Monday, May 30, 2005


Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thought I would show some photos of my favorite soldier today...

My Dad in dress uniform circa 1969 and Me and Dad circa 1970


I was never a big fan of Celine Dion. There was a song or two that I could listen to without wanting to puncture my own eardrums, but all the hubbub over Titanic...I was soooo sick of hearing that song from the movie.

Then one day I saw her on a talk show and something made me pause to listen. I knew she had a new baby and had taken time off from touring to care for her son, but I had no idea how much of a struggle it was for her to get pregnant. I could hear and sympathize with the pain in her voice as she struggled to hold back tears while talking about her infertility. She did cry when she talked about the joy when her son was born. I cried too.

Then she sang this song that she had written for her him. It was as if she had crawled into my head and wrote a song just for me (and MY son). The emotion that song evokes in me is so overwhelming, I cry every time I hear it. I love it, love it, love it.

So I thought I would share it with you. I have it queued up as this week's musical selection here in my journal. It should start after a bit once you go to my journal's main page (if you are on dialup, you will wait a very long time for the music to start...sorry Karen!)

A New Day Has Come
Celine Dion

A new day has come
A new day has... come

I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear

Through the darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you

Hush, love

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe
I've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new sun

A new day has... come

Where it was dark now there's light
Where there was pain now there's joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy

Hush, love

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe
I've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun

A new day has... come

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun

A new day has... come

Ohhh, a light... OOh

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Once again I can kill two birds with one stone this week. (Either someone is on a same wavelength or I should be yelling COPYCAT...) ;-)

This Week's Photo Scavenger Hunt (#25): Pets

Weekend Assignment #61: You Named Your Pet WHAT?!?

Ah pets... I think I've had more than my fair share of these cute and furry critters in my lifetime. Honestly, though? I don't think any of them had really unusual names. Here is the rundown:

It all began when I was an infant, barely able to sit up unassisted. My parents got me Snoopy the wonder pup. He was half Dachshund and half Beagle. Snoopy would bite and Snoopy lifted his leg and pee'd on me. Snoopy was out of our lives faster than you can say hot potato!

Then came Buffy the buff colored cocker spaniel. He was a real sweetie and we had him until he died at the age of 12 from throat cancer. Next was Benjamin the sheep dog hell spawn. I wrote about Ben a while ago. I can't find the entry. It's funny 'cause it's true.

Next came Did I write about Princess? I'm sure I did. She arrived a "Prince" until the vet informed us he was a SHE. Funny...none of us thought to check for her, er, equipment. We had just always had boy dogs until then. Princess was a stray that adopted us as her family. We're glad she did. Best dog EVER.

During those dog years, my brother and I also had an assortment of furry little creatures. I'll stick to talking about MINE. I had a white rabbit named Snowball and two gerbils named Bonnie and Clyde...then I later changed their names to Peanut Butter and Jelly.

When I moved out on my own, I got a trio of hamsters I called Spot, Clyde, and Fuzz (I really liked the name Clyde). Spot may be the most unusual name I ever chose for a pet. (You know...traditionally it's a Dog's name and you use it on dogs with SPOTS?)Spot was a two toned teddybear hamster and had a tiny black spot on each ear. Yeah, I know. Bit of a stretch. I can't believe I forgot about Fuzz! John reminded me so I had to come back and add her in here.

Later I added Annibel the hamster to the extensive Habitrail village that was being build along the wall of my apartment. She was so pretty...sort of a tortoise color assortment you usually only see in cats. Then came Bud. Bud was my brother's hamster and Bud was suffering from severe neglect (plus my brother had been talking about feeding him to his boa constrictor). When Bud arrived, I suddenly realized that all MY hamsters were girls. (What is it with me and failure to notice things like huge hairy testicles on the hindquarters of my pets?)

One of my hamsters lived for almost 5 years. VERY unusual for that type of animal. I was patiently waiting for all my little creatures to pass into the great beyond before I adopted the pet of my dreams. I'd always wanted a cat, but those were verboten in our household. My mother couldn't stand them and I'd had a severe childhood allergy to them. (Don't let anyone tell you allergy shots don't work. They sure did in MY case!)

Pictured: Fuzz the Hamster, Annibel the Hamster (with a walnut in her mouth), Sasha (the bag he is using for a pillow is the secret chocolate stash I have hidden under the kneehole of my desk), and Sheba.

I previously told the story of how Sasha and Sheba arrived in my life. I lost Sheba last October and it left a real void in the house. Sasha is still going strong at 15 years of age.

What kind of pet will arrive next? That I will leave up to Tyler...when he is ready.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Fired, sacked, canned, pink slipped, shown the door, given your walking papers, terminated, dismissed, iced, let go...

What ever euphemisms for being fired you like to use, the actual experience pretty well sucks.  

After I dropped out of college (and my parents finally found out about it), my home life became more and more intolerable. I had to find a real job and FAST so that I could move out into a place of my own.  

Working as an office temp is great, if you want loads of flexibility. If you don't like a particular assignment, ask for a new one. If you want to take some time off, just turn down the next couple of assignments and relax. But when you are suddenly counting on the regular arrival of your next paycheck and you find yourself without any medical or dental health benefits, a full time job is really the only way to go.  

I began scanning the want ads and going on interviews in earnest. One idea that appealed to me was securing a civilian clerical job at the local military base. My application was accepted and I was put through some rigorous testing to determine what my "level" should be.  

In the military, it's all about your "rank"...and on the civilian side, your level would determine the kinds of jobs you could request and the range of salary you received. I passed my testing with flying colors and was told I could apply for GS-11 level jobs (at the time, I think this was the highest entry level you could be without a college degree and it wasn't common to be offered a starting level that high).  

Unfortunately, back in the 80s this level's salary range started somewhere well below what I was earning as a temp. I was completely ignorant about what it would mean to be a civilian working for the military.I had no idea what I was passing up...job security, excellent health benefits, the ability to transfer any where in the country or world - and if you perform your duties well, you don't stay at the bottom of the salary range for long.  

I often wonder where I would have ended up and what my life would be like today if I had taken that job with the Air Force. But no. I turned it down and continued looking.  

I ended up taking a secretarial job in Marlboro with a company called TRW Medical Systems. Yes! That TRW - the folks that do the credit reports (or they used to, before they were bought out). Medical Systems was a subsidiary company that leased medical equipment to hospitals and clinics. Weird business for a credit company to be involved with, eh?  

Fresh from my almost career with the military, I wowed the hiring manager with my dazzling array of acronyms and promises to have his operation running BY THE BOOK...which I was going to create. The book of SOPs...that's Standard Operating Procedures to you lay folk. They hired me in the hopes that I would create a manual for the clerical staff that defined all the procedures to be followed in the day to day business of being a regional office manager.  

