Friday, March 20, 2015

Country Road Get Me Home

Never in my mind had I ever thought I’d be singing this on a trip home, more or less hearing it 4 times in 2 and a half days.  But I did, and I’m home and I haven’t sung that song since I walked thru my front door.
I must say traveling through Philly is awesome, it does not compare to Newark at all.  Economy Parking is convenient and you do not have to drive in circles to check to see if the lot is open.  Check in was a breeze, maybe because I flew US Air Express, you know the jet the corporate types fly to short distances.  Security at Philly was easy too, again, it may have just been the time I was at the airport and maybe people knew what they were doing to keep the line moving.  It was the quickest under 30 minutes of arriving at any airport in my life. Except for the very nice woman at the check in counter who complimented me on my hair then asked if I ever saw the Dove commercial with the children with curly hair. I still need to look that one up.
My lunch was interesting, every seat had an IPad in which to ordered food and beverages.  I watched two women enter and exit because of the new technology way of ordering and paying.  I wasn’t even carded for my large Yards Pale Ale.  I also met two ladies traveling from Nepal, and learned that Nepal has 1 runway which after being stuck there another three days, they were happy to be in the US, even if it was to connect on their way home.
My flight was ok, I actually flew sober, which means I didn’t order any beverages in flight.  After the two and half at lunch, I had enough, plus I wanted to save room for real bourbon later.  If you haven’t figured it out yet I went to Tennessee for work.  I flew into Nashville, which is like any other airport except for the country music posters everywhere.  
I had a car service to my hotel and a nice conversation with the driver about softball.  In some ways made me jealous they get to play year round (almost), it would have been a great experience if I was younger.
My cab from the hotel to the place for dinner actually steered me away from the overpriced, small plate fare and dropped me off at Fast Jacks.  The food was great, but I did get carded.  Let me set the stage, the bartender, who was a much younger version of Yosemite Sam (minus the hat) asked me for my ID after I ordered the drink.  It was off the menu, because like any martini, drink connoisseur if you ask a real bartender what they recommend, they will tell you its not on the menu and its one of their signature drinks that they are trying to implement.  So that’s exactly what I did and I ended up with a Bourbon martini which tasted similar to an Old Fashioned with George Dickel Bourbon.  Now the bartender says to me, “I know you have to be close to my age, because no 21 year old would order a bourbon drink, the owner doesn’t believe me, can I see your ID?”  As usual I laugh, smile and hand it over.  The owner, who was a woman in her late 50’s (I’m guessing) across the bar says in her best accent, “Man, you look so young you sure make me feel old.”
The bar itself was cozy, picture walking into a country store, playing today’s hits and watching “The Voice” on the big screens.   I had the one drink, plus another one on the house.  Props to Trent the bartender, who not only made killer drinks, but topped them both off with fancy ice cubes with limes.  
I met some very nice people at that office, a woman even complimenting me on my hair in the bathroom.  I was beginning to think not only did I stand out with my northerner accent but my hair was attracting attention.  Thankfully no one thought I was Reba’s daughter.  The best compliment which I still laugh about is the woman with whom I’ve spoken to a lot on the phone, “I thought you were taller, you’re an itty bitty thing!”  I guess sometimes in pictures even if its just a head shot it makes you look taller.  
The location I was in Tennessee didn’t have much of a nightlife, nor a variety to eat, and you had to make sure they were open that day.  In fact the closest Barnes and Noble, Best Buy was 35 minutes away.  The group suggested we eat at “Tuesdays” for our last group dinner, which by my surprise was a decent place except for the strange group of older ladies sitting at another table all wearing different hats.  I thought maybe that night that group of ladies had a ‘hat’ meeting or something, turns out it was someone’s birthday.  
My trip was successful and I am glad I had the opportunity to go, network and taste some real bourbon, not to mention absorb the southern accent.  All in a days work! 
At the bar waiting for my flight to leave, in a bar where there is a country singer strumming his guitar playing “Mamma’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”, while enjoying another large beer, I receive a message my flight has been delayed an hour.  I continue to sing along while yet again another message for a flight delay.  Now I order food and another beer, that’s going to be another 2 hours.  I’m halfway done with my beer and now the flight is cancelled.  I think I must have said WTF outloud because the two guys on either side asked if my flight was cancelled.  I drink up, pay my bill and head out to the cancellation desk.  In line I overhear the guy behind me on the phone trying to get on another airline.  This was while I was trying to get a group of people to share a rental car and split the drive home (sometimes I just think on the fly).  He’s successful in getting the last flight out, and so quick thinking I did the same with some help from my sister.  I also didn’t want to lose my place in line because I wanted my luggage back!
Fast forward to me back at the bar after getting my luggage, checking in again at a new airline and going through security again (by now I’m an expert), this guy is there.  Now I have a buddy to hang out with for another 3+ hours, and he’s from Middlesex County, he knows people who went to my high school, so killing 3 hours was easy.  Plus I wasn’t by myself, singing to the same country music guy, who I tipped after his last song “I’m on Fire” was a great nod to Springsteen.  Had to give the singer props.
Again, many of you will be shocked that I did not drink during the flight home.  By that point I had 4 beers at the airport in about 5 hours time, I was done and I had to drive back home at midnight.  I like to fly Southwest, they are no joke, except we didn’t play any games on this flight.  We boarded and off we went, hauling ass more like it on the runway.  When we landed we hauled ass to the terminal.  I guess at that time the airport isn’t really that busy, I didn’t mind, I just wanted to get home.
I’ve learned a few things on this trip: 1) Do not travel during Daylight Savings change into a time zone change and back.  I had to recover twice.  2) Plan out your dinner plans for the first night in advance, that may have saved me time from having to ask the Hotel for recommendations. 3) Make friends at the airport, you never know if you’re flight is going to be delayed or cancelled.  4) Have a backup plan if the flight is cancelled.  I’m going to do research next time I fly so I know what flights leave on other airlines around that time. 5) John Denver isn’t so bad, but hearing “Take me home, country road” twice in one day was my breaking point.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Celebrating 10 Years of Cookies

