The Finish Line

It wasn't easier.  But I trained less this year.  And I gave myself permission before the race to walk if I needed to.  But I guess I never really needed to, because I never stopped to walk.

It was different this time.  I wasn't doing something for the first time.  I wasn't at the brim of tears for achieving something I worked so hard at.  It wasn't as emotional.  I didn't have as much riding on it.  I was just doing something that I now do each year and am really proud of myself for doing.

I shaved a couple of minutes off of my time from last year, but I am not really concerned with time.  When I am running the 5K, I only care about finishing.  (Said like a true slow runner.) 

And, as always, there is no better feeling than the one that you feel when you see Mile Marker 3.  Because that means there is only .1 left.  And that .1 is the easiest running you'll ever do.  It's the type of running that you can do while holding your daughter's hand and smiling.  It's feel-good running, and I wish I could capture that feeling and bottle it and use it in other aspects of my life.

This year has been different than the past few.  I can't say it's been great, but it's been better.  Life without my mom has always been a journey, I've said that before, but there have been times where I've seen the metaphorical Mile Marker 3.  Where it's not only no longer a burden to go on, but a joy.  There have been times where I've been living in the .1--me: pessimistic, sarcastic Dana, seeing mile 3, moving faster, grabbing my kid's hand, smiling, smooth moving for the last bit of the race, happy to finally cross the finish line.


We Found Love In A Hopeless Place

Yellow diamonds in the light

And we're standing side by side

As your shadow crosses mine

What it takes to come alive

Shine a light through an open door

Love and life I will divide

Turn away cause I need you more

Feel the heartbeat in my mind




Not a good week.


Life Goes On

I left home at 17 and went to college in Boston.   It was there that I wore baggy jeans and Simple sneakers, gave up red meat for a year, stopped believing in God, questioned authority, and realized that if you don’t like something in your life it’s up to you to change it.

I returned to NJ after graduation and moved in with my parents.  My dad expected me to follow his rules, after four years of following my own, and so I moved out at 21 and got myself an apartment. 

It’s been my way or the highway ever since.

Don’t like my job?  Get a new one.

Don’t like my weight?  Change it.

Don’t like my house? Move.

Losing my mom has been the only thing that I have not been able to change.  I don’t want to be motherless.  I don’t want to raise children without their grandmother.  I don’t want to not have her here when I need her.  But I can’t change any of that.

That’s why I started this blog.  I was looking for a way to cope with something that I could not change.  All of my life I’ve been lead to believe that I am in control of my own happiness, and here I was, not happy and not able to change it.  I felt stuck.  I wanted my mother here and there was no way to make that happen and therefore, I would never be happy again.

I was wrong.  But I didn’t know it.  It took time.

For the first few years after her death, I felt like I was walking through a dark tunnel.  I was trying to get to the end, walking aimlessly with my arms out, reaching for anything that felt familiar, trying to figure out how to get out of this dark hell.  Every once in a while I grabbed a hold of something that brought me comfort-- a hobby, an achievement, a memory, a good time—and I thought, “Ok, Dana.  Move towards that.  That’s the right way.”  But then there were times when my eyes refused to acclimate to the darkness, and I lost hold of that good feeling, and I continued on my dark trek through the tunnel. 

Lately, however, the tunnel hasn’t been that dark.  It’s actually well-lit.  There are paintings on the wall and friends at every corner.  The ground is carpeted and the bathrooms are spotless.  The tunnel isn’t even a tunnel.  It’s a wide residential street with large leafy trees.  It’s a sunny day.  It’s jacket weather.  My daughter is riding her bike next to me.  My husband is holding my hand.  My dog doesn’t want to eat other dogs.  My daughter doesn’t have a potty mouth.  Greg isn’t lecturing me about leaving my purse on the kitchen counter.  I make a stop at Weight Watchers-I’ve lost 10 lbs this week!  How awesome.  Suddenly I’m jogging down the street.  I’m waving to people who are here to cheer me on.  My family is holding up signs.  My dad is smiling.  My sister is running next to me.  I’m the winner of the race.  The ribbon breaks against my stomach and I get a trophy and I’m laughing and we all break into a flash mob to Jessie J.’s Domino.