My first week with the company I was sent on my first business at their headquarters in a suburb outside of Chicago. I learned what it was like to travel, as a woman, alone in the big city. Some creepy old dude in the hotel bar tried to get me back to his room. I still get chills down my spine thinking about it.  

Another cool thing about working for this company was the location of the office I would work out of. They were right next door to the SmartFood plant. You don't know what Smartfood is? They were this little independent snack food company that made this amazing white cheddar popcorn...the smell out in the parking lot was...ok, I'm getting off topic. (Smartfood was bought out by Frito-Lay at some point, I just discovered. How sad.)  

Well, after my training I got down to business. I dutifully documented every process and procedure in the office, typed it up and put it into a binder. In my very large binder, I had about 5 pages of very concise, step by step instructions. That was it. I was done and there was nothing else to document about this VERY boring and unchallenging job.

Apparently no one had informed the boss (the regional manager I was working for) just how no-brainer his office manager position was. Or maybe I missed something. He was less than impressed with my SOP manual.  

I would come in each day, play Leisure Suit Larry on the PC in my office, and about an hour before day's end, I would go through my 5 pages of "procedures" and then clock out for the day. I got all my work done...but I had WAY too much free time.  

I was unaware that someone had noticed my game playing and my inability to "look busy". The office receptionist had also applied for my job and had been passed over in favor of hiring me. I didn't know how big of a grudge she carried. She carried her grudge right into the regional manager's office and tattled on me.  

A week before Christmas, an hour before the office Christmas party, I was told to clean out my desk and depart immediately. My services were no longer required.  


The look of triumph on the receptionist's face as I walked out the front door for thelast time was blatant. She got my job.  

Being fired SUCKS! I was angry, embarrassed and hurt. But you know what? The TIMING was the worst part! I missed the office Christmas party (which I was told was the stuff of legend) AND I had no money to buy Christmas presents with that year.  

That was the one and only time I've been fired in my working life. I don't recommend it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Well...we went to visit the first of three preschools on my list today. It's a 20 minute drive and that could wear on me after a while. I like the looks of the school. It's in an old converted Victorian. and they have a nice sized play area in the back. The inside and outside looks very well maintained. The teachers we met seem very nice. The kids were amazingly well behaved. I just wish I had seen the kids in a more normal mode.

They were in the midst of practicing for "graduation". It was so cute. Each of the kids has selected (or was assigned) a character from children's literature and they have to give a speech about themselves. The kids were sitting on the floor and one at a time, each would stand and practice their speech. The rest of the kids were very attentive and respectful. Amazing.

Several of the kids were very curious about us as we came through the door and stared at Tyler. He was acting painfully shy and wanted NOTHING to do with being inside the school. He was quite vocal and disruptive. A tad embarrassing, but heck he's never been in school before.

I loved everything I saw and heard except ONE thing. I asked about being able to stay with Tyler the first couple days until he gets used to the environment. They DISCOURAGE that. They want me to dump and run and let them handle the aftermath. Ugh. I just don't know if I can leave him if he's crying and hysterical.

They also have a wait list for Fall. I knew my procrastinating was going to come back and bite me in the ass. I'll just cross fingers and hope it all works out.

I am going to have to do some serious prep work with him to get him used to the idea of school. "Camp" at the school starts the week of July 4th. Wish me luck.


I was recently introduced to the art of "tagging".  I've seen these cute graphics around for years that have people's names on them, but I never knew until about a week ago that they were called "tags". Often when you find someone who is into tags, they are also into other graphics hobbies like "dolls" and "blinkies".

I've always loved graphic design and I appreciate the work that goes into some of these tags. Some are quite elaborate! Thanks to the lovely people at The Tag Lounge, I am starting to snag some of these graphics to play with myself.

I tagged this one about five minutes ago:

Nothing too fancy. I know how to add glitter and flashy stuff, in theory, but I think it would be a little too time consuming. I'll just keep it simple, for now.

I did want to find a collection of adoption themed blinkies to add to my About Me section...and you know what? There just aren't very many of them out there! Since I am quite expert in taking the work of others and modifying it to suit my needs, I found some blinkies to rework. I think they turned out pretty well...check out my About Me section to see.

We are, indeed, waiting to adopt. I hope we get a call from our agency soon, but I know it could be a very long time.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Yesterday my stomach was a bottomless pit. No matter how hard I tried, no matter what I ate, I was still hungry. I hope today is better.

So far, so good. But I did decide to give in to a major craving. I saw an ad for KFC's new boneless Buffalo wings, so I talked John into stopping there for lunch after we ran an errand. They looked soooo good!

So, today's outing consisted of a stop at the Post Office a couple towns over (the closest one that does passport form processing). We submitted all the paperwork to get a passport for Tyler. Not that we will be doing any international travel any time soon, but you never know. Then it was off to KFC for lunch.

The new boneless buffalo wings are good...but HOT. Not just the usual "tongue and lips on fire" hot, but a whole new class of "gums in flames" too. gums were stinging! Tasty! I think I can feel them burning a hole in my colon...

I had intended to bring my camera along today. But I, of course, forgot it in the rush to leave. At least I remember my purse this time. It would have been fun to get pics and video of  Tyler in the post office. He was so cute! He was asking loads of questions about everything and I think Sue, the woman who helped us, was quite taken with him. She gave Tyler a nice coloring book and crayons to take with him. Tyler also got to put all our out-going letters into the mail box.

One other item checked off the To Do list today was calling one of the local preschools to schedule a visit. Damn! I just realized I forgot to ask if it was OK to bring Tyler along. *sigh* I hate making phone calls. (See Kimmy! I finally did it!) Well...if it's not OK to bring Tyler for a visit, then I don't think this will be the school for us. So I'll look at it as their first test. The visit is on Thursday, so I'll post my observations later this week.

As for my musical selection this week (I change it every Monday and you won't hear it unless you bring up the journal main page in your browser and don't read through an alert link or through Bloglines or RSS feeds)'s Weird Al Yankovic's Amish Paradise. I felt like something funny. I was having a hard time deciding between this tune, Lunch Lady Land by Adam Sandler or I'm a Lumberjack from Monty Python. Oh, and I briefly considered They're Coming to Take Me Away also. We'll see...I might change the tune a few times this week rather than leave it the same.

My journal, my rules...right? LOL

Friday, May 20, 2005


Just to show that I really do follow up on SOME things...

Many moons ago, I mentioned certain photographs in past entries and promised that if I located the photos, I would post them at a later date. Well, that date is today! John located a treasure trove of old photos down in the basement (he was taking a quick look for graduation photos of himself).

