Are we there yet?

 

I think it was Clark W. Griswold who famously said  “I think you’re all f-ed in the head. We’re ten hours from the f-ing fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much f-ing fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!”

April 2016 brought the Alexander and our cousins the Cappa family on a pilgrimage of sorts.  One may call it more of an adventure seeking out some good ole fashion family fun.  Here is a bit of how the adventure went….

Nothing quite takes the pleasure out of heading to a vacation like a delayed flight, flat tire or a broken down auto train.  You know, kinda like the auto train we just took on our pilgrimage to see a mouse.  A 17 hour overnight trip turned into 25 hour trip, and Mommy forgot to pack the cooler with adult beverages.  This was a traveling calamity that was simply out of our control.  So, we took over the bar car and had rather expensive Amtrak beverages, played the iPod (loudly) and had a dance party.  There were charged iPads, iPods, laptops and DSs. There was wifi, and all of the boys and girls were happy people.  Maria and I decided to keep our eyes out of the second floor train window and watch as the miles went by.  There really is a “behind the scenes” view of America which the train ride exposes.  Mostly of the poor folks in America and the amount of over consumption we have grown to not even realize we are doing.  Rundown homes and junk yards were all along the route.  Elsewhere in the train, people were hunkered down watching films on their laptops, sleeping, and playing catch-up with their kids. Unlike the commuter trains, there was our own private bathroom and shower combo and a place to rest our heads.  Daniel was fixated on our bathroom and the fact that you could both use the toilet and take a shower at the same time.  Dinner time!

We head to the dining car for our exciting dining experience.  We are welcomed to a lovely table set with Amtrak plastic china, a carafe of ice water and unsweetened ice tea.  We are so excited for a change of scenery and a nice hot meal.  I suppose we have become a bit of the food snob as the short ribs were disappointing on the train. Go figure.  I order a half of a bottle of Pino so things were looking up.  The nice waitress gave us our dessert options we could choose from sugar free jello, tiramisu, ice cream or cheese cake.  Kids all got the ice cream and I just could not decide.  “Is the cheesecake Italian?, I asked”  She looked puzzled so I explained further.  “Is it the one with the ricotta cheese?”  Well you would think I asked her if she spoke Cantonese.  She stares at me and says its Philadelphia cream cheese.  Donald blurts out “What the hell do you think? Nonna is in the belly of the train making Italian cheesecake?”  So I got the tiramisu.

Through the night, beside the rhythmic farting of John and Daniel, the rock of the train was a welcoming feeling as we were trying to call it a night.  Christian and Donald stayed in a smaller room just down the hall.  Daniel was on the top bunk and John and I got to share a full size bed for the night.  I don’t think I have ever slept in the same bed as my kids.  Not unless they were vomiting or ill with diarrhea as toddlers. Well my little Johnny Boy is now a 185 lb 6’2″ 14 year old and as you know I am certainly far from a small woman.  Sharing the bed with him proved to be more than a challenge than I could have ever imagined.  Spooning with your son is generally frowned upon so we needed to figure out how we were going to make this work.  Johnny decided that it would be best for all parties involved if he just squished as far as he could to the wall and give Mama Bear some sleeping room.  We started out great. It was somewhere about when the freight train broke down and the conductor announced that we were stopping for a short time to wait for a new engine that I lost both my patience and my ability to sleep.  For three hours, the train did not move and all that was left to do was listen to Daniel’s flatulence, the continuous bathroom breaks my neighbor would take through the night and the sweet sound of multiple strangers snoring.  At some point I fell asleep but I have must have rolled over and now was face to face with a 14 year old’s un-brushed teeth.  Johnny’s braces must have captured the Amtrak dining contents and some leftover Pringles and popcorn from the afternoon.  The aroma was intoxicating in a really bad sort of way.  God I love that kid but I am sorry ANY 14 year old, not just mine, needs to brush those suckers a minimum of twice before bed.  As I could not sleep I took the opportunity to stare this this once little boy and wonder how I was lucky enough to be his Mother.  Danny thought it would be funny to wake us by throwing all sorts of stuff at us from the top bunk.  Funny man knew I could not get up there and get him.  Breakfast time!