Maybe I can change this situation.  Maybe bringing my mother back is not the only way to be happy again.



My phone decided to download a newer version tonight and all of a sudden emails of pictures that I sent myself that had never come through came in.  And I'm not sure why I emailed myself these pictures in the first place, but I can only guess it was to put on this blog back when I updated daily and kept everyone in the loop on everything, no matter how mundane.



Seriously, this is ridiculous. We went to Barbados and got back on September 25th and I am still playing catch up.
First-there will be no pictures of the trip at this time since they are on a camera that broke when Leah dropped it over the weekend and while I am sure there is a way to upload (download?) pics from the camera to the computer without actually using the camera, I do not know how nor do I feel like learning.
Barbados was GREAT! We saw turtles hatching and helped them reach the ocean. We went swimming in the ocean and the pool. We drank lots of beer and rum punch. (Leah especially--the lush.)  We explored the island and got lost over and over and over. I highly recommend Barbardos to families.
Now, I know I sing this song all the time, but I have laundry to do.
I’ll be in touch.




Our holiday weekend was low key, which, as I get older and more exhausted, is exactly how I prefer them.  On Monday, we went to an indoor BBQ at my dad's, due to the rain, and Leah got to play with two of her favorite people, Matthew and Bella.

Bella is getting so big--she's almost one--and I when I saw her and Leah playing this weekend I got a glimpse of what the future might be like when those two get together.

It included bail money.



Sorry About That

I did not mean to take a vacation from this blog.  It just happened.  Kinda like the earthquake.  And then the hurricane. 

There's nothing new to report, really.  I still run, loosely follow Weight Watchers, lament over Leah's behavior.  For a couple of days last week, there were actual times that I didn't want the world to open up and swallow me while dealing with sticky Leah situations, but then Friday night turned out to be the worst yet behaviorally-wise, and we are back to some days sucking and some days not sucking.

We fared okay through the storm yesterday, only losing power for 6 hours and having some downed tree branches and closed roads today.  I've lived through quite a few hurricanes and the only thing that truly worries me are falling trees.  I mean, if there's water flooding my house I have time to get out and I know how to swim.  You don't have time to move out of the way of an enormous tree falling on you.  Because you're dead.

So, on that note, I leave you with an idea how yesterday went when we didn't have power for 6 hours.

Exhibit A: The face a kid who gets to watch TV makes.

Exhibit B: A face a kid who is told there is no power therefore no TV makes.



Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

To date, I am down 20.4 lbs.  I've been following Weight Watchers for three months now.  For the most part, I do all right  on most days, but there are moments that I'm not proud of, that involve nuts, tostitos, and white cheddar popcorn.  I'm only human.

My only form of exercise is running, which I do about two times a week.  I'd like to get up to three times weekly, but both mine and Greg's schedules don't permit that.  Getting outside to run twice a week and also having night to attend my Weight Watchers meeting is all the work-free, kid-free time I get, and I'm grateful for it.  It could be worse.  I have contemplated buying a jogging stroller and taking Leah with me on runs.  Since stopping every thirty seconds to answer a question that begins with the word Why is not ideal when jogging, I really don't want to do this. 

For every really good week of weight loss, there are usually one to two poor weeks that follow.  For a while I teetered in between a 16-19 lb. loss until I finally had a come to Jesus talk with myself and broke through to 20.  Weight Watchers is all about small goals, and since my first small goal was a 20 lb loss, I have to now set my next goal.

We are going on vacation in a month so I'm thinking another 5 lbs by then would be nice...but I am also thinking about how there are oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard, so, maybe I'll compromise with a 3 lb. goal.



We Had A Time

Over the weekend Aunt Abbe and cousin Stacey came to visit.  We talked about Weight Watchers and the trials and tribulations we've been experiencing.  We gave each other exercise tips and discussed new recipes.  We talked about our feelings: how it feels to be overweight, how it feels to lose weight, how it differs from how we thought it would be. 