In my entry about all the cars I've owned thus far, I wasn't able to post a photo of my first brand new car, my '86 Colt E. I knew I had some from the time I was rear-ended by the drunk driver. And here they are!  The damage doesn't look as bad in these pictures as it did in person.

I just grinned when I saw my "I Heart Def Leppard", "Van Halen", and "Deep Purple" bumper stickers again. A friend of mine made me a custom sticker that listed all my favorite bands in a cool goth typeface and in big letters it said "Heavy Metal Rules". You can just see the sticker in the rear window, but you can't really make out what it says. Ah, the good ole days.

Speaking of the good ole days, I found these two great photos of John and I from circa 1988. This one of me was taken at the first big "family" thing John invited me to - his sister Anne's college graduation. I was BIG into my heavy metal phase, but I toned it down a bit so I wouldn't scare John's parents. I loved my hair. It was layered and feathered and two-tone. The tips were gold and I played up the color by using this hair mousse that had gold dust in it. Glittery glam! It looked like a lion's mane and very cool under the lights of my favorite night spots. Oh how I wish I could find a photo of me decked out in my night club gear and makeup.

Here is a photo that I snapped of John lounging in his first apartment. He moved out of his parent's house in NJ and up to MA to be near me. So romantic! And wow, he was/is such a hotie. He had no clue how cute he was. That made him even more attractive to me.

And finally, I wrote an entry a while back about the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever prepared...only it was in July...and a little NUTS on my part. It was a great excuse to have a party with our friends. I mentioned the lovely house-warming gift our friend Kerry brought (porn) and that my friend Harry passed out on the living room floor (too much booze and turkey). I couldn't resist playing a little joke.

There's Harry, passed out and surrounded by propped up porno mags. The look on his face when he woke up was priceless. Too bad I didn't catch THAT scene on film. [insert evil grin]

You can't make out any naughty details in this photo, so don't delete me AOL, please! ;-)  You also can't make out that his fly is down. Later, my friend Kerry decided to take the joke further by totally undoing Harry's pants and stuffing his hand into his underware. We were all a little drunk and this struck us as the most hilarious thing ever.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


This Week's Photo Scavenger Hunt (#24): Night shot, flash illumination

When I read Krissy's assignment this week, I instantly thought of this photo:

I took this photo one evening the last time we were in Hawaii. I love the way the flash lit up this palm tree.


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Graduation!

I don't recall ever seeing photos AT my actual graduation ceremony. Hmm. But here are a couple taken right before we left. I wonder if John has any grad shots I can share...I'll find out and add them later, if so.

Monday, May 16, 2005


We had a major set-back in the potty training a few months ago. Tyler developed some fear about pooping in the potty and flat out refused to even try. He was doing so well with peeing in the potty that I was reluctant to put training on hold.

Then he decided he didn't like Pull-Ups any more...and NO WAY was I going to try and clean poop out of his cute little Bob the Builder underpants again.

So, back to diapers we went.

After having to excuse myself from a friend's graduation party yesterday (WTG on getting your Master's, Danit!!) in order to change a really stinky Tyler poop...I decided it was time to try again.

So he doesn't like Pull-Ups and big boy underpants aren't enough incentive? Fine! Today I told him NO DIAPERS.  He cried at first and tried to argue that he NEEDS his diaper for pooping.  I listened calmly and told him I wanted him to try. If he really really needed the diaper when it was time to poop, I would give it to him. He finally agreed to try...and he has been running around the house going commando. Yup. His little general is flappin' in the breeze! And you know what???

It's working!  He was peeing without any prompting from me (way cool) then I saw him sitting for a while with his GameBoy. Suddenly he leapt up and screamed "I POOPED IN THE POTTY, MOMMY! I DID IT!!"

OMG I flipped out! I think I scared the kid half to death with my screams of joy. Heh heh...but damn I am proud of him! I picked him up and spun him around in my arms. I also gave him a fun pack of M&Ms. He seems quite pleased with himself now.

Is it weird that I was tempted to take a photo of his poopie? Is it weird that I had a fleeting thought about bagging it for the baby keepsake box? Heh heh...

I ended up just conducting a poopie parade down the hall to the bathroom so that Tyler could do a ceremonial flush.

It's a good day.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Weekend Assignment #59: We've all had teachers who have made a difference in our lives. Tell us about one of yours. It can be a teacher from any level of education, from kindergarten to graduate school.

Extra Credit: Tell us your second favorite subject in school.

This is a great idea for a weekend assignment...but really, I already wrote about my all time favorite teacher. Ben Maxwell was one of a kind, in my book.

I'll talk about the extra credit here, though. Through most of my years in school, science (mainly Biology) was my favorite subject, followed by English (mainly classes where I got to do some creative writing). Over time, I realized I liked science because I always received a good grade in that subject. Not the best criteria to determine a favorite. English then became my favorite because I really, really loved to write.

So now what is second? I guess I would have to say art. When I went back to college for the third time, I found myself majoring in English and Computer Science, but I was also taking a large number of painting, drawing and graphic design classes. The credits received in those classes did nothing to help me toward my degree...I just took them for the sheer joy of it.

I loved my watercolor painting class so much, I ran out and bought a TON of painting supplies: special papers, brushes, paints/pigments, easels...I went crazy. I intended to make painting a serious hobby. My instructor loved my work so much, she asked if she could keep my portfolio to show to her next class. I could come and pick it up after the next semester was finished. I was so pleased!

Shortly after I finish class that semester and was making plans for the next, I was hospitalized in critical condition. My recovery after surgery was slow and I was deeply depressed at the prospect of never being able to give birth to a baby.

Once I had finally physically recovered, returned to my highly stressful work routine (school had been part time, weekends and evenings), and began treatments for our eventual attempts at IVF - I found I no longer had the desire to paint. I had somehow, somewhere lost the joy. I never went back to retrieve my portfolio of paintings from my instructor. I never picked up a paint brush again.

Two years went by and I finally found the courage to call my old instructor and ask if she still had my portfolio. I really wanted my paintings back. She promised to look and took my number to call me if she located it. I never heard back from her.

One of these days I want to pick up my paint brushes again. But for right now, I am enjoying my favorite subject. The writing part, especially. But art still is my second favorite it takes the form of photography.

Now a little off the topic, I had a few people ask where the photos of ME were in my last entry. Maybe this will give you a hint...

Now you know why I don't give up the camera too often and why there are very few photos of me. I am always behind the camera and rarely in front of it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Photos HERE.

John had a great idea today. He suggested we take Tyler bowling. OK! This is something we've never done with him before. I love "firsts". So John went on a hunt around the house for our bowling bags. (Yes, we used to bowl quite frequently back in the day...but I haven't been in probably 6 years or more.)