Carbs, carbs and more carbs were on the menu for the breakfast on the now several hours delayed train.  Our families met for what was supposed to be a quick meal before we got to Florida but now we were sadly only in North Carolina.  After some crumb cake, cereal, bagels and some high sugar drinks we were ready for several more hours on the train. Christian’s sugar intake was at an all time high and would later prove to be difficult to deal with trapped on a train. Our nice waitress served us again and I think at this point was starting to get really sick of us loud inmates.  But hey, we had to make the best of it.  I decided to ask her if there would be provisions for lunch as we were now not expected to get to our destination until about 3pm.  She quickly responded we have cans of beef stew on the train for situations like this.  My mind immediately went to a dinty more can and the Hormel logo and I thought this can’t be good.  Again Donald looks at me and makes some stupid comment about me being upset about food.

At this point I have  several more hours on a train, I am not in the sun and the beef stew for lunch is only going to cause more passenger flatulence and I just wanna get there.  The next few hours before our lunch were filled with naps, a family game of heads up and more adult beverages.  Along with hours of Christian saying I am not eating beef stew, I don’t eat beef, I wont eat anything on a train from a can.  A good time was had by all.  Off to lunch we went where we were instructed by cousin Mike that this is like survivor at this point there will be NO WASTED FOOD.  All family members are requested to provide any leftovers to the adult table as this was serious now.  We were met by our friend the lovely waitress who now has to hear Chrissy.  I am not eating this, I will not do this, you cant make me…. So I decide let me play the “my child has dietary needs.”  Excuse me lovely waitress that is feeding me meat from a can for $1000 my son is a vegetarian, do you have any other options?  She walks away and Chrissy asks the waiter if there are any chicken nuggets leftover from last nights dinner?  The man turns to ask lovely waitress lady and she looks at me with daggers in her eyes like I thought the kid was a vegetarian… Well to shut the kid up lovely waitress served Chrissy multiple plates of bread and butter and his little belly was filled.  We all enjoyed out beef stew, brown rice and vegetable medley as much as one can enjoy meat in a can on vacation.  Cousin Michael ate Christian’s unwanted bowl and there was not one starving family member.  Lovely waitress lady and I said our goodbyes and we were almost at our destination.

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Our quest for fun was within reach, our pilgrimage to see a mouse was almost here.  Ma are we there yet?  Yes kids I don’t give a frogs ass how we got here but its 80 degrees and the sun is shining pack your bags we are ready to break out of this train!

 

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What’s the score?

12961466_10153794518308001_4884120917281900007_nIt has recently occurred to me that an approximate 50% of my life has been spent on some sort of ball field.  First, it was the  soccer field as a young lady traveling all over Long Island.  Later playing for Sea Cliff Little League with Mrs. Barbara Brown, our coach.  Barbara is the mother of one of my closest friends Kelli Brown, Barbara coached “Super 7 Ice Cream.”  Greatest part of being on that team was the unlimited amount of ice cream we consumed after our games.  I can still remember marching in the Sea Cliff Little League parade with my friends as that was the way we celebrated opening day.  The ceremonies at Clifton Park are vivid memories I will never forget.  I can close my eyes and smell the fresh cut grass and hear the poor loud speaker system that would announce our names.  My sister Laura and brother Joey played in the same league as well so opening day was a family affair filled with screaming and cheers from Mom and Dad looking on proudly at his ball players.  Later there was our Middle School and High School teams where we all played for what seemed like an eternity.  Mom absolutely never missing one game and Dad only missing if he had to work but showing up late with his work clothes and a fresh cup of coffee for Mom, milk one sugar of course.  I can hear Mom screaming calling out my name that sounded like ChriSTAINa and her very loud unique whistle when I made an exceptional play or smacked the crap out of the ball.  Same sort of screaming went on for  Laura and Joey on the field, Laura’s Mom scream name was LAW and Joey was just always Joey. Well here I am now some almost twenty five years later on the field screaming for my Danny Boy and my Chrissy Mac.  While John does not play sports he is very much into theater and that does not allow one to scream so I make up for it when I drop him to school screaming I love you Johnny Boy.  Don’t ever want to have him to feel that he did not get ample Mom yelling as a child that may lend to his later life therapy sessions.

Janice of 1989 is now the Christina of 2016.  There I am at each game screaming and yelling for all the boys on the field.  Albeit I am learning the sport of Lacrosse and Chrissy has a gag order on me at the moment.  As I sit and watch these games I am feeling a bit distracted and quite possibly not as focused as Janice was.  I am pretty sure I have self diagnosed attention deficit syndrome.   Here is a sample of how these games go:

1st Inning:

Go Legends!  Set up my chair and get ready to watch the game.  Say hi to all my fellow Legends families and settle in.  I am top of my game at this point, I know the batting order, who is playing what position etc.

