A Good Mother

2015-12-15-19

Okay- yes she’s wearing pearls- but little Lizzie looks like she’s wondering “you’ve got this- right Mommie?” And Aimee smiles- “yes- I’ve got this baby!”

A good mother isn’t any stereotype that fits some Norman Rockwellian picture of a apron wearing, pearl enhanced, perfectly coiffed lady standing among her perfect children- smiling like a beautiful collie.

She falls down on a daily basis (literally and figuratively) and bounces back up!

She burns the toast (and she’s the one who eats the burnt one).

She forgets to sign the homework papers sometimes.

She knows how to say “I’m sorry- I was wrong” because she is, often.

She cries because her children are hurting and she can’t fix it.

She cries because her kids are perfect and she’s lucky enough to be their  mom! (For today- at least)

She’s weak enough to let her kids creep into her bed late at night- and strong enough to invite the criticism of her peers when she admits it!

She doesn’t always cook or bake from scratch- but when she does- she expects someone to notice!

She too wants to gag sometimes at the surprises that await her in the baby’s diaper.

She should get an award for all the wonderful things that she “meant to do” but never got around to.

She sees other mothers doing things differently and wonders if she is doing it wrong, but decides to go with her instincts on what is best for HER children.

She cuts corners on some things and goes overboard on other things- but at the end of the day makes sure things come out even and right. (But don’t open that closet!)

She longs for yesterday that their cute, sweet baby pictures portray, she’s anxious for tomorrow to show her what her children will do in the world, but she knows that she holds today in her hands and those hands are molding and changing the world!!

To all the good moms in my world – Happy Mothers Day!

Just checking in…

The days are coming and going faster and faster every year.  As much as I love weekends- it seems like as soon as I recover from one busy weekend of spending time with friends and family- it’s the end of the week…again.   Not that I mind, after all who loves sleeping late and staying up late more than me?  But what worries me is that the son who was worrying about talking to girls just yesterday (in my mind) is now 35 and about to see his son enter that phase of life. Memories of children- but reality of grown parents tending their own!!

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Just another great weekend in Bardstown with the family!

I find myself asking if my kids know enough about the way I was raised.  I know that they might not care for all the details now- but when I’m gone (and let’s face it- someday I WILL be gone) will they know that their grandfather was a man who loved to dance with his wife around the house and their grandmother would  sing just like Patsy Cline.  That our family had some really great summer bonfires at just about every campground in the state of Kentucky.  That my mom cooked the exact same breakfast for every Sunday- steak, biscuits and tomato gravy. And for Christmas we always had oyster croquettes for breakfast?  Will I remember to tell them all those things? cropped-dsc006062.jpg

I look around me to see how much all the things have changed and I wonder if my daughter and I will ever snuggle up in the bed again while I brush her hair and polish her nails?  Will my boys ever roll up with all their friends and take over my screened in porch telling stories of ballgames, and dirty tricks played on each other and good times together?  Will they remember these days the same way I do?  Did I do enough?

Now – I also have grandchildren!  And I’m really not kidding when I say how fast they grow up!  I can honestly say that there is no sweeter sound than one of my grandchildren shouting “Grammie”!!  These days go by quickly and make an indelible mark on your grandchildren.  I know this because I had grandparents who lived next door to me.  My grandmother died when I was young- but my memories of her are so clear and strong.  Then there was my grandma from Indiana who we didn’t see as often- but my memories of her are also very unclouded. AIDAN-N-ME

I guess as these days go by- I want to ask God- How am I doing so far?  When I find myself getting more involved with my own life and friends and activities- am I being selfish- or will my kids appreciate that I didn’t rely on them to be my whole world.  I suppose we all ask those same questions… validation for trying to balance the total passion I have for my family and knowing how to live a full life with and for myself!!

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The Vegas crew

I love all the challenges I have faced in my lifetime so far!! As each of us comes to the end of a phase of life and dream about what was- and what will be, I hope we can all understand that our purpose is ever changing but our destiny will always be an adventure!

Bonjour mes amis – de Paris – Las Vegas – qui est

When you live in the Most Beautiful Small Town in America– and you want to plan a little getaway for a few days with a group of friends- where do you go?   Well- Las Vegas, of course!  Need to get that heart beating?  Ruffle those feathers a little bit?  Lights, sounds, shows, cuisine, cocktails, gambling and pampering!  Count me in!

