Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thank you Benjamin

My baby boy is 6 months away from being two today. Yes, Benjamin is one and a half today! How is that possible? That the little boy I held in my arms that was light as a feather is now 26 pounds and almost 3 feet tall.
Today, I want to thank Benjamin. I want to thank him for making me a happier person. Don't get me wrong there have been times that I have been sad during these last 18 months but unhappiness does not consume and define me. If you asked me what would make your life better, I would say not a single thing. I have the one thing that completes my family -- my Benjamin. I laugh more and enjoy life more.
With Ben, I get to be a kid again myself. I get slide, swing, run and jump more than I ever have in the last 20 years. I get to visit cool places like the zoo, Sesame Place, LOMB and Hershey and see the wonder in my child's eyes as he discovers things for the first time.
He has made me a better person. I'm not a very patient person and I tend to lose my cool on occasion but he has taught me understanding and how to take life as it comes. Life isn't perfect and we need to celebrate those imperfections.
The thing I treasure most is that he made me a mother. It is the greatest gift I could ever receive. I know I talk about things like wanting Chanel suits and Cartier watches but those things matter less to me. I would give away my Chanel bag (and if you know me you know how much I treasure that bag) and everything I own to have a million Benjamins in my life. To say I am Benjamin's mother is a privilege that I will never take for granted. He has made me realize why I was put on this earth. It was to have this child, Wally and I named Benjamin Joseph, for the world to enjoy because he is a treasure.
Thank you Benjamin for these reasons and so many more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Times

Over time, the phrase "good times" has meant different things. The phrase was first uttered after a few chicken wings and Miller Lites were being shared at our former apartment in Clifton. That night, Kristi and Wally had a few more drinks than Michael and I, and when Wally asked Kristi what we should toast to she said, "good times!" Wally clanked her bottle and repeated, "yeah, to good times!" And thus, good times was born.

The Kamienski and the Valentins have had many a good time together but over the years the phrase and the meaning has changed. On a beautiful sunny day in August, the Valentin Family and Kamienskis headed out early for a day at the Bronx zoo. At approximately 8:35 am, we headed over to Union to pick up Kristi, Mike and Michael for a day of fun. However, when we arrived we had to make the transfer to the car very quick since Valentin's neighbor that I tapped with my car who allegedly had over $600 in damage on her 89 Pathfinder was sitting on her front porch. Besides that, it was a smooth journey into the city. Michael and I sat in the back reviewing all the photos and memories from their 3 week road trip. We asked Uncle Wally to turn the volume up on the radio several times so we can enjoy the tunes but he was being difficult and raised it ever so slightly (what a grandma!). Aunt Kristi, entertained Benjamin with his new Click the Camera they purchased for him on their trip.

When we arrive at the Zoo, it was 10am on the dot (the exact time the zoo opens its gates). The families were primed for an adventure. Until...the 14 year old behind the register made us pay for a senior ticket when we only needed a FREE infant pass. By the way, we all look good for ages and there was no mistaking anyone for a senior. Ok back to the story. We then had to wait around for about 15 minutes until the 16 year old manager could reimburse Mike's card. Wally was going to run after her and read her the riot act until he thought better of it. With the past behind us and Mike's card $23 dollars richer again, we started our journey.

