Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's In Your Wallet?

Last week we talked a bit about addictions.  I introduced you to Rich.  This week I want to get a little more personal about how an addiction impacted my life.  Here is my story:

My parents were just out of high school when they first met.  They instantly connected and were married within a year.  My mom was twenty when I was born, my dad was nineteen.  They were the first of their friends to get married and start a family.  Their friends would come to our little apartment in New Jersey to visit them on the weekends.  Sometimes, my parents would take me into New York City with flowers painted on my cheeks.  They were the poster kids for Flower Power.  True hippies.

Times were tough financially and my parents did everything that they could to make ends meet.  They were the superintendents of the apartment building that we lived in and my dad had a job at a paper mill.  By now, my sweet sister had been born and my mom had her hands full on the home front. 

When I was three, my parents decided to move to North Carolina to be close to my dad's side of the family.  My grandfather had just arrived home after serving three tours of war in Vietnam.  It would be the first time in a long time that my dad's whole family would be together.  

I am not sure when my parents starting having problems, but I have memories of them arguing.  I remember waking up on Christmas morning to a huge mess in our living room because our family dog had ripped open our gifts.  He had come into the house through our sliding glass door that had been busted out on Christmas Eve.  One night not long after that mess of a Christmas, I heard my parents having a heated conversation about my dad's "drinking".  I couldn't figure out why drinking was a problem.  I was five and I didn't understand quite yet that my dad was struggling with alcoholism.  

The night that I realized that my dad had a problem, is forever etched in my mind.  My sister and I were  asleep when I was jarred awake by my mom crying.  I got up and tiptoed into the living room.  My dad had been gone for several days (I thought that he was at work, but in reality, my parents had decided to separate) and I saw him standing in the living room.  I went to go hug him, but then I noticed that he was acting very strange and he had something in his hand.  It was a gun.  My mom told me to go back to my bed.  I did, but I remember being terrified that something awful was going to happen.  I can't remember anything else, but life changed dramatically after that night. 

My parents were no longer together.  My mom, sister and I moved out to the country.  We barely saw our dad or the rest of the family.  My mom told us that our dad had a sickness that made him drink too much alcohol.  She said that he was not well enough to take care of us.  I missed my dad, but I knew that my mom was trying to protect us.  

When I was seven my parents got divorced, our mom moved us to Florida to be closer to her mom and siblings.  I missed my dad and often worried about him.  I loved him and I hoped that he loved us too.  Sometimes, my dad would write to us or call us.  I cherished those phone calls.

The year that I turned nine, my mom got remarried to a wonderful man.  He treated my sister and I just like we were his own girls.  He is still our dad all these years later.  A true blessing to all of us kids.

Around that same time, my mom got remarried, my dad started coming down to Florida to visit us.  It was always so much fun to be with him.  He seemed to be doing better all around.  Though I would later learn that he struggled with his addiction to alcohol even during those years.

When I was twelve years old, my dad died. His death was sudden and violent. I was left with so many questions, fears and doubts.  I felt such a void in my life and I became seriously depressed.  I remember being obsessed with the fear of my parents dying.  I would have nightmares about someone harming our family.  My fears turned to compulsions.  I was so afraid of germs that I would wash my hands until they were red and chapped.

I was angry too.  I felt like my dad had abandoned us. I felt like the alcohol was more important to him than us.  Why wasn't he stronger?  I felt like he had been a selfish person.  The anger led to self loathing.  Maybe something was wrong with me?  Did my dad choose alcohol because I was defective somehow?

I want to stop here in my story and just take a second to say that all these thoughts, fears and questions were coming from the mind of a twelve year old child.  I now know that my dad had an addiction that consumed him like a fire.  He didn't love alcohol.  On the contrary, he hated it. His addiction to alcohol wouldn't allow him to pursue what he loved.  He tried so hard, but in the end alcohol had a vice grip on his life.

My dad was a good man.  He was loved by so many people.  I remember all of them in the days that followed his death.  Family and friends came in droves.  Everyone had a funny or sweet story to share about my dad.  He was kind, generous, and fun loving.  He was the life of the party and he made people laugh.  He never met a stranger.

It has been years since our dad died.  I think of him often.  I wonder what he would have thought about  his grandchildren.  I wonder if he would have ever overcome his addiction.  I wonder about a lot of things, but there is something that I do not wonder about anymore.  I don't doubt for a moment that my dad loved my sister, my mom, and I.  That was confirmed for me a few years ago when my sweet aunt, my dad's only sister, pulled me aside at a family gathering.  She had something in her hand and she handed it to me.  It was my dad's wallet.  The hospital staff had given it to my grandparents after his death many years ago.

