Friday, February 27, 2015

Dropping Crazy.

For the last week of January and the first 3 weeks of February, The Crazy Man took his annual Winter trip to warmer climates.  This go-around had him on an 11 night cruise to the Panama Canal and 3 weeks in Boca Raton, FL.    

Due to much conflict with The Crazy Man’s girlfriend, the whole trip even happening was touch-n-go.  From the planning to the booking of the cruise to even communicating when the plane took off, The Crazy Man kept calling it off.  His threshold for dealing with the girlfriend is at an all-time low.   All of this drama added to the usual hysteria of getting him ready for travel.  The Crazy Man had me counting down the minutes until it was time for the plane to take off.   My fingers and toes were crossed he’d be on the plane.
Fortunately for me, the trip did occur.  And other than hearing from him 1 day after he left to help him get a new hearing aid replaced that he lost for his left ear, his time away from me was very peaceful.  I loved not hearing from him.  I loved my afternoons after finishing work at the preschool being free until the kids got out of school. 

When The Crazy Man returned home and I went back to working for him, I realized just how bad he is.  He is CRAZY!  I mean, really crazy!!  He means well, but I don’t think I can put up with it anymore.  

I want to quit.  I don’t think I can.  I’ve worked for him over 3 years.  I do a great job and I am not sure anyone else is going to be able to pick up where I left off.  He is 77 years old and he is losing the sharpness he once had.  I can remember places, people, tests, phone numbers, etc from years back.  No one, no matter how competent they are, is going to have this history.  One of the things that makes me as successful as I am assisting him is my memory.  I can recall so much.   Furthermore, all these doctor offices’ nurses, receptionists, office managers, technicians, pharmacists know me.  I don’t even have to identify myself anymore, let alone get The Crazy Man to tell them they have permission to talk to me.   This didn’t happen overnight.  It would take months for a new person to build up to this kind of access; that’s saying a new person would last that long.  The Crazy Man wouldn’t have patience to break someone else in and he doesn’t do well with stupidity.  

I look out for The Crazy Man’s best interests. The last assistant he had took advantage of all the access she had and stole tens of thousands of dollars from him.  It would probably still be going on if she hadn’t ended up in jail with a DUI.  It was only then that he opened his own mail and saw the bank and credit card statements.  

My quitting would be devastating.  I am not sure he would recover. I know how much relies on me.  I don’t know what to do.   On one hand, he is 77.  So how much more time would I actually have if I stuck it out?    But on the other hand, it’s not my problem.  If I want to quit, I should be able to quit and not feel bad about it.    We are employer/employee; nothing more.  It’s not like he is a family member and I am abandoning him. 

I’ve gotten close to quitting.  This past week, he received a new Marriott/Chase branded credit card.  He wanted me to call Chase and find out why the card they sent him was a different color than the one in his wallet.  The Crazy Man wanted to verify that all his benefits/rewards will remain the same.   Long story short, all Chase did was send The Crazy Man a new credit card for his expiring one.  No biggie, right?  Apparently somewhere along the way, he was told he would never have an annual fee for this card.  And, you guessed it, he has been paying a fee each and every year.  The Crazy Man goes off the deep end and now the letter writing campaign begins in full-force.  A letter is getting written to the President of Marriot and the President of Chase.  And for good measure, let’s contact Channel 7 On Your Side.   He is sure they’d like to hear about this act of injustice.  

As soon as The Crazy Man said the words “Channel 7 On Your Side…” I looked at him and said, “I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore.”   When The Crazy Man asked why, I replied with “Channel 7 On Your Side doesn’t care about this.  This is a wild goose chase.  I can’t do it anymore.”  

The Crazy Man quickly tossed aside the idea to contact the news media and said we didn’t need to worry about them.  Oh goody!    The Crazy Man deserves to have someone working for him who doesn’t mind contacting everyone under the sun.   He deserves to have someone who doesn’t get so excited at the thought of him leaving town.  Or someone who isn’t counting down to how many years he may have left.   It just can’t be me anymore.

