Sep 27, 2006

The words continue to echo in my head; over and over and over like a reverberating drum: "His kidneys have failed. It won't be long now." The words spoken to me by my mom last night didn't hit me at first. For a few days now, my Grandpa's health has been declining very rapidly. I spoke about him back in June when he was first moved into the nursing home. But Grandpa keeps hanging on. His penchant for being stubborn has served him well. So when I started hearing news again over the last few days about Grandpa going down hill fast, it was hard to believe. For years now, my grandpa has given us scare after scare after scare, but somehow always bounces back. So, despite his 93 years, I somehow in my mind keep believing that he is going to get better; he's going to live forever.

This time he's not. The words still keep ringing in my head.

I went to visit my grandpa last night. The grandpa I saw laying in his nursing home bed last night was not the grandpa I've always known. His eyes were closed; his mouth hung open; his breathing was shallow. His normally clean-shaven face had the hint of a five o'clock shadow. My aunt was there when I arrived, putting chap-stick on his dry lips. She had just gotten done feeding him a tiny bowl of ice cream; the only thing he had eaten all day. He can't eat anymore. he can't drink anymore. Water is given to him in tiny amounts through a straw, and the image of my aunt giving him water was like that of a mother bird feeding her baby birds.

I talked to Grandpa. I held Grandpa's hand. I rubbed Grandpa's head and I told Grandpa I loved him. I didn't think Grandpa would know I was there; I didn't know he was aware. But when I told him I loved him, a small, weak response came from him completely unresembling the strong and sometimes brash voice that I had always known: "" Recognition. Response. He knew I was there; he knows that I love him. "I love you"s are not common with my Grandpa. But he told me he loved me; and I will take that with me when he goes. And he will take with him the knowledge that I was there.

This will be the 1st grandparent I will lose. I'm feeling sad today; I'm feeling a little numb. Life is going on around me as normal and I feel like I'm in a bubble. I worry about my grandma when he's gone; I worry about my Dad. I am not, however, worried about Grandpa. He will be in Heaven soon dancing at Jesus' feet and singing with the angels; this is what he dedicated his entire life to; being with Jesus someday. He's almost there.

I love you, Grandpa. We who are left here on earth will miss you greatly, but I know you will be happy in Heaven. You've had a long, fulfilling and wonderful life. Go in peace.

grandma and grandpa Carlson

Sep 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday to:

A Selfless Mother
A Loving, Caring Grandmother
A Godly Woman
And the most wonderful Mother a daughter could ask for!

Happy Birthday Mom!
Kristen, Hubby, Anakin, Care Bear, and Feisty

Sep 22, 2006

The Hardest Job In The World

In my humble opinion, there is one job in the world that is harder than being a parent; and that is being a step parent. I know there are at least a couple of you out there who read my blog who will back me up on that. Not only does a step parent have to contend with the biological parent who does not have custody, but a step parent also has to contend with the custodial biological parent. The custodial parent typically tends to be the mother, but in my case, my husband has custody of our step son. You've all heard me talk about Anakin's biological mother before and the struggles I deal with on almost a daily basis with her. But it goes beyond that.

This post comes on the heels of what I discussed yesterday in disciplining our children. It's one thing for me to discipline my children. They are mine. They are my flesh and blood. It is my job to discipline them in a way that will make them understand boundaries; learn right from wrong; and grow up to be responsible, respectable members of society. It is a completely different dynamic trying to discipline a step child. At what point is it acceptable for a step parent to begin disciplining a step child? How long does a step parent have to know the step child, or how well does the step parent have to know the step child before he/she can begin feeling comfortable enough and have enough authority to begin disciplining the step child? How far can you go in discplining that step child without "stepping on the toes" of the biological parents? In my case, Anakin has been living with us full time since he was three. He will be nine in January. For all intents and purposes, I am his mother; blood or no blood. I am the one who makes his lunch every day for school. I am the one who takes care of him when he is sick. I take him to the doctor, the dentist. I wash his clothes. I make sure he does his homework and help him when he needs it. I am the one who takes him to school; attends parent/teacher conferences. And on and on and on.....I would think that this would entitle me to some level of authority and ability to discipline him. And I do. It didn't take me long after he began living with us full time to feel comfortable enough to discipline him. After all, I am with him more than either one of his biological parents.

This has always been OK with my husband. He has never had an issue with me disciplining "his son". Until the past four years when our two girls were born. The dynamic began to change. All of a sudden, when disciplining Anakin, to him it became an issue of me "favoring the girls over Anakin", or being too hard on Anakin and too lenient on the girls. This all came to a head last night when I tried to enforce a grounding that hubby had issued as a "warning" to Anakin last week. Anakin was informed by my husband that he had had his last warning. The next time he defied authority or was disrespectful to any person in authority of him, he would be grounded for thirty days. An instance occured, which in my mind was blatant disrespect and defiance of me, and remembering hubby's warning, I informed Anakin that he was grounded for 30 days. to me, 30 days was a little excessive, but that is what hubby told him, therefore that is what I attempted to reinforce. This was plainly not acceptable to my husband, as I received several dirty looks, the "silent treatment" and further accusations of "being too hard on Anakin".

