trying to find myself and humor in life

Archive for the tag “memories”

Belated birthday thoughts

As some of you know, I went to college at the University of Delaware WAY back in the early 1990s (gasp!!). I started off my college career as a very shy, homesick  girl with HUGE “jersey” hair in a “triple” (3 girls crammed into a dorm room made for 2) on the first floor of the Russell A dorm.

While I can not remember the names of all the 40+ kids that lived on that floor in the fall of 1990, I can actually remember a few.

There were my neighbors, Paul and Dan who were a little OCD with Taco Bell.  Julie and Dawn who lived down the hall, the annoying sorority girls who lived across from me and this tall, lanky kid from NY named Jeff.

Whereas I tended to hide in my room, Jeff was a fixture in the hallways talking to everyone and anyone. He was sarcastic and loved to do this joke about Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog.

Over the years I would see Jeff on campus and we would chat. He was a writer for Delaware’s newspaper The Review and by senior year he was the editor.

After college we exchanged some letters (yes, we had to write letters and mail them with a stamp) before losing touch.

Life went on, I got married, had some kids and then came Facebook.

Voila there was Jeff after all these years.

Jeff Pearlman was now a “famous” author AND writer for Sports Illustrated. He was married to a woman he completely adored and had 2 beautiful kids.

Over the years, we exchanged messages and I read Jeff’s posts and blogs on Facebook. While I couldn’t always relate to the political or sports-related ones I could always relate to his blogs on family and kids.

This past April, Jeff did a blog in honor of his 41st birthday here. He reminisced about celebrating his 21st birthday 20 years earlier at the Stone Balloon in Newark, DE.

After reading it I was instantly transported to my own 21st birthday also spent at the Stone Balloon.

May 20, 1993 was the series finale of the beloved NBC sitcom Cheers and I remember cramming in the Cristina Towers lounge with friends watching the finale and saying farewell to Sam, Norm, Cliff, Woody and Carla.

Afterwards, my roommate and walked to the Stone Balloon and took our place in line with some friends. I was holding my ID tight anxiously waiting my turn to get inside.

When we walked in, I felt disappointed or let down. The inside of the famed Balloon looked like the basement of a fraternity house not the mecca I had heard about for years on campus.

It was hot and dimly lit packed with co-eds drinking beer. The music was blasting and I happily downed any shot given to me.  Finally I was 21!!

Funny, I can’t remember what I wore yesterday but somehow I can remember a drunken night 20 years ago.

That YOUNG, drunk girl had no idea that 20 years later she would be a mom to 4 boys living in suburbia and driving a mini-van.

Young Me had no clue about “life.” That it a mixture of joy/sadness/humor and strength.

The good eventually outweighs the bad and everything happens for a reason – even if that reason isn’t always clear.

I won’t lie, there are times I wish I could go back in time and be that young, naïve 21yo again – except with the knowledge I have now.

I would tell her to loosen up, follow your dreams, never give up and most importantly be happy.

Stop comparing yourself to others, appreciate your true friends and family and all the little things in life. And know that you are not as bad as you think you are (lol).

Thank you Jeff for this little trip down memory lane and for allowing me the use of your blog.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your Tuesday.


My “snow chairs”

January 22, 2014
In honor of today’s snow day (again), I decided to repost this blog from last winter. Everytime it snows I think back to growing up wih my snow chairs (lol).
Stay warm and enjoy!

Snow Chairs courtesy of Wikipedia

“Snow Chairs” courtesy of Wikipedia

It is a snowy Friday here in the Garden State and this blogger is not too happy about it. The thing is, I really just do not like snow. Yeah I know, it looks pretty when it falls, the kids love to play in it and there is nothing better than cuddling up to a nice fire, with hot coco in hand, after a day of frolicking in the snow.

Really?? I disagree.

Snow is cold and messy, causes unnecessary traffic delays and accidents, makes people feel the need to stock up on milk and bread AND it causes me have to go outside and clean off my van (in the snow) before herding my crew to the bus stop.

You know, now that I think about, I think the real reason I hate the snow has a lot to do with cleaning off my car. Let me explain.

I grew up in a small town in Bergen County, on the cusp of Passaic County really. While I would not call my town “urban” it was certainly not a suburban utopia like Wysteria Lane.

My brother, mom and I rented the upstairs apartment of a 2-family home and had to climb up what seemed like a million steps (it was probably more like 10) to get to our front door.

Our house had no driveway which meant we had to park on the street. Normally this wasn’t a problem. Most of the other houses on the block had driveways so a parking spot was not that hard to come by.

However, weekends were a different story. Did I mention the tiny “pub” across the street from my house (it was more of a dive bar but pub sounds better)?

Yes, I lived across the street from The Gregory Club and on weekends its’ clientele spilled over onto our street once the parking lot was full. Actually this wasn’t a problem for me until I graduated from college and got a car (don’t ask why it took so long) but I digress.

