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Friday, March 25, 2016

The Best Place to Hide Stuff

This is the sad but true story of how moms have to hide certain things from their families.  No, I’m not talking about the Neiman Marcus bill for a pair of Manolo Blahniks.  Maybe 15 years ago.  This is much more serious.  I am talking about the home office supplies.  

It’s not just moms, this is for any household member who suffers from “I buy lots of pens but my family takes them all, leaving me with nothing to write with” syndrome.  You know that moment -- when you go to write out a check for the kids’ sports fees, sign a school permission slip or engage in the basic act of writing a Thank You letter -- and you discover that, despite having literally bought dozens of pens from Target recently, there is NOT ONE PEN in the house!  You go to cut a permission slip in half -- but there is not a pair of scissors anywhere (Yes, I did just buy a 3-pack of scissors, but even as I handed it over to the cashier I had a sinking feeling I would never see them again after I left the store).  Scotchtape -- what do they even need it for?  Is there a secret bunker in the house somewhere with all my home office supplies?
Really.  I know I’m not alone here.  It’s not quite serious enough to form a support group but it’s annyoing enough for me to feel the need to blog about it.  Will this shame my family into leaving me ONE pen, ONE pair of scissors or ONE roll of scotch tape?  I doubt it.  I am looking at my “pencil cup” right now.  Just recently I stocked up on beautiful pink pens, pink highlighters, and pink scissors.  Thinking this would deter the three men/ men-in-training in my home from walking off with them.  Au contraire.  Do you know what is in there now?  Two STUBBY pencils, one of which has no eraser.  A dried out highlighter.  A pencil sliced in half LENGTHWISE (who does this to a poor defenseless pencil? How does one even accomplish this?).  And some weird thing that I cannot identify -- maybe a dry board eraser?
It goes something like this.  The kids need a pen, so they grab one from what seems to be the UNLIMITED bucket-o-pens, use it for homework once, and toss it somewhere.  Or take it to school and trade it for tater tots.  Actually, I have no idea.  Maybe I have pen gremlins.  Apparently, the pen gremlins have gremlin friends who like scissors and scotch tape.  I note that the gremlins never venture into the laundry room but that’s another story for another day.
At the time of this blog, one of my kids would like me to write out a check for some crew team stuff.  Luckily for him, I do have ONE pen.  It’s in my Mickey Mouse fanny pack -- you know, the one that is SOOOO embarrassing, Mom.  Fortunately, it’s so embarrassing that no one will unzip it and take anything out.  Thus, that is the one place I can find chapstick, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, tissues, spare change, a ponytail holder, a spare phone charger, a PEN, and two 7/16 wrenches.  You know, all the essentials in life. At least for this Rower and Crew Mom.  
They’re scalliwags, these men/ men in training of mine.  But I love them dearly and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  (Wait til they go to find a pair of matching socks -- wink wink)
Have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Obsession with Food -- and Price Chopper

MY OBSESSION WITH FOOD - More specifically, with groceries.  The first step is admitting you have a problem.  All those who know me, know that I am obsessed with grocery shopping.  I must have, not just enough food in the house, but MORE than enough.  I have dedicated an inordinate amount of space in my house to just that goal.  I have two refrigerators and a deep freezer.  I have converted normal spaces into food storage.  Coat closet?  With a call to my carpenter, it’s now a PANTRY!  Downstairs office?  What a waste of space, with some hard work from my kids and shelving, it’s now a WALK IN PANTRY!  I have more bring-your-own grocery bags than any human should have.  When normal people buy souvenirs on vacation -- I buy the grocery bags so it can think about my vacations while grocery shopping.

