Sunday, September 21, 2008

40 Glorious Years

When looking for my soul mate, I always wanted the fairy tale. I wanted to know right away that he was the one. I was looking for a love that would last forever. I guess every girls does but I had a lot to live up to. You see my parents are the fairy tale they live the dream. Forty years ago today, they made a commitment to love, honor and cherish each other so long as they both shall live and they've made that commitment to one another a beautiful life.
Over forty years ago, my Dad was looking at high school head shot pictures in the wallet of my Mom's friend and said, "I have to meet her - that's the girl I'm going to marry." The mutual friend arranged the meeting. They had their first date and both "knew". If you ask either of them when did you first realize that you wanted to marry Mom/Dad? - they would both say that very first date. Less than a year after their first date they were married at Holy Rosary Church in Passaic, NJ with the reception being held in Aunt Dot's backyard. My Mom was just 18 and my Dad was 20.
They have been through some ups and downs. I'm sure some that I am not privy too but I know one thing is true their love has never wavered. They are an inspiration. The type of marriage all should aspire to be like. I am proud to be a product of this beautiful union. I am so blessed to have been raised by parents that love and respect one another and give real meaning to the term soul mate.
When my Dad is asked how long they have been married he alwasy says the amount and with the descriptor "glorious." So today, on their 40th Anniversary I want to say here is to 40 more glorious years of inspirational love.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Our TV in the living room is on the fritz. It is one of those giant televisions - you know the ones that everyone had right before the plasma craze. Wally and I were trying to recall when we got it but neither of us could remember. When we first purchased this monstrosity, we thought "we made it" and now I am thinking that I'm a bit happy it's going because it is such an eyesore.

Because of the "economic crisis", we have decided not to purchase any big ticket items at this time so we have resorted to other tactics for fixing the TV. When you read the next sentence don't think my family is too ghetto but to fix the picture on the TV we hit the TV. Yes, we give the TV a big whack to get the picture to look normal and not so distorted. Wally and I will take turns doing this.

The other day Benjamin was watching Dora and the picture was out of whack so Benjamin got off his monkey chair and gave the TV a smack. Wally and I were left speechless. Monkey see. Monkey do.

Last Will & Testament

As we were getting ready to leave the house for our first plane ride together as a family, Wally had a very morbid thought. In fact, he said, "I know this is a morbid thought but what happens if we all die together on this plane -- where should our assets go since we don't have a will." Now ask me where my first thought went. No not to the house. My savings and stock options? Nope, not that either. Did I think we should really have a will? Not really. My thoughts went right to what would happen to my Chanel.
So to set the record straight, I want to have the Chanel with me in the casket (because I need to look super fabulous even in death) and before they are about to close the casket I want Nadia, my sisterhood in fashion, to reach in there, take it and enjoy my Chanel 2.55 as I know only she can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First In Flight