As I opened the wallet, I felt as if my dad was right there with me.  Looking into that wallet was like looking into my dad's heart.  There were just a few items in there, but among those items were the answers I had been searching for my whole life.  You see, my dad had pictures of the ones he loved in his wallet.  I was there, my mom and sister too.  He loved us until the day he died.  I will never doubt that again.


Addictions can rob a person of so much.  Hopes and dreams lost in every sip or hit.  Families gambled away with the roll of dice.  Love lost to the lust of pornography.  Addictions know no boundaries.  Thankfully, today there is more awareness and help for those who need it.  The question is will they admit they need help and accept it?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. Please know that you are not alone.  Reach out, get help.  Do it for yourself and your family.

Hugs,

Melissa

Monday, April 29, 2013

From Uterus to University - Love Languages

Today's post is brought to you by the seat of my pants, the skin of my teeth, or any other strange phrase  (remember this post on strange phrases ?) you want to insert in here that means - I'm throwing this post together because life is crazy busy today and I have to cook dinner and be out the door in 90 minutes. Okay, here goes.  

Do you know your love language?  No, I'm not talking about some long forgotten phrase from Madame Smith's 10th grade French class.  I'm asking you what makes you feel loved?  What makes your kids feel loved?

Everyone has a love language, or two.  I could not make this up if I tried.  I read about this years ago in an insightful book by Gary Chapman titled The Five Love Languages.  It really got me thinking and wondering about what makes me feel loved and how do I show love to others.

In a nutshell, the 5 love languages are listed below with a link to an explanation of each:

1.  Physical touch
2.  Words of affirmation
3. Acts of service
4. Gifts 
5. Quality time

I definitely feel loved when Pete or the kids want to spend quality time with me.  Also, when any of the monkeys or their monkey daddy sweep the floor or clean a toilet, I feel loved.  That is an example of acts of service.

Our monkeys all have a special love language as well.  Little Monkey enjoys quality time, like me. Youngest Monkey Girl loves physical touch.  Middle Monkey Girl craves words of affirmation. Our oldest three monkeys all love words of affirmation and acts of service.

So, friends do you want to learn more about your love language?  Here is a 60 second quiz for you to take. Also, one for your kids.

And just for some extra fluff, Oprah's love languages:


Is it strange that a clean toilet makes me feel loved? Don't answer that, you haven't seen my toilets when they are dirty.  Thankfully. 

Hugs, 

Melissa 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

This and That - Weekend Edition

I'm so glad that it's the weekend!!!  This weekend we have a long "to do" list.  Running errands, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry.  I can tell you for sure what we won't be doing though.  We won't be going to the circus.  Yes, it's in town, but we will not, I repeat not, be going.  Why?  You might ask would I deprive our sweet monkeys from going to the big top?  One word...clowns.


Clowns could not be creepier or freakier.  Everything about them is just so wrong.  So very wrong.

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to a popular local attraction called Circus World.  I always got very nervous and anxious when we went there.  Clowns were there.  They were everywhere.

True story - I used to tap my mom's arm to get her attention.  I talked a lot.  Big surprise, huh?  Anyway, when we were at Circus World one time waiting for a show to start, I kept tapping my mom's arm and asking her questions.  I tapped and talked, tapped and talked, until she was tapped out.  She turned toward me with an irritated look on her face and said, "What now?", only it wasn't me tapping her that time.  It was a clown.  The whole audience was watching and laughing.  Poor mom.  Clowns!  They were everywhere.

So where will you be this weekend?  What's on your agenda?  Do you have plans to go to the circus?


Watch out for the clowns!

Here is some extra-curricular fun for you from around the web:

For the music lovers:  How steel drums are made. Recycling at its finest!

Also: An amazing xylophone in a Japanese forest.  Thanks for sharing, Kathy!

A house that babysits?  Yes, please! Wait! Does it do laundry too?

Have a great weekend!

Hugs,

Melissa


The Internet Wants to Know, "Are Your Calves Sexy and Summer Ready?" I Don't Know, Let Me Ask Them and Get Back to You.

Am I the only person who gets highly irritated when I read annoying questions on the internet about the status of my thighs, butt or gut?  I can't be the only one.

