Getting Away

Sometimes one just has to get away from things for a couple of days or even just a couple of hours. I believe it’s a necessity for everyone to de-stress in a completely different environment from time to time.

Sometimes it’s work, for others it may be bills or family issues. Some may have more serious things going on. At any rate, if at all possible, getting out of your normal environment can do wonders to boost the morale. My daughter and I had a chance to get out into the country for a couple of days and it was so nice to get out of the city, away from the stress. The drive was great. We drove with the windows down and the music blasting. Just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I love the city, but it does get to be too much at times. Being in the countryside means getting away from the noise and lights.

Without the city lights the stars were so bright. The silence so much more complete without the constant dull roar of traffic and city noise. It was just the sound of crickets and the breeze rustling through the trees. Where I live, there’s alway some lights. Maybe not in my immediate area but definitely from the major roads and businesses close by. Out there in the countryside, it seemed even darker. Maybe  it just seemed that much darker when it was completed with the absence of city noises also.

Did you know that you can actually see spiders at night? Heh, I was told to take a flashlight and shine it across the yard. Mind you, I was standing in the middle of said yard at the time of this “said experiment”…  Anyway, I shone the flashlight across the yard. They were telling me to look for the shining diamond-like dots. I looked and saw all sorts of white things floating in the air. Pollen, dust and such. Okay, fine. so I see them. No biggie.

“No, no… You’re not looking at the right things.” I was told. “Look on the ground. There are glittering white dots all across the ground, not the pollen and such floating in the air.”

Again, I took the flashlight and really focused on the ground. I found them, hundreds of glittering, pin-pricks of white lights. Some were constant while others blinked on and off. “Okay, I see them,” I said. “What are they?”

“Spiders.”

Uh…. what??? Here I am standing in the middle of the yard and you’re telling me these pin-pricks of lights are spiders?? Not cool at all. “Seriously? or are you just trying to creep me out?”

To prove it, they took me over to the closest diamond glittering light and shone the light directly on the ground. Yep, sure enough there was a spider there. Apparently their eyes reflect the light if you shine it right on them. Once I saw exactly what those glittering lights represented, being out in the middle of the field didn’t seem so enticing anymore. I was quite ready to head inside. They thought it was amusing to see my daughter and mine’s reaction to this, that’s fine. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a city girl. Just get me away from these spiders. I was still fascinated by the whole picking them out just by shining a light at them only I prefer to do it from inside or some other safer spot rather than standing right there in the field among them.

The next day we spent some time among the chickens. They were the cutest things. My daughter fell in love with them. There was a rooster and his harem of chickens. I was so amused just watching them in the yard. The rooster really does watch over his ladies. He crows an awful lot though. Seriously, if I had to live with that every single day, I’d be so annoyed with him. I don’t though. So, I can actually enjoy watching him and his constant crowing.

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You can see him here, crowing away…

And if you mess with his ladies, he gets quite upset. It was absolutely hilarious to watch. We were warned that he can be quite aggressive. That if he feels that you are messing around with his harem. Yes, I like to call it his harem because it just feels right to me. Here you have a lone male surrounded by a bunch of females. He protects them and warns them of what he feels may be impending danger. The funniest part was when he decided to chase my daughter. She was warned that he could get aggressive. “Okay fine” was her answer. It didn’t stop her from going out and trying to catch one of the chickens. Well, he had enough of her messing with his ladies and decided to give her a little charge. She skipped away and he stopped. Eh, she thought, no biggie. She didn’t view him as much of a threat. And headed back in among the chickens again. He charged her again. She started trotting away from him. This time he kept coming. We were standing over on the edge of the yard yelling at her to run and run faster. She looked behind her and he was actually gaining on her. I saw her kick her running up a notch. She still didn’t look too worried. But the rooster was determined and was absolutely not stopping. I could see that he was right on her heels and she knew it for she could feel him behind her as she ran. He was just waiting for that right moment when he could lift up with his wings and attack her with his spurs. I think at this moment she really took him seriously and began sprinting.  She was also yelling for help at this point. I have to say I was a horrible mother at that moment because I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so comical to see a creature significantly smaller than an adult sized person actually get so bold and aggressive. The only thing that saved her was the fact that she reached me and we had a dog on a leash with us. That rooster wasn’t going to mess around with a dog. At any rate, she’s got a little more respect for him now.