2nd Inning:

John- Is this almost over?  Can I have a snack?  What is for dinner?

Go Danny Boy!  Good eye… Good Eye….

3rd Inning

Christian- Ma I am hungry.

There are snacks in the bag.

I want a hot dog.

I have no money on me.  Ask your Father.

Ma- Dad said he is in the dugout and he is trying to coach a game that he has no money on him for me to ask Grandpa.

So ask Grandpa.

I don’t want to ask Grandpa.

Your outta luck kid.

Ma but I am hungry and I did not eat.

Not my problem.

Fellow Legend Mom goes to her purse to politely shut Christian up and says here go get a hot dog. Grandpa gives him some money to keep the kid from asking for the one millionth time!!

What’s the score?

4th Inning

What IS for dinner?  I am so sick of the same thing.  Wonder what she is making for dinner.  She is so skinny.  I bet she is making kale and couscous and salmon.  I have chicken cutlets.  Maybe I will make them.  I really should not fry so much.  Did I put those clothes in the laundry?  Kids have to stop putting everything in the hamper.  I better take off my sunglasses I will have raccoon  eyes by the time this game is over.  GO DANNY BOY!  Nice swing!  What a shot!  GO LEGENDS!  I totally have nothing for the boys for lunch tomorrow.  Donald likes wheat bread but I think I only have white.  Really should not buy white, I bet she does NOT give her kids white.  I really need to loose weight.  I will get flax seed wraps instead.  What is a flax seed? I don’t want to go to stop in shop, I feel like I live there.  Wonder how many gas points I have earned.  Is this week a pay week?  I really should pay attention.  NOWAH!  What a hit!  RBI !!!  Come on boys lets win this game!

Ma- now I am thirsty do you have anything to drink?

What’s the score?  What inning are we in.  Go Danny Boy!

5th Inning

My legs hurt I need to move around.  DJ is shouting out the line up for the 11U Port Washington Legends.  He gives me a look like I am working here what do you want.  I stare in awe of the dedication he has to our boys.  How can I be so lucky to have married my best friend.  Oh yeah Shannon I need to call her we can never seem to get together these days.  I wonder if she is free next week? Oh no next week is the Chamber Choir for Johnny.  Does he have any shirts that fit his neck?  He is 6’2″ now and nothing fits anymore.  Maybe I have things at the dry cleaner, but Donald is smaller then him.  He really needs new sneakers I will get him new sneakers.  Hey girls like my new sneaker?  What IS for dinner?  Maybe I will make something on the BBQ.  What inning are we in?  What’s the score?  Danny Boy is at the plate again pay attention ChriSTAINa!

6th Inning

How many innings do we play again?  I forget every year.  Is there a run rule?  I think we are winning by a lot.  If I could just focus I would know the score and what inning we were in.  I think there is a time limit.  If there is a time limit we are almost done.  Who has steak on sale let me google that, I am in the mood for steak.  I turn to look at my phone and there is Christian on the swings playing with the other siblings.  Smiling laughing and despite the I hate baseball comments this morning he is having a blast.  Oh wait this is the 6th inning.  i think we are almost done.  Love watching these boys.  Love chatting with these Moms and Dads.  I need to work on my focus.  Danny Boy is on the mound.  Oh no the pressure is on.  Wait I am not sure of the score.  My little Mariano Rivera… Boy if he practiced a little more he would be some pitcher.  Look at his arm, throwing heat!  Wow he has gotten so tall.  Look at his stride.  Go Danny Boy!  With my heart in my hands and my pride on the mound I try to really focus for these last few outs.

Legends win!  Whata game.  What a team effort.  Let’s go boys pack up your things time to head home.  This is the best times of our lives, can’t wait till the next game.

Hey Don…..What WAS the score?

