Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

I am a lucky girl ... my husband is a great, very thoughtful gift giver. I woke up this morning after going to sleep at 10:30 and being woke up by my dog 4 times between 10:30 and 5:30. Needless to say, I was groggy. I then realized my dog had a huge abcess on his lower jaw and his face was all swollen. He wouldn't eat breakfast and looked sad and pathetic. As all of you know, I love my dogs, sometimes more than my human kids, and seeing them sick is a great stressor for me. Of course this would happen to me on the day before I leave my job of almost 8 years. I need to be there today. My bosses are never going to believe when I call in because my dog is sick. Ugh.

Realizing I can't leave him like this, I text my boss to let her know what is going on and get my dog to the vet. The diagnosis? Some weird infection that he gets about once a year and an appointment to come back later for further examination. Yuck. My whole day is blown. Then I see it there on the kitchen counter....

I find myself taking a deep breath and thanking God for giving me such an amazing man who never forgets these kind of days, even the small silly Hallmark ones. I open the card that has a handwritten note apologizing for the fact that it's written in a Sharpie but telling me how proud he is of me and how much luck he wishes me in my new job and of course, how much he loves me. Inside the gift bag is a beautiful Ipad mini cover (that I desperately needed) and a Pandora charm for my bracelet that has a little martini glass to commemorate my new job, which happens to be in the adult beverage industry.

We don't normally really celebrate Valentine's Day because we got engaged on February 16th, so we celebrate that day instead. This reminds me why, as a couple, it's important not to let silly holidays like this go by. I know we should show one another love every day and not wait for a holiday to celebrate our love, but let's be real, life is busy and life can be tough. It's often easy to take one another for granted or get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life. Thank you, honey, for remembering today and reminding me why I love you. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bloggers Beware

I'm sure that anyone who blogs at some point has been on the receiving end of someone who isn't thrilled with what you wrote about them and I'm sure that one of the cardinal rules of blogging is that you never go back and take down a post because someone doesn't like it.

Apparently, my blog post on Fat Tuesday offended my friend. Further, she shared with me that everyone she showed didn't think it was funny either. For that reason, I will make a public apology here. I never meant to offend her, I still don't know how you offend someone when you are really just saying positive things about them in a fun but poking kind of way. Is being 80 pounds, an avid runner and someone who is fitness conscious something to be offended about? I dunno ... I guess so. I wish someone could offend me that way. She said I wrote about her like she didn't eat the paczki because she was being health conscious. If I led anyone to believe that, it wasn't the case. Apparently (and I didn't know this), she doesn't like any kind of filled donuts and that's why she didn't eat them. Nevermind that she missed the whole point that I redirected my morning to go get some paczki and make something fun out of our Fat Tuesday workday and that I was disappointed that she acted like I was an idiot for thinking anyone would want them. But let the record show that "she" only didn't eat them and partake in my excitement because she doesn't like jelly filled or cream filled donuts. I also apologize if anyone thought I was trying to make her the brunt of the joke .... I was just recounting an experience in a joking sort of way and she felt that was at her expense, I guess.

I sure hope the wine I will consume after work makes the mood (and this day) a little lighter! Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday

I wasn't going to post this. I really wasn't. I resisted all day even though it was killing me. I tried really hard to resist, but here it is 9:38 pm and I am still thinking about it. Today is not only Fat Tuesday, it is also designated Paczki Day. Seeing as though I am part Polish and married into a very proud Polish family, I did my wifely duty and ran to the European bakery last night to get my husband some Paczki to share at work today with all of his Mexican co-workers. They love this shit. They do it all the time. My husband has become a bonafide Mexican dude ... he can eat more spicy hot food than the most fiery hispanic person you know. It's become this habit of sorts ... to bring in their ethnic left overs and share them all at lunch. They dig it. What kind of "ethnic leftovers" can my husband ever bring? I'm a Irish American chick, I don't cook much that is interesting or ethnic, for that matter. Once in awhile, I will attempt something that turns out pretty awesome and he'll bring it but when I get home after working all day, I am just trying to feed my family, not win any awards. So I got him some paczki so he could share his heritage with his hombres.

When I skidded into the parking lot of the bakery at like 6:39 pm, 21 minutes before they closed, they had very few paczki left. They had bakery boxes EVERYWHERE with PACZKI printed in red on the side so I knew they were gearing up for a night of some serious baking. They didn't have any of the chocolate covered custard left so I opted for all of the raspberry and strawberry they had left. I decided to forego the "rose" because what the hell flavor is rose anyway? Who wants to eat a pastry that tastes like rose? Doesn't sound like something my manly husband or his Mexican co-workers would want to eat. I needed to bring some for my office too but I was going to have to commit to an 8 AM bakery run. Anyone who knows me knows that hurrying in the morning is completely out of character for me. I get up at 6 AM to be at work by 9 AM and I can barely do that. I waste time like it's my job. Getting out of the house to make it to the bakery and to work by 9 was going to be tough but I could do it. After all, this IS my last week in the office and my girls deserve some paczki. Besides, who doesn't love paczki? Well, I'll tell you co workers. These girls didn't even know what paczki was and there was no way in hell they were eating it.