Anyway, getting back to the snow.  Growing up, when it snowed, my brother and I would watch my Mom bundle herself up in her snow gear and go outside to shovel her car out and clear a path to the front door.

My Mom was a single parent, and not always equipped with the best tools for foul weather or household repairs. Most times Mom was able to shovel with a regular snow shovel. Other times, though, I can remember her using a dirt shovel or a broom to get the job done. Really it depended on what was around at the time of the storm.

Mom would shovel for what seemed like hours, as my brother and I watched her from the living room window (this is when we were little, when we got older we had to help). If there had been a big storm, Mom would sometimes take a break, and come inside for something to drink and a new pair of gloves.

Believe it or not, there was a method to shoveling out the car. First, it was important to start shoveling on the driver’s side and throw all the shoveled snow into the street (so the snow plows could flatten it out). The goal being to get the driver’s side door open so you would be able to start the car and let it “warm up.”

Second, you continued shoveling until it was possible to drive the car out of the spot and double park it somewhere on the street. This step was key as it provided you with more room to shovel AND allowed you to clear a nice big spot for your vehicle.

How big or small your parking spot was, depended on how many cars were parked on the street and if there was a car parked in front or behind your car. Lastly, when shoveling was completed, you backed your car into the parking spot, stood back and admired all your hard work.

Now for the good part.

When it was time to leave for school, work or the store, there was NO WAY in hell Mom (or anyone else on the block) would risk leaving a great parking spot, up for grabs. It was just unheard of.

So…..what did we do to “reserve” our spot????

We did what any other “normal” Northern New Jersey resident did – we put a garbage can in the cleared parking spot.

This was just the “it” thing to do. Everyone did it  – no, seriously EVERYONE.

During the winter months it was not uncommon to see a chair, bucket, ladder, garbage can  or even a vacuum cleaner (I swear I saw a vacuum holding a spot in Wallington, NJ circa 1989) holding a spot on the street.

In addition, it was an unwritten rule that under NO circumstances was the garbage can (or other holding object) to be removed unless it was by the “owner” of the parking spot.

I am not kidding you. This was “law” and it was strictly adhered to. My entire life, I thought everyone did this. Really, I didn’t know any better. I assumed everyone got out of the car (in the snow) and helped their mom put a garbage can in a parking spot when they left for school or work. It was all I ever knew.

It was not until I met the husband in 1997, and he laughed (hysterically) at me when I explained the significance of the garbage can on our snow-covered street. The husband was from “south” Jersey and had no idea what the hell I was talking about. He thought it was a joke – and it so was NOT a joke.

I remember calmly explaining the tradition to the husband and him asking me what stopped people from moving the can. You just don’t, its common sense was my reply.

I lived on the same street for over 20 years and not once did our garbage can ever get moved – until our last winter there but I can’t even talk about that it is just too painful.

This morning a I cleaned the van off with my snow broom (and a herniated disk) I thought about all those winters and the garbage cans and couldn’t help but smile – and wonder why I don’t live in Florida.

Hope you enjoyed my little snow memory. TGIF everyone!

Stuff people say

I was never much of a quot person. No, that is not entirely true, I often quote tv shows and movies but that’s about it. However, thanks to Facebook and Pinterest I am now bombarded by quotes and sayings almost daily. People have boards on Pinterest dedicated entirely to quotes and thoughts and I often find myself thinking how have I never heard that or huh, how come I never thought of that?!

Some of the sayings and quotes are inspiring and deserve a “like” or “repin”, some are over-used and some are just plain cheesy but I still read them all.

Last week at the twins’ pre-k graduation, there was a slide show of pictures of the school year. There was music in the background that made me a little weepy and at the end this quote was the only thing on the screen

O-M-G that is PERFECT!! How is it that I have never seen that before??? I have to remember that! was all I could think – that is until L started drawing with a pencil in the church pews and the twins’ started asking when we could go home. By the time the kids were tucked in their beds that night I had long forgotten what I had eaten for dinner let alone anything Dr. Seuss had said.

Then the other day the quote appeared on Facebook on someone’s page. OMG that’s my quote I thought as I “stole” it and “shared” it on my page. I liked it so much I even made it my profile picture (laugh if you want but it looks cute).

So often I am sad at the end of things, pre-k , a birthday, a holiday or even a book, that I forget all the good stuff that happened because of the thing I am sad over. Does that make sense?

Dr. Seuss is 100% right, we should all smile because something happened, memories were made, pictures were taken, and happiness was had. It is just a waste of tears to cry when something is over.

I am going to try to make this my new life mantra, at least for the time being. I hope I can stick to it!


The underappreciated K-turn

Rear view of a 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26. Cam...

Rear view of a 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26. Camera used was a Nikon Coolpix 5000. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I grew up in New Jersey and you can not get a driver’s license until you’re 17, therefore, your 17th birthday is a BIG deal. All my friends counted down the months, weeks and days leading up to their big day and it was an unwritten rule that on your actual birthday, you would come into school late after taking your driver’s test. Friends would pass their newly printed license around as we made plans about where they would drive us after school (Garden State Plaza anyone?).

