And so it begins…

It seems like only yesterday... My sweet girl at her 5th birthday party.

It seems like only yesterday…
My sweet girl at her 5th birthday party.

Well, it’s official: my baby girl is now a young lady. She just started her menses and I’m still coming to terms with it.

It’s not as if I didn’t see it coming. For the past year, I’ve been witnessing my daughter’s body slowly change and develop right before my eyes.  I remember last spring when she approached me, with great excitement, to show me how her breasts had started to swell. We soon headed to the Justice store where she tried on and selected training bras that were “just right”. And with every ½ inch her height has increased, she loves to stand next to me and say, “I’m getting TALL-ER, mom!!”

So when she came to me the other day with “the news”, I wasn’t initially shocked. I was actually thankful – thankful that we were both home together — that she wasn’t at school and I wasn’t at work. I was also thankful that a good friend told me about two years ago that her daughter had started her menses, and she suggested that I be prepared and have the appropriate products on hand. I promptly ran to Walmart to get these items and they had been stowed away in my bathroom cabinet ever since.

After I spoke with my daughter and went into detail about what to do and what to expect every month, we read “Just for Girls: A Book About Growing Up” together and spent the rest of the afternoon discussing the female body and the amazing things it can do.  We also talked about intercourse, that it is something VERY, VERY serious and for ADULTS ONLY, and that her body should be respected at all times. We’d had similar talks about the subject before but now it was more earnest, more real.

So far she seems to be taking it all in stride. She even sang, “I got my per-i-od! I got my per-i-od!” and danced around the house, rejoicing in her premature womanhood. But of course when the reality of dealing with cramps, headaches, spotting, mood swings, etc., enter the picture, I’m sure she’ll be singing a different tune very soon. 🙂

This is a natural rite of passage for all girls and, as I said, I knew it was coming. But now that it’s beginning to sink in, I think the reason why I’m having a difficult time with it is because it signifies the teenage years that are waiting in the wings in the near future and some of the challenges that come along with it: insecurities, disappointment, self-doubt, heartache, worrying about her body image, etc. Being a young woman can be wrought with challenges.

My prayer is that within her woman-in-progress body will remain the light and beautiful spirit of the sweet, goofy, little girl I will always love and cherish. I hope that no matter what obstacles she may face, she will be able to retain some of the joy and innocence that makes her eyes sparkle and her heart giggle, and that she will always know how smart, kind, unique and beautiful she truly is.

Of course I realize my wish is no different than any other parent, but looking at the ironic juxtaposition of Kotex pads and Monster High dolls in my daughter’s room, I can’t help but feel a little sentimental. But as I always tell her, “No matter how tall, old or grown you may get, you will ALWAYS be my baby girl.” And she will; she’ll always be my sweet baby girl.

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September 11, 2001: I will never forget

Twelve years ago today I was driving to work in Arlington, VA, immersed in bumper-to-bumper traffic and focused on the radio news reports, when I saw an enormous plume of black smoke looming just off into the distance. Minutes later I would hear that the Pentagon (which was less than 10 miles from where I was located) had been hit. I remember gripping the steering wheel, sobbing and feeling petrified, while praying for our country and all of the lives lost.

However, in the days following those ugly, horrific and cowardly terrorist attacks were reported acts of courage, bravery, kindness and love. We all seemed to come together as one, big grieving community, which served as a beautiful reminder that with all of our many differences, at our core, we are still one America.

I’m so very thankful for our country’s resilience in the midst of that tragedy and the sacrifices of all those lives lost…

Flowers decorate the memorial of David Laychak, a civilian Pentagon employee who was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The American flag marks the area where the hijacked jetliner crashed into the building.  H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

Flowers decorate the memorial of David Laychak, a civilian Pentagon employee who was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The American  flag marks the area where the hijacked jetliner                                crashed into the building.                              H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

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Nothing compares to … Prince!

Prince

It’s hard to believe the  quintessential artist, Prince, turns 55 today!

It seems like only yesterday my girlfriends and I were sitting in a packed movie theater with bated breath to watch “Purple Rain,” and all these years later, that album, as well as so many of his other hits, still stand the test of time.

