Tuesday, November 10, 2015


So last night I arrive home to find Oz and the kids in distress. Oz had misplaced his ring from Dorothy and everyone was in a tizzy. The next thing I know, I'm elbow deep in a garbage pail praying to Saint Anthony as I sift through yesterday's mac and cheese and other grossness in search of Oz's ring.  Now, is it normal for me to assist in looking for a ring that had been exchanged between my ex-husband and his girlfriend on Valentine's Day probably as an undying symbol of their love? Not really.   Do I love the idea that he dates a girl 15 years younger than he is? Not really.  (Her age may explain why he is 42 years old and wears a promise ring, but I digress.)  Was it a jarring experience the first time I caught a glimpse of that silver ring that looks exactly like a wedding band on his finger? Yes.

However, once I had the chance to get to know Dorothy a little bit, I realized she is very sweet.  So nice in fact and so far good to my children that she is nearly impossible to dislike.  Also, she proved her intelligence to me one day when she stood witness to an argument between Oz and I and she knew enough to keep her mouth shut and not make eye contact with me.  That brave girl stood there and endured the situation knowing enough to not engage an angry Mama Bear.  She earned my respect that day.

Despite any misgivings or protests I may have had (there were a "few"), it is nice that my children see a couple that seem to truly have a connection and care for each other.  They enjoyed helping Oz set up an anniversary dinner and flowers one time and a birthday surprise for Dorothy another day. They are always telling me how much Oz and Dorothy love each other. (At first that made me fluctuate between wanting to puke and wanting to punch someone - now I'm like whatever. Light and Love Bitches! I have my own shit to deal with.)

 Isabella was 2 when we split up, she doesn't even remember us being married and living in the same house. The boys only remember a little.  Now that they all live with a single, dating mom it does concern me that they won't have couples to look up to as examples of what love looks like.  My parents had a great relationship but my dad passed away last year and the kids might be too young to remember how romantic my dad was with surprising my mom and making things special.  So it's good for them to see that type of relationship.

They know that ring means a lot to Oz, we all do.  Dorothy has been away and will be returning this week so Luccio was concerned that she would arrive and discover the ring missing.

So the search was on. After we all thoroughly checked the garbage bins, laundry baskets, and under every piece of furniture Oz finally gave up and went to wash his hands in the bathroom.  And... there was the ring on the edge of the tub.

We all thanked St. Anthony.  Peace was restored.

This reminded me of when one of my students asked me, "Are you a character on a TV show?"
Nope. This is my real life.
Seriously?! WTF has happened here?!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

On This Day

Twelve years ago on this day I walked down the aisle, escorted by my father to meet Oz. To swear before God and family and friends that we would bet our lives on forever.  This morning, 12 years later, we met at a commuter lot to exchange our children.  It amazes me how life can change in what feels like a minute.  Forever seemed like such a great idea. When you know, you know and all that.  I was 28 years old and knew exactly what I wanted, marriage, children…a family.  Here I am today at 40 years old and I'm still trying to piece together what exactly all of that means.  Oz and I are not the same people we were that day.  I don't even recognize myself sometimes.  And very often I don't recognize him anymore.  I thought for a long time we are so aligned in our goals and dreams and vision of what was important. But, over the years since our divorce I realize we are sometimes on different pages for so many reasons.  People change. I hear that all the time in different contexts.  It's true. To some degree.  People do change.  We grow up. We grow old.  The world knocks us down.  Each time you get back up, you are changed just a little.  Each person that comes into our lives now steers our paths in different directions.  Divorce has opened our family up to new people. More people. Since I went back into the work force, my community has widened and expanded.  My children now have "school moms" that look out for and love them.  I have "work sisters" that are my support system and my team!  And my lifelong, close circle of friends all rallied around me over the years, they are my village, my family!  As my babies are growing up they have friends that they are getting to know and making their own attachments now. Each person Oz and I bring into our personal lives now become part of our children's lives.  In marriage, you trust your partner and believe and hope that they will have your best interest at heart because they love you. Divorce is different.  Its the biggest leap of faith there is. After a divorce you have to blindly trust that a person you could not keep a forever promise to will effectively co-parent the most important people you will ever know.  In the beginning I would watch my children leave with their father and think "My God my entire life is driving away right now."  After a few years this life has become our "normal."  We have found new patterns that work for us. New schedules, new routines, new rituals, new rules, and new lives. Oz and I still have our disagreements and there is no one that has ever made me feel angrier on this entire planet. But, we have also reached a place where we can talk about things that are important to us again, including the relationships we have with other people. (Nothing weird or awkward about that, right?!) At the end of the day, forever may not have been what I thought it would be or last nearly as long, but I have faith that I did bet on the right person for my children. When push comes to shove, he does have my back and I have his (even when he really pisses me off!)

