Monday, February 8, 2010

Day Seventeen, January 22nd, 2010

Today was an amazingly happy day. I picked up Chinese Food for my favorite cousin and we celebrated her birthday together while she was babysitting her grandchildren. She will kill me if I tell you how old she is, but let me say that it is the beginning of a decade that has the same number in it as the year I was married, which is 1972. So you can safely guess that she isn't one or two, so that leaves just two options! Anyway, her granddaughter made us super special iced coffees that she especially created at her job at Dunkin Donuts and they were beyond awesome. She has her own secret formula and customers ask for her just so that she can make it for them. Some of the ingredients are extra caramel and heavy cream, don't ask about the calories. From there I headed to historic Gibbsboro for my grandson Damien's first penance. (On the way, I made a little detour but will save that for another time). Damien was really nervous about his First Penance, but after a very lovely play, video, sing a long, and church service the children got to pick their priest, either one behind the traditional closed confessional, or face to face. Damien chose the Pastor, a very kindly looking man with a thick Irish Brogue, who was hearing confessions face to face behind a glass door. He was the next to last to go, and his parents watched very curiously on the other side of the door as he celebrated this important sacrament. When he came out, he was beaming, and professed that it wasn't bad at all. I asked him how it felt to have a clean soul, but he said it didn't feel any different. The children all looked so cheerful that for a moment I even thought about perhaps going to confession myself. Not quite ready for that yet, the trauma of the stern priest at Sacred Heart Church in Jersey City, in 1963 asking me, "is that all" in his booming mean voice just hasn't left me yet. Thank goodness things are different in many ways, and seeing the peaceful joy on Damien's face was the happiest part of today.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day Sixteen, January 21st, 2010

I admit it, I am addicted. I have wasted more time playing this game than I will ever own up to. I sneak a few games in before work, and as soon as I get home, play a few. I keep telling myself, it's only one minute, in fact the guy in the computer says One Minute when the game starts, so I am really not wasting a lot of time. Except I keep clicking play, after one minute, and one minute becomes 40 minutes. My goal is to not be embarrassed by my score. I see all my friends with these awesomes scores, like in the 100,000 and 200,000 range. I have even messaged them on Facebook, and asked for their secret. Shannon's mom Janet is always on the top. I asked Shannon, and she said, I don't know, but she is always playing it. I asked my soninlaw who worked at Ubisoft in Romania, he said it has to do with the cascades, you have to form cascades. My friend Janet had a very detailed three point explanation involving hypercubes and flaming gems and stuff like that. Joanne F told me that you just have to keep moving your mouse and when you see a cluster click on it. She offered to come over and show me how to do it. That would be pretty lame. So each day I attempt to get a high score, I try cascading, I try the three point theory explained by Janet, I try just playing the game over and over like Shannon's mom, and I tried just moving the mouse around really quick like Joanne suggested. Today, I tried turning the sound off. That was hard, I like the sound. I like when the man in the computer says, Awesome, or Excellent, or Good. It is reassuring that I am doing something right. Plus the sound of the explosions is really cool! But the downside is that you get that annoying beeping kind of sound that tells you your time is almost up. That is a lot of pressure, because I then realize what a loser I really am when I see the puny score that I have achieved. But then something phenomenally awesome happened. My time was up and my score was 179,000. How could that happen, I have no idea what I did! But I am #2, right under Shannon's mom. I can't believe it, this is the most exciting thing that has happened today. This is the highest score I have ever achieved. Only thing is, I have no idea how I did it! Gotta go, I have three minutes till I have to catch the dryer., maybe I can beat my own score!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day Fifteen, January 20th, 2010

Wow, I have been looking forward to today! My precious niece and godchild, Katie, and her brother, my amazing nephew, Tommy, drove down to my office to have lunch with me today. Katie lives in South Orange where she is taking her final class for her masters degree. Tommy lives in Illinois with the rest of the Sheldons and was here for the week to visit his sister. I was so touched and honored that they wanted to spend some time with their old aunt!~ We used to spend so much time together when they were little. They lived in Jackson and I saw them every week at church, every Sunday after church for bagels, and several times during the week too. Ten years ago, my brother took a job in Illinois and took all the precious little Sheldons with him too. I think it has to be about two years since I have seen Tommy and last summer for Katie. I was so impressed at how beautiful, sophisticated, mature and grown up they are. What a wonderful lunch, with great conversation. I was just in awe at these amazing adults that just not too long ago were little babies. How did that happen! It was so hard to say goodbye to them after lunch, I miss them so much and love them so dearly. Katie and Tommy thanks for the joy you brought to my day!

