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Friday, December 18, 2015

"Merry BLEEP-ing Christmas"

If you haven’t already guessed it, I absolutely love everything about Christmas.  And I love spending it with my husband and two sons, and our amazing families.  However, Christmas and the holidays can be painful for some people, for a myriad of different reasons.  Years ago, I was at a Christmas event for charity.  I walked in dressed as Mrs. Santa and enthusiastically greeted someone with a hearty “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” To my great surprise, this lady took one look at me and snapped, “Merry (BLEEP)ing Christmas to you Mrs. Size 0 Santa.”  I was, however, so filled with the Christmas spirit, I simply told her that I really hoped her day got better and that she found her Christmas happy place.  And I meant it.

    Truth be told, the holidays can be a very difficult, if not brutal time for some folks and it’s good to be kind to them.  When I was in my freshman year at NYU, everyone went home for the holidays, but one girl.  She had come from the foster care system and she stayed behind at the dorms because she had no place to go.   This stunningly beautiful, brilliant 18 year old girl took her own life over the Christmas break.  In the dorms.  I will NEVER forget that.  Most of us cannot even imagine the type of loneliness, depression, and perhaps mental illness that would lead to such a tragedy.  And so I have always had a heightened sensitivity to people who appear to be grumpy holiday grinches.  Because in reality, we have no idea what got them so grinchy.

    I have been a divorce and family law attorney for 26 years.  Any idea what one of my busiest times of the year is?  You guessed it:  the holidays.  That’s when people are wrangling over custody and visitation schedules.

    I had originally intended to post one of my really feel good holidays blogs.  But this one is for all the people who are hurting right now.  Somewhere there is a mom or dad going through their first Christmas without their kids due to divorce, or military service, or illness, or loss.  There are people struggling with depression, illness, addiction, and countless other maladies.  There are people who have lost a loved one, who are mourning a once bustling house which has now gone silent.

    And while I will pray for all of them, I will simultaneously bless my loud and messy house, with shoes and coats thrown about like a frat house.  We will eat dinner with gusto, amid the  papers lining our dining room/ kitchen/ press release writing/ homework table.  I will appreciate my insanely busy schedule, and make sure that I am not just earning money but helping my community.  I will close my eyes as I put on mismatched socks, and smile and laugh when I realize I accidentally wore my pajama top to court  (true story).  I will load up on books on tape as I drive my kids to crew practice in two states, lifeguarding, Christmas pageants and endless holiday events and parties.

    My husband and I are planning my beloved father’s 80th birthday party, which will take place at our house on his birthday.  Which happens to be the day after Christmas, and a couple of days before we leave for our family holiday in the Caribbean.  I could complain about all I have to do, but I never will.  I will simply say thank you, thank you, thank you Lord for this crazy quilt of a life I have been allowed to have.  I hope you all are enjoying your own crazy quilt.  

Merry Christmas, everyone, this is the Christmas card I sent out this year, and it’s my Christmas gift to you, thank you for reading my Blog!  

    And if anyone out there feels like they can’t hang on any longer, you can!  Please talk to someone, and know that you are loved.  Here is the link to get help:  Call 800-273-8255 24 hours a day or click on the link:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

    www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hoop Dreams

“HEY, YO WHITE CHRISTIAN” - the day my oldest son made the Newburgh Panthers Basketball B Team was literally one of the happiest days of my life.  I was jumping up and down screaming “We made the team, we made the team,” and to an outsider, you might have thought my son had just been drafted into the NBA.  But for us, it was almost like going to the NBA, or at least a Cinderella story.


Christian was a late bloomer when it came to basketball.  He started playing in 8th grade, right after his football season ended, in late November.  Which was OK because he started at his Catholic school where the level of talent varied widely.  Then he started going to the Skills and Drills Clinic run by the Newburgh Panthers at the Armory.  And in time, he decided to try out for THE Newburgh Panthers.


Let me explain a little something about the Newburgh Panthers.  First of all, in Newburgh, basketball is King.  Almost every kid in Newburgh plays Ball.  I didn’t say everybody plays well, but a LOT of kids play really well.  And most kids have been playing since they were toddlers.  By 8th grade, kids can really play and they understand basketball at an intuitive level.  Newburgh Basketball is physical.  That year we went to the ER for fractured ribs, broken ribs, broken fingers and a broken nose (not the FACE!!).  Only half of those trips were for football, the other half were for basketball.


