Every Morning Is Like Giving Birth All Over Again

Fewer things in life are more than difficult than giving birth.  Anyone who has done this at least once understands this.  However, the difficulties don’t stop there and they range in levels of degree.  Recently one of the more difficult moments have been in getting my 18 year old son up for work in the morning.  The process takes at least an hour beginning with me entering his room and announcing the time like a modern day version cuckoo clock with a Siri interface.  Silence usually follows my first announcement which now prompts me to start clapping my hands – again images of a cuckoo jutting out from the clock as an Austrian couple whirls around another part of the clock slamming cymbols together come to my head.  I am now being growled at “I’M UP!”  So I retreat back to my desk where I have been working already for about an hour or two.

10 Minutes later – I am forced to go back in as he has managed to hit the “snooze” on this modern day cuckoo.  This cycle repeats itself a few more times before Mother Nature forces him out of bed to take a morning leak.

Once up he continues to dawdle about either in the shower, more time in the bathroom, his room. I always attributed the fact that he was born in the midwest to his Kansas City Joe pace in doing things, since a New Yorker like me has by nature a much quicker pace.  When I went into labor with Nick it took two days for him to finally come out.  Initially my blood pressure had risen and the doctor was afraid of toxemia – thankfully I hadn’t yet seen the E.R. episode of the woman who was pre-eclampsic like I was, and who did do into toxemia. The doctor induced labor upon learning how high my blood pressure had soared and my body had swelled and threw me into the hospital immediately.

The first day was miserably long. I was on pitocin all day and had to get up every so often to walk the hallways as my labor slowly but surely progress.  I was taking forever to fully dilate.  The nurses kept remarking “this baby is done – just too comfortable to wake up and come outside!” Sounds familiar.  The second day, the doctor decided to break my water. I suppose it could be equated to ripping the sheets off the bed; I usually get some sort of response from that, as did the doctors that morning.  Once my water was broken it only took a few more hours of true active labor and a few pushes to get him out.  It’s similar to the last moments around the house before he is out the door. There is usually some commotion as he looks for his shoes, keys, wallet etc…panic sets in sometimes as he races around trying to locate whatever is missing this time.  Then the final push — out the door he goes slamming the door behind him — followed by a moment of silence. I remember waiting to hear that magical sound, the first time I heard him cry.

Now, after that moment of silence I wait to hear a different sound; the sound of his car engine pulling out of the driveway.

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh

Peace – Xine S.

Our Garden

This spring I have done something I have wanted to do for a very long time – start my own vegetable garden. I have fond childhood memories of working with my mother in our garden in Sherman, Connecticut.  During my adult life, I have had my fair share of small container gardens for herbs primarily.  My boyfriend (a stupid term for the man who I live with but I am not married to) has always had a small garden as well where he would plant tomatoes, basil, peppers and corn.  
About a month ago, we started on building the form for the raised bed after we had scoped out the best and easiest place for the garden to go. We did our research on how to build the form and not to use chemically treated wood which could leach contaminants into your garden effecting your produce.
We made multiple trips to the town mulch pile to get what we needed. A mixture of that, cow manure and some top soil filled the bed.  I had tilled up three bucket fulls of rocks from the bed before laying the form and the mulch mixture since I planned on planting carrots I wanted to make sure that the pathway was clear of rocks. An impossible task in Connecticut which is why we opted for the raised bed method, plus we can control the soil mixture more that way.
April 17, 2012
April provided us with a few days of warm weather which had us planting a few starter plants but not everything.  There were a few days which frost warning had us putting plastic containers on top of the crops over night to protect them.  We escaped without any casualties.  We started off in the bed with about 8 corn plants, 3 tomato plants, 3 green bean plants, a couple of peppers. I was concerned right off the bat of one of the corn plants since I had been drinking a beer while planting and I spilled the beer on the soil right where one plant went in.  
Deer aren’t as much a problem for us with the four dogs around.  To keep the four dogs from trampling through the garden bed, we put posts in each corner and wrapped a plastic fencing around it.  We stapled the fencing into the posts leaving one side that we could open to get into the garden and use a bungee cord to secure it.
May 5, 2012
At the same time we also used our patio containers to plant cauliflower, red lettuce, Boston lettuce, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce and spinach, broccoli and strawberries. Last week, we were able to pick off a leaf from every plant and used it for our Greek Steak Sandwich Wraps. It was delicious and so rewarding to walk in the backyard and get out lettuce from our very own garden!
After this weekend planting the raised bed is now full.
We have quite a bit of rain in the area and now are needing some sun. Over the weekend we added more tomato plants – a few heirloom, super 100s and Lemon Boys. I also planted some snow peas, and the carrots that I had started form seed a few weeks ago.  The “beer corn” plant looks to be doing well and has I think gotten over the drunken phase it may have been in.  Who knows maybe I stumbled upon something 🙂  The strawberry plants have buds and flowers and a real strawberry in progress. 
Strawberry plant May 7, 2012

