Adjusting To the New Norm

My daughter just called, she returned to her home today and has safely arrived. She has been here with me at my house for the last two months. About 10 weeks ago she sustained a concussion which considering the quarantine, we thought it better for her to be home on the mountain. It was already difficult enough to get food for someone who could deal with masking up and possibly having to wait in lines outside the store because they only allow a certain amount of people in the supermarket. Plus all the anxiety that the quarantine initially caused made it an easy decision to bring her home. She needed to be in a dark room and completely shut down which she had not been able to do on her own in her curtainless house. It’s just that at the time we were all in a bit of denial as to how long this lockdown could actually be and what it ultimately would mean for all of us in the near term and medium term, let alone the long term.

I am anxious about her returning to her home two hours away. She’s anxious but excited. Thankfully she has her dog, Blue to keep her company. In a few weeks, she will be called back to work at the retail store that she had started about a month before the quarantine. There will be retraining and work to be done to change the store for the new norm. It will be good for her to see her co-workers again. Soon after that they will reopen the doors to the public. She’ll be exposed to people, strangers – something that I never considered the way I do right now before this pandemic: the total amount of people we come across in our normal daily lives. At this point in my life, I don’t come see a lot of people on a daily basis anymore. But that was my choice and it had nothing to do with the pandemic, more to do with the fact that I prefer dogs (and now chickens) to most people.

I was born and raised in New York City and lived there the first quarter of my life before easing myself out of the crowded city. When I think about the number of people that I used to see on a daily basis – in my building, on the bus and subway, at work, after work, hanging with my friends in crowded bars and clubs…The crowds I’ve been in at Grateful Dead shows…hugging everybody.

But leaving all that was my choice. But for my kids, they don’t get as much of a choice right now and this experience will change their future choices most likely. I love New York City but I just couldn’t live there anymore. and had left New York City before 9/11 but lived within commuting distance at the time. Although relieved not to be in the city on that tragic day, I remember thinking that ultimately I would need to move further away someday.

Last night, my son sent me an article about how ‘tidal wave’ of people from the city are frantically looking for houses in Connecticut now. Being in quarantine has made a lot people reassess where they really want to be when the shit hits the fan scenarios come up. I am exactly where I want to be and this pandemic has reinforced what I good decision I made four years ago in moving up here.

I am grateful for the time we have spent together these last eight weeks. Eight more weeks of waking up under the same roof together, being able to give my little girl a hug when the feeling struck. Fumbling around working together in the garden, watching our TV shows, making cookies together or playing a game together. Time I never imagined being alloted. Now I don’t know exactly when I will see her. She has a lot to do in getting back to where she lives, settling back in and into some sort of new routine in the place she has chosen to call home. There is one less in the pack at home now, two actually including Blue of course, her faithful mini Aussie companion.

It wasn’t easy the first time she left the nest and after such a long visit under these stressful conditions, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I just take comfort in knowing that she knows she has a place here at our home on the mountain where she and Blue are always welcome for however long — or short they want to stay.

Daily Word Prompt

In the Blink of an Eye

[Note to the reader: This is a post which I update from time to time. The original post was in 2013]

In the blink of a eye…it’s 2019…We have been living in New Hampshire on the side of a mountain 1500 feet up with a spectacular view for a little over two years.  A simpler life, yet we work all the time, trying to build our two businesses. Our puppy Marley is now 5 years old and all our beautiful Brittanys have passed away – God bless their souls. They all lived long and wonderful lives, Winston and Artemis being able to come and enjoy our new home in the mountains. Now our two mini-goldendoodle brothers, Boomer and Gunner are going to be turning 2 in May! Where did the time go?!  


Left to right:
Gunner, Boomer, Kona and Marley


Yesterday I hugged my 25 year old son and his 3 year old goldendoodle before they left to head down to the Connecticut house. He has been living there for the last 15 months after leaving college in Vermont. It wasn’t working out for him – he is still struggling to get on the right track.