With my pretty purple bag containing my pretty purple ball and purple & white bowling shoes and John with his teal bag and pretty teal ball with black bowling shoes in hand, we waltzed into Rockaway Lanes with Tyler leading the way.

Wow...Rockaway Lanes has changed! They have laser light bowling now. John and Tyler's basic white tee-shirts suddenly lit up like spotlights...I love black light! I caught Tyler's gleaming neon blue grin as he pranced his way down the carpet to lane 23. They had bumpers all set up for us. That's a great thing. No gutter balls.

After exchanging Tyler's kids size 10 shoes for size 9 and locating an 8 lb bowling ball for Tyler in a lovely shade of sherbet orange, we were ready to roll. I set up the computerized scoring with John in the lead spot, followed by Tyler, then myself. That would give me loads of time to take pictures, naturally.

Woe is me! My bowling shoes no longer fit. Not with my feet swollen up like birthday balloons. Ah the joys of edema. So it was rental shoes for me also. Yuck. These shoes looked like they've been around since the Nixon administration.

Tyler had fun, at first. But he isn't the most patient of youngsters and grew tired of waiting for it to be HIS turn. He did enjoy shoving that ball down the lane. John finally located a 6 lb ball that was a bit easier for him to manage.

I bowled amazingly well, considering how long it's been since I last held a ball. It's funny how those bumpers take away your subconscious fear of gutter balls. I only hit the bumpers twice (one time it helped me get a strike). You can check my photo of the score board to see who won the match.

I think we will wait a bit before we try bowling again. Tyler had fun, but he was done well before all our frames were.

We stopped at McDonald's in Rockaway for dinner. They have the nicest indoor play space I have ever seen in a fast food joint. Tyler was completely worn out by the time we headed for home. He was sound asleep in the car in no time.



I sat at my desk for a long time last night, staring at my monitor.  I wanted to add an entry to my journal, but nothing was coming to me. I had been depressed all week and my bout with the blues just seemed to culminate last night with a really foul mood. Oh I was GRUMPY in the extreme. And restless.

I finally gave up and decided to go to bed. My nights have fallen into a rather calming routine...

Add food to cat bowl.

Make my way down the hall, listening to the floor creak.

Pit stop in the hall bathroom to use the facilities one last time before sleep and fill my babbling water fountain next to the sink with a cup full of tap water.

Pet the cat good night.

Slowly turn the knob on my bedroom door hoping it doesn't make that annoying metallic click that sometimes wakes up the boys.

Check on Tyler to make sure he hasn't kicked off all his blankets. He has. Replace covers and lightly stroke his hair.

Watch him sleep for a few moments and sigh.

Glance at husband snoring peacefully...glad I didn't disturb him this time. 

Grab a fresh bottle of Poland Springs water from the stash next to the window and have a few sips.

Smooth out the sheets and brush away any crumbs (Tyler or the cat always seem to track stuff into the bed).

Adjust my pillows.

Adjust my body.

Pull the covers up to my chin and tuck the sides under my top pillow to secure. I like having only my head exposed.

Settle into position on my side and try to turn off my brain for the night.

That is when I decided to write down my nightly routine for my next blog entry. Not very exciting, but it's me. Every night.

Today after a nice late sleep (I love Saturdays) I felt much better. Maybe the blues will stay away for a while. I hope so.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Well, the sun has set on Mother's Day 2005. Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite Moms out there. I had a pretty quiet day. Got to sleep nice and late (love that!) Watched my boys play Super Mario Brothers on the old Nintendo that John found in the basement. I was wondering if Tyler's new found gaming skills would be transferable from the GameBoy to the full sized Nintendo. Oh ya. No problem there.

I got a lovely card and gift from my son. He is so thoughtful for a three year old! Heh heh... (Thanks John.)  My present? Sims 2 University! An add-on pack for my Sims 2 game. Looks like I get to go back to college and whoop it up with my Sims.

The cherry on the top of my day was dinner from The Clay Oven. Mmm mmm! Nothing like a plate full of chicken curry, navratan korma, basmati rice, raita and loads of naan bread to make me grin from ear to ear (and probably blow flames out my hindquarters later).


And I didn't hear from my mother. Not that I really expected to. She is as stubborn as I am. We'll see who calls who first.

On to other news....

We heard from Tyler's birth grandmother today. We hear from her periodically. Yes, it's an odd situation. She calls us for computer help/advice and for advice on how to handle her daughter (Tyler's birth mom). Sometimes she just calls to chat. Today she wanted advice on debt consolidation. Why she thought we would be experts in that area, I haven't a clue...but John gave her some good advice anyway. He really is great with finances.

We also found out that Tyler's birthmom no longer has internet access and she was wondering if we had sent any pictures. That sucks, but we aren't going to foot the bill for her any more. We did it for 2 years, that was long enough. It was really convenient to just check the box in my address book every time I was sending out photos to the rest of the family. Now I'lljust have to make an extra effort to get prints to mail to her.

So, I spent a couple hours today scanning back through the thousands of Tyler photos I've taken since the beginning of the year. I sat here and tried to get inside B's head. What kinds of things does she want to see? She probably doesn't care about the rest of our family, but it's nice to show that Tyler does have loads of people who love him. There are very few photos of me, because I am the one taking all the photos...but there are tons of photos of John and Tyler together. I tried to have some balance. Tyler's every day life, the fun places we have been to, and visual demonstrations of his developmental milestones. I think I did well. I hope she enjoys them.

Now I have to type her a letter.  What to say...what to say...

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Weekend Assignment #58: Post one of your favorite mother/child pictures. This could be a picture of you and your mother (at any age), or a picture of you with your children (again, at any age), or even one of your spouse and kids. But it should be a mother who is important to you personally.

Extra Credit (this is an optional part of the assignment): Share a piece of fun trivia about your mom.

Yep...there's me and my Mom on the beach in 1968.

Since I've posted this picture previously, I thought I would try and find one that I've never used in my journal before. Last time I was home, I secretly raided my Mom's drawer full of Kodak envelopes and stole a few pictures (she'll never miss them because she NEVER looks at the old photos). I've often asked for photos from my childhood, but she has only given me some cruddy scanned copies that were printed on my Dad's not so great color printer.

So, I came across this one:

We were on a family vacation the summer after my junior year in high school...age 16. This was the last time I went on vacation with my family until after I got married. My Mom hasn't changed much...she just decided to go with a lighter hair color.