REALLY? They are like 80 lbs combined. They RUN for fun. I totally love their dedication to fitness but what the hell do you run for if you can't go a little nuts and have a paczki? I threw off my whole damn morning routine to bring them in some paczki and when I get there they look at it like I brought fish guts in a box. One of them looked into the box and said "what is it?" It's a damn Polish donut for heaven sakes. You know, just like the Dunkin Donuts cream or jelly filled donut? She looked at me in disgust. She said "yeah, I'm not much for those filled donuts ...... maybe I could eat the filling out of them with a spoon." I could barely control myself. REALLY? REALLY? Back away from the paczki skinny girl .... do not deface the paczki by eating the filling out with a spoon. It's f'n FAT TUESDAY and you couldn't be fat if you tried so just eat the damn donut already. Nope ... she scurried off while I devoured mine.

A few minutes later she returned to my office with her iPhone in tow. I asked what she was doing and she said taking a picture so she could make a collage. WHAT? OMG!!! She scurries off again. I knew what she was doing .... she was going to take pictures and act like she was all into Fat Tuesday and paczki and post them on her Facebook like she actually ate one. Poser.

Sure enough, she posted this pretty little collage exclaiming that I brought in paczki (didn't mention that I had to explain what they were or the fact that she didn't eat one) and acted all into it, even included her little hashtags. I do give her credit though, at least I could count on her for a little Fat Tuesday festiveness. My other coworker never even looked in the box, never even acted like she wanted one. Seriously. Lacking. Fun. I'm disappointed girls!

Anyway, to all you other skinny bitches who ate paczki .... here's to you! Have a hurricane! Happy Fat Tuesday!

Am a Wino?

Some of you may start to think I have a problem ... I really don't, I swear. Yes, I have seen those questionnaires in the back of magazines that ask "Do you drink alone?" Well, yes I do, sometimes, when no one will drink with me. I just love wine and starting next Tuesday I will be taking a new position with a wine and spirits company. Seems fitting, right? I thought so too!

So, this wine isn't a new find, I've been loving and enjoying it for quite some time. It actually is the PERFECT summer wine but for those of you who prefer whites over reds, you really do need to try it.

Vhino Verde is delish! It is a youthful and fresh wine, very green from the northern region of portugal. I've never found it anywhere but Trader Joe's, of course, but it will not disappoint. It's around $4.00 a bottle, cheap too! It's medium dry but if you like white wine with a little bit of bubble, this is a winner!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wild Girl Wine

Hey fellow winos (as my friend Michelle calls us)!

On Saturday, I stopped by the Lincolnwood wine shop on Lincoln Avenue and asked the assistance of the clerk who, as it turns out, was very knowledgeable about wine (and it didn't hurt that she actually pulled a wine glass out of the back room and GAVE it to me since I was heading with my bottle to a friend's who does not drink wine nor does she have wine glasses). I confessed to her that I was currently smitten with red blends and wanted to try something different. She pointed me toward a Zinfandel and told me that she fell in love with wines because of Zinfandels. She felt they just had that big, juicy, fruitful zing that she just loves. She imagined from my description of what I like that I would love them too. She was pretty right. I picked up a bottle on her recommendation at a price point I don't normally spend for myself. It was yummy. Anyway.....

Now you know that I'm a bit of a blend whore these days. It all started with Apothic Red and then I had some Dearly Beloved from Trader Joes and liked that even more and then Cocobon happened to me.

I am currently in a torrid love affair with Cocobon and I don't know that I could find something to beat it. The Wine buyer at TJs in Park Ridge recommended it to me and she was not wrong, it definitely doesn't suck. So the other night, I really wanted to run over to Trader Joes for a bottle of Cocobon but I just didn't have the time. On a quick jaunt through Meijer's, I came across an appealing label on a "clearance" shelf in the wine department. I'm all about an appealing bottle or even better, a crazy label and I love wines called Promiscuous, Bitch, Flirt or things like that. I know that it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the wine, but I am absolutely comfortable admitting to all the wine snobs that I buy my wine based on the bottle or the name (if someone doesn't recommend it to me).