This year marks the 10th year my sister, my mom and I have been baking cookies for the holidays.  For those of you who do not know the story, we decided to take over for Grandma who couldn’t bake like she used to anymore because of her arthritis.  Its become an event we plan ahead for, we have an inventory spreadsheet, we even have a list of all the cookies we’ve ever made since 2004. 
This year we had two little helpers, my 8 month old niece and 2 year old nephew, who played with mixing bowls and a whisk.  My nephew helped bring us our ingredients too.    We were very thankful that we all could be together this year in Albany, NY, unlike last year when we were separated by a snowstorm and had to do this in two different locations.
After 4 days – 20 hours and 40 minutes of baking (including naptime, storytime, lunch, dinner and babysitting so my sister and her husband could finish Christmas shopping) here are the Top 10 Cookies we made this year plus the new ones* (and any extras made with the ingredients we had left):

Spritz – Happy Little Trees
Spritz – Red Bells
Peppermint Meltaways
Orange Creamsicles
Double Mint Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Cinnamon Chocolate Drops
Sugar Cookie Mint
White Chocolate Cranberry
Minty Pretzels
*Chocolate Krinkles
*Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
*Whole Grain Cherry Almond Cookies
*Holiday Eggnog Snickerdoodles
*Kitchen Sink Cookies
*Chocolate Cappuchino Cookies
(recipes available by request only)


Key Phrases during the cookie baking:
  • Italians like them hard and dry – American’s like them buttery
  • Let me wash my hands, then I’ll roll my balls
  • Balls aren’t sticking
  • I can’t hold a pen
  • What if we make denture friendly cookies?
  • Roll roll roll your balls
  •  Let’s make some Italian dressing for the Italian cookies 

Phrases from the little helpers
  • “The deer are all gone”
  • “The turkey are all gone”
Our cookies are baked with friendship and love and we look forward to continuing this family tradition once a year in December to bake our hearts out and create new memories to pass on to the little ones.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Cards – To Send or Not To Send

Why not? I always sent out Christmas cards, I can’t tell you when it started, probably after college sometime and definitely after I got married. You take your wedding list and send out cards to who attended.  The next year I took it one step further, I added columns to that excel sheet I call an address list (which was originally an Access database), and added columns with years.  I began tracking who I sent to and who sent one back.  It wasn’t a game, it was courtesy.  I take the time to write something in the card, rather than stick a family photo printed from Shutterfly and leave the personalization to the printer.  I WRITE something in the card, I may even say ‘Hey wanna meet for lunch in January?’  Unfortunately anyone who doesn’t send one back gets dropped from the listing for the next year.  Anyone who doesn’t respond to my attempts at meeting up I no longer waste efforts to try.  But I still send Christmas cards, signed sealed delivered.  At least this year the list is down to 30 people, 30 of my closest friends and family (imagine if I got remarried, wow my budget would love me).  I do think any glitter cards should be disbarred, I’m sure the CDC or NIIH will find something wrong with glitter eventually, inhaling it could be hazardous to your health besides making a god-awful mess.