Here are some of his ladies…

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My favorite… bouffant lady

This one was the matriarch of the chickens. She seemed to be the head female of the bunch

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There were horses also

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Don’t let things overwhelm you. When it gets difficult, try to find a way to get out. Go someplace different. Get into a new frame of mind. Something that will take you away from problems or aggravations to relax. This may seem silly to some but for me being around the chickens kind of took my mind off of everyday issues. Watching them run around the yard and interacting with each other was a way to escape. There were also three chicks and seeing how they had three chickens assigned to take care of each of those three chicks was precious. They would stay on the ground and close to the coop with them rather than up on the perch or out in the yard with the rest of them was just so amazing to watch.

I’m good now, more relaxed and ready to face the week ahead.

 

 

Time…

Time has been on my mind lately. How quickly it passes and it’s gone forever. On one end I have my mother who is in her eighties. With every passing year, she comments that she’s surprised that she’s still around to see this new year, surprised to make it yet another year as her birthday comes. On the other end I have my teenager who has her whole life in front of her. She’s not worried about running out of time, but she’s feeling anxious about becoming an adult and moving out of the cocoon -like protection of home. And as for me…I see my mother getting older and know that my time is limited with her and at the same time, I see my teenager getting closer and closer to graduation and know that she’ll be moving out of the nest to go to college soon. It’s sad and exciting at the same time.

There was a morning when I had to leave much earlier than normal and it was still dark when I arrived in the parking lot at work. As the sun came up I started snapping pictures of it. I realized just how quickly time is passing as I took pictures and saw the differences in the sunrise in just a matter of minutes.

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when I first got into the parking lot…

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just a moment later…

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not more than five minutes, in fact it was probably less…

it’s awesome when you sit back and think of how quickly the earth is spinning and how fast time is passing. It’s not something that I want to dwell on but I don’t want to forget just how precious each and every moment in life is.

Soak in the beauty around us, cherish the moments with our loved ones, and most of all never be afraid to try new experiences. Just live and live with happiness and joy in your hearts.

The Suitcase and the Teenage Girl

Want a little chuckle in your day? Tell a teenage girl that she can only take a single, small, carryon size suitcase on a trip. Sit back and watch as she tries to pack. It’s quite amusing.

We had the opportunity to travel to NYC a few weeks ago with a school group and we were told that in order to accommodate such a large group traveling together each and every one of us needed to take nothing larger than an airline carry-on size suitcase in order to try and avoid having to spend time checking and picking up luggage. A collective moan went up around the classroom when the announcement was made. We were going to be up there for a total of four days, of course that size would be just fine. The older women, men and guys in the group had no problems with that restriction. BUT the teenage girls, that statement hit them hard. Along with the size of the luggage was the fact everyone also had to abide with the airline requirement of 3 oz. containers of liquids all contained in a small plastic bag. One could see their brains clicking along thinking of all the things that they just absolutely need and how they could possibly survive for four whole days without some of these things.

I’ve tried to get my daughter to pack light before without much success. She would always overpack and we would end up in a skirmish over how she just couldn’t possibly do without all of these items. And since these were supposed to be vacation moments for me, times to get away from the stress of work, life, bills and such… I would give in and let her take a bigger size. Stressing and arguing over the size of a suitcase just didn’t seem worth it if I wanted to enjoy my brief vacation times. Well, this time the command down to everyone so she couldn’t wheedle and plead her way out of that one. I figured I’d sit back and enjoy the show.

First of all, we were going to New York City, a place where style is first and foremost. Additionally, it was quite cold the weekend that we were there (it was in the 30’s) and we are Floridians. At home, the weather was already in the 70’s and 80’s at this point. Also, it’s kind of hard to imagine cold when our winters only drop down to the 50’s for the most part. My daughter kept trying to pick out stylish clothes that she would wear in warmer weather. I had to keep reining her in to remind her that she needed to focus on warmer clothes, on layering and staying warm. Of course selecting bulkier, warmer clothes tend to take up more space in an already small suitcase leaving very little room for additional clothes. Then she needed to be sure there was room for shoes, toiletries, and certain essentials. It took a while, days actually, she packed, repacked, dumped everything out, and packed yet again. Her room looked like a tornado whipped through it. Every drawer was agape, clothes draped and strewn about. Vials of shampoos, conditioners and makeup littered the dresser counter spaces. Her room literally had a little path leading from the door to the bed where she was packing. My suitcase on the other hand had already been packed and ready to go a week earlier, so I was able to sit back and watch. I think every mother enjoyed watching their daughters struggle with this knowing how many times we’ve tried to convince them that they only needed the bare necessities for a certain event only to be met with extreme resistance.