I mean, isn't it hard enough already to try to get in shape without some deadline looming over you?  Like, what is really going to happen if my calves are not ready by the time summer rolls around?  Will I miss out on summer?  Will summer be delayed or cancelled all together?  And just what are summer ready calves?  Is there something unique about them?  Are they different than winter or spring ready calves? Just wondering.

So, I've decided to take it up a notch and ask some you some really ridiculous questions of my own creating,

Is your gluteus maximus?

Want to go from flab abs to fab abs?

Got some thighs to downsize?

Are your love handles too much to handle?

Feel free to chime in with your really ridiculous questions or any that you have seen on the internet.

Hugs,

Melissa

P.S. Did I ever tell you about the time that we Fat Boothed Tinky?



She wasn't amused. 



Thursday, April 25, 2013

About Rich Who Reads

Orlando is known as "The City Beautiful".  Which it most certainly is.  Of course, you have to look past the plethora of venomous snakes, alligators and other unsavory creatures, but really we do live in a lovely city.




Because I run a mom taxi, and drive around our city A LOT, I notice people, places, things...the little nuisances about Orlando.  Like the preserved brick streets in Thornton Park, or the seriously gorgeous landscaping beds full of Century Plants and Coral Honeysuckle along the East-West Expressway.  Or the Beefy King that has been in business for over forty years located across the street from the T.G. Lee Milk Dairy that has been in business for twice as long, both of which are located in the Milk District of Orlando on the same block as the old Plaza Movie Theatre that I went to as a child.

Yes, all of this and so much more makes Orlando endearing to me.  And yet there is a sadness that runs through the veins of this pretty city. A sadness known as homelessness.  Yes, under that impeccably manicured expressway, which whisks people home from work everyday, live desperate souls.  I've seen their faces.  One face in particular stands out to me every week. Last year, I was able to put a name with the face.  His name is Rich (name changed).

Rich is a reader.  He devours books daily as he sits in his makeshift home under the on ramp. Rich has always been a reader, even when his kids were little he made time to read.  He loves books.  Rich also loves coffee with cream, no sugar and pie (especially apple).  Rich treasures his bi-weekly phone chats with his daughter-in-law.  What he does not treasure is the local homeless shelter which he says is dangerous and unhealthy.  Rich can't afford to get sick.  He can't afford much of anything.  He describes his life as bizarre, "Like me", he says referring to himself.  Rich often looks tired. When asked where he sleeps at night, Rich gives a vague answer, "Oh, here and there", he says.

On one occasion, I ask Rich what I could do to help him.  He pauses for a long moment, then smiles and says, "A book would be nice."  Rich is addicted to books. Rich is also addicted to alcohol.

I have found myself wondering how Rich got to where he is today - homeless, dirty, addicted to alcohol, and living on the edge everyday. How can someone intelligent and well spoken, like Rich, a father of three grown children end up on the streets?  It does not make sense.

Addictions of any kind can bring a person to the edge.  Addictions know no cultural or ethnic boundaries.  Addictions cut to the quick and tear families apart.  They kill hopes and dreams.  Addictions can transport one from home into homelessness.  Rich doesn't have to read a book to learn how destructive addictions are, he lives it everyday.  It's his story.

Friends, what is your story?  Are you struggling with an addiction?  Have you felt the effects of someone else's addiction in your life?

Next week, I will share a very personal story about how alcoholism had a profound impact on my life.

Hugs,

Melissa

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This One Goes Out To All The Fellas...

My fella's photo credit

This one is for all the fellas out there.  Ladies, you are welcome to listen in also.  Okay guys, if you have a lady in your life then this post is of upmost importance.  Upmost! 

Take a second right now and imagine your sweet lady’s face.  Those bright, shining eyes, that gorgeous nose, those rosy cheeks, those lovely lips, that sweet chin...wait a second...let’s linger a moment on the chin.  Look closely at her chin (still imagining), is there anything protruding, poking or otherwise sticking out of that amazing chin of hers?  Let's say...maybe a stray hair or two or three that she might not have noticed when she was rushing out of the house this morning to get kids to kid places, or to get to work, or where ever she goes everyday after she barely has time to get herself dressed, let alone linger and look at herself in the mirror, which she can’t even see herself clearly in because her eyes are not quite focused due to the lack of sleep she had because she was up way too late getting everything ready for the morning rush?  

Maybe fellas, in your imagination, you are seeing those couple or few wisps of hair that seemingly sprung up over night and your thinking to yourself, “Hmm, I should help out my sweet lady and let her know that she has a couple, few stray hairs on her otherwise perfect chin.”  To that I would say, “Yes fella.  Yes, you should.”  Because, and I am just guessing here, that would be a much better way for your girl to start her day than the alternative of having some random child ask her if she is growing a beard.  Again, I’m just guessing and not at all speaking from personal experience.  