 

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Good Morning Snow Day

This is Dr. Kathleen Mooney with an important message from the Port Washington School District. Due to poor road conditions, all schools will be closed on Friday, February 5, 2016. Please exercise caution and stay safe. Ahh the sweet sound of the good Dr.’s voice is music to the ears of the three boys of Graywood. After two calls to the house, two to my cell, two to Donald’s cell, and the fire whistle blow we were all well aware that today the children will be home from school. I decided to get a jump on the day, since the good Doctor made multiple calls not allowing anyone to get back to sleep. I sent a quick text to my severely sleep deprived sister asking if, since she is on maternity leave, when the boys wake could they spend the day with her.  She was beyond excited at the thought of spending the day with five boys under the age of 13.  So off to work I went leaving the boys to sleep in with Nana upstairs and a plan in place for my day.

Made it to work without a problem and began to enjoy my hot coffee and my computer in silence at 6:30 am. 7AM- text from Daniel – Mom is there school today.  – No, so please go back to sleep. Nana is upstairs, call me when you wake up.  Back to work I go, concentrating on the task at hand. 8AM – phone call from Chrissy – you said to call you when I woke up and I just wanted to tell you I am awake.  OK Chrissy stay away from each other no fighting, eat something, Nana is upstairs you will be going to Aunt Laura’s when Johnny wakes up. Ok Mommy I love you.  He melts my heart and again I drift off to my project and await the teenagers call that he too is awake.

My Mother in Law called to say her job was closed and the boys could hang out with her.  So again I settle back into my project knowing this was just going to be a PJ’s and TV day for the boys. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when I had a snow day I was home with my stay at home Mom and we played with the neighborhood kids had hot chocolate and thats about it. My kids and pretty much all kids these days need to be constantly entertained. And with todays technology the rest of my day pretty much went like this….text-after-text-after-text.

Mom can I bring the XBox upstairs? Oh so the basement 52″ TV is not good enough for your game playing?

Mom can I go to my friends? No I cannot drive you.

Mom he won’t leave me alone. Please stop fighting.

Mom- Dad said i could buy a $10 game on his credit card if its ok with you. No.

Mom – Don’t forget you need to write me a one page summary for my confirmation on what the Catholic church means to you and how you will continue to raise me in my faith and keep the promises you and Dad made at my Baptism. Due this week.

Mom – What’s for dinner?

Mom- There is no more white bread only wheat and Chrissy won’t eat that.

Mom – Nana is making me farina and I love when she makes it for me.

Mom – I have a sore throat can I take an advil?

Mom – There is no food in this house!

Mom – It still hurts can I take another advil?

Mom- You did not answer what’s for dinner?

Mom- When are you going to the store there is no food here, not even any Nutella left.

On my lunch break I respond…… I AM WORKING BOYS PLEASE STOP TEXTING.

OK Mom but I want you to remember that you need to sign the sheet for my class so that you can attend my ancient Egyptian workshop next week- oh well I don’t think I can attend because your brother has a squid dissection workshop and I have an appointment with my accountant for my taxes. I will call Aunt Laura to see if she can do Egypt or the squid but my lunch is over and I gotta go.

The afternoon at work went quickly and I was headed home to grab the boys to go grocery shopping since I was placed on notice that my supplies were very low.  Well, not one of those rotten little men wanted to help me at the store, but I got them to go.  While in the store, I was roped into buying all sorts of goodies that I don’t normally buy. In fact, my cart was overflowing with food I had to have them each carry loaves of bread and such so they would not get crushed in the cart. Rolling to the finish line I ran into a woman I know from the neighborhood and I said to her “can I trade my cart for yours?”  Her’s had a few items and some dog and cat food. She told me she would take my cart any day because it means that I have a full house. She told me that she remembers well the days of the full carts and the empty wallet.  The silence in her home is deafening she told me and I should look at the large grocery bill as a blessing.

I suppose one day I will look back at the large grocery bill as a blessing for right at this very moment I would prefer the PowerBall as my blessing.

 

 

A family of Legends

Tradition, community, friendship and family. No summer league represents baseball’s virtues better than the Port Washington Youth Activities Baseball League the Legends. Since the League’s inception, several generations have come through the system. This summer it’s the Alexander’s turn to share in  the family connections and for us they have been extraordinary.   Growing up I can remember that my parents shared many a dinner and I many ice cream cone with the families Joey, Laura and I played softball/baseball with.  In fact many of those families are still in our lives sharing in the excitement of what is the new generation of ball players.  My parents made life long friends and us kids made life long friendships as well.  Now we are reliving those connections with our new found Legends family.

