Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the working spouse

This song, For the first time by the Script, always makes me choke up a bit.  Vinnie was laid off over a year ago and he has been unemployed for that time.  Things are really hard.  A lot of things are hard.  It's not just the money stuff, which is huge, but it is also the emotions.  There are so many different emotions involved in being unemployed and in being the working spouse.  I have not really shared this publicly on my blog because I felt that it was too private.  I will not talk specifically about my husband's stuff or even my stuff regarding the situation.  I will just say this, if you know someone who is in this position, just be there for them.  They might just need a shoulder right now.  Thanks friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My FIRST giveaway!!!!!!

Okay friends, I am beyond excited about this!  I was contacted by My Memories and asked if I would like to host a giveaway for their product.  I used to love scrapbooking but frankly, I don't have the time or the space to dedicate to a craft like that right now.  Or so I thought!  I had never even heard of digital scrapbooking until I started exploring My Memories.

Here is what I found.  It is as easy as downloading the software and then deciding which album to start!  I was able to put together an entire album documenting my wonderful apple picking trip last weekend in one nap time!!  Anyone who knows me knows that I like to get whatever I can done during Lilly's nap.  It just makes life easier to get stuff done without the preschooler trying to type, too!  But here is the best part...you save your project and then you can go back to it later or another day.  I mean, let's be real, sometimes moms need to take a nap when the kids do!  But there is no mess to clean up; no loose grommets floating around that might make it down little throats; no stickers that might get appropriated by little hands.  Because it is digital!!!  I seriously love that aspect about it.   And it is so, so easy.  I cannot wait to print out my album right from my home printer.

Nervous or unsure about how to get started?  Head on over to the My Memories Youtube channel for some step-by-step guidance.

There are so many ways to be creative with this software.  It really is just a jumping point.  You can make calendars, cards, and photo albums.  Create a digitally scrapbooked page as a thank you note; print it out and mail...I promise it is fast and easy and people will love it!  I am already thinking about Christmas gifts I can make.

For ALL my readers, My Memories is giving you a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - $20 value!   Go to the My Memories website  and copy and paste this code: STMMMS81049

One lucky reader will win the My Memories Suite software for free!

Here is how you can win!
You don't have to do everything.  But do at least one and make sure you write a comment about it!!  Detailed instructions below.

Become a follower of my blog. (If you already are, just say that.) (2 entries)

Become a fan of My Memories on facebook. (1 entry)

Follow the My Memories blog. (1 entry)

Follow My Memories on twitter @My Memories Suite (1 entry)

Follow me on twitter @Mellabelle75. (1 entry)

Let me know what your favorite layout from the My Memories site is. (1 entry)

Tweet about the giveaway, 1 entry per tweet, once per day.

So for those of you who have never entered a giveaway before, here is what you do.  For every entry, you write a comment on my blog and say what it is for.  (example: entry 1, I follow your blog, your name and email address.)  If it is a tweet, leave the link to your tweet.  You will be contacted by email if you are the winner, so be sure that your email address is in the comment.

The giveaway will end Saturday, October 1, 2011 at midnight (EST).  Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.

I received a copy of My Memories Suite to use and review for my readers.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

the podiatrist is my friend

**sigh** As many of you know, I have been really trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  This includes eating more fruits and veggies, sleeping more, relaxing as needed and exercising.  I was doing so well with the exercising and running and I was excited to maybe run a 5k this fall.  But then I started to feel pain in my ankle so I rested it for a bit.  Last Monday I went for a nice walk in between work and back to school night, since I was staying in Hoboken with nothing else to do.  I kept it easy.  I ran for 2 minutes but realized I was not ready to run again, especially on the hard sidewalks.  My ankle felt fine.  All week it felt fine.  I was wearing heels and it felt fine.  On Thursday it suddenly hurt.  A lot.  By Friday afternoon I was thinking that maybe I had to go to the ER it felt that bad.  I was able to get an appointment with a podiatrist for Saturday morning.

