Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to School-The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Have you ever seen that Staples Commercial with the father dancing through the store to the song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"? The kids look miserable and he is riding the cart back and forth with unbridled joy over the fact that his kids are going back to school! I love that guy! I love that commercial! I love that the kids are going back to school. Now before you call DHS and say I'm a bad mommy, let me make one thing clear....I love summer vacation. Michaela comes home, we have lots of family fun, we roast marshmallows and catch fireflies....quite frankly, we are a goddamn Norman Rockwell Painting. But my mid August, I am ready to get back to reality to be honest. I am a girl who needs structure, and schedules and organization...I thrive on it. The summer vacation is a little too loosy goosey for me. We don't have to set the alarm clocks because their's no "late bell" to worry about. We don't have to plan our time to the minute because there are no school board meetings, or play practice, or homework to worry about. Now, that's fine for a while, but right now...I am ready to bring back the freaking structure.
During the school year, I feel disciplined and controlled, operating a in a closed loop system. Same schedule every day with very little distortion. During the summer, we are like a bunch of gypsies, having way to much fun, without a care in the world for bedtimes, schedules etc. So I say, stop the madness! Get these kids back to school. They start next Wednesday. We have all our school supplies and we are ready. And although I didn't dance through the store with unbridled joy while we shopped....I could certainly identify with the feeling.
Welcome Back to School Kids! It's gonna be a great year!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vacation.....All I Ever Wanted!

I went back to work today after 10 days of about shell shock. Why is it that leaving for vacation and coming back are so stressful? It's crazy, you spend a whole week before getting ready, making sure everything is completed so you don't leave anyone else with too much work while you are gone, then you get back and have to catch up on everything that didn't get done. Oy! Oh well, it was definitely worth it. The Parker's had a "Staycation" this year. We did several day trips in Maine, spent one weekend in NH at my folks and one weekend in New York visiting relatives and seeing some sights. Overall, it was a great time. Not really relaxing, but a great time nonetheless.
I think the highlight was definitely this last weekend in New York. We left Friday morning and took the Ferry from Bridgeport Connecticut to Port Jefferson Long Island. We then drove to my cousin Christy's house in Merrick. Of course at 5:00 PM on a Friday afternoon on Long Island, that meant 1.25 hours to go 32 miles. Fun! We hadn't been off the boat for 10 minutes before Mark, predictably said, "with all this traffic, why would anyone live here." Of course, I predictably answered, "because you can get good pizza, chinese food and bagels here and you can't get them in other places." He always looks at me kinda funny when I give him that response.
Anyway, off to Christy and Kevin's for lots of wine and of course, the aforementioned chinese food (the best egg rolls ever!). Saturday was a spectacular day. We spent the entire day at my Aunt Linda and Uncle Mike's house on the water in South Amityville. Glorious! Swimming, boating, wave running, all the joys that a house on the ocean can bring. But the highlight had to be on Saturday evening as we sat around the crab shack (their outdoor bar) and had copious cocktails while listening to some of the most random selections of music from my crazy cousin Michael's IPOD. Where else can you hear the Ting Tings, followed by Neil Diamond, followed by Gordon Lightfoot? I never ever thought I would see my dad singing along to "That's not my name!" Beautiful. It really is amazing how with our families, we get together so seldom, but when we do, it's always a hoot! Tons of fun.
Sunday morning came, and with a heavy head from the previous night's cocktails, the Parker's ventured to New York City. We found out several things on this trip to NYC. First, Bloomberg is really letting the city go to pot. It was much dirtier then we recalled from our previous visits which was really disappointing. We also learned that the Central Park Zoo is really cool, but also pretty stinky, especially the rainforest. We learned that the Penguins of Madagascar don't really solve problems and there isn't one name Rico (pity.). We learned that the economy is still thriving at FAO Schwarz and Toys R Us in Times Square where the Legos were flying off the shelves. We even visited the Barbie Palace at ToysRUs, where we purchased what we have dubbed "curiously gay Ken" because of his skinny jeans and mildly homosexual t-shirt. You can't find these toys in Maine folks!
After dinner at Sofia's on Sunday night, Mark took Matty back to the hotel and the girls and I had the highlight of our trip, we visited the newest Times Square attraction, POP TARTS World! An entire 3000 square foot store devoted to, you guessed it, Pop Tarts! This place was freaking fantastic. The girls went to the counter and ordered warmed pop tarts while I visited the Varietizer and procured a mixed variety of pop tarts. You go to a computer screen and pick your selection of flavors. Then a huge mechanical arm, pulls down your pop tarts and boxes them lovingly. It's like something out of Willie Wonka for crying out loud. They only cost three times what you would pay for pop tarts in the grocery store, but who the hell cares right? How often do you get to Pop Tarts World? I left with a bag full of Pop Tart's Gear and a much lighter wallet, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
On Monday, the party was over. We took Michaela to the airport for her trip back to Oklahoma for the school year. But, to be honest, I was so happy that our last week with her was spent together, as a family, having fun. We had tons of laughs, a lot of great food, good times with family and we had plenty of time to hug, cuddle and say I love you. In our busy crazy lives, that doesn't happen so often, so it really was the perfect vacation. And though we will miss Michaela, Thanksgiving is only 12 weeks away. I am thinking that we should take that week as vacation too, because Parker Family Vacations are so much fun!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Nana Chronicles Part I.