So, where does the line end and begin on how much I should be involved in Anakin's discipline? I'm about to give up and just tell the husband that I'm handing the reins over to him. If I have issues with Anakin during the day, I will tell him that Daddy will be handling his punishment when he gets home. What's a step-mom to do? I try to enforce punishments given by another parent, and I get in trouble for it. As far as the punishment for my girls is concerned; in my opinion punishments for a 9 year old are not the same punishments that are appropriate for a 4 or 2 year old. Hubby doesn't see it that way. He sees this as me favoring the girls; not being as hard on them as I am on him. I'm at a loss. Add to this the factor that Anakin's B.M. consistently tells him when he is with her that he doesn't have to listen to me because I am not his "real mom". How am I ever supposed to receive respect from this child when both of his biological parents are giving him the impression that he doesn't have to respect me? It's doubly difficult when those biological parents who are telling him this are only with him about 25% of the time combined.

Who knew that as we get older, life would get so much harder. And I hear it only gets worse. *sigh*.

On that happy note, I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. I am still working through my list of people who commented on my 125th post. My goal is to get to everyone by the end of the day. I hit a roadblock earlier this week when Mr. Nasty Cold Germ/Flu man came to pay a visit. He still hasn't vacated, but I think he's making his way out.

Sep 21, 2006

Painful Aspects of Parenting

Don't ever bother writing a letter to Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man! He doesn't listen. In fact, he seems to have brought along Mr. Nasty Flu Germ Man because now I'm achy as well, and have no energy whatsoever. As long as I don't end up in the hospital with pneumonia again, or have to take two weeks off of work for the worst case of the flu ever (like I did two years ago), and as long as I don't start puking, I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum.

DISCLAIMER: This could end up being a controversial post, and I debated as to whether or not I should write about this or not, but I decided, "What they hey..." . You are more than welcome to disagree with anything and/or everything I say in this post, and feel free to speak your opinion(s) if you comment. All I ask is that you don't attack my personal opinions. Thanks! :-)

Everyone has different parenting styles; everyone has different styles of discipline. There are hundreds of books out there telling us what works best; what will permanently destroy our children if we practice certain types of discipline, and what will make our children respect us. When I was pregnant with Care Bear, I already had in mind how I was going to handle discipline in our house. I had already had some practice with Anakin, but him being my step-son, I was still not completely comfortable with practicing discipline with him. I didn't feel it was my place (that has changed now.) For the most part, I scoffed (and still do scoff at) the books placed out there telling us moms what works best. How many of these "so called experts" out there really even had or have children? I didn't feel I had or have the time to sit and read hundreds of pages telling me how to raise my child(ren). Every child is different and there is not one pat answer or solution out there that is going to work.

Anyone who knows me well or spends any significant amount of time with me knows how I feel about spanking as a form of discipline. I don't like it as a form of discipline and I never have. To me, when teaching my children appropriate behavior and that hitting is not an acceptable way of expressing yourself, I find it hypocritical and somewhat contradictory to spank my children. There of course is the argument out there that spanking as a form of discipline is not the same as "hitting", and while I may agree with that, try to explain that logic to a three year old as you are smacking their behind.

During my tenure thus far as a parent, I have tried to practice other forms of discipline such as grounding (for Anakin), taking away priveledges or toys, sending them to their rooms, and not allowing time with friends outside. This tends to work for me in most situations.

Recently, Care Bear has acquired a new and not so savory form of expressing herself and her distaste for things that she does not like: She spits. Not like one spits when they're trying to get rid of something gross in their mouth, but the all out, snotty "in our face" kind of spit. You know what I'm talking about, right? And I'm not quite liking this new form of expression so much. Particularly because it typically occurs in all out defiance of me, or when I have asked/told her to do something that she is not thrilled about. In the past, when punishing my young girls, in particular, it is usually because they are arguing or fighting with eachother, or done something with belongings or other things that they know they aren't supposed to. This is new to me, and unpleasant. I don't like being spat at by my four year old daughter. I don't know too many mothers who do. (Raise your hand if you do....).

Suffice it to say, I have had to try and figure out how to handle this and what form of punishment is most suitable for this type of behavior. Not much has been working. Last week one day, (in the morning when trying to get all three kids fed, dressed, and ready to take Anakin to school by 8:20 a.m.), Care Bear was not cooperating in any way whatsoever. She would not get dressed, she would not eat, she would not put her socks on, she would not let me comb her hair. My frustration hit a boiling point and when I told her one last time to start getting ready "or else" she spit at me. "Oh no you didn't"! And then I uttered words that I thought I would never hear myself say:

"You spit at me one more time and you're getting a spanking!"

I have "spanked" her before, if that's what you really want to call it, but it was more funny than anything to her and did not hurt in the least bit. But this time I had had it. She looked at me after I said that, and purposefully and defiantly spit at me again. So, what did I do? I picked her up, put her over my knee and gave her three good whacks on the rear. And what did she do? Looked at me in utter shock and despair, crumpled up her little face and cried like her little heart was breaking. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "This is gonna hurt me more than it's going to hurt you!" Well, that phrase never rang so true to me at that moment. I wanted to crumple up my face and run crying from the room. I immediately regretted spanking her and wanted to take her in my arms, comfort her and tell her I would never do it again. But I didn't. I had warned her, told her what was going to happen, and followed through with it. I hated it, and I hate that it came to that, but once I said it, I knew I had to do it, or I would be a laughing stock to my kid; unworthy of my threats.

Care Bear still likes to spit; even when she's just goofing around. But now, when she gets ready to do it to me, she pauses mid-spit and stops herself. So, the spanking did it's job. But I do believe it hurt me more than her; I'm still feeling the sting.

In happier related Care Bear news (just so I don't leave you today with you thinking Care Bear is a total brat....cuz she's not!):

  • Yesterday, while my kids were outside playing in the back yard, Anakin was having problems locating a toy. He asked Care Bear if she knew where it was. Her response? "No. I absolutely, positively do NOT know."
  • Also yesterday, the subject of her favorite black pillow came up (her security "blanket" which is a small, square pillow that she sleeps with every night). When the pillow came up in coversation, she said, "Speaking of which, where is my black pillow?"