So I’ve been gathering all his 2014 tax forms (banking, mortgage, investment accounts, prescription medication costs, charitable donations, etc) to send to his accountant.   After The Crazy Man returned from being gone for a month, he went through all this mail (A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT!) and I knew all the forms I’d need would be somewhere in this pile.  After a reasonable amount of time, I asked The Crazy Man if he came across any of the tax forms I needed.  His answer?  “I made two piles, one stack with all the important stuff and one stack that could get thrown away.  I think the maid threw everything away.”  UGH!!  Let me say that again, UGH!!  So now I am contacting all these places and seeing if they have the tax forms online that I can print.  Some do have it easy to find on their websites and others don’t.  Some have it that it can be printed out and some need to put it in the mail.  What a mess!   Oh, and the clock is ticking!  We are about to enter the month of March.  The accountant needs to have everything by March 25th to avoid having to file for an extension.   Lastly, and this is huge, I have to hope that when some of these forms come in the mail (for the 2nd time!), they actually make it to me and doesn’t get lost or thrown away.  

My dream is to get The Crazy Man through tax season and then quit.  Maybe I will tell him that I will stay to April. In the meantime we can look for someone to replace me and I can help train them.  A month’s notice is plenty of time, right?   Ugh. I just don’t know if I can go through with it.  I am genuinely worried about what will become of him. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Favorite things #4

This post is going to be a bit silly.  But hey, that's me sometimes.  In my effort to change the way we are eating at home,  I look for items that are reasonable in price, all natural / no preservatives and a shelf life long enough to last us to use it without going bad quickly.  We ran out of our usual parmesan cheese and I took a long look at the options available at Wegman's.  I chose the kind in the above picture (4C Homestyle 100% Natural Parmesan-Roman) and quietly started using it at home.

It didn't take long before Jeff and Ian noticed a difference and commented how delicious the parmesan cheese was.  It is pretty flavorful.  I did a quick google search on this company and found it is a family owned business looking to offer only the highest quality ingredients and understanding the needs of the American family.   They want to make the best products at the best prices.  I love this!  They even make Gluten Free bread crumbs.  The website offers recipes for their various products.

So basically I am in love with this company.  It is privately owned, makes quality products that I approve of, and is not too expensive.   The icing on the cake was when Jeff and Ian each took notice of how delicious the parmesan was and commented on it at different times.  Yay!

Stand back, progress is happening. 

Monday, February 23, 2015


Call me crazy, but I love this cold weather we've been getting.  Absolutely love it!  It's invigorating.

When the temps are only cold (and not windy too), I've been going for walks.  I have this fun Friday ritual where I pick up a salad from Café Rio and bring it home for lunch.  I am actually walking to Café Rio and back on these Fridays.  It's 3.7 miles roundtrip from my door to theirs.  It does feel a bit weird driving right by the restaurant to go home, park the car and then walk to where I just was.  But I'm all about the journey.  I love taking this time to enjoy the fresh air, think, and be grateful that I am able to do this -- both flexibility in schedule and a body that can carry me where I want to go.  It's my hour of being in the moment and enjoying living in a town that has a wonderful walking/bike trail near Burke Centre Parkway. 

On Saturday, February 14th, I thought it would be a fun treat for the kids to get donuts for breakfast.  A special Valentine's day treat.  Dunkin Donuts recently opened and it is also within walking distance of our house - only 1.3 miles away.  The high temp was 23 degrees and I was eager to start the day with a brisk walk in some delightful weather. I told Jeff to give me 20 minutes and then he and the kids could get in the car to join me.  The timing was almost perfect and I only had to wait 2 minutes for them to arrive.   After the kids ate their breakfast, I was putting on my hat, scarf and gloves to get ready to hit the road back home.  Imagine my surprise when not one, but both kids said they wanted to walk with me.  Wowee!!!  This is like a dream come true.