Baby Blue on his way to his new home


In the blink of an eye…it’s 2018…yesterday I watched my daughter receive her college diploma and make the Dean’s list. It seems like yesterday I dropped her off for her first day of school and drove her to endless hours of tutoring.  Now she’s living with her one-year old puppy in Portland, Maine and trying to find that first foothold in her graphic design career.

There is no waving the Mommy magic wand and making things all better for them – they are in the big, bad, world now and I can’t protect the from everything like I once was able to. I tried my hardest to give them the skills to fly on their own – I pray I did enough. I probably did too much – coddling to make up for the divorce. I hope I didn’t do too much. That would be a disservice to them ultimately. It’s a fine line we have to walk as parents.


Baby Kona



In the blink of an eye…it’s 2016…yesterday I hugged my son and his new puppy goodbye after setting the up their new apartment in Burlington. I pray he is able to move forward from the tragedy and get his life back on track in this new environment. 

In the blink of an eye …it ‘s 2015…I hugged my son’s 21 year old girlfriend good-bye after seeing Dead & Company with them on Halloween night. She wasn’t feeling well and was coming down with an ear infection. A perfect storm of a bacterial and viral infection in her inner ear would cause sepsis.  In a blink of an eye – 11 days later – she was dead. 

In the blink of an eye…it was 2013….Yesterday was my son’s 20th birthday. It amazes me how certain things seem like they were yesterday but at the same time it was a lifetime ago.  Twenty years ago I lived in Rochester Hills, Michigan; I was married and a brand new parent to baby boy. I had a Shetland sheepdog and I was approaching 30.  Today, I live in Connecticut, I am divorced almost for 10 years, have two grown adults for children. I have four dogs, all Brittanys and I am approaching 50. I also live my boyfriend of three years. Yet it seems like yesterday I was in Michigan having my first born. 

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

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.

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

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!

Trick or Treat!

Halloween is tomorrow night and for the 12+ crowd the curtain is closing on the normal trick or treat walk around the neighborhood. Gone are the simple days of when I would pick a Tigger and Spiderman costumes for them or the excitement of going to Party City to pick out an outfit themselves. Now they simply create something from the trunks of all the old stuff and anything else they can get their hands on, if they so choose to be creative. It’s is also Friday night and Halloween hasn’t been on a weekend in a long time. That changes the entire dynamics of the holiday, especially for this crowd. Halloween parties actually on Halloween night is way cooler than trick or treating or inviting a friend over for trick or treating and sleep over – always big with the girls in the bunch.
Growing up in the city – Halloween was much different than being out in the suburbs. In the city you went up and down in the elevator, floor by floor. Some kids did multiple buildings, my parents saw absolutely no need in that considering we lived in an apartment building with 17 floors with 5 apartments per floor. That’s 95 apartments! It would take hours to hit 95 houses out in the suburbs – but aggressively doable I suppose. Our block alone which is a dead end stretching about 1/2 mile long has no more than 20 houses on it – the road behind us which many of these house butts up to has more and is a little longer. The haul traditionally brought in is about a full pillow sack of pure sugar – with the exception of the one house that gives out tennis balls. Something I never was given as child while trick or treating but the kids love to play with the balls as they load up on their night’s bounty.
In college Halloween was definately a party – Scary Party to be exact and I have a number of stories I could tell, but not today. Although in the spirit of the holiday when the kids were still too young to fully enjoy it – as a young married couple, I always enjoyed throwing an adult Halloween Party and requesting that my guests join inthe spirit of things and dress up too. This way I also was not competing with the later Holiday parties in December too. I always found it curiously funny that usually the ones who complained the most initially were the ones who came in the most creative costumes, like a jelly fish maed out of the drycleaner plastic and wire hangers or wine and cheese made of a card board shell shaped like cheese with crakcers stuck to it and his partner had a sweater on with purple balloons stuck to it! Classic!
One of my all-time favorite costumes which I made was the Bride of Frankenstein – I wore an old wedding dress from a previous engagement of mine that got as far as the dress but not the alter – another long story for another time. My hair streaked with grey and my husband at the time of course was The Monster.
Good times! Good Times!
Here’s to having more good times this Halloween and those to come.
Happy Halloween!