Here is the verdict:  chronic sprain in my right ankle, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs in both feet.  No "pounding" activity for me for awhile.  Special braces to wear at night to help the plantar fasciitis, one to wear while on my feet for the sprain.  The usual anti-inflammatory meds and a cream are also added.  The doctor was very thorough and watched the way I was walking and standing.  He thinks that they way I walk contributed to both things so he ordered orthotics to help with that.

I am so disappointed with this situation.  He suggested swimming or using a stationary bike, but I do not have the money to join a gym to do those activities right now.  Maybe in a few months I will be able to join someplace with a pool.  I think the biggest part of the disappointment is that the running/walking was always about and for me, and only me.  Maybe now that my hand is feeling better I can do yoga again.  I forgot to mention last week that they finally removed that 1 inch stitch that was still in my hand.  Since it was removed it has improved 100%!

I think what I need to do is concentrate on what I can do and not what I cannot.  I can do abs, strengthening exercises, some walking, maybe yoga and watch what I eat.  I can start physical therapy as soon as I am approved.  And I can continue to think healthier.  I'll get to the 5k one day.  As my one friend said, there will be more.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

snoring sucks

I snore.  I am loathe to admit it but I do.  It is a fairly recent phenomena and it seems to be only during allergy season.  Unfortunately for my husband, that lasts pretty much all winter for me.

I have lived with a snorer before.  I wanted to smother him with his pillow because I was so tired all the time.  (just kidding!)  He refused to believe that he snored.  Of course his disbelief in any kind of personal flaws should have been a clue about him in general, but I digress.  My point is that I was on the other side of this bed.  I was the one ready to scream every single night, who slept with music on (pre ipod even!) and who tried to fall asleep before he did in hopes that I would stay asleep.  I feel pretty terrible that I am putting my husband through this.  But I am sure he feels worse.

I am hoping that losing weight will help the issue, but that (losing weight) has not happened yet.  I try to sleep on my side, but Vinnie says that when he looks over I am on my back or on my side and not at all on the pillow.  I am thinking of trying one of those anti-snore pillows because I think as long as I can force myself to sleep on my side, and follow some other basic snore remedies I should be okay. But I have to stay on the pillow.  And apparently there is a learning curve in using it.  I am a little concerned about a pillow that I have to learn how to use.  I will give it a shot.  It got decent amazon reviews.

Maybe I just need to get enough sleep for the snoring to stop...

Do you snore?  Does your partner?  How do you both survive???

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the heartache of buying shoes

For most women, buying shoes is fun.  They look forward to it and even plan whole days around it with girlfriends.  They get excited about the new styles coming out and think about which color they should buy.  I am not one of those women.  I loathe shoe shopping.  Zappos has made my life a million times better, but it is still almost impossible for me to buy a shoe that will fit me comfortably.  I wear size 11ish wide, sometimes double wide.  For a 5'11" woman, I think that is probably a good size.  To be honest, it is the wide that gets me in trouble these days.

Well, my poor Lilly is already, at 3 years-old, suffering the same fate.  All she wants, more than anything, is a pair of those light up twinkle toes Sketchers.  We were in a shoe store today and she just wanted them in the worst way.  I let her try on a size slightly larger than she wears.  They could not even get past the toes.  Stride Rite was selling a similar sneaker and they carried it in wide.  They are sold out.  Damn.

I know that for myself I have to buy my shoes as soon as I see them online or in the stores.  There is no waiting for sales when you have a wide foot.  I now know that I cannot wait for Lilly's shoes either.  I am hoping I can find a pair maybe at the outlet.  I completely know that I am making up for my own childhood (and adult) shoe issues, but I must buy her a pair of light up sneakers or mary janes.  At least I have awareness, right?

edited to add:  My childhood shoe woes come from the lack of selection for me.  I ended up wearing boys/mens shoes a lot.  My poor mom tried her darnedest but they just did not come in my size.

Monday, September 19, 2011

apple picking

I apologize that I did not get to write as much as I wanted this weekend.  It became very busy!  But it was good busy.  Instead of writing a lot, I will leave you with a few pictures from today.
Michael, Lilly & Fiona  

I just love this of Fiona!

It's hard to pick apples while holding onto a flower!