And for those of you who expressed concern over her missing bike: It was found. Behind a bush at the end of the block. Phew!

Sep 20, 2006

Dear Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man,

Dear Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man (I say man because I'm sure no cold germ would ever be female!),

You must leave my body. You must die! You have invaded my body and are inhabiting every pore. Thanks to you, I feel like my head is a balloon ready to explode. You're a tough guy, Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man. Yesterday I felt fine. By the end of the day I was sneezing. By 8:30 last night, I was sure that I had acquired the cold of death.

Congratulations Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man. You have succeeded in infecting my daughter and myself this week. I'm a mom, Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man. I can't afford to be sick. I don't have the luxury of laying in bed all day waiting for you to pack up your compadres and leave.

So, here is what I'm going to do, buster. I'm going to leave work, go home and go to bed while my mom is watching my kids, use up a whole sick day for you, pump my body up with Vitamin C and my best friend "Tylenol Cold and Flu" and wait for you to die. You have one day to leave my body, Mr. Nasty Cold Germ Man. ONE DAY. Got it? Enjoy using my body as a host today, because that's all you get!


Sep 19, 2006

Phew! Now THAT was fun!

I made it! I am a happy blogger! Thanks so much to all of you who commented and helped me attain my goal.

I had fun reading everyone's comments and had a lot of people comment who have never been here before. I can thank several fellow bloggers for putting the word out there for me and linking to me: My Mother, Pea, Trisha, Brenda and Lala (the brains behind the idea!). Those are the people that I know of who linked to me to send traffic my way. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have had near the amount of comments I did. So, thank you very much! (If I missed anyone who linked to me, please let me know. These are the only people I know of).

I plan to stop by and visit each and every blogger who commented on my 125th post to thank you. If I don't get to you today, I will get to you tomorrow. (This is only my half day....).

I hope those of you who came to comment will come back again soon. I'm adding you all to my bloglines (if you're not already there), so that I can come back and visit you! I'm excited to have so many new people to read!

Here's to the people who helped me attain my goal:

Grandma Dawn
Morning Glory
On The Rock
Nature Girl
Sharon Kay
Mom On A Wire
Mommie Sunshine
Qualicum RN
Mom Called Me Sadie
Grafted Branch
Maine Mom
Lammy Ann
Yellow Mama
Mommy Dearest

Thanks again, everyone! You rock! I hope you'll come back and see me again soon!

Sep 15, 2006

125th post and counting!

So, here I am at post 125. I go slower than some because I don't get the opportunity to post every day, but this is quite a milestone, eh? I completely by-passed my 100th post with not so much as a word, so I can't let #125 go without a word. I'm going to shamelessly copy another blogger with my 125th post. Lala requested that for her 200th post that she receive 200 comments. And she's received that many; and then some! So, for my 125th post, I'd love to get 125 comments. If you would like to help with this cause, de-lurk and comment: even a little "hi" would be great! Pass the word along! I won't blog again (most likely) until Tuesday afternoon, so it'd be a great treat to get here Tuesday and see 125 lovely comments. Thanks for the great idea Lala and I hope you don't mind me being a copy cat! (If anyone wants to help with the cause, feel free to link here. :-) And go say "hello" to Lala!

Friday Randomness

It's been awhile since I did a Friday Randomness post. So, lucky you, today you get to be subjected to the many random thoughts going through my head on this Friday morning!

First things first: Thanks so much for the great compliments on my new blog design. I love it and it's nice to have something new to look at when I come here every day. However, while I would love to take credit for the graphic and the design itself, I can't. I didn't create it, I just implemented the design into my template. So, no, I'm not the fabulous artist who created that cute design that now sits on my blog. The credit for that belongs to Zoot and her link is listed at the bottom of my sidebar. The other day at work, I was bored. Not that I didn't have stuff to do for my job, but I was bored of my blog; bored of the look, and wanting a change. I came across several websites that do free templates for blogger, aside from the boring ones that you can actually find on the blogger website. I browsed through, found one I liked and muddled through figuring out how to install it in my template. Now, before you take all your nice compliments away from me, it did take work to make it work. For those of you who asked me if I could help you with your blog, take a look at Zoot's free design page (that I linked to above), and if you find one you like and would like and if you want me to help you install it on your blog, I can help with that. Just click on the "Write to Me" link in my sidebar and I'll help you out. :-)


Last night was a strange night. I'm always complaining that I never have any quiet time; never have time for myself to process a single thought of my own; never a chance to just sit. Well, last night I got that. And I almost didn't know what to do with myself.

Hubby came home from work at his usual time of about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. He was complaining of being tired and feeling like his glands were swollen. At about 4:30 he asked me if I would mind if he lied down "for a little bit". Well, that "little bit" turned into 14 hours. He didn't get up until 6:30 this morning, and was still acting like he was tired.

Anakin went with his mom last night at 7:00 and my girls were in bed by 8:00. As I tucked the last child into bed, I looked around my house and didn't know quite what to do. There were no children running in and out of my house at fever pitch pace; no one asking me for something to eat or drink; no one demanding anything of me. The CD player and CD burner looked vacant and lonely sitting there in the entertainment center without its owner (my hubby) standing at it burning his 1,345,690th CD.