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The Vegas crew

Don’t get me wrong- I do love my sweet hometown and would never trade it for the city life, but I have to admit I was extremely excited to flip the switch on for a few loud and rowdy days in the City of Lights!   Our group of friends have been saving up Total Rewards Points to be able to get complimentary rooms for the trip and we settled on one of the Total Rewards Properties- The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.  The 4 night stay in a 2 Queen bed was all complimentary! (Sounds like my annual birthday trip to the casino in Southern Indiana paid off!!)  Now the search for a non-stop flight from Louisville to Vegas… Southwest was the only one we could find – so there we are ready to go!!

Travel day is here- flight delayed about an hour for repairs on the plane (uh-oh) but the guy at the service desk assured us we could make it up with the tailwinds out there! (We call bullsh** on that one- “tailwinds” going east to west??)  Anyway – our flight was uneventful and we arrived to the warm breezes and Palm trees right there at the airport- it was lovely!! Thanks to the great fore-planning of one of our travel mates- there were two Limousines waiting to take us swiftly to our Hotel with no waiting and really very little traffic.  Our first view of the Paris Hotel was stunning, just so grand- and colorful- and joyful- and French!  Ooh –la-la from the very first sight!

Check-in was easy- walked right into the Platinum check-in room and showed our IDs and we were out of there in less than 5 minutes.  Boom!  Now on to the room to get our suitcases settled and out onto the “floor” to see the sights.   Of course the Eiffel Tower was the framework of the Hotel, but I felt like I was in a small French Village with all the shops and cafes and bakeries and charming buildings all around.  Then planted right in the middle of it all were the huge steel legs of the Eiffel Tower!

Games and Bars were everywhere! And Le Cabaret- a bandstand with live music every evening was right there among the games and tables so everyone could enjoy live music all the while.  I thought the best coffee I got was the coffee I got on the casino floor!  Followed shortly by the best Bloody Marys!eiffel-tower-restaurant

First I’ll tell you all about our adventures in cuisine while we were there.  First – the Eiffel Tower Restaurant!  La plus belle vue de tous !  (The most beautiful view of all).
One of our friends ordered one of their specialty cocktails « The Daisy »  my favorite cocktail of the week !! (Cucumber infused tequila and pineapple and red pepper flakes. Mmm!) My delicious filet mignon was perfection.  We tried Duck Breast, Beef Wellington, Salmon, Escargot… and all of it was putting a little tingle in our toes !! Just magical !

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The best lunch I had while in Paris- -Mon AmiGABI!!  I have to eat here because my oldest 2 children are named Aimee and Gabe 😉  We were led into this dark Bistro and through to this bright, sunny sun-room of white cloth tables with all the formality of fine dining, but had the casual light-hearted atmosphere of a sidewalk café.  Soft brie and potatoes along with chicken and mushroom crepes, salmon, shrimp crepes, a few Bloody Marys and we were ready to strike out on another day of adventure!

Now- for the best food I put in my mouth all week- we spent our last night having dinner at the Martorano’s.  I feel like we were invited there by grandma Martorano herself and the family just gathered around to make us welcome!  Our host introduced us to the restaurant and their way of doing things and we rolled with it.  We chose three appetizers based on his recommendations – the giant meatball with Sunday Gravy (which I can relate to because my momma made similar Sunday gravy every single week); freshly made mozzarella cheese and cherry tomatoes with balsamic; and the BEST THING I HAD ALL WEEK…. Fried Calamari with a sweet and spicy chili sauce  that was cooked exactly to perfection!    Now- here’s the embarrassing part- the appetizers were served to us by our servers and we gladly and respectfully ate it up to the point that we were even sopping up the last bit of gravy with our bread.  At that point we realized that we were starting to feel a little stuffed and our entrees were still in the kitchen.  When our servers appeared with the most perfectly browned scallops on a bed of mmm-buttery risotto, and stacked even higher by a mound of fresh lump crab meat- well- we just let out a chorus of moans that would embarrass even a bordel Madame.  Needless to say this last night dinner with Mortorano’s was like visiting family and was the highlight of our dining experience while at the Paris Hotel!!