Here’s an idea gents, just go online right now and order your dolly a very affordable and highly functional magnified mirror with a built in light.  Your honey will potentially see any problem areas, then you won’t have to do any imagining about stray hairs and such.  Plus, BONUS! if your lady friend has been imagining that you have stray hairs protruding from your seriously handsome nose or fantastic ears, then you will be able to address those potential strays as well. Hypothetically speaking of course. 

Guys, I am so glad that we had this conversation.  I am imagining that it will help all potential parties involved. 

High fives all around, 

Melissa

Monday, April 22, 2013

"What Is My Barrier?", Thoughts From a Boston Marathon Runner



Brian, a friend of ours, ran in the Boston Marathon last week.  Brian ran to raise money for the Boston Medical Center Cancer Support Group in honor of his dear friend Jamie who passed away last October.  He has very generously agreed to let me share his story from last Monday with you.  It is powerfully encouraging, challenging and something that everyone should hear...

First and foremost, I want to thank ALL of you for your texts, calls, emails, and posts checking on how my wife and I are doing after the tragic events in Boston.  They have been a source of comfort in a difficult time.

I am not sure where to begin with all of this, but to say that we are very thankful that we are safe. Sometimes it rings a bit hollow to me knowing that there were many, who either lost their lives, or were severely injured.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who were there and their families.

I have written and re-written this several times and have decided to leave out a lot of the details about what I saw, felt, etc.   In hindsight, things are fortunately okay; but at the time, without the details we now know, there were some tough moments.

The race, in and of itself, was awesome!  The crowds were great and I felt pretty good the whole way.  In fact, I felt like I could have run 30 miles.  And..as expected, the Newton Hills pretty much hurt. Very cool to see Liz True, Scott Bishop and Margo Saulnier on the course! 

I had no idea that anything was so terribly wrong until my wife caught me at Mile 25.  She told me that two bombs went off at the finish line. It was surreal and I felt as if I was watching myself in a movie.  This couldn’t really be happening could it?  The fear in my wife’s face immediately confirmed the reality of the situation.  But I still had no grasp of how big the devastation was.

Everyone’s experience through all of this was different.  Even though I was still a few miles out when the explosions happened, that doesn’t mean that as I got close,that I didn’t see the emotional toll on peoples’ faces, the ambulances, bomb squads in full gear, etc. 

At this point, I feel it’s important to focus on the good I saw throughout this ordeal and not dwell on personal details.

What I saw, was a city (in the midst of tragedy) open their hearts to each other, care for another, and give to another – no pre-conditions, no race, no political affiliations, no barriers.

As we were re-routed about another mile, people came out of their homes and provided us with water, food, places to stay.  Since it was about 47 degrees out,hypothermia was a real issue for all of us as our bodies lost heat.  A young woman came out with a big roll of kitchen garbage bags and was handing them to runners to wear for warmth. 

She apologized to me that it might not fit well, and I smiled at her and thanked her…it didn’t matter. I asked her to text my wife and let her know “I was ok, and to head to the hotel.”  She did without hesitation.  She ran ahead and continued to help people with a smile on her face. I never knew her name.

As we got to the “Gear Buses” a few blocks east of the finish line, those blessed volunteers were still there, handing us mylar blankets.  I don’t know how many people would stay to do that job amongst a terror incident.  Most people would want to “get the heck out of there and get to their families.” They defined the phrase “service before self.” Amazing.

It took me another two and a half hours to get to my hotel as it had been evacuated then eventually “locked-down” – no one in or out.

Thank you to the Boston PD officer who personally escorted my wife to the hotel so she and I could be reunited.  We hugged and didn’t let go for a long time.

Thank you to all of the Boston PD, FBI, and Mass.National Guard, who in a very tense situation, still kept us safe and doing so with compassion.

Thank you to the Marriott Hotel Copley who served all of the guests a complimentary dinner when no one could leave.

Thank you to all of the citizens of Boston who opened your hearts and homes to those suffering.

Thank you to those who helped inform my family that we were ok and offering your homes to us.

Thank you to all of my friends for your thoughts, prayers,and caring.

Thank you to my wife, Beth, for being you.

And thank you God for reminding me that life is precious and to live it for You, now…not tomorrow, or possibly next week when I am not so busy.

