Moving Again!

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OK, so that last blog was just a tease. It’s official. We’re moving to Iowa!

I’m a city girl, born and raised. But 11 years ago, I fell madly in love with a country boy. Well, he’s half country anyway. If he was entirely country, he may have never moved to the city to be with me! Although, I admit, I can be rather persuasive. And, in time, I imagine that some of my city has rubbed off onto him. But, deep down, he’ll always be a laid back, outdoorsy country boy. And since I love him more than anyone or anything anywhere, I guess, that makes me a little bit country too. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

I was born in Philadelphia, in the inner-city, in a neighborhood called Kensington which was/is always in the news (not usually in a good way). It’s the kind of neighborhood, where nervous out-of-towners anxiously lock their doors for fear of being carjacked. Of course, they’d have no way of knowing but their cars are more likely to be stripped, tagged with graffiti and then set on fire. But it wasn’t always like that. Or, at least I hadn’t realized it. I didn’t even know I was in a “bad” neighborhood until years after I moved away. From my perspective, it was a great neighborhood, a wonderful place to grow up, and I never understood why anyone would complain about living there. It was my home. And home is home.

To be fair, I also believed my family was rich but that’s another story. I’m beginning to realize that I may have been a tad delusional as a child. In fact, I probably still am. That’s OK. It helps with my writing.

Right after college, I moved to New York City. It had been my plan since I was old enough to have one. When I was little, my dad was a courier and every once in a while he’d take me with him on long car rides. I loved going anywhere and everywhere, especially distant cities, with him. Along the way, he’d tell me stories. My dad tells the best stories. Countless times, he took me on adventures to New York City. He’d tell me stories about New York and I’d picture myself living there. We’d cross the Brooklyn Bridge and my eyes would light up brighter than the skyline. It was magnificent. Each trip, I’d beg him to take me over the bridge and every time he would give in and do so, even when it meant driving way out of the way.

One day, as a gift, he brought me home a Brooklyn Bridge poster and hung it up in my bedroom. He knew I loved nothing more than driving with him over that bridge. Growing up, that poster was my inspiration.

I fell in love with New York City, and I knew I’d eventually live and work there. And, I did. I interned at NBC at Rockefeller Center during my senior year in college and then worked there full time after graduation. It was my dream come true. Then, one day, I got an offer to work at the National Basketball Association, and for seven years I split my time between New York and New Jersey. While there, I met Jason (at Madison Square Garden of all places). Over a year later we started dating, fell in love, moved in together and soon after we moved to Texas (giddy-up!), stayed there for three years, got married (in Tahoe) and moved back to New York (we currently live on the beach in Rockaway Park, Queens). These days, I can look out my front and back windows at the ocean and get inspired to write. We’ve been back in New York almost four years now but, lately, we’ve been getting the itch to make another move.

It was bound to happen, since it seems we have trouble staying very long in one place. People sometimes ask us if we’re military, and maybe we should have considered it. For one, moving would have been much cheaper! But we both love to travel, live in new places and experience new things. If you think I’m bad, he’s far worse than me. In addition to numerous cities within the United States, he’s also lived abroad. He’s been everywhere. He’s lived all over. He’s even lived in Hong Kong.

We’ve both traveled all over the world, separately and together, mostly through our jobs but also for fun. This world is amazing, thrilling, big. There’s always more to see and do. Now our world is leading us to the Midwest. We’re both a little bit nervous but we’re also extremely excited.

Like I’ve mentioned before, Jason is originally from Iowa. His dad is a corn and soybean farmer, among many other things. His mom and dad raised him lovingly, protectively, surrounded by a great big family in a very small town. For perspective purposes, there were less people in his home town than I had in my high school graduation class. There’s a song that goes, “On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha…” Well, that road leads to his hometown. Really, it does.

Sure, by big city standards, it’s in the middle of nowhere. But, as I get older, being in the middle of nowhere actually sounds kind of nice. Maybe I’ve finally lost it. Or maybe I’m growing up. We even bought a house – and, believe me, nothing makes you feel more grown up than that! It’s in another quaint, cool, small town 20 minutes from everything. The house needs some work but it was the right price (our mortgage payment will be less than a third of our current monthly rent). Instead of the ocean, there’s an actual corn field across the street.

Plus, it has a huge, gorgeous, grassy green back yard, and that’s something I’ve never had. I’m looking forward to lying down in the grass on warm summer nights, looking up at the star-filled sky. It’s something so beautiful and awe-inspiring that you’d have to see to believe. Although, to be perfectly honest, the first time I saw it, I still couldn’t believe it. Stars like these don’t exist in the city sky… except during a blackout.