This morning a Facebook friend asked everyone to post their favorite Prince song in honor of his birthday. Like so many, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one: “Adore”, “When doves cry,” “Little red corvette,” “Nothing compares 2 U”, “Pop life,”  “Kiss,” “Sign ‘O the times,” “If I was your girlfriend” … the list goes on and on! 

What’s your favorite Prince song?! 

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Time to get focused

Time to get focused

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May 14, 2013 · 9:53 PM

Laugh, cry, drink, and repeat

me and k4In less than three days, my buddy, my friend, the “Lucy” to my “Ethel,” will be coming for a visit. We haven’t seen each other in over 2 ½ years since she and her family moved 1000 miles away. To say I’m ecstatic is an understatement!

When Karen and I first met more than five years ago, our friendship was instantaneous. I’ll never forget: We both had volunteered to assist with our children’s pre-school consignment sale. I saw this tall, vivacious woman with an easy smile walk in, talking to everyone and cracking jokes. After a while, she and I were working in the same area and we continued to talk, commiserating on the joys and woes of motherhood. We hit it off right away. After a while, she said: “You know what? I like you. I want us to be friends.”

And from that day on, we were inseparable. Karen and her kids and my kids and I were together almost every day: day trips to the zoo, playground, swimming pools, shopping, dance classes, endless trips to Wal-mart, etc… and in between, laughter (a lot!) and wine (a lot!).

Karen is pretty exceptional. She’s smart, attractive, an excellent wife and mother, and incredibly crafty (Martha Stewart has nothing on her!). She can decorate, create, paint and design anything. She truly has a keen eye for detail, style and design. If you find yourself eyeing something in a home decor store, she’ll say, “Don’t spend the money. I can make that for you.” I keep asking her when she’s going to host her own show on HGTV so I can serve as her publicist.

She can also entertain like nobody’s business and is the consummate hostess. She can host a lavish dinner at her home without breaking a sweat, or she can walk to her fridge, pull out a few items and cook a meal from scratch that tastes like something out of a restaurant. Oh, and did I mention that her home is always immaculate and organized?! I’ll tell you, if I didn’t love her so much, I’d be totally disgusted with her. 🙂

But what really makes her unique is her heart. Karen is, hands down, one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. She will go above and beyond to help ANYONE in need. If you’re fortunate enough to be in her inner circle, you’ve got it made, because you have an angel on your side for life. But even for those who don’t know her well or only encounter her once or twice, she will make you wonder what you did in your life to be in the midst of such kindness and grace. And that’s why I love her.

Watching Karen and her family drive away over two years ago was difficult. But between texting, Facebook, emails and phone calls, we keep each other abreast of our children’s activities and what we’ve been up to. But, of course, it’s not the same.

But now that she’s coming for a visit, I’m looking forward to laughing until my side hurts, talking and sipping wine into the wee hours of the morning … and silently sobbing when she and her beautiful family drives away.

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March 29, 2013 · 10:58 PM

Our boy wonder

My sweet chunky monkey at 8-months-old

If you look up the word “boy” in the dictionary, you just might find a picture of my son, his body jumping in midair, eyes ablaze, with one hand gripping his beloved angry bird toy, and the other fist raised high in the air in triumph. My son is ALL BOY, as they say: spirited, energetic, sensitive, moody, sweet, charismatic, rambunctious, hard-headed, nutty, lazy, and a lot of other adjectives in between!

From the day he was born, he has been “my sweet baby boy.” I still call him that, even though my “baby” turns six-years-old tomorrow. When he falls asleep on the couch, I still pick up his 60+ pound body and carry him up the stairs to his room, his legs dangling and grazing my ankles. My husband keeps telling me that I’m gonna throw out my back, but  I keep doing it anyway, holding on to the fading memories of when I used to carry him to bed as a baby.