Wait- I’m not through yet- I have to tell you about our pampering while we were in “Paris”!  Two of our friends took the initiative to make reservations for facials and massages for us and I’m extremely grateful that they thought to do that early in the week!  The spa has an exercise room, steam room , dry sauna, whirlpool, lockers, showers, lounge area with coffee, tea, lemon water, fresh fruit…. A couple of the girls came early and used the stream room and the rest of us just lounged with our morning coffee and chatted while we waited for our appointed time for pampering!  The music was a soft Asian melody just lingering in the room almost without notice.  For my service- I had a Collagen Quartz facial with a hand, arm and scalp massage.  It was simply wonderful!  Wonderful!!  I encourage every traveler to give themselves this treat!

Last- but certainly not least- if you came to Vegas to dance, listen to music and/or party – I can say there is no shortage of opportunities for that!  We enjoyed the Cabaret on the main floor right next to all the games and machines.  They have a good size dance floor and play all kinds of music from Motown to the 80’s and 90’s pop tunes to the latest dance hits!  We enjoyed a very fun couple of nights at Napoleon’s- a piano bar and comedy nightclub that was fun- not too loud or crazy and kept our feet tapping and we laughed til we cried!

Okay- now it was time to check out- and you know how that is- something always gets mixed up or over charged or something.  So here we are checking out after 4 nights of fun and it’s time to pay up!  Ms. Smith- your room balance is…. $18.10.  What?? So now I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret that maybe you don’t know- EVERYTHING you spend while you are staying at a Total Rewards Property- charge it to your room.  You’re going to have to pay for it anyway- but this way your TR credits accumulate toward bonuses, comps and rewards!  In our case- it covered our room(4 days), resort fee, spa services (not cheap), room service, about 100 Bloody Marys, a couple of snacks here and there- and we didn’t even put everything to our room!!

SUV back to the airport (very short ride), quick pass thru the security check and on to our gate.  I like to ask for early boarding, because I like to try to get the seats next to the wing exit because there is a lot more leg room.  But you do have to promise that in case of emergency you’ll pop the door open and push out the slide- no problem!  Another quick flight (4hours, non stop, tailwinds) and we’re home! Great trip, lovely friends and memories to last a lifetime!  Now back to the old grindstone so that I can save for my next adventure!  Wonder where that’ll be?

A Kinder, Gentler Nation…

Watching the inauguration and all the festivities; the news coverage and my friends reaction to it all- I have come to a conclusion. The days of kinder and gentler in this country are over!  Ok- a step back- if you will- not over, but cast aside.  I’ll start with the news coverage because I think, in subtle ways (and some not so subtle) they create a narrative that might incite the viewing and reading public to respond and react angrily by using trigger phrases and scenarios which come from all sorts of thing takens out of context.  It doesn’t matter how far back they have to dig- they’ll find it!  IT- that something that can catch fire in a soundbite, but takes pages and pages to refute. Like a wrecking ball- it only takes a moment to do the damage and an eternity to clean up the mess and rebuild.

So went the reporting on the festivities of the day.  Downplaying the ugly and violent riots (yes- I call them riots when intention destruction of property is taking place) around K Street. Constantly comparing everything about the Trump Inauguration to that of Obama’s.  I saw a lot of differences, but honestly figured that many of them were due mostly to the age differences of the Presidents.  One being one of the youngest Presidents and the other being the oldest President.   One of the narratives floating about all day was the almost gleeful way that the press reported on the growing numbers of Congressmen and women who were boycotting the ceremony. Another jab at the President, not so kind, not so gentle.

Then there was the beautiful, graceful- ethereal Melania!  Really hard to criticize her- right?  Wrong.  Even though she fluently speaks- what is it- seven? different languages and conducts herself with grace and dignity- people still want deny her even the simplest compliment.  The impressive Trump children- all very successful and accomplished people in their own right- and begrudgingly given due credit for that- they are moved to the background on the page of Trump accomplishments.  And young Barron- the press couldn’t even resist taking a few low blows at him!

When I hear from normal people in “man on the street” interviews of protesters- what I hear is that they are either not getting the whole truthful story about what the man says he’ll do as President, or they simply don’t like him and will not support him- no matter what he does.  After studying and reading up on Trump’s positions- I realize that most of his opposition want just what he wants.  They are just not listening to one another.

Don’t get me wrong Donald Trump doesn’t always present himself as a cuddly old teddy bear.  I so wish he had walked into a press conference and said to all the women out there marching for their various causes and said “I see you- I’m listening- let’s talk”.  But- seeing the depictions I saw of the protesting crowds- and some of the signs they were carrying and things they were preaching- I think he is right to focus on the tasks at hand- because when women are bitching- they’re generally not in the mood to be persuaded that- maybe- they don’t really have anything to bitch about.

