Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Thursday, May 31, 2012

There is a new "bully" in town!

Yes, the new English "bully" made his debut in our house on Tuesday afternoon.
  He doesn't have a name yet.

Today he met the French bully. 

He/she (not sure yet) has the same captivating face as Meaty.

The same wrinkly body.

The same droopy jowls.

Lays on his back the same way as Meaty does.

Smells the couch the same way.

Lays on his side with his head hanging
off the couch the same way Meaty does.
"Grandma, this bully is a little strange. There is no drool. "

"Grandma, there should be a smell or something at this end."
"Grandma, aren't I enough for you?"

The perfect dog.
No farts, no snoring, no drool, no accidents in the house.

But no personality, no affection!
not the perfect dog!

But cute, yes?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Salute To My Soldier

The blogging world was packed with tributes to our military and the country this past Memorial day.  You could barely open a bog page without seeing one.

I wasn't ready.

I couldn't write even one word on the topic on Monday.

A Family Military Window Flag that tells the world
that this family currently has a love one in the military
 or has passed away while serving our country.

My thoughts were so mixed and conflicted on that day. They always are in conflict on Memorial Day.  I couldn't just throw out a simple "memorial day thank you post."  I wasn't in the right place mentally.

Maybe today I can.

Maybe Memorial Day shouldn't be just one day in May!

Maybe we should reflect and thank our military a little more frequently than one day a year!

So here goes ...

I love the United States of America.

I believe this country has done more good in our world than bad.

I believe the ideals we were built on still vibrantly live within our boundaries and inside our citizens.

Our people are inherently different because of our national ideals and young history. 
(Note:  not better people, just different)

I respect and support our citizen soldiers who set aside their personal lives to protect and serve.

And I strongly believe in defending all of that!

I wish there was a way to compromise those thoughts with these.

So many precious lives were lost fighting the wrong battles.

So many young lives changed forever by battle injuries both physical and mental.

National and international leadership replaced by political posturing and misguided egos.

A tarnishing a national reputation for personal agendas.

As a child of the Vietnam era, I fear the power of our nation used irresponsibly.  

By the standards of Europe or China, we are a very young nation ... a "teenager" by nation building standards.  But how scary for all ... to find this "leader of the free world" to be a virtual teenager.

Matt and I at his "send off" to Boot Camp Party
My family has been little touched by war.  All my family survived WWII without damage and have participated in no other conflicts since then.
The cake at his party
"Good Luck Matt in the USMC"
My son served in the Marines for 4 years during more peace-able times.  I struggled greatly then with his choice to serve in the military.  I wanted college and civilian life for him.  He had different goals.  I did not cover myself with pride at his choice.  I was not a good military mom.  

Matt's Boot Camp Graduation!
The white cap to the left is Matt.

For me 
Memorial Day is a reminder
of all the sacrifice and pain our service personal and their families
endure willingly to give muscle to our country and our leaders.  

It is also a yearly reminder of my short comings as a military mom
and the regret I continue to hold
that I could not put aside my own personal agenda for my son
when he was choosing the higher (and the harder) path of military service.  

Now 15 years later I am proud of the choices he made in his life and his service to our country.
I wish I could live those 4 years over again and do the right thing!
Now I salute him and the US military
 who had a strong hand in making him
 the fine man he has become today.

My soldier, Matt and my daughter Kris.

We learn from our children ...
if you don't believe that, you aren't paying attention!

Happy Memorial Day - a few days late!

Monday, May 28, 2012

"THE" car

So it was a Sunday morning and I was minding my own business, just going about my normal Sunday routine, taking mom to mass ... when this car pulled into a space not too far from mine.  

And I stopped dead in the center of the road - staring in a most impolite way at the sight of this perfectly restored car.  I could not believe my eyes!!  Here was a Fairlane 500 with the mega wings in the same green color my dad bought over 50 years ago.  Dad's car was a hard top and this was a convertible, but impact of seeing that car again in perfect show room condition was stunning.

Actually I have no memories of any other family cars from all the years I lived with my parents.  I am not a car person.  But this car stood out for exactly one reason.

We lived in an apartment complex in the 1950s on the second floor.  I was raised in apartments.  My parents never owned property and money was tight.  But one day, while mom was making dinner in the small kitchen, she looked out the window that viewed the parking lot and exclaimed:

"Oh my God, what has he done!  I don't believe it."