So here comes my kid, who’s been playing Ball for all of 3 months.  But what he lacked in skills he made up for in heart (thanks to the Goldback Youth Football League for that one).  He learned a lot in those 3 months, but he was trying out for the Panthers, the travel basketball AAU team out of the Newburgh Boys and Girls Club.  It would be like me trying to get my own show on HGTV.  Sure, I can design on a dime but I am up there with Sabrina Soto?  Yea, not even close.  But there’s no harm in trying, right?!

There were several tryouts.  Then they chose the A team.  Then the cuts came.  The first round of cuts was posted.  Not on that list.  The second round of cuts were posted.  We fully expected to see our kid’s name on that list.  But it wasn’t there.  I wasn’t sure what that meant.  So (being That Kind of Mom), I called the Coach.

“Your son is Christian?”, said the coach.  “Of course, you made the team.  Oh wait, which Christian is your son, we have three Christians on the team.”  Seriously?  “My son is Christian LoBiondo.”

“Which one is that?” said the coach.  What could I say?  My son is the one who clearly just started playing?  The skinny one?  The intense one?  
“Oh, wait, is your kid the Catholic school player?”  
“Yes, that’s the one,” I said cautiously, bracing for the worst.
“Yes, he made it, congratulations, welcome to the Newburgh Panthers.”
What??!!  Did the coach just say my kid made the team?  It was like  music to my ears, you might as well have told me my kid got a Rhodes Scholarship.  That’s when I started jumping up and down.

Then I started thinking, how are they going to differentiate amongst the three Christians on the team, it’s such an unusual name, I hope they don’t shorten it to Chris.
Let me explain one last thing about the Panthers.  If you ever one to have your essence boiled down into one word, come and play ball with the Newburgh Panthers.  They only have time for one syllable to describe you.

And so it was that I was sitting at a Panthers practice, and they were trying to pass the ball to my son, when I first heard it, “Hey, Yo, White Christian!”  He turned and got the ball.  I guess they found a way to differentiate.



The Newburgh Panthers was a tremendous experience.  My son got to “play up”, bonded with some GREAT kids, learned all the basics and then some, and eventually earned the respect of his teammates and coaches as a good defender.  We traveled all over and no parents ever complained about the hotel or the food or the thread count of the sheets.  It was all about playing Ball.  And teamwork.  And wearing the Jersey was an honor. I sure do miss my Panthers.  There was Big Christian.  Black Christian (we are still buddies).  And White Christian.  And nobody thought twice about it because when the ball moves that fast, all you get is One Syllable.
<3 Mrs. Lo, Proud Mom of "Hey, Yo, White Christian" (Photo of some of the Newburgh AAU Panthers Basketball players 2014)

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Piece of Childhood: Goodbye, A & P

The A & P has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are associated with that grocery store.  The first thing I read by John Updike was “A & P” (how many other grocery stores have a short story by a quintessential American author named after them?).  And I have always loved the story behind the great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.  Thus, when I went to get my 30-year-old A & P card replaced at the Greenwood Lake store and was told:  “We can’t do that because we’re closing,” I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.  The A & P has been filing for bankruptcy and closing stores for many years but we have finally reached the end of the road.  And it makes me sad.  

