Sunday, November 24, 2013

the italian job

This past week, I made my first trip - ever - to Europe.


And it was awesome. 

When Charlie asked me what I enjoyed the most about the experience, I hesitated because the whole thing was amazing. Including but not limited to my upgraded international flight to and fro.


Our company policy requires that any time we travel internationally, we must fly Business Class or, First Class, if Business Class is not available.  I've flown First Class only a handful of times in my life - and only because I've been bumped.  I've never actually PAID for the upgrade before, because to me - I'd definitely rather save the money (which is usually 2X as much) since I'm still getting to where I need to be, albeit perhaps a bit less comfortably.  But after flying in the "front of the bus" for the past week - I'm afraid I can never go back to coach/economy.

I've tasted the sugar and it is SWEET.




For example, on my 9-hour flight to Rome, Italy, I was greeted upon boarding the plane, with a glass of champagne.  NO, I didn't have two glasses of champagne. (OK. I did. But in this photo, one of those glasses belonged to the passenger sitting next to me....)


There were warm nuts, cheese and crackers, wine, fresh fruit - and a delicious dinner. There was even a HOT FUDGE SUNDAE, made to order, and a plethora of movies available.


I had a huge seat that fully reclined to a bed, in addition to a thick blanket, and pillow.  My flight attendant provided me with a little toiletry case that included an eye cover, ear plugs, lotion, tooth brush - toothpaste - combs and assorted supplies that a worldly traveler may need.


When I got up from my seat to go use the restroom before retiring for the night, my eyes fell upon the people in coach who were separated from my section by a thin curtain; they were packed together like sardines and trying to sleep while sitting straight up. My heart broke for them.  So I contemplated my good fortune....


And promptly fell asleep.


When I awoke, it was daylight and we were flying over the Atlantic Ocean...


And then, the breathtaking Alps. 


As I was taking these pictures, I was freaking out.


Not just because of the incredible visible geology, but because of the sheer magnificence. 











Then the flight attendant brought me breakfast - and instead of worrying about the amount of food I'd consumed on this flight ... I should have just realized that it was a good primer for the unbelievable culinary week ahead as I traveled throughout Italy.


... to be continued. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

how do I say ...?

Tomorrow, after I run a 5K race with my children as a fundraiser for their elementary school, I'm boarding a plane and flying - for the first time in my life - to Europe.


Rome, Italy to be exact.

My flight departs at 5:00 PM and arrives at 7:45 AM., local time.  I'll have the luxury of sleeping on the plane, because apparently, one can do that in Business Class. I don't know. I've never flown Business Class before and because tomorrow is my first time flying at the front of the plane (or nearly front) I'm afraid I might be tempted to stay awake the whole time and sip the complimentary champagne.


But alas! I cannot! I have requested tickets to attend the Papal Mass at the Vatican on Sunday morning. So hopefully, I will be able to get some sleep on that flight, or my first time seeing our Holy Excellency, Pope Francis, the bags beneath my eyes may rival my luggage bags.


I have every intention of visiting all the high points within Rome on Sunday.

On Monday, I'll be in meetings.

On Tuesday, I'm flying north to Milan, Italy where I'll spend the next three days.


On Friday, I fly home.

This trip to Europe has me jittery. I'm so excited to experience it, and not unsurprisingly, I'm equally nervous to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.  And tonight, when I was clicking through various channels as I was packing my suitcase, and stumbled upon the movie, "Taken" I started developing an emergency response strategy should I be kidnapped by Albanians.  Part of that strategy involves sending a friend request to Liam Neeson on Facebook.

When I return, I'll be posting about my trip across the "pond."

I'll also be posting about our recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg.


The children really enjoyed it.


Can you tell?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Yesterday was Charlie's birthday.

While the day was busy for both of us - me with a full day of work, and him with volunteering at the children's school most of the morning - last night, we had a fantastic dinner party.  In attendance was my sister, Eileen, who was visiting from Michigan. And my co-worker, Felicia, who was in town from Houston on business.  Charlie put all of his culinary skills to the test and whipped up an amazing meal for the eight of us.  He had the table decorated beautifully and had even made his own birthday cake.

As if it wasn't bad enough that he had to make his own birthday cake (at least I bought the supplies), he was disappointed that he couldn't find our 8-inch round pans, and had to instead, use various sizes which he thought made it look like his cake had been made in an Easy-Bake Oven.   He then lamented that it seemed like just a few years ago, he was celebrating his 27th birthday and where have the last 20 years gone?!  

When I put the candles on his cake, and we all joined in chorus to sing, "Happy Birthday",  I said to my husband, "You're not 74. But doesn't it just make you feel YOUNGER seeing your candles configured like this?!" And once he put on his appropriate eye glasses so he could see the candles, he agreed that yes, it did.


Now, in my book .... this is what you call PERSPECTIVE.

(Happy birthday, Charlie my love.  Rock on 47!) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

a salute to all of our veterans

The children had a Veteran's assembly at school today, and various parents who have served (or are serving) for the military, were invited to attend and wear their uniforms. The experience made quite an impact on William, especially, who came home and immediately put on his garb.


He also mended his cracked rainbow laser, which he repaired with tape.