I ran to the window and saw my dad pulling up in this exact car - huge even to my eye at that time.  I remember the wings and I remember the color because I love green.  I also remember my mom's dismay and anger at him.  I am sure she was thinking ... where was the money coming for this vehicle?

To be fair, if it was my husband and he had just purchased an expensive car without my input I would have been upset as well.  But that was my dad.  He did what he wanted, when he wanted.  He saw it and he wanted it.  So home it came home with him.

Dice!  How cute.  We didn't have those in our car.

Of course, here we were over 50 years later (mom and I) standing in another parking lot staring at pretty much the same car.  Then almost as if history was repeating itself, I couldn't restraint from whipping out my camera, sprinting over, and starting to snap pictures from all directions, calling out to mom in my excitement,

"Look mom!! (click)
  Do you remember???
Dad had this car. (click, click)
  You were in the kitchen cooking dinner.  
You saw him in the parking lot trying to park this very car. (click)
You were so angry, mom, (click, click)
 it was this car with a hard top, 
this exact green,
don't you remember?"
(click, click, click) 

and her saying as she kept walking towards the church (pretending like she doesn't know me, I am sure), and saying pretty much what she said more than 50 years ago ...

"Oh my God, what are you doing? I don't believe you."

Dad would be proud!  :-)

Unfortunately, mom honestly didn't remember the car or the event. 

But it was a moment of fond remembrance of my Dad and sorrow at what Mom has lost.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Move My Feet Campaign - Review of the Striiv Pedometer

I simply do not understand
 why this is so hard!

  I am retired.  I have time to walk.
  I am in good health.  I have good genes.
  I believe that walking is the near perfect exercise. Experience taught me that.
 I am as young as I am EVER GOING TO BE.

The excuses I have used to avoid walking are varied but oh so familiar. 
I am busy.
I have mom responsibilities.
My son is getting married.  
I got sick.
I have bull dogs and they walk like turtles sprint.
The weather is raining,
(yes,  I have used "perfect weather" as an excuse
 'cause I could do something else with the "perfect day").


The wedding is over, my son is married, Mom is cared for, I am well, the bull dogs would rather be on the couch in the air conditioning, and there are no weather-free days.

I have set a goal AGAIN.

April 2013 - at 66, I want to be walking at least 4 times a week and taking at least 10,000 steps every day.  I am still committed to walking that 1,000 miles goal that I started earlier in the year but reaching it by December 31 is unrealistic.  Any bets on what day in 2013 I will make that 1,000 miles?  Hey, maybe I should have a contest!!

(If anything, I should get extra points for never ceasing to try!)

So early last week I got a new toy tool (toy is the correct word, truly) - to launch this new "move my feet campaign.".

Striiv Smart Pedometer is a fancy-shmancy pedometer. Yes, a step counter.  (Unfortunately I still need the objective feedback of a number that says - "yes, you moved today," or "no, (you slug,) you were a vegetable today.")

Now this new high end pedometer does more than just count steps.
  • It counts the typical things beyond steps: time, mileage, calories, etc.  
  • It also counts running steps and stairs climbed.  
  • You can link wirelessly to other Striiv folks nearby to compete against them if inclined.  
  • It has a touch screen for changing functions.  
  • It needs to be on your body somewhere - even just hanging from a key ring.  No worrying that it is placed incorrectly at the waist like most other models.
  • It shows your historic data by number and grid, and shows averages for about 30 days right on the pedometer.   
  • A cable connects the Striiv pedometer to your computer for downloads of updates from the Striiv site and back ups of your stats on their network.  If you should lose the data for some reason (like a function failure) you can reconstruct it from your automatic back up.
  • It plugs into an electrical outlet to charge rather than replacing a battery. 
While those features are a big step up in function over my Omron Pedometer (which I still love), none of those hooked me into this purchase.   My hook is "the challenge!"  There are a large variety of easy, medium and hard challenges.  Challenges can be selected but frequently they are offered spontaneously, "how about climbing 50 steps in the next 15 minutes" or "increase your step count by 300 in the next 5 minutes" or "run for 10 minutes" - and if I accept a challenge the clock starts counting down immediately.  If I meet the challenge, it gives me extra energy credits over what I earn by walking. Energy credits are used in a game on the pedometer (yes, a game on the pedometer!!)