*In the picture I chose, one of our sons is hiding in the background refusing to take part because he is too cool.  We don't have many post-divorce family pics. SO this one is it, LOL!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Organizing chaos

What started as a few house projects turned into a transformation of our family life.  In June, I was at the beginning of my first summer off in 3 years.  The Wild One visited for dinner one night.  I asked for his help moving an old tv and entertainment center out of the house.  He agreed, but as he searched for tools he ran into one mess after another. First, the back porch was pretty much a fire hazard of art supplies and garden supplies piled up so high I couldn't reach things any longer.  Then he went into the basement playroom and that was a heaping mass of toys and books.  Finally, he headed to the garage to try to find a screwdriver and only found more mess and piles.  That was when he started to think perhaps I was a hoarder. He may have been joking a little, but deep down I think he was worried. It was the first time since I had met him that I felt truly vulnerable.  Prior to that I usually saw him at his house or out.  He had been to my house, but we didn't really hang out there.  It is easy to seem a little bit more like you have your shit together when you are not in your own mess. To get dressed up to go out for a few hours can be fun and I can leave the chaos and stress behind.  But, having someone in my home it was more obvious that I didn't have a handle on things.  I was struggling with working 50 hours a week, taking care of 3 kids primarily on my own and trying to keep up a house that I had put little or no effort into since being on my own of the past 3 years.

I was so used to my Dad doing everything that I needed around the house, when he got sick I started to hire people to help with years projects etc.  But, he still did all of my laundry and my mom did the ironing and they had us at their house for dinner 3-4 times a week. SO I rarely grocery shopped or cooked.

This past year without my Dad, I struggled. I was barely making it at work, missing deadlines, having trouble managing it all.  But, with the help of an amazing friend I got organized at work.  My friend Danielle came in with a truck load of plastic bins and labels and put my classroom together and helped me tweak my schedule.  It made all the difference!! Thanks to a great snowy winter we had a ton of snow days so I got caught up on lesson planning.

But, I never quite got caught up at home. I had been paying someone for the last 2 months of the school year to clean every week.  I could just barely catch my breath and felt like I was drowning in laundry. So help cleaning was a life preserver.  But, it wasn't enough to jus upkeep. I need to make changes.

That first week home it really hit me.  I was a mess! My life felt out of control.

The Wild One realized that I was overwhelmed and that joking about it was just sending me over the edge.  Luckily, he switched tactics and instead helped me write a list of priorities.  And he brought over GIANT garbage bags.  Once I had a plan for where to start, I began taking small steps each day.  Starting with the playroom, then back porch, then the garage, the living room, the kitchen cabinets and eventually the kids' bedroom, I systematically worked my way through the entire house over the summer. Organizing and dumping or donating things we no longer needed.

I even managed to get some outdoor work started, but there is still more to do.

As I started making changes and getting chaos organized, it became VERY obvious that the kids needed to get on board or I would be back to drowning fast!  As quickly as I cleaned messes they made more.  So I started to insist they pitch in.  I was met with resistance to say the least.  SO MUCH WHINING!! It was easier to do it myself.

But, the Wild One was doing a lot of the projects with me and pointed out that we had 3 able bodied helpers sitting watching us.  At one point, Vincenzo said, "I like watching him. He knows how to do everything. He is better than TV."  Hmmmm….it made me realize that when my Dad was alive he had the boys helping him and that was how they learned.  Now that they didn't have a man around to show them how to do things, they were stuck with me and I just didn't know.  I did a lot of watching too and let my Dad do everything. I didn't bother learning.  I don't want that to happen with my kids. SO all 3 of them were encouraged to help.  Isabella ended up being the strongest helper. Lifting small tree branches didn't make her bat an eyelash! Her brothers whined and cried and acted crazy.
At one point, Vincenzo told the Wild One he should just "go die!"

Umm..yeah.  It's hard to come back from that moment.

When we were chatting that evening, the Wild One said a few things that were hard to hear, but made so much sense.  Having spent more time with the kids and seeing a bigger picture he was able to give valuable input.  He noted that Vincenzo was maybe acting out because he does the brunt of the work.  He suggested maybe it was time for my "Little Bear" to help out more.  Also, he suggested figuring out a way for each of the kids to have their alone time with me or Oz so they could feel special and then maybe that would open communication and cut down on the whining and complaining

 I knew the inmates were running my asylum.  Things had to change.  I spoke with Oz and luckily he agreed with all of the suggestions and jumped on board 100%.  We began setting times for each kid to have time alone for a few hours with me, Oz or my mom each week.  They LOVED it!! So did I.  I forgot how cute they are and how smart!