I am excited about the prospects for the garden this summer. Sharing this experience with my family is a big part of starting this garden. I look forward to adding our crops to the dinner table as the months tick on.
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh 
Peace – Xine S.

Closer to God

Some of the most beautiful places on earth are on the hills and mountains of the world. There is something about being in the mountains which is very special to me. Perhaps it’s their breathtaking views or the high altitude but I feel somehow closer to God there.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at Okemo. We used to joke on Sundays mornings as we skied that there was no better place to be then God’s outdoor chapel on the slopes.  The feeling of being on top of the mountain and on a clear day see for miles in every direction can be one of the most majestic views one can ever take in. Coupled with the rush I feel as I ski down the slopes it transcends the experience like no other sport I enjoy.

I’m not a religious person – I don’t subscribe to any formalized religion. For better or worse, I wasn’t brought up in a particularly religious home so I wasn’t given any particular direction to follow as far as that was concerned. I consider myself somewhat spiritual as I have my own idea of God and Gaia, Mother Earth. I choose to include her for being responsible for maintaining and cultivating what God initiated. When I stand in the mountains and look around at the amazing peaks reaching to the heavens I get the feeling that I’m standing in some of their best work.

Today was the first day of Spring. The earliest that the Vernal Equinox has occurred since 1896.  Today was also the last day of ski season for me.  It was the winter that wasn’t being that it is the 4th or 5th warmest and driest in a century. It was also my first ski season in over six years.  I had forgotten how much I truly enjoying being in the mountains. But my time this winter at Stratton has renewed my love for the mountains.

I have many conversations with God and Jesus Christ. As I child I always would simply just talk to God; however a few years ago I started to include JC as well.  I had started to think more about the holy trinity and figured that he should be included.  These silent conversations happen sporadically whether in the shower, on the chairlift or on the deck in the morning having my morning coffee. I can be alone or sitting amongst people.  At those moments I think to thank them for all the blessings they have bestowed upon me.

Although the winter season has finished, the conversations will always continue. The venues simply change to include places like the garden, the park and the ocean. Happy Spring!

Sweet Mutiny

Things are going to be a little less sweet in the mornings… The cries for better nutrition and less sugary breakfast cereals could possibly send Captain Crunch into retirement soon. The good ole’ sugary sweetness that has kick started so many kids, myself included, has fallen from no.1 to obscurity. Shamed for having being too sugary and therefore the cause of every obese kid or adult out there.  In the 12 gram of sugar category, you have in the line up famous tasty morning treats such as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops. General Mills is a little sweeter in this category with their menu of Trix, Cookie Crisps and Lucky Charms. Yeah, they’re magically delicious – 13grams of yummy sugar goodness.  One of my absolute favorite Kellogg’s Apple Jacks weighs in at 15g of sugar!  Explains why switching to Cheerios at 1g of sugar made them taste like cardboard circles at first. In the 15g group Apple Jacks sits next to Corn Pops and Smacks, all of which are Kellogg’s products. Smacks, btw, used to be called Sugar Smacks, but this obviously is no longer politically correct so they simply tossed the word sugar but didn’t bother to lower the sugar content.  Smacks sounds stupid to me. I’m sorry, I’m old school – give me my Sugar Smacks and Saturday Morning Cartoons!!