There are so many life lessons to be learned on the baseball field.  It teaches us so much about  qualities such as consistency, perseverance and focus and teaches us about those people who surround us, such as how they support, encourage and inspire us.   When children face a curve ball in life the skills learned on the field can translate to everyday life.  Baseball teaches us about leadership and what happens when there is a confident and consistent coach leading the team.  Baseball teaches us that hard work not only translates to improved play but improved self worth.  But to me by far the greatest lesson Baseball teaches the importance of community for both the player and the parents.

With Danny Boy away at camp, Donald and I continue to attend the Legends games to both fulfill Donald’s coaching commitment and my cheerleader commitment.  Last night the Legends played an outstanding game.  The pitching was top notch, players in unfamiliar positions due to kids out sick or at camp played their hearts out and the game ended in a heartbreaking loss in extra innings.

My Mother was always the loudest and vibrant fan for my siblings and I and I have followed in her foot steps.  You will always hear me cheering loudly for my Danny Boy and all the boys on the team.  But last night with my Danny away I asked some of the boys if I could cheer just as loudly for them.  There is another boy on the team who is named Daniel.  I asked him if I could call him Danny Boy for the night he smiled and gave me a thumbs up while Benjamin yelled “Mrs. Alexander please call me Benny Boy.”  The center fielder Ryan called me over to tell me that he had been bored in the outfield tonight but that was OK because our man Jasper was killing it on the mound.  With our  teams head dugout cheer leader Tal cheering away for his team I overhear Noah (the catcher) telling Jasper (the pitcher) his signs for setting up the ball inside or out.  All while a new member of the team Aidan is smiling ear to ear cause he normally does not play first base and he just had two nice grabs.  Next my little friend Ethan is calling me over to ask what house my Danny is in for the upcoming middle school year and all the boys are a buzz about Weber Middle School.  Then there is my man Isaac who recently had a arm injury and is on “light duty” for the Legends.  I think Isaac thinks I am one crazy Mom, anything I say he looks at me and smiles and it simply warms my heart.  After the game was over the boys were all asking us how two of the other boys were who missed the game today.   Chris who had an ankle injury and Owen who was not feeling well.  They pulled out their cell phone and were texting on their “Legends” group to let the other boys know about the disappointing loss and to see how their teammates were feeling.  They were all truly concerned with their teammates well being.  The sense of community was palpable.

On the bleachers are continuously the many family members cheering on all the boys.  We all seem to share in each victory and defeat.  Grandparents and Parents, brothers and sister’s all cheering on their favorite Legend.  Recently a set of Grandparent’s were at the game and the Grandmother told me “I’m not an athletic person and I don’t even understand most the rules of the game. I’ve been clueless for years on the game of baseball, but I’ve sat and cheered for the team regardless.  My clue-less-ness has brought on plenty of laughter to those around me. ”  Another Grandmother told me she much prefers Hockey its a faster game and she gets easily bored with baseball.  My own Mother in law joins us for some games and proudly reports that she has no clue whats going on yet she looks to see when I clap and then she knows she should be clapping too. The sense of community is palpable.

Last night I found myself hugging someone else’s husband as their child missed a ball.  While last week I was hugging and jumping with another Mom as Danny Boy shot a bomb of a homer over the fence for his first out of the park home run.  At the end of last nights game I was on my hands and knees drying off the tears of a young man who’s Mom could not make the game and by my side was another Mom hugging him and letting him know it’s going to be ok that we lost. Across the field was yet another Mom jogging to that boys  car to greet him and give him a  hug before he left.  She wanted to remind him that we are a team and no win or loss is because of one person we are in this together.  The three coaches gathered the boys before we left and with arms wrapped around each other praised these little men on an outstanding performance against a club team that is made up of the best of the best ball players.  The dedication shown by these coaches has been top notch.  Coaching at all levels involves much more than making out the lineup, batting practice, or coaching third base. Coaching involves accepting the tremendous responsibility you face when parents put their children into your care.  The sense of community is palpable.

Legends

Camp Mom and Dad

Johnny Angel, Danny Boy and Chrissy Mac are all currently residing in an Upstate NY summer Camp operated by Local Union #3 IBEW called Camp Integrity.  Our kids had mixed feelings about going to camp for the first year, although it was Danny’s second year: They were excited, but also scared. “TWO WEEKS!?” Chrissy cried when I told him what, to me, was great news: They were going to summer camp! “They have kayaking and arts and crafts!” I said cheerfully, trying to drum up excitement. “And archery and fishing!  I’ve never been kayaking myself, You’ll get to do it before I do!”  For weeks we spent evenings talking with Dan asking questions about what to expect.  And for weeks Chrissy said “I am not going.”  John sat quietly during most discussions soaking in all the information and wondering if he made the right choice to attend.  All while Mommy and Daddy planned to break out of the routine, reconnect and rekindle.