"What should I do?" I thought to myself. So I did some laundry. I pondered doing the dishes, but that makes too much noise for a house full of sleeping people. And then I sat down. It felt un-natural and wrong. I have gotten so used to the hustle and bustle of my daily life that just the act of sitting down feels lazy and boring. I realized last night as I sat there watching last seasons episodes of "The Office" and "ER" (which by the way was one of the most heart breaking episodes I've ever seen...), that even when I do have a chance to actually watch a TV show I enjoy that I'm usually doing something else while I'm watching TV.

I considered going to bed, but it seemed like such a waste to go to bed so early when I actually had the opportunity to have a couple of hours to myself, which I'm always so desperately wishing for.

Eventually, I just sat in the huge comfy recliner, covered up with a blanket and settled into watch some myself. It felt weird. My legs started to twitch. I think I have restless leg syndrome. At about 10:30, I turned off the TV and tried to go to sleep. But it was too quiet.

I guess I've gotten so used to chaos that I don't know how to act when it's quiet. I need a hobby. I really need a hobby.


And in super, sad news, my little Care Bear's brand new bike is missing. I'm sick. It's not at our house, not at Grandma Dawn's house, not at the neighbor's house. Some mean child who wanted a bike probably took it and now my baby is missing her brand new bike. It may seem silly to pray for something like a bike, but please do, if you are so inclined. I'm so sad for her.

As always, a hectic and busy weekend commences promptly at 4:45 this evening when I leave work. I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend. Weather forecast here calls for a high of 62 degrees all weekend. Now, that's what I'm talking 'bout!

Sep 13, 2006

Debuting a New Look.

Approve? Disapprove?

I needed something new, fresh and exciting. And guess what? Unlike the last time I tried to mess around with my template, this time I was able to make it work without losing anything. I was smart this time and saved my template to Notepad just in case. I'm getting smart in my old age of blogging.

I also re-vamped Grandma Dawn's blog. Check it out, too. :-)

I'm out til Friday.

Feisty's Sweet Nothings

Praise band practice was last night. Every Tuesday and Saturday, hubby and I have to leave our children with my mom and dad so that we can practice. Tuesdays in particular are hard on our girls when we have to leave them again a mere two hours after getting home from work. Feisty successfully rips my mommy heart right out of my chest every time when I hear her moan and cry while I'm leaving, "Mommy gone again!" This in and of itself has made me question as to whether or not my participation in the band is worth it. They need hubby; he's the drummer. But there are two other singers besides me. Is my presence so needed that I have to make my children miserable by leaving them twice a week to practice? Something I've been pondering.

Typically, practice runs from an hour and a half to two hours. By the time we get home at 9:00 p.m., our kids are tired and need to go to bed, but are unwilling because they want to stay up and play or spend time with us. However, last night, within minutes of getting home, both Anakin and Care Bear were dead to the world. Feisty was another story.

Several attempts at calming her down and trying to get her prepared for bed were unsuccesful, despite her rubbing her eyes and yawning every 30 seconds. I held her for awhile in her favorite big chair until she told me, "Done mommy." This always indicates that she intends to get up and further prolong going to bed.

However, this time, while she was "done" with mommy, she wanted to continue sitting in the big, comfy chair with Daddy. She climbed off of me and tiredly wobbled over to Daddy with outstretched arms. Daddy picked her up and snuggled her in the chair; I tucked her into Daddy with a blankie and she sighed happily. While Daddy stroked her hair, I sat by the side of the chair and held her little tiny hand. The following conversation ensued:

Feisty: "Mommy, Daddy?"
Me and hubby: "What sweetie."
Feisty: "I love you, Mommy, Daddy."
Me and hubs: "I love you, too, sweetie."

A few moments of silence while Daddy continued to rub her head and I watched her little face in the glow of the TV thinking to myself, "What a beautiful, perfect, sweet face."

Feisty: "Mommy?"
Me: "What baby?"
Feisty: "I love you, Mommy."
Me: "I love you too, baby."
Feisty: "Daddy?"
Hubs: "What sweetie?"
Feisty: "I love you, too Daddy."
Hubs: "I love you, too Feisty."

More silence and more admiration of my tender-hearted daughter. That conversation went on several more times, each time her little eyes getting heavier and heavier. She cuddled into Daddy further, and the last thing she said before she fell asleep was:

"Mommy Daddy. I love you." Then she drifted asleep.

Feisty is the most kind hearted, tender hearted, sympathetic, empathetic 2 year old I know. She amazes me daily at her capacity for kindness and love. Sometimes in the midst of a "terrible two" moment this fact can escape me, but she always returns to who she is deep down. I hope she always stays this way. I love my Feisty!

Sep 12, 2006

Yes Sir, That's My "Baby"!

hayley's 4th birthday 1
On Her New Bike

hayley's 4th birthday--cake
With Her Birthday Cake (Pay no attention to the scraggly looking woman whose lap she is sitting on!--Just look at the cute girl!)

Care Bear's birthday party was last Saturday after a very intense, tiring day of moving new furniture into our house (very large furniture), and cleaning up for the party. By the time the party came, all those involved (particularly the birthday girl) were completely worn out.

Another birthday come and gone. Next year at this time she'll be in Kindergarten. I'm hoping this year goes slowly....but I know better than that.


As many others, I signed up awhile back at 2996:Honouring the 9/11 Victims to honor a victim of 9/11. This was an idea created by the owner of the above listed website in hopes of getting enough bloggers to honor each and every person who was killed in the 9/11 attacks on our country. Visit that website to see who else is honoring the victims. Let's honor as many victims as we can on the 5th anniversary of this horrible attack on our nation. (This is a sticky post and will remain on top until sometime after the 11th...other new posts will be below it.)