Jeff took my car to get gas and stopped when he saw us on the walk back.  He slowed the car down to see if either of the kids wanted to jump ship and drive the rest of the way back.  Neither child wanted to cut their walk short.  Yes!!  They are starting to take after me.  I love it!!   We put the music on thru my phone and had a dance party while walking back.  It was great fun!

I love Winter.  I love wearing sweaters.  I love when its cold enough that you can see your breath.  I love having fires in the fireplace.  I love the idea that we can have a snowstorm and the city will shut down.  I am not a huge fan of the kids missing as much school as they have been, but I do love a good snow day now and then.  I love taking the kids sledding.  I love 'bonus' days off from work.  I love Winter and all it has to offer.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Social Skills

After my devastating morning with Sam a few weeks ago, I met with my therapist to process everything.  She has a wonderful way about her and helped me see what was going on.  It's this kind of perspective and eye-opening insight that makes me think I might just survive Sam growing up.  I always leave her office with renewed hope, new coping skills and greater compassion for my little girl.  I will never stop loving her, I just need to understand her better.  Within 60 minutes, I walk back through our front door feeling like I can help Sam with her angst and start relating to her with brand new eyes. 

Furthermore, Sam has been attending a social skills therapy group for 1.5 hours each week.  The agenda on topics being covered (coping skills, self-esteem, conflict resolution/self-control, sensory awareness, cooperation, putting it into practice) is dead-on perfect for our situation.  I feel like someone opened Sam's head and looked inside to see what areas needed to be covered. 

The first week the group met was a disaster.  For 43 minutes, Sam screamed at the top of her lungs she didn't want to be there and would like to go home.  NOW!!!!  It was a bit awkward as other offices in the building were actively meeting with their patients and Sam is screaming like a lunatic.  Fortunately I stuck it out and somehow got Sam to enter the room where the kids were meeting.  But she didn't take a seat like a normal person would.  Noooooo, she sat in the chair with her head buried where your bottom would be and had her tush sticking straight up in the air.  Yes, that's Sam's style.  I left the room with her like that.  I have no idea how long she sat like that, but I didn't really care.  She was in the room!!  And was not crying or screaming anymore.  I was able to be on the other side of the door, sitting with the other parents waiting for her.  Nirvana!   It was another 45 minutes before it was time to end the session and head home.  Happily, Sam came out of the room and was in good spirits.  On the drive home she told me that next week she will even participate. 

Fast forward one week later and she was the first one to run into the room when it was time for the group session!  You could hear her laugh and talk the loudest.  Whew, what a relief that she was embracing the social skills therapy group. 

My favorite part in all this was when I volunteered at her class' Valentine's day party and a few of the girls at various times said "Hi Samantha".  Sam actually looked in each girl's direction and said "Hi (insert name)" back.  WOW!!!  This is huge.  I am sure I was tearing up and looking like a fool.  But to witness something so normal and everyday behavior come from my daughter was a very proud moment for me.  Sam even thanked me for coming to the class party.  Another milestone moment for me.  The other day Sam told me that I was frustrating her.  Yippee!!  Something that she was able to tell me about how she was feeling that made sense.

Believe me, I am not expecting things to be perfect.  Nor am I expecting miracles to occur.  But for the time being, I am ok with how its going with Sam.  It's now been 2 weeks and we haven't had any harsh words or explosive temper tantrums.  I am sure I letting my guard down and will be blindsided soon. For the time being, I will enjoy my daughter and cherish being with her. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Puzzled, but not in a good way.

See this puzzle?  Looks very cool, doesn't it?  It lights up, plays music and is in the shape of a 3-D castle.  It might just be the coolest puzzle Sam ever had.  We got it at Epcot, specifically in the country China. 
Take a look at the awesome and informative instructions: 
Wow, should be pretty easy for us to assemble, right?  In case you think there is more written to help on the other side of this sheet, please know it is in Chinese.  Lovely.  Written with the sarcasm oozing out of my pores.