Our first stop were the seals then on to the monkey house. Ben and Michael were having a blast enjoying all the varieties of primates. Next we moved on to the Madagascar exhibit were we learned about lemurs and were able to climb inside a tree filled with hissing cockroaches (note I did not climb in the tree). Aunt Kristi showed Benjamin all the animals that burrow in trees including millipedes and some sort of rodent. Ben liked the display so much he wanted to open up the flap on the tree to no end, eventually, we had to divert his attention to a new attraction.
Wally that day took the lead and acted as tour guide keeping us on a very tight schedule in order that we could experience all the zoo had to offer. At times, this "guidance" was a little annoying, especially when we were only allowed to view certain animals for brief moments. Wally had us all so in line that Little Mike picked up the act and became junior tour guide and was heard telling the rest of the group, "let's continue" while opening the door or walking to the next exhibit. However, thanks to Wally and Little Mike keeping us in line, we were able to see almost every inch of the zoo (except for the World of Darkness and Birds of the World -- I did not shed a tear over this nor did anyone else, however, Little Mike did remind Uncle Wally he said we could see the elephants on the way out and we blew past them). We saw giraffes, gorillas, elephants, tigers, horses, lots of frogs, seals, camels, goats, otters, wild dogs, zebras, bears, butterflies -- a complete menagerie -- you name an animal we probably saw it! We even got to the Children's Zoo (the one Wally didn't think we needed to go but admitted to me that it was one of his favorite stops) where the boys were able to act like prairie dogs and climb trees and feed the animals. Also in the Children's Zoo Ben and I got to slide down the giant tree and Wally and Mike got to act like giant turtles. We were there from the opening to the close and not a word of complaint from either of the boys -- they were angels!
After the zoo, we headed to a wonderful restaurant on Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. Now.. Wally and I thought, "what are we in for here" but Mike was right it was fantastic! As the drinks were set on the table, we knew what we would toast to - there was no other way to describe it ...'Good Times'.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please Vote

As many of you already know, my father was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. It has been a heartbreaking journey for the whole family.

Our family believes that this disease touches all of us -- not only does my Dad suffer from the disease his whole family, in essence, has the disease as well.

The most frustrating thing about PD is that are no reasons why one person gets it and the other doesn't, and more importantly, there is no cure.

If you have ever had someone you love suffer from a disease, you know how helpless you feel at times. I know this is something little but it could lead to amazing things. My son is living proof that miracles do happen so let's create another miracle in this world. American Express is awarding one worthy project 2.5 million dollars. The winning project is selected by the people (i.e. you and me) so I urge everyone to take the time and PLEASE, PLEASE vote for this project focusing on curing PD.

There are a number of very worthy projects on the list but this one is the that is most important to me that affects one of the most important people in the world to me, and I hope there are others that will feel the same. If you do anything for me in my life, I ask that you vote for this project. Thank you for your continued love and support on this journey.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An annual rite of passage

(To all faithful Kamienski Blog readers, this posting is brought to you by Wally)
Now that I have successfully scared the great majority of you away from this site and possibly off of the internet althogether, I would like to share some information that may and should possibly be kept confidential so I ask that you sign the non-disclosure agreement attached directly below. Anyway, all poorly designed joking references to legal documents aside, and onto the story at hand.

Every year for the past 10 years or so and without fail, Jenn and I have each taken turns waking up on a work day and asking the other "Want to play hookey today?" While invariably the first response will usually be "I'd love to", usually that is followed with "if I didn't have a meeting today" or "if I didn't have to deal with this _____". Fill in the name of a project or some individual or group of individuals that shall be known as "clusterbomb" or something like that.

Well, a few weeks ago, Jenn was the one waking up looking to play hookey. This time, it was decided a little differently. Having a somewhat busy workday planned, I initially relucted because some stuff couldn't wait. Then, in the shower, it came to me. Or actually it didn't. When I went to load the shaving cream in my hand to shave (I do on Mondays and Thursdays only, a story for another day) nothing came out. It was empty. As I was thinking how I was going to shave without my trusty Edge Gel, it came to. F shaving. I'm playing hookey!

Since it was a Thursday and Jenn technically does not work on Thursdays, both of us didnt have to come up with a fake cough, only I did. Once placed with just the right amount fake scratchy throat on my bosses voicemail, we were off to Point Pleasant Beach.

We packed up Ben's necessities (half a car full of toys, food, change of clothes, towels, etc.) and were there in no time. Once parked across from Jenkinson's, I changed into my bathing suit in the front seat of our car, Jenn loaded Ben up with the SPF 50 and we hit the beach. It's official.

The snob that I try to be, it was quickly noted to Jenn that the beach itself (and the crowd at the beach) differs greatly from that which I am accostomed at LBI. No wavy white sand and no Ward and June with 2.3 kids. Instead, pleanty of fake Gucci shades, tramp stamps and wife beaters. Put simply, the crowd at the Point is about as sketchy as a police composite of an armed suspect seen leaving a Denny's.

