Saturday, April 28, 2012

Those "Awkward" Silences

Earlier this week I was hanging out with some other parents in a hallway waiting for our kids to get out of a music class.  It was totally quiet and everybody was kind of minding their own business.  Some were reading, others were looking at their computers.  A dad (who was also waiting for one of his kids) came walking down the hallway and randomly said, "does anybody here want to sign a petition?"  I don't remember what the petition was for, but I do remember it wasn't a petition I wanted to sign. The other parents kind of acted like they didn't hear him, but I looked over at him and shook my head no.  It was extremely awkward, nobody said anything after the guy said it, complete silence.  I went back to reading my magazine that I had brought, but it made me think of other "awkward" silences, like stepping into an elevator with a bunch of people or waiting in a crowded doctor's office.  Most people don't really know each other and if you do start talking then other people kind of stare at you.  One day this week on my walk, I passed a man I didn't know who was walking his dog.  I looked right him and said, "Good morning, what a beautiful dog!!!"  He smiled back at me and said, "thank you!"  I didn't know this guy from a hole in the wall and I could have blown past him, not acknowledging him.  To me that's just rude! Who cares if you know the person or not, how hard is it to smile or say hi??

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Customer Service

Customer service to me is extremely important. Sometimes it's one strike and you're out!!  Last year on my daughter's birthday we went to a local restaurant. We got terrible service, my stepson got sick from the food he ate and they completely forgot to sing my daughter "Happy Birthday" like we asked them to.  I was so upset about it, that I went home and wrote a letter telling the restaurant manager about our bad experience.  Within a few weeks, I got a letter of apology and a gift certificate.  A handful of years ago, I signed my daughter up for a camp at a pottery place here in town.  When I went in to drop her off for the camp, I was told there was no such camp and the clerk made me feel really stupid!  Again, I wrote a note complaining and I got a gift certificate.  I'm sorry, but a gift certificate is a nice gesture, but I have not been back to either place since my bad experiences and don't plan to anytime soon.  Conversely, I have sent e-mails and called companies to tell them when I get exceptional service.  Just about every company or business out there has a website packed full of information to help you know who to contact or where to write if you have good or bad service. When you go somewhere and you like it, don't you tell other people about it? The same goes if you don't like it too, doesn't it?  Since November of last year, I have been dealing with a travel insurance company on behalf of my father.  When I booked my dad's flight for him to come visit us last Fall,  he purchased flight insurance. My mom ended up being hospitalized during the week he should have been here, so he cancelled the flight.  I thought it would be easy to get his money back. Boy, was I wrong!!  I have sent a few letters, called the company several times, and sent numerous e-mails.  As of today, he still hasn't received his money!  Now, the company will need to stop payment on the check they supposedly sent him a month ago and reissue him another check!! I  really wish I would have checked the Better Business Bureau website before I used this particular company, they have 564 complaints!!!  At this point, I'm like a dog with a bone, I'm not letting go.  That money belongs to my father. When he finally gets his reimbursement check and cashes it at his bank (which hopefully will be in 7-10 business days),  I am sending a note to the president of the company expressing my disappointment in how long this has taken, we are heading towards six months!!! I kind of find that a bit ridiculous, don't you????

Update: my dad FINALLY got his reimbursement check on May 5!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Missing "Pop-Pop"

My father-in-law was such a sweet and gentle soul.  I never called him by his name, Larry, I always called him, "Pop-Pop."  It 's been seven years this month that he passed away.  He was in World War II where he played the saxophone and was a cook.  My father-in-law made the best pork chops and turkey stuffing I have ever eaten in my life.  When my in-laws would visit us from Cleveland, I would treat "Pop-Pop" like a king.  I would always make him french toast and we would linger so long over breakfast that it would almost be time for lunch by the time we were done talking.  To this day, whenever I eat french toast I think of him!!  The picture below was when Lauren was a baby and we were celebrating one of his birthdays.  The whole time I knew him he always looked the same, he never aged! Wish I could say the same for myself!  Check out my HUGE glasses :)