My kids will never know what it’s like to pile into the station wagon and tumble out into a dinky grocery store with way too flourescent lights, where my Mom literally knew everyone in the store.  Part of that is because my kids will never know what it was like to grow up in a real “neighborhood” in the 70’s, where we didn’t get driven to our sports because we simply PLAYED outside all day long and until the most irresponsible in the group finally caved and said, “OK, it’s time to go home.”  The heart of the neighborhood was the schoolyard and the playground for us kids; and it was the A & P for the moms.  Next door to the A & P was the beauty salon where the moms got their hair teased once a week.  And a barber shop where, it turns out, one of the main employees had to go away for a while for pedophilia but -- strangely -- he came back to work after doing his time and everybody let him cut their hair again.  It was that kind of an era.  We just didn’t make that big of a deal over stuff.  Next to the barber shop was the drugstore where, when we got a little older, we spent all our free time playing PacMan; and then the bakery where I developed my intense love all baked goods.  Most especially black and white cookies and frosted brownies (what is with these chocolate squares people try to pass off as brownies??  True brownies come with a thick slab of chocolate frosting on top and are little pieces of heaven).   Everyone took pride in their work.  The cashiers competed to see who could ring people up the fastest and they cared -- deeply -- about keeping the line moving.  The grocery baggers also would take your groceries out to the car for you.
We loved going to the A & P with my mom when we were little.  I loved the red brick and the signature cupola.  We loved picking out the produce and the cookies and snacks. My mom would get stopped every 15 minutes because she was a 2nd grade teacher and she was constantly running into students, parents, former students.  She acted like she had all the time in the world to talk to them (she didn’t).  It was like walking around with a rock star, kids would literally squeal with delight when they saw her (BTW:  this doesn’t happen to people in my profession.  No one squeals with delight when they see their lawyer in the produce aisle).
Flash forward 40+ years, I pickup Christian, my oldest at crew practice at ACRA on the Monksville Reservoir in Ringwood, NJ everyday except the days I have crew.  And I get there a little early so I can go to the A & P in Greenwood Lake, 3 miles away, and get any groceries I need to fill in the gaps.  And so it was that I was in the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, that I realized this era had finally come to an end.  I even sat and talked to the store manager about it. There will be no more A & P’s.  The lucky stores will be bought out by Stop and Shop or Acme.  The unlucky ones will simply close.  I’m really going to miss the A & P and so will a lot of people.  It wasn’t just a grocery store, it was the last remnant of a way of life that is now long gone.
And so, I will leave you with the first paragraph of the John Updike short story, “A & P” (I have since gone on to do a thesis on John Updike for my American lit class at NYU and, of course, have read everything he has written).  I don’t have permission to put the whole thing in here but I would urge you to go out and read it:  
In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I'm in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don't see them until they're over by the bread. The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell. She's one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I know it made her day to trip me up. She'd been watching cash registers forty years and probably never seen a mistake before.” -- from A & P, by John Updike.
Have a great day, everyone and, as always, remember to count your blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo  
For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com

Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Avoid 6-Pack Abs

For those of you who have 6-pack abs, I commend you.  Really.  Nothing screams “hard work” like washboard abs.  However, for the other 99.5% of the population, including myself, we have never had perfect abs and never will.  Maybe I had them once because I was 14 years old but I can barely remember that far back.

I have noticed that some of the young athletes out there are working toward a goal of 6-pack abs.  To which, I ask:  Why?  I mean, why are 6-pack abs even a thing?  A person can be perfectly healthy and physically fit and never have “abs.”   I, for one, say let’s do away with unattainable goals, especially for our youth.  Let’s replace it with reasonable goals like cutting out sugary foods and drinks; moving around every day; and trying a sport you’ve never done before.  
Here is what a review of my Pinterest feed on “abs” tells us one must do in order to get a 6-pack, and I am summarizing:  First, follow a clean diet.  Ok, I am supposed do to that anyway because of my high cholesterol.  But “clean diet” translates to 3 oz. of chicken and a giant tub of kale.  Pass.   If “eating clean” means giving up tamales (it does), then count me out.   
Next, “Perform cardio in the morning for six consecutive days and lift most afternoons or evenings. For the best results, do it first thing in the morning before breakfast.”  Listen, I love rowing, and rowing is cardio, but I am not going to do it every day before breakfast.  I LOVE breakfast and I especially love coffee.  Give that up to do cardio?  I can’t even contemplate that kind of negativity in my life.
As for lifting:  the most lifting I am going to do, other than lifting boats, is hauling my 11- year old’s ridiculously oversized backpack into the car twice a day.  Seriously, what the heck is in that thing?  I have always secretly wondered if Lands End sews weights into their backpacks to prank the parents of America.  
But wait, there’s more.  There is then a list of all kinds of abdominal exercises I have never even heard of, like the “hack squat” and the “decline incline reverse Smith machine jackhammer blah blah”.  I’m sorry, but these sound like they are dangerous to your health.  Yes, if you are on a varsity team, you are going to have to do that kind of stuff.  But for the rest of us, be serious.  From the moment I wake up all I can think about is when I can go back to bed.  Second choice is when can I sit down and rest.  After a long row, I do not want to do incline decline reverse anything.  I want to take a hot shower and plant my butt in my easy chair. At which time, I will turn on my heated massage pad and then read a book on my iPad or watch Netflix.  I tend to read and watch things that make me laugh.  Out Loud.  While eating tamales.  
I would like to be able to press a button where I am not inundated with images of other people’s unattainable 6-pack abs.  And I would especially like it if kids weren’t bombarded with those images as well.  To the youth of America, I say:  Eat the Tamale!  Because you can be physically active and eat your tamale too.  
Have a great day everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo
For more of the Mrs. Lo blog go to www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com