This weekend, the Kamienski family reached a new milestone -- Benjamin took his first airplane ride and not since the Wright Brothers has there been such a historic flight. Like the Wright Brothers, it was only fitting that Benjamin take his first airplane journey to the "first in flight" state, North Carolina.
The journey started out with a few turbulent moments like when we realized we were in the wrong terminal and we had to haul ourselves (and bags) from Terminal C to A. Due to the mishap, Benjamin also got an opportunity to take his first monorail ride. We went through security which isn't fun these days when you are traveling by yourself let alone a one and a half year old but once again we survived and passed the inspection with little hassle. Once we got to the gate (an hour before the flight would take off), we let Benjamin get some of his energy out. If getting the energy out means tiring Mom and Dad out then that is what was accomplished. Benjamin thought the gate area was his very large personal playground. During his laps around the gates, he discovered swedish fish candies at the newsstand which he insisted on running to each chance he wiggled away from us yelling "ish" "ish" the whole way. There were others like Benjamin trying to be tired out but once again the only tired ones seemed to be the parents. We finally had to put a stop to the running and tried to read to him which he wanted no part of which made me quite anxious. Not that I wasn't on pins and needles already but I just began thinking that he would never sit still and he would scream his torturous scream and then we would be asked to leave the plane because we couldn't control our child. While I played the bad fantasy in my head, I remembered the "secret weapon"-- Grandpa graciously allowed us to borrow a portable DVD player and the movie "Cars". While Benjamin squirmed and I tried to forward the previews, the movie finally came on and a mesmerizing calmness came over Benjamin and I prayed that this would last. Wally got on the plane first to settle the family in. I was left with the DVD player, a diaper bag, umbrella stroller (no way Bugaboo was making the trip) and Benjamin. I decided we would be last on the plane. As the last passengers boarded, I proceeded to close the DVD player when we were heading for the plane and received one loud, "NO!" Ok, no you are right - what was Mommy thinking! Benjamin held the DVD player while I strolled him to the plane. I then tried to hold Ben, the DVD player (so he could see it and wouldn't scream as we boarded) and a diaper bag while I collapsed the umbrella stroller. Did anyone help me? No. Do I have a third arm I don't know about? I think so. We made it on the plane and was then asked by the flight attendant (actually, told) to shut down the DVD player. That made Benjamin mad so I told him to complain to the air waitress not me. I started to read a book which didn't help but Wally took him and showed him what was outside the window which amazed him. Shortly after we put on "Cars", the skies were much friendlier. Not a peep was made - he maybe got cranky once but no meltdowns, no stares of disapproval, in fact, I thought we might get a few, "what a good boy you have."
As I counted down the minutes, I realized we made it. Our Benjamin was an angel in the air. I turned and looked down at my boy who had fallen fast asleep and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we had accomplished yet another parenting hurdle.


We just got FREE HP Colorsmart printers! Retail value $199.99. Ok, I will forgive Martha for the cookies.

Martha Just Made a Boo-Boo

Martha just called Sarah Palin - Sharon. Yikes and now someone just told her. She is embarassed. Everyone gets embarassed -- some just get embarassed on a bigger stage than others.

No Cookies?!?

What no cookies Martha? Where are the cookies to share with the audience? I'm a little disappointed. The cookies looked mighty delicious but I could just look at them longingly. No fair! I would rather have a cookie than a calendar or book. I'm hungry! I'm also with a pregnant lady who seriously needs a cookie. I mean not giving me a cookie is one thing but not providing one for a woman eating for two is just wrong!

15 Minutes of Fame

This week I am somewhat famous. My 15 minutes of fame are upon me. It all started with my appearance on Ace of Cakes. Was I happy with my appearance? Well...if you have a Tivo or DVR, I looked like a linebacker walking out of the back of the Milk-Bone doghouse if you slowed it down (which a few friends and family did and agreed with my assessment). To set the record straight, I don't walk like that. I never have, not a day in my life. Not really sure why I was walking like I had just pumped some iron. Of course, it is preserved now on film...
Next, I am NOW (I mean right now) on the Martha Stewart Show. I mean right now!! Martha is producing a show on bloggers. About 10 seconds ago, we just got a calendar from a blogger who publishes cute pictures of animals and I think we are also getting a book. Oh yes, we just did. I am in the back row so not sure if I am going to be getting my second moment of fame this week. SHOW THE BACK! Make sure you are watching at 11 a.m. today! See if my fame continues and if I have to avoid the paparazzi and wear dark sunglasses from now on. Our the pressures of stardom.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Addicted