He spent the last three months of his life in the hospital with heart problems.  I remember sitting by his bedside and I would be nursing my son at the same time.  He passed when Dominic was about 9 months old.   I feel so blessed that he got to meet Dominic!! My Dominic was named after my father-in-law's father whose name was also  Dominic.  Pop-Pop also had a brother named Dominic.  I guess you could say the name kind of runs in the family!! When my stepson was younger, my father-in-law would "wrestle" with him until my stepson would say, "Pop-Pop, I give up!"  He would have been incredibly proud to see how well my stepson has done in his career.  Pop-Pop was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and father-in-law.  I particularly miss him this time of year because he had a "green thumb" and we would compare the progress of our respective gardens each Spring/Summer.  He and I would "talk tomatoes."   His tomatoes were always so much bigger and juicier than mine.  He told me the "secret" was mothballs in the dirt. The watering can below belonged to my father-in-law.

I read sometimes how people don't get along with their in-laws.  I can probably count on one hand how many times I didn't get along with my father-in-law.  It was very rare.  I feel honored and glad I had such a super father-in-law!!  He was truly very special to me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oreos and Ice Cream

A few months ago, I gave up two of my favorite things, Oreos and ice cream.   I routinely ate six or more Oreos a day, plus 3-4 times a week also eat a big bowl of ice cream after dinner.  Back in November when the doctors discovered my cardiomyopathy and irregular heartbeat, they put me on a low-salt, low-cholesterol diet. At my 3-month checkup, my cardiologist told me my cardiomyopathy wasn't any worse, but it wasn't any better either. He did mention that he still didn't like my cholesterol "numbers."  He said when I see him again in May if the "numbers" aren't what he would like them to be, he will be adding another medication to the three I am already taking!!  When I heard that, I decided I really needed to do something different.  I have made a real conscious effort to watch my salt and cholesterol intake and to try and walk 20 minutes a day. During Spring Break, we went to a resort that had all-you-can-eat buffet type meals.  To give Dominic some familiarity in an unfamiliar place, we sat in the same general area at each meal.  I'm not kidding when I say we were literally five feet from the dessert table all week.  I didn't eat any of it the entire vacation!! I think my heart is breathing a sigh of relief that I have decided to make better food choices. I allow myself an occasional treat (earlier this week I went to Arby's), but I do it in moderation.  I don't want to feel like I'm depriving myself.  As an added benefit from eating healthier, I have lost 13 pounds so far.  My goal is to lose another 37 by the time I turn 50 in July 2013!!  I want to have lost 50 pounds by the time I'm 50!! An added  incentive is that I want to be able to fit nicely into the dress below so my hubby can take me out for a "night on the town" on my birthday next year!!  Believe it or not, before I got pregnant with Dominic, I could fit into this dress!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Driving with a Teenager, Part Two

It's exactly six weeks until Lauren turns 16.   As soon as my daughter was the legal age to get her learner's permit back at the end of  last summer, we went and got it.  She and I tried a handful of times to go out together but I was too much of a "Nervous Nellie" and got her so stressed out that she was convinced she was a bad driver.  Her dad has been taking her out as many Sunday afternoons as he could.  I really appreciate him doing that while I got over all my anxiety about her being behind the wheel.  This past Friday, I decided to bite the bullet, put all the anxiety behind me and let her drive home from school.  I told her that I would try not to grip the side of the car, yell out or do anything else that might have really distracted her.  I put my arm up once, but that was it on the 20 minute drive back to our house.  I'm happy to report that she did amazing!! Her father taught her well.  It's hard for me to remember back to when I first learned to drive, it's been over 30 years ago.  I do know that I flunked the driver's test twice, once for not being able to parallel park and another time because I couldn't do a three-point turn.  I did get it the third time, so I guess three times the charm!  A lot of her friends are in the same boat, they are all trying to get the required hours needed for their license which is a lot!! It seems like I am always in the car running her around somewhere, so I'm looking forward to letting her be my "chauffeur" for a while!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Can't We All Just Get Along???