So how often do I go to the grocery store?  Umm, well, ok, truth be told -- pretty much every day.  Monday after work is my BIG SHOP DAY!!  All the other days I go to pick up all the other little things I might need for a dinner, or someone’s lunch, or my luxurious fruit smoothy in the morning.
But I don’t just go to any grocery store, my particular obsession is with Price Chopper, specifically, the Price Chopper in Newburgh.  Go ahead, ask me anything!  Where are the capers?  Get the Goya capers in the Hispanic aisle.  Pomegranate Juice?  They just moved it to the center aisle in produce.  Kind bars?  They’re next to the Ensure in the pharmacy aisle, not with the other granola bars.  If they had a Price Chopper trivia game I would be champion.
When I walk up to seafood, my buddy there automatically says, “Hello my friend, you didn’t call in your salmon today, let me steam it.  Two pounds, farm raised, no seasonings, right?”  Of course, he’s right.  
One time after a particularly long vacation, one of the cashiers walked up to me and said, “Oh thank God, we haven’t seen you in two weeks, we were worried about you!”  My younger son just looked at me and shook his head.  “Come here much, Mom?”  
You know, when I was a little girl, I always knew I would be successful.  I always thought how nice it would be to have some extra disposable income.  I thought I would use that extra income for baubles -- perhaps diamonds or rubies, something from Tiffany’s.  Maybe shoes or makeup or handbags  Something fancy.  It turns out -- not so much.  I donated my mink coat to PETA and stored my Louboutins.  Jewelry -- never got into it.  
I feel RICHEST when the refrigerators are full of fresh fruit, vegetables and cheese.  When I cook several trays of lasagna and they are in the downstairs freezer, I feel lightheaded with SUCCESS.  The moment I put the crockpot on in the morning before work, or stuff a roaster chicken on my lunch hour, I am giddy with achievement.  Making Christian’s lunches (four sandwiches, lots of fruit, granola bars, protein bars and Goldfish) every night makes me feel connected to a son who is 38 miles south of me all day at Don Bosco Prep, followed by crew practice.  I know he dips into those bags all day over the course of 12 hours.  When my younger son writes an essay about his favorite things and it turns out that one of them is Mom’s meatballs, I am complete.  And when my husband thanks me for getting 3 fresh meals into the family while working all day, I am a happy wife.
What can I say?  My grandmother always told me -- Food is Love.  I love making food, my family loves food, and Price Chopper is the temple of good fresh food.  Therefore, I visit it it daily.  (No, they didn’t pay me to write this blog LOL).
Have a great day everyone and, as always, Remember to Count your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondoPage.Blogpsot.com  (Photo of one of my Sunday dinners)

Friday, March 11, 2016

THE BEST SATURDAY NIGHTS and THE LOVEBOAT

THE LOVEBOAT TAUGHT ME everything I needed to know about social life.  That’s because my best Saturday nights were spent watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show and eating cake at my grandmother’s big Victorian house in Cold Spring, along with my little brother.  There was a lot of “screen time” involved but it was quality screen time.  First up was “All in the Family,” followed by “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (is there anyone over 45 who doesn’t get choked up when you hear that theme song?), and the Bob Newhart Show (“No way, Mom, you mean Poppa Elf had his own TV show??”)

