste”, then that is the artificial sweetener.

I have no problem with people consuming artificial sweeteners, as long as the manufacturer informs the consumer. And then the consumer can make an educated choice as to whether or not to by the product. But merely labeling the product as “Sugar Free”, especially if the product is marketed to YOUNG CHILDREN is not good enough for me. Especially since so FEW people read the ingredients list.

Why am I bringing this to your attention?

Recently, Little Guy had a playdate. On our way out, the mom handed Little Guy a Capri Sun and said “Oh don’t worry about that, it’s only Flavored Water.” Little Guy was drinking a Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters.  On the way home, I asked if I could taste it, as I’ve never had one.

OMG!! The Artificial Sweetener taste was so prevalent!!! It tasted NOTHING like water. It tasted like Aspartame.

I went to the store and looked at the ingredient list: WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, SUCRALOSE (Spenda Brand Sweetener), Natural Flavor.

Compared to a “regular” Capri Sun: Water, Sugar, Pear & Grape Juice concentrate, citric acid, Water extracted  Orange and Pineapple Juice concentrates, natural flavors.

Which do you think is “healthier”?

Now, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I AM NOT a health nut. I’m also NOT a major label-reader. However, I would rather have my kids have REAL SUGAR IN MODERATION than some processed ARTIFICIAL sweetener!!!

While in England, I tried to find some research on artificial sweeteners….whether they cause any health problems, cancers, etc. I couldn’t find anything substantial. In other words, the jury is still out. But because of the awful after-taste, and the inconclusive evidence, I would rather NOT feed my kids “artificial sweeteners.”

And as an FYI….as I have the 2 boxes next to me. The Capri Sun Raging Waters box reads: “Flavored Water Beverage. No Artifical Colors or Flavors.” But from the ingredient list above, there are no NATURAL FLAVORS either!!  Whereas the regular Capri Sun Fruit Punch  box clearly states: “No Artifical Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives with NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS.”

If only the general public would read the fine print, they wouldn’t be so easily fooled.