Jokes about the crowd aside, Ben, Jenn and I had a blast during our "day off". I recommend to anyone reading this to take a day one of these days and just get out and do something. Whethere its all day in the ocean, on the boardwalk, on the rides and eating a $6 bucket of french fries with your kid, it will always beat a day at the office.

I'm Sorry

Sometimes my hormones get the best of me. Yes, I will admit I can sometimes be a hormonal woman. Am I setting back the woman's movement by saying this? I doubt it but I do have a very good excuse -- I have a condition called endometriosis that causes me to get my periods for very greater lengths of time, more severe and more often. So in essence, I have every right to be a moody bitch. However, last night, my unsuspecting husband got the brunt end of my wrath.
I was in the mood for dessert (so was he) and it was around 9:00 p.m. The Creamery was closed but Bonte was scheduled to be open until 11. He volunteered to make the dessert run. He came back a little grumbly himself because roads were closed off and Bonte was closed (no sweet delicious waffles I had been dreaming of since he stepped out the door). After dreaming of the waffle treat, I was put into a bit of a mood. Next, Wally microwaved my ice cream -- which I HATE -- and served it with oatmeal cookies (which aren't my favorite either). At that point, I was down right pissed and I let him know about it. Don't get me wrong I still ate it but I wasn't very happy. Either was Wally after I let him have it.
Today, I would like to say I'm sorry. Yes, it is in black-and-white so Wally you can never say, "you never say your sorry Jennifer." Wally I am sorry for being a bitch last night you didn't deserve it after you got out of your comfy chair and put on shoes to go to a shop that wasn't even open and head to another store while taking a detour and coming home to make the dessert only to have your wife make nasty comments. Savor this moment because I don't admit when I am wrong too often.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is 911. Is there an emergency?

While I was not present for the events that are about to be described, I can attest to the fact that this is a true story.

Benjamin's latest obsession is the phone. If we even attempt to use our cell phones, especially Wally's, Benjamin will yell until we surrender our phones to him (I'm sure there is a parenting lesson in there about how we shouldn't give our child everything he wants but that is not the point of the story at this time). He has dialed countless friends of Wally's and wrong numbers from the backseat of the car. Recently, he started picking up the house phone and dialing numbers. He not only does this in our home. He also pulls this move at my parent's house. On one such occasion, my brother, a law enforcement official, warned my mother that she shouldn't let him play with the phone in fear that he might dial 911 one day. I think we all thought, "that will never happen" until one day it did...

Last Wednesday, Wally caught Benjamin playing with the phone. When he was about to take it from him, he heard someone on the other line. "Hello this is 911. Is there an emergency?" Wally responded, "No, not at all. My one year old dialed 911 by accident. Sorry for the inconvenience." 911, "are you sure there isn't a problem?" Wally, "yes, I am sure. Thank you." Wally laughed to himself and then had a real emergency on his hands -- a poopy filled diaper. As he was changing the diaper, he heard someone in the foyer. Was someone in the house? "This is the Morristown police department someone here called 911." Wally once again chuckled at the absurdity of the situation and said, "I'm glad you are here," which then made the police officer alarmed, "you are glad I'm here?!" Wally then didn't want a nervous officer with a gun in his house said, "I will be right down to explain." After explaining the situation to the cop, she left satisfied with his story and saw that Ben was in capable hands.

First, Wally and I have to give a kudos to the Morristown police department for showing up so quickly after the call was made. The promptness of their response made us feel safe knowing they are out there protecting us. Second, lesson learned. Wally and I need to keep the phone away from Ben (as much as we humanely can) Third, while you can say it was a fluke that Benjamin dialed 911, I am feel good that my son, if I am out cold on the basement floor after falling down the steps (I have this weird thing that I am going to fall down the basement steps one day and no one will be there to save me) he can dial the police to rescue his Mommy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who You Calling Ma'am?