On his own volition, he asked me to walk around the neighborhood with him, so he could personally thank all of our neighbors that he knows served in the military.


Taking a brief break every now and then to take cover and ensure the area was safe before proceeding to the next outpost. Er, house. 


He then came home and called to thank Jim, who was a blimp pilot in World War II.


And he called my Dad, who served as a radio-operator in the Navy.


And he called my brother, Frank, who served in the Marines.


If I'd had their telephone numbers, he also would have called his great Uncle Bob, who served in the Army during Korea. And his great Uncle Ray, who served in the Air Force during Korea. And his great Uncle Bernie, who served in Guadalcanal with the US Marine Corps, as the youngest Sergeant Major in USMC history.


Meanwhile, the girls decided they'd had enough of the military stuff, and took their painting supplies to the backyard, and while perched in our newly constructed fort, painted the changing landscape.


Every single day, these children make me smile...


And I give my most sincere thanks for the privilege of being their mom.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

on the brink

Dear Universe,

I am struggling so hard tonight.  Charlie and I have convinced ourselves - almost entirely - that Louie needs to go.  In the hierarchy of order in our house, our two-year-old rescue dog has definitely placed himself above our children. We absolutely have strived AGAINST this happening, and yet it has.

And we know. 

We just know that this order of hierarchy will not do.

And we know. 

We know and have tried so hard to work with the children - and Louie - to reverse this order and unfortunately, we do not possess the super human ability to reverse such a powerful force as the Napoleonic complex of a small to medium sized dog.

We grieve about this. It was our intention that we'd be Louie's forever family. But when Louie has turned on our children not once, not twice, but three times. And perhaps even more than three times, but they've it hidden it from us because they understand the consequences of Louie's action.  And when he has bitten not one, not two, but three dogs in our neighborhood (and perhaps even killed the cat up the street) .... we know.

We just know. 

We don't trust him. This past weekend, we were out of town and left Louie in the care of a friend. During the time that he was with her, he pulled away during a walk and got in to a dog fight with another dog. Such a bad dog fight situation, that a passerby had to stop their vehicle and risk limb to separate the two brawling dogs.

And we wonder... 

How much longer before he behaves in such a way that we are paying for an astronomical vet fee to mend another dog? Or worse yet, euthanize it?  Is it possible that it could come to that?  Yes, it's entirely possible, considering Louie turns in to Cujo whenever another dog that he thinks he can dominate comes around.  At this point in time, the possibility of our children taking Louie for a walk, without an adult, is nil because I have no faith in him.

Not trustworthy and not faithful.

Certainly not the two adjectives you'd want to use when describing a canine companion.  

Tonight, we went to a Girl Scout function and at that function there was a 10-week old yellow Labrador Retriever. And when that puppy crawled in to our laps, and completely fell asleep - my husband looked and me and said, "Jen. THIS. This is precisely what our family needs. We do not need a dog that we are just waiting to have kill or maim another dog. Or God forbid, our children."

But then we came home, and Louie greeted us at the door with his tail wagging, and I wonder, am I not trying hard enough? What can I do more? Will he ever outgrow this? 

Tomorrow, Charlie has every intention of turning Louie over. He's really wanted to do it for quite some time, but I've been the hold out. Hoping, praying, begging that he'd do something amazing. Perhaps he'd be our rescuer from a burning house.  Or intruding robber.

Or best yet, intruding robber that caught our house ablaze.

The children understand. Or at least, they comprehend that Louie may be gone from our family soon.  And Carolyn - who is by far the most attached to Louie, and previously has told me that if he goes, SHE GOES ... suddenly changed her tune and told me tonight that if we were to give Louie away, we could only do so on three (3) conditions:

1. The person who adopts Louie must love dogs.

2. They must be kind to Louie.

3. And they must never, ever, give him away. No matter what happens.

At this point, the only thing that can quell my intense guilt complex is chocolate.  Thank goodness, I've got enough Halloween candy to last me through next year.  Or at least Veteran's Day.

Friday, November 01, 2013

two important things...

I neglected updating my blog on the night of the Red Sox World Series win, because I had just flown in from a business trip to Texas and I was zonked.


And then, of course, last night was Halloween. So today, there are two things that I need to state for the record:

1. Woot, Woot ... Yay Boston!!!  


Our family is beyond thrilled at the most recent victory. This win, at home in Fenway, was awesome, amazing, spectacular. And it offered a certain amount of healing for the city, since it fell on the heels of the senseless tragedy that occurred this past April.


Of course, it feels like I should have a newborn in my arms (or three...) seeing as I've had newborns in my arms every other year the Red Sox have won the World Champion title (2004 and 2007).


Although, we did adopt two new baby fish this month!

2. Happy 9th Birthday Shayna Beth Marie!!! 

Shayna is otherwise identified as second from the left baby in the picture below ... or two to the left from a screaming William.  If I recall correctly, this was before we realized that he was lactose intolerant and I had to cut all dairy from my nursing diet.  Also, I was horrified that while Shayna, a full-term baby never spit up - our reflexy infants were projectile vomiting all over everything.  Including Shayna's sweet pants and socks seconds after this photo was snapped.


We hope that this year, before we all turn 10, we'll finally see you again!

(I promise, that reflex issue has finally calmed down.)