I get so tired sometimes of the stay-at-home mom versus working mom debate.  The so called, "Mommy Wars." When I heard about Hilary Rosen  (a political pundit) making the comment about Ann Romney, "never working a day in her life" because she stayed home with her five sons, it kind of got me riled up.   I worked right up until about two days before Lauren was born in 1996.   Since then, I have been a stay-at-home mom.  I have had moms tell me they would rather work than be home with their kids and I know moms that would love to be home with their children, but can't for various reasons.  I've met working moms that didn't like me for the sole reason I stay home with my kids. They didn't even give me a chance to be their friend!! I admire working moms, especially single moms.  I have a close friend who is a working, single mom and I think she walks on water.  She is an incredible, amazing and loving mother to her daughters.  I went through what was one of the worst and toughest times of my entire life about a year and half ago.  She gave me tons of support and was there for me whenever I needed her.  I will be forever grateful to her.  She has been a working mom roughly about the same amount of time that I have been a stay-at-home mom.  We get along like two peas in a pod.  When I hear a comment like what Hilary Rosen said, it makes me scratch my head and wonder, can't we all just get along? Shouldn't we be helping and supporting each other in this thing called motherhood? Aren't we all just moms trying to do the best  "job" we can raising our children? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I did something this week that I haven't done in a long time. I did some ironing! Back when I first started working and before I met my hubby, I used to iron my work clothes frequently.  Many a early morning was spent sitting on the floor ironing my clothes before I went to work.  When I married my husband, I told him I would do just about any household chore but ironing. He knew that if he needed a shirt ironed, he could do it himself or take it to the dry cleaners.  He started buying shirts that didn't require ironing :)  My daughter wears a uniform to school and I noticed that her two oxford shirts were really wrinkled and badly in need of ironing.  It took me a minute or two to locate my iron.  When I pulled it out of the box, it had black gunk of an undetermined nature on the plate.  Thankfully, the owner's manual was still in the box and after some troubleshooting, I got it clean with just soap and water.  I plugged it in and surprisingly it still worked.  The next thing I needed to do was to pull out the ironing board.  I am not kidding when I say there was at least one inch of dust on it.  I ironed one of her shirts and it definitely looked better without all the wrinkles.  While ironing the other shirt for about 15 minutes, I noticed no more wrinkles were coming out, in fact it looked exactly the same.  It was then I realized the iron had come unplugged from the wall!  After plugging it back in and ironing it for another 15 minutes the wrinkles finally all came out.  Ironing is kind of like riding a bike, it's something you never forget!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

That's Cathy with a "C"

Whenever I have to give my name, either over the phone or when I meet someone for the first time,  I always have to say, that's Catherine or Cathy with a "C."  The name Catherine was pretty darn popular the year I was born (1963).  In one of my classes in high school, I was one of  five or six Cathy's.  Katy, Katie, and Kate are all more popular versions of Katherine or Catherine now.  People just automatically want to put a "K" not a "C" when they spell my name.  When my daughter, Lauren, was born, I briefly toyed with the idea of spelling her name a little different (Lauryn),  but then thought she would be forever telling people the right way to spell her name. When Dominic was born, I didn't realize there was more than one way to spell his name. There is Dominick and Dominik.  My stepson goes by his middle name, not his first name.  Back in my early 20's,  I went through a phase where I really liked the name "Tiffany Crystal" for a girl. I still do like that name.  It's pretty interesting when a celebrity has a baby.  Gwyneth Paltrow naming her daughter, Apple, for example. That's not a first name I would have picked.  The musician Frank Zappa named his oldest daughter, "Moon Unit."  Wow, what a moniker to have!  He named his other three kids some pretty unusual names too.  I guess I really shouldn't complain too much about having to remind people that my name is Cathy with a "C!!"  What are some of the most unusual names you've ever heard of?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dominic and Haircuts