We discussed the next Turkey Trot, and I convinced Stacey to do it with me!  Stacey and Leah went swimming for a bit.  Aunt Abbe told me she send me some of her old pants that are now my new size. 

We had a good weekend, and, like you could imagine, we got to the part of the conversation that talks about how you were not there to talk with us.  How you would have been making this weight loss journey with us; how you would have been interested in the 2 point zucchini muffin recipe; how you would have resisted doing the Turkey Trot but ultimately would have tried.

The fact of the matter is that you should have been there.  But you aren't.  YOU gave up.  You looked for an easy out and you didn't find one.  And, therefore, you missed out.  We had a time.  And you weren't there.


(Not Very Good) Ode To My Weekend

Took Leah to the museum, she was quite naughty,
Went into the gift shop, a keychain's what I boughty.

Who knew it would take a fossil, just to make you docile?

Hung out with friends from college, food and drink I did dole,
lots of kids jumping off the coffee table; thank god for birth control.

Now it's back to business, school, cleaning, and running,
As you can guess, it's not very fun..ning?



Age of Non-Innocence

Dear Age Three,

You are cordially invited to kiss my ass.

I cannot believe how freaking crazy you are turning out to be; how I want to kiss you with tongue one minute and taser you the next. 

You now know my name is not just Mommy; you heard people calling me Dana, and you figured it out.  So now YOU call me Dana. 

You ask me if I'm kidding you (no), if I'm serious (yes), if I'm for real (yes), and if you can have candy (no).

You don't push my buttons, you rip each and every one out of my body with your cold sharp nails and then you stomp on them, beat them with a stick, set them on fire and then smoke the ashes.   My buttons are shot.

You know everything, and it bothers you that I don't always agree.  {Editor's note: This one might be my fault.  I have a psych degree with a self imposed focus on child psychology.  Back in the 90s we were taught to treat the child like a real person, rife with choices.  Allowing your child to decide which shirt she was going to wear to pre-school would help her to say no to drugs as a teenager. (?? whatevs) As a result, Leah's grown up thinking she's an equal part in this family--someone who has the same say in all family decisions.  Au contraire, Carol Ann, this is my mine and your father's house and we follow my our rules, and I am we are in charge and I we make the decisions.}

Oh, Age Three, you are a sexy beast.  With your funny little conversations and your cute little faces.  And your propensity to throw your backpack at me and hit me when the mood strikes.  You are wonderful with kids that are younger than you, acting like an old grandmother who plops you on her lap and pinches your cheeks.  And you love to hang with the older cool kids, leaning up against the garage smoking and cussing.

You are pushing your boundaries right off the map and I am constantly re-etching the line in the sand.  I fight back and I lose.  I let you walk over me and I lose.  I attempt to stand up to you and we are two chaps from the wild west at a showdown in the Alamo.  Oh, and I always lose. 

You are a steamroller in a tutu--a Zamboni in lip gloss.  I grow four grays each time your teachers tell me you're an angel.  Most days I can't wait to get home to see you and most Mondays I skip to work whistling a tune.  

Age Three, you drive me to drink.  And I am trying to drink you in.  I am told that you're the toughest, until she's a tween, which has been likened to age three with hormones. 

I was told that parenthood was hard, and it would be the toughest road I've ever traveled.  And I arrogantly nodded my head and rolled my eyes and thought there is no way that something that is a half my height and like a sixth of my weight will even be a blip on my life-radar, let alone uproot my life and leave me a confused, befuddled, frustrated shell of my former life.

And yet, here I am.  Eating some humble pie.  Baffled at just how difficult parenthood is.  How the one thing that drives me up the wall and out of my skull is the one thing I'd give my life for without a second thought in a hot flat second.

Up Yours,




My Little Baby, No More

I purchased some bathing suits on sale for Leah for next year.  I bought a size 4T.  They might as well have come from that Justice store because they look enormous.  I can't imagine, that next summer, in 12 short months, Leah will be wearing those bathing suits.  They are just so damn big and I don't want her to fit into them.  I mourn for the baby she once was and attempt to remain optimistic for the girl she is turning into.