I don’t think it’s about any real grievances- but simply a need to disagree and be disagreeable.  Drama, disagreement and disorder sells.  People are drawn to it.  Mayhem is interesting.  Harmony is wonderful- but who wants to talk about that around the water cooler?  You’ll never buy a newspaper to read about the criminal who was apprehended, taken into custody and cooperated throughout the process and was treated fairly.  You’ll turn off the news if all they have to talk about is how congress got along today and got a lot accomplished.  So I guess it’s fair to say that emotion- either good or bad- raises and lowers the behavior of humanity.  And we need both good and bad in order to recognize and appreciate the other- so…

If you’re feeling negative about this years’ election- go head and express yourself!  Even yell out a cuss word or two if you want!  But leave the door open just a crack in case you want to walk back through it! (We really don’t want you to move to Canada).  And watch this for a little balance!   https://youtu.be/Y-jaEsLJQRM

Cheers to my friends- both left and right!  Be nice to each other!

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Walk a mile in my shoes…

You know how you feel when something happens and you feel judged by someone else about your life, your choices or your past?  It’s when you are likely to hear someone say- “Just walk a mile in my shoes, and you might understand”.  People want to give you advice, or their opinion, or just gasp at your nonchalance about certain things in life.  That can be very frustrating.  But can I just say this one thing?  I don’t care if someone else would NEVER do what I do, or that they can’t imagine how a person gets through certain things I’ve gone through in my life.  Wanna know why?  I’ve invited Jesus to “walk a mile- and every step of my life in my shoes with me”!  When your surrounded by the grace of God- why should you worry?  As a matter of fact- I’ve noticed that I might even have a little more pep in my step because of Him.

I don’t consider myself a “religious” person, but I am a person of great faith.  I fail at many things- but God won’t let me fall, ’cause he’s right there with me- every step of the way.  I’ve gotta say- it’s a great way to travel through life!! aaaaaaaa

David…

As I sit in the hospital room day after day for these long weeks watching my sweet little nephew,  fighting to breathe, and to talk and knowing that he probably won’t walk or run again- I know that we are blessed.  How can I say that, at a time like this?  Because when I get so tired that I fall asleep sitting there- he looks over and smiles and whispers the words “thank you”.  Because every nurse and doctor that has dealt with him have done so with love and caring on a level that I just can’t fathom.  Because when I watch him sleep, I see his father and grandfather’s faces in his face like angels carrying him through these rough days until they can gently sit him up in his chair and send him out into the world and make his special mark on the people he will meet in his life!  Because his very diverse group of family and friends all love him and want to help him have the best shot at a good life.  Because I know that God has a plan for my sweet David~ and isn’t that what we all need to know in this life?  That God has a plan for us?

Keep smiling David!  Love you!tg13-4davidcopy-of-418667_10151145327864419_1407008899_n

Update: March 2, 2017-David has been released from Frazier Rehab and is now at home with (Uncle) Scott and (Aunt) Jackie.  They live in New Haven and the kids have transitioned very well to the new school and home.  Things are still up in the air as to David and KJ’s future, but everyone is working hard to make sure that they stay grounded and loved!  Keep us all in your prayers. David’s health (outside of the paralysis) remains very good and his attitude is the best!!

I think of the biblical story of David and Goliath- and how little David took on the giant with no fear- and the giant was no match for the great courage of David!davidatscotties

A life worth remembering…

US 60 going toward Mt Sterling, KY

US 60 going toward Mt Sterling, KY

As I drove to my sister Patti’s house in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky to celebrate the Labor Day weekend as we do every year, I was struck by an image that was new- or had escaped my notice before.  There was a sign along a stretch of road on US 60 going into Mt Sterling.  The sign read: SSGT Garth Sizemore Memorial Highway.  Garth was my son’s friend.  They were stationed together in Germany, and were deployed together for 2 tours in Iraq.  First with TF 2/2 of the 1st Infantry Division who were tasked with leading the way in to the 2nd Battle of Fallujah.  The second deployment was with the Blue Spaders- 1/26 of the 1st Infantry Division.

Both units distinguished themselves as units of strength and honor and great skill and dedication.  TF 2/2 had their efforts chronicled in the best selling book House to House by SSGT David Bellavia.  It was a story of courage and of great success.  Garth and my son Gabriel were there together.