So far his first year in kindergarten has been somewhat of a challenge. At the first parent-teacher meeting, his teacher said our son was doing well, but had a hard time focusing and that he could easily be side-tracked from doing various tasks. Well, DUH! That wasn’t a surprise. After all, he was our son, and we knew we had to tell him to do things at least 2 or 3 times (“Pick up your shoes/toys/coat/books/food, etc. off the floor…NOW!”) Plus we knew that kindergarten was a new experience for him and that he just needed time to adjust.

Well, six months later we met with the teacher again and apparently he’s still having issues with focusing in class. He’ll talk when he’s not supposed to, and will “zone out” at other times, and not complete his class work. She said that it wasn’t a behavioral issue, because she has kids in the class that she’s dealing with who are very disobedient. But our son’s lack of focus is starting to affect his development. He’s still learning, however, and will pass kindergarten, but he is at the bottom half of his class. His teacher (and his father and I) know that he is a bright child and is capable of much more.

She commented that she didn’t know what to do, and that perhaps we should speak with our pediatrician to determine if our son has ADHD or ADD. I wanted to cry right then and there and thought, “Our poor baby needs help. What can we do?” She immediately saw the concern in my eyes and said, “I’m not a professional in this area and can’t tell you if that’s what it is or not, or if he’ll need medication or what. I’m at a loss and I want to help him, too. I just wanted to bring this to your attention.”

To make matters worse, I had to leave the meeting to return to work and meet my deadlines. But that night my husband and I talked and we obviously agreed that we would do whatever was necessary to help our son.

However, in the days following our meeting, my husband has been especially attentive to my son’s needs. He has been calling our son’s teacher daily to touch bases on his progress. He has also been visiting our son throughout the day, just to check on him and keep him on task. (Thankfully his work schedule allows some flexibility.) So far the teacher said my son is doing better and she has already seen some improvement.

I don’t know if my husband’s hands-on approach will continue to be effective, or if something more medically comprehensive will be required. But I’m just so thankful that my son has a strong father figure in his life. There’s nothing like a mother’s love, but there’s absolutely NOTHING like a father to love, support and provide the encouragement and discipline a child needs. And to see the extra love and care exhibited by my husband these past few weeks has been astounding.

Going forward, we still plan to meet with the pediatrician for my son’s annual physical and to discuss his developmental issues. But as Oprah would say, one thing I know for sure is that my boy is so fortunate to be surrounded by parents, grandparents, extended family, and educators who care and want the best for him, and that fills my heart with such appreciation, peace and reassurance. And I know, no matter what, that my sweet baby boy will be just fine.

Sharing a sweet moment with my favorite little boy
(photo courtesy of JulieFitzPhotos)

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Yummy wine smoothies

Red wine, particularly Merlot, is my favorite libation (hence the name of my blog…duh!). I love the deep garnet color, inhaling the sweet, woodsy undertones as I bring the glass to my lips, and the rich, smooth, full flavor in my mouth as the liquid gingerly flows down my throat. Mmmm…

But I definitely enjoy drinking other wines – red or white, it doesn’t matter — because when it comes to wine, I am considered an “equal opportunity employer.” As Matron Mama Morton said in Chicago, “I love them all and all of them love me…”

Recently my mother and I were shopping at a local liquor/party store where samplings of some of their beverages are often provided. I love it because it gives you the opportunity to try something you wouldn’t normally buy. That’s where I sampled the Vine Smoothies, which come in peach, berry, strawberry and pineapple coconut. I was reluctant at first but was very pleasantly surprised.

Vine Smoothies contain Chardonnay, Dutch cream and all natural flavors. The flavors add just enough fruit without being too sweet, and there’s the right amount of cream to keep the drink smooth without being too heavy. As a big-time pina colada lover (did I mention that I also like mixed drinks?!), the pineapple coconut is my favorite, with peach being a close second. 

The drink is delicious enough on its own, but the Vine Smoothies website (www.vinesmoothies.com) includes several recipes, which I can’t wait to try.

These smoothies have turned into a nice little go-to beverage in my drink arsenal. Whether I’m entertaining a few people or if a friend and I merely want to chill out and shoot the breeze, Vine Smoothies are a light, refreshing drink that everyone is sure to enjoy!

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