A Rare Occasion

I'll just sit here quietly while you pay at Pathmark.

Really, do not worry about me.

I won't move, won't run, won't talk, won't try to leave with someone else.

Just sitting here, minding my own business. 

Won't try to take this chair home...or the one next to it, nope.

No need to worry about me.


Code Red

Do not be fooled.  This child is naughty.  Do not let her smile convince you that she really needs a doughnut.  She says that to everyone, several times a day.  Consider yourself warned.



Dear Mom...

Your granddaughter is FRESH!

She is also smart, inquisitive, stubborn, deliberative, funny, headstrong, silly, intelligent. 

I could go on.

She wants what she wants when she wants it, and my psychology degree comes in handy at times.  She is always asking questions and testing waters and I don't want to break her spirit, so I push through and answer her, explain things to her, and try not to let her relentless thirst for life kill me dead in my tracks.

I am nervous because she gets smarter everyday.

And I don't.


Friday Night Sights

Ah, it's that time of year again.  The time when the families of Sparta gather on the field on Friday nights to listen to music and frolic and dance the night away.

Or, more like the parents get to sit down and have a drink and allow their kids to run around like lunatics for a few hours with some music in the background.



In Deep Sleep

Usually Leah is running at 115% all day long and there is not much that slows her down.  It's non-stop from 5:30 a.m. till 8:00 p.m. with a two hour nap in between.  However, every once in a while she goes balls to the wall for hours upon hours and crashes during the day on the couch.  It happens so infrequently, I've been able to catch all occurrences on film!  Here they are:

and fin.

That's it.  Just once.


Christ On A Cracker

i swear i tried to post tonight  but my internet is down and despite trying to get online on two different laptops and that didnt work and im about to call a neighbor for their router password but i cant do that on principle so i apologize there will be an update but apparently not tonight and in case its not painfully obvious im posting this from my phone


Run, Dana, Run

I am having such a hard time exercising.  Or, I should say, finding time to exercise.  It seems like the day just contains too many other priorities, and when I finally stop for the day it's too late to go for a run. 

I've taken another employment position and I'll talk about that at some point soon, but I am hoping that with this new position, some more free time becomes available to me.  I have to convince myself, however, that this free time is permitted to be spent on me, and my life goals, rather than using it to spend more time with Leah or Greg.  I have to give myself the okay to spend some time alone doing something positive for me. 


OT: My Shoes

Before I had Leah I wore a size 6.5. I had amassed an enormous amount of shoes and most of them held a special place in my heart. I am not a shoe snob—meaning I don’t care what brand or store they come from—if they are attractive and don’t hurt (much), I’ll wear them. And love them.

Once the aftermath of what I call pregnancy and its related fallouts settled, my feet stopped shrinking at a size 7, which is where they are today. While most of my summer shoes still fit, thanks to the backless varieties, most of the winter boots and loafers had to be replaced.

Three weeks ago I went to my basement where I keep off-season clothes, found the bag of summer shoes, and brought it up to my room. As I opened the bag and peaked inside, I knew immediately that something was very wrong. The smell alone was my clue, but the shoes—covered in a green and black moss-like substance confirmed my biggest fear. The shoes had gotten moldy in the basement and it looked like it might be the end for them.

Not quite sure of what I should do, I quickly closed the bag and shoved it into my closet, as the best way to put something out of your mind is to hide it in the back of your closet. But every time I opened the closet door, despite the fact that I couldn’t see the bag since I had shoved it really far back, I was reminded of the memory of the bag of sad shoes and the idea that something had to be done.

I decided to wash the shoes. Like in the washing machine. And surprisingly only two pairs didn’t make it! Two of my most beloved pairs, but this gave me a reason to replace them. Which I did. At a half off sale at--and I am not embarrassed to admit this--KMART!

So, there’s really no point to this post today, other than to say that shoes are shoes and life goes on, and also as a reminder to my husband that there’s something wrong with the basement and I’d like for him to fix it immediately. And also to solidify the notion that my washing machine is the best appliance in the house. I’ve always believed it, and I think that this story proves it.