She did it though. She learned a few tricks along the way such as rolling things vs. folding and tucking items into others. She learned how to maximize the use of every possible space in that small, rectangular box. We even ended up coming home with a few unworn pieces AND was even able to pack in souvenirs that we picked up along the way.

Now that she’s accomplished this, there’s no way I’m allowing her to take a bigger suitcase than the one she used to NYC on a beach vacation. Who knows – I just may limit her to a backpack. That’s not an unreasonable request, I mean, we’re talking about the beach here. All one needs is a bikini, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops and some sunscreen. Should be interesting to see how that one turns out.

The Day Sex Became an Awkward Subject

As a teenager, sex was tempting – forbidden – enticing… The hormones start going wild in a teenager’s body causing them to make reckless choices. Throwing caution to the wind, we push the limits often crossing them. It’s usually a crazy times in our lives when we’re discovering certain erotic feelings and emotions all for the first time. It’s a rush. It’s crazy and breath-taking. Some of us resist while others let go of all caution and dive in body and soul.

Sex changes as we get older, wiser and often as part of a couple. While still exciting and fun, it also changes in a way. It becomes more stable and expected. It’s not “forbidden” anymore which added a huge element of excitement. In this stage, sometimes couples have to work at creating the excitement that they once had.

As a parent of a teenager…

All of a sudden SEX becomes a dreaded thing. Something to cringe from. A topic that most of us, as parents, want desperately to avoid.

Everywhere I turn I’m seeing teens the same age as my daughter having sex, talking about sex, switching sex partners casually, and getting pregnant.

I’m on the other side of the coin now. The side that my parents were on when I first discovered the awesome headiness of an intimate encounter with the opposite gender. I look at my teenager and I still see my baby, my little girl. Surely she can’t reach that same point that I remember way back when, but she is. Now SEX takes on a new meaning for me. I’m dealing with it though. Short of locking her up in a room and taking away all means of communication with the outside world, I just have to trust that I’ve taught her enough that she’ll make good choices.

Telling a teenager “NO,” really isn’t an option, it’ll only make them determined to prove you wrong. All I can do is try and keep the lines of communication open between us. Make sure that she always feels safe and comfortable coming to me about anything. So far it seems to have worked, she’s confided in me about things that have made both of us uncomfortable, some of it involving her friends and others involving herself, but we have been able to discuss the situation. It usually ends up with me shaking my head in disbelief or some awkward admission of fact. I’m a huge believer in being honest with answers when your teenager asks. My philosophy is that if they ask, they deserve the truth. If the truth is something that you regret then show that to them. Everyone makes mistakes and parents are no different.

We were having an uncomfortable (for me) question and answer session the other day. It started off with me finding out some things about her and her friends and segued into her asking me about my teen years.  She was asking me questions about when I first had sex, when I first experimented with pot, smoking, drinking, etc…  When she asked me about smoking, I hesitated but then I told her the truth. Thirteen.

“Wow, that’s really young.”

“Yea, I know. We didn’t have access to all the information that you guys have today.” I was trying hard to let her know that smoking really wasn’t a great idea. I’m not a smoker. I’ve smoked cigarettes at certain times in my life but they were brief and something always made me quit. To which I’m grateful for today.

“When did you first get drunk?”

Ugh. This isn’t getting any easier. “Um, probably about 15.”

“Hmm. I’m not going to drink.”

Wonderful, she’s showing her own mind here. We’ve had a lot of discussions regarding drinking, smoking and drugs. I’m really happy to hear her come to that kind of conclusion.

“When did you first have sex?”

Rolling my eyes to the heavens and heaving a huge sigh. Do I tell the truth or lie? Truth. “Sixteen.”

“With who?”

“Your dad, who else?”

She looked at me solemnly, “Thank you for telling me the truth, mom.”

The bad thing about these admissions was having to say I had my first with a lot of these things at a younger age than she is now. In my mind, she’s still a baby. In my teenage mind when I was 13, 15, 16… I was ready. I was old enough.

How screwed up is that??

NYC – continued…

No trip to NYC is complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty, right? Here we are on a frigid day made even colder by being on the river. It was quite awesome to see this famous statue in the flesh – er… stone?  Anyway, amazing ride around Ellis Island with a breathtaking view of NYC Skyline as well.

