Wow! That Feng Shui stuff really works!

Sorry, once again it’s been forever since I posted anything. This time I really mean it when I say things have been busy. New job, Eddie’s treatments, the dog getting sick and  now meeting someone and falling in love after thinking it would never happen again.

When I came home from my big trip to NY last summer (I think we were gone for 6 weeks- yes, that IS big!), I decided to invest in a Feng Shui consultation. You know, the way your home is arranged affects your life. So I had Cheryl Grace come over for a 2 hour consultation. We sat at the table and talked about my life, what was working, what wasn’t, and changes I wanted to make. Then we took a tour of the house and went through some changes I could make pretty easily to have my home align with the Bagua map. (Just google it, i don’t have time to explain it all). Here’s her website if you’re local and you want to try it out.

So I moved some things, bought a couple of things to fill in the blanks she mentioned. it felt pretty good. If you know me you know my husband Franco died about 15 years ago, and since then I’ve been single. Sure I’ve gone on a few dates, but nothing serious. Plus I was not working for about 2 years- which was ok with me, but still, I needed to get started moving forward in the career area. Family and friends, all good.

What was funny to me was my “romantic relationship” area. I had a 7 foot tall cactus sitting in the middle of it. She laughed- do you think that means anything? I have to say alot of times I have shied away from some interested parties. Maybe I’d be ok by myself. So my Mom has had her eye on that cactus for a couple of years, so I bought her a new pot and had my brother come over and pick it up and bring to her house as a birthday gift. I also made sure that everything in the area was in pairs. I’d have to pull out the notes to see what I had on there for career.

So back in Feb/March, I got a call from someone I used to work with at American Express, who told me about a job they’d be posting. So I applied, got the job over 89 other candidates and am back.

Then about a month and half ago my neighbor asked me out for dinner. What?

I had told him he could keep his motorcycle in my garage. He had moved to the next building after breaking up a few months before with my next door neighbor, and there wasn’t any space for him to keep his bike. I came home after visiting Eddie in the hospital one night, and he was outside, so I just told him, there’s plenty of room in my garage if he wanted to keep his bike there until he figured something else out.

I’ve known him for about 2 years- he’s a retired Marine, spent alot of time outside working on his bike. He was always nice to me and Charlie, we’d see him around, walking the dog, coming home from one thing or another. He was out working on his bike while I was out drying a dozen paper mache dinosaur eggs for Carlitos’s birthday party. (and if he didn’t think I was crazy after that, I guess he’s a keeper!) He’s a single Dad with a 12 year old daughter that is his number 1 priority. I really hadn’t considered a romantic relationship with him. He thinks I’m full of cr*p, but really, I didn’t.  

So he started calling me every time he took the bike out or put it away. I was like, listen Sal, you don’t have to tell me every time, but he told me it was just respect. Ok, I can live with that. Then he started coming to the pool with us. I came home from Mother’s day out with my family and he was there. He asked me out to dinner, and I kind of freaked out. What? I wasn’t looking for a relationship, I was too busy. I had just been back to work for a month, and in my spare time I was doing everything I could to be there for my sister and her family while they went through this crisis with Eddie. I tried to blow it off, but eventually I said to myself, why not? So I called him and told him while it was hard for me to get out for dinner, I’m usually free for lunch.

So we went out a couple of days later for lunch. It was nice to get dressed up again, and there wasn’t so much pressure, I knew him for a long time. What was funny to me was that he told ME how nervous HE was. He couldn’t even finish his lunch.

Fast forward to today- he’s moving in with us. We’ve had our ups and downs, meeting my family, dealing with Carlitos and his feelings about potentially having a Dad in his life but losing the “just the two of us” relationship he and I have shared for most of his life. He’s a wonderful man- he’s fought in 3 wars for our country, and there are some scars associated with that. He looks damn good in a uniform- ask my Mom, she met him for the first time on Memorial Day. He built his own Harley chopper and most of the time he wears shirts with the sleeves and neck cut out because he can’t stand to have anything around his neck. He was also a policeman, he grew up on a ranch in California and he’s half Cherokee, half Chicano. He’s got a dozen body-building trophies. He came with me when I had to put my dog down- and cried with me too. He’s like no-one I’ve ever met before.

We went to buy fireworks at lunch last week- he still likes to blow things up. Today we cleaned out the garage together to make room for his tools, I made London Broil and baked potatoes for dinner, his daughter and her friend spent the day setting up her bedroom here and we went and set off some fireworks at her Mom’s house. Beautiful Day.

So maybe that Feng Shui stuff really works- what a wonderful world. And once again I have to say- How lucky am I?