Fire Fighter
World Trade Center Victim

Little did I know when I woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001 what an impact that day would have on me and everyone in America....forever.

It was just a normal day for me. I woke up, got ready to go to work, and take my stepson to daycare for the day. When driving from his daycare to my office, I heard the astonishing news that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At first, I just assumed it was a horrible plane accident until moments later, I heard about the second plane crashing into the other World Trade Center Tower. The rest of the day, workers in my office did nothing but keep glued to their computers and various news websites to keep updated on the terrible events happening throughout our country. It was a terrifying day. But as terrifying as it was for all of us hearing about the events, imagine how much more terrifying it had to have been for those living the events. Those trapped in the WTC, those trapped in a plane, those at the Pentagon. None of us that are still here can even begin to fathom the feelings of terror that must have washed through these people as they realized what was happening. Maybe some of them never did know what was happening.

Among the people who became victims of this tragedy was Leonard Ragaglia; a firefighter on Engine 54, a former police office for the 5th precinct. A family man; a father, a son, a husband, and friend. On this momentous occasion, I honor him.

Leonard Ragaglia came from a very large family. He was one of 11 children; the oldest boy. Those who knew him best described him as a "natural leader", a hard worker with a contagious sense of humor. A former co-worker of Leonard's, (Lenny to his friends) Larry Wiltbank referred to Lenny's sense of humor as "Lenonics" because of his propensity to make up words and sayings of his own. "Whattaya got" was one of his favorites, according to his wife Donna Ragaglia, and was often used as a greeting, or a "hello".

Leonard had a passion for sports and despite being a "New Yorker", his passions were for The Mets, The Dallas Cowboys and the Islanders.

Leonard graduated from McKee High School and shortly after joined the NYPD in 1985. While on the police force, he received several medals for excellence and meritorious duty.
He was a police office for nine years and entered the fire academy in 1993 . His father, Leonard Ragaglia, Sr., was also a fireman, and the younger Leonard wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. At the time of the World Trade Center attack, Leonard was working for Engine 54 and is one of 15 fire fighters from that Engine that went missing or were killed.

In 1995, Leonard received the Father Julian F. Deeken memorial medal from the Fire Department.

Leonard was very much a family man to his wife, Donna and his two sons, Lenny Jr. (age 10) and Anthony (age 7). He thoroughly enjoyed playing sports and video games with his two sons and enjoyed taking them to all of their sporting events.

Leonard is survived by his wife Donna, his two sons (Lenny Jr and Anthony) and ten siblings: Maureen Scparta and Christine Durante (of Campbell Hall, New York), Janice Pucciarella, Linda Taccetta, Debra Ragaglia, Colleen Ragaglia and Lauren Ragaglia (all of Staten Island) Paul (of Orlando) and Danny and Stephen (of Staten Island).

Right about the time I began researching Mr. Ragaglia for my tribute to him, I received an email from a man named Tom Donahue. Mr. Donahue has somewhat of a connection to Mr. Ragaglia and his family through the schools both of their children attended. I would like to share a portion of his email and the picture he refers to in his email to me:

"I am a parent of two children (now
former) that attended St. Theresa Catholic School in Des Moines,
Each year the 6th grade class holds a basketball tournament to
benefit some charity of the kids choosing. After doing some research and
wanting desperately to assist the family of a victim of the attacks on September
11, 2001 the kids found out that two of Mr. Ragaglia sons attended St Teresa
Catholic School on Staten island. After several emails and phone calls to
the principal (Mrs. Dempsey) it was decided to hold the tourney in Mr.
Ragaglias's honor. The kids worked very hard and raised over $8000 toward
the boys tuition at St Teresa. Mrs. Ragaglia sent us a large photograph of
Mr. Ragaglia along with a beautiful letter thanking the students. The
framed photograph is displayed in our trophy case. As the kids walk by
that photograph of a fireman from New York, they are reminded of the
sacrifice of so many heroes during, and since, that horrific
day. "

Below is a picture of Mr. Ragaglia in the trophy case that Mr. Donahue sent me. What a wonderful tribute to him and his family, and what a great reminder to all who travel those halls now and in the future to never forget Leonard, or any others who are victims of the senseless tragedy.

leonard regaglia 1

Mr. Ragaglia, although I never knew you, or any of the others who were victims of the 9/11 attacks, I feel I have gotten to know you through researching you. I applaud you and your courageousness, your dedication and your selflessness. We remember you on the 5th anniversary of the attacks. You are not forgotten. You will never be forgotten.

Sep 8, 2006

What's YOUR most embarassing moment?

I had an idea. Maybe you will like it, maybe you won't, but here it is regardless. I thought it might be fun to post our most embarassing moments so we can all laugh at each-other through cyber-space. I need some good, light-hearted, laughy type posts to read. I will add a Mr. Linky box at the bottom so you can link to your most embarassing moment and we'll all just have a great time laughing and pointing fingers at eachother.

I actually have a couple of most embarassing moments. One of them, I talked about awhile back here. Go laugh at me there. And here is another most embarassing Kristen moment.