Friday, October 2, 2015

HANDS OFF MY DIAPERS PLEASE

Fair Warning, Dear Friends, this Blog may just be TMI.  As the title suggests.  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just say I am very excited to be rowing in NJ this Sunday with my Rowing BFF in a women’s open double race.  As with everything, I like to plan ahead.  Are my kids (also rowing -- in two different meets) all set?  Check.  Did I wash my UnderArmour, my racing uniform, and pack my water shoes?  Check.  Boat loaded, tools packed, check, check.  And one more thing -- do I have my Depends?  Check.

I don’t know what to tell you -- it’s a long race -- 4,000 meters, which is 2.5 miles, plus you have to row another 1.5 miles up to the start.  Plus there is just a lot of time waiting around.  Waiting at the start, the referees turning you this way and that.  Plus, we leave early -- the bus leaves at 7 am so I am up at 5:30 am chugging coffee.  Then comes the Hydration phase.  And what it all comes down to is, I don’t like to be uncomfortable. I am too old to be uncomfortable. So I will be wearing Adult Depends during my race JUST IN CASE.  You know, in case Mother Nature calls and I am only halfway down the racecourse.  Hey, surgeons wear them!  This is common knowledge, all you have to do is watch Grey’s Anatomy.
Of course, I bought them at Price Chopper during my lunch hour.  I threw the package of Depends into the grocery cart with all the other stuff and forgot about it.  When I got home and my kids unloaded the groceries, I initially thought that there was a vermin or a dead cockroach in the grocery bag from the way these two boys were carrying on.
“Oh my gosh, what is that??!!”
“Mom, are you wearing DIAPERS now??!!”
“It’s for my race,” I explained coolly as I grabbed my diapers out of their hands.  The ultimate irony, of course, is that I spent YEARS changing their dirty baby diapers.  There is not justice.
“We don’t want to know,” they both said at pretty much the same time.  Smarmy little rugrats.
My husband was much more understanding.  A little too much so.
“What’s that look all about?” I asked him.
“I’m just thinking about that long trip to Maine,” he said, “does this mean we won’t have to make pitstops anymore?”
“Just give me those,” I said, as I hid them in my closet.
“Those will show under your spandex,” my kids pointed out.
“It’s not hygeinic,” they said, “ does Coach Kennedy know about this?”
“Coach Kennedy is the reason I bought these in the first place!” I said and I might have stomped my foot, with great annoyance.  “How do you think I stay out in the motorboat for 8 hours with that man?”
That was a conversation ender.  There were looks of great revulsion and then I heard nothing more on the topic.
So yes, I am prepared for our race this Sunday.  Kathe and I will be racing an a women’s open 2x at the Head of the Passaic in NJ.  Michael will be coxswain of a girls novice 8+ in the same race.  And Christian will be at a race that it twice as big, the Head of the Riverfront in Hartford CT with ACRA, his rowing club, where he will be 2-seat in a LW 4+.  Anthony will be, most sadly, taking his sailboat off the Hudson River for the season and wrapping it up this weekend.  At least one of us will be comfy during our racing ;)
UPDATE:  since I wrote this Blog, a couple of weeks ago, the Head of the Passaic has been canceled on Sunday, or postponed, with a new date to be set, due to the weather predictions.  Head of the Riverfront will go on as planned.  And Mrs. Lo will take that windfall of a day to make apple crisp.  Low cholesterol apple crisp, of course ;)
Have a great day, everyone and, as always Remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo
(Photo of Mrs. Lo and Mrs. Mills at the Coastweeks Fall 2014 Regatta in CT, with our bronze medals).  For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondoPage.blogspot.com

Friday, September 11, 2015

THE LAST DOWN: Diary of a Former Football Mom

My first football blog from 2013 was called, “Diary of a Rookie Football Mom.”  Last year I wrote “Diary of a Year 2 Football Mom,” and this will be my final chapter.  I loved every minute of being a football mom and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