Happy July 4th- take some time to thank someone you know who has served our country and our freedom, and for the sacrifices and impact it’s made on them, their families and their lives. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Who’s luckier than me?

So this blogpost title has been sitting around for a while. I started writing about how lucky I am- I had just been hired back by American Express, working virtual from my kitchen in Sarasota FL. I started working at Amex on my Dad’s birthday in 1986, and my last day there after my department was reorganized and moved to Phoenix was my Mom’s birthday in 2008. I’ve been a stay at home Mom with Carlitos from when he was 18 months old until 4 years old, and without having to worry financially due to severance, unemployment and a good real estate deal, or 3 to be exact.

Alot has happened in the last 2 months. Carlitos has started going to La Petite Academy 5 days a week. I feel very lucky that the staff there is like a second family to us. It’s true what they say about it taking a village to raise a child- I’m very thankful I have these ladies in our lives. They give great advice, encourage Carlitos to do well every day, and help me make sure he’s growing up to be a good citizen of the world.

In the meantime I have been working on getting my brain to remember all of the great stuff I used to do at work, and understand what’s gone on in the last 2 1/2 years since I left. Week one I was beginning to think I’d made a big mistake and  took Carlitos out for an after dinner run to the bookstore to buy some Excel training books. Now I’ve been back 6 weeks, and not to worry, all is well. I remember! I even remember old passwords that have been replaced with new ones, I have to stop that!

My new team, boss, everything is awesome. I love doing what I am doing. While I was off from work I took a certification class to become a life and career coach. I figured even if I didn’t do it, I would help myself figure out what I want to do next. I did alot while I was out- with Charlie, making stuff, being creative, exploring alot of things I wanted to learn about. Having that time away has made me really appreciate my job again- I work with great people for a respected company, and I am pretty good at what I do. They pay me well, I have awesome benefits, lots of vacation and sick time, and I get to do it in my pajamas while dinner is in the oven- what else could I want?

My brother and his wife are the proud parents of twin baby boys. Welcome to the world Brandon and Dylan! It was a long road for them to get here, and everyone is so happy for them. My brother is a bigger goofball than ever, good lord, you think I spill the beans here on the blog, you should friend him on Facebook.

I hired a cleaning lady. WHAT? I know, can you believe it? She’s just come 3 times now, every other week, she comes and does the basics- sweep/mop/dust/vacuum (even the staircase!) the shower and tub and ceiling fans! It may not be forever, but I was a little overwhelmed going back to work- we ate out 3-4x a week in the beginning. I could get used to having that help, I almost want her to come 2x a week instead of 2x a month.

We got a fishtank. First paycheck, how to blow it. I’ll have to share some details and pictures on a future blog. This is just the catchup.

And then my nephew Eddie was diagnosed with cancer. WTF.

Pardon my french. How can so much be so great and then this?

I know this feeling. I have felt this before, not in a long time.  This is something that hits you in the stomach and makes you get up and run around waving your arms in the air with tears screaming NOOOOO! At least that’s what it did for me. I have to say I’m making progress- dealing with these crazy feelings and not trying to pretend I’m ok. Getting older, experience I guess. I felt like someone smacked me in the face and the whole world was tilted for a couple of weeks there. News that makes your world tilt-my cousin Jennifer was riding her bike and got hit by a motorcycle, my friend TJ fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed, my cousin’s son Robert drowned, my grandparents, my husband Franco died in his sleep the day I cam home from the extended honeymoon, September 11th, where 8 people I hired were killed, including the person who replaced me.

You may not get good at it, but you certainly recognize those feelings. It’s devastation. Eddie Spaghetti, who was running around in the sprinkler park the weekend before. One day his legs were hurting him and he didn’t want to run, the next day xrays showed bone deterioration, then hairline fractures, anemia in his blood test, a mass near his kidney, spots on his lungs, my sister and her husband in St Pete’s All Children’s hospital for almost 2 weeks after going in for a test on a Saturday. Each day another blow, WTF.

So now we have his diagnosis- Neuroblastoma Stage 4. He’s already finished his first chemo round of 5. 5 more months to go, then surgery, possibly radiation, definitely medication. I don’t know about the odds, I just know that if 1 in 1000 are cured, we can consider that our future because we just don’t know, and worrying about it ain’t gonna help.

And what we’re working on is staying in the present. All of this inspirational reading and grief work and self help crap I’ve done over the years-it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

Here’s a couple of good ones we’ve been using over the last few weeks:

 “You can always cope with the now, but you can never cope with the future – nor do you have to. The answer, the strength, the right action, or the resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after.” Eckhart Tolle (thanks Oprah!)

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift- that is why we call it the present.