Later, after their first deployment ended; Garth, Gabriel and several others moved from Vilsek and the 2/2 to Schweinfurt and the 1/26 Blue Spaders. Once again, the bravest of the brave would withstand very difficult conditions in the midst of the “surge” that ultimately led to restoration of a fragile but significant level of stability for Iraq.  This unit distinguished themselves in a way that redefines courage, yet, not in the way they wanted to see this long and difficult 15 month long deployment end.  31 Soldiers from the Battalion lost their lives during the deployment, the most from any unit in the Iraq war.  SSGT Garth Sizemore  was one of those brave soldiers.  Again, this journey was chronicled in the book They Fought for Each Other by Kelly Kennedy; and the series of articles- in the Army Times entitled Blood Brothers .  

Just seeing this sign- I felt like I needed to take a moment and honor his sacrifice- and wonder how it makes his fellow soldiers feel when they see this mark of remembrance for their fallen friend/brother.

FALLUJAH, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 10:  .S. Army 1st Infantry Division 2nd Battalion-2nd Regiment team leader Sgt. Garth Sizemore (2nd from L) from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky leads his squad as they clear abandoned houses of insurgent fighters November 10, 2004 during fighting in the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. On the authority of Iraqi President Ayed Allawi, U.S and Iraqi forces are currently engaged in a battle to take back control of the city ahead of planned nationwide elections in January. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)

FALLUJAH, IRAQ – NOVEMBER 10: .S. Army 1st Infantry Division 2nd Battalion-2nd Regiment team leader Sgt. Garth Sizemore (2nd from L) from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky leads his squad as they clear abandoned houses of insurgent fighters November 10, 2004 during fighting in the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. On the authority of Iraqi President Ayed Allawi, U.S and Iraqi forces are currently engaged in a battle to take back control of the city ahead of planned nationwide elections in January. (Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images)

 

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Oscars 2015- thoughts…

Host Neil Patrick Harris hinted at the Oscar’s lack of diversity in its nominations in his opening monologue, saying ‘Today we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest. Sorry…brightest.’  And earlier in the day- protests were being organized when Ava DuVernay, director of Selma and  David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King, Jr, were not nominated in their respective categories.  Some LA dude named Najee Ali was the organizer of the protest.  They decided before the ceremonies got underway to cancel the protest, but stated that they intend to meet with the Academy about the lack of diversity in the nominations.

Back when I was growing up- that was what my daddy called a poor sport.  You weren’t good enough, or you weren’t the voters’ cup of tea, or it was just a highly competitive year.  Get over it!  Do you think Clint Eastwood should threaten a protest- or demand a meeting to discuss why the legendary Director of the most important film of this decade was passed over for a nomination?

Honestly, my friends- both black and white- I ask you, is this race card being overused?  MOST of the presenters at the Oscars were black; many of the performers were black, the President of the Academy is black.  I believe that we should deal with our disappointments in private, not by raising the race issue every time we disagree with something involving a person of color.

I really don’t think most of the black people I know feel this way, but I don’t know for sure because I’m not black and I’m afraid that if I had this discussion, that I would be labeled as a racist.

I’m not trying to judge- I’m trying to understand.  When you cry wolf over every situation- blaming racism for everything bad in society- you won’t get any reaction or respect when a real issue arises.  Just saying…

Celebrating 50 years since the release of the Sound of Music, Lady Gaga sang a medley of songs from the movie- starting with “The Hills are Alive- With the Sound of Music” and finishing off with “Climb every Mountain”.  For me- this was the highlight of the show this year!  I’ve never been a fan of the meat dress, hats, costumes and bizarre version of Lady Gaga, but she earned my respect with that performance, showcasing her voice- her talent. If I closed my eyes I could have sworn I was listening to Julie Andrews! www.http://youtu.be/Dvg_bwdirxQ

The music from the movie Selma- “Glory” was beautifully performed and very moving to the audience. The social narrative after the song was not necessary and once again fed into the “trash America” mentality.  Sorry- but can’t we just enjoy a moment without going down that road?

For the most part- the rest of the show was boring; boring jokes, boring songs- the audience looked bored…

Neil Patrick Harris was disappointing.  I don’t usually make a big night out of Oscar night, and- after last night, probably won’t give it a second thought next year.