But if you take a very close look at the various ready-to-eat cereals, you’ll notice something very disturbing – many so called newer ‘healthy’ cereals out there and that is they have shit load of sugar in them!  Again, I’m not talking about the old school guys like Quaker Oats Cheerios (1g), Kellogg’s Corn Chex (3g), or General Mills’ Wheaties (4g). I’m referring to Muesli, dried fruit & nuts which has a whopping 26g of sugar! Wheaties Raisin Bran has 18g! Frosted Cheerios 13g – see it takes at least 12 grams of sugar to make those little round things taste good!

Spring Resolutions

It’s been a long cold harsh winter here in Connecticut. Most of the state was buried under 3 feet of snow for a good long time. Snow piles are still clearly visible some still feet high like at the end of the driveway. Only recently has grass and ground reappeared in spots. My backyard is still mostly covered in snow – it’s just that its not as deep as it was a week ago.

Spring time didn’t used to mean as much to me in my earlier years, as it does now. Now I recognize and appreciate more Mother Nature’s annual reminder that no matter how hard things get, no matter how brutally bitter things may be – new life will spring forth, new beginnings will emerge. A good lesson to for all to remember and keep in mind.

The change of the seasons are one of the things I love the most about living in the Northeast. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. All each have their own unique beauty and gifts to offer. Most of my life I have lived in the Northeast with the exception of when I spent about two years in Michigan. I think it’s important for people to at some point in their life live in a different region than the one they were raised. I believe it gives them a better prospective on things.

We tend to take things for granted when we are in a place for two long, especially if that’s all they know. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence it seems. but you don’t really know for sure until you are actually on that other side.

My son is on the doorstep of selecting colleges. “I wouldn’t want to go to school in Connecticut.” I have heard him say once, “unless it was Yale or something.” He doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of attending Yale, so no worries there.  He talks about schools on the west coast; however has never ever been on the west coast. China, yes. Europe, yes. The West Coast, no – not yet. But it looks like a cool place to go to school. Cool? Yes – sunshine, pretty girls, a laid back, more relaxed attitude about life – what’s not to like?

This summer we will explore some of the west coast – Oregon and California, possibly Washington as well. Its been twenty years almost since my last trip out west. I used to go out annually for a stretch when I was a teenager because my dad would take us out on his business trips when he saw his west coast companies. I’m looking forward to rediscovering northern California and checking out Oregon which I have never been. There’s something about the west coast which has always gnawed away at me though. I have many friends from school who landed up moving out there settling and raising their families out there. It’s not for every one and I always knew in my heart it wasn’t for me either. I’m all about the east coast. Here at home, I wouldn’t consider myself a type-A personality but I think if I were out west I would be. I believe this to be true for my son as well, plus I don’t think he is fully getting the big picture of the benefits – financial and otherwise to attending college within driving distance of home.

Along with the trip out west – I have to carve out time to check out some of the southern schools in area like North Carolina, Maryland. We’ll check out the Pennsylvania and of course the Massachusetts ones. I told him I wouldn’t want him to apply to a school he hadn’t checked out first and been on the campus. I think once you are there walking around getting a feel for things – you can figure things out fairly quickly. Certain things you just know in your gut right away.

So as the winter snows finally melt away and the sun stays out longer every day, I find myself reflecting on the new beginnings before my family. I can hear the birds hear singing in the trees and see green shoots springing from the still frozen ground; all promising signs of promising things to come. But I also know some of the hardest work is at the start and like the fierce spring storms which interrupt the winter thaw – three steps forward, one step back. It’s the fight for something that makes things all the more worthwhile.

