Wednesday, December 30, 2009've been a very good year...

Dear 2009, I have to admit I am sorry to see you go

So many things to be thankful for, I just thought I’d let you know

We started this blog sometime in May

So many things have happened since that momentous day

We’ve shared many stories about Ziggy, Moose and my boy

Because they are the ones who bring us the most joy

Sharon finished her book, no small feat

Now we’re just waiting for that special agent to make her literary dream complete

We’ve met some wonderful people and made great new friends

Just to name a few, the Blackie’s, the Faust’s, the Lapa’s and the Atherton’s.

We purchased a hot tub, ok Sharon and TK actually paid for it

But I’ve got my own spot with a plaque reserving the place where I sit

I met the man of my dreams and fell in love

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank god above

The Beck house has two new rugrats who now call it home

No better parents will they ever find for their own

So I will welcome 2010, and put the old year to rest

But I’ll never forget you 2009, nor the happy memories that I will always cherish

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I never feel relieved when the holidays are over.

In fact, I wish they'd stretch out just a bit longer.

I must confess, I love Christmas. And Easter. And even Thanksgiving.

But Christmas... What other holiday has an entire season dedicated to it?

The best part of Christmas? The memories it creates.

Sometimes it's the little things. Last year I saw the play "Christmas Shoes" for the first time. In the weeks leading up to Christmas our church performed one scene every week at the beginning of Sunday services. I couldn't wait to see the entire performance on Christmas Eve. And it was amazing.

Many years ago Spendy's mother-in-law sang Silent Night in German, the language it was originally written in, during a Christmas Eve service. As the last notes of Silent Night were sung last week and we blew out the candles at the end of the Christmas Eve service I had tears in my eyes, as I always do. My brother-in-law turned to me and said what I was thinking - "I'll never forget hearing my mother Silent Night."

Taking Moose to cut down a Christmas tree for the first time.

The Christmas I let someone else talk me into a scrawny, sad little Christmas tree that try as I might, still looked like the ugly stepbrother to Charlie Brown's tree.

The year Ziggy was allowed to choose her own gift for me. I wore those shiny gold slippers proudly. (But not publicly).

The best Christmas gifts don't have to cost a lot, it's the memories they create. I love the nook I received this year but I'll never forget the year TK framed the wrinkled and torn piece of paper we had written our wedding vows on.

We decorate our tree with ornaments that have withstood years of abuse - from Moose's Baby's First Christmas ornament that has the wrong year written on it to the red handprint from a three year old Ziggy. We have tried to purchase or make a special ornament each year to add to our collection on the tree. The tree whose theme is simply "Us."

Cinamon rolls and orange juice while opening presents. I can't remember a Christmas without them.

Santa wrapping his gifts in special paper that features his smiling, bearded face. Every single year. Something I just recently learned has gone entirely unnoticed by everyone but me.

This year, as we prepared for Christmas with the added bonus of two new members of the family, memories of Christmases past kept coming back while new memories were being created right before me.

We've had a lot of firsts. First Christmas with Moose. First Christmas with Ziggy. First Christmas as a single parent. First Christmas as a blended family. First Christmas without my family. First Christmas at Beck House.

This year we add another first to the list of firsts - our first Christmas with the Rugrats. And with that, so many happy moments and memories to reflect back on in the future.

Isn't Christmas great???

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Dark Side

I always wondered what tempted good people to go bad.

What would bring a respectable, decent, upstanding person to cross that line.

To leave a world of sanity and normalcy.

To voluntarily traverse to a world of sin, despair and darkness.

There are books written on it.

Religious leaders of all beliefs pray, talk and preach about it.

Parents warn their children about it.

Today I wonder no more.

I have found the answer.

The Dark Side has a marketing plan. And it's working.

Caution: they're coming for you next. And I hear they're serving oatmeal chocolate chip.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Gift Card? Oh, you really shouldn't have...

Um seriously? You really shouldn't have.

I have a hate / hate relationship with giftcards and it goes something like this: I hate getting them. I hate giving them.

Sure, I have exceptions to this rule. For example, weddings and anniversaries. Maybe. Especially if you know the couple but don't know the couple.

High school graduations, if the child is not related to you.

Nieces impossible to buy for (yes, you know who you are).

Gift cards for personal services, i.e. babysitting or a home cooked meal.

But when did we become a society that gives what equates to money that can only be spent in a store of our choosing instead of one that gives gifts that are chosen with thought and care specifically with that individual in mind?

I know, I know.

It's easy.

It's convenient.

You're only thinking of them, this way they can pick out what they'd like.

Ok, sure it's easy. But if you really want easy, just don't bother. What's easier than that?