On the annual cookie note….my cookie goodie bag list has diminished too. I no longer just hand them out to the usual suspects, especially if they don’t talk to me all year.  I consider that list a list of VIPs, not the occasional acquaintances.  No apology here, treat me the way I treat you and perhaps you’ll get a card and a bag of treats. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Last Time I Made Pancakes

I have put a lot of thought into what I’d actually call this one, and this title stuck with me.  Today November 21st it will be 10 years my father has passed, he’s never far from my mind and I miss him more this year than ever.

It was a Sunday morning in November, I had just started making pancakes for breakfast when the phone rang.  My now ex-husband answered the phone, and he walked into the kitchen with this solemn look on his face and told me I needed to sit down.  Some of this is still a blur, I do not remember what time it was, or speaking to anyone on that phone call, but he told me it was my dad’s girlfriend calling to tell us that he had died that morning.  

I honestly do not remember what happened next except tears and tissues and composing myself enough to gather a list of numbers I had to call, and trust me those phone calls are very difficult to make.  I aged a few years that morning, taking deep breaths, trying to be the strong one.  How do I tell my grandfather, his father? How do I tell his brothers?  More importantly how do I tell my sister?  Things you aren’t prepared for at 29, things no one can prepare you for.   Phone calls you never thought you’d have to make – ever.

I could go on and tell you how the rest of the day went, how it felt as if the day went on forever and how the next three days is somewhat a blur.  Family coming, flooding of sympathy, picking out the flowers, the casket, the service – those were decisions I had to make along with my sister.  I did lean on my ex a lot for this, and I must thank him for being there.  My father’s cousins, along with his friends and mine, were a huge support too.  It was then I realized who some of my true friends are.  The wake seemed to blend into both sessions, the line was endless, it was out the door on a chilly November night.  I don’t think I ever sat down.  The support I had from family and friends really helped me through this.

While everything else was going on, I had also been blindsided by my dad’s girlfriend who tried to say she was the ‘fiance’ so her name would mean something in the obituary.  She also produced a ring.  If my Dad was engaged he would have told us.  That was just the beginning of a very long drawn out legal battle my sister and I went through with her for almost two years.  I never want to see her again.  Had I been a stronger person as I am now when this happened I would have shut her out completely.

I was made Executor of my Dad’s estate, along with that came responsibility. In hindsight I should have taken the time off from work to do this properly and not run myself to the ground like I did, although it did keep me busy and kept my mind occupied.  I should have not included my dad’s girlfriend with me at all during this process before it got ‘legal’, I should have never trusted her.   Decisions some of us should not have to make at 29, yet I did with the help of my sister.  We became each other’s rock during this and we still are. 

One of the longest weeks of my life, one of the saddest Thanksgivings and Christmas’ I’ve ever spent, not a day goes by when I don’t think about him.  For months I would sit on the couch in the living room and just cry, I wanted to know why he was taken from us so young, without warning.  I still want to know why.  There are a lot of unanswered questions, some timelines that do not add up, conversations best left to be had with the Scibetta family around the dinner table.  Every month I went to the cemetery, it made me feel better to visit him and my grandmother and my Uncle.  I spent some time there, I talked and cried and said ‘goodbye’.  It was a way for me to cope and now I go twice a year on his birthday and the day he passed away.

There were months afterwards he would appear to me in dreams, as if he was trying to tell me something.  I’m not sure when those stopped but occasionally he’ll make an appearance.  