It was a few years ago. At work, everyone's old computers were being deployed and we were receiving new ones, which is always an exciting time in our office. Computer techies were buzzing around our office like bees and the techie who was working on mine was actually a student employee who happened to be fairly *ahem* adorable. It was clearly obvious that he was years younger than I, and I had this terrible urge to find out how old he was without coming right out and asking him. After he had left my area, I decided to look him up on my student system and find out exactly how old he was. Well, it was too much younger and I dropped the mere thought right there and decided that it would just be fun to see him when he came back to work on my computer. (Oh, yes....I am pathetic. Several failed internet based relationships can do that to a person!) A couple of days later, he came back to clean out all the bugs and make sure all my programs were working correctly. He had me log on and start opening up all my various applications. When he had me open up my student information systems application (the one where I looked him up) there on my computer as large as life was his information sitting right there on the computer for him to see. I felt like the whole computer was going to swallow me whole. It was more than obvious that it was no coincidence that his information just happened to show up on my computer. I mean, the only reason that it would (other than my over the hill pathetic self opening it up myself) would be if he called up asking information about his application. He's already a student, and he knows he didn't call; so therefore it meant that I had gone through the trouble to look him up on the computer. Needless to say, he was taken aback; I tried quickly to save face by closing it real quick and insisting that "YES! THIS PROGRAM WORKS JUST FINE" hoping that perhaps he hadn't seen it and the look on his face was just a case of gas or something else, but I knew better.

From that point on, we always had a different student computer techie working on our computer. Coincidence? I think not! DOH!

What's yours? Come on. I embarassed myself, now you embarass yours! Post it on your blog, then come back here and link to it on good 'ole Mr. Linky!!

Sep 6, 2006

Car Woes Part Deux

In the previous episode of Car Woes, we left off with me being in a bit of a car jam when my recently purchased for $1 used Saturn decided to die right as we were getting ready to take Care Bear to her birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's. Luckily, we were able to make it to the birthday party thanks to Grandma Dawn who drove us all up there. However, that didn't solve the problem of how I was going to transport myself and my three children to wherever we needed to go in the near future with the weather getting cooler and cooler as the days progress.

Enter Grandpa S. The grandpa to end all grandpas; the handy-man, car mechanic extraordinaire. (This isn't the grandpa who provided me with three of the cars I've ever had; this is my other grandpa. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I have two sets of pretty amazing grandparents). Hoping beyond hope that this was nothing other than a battery issue, and not wanting to spend a hundred big ones on towing it to a shop to have looked at, we called good 'ole Grandpa S in to drive the 1/2 mile to our house and look it over. Saturday evening was spent with hubby and grandpa huddled over the engine of my car whilst I wrangled in the kitchen attempting a new recipe (Swedish meatballs) I had never tried (that was more time consuming and difficult than I had anticipated) and an over-tired Feisty and Care Bear hanging on my legs begging me for dinner.

A few hours and burnt meatballs later (the ones that did turn out turned out great according to hubby), it was determined that it was, in fact, the battery and after purchasing a new battery, the car was in great running condition again. According to Grandpa S and hubby, it didn't look as though a new battery had been put in since the car was purchased and it was literally corroded inside the battery case. Word. I wiped my brow in relief, grateful that I wouldn't actually have to resort to exercise (heaven forbid) and walk my kids all over town. My derriere is still in great shape from the two or three months I had to do that last time a car of mine decided to break down on me again. If I had to do it again, I was considering marketing a 21st century "Buns of Steel" for us young moms without transportation. The camera crew would simply have to follow me around behind my double stroller as I hoofed it all over town, camera focused on the back of me, and I would make millions. (Understand that I am not saying that I have a supreme derriere, I'm just saying that after walking so much, it isn't flabby....just wanted to make that clear.) So, now, instead of paying $1 to ride the bus to work, I get to pay $5 to put gas in my car for the priveledge of driving to work in the comfort of my own car, with my favorite radio station on. Works for me.

With my Car Woes post getting so lengthy last week, I decided to leave out a couple of the "woes" last time and expand it into a two-part special to go into a couple of woes that I felt I didn't have the time or space for last week.

As I mentioned before, the first car I ever drove/used was my Dad's old Plymouth Champ. The first day I ever drove that car to school, the excitement was contagious between my friends and I. I was the first of my little posse to get a license, and just that year, the school had decided to allow "open campus" for lunch. This meant that those of us that were lucky enough to have a license and a car to use could brave the streets and the traffic and leave campus for lunch if we so desired. My friends and I, having had enough of Little Debbie Nutty Bars and soft pretzels decided that, yes...we were ready to make the trip out into the wild streets of our mid-sized town and get some greasy, albeit delicious, fast food for lunch. For some reason, we decided to head downtown to Hardee's instead of just down the street to McDonalds. As you travel downtown, in my town, the two-way street splits into two one way streets. For a first time driver, this can be an easy thing to forget. (That's the excuse I use anyway). As we were leaving the restaurant to head back to school, I was exiting the parking lot and started going the wrong way down the one way street right as the light had turned green. Have you ever driven the wrong way down a one way street right as traffic is coming at you? Have you ever had a car full of 16 year old girls screaming in your ears as you're trying to do a 180 on said one way street? I'm surprised I ever got in a car again after that experience. Of course, by the time we got back to school, we were all laughing about it....or rather, all my friends were laughing at me about it, and by the end of the day, the whole junior class had heard about it.

Days later, when leaving the school parking lot with my best friend in the passengers seat, I had just entered onto the busy street outside of our school when a my humble opinion one of the nastiest, most annoying creatures ever created.....started flittering all around me, in my hair, in my line of vision, in my eyes, and everywhere else he could that made it nearly impossible for me to drive. Naturally, I did what anyone else in my same situation would do: I took my hands off the wheel and started batting at it to get it away from me. My friend (who had the most piercing, loud scream of anyone I had ever known up to that point), grabbed the wheel to keep us from going to the other side of the road (why she wouldn't want to go into incoming traffic twice in one week is beyond's really quite thrilling!), but it didn't do any good that she had the wheel, when I wasn't paying any attention to the brakes. We slammed right into the back of a car that was trying to turn left and was stopped. The person we ran into? A co-worker and long time acquaintance of my dad. Kristen scores again! It turned out better for me that way, though, since he didn't want to call the cops on me, or even contact the insurance companies. He just allowed me to pay him the money to get his bumper fixed. So, see? It all worked out in the end.