Extra Credit:  Fun trivia about my Mom? Hmm. Oh! I got a good one. My mother was born with a rare condition called Felix Absentia...she has no sense of humor. None. Nada. Somehow she ended up in a family full of kidders, jokers and teasers. Do you have any idea what it's like to watch a movie like Naked Gun or Airplane and all she can say is "I don't get it..." Kill joy. I found a good photo to illustrate my point:

I was taking pictures of my parents (and my aunt and uncle) standing on the front steps of our old house years ago. My dad's hands started out on my mom's shoulders then he kiddingly slid them to her neck to pretend to choke her. I thought it was hysterical. Mom's reaction? In the photo she is in the middle of shrieking "Bob, stop it!" Heh heh she was so ticked off.

Seeing this photo after what my mom put me through this week...well, it's just making me smile. I have to say that I in NO WAY condone spousal abuse. My Dad has never raised a hand to my Mom (only to us kids).


I could have posted photos of Tyler and me, but my favorite one is already in my About Me section. :-)

Friday, May 06, 2005


It was a real roller coaster of emotion for me today. I was so happy to see my friends Beth and Jeff plus the assorted family members and friends I had hung out with so many times in the past. They moved to Florida a couple years ago and I miss them a great deal.

Joy at seeing Beth and her sister, mother, Jeff, his mother, sister and a bunch of their friends was overshadowed by sadness that Moe was no longer with us. As we arrived at the funeral home, John grabbed two of the special black yarmulkes for he and Tyler (this was a Jewish wake and funeral) and I couldn't help but smile at the sight of Tyler in that little black beanie skull cap.  Strictly speaking, we aren't required to don the traditional headwear because we aren't Jewish, but John likes to do it.

The family seemed to be holding up well in the receiving line and I gave my friends a big squeeze and kiss on the cheek and we made our way into the sanctuary to be seated. As the officiator began singing, Tyler blurted out "TOO LOUD!" in voice that could be heard in China. He didn't like the sound of the Hebrew prayer song/chant at all. His behavior deteriorated from there. John finally carried him back out the door and entertained him in the lobby area until the service was completed.

Since we don't regularly attend church, I can't really expect Tyler to know how to properly behave in circumstances like that. He is only 3, after all. Bribery wasn't working either.

I was left alone to listen to the rest of the service. My friend Beth and her brother Ed were invited up to speak about their Dad. 

Seeing my friend up at that podium trying to talk about her Dad through heaving sobs and heart wrenching tears brought back painful memories of myself being in that same spot years ago...barely able to speak through the tears. Beth spoke about childhood memories, what a wonderful dad and grandpa he was, and how devastated he was the day his granddaughter Carrie lost her battle with Fanconi Anemia and left this world at the tender age of 8. 

The tears were already flowing down my face, but when Beth announced that Saturday was her parents 63rd wedding anniversary and how much it meant to Moe to see that day and wish his wife a happy anniversary...I just lost it. When she read the anniversary card that she had given to them aloud, I was reduced to audible cries of anguish.

I tried to compose myself as Beth finished speaking and Edward took her place. Edward decided to speak about his father's life in biographical form. We learned that Moe was the son of immigrant parents. He grew up on the streets of New York City during the depression. He served in the second world war and earned the bronze star, among other medals. He married in 1942, just before the war started, and after 4 years of service, returned home to his wife to start their family. He had many jobs over the years; shoe shine stand, delicatessen worker...on up to his final career as the owner of a successful dry cleaning business and tailor shop.

Edward read a jaw-droppingly amazing list of skills his father possessed...butcher, tailor (he could do everything from hem pants to make furniture slip covers and do reupholstery), carpenter, electrician, tailor, toy maker, plumber, furniture maker, and engineer. He could fix any machine, built a two bedroom and one bath addition onto their home by himself, made furniture, hung wallpaper, painted like a pro...he even played the violin. All this and he worked 12-14 hour days to provide for his family, never lost his temper, was loving and affectionate with his kids and did everything in his power to help them along in life. He had the patience of a saint and was beloved by his family, friends, neighbors and customers. No one ever had a negative thing to say about Moe.

I always knew Moe was a wonderful man...I just had no idea how amazing he really was. Just thinking about how diametrically apposed Moe is from my own father just made me start sobbing uncontrollably again. What a loss my friend has suffered. She's lost her daughter, who was the most amazing little girl I have ever known, and now her Dad. I was just overwhelmed with sadness and pain.

As the family followed the casket out of the hall and seeing the raw emotion on my friends' faces, I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to muffle my sobbing.  When I finally rediscovered John and Tyler waiting for me at the back of the sanctuary, Tyler asked me why I was so sad and wrapped his little arms tightly around my neck. I immediately forgave him for his bad behavior...but we weren't out of the woods yet.

Back in the van, we got ready to follow the funeral procession to the cemetery. We took that opportunity to tell Tyler how disappointed we were in his behavior and that we would NOT be going to Chuck E Cheeses later (the bribe I mentioned above). No way we reward bad behavior. Tyler was naturally upset. We decided to give him one last chance to redeem himself. If he was good as gold at the cemetery, we would take him to Chucks. He agreed to try very hard to be good.

At the grave side service, he listened attentively and looked around with fascination at the pretty flowering trees and interesting grave markers and monuments. I whispered to him about what was happening, and he seemed to understand. He even helped his dad throw a couple shovels full of dirt into the grave. This is one of the Jewish customs that I find deeply traditional and very touching. Everyone lends a hand in filling the grave...and not just the symbolic handfuls of dirt some faiths do. They do all the back breaking labor themselves. It's a labor of love and yet another way for the family to show respect and bid farewell.

I was watching Jeff. From the moment they uncovered the mound of dirt and distributed the shovels, he worked tirelessly. The other shovels changed hands frequently, but Jeff didn't budge. He is such a sweet guy. He must have been exhausted by the time they were finished. During the work of the burial, I was approached by Jeff's mother and sister. I hadn't seen them in a number of years. It was nice to chat with them again. I've always really liked Jeff's sister. They mentioned that they would be stopping by Carrie's grave before they departed the cemetery and I told them I had planned to do the same.

We bid our last respects and said good bye to our friends. We did not plan to go to Ed's house to sit Shiva with the family. We knew Tyler wouldn't be able to maintain in that somber environment for long. He needed some fun and soon.

We stopped at the cemetery office to find out the location of Carrie's plot in the very large cemetery complex then we followed Baila and Ruth over to search for the grave stone. Along the way, I found a stone to leave behind. This is an Orthodox leave a pebble on the grave each time you visited. I don't know the significance, but I suspect it is a visual reminder to the family of how many times their loved one has been visited and it's a token of love...more symbolically, I'm sure it has something to do with the eternity of stone and the soul. Something like that.