I'm addicted! Whether I am having a good day or bad, I crave Benjamin's hugs and kisses. A hug and/or kiss from Benjamin melts your heart. It makes you feel better than any high you've ever experienced. And Benjamin just doesn't gingerly give his love - he is pretty intense about it too. When he gives you a hug, he squeezes as tight as his little body can and actually gives a grunt - just so you know (if there was ever any question) that you are being hugged. As for his kisses, he thinks he is starring in a movie. He moves in with his eyes closed and his mouth open and smacks one right on your lips. In fact, he loves to steal kisses from little girls (which Mom needs to put an end to) like his some sort of Romeo. Now, he can be a typical child. He sometimes can be stingy with his love by giving you the cheek or making his arms go limp refusing to give out his affection. But his Mommy and Daddy are rarely given the cold shoulder from Benjamin, in fact, we call him a lovey boy because of all of his hugs and kisses.
What an amazing thing! What a beautiful gift! What a blessing!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Bomb Squad

There are times in your life when you wake up one day and something is different for some reason. It's usually insignificant like a creaky step in the stairs that for some reason doesn't make a sound, the way the sun comes through the curtains when it had always been blocked or just a feeling inside where you know something has changed but you are unsure what exactly. What I have noticed is that however the change shows itself, one thing has always been true. Change, to me, feels good because it is like a new beginning. Afterall, the saying goes that the one constant in life is change.

This past rainy Saturday, I decided to act on my awaited plan to rearrange the living room. Not that it particularly needed it, but mostly because I was tiring of the sameness of it. So, while attampting to fix the satellite cable, I moved the TV to the other side of the room and managed to get our 800 pound counch across the floor. Jenn came in and asked "Oh, are we changing the living room, now?" I said yes and informed her that we talked about this. Truth be told, we did talk about it and both agreed the 800 pound library was not in the best place for Ben and his playing habits. We did not, though, discuss and agree to how the change would be done.

Regardless, Jenn helped me in moving the furniture around, herself removing sliders from under the cabinet, and took herself away from something else (blogging) she was in the middle of. Once she saw the configuration I proposed, she recommended moving the couch to the other wall and arranging the chairs another way. It worked and is now done.

Jenn is selfless in alot ways and this is certainly one of the better examples. I usually spring things on her and without (much) hesitation, she always (somewhat reluctantly) is willing to take herself away from her plans and help me with mine. I usually let her know my appreciation by letting her know she is 'the bomb'. After this most recent episode, she is now to be known as 'the bomb squad' for being the bigger person when it comes to working through change.

Thanks Bomb Squad. You're the best.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are You There God? It's Me Kristi.

Editors Correction: I was reminded it was not actually a pencil but a frisbee that Krisit and Billy still had until Frosty (the stray dog she picked up on the side of the road that ultimately ran away) broke it.
So many of my favorite memories throughout my life have one key component and the key to those wonderful memories are my best friend Kristi. Recently, I was reminded of one of my favorites after Wally and Benjamin visited Space Farm Zoo.
In the Fifth Grade, Kristi and I were preparing to receive Penance. Since we were best friends, we thought it would be a good idea to run our sins past one another before we talked with the priest. Here is how the conversation went:
Jenn - I think I will tell Father Roland that I was mean to my brother and swore sometimes
Kristi - Yeh, me too
Jenn - I'll probably also tell him I talked back to my Mom
Kristi - I'll probably say that too but I have one other thing
Jenn - What is it?
Kristi - I'm not sure if I want to tell
Jenn - Tell me! I'm your best friend
Kristi - Well ok. Do you remember when we want to Space Farm Zoo for our class trip in the first grade?
Jenn - Yeh, of course I remember
Kristi - Well, I forgot to get something for Billy so I had pick him something out quick. So I picked out a pencil. As I was waiting on line to pay, I was told that I had to leave now. So, I stole the pencil.
I was in shock! My best friend stole. Would she ever be forgiven? In our minds, this sin was bigger than any other sins we both committed. But being a supportive friend I said, "I'm sure God will forgive you and your penance won't be that bad." And I was right God did forgive her and her penance wasn't that bad. Besides, it would have been far worse if Billy hadn't gotten a gift - he would probably still bring it up today.
In our lives, there were many more sins we confessed to each other but none so memorable as the souvenir stolen from Space Farm. Happy Birthday Kristi to a friend I can confess anything to!