So this very cool 3-D castle (with music and lights) has 105 pieces.  Yes, 105!  And in the corner of the instruction page (not discoverable until AFTER you've bought this masterpiece), it states that this puzzle is intended for 14 years plus, has a difficulty rating of all 5 stars (OMG!), and should take 3 hours to assemble.  Really.

Jeff, Samantha and I start putting it together.  The more eyes and hands trying to get this to look like the picture on the box, the better. 

Jeff somehow sees these tiny little numbers on the instruction's drawings of all the pieces.  WHAT!?!?!  I couldn't believe it, but yes, there were numbers on the instructions.  I had to enlarge the instruction page to 210% of the original size to see them.  To realize there were numbers to guide us in the order the pieces should be put together took us easily 20 minutes.  Ha!  The three of us was not sure how this whole thing was going to be assembled in only 3 hours.  We were joking that the batteries will need to be replaced by the time we get it together.  Jeff thinks we will need to convey the puzzle (and all of its various pieces) when we sell the house -- in like 20 years!   We were definitely in over our heads.

An hour later we got to piece #11.  Believe me, we struggled during the first hour.  It was not easy for us to figure out what they wanted us to do.  Here is what it looks like:

BOOM!  We are now officially stuck.  For some reason we can't find piece #12.  And we can't proceed until piece #12 is in its place.  Among the remaining 94 pieces, none of them look like what #12 should be. 

So this thing sits on our coffee table, taking up space.  Each time we come and go (which is often), we are reminded how we should be riding the short bus when it comes to doing puzzles.   Why doesn't the box let potential buyers know what they are getting into?  I would've never picked up a puzzle intended for 14 years or older.   We may still be trying to figure this out by the time Sam is 14. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The international language of yummy.

One of our favorite families goes to Orlando the same week each year.  They take advantage of the teacher work days and visit all the Disney parks.  Over the past several years, I've been fortunate to go down with either one or both of the kids for a long weekend and meet up with them.  It's become our thing and we all have a great time.

This year we did Epcot.  One of the coolest things I've ever experienced happened around lunch time.  We went to the American restaurant for lunch.  Our plans were to go right next door and check out the singing group and the show in the American pavilion.  The skies were gray and we knew it was going to rain.  As we were walking to the building right next to us, we noticed the pouring rain was coming towards us.  We could see it moving across the lake.  It was wild to witness this.  We made it in the building in enough time and timed it perfectly that when we were done and headed back outside, the rain was done too.  To see thick sheets of rain move rapidly across a body of water and head directly to you was something out of a movie.  So incredibly neat.

The first half of the day we spent doing the rides.  At 5:15pm we had reservations in Mexico for dinner. For the remainder of our day (until Epcot closed) we ate our way around the world.  A different dessert in almost every country. It was so yummy!  And a rare treat the kids don't normally get.  By the end of the day, my FitBit said I logged 23,000 steps.  Yowzer!  That level of activity was needed with all those sweets.

Eating our way thru Epcot is not for the faint of heart.  Good thing Ian and Samantha were up to the task. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Surprise! We are here!

My sister Lori turned 40 at the end of January.  A party was being thrown to celebrate this milestone.  Of course I was going.  I don't even need a reason this big to justify a visit.  My mom wanted me coming to be a surprise.  Lori knew there was no way I'd stay away and was expecting me to show up. It was fun though to keep her guessing.  Over the phone, Lori kept trying to get my kids to let the cat out of the bag.    I did surprise her though by bringing the kids with me.  Ian and Samantha showing up at the party was something she didn't expect. 

The timing was perfect as Ian and Sam had Friday and Monday off from school for teacher workdays.  We flew to Orlando on Friday afternoon and flew back on Tuesday afternoon.  The kids would miss only one day of school.  Sweet!