Michael & Lilly, the original bffs

Thursday, September 15, 2011

crisp, autumn evenings

And just like *that* (with a snap of my fingers) autumn weather has appeared.  Now I know enough about the weather in this area, considering I have lived here all my life, to know that it does not mean it is here to stay.  It is only September, after all.  But oh, how lovely it is!  This morning was muggy and so close, if you know what I mean.  It was like pea soup.  This afternoon some storms rolled in and then mostly out again.  And the cool weather rode on its coattails.  This evening was jeans and sweatshirt weather, but I still wore my flip flops.  It makes me think of apple picking, walks in the South Mountain reservation, pumpkin spice lattes and yummy butternut squash and apple soup.

What fall foods are your favorites?  Recipes welcome!!!  As soon as I can find the soup one I will post it because it is so amazing and perfect for cool evenings!

p.s.  I have some exciting blog news this weekend....keep on the look out!  I will give you a big hint:  I am hosting my first giveaway!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People first language

September marks the beginning of the school year here in the northeast.  I wanted to take this time to speak about an issue that is dear to my heart.  It is called people first language.  It is a way of speaking that places the person before the disability: the student with CP, the child with Autism, the little girl with blond hair who has Down syndrome.  It may seem like a subtle change, but to the child and their parents it is huge.  

"People First Language (PFL) represents more respectful, accurate ways of communicating. People with disabilities are not their diagnoses or disabilities; they are people, first."
-From the website Disability is natural

As you enter the schools with your children this year, listen to the way people are talking around you.  Many adults are not even aware of this movement.  Maybe this is a small change you can make in the way you speak.  And once you do, then your children will follow.  And think of how wonderful our world could be if we all started to think of people before their disability, color, religion, age....whatever other way in which people are discriminated.

p.s.  The Deaf community generally still prefers to be know as Deaf, not as a person who is Deaf.  This is due to the strong community and cultural ties they have in the Deaf culture.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

too tired

I am so sorry friends.  I am just too tired tonight!  I had my last doctor's appointment for my hand and for some odd reason there was a crazy long wait.  It was more than 2 hours before I was out of there and by then I was just beat.  So until tomorrow...Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

relaxing rituals

I think that it may be no coincidence that the beginning of the school year marks for me the change in my skincare routine.  During the summer my face tends to be on the oily side (yet still dry-weird) but the other three seasons I have pretty dry skin that requires a very different routine.  This summer I was using a Burt's Bees soap bark and chamomile cleanser that I adore.  It is creamy but really gets all the sweat and grime off my face.

But here comes the fall and my skin is starting to get a little crazy.  It's dr;, it breaks out because it is too dry; the eczema starts popping up.  Many years ago I was given an aromatherapy book which has recipes for a range of products, including facial cleansers.  I started using this one then and every fall, winter and spring I go right back to it.

I go to my local natural foods store...mine happens to be Whole Foods though we have a nice new Trader Joe's too!  I have a glass dropper bottle that I bought there and I fill it with oil.  I have tried different ones but most recently I used sweet almond oil.  I add a couple drops of essential oils.  I adore lavender!  I have also used chamomile and rosemary in past years.  Different skin types can use different kinds to help their particular issues.  I gently shake the bottle and voila!  My own cleanser that will last me all year from at least September through May.

So here comes the relaxing ritual part.  I put a few drops in my clean hands and massage it gently into my face in circles.  I then take a wash cloth and rinse it in very warm water and ring it out as much as possible.  I then place it on my face and let it sit for a minute (or 2 or 3) and then wipe off the oil.  I repeat this maybe one or two more times.  By the time I am finished, my make-up and day grime is gone and so is some of my stress.  It is just such a wonderfully comforting ritual that I have trouble thinking of something that would work better for me.  I think it's great that the timing works out so that I start this when my life starts getting a little hairy.

I think I would be remiss in saying that my bedtime routine takes extraordinarily long.  I am such a bathroom dawdler, especially during the school year.  It is practically the only private time I have so I take advantage of it and pluck my eyebrows, floss, brush, wash my face...It's my unwinding time.