Final Thought:
Why is it that we as people, wait for tragedy to bring out the goodness that we’re all capable of? Ask yourself, “What is my barrier?” “Why is it a barrier?”
Knock it down and get busy.  You’d be amazed at what a difference you can make in peoples’ lives.
I am forever a changed man.

Brian, thank you so much for your message of hope and encouragement.  You have challenged Pete and I to examine our own personal "barriers" and to getting busy knocking them down.

Also, congratulations friend!  You ran a marathon!  You rock, Brian!!!

Hugs,

Melissa

From Uterus to University - No GNews Is Good GNews

Would you think that we are strange if I told you that we do not have a television?  Or that we haven't had cable since we were married?  Now don't get me wrong, we still have access to news, movies and shows via our computers, so we are not living completely in the Dark Age or under a rock.

We have not missed our television since we sent it away four years ago.  We barely watched it when we had it.  They only channels that we had clear reception on were ABC and PBS. A person can only take so much of the Lawrence Welk Show and British sitcoms, you know?

I grew up in a home with a television.  My siblings and I loved watching all the classics.  When we were little we were all about "Sesame Street," "Mr. Rogers", and "Captain Kangaroo".  In the summers or after school we loved to watch "Little House on the Prairie",  "Leave It to Beaver", "The Munsters", and "The Brady Bunch".  In the evenings, the news would be on.  First, the local news and then Peter Jennings would give us all the latest world happenings.  We watched the news with our parents.  We read the newspapers and clipped current events to bring into our social studies classes.  We were very aware of the happenings in our local community, our state, our country and the world.  I don't ever remember feeling scared or stressed watching the news. 

Then I grew up and had children of my own and suddenly I began watching the news in a different light.  The reporting somehow had changed or was it the world?  There were news reports and stories that disturbed me so much and were so hard to reconcile in my adult mind, that I could not even imagine letting my kids see them.  Pete and I decided not watch the news when the kids were around.  We felt like we needed to protect them and to filter through what they needed to know and not to know. 

This especially hit home with the September 11th attacks.  We chose to not let our kids watch coverage of those horrific happenings.  They were all so young at the time and it would have scared them for life.  We knew that we would have to explain to them that something had happened, but we did that in our own time and way. 

And so it goes with the events of last week.  Our oldest kids knew right away about the bombings and the accident in Texas.  I was able to have several long discussions with our high school aged son.  He was not interested in viewing the online news with all the details and photos. He didn't feel the need to do that and I am glad.  In my opinion, its more information than a teenager needs.  Heck, its more information than I need.  I actually wish that I hadn't seen some of the images or read some of the details.  Maybe, I am just too sensitive?  Or maybe, no one can really process that kind of trauma and tragedy without a profound impact. 

Our youngest monkeys do not know what happened last week and we are glad for that.  We will tell them in our own way in our own time.  We just can not bear the thought of them seeing or hearing news that is too much for them to comprehend at such tender ages.  Once they see the images or hear the details, you can't take it back, so we choose to protect them now.  

Maybe some people may read this and think that we are crazy or controlling, or that we doing our kids a disservice by not being honest with them about last week's events.  That's okay.  Everyone parents differently.  I am not saying that our parenting style is right or wrong, but it's ours' and it works for our family.  

So friends, I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.  What is your family philosophy on news watching or newspaper reading? Is no Gnews good Gnews for you?  Or do you have a different approach? 

Hugs, 

Melissa

P.S.  Does anyone who grew up in the 80's remember the Great Space Coaster show?  The one with Gary Gnu, the anchor monkey?  Here's a little video to refresh your memory, because if you grew up in the 80's, you may need some memory refreshers from time to time :-)




Friday, April 19, 2013

Everyone Has a Back Story

Are you a people watcher?  I am.  It's something I have always done from the time I was very little.  My mom used to tell me not to stare at people because it was rude, but I just couldn't help myself.  Now that I am an adult, (so to speak :-) ) and I realize that people get really weirded out if you stare at them (because it's creepy), I try to people watch a bit more discreetly.

Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop and I am people watching.  There is middle-aged guy in the chair next to me, working diligently on his laptop.  He has on earphones and his music is quite loud. He seems to be very tense as he clears his throat and exhales loudly. Maybe he is finishing up his last work task for the week before he heads into a much needed break this weekend.

The African American lady at the table behind him, is alone.  She looks concerned about something. She is texting.  She pauses, furrows her brow, gets up and walks out the door, texting again. She is oblivious as a group of teen girls from the neighborhood high school brush past her.  They bring the volume in the shop up a few notches with their chatter and laughter.  For a few minutes, I can't hear the mid-aged man's music.