Finding Carrie's pretty pink granite marker didn't bring the expected flood of emotion for me. Instead, I just found myself happy to be there to say hello and remembering all the fun times we had with her when she was growing up. We had know her since the time she was a newborn. Her last days on earth were no longer the first memories to surface. Instead, I remembered one of our trips to Bermuda. (We used to go on vacation pretty often with Jeff, Beth and baby Carrie back in the day.) I remembered wearing my hair in a ponytail on the side of my head the same way Carrie was wearing her hair and walking with Beth behind her stroller as we shopped the streets of Hamilton.

A local woman approached us and admired the baby (really she was 2 years old and talking, but she was very tiny for her age) and then, looking right at me, she said "Your baby is adorable and she looks just like you!" Not knowing how to respond, I just said thank you. Beth and I laughed. Carrie and I did have the same color hair, so it was easy to see how the woman had made that mistake. It was such a thrill for me to be mistaken as a "Mother". At that time, I had recently stopped using birth control and we were waiting for nature to take it's course. I had no idea what the future held for me in that regard.

After spending a few minutes talking about Carrie with Tyler, placing our pebbles (Tyler went off and found one on his own to leave), and reading the headstones of Carrie's neighbors, at Tyler's request... I waved and said goodbye. Tyler grinned over at Carrie's headstone and said "Bye bye Carrie" and we made our way back to our cars. Tyler smiled up at me and said "Carrie was very nice, Mommy."

Yes she was, son. Yes she was.

Moe plays with Carrie during her final stay in the hospital. I miss them both.

Back in 1998, when Carrie went into the hospital for a bone marrow transplant (a last ditch effort to arrest the disease that was slowly ending her life), Beth asked me if I could create something on the internet for Carrie. A way for Jeff and Beth to keep Carrie's many many friends and family up to date on her progress. I was happy to be able to do something to help the family at that trying time.

The result was a sort of online journal (rather like a blog) where I posted daily emailed updates from Beth on Carrie's progress, pictures, helpful links and artwork just for Carrie to look at (her parents had a laptop computer at the hospital with them). Carrie asked for pink and purple with I gave that to her in joyful abundance.

After Carrie lost her fight to complications from the transplant, Jeff and Beth decided to keep the website up as a memorial to their daughter's final battle and as a resource to other parents who are going through similar medical struggles with their own children. Beth has received countless emails from grateful and appreciative readers over the years. Carrie really was an inspiration to us all.

Here is a link to Carrie's Adventure, and below is one of the few postings I did in my own words (start at the bottom of the table of contents if you want to read her journey from the beginning):

Day 273 - post transplant:

An update from Auntie Becky (a.k.a. the webmistress) -

"Red is a very lucky color," Beth said to me as I approached Carrie's bedside yesterday, wearing red velvet.  Carrie reached out her hand in a small wave and nodded yes when I asked her if Mommy was taking good care of her.  The room looked so cheerful as I looked around at all the cards, pictures and artwork from so many of Carrie's friends and family.  With her breathing tube preventing her from speaking, she answered my questions with a careful nod for yes, or a shake for no.   She rested relatively comfortably in her little nest of pillows and blankets in the center of the bed, watching her favorite shows on the television suspended up on the wall.

After our little chat, I blew her kisses as we left the room.  She had so many visitors yesterday!  Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents and friends came to tell her we all love her so very much.

So today, here is a little prayer and some red (I think Carrie won't mind that it clashes with her favorite pink and purple color scheme) in the hopes that we can send love and luck their way.  Carrie needs all our prayers tonight. 

As Jeff said over the phone just moments ago, it seems our little Carrie is slipping away; but miracles can and do happen.  The doctors have given a rather grim prognosis and they seem to think it is only a matter of hours before Carrie will be gone.

We were happy to spend some time with Carrie yesterday.  She was awake and alert, but seems so weary from her long fight.  Hope is still with me as I write this tonight, and I pray for the miracle Carrie so desperately needs.  As Jeff and Beth continue their bedside vigil, we will continue ours here at home sending only good thoughts and wishes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


My mother is a piece of work. We had plans to drive up there this weekend so we could all go out to eat for Mother's Day. I called her a little while ago to deliver the very sad news I wrote about in my previous entry. She knows that Pam is an old and dear friend (we've had our ups and downs, but what do you expect after knowing her for almost 30 years). Beth and her husband have always been there for us and we have been through a LOT with them (the loss of their 8 year old daughter is just one example).

I have always been an extremely loyal and supportive friend. If my friends need me, I am there. When I told my mother the sad news, she became immediately suspicious of my motives. I think she knew what was coming next. I was thinking about canceling our weekend plans so that I could go and be with my friend Pam.

My mother started by attacking Pam's relationship with her husband.  "Why would you go all the way down there? Didn't she leave her husband? She complained about him all the time."

She went on from there...trying to diminish or belittle my relationships with my friends. "I thought you weren't particularly close to Beth any more..." "Didn't Pam leave her husband?"  "You haven't been very close with Pam in years." Yadda yadda. 

I did my best to try and explain the concept of FRIENDSHIP to her, but she has never been clear on the concept. She has never had a "best friend". She has always kept her associations light and at a distance...because she is a very "private" person. As a consequence, when ever she has a serious problem and wants to talk to someone, she calls me. ME. I have always had to be there for her as well.

I finally told her that, yes, I was considering driving to Virginia and spending some time with Pam. Yes, that means our plans for Sunday will have to be postponed. (I already have plans to spend 4 days with them in mid-June, by the way.) My Mother went ballistic.


Um, no Mom. It would be too much of a hardship on Tyler to do so much driving in such a short time frame.


Mom! What is more important, being there for someone you love who has just suffered a horrible loss or Mother's Day???


Mother...that's not the point. Even if Pam had an adversarial relationship with her husband, she did love him and was trying to work things out for the sake of their son. She just had to tell her 8 year old little boy that his Dad is dead.  You and Dad fight all the time and you often threatened to leave him over the years. How would YOU feel if he died??


*sigh* When ever she senses she is losing ground in an argument, she starts dredging up all past perceived transgressions against her. In this case, she was specifically referring to my engagement. I told my friends before I told my parents. Not because my friends were more important that them (the reason she chooses to believe), but because I wanted HAPPY reactions to my news. I knew when I told THEM I would get nothing but spewing hatred and negativity. They hated John. Why would I WANT to share the happiest news in my life with them when I knew how they would react?? Naturally I waited.

By this point I was crying. I told her she was the most selfish person I have ever known. That any other Mother would be supportive in a case like this and that missing Mother's Day was a tiny thing in the grand scheme. When she started screaming at me in response to the "selfish" comment...I just hung up. I couldn't take it any more.