Reminisce About The Days Of Old



The Fairy Princess and The Wicked Witch

Lan and Baby Tai Yu came to visit over the weekend and, in addition to going to Costco and the parade and hanging in the back yard by the pool, we played a little dress up.

Leah and I got a kick out of this.  Baby Tai Yu--not so much.



Weight Watchers

I’ve been following Weight Watchers since May 17th now. As of this past Tuesday, I am down 12.2 lbs, which means I’m averaging 2 lbs a week. I am happy with this pace, yet I fear I won’t be able to hold on to it for very much longer.

I thought by this point I’d have the new points plus system down better. I don’t. I am nothing without my tools to tell me how many points foods are, and I dutifully find myself entering meals into the system with no idea of how many points they’ll turn out to be until the screen blinks out a number.

I have not been able to exercise regularly, and I feel that exercising is the only thing that will enable me to hold on to that 2 lb a week loss pace. I am switching jobs (again? I know.) in a week which will give me some more free time. I plan on integrating running back into my life.

Other people on Weight Watchers see the plan as, “Oh I can eat anything I want--just in moderation,” while my outlook isn’t as cheery. If I could eat in moderation I wouldn’t be here. Clearly, that’s an issue for me. I look at Weight Watchers as the way I have to eat, with restrictions on foods and portions, forever, if I want to be lighter and healthier. I see it as a war that I’ve lost and my punishment is a very tight rein on my diet for the rest of my life; something that I need to comes to grips with and accept. I’ve tried to live my way with regards to food, and it didn’t work out, so now we do it someone else’s way, and succumb to the fact that I’ll need to track, report, weigh in, and attend meetings in order to curb my eating habits for the rest of my life.

It’s almost like someone in a drug and alcohol treatment program--someone who tried to handle their addiction on their own but failed and is now accepting the fact that they were wrong and need help. Quite often we see certain behaviors and objects as benign, and those who struggle with them as enigmas. When I realized that overeating and poor food choices were issues in my life, and made an effort to change that, I began treatment for my addiction.

It’s incredibly difficult to sit in a room with women who are strong enough to make a life change through diet and exercise, which, with all the fast and easy ways of losing weight this days, can be described as the long and hard way. I look around at these women who know that this is the right way to do it and are fighting the good fight, despite the uphill battle ahead of them. It’s not difficult to handle because I’m one of them, and can glimpse 10, 20, 30 years in the future and see myself still needing this program to stay healthy. No, it’s difficult because of the one person who gave up on this. The person who introduced me to Weight Watchers so many years ago, and who went back time and time again. Who saw results- although meager and short-lived- after her hard work. But then who gave up. Who succumbed when the battle became too much. Who saw a light off to the right, rather than through the long tunnel, and went to it.  And then got burned.




Please listen to me, you need to listen to me.
No whining, no throwing, no crying,
I'm tired and I have a migraine,
and you need to listen the hell to me.

When I ask you to clean up your room,
or to come and set the table.
All I want you to do, is to eventually stop what you're doing,
and just listen the hell to me.

Your father and I have a feeling,
you might be an alien.
You scream for no reason and freak out all the time.
Oh, and you never listen the hell to me.

I like that you make your bed,
and it's great that you can dress yourself.
Now stop hitting the dog with your shoe,
and just listen the hell to me.



Hair Come The Tears

She had to put every clip in her hair.  Wouldn't let me touch one, help out, or make any suggestions.

And then, like a mini Paris Hilton, threw a huge fit when I told her it looked nice.

And forget when I told her that she should wear it out.  FOR. GET. IT.

It's times like these that make me very scared for the future. 

Jeez, I didn't do anything wrong!  Unless you count complimenting you!  For the love of god, lighten up!



Going To The Mazoom

Today was Leah's last day of school and parents were invited to attend an end of year party.  Greg and I both took the day off.  The plan was to head into NY after school and have lunch, walk through Central Park, and maybe end up at the Museum of Natural History.

And then a monsoon hit NJ.

So, we headed to the Children's Museum in Paramus.  Not as cool as the AMNH, but fun nonetheless.