Day Fourteen, January 19th, 2010

My friend Joanne has to be the luckiest lady in the world because her awesome mom, Sara, lives with her part of the time and part of the time with her sister. When she is at Joanne's house, she usually has her cobbler apron on and is always cooking something delicious. (That's Sara in the picture, dancing at my daughter's wedding!)Joanne wanted me to come over and take some pictures of her upstairs with my digital camera because her fatherinlaw just moved in and is contemplating moving upstairs and he wanted to see what it looked like. She emailed me at work to see if tonight would be good, and also, said, why don't you come to eat, my mom is cooking sausage and peppers. You didn't have to ask me twice! When I got to Joannes (a long walk across the street!), her mom had everything set up and served me too! She made her delicious sausages with three different colored peppers, baked sweet potatoes, and pasta with butter. She also had a great salad with oil and vinegar (what else) and Italian bread. You know, the kind that is crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. What a treat! I never knew my grandmothers, they died before I was born. Being at Sara's tonight, I felt like a little girl must feel in her grandmother's kitchen. Great smells, delicious foods, and extra big ladles of love. Thanks Sara~!

Day Thirteen, January 18th, 2010

What's better than getting an order on your etsy shop! Buying the yarn with a 50% off one regular price item at AC Moore! I printed out the coupon, cut it out and raced to AC Moore. There is was, my Boucle Bernat yarn, sole ingredient for my own creation, my dark baby cocoon, regular price $3.99, use of 50% off coupon, cha ching, $1.99!!! Plus it counted toward my AC Moore Awards! I love AC Moore, I love yarn, I love a bargain! Good day for happy!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day Twelve, January 17th, 2010

My husband cracks me up. Now that we are empty nesters, he has gotten used to having all my attention devoted to him! Poor man, he waited 38 years for the last little bird to leave the nest so he could jump back in his spot! Very patient so he is. Well, today, we were planning a big exciting trip to Lowes when my daughter called. I was chit chatting for a while and he was kind of giving me "the look" like he wanted me to get off the phone. I said, you can go without me if you want. I knew what his answer would be, because these days he doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything without me. He says he is lonely and he misses me! Hey, we even moved the computer back upstairs so I can be a little closer to him while I am playing bejeweled blitz and tracking everyone's updates on Facebook. I told my daughter I better go because Dad gets lonely and wants me to go with him to the store. He said, "yea, your mother is my arm candy!" Arm Candy! I am still laughing!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day Eleven, January 16th, 2010

When I tried to evaluate the joy quotient for today, I found a thread that ran through the whole day, neighbors that have become life long friends. I have lived in my house for almost 32 years, and forged friendships with other young moms, that have lasted to this day. Anna, Peggy, Kathy, Ronnie, Janet, and Sandy moved on, Cathy and Frances passed away much too young, but from the old crew, Joanne F, Bonnie and Pat and I remain. Newer neighbors just as dear are Sharon and her mom, Johanna, Joanne W, Renee, Julie and Julia. Today I rode with Joanne F to the wake for Julia's daughter who died after a courageous battle with cystic fibrosis. Before we left, Sharon and Johanna offered a ride as well. In the parking lot, Joanne and I met up with Pat and her daughter Lisa. I drove Pat to the hospital when she was in labor with Lisa with the emergency brake on all the way, a fact that we love to laugh about to this day. Pat's daughter Lori was on her way down from NY with her new baby, Victoria, and I hoped to stop by to give her a little cuddle. When I got home my husband told me that my daughter had called and was meeting up with her old friends from the neighborhood, Melissa, Jessica and Colleen and before going out for dinner she would stop by. The friends grouped at my house and the little girls now have babies of their own. My grandson didn't want to go out to dinner with the girls and the babies since his bestest friend from when he lived with us in our neighborhood was over to play. So Rebecca and Damien hung out, ate dinner, made cookies and explored my junk room with their hard hats. Rebecca was proud to tell my daughter's friends that Damien was her oldest and best friend, that they had been friends since they were three. Damien corrected her and said, no Rebecca, I think since we were two. Big seven year olds with a lifetime friendship. Just like me and my good neighbors, just like my daughter and her neighborhood pals. Someone once wrote that you can't go home again, in our neighborhood, that just isn't so, it will always be home and always be the place where lifelong friendships are formed and last. And that thought is what brought me joy today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day Ten, January 15th, 2010