 I was sort of the exception to this as I did not get my driver’s license until 5 months AFTER I turned 17. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t want to drive. I couldn’t wait to drive! I hated depending on friends,or my mom, to pick me up and drop me off someplace. I remember standing in my friend’s basement waiting to see who drew the short straw and be forced to take me home.

No my problem was that I did not have a car and my mom was less than willing to teach me to drive and/or let me use her blue Hyundai Excel hatchback. To this day I really don’t know what my mom’s problem was but she refused to teach me to drive. Instead she sent me to driving school the summer I turned 17. OMG it was hell!!

An obese man in a pea green station wagon (no, I am not exaggerating) picked me up at my house and made me drive around for an hour in a car with no air conditioning. I can clearly remember driving in this green tank passed the Bergen Mall in Paramus and wanting to cry feeling completely humiliated. (Mom eventually took pity on me and put me in another driving school with an elderly teacher who called me Nadine (not my name) for 4 weeks)

However, there was one person who took pity on me, my friend R.  One night when she was driving me home (poor R was like my chauffeur that summer – and many more to follow) in her black, Chevy Beretta, she pulled over on West Pierrepont Avenue and told me I could drive her car up back up the street. OMG, really????!!!!! 

We quickly switched seats and I buckled myself in and mentally prepared. I remember being very nervous as I stepped on the gas pedal (a little too hard) and up the street we went (flew is more like it). It was amazing!!

I also remember R teaching me how to do a K-turn right before my big driving test. She made it seem so easy and I prayed that I would be able to master that and parallel parking, get my license and finally be able to drive.

Well  I passed the test but had to wait 4 more years for a car. Occasionally Mom would let me borrow the Hyundai but more often than not it was me in either R or H’s car calling “shotgun” and playing with the radio (H only listened to Led Zeppelin – yuck).

Yesterday I was making a k-turn on a small side street in Princeton and had a flashback to that summer night, LONG ago and it made me smile. I still can’t parallel park or back up into a parking space but I can drive straight, merge and k-turn like a pro! Thanks R!!


Bubbles and Sidewalk Chalk

I was very behind on my Easter Bunny duties this year and found myself in Target (my home away from home) late last Wednesday night. The Easter aisles were completely picked over and desperation was starting to take over. Hmmmm, maybe J would really like the fairy princess headband and didn’t M say he wanted a pack of white t-shirts?

It was getting late and I needed to finish up and get home. I did a last lap around the store and came up with 2 things to complete the Easter baskets – sidewalk chalk (the 64-pack by Crayola because this Bunny was sparing no expense) and bubbles. Hopefully the boys would be distracted by all the candy and snacks and not be too disappointed with the chalk and bubbles.

Easter morning came and the baskets were hurriedly torn apart. There were candy wrappers, half eaten lollipops and plastic grass all over the living room. As the kids started to come down from their sugar high, they noticed the bubbles and chalk on the counter and asked if they could go play outside.

The weather was beautiful on Easter. The sun was out and bright and there was a nice breeze, it was a perfect spring day. The boys patiently waited for us to open the the bubbles and dig around the soapy bottles to find the wands. Before we knew it the yard was a sea of bubbles as the kids chased one another and laughed till their sides hurt. L alternated between spilling his bubbles and saying more bubbles? every 5 minutes.

Soon the twins broke open the chalk and before we knew it, the sidewalk was one endless, artistic masterpiece. The husband and I stared in amazement as all 4 boys, spread out on the chalk covered sidewalk, and not only shared the chalk,  but drew pictures without fighting! It brought me back to my childhood and playing hop scotch outside my grandparent’s house. I used a rock to draw my masterpieces, now the kids were using chalk in colors I never knew existed and loving every minute.

When it was time to come in for lunch they were literally covered in chalk from head to toe. Normally I would roll my eyes and complain about their messy clothes. However, not today. Watching them enjoy themselves and be truly happy was all that mattered. The clothes could be wiped off but nothing could wipe away their smiles.

Who knew something so small could make 4 kids so happy? I guess it is the little things that matter after all.



These little lights of mine – boy do they shine!

Today was the twins Easter show at pre-k (technically the Palm Parade). I bought them new polo shirts and even ironed their khakis before school (there would be other parents there and they had to look good). I took a half-day from work and was armed with my iPhone (completely charged) and a front row seat. This would be my “babies” last Easter show.

The piano started playing and soon I saw the twins marching at the front of the line and my heart skipped a beat. Look at how handsome and big my babies have gotten. They waved to me and the husband and I noticed their cheeks get a little pink once they realized how many people were there to watch.

They stood next to each other and would occasionally glance in each other’s direction (when not looking at the floor) during songs. I tried to hide my laughter when Josh would make a funny (probably embarrassed) face after each song (my aunt swears it is the same face I make).

Before we knew it the show was over. The crowd erupted in applause and the kids marched back to their classrooms. Another milestone over but many memories made.


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