It's convenient? For who??? Not for the person receiving it. Now they have to take that "gift" and go out and dedicate time and effort to purchasing a "gift" that they really want.

Which brings me to my next point - you're thinking of them. Really?

If you know the person well enough to exchange gifts with them, well then, don't you know them well enough to know what to get them? Do you listen when they talk? Or do you talk when they talk?

Been to their house for dinner? Ever notice they make a one-dish casserole every time because they actually only one one dish? Hey, here's an idea - buy them another one!

Know what the best part of a gift is? The surprise!

When I was a single mom purchasing my first home Trixie could have given me a Home Depot gift card as a housewarming gift. She knew I spent every extra nickel and every spare moment at that store.

Instead she bought me a toilet.

She dropped off the toilet and decorated my front yard with a ridiculous number of pink flamingoes when I was at work.

Nothing says "I know you and I love you" like a toilet. Or pink flamingoes for that matter. To this day it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.

Last Christmas TK framed the scrap of paper he had written his wedding vows on. The scrap of paper he had brought back from Nevis and hung on to for over a year.

Ever get teary-eyed when you get a gift card from Applebee's? Yeah, didn't think so.

So this Christmas as you're standing in line at Barnes and Noble with a gift card you picked out just for me here's something to think about - if you don't know me well enough to figure out what would be a memorable and thoughtful gift, then we shouldn't be exchanging presents.

And if you get a gift card from me, well... that's just not going to happen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Feet Don't Smell

It's true.

It dawned on me after my shower this morning as I was putting on a semi-clean pair of socks.

And it hit me.

My feet don't smell.

It was somewhere between an observation and an epiphany.

An epiphservation. Or an observiphany.
Felt the need to share this with you today.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


On December 20th, the boy turns 16.

Our birthday tradition for years has been going to Friendly's for a birthday dinner. I never was a big fan of Friendly's but it was his birthday and his choice where we went to dinner. Every year at this time, I remember the one special year when Ryan was 8. We went to neighborhood Friendly's and as we sat at our table and talked about his day at school we played tic-tac-toe on those color pages that they give kids to stop them from wreaking havoc. That year one of his gifts was a chess set. He loves the game, and we talked about him teaching me how to play. I guess at one point I must have said something about it being his birthday.

After our meal, our waitress came over and told us that our dinner was paid for - including the birthday cake that she had brought to our table. Some very nice gentleman (she pointed him out - I only saw the back of his head as he walked out the door) heard that it was a birthday dinner and our meal was on him. I was shocked. Ryan thought it was the coolest thing. We talked about what a generous thing that was for a total stranger to do as we ate his ice cream birthday cake. Then my boy did the sweetest thing. He said "Mom, can I give one of my balloons to that little boy over there? It's not his birthday but I bet he'd like it because he keeps looking at them". I looked over at a middle aged woman and a little boy about 4 years old. They were sharing a meal, and the little boys clothes seemed a bit ragged. He was smiling when I looked over at him, his mother seemed tired but she talked softly to him as she wiped his face. My eyes got teary (because even though I act like a bad-ass, I really do get emotional about stuff like this). I told him that it was a very good idea. So he gave the little boy his balloon and his face lit up. His mother thanked Ryan and she smiled at me.

As we walked out I stopped at the register and paid for their meal. Ryan asked me why I was paying if someone already bought our meal. I told him since our meal was free, I thought it would be a nice idea to give someone else a free meal too. When we got in the car, he told me that it was the best birthday dinner we've had. I know it was the most memorable for me. Not because I got a free meal, but because of that really cool feeling you get when someone does something completely unexpected...throw in that the someone was a total stranger....then do the same thing for someone else and it just doubles that feeling.

Fortunately he's grown out of Friendly's.... we're stepping it up this year and going to Fudruckers! Woo-hoo! While I won't miss the food at Friendly's, I will fondly remember the kindness of a total stranger and the impact it had on us both.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Great School Debate, round 6. No wait, 7. 8 maybe?

High School.


Ziggy is almost there, according to her age and the chronological order of grade levels.

Ziggy is already there, according to her intellectual aptitude as well her parent-directed attitude.

If we lived in a town where the high school was exceptional there would be no debate. Our public high school would be a great option.

But in our town, not so much.

It was a great school for Moose, who would rather die than have to wear a uniform to school every day (jokes on you Moose, I say to he who wears a tie to work now). Moose was, and still is, a bright boy. School just wasn't his thing and that's ok.

Ziggy however... school is very much her thing.

Kindergarten - already reading, the teacher had Zig tutoring the other kids in colors and the alphabet.

First and second grade - Ziggy wanted extra homework because she was bored. The teacher gave her what the other students did and then a special assignment.