When did I get old? When did I start to become a ma'am? I remember the first time I went from being a miss to a ma'am. I was at the local supermarket and some snot nosed kid (I'm sure he was a very lovely child and wasn't the snot aged anymore) asked me, "ma'am do you want your receipt in the bag?" I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. My first response was to be, "I don't really care what you do with the receipt! More importantly, do I look like a ma'am to you? I am young, beautiful and vivacious! Don't EVER call me ma'am!" However, I just said, quite meekly, "yes" and slumped away completely depressed. Over the next year, I was called "ma'am" more often. When I hear miss now, I think what did I do different today? Did I get more sleep? Did I wear my hair a certain way that makes me look younger? Pathetic, right?
I brought the subject up to my friends first by saying, "did I get really old looking?" Of course, my dear friends say, "no". Then I say, "why does everyone call me ma'am now?!" That is when Jennifer said the most brilliant thing, "the reason why we are being called ma'am now is not because we look older is because we command respect." "We have a presence about us that is not childish and silly and Miss just wouldn't do." Yes, I do command respect and I do carry myself in way that gives people a sense that I am confident in who I am (even if I'm not always feeling that way).
Over the "ladies weekend" and after contemplating Jennifer's words, we took this picture and I looked at it and thought if this is what ma'ams looks like I'll take being a ma'am any day of the week!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


A favorite past time of my friend Nadia and mine is the game of "if" (we are to lazy to put the "what" in there so it is just the game of "if"). We often enjoyed this game when we both weren't work-a-holics and working mothers but this weekend we were able to enjoy a stress free two days just between friends...not a care in the world.

While sitting on the beach on Saturday afternoon, Nadia said let's play one of our favorite games, "if"! I'd almost forgotten about "if". Jennifer gave us a bit of a quizzical look but once we got rolling I think it became her new favorite game as well. Following is just a sampling of some of the questions and answers from that beautiful afternoon:

If you were given $10,000 and you had to spend it on yourself (no gifts for the kids or boyfriend/husband and mom and dads) what would you get?
Nadia's response - A Birkin or Kelly Bag or both -- basically some sort of fab Hermes bag (I have no doubt one day she will have her coveted bag). She also mentioned a big diamond wedding band but I told her for 10k it might be disappointing
Jennifer's response - She would like to indulge in a little plastic surgery (my lips are sealed as to what type) and remodel her bathroom
My response - It was easy, and personally, I think my answers were the best. I want a classic Chanel suit and a Cartier tank watch. I hope to one day have one or both.

If you had to give a name to your next baby or first baby right this minute, what would it be?
Nadia's response - Liam and Hope
Jennifer's response - Elise (spelling?) after her Grandmother. If she had a boy, we would have taken the child away from her because she couldn't decide on a name -- we warned her time was running out.
My response - Nathaniel Rosol for a boy (Rosol is my mother's maiden name) and I said Natalie Ann but switched to Abagail (I almost had my baby girl taken away from me too).

If you could change one body part what would it be?
Nadia's response - butt
Jennifer and I - boobs
We all gave a few others but these were our top priorities.

There were many other questions that were asked that day but I chose to give everyone a little taste and not reveal all of our secrets. Some "ifs" should remain just between us girls...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hi My Name Is Benjamin And I Am A Zoo-a-holic

To say Benjamin is crazy about zoos would be an understatement, Benjamin is WILD about zoos. Sometime after his first birthday, Grandma and Grandpa introduced Ben to the wonderful world of the zoo. From the first moment, he stepped into the Bergen County Zoo (or better known as Van Saun Park) he fell in love. I believe, actually I know, that many of the words he knows today are due to his visits to the zoo. He learned that cows moo and lambs baa and monkeys go oh oh ah ah. And of course, his favorite the duck, "quack, quack, quack!!"