In my first blog, I was pretty honest.  I talked about how incredibly scared I was for Christian (my oldest son) to start playing youth football.  How I cried at the first scrimmage because Coach Brad was yelling at Christian.  Of course, I since learned that in the football world, there is no talking, only yelling.  As one of the Goldback Youth Football coach es explained to me, “yelling at your son is a good sign, it means the coach is trying to make him better.  When a coach doesn’t pay any attention to your kid, that’s when you should worry.”  That’s just the way it is.  If you can’t accept it, there are a lot of other sports out there.  
In 2014, I wrote a blog before the Don Bosco Prep Freshman football season, saying I didn’t care how much playing time Christian got, I was just happy to be here.  That was a partial lie.  I actually did not personally care about how much time he got, but he cared very deeply, and therefore it did matter to me.
I am proud to say that my son started every single game of the Don Bosco Prep Freshman football 2014 season at wide receiver.  Really proud.  Because Don Bosco football, even on the Freshman team, is no joke.  We are serious as a heart attack about the sport of football. These athletes worked their butts off all summer and every practice.  And went to school and maintained good grades.  In addition, Christian and a number of other players also commuted to school by train, leaving the house at 5:45 am, getting out of school by 1:50 pm, going straight to practice, and then taking a train home afterward, to sit in a tub full of ice while eating dinner and doing homework.  Then lights out and up by 5:00 am. They don’t call them Ironmen for nothing.
Every football game is stressful for every parent.  You do get used to seeing your kid hitting and getting hit, you even get used to him being at the bottom of the pile (true story, and I never would have believed it a few years ago).  No parent will ever get used to seeing their son lying on the field for just a few moments too long.  But that’s part of the sport.
Most everyone who has ever played, coached, or parented a high school football player will tell you that High school Football is absolutely glorious.  
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that is what this country is all about.  The tension that boils over into mad crazy wild cheering.  The beauty of Autumn, the tailgating, the stands, the Field, the athleticism, the TOUCHDOWNS, the absolute oneness of purpose of all the athletes, coaches, and parents for 2 hours.  And when your team is winning and your son is a part of that, it is beyond glorious, it is just Heavenly, like you are walking on air.  Of course, the flipside of that is that when your team is losing and your son is a part of that, it is gloom and doom.  But that’s team sports in general and high school football specifically.  
So here’s my last down as a football mom, I will leave you with my very favorite football moment.  And I may be factually incorrect in the way I am telling it but you will get the general idea.  We were playing our arch arch super arch rival, Bergen Catholic.  At Bergen.  We were winning by a lot but my blood pressure was still through the roof and my heart was in my throat.  We simply had to win this game.  And most football parents truly believe they can WILL their team to win.  And football parents at Catholic schools -- you can almost hear the other parents praying -- even though we are praying silently.  We were up by a lot but then we were not.  Bergen came back in a big way in the 4th quarter.  We were stricken.  
There was a big play and Christian was in it.  So much tension, the stadium was a pressure cooker.  Bergen Catholic was waving their giant (annoying) red and gold flags.  They were starting to taste victory and we were starting to feel the jaws of defeat nipping at our heels.  Two years ago I was afraid of wanting anything for my son.  Now more than anything I wanted our team to beat Bergen and,  if at all possible, l wanted my son to help his team.  I watched Christian through my professional camera’s zoom lens. With all this incredible wild cheering and screaming and tension, I couldn’t believe he could take all this stress on his young slim shoulders.  I saw him pointing up and down the field, as I had seen him do so many times in Goldback youth football. And, in that very moment, I was the most proud of him I had ever been and I stopped praying for a win and instead simply thanked God for this son of mine.  He was willing to go out into a pressure cooker and take on the possibility of losing big or winning big because he cared about his team.  To me, in that moment, that was all I could ask for.
Just a few minutes left.  Fourth and ten.  Our best player ran it up the middle for a 40 yard gain and the crowd went crazy.  Then the unthinkable happened.  The player fumbled the ball and the crowd went really crazy.  Crazy with horror.  Then a Don Bosco football player ran up, jumped into the air as high as he could, caught the fumbled ball and ran it up for another 10 yards before being tackled.  That was my son.  I was crying from joy, pride, and relief.  We won the game shortly thereafter.
Good times, good memories, that’s what I will take with me.  There were bad times, fumbles, misses, broken bones.  But that’s football, my friends.  And we loved it. However, the LoBiondo’s really enjoy our Summers off -- something that football families do not get to enjoy.  And we really wanted our son to concentrate on academics and other sports.  And this mom couldn’t take the stress and the injuries and ice baths and epsom salts anymore.
Last spring, my son became a NJ State champion when his boat took first place in the Garden State Rowing Championship.  It was a great moment and I could not be more proud.  But even becoming a state champion could not compare to the pride I felt at that Bergen game.  Not when he caught the ball -- but when he was willing to go out there and take on all that pressure and to take whatever might come -- extreme glory or extreme agony.  That is the leadership that football can instill in your son and that is something that no one can ever take away from your son.  That is a mother’s moment of glory.
So this is my last blog as a (former) football mom.  I like to think I gave it 110% every time.
Thanks to all the coaches, parents and players who were part of this shared journey.  Go Goldbacks and GO IRONMEN! (photo from DBP v. BC 2014, Christian is No. 4)