How do you unwind? Do you have any particularly relaxing rituals?

p.s. I am in no way, shape or form qualified to give advice about essential oils and facial cleansing.  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years have passed

It has been 10 years since that bright blue morning when all our lives were inexorably changed.  I have the ceremonies on TV while Lilly plays in the same room.  10 years ago I was in a classroom full of 3 year-old when I first heard that a plane flew into the WTC.  Today I have my own 3 year-old playing dress-up in my living room.  I have 1 brother and 2 cousins who are active military.  Matthew and Michael are in the Navy and my other cousin Michael is in the Army airborne infantry.  My husband was in the Navy at the time of the attacks.  I am hoping that he will write a guest post for me later today from his perspective.

For now, I am re-posting what I wrote 2 years ago:


Today is September 11th. 8 years ago today our world was rocked, literally and figuratively. I remember details about that day that I don't remember about any other day in my life.

I woke up with plenty of time to get ready for work, not my usual manic rush. I put the news on and the big news of the day was that Michael Jordan was going to play basketball again. I thought, wow, we must be doing pretty good that Michael Jordan is the biggest news story. It was an amazing day that hinted of autumn. Crisp blue skies, a few fair weather clouds, warm without being hot. I drove to work, which was a new job for me. I had just started teaching in Newark, NJ at the North Ward Child Development Center. I taught preschool in a 3-year-old class. School had really just started a few days earlier so it was still kind of chaotic.

I was getting the children ready to go out to the playground when a mom came running in frantically, tears streaming down her face. "I need my baby, something terrible has happened." She told us in spanish. As we tried to calm her down and find out what the terrible thing was disbelief was hitting us. What do you mean the twin towers were hit? Her aunt was a maintenance worker in one of the buildings and called to relay the information. I took her down to the main office for her to get permission to take her daughter out early and also to spread the word. I was the first person to hear the news in the childcare center.

The administration called downstairs about the same time telling everyone that Newark was on high alert because of the buildings there. We were not all that far from downtown Newark and they wanted the children inside. I went back to my classroom in my little building and turned on the radio. At that point I heard that the 1st tower collapsed. I immediately called my (then) boyfriend, Keith, who was a police officer. He had just had 2 days off and was due into work that night, so he was sleeping. He did not answer his phone so I called his father and told him the news. His father did not really believe it but turned the news on while we were talking and then went to go wake up his son. Keith called me a few minutes later letting me know that he was called in because no one knew what was going on. I also called my mom and told her to turn the news on.

Eventually I was able to go home that day. As I was driving home I realized that I could drive down one street in my town (Belleville) and see the Twin Towers. I drove down the street and almost stopped short, along with other people doing the same thing. All that could be seen was smoke and clouds of ash.

That night I made a large baked ziti and cookies to take to my boyfriend's station. They had been working for many hours and would continue to be doing so. The Garden State Parkway was empty. Tolls did not have to be paid and the only police officers on the road were going speeding in the direction of NYC.

My one roommate had just moved out and 2 were moving in. Shanna was already there but Colleen, one of my closest friends in the world, was not moving in for another month. She worked in NYC and I could not get in touch with her until the next day. I was missing my old roommate and her daughter that day.

For the next several days all I could do was watch TV and cry. I was drawn to the TV yet I wanted to turn it off. I remember feeling that I owed it to those who lost their lives to watch the horror unfold. I finally forced myself to turn it off one day and then I did not watch any TV for several weeks.

I remember there were parades of cars that would drive up the main drag with flags flying and neighbors were encouraged to put out lit candles and turn off their lights. The songs that were played over the radio during that time are linked to those events, in my mind.

My boyfriend went into NYC to help with the recovery. That changed him forever. He felt that he could never bring children into a world like this, especially as he was a cop. Several months later he broke up with me. I believe we may have been on the path anyway, but the events of 9/11 were a turning point for him.

Over the next several years I would grow and change as a person. I would experience different heartaches and joys. Every year I think that it might not hurt as much this year. Every year I am wrong. I have been crying on and off all day today. That day will always bring up very painful memories. But I have realized that I really don't want the hurting to stop or to lessen. It is a day for reflection and rememberance; but also for being thankful for what we do have.