In addition to the stars in the sky and all the wishes I’ll get to make when I see them fall, I’m stoked because my daughter will get to grow up surrounded by green grass and clean air and lots of family and friends. She’ll learn to ride horses. She’ll run barefoot in the grass and chase fire flies. We’ll take her to visit local farms where she’ll get to pet animals and where we’ll buy farm fresh eggs and produce. We’ll be able to grow a garden and plant fruit trees together in our yard. Lyla will have space to grow and do whatever she wants to do. It’s hard for me to imagine since, currently, I have to hold her hand to walk to our mailbox.

Since I’ve only ever gone to Iowa on vacation and long holiday weekends, it might feel like we’re on vacation all the time. Who knows? I may even learn to relax… well, we’ll see. But I’m sure, in time, it will feel like home.

Like every other place we’ve been and lived, we can’t promise that we’ll stay forever. We’ve always been the wandering kind. But, if all goes as planned, we’ll be sticking around for a while. There’s so much to do and so many new things to experience there. Sure, we’ll miss the ocean and, even more so, our east coast family and friends (who we’ll be back to visit and who all know they are welcome at our place any time!). But it’s time to start a new chapter. And we’re truly looking forward to it.

I plan to continue writing, of course, and blogging about my life and all about my adventures in Iowa once we get settled. In the meantime, I’ll blog when I can but we have a lot of packing to do!

Iowa, here we come!

Cousins

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My husband is originally from a small town in Iowa. He comes from a huge family, including 2 brothers and a ton of cousins. This past weekend, we went home for a very brief visit. It’s always nice to visit for a variety of reasons, but this time it was especially great for Lyla.

She got to see and spend quality time with family who she hadn’t seen in over six months. Time flies, and six months may not seem that long at all to the rest of us but to put it in perspective from her point of view… six months is one third of her whole life!

For me, the coolest part of the visit was seeing Lyla interact with her cousins, in particular her cousin Korbin. Korbin is a cute, sweet, affectionate, rambunctious little boy, who at the ripe old age of two is older and (arguably) wiser than Lyla. Of course, he’d better watch out because she’s a quick study!

From the moment they saw each other, Korbin and Lyla became instant playmates. It was as though zero time had passed since the last time they were together. At first, she followed him around like a puppy, and they laughed and played together. Before long, he let her take the lead as he followed her. It was so sweet to watch them run and play together. They even developed their own language, one nobody else could possibly understand. Each quite obviously and quite easily understood the other, as they interacted and laughed back and forth while the rest of the family simply listened and watched on.

They blew bubbles, ran, laughed, sang and even made up silly little games together. Lyla would drop her juice bottle, and Korbin would race to pick it up. Each time, he’d laugh hysterically. She’d say, “thank you.” He’d smile and look so proud. Then, she’d run away and make him chase after her. He’d happily oblige. When they finally tired each other out, they both hopped up onto the couch together. Then, Lyla would gently poke Korbin in the tummy, giggle and start the process all over.

I am so happy that Lyla has so many wonderful people in her life who adore her. We are blessed with a beautiful family. And, our extended family of friends is just as wonderful.

I grew up happy in a relatively small family. Growing up, my brother was my best friend (still is) and my parents were my heroes (still are). I love each of them dearly, and I wouldn’t change a thing. But, there’s something to be said for big families.

I’m thrilled that my daughter has a big family. To have cousins is like having best friends from the start. A family of friends who will love her, laugh with her and protect her as she grows up and conquers the world. In addition to her cousin Korbin, she has three more boys who adore her. Her older cousins CJ, Isaiah and Julian are each equally amazing. Plus, she has the best uncles and aunts, second and third cousins, grandmas and grandpas and a whole family tree of truly wonderful people.

Family – it’s a beautiful thing.

We spend so much time and money trying to acquire more money and things that we hope will make our children happy, when it’s always been the simple things in life which bring about the most smiles.

My child is surrounded by love. That beats anything money can buy.

The Squirrel

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We have surround sound. Well my husband does actually but, since we’re married, it’s technically 50% mine. I don’t know much about it or what all the doodads and thingamawhats are called, but recently I performed surgery on one of the speakers. He wasn’t home at the time or I’d never have gotten away with it. But it had to be done, and you’ll understand why in a moment…

The particular speaker in question is the self-standing kind, the one that sits all alone on the floor beside the TV. It’s black, rectangular and not very tall, but just tall-or-small enough to have recently become a piece of furniture to my daughter Lyla. It’s quite stylish actually and fits in rather nicely with her other living room furniture, including her bean bag chair, rocking horse and Sit n’ Spin. To her, the speaker is a multipurpose table. She sits beside it, rests her snacks upon it, plays with her toys on it and occasionally climbs on top of it. But I hadn’t realized until recently that her new “table” also converted for storage.

While relaxing on the couch one day, my husband spotted something inside the speaker. He said (and this is a direct quote), “Hey, do you see that nipple?” I didn’t see it at first but on closer inspection, I did indeed see the nipple. The nipple in question was attached to a baby bottle. It was inside the speaker. How did it get in there? Well, we had an idea… the culprit had to have very dainty hands and fingers small enough to fit through the tiny, tight round opening. I imagine, to Lyla, it was like a toddler’s version of the board game Operation.