I have been thinking a lot about my Nana lately. Not quite sure why, but I find her in my thoughts very often. Now, there are a few of you who read this blog who knew Nana when she was alive, so I probably don't need to say anything else, but for the folks who never met her, I will likely need to elaborate on the woman that was "Nana Baby." Yes, she was my grandmother, maternal grandmother and probably one of the best individuals who ever walked this earth. She lived with us for most of my formative years in an "in law apartment" in our house. I always say I owe alot of my confidence and sense of humor from my dad, my determination and my sense of style from my mom, my tenacity from the fact that I was tortured by Jerry, Michael, Billy & Dennis for most of my early years. I really believe the rest of who I am and HOW I am, comes from Nana.
She was the first person I saw when I walked through the door from school in the afternoon and she was usually frying something in a cast iron pan, something unhealthy, something that her doctor had probably forbid her to eat, that she had somehow convinced herself that he had said that it was ok. "Oh, my cardiologist says I can have all the bacon I want." Uh huh--ok Nana right! She made the best potato omelet ever created, and I still make it to this day. It's one of Michaela's favorite. (see, I am passing Nana's legacy on to the next generation).
She was famous for her chocolate chip cookies and her baked clams. You knew Nana made them because her eyesight wasn't that great, so there was usually a little bit of butter wrapper that you might find as you dug into your eleventh baked clam. Everything she cooked, she showed me how to make it. I am sure that's where my love of cooking and food came from. It's probably also where my current large ASS comes from too. But that's ok, I wouldn't trade that legacy for anything.
Now, Nana and I had something special. We were kindred spirits, ya know. We liked nothing better than when the Miss Universe, Miss America or Miss USA pageant was on t.v. once a year. We would make a shitload of horsdouvres and park ourselves in front of the tv. She had me record the scores in a notebook so we could make our predictions for the top ten, top five etc. Nana, if she were still alive, would have LOVED American Idol and Dancing with the Stars! She was so ahead of her time. God, just writing that right now, makes me miss her like hell.
Nana could bullshit with the best of them. But she really couldn't bullshit me. For the last several years of her life, she was quite sick. Congestive heart failure was the culprit on many occasions, probably from all that bacon she was "allowed" to have. The Bedford EMS service were at our house on so many occasions, bringing Nana to the emergency room, we knew all the guys by name. Whenever Nana got sick, she would hem and haw about going to the ER, probably because she was afraid that she would never come home. She would put it off as long as she could, telling us she was ok and just needed to lay down for a bit. Sure enough, 2 hours later, when she was gurgling like crazy, she would finally consent to go to the hospital.
I remember one time when my parents were away, and Nana got sick. She was sitting there, having one of her usual episodes of breathlessness, trying to convince my brother and I that she was fine and she wasn't going to the hospital. Jerry, sat there for a while trying to reason with her. Me, I grabbed the old "Life Alert" panic button around her neck and hit the button and said "Nana, you are going!" OOOOOh was she pissed at me. I think she didn't speak to me for a few weeks after that. (nana could hold a grudge). But, I didn't care, because at least she was still around to be pissed. The alternative for me, was just too grim.
Fortunately, Nana was quite resilient and she pressed on. Through my formative high school years, when she passed judgment on every single one of my friends and when she tried to convince Jerry that if he got caught with beer, we would lose the house. (where the hell did she get this stuff?)
God, I have so many memories, that explains why this is only part I of my Nana Chronicles. Like I said, I have been thinking about her so much lately. I wonder if she would be proud of me (of course she would) but would she also judge me harshly for my overburdened, crazy life. She would have loved Mark and she would have come up with some fun nickname for him. She would think Matty was a "little devil" and Kayleigh and Michaela would be her "little bits." Oh, if only they could have known her. The good news is, Arlene gets more like her every day, so there's hope there. And I say that as the highest compliment in the world to my Mom.
Stay tuned friends.....more Nana stories are sure to follow.
Egads! Isn't that odd?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Parkers have gone Organic.....much to my family's chagrin. That's right, no more cheez doodles or oreos for this crowd. I think I am going to have a mutiny on my hands soon, but I am forging ahead because I feel it's for the greater good. As you know, I read that book, the Omnivore's Dilemma and it was all downhill from there. For the past month, we have been about 80% organic with a few contraband items still filling our pantry shelves, but I am happy to say, I have successfully expunged most of the offending items now and pretty much everything we have is free of pesticides and preservatives. So, are we starving on this twig and berry diet. That's a Hell No! So far this week we have had grass fed beef and wild caught shrimp with fingerling potatoes, grilled local pork chops with fresh broccoli, chicken fajitas with jasmine rice and tonight we had lobster and pasta with garlic butter. The Organic life is tasty, but, alas......expensive.
Now you know I am married to a wonderful man who is, rather cheap. So, you can imagine what is running through his head when I come home with my bounty of foodstuff from Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck, as it's sometimes referred). I can see the numbers in his head "kaching, kaching!" as I unload fresh asparagus and free range chicken. Yikes! Now, I agree it's more expensive, but I think it's worth it. Since I ditched the processed food, I am already seeing an improvement in my psoriasis and I seem to have a little more energy. Now that might be psychosomatic, but really there's gotta be some benefit to eliminating all those additives *I hope! In an effort to be thrifty, I joined a CSA, because if you do the math, it's much cheaper to buy veggies that way since Organic veggies are so expensive at the Grocery Store (longer food chain too). That seemed to help Marker to breathe a little easier. Although I think I see his eye twitch occasionally when he sees all the Whole Foods bags. Tonight I heard him shout, "Did you really pay $4.00 for Bread Crumbs." Ok, so it's gonna be an uphill battle. Between the lack of pop tarts and white bread in the house to the increased grocery bill, the transition may be tough. But I am committed! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mother's Day