One of Dominic's least favorite things to have done is getting his hair cut.  When it was time for his first haircut, he was probably about 1 1/2 or 2 years old.  He got himself so worked up (crying and gagging) that the barber could barely complete the haircut.  We attempted again six months later and he kept trying to get out of the chair and run out the door.  It wouldn't have been too big of a deal, except the barbershop was on a very busy street!!  After that experience, I decided the best thing to do would be for me to cut his hair. When I first started cutting it,  I used a booster seat on the floor and could strap him in so he wouldn't jump up and run around before I could finish cutting it.  He cried for probably the first 5 years every time I needed to cut his hair.  Since he has gotten too big for the booster seat, we started sitting on the floor to do his haircut.  His favorite saying during his haircut is always, "I am all done!!!" He probably says it at least 10 times while I'm cutting his hair.  I think it has something to do with the hair falling on his skin.  It's a sensory issue with him.  He's needed a haircut badly for the past few weeks (as you can tell by the picture above),  but this past Thursday was the first chance I had to cut it.

I like to think I've gotten much better at cutting his hair since the very first time I cut it!  This last time, he didn't really whine, whimper or cry.  I think Dominic has resigned himself to the fact he doesn't have much choice in the matter and complies with me.  Sometime in the future he may be able to handle the barbershop, but in the meantime I will remain his personal "barber." 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just My Opinion

This week on the Today show, the author of the blog and a columnist from the Huffington Post were on talking about the blog.  Her blog has an enormous following.  Thousands and thousands! She just published a book. The definition of scary according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is "causing fright."  Putting scary and mommy side-by-side doesn't exactly give me warm and fuzzy feelings about her blog.  It's quite the opposite.  I am hopping up on my soapbox now and tell you why I am not a fan of her blog. First of all, motherhood is hard and it's tough.  There are days where, yes, you do feel like pulling your hair out!  If you are having a particularly challenging "mom" moment, that is when you take a few deep breaths and step away from your kids to gain perspective.  Second, do these moms that post nasty and unflattering things on the website not think ahead to the future and realize their kids, husband or significant other may read what they wrote someday???  Once you write something and post it on the Internet, it is there FOREVER! Lastly, if your kids are plucking your last nerve, that is when you call a trusted friend and vent!  I guess the ladies that post their innermost thoughts find comfort in writing on scarymommy's website.  More power to those moms.  I certainly don't proclaim to be a "perfect" wife, mother and stepmother.  That is way too hard and stressful.  I just get up every day and try to do my best. I'm getting off my soapbox now, thanks for listening.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I stopped wearing a watch a few years ago.  It seemed to either get scratched, lost or the battery would give out and it cost more to replace the battery than the watch was worth.  Each day always has 24 hours in it, but some days seem to drag, while others zip by.  That never ceases to amaze me.   If you ask any parent out there, no matter how many kids you have, you always wish you had more time to get everything done in those 24 hours.  I think back sometimes to one of my first jobs.  I basically had nothing to do and I literally would sit and watch the clock.  Those clock hands definitely don't move any faster if you're watching them!!!  Don't you sometimes wish you could stop the time? Especially when your kids take their first steps or say their first words? Time marches on whether you want it to or not.  One minute you're changing your kid's diapers, the next thing you know they are heading towards college!!  I have gotten used to not wearing a watch now and don't see myself going back to using one anytime soon.  The hubby grew up in a household where his dad would leave when it was time to be somewhere.  I, on the other hand, had a father that liked to be on time or early.  My husband and I have had many a clash over being "punctual."  I've eased up on him a little over the 21 years that we have been together, but it still kind of bugs me when we are late!!!

My New "Relationship" with the Sun

Long gone are the days that I would sit on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean for HOURS at a time with just baby oil on my skin for prote...