I am grateful for my husband Vinnie, my daughter Lilly, and all the members of my family. I am grateful for my health, in light of 1st responders who are suffering now. I am grateful that I did not become cynical and think that this is no time to bring a baby into this world. My life is better because of Lilly. The world is better because of Lilly. The world is better because of every child who is born.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I think every single parent I know has the same worst nightmare.  I hate to even say it aloud.  Or type it.  You all know what that nightmare is.  Today I was reading one of the blogs that I follow and I found that another mom blogger lost her son in a flash flood this past week.  Her last post is that of her childrens' first day of school.  I read the comments of comfort and prayer for her family and I had just tears streaming down my face.  It is just such an unimaginable sorrow to think that this vibrant little boy is not here anymore.  My heart and prayers go out to this family tonight.

In reading the Washington Post article I was struck by something Anna, Jack's mom, said.  They told him every single day that they were proud to be his parents.

My lesson for today:  Hug Lilly as often as I can.  And tell her every day that I am proud to be her Momma.

Friday, September 9, 2011

thank you!!!

Hi friends.  I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all who are reading my blog.  I am so excited to see how many readers I have had recently.  I know I was absent this week because it was my first week back to work.  I also still don't have my laptop which means I am sharing with hubby.  :)

Thank you again for reading and for commenting!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I am such a night owl

How do I turn myself into a morning person?  I know the ways in which I should train myself into a morning person.  I know why I should become a morning person, namely, getting to work in a timely and not panic attack-inducing fashion.  But I just cannot get myself to go to sleep early enough so that waking up early is not a constant battle.

I would like to be able to get up early enough to work out in the mornings.  The way things stand now, and historically speaking, I am lucky I have time to jump in the shower in the mornings before work.  Please don't look at my legs because they will not be smooth, but more on the bristly side.

I like to go on the computer after Lilly is in bed and do all my farmville and cityville stuff.  (It's all right; you can laugh at me.)  I like to exercise and/or watch a little TV before I settle in for the night.  i don't do all things every night.  I blog.  Sometimes I like to read.  This is not even including the usual evening chores: dinner dishes, breakfast/lunch for the next day, get clothes ready, laundry maybe.  I cannot even begin to fathom doing household chores on school nights, as much as I would like to.  I think about mopping the kitchen floor after she is in bed.  That's as far as that goes.

There have been periods of my life during which I forced myself to wake up early to exercise before work.  I loved doing it early because I was more likely to get it done, I ate better the rest of the day and I felt very energized all day.  Plus I would be so tired early in the evening that I would actually go to bed and fall asleep earlyish.

So meanwhile I have been writing about going to sleep early as the clock ticks on.  Maybe if I reward myself... 1 pedicure for 5 nights of early to bed and the consequential 5 days of early to rise.  hmmm.....I might be onto something...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today was the first day of the school year for the teachers in my school district.  The students begin tomorrow. During orientation, NJ's new anti-bullying laws were touched upon.  We will be getting more in depth training soon, and throughout the year.  As someone who was bullied as an adolescent/teen, I implore you, whether you are parents, teachers, administrators, the lunch lady or a trusted adult friend, to please do not ignore bullying.  It is not a rite of passage.  It may not be something that just passes if the child ignores it.  It has very serious consequences for the child being bullied.

My parents did not ignore the fact that I was bullied.  Administrators and teachers did.  At least from my memories and perspective.  I even wrote a blog post about it.

Do not let it go.  Do not ignore it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

And so it begins...

Tomorrow is the start of the 2011-2012 school year.  It marks my 10th year teaching (minus the first year I was a kindergarten wrap teacher with no clue); my 6th year in Hoboken; my 2nd year with the Hoboken BOE as a master teacher.  It also marks the 3rd year that I had to go back to work after some time off and leave Lilly.  Oh, how hard it is!  I don't think it will ever get easier, will it friends?