So, Mother's Day is this weekend. I like this holiday (but then again, haven't we established I like all holidays). I love to celebrate motherhood. Of course, that makes sense, I am, after all, a "Mama." I love being a Mama...although about 30 minutes ago when every room I went into, my children followed, I wished for a few minutes peace..I really do love it. I am fortunate that my kiddos are so diverse in age. Michaela, being 15, is really growing up and we have these adult conversations that are sarcastic and judgmental and hilarious. Kayleigh at ten, is really just coming into her own with confidence and humor. Sure, she's a bit dramatic, but generally, she's a freaking hoot. Even when she's being a total goofball, which I of course enjoy as well. And Matty, well what can I say? He's my favorite, most annoying, star wars loving cuddle bug. I have already shared with many of you the hours of my life that I have lost discussing the finer points of the Clone Wars and the differences between Jengo Fett and Boba Fett. But I really wouldn't trade those conversations for anything. I know someday, they won't be that interested in chatting with me for hours on end and then what? Oh right, perhaps then, Mark and I will be able to have an uninterrupted conversation with....wait for it....EACH OTHER. Jeez, what the hell will we talk about? Perhaps now, when we have something to chat about, we should hold back and save it for when we're old. Oh, who am I kidding, I can't remember what I was supposed to tell him after dinner, forget about 15 years from now. That's right...15 years until Matty turns 21 years old. Doesn't that seem like forever? But, you know what? It's gonna fly by. And before you know it, they will be all grown up. And I will be sitting her on the Tuesday before Mother's Day hoping for a visit or a call or a card from the three amigos. So, this mother's day I am milking it Baby! We are going to Portland for the day and I am going to be showered with love from my kiddos. I sure am one of the most blessed people on the planet. Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow mommies! Enjoy the day!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Soldiers, God and the Fear of Flying

Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE to fly. I am not a good flyer at all. I have always hated the whole deal, closed tight spaces--claustrophobia sets in; the whole take off thing--I am deathly afraid of heights; and don't even get me started about the turbulence, air rage, tiny seats and uppity stewardesses (sorry, flight attendants). The whole thing sucks! Now normally, I need to have a few drinks to get me through a flight, and even then, I am jumpy and nervous through the whole affair.
So, on Wednesday, I had to visit a client in Charlotte NC. I flew out of Bangor to Philadelphia then Philly to Charlotte. Since I was flying out of Bangor, that meant a very small plane (20 seats)....ugh! When I got to Bangor Airport to check in, I found out that the flight was delayed by about an hour due to "weather" nice. Faced with the prospect of 3 hours in the airport, I headed for the cocktail lounge to have a libation to take the edge off. While sitting there, I ran into some old pals from my days at MBNA and as luck would have it, they were also on my flight so now I had company for my 3 hour wait. We chatted and laughed and had a few glasses of wine, it was a great way to pass the time.
Did I mention the airport was filled with US Army soldiers. Apparently, Bangor Airport is a huge thoroughfare for soldiers deploying or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. So, while we were there, a planeload of Kids (19- 21 yr olds) coming back from an 18 month tour in Iraq arrived. It was an amazing experience to be standing there when they got off the plane. Some kissed the ground, happy to be back on American soil. Some immediately called their families, some ran outside for a cigarette. I talked to some girls in the bathroom who said they had been on a plane for almost 24 hours and that they were so glad to be home so they could wash their hair with hot water. This to them was a luxury. The Troop Greeter team was there too....delivering messages to the kids from their family and helping others reach their loved ones. What a neat experience.

OK, so what does one have to do with the other? Well, after this experience (and a couple glasses of wine) I had an epiphany. I said to myself, "Jill, your such a wimp. Your life is so easy yet you get all jammed up by flight delays, and your stupid self absorbed fear of flying---SUCK IT UP" (what can I say, my inner voice is a bit bitchy) I got on the plane a short time later and for the first time in my life, I looked out the window during takeoff. Instead of freaking out, I thought about how blessed I am and how beautiful the world below is. I gave my fear to god and thanked him for blessing me with the wisdom to know that I am a total jackass about flying. I wasn't nervous. I wasn't scared...I was just at peace. During the next 2 days, I had 3 more flights and the peace remained. No fear, just the realization that God will call me home when he's ready for me and if it happens to be while I am on an airplane, so be it. I flew back into Bangor on Thursday night on the same small plane in extremely windy conditions. It was a bumpy approach to say the least. But I was cool as a cucumber....chatting with the "flight attendant" Robert (we're on a first name basis now) not even thinking about the horrible turbulence. I let the fear go....and flying was a hell of a lot more fun.

I am heading to Vegas on Monday night. Flying out of Boston on jet blue. And I will be calm, cool and collected. And if not, there's always the "in flight beverage service."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day....A Sickness

I am a romance junkie. Love hearts, flowers, kisses, all things romantic. My husband, Mark, well he is.....a guy. Therefore, he is not a romance junkie. To add insult to injury, he is extraordinarily practical, so the whole Valentine's Day allure completely escapes him. Thus, the Parker's have a conundrum. Every year, around February 1st, we both start to get antsy. He sweats it out, knowing he will have to do something for V-Day, but not really wanting to, not because he doesn't love me, just because it's not how he is wired. Meanwhile, I am ready to freebase on romance. I picture beautiful roses and candlelit dinner and well, you can guess what else. So, since the two of us are on such different planes, this is clearly a recipe for disaster. So here we sit, on Valentine's day, with all this pressure. (mostly caused by me). This year, Mark sent me beautiful flowers to my office on Friday. A lovely gesture that made my day. Today, I planned a nice dinner, hoping we could put Matty to bed early and have a little grown up time....and a lot of wine! Alas, my husband absently invited a friend of ours over for dinner. Once this friend remembered it was Valentine's day (clearly they have no issues at their house) he politely declined. But, this brought up the whole V-Day issue again. I had told him several times about the dinner, yet he forgot. Even when our friend asked what I was making and I said Steak and Lobster, Mark was still saying to him, "Oh come over, it's gonna be good." Giving the fact that I was planning this for Valentine's day, no thought whatsover.
Now, here's the real problem. I get upset, but end up feeling so stupid because I have become "crazy valentine lady" whose husband bought her flowers and loves her and she's still not happy. What the hell is wrong with me? Maybe I watch too many movies or hallmark card commercials. I don't know. Any ideas?