Have a great day, everyone and, as always Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo (for more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit www.LoBiondoPage.blogspot.com)

Friday, September 4, 2015

That Time Mrs. Lo was Attacked by a Cap Sleeve Dress

In today’s Blog, I would like to address the dangers of cap sleeve dresses.  For those of you not familiar with the style, this is any dress with an extremely short sleeve.  Its purpose it so cut off the circulation of anyone caught unaware.  Clearly, this style was designed by someone very mean-spirited.  Who does not work out.  And certainly who is not a rower. These dresses are great for the following:  very small children; Barbie dolls; the stick figures on the back of your mini van.  Real women:  avoid the cap sleeved dress at all costs.

This public service announcement comes to you after a cap sleeve dress tried to kill me.  Ok, you’re right, that’s too severe.  The dress tried to cut off my circulation.  Don’t get me wrong, at one time, this stretchy dress was once one of my “Go To” outfits.  Gentlemen:  for your edification, a Go To outfit is defined as a reliable outfit you can just grab off the hanger for just about any occasion, requiring no ironing or other time-consuming artifice.
It is quite disturbing when a “Go To Dress” turns on you -- but this is exactly what happened to me.  Clearly, the Dress was mad at me because I had been rowing.  A lot.  For years.  I row on the water every chance I can.  I row “off the water’” on ergometers -- at the Boathouse, at the gym, or on my home erg almost daily.  Maybe I should have invited the Dress to come out rowing with me.  Maybe The Dress got lonely or jealous just sitting in the closet all my herself.  In any event, that’s no reason to turn to violence.
Recently, I grabbed my Go To Dress, threw it on and headed to my event.  I got in the car and started driving.  I quickly realized I would not make it to my destination in this dress.  The now tourniquet like sleeves were cutting off my circulation.  Really. The sleeves were cutting into my arms and I was started to get a bit lightheaded.  At first, I felt shock and disbelief, as in, how could my Go To Dress do this to me.  Then I accepted that the Dress was out to get me. My Dress was my Adversary.  And it was winning.  I knew I would never make it to my destination so I went to the nearest store that sold women’s clothing -- Talbot’s -- and quickly bought something that fit.
Oh the sweet relief of wearing a dress that fit right and was comfortable!  Goodbye, evil Cap Sleeve Dress.  I know I will never wear a cap sleeve dress again.  So let’s tally our results.  The good news is that, thanks to all this rowing, I am very physically fit, something I am happy to report as a 50 year old.  The bad news is that I have had to say good bye to all my cap sleeve dresses.  
On balance, I will take it.
Have a great day, everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings! <3  Mrs. Lo (For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog visit www.lobiondopage.blogspot.com)  

Friday, August 28, 2015

GROWING UP LoBIONDO: Summer 2015 – Special Guest Blogger Orion

Hello, Humans!  It’s me, Orion LoBiondo, the only 4-legged member of the LoBiondo Family.  Is it a little kooky around your house lately?  It’s really kooky over here.  My family apparently just realized it’s the last weekend before school starts and they’re trying to get Organ-Eyes-Id, whatever that means.  I’m just happy to be back in a routine again, this Summer was all over the place!