Wooo Hoooo!!!

Of course, if you aren't shallow like me, you can use your energy credits towards a free charitable donation, which I shockingly haven't taken advantage of yet!!! Too busy playing my game.  :-)

Stats tracking is reported in number and grid format.  It also shows you how your efforts play against certain fun measures.  For example: I climbed enough stairs to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty (achieved easily - my house is nothing but stairs). I am now working on climbing mount Mount Everest!!   I also know where I am in walking a marathon.

Anyway, I am now off the couch and walking again.  Those dang challenges are like a red flag in front of a bull for me - I can't seem to resist.  And although I might not need this kind of incentive 10 months from now, it is a huge help in getting started.  In fact, I can already tell after one week that I have more energy.  My body has a very positive response to exercise - it is my brain that needs a kick in the butt!!

So I had to buy this pricey pedometer to get walking again, but - what the heck - it is only money and I can't take it with me after I am dead.  (Hopefully this pedometer will hold off "the death thingy" a little longer - but that is not part of Striiv's guarantee.  Best Buy doesn't guarantee it either.  Dang!)

I guess in the end it is really up to me!!

Post Script - This little gadget does more than I have expressed here, so if you are curious, check their site at this  link.  
I will tell you this.  I checked the feedback on Amazon, and Striiv was very well rated for accuracy and incentivizing you, BUT there were a few reported failures in function.  Striiv does provide customer support (online and phone) to resolve issues.   Since it is a new product and expensive, I bought my Striiv at Best Buy instead of Amazon.  Best Buy offers a 2 year "fix or replace service" contract for $15.00.  Seemed like a worthwhile safeguard for 2 years.

Post Script to the Post Script
I am not being sponsored by Striiv to write this post!  But if they want to pay me, I am OK with that!  :-)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog

Professional pictures will follow in several weeks.

I want to leave you with one last bit from the ceremony
no picture - just thoughts from the day
  reflected in a piece that my nieces read to the guests.  

It is charming and I think you will enjoy it.
Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog
 by Taylor Mali
First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time?
No! No! Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you
and never stops.

Friday, May 25, 2012

First day of ...

... The rest of life together.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For me it began with my son leaving home in his tux for the wedding!
I know, I know.
He hasn't lived at home for quite awhile.
But somehow this "leaving" was symbolic for me.
He was taking a wife this day!
A woman perfect for him in every way.
The one I would choose for him if it was mine to decide.
But still ... a symbolic leaving...
and strong emotions filled me.
Yes, she is the one I would choose!
Perfect for him.
Perfect for us.
Guests started to arrive.
Matt greeting his grandmother!
It was a stellar moment for me.
Mom made it.
May 19 will serve as both their wedding anniversaries.

The cycle of life
The family who came before these two special people.
The right side is the groom's family.  The left side is the bride's family.

The programs and the flowers.

The vows - promises for a life time.

The happy couple - now wed.

The first dance.

The beginning!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Then you eat ...

... at the Rehearsal Dinner!

But first it began with music.

The bride's father sang a lovely song in honor of his daughter's wedding.
Beautifully and touchingly done!
The couple enjoying the music.

The Groom's Cake was a theme from the Disc World Series of books by Terry Pratchett.
For those who need a translation of what their eyes are seeing click the link or:
Disc World is a fantasy flat world used in the series that rests on top
of large elephants
standing on top of a large tortoise.

A picture of the map of Disc World.
 Matt cutting his Groom's Cake.
He is a big fan of Terry Pratchett's series of books.
And guess who baked and decorated this cake in her spare time?
You know ...
all that spare time
between wedding preparations and dissertation defense.
Amazing woman!
That is all I can say.
Next time - shots from a very special day!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First you practice ...

Enjoying a pizza after the dissertation defense.

... At getting married.
  They call it The Wedding Rehearsal.  

And they did just that.

Waiting for the wedding party to arrive before the rehearsal.
The last quiet moment before the mayhem. 
Slowly folks arrived.
Wine and snacks were shared.
And then the work began.
"Marching Orders" were given.
We walked up!
We walked down!
We waited for the train to pass.
Checking the script again!
Tons of laughter!
Comment overheard: "Best wedding rehearsal ever."
So, once we were letter-perfect
 off to my house for The Rehearsal Dinner
 - another rite of passage in getting married.

Next time!