Third grade - after watching some pretty intense surgeries on the Discovery channel, Zig decides she's going to be a doctor.

Throughout grammar school her favorite tv viewing time included watching a c-section, the seperation of conjoined twins and pretty much any type of surgery.

Ziggy's Master Plan takes shape. She will go to medical school at either Harvard, NYU or Stanford (how it's being paid for isn't part of her plan).

Sixth grade - Zig narrows her chosen field down to cosmetic surgery. I try to work out a barter - face lift upon graduation from her medical residency. Maybe a boob job too. No deal.

About this time she also chose her high school. Her decision was based upon some very important factors.

Ok, one important factor.

Her friends, the ones not going to public high school, are going there.

From that time until now Ziggy has made it quite clear. She will be attending Big Catholic High School.

TK and I are not against it.

We are not for it.

We need more information before we can commit one way or another. So together, with Ziggy, we tour four schools.

TK and I quickly eliminate one school, Dilapidated Catholic.

Ziggy loves it, of course. Second only to Big Catholic.

Ziggy quickly eliminates another - All Girl Catholic.

Naturally TK and I are completely smitten with everything about it.

The three of us do agree that Private Elitist Prep is definitely not for Ziggy.

And Big Catholic, Tour Number Four?

As the crowds pushed through the open house of this enormous high school, our tour guides skipped over classrooms that were too congested for us to enter. We nodded to a teacher from afar, his bespectacled face peering out from behind a throng of parents and would-be students.

He looked like a good teacher. He really did.

Hard to tell since we never actually spoke. But his nod was filled with vast knowledge and a deep understanding of the teenage mind. I could just sense it.

The one thing we did see was the gym, which was something out of High School Musical. I almost broke out in song and dance.

The truth is TK and I couldn't make heads or tails out of Big Catholic. If wide hallways and a cool gym were important factors then our decision would be sooo easy.

Sadly, neither were high on our lists.

Now if Zac Efron happened to be a student there, well, that's another story. I would be going back to high school too.

Ultimately TK and I loved the feel of All Girls Catholic. Geographically a bit far for us, we agreed we'd be willing to sacrifice the shorter commute in exchange for a smaller school. A keen sense of community. An annual mission trip. Full immersion languages. Beautiful campus. A freshman sleepover in August to begin the friendships that would blossom over the next four years. High ranking SAT scores. Not to mention college scholarships that averaged 65K per student.

So here we are.

Big Catholic vs All Girl Catholic.

Ziggy applied to both. She wrote her essay for All Girl last night and all I can say is, I'd accept her.

Tuesday she writes her essay for Big Catholic.

I'm fairly confident she will be accepted at both.

I am also fairly confident the next few months will be filled with all sorts of interesting debates and plea bargains.

God help me.

Ziggy, all I can say is if you really want to go to Big Catholic, really, really, really want to go, it's time to bring your A game. Sharpen your debate skills and do your research. Like you said in your essay last night, you need to be in it to win it.

Because this is it.

Decision time.

Oh yeah, it's on.

Let the games begin.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Caroling 2009

It's that time of year again... the Christmas music the malls have been trying to shove down our throats since Halloween is finally not only appropriate but also welcomed.

And who doesn't love a Christmas carol?

This year however, in the spirit of the craziness of the holidays, I have taken the liberty of writing my own words to several of the more well-known carols.

Sing along with me, won't you?

Sung to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Zhu Zhu the wonder hamster
It's what every kid begs Santa for
One more stupid toy craze
Not found in any store.

Sung to Silent Night

Baked Ham, Apple Pie,
Ate so much, Want to die.
Grandma's stuffing, had to try it,
After New Year's, start my diet.
Wearing sweat pants til then,
Elastic waist bands until then.

Sung to Let It Snow

Oh the shopping at the mall is frightful,
And the sales are so delightful,
But since we're all short on dough,
Just say no, just say no, just say no!

Sung to We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish we were in St Kitts,
We wish we were in St Kitts,
We wish we were in St Kitts,
And we'd stay there a year!

Sung to Deck the Halls

In-laws come and never leave,
In law law law law law, law law law law.
Visit too long and I can't breathe,
In law law law law law, law law law law.
Don we now Prozac and valium,
In law law law law law, law law law law.
Washed down with vodka til I am numb,
In law law law law law, law law law law.

Ok, now I'm in the Christmas spirit... :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Playing chicken with love

For those who know me, they know that I am very picky. I don't settle and I am a little hesitent with commitment. I've been single on and off for 8 years now. I am very independent and enjoy the freedom that comes with not being part of a couple. I do what I want, when I want and it has worked for me.