Grandma and Grandpa saw how much he loved the zoo that they bought a season pass and have enjoyed it for countless afternoons and mornings throughout the summer. According to Grandma and Grandpa, as soon as they make the right hand turn to enter the zoo, he gets very excited in his car seat and knows he is moments from his favorite place in the world -- the zoo. He knows where everything is and what he wants to visit first. He also knows where the gift shop is (with grandparents like John and Sue how could he not) and has bought lots of treasured gifts there including his flash cards and some sort of strange animal that we still don't know what it is but he wanted it and enjoys playing with it.
During our visit to Hershey, it was very important to me to bring Ben to Zoo America. Like Van Saun, it isn't the San Diego Zoo or The Bronx Zoo but if there are animals there he will love it. And I was so right, from the moment we stepped into the first exhibit he wanted out of his carriage so he could get up close and personal with the animals. He went crazy for the alligators and crocodiles. Letting me know what each of the animals were. He was able to see an owl, bobcats, wolves, fish, ducks, elk and bear. He loved the bear! "Bah, bah bear bear bear!" Yes, Ben there is a bear but the biggest thrill was when, without hesitation, he petted a snake. If he was allowed to hold the snake and take it home, he would have (God help me). While the park was fun, I know the zoo was his favorite just by the bright smile on his face.
Bah, bah bought him a bear figurine to remember his day spent at the zoo. Wally and I promised that we would bring him to the Bronx Zoo this fall for him to discover more animals. So perhaps my animal loving explorer will do something with animals when he grows up. Either that or a dentist because the boy loves to brush his teeth.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Joining "The Club"

Before Wally and I were parents, we were excluded from "The Club." Oh, people may say there isn't a "club" but there most certainly is an exclusive group that you only gain entrance with a child in tow. For those who don't have children, "The Club" is a very hush, hush topic. For example, if you ask a friend with a child and ask them what they did over the weekend they might say to a non-member, "nothing much just some kid stuff." Translation: I was with our friends who are in "the club" and you weren't invited. Now, to be fair, not everyone is a "club" elitist. There have been times in my life while trying to obtain member status that I have been asked to partake and there are times when I have been left out of things. Whether it is right or wrong or feelings are trying to be spared that is the way it is in this "club".

This weekend, Wally and I officially joined "The Club" -- well not really joined but more like initiated. From early Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon , The Kamienski Family went away with two other families. Yes, we took the plunge and vacationed with other parents and their children (6 adults and five children) coming out of alive and new members.
While Benjamin has gained us access to kiddie parties, we haven't dared explore the multi-family vacation. I was a bit nervous at first. One of the reasons I enjoy Wally's company so much is because I can vacation with him and traveling is key for me. When Benjamin came along, he also fit into the vacationing groove nicely but traveling with other families this could be disastrous and we could be denied access.
We went through a series of tests this weekend. People will say there are no "tests" to get in but there most certainly are quite a few. Here are our tests:

We were tasked with meeting the two families at the park at 10 am (since Wally said it would be no problem to do - Wally the same guy who didn't pack the night before). When we over slept a bit and Wally still didn't shower or pack and it was 7:45 and we still needed to drop Bruin off in Montville, it looked like we would fail miserably. However, I didn't count on Mr. Nesty beginning such a slow driver and my hubby being the next Speed Racer (yet very cautious). Due to these factors, we were only behind 10 minutes the Nestorsons. We were able to meet the Nestys in the parking lot and head to HersheyPark for the day. Now, where were the Bonzceks?
Test - Passed