A young mom walks in pushing a stroller, she is blinking and squinting a lot as she looks at the menu on the wall.  Are her eyes tired from lack of sleep?  I know how those nights full of feedings and little sleep can make you feel the next day.

Then there's the UPS man, all smiles as he delivers a package, quickly chats with barista and another customer,  and receives a complementary coffee.  He chuckles as he walks out the door.  Someone is having a nice day!

See what I mean?  I am a people watcher and I can't help it.

This week I have been thinking a lot about people and what makes them tick.  As I look around this coffee shop, I realize that everyone has a story.  There are some people here that may be shouldering some serious burdens.  Maybe they are ill or have a family member who is.  Maybe they are unemployed and discouraged as they continue to send out resumes with no luck.  Someone in here is celebrating a life milestone.  Did they just get married?  Have they overcome an addiction? Someone is frustrated, another is satisfied.  That person looks nervous, this one at peace. Someone over there just told a funny joke or something, because that guy is cracking up.  His laughter is contagious.

Looking at people's faces and observing their actions, makes me realize that everyone has something going on behind the scenes, behind the public face there is a personal story, a back story.

Have you heard the words "back story" a lot this past week, friends?  I sure have.  The media is using it  around every corner of every commentary.  Back story. It's fitting really. Humanity has experienced another unthinkable this week.  Hell on earth in Boston, Texas.  So many stories, lives converging in the trauma immediate.  Total strangers' stories meshing forever.  On a sidewalk in Boston, a severely injured woman receives saving breath from one she may never meet, but who has given her a chance at more life.  In Texas, a firefighter's passion for serving his community, modeled by his father before him, put to the ultimate test. Now stories and back stories colliding, forever connected.  Life on life.

People watching keeps me present with humanity. It makes me ever aware that this life that we live is relational.  It's meant to be that way.  As I look at others, I see beyond myself and I realize that standing before me or sitting next to me there is another living, breathing soul with a story. It makes me pause solid and think about what others around me are going through.  That random rude individual in the grocery store is someone's someone who may have just been thrown a curve ball in this game we like to call life. Everyone has a back story.

I saw a video this week and I want to share it with you. It touched my heart and reminded me to be careful with others, to have empathy.  I hope that it touches you too.



Thank you for reading.

Hugs,

Melissa

Hello Out of Toilet


Please stop what you are doing right now, click on the picture above, and read.  Trust me, its worth it.

Okay, now allow me to translate this very polite message that was posted in a Japanese convenience store bathroom.  
-----------
"Hello customer who has just finished using the bathroom.  We apologize for bothering you here in the restroom, but we figured we had a captive audience (and something about a brush?) 

Thank you very much for choosing Family Mart over all the other convenience stores.

Did we have all of your favorite goods?  Were you satisfied with our prices and service?

We are extremely concerned about our customers' satisfaction. 

(When I read the "It is anxious" part, I couldn't help but think about the line from "Silence of the Lambs", "It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again." I'm just weird like that.)
'
If you have any comments or suggestions, please leave a note in our comment box.

(And there are two alternate endings to choose from.)

We want to do everything within our power to make sure you come back again.  

OR

We will try not to laugh and take you seriously, because after all this is just a convenience store and we will probably never see you again." 
----------------
I am so glad that I could shed some light on the meaning of this very polite, but somewhat confusing message from our friends at Family Mart in Japan.  I hope that it meant as much to you as it did to me.  

I love Japan!

Hugs, 

Melissa

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This is Pete

This is Pete.


Pete is a sound designer and composer.  Also, he's really hot.

This is Pete's studio.


This is what happens to things in Pete's studio.



No, Pete's not having a mid-day stress relief session, it's actually a Foley session where he creates the sounds that he utilizes in his auditory creations.

Pete also does a lot of this in his studio


and this too.


When he's not in his studio, which thankfully is sound proof and located in our home,  Pete is often on location somewhere in the world.

 Sometimes he is doing audio-post production on a movie in Orlando.



Sometimes he creates and mixes sound effects for the Air Force in Pensacola.


Other times he finds himself out in San Francisco, recording sounds at MMA tournaments of sweaty men kicking each other around.



or in LA mixing sounds he has created for Universal Studios. You know, garden variety fire plumes, Simpson stunts and robot stuff.






Fun fact:  One of the sounds that Pete utilized to create robots was a recording of my breast pump when I was nursing Little Monkey.  Nice huh?