Am I crazy? Is Mother's Day more important than attending 2 funerals to be there for 2 old and dear friends?  Aren't *I* a Mother too?? Why is Mother's Day still all about her? Shouldn't it be my turn now? I am willing to pass on dinner at my all time favorite restaurant to drive 16 hours in 3 days to a part of the country that has more sheep than humans to an environment that will contain an emotionally traumatized 8 year old, a good friend who will most likely be drunk and/or high, an ex-boyfriend who hasn't seen me since I put on so much weight (yes, I dated Pam's brother), and where 80% of their family smoke. Oh yes...all this will be paradise rather than spending time with my mother.

Needless to say, even if I decide not to go, I no longer have the desire to drive all the way up there to spend time with my Mother either.


I had a very upsetting phone call last night. My friend Pam (I've talked about her in this blog before...a while ago) phoned to tell me that her husband, David, had passed away.  I was stunned.  She is the same age as me. Who expects to be a widow at 39?? 

Granted, it was slightly more possible in her case since her husband was 57, but 57 isn't that old either.  Pam and David had been on a trial seperation for a year, but recently got back together to try and work things out (for the sake of their son). Their son is 8 years old and the sun rose and set with his daddy. It just breaks my heart thinking about Pam giving him this news today.

Then today I got word that my friend Beth's father has also passed away. Morris was a really sweet man. I am sure Beth is devistated. Her daughter's bat mitzvah is in June. It's so sad that Kira's grandpa won't be there now.

So now we are looking at 2 wakes and 2 funerals this set in NJ and one set in VA. They overlap each other. John has suggested we attend the wake in NJ then leave immediately for VA for the other funeral. I really do want to be there for both friends. I've known Pam since I was in 3rd grade. Beth has been my friend since I moved to NJ in 1992. She and her husband came to our wedding.

I am frozen with shock...and I have nothing to wear. Why do I have to think about shopping and/or laundry at a time like this??

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Photos for this entry are HERE.

Yes, that's right...NUDITY!!

Heh heh. Now that I have your attention...

I like being comfortable. I am at my most comfortable when I am wandering about my house, au naturel, with the temp at a comfortable 70 degrees. I probably spend 90% of my time bare-foot and bare-assed. Tyler would probably prefer to do the same, except that he has a tendency to pee on the rug. ;-)  John tends to get cold easier than I do, so he wears sweat pants or PJ bottoms.

My mother would probably faint dead away if she read this. I was raised in the most uptight household imaginable. The naked body was something dirty that needed to be covered up and hidden away at all times. Bathroom doors were always closed and locked to prevent accidental exposure, and if that door started to open when someone was using the facilities, you would hear a shout or my mother's shrill SCREAM. Robes were always worn. You get the picture.

This restrictive environment coupled with low self-esteem turned me into a real uptight freak. I was ashamed of my own body for a very long time. Even after I'd had a couple boyfriends, they had never seen me fully undressed.

I would get stomach cramps and be nauseated when it came time to change into gym clothes at school. Even in college, I would wait until my roommate left before I would change or I would bring my clothes into the bathroom and change in the shower. Pathetic!

One of my worst fears was someone opening my stall in a public restroom. I screamed like a murder victim when someone accidentally walked in on me.

I was a mess. Funny thing was, high school and early college years my body was in it's prime. I looked great...not that anyone ever saw. Even I didn't really see, because I would avoid mirrors when I was nude. Yup...I was too embarrassed to see MYSELF naked.

So when did this attitude all change? When I was hospitalized. I was in the worst pain of my life and suddenly I didn't give a crap who saw me naked. I just wanted the pain to stop. After the surgery, I think everyone and their cousin came in to lift my gown and check out my goodies. I think morphine took the edge off my emotions, but I continued not to care. People came to visit me and I asked if they wanted to see my scar. Mind you, it was 18+ inches wide and only an inch above my pubic hair.  Not many people took me up on my offer, surprisingly.

My modesty continued to fade over time. Now it has virtually vanished. I cover up for the benefit of the pizza delivery guy, the UPS guy, the lawnmower man...etc. And I put clothes on when I leave the house (mainly because I don't want to be arrested). But around the house, I am the naked queen of my castle.

I was a little concerned when Tyler was born. I knew it wasn't an issue when he was a baby, but I what age should I start covering up? I read an article in a child rearing book I trusted that indicated I should take my cues from Tyler. If he started looking embarrassed or hid his face in shame, it was time to get my robe out of mothballs.

He is almost 3.5 years old and shows no signs of shame or embarrassment, much to my relief. Maybe it's because his parents show no shame about their bodies? He will actually have a healthy attitude about his own body? Hmm... ya think? 

Tyler laughs at me when the doorbell rings because I have to run around looking fast for pants or a shirt. He asks me, "What are you doing Mommy? Why do you need pants? Why?"

Why, indeed.

I would end my post right there, except John shared some interesting information with me last night. He wanted to warn me about something. There is a large boulder off to the side of our front yard, near the street. Past the boulder is a narrow stretch of grass that gives way to trees, bracken and brambles that divide our yard from the no-man's land behind our next door neighbor's stockade fence. John has found a large number of beer bottles and other garbage there. He suspects this semi-hidden spot has become a teen neighborhood hangout.

I do have curtains on my large front window, but they are rather sheer. John postulated that these teens might be getting a free show along with their spot to drink brews. Heh. I thought about this for a while. Do I mind that I may have people peeping through my window? They certainly aren't getting a thrill from it, unless it's the local chapter of Chubby Chasers. More likely I am comedic relief from their stressful teenage lives.

So be it. I don't care. Naked may not be "beautiful" in my case, but it's comfortable.


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of your significant other, or show off a picture of your significant other that you particularly like.

I took this picture of John a few years ago on a trip to Hawaii. When ever I think about finding a photo of John, this is the first one that comes to mind. Every time I look at this photo I get this fluttery feeling in my reminds me of how I felt the day we got married and I first saw him, in his tux, standing at the altar. I love him so much...and he is all mine.

Love you, babe!