We had a great time.  Not only did we attend Lori’s swanky cocktail party (complete with piano player), but we had wonderful plans for the rest of time in Orlando. We ate breakfast on Sunday at the awesome make-your-own-pancakes place, met up with my friend Amanda and her girls for dinner on Saturday (before the party) and was able to spend the day (12 hours!) at Epcot with one of the kids’ and my favorite families on Monday.  It was an eventful 4 days.  We made the most of every hour.

Our weekend getaway started the day after the show “Parenthood” had their series finale.  I was very much in mourning over this show ending.  Without a doubt, this had to have been one of the best series ever in television history.  Each Thursday, I would check in with the Braverman’s for one hour and be transported to a family who faced head-on all that life threw at them (cancer, abortion, alcoholism, PTSD, aspergers, lesbianism, heart disease, adoption, bullying, fertility, cheating, divorce, etc) with humor, courage, and gusto.   And yes, each Thursday at the ending of the show, I was usually in tears.  It was that moving; that genuine; that fantastic.  The storylines, the actors, the writing were all top-notch.   Who didn’t want a family like the Braverman’s?  Sure there was fighting and many issues among the family members; but they were there for each other.  Always. As Hank once said, “The Braverman’s are like Starbucks. You can’t escape them. There’s one on every corner.”

On Sunday when my family got together (very early in the morning! after a very late night partying the night before) it dawned on me why I was so sad seeing Parenthood end.  We are the Braverman’s!!  I am lucky enough to have my own version.  We bicker, we laugh, we cry, and we are there for each other.  Always.  My version lives in Orlando. I could relate to this tv family and turn in each Thursday night to check in. In some strange way, it was like visiting relatives.  Unfortunately, the show is over and so are my weekly visits.

Thank G-d in real life my family lives on.  We are a crazy bunch, teasing each other, celebrating birthdays, milestones, laughing at the big moments and the little ones, and supporting each other through illness and disappointments.  Just like the Bravermans, we are always there for each other.  No cancellations here. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Reading spectacular

About 2 weeks ago Ian said he was bored.  I told him to go read a book. After commenting there was nothing new he wanted to read, I suggested "The Hunger Games".  I downloaded the first book to his Kindle app and away he went to give it a go.

Ian devoured the first book (all 387 pages) and read it in record time.  The 2nd book (403 pages!) went even quicker.  Ian is now nearing the end of the 3rd book (404 pages) and is loving it.  I knew he would enjoy the books, but I am most impressed with how fast he is reading them.   His comprehension of what he read is impressive. We've had some interesting discussions as to why he thinks President Snow does what he does and how smart Katniss is in how she plays the game.

The books are designed for ages 12 and up, 7th grade and higher.  I was a bit hesitant to suggest them to Ian given the content, but I believe Ian can handle it.  I feel better in knowing there are a few kids in his class who had already read the books.

When I read these books 4 years ago, it didn't occur to me back then I would have a child who would want to read them.  Boy, was  I wrong!  Over the years, Ian has turned into an avid reader.  I love that he wants nothing more than to spend a few hours reading a good book.  While Jeff and I have never put a limit on how much time the kids spend playing on their iPads, video games or watching tv, it's nice to know that Ian chooses reading a good book first and foremost. 

Next up:  Watching the movies with Ian these books were based on.  The best of both worlds! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


We were in the car the other night and Ian was in the middle of telling me something.  Sam is listening to the radio and hears a song start playing.  “Turn it up!  Turn it up!” she says.  I turn it up and Sam starts singing along to every word.  I had never heard this song before and use my iPhone to find out what it is.  It is Kelly Clarkson’s new song called “Heartbeat”.  The song only got released on January 12th!  It wasn’t even 7 days later and Sam already knew all the words.  I was blown away.   I hadn’t ever heard it before and Sam is singing it like it had been out forever.  Wow.

My daughter never ceases to amaze me. I am continually in awe of her.  You just never know what she will come up with next.   Good and bad, she keeps you guessing.