How cute is this bottle? I was a bit distracted by the word "sweet" because I'm looking for a smooth red blend, not something to give me cavities.
I went back and forth as to whether I was going to take the plunge. I'm normally not this indecisive but the bottle went in and out of my cart a few times. I finally read the back of the bottle for the description and it said something like "a racy melange of dark fruits and zing." How sexy does THAT sound? Besides, I am a bit of a wild girl at times (wink wink). I grabbed it and headed to the check out. I could HARDLY wait to open it once I got home. After the day I had, I really needed this to be good. Whatta ya know? It was! I'd describe it as a blend of Ruby Cabernet and Shiraz. It was so smooth. VERY juicy blackberry influences. It was delish. So delish that I finished all but a glass that I would then consume the next night.

I highly recommend you check this one out if you like really juicy reds. I wouldn't call it sweet but it definitely isn't dry. It's just a really smooth delicious treat. Get it! You know you want to!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Being a Step Mom

I'm the mother of a young man teetering on the age of 21 .... yep! I conceived him when I was 21 and was a single mom most of his life. I had the beautiful occasion when my son was only 14 to marry my now husband who has been the best of a father figure that my son could have ever hoped for. Raising children isn't easy and Lord knows I had the ups and downs of parenthood while I was raising my son. Boys are generally easy but we did manage to avert some near disasters as he grew. He's currently in his junior year of college and I worry every day about him although I have also grown to know that he's quite capable of growing into a wonderful full-fledged adult with a very successful future. I'm very proud of him.

So what's the point? Well, along with marrying my now husband, I inherited two very beautiful step children that came with a lot of baggage. It's been six years now but we've worked through a lot of it. Anyone who knows me knows that I truly love them as my own. Loving a child is easy right? Those of you who answered yes are probably talking from the experience of loving your own children, I totally get that. For those of you who speak from the experience of adoption, I totally get that too and totally understand the miraculous love you likely feel for your child. But what about step children ... children that come into your life not because they or you wanted them to but because they came along with the person that you loved? For me, the love for my two step children did come naturally .... I've done everything that I can to help shape them into loving, thriving people. I show them love every single day. I shower them with things I wish for them. I'm not perfect, I certainly make mistakes. Made a ton of them with my own child and as I navigate step parenthood, I have made some there too. I always hope that none of my mistakes will leave a permanent mark but what human being escapes childhood without a permanent mark on their psyche of some kind because of the love of a parent? I don't know anyone.

Now my rant .... being a step parent is one of the most cruel and thankless jobs on the planet. Going into this with the misguided conception that all I had to do was love them and everything would be okay was my first mistake. For the past six years, my husband and I have worked tirelessly to give our children everything they need. We live in a beautiful house in a respectable neighborhood and our children go to good schools. Some may say we spoil them and perhaps we do, but we really do it out of love and wanting them to have the best. We get as involved as possible. We sit in the rain at football games in the freezing cold, we make every softball game, we celebrate the victories and share in the heartache of the losses, we give them family as much as we can and we try to support them in being the people they want to become. I'm the one who takes on the role of caring for them as best I can while my husband is at work.
I'm also the one who remembers their preferred cereal (which changes regularly), ensures the fridge is full of what they like most, prepares meals after a day at work (even though it's the thing I loathe the most) and when they are ill, I'm also the one who takes them to the doctor and ensures they takes their medication. We let them know each and every day how much we love them and although discipline is the ugly part of our job, we do it and we do it as effectively as we both know how. Of course, neither one of us went into this expecting to be thanked. We do it for each other because we love one another and we both sincerely love our children collectively.

Having said all of that, none of this shields you from the pain when one of your children (step or biological) breaks your heart. In fact, when my biological son breaks my heart, it hurts but I know in my heart and brain that I am always going to be his mother, there is nothing he can do about that and for the rest of our lives we'll be connected in that way. No one else can be his mother. On the other hand, when one of my step children rejects me, it hurts so badly but in this case, I don't have the privilege that a biological mother has. I'm connected to this child through love that is conditional upon both of us wanting it. If one of my step children decide they don't want that, it's their prerogative and there is nothing in the world I can do to change that.

I consider myself blessed to have known these children. Just like my own son, even though they can make me angry and crazy at times, I love them beyond words. There are moments far and few between when I can boast, hey, that's my kid. It's the graduations, the first communions, when they win awards and the photo opportunities that feed the constantly depleting tank that keeps a mother going. In many of these instances, as the step mom, I take the back seat in the lives of two people who I have done everything for (except birth them, of course) and that realization is incredibly painful but it's part of the deal for which I signed on. On the other hand, when your step child lashes out at you it's very difficult to remain calm, temper your anger and try to understand that they are just children. This child that you willingly gave everything for and whom you really and truly love, doesn't recognize that and that is a pain I cannot describe. Being a mom is tough, I give you that but please trust me when I tell you that, it's a piece of cake compared to being a stepmom.