There are so many positives to working, not the least of which being the paycheck and having health insurance for my family.  I love what I do and hope that this year I can become even better at it since I know what I am doing a little more.  Tonight as I was putting Lilly to bed I asked her if the reason she was giving me such a hard time was because she was sad that I was going back to work tomorrow.  She nodded yes, buried her head into my neck and sobbed as if her little 3 year-old heart was breaking.  Oh, how my heart broke at that moment!  I do not even know how to describe how I feel right now.

I know that I need to work and even if my husband had an amazing job that paid megabucks I think I would want to work.  And I know that I am leaving Lilly in good hands with her Daddy and MumMum.  Hopefully we will get good news this week about Vinnie's job and Lilly will be able to go to daycare, which she loves.  It is just this, right now, sucks.

But fear not fellow Hoboken teachers!  I promise not to bore you too much with Lilly pictures and stories.  I am actually really excited for this school year.  I think it will be a great one!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

wah! sidelined for a few days

I had posted on facebook earlier that I had tweaked my ankle doing a dance aerobics thing, thank you Billy Blanks jr.  I felt it as soon as I did and tried to stretch it but that did not make it feel better.  The next day I rested it in terms of exercise.  Today I was totally ready to wake up and get on the road for a nice long walk, even if I could not run.  The ankle felt worse, right in the back in the Achilles tendon.  I went to see my mom, who is not a doctor but plays one on tv.  :)  After a lot of massage and stretching it felt a lot better, but her orders were to rest it for several days.  I kind of already knew I should, but I really did not want to believe it.  I have such a hard time getting into an exercise routine that I hate to have to break it.  I guess maybe it is good to have the first week back to work off to get back into that routine.  Part of what makes me so upset is that I was so careful about not doing too much running too fast or too soon.  It was the aerobics on my off day that did me in!

I just really do not want to lose my momentum and motivation.  Help me friends!!  I am starting to feel a little discouraged here.  Thanks!!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Summer's End

Here we are at the tail end of my summer break and I am facing all the expectations that I promised myself I would not have this year.  In the beginning of the summer I had written about my usual laundry list of expectations for my summer break and had said that this summer I will not have that list.  I promised myself that I would not stress out about not completely de-cluttering and re-organizing my house.  I am happy to say that I did not let myself get too stressed about it all.  In normal summer mode I would be disappointed with what I did not get accomplished this summer.  This summer I am happy with what I did get done around the house.  A lot of it was just the daily cleaning that occurs with a smallish house and a preschooler.  :)  I also worked on my bedroom; and even though it is not completely finished there is a HUGE improvement. (Okay, Vinnie might not agree with the huge part.  lol)

Looking back on what I had written in early July, I initially wished that I had done more craft stuff with Lilly and arranged a few more playdates.  Some people I had reached out to for playdates were not available and that is okay, even if a bit disappointing.  And sometimes the timing just did not work out.  Maybe I wasted a few too many mornings doing nothing.  And then I realized all that we did do!  But we did go on tons of fun playdates and attended our library's summer preschool reading program.  We visited friends and family down the shore and at lakes.  We explored different playgrounds in our area.  I reconnected with many of my girlfriends, attended a great free music festival and traveled to North Carolina.

Personally, I started on the path to a healthier, running me.  Of course this past week has been difficult with the area still recovering from hurricane Irene.  Not to mention my ankle/Achilles tendon is being a bit funky.  But I am committed to continuing this healthier lifestyle once school resumes next week.

I have to admit that today I was starting to feel that ball of anxiety in my belly about not organizing the basement or finishing my bedroom or insert chore.  But I stepped back and took a deep breath and looked at what I did.  And if I took a lot of naps this summer, maybe it was because I needed them.  I reminded myself that I had surgery the 2nd day after school let out and I was also ill in July. And if Lilly is disappointed that I did not play princesses or babies with her every time she asked, I console myself with the knowledge that she would have me play every possible minute.  And dinner does not cook itself!  So in that I learned about the balance of being a SAHM again.  It is not all fun and games.  Chores have to get done, too.

I hope everyone else had a fun summer!  What was your favorite thing you did this summer?  Come on...leave me some comment love!!!