Sometimes Pete finds himself on the other side of the world mixing sound for "The Mummy" attraction in Singapore.




Playing music in remote places in China

Sleeping in a yurt. So comfy.


Meeting the locals.


Climbing great walls.


And making sure he doesn't do things like this...



Yes, this is Pete.


And whether he is recording golfers on courses


Or waves and other natural forces. 


He is the ultimate sound designer and composer in my book. Plus, he's hot.  Did I already say that?

Hugs, 

Melissa

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shopping For Clothing Is Not My Thing

I don't know, something about shopping for clothing just bugs me.  I'd rather have a root canal than shop for clothing.  I've never had a root canal, so I'm just guessing on that one.

Here's how shopping for clothing goes for me. My dislike of clothes' shopping starts at the rack and culminates in the dressing room.  First, the rack.  I am always drawn to that rack of clothing that I have no business exploring.  You know, the one with all the cute little (little being the operative word here) dresses that they put in the very front of the clothing section to draw all the young, toned, size minus zero girls (girls being the operative word here) to?  Yep, that rack always lures me in.

I immediately fall head over heels in love with a fantastic looking dress. A-line, just the shade of green that I have been looking for, perfect length, but they don't have my *size*.  Let me pause here and express my opinion on clothing *sizes*.  They are hogwash.  Not acid wash or white wash.  Hogwash.  Whatever standard we are using to measure and cut our clothing these days must have been dreamed up by vengeful extraterrestrials, still upset over the Roswell incident.

And while we are on the subject of sizes and extraterrestrials, I have to say that European sizes are just as wonky.  I found that out first hand when I went into a boutique in Manhattan in February.  I couldn't resist this place.  It was actually an old stone church that had been converted into this gorgeous clothing store, full of glitzy clothes and glamorous people.  And there was this rack, with these jeans.  Gold jeans.  Pete even liked them and encouraged me to try them on.  Then this 7 foot tall Euro-goddess came over and asked me if I wanted to try on those "fabulous jeans".  She had to go  all the way to the back of the rack before she finally found my *size*.  Then she started a dressing room for me, and I proceeded to try on the 27 different shirts she brought me to go with the gold jeans.  After a half an hour of fashion flop, Euro-Goddess had beads of sweat on her forehead. Nothing worked.  Her stylist ego was bruised. Euro-Goddess blamed it on the Euro sizes, I blamed it on my non-European hips and butt.

The final nail in the clothing coffin for me is the dressing room.  Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!  As I enter the dressing room, I already have a self-induced clothing disadvantage with my poorly selected pieces that  looked like Versace on the rack, but somehow have morphed into Ver-not-ce on the journey from the rack to the fitting room.

Then there is the issue of the lighting in the fitting room - florescent lighting that is. Because nothing flatters you more than flickering blue light straight out of a Twilight Zone episode. Also, I'm convinced that the mirrors in dressing rooms are recycled carnival funhouse mirrors. Want to see how you would look if you were 3 feet tall and 500 pounds?  Just check out yourself in a dressing room mirror.

Finally, what's with the music in dressing rooms?  Somehow I just don't think that "All Cried Out" by Lisa Lisa and The Cult Jam would help anyone's state of mind, especially someone who is trying on ill fitting clothing, surrounded by carnival mirrors, and seizure inducing flickery blue light.

So, shopping for clothes is not my thing, but I have to do it every once in awhile because clothing is not an option in our society. Usually, I just order stuff online, but I also find some of my clothes at COSTCO or BJ's.  Since these places do not have dressing rooms, I end up having to return some things, but I usually have some keepers. Like this past week, when I found some really cool Philosophy by Republic maxi skirts at BJ's for $14.99!  The were regularly $68! Oh, and Old Navy has the whole BOGO thing going on with their t-shirts until April 24.

BJ's Maxi skirt + Old Navy BOGO t-shirt  - dreaded dressing room =


 So, now that I have a pretty decent outfit, I am going all Euro and I will wear it everyday. Hey, their sizes do not seem to work for me, but if you can't beat them, join them.

Hugs,

Melissa


P.S.  I love all of my Euro readers, even though your clothes do not fit my ample American body.



Butterflies Taste With Their Feet...Which Sounds Completely Unsanitary

The youngest monkeys and I went on a field trip to encounter some butterflies.  We had a fun despite the fact that most of the butterflies where on strike that day.  Who knew that butterflies do not fly when it is overcast outside?  You live and you learn.