Monday, May 02, 2005


 I had an interesting discussion with John on Friday. We were out running errands and saw some kids walking home from school. They were all dressed in the familiar plaid of the local Catholic elementary school. My instant reaction was to think about how lucky they were. John's instant reaction was "Oh those poor kids!"
I was surprised at his reaction. I argued in support of uniforms for ALL schools, not just private. Why? Because it puts kids on a level playing field. Suddenly, there is no visual distinction between the classes. The rich kids who can afford fancy designer clothes and look down on the kids who wear items from the local Salvation Army or lack finesse or their mothers dress them funny... dress them all alike and that removes one of the biggest weapons bullies use against their victims.
I was bullied unmercifully in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. My life during school hours and on the bus to and from school was a living hell. Several of my female classmates and a couple of the boys made it their special mission in life to make me cry every day. The girls would make fun of the way I dressed, my glasses, my hair, my body.
The clothes I wore were always their first target. My mother dressed me like a complete dork. I was not allowed to pick my own clothes. I would beg and plead for certain items that all the other girls were wearing and my Mother's reaction was always "Those things are too expensive. They are just a fad. It's not worth the money." 
Lest you think we were in need of pinching pennies, far from it. My mother did all HER shopping in upscale department stores and my brother and I got clothes from Marshalls and Sears. If Walmart had existed back then, or if we had a Kmart that was closer, my wardrobe would probably have come from there. My mother got us the inexpensive items so she would have funds left over in her weekly allowance to buy her designer duds.
When I had the opportunity to leave the public school system and attend a private high school, I jumped at the chance. I had a private tutor, attended special classes to prepare for the entrance exam and got in to the school of my choice. I put on that school uniform with great joy. I was finally just like all the other kids.
John had a very different opinion. He spent his elementary school years up until 8th grade in a private Catholic school. He HATED the stiff uniform pants, dress shoes and necktie he had to wear to school each day.
To top things off, John was also teased and tormented by bullies. His bullies were all boys. Naturally, the boys didn't make fun of his clothes. How could they? Everyone dressed alike. But they made fun of his glasses (his mother got him these awful army surplus looking frames - the thick black ones), they made fun of his braces, his hair, and most painfully, his ethnicity.
You see, John is half Japanese. In his entire school, I think there was only one other Asian kid and I suspect that kid didn't see John as really Asian. The bullies would use all kinds of racial slurs, mostly of the Chinese stereotypical varieties because they were just that ignorant, and used TV references to shows like Kung Fu and All In The Family to pick on him. Sadly, John ended up being ashamed of his Japanese heritage for a long period of time.
John was relieved when his mother told him they couldn't afford to send him to the Catholic high school and attended the public school instead. He felt an enormous sense of freedom in being able to wear what he wanted and being comfortably dressed for school each day.
In addition, some of the boys from his neighborhood that he was friendly with but who had attended public elementary school suddenly became his classmates and defenders. They were part of the popular jock crowd and went so far as to get physical with the few remaining boys who tried to get under John's skin. The rest of the boys who used to bully John attended the Catholic high school and John never saw them again.
We were both bullied. We were both scarred by the experience, but I suspect our difference of opinion regarding uniforms has more to do with the difference between how girl bullies and boy bullies treat their victims.
Girls are all about psychological torture (like rumor spreading) and personal appearance. Boy bullies are all about physical torment, vicious verbal attacks, and humiliation. In a nut shell, clothes matter more to girls than they do to boys. So I think in dealing with bullies, there are  different courses of action to be taken between boys and girls.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to prevent "the bully" from ever existing. Worst advice ever? Kids will be kids, just let them sort it out amongst themselves.
This article talks about behaviors that can be warning signs of a future bully and how to nip it in the bud. Things like avoiding aggressive behavior in the home (don't let your kids beat up on each other or YOU and don't let them witness spousal abuse), teach kids respect, how to handle conflict, praise appropriate behavior and avoid harsh punishment...teach your kids EMPATHY and avoid violence in their TV programs. Most of all, be a true support system for your kids. Make sure they know they can come to you with any problems and that you will really listen to their concerns. 
  • Warning signs of being bullied — The child comes home from school with torn or dirty clothing, damaged books, cuts, bruises or scratches; has few friends to play with and seems afraid to go to school; complains of headaches or stomach pains, doesn’t sleep well and has bad dreams; loses interest in school work; seems sad, depressed or moody or has poor self-esteem.
  • Warning signs of bullying others — The child teases, threatens or kicks other children; is hot-tempered and impulsive and has a hard time following rules; shows aggressive behavior toward adults; shows no sympathy toward children who are bullied; or has been involved in other antisocial activities such as vandalism or stealing.
Some responses to comments from my wonderful readers I'd like to share:

In a message dated 5/2/2005 2:42:47 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, PrincessNiaylah writes:

In elementary school, I was made fun of~ In high school, I was made fun of~  I wore uniforms in high school (in Texas most public schools now wear uniforms) and there wasn't much of a dress code in elementary school.  I think bullies are everywhere- not just at school.  Kids make fun of what they can't accept, or what is different than the norm.  Looking back now, I see that.  I was the kid at recess that sat under the shade tree and read a book- in 3rd grade.  I didn't play, and I didn't have friends.  I was different, and they made fun of me for it~  But I honestly don't think it has anything to do with girl or boy bullies- I hated uniforms in high school, and I hated the kids at my school in elementary school.  If kids are going to tease and torment, they will, no matter what they are teasing about.
I think you are right...if a kid is going to be a bully, they will find any flaw to pick on. For me, it was like the uniform was a magic thing...I would be transformed. I would no longer be the person I was, I would be someone new. Anonymous...fade into the background. And I did just that. I wasn't friends with a single person in my own class. No one knew me. No one made the effort, and I was glad. I just wanted to be left alone. And I was. For the first time, I didn't dread getting up in the morning. Maybe I was just lucky and the kids I went to school with were all a better class of people or raised better. Who knows. All I know is...for me it was all about the uniform. Silly, I know. Thanks for your comment!

In a message dated 5/2/2005 2:44:53 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, JoolsInWA writes:
I think uniforms create a hardship on low income parents , the only one who wins is the uniform companies
This is the main reason they changed the uniform the year I started high school. I was all excited to wear the pretty burgundy and gray pleated plaid skirt with the spiffy gray wool blazer (or vest in warmer weather) with the school crest on the chest...the uniform was soooo pretty. Then I got fitted and saw this UGLY teal polyester a-line skirt with a kick pleat in the front and this hideous vest. Turns out the wool they used in the old uniform was prohibitively expensive (and hot in the warmer months) so they switched to this really inexpensive fabric. If you couldn't afford the uniform, all you had to do was fill out a form and the school paid for it. Likewise for school lunches too.

Didn't matter. Ugly teal polyester...I was still happy to look like everyone else. The uniform was like a magic talisman for shield of invisibility. Silly, I know. It was never really about my clothes...bullies will find any excuse to pick on other kids.  I wanted to blend into the background and disappear. And I did! Not a single person in my own class knew me well...and only the national honor kids in my study group even really knew me by name/sight. I came in second place in the yearbook competition for "most unknown student". LOL I was proud of that. I also graduated 10th in my class of 340 some odd kids and all the parents at graduation were asking "Who is that kid? How come I never heard of her before today?"