One Gift

What do you give to the parents who have given you everything in life? A gift that will show them they mean the world to you. Well, I can tell you there aren't many gifts that even come close.

Over the years, I have tried to give them gifts that have given them an idea of how much they mean to me, but most fall short until June 06. In June of 2006, I gave them the promise of the greatest gift (I know they will agree) they would ever receive. You see on that beautiful sunny day, I gave them the news that they would be grandparents. Because that is the thing about being a grandparent - no matter how much you want to be one, it, ultimately, depends on two other people (in our case a whole cast of very able medical professionals) and the grace of God. It is a gift only your child can give to you -- the greatest gift your child can give to you.

My parents have always been proud of me but I never saw them look at me in such awe and admiration as when I was pregnant caring inside of me their grandchild. And when their grandchild was finally born, the sheer joy I brought to my parents life could never be measured.

Benjamin is the light of their lives. It is one time I don't mind playing second fiddle for my parents' attention. When I see my parents with Benjamin, it brings me back to my childhood and reminds me again and again how much love my parents brought into my life. They are the best of the best and even better. They love my son with all their hearts and then some.
Much of who Benjamin is becoming is because of their love for their grandson. When he is in their presence, nothing else in the world matters. Benjamin laughs and laughs when he is with his Grandma and Grandpa because when they are together nothing is more important than having fun. Just like my parents would move mountains for my brother and me, my parents would move heaven and earth for their Benjamin. So, on Grandparents Day I know no card or some silly gift will equal the gift I have given them of being called Grandma and Grandpa by one little boy named Benjamin. Happy Grandparents Day!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mystery Solved

In a recent blog (Hi My Name is Benjamin And I Am A Zoo-a-holic), I mentioned a half zebra/half horse looking beast that we had no clue what it was or even if it was a real animal. Well, wonder no more my friends - MYSTERY SOLVED!
On a recent visit to the Bronx zoo, as we entered the Congo exhibit I began to round a corner and I stopped dead in my tracks. In front of me was the elusive, no-named animal in the flesh. Was I seeing things? Could this actually be real and then it moved confirming that indeed this thing was real. I started to jump in excitement, "Wally there it is! There it is!" Wally could hardly believe his eyes either. We began to feverishly look for a sign. The anticipation was killing us. We rounded two more corners and finally came upon a little sign. This is it. The moment was finally here. For months I wondered what this animal could be and we were about to know. Wally proudly announced, "it is an Okapi." An Okapi? Yes, an Okapi!
So now when we ask Ben "what is that animal you have in your hand?" He answers, "kapi."
Case closed.

Fun Facts - While many might think that the Okapi is related to the Zebra (which I definitely concluded), it is actually related to the giraffe (very similar head shape). To learn more about the Okapi, you can check out the "animal bytes" page from the San Diego Zoo Web site .


For a very long time, it had just been Wally, Bruin and me. So when we found out we were pregnant we were worried about how Bruin would be with a baby. Bruin has never been a vicious dog. In fact, I can't recall Bruin every snapping at someone, let alone a child. However, he has tried to hump a few innocent children but in his defense it was before the removal of his (former) favorite two friends. We were also concerned because Bruin can tend to be jealous of Wally showing anyone else attention besides him. We thought about taking a class or taking him to a class to learn "how to adjust" but we decided to wing it.
Before we brought Ben home, we gave Bruin the blanket Ben was wrapped in when he was first born to get accustomed to Benjamin's scent (I saw this on some Baby Story episode and also heard it from someone else that I can't recall at this moment). According to my father-in-law, who was taking care of Bruin while we were all in the hospital, he took one sniff and walked away. When Benjamin was brought home, he performed a similar act. We brought Benjamin over and Bruin sniffed him a few times and walked away. When Benjamin would cry in the night and not many of us were getting sleep Bruin would let out a big sigh and leave the bedroom looking back at us thinking, "hey guys wasn't it good when it was just the three of us?" But as time went on Bruin got used to the fact and started being very protective of Ben. When ever he would cry, he would pace the floor and be right by his side. He even started to get brave enough to give his feet a little lick every now and then.
Over time, Bruin and Benjamin formed such a bond that one of Ben's first words was Bru -- yes way before Mom. In the past few months, Benjamin has become more active (that is putting it mildly) and has wanted to become more interactive with Bru. Now, he likes to pet him and give him big hugs. And Bruin, is the world's most tolerant dog. For a dog of 9 years of age, he has the patience of Job. When Benjamin decided to try to ride him like a pony, Bruin just sat there and let the Ben have his fun. When Ben grabs his ears a little too rough, he doesn't make a peep. When Ben squats down right in Bruin's face while he is trying to eat, Bruin ignores him and continues to finish his dinner.
While it may seem Bruin only tolerates Ben, he actually loves him a lot. Sometimes Wally or I will say, "Ben give Bru a kiss" and before Benjamin can bend down Bruin turns around and licks his face something silly which makes Ben squeal in laughter which makes Wally and I smile knowing that we have two wonderful boys.