 

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Central Park, now that was another one of my favorites on the trip. The day we went there was apparently the first real “warm” day according to New Yorkers. It was actually the equivalent of a Florida winter day but okay, if you say so. The sun was out and the park was absolutely packed with street performers, vendors and people. Everyone just poured out of their homes to enjoy the sunshine and I guess to spend a day outdoors, Central Park is pretty much the only place to go since everything else is buildings and asphalt. Personally, I would have loved to be on my own time that day and do some jogging through the park and do some serious people watching. It WAS a beautiful day. The horse and carriages were out – I saw signs on them that said $3.75 a minute.  What?? Who charges by the minute. Anywhere else it would be something like $25.00 per half hour or something like that, but per minute?? I suppose I could hop on and right off 10 steps down the road. Seriously?! The street performers were fun to watch though, there was pretty much everything from singers to some guy twirling a ribbon. One of the interesting performer I saw was some girl playing a violin while twirling a hula hoop around her waist. Hey, it was entertaining. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of her.

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I would imagine it’s a beautiful place in the summer when everything turns green. In Florida, everything is green and blooming and has been for a good couple of months now. But we did see some signs of the coming Spring here…

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Lincoln Center aka The Met…

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I fell asleep during the opera. Rude, I know and I didn’t mean to but it had been an exhausting couple of days and that night was going to be my night for patrolling the halls in the hotel room to ensure everyone stayed in and asleep. The center was gorgeous though. We went straight there after a whole day of touring without any change of clothes and I definitely felt a bit grungy compared to some of the women I saw there.

One of my favorite theaters was The Amsterdam Theatre. Aladdin was playing, while the show was thoroughly entertaining, I was completely fascinated with the theatre itself. It had been built in the early 1900’s and the detailing that went into the walls and ceilings were amazing. We don’t see anything like that in the new buildings anymore.

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Is that not breathtaking. The detail that went into this theatre…

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. I had tears in my eyes the whole time I was in there. I remember watching the whole horror unfold on television and remember how even in Florida, I got that call that the city was closing down and that I needed to come pick up my daughter who was in pre-school at the time. I cannot even begin to fathom how horrifying the whole experience had to have been for the people living and working right here. Seeing the memorial was special and I’m so grateful that the decision was made to turn this place into a memorial honoring those who lost their lives that day. They did a beautiful job honoring them. Each building has a pool where they once stood and all around the pool are the names of those people who died that day. Even the unborn babies (for the women who were pregnant) were mentioned and I loved that. Another special thing they do to honor these individuals is to place a white rose on the names when it falls on their birthdays.

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We whizzed down on Fifth Avenue. By whizzing, I mean the bus literally zoomed through there. I’m sitting there watching the people shopping and every fiber of my being was itching to yell at the bus driver to just stop and let me out here. You guys can come back for me later. I wanted to stroll and window shop at all these stores. Yes, window shop… somehow I get the feeling that things are just a wee bit out of my price range there. Okay, maybe a lot out of my range, but hey – window shopping is still free.

There was so much we saw and probably still so much more to see. Someday, I would really like to go back on my own time and explore. Another thing to add to my bucket list. Seems that every time I get to cross something off the bucket list, there’s more to add.

If you’re a New Yorker, I’d love to hear your version of how living in NYC is….

NEW YORK CITY!!!

NYC wasn’t necessarily one of the places that I had on my list of places to visit. I think I’d always been somewhat intimidated by New York. Everything I ever read or seen about that city was, quite frankly, overwhelming. I’m more of a beach or nature girl. I usually like things on a slower pace, BUT – big but – I had the opportunity to visit NYC and it turned out to be amazing. If I had visited NYC in my teens or twenties, I could very easily have wanted to move there even for a short while. There’s an incredible energy to the city. It’s fast paced, exciting and never a dull moment.

I went as part of a group (a LARGE group), we were there for four days and the guides took us all over the city in that short period of time. We were able to visit all five boroughs, two broadway shows, one opera and all the key NYC places that most of us hear about on television or movies. It was exciting but also quite exhausting. You see, I was a chaperone and as many of us know – being a chaperone is work. So the trip, while exciting and awesome, was also extremely stressful and tiring. We were the first ones up and the last ones asleep plus the fact that we also had night shifts where we needed to get up for hallway patrol. Smart but probably not necessary since every single day was packed with activity from early in the morning to very late at night so everyone was exhausted by the end of the day. Still… always good to make sure.