I didn’t quite come to terms with everything until after I was separated and started counseling (yes I went to counseling) and I learned a lot.  I actually got some closure with a few things but never an answer to ‘why’.  While we were separated my now ex husband said he should have sent me to counseling earlier to deal with losing my father, had that have helped me then, probably not.  I was so consumed with work, finishing my second degree, then the legal battle, I didn’t have time to think about anything else.  Not everyone reacts the same way, we all don’t suffer at the same time.  We will eventually deal with it at our own pace except when it starts to affect our health, our work and our life and those around us, at that time you need to seek professional help. 

I was not crazy for going to counseling, I needed to talk to someone other than my now ex-husband, my sister, my friends who have lost a parent.  I need to talk to someone from the outside, without judgment.  I’m glad I did that, and yes maybe I should have gone sooner than 3 years after the fact, but I went.

Four years later, I made pancakes.  At the time they were plain pancakes, only now when I make them they have added ingredients (chocolate chips, bananas, pureed apple, pumpkin spice).  I don’t think about the phone ringing on a Sunday morning while I’m making breakfast anymore.

For those of you who have ever lost a parent I know its not easy but we do get stronger and we have to lean on those close to us.  Eventually your fb posts aren’t going to get you the closure you need, go seek professional help.  You do not need to sign up for a year, just a session, just talk it out with someone else, you’ll learn an awful lot about yourself and the situation and how to deal.  I’d much rather see my friends go talk to a professional than to hit the bottle, that’s one coping mechanism I never went to.

So today Dad I visit your grave with Grandpa, and call my sister who will Skype with your two grandkids, Matthew and Madeleine with their Great Grandpa.  I know you’re proud of us, you’re always watching over us and your memory lives on in each of us.  (Matthew’s a lefty just like you!) 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Surviving the Big D: My Photo Albums

Yes this deserves a mention, because had I known I would have taken them with me.  In the midst of the separation, his parents moved into the Dream House while their new retirement residence was being built, and also sometime that year or the year after (since it took over a year to finally get divorced) he was storing his friends things at the Dream House.  Somehow my photoalbums went missing.  Years of my childhood, pictures of friends at the beach, softball, pool parties at my house in Carteret, parties at the apartment in Edison, my head in the trash can after a New Years Eve party, pictures of my sister and I at Halloween, how my mom dressed us in similar outfits at the holidays, pictures of my Great Aunts and Uncle Mickey, my Grandmothers and my Grandfathers left behind and now are missing.  Some of the last pictures taken with my father before he passed away are somewhere in that Dream House, especially a picture of him that I recall from my wedding where he just looked so GQ, my Dad all dressed up in a tux.  They are albums in a brown box, probably with the word ‘PHOTOS’ on all four sides somewhere in that house unless he tossed them or his parents took them with them OR his friend accidentally moved it out with his things.

I’m still angry, I still don’t know why someone would want to hold onto my photos, photos from before his time.  Photos that he wasn’t apart of.  Photos that mean something to me.  I’ve stopped calling and texting for them back, at the time the refinance was more important (even that took 5 years after the D), but now I’m still angry, I think I always will be angry. 

I’m angry that I lost part of time in photos, that I can never show my niece and nephew pictures of their Grandfather, their Great Grandmother and Great Great Aunts and Uncle.  I can’t show them what it was like back then, I can only tell stories of the past.  I’m angry that they were never returned to me.

Yet I learn now that when I leave a relationship even if its for a temporary ‘break’ take everything with me, leave nothing behind because the person you once trusted for all those years is mostlikely not trusting with your things. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

30 Day + Challenge

After completing T25(plus Gamma) and Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution (my way – 1 dvd per day) I decided to try something else to keep in top form.  This time I’m going to try to keep up with blogging about it, the exercises I did, the food I ate, maybe not tell you exactly what was on my plate every night, but at least give you a sense of what I ate that week.  You can do abs, arms, legs and cardio till you’re sweating but unless you combine healthy meals with that you are wasting your time.
I don’t buy into the 30 Day Calendar Challenges where you are repeating the same exercises over and over again and just increasing the reps.  That doesn’t work, especially if you are using it as your main workout and not as an extra added workout bonus.  Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now. 