Cupcakes Make Everything Better

Perhaps, it was when during my last trimester I felt the need to down a hot chocolate everyday (or twice a day), eat a variety of mini-chocolate candies once every hour and dessert every night that my son is a sweet tooth monster. Benjamin is definitely a boy after my own heart. At his first birthday, there was no mistaking my child likes a good dessert when he sees one. On the day of his big party, Benjamin had two cakes - one for the guests to enjoy and the other, a round cake that feeds 6, just for him. Our thought, oh he's just going to smash it up it will be so cute. Well he did smash it somewhat but it mostly was smashed and went into his mouth. Methodically, Benjamin devoured the cake to the point where we had to take it away from him or he would have housed the entire cake by himself. Another example, when he passes the local ice cream shop he starts pointing and yelling, "i cream, i cream ba ba!" "Yes, I know Benjamin but every time we pass the place we can't have ice cream even though Mommy would love to we are on this walk to help Mommy get in shape." Sometimes after I say that I think he gives me a dirty look to say "Ba Ba are we in this together or what?!?"

Recently, he has started living by a similar philosophy to my own - "Sweets Make Everything Better" - in particular, cu-cakes (as he refers to them). Yesterday, I lived by our philosophy and ate a Toasted Almond bar when I was frustrated working on a client budget that needed to be XYZ amount of money and was coming in XYZ over budget -- Toasted Almond made this Mommy feel much better. However, this weekend Daddy knew this is what our boy needed to make the sad go away. On Saturday, Benjamin needed to get blood drawn from his one year wellness visit. Yes, I know Ben is now 6 months older but this Mommy also lives by the philosophy that, "Needles are bad" - simple but true. Knowing Wally also needed blood work, my two boys braved the worse. Benjamin was primed waiting in the LabCorp offices. He had no intentions of sitting quietly while Dad or Mom read to him. He wanted to run wild so much so he fell and bumped his lip on the floor which caused a multitude of tears even before the needle was in sight. Not a good start. Ben and Wally's names were finally called and we headed back. We did everything we could to prevent him from watching the needle enter his tiny little hand but he insisted on watching which brought on the tears pretty instantly (no judgement here - I still can't look at a needle without feeling faint). He braved through it but was mighty upset by the entire situation. After Wally was done, he said, "I know what will make Benjamin feel better - a cupcake!" As soon as been heard his favorite word in the English language the tears started to slow down a bit and a small smile could be seen forming on his face. Mommy, being a cupcake expert, picked out four of the best including one that looked like Elmo and Cookie. When we got home, we asked Benjamin which he would like and of course he picked the giant Elmo cupcake for him to enjoy. We took the cupcake and Ben to the deck to eat his favorite treat. Upon seeing the cupcake, Benjamin smashed his face right into the icing and come up with a big smile on his face knowing that cu-cakes do make everything better!