Lost and Found
The Bonzceks were no where to be found. The Nestys and Wally tried reaching them several times - had they bagged? No, I began to think, "this is test number 2 - Lost and Found". A thought popped into my head that I should check my Blackberry and low and behold Johnny B had contacted me letting us know they were there and where were we. After exchanging messages, I secured their location and found The Bonczek Family safe and sound and ready for a day of fun.
Test - Passed
Our first stop in the park was the Boardwalk area where the kids and the adults alike had some fun in the wadding pools. The Kamienski Clan ended up in a different wading pool where Benjamin slid down the mini-water slide several times with a big grin on his face. We next ate lunch together and collectively decided it was time for some of the other rides. Babies were changed out in the open (a no, no in the park but we weren't waiting on the line from hell to change our little ones so we did it very discreetly). How I ended up with the map and navigating the crew like some episode of Dora the Explorer I don't know but I found myself in charge of getting us to some kiddie rides. After what might have seemed to be a few wrong turns, I started hearing some grumbling from the group but I forged on. Now to be fair to me, the maps kind of stink and the signs aren't any better. Like a good Dora, I found some quality family rides and fun was had by all.
Test - Shaky but Passed
At the end of the day, we decided to stay in the park a little longer than the rest of the vacationers. There were a few more rides I wanted Benjamin to experience. We told the rest of the crew that we would meet them back at the hotel. After hitting, the train, the spaceship ride and Kissing Tower the Kamienskis called it a day and headed back to the hotel. When we arrived, it was not yet decided where the Kamienskis would lay their heads that night. Since we are the tallest of the bunch, we really wanted the king size bed. I forgot to mention we rented two 2-room suites (only two king beds, the other rooms double). The Bonczek's were kind enough to say don't worry we'll take the doubles but as we moved all our stuff to the other room. Wally realized that Lucy would be away from her mother in another hotel room with The Nesty family. In the end, both families have two children we have one they needed the King bed more than we did so we changed rooms again and took the doubles.
Test - Passed with flying colors
There were other tests that weekend that we passed like acting as the recon group for breakfast and expertly changing locations from the Dennys (not sure it was a Dennys but it was something Denny like) to a diner to avoid the long wait to having a set of books so the kids could entertain themselves as they waited for breakfast and the adults could actually talk about other things. At the end of the trip, we got the above shot and it made me happy to know after all those years of trying to have a baby, I had finally made it into "The Club".

Sunday, August 3, 2008

To Poop Or Not To Poop? That Is The Question...

For quite sometime now Benjamin will let us know when he has to poop or has gone poop. How does he let us know? Well, of course by saying ,"poo, poop." At first, he would say, "poo, poop" just because he liked how it sounded, "poo, poop" "poo, poop". He said it in the sweetest little voice with emphasis on the poo. Next, he said, "poo, poop" when he already had gone. Then recently, he started letting us know before the big event. After we finally caught on that he was letting us know he had to go, Wally and I thought - it is time to give it the ole' college try.
On my day off, I went to Target and bought two potty seats - one for our house and one for Grandma and Grandpa's house. To encourage the use of the potty seat, I bought him a Diego seat thinking the sight of Diego might give him so comfort while trying this great feat. Well, he certainly felt comfortable with the seat. So much so, he started wearing the bowl part on his head. Instead of saying, "poo, poop" he said "hat, hat, hat." Go ahead- try explaining to a one year old that the potty isn't a hat. Okay so maybe he wasn't quite ready for this.
Until...on Benjamin's 17 month birthday, we were playing outside on the deck when he looked at me and said, "ba ba poo poop." I whipped around thinking this is it! I turned him around swiftly and checked the back door. Clear. No poop yet. I then confirmed. "Ben, poo poop?" He nodded. When then both hustled inside knowing the magnitude of the happening (also knowing that this thing could come out anytime). There was excitement in the air. I had to hurry. The toilet seat was on the bathroom counter because of the hat incident. I quickly put the seat on the ground and introduced Ben to the seat. Diego had a huge grin on his face and was ready to go. I then stripped Ben's pants off and next his diaper. The poop was making its way out of the gate. I sat him on the seat before it was too late. Benjamin gave one last push and plop. HE DID IT! Wild cheers all around! Wally heard the commotion and stopped his yard work and came inside. "Did he do it Jenn?" Yes, he certainly did our big boy was on the road to independence and cost savings for the whole family (NO MORE DIAPERS!!!). We were so proud of him that Wally even took a shot of the evidence (I'll spare you the photo -only a select few have seen it). High fives all around! It was such a big accomplishment for our little guy we went out to Toys R Us for a big present or two or three -- whatever he wanted. Benjamin picked out a truck, book and lawnmower for his poop in the potty. We knew this was just the beginning of bigger and better poops in the potty, so we thought.
Well..that was about a week ago and that was the lone poop. He's kind of become tight lipped about the whole situation now. Was it all the cheering? Does he feel to much pressure to perform now? Whatever the reason, we are still proud of our little guy and know in do time another poop in the potty will happen. Until then, Wally, Diego and myself will all just wait.