“The sun that sets is bound to rise.” – Phil Lesh

The more things change, the more they stay the same

It’s been almost 18 years since I was single and a part of the dating scene. But having dipped my toe back into the sea recently, I am reminded the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When I was younger I didn’t date a whole lot per se. I had a lot of friends who were guys and in college for the most part was “one of the guys” as most of my friends I hung out with were guys. My more intimate experience with men ranges from 4 serious relationships (one of which was a 13 yr marriage with 2 children) mixed in with 5 shorter flings, so to speak. Not a whole lot for a 44 yr old. Since my divorce, without dating I’ve somehow managed to have sex at once a year, except this year I doubled that. Sadly a much better average than during the last 8 years of my marriage. Thank god for friends with benefits – a relationship which for me definitely has its place. Meeting new people is more of a challenge and takes a lot more energy.
What’s changed – Today people have their choice of online dating, 10-minute dating etc…all very different than the methods of the 80’s and 90’s. What’s the same is how people act when they first meet and get to know each other initially which at times can be pretty stupid. What’s changed is the amount of baggage you bring to a relationship at 44 vs. 18-25. What’s the same is the exhilarating feeling it is to have someone show an interest in you despite the baggage.
I struggle with the idea of wanting to find a more permanent companion and rationalize reasons to not look right now. I think about my teenage children who within the next 5 years will be off to college and then I will be completely alone. With that thought in mind, I take the time out to appreciate the moments I have with my kids and try to be more receptive to idea of meeting someone new. After all who wouldn’t want to find someone to be able to share their heart, their love, and their world. I have to remind myself to simply put one foot in front of the other as I re-enter the mystical sea which is said to have plenty of fish in.
I remember the first time I saw the ocean, the waters were so rough and went as far as the eye could see. Growing up amongst the giant skyscapers of NYC with weekends in the country surrounded by NE’s canopy of trees, the sight of the endless horizon view the sea offered was amazing to me. I thought it was magical. The thought of going in frightening. Now as I stare out at the open waters once again before me, the same scared feelings arise from within. But I’m going to try to take a deep breath and try to take one cautious step at a time.

It’s A Family Affair

It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair
One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you’d just love to burn
Mom loves the both of them
You see it’s in the blood
Both kids are good to Mom
Blood’s thicker than the mud
It’s a family affair
It’s a family affair

Lyrics to the Sly & The Family Stone song “It’s a Family Affair” circa 1971

Sly and The Family Stone knew what they were talking about – there is no bond stronger than a mother’s love of her children. All mother’s will say they love their children all the same – which is true in a way. I have two children and I love them equally but I have a different and special place in my heart for each of them. My first born was a son, my second a daughter – the amount of love if the same. How I love my children does it effect the way they are shaped as people – most definitely.

But I think family order plays a major role in shaping your own character – whether you are a first born male vs. female; middle child or only child, 6th in a family of 8 children (God knows that must be happening more and more often with the rising success of invitro-fertilization!) Don’t think so? Remember Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC and then you have families like the Duggars on what 19 and Counting -good god! Invitro and multiples have become increasing more commonplace. I was blessed not to have to endure the countless injections and many other hardships that those strong women endure. To be sure they are some of the toughest cookies out there to subject themselves to the onslaught of tests, shots, poking and probing in areas that don’t like to be poked – all in the name for the love of their own child. A creation they’ve made together with their beloved spouse – a little part of each of them that will eventually drive them insane as teenagers!

We each share a unique relationship with our mother which I believe has something to do with our birth order. I think a mother tends to remember more things about the first child since it was THE first. No other distractions from siblings to take away from the memories. This drives my daughter nuts that I remember my son’s first movie and not hers. Well excuse me for remembering going to a drive-in movie to see Lion King after being stuck up in the house all winter in sub-zero temperatures. It’s not to say that I don’t remember anything about her birth or things that happened during her first years because of course, I do. However, sometimes when put on the spot I may fail that pop quiz of hers. Mothers love their children unconditionally and whether one kid is a math whiz and the other is not – in the eyes of the mother she loves both equally the same. But kids tend to feel that parents favor one child over another in some way, that someone is the “golden child” and never fully believe them when they are told they are equally loved.

Families these days have evolved – long gone are the days of Leave It To Beaver

and welcome the Modern Family

This must make for some very interesting and complicated family dynamics. When I was growing up more of my friends parents were married (their first marriage) as opposed to divorced. I don’t think that’s the case for kids these days or at the very least its a hell of a lot more common day then it was back in the 1970’s and even 1980’s.

We all know life is not a sitcom but if you watch Modern Family or Parenthood, another favorite of mine,


you see that there is a common thread that families that communicate remain closer and are better off for it, no matter what type of family you have – traditional, or blended. It takes time, effort and a ton of energy to achieve this too. It can be exhausting on you mentally and physically. Even if you feel like you are going through hell and back on the way; it’s your family and aren’t they worth the trouble? Mine is and hopefully yours is too!