Todays joy is not mine, but belongs to my cousin, Kevin O'Brien. Kevin O'Brien is the ultimate Jets fan. Hey, his email address is KevOJet! (That's Kevin on the far right in his Jets uniform with his buddies!) I know absolutely nothing about football. My husband has tried to explain it to me hundreds of times, I must be dense. I can understand every aspect of baseball, but football floors me. Anyway, the last few days or so I have been noticing a lot of excited posts from Kevin on Facebook about the Jets. He usually posts about his tailgate parties and if you look at his photos, there are some delicious looking foods that he makes at those shindigs. Kevin is in San Diego now for a Jets game. My husband tells me it is an important one, and I am guessing for a Jets fan this game pushes excitement to the top of the meter. Even more awesome is that my cousin, Susan, Kevin's sister, just happens to be in San Diego too for a nurses conference. My husband tells me the Jets have been waiting a long time to get back into the SuperBowl, and I think this game has something to do with that. I just realized that Joe Nameth played for the Jets, and I guess he was around the last time they won a Super Bowl which was in 1969 or something like that. (Boy I am football ignorant!) Anyway, today's joy is for my cousin Kevin, he is a great guy, and a devoted Jets fan, and if they win this game in San Diego, I don't think there is a camera with a wide enough lens to capture his smile! Kevin, enjoy the game, and if they win, you can have a sit down with me and explain the game of football - Jets Style!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day Nine, January 14th, 2009

This has been a tough day. Not much to be happy about. It started off a little good when Nancy brought in Dunkin Donuts. She used a gift certificate that she got and treated the office. I asked her whose birthday it was, but there was no reason, just being nice, which Nancy always is. Turns out it was someone's birthday, Cathy D., but I didn't know that when the donuts came. I had a half of a blueberry one and those little crunchy sugar crystals on top made me pretty happy, or as happy as you can be at work on the day you get your paycheck with the new health insurance premium amount deducted. Yikes, there were a lot of gasps and tears when that happened. Nancy brought me a tissue, that was nice of Nancy. Maybe that's why she brought in the donuts, she knew we would need some cheering up. So on the way home, I was thinking that was probably going to be the only joyful thing that happened today, but there was another one coming, probably equal in joy to the donuts. This one like the other day, came in the mailbox. Grabbing in the dark I felt a small package, something the size of the box of checks you get from the bank. But this was a little soft and squooshy. So I saw the return address and it was from my sisterinlaw's daughter, I guess that would be my niece, its a little complicated, you see, oh well, let's just say she is my niece, Donna. She had emailed me a few weeks ago to ask me if I got the new Ann Rule book yet. I introduced her to Ann Rule and she is hooked, just like me. Ann Rule is probably the best true crime author out there. She wrote the Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy, who unbelievably she knew personally when she was a Seattle policewoman. In better times, I would rush to buy her newest book in hard cover, as soon as it came out, but these days we are all watching our pennies. When I told Donna that I hadn't read it yet, she said, I will send you mine. And that was what was in the mailbox today. Donna hasn't had it easy, she lives with many medical problems, a tracheotomy, and has lost two siblings in the last year. I was really touched that she sent me her book, and I have to remember to pay that forward. So a low joy day, but joyful nonetheless because two very nice people shared. Thanks Nancy and Donna.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day Eight, January 13th, 2010

I have been looking forward to today for quite a while. My grandson, Damien, entered his first science fair. Tonight was the actual event and I asked to leave work a half hour early so I could get there in time. The judging of each project was done and the doors were set to open at 7:15 for the public viewing and presentation of awards. Damien was right in the front, at the first table, and he was beaming. He demonstrated his project, which was static electricity and gathered quite a little crowd. His favorite example was rubbing a balloon on his head so that his hair would stand up. He did such a good job that the balloon stuck onto his head! After viewing all the projects, which were awesome, it was time for the judging. Each child got a nice plaque, a certificate and a green ribbon. Damien was the only entrant in the second grade, so he easily won first place for the second grade with a nice certificate and blue ribbon. The other grades were presented with their winners and it was time for the overall prizes. Damien won fourth prize overall! He looped all three award ribbons around his wrist! It was a great evening, and I am so proud of Damien! He worked very hard on his project and presented it beautifully. He also had a very good grasp of the science behind static electricity. Just before I left, he was telling us that next year he wants to do a project about the earth's natural resources! When did he get so big! Good job Damien, you were the happiest part of the day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day Seven, January 12th, 2010