The drop off went well, the packing was a nightmare yet in the end they all had what they needed.  I am already having anxiety about the amount of laundry I will need to do when they get home.  Johnny’s bunk is a short walk from where his younger brothers are.  Walking in teenagers were all over the place, throwing footballs, Frisbees and  playing music.  We settled him in and then moved to the area where the younger boys would bunk.  Donald and I settled Chris and Dan into their individual bunks and said of goodbyes.  I told Chrissy where all his items were stored so he would know what I packed for him.  I ended with these are your water shoes for the lake.  He said I told you I am not swimming in the lake.  His counselor said swim test in thirty minutes…..it was in that moment that I thought no fighting with Chrissy for two weeks.  This poor guy has to deal with his I am not doing that attitude.  I silently smiled and gave my hugs and kisses and off we went to make sure John was all settled in.  John was talking to his counselor who came all the way from England through an exchange called camp America and I was happy to see him connecting with him.  We gave our hugs and off we went to break out of the routine, reconnect and rekindle.

So why send my three boys away for two weeks.  The thing is, I believe that it is important to challenge our children in todays world. To get them truly outside of their comfort zones so that they can grow and mature.   Our desire to challenge our kids was reinforced in our belief that kids who always have problems solved for them believe that they don’t know how to solve problems.  You have to let your child ride their bike and fall.  Why? Because they need to learn how to manage that fall and get back on the bike.  We are sending them the message that we believe that they can manage those falls along with emotions like loneliness, homesickness, and anxiety. I believed that they could, at the tender ages of 13, 11 and 9, handle these difficult emotions themselves, without me standing over their shoulders telling them to relax. As awful as it sometimes feels to me, they simply don’t always need me there, telling them what to do and what to think and how to react.

UNPLUGGING!  Yet another reason we were interested in sending the boys away.  Tuning into nature is something they just are not programed to do in todays world.  I know they will have tried dozens of new activities, took on new challenges, and learned to accept their discomfort as a part of their growth without their iPods, iPad and iPhone’s!    We are all well aware of the effects of too much screen time on our own ability to concentrate and our social interactions. And we don’t want that for our Boys.

In the five short days the kids have been away reconnecting has been the theme.  Not only has this given Donald and I to reconnect as husband and wife, it has allowed us to reconnect with our “former selves.”  We have had dinner with family, drinks with our Fire Department friends, planned playdates with some old friends and set aside alone time to fall in love all over again.  Next week I have even scheduled us to do a shift at Fire Medic’s for Ambulance duty just like old times.

Sending your children away to camp requires a leap of faith and the anxiety of it all will be worth it. It requires an ability to manage the emotional discomfort that comes with not-knowing, not-controlling, not-checking—it requires just trusting. But I’m comfortable with that discomfort.  But mostly I am comfortable with the new found temporary silence, full fridge, full checking account, full tank of gas, empty laundry basket and date nights with Donald John.

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Manorhaven Mail

Dear Butt Hole

Danny: Mom do you know what Manorhaven mail is?

Me: Yes it’s when students send mail to each other.

D: Well Christian mailed me a letter today.  Check it out.  Its starts with Dear Butt Hole….

#AuntTina’sLOVES

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I believe it was 2006 when I found out the news that my first Niece was to be born in early 2007.  My sister in law, Kim, told us and I jumped so high I nearly hit the fan as it spun in my kitchen.  All I could think of was all the fun times I had with my aunts and uncles as a little girl and how I could not wait to share that same experience with my nieces and nephews.  The most beautiful little girl was the first to join the bunch; Ava followed by the equally beautiful ,Ella, a few short years later. Amazing to me how the genes work.  To me, Ava is a mirror of her father and Ella her mother.  Ava is feisty and has tons of spunk.  Ella is softer spoken and is more shy.  Mothers always wish the worst of their children’s qualities someday get to bite you in the ass and I suppose Ava is giving Stephen a run for his money much like John does to me.  All we can do is wish the same on them and hope we live to see it.