Dennis Hopper kicked off my Mid-Life Crisis – Part 1


As a single 46 year old woman with two teenage children I find that in the last year – give or take -I have been going through a mid-life crisis. Just the words “mid-life” are harsh enough having ‘crisis’ follow seems appropriate though. How can it be that I got to the middle of my life so fast?! And what do I have to show for it?!

It seems like it was not so long ago I was a young mother in her early thirties chasing after toddlers. Not long before that I was dancing at clubs and concerts on a regular basis enjoying myself with my friends night after night. And if I close my eyes I can still clearly see the lake that I spent my summers at and the clay courts that I spent countless numbers of hours playing tennis.

But alas, I am 46 years old so if this is truly mid-life I should live, if I’m lucky enough, until I am 92 years old. That would be in keeping with the women on the maternal side of my family. My Nana, god rest her soul, was just about to turn 93 when she passed away. I believe she would have lived longer too, had she not fallen out of her bed and sustained a spiral fracture to her femur – it was the infection that got her in the end. I miss my Nana – she was my best friend.
So now I’m at 46 and in the last year a very restless feeling overcame me as far as my career was concerned. For the last 11 years I have been working as an equity research analyst for a very small family run hedge fund. But when I went to college I had made a very conscious decision not to work on Wall Street since that’s what my family did and I had no interest in it. Funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls and you land up on paths you thought you didn’t want to be on. Its been a good path for over a decade but one day when I was listening to Bloomberg TV like I did every day Monday through Friday 8a-3pm, a commercial came on that asked “what’s your dream?” “What’s Your Dream?” Dennis Hopper would say over and over again, day after day until one day I started to hear him as if he was speaking to me. “Christine – hello, I’m talking to you – What’s Your Dream?” Sounds like a simple enough question, but when I thought about it for a second – I came up blank.
It hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t have a dream and when I sat there and tried to formulate one on the spot – nothing. Nada. Nil. Not one thought came to mind.I was dumbfound – how could I not have a dream?

The more things change the more they stay the same

Time flies when your raising teenagers and its January 2011…a very long since I thought to start blogging. Maybe this time I’ll be more successful. Things have changed – although there is a saying – the more things change, the more they stay the same. True.
Over the course of my life I have amassed a huge number of photos. I’m not talking about family snapshots, although I have a tremendous amount of those as well. The photos of which I am referring to are landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, snowscapes, fall foliage, action sports photos – you name it and of course the dogs. I have always taking pictures. Over the years I have so many different people tell me I should sell my work. But that’s easier said then done of course.
It wasn’t until recently on a walk to Starbucks that I was finally convinced that I need to figure things out. I had passed an art gallery and in the window was a picture of a scene of wine glasses on a table. It was $1800. Later I saw a picture of buoys – again the composition was something I have done myself and just as good, I thought – that one was going for $4600. Further down on my walk I passed another shop window which had smaller prints of cows and pastures – when I saw those I was convinced it was time to get my ass in gear and try to figure things out.
Recently I discovered Redbubble.com, a website which has allowed me to be able to display and sell my photos. The way the site works seems easy enough, you upload your photos and set your commision – they do all the work.
It’s not about the money, although I suppose if someone was willing to buy any photograph or artwork – that would be the most highest form of flattery. Just having a forum to be able to display and get feedback and share my work with others who share a common interest – feel like a great start. Maybe someday someone will be interested in buying one of my works but until then I will continue to challenge myself to improve and enjoy the peace and pleasure I get from working on my art.

A year plus later – is anything really better

Its’ been over a year since my last post. In these last 15 months a lot has happened – but when I re-read my March 2009 post it seems that I was not so far off with my thoughts about Obama’s “stimulus” packages and how effective they would be – which as we see 15 month later – weren’t so stimulative after all.
September 2010 and we have unemployment rates still at very high levels = 9.6%. This is higher than any other post-war period in our nations’s history, despite coming out of the recession back in June 2009- this is according to the National Bureau of Economics who made the announcement today.