For this round of workouts I decided to try Melissa Bender’s 30 Day Ab Challenge combined with her Bikini Competition Workout (3 months).  In her first day of abs she first explains the moves and then does 1 minute intervals of each. (Had I thought this through properly I would not have done my own set of 210 abs last night).  She does this move called Down Dog/Up Dog which not only works your core, but it also works your shoulders.  After the interval I was felt it (I will be doing this again)! 
So far the Bikini Competition Workouts are good (I have three months of different workouts to do), I have been doing two rounds of them (she says you can do 2-3 rounds of them depending on how your body feels).  I do them depending on what else is going on that week – do I have a game? A 5K? Am I training on the bike? 
How am I doing this?  I can stream Youtube from my TV (thankfully) and there are a ton of workouts from everyone under the sun. I’ve even done a few kettlebell workouts and the free TapOut one with Mike Dolce.
Week 2 is in the books, although its been rough this week with working later hours, recovering from riding 35 miles and softball.  I will say I got in a great workout today:  Bikini workout + abs + T25 

Speed 2.0 + batting cages which might have contributed to all the pent up frustration of people ‘accepting’ work related meeting invites for 8 pm EST and then not showing up.
Example of what I ate in Week 2:
Breakfast: 1 egg white + 1 egg, multi grain toast with almond butter or Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal with FF Milk, plus 1 cup of coffee w/almond milk
Snack: Apple
Lunch: Homemade Turkey Burger with brown rice and garden ground string beans + H2O
Snack: Celery sticks with hummus
Dinner: Baked Salmon with low sodium soy sauce and steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) + H20
Snack: Arugula, baby spinach with almonds, black olives and carrots w/homemade dressing (Grapeseed oil, white vinegar and garlic pesto spices)

**Protein Shakes w/ FF milk or Almond Milk w/ cinnamon, flax seed on workout days only or if I have a sweet craving.
Cheat Day - Saturdays: which really isn't a cheat day for me except that I have alcohol and maybe dessert!

This is my neverending journey to continue to be fit and healthy, not everything I do may work for you.  If you want to be fit and healthy you have to start somewhere and continue the lifestyle.  It will be challenging at first, but with the support from those around you, and perhaps if they embark on that journey with you will make it rewarding.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


After watching the “Like a Girl” campaign by Always twice, almost three times I’ve finalized realized why it’s bothersome.  When I was growing up the ‘like a girl’ phrase didn’t exist.  I was picked on in grammar school, not because I was a girl, but because I had different shoes, I had a bad haircut, I had braces, all the things one would get picked on for.  When I started learning how to play softball at 7 years old I wasn’t told that I ‘throw like a girl’, or ‘run like a girl’ in fact, you’ll find all the awards from those days at Field Day where I beat out boys in sprints and long jump.  My parents always encouraged me to be myself, they didn’t segregate me from playing with the boys or encourage the now infamous appreciation for doing things ‘like a girl’ and to be proud of it.  So I’m a little lost as to where Always is coming from.  If we are a society where ‘all men are created equal’ then why segregate the way young people (and those adults) do things ‘like a girl’ or ‘like a boy’.  From as long as I remember I have been told and encouraged to be myself – not to do things ‘like a girl’.  Don’t be like everyone else, be yourself.  I guess society is slowly getting more sensitive in a world where today some of us all still compete on the same playing field (with the boys). 


Now this is where I get mad about “Like a Girl” because I don’t throw like a girl, I don’t cycle like a girl, I do not run like a girl.  I do not care if I break a nail, if my leg gets cut up from sliding into 2nd, I’ve played thru stitches in my hand from a line drive, I’ve continued to ride another 10 miles with blood running down my leg from one of my first falls on my bike when learning to clip in (my wolverine attack as I like to call it).  I play, run, cycle like Natalie.  Not like anyone else.  So if I say that you run, cycle, or throw ‘like a girl’ its only because you won’t go the extra mile, you want to participate so I’ll give you that, but you won’t play hard to win, you want that towel after getting dirty because the ball you just picked up was wet, you walk your bike up that hill instead of seeing if you can push thru it, you don’t want to get your hair wet if it rains on the field.  I think that is where the line is drawn with this campaign and why many of us women athletes are upset about the overall message.  When my niece is old enough to throw a ball, ride a bike, run to the mailbox, I’m going to encourage her to play like herself, not like anyone else.  We are all unique, we are all individuals and in the end there is no comparison.  Make the world like and respect you for what you do and your accomplishments, not because you did it ‘like a girl’.