Letters, we get letters! When I got home from work today, in the dark, carrying four plastic shopping bags on one arm, and juggling my purse and lunch bag in the other, I jabbed the mailbox open with one elbow, grabbed the mail, tucked it under my arm and tripped through the front door. Feeling the urgency of that 5:00 cup of coffee, I almost didn't take the time to look at the mail. But when I threw it on the table, the first upright envelope had the familiar handwriting of my cousin. I have been waiting for this letter for about six months. I tore open the envelope and carefully unfolded the single yellow legal page crammed front and back with his combination of cursive and printing, blue ink, familiar style. We have had quite a correspondence going for the past several years, often exchanging letters weekly. I have them all saved, in a box, in their envelopes. Life got busy for me, although it rarely changes for him, and slowly the weeks became months, and for a reason that I know very well, he has not answered many of my last letters. He apologized for that, but I know that for him there has been little joy and little reason to seek the door to happiness which opens out, even if that door doesn't really let you out of anything but your mind. But for me today, his letter, that I can fold and unfold, read and re-read,was my moment of joy, and I hope for him it was the beginning of rediscovering joy. Gotta go, I owe my cousin a letter!

Day Six, January 11th, 2010

There is nothing joyful about Mondays. When I was a kid, it would start with the Ed Sullivan show. You knew it was Sunday night and that the fun was over. Monday's are hard, but then I guess if we had Monday's off, Tuesday's would be hard. The common denominator is work, but as someone once said, if it was fun, it would be called fun, thus it is called work. So before even getting out of bed I knew it was going to be tough to kill the gloom today. What could there possibly be to bring joy to the day. Getting to work, I blew off the music. Yea, that did make me pretty happy the first day, but I was being a pollyanna then. This little project is not even a week old and I am out of joy. So I scanned my email, and realized that I had forwarded to myself at work the pictures from my camera taken on Christmas. I opened them, and shuffled through and came across this one of my adorable baby grandson, Marcus. Immediate warmth and joy flooded me. What can be more joyful than a baby's first Christmas. So I kept looking at it throughout the day, restoking the joy fire with that little face.

Day Five, January 10th, 2010

On Saturday, shortly after posting about my discovery of the magnetic wand, my husband noticed that my computer was "doing that thing again". This is going to be hard to describe, but try to picture this. You are trying to read The Guttenberg Bible, on a roller coaster, with a hangover and vertigo, each time you think you have focused on the words, the roller coaster dips and dives and you have an extreme case of the hiccups. The words start spinning and rolling, portions are light, portions are dark, and flash across the screen like bolts of lightning. I knew I was in trouble. So being totally non technical, I switched the surge protector on and off a couple of times, played with all the connections, plugged and unplugged stuff and then started to panic. I was having flashbacks to a year or so ago when I lost 3,000 plus pictures when my hard drive crashed. I thought maybe if I let it rest, it would feel better in the morning. I got up on Sunday, went to 7:00 a.m., Mass and after communion, I am ashamed to say, prayed for my computer. When I got home, I realized God was busy with other problems, real problems. I went on my husband's computer thinking maybe I could troubleshoot by googling a description of what the computer was doing and that brought me to the Dell website and a phone number for technical support. Okay, hope springs again. I grabbed the phone and dialed the number and after all the appropriate prompts and holds, I hear a voice that I immediately recognize as based in Mumbai. My heart sank. If you have ever had the fun of dealing with an outsourced call center in India, no explanation is needed . So we begin and I attempt to follow all the directions, but I have to tell you the accent is making it hard to understand. He starts saying something like forty dead leafy walnut trees, or more clay lace currants please. He keeps repeating, I just can't make it out. I handed the phone to my husband and all of a sudden, his face is beaming. Four days left on warranty! The computer is still under warranty for four more days! They will send someone out to fix it and it is all covered under our warranty. Yippee the joyful moment of the day!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day Four, January 9th, 2010