Also, I had to get control of the house back, reset the rules, give everyone chores, expect more as they are growing up.  Oz got on board with that too.  He spends time at my house each week with the kids so it was essential that he enforce the rules and chore schedule too and he did.

Weekly chores were assigned for Laundry, Garbage, and Dishes.  Each child gets one of those chores to be responsible for the week. They must do one load of laundry each day, one load of dishes each day and take out one bag of garbage each day.  At the end of the week they can pick out of the prize box. They can also earn extra prizes for volunteering to help siblings with their chores without complaining.

We just finished week 5 of this new system.  I cannot believe the difference!  The first 2 weeks were tough because Vincenzo was the only that knew how to do all 3 chores, so the others needed to be taught. Also, Luccio screamed and cried and loudly protested having to lift "heavy" bags of garbage and touch "disgusting" dishes.  Since his tiny, 5 year old sister did each chore without problems and actually enjoyed those same chores, I knew he was not only physically capable but also possibly going to be on Broadway someday! His acting skills are stellar!  Once everyone realized these are not negotiable they started to keep up with them and it is now a daily habit.

Special time with the kids did improve their moods, rewards for doing chores helped with morale.
We ended up having a great summer and the house looks so much better. I even managed to grocery shop and cook some meals and we all ate at the table on several occasions. Back talk and whining lessened, I have started to hear more I love yous again!!

It has changed my life! Now that I am back at work, I realize how important it was to assign chores.  I made it thorough my first week back and was able to enjoy the weekend without laundry, garbage and dishes piled up and suffocating me!

It's better! Although I must admit there have been some funny moments.  Like when I opened the cabinets and saw how Luccio stacked the bowls and dishes together instead of separating things. Or when I notice Isabella's system for putting away glasses and mugs on the same shelf. And someone rearranged the silverware so I now have to look before I grab a fork.  I have learned to let go of thinking there is one "right way" to do things.  Now I am just happy things are cleaned and put away.

I was able to have company this summer without stressing!
The day that stands out the most is when Oz brought his girlfriend here for the first time and the kids were so excited to show Dorothy the house that they even opened kitchen cabinets so she could see our dishes.  I was certainly glad that day that we had gotten our shit together around here!

The one last place left to organize is my bedroom.  It still looks like a disaster of laundry baskets.  I am still a work in progress...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fake Ghost Papa

On July 4th the kids made wishes as they each sent lanterns up into the sky. When it was Luccio's turn he said, "My wish is for Papa."  The next night at bedtime, he reminded me.  He said, "I wished for Stregga to have Papa by her side for all of her weeks."  He acknowledged that he understood that Papa (my father)
is no longer alive when he said, "You know I mean fake, ghost Papa.  You know the part of a person that stays when their body leaves.  Like the spirit.  That Papa. I want his Spirit to always be by her side." Oh Bear! You precious, amazing little boy.  That is a beautiful wish. I know Papa heard it and will always be by Stregga's side and in all of our hearts forever.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mama's Matchmaker

My son, Vincenzo, told me he thinks I should get an online dating profile and he will help me write it up. He is working on a list called "What My Mom is Looking for in a Guy."   Apparently, he got this idea from Despicable Me 2 and Mall Cop.  The kids in both shows try to fix their single parents up and so now he thinks this will be a great idea to try for me.  Although his advice is completely unsolicited and possibly a bit overstepping into my personal space, I have to admit it's pretty good and quite thorough!

"What My Mom is Looking for in a Guy"  by Vincenzo (8 years old)

-A guy that is nice
-Doesn't play with guns, machetes, bazookas, knives
-Doesn't rob or murder
-Shouldn't be a "Smarty Pants"- he should be smart enough, but not too smart because then he
wouldn't be fun to play with.
-Likes my mom's kids
-Is not a jerk
-A guy that would not marry you in the first 5 months     (he pointed out that did not work out too well for me with my first marriage - OMG!)
-He should only visit and/or sleepover if he is invited    (sort of like a vampire?!)
-Be nice with animals - but does not like bugs or rats or mice
-Be a Holder of all your secrets     ( I did not realize I have- secrets yikes!)
-He should have a good job.  Like maybe he should work for NASA and gets lots of money. Except then you wouldn't get to see him a lot, so maybe not.
-A guy that would build something like a dollhouse or a castle and not say "ew" about it.
-He should be a good writer and not play too many video games
-He should not waste water! You do not want that happening in your house.
-He should do laundry
-If my mom asks him to go somewhere - he should say "yes" or "no"- NOT maybe
-He should love to read
-He would mow the lawn
-He shouldn't spend all day looking at himself in the mirror checking to see if he looks good
-Be a good hugger
-He shouldn't go nuts if he sees a beehive or a clogged toilet like Daddy does.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Excuse me, your pants are on fire.