The last woe of the day, and of this series (at least for now), is really quite a remarkable one, and one that erased any doubt I ever had that angels do exist.

Back when I had the Geo Metro (y'know...the one where the engine fell right out from underneath me one day?), my mom and I were on our way home from my college in Kansas with everything I owned in the car. You know those clown cars where 10 or 20 clowns keep piling out of a tiny, teeny car? I felt like one of those clowns. My face was practically in the steering wheel it was so packed.

The night before, we had spent a long night dealing with airports and lack of shuttles to get us to a hotel, so we actually spent the night in the Kansas City airport until we could get a shuttle out the next morning to go pick up my car and my belongings and head home. Sleeping in the arcade room of an airport with no pillows, no blankets and bleeping arcade games in the background doesn't provide for much rest, needless to say.

After hours spent packing up my car, we headed home. If we had been using our brains, we would have gotten a motel room for the night instead of trying to push ourselves to get home in one trip after a night of no sleep. But, hey, "We are women....hear us roar!"

A few hours down the road, I was behind the wheel.....1st mistake. We were listening to a book on tape. Mom had fallen asleep....2nd mistake. The next thing I knew, we were off the road, in the enbankment, bushes, and grass being the only thing I saw, and the sound of my scream being the only thing I heard. I had fallen asleep behind the wheel....3rd mistake. Luckily, that last mistake didn't cost us our lives, but it did create a huge setback for us. One of the tires had popped and was completely flat. To get to the spare tire would require taking just about all of my belongings out of my car. Not to mention the fact that neither my mom nor I knew how to change a tire. We forget to go to our "Changing Tires When You're On A Road Trip Without A Man 101" class the week prior. So there we stood; on the side of the interstate with a flat tire and a car full of crap and no way to change our tire.

Within about 15-20 minutes, we saw a large truck coming the opposite way on the interstate carrying a large trailer behind it. As the truck passed us, it flipped a U-Turn (over the meridian....on the interstate) and came over to us. Inside the truck was a nice couple, and two teenagers. They got right to helping us. They had everything that we needed to get the car out of the embankment and up onto the side of the road to help with changing the tire. As we were going through this process, another car came driving by us and stopped to see if they could help. The sight we must have been to passers-by who didn't take the time to stop and help us.

After a couple of hours of taking everything out of the car, changing the tire, and putting back in the car, we had finally gotten to the point where we could drive the car again. However, we wouldn't be able to go far because the spare tire was just a donut. We felt safe driving about 50 miles on that tire. The second couple who had stopped to help us was nice enough to offer to follow us into the nearest town and show us to a Wal-Mart or other such store where we would be able to buy a new tire.

Millions of "thank you's" later, the family with the truck and the trailer headed out......going the opposite direction that they were going when they first found us. As they drove away, my eyes fell to their license plate. One simple word was on it: 'JESUS'.

When we got to the town where we were going to purchase a new tire, the other couple stayed with us until they were assured that we had our tire, that it was secure on our car and that we were good to go. My moms efforts to get this couples address so that we could properly thank them were in vain. The man pointed his finger towards Heaven and simply said, "Just do something for someone else someday". We watched them drive away, and as they did, I also noticed their license plate. One simple word was on it: 'JESUS'.

Coincidence, or God's plan for protection over my mom and myself? You decide.

Thanks for tuning into the second installment of "Car Woes" by Kristen. This could become a weekly issue, considering Kristen has had many car woes in her 14 years of driving. Stay tuned......

Sep 1, 2006

Car Woes

First things first: I want to thank those of you who commented and wished Care Bear a happy birthday! She had a wonderful day and has more celebration to come. She is one of 3 apples of my eye and I plan on printing that post out and the comments for her to read one day when she can read (which could be next month.) :-)

I have had several cars in my life since I turned 16 and was able to drive. The first car that I ever got posession of was my dad's 1980 Plymouth Champ. Shortly after I got my license, my dad's company moved within blocks of our home and he consented to walking to work to give me the priviledge of driving a mile to school. The sacrifices a parent makes for their children. We all know how that is. I drove that car my entire senior year of high school and daily packed as many of my friends in it as I could to drive to various fast food places for lunch. Of course, when I went to college, I was not given permission to take that car with me because by that time my brother had gotten his drivers license and in their minds, it was only fair that he got to use that car to drive to school every day. Within months of my brother taking posession of the car, you would never have known that for 14 or 15 years that car was kept in pristine condition and never had a dent in it. They should have known that is how it would be considering how he took care of his shoes and his bikes....but I digress.

The second car I ever had was given to me by my grandparents on my dad's side. In my freshman year of college, my grandparents purchased a brand new sleek, silver Saturn and gave to me their old, red station wagon to putz around in at college. I was grateful; don't get me wrong, but I would have rather had the Saturn at that stage in my life. Saturns were pretty new at that time, and as a newly minted college freshman, I would have much rather buzzed around in a cool looking silver car rather than stutter and snort around in an old grandma looking station wagon. But I didn't complain. At least I had wheels. That car is what helped me out with my first "job" in college. I was hired by a young mom to take her kids to school every morning and pick them up from school every afternoon. That was it. I believe the job paid $40 a week. Not a huge chunk of change, but enough to let me leave campus now and then to escape the cafeteria and get a whopper, or go to a movie on the weekend. Gas prices weren't what they are now. In fact, I believe I recall that back then, in Oklahoma, gas was a whoppin' $.83 a gallon. Remember those days?