We  gave the butterflies a little incentive to visit us by dipping our fingers in some Gatorade and holding out our hands for them to alight on.  Isn't alight such a nice word?  Alight.  Ah, I like the way it sounds.


As you can see, Little Monkey was not as excited about alighting butterflies as his sisters were. In fact, I think that it is safe to say that he was totally freaked out with the idea of butterfly alightment.


Meanwhile his sister had butterflies all over the place.  We called her the butterfly whisperer.



She began her training when she was a baby.   Oh, this picture makes me weep.  Stop growing so fast monkey girl!


The other monkey girl was pretty popular with the lepidopteras too.


Little Monkey eventually warmed up to the idea of having bugs crawl all over him.


By the end of our time there, he and the butterflies had formed a bond.  It probably had something to do with  Little Monkey practically bathing himself in Gatorade.


When it was time to go, he said that he didn't want to leave his "best buddies".  We came "this close" to him having a complete meltdown.  Then I did what every good mom would do and I bribed him with some ice cream. 

Fun times!  

Hugs, 

Melissa

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Uterus to University - I'm a Signer, Not a Biter


Little Monkey signing "more". 
Recently, Little Monkey was playing with a precious little person who is a considerably younger than him.  They were getting along well riding trikes one minute and Little Monkey was screaming the next minute.  The precious little person had become a piranha and Little Monkey was the recipient of a bite.  Ouch!

Let's back up a bit before the bite.  The precious little person is at an age where he knows what he wants to say and he can understand everything everyone else says (receptive language), but he is not able to say what he wants to say just yet (expressive language) because he is just beginning to articulate words and build his vocabulary.  So, when it was time for their playdate to end, the precious little person was very frustrated, and since he couldn't protest with words and tell everyone that he wanted more time to play, he protested with his teeth. Chomp!

Childhood biting is extremely common and yet it is very uncomfortable for all parties involved.  In my former life as a Speech and Language Pathologist, I often encountered children who bit.  One boy actually bit a hole in my skirt one day when he had enough of therapy.  Knowing what you want to say and not being able to verbalize it is frustrating.  To ease this frustration (and save my wardrobe) I taught the children to communicate with sign language.  Biting always decreased or ceased all together when the child had an avenue to express themselves.  Awesome!

So, when I became a mom, I knew that we would utilize sign language as a communication tool for our monkeys.  From the time that they were itty bitty, we began teaching each monkey basic American Sign Language.  The most common signs that we utilized were "more", "eat", "drink", and "finished".  We were amazed at how quickly our monkeys learned the signs and how often they used them.  I truly believe that we avoided many a melt down or bite because our kids could sign what was on their minds.  Of course, we still had our "special moments" complete with flailing, screaming and a bite or two, but that's just life. 

I highly recommend sign language for little people.  There are tons of resources out there for parents and caregivers to tap into.  You do not have to be a teacher or a SLP to teach a little one some basic signs.  Our older monkeys were part of our teaching team and Little Monkey was a model student. 

Little Monkey's teachers


Here is a video of Little Monkey learning his very first sign...


video


And now I am signing "more", "more" because I can't believe that Little Monkey is so big now and his brother and sister are all grown up and stuff. And I want "more" of that preciousness.  I can't believe time has just flown by so fast, I want "more" time with them. It makes me so worked up and emotional that I just want to...want to... bite something!!!

Hugs, 

Melissa

Friday, April 12, 2013

This and That - Weekend Edition


BabyCakes in L.A.
THE WEEKEND IS HERE!!!  Oh yes!  It has been a busy week and it's time for some real fun!  Donuts anyone?  Maybe a chance to sleep in?  Please monkeys...please let us sleep in...

Pete had a glazed cake donut and I had a cookie sandwich served up on the cutest vintage china plates ever! 
But seriously, donuts anyone?  If you live in NYC, LA, or Orlando you are in luck.  BabyCakes is the bomb bakery for anyone who wants to eat sweets, without the guilt or grossness of artificial, processed garbage in them.  Plus gluten free, soy free, vegan donuts?  Shut the front door!  And, you can order their bake kits and cookbooks online.  Yumminess!

Speaking of food and eating, which it seems like I'm always doing, have you all seen this video?


Hilarious!  It kind of reminds me of mealtimes at our house.  Where every barnyard and wild animal is amply represented by at least one of our children.

Anaconda
Monkey
Camel
Not sure?
Turkey
Gecko
Alien
Have a great weekend everyone!  See you Monday.  Can't wait, it's gonna be great!

Hugs,

Melissa