Prince Michael Joseph joined the gang in 2014 and is almost a year old now.  I am not sure where that year went.  MJ, as I call him, has been walking since 9.5 months and is the light of my life.  We are BFFs and my boys and Ava and Ella totally adore him.  Just this past week on May 22nd, Prince Nicholas James has entered the bunch and my heart is so filled with Joy.  You always think that you love these babies so much how can there be room for more.  Well, the heart stretches and makes room for more, because this little man has stolen my heart at 4 days old.

 

Today I decided I wanted to let Suzanne rest, so I would take Nicholas to my house with Michael and I would make my dinner, a dinner for her and Jimmy, and do some laundry.  I clearly was not thinking straight, as I had two babies under the age of one in my custody.  Michael went in for a nap and I had some snuggle time with Nicholas.  I got dinner started and then my boys got off the bus.  Michael woke up and I put him in his chair for some lunch and then placed Nicholas next to him for the picture above.  MJ looked over the high chair and gave Nicky a look like who the hell are you in my Aunt Tina’s house????  I can tell already they will be BFFs and poor Ava and Ella just can’t get a girl in the bunch!  After a busy afternoon of diaper changing, bottle feeding, watermelon in the hair, cereal crushed on the floor, cooking my dinner, cooking Suey’s dinner, more diaper changing, quick baby showering to get said watermelon out of hair, do-your-homework fighting, eat your green beans fighting, you-really-need-a-shower fighting, an “oh crap I think I put bleach in the color load of laundry” panic attack, making lunches, unclogging the toilet, and a trip on a baseball bat just now… I would not change anything in the world.  A hectic life is a full life.  

These four babies make me the happiest girl in the world… Oh and my three too.  Most times.

 

 

Cools ~ The Boop ~ Joe Fatz

Recently my father Joe has learned how to use FaceBook.  You know him he is the guy THAT WRITES IN ALL CAPS-POP.  He is enjoying catching up with the day to day Alexander Adventures as well as catching up with old friends.  He recently found his old friend John Swift on FaceBook and a few weeks ago John found me through a thread my father had started on motorcycles.

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Me and my Aunt Annie Marvullo-Himmler 1982 ish.

John writes on the thread “Hey Cools” and I was instantly transported to 8 Maple Street in Glenwood Landing.  Cools that was my name my father gave me as a little girl.  Mostly because I apparently enjoyed running around in my diaper or with nothing on and my “coolie” was hanging out.  I have no idea how he could have even remembered that but boy did it bring a smile to my face.  John or “Jackie” as I remember was the son Mr. and Mrs. Swift who lived a few houses away.  He would be often found at my house visiting on his motorcycle and chatting with Mom and Dad while they were outside doing yard work.  After I closed my computer for the night after hearing from Jackie I began to tell the boys stories of my child hood at 8 Maple and the great times that we had with our neighbors and friends.

The boys asked me more about why my name was Cools and I explained to them how we all got names from Dad.  Dad and I were best buds for years, I was his fishing buddy, his gardening buddy, his lets watched a baseball game buddy and lets go to the store for a pack of cigarettes and drink a six pack at the beach parking lot buddy.  Laura was the most girly of girls “The Boop” she was nicknamed after the sassy Betty Boop.  I can just see little Laura running around all dressed up in Mom’s heals flipping her hair all around and putting on Moms makeup.  She was always a girly girl and me not so much.   Then came the Prince, the apple of my Fathers and Mothers eye Joseph Christian.  Well Joey was dubbed  “Joe Fatz” cause till this day the kid is so filled with hot air and gas.  He stunk up a room then and can clear a room now.