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell. ~Lance Armstrong

So of course my sister calls me and tells me alot of what she is going through, thinking about, feeling. You cannot imagine how your mind can spin in a situation like this- one minute you read something positive and boost your hope, but then someone else sends you something they think will be helpful and it changes your entire feeling in a flash.

I remember thinking and even saying a couple of times after my husband died- I don’t know why it should be such a surprise? It’s going to happen to all of us, each and every one of us. You too. The miracle is that some of us make it as long as we do. And get so much done! We each have impact on so many other people every day.

We only have now, all of us. Not just the people who happen to be sick at the moment- all of us. I could cough and a vessel could burst in my brain tonight. Or you could get hit by the proverbial bus. Or have a team of Navy seals bust down your door and shoot you point blank. You don’t know, and you don’t have to know now.

So this weekend I had a wonderful time with my family. I saw the twins, had a great dinner and slept over at my parent’s house, Carlitos got up this morning and put on his bathing suit and went in the pool before breakfast. I bought those ridiculously expensive raspberries (and blackberries and blueberries and strawberries) and we ate them all up.

Then we went to my sister’s house today and had some wine and  shaved my son’s head to match all of his cousins in solidarity with Eddie, and an hour later we watched one of our NY cousin’s do the same thing with her son via Facetime on the Iphone. 

I came home and put out the garbage and read my son a book, and stayed up way too late catching up on my blog-

Who’s luckier than me?

Posted in Family, LifeCoach, Living it up!, Remember | 7 Comments

The Country Bunny and Little Gold Shoes

So I went to the Goodwill bookstore the other day for a fresh crop of books to read to Carlitos. I get bored reading the same books over and over again, and with the late fees I was subject to at the library, I figure I might as well buy them at Goodwill since they’re pretty inexpensive. I picked up at least 20 children’s books the other day for a total of $30. Plus Carlitos likes to read them over and over again, and he’s been really into Richard Scarry and the Berenstein Bears lately.

While I was there I ended up on a trip back in time, to when I was little and my Mom used to read me a book about a little country bunny who became one of the special Easter Bunny team, even though she was smaller and not as athletic, the only girl, and apparantly a single Mom of 21 baby bunnies.

Here's the country bunny in the Easter Palacae getting ready to deliver Easter eggs to children around the world

I recognized the picture on the front cover, and then when I read it to Carlitos that night, it was like a crazy flood of memories- I remembered every picture in the book, more than the story. It was like discovering a lost treasure, something long forgotten, but that was ingrained in my memory. I remember  that hall of Easter eggs in my mind, thousands of colored, sparkling eggs spilling onto the floor in every design imaginable. I love stuff like that- I have bought quite a few things that reminded me of things from my childhood- Dawn Dolls, Liddle Kiddles, Kanockers, and my all-time favorite childhood book, “Nothing at All”, by Wanda Gagg.

Last night Carlitos had his first offical sleepover- his 2 cousins came with us to Build-A-Bear, and when we came home we built tents in the living room and made brownies. I  remind myself sometimes to just let the mess get out of hand once in a while, let them just have fun and drag it all out. I wonder what they’re going to remember about this time in their lives when they get older.

I plan on reading this book to Carlitos for many years to come at Easter time. I showed it to my sister this morning and she remembers it too. I’m sure Grandma will enjoy seeing this book again as well.

I love that. Have you come across anything that transported you back in time?

Posted in Family, Fun stuff, Living it up!, Parenting, Remember | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What? Tofu parmigiana?

Freaking Oprah, gets me to try these crazy things. So I saw her recent show where the entire staff went vegan for 2 weeks. It featured a very likable and convincing woman, Kathy Freston, whose book I bought LAST year when she was on Oprah, and barely had a chance to look at. I’ve seen some of those movies- Supersize Me, Food Inc, etc, talking about the meat industry and how it’s not like it used to be. Cruelty, horrible conditions for animals, dangerous usage of antibiotics and Mad cow….

The health benefits of veganism seem to be great- potentially curing all sorts of stuff. Should people be eating dairy after they aren’t babies anymore? I’ve been having allergy symptoms for the last year or so that have never affected me in the past. Maybe this could help, maybe it would kick start some weight loss too.

I like to try new things, so I went vegetarian last week. Of course at the beginning after reading her new book AND the old one,  I was going on the 21 day gluten free, no eggs, dairy, caffeine cleanse, but that didn’t last too long. I just didn’t want to give up my coffee- with a splash of milk in it. COME ON! I don’t smoke anymore, or even drink diet coke unless I’m out somewhere for a meal. I couldn’t give up the coffee.