I've always hated dating. I get bored easily. I always find something wrong with the guy, and on rare occasions they find something wrong with me...but I know the truth, it's not me - it's really them. I find most men I've met are quite dysfunctional. I'm sorry but a 40 year old man should not be living at home with his mother. Oh and dude, how can you not have a car? It's not like you live in the city. Then of course there are those guys who want a "Friend with Benefits". Sorry pal, I've got enough friends...and the benefits you're offering really aren't all that beneficial. Um, no I don't believe you when you say your separated but are still living in the same house with your wife for financial reasons. Do chicks really believe that line? And if it is true, then seriously man - work it out with your woman or move on but lose my number please. I truly believed that I would never fall in love, that I just wasn't capable of feeling that way about any man.

Then I met Batman. We are going on 5 months now and I'm still amazed at how happy I am. He is everything I've ever wanted or could have hoped for. My friends tell me I'm glowing when they see me. There is a sort of calm feeling when you're in a normal, healthy, functional relationship. All I can say is that this is what Nirvana must be like. The fact is, I love him.

Sharon of course was the first to know, but I have not told him. I have no intentions of telling him first. I can say it here because he has no idea about this blog. My friend Pookie tells me that I should just throw it out there. I keep telling him that I'm not going to say it first. He insists that it needs to be said. He calls me a wuss. He continues to harass me on a daily basis "did you tell him yet?". All I say is that I don't need to tell him, and I'm in no rush. We are happy, things are perfect just the way they are. When he's ready to tell me he will, I know he's crazy about me. He tells me all the time, and for now that is enough.

It's kind of like the game "chicken". Who is going to be the first to flinch? All I know is, it isn't going to be me!

So I've decided to take a little your relationship - who said "I love you" first?

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Reality

I feel like I've entered a new reality.

Sort of Twilight Zone (the original series. Excellent stuff) meets Sesame Street.

Imagine, if you will, two little people. Little people who speak their own language. A combination of English, gibberish, Hindu and pig latin.

You come from a world of big people. Big people who don't cry when it's time for bed. Big people who do their business in the bathroom, not their pants.

You are comfortable here, in your safe world that you know. But suddenly you are thrust into an alternate universe. A universe that is like the one you came from, only very different.

You have entered the Toddler Zone.

Remember when Doreen redesigned our family room when TK and I were having a date night?

Yeah, well coming home to a houseful of furniture completely rearranged is nothing compared to what it looks like after having two toddlers move in with us.

This time of year I put a pot on the stove with oranges and cloves or apples and cinamon. Or sometimes this awesome candle from Yankee that smells like fresh baked cookies. The house fills with a wonderful aroma that smells so homey.

Right now? Not so much. More like a combination of Desitin and poop, with just a hint of barf.

I can't even tell you how exhausted I have been these past two weeks. I felt the same way last year. But last year I had mono.

This year I have toddler-itis.

Even with mono, by this time last year my ten foot tree was up and fully decorated. My staircase was draped with garland and ribbon. Candle light shone in every window and wreaths hung on every door. Christmas cards were written, stamped and ready to go and my shopping was just about done.

This year... well, your Christmas card may get to you by Easter.

I've gone from making major decisions, running meetings, reading spreadsheets and conversations that begin with "Based on my research, it appears that the best course of action would be..."

To clipping coupons for diapers, comparing brands of apple juice for their sugar content, fighting with a safety device meant to keep kids out of cabinets but instead keeps me out of cabinets and having conversations that begin with "Don't hit your sister, no, no, you can't scratch her either, share that toy, good boy, hands to yourself, wait, let me wipe your nose..."

It took me years to remember to take my car keys, laptop, cell phone, wallet, purse, sunglasses, regular glasses and wedding ring. And sometimes I still forget a thing or two.

Now add to that list diapers, wipes, books, sippy cups, crackers and toy du jour that if you don't bring they will ask for 100 times, like a broken record stuck on that one phrase "Where's Barbie?". 100 times on the 2 minute drive to the store.

The Toddler Zone is crazy, hectic and exhausting. But I have to admit, I'm loving it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Last of the Pie

The last piece of my apple pie is gone and I'm pretty sure the pan was licked clean. The delectable apple pie filled with tender, sweet apples encased in a flaky crust with just a dusting of cinnamon was the point of contention between TK and I this past weekend as he stepped on the scale.

TK insisted I was the cause of his over-the-holidays-weight-gain. I argued the very valid point (in my opinion, which validates it just by the fact that it's my opinion) that I only made the pie, I didn't force him to eat it. Like the people that sue McDonald's for making their calorie and fat laden food too delicious to resist, I stand by my argument that a lack of willpower on his part does not make me the guilty party.

As the great debate raged on it reminded me of another pie-eating, or pie-making, incident.

Read on...