It started out pretty great, we had a lot of dinners out on our big deck and Dad barbecued a lot.  Momma loves to eat out on the back deck and she has a lot of furniture out there but she kind of drives us all crazy with that.   She makes us take the cushions and pillows in every night.  And she makes us bring all the furniture (and there’s a LOT) inside if it’s going to rain.  But we love to hang out, have barbecued chicken (I may just get fed a few pieces under the table) and listen to Dad play the guitar.  We had a lot of family parties out there and Momma even had some fundraisers back there.
But then I we got out of our routine when my so called “Family” -- and I use the term loosely here -- went to California and Hawaii -- and they left me in New York!  I mean, I had a great time with my grandma and grandpa and their dog, Wes.  But really, did Momma and Dad ever stop to think that maybe I might want to go to Hawaii, and go to a luau, do some surfing??!!  Apparently not.  That’s ok, I am a dog so I am programmed to forget all about it and just be happy to see my humans when they get home (not to be confused with cats, they can hold a grudge for years!).
We got back into a great routine -- my brother Michael was going to Summer Rowing Camp at the Newburgh Rowing Club and my older brother Christian was a camp counselor there.  I would have preferred that they stay home and pet me all day but I finally got used to the routine -- and then BAM, another vacation!  My family went off to Kennebunkport, Maine, like every year, and then Cape Cod.  Normally, I would express my dissatisfaction my pooping somewhere prominently.  But I was at grandma and grandpa’s house, I do have respect for my elders.  Then my Humans got home and I forgot all about being mad and licked them all over their faces.
Now they are running around getting the house ready for school to start.  This I never understood, why does the house have to get ready?  It’s a house, a place for us to snuggle and sleep.  A place to store all my tennis balls (who wants to play catch??!!) and my giant oversized dog bed.  That’s OK, I have to get in training for my big Job.  I have many jobs, one of the main ones is to guard the boys’ backpacks on the way to school.  Of course, Christian takes a train to his high school in NJ.  But Momma still drives Michael to school and if it were not for me standing watch and GUARDING that backpack who knows what might happen.  Sometimes, I’m not sure my humans fully appreciate how much I protect them from:  evil squirrels, the voracious groundhog under our house, even the mailman can’t be trusted and must be barked at constantly (not Bob, he gave me treats, but Bob seems to have another route now.  This makes me even more annoyed at the new postal carrier.  First, he is not Bob; and second, he refuses to give me any treats.  And he wonders why we all bark at him).  
My family is all “boo-hoo-hoo the summer’s over”, but I’m all “YAY bring on the fall!”  Fall is my favorite time of year, along with Winter, Summer and Spring.  I love when the leaves change and then fall off the trees because Dad makes big leaf piles for me to jump in!  And the rest of the family might like lying in the sand like lizards but let’s face it, I’m covered in hair and I get hot.  Fall is nice and cool, plus it means we go back to school.
I am pretty excited to be going back to school.  I’m especially excited to be in middle school, and wear a tie, and to get to perform in the play … wait, what’s that?  You’ve got to be kidding me, again?!  So the boys are going back to school but I’m staying home again this year?  
You’re right, Momma, someone has to guard the house.  Those evil squirrels are not going to guard themselves.  Hey, there goes one of those beady eyed little squirrel-rats now!  Sorry, gotta run, I have to go bark my head off!
WOOF WOOF WOOF!
Oh, and Happy National Dog Day!
Signed - Orion LoBiondo
For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, including quarterly blogs from Orion, visit www.lobiondopage.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Summer Days in Maine

THE BEST DAYS OF THE SUMMER

We just spent the past week in Kennebunkport, Maine for our 15th summer in a row.  I truly can’t believe it has been 15 years.  It seems like just yesterday we were packing Baby Christian into his carseat to come up here for the first time, but in fact, that was August of 2001. Neither of our kids can remember a time when they didn’t go to Maine during the Summer.  I often blog about the importance of creating and maintaining traditions for your kids and grandkids.  It’s more than just a fun thing to do, it’s actually a building block for raising happy and successful adults.  (A great read if you have time is "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness,” by Dr. Edward Hallowell).



There have been a lot of changes over the years but some things about our trip to Maine have remain steadfast traditions.

The first summer we came up to Kennebunkport, we only stayed for a long weekend, and we couldn’t afford a suite so we took the door off the closet and created a “nursery” for Christian (we put it back on before we left).  Somehow, that will forever be known to our kids as the year we “put Christian in the closet on vacation.”  We were still building our careers and I was only working part-time as a young lawyer, so it was a financial stretch for us to stay in such a “fancy” place.   

We made it work and we ended up falling in love with the six beautiful, pristine beaches of Kennebunkport, with our favorite being “Mother’s Beach,” and the sleepy, quaint New England village where cars actually STOP when you're in the crosswalk and life moves at about the pace of fictional Mayberry.  We vowed to come back every year.  We came home, learned to cut coupons, collected our loose change and started a vacation club account.