And pecorino romano cheese. I need that to cook with, especially for my regular vegetarian dishes- minestrone soup, cauliflower pasta, pizza, frittata. So I did it- 7 days, no meat. The hardest part was coming up with a menu that varied a bit, in comparison to how I’m used to cooking. Meat, starch, veg. Funny how this would seem like a big deal, but really, I have days where we don’t eat any meat, but not usually consecutive ones.

It was good- I definitely beefed up (haha) my intake of vegetables and fruit, and really didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I don’t know that I’m ready to commit to becoming a full time vegan at the moment, but I am going to do a little at a time. So we’ll be having vegetarian meals here at least 2-3 nights a week, and I’ll be cutting down on the amounts of meat I buy for main dishes, and increasing the volume of vegetables.

One thing that stuck with me from the book was just a thought- is my wanting to eat something a little more delicious or what I am just accustomed to having more important than an animals life?

So tonight I made tofu parmigiana. Eh, not so much. Of course it was ok, it was breaded and fried, and there was sauce and cheese melted over it. Carlitos didn’t like it. Last time I made the tofu I used it in tiny cubes in a stir fry, that he loved. At least I have a head start with him, he likes most vegetables. When I made the minestrone he ate the carrots, celery, string beans and cabbage raw while we cooked.

You can check out Kathy Freston’s website here:

We’re leaning into it.

Posted in Good Things, Taking chances, What's for Dinner? | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Keeping the Joy in childhood- It’s all about Carlitos!

So this week was Carlitos’ 4th birthday. I’ve been getting alot of requests to see the pictures, but felt this required more than just an update on my Facebook page. Of course I went overboard and have been planning for weeks- we went with a dinosaur theme, it was awesome. Just a simple party at the park. (Hehehe) Followed by dinner for 12 at home.  

One of the benefits of being a Mom to a son is that you get to do all of the things you maybe weren’t into yourself as a child, so alot is semi-new to both of us.Eggs drying all over the house for weeks! So for the past couple of weeks we’ve been making paper mache balloon dinosaur eggs, which required more work than I anticipated- 2 coats of paper mache, drying time, breaking them open to stuff with candy and toys, fix the hole and then finally painting them. Loading 9 of them into the car and then hiding them at the park.

Grandma getting ready to hide the eggs

 The kids were so excited to find them, and then they broke them open in 60 seconds and were ready to move on. Holy cr*p!


The final coat before painting was papertowel for texture

I also made a T-Rex out of some recyclable materials, paper mache and paper towels, paint and toothpicks. Basically he was built using an orange juice container, 2 soda cans, paper towl and toilet paper rolls and the inside wires from a broken umbrella. Plus lots of masking tape and newspapers.

He’s looking like a dinosaur now!

Carlitos of course wants to play with it and it’s not built to last, I’m hoping we get a month out of it. Thankfully he got a great big rubber T-Rex from Grandma and Grandpa,  he looks like he can take the heat.

I also made dinosaur/fossil eggs, which were a playdoh like dough with coffee grinds and glitter, slow baked in a low-temp oven. The kids loved these, they dug out the dinosaurs with hammers and spoons, and brushed them off with paintbrushes just like real paleontologists.

the mix for the fossil eggs

The dinosaurs that were inside the fossil eggs

The fossil eggs which were baked at 170 degrees for about 90 minutes



Of course there was some drama – the week before the party I threw my back out, which really put a cramp in my plans. And then the order for 2 dozen dinosaur skeletons, 6 pairs of monster clomper feet and the dinosaur Christmas tree ornament craft didn’t arrive by the day before the party- yikes! I had to call customer service and tell them they were ruining my life. They overnighted a replacement box at no charge- whew!

Luckily the day before the party I got this email, which just reminded me to take a step back, relax and have some fun instead of getting into a frenzy of house cleaning, cooking and crazy crafting:

Thank God that showed up. I had been contemplating painting myself a Mommysaurus shirt- a big green sparkly dinosaur on a plain shirt I had in the closet. Oh yeah, the party isn’t about me and what other totally cool thing I can come up with for me to make and them to do at the party. It’s about my wonderful 4 year old boy who happens to be going through a dinosaur phase. And who really doesn’t care if the dinner is fancy or the rug didn’t get washed. He just wants to have a turn frosting the cupcakes and using the masking tape.

So we got up in the morning and went to IHOP with Grandma and Grandpa, and partied all day and night! I think he had a great day. Today we brought cupcakes to school, and that’s it till next year! Whew. Except I promised to make red-hot cinammon playdoh with sparkles for his class for Monday, and we haven’t even taken out the Valentines Day decorations yet- gotta go!

Thanks Aunt Jeanine for the very cool Stegosaurus cake!Dinosaur crafts!Testing out the fossil excavation tools

Digging out the dinosaur!

Ah, the cupcake thief!

Clomper stompers or monster feet