It took us a while to retrieve the bottle, since neither of us could fit our adult-sized hands inside. Once we finally got it out (a combination of gravity and kitchen tongs), we learned it was half-filled with moldy apple juice. Ewwwww! There was no way of knowing exactly how long it had been there. Let’s just say, the juice and the bottle had both seen better days and, sadly, neither was worth saving.

Every once in a while we run low on bottles. Nipple rings go missing too. It’s as if they disappear into thin air, and now I know why. Lately, other things have been disappearing too. I have a sneaky suspicion who’s to blame, but I have a feeling she has other hiding spots not yet discovered. Of course, the speaker continues to be among her favorites.

It’s only a matter of time before I find my cell phone in there.

Just yesterday, I was about to run the dishwasher and decided to do a last minute bottle roundup. I found two in her crib, one under her crib and, as suspected, one in the speaker.

But this time, it wasn’t just one lonely juice bottle. The speaker was completely full. Its contents included: 1 juice bottle, this time no mold; 1 Weeble Wobble; 1 red crayon; 1 sock; 1 piece of partially chewed celery; 3 animal crackers; 2 broken pretzel rods; 1 lollipop; 2 cubes of cheese (yuck!); 4 Teddy Grahams; countless Cheerios.

This is the reason why my husband has started calling our daughter The Squirrel.

April Fool

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Today, we celebrate two groups of people: Those who prank and those who get pranked!

Admittedly, I have fallen into both categories. Here’s my advice…

  • If you don’t want to get pranked, this may be a good time to cash in a vacation or sick day. There’s no shame in hiding. I’ve done it.
  • Even if you love a good prank, keep your guard up. You may have planned the best prank ever, but it might not matter if they get you first.
  • Try not to hurt anyone. Before you go yanking a chair out from under someone or wiping out the back of a knee, please be sure they aren’t suffering from a previous injury or disability. You don’t want to cause permanent physical damage, and you will look like the biggest A-hole on the planet when you find yourself being sued or serving prison time for a poorly planned April Fool’s joke. Remember: it’s not nice to use your friends’ allergies against them! Sure, it’d make a great story but is it really worth it??
  • Consider the consequences. Certain people may not want to play along, and others may not take a prank in the good nature it was (hopefully) intended. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings… especially someone who has serial killer potential. I’m just sayin’. I highly doubt the Dahmers and Bundys of the world are very good sports.
  • Above all else, always remember that whoever you prank will definitely prank you back! And, we all know, payback is a five letter word that rhymes with witch (need another clue? it starts with “B”).

If you still want to play, keep in mind that truly great pranks tend to take time and patience to plan and pull off. And, you get extra credit for originality. You don’t want to be the guy (or girl) who pulls the same old pranks year after year. Whoopy cushions are fine, when used sparingly (say, every 5 yrs).

These days, money is tight for most of us so why not take a peek around your home and get creative. Typical household items make great pranks and they can save you cash. Think of all the fun you could have with any or all of the following: aluminum foil, plastic wrap, flour, duct tape, baby oil, Crisco, diaper rash cream, Jell-o, super glue, food coloring, pickle juice, the possibilities are endless…

Much like theme costumes at Halloween, theme pranks can be fun too. Why not develop a theme or pull the same prank on everyone at your office? Cover all your coworkers’ keyboards in powdered sugar or Saran Wrap their phones. It’s slightly less risky than going to war with one person since people tend to take things better when they’re not alone. On the other hand, you might manage to piss off a whole company, and that has its downsides, too. If you can get involved in a group prank, they’re great because you can share the credit and the blame (the latter being more important obviously).

It’s probably not a great idea to prank your boss or the head of your company (unless he or she is a prankster too, or really deserves it!), especially in this economy. If you decide to do so anyway, take a few extra steps (1. Clean out your desk  2. Draft your companywide goodbye email  3. Consider scheduling a consultation with an employment rights attorney). I wonder how many folks will wind up in the Unemployment Line post April 1?

If you’re still not sure who to prank, I highly suggest pranking friends and relatives, not because they are easy targets necessarily or because they deserve it more than coworkers or complete strangers, but because they are more likely to forgive you. Pranking your mom may not make you look cool to your friends, but part of her job is to love you unconditionally (even if you’re the jerk who super-glued her tush to the toilet!). And, there’s something to be said for that!

If you fall prey to a prank, I hope it’s all in good fun and that you are able to appreciate it. If you are the prankster, I wish you luck! Hopefully, whoever you prank will be a good sport, laugh gracefully and wait until next year to unleash their wrath of revenge. You can always move away or switch jobs between now and then.

Happy April Fool’s Day!