By the time Michael was born, in 2004, we were able to rent a house by the beach.  Michael was just 5 months old when he first came to Maine.  Four year old Christian towed him around in a little red flexible flyer wagon, which we continued to use as “beach transportation” for many years.  Yes, that was the year that I forgot to pack Michael’s clothes and had to run out to the mall for baby clothes (hey, everybody makes mistakes, don’t judge me!).

Over the past 15 years, we founded our own law firm, a Mediation Center,  and some other businesses, all of which are quite successful.  We have both worked very hard, and we live relatively modest lives, save for our passion for travel and our desire to send our kids to the best Catholic schools around.  Over the years, God has blessed us with success.  We now go on several vacations a year, with our time in Kennebunkport being my very favorite.  The first thing we do when we arrive is park the car, pile out and head straight to the ocean just to feel the waves at our feet and our toes in the sand.  We have been to many beaches from Hawaii to the Carribean but there's nothing quite like your favorite New England beach.  

Every summer, the first thing I do is make a grocery run, which is necessary with all rental houses.  I started out being able to walk into town to the village grocery store with the red wagon and haul back enough food for the week.  At some point, I had to start driving to the local supermarket.  Now, I take Michael and head for the giant Hannaford and we fill two carts; it's 20 minutes away, but it’s well worth the trip. Anthony grills just about every evening and then I pack up sandwiches to take to the beach the next day in my little cooler.  Some evenings  we will walk into town after dinner for ice cream but usually we play board games or read or watch funny movies on -- yes, it’s true -- the VCR in the house.

Our days are pretty simple -- we spend them at the beach.  I do like to get in a few of our other favorite activities -- the rides and the Boardwalk in Old Orchard Beach; kayaking the Kennebuk River; hiking the Rachel Carson Wildlife Preserve; and of course the intown narrated Trolley Ride (I often know more than the trolley driver and don’t hesitate to correct him -- much to my children’s chagrin).  The kids spend pretty much the whole day boogie boarding, body surfing and building sand castles.  The first time Christian was able to boogie board on his own was a major victory, complete with hundreds of photos and videos.  Anthony and I used to go in the waves to “lifeguard” him.  Now both of our kids can entertain themselves in the water or out.  One summer, my heart was in my throat as I watched Michael go INTO a wave and not come out right away; I didn’t see my older son either.  But that was because Christian had gone in to retrieve him.  Michael was able to swim back on his own with Christian kind of pushing him from behind.  Five minutes later they were both back boogie boarding like nothing had happened.  

For 15 years, we only went out to eat at one restaurant -- Bartley’s Dockside Restaurant, which not only had the best lobster in town, they accepted us with open arms when we first came in with babies.  Of course they were best known for being a favorite eatery of the Bush Family, which has a compound here in Kennebunkport.  We were pretty disappointed to come up this year and find out that the real estate had been sold to a restauranter from Booth Bay Harbor and had been replaced with an upscale Italian place.  We haven’t the heart to go out to dinner all week,  although we have had lobster roll for lunch in quite a few locales. (Hint:  the best food in town is often found at a food truck and Kennebunkport is no exception.  Check out “Ocean Rolls,” the oldest working food truck in the US -- dating back to 1961 -- currently it can be found at the corner of Ross Road and Route 1 in Kennebunk.  Great prices and delicious lobster rolls!)  We also made a new discovery, Smitty’s, a Dine-In Movie Theater in Biddeford, Maine, where we saw Mission Impossible and had quesadillas.  (Wouldn’t it be great to have a Dine in Movie Theater in Newburgh??)

Of course, time will march on when we get back -- Christian’s prep school crew team in NJ starts up August 31st, and I will be busy getting ready for Michael's return to Bishop Dunn and Christian's sophomore year of high school.  We make the most of our time together; we spent two weeks in California and Hawaii in July, and we have vacations planned this winter in the Dominican Republic and Vero Beach, Florida, all thanks to the Disney Vacation Club.  

This year’s Maine trip also includes a few days in Cape Cod, which the boys have never been to, and maybe Plymouth Rock.  Wherever we are this Summer, whether it’s Hawaii, Maine, or on our back deck -- all the hard work, all the long hours and idiot lawyers (and occasionally idiot judges) we have to deal with, it will all be worth it, as long our family can be together.

Have lots of fun this summer creating your own Summer traditions, whether it’s time at the beach, camping, backyard campfires, or outings at the park.  And, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo

For more of the Mrs. Lo Blog, visit  http://lobiondopage.blogspot.com/