Monday, June 28, 2010

The Beach

There’s something about the beach!

Perhaps it’s the sounds … Waves crashing onto the shore, and the cries of seagulls as they swoop down on unsuspecting sunbathers!

Or maybe it’s the smells… Salt air and suntan lotion! If someone could only bottle this smell, they would make millions!

It could be the feel… The warmth of the sun beating down on you or the burn of the hot sand as it spreads through your toes!

Of course there are the sights… On a clear day, the sun shines so brightly on that vast blue ocean, it hurts the eyes!

There’s just something about the beach! It heals me; soothes my nerves and calms my mind.

I have been known to drive that 1½-hour trip just for a whiff of salt air and a peak at the ocean.

Family lore says that salt air cures all that ails you. It is known to increase your appetite and make you sleep better! My daughter claims everything “just tastes better” down the shore. Is it any wonder I head down there whenever I can? (The promise of cheese fries doesn’t hurt either!)

Everyone has a special place – their nirvana that takes them away from their everyday stress to a place of peace and contentment. Mine is the beach.

I remember our first trip to the shore after our first child was born. Convinced he would never sleep through the night, and our lives would forever be relegated to tending to this screaming boy, we drove to the shore with the hope that the infamous salt air would heal whatever ailed him. (The promise of MomMom helping out didn’t hurt either.)

As we drove over the bridge and breathed in that glorious ocean air, I felt my shoulders relax for the first time in six weeks. And, while he didn’t exactly start sleeping through the night, we did get a solid six hours in him that night. (Ironic that now, we can’t seem to wake him from sleep – but that’s another story for another day!)

My family has a deep appreciation and love for the beach. While other families go skiing in the winter, we are known to head south. (You haven’t experienced the beach until you see it covered in snow!)

While others spend their summers at the lake, or sightseeing in the city, we pack up the car with our beach chairs and beach towels, and park ourselves in front of the waves, battling tides and errant Frisbees.

There’s a saying I love that says, “If you’re lucky enough to have a place at the beach, you’re lucky enough.” I couldn’t agree more.

There’s just something about the beach!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dear Daughter

I could start with all your typical clich├ęs: I can’t believe you’re finishing Middle School and about to start High School. Where does the time go? When did you get so old?

However, if there is one thing I learned from your brother, it is that time truly does fly and, in the blink of an eye, little ones grow up to be young adults.

I remember so clearly your first day of preschool. You and your friends were so excited, ready to learn and play.

You have always had such a wonderful attitude about life. “I’m going to meet lots of new friends today,” you told me one day on our way to your brother’s soccer tournament, swinging my hand and bursting with excitement.

Today, I see your worry, your fear. I hoped you might be immune to that uncertainty, but of course you aren’t. Yes, high school can be intimidating, physically and emotionally. It is big and full of older kids who drive and shave.

It is hard to leave a place where you feel in control and at the top of your game, and go to a strange building where you will be low man on the totem pole; a mere Freshman.

Fear not though. Those surrounding you were also Freshmen at one time, no matter what they say or how they act. (They are actually younger than your brother and his friends, and you can handle them.)

If I have one piece of advice for you, it is this: stay true to yourself. Your environment will change. Your teachers will change. Your interests may change. Your friends may change. And parts of you will change. But the true you, the little girl who grabbed my hand that sunny afternoon long ago and pronounced that she would meet lots of new friends, she will always be in there.

On that first day of school, when you face that large brick building for the first time, searching for your locker and a familiar face, channel that younger you. Put a smile on your face and think, I will meet lots of new friends today! And you will, I promise you.

The next four years will fly by, and I will be lamenting about sending you off to college (bite my tongue!) sooner than either of us want to think. Live in the moment, appreciate the time, and have fun. You will succeed! You are the middle child, after all, used to fighting for time and attention. You will succeed! And soon enough, you will be that upperclassman, ruling the school and intimidating the Freshmen class.

Congratulations, my little girl! Go get ‘em!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

Is it too much to ask that my children get along with each other for one day?

Can I make it through 24-hours without hearing bickering and fighting amongst my precious offspring?

I thought the yelling and tattling would stop as my kids grew up. I thought wrong.

The oldest pesters the youngest; the sisters annoy each other; and they all aggravate me.

This one ate the last donut; that one borrowed my goggles without asking; he never walks the dogs; she never has to empty the trash; she always get the first shower; he always uses all the hot water.

And each and every argument ends with the same word: “MOM!”

Why isn’t Dad ever brought into these battles? Why does Mom always have to officiate?

I’ve tried reasoning. “You need to work it out together.”

I’ve tried ignorance. “I wasn’t there. I don’t know who left the empty box of cookies in the pantry.”

I’ve tried guilt. “Are you trying to drive me insane?”

I’ve tried dual punishment. “I don’t care who started it. You’re both in trouble.”

(I’ve even tried to hide. The dogs usually give me away!)

Nothing seems to work. The quarreling continues.

In my calmer moments, I try and remind myself that I too, fought with my siblings, yet we all survived. In fact, we are all very close. There is hope.

Unfortunately, these calm moments are few and far between, especially these days. With school winding down, tensions are rising in my household. Lack of sleep coupled with finals does not make for a stress-free environment.

Voices are rising and doors are slamming even as I write this. “I need to get in the bathroom to shower.”

“You always get to watch what you want.”

“Be quiet. I’m trying to work.” (Okay, this one was from me.)

I’m sure I’ll miss all this noise when the kids are grown and out of the house. I’m sure I’ll reminisce and think about the good old days, when the house reverberated with their voices. I’m sure of it, aren’t I?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

~Staying up until 2:00 a.m. to finish a great book by a favorite author
~One hour, alone, in a bookstore
~An early morning walk with a friend
~Ghiradelli’s Double Chocolate brownies
~An afternoon on the beach – in the middle of the week – by myself – on a sunny afternoon – in May!
~Cheese fries
~A morning spent browsing the shelves of our local library

(I feel better just typing these up!)

~A weekend away with my sisters
~Lunch with my husband on a Tuesday afternoon
~Coffee with a friend (even though I don’t drink coffee)
~Staying in bed on a rainy morning and letting my husband get the kids off to school
~Reading People magazine, cover to cover, in one sitting
~A Brown’s cinnamon donut

(See the re-occurring food theme here?)

~Day-dreaming in the middle of the afternoon
~Taking my kids out of school early to head to the beach for the weekend
~Breakfast for dinner
~Mack & Manco’s pizza
~A cold beer on a dock gazing at a beautiful sunset
~A morning bike ride on the Boardwalk (before the crowds gather)

(I thought I would only list a few – seems I just can’t stop!)

~A pedicure
~Reading Facebook profiles of long-lost friends
~A nap in the middle of the day
~Finding and buying a great dress – on sale – just because
~Pulling out old pictures and photo albums and remembering “the good old days”

Life’s short! We all need some diversions once in a while. This list will hang above my desk, ready to be added to, or perhaps picked apart, if needed. After all, what’s life without a few guilty pleasures in it?