Anyway – day one. by the time we went to sleep that first day, many of us had literally been awake for some 23 to 24 hours straight. Exhausting but with the energy NYC has, I didn’t really feel it until I hit the pillows that night. We flew out about 4 am and arrived in NYC three hours later and walked out into frigid 30 degree weather. Remember – we’re Floridians. The weather in Florida for us was already in the 70’s and 80’s. 30 degrees felt quite cold to us, me in particular as I don’t take too well to cold weather. My daughter on the other hand, loved the cold. She thrives on it. We were breathing out “smoke” for most of the time we were there! In Florida, we might wake up on a cold morning where we can see our breath but that never lasts for the whole day, even on our coldest winter days.

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Me – leaving Florida and the view from the plane window as the sun started to come up.

Straight off the plane we headed out to begin our NYC tour.

One of the first places we went to was the Rockefeller center where we were able to see the NYC skyline. I have to say, I fell in love with the whole excitement that is uniquely NYC. There were so many people and they were all moving with a purpose. Being from a southern state, we take things at a much slower pace. Not that we’re lazy, but we do have our moments when we just stroll, whereas everyone I saw in New York seemed to be moving with a definite purpose. Everyone seemed to have a place to get to and in a hurry too.

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One sees this in pictures and movies all the time but it’s just totally awesome when you see it in person for the first time.

New York is an assault on the senses. There’s just no other way to say this. The city literally attacks all your senses. Sight – one just cannot stop looking at everything. There is just too much to see, buildings, people, cars…etc. Smell – there are vendors at every corner, it seems, selling food of all kinds. One also notices the exhaust from all the cars and buses and there are oh so many of them, all fighting for their space on the roads. Taste – so many places to get food. Touch – especially in the theaters, every theatre we saw had velvet covering their seats and walls. All for the sold purpose of acoustics. One can’t resist reaching out and running hands over all the luxurious materials. Sounds – there’s no end to sound, cabs zipping by, buses honking for the cars to get out of the way, people muttering under their breath when they’re trying to get around a large tour group taking up sidewalk space, music coming from street performers… there’s no end to sound in this city.

We ate at Ellen’s Stardust Diner that evening. What a place! I wouldn’t necessarily go for the food but the entertainment was so much fun. The servers are all ambitious, aspiring performers and this diner allows them an opportunity to perform for the patrons. Since the group I was touring with was involved with chorus – they were thrilled to hear many of their favorites being sung and often sang along.

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We ended the day with a performance at the Nederlander Theatre of “Newsies”. These guys put on an awesome performance. There was so much energy and passion going into this show from these actors. Despite how long we had been up that day, we were all enthralled by the performance and easily stayed awake for the whole show.

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It was an absolutely amazing first day in NYC. One that simply will not be forgotten. I’d go back in a heartbeat, but it will have to be on my own time where I’ll be able to really explore every aspect of the city without the responsibility of being a chaperone and the rush of being part of a large group.

Stay tuned for more… and feel free to share your experiences with NYC.

I Hate Alarm Clocks!

I’ve never been a morning person. This morning the alarm woke me rudely as it always does. As I do every morning, I turn it off and roll out of bed and into the shower. I’ve learned years ago not to snooze for an extra five or ten minutes as it always leaves me feeling frustrated and wanting more sleep.

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Back to this morning – I wake up, reluctantly – shower, in sleep mode – get dressed – when I noticed that my daughter still wasn’t up yet. I knew that she should have already been up by the time I got dressed so I rushed in there where I found her still in deep sleep. Crap!

Rushing over to her side, I shook her shoulder, not that gently either. I needed to get through that deep coma she was in at the moment. After a few moments of shaking and calling her name, she finally rose up to the surface.

Squinting, since I turned the overhead light on, she threw her hands up in the air to try and block it out. “Whaa??” I could see her trying to orient herself.

“Honey, you need to get up. You’re going to be late for school.” I could see she was still struggling to shake off the fog she was in. I kept shaking her and trying to get her to focus.

“We need to be out of here by 7:00. Do you know what time it is?” I took her cell phone and waved it in front of her eyes. “Here take your phone and look at the time.”

With one eye, she peered at her cell and looked at me. She should have been jumping out of bed at this point.

“Do you see the time?? You only have fifteen minutes to get ready before we have  to leave.”

Slowly, she looked at me and at her phone then back to me. “Mom, I’m confused.  Why do we have to get up?”

OMG, she’s seriously out of it! “WAKE UP. It’s 6:45.”

Again she peered at her phone. “But it’s 5:45.”

My mouth, which was opening to tell her again to get her butt out of bed, snapped shut. No. That can’t be right… is it?

I backed out into the hallway to look down the hall into my bedroom and the clock that was glowing on my bedside and sure enough – 5;45.

Seriously??? How the hell did I miss that?