Men lie. It's a universal truth. The question is not "if," but how much?  In my extensive research (consisting of living daily life for the past 40 years on Planet Earth which is inhabited in part by human males) I have found that human males start lying at an early age and continue throughout the duration of their lives. Also, there are varying degrees of lies they tell.

It starts simple, early on in life. Usually to avoid getting into trouble.
I remember a time when my brother was 4 years old. I was 7. We were playing in the backyard and my mother had specifically told us not to turn on the garden hose. At one point she came to the yard to check on us and said to my brother, "I told you not to touch the hose."  He turned to her and replied, "I'm not touching it."  As he stood there holding the garden hose with the water turned on at full blast.

I notice it with my own children too. Nothing sets a male child up to lie more than a mother walking into a room and asking a question like "What are you doing?"  "Who is yelling?" "Who broke the …?"
Immediately they start to deflect blame.  "It wasn't me" is not just a phrase that Shaggy made up for his song.  It is a staple of the male vocabulary.

It is almost as if it is instinct.  A female asks a question- a male will say something, anything. Even if it's a lie. Sometimes they don't even mean to lie.  They just do it and once the story starts spinning it just goes in circles.

Nothing illustrates it more than putting a few males in a room and asking what they did that day.  On Saturdays when Oz returns with my children (2 boys and 1 girl) I always ask, "How was your day? What did you do?"  It's really just conversation. But, my goodness to see Oz and the children try to piece together a story is quite a shit show.  One will start and then the next one corrects him and then they argue and Oz will jump in and offer his version of their day and before you know it…no one can remember.  Except my daughter.  I can always count on her.  She recalls the important facts and tells them straight without editing.

Because really that's the thing.  No one is lying to be devious in this scenario. It's just that they can't remember so instead of just saying that they put together a great story.  OR sometimes they do remember but they aren't sure how much they should say because they don't know what the reaction will be.  SO they "edit."

Now, I know a few people might say this sounds biased and that not just men lie. And that is true. However, I have found that males tend to lie more and with less discernment.

That is why I always go with my daughter's version of any story.  Because females tend to have minds like a steel trap and we store every bit of information away in there.  We know how to decipher the important parts and we tell it like it is more often than not because we know by instinct that nothing good ever comes from lying.

I always tell my children, don't bother lying because I always find out everything anyway. It will have just wasted everyone's time and accomplished nothing productive.

As boys grow up and become men their degrees of lying seem to vary greatly.  So do their reasons.

Maybe you have met a man that lies about where they went for lunch. He might be lying because he had been trying to not eat junk food but stopped off at McDonalds and doesn't want to disappoint you.  Or maybe he stopped at McDonalds because he was hungry, but when he arrived at your house he realized you had cooked a gourmet meal and so he lies and says he is starving so you won't feel bad.

Or maybe your man hands you his paycheck and forgets to mention the amount he put in his pocket (that you will of course find later when you do the laundry.) He will say he didn't remember this (lie of omission.) Since it is a grey area you may let it slide.  But, you may be checking pockets more often.

Maybe he lies and tells you he had sex with 25 people and you learn later it was more like 2.   Maybe he will tell you it was 2 people and you find out it was closer to 50.  Or maybe he will tell you he is a virgin, but you find out later he was married for 4 years. Or maybe you think you are the only woman he is talking to, sleeping with, etc.  Then you realize you are one of the women in what seems like a village.

My favorite is when a man tells you something and then forgets he told it to you.  Later, he will lie about the story or change a few details.  You will ask him about it and he will say, "Shit! I forgot I told you that."

Seriously in the dating world the endlessness of lies is vast. Some are so completely outrageous they are downright hilarious!

Others are so freaking close to the truth, yet not the exact truth.  They are about 3/4 of the story, but omit the most significant part. Those are the lies that hurt the most.  Because that is a person you probably have gotten close enough to that they confide in you, they tell you enough that there is some trust built up.  You feel a sense of security because you think you know enough.  Then BAM!  that one teeny, tiny, GIANT, explosive detail surfaces ~ because the truth always does.  And you realize - there are no exceptions to the rule.  Men lie.  You just have to hope you have found one decent enough to only lie about the small stuff!

Or maybe somewhere out there is the Unicorn of all Men ~ the man that tells the truth.   If you find him, let me know.