Quiet day, hubby off to work for half the day, and a long put off project started, tackling my messy craft room. And I do mean messy, it could qualify for an episode of Hoarders. If the police came to my house they would think I was robbed, with my craft room totally ransacked. Try to picture it: A volcanic explosion of yarn, scrapbooking papers swirled and tossed as if they were in Hurricane Andrew, fabric everywhere, buttons and pins and needles and hooks and looms look like they were shot out of a Ringling Brothers Cannon. There is no order to this disorder, and that is mostly the reason I have been putting it off so long. It is downstairs, I can shut the door. If I have to get some yarn, I tie a rope around my waist, anchor the rope around the drain pipe for the washer and dive in. I leave post its with pleas to come look for me if I don't return in one hour. It is bad. Embarrasingly bad. So I was able to clear a small portion of the floor in about two foot increments so that I could put one foot in at a time through the clutter. Then I saw it, the sewing basket filled with pins and needles, open and upside down. I grabbed the handle and they sprayed the room, landing some up, some down. This is not going to be good. I started picking up the pins, I felt like St. Theresa, one by one picking them up. I know I have not been so good, but this much penance I don't need. And then I had an Aunt Alice moment. Bingo! Bingo! It was so easy to find it, Aunt Alice's old red plastic container with the magnetic bingo chips and the MAGNETIC BINGO RETRIEVAL WAND!! Tethered by the rope, balancing in the footholds, I whipped it out and swirled like a maestro! The pins were defenseless, drawn like moths to the light, bees to the honey, metal to a magnet, well you get the picture. I scooped them up, and into the trash they went. And that was the most joyful moment of the day!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 3, January 8th, 2010

Today's post is early and a no brainer! Lots of smiles here today! 30 years ago, at this moment I was in the labor room at the now closed Pt.Pleasant Beach Hospital awaiting the birth of my daughter! The trend of the day was natural childbirth, and by that I mean no drugs! I hee hee'd so hard I hyperventilated. I heard the doctor tell my husband, encourage her not to take any drugs! I told the nurse I had to push, and she patted my hand and said now now, the doctor just checked you, you have a long time to go! She took a look and screamed, delivery room now. My husband who said he wasn't going to watch, ran behind us, and we barely made it there. The baby was screaming before she was even delivered!!! The doctor was holding her and kept putting his finger in her mouth so she would stop crying! He finally said, don't you want to know what it is! Those days, we didn't know until the baby arrived, we were so excited, we forgot to ask! It was a girl, my precious adorable daughter, Lauren Nicole! What a wonderful 30 years it has been, and it only gets better! And she has blessed us with two beautiful grandsons! Happy Birthday Lauren, thanks for 30 years of joy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day Two, January 7th, 2010

The best part of today came before lunch when my buddy Lisa Fusco opened her desk drawer, shuffled through her snack stash and pulled out a ziplock bag with two of her famous cookies in it, and said "Want one?". There is not a chocolate chip cookie in the entire state or country for that fact that rivals Lisa's. It is her signature, her trademark. Every birthday boy or girl is the recipient of their own private batch, and some people, like Lou, don't even need a reason to get this very sought after prize. And this is not just my opinion, hands down, hers are the best. We try to pry the secret out of her, and she says, well maybe it is the dark brown sugar I use, or maybe it is the butter not margarine, or maybe it is the pan. I think it is that she puts her heart and soul into every morsel knowing how much joy each cookie brings. Eyes brighten, mouths water, you just have to experience it once in your life. Pure cookie joy, crisp bottom, soft inside, gooey chocolate chips, each bite dissolves slowly in your mouth as sacred as a first communion wafer. Pure joy, pure happiness, it doesn't get any better than Lisa's chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day One, Choosing to be Happy!

January 6th, 2010

Music. Today, I decided to turn on the music on my computer. I have not had it on for months. I always used to play classical music while I was working because the music was calming but not distracting. It was just a lilting sort of background which makes me feel professional and productive. It also brings back memories. When we were kids, my father had a victrola (record player) and lots of records. Many Sundays he would play the records because in those days there was little on TV or much to do. With our parents gone, I still have tons of records stashed in the basement. When my kids were little, I loved to play Beethoven's pastoral symphony and we would pretend we were ice skating in our socks on the wooden floors. Thinking of that today, and listening to my music at work, is making me smile. Day one, choosing to be happy, success.