Some of my favorite memories of 8 Maple was summers doing yard work as a family.  The front of our home had a brick wall at street level.  We lived on a very steep hill and our home was just at the top of the hill.  Boy that hill killed me and my friend Kelli so many times as we ran after baseballs down the hill scratched up our knees and went home bleeding from playing stickball.  The wall in front was a great place to hang out with your friends and share a homemade tupper wear ice pop made by Janice.  Dad had perfectly trimmed bushes along that wall and our job as kids would be to pick up all the trimmings when he would cut them several times a year.  We had a beautiful half wrap around porch on our home with beautiful old style spindles that Mom would paint what seemed like every year.  In front of the porch was a large patch of pachysandra a low growing groundcover plant that seemed to cover a large portion of the yard. The back yard was just beautiful, plant after plant filled the parameter of the rear yard.  Dad built a shed next to his garden but this was no normal shed.  Dad had running water in there, a telephone and cable TV.  He wanted his man cave to be a escape location from us crazy kids.  Dad built a railroad tie box next to his shed it had to be twenty feet long and fifteen feet wide for his beloved garden.  Summers were simply awesome with the fresh Roma, beefsteak  and cherry tomato’s, green beans, peppers (sweet and hot), basil, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce and the list goes on and on.  Mom would go out and pick fresh veggies for dinner every night.  In August all the neighbors were happy because there was simply too much and Mom was giving away what she could not freeze.  August was my favorite time also because with all the veggies Mom would make ciambotta an Italian vegetable stew, I can sill see the pot steaming and smell the garlic roasting.  Dad had a huge compost pile that we would bring the veggie scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells and newspaper too.  Dad would turn it every few days and he made the most amazing soil for his plants.  The plant’s that he began to grow in the winter in the basement under the lights in ice cube trays.

Mom and Dad made a good team, well at least most of the time they did.  Funny how I see DJ and I working together in the yard just like they did.  I have my little Town of North Hempstead composter and my little corner next to my Home Depot shed where today I grow a pretty good Roma and some killer cherry tomatoes.

Thanks Mr. Jackie Swift for remembering Cools, The Boop and Joe Fatz…. The memories will live in my heart forever.

 

6 to 40

August 20, 2005 my 30th birthday.  I can recall being VERY pregnant with Chrissy Mac and on complete bed rest.  DJ and Laura and the family had planned a super sized 30th surprise in my Father’s Glenwood home.  All to be cancelled because my feet resembled two large tree trunks. My blood pressure was off the charts and i was running after a 3.5 year old Johnny and a 15 month old Danny Boy.  As I spend my days these days with MJ I often wonder how the hell we did it.  Life was most hectic with three kids under 3.5 years of age.  However me and the old man we really liked each other back then and kept reproducing.

February 20, 2003 my half birthday i was 27.5 years old.   The day we lost my precious Mother Janice.  Suddenly and with out warning just a few weeks after her 50th birthday she was gone.  This past September I went the my friend Matt’s 50th birthday.  A lovely house party thrown by his wife Donna.  As we all stood and sang to him as he blew out his candles and hugged his three beautiful girls I began to sob.  Hysterical at one point I had to leave the house and sit outside and a friend came to me and asked what was wrong I was unable to speak.  I cleared my face of the tears and went back to the party.  On the way home I said to Donald 50 – THAT is what 50 looks like ????  Matt is 50 and that is the face of a FIFTY year old ??? My mother was so young and had missed out on so much life had ahead for her.

I can clearly remember Mom turning 40.  She and some friends were going to see Tom Jones at Westbury Music Fair.  She was all dressed and excited to go see one of her favorite heart throbs.       All I could remember was how dumb is that going to see some old guy sing.  Now I find myself bursting with excitement every time I have 64 year old Billy Joel tickets in my hands.  They would have a little house party a few days later Dad invited the neighbors and some friends to come celebrate.  They would dance around to disco music, drink beer and wine and laugh all night long.  Everyone smoked and the house was filled with the odor of Mom’s Virginia Slim Regulars.  There was a game of poker or some kind of card game in the dining room and a bunch of woman giggling in the living room.   What a silly way I thought to spend your birthday.  Just last week I celebrated my friends 40th at her house where we all had a glass of wine in hand giggling as we danced to disco music till 4am.  Wow who knew.

Now approaching my 40th I can’t help but think back to those 10 years ago as I was turning 30.  Fearful of what middle age would bring.  Well middle age has brought me three amazing boys, an outstanding marriage and quite a few grey hairs.  Middle age has brought me two beautiful Nieces and a completely perfect Nephew with one on the way.  It has taught me to love deeply as tomorrow is never promised.  Middle age has brought me to know the meaning of true friend ship and the deep love and respect I have for those relationships.  Most specifically for my best friend Shannon who constantly reminds me that no matter the distance, the hectic life, the kids, the husbands whatever she loves me and always will.  She has walked though life always by my side.

Statistically I have lived half my life.  With 6 months to go till I am 40 I am looking forward not backwards.  My Mother only had 10 years left at this point I am determined to make the most of the years ahead.