The following year, I ended up going to a different school in Kansas to room with my BFF (best friend forever for those who don't know the lingo!). I took the beast with me there as well. It drove me back and forth every day to my job working as a file clerk at a doctor's office. The car served me well that year (with the exception of the hatch back coming down on my head one day and leaving a pretty good gash in my head because the hatch wouldn't stay up!)

The summer after my sophomore year in college, I ended up going to Remuda Ranch,** which is an in-patient treatment center for women suffering from eating disorders. (I was suffering from anorexia at that time in my life....I referenced it in a post awhile back). By that time, the beast was no longer working for me, and I couldn't really take a car with me to the treatment center anyway. But by the end of my stay at the Ranch, they powers that be there decided that I would benefit greatly from the new "half way house" they had established near Phoenix. At this facility, you still go to therapy sessions, still work with a nutritionist and still have the support of the treatment they give, but you are also able to either get a job, or take classes in order to re-acclimate to the "real world". Well, in order to do this, I needed yet another car. At this point, I had not yet ever purchased a car. Cars were given to me to use or to have, but I had never had to make payments or pick out a car. I had gotten a job at a Wal-Mart photo center in a suburb of Phoenix and it was quite a ways away, so walking would not do.....especially in the stifling heat of Arizona mid-summer. Have you ever been to Arizona? Scratch that....have you ever been to Arizona in the middle of the summer? We're talking 105 degrees at 11:00 p.m. Yeah, I wasn't walking anywhere. My grandparents (the ones who gave me the station wagon), agreed to purchase the car for me and I would make payments to them rather than to a bank or a lender. Pretty sweet deal, eh? Problem: As I said, I had never at that point purchased a car. I didn't know the first thing about purchasing a car, about wheelin' and dealin' and about making sure I wasn't getting cheated by the sneaky car dealers who would love to take advantage of a blonde, 20 year old, 1st time car purchaser. My dad wasn't there to help me; I didn't have a boyfriend to help me....I was at the car dealer with another of my eating disordered compadres trying to sort through this whole thing by myself. I ended up buying a '92 Geo Metro for what I thought was a pretty good deal. A day after buying the car, I realized that the air conditioner And that did not work for me. I might as well have been walking in the heat. Of course, my attempt at contacting the dealer and politely asking him to fix my air conditioner were thwarted because "you bought the car 'as is' warranty." Translated: "You're screwed."

After getting the car back home and landing my first "real job" (here at the University), I was driving my car to work one day when the engine literally fell out from under my car on my way to work. Yep. The car was toast. Burnt toast, I tell ya! That evening my mom took me to a local dealer who was having a steal of a deal on brand new Toyota cars for lease. My parents agreed to put the down payment down for the car, and I made the monthly payments. The car was beautiful. Brand new; pretty green color; perfect condition. It drove like a dream. I had that car for about two years, I believe, when late one night when my car was parked on the side of the road, a drunk beyond words moron drove right into my gorgeous car and dragged it into the next door neighbors lawn. Right on!!! It was totalled. No fixing it. The next Monday at the car rental place, guess who I saw also renting a car because she totalled her vehicle. Yep. The drunk beyond words moron. I was so mad. Worse than that, she got a prettier rental car than I did. Tell me how that is fair.

The settlement I received from her insurance company wasn't as much as I was hoping for and I wanted to just buy a car rather than financing one. After a long day of car shopping with my dad, I ended up with a very large and very "grandma looking" Buick LeSabre. Back to the grandma cars, folks. I wasn't thrilled, but choices are limited when looking for a used car on the amount of money I had to work with. At least, once again, I had wheels after two weeks of driving a rental around.

That car lasted me about 4 years until last year when everything started going wrong with it. We had that car in the shop more than it was out of the shop. I was forced for several months to *gulp* brave the bus to work. Yeah. The bus, people. Not that there is anything wrong with the bus. It's a great way to save money, save gas, save the ozone, etc. etc. etc....but it can be pretty daunting for a person who has never had to do it. Oh, the people you see on the bus....maybe one of these days I'll do a post on that. The last time we took that car into the shop, we were told it was going to cost $700 to repair and we said "FORGET IT". We had put more money into fixing that car than we had when we originally purchased it, practically. We didn't know what we were going to do. We didn't have any money to put a down payment on a car, and after years of not having to make car payments, we weren't budgeted to do so. We were in a pickle. A giant DILL pickle.

Cue the grandparents: Those same grandparents (who gave me my first car, who purchased my first car), once again came to the rescue. My grandma and grandpa had recently quit driving their car. It was sitting useless in the parking lot of their retirement home. They turned the title over to me and sold it to me for a dollar. (The Saturn that they had purchased when I was in college that I was jealous of at the time). Best dollar I ever spent.

However....*cue the violins*, I have had this car for 9 months now....and last night, right before we were getting ready to take Care Bear to her all important birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's, the car died. Dead as a doornail. *sigh*. We think, we HOPE, that it may just be a dead battery. But with our luck, it's probably the transmission or something else ridiculously expensive to fix that we do not have the money to fix right now. Whoa is me. Back to the bus. Back to the double stroller and pushing 70 lbs of stroller and growing girls in front of me to get around town. Back to the stone ages.

You had no clue you were going to read a book about my car woes today did you? Well, that is my life today as I know it. My so called life.

**If you have anyone you know who has an eating disorder and they want to get help, I highly recommend Remuda Ranch. This place changed my life.