Later on,  All in the Family was replaced by “The Jeffersons” (yes, I am doing this from memory).  Soon thereafter, “Rhoda” got her spinoff and “Good Times” came on the air.  Then in middle school, the Loveboat, possibly my favorite show of all time, came on the air, which was followed by Fantasy Island (if you don’t know who said, “De Plane, De Plane,” we probably can’t be friends).  We switched between Fantasy Island and Dallas, since there was no way to record shows back then (“Jeez, Mom, did you guys make pictures of cows on the walls of your cave too?”)
“Prime Time” on ABC in the 70’s really was prime time.  As kids, we  lived for Saturday nights.  Because it wasn’t just TV (or even great TV), it was time that we spent with our grandmother.  (Who wasn’t actually our grandmother, she was our great aunt but we didn’t know that for a long time -- and by then it didn’t matter).  And she didn’t so much spend Saturday nights with us as spoil the heck out of us.  Which was great because our parents both worked and liked to have a night off.  And Nellen (our grandma), also a former principal in Harlem, knew that “school can be stressful” and we needed a night where we could relax and unwind and be the stars of our own show.
We started off with trip to her library.  Yes, she had a full on real library with floor to ceiling shelves built into her home.  We absolutely loved it, it’s where I developed my love of books.  We could take out any book we wanted (she had tons of children’s books) and even take it home, as long as we brought it back because it was, after all, a library.  Then we could have whatever we wanted for dinner.  We generally chose steak and potatoes with jello or pudding.  The catch was we had to go into the kitchen and help her make it, which is where I developed my love of cooking.  Then we took tiny little cake pans and made tiny little cakes with frosting, which is where I developed my love of baked goods.
Finally, after eating and cleaning the kitchen, we headed upstairs to the big recliners where we tuned in for the first of our many shows.  We were allowed to watch until we fell asleep, something we were NOT allowed to do at home.  If 11 pm came and somehow we still weren’t asleep, we got to read a book until we fell asleep.
Saturday nights at Nellen’s were the most wonderful, magical evenings ever.  Those were the original “binge watching” sprees.  But we didn’t just watch, we talked about the shows and the commercials and laughed together.  Growing up, my ideas about marriage came from the Bunkers (each spouse must have their own armchair) and the Jeffersons (marry a man with a great mom so you can have a great mother in law, you don’t want to end up like Weezy).  My ideas about teen romance came from the Loveboat (you never know, the right fella could be in the next stateroom!).  Mary Tyler Moore gave me self confidence and taught me that I could be a reporter or anything else I wanted to be.  And I could turn the world on with a smile.
There weren’t really any families I wanted to emulate.  But that was okay because I had my own family.  And on Saturday nights we had our own super special family ritual.  I learned that all you need for a great family night was a steak, tiny frosted cakes, and a really great TV lineup.  Hey, ABC, isn’t it time to bring back the Loveboat?
Until then, have a great day everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo  

Friday, March 4, 2016

My Son the Lifeguard?

Christian, my 15 year old son, recently got his Lifeguard Certification so that he could help me out at the free learn to swim clinic that I run at the Union Avenue pool, for underserved youth.  But wait, how did this happen?  Wasn’t it just yesterday I was giving him a bath in the kitchen sink?  Why do I still have little hooded bath towels and rubber duckies in my linen closet?

And Michael, my 12 year old, is one of our many volunteer swim helpers, they get in the pool and guide the younger pollywogs as Big Coach calls out the instructions.  I know that time flies when you’re just trying to make it from Point A to Point B, which is usually from Monday morning to Friday afternoon; or from breakfast dishes to getting dinner on the table.  
But nothing puts it in perspective like printing out your kid’s American Red Cross Lifeguard certificate.  And remembering all the times I took him to Mommy and Me water classes and little boy swim lessons.  All the times I took him to the Y just to swim laps.  All the rubber duckies I threw in the water time after time to get both my kids to go after them and learn to swim.  
And now my oldest is a lifeguard and my youngest is a swim helper, in a program that I founded with Coach Kennedy to teach underserved kids and kids with differing abilities to swim.   And the kids we taught to swim 3 years ago, who couldn’t even put their face in the water at first, are now swimming laps and helping instruct the younger kids.  Coach and I started the program so that we could help kids to pass the USRowing swim test, and learn the sport of rowing.  But the swim program has taken on a life of its own.  
Childhood drowning has been declared an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control.  The only way to eradicate it, is one  stroke at a time.
The program is run by America Rows and Swims Newburgh -- it’s not the family “business”, because it’s a not for profit, and the funds come from grants that I write to foundations.  But it is the family volunteer job, and we love it.  Learning to swim is a lifesaving skill.  To think that our family has had a little part in making the water safe for these children is a really gratifying feeling.  
As I walk around the pool and see my older son lifeguarding, so many kids volunteering in the water; Big Coach teaching the basics of swim safety skills, and other coaches teaching the 4 basic strokes; I see kids learning to swim whether they have Down Syndrome, autism, or a lack of funds, I am completely humbled to be the driving force, along with Coach Kennedy, behind this program.  I hope my kids will see what I see:  doing good is its own reward.  And I guess yeah, we don’t need the hooded bath towel or the